Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland

Despite what opinions people may have towards the author of this book, I consider this book to be a staple when learning about the art of witchcraft. This book does highlight many Wiccan concepts, specifically referencing Seax-Wica which was founded by the author. Although not everyone is Wiccan, this book does offer a lot of insight into Witchcraft such as sigil work, ritual formation, herbalism, divination, healing, and other forms of magick.

The book is split into fifteen interactive lessons which delve into different subjects. Each lesson has a self-reflection and mini quiz to test your prior knowledge and to see what you've learned from your readings. In certain lessons, the author gives outlines of rituals and meditations that can be done as a solitary or as a coven. One aspect that I really enjoyed while reading this book is that it is very easy to comprehend. The author also takes time, such as with his section over sigils, to give multiple interpretations so that the reader may choose which way works best for them.

Another aspect that I was delighted to see was the consideration the author took in stating that their views were only one way of looking at the bigger picture. I strongly believe this way of thinking encourages beginners along their path as it puts them at ease with their own beliefs and way of creating magick. I particularly enjoyed the mini reference guides incorporated into this book with herbs, crystals, and runes. When one can't afford to buy multiple books for certain subjects, this book can be used as a handy guide in those subject areas.

Even though the book is titled Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, the author states that this book does not cover everything in regards to Wicca and Witchcraft. It does, however, cover a lot of material that one may come to find when exploring the Craft. It is always best to read as many books as you can and to continue your studies for as long as you can in order to become more adept.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ATL Craft

If you live anywhere near the Atlanta area, then I’m sure you’ve come across an article or two, or the whispers of other Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches, about the new Witchcraft store that has parked itself downtown. If you haven’t, then I suggest you read that article here.
Now, before everyone decides to jump on their high horse, let’s look at this for a minute. ATL Craft actually is the first Witchcraft store in Atlanta. Phoenix and Dragon, Forever and A Day, Crystal Blue, etc are stores that sell supplies that Witches use BUT they do not call themselves a Witchcraft store. They are metaphysical shopsATL Craft is the first store to come out and explicitly state they are a Witchcraft store selling witchcraft supplies to real Witches.
With that being said, I want to talk about my personal experience within this new store and my interaction with the owner who happens to be super nice and really into creating a safe space for those seeking a community. The store is small in a comfy way and has a very personal touch to it when you walk through the door. In fact, there is a large alter set up at the back of the store near the fireplace.
(By the way, Haley, the store owner gave me permission to share these pictures with you guys.)
The store might not have a huge selection of herbs, crystals, incense, and tools, but what it lacks, it makes up for by presenting a way for local crafters to reach out to the community. Many of the supplies you’ll find in ATL Craft were made by individual Witches such as you and me. That makes those tools very personal and special. To be honest, I found it quite refreshing to not be overwhelmed with a huge selection and variety. Each piece that I saw was unlike the other and these tools were definitely unique enough to not warrant a cart on Amazon.
Of course, ATL Craft also offers classes to those who are interested in taking courses within the Craft. In fact, they had a very nice and secluded suite near the back for tarot, palmistry, and other psychic mediums. You can find a schedule of their classes on facebook.
Along the wall in this picture were some really high quality sage sticks. I ended up purchasing a sage and mugwort stick and one of their jericho flowers.
This table was full of goodies! It contained crystals, leather pouches, and other jewelry. There was also oil blends that were made locally.
In addition to everything else, there was a small supply of books, tarot cards, oils, and other miscellaneous witchcraft items. I bought some iron nails in this area.
This was probably my favorite table that contained these self healing spell kits and handmade protection bottles. You can even create your own protection bottle for the same price as buying one. Now that’s pretty cool!
Haley, the store owner, was very kind to me. What struck me about her (and what I see lacking at other stores) is that she approached me not as the owner of the store, but as a fellow witch. The first thing she asked was if I was looking for supplies for the Full moon. Yes, I happened to visit the store on May 10th, the night of the Full moon which wasn’t my exact intent. I was in the area for the Bastille concert that night so I was going to be raising some energy there instead. But to me, that showed me that she was a practicing Witch, in tune with the cycle of the moon and trying to learn what people were looking for. She also asked me if there were supplies I didn’t see in her store that I used every day. There were, like certain incense and oil blends, and certain types of candles but nothing too out there. We had a great conversation about the area and the Pagan community as a whole and I even found out about some new information about a Tarot Conference happening in 2018. Pretty cool!
All in all, I enjoyed my time at ATL Craft and I was able to find some very useful items for my own Craft work. It definitely has a selection that you don’t see everyday but I think it makes them unique. Check them out, and decide for yourself!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Witchcraft Today by Gerald Gardner

Whether you love the book or hate the book (or the author), there's no denying that this book paved the way for modern Wicca and Witchcraft. It's one of the most well-known books published in the 20th century regarding Wicca and the Craft as we know it today. Without its publication, who knows where Wicca would stand today as it aided in drawing out those who practiced the Old Ways out of the shadows and into, well, let's be honest and just say a less intense shadow. It can't be a true Mystery Tradition without some shroud of mystery to it!

Regardless of one's feelings about the author, the book was enjoyable to read. Personally, I'm a little biased when it comes to reading about history and this book is certainly peppered with history about the Knights Templar, the Salem Witch Trials, the Burning Times, and most anything related to occultism. Granted, this book is not a history book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about some of Gardner's research into occultist history.

In addition to historical information, Gardner inserted his perceptions and views into Witchcraft by either referencing his personal experience from an initiate point of view or his experience as being an observer. As you read, you may become slightly frustrated with how little information is actually given about his experiences within the Craft. He gives just enough information to draw you in. Almost like having an appetizer but skipping the main course. This is most likely due to his intense and utmost dedication to staying true to his Oath of Secrecy that he took when he was initiated into his tradition. He makes it clear throughout the book that he is trying to reach out to others of a like mind but inviting witches to write to him, to describe their rituals or what they are willing to reveal about their traditions, to commune with him on a personal level. I have heard that after this book was written there was an outpouring of just that!

I believe this book has earned its place on every witch's bookshelf. It is a cornerstone to our community whether you identify as Wiccan, Pagan, or a Witch. It is an important part to our history and understanding the development of Wicca and the Craft today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Druids, Gods & Heroes by Anne Ross, Illustrated by Roger Garland

For those looking for a fun way to study Celtic and Irish lore, this is the book for you! This book may have been designed for juveniles but it certainly does a good job at retelling the myths we know and love from our Celtic ancestors. Beautifully illustrated and outlined, this book touches upon the first inhabitants of Ireland, explains the rise of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and follows our favorite heroes through their most memorable feats.

The book is divided into chapters and then subdivided by their stories. Depending on your parenting style, I would recommend reading the book first and then deciding on which stories are appropriate for your wee ones. There are some stories in this book that have adult content as would be expected from the Celts. If you plan on reading the book for yourself, it's a great start to trying to understand the rich history of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the surrounding areas. You will find interesting facts along with the myths and strong moral codes with an emphasis on the importance of hospitality and respect.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham

So this is probably the second time I've read this book. I've read it years ago but I decided to read it again because I had forgotten a lot of it and I wanted to write this review. This is one of my "go-to" books for beginners because it does have a lot of useful information and is basically a Wiccan starter kit. Not only does it have the theory behind Wicca and its many teachings but it also has practical knowledge which can be applied.

This book contains a mini book of shadows for those who may have trouble finding a teacher or coven to practice with and learn from. Cunningham is very humble in his presentation and asserts that his teachings are by no means law which is something that I really like because it's true. These are all guidelines because Wicca and its practices are completely open to interpretation and all about personal power and growth.

The first half of the book is about Wicca and what it's about, its deities, creating Circles, invocations, etc. Your very basic run through intro course. The second half is Cunningham's general book of shadows from his earlier years. Cunningham's books are generally always a pleasure to read and I admire him as a very intelligent person.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot

I thoroughly enjoyed this book due to its openness about the Craft. Laurie Cabot is very honest about her feelings when it comes to her personal style of Witchcraft and her definition of what being a Witch is all about. She is a very big advocate of education and dispelling ignorance about witches which is reflected in the pages of her book. She begins by delving briefly into the history of the ancient arts and slowly makes her way to present day and her thoughts about how she foresees witchcraft to be viewed in the future.

I love reading books that reference other books and this book is filled with references. My only qualm is that there was not a book reference list in the back of the book or an Index so you have to mark the books down yourself as you read. I was quite amazed at her dedication towards emphasizing the unique balance between the spiritual aspect of the Craft and the scientific aspects of life as we know it. She used scientific research as a way to meld the two worlds together in an understandable way for those who may not be familiar with Craft workings. Her goal was to show how these two aspects complement each other without contradiction.

Once again, as you read any book, practice the techniques mentioned and see if they work for you. You may be surprised and wish to incorporate them into your own work. The book also had almost an entire chapter dedicated to Witch Children. I found this chapter to be enlightening and had some neat projects and techniques that a parent could do with their child to introduce them to the Craft.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Altar Setup

Setting Up Your Altar

There are many ways for one to set up their altar. I, personally, change my altar according to the season. The Altar in the top left picture is my current Fall altar. The altar in the top right was around Imbolc, and the altar on the bottom was during the spring/summer time. Some people like to change their altar up like I do while others keep theirs exactly the same year round. 
When you are preparing to set up a permanent altar, clean the space thoroughly – the carpet, wood, furniture, etc. You may also want to think about the direction in which your altar is laying. Generally in ritual, the altar is facing North. If you can’t face the altar in that direction for certain reasons, choose a space that feels the most comfortable to you. 
Altar Cloth – You can choose to have one or not. This is a cloth that sits under your ritual tools. You can coordinate the color and/or symbols on your cloth with your ritual or spell work to enhance your magick.
Pentacle – This is one of the main altar tools. It can be made of wood, glass, ceramic, metal, etc, and usually has a pentacle upon its surface painted or carved. Your pentacle can have any symbol that you wish upon it such as the tree of life, the triquetra, or the triskele. This tool typically represents Earth and has grounding properties. It is feminine.
Athame – Not everyone has an athame but I like to keep mine on my altar. The athame is a ritual knife used for ceremonial purposes only. It is generally used to focus and direct energy. It is also considered one of the four main ritual items to have. This item can represent Fire or Air depending on your tradition. It is masculine
Wand – Another of the main ritual tools, the wand is used similarly like an athame. I tend to use my wand when working with elemental energies and spiritual work. This tool can represent Fire or Air, and in some circumstances, Earth, depending on the tradition. It is masculine.
Chalice – This is the last of the ritual tools and usually represents Water and the feminine aspect. The Chalice is used in Cakes and Ale.
Representations of the Elements – I like to place representatives of the 4 elements around my pentacle and cauldron. I use a bowl of salt for Earth, a red candle for fire, a bowl of water for water, and an incense holder with incense for air.
Cauldron – This is probably my most beloved tool. It represents all the mysteries of the feminine divine and Witchcraft. I have my cauldron placed upon the center of my pentacle as a representation of the spirit and its fathomless depth. I burn herbs and my intentions within the cauldron during ritual and spell work.
Crystals – I like to place crystals that are representative of the season upon my altar to enhance my spiritual work. They can also represent the Earth.
Herbs – I tend to infuse my water with herbs to enhance my spell work. I also like to burn them upon coal within my cauldron.
Sage Bundle – I like to keep a bundle of Sage nearby for quick cleansing.
God/Goddess Candles – If you worship deities, you may want to have them represented on your sacred altar. I keep a God and Goddess candle – with respective colors – upon my altar. My Goddess candles lays to the left which represents mystery and the feminine aspect and my God candle lays to the right which represents power and the masculine aspect.
Charge Box – I place my Charge Box upon my altar every so often when I feel that I need secrecy and something to enhance my spell work. This box holds certain items that need to be charged with power.
Statuary – Some people prefer to have statues upon their altar that represent their deities.

Decorating Your Altar:

Here is a list of some extra decorations you can place upon your altar with intention:
  • Tarot cards
  • Rune stones
  • Candles
  • Herbs
  • Crystals
  • Pictures
  • Scrying Mirror
  • Jewelry
  • Talismans
  • Charms
  • Seasonal Decorations