A Spell to Honor What Has Come Before

20150611_081245About two weeks ago, city construction workers began setting up shop in my side yard. They unloaded a giant stack of pipes and several backhoes, parked their trucks on the lawn and acted like they owned the place. They practically demanded access to the inside of our house to verify which way our pipes ran from the house and bothered me constantly with their noise. I even found one of them wandering around in the back yard inside the fence without permission.

The best part though? Thursday one of the foreman knocked on the door and told me that one of my wounded trees (which I’d written a healing spell for) was in their way, and he needed permission to remove it. He talked like he was doing us a favor by removing it, but our conversation boiled down to he was telling me they were going to take the tree down despite what I said.

It was gone within the hour. I didn’t even have a chance to take a trimming or look at the pieces to see if any of it was salvageable for crafts. It surprised me how depressed I was the rest of the day, though it shouldn’t have. As Wiccans and witches, we connect with the natural world around us, and trees are an integral part of that relationship; we’re proud tree huggers for a reason.

So I’ve decided to plant a new tree in its place when the construction is finished, and another witchy friend very thoughtfully suggested a spell to honor the tree that came before. This spell can of course be adapted to honoring anyone or anything that came before. Happy Witching! )O(

Ayslyn’s Spell to Honor What Has Come Before

Note1 – this spell is supposed to be customized to the person or thing you are honoring. In this case I’m honoring a tree, so the honorary items are planting soil and moon water. You will need to choose appropriate items for your own adaptation. For a person, I would suggest pictures or special trinkets. For honoring a part of your life you’re about to leave behind, a symbolic item or writing what you’re leaving behind on a notecard.

Note2 – the idea of this spell is to ask the spirit/energy that was contained therein before to stay and protect what’s here now up to the point that the new spirit is strong enough on its own, so keep that in mind throughout the spell. You’re not making a demand and forcibly bending anything to your will, and while you are honoring what’s passed, this spell involves more.

Supplies

  • Yellow candle
  • Honorary items (my potting soil, moon water and ribbon)
  • Chalice
  • Seasonal wine or juice of your choice

Difficulty Level: easy

Moon Phase: new moon, ideally at night

Ideally this spell would be started before the original spirit/object is gone or destroyed, but can still be performed shortly 20150611_081306thereafter. (I’m having to wait until the construction workers are finished and we’re ready to plant the new sapling because right now the yard is a big hole in the ground) Fill your chalice with your drink and carry the chalice, candle, a lighter and your honorary items outside.

Set aside the candle and chalice and begin to carefully and lovingly plant your sapling tree with rich soil, watering it with the moon water after it is completely situated. Light the yellow candle and sit it at the base of the tree, careful not to let the flame or heat burn any of the leaves. As you light and place the candle, infuse your own will for the tree’s thriving survival into the little flame, so that as it burns it can pass along your good wishes. Now say: (The parts in parentheses are the parts you should change as need be.)

Here once stood

(a brave old tree)

that shared (its shade) and (gave its breath)

to all the life around.

We say goodbye to our dear friend

as she passes on to the Summerlands

with the knowledge she will be missed

and forever remembered in our hearts.

Blessed be our friend,

may your crossing be peaceful and swift

and on your way please

bless and empower the spirits who remain,

watching over the little one growing here now.

Pour a little of your drink around the base of the tree, then take a sip from what’s left. Keeping your heart light, remember the tree as it was, and think about how similarly strong yet uniquely different you’d like to see the sapling grow to. Drink what’s left from the chalice in a silent and heartfelt toast. Do not leave the candle burning unattended; when you’re ready to go back inside, carry it with you and find a safe place to let it burn down.

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Creating a Priestess Order

priestessI haven’t talked about it much on Ayslyn’s Corner, but I’m writing a fantasy trilogy. It’s a story that’s been in my heart since my pre-teens, though it’s changed drastically as I’ve matured, so is somewhat autobiographical in nature. But more fun. 😉 Actually, working on this story as a teen is how I discovered Wicca.

Having been raised in a rather closed in Christian household (and being homeschooled as well, so not have much interaction with anyone outside of the immediate family) I was unaware that there were religions in the world other than Christianity and Islam. I knew about Islam because my parents sponsored a child in another country that was predominantly Islamic, and about this religion I was only taught that those who follow it are misguided, though the children shouldn’t be blamed for that (until they were about 11, then they were expected to have heard a Christian missionary and “seen the  light”). Of course, a lot of people who come to Wicca will tell you a similar story: they felt disconnected from the mainstream religion they were raised with or that everyone else seemed to be practicing. I was the same. I didn’t like this male god; he seemed fickle, judgemental, and, considering that he’d supposedly made me in his image, especially spiteful about what was between my legs.

So I started writing my own religion – a radical thing that I was careful not to let my parents see. I wrote about a Mother Goddess in a rather one dimensional way, just testing the waters, and decided that my protagonist (a fictional reflection of self) would be a young priestess in training in this Goddess’ name. Opposing her as she grew and became an influential person in her world was her birth father, a stalwart defender of a faith that was Christian in all but name (I called them Worshippers). It was to be an epic conflict of spirituality, ideals, and for control of the masses’ hearts and minds, with the Goddess holding the North and the god of the Worshippers gaining ground in the South, where the people generally farmed and traded for a living and lacked any kind of formal education. (Sounds familiar, right?)

One day, while alternating between writing and working on class work at my mother’s desktop, which just happened to have a dialup internet connection, I decided to Google “goddess based religion.” And that’s when it happened.

Obviously since that discovery I’ve continued to go through a lot of transformations. But one thing that hasn’t really changed is that one thread of my fantasy novels. It’s no longer the main component, but it’s still there, and while my main girl Xoe isn’t going to be raised in the Priestess House per se, she’s going to do some training there and her closest companion is going to be a full blown priestess. Which means that I have an entire priestesshood to develop.

After working on it for many months, I’ve realized that the overall structure comes down to four relatively simple questions:

  • Who are their deities that they either teach the young girls about or actually worship?
  • What’s the structure of progression and placement within the order look like?
  • How are the labors and devotions (like the elements) divided, and how is each girl’s place determined?
  • How much overall influence does the order have on the outside world?

 

I’m going to stop here for now because I’d like to gauge reaction; doing “how to” writing pieces here isn’t something I’d normally do. Have you ever written about a devotee of a goddess? What was she like? Did she travel across worlds, was she fallen from her order, was she supposed to be a summer queen, a child of a Beltane ritual?


Photo credit

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A Little Light Fun

I don’t normally share these things because they’re a dime a dozen. But this one caused such a flurry of fun and laughs in one of my witchy Facebook groups I decided to share it myself.

Tarot Card Name

My tarot card name is Priestess of magical Rainbows, which I can totally roll with. Babies that are born healthy after a stillbirth, neonatal loss or miscarriage are called rainbow babies so I choose to interpret this as a positive thing. What’s your tarot card name??

Always in light and love,

~*Ayslyn

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On Magickal Names

There's power in any name

There’s power in any name

Anyone who’s poked around Ayslyn’s Corner might have picked up on the fact that Ayslyn isn’t my real name. Like many Wiccans and witches I use a magickal name, though thinking about it I realized that it’s kind of an unwritten “if you want to” thing. Though it’s definitely something I’ve observed a large number of the witchy community doing, and it’s also a part of the magic most of us experience when we discover Wicca and witchcraft; this ability to take on a role, a life, that is so very different from the lives we had previously led can be a heady experience.

So let’s talk about magickal names. At its most basic choosing a magickal name is simply one of the ways in which a practitioner either breaks away from the things in their life they no longer want, or takes on their new self. Renaming yourself brings the ability to hone new skills and develop new interests. Some witches will choose a magickal name at the beginning of their journey and keep it for the duration, while some feel the need to periodically shed a previously chosen name in order to continue growing and learning.

Is a magickal name a must for a practicing witch? Not at all. As with anything in Wicca you are the only one who can determine what works best for you. It’s really a matter of your personal philosophy – do you want to build upon the identity you have spent your life being, or do you wish to mentally start fresh? Neither is right or wrong.

What does a magickal name do? Though this again is dependent upon what you want it to do, a magickal name can be used to declare your devotion to the Goddess, to compartmentalize your life, or to empower your workings. The same way some sects of Christianity will baptize people who are coming into their religion, taking on a new, magickal name can be seen as a rebirth in the eyes of the Goddess. Understanding too that everything we do has magic connotations, empowering your very self can be useful.

How do you choose a magickal name? There are tons of ways to choose your magickal name, the easiest of which is to go with a name that jumps out at you. Regardless of which method you employ though, you should feel when you have the right name. Besides just choosing at random, your magickal name could come from an ancestor, a spirit guide, a favorite book or it can always be a name you create yourself. If you’re a numbers person, you might appreciate choosing your magickal name with numerology. Here’s a good explanation of how.

As for myself, I chose to take a magickal name for a couple of different reasons. First, I liked the idea of being able to become something more than I was, and I knew fairly early on that I wanted to be a more vocal witch. Because I wasn’t telling anyone of my transformation, and knew my family would be openly hostile, choosing another name to write under offered a measure of protection.

As corny as it is, the name Ayslyn came to me from a movie, Dragonheart [1996]. The antagonist’s mother’s name is Ayslyn, and it’s established in the beginning that she is a daughter of the Celts and has been a life-long friend to dragons, despite the fact that her husband has led a crusade against them. There are very few things that signify magic more so than dragons, and I just loved her name. In keeping with the idea that a magickal name has power, if/when we have another daughter we’re going to name her Ayslynn, so that she has additional protection against harm and also has part of her sister’s name, Evelynn.

Tell us about your magickal name! Did you choose it or did it find you? How important is it in your practice?

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Granddaughters of Witches

#100wordshorts

 

“We are the granddaughters of witches they failed to burn!” Mariketa’s voice broke a little coming through the microphone, proud and righteously indignant. She threw her fist up to rousing shouts of support, echoing against cheap hotel walls.

I was silent, as was my cousin Leanna. We glanced at each other, understanding how dangerous this call to arms was. But all the hundred others heard was an end to our oppression, our grief.

I stood, Leanna following. Quiet came around me with weighty expectancy. My voice was strong and clear. “We are also the granddaughters of women who failed.”

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Geeky Witch: How to Cleanse Dice

Hubby and I have been playing a Pathfinder campaign almost every week for about a year now, working hard to find the witch queen Baba Yaga and stop the unnatural, never-ending winter that’s gripped dozens of worlds (noble cause, right?) About two months ago we started another campaign loosely based on an Egyptian world that’s dealt largely with exploring an ancient abandoned city and fighting the raised dead; so two social nights a week with character sheets, bestiary books and dice.

Dice, I’ve come to realize, are a lot like stones. When you play tabletop games frequently, you handle them a lot, channeling your hopes for high numbers and your frustration over low numbers into them each time you pick them up. It stands to reason that, like stones, they can eventually have a build up of energy and require cleansing to bring things level again.

I’ve put together this list of dice cleansing options, though through my own observations I’ve found that regardless of cleansing, the person using the dice sometimes needs a reset too. Cleansing – of any object – is only as useful as the person who then tries to wield the cleared object. So if you offer to cleanse another’s dice, remind them of this, otherwise the change will likely be negligible.

Moon water and salt

Place the dice in a bowl you would normally use in your altar setting and fill the bowl either with water previously charged under a full moon or distilled. Add a little salt – I like sea salt – and stir the dice around a little. Take a moment to consciously banish the negative and balance them out again. If the bowl is filled with distilled water, leave it outside under the moon for a night.

Salt for a moon

Another salt tactic is to isolate the dice, placing them inside a vessel that can be completely sealed and, ideally, has some positive meaning to you. Place the dice inside, cover completely with salt, seal and leave sit for an entire lunar cycle.

Smudging the dice and the bag

Smudging with a white sage stick is a favorite of witches worldwide and why not? It works! Simply cleanse each dice individually, the bag you keep them in, and if you wish the dice inside the bag. This can be done either when you have a private moment, or if you’re feeling adventurous and your companions are open-minded, with them. Sometimes curiosity and group determination can be just the thing.

Will empowerment

This technique I typically employ at the gaming table, when I’ve had a series of low rolls the party can’t afford, usually from my d20. While continuing on with the adventure I will keep rolling the die until it lands on 20, at which point I press the index finger of my dominant hand onto that face and tell the dice, “This is what I want you to roll. This is what I will you to land on.”

Candle magick

Candle magick is perfect for seeing a wish to fruition – and who doesn’t want high rolls when rolling your perception check or to hit? Light a silver, white or black candle (though this should not be one of your deity candles and should be on that you reserve for magickal workings) and pass the dice individually over and (safely) through the flame. Silently or verbally empower the dice. You could say something like, “I banish all negative energy caught within and replace it with good will and strong rolls.”

Preventative measures

Finally, to help reset your dice after each session, try placing a stone inside the pouch. You could also use a little herb pouch if the pieces of herb that will end up loose inside won’t bother you. Stones that are good for this would include hematite, apatite, bloodstone, amethyst (one of my favorite cleansing and strengthening stones) or snowflake obsidian. Herbs would include white sage or some lavender.

Basically, the same cleansing techniques you could use to cleanse stones – or other witchy tools, really – could be used on any other object. The most important part is always your will, though it never hurts to set the stage, so to speak. Customizing a cleansing to the object boosts your will and makes your success in the effort that much more likely.

20150518_085319On another note, I brought in our first garden harvest of the season this morning! Spinach leaves which made my morning green smoothie and lavender and flat leaf parsley which are both hanging up to dry now. There are few things more satisfying than bringing in a harvest, even one so small. May your days be warm and full of laughter. )O(

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Uses for Dandelions

The summer I turned 12, my dad paid us kids to pick as many dandelions from the yard as we could. He hated the little yellow flowers that always managed to ruin a newly mowed lawn, and one of our school lessons that day had been in economics. He eyed the yard, then valued each flower at 1 cent, believing there really weren’t that many. We tried to negotiate up to 5 cents each, but predictably were outmaneuvered. So off three pairs of feet went, carrying Wal-Mart bags, scampering towards the biggest patches we could find.

I plucked single dandelions up, but my brother yanked handfuls of turf into his bag, and my little sister went from my method to his when impatience got the better of her. When we couldn’t stand not knowing how much we’d earned any longer we dumped our bags out on the porch and counted.

All in all, we parted him from $60 that day, a huge sum for kids without an allowance. And ever since then those little flowers so often called weeds have made me smile. Dandelions are good for much more than just smiles though. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

Dandelion Tea

dandelion teaOne of the more common uses for dandelions is tea, which is good for flushing your liver and digestive system. There are a couple of different ways to make it. The quicker method is to pluck dandelions at the ground so you have flowers and leaves, thoroughly wash them and put them directly into your pot of boiling water for three minutes or so. Strain the flowers and leave out so you have only your brew, and if you wish add lemon, honey, orange zest, mint or a little sugar.

Dandelion Oil

Dandelion OilA dandelion oil infusion is good for working on stiff muscles or achy joints and is super easy to make. Pack some chopped up dandelion heads into a jar with an airtight lid and cover with olive or sunflower oil. Stir it around a little to release any air bubbles, then let it sit in a sunny place for a month. After a month or so strain out the flowers so the mixture doesn’t mold, and store in the fridge for up to a year, or in the pantry for no more than two or three more months. Or try this salve for something a little thicker.

Simple Sauteed Dandelion Greens

Simple-Sauteed-Dandelion-Greens jpgAll parts of the dandelion – flower, leaves, stem and root – are edible. The trick is knowing what to do with each part. If you’re trying to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, adding dandelion greens can give you the same benefits as dandelion tea, boosting urinary tract function and calming an upset stomach. Try this recipe for an easy preparation.

Dandelion Face Wash/Shampoo Rinse

Because of its cleansing properties, dandelion is an excellent base ingredient for a facial wash or shampoo rinse. Simply take washed flowers (not the leaves or roots) and boil them for about three minutes, then strain the mixture. You can then add any number of other ingredients, depending on what you’d like the wash to do. Try olive or coconut oil as a moisturizer, honey as a disinfectant, baking soda to help shrink pores, or make a sugar scrub mixture for exfoliating.

Dandelion Lotion Bars

Dandelion-Lotion-BarsAnother external application of dandelion is through lotion bars. These delightful little creations actually start with dandelion oil, as detailed above. Once you have well infused oil, melt one part oil, one part shea or mango butter and one part beeswax in a double boiler (or a recycled tin can) until smooth and press into desired mold. Get the full recipe here.

Dandelion Wishes

dandelion wishesWant a simple witchy way to use dandelions? Collect the flowers after they’ve puffed up and use them in your spells. Use one per wish and let the wind carry your desire away to be fulfilled. So mote it be!

Please note: dandelion root should not be ingested if you have irritable stomach or an acute inflammation. Always consult a medical professional if you have any doubts or questions before utilizing an herb.

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