A Spell for Creativity

20140714_171745I’m not much of one for spells. I don’t really think of myself as a ‘witch,’ or a practitioner of magic. Most of my spells are ritual workings, meant to honor the changing of the seasons in some way, a method of honoring the deities on the High Days.

Occasionally, though, I get crafty and branch out. Nearly two years ago, a friend and I decided to get together at our local co-op, which serves not only as a grocery store, but also as a coffee shop, cafe, and hang-out for like-minded folks. We were both interested in magical crafts, and we decided to try our hand at making witch bottles*.

At the time, I was stuck on a book and in a professional rut, so I opted to make a bottle designed to clear myself of stagnant energies and to increase creativity. A month later, I wrote a new book in a fever of inspiration, one that stands out still as some of my best work.

Did the spell itself make a difference? I’m not sure. Regardless, the MAKING of the bottle hoped to focus me, and having the prettily decorated bottle nearby in my creative space helped to remind me what I wanted to accomplish. Whether you believe in the power of the spell itself or the symbolic, focusing power of the spell’s making, it’s a useful tool, one that ought not be dismissed.

Here’s what I did.

“‘Clean Up’ Creativity Mix”: This mix is intended to soothe one during and draw one through a period of professional and/or creative struggle; to boost recovery of mental stability and creativity, it’s meant to help one regain one’s creative confidence.

Ingredients (choose from what you may have available; the more the better!):

  • chamomile: reduce anxiety
  • bergamot (Earl Grey tea): confidence booster
  • ginger: courage
  • barley: stamina, creativity
  • cloves: comfort, prosperity; helps to achieve goals
  • basil: creativity, success; promotes emotional/mental soothing
  • beans: wish magic
  • bay leaf: luck
  • marjoram: luck, ease for heartbreak
  • pyrite: prosperity
  • quartz: cleansing, absorbing negativity
  • orange peel: luck and energy, successful relationships
  • coffee beans: energy, lethargy-breaker
  • decorative items for focus; in my case, green ribbon and fresh water pearl beads to draw prosperity
  • attractive, clean, clear glass bottle, commonly available at craft stores; an empty jam jar will work just as well!

Drop the following mix into a bottle in attractive layers; keep in mind that smaller spices, such as finely ground herbs like basil and orange peel, will sink to the bottom, as will heavier items such as crystals. Larger, lighter items like chopped cinnamon and dried beans will hold their place and “float” atop smaller or more dense layers.

Once you’ve filled your bottle, decorate it in a way that speaks to YOU of what you’re trying to accomplish; in my case, green ribbon and green leaf beads spoke of prosperity and fertility, while pearl beads reminded me of the triumph of creativity through difficulty. Place the bottle in an area you’ll see it while you’re working. Because the mix is a fragrant one, don’t hesitate to handle the bottle and smell the herbal mixture: it may just give you the energizing, creative spark you need!

Finally, while I’ve provided resources I’ve used, don’t hesitate to refer to books and authors whose works speak to you. Indeed, be sure to use your own instincts and creativity when creating such a spell; since you absolutely are not consuming what you make, you may get creative with ingredients. This spell is for display only, and you can use the items that speak to you of your own needs.

Recommended Resources:

Bradley, Kris. Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2012. Print.

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Print.

– Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2010.

Wicca in the Kitchen. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2011

*A witch bottle is, in its essence, a bottled spell comprised of herbs, crystals, and other symbolic items, meant to protect, incite, or inspire. If you’re curious about witch bottles and their history, I recommend reading the above resources, as well as the following websites:

All About Witch Bottles, by Jason Mankey, Patheos.com

Creating a Domestic Witch Bottle, by Kris Bradley, Examiner.com

Opening a Witch Bottle, by Samir S. Patel, Archaeology.org

 

 

 

A Short Nightly Devotional

This is the devotional I do at my altar every evening before bed. It’s short (10 minutes, give or take, depending on your preparation level, and how long you want to meditate), and designed to create a state of peace and gratitude at the end of the day. Each phrase starts “global,” by thanking the Being for a wider part they play, and then moves “local,” thanking the Being for helping me in personal ways.

I say “designed,” but a better word would be “evolved”: the words I use have changed and fluctuated a lot over the last years, and they’ve finally settled into something I’m happy enough with to share. Last night I wrote it down, because a friend of mine told me she rarely has time to do daily work at her own altar, and when she does, she has a hard time finding the words to speak.

I mentioned preparations, but not much is required beyond standard ADF Hallows: a well, fire, and tree. My well is always filled, and it sits with my candle-fire and tree on my altar, along with three candles for the three Kindred. Beneath my altar, I have a basket with bags of oats and other dry offerings, a bottle of whiskey, and incense, so offerings are at my fingertips.

The truth? You don’t even need the Hallows. An offering bowl and a bag of oats will do the trick.

So, here you are:

Grey Wren’s Short Nightly Devotional

I come before the Sacred Well, the Sacred Fire, and the Sacred Tree to give thanks for the blessings given me this day. If desired, spend a moment meditating on the Well, Fire, and Tree: a short Two Powers meditation works well here.

I give thanks to the Earth Mother for the support and sustenance she gives me, in this rite as in all things. (Make offering.) Hail Earth Mother.

I give thanks to the Ancestors for making my life possible, and for the guidance and blessings they give me. (Make offering.) Hail Ancestors.

I give thanks to the Nature Spirits for sharing this world with me, and for the guidance and blessings they give me.  (Make offering.) Hail Spirits of Nature.

I give thanks to the Gods and Goddesses for the magic they bring to this world, and for the guidance and blessings they give me. (Make offering.) Hail Shining Ones.

Optional: Repeat this pattern to thank your patrons for their presence and for in your life. For example, I might say:
I give thanks to Brighid for the warmth and inspiration she brings to my home, and for the guidance and blessings she gives me. Hail, Brighid.

Optional: At this point, I draw a tarot card to serve as message for the day to come. I leave it on my altar throughout the next day as a reminder.

I gave thanks to all the Kindred for the presence in my life, and the blessings they have given me.

 

And that’s that.

Autumn Update

I’ve been neglecting you all, haven’t I?

It’s not deliberate: I’ve been incredibly busy so far this fall, so busy I even took a brief break from my grove activities! I’ve been doing twice-daily devotionals, working on some study program excitement, engaging in some interesting druidic correspondence, and even trying my hand at a few small works of magic. I took a quick trip to Three Cranes Grove for the autumn equinox, which was very fun: it’s always a delight to see friends and meet new folks. I’ve also been planning for an upcoming all-night Druid Moon.

And that’s not even mentioning my personal and professional life, where things are really cooking, so much so that I’ve finally succumbed to a nasty autumn cold. Yikes. I thought I’d take advantage of the illness-induced slowdown, though, to put down a few musings here.

I spent some time last week reading Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery, which was a truly charming (haha, oh, puns) book. Most of you who read this blog know I’m not really into hardcore magical-practice, that I feel doubtful about spells, ceremonial magic, grimoires, calling on spirits to do my bidding, and other things of the kind. I’m starting to get over my hebejeebs, though, partly for personal spiritual reasons and partly because I’d like to be able to perform workings for those around me.

Household witchery (or domestic magic: pick your own name) has been my gateway magic, if you will. I enjoy crystals, largely because of their beauty and the symbolic magical correspondences assigned to them, though I’d dispute their New Age healing powers I like herbs for the same reasons, though I do credit them with palliative properties. And household magic capitalizes on common, readily available ingredients like kitchen herbs, seeds, candles, and easy-to-acquire stones.

[Sidebar: That's one aspect of Mrs. B's book that I loved: she recommends common ingredients and offers substitutes for the rarer herbs. For example, she recommends using an Earl Grey tea bag for bergamot. Easy, brilliant, and less costly than trying to track down herbs no one keeps in their pantry.]

Herbal magic, candle magic, and the creation of oils or incense: these, to me, all fall into the domestic category. I’d like to create a few basics to use for purifying and consecrating tools, soliciting inspiration, asking for protection, or banishing negativity.

I’m a complete newbie at this side of Druidry, though, so I’m learning as I go. One thing that’s already tripping me up a bit is balancing the spiritual and practical aspects of magic. Am I praying for aid, when asking for inspiration, or putting my own intent for inspiration onto, say, a candle, and willing it into life?

It’s a distinction I need to make for myself, I think. Hmm.

Conversations from a Mixed Household

My husband and I are working through the ongoing process of balancing a ‘mixed marriage’ lifestyle. It’s something I’d like to write about extensively, and I’m tentatively planning on pitching an article to a ‘real’ publication. That said, I’m not an expert, but I am very lucky to have a supportive spouse. Most of our arguments are touched with humor. The following is an excerpt from a real Google Chat conversation…


Altus:
so, but we’re agreed that we tell the children nothing of your heathen ways and raise them as rigid secular humanists?

Wren:
lol
what’s a rigid secular humanist?
and what if they want to celebrate yule and imbolc?
imbolc is fun, you leave stuff outside to get blessed, and then you eat bread and butter. or cheese.

Altus:
you’re going to raise them to believe in fairies aren’t you

Wren:
no…
“if you don’t clean your room, the bad fairies will live in it and hide your toys! bad fairies love a messy room!”
:-D

Altus:
you get to field the 2am ‘The bad faries are trying to steal my liver’ or whatever then

Wren:
lol

 

There you have it. All things are possible, with just a little laughter.

Magic 101

I am new to this tradition.

There, it’s been said. I’ve only been a practicing pagan for about 19 months. Before that, I was sad and lost, before that I tried to be Catholic, and before that, I was Catholic. I went through the Goddess experimentation phase when I was about 12, doing some divination and trying to think about deity in terms of sheity, but I won’t take the cop-out that many newish pagans do and say, “I think I always was Pagan, I just never knew…” Nope. I was raised Catholic, though I do remember I had a disconcerting (to the Sunday school teachers, anyway) tendency to stare at the flame of a candle during prayer and think of it as the Holy Spirit.

I digress. Still, I’m coming to my pagan and magical practice with little background in such things. I’ve read tarot for years, but always thought of it as a tool for contacting one’s own subconscious, not as a magical connection with the divine.

Things are changing, though, and I’m starting to implement more magical practices into my domestic routine. I’ve set up a kitchen altar, I’ve made a place for Brighid on my creative work table, and I’m starting to think about creating household holiday/High Day traditions. I’m also, yes, starting to think a few years down the road, when we may have wee druids joining the family—if the wee ones are interested in religion, of course—and how I’ll want to work the old ways into our family life.

And it all boils down to this: I’m not sure where to start.

I’ll be more specific. I recently fell in love with Pagan Soccer Mom Kris Bradley’s idea of a blessing bowl, a magical object used to charge and, well, bless items that need some divine lovin’. I passed the idea on to a druid-friend who is already a mother, she loved the idea as well, and we’ve been hunting the perfect bowl ever since.

I never found a perfect bowl, but I did find a good bowl, brown on the outside with a green lotus pattern on the inside. (And pretty bowls never go to waste in our house. They’re always full of fresh fruit, vegetables, bits of my wire projects, or being used to hold keys and sunglasses.)

I brought it home, washed it semi-ceremoniously, then said, “Er… now what? It doesn’t feel special.”

Of course it’s not. It’s a bowl I bought at TJMaxx. There’s nothing special about it. Kris Bradley’s bowl became special over time and use. I’m willfully starting a tradition from scratch. I don’t have a full ritual on my calendar until next week’s druid moon, and I have no specific rite to make sacred this bowl.

This is where Magic 101 comes in: I wish I had some reliable, handy magical cookbook, with general recipes for blessings and charging and protecting, and an encyclopedia of “ingredients” at the back. I wish I had a great-grandmother’s grimoire or commonplace book or anything to give me somewhere to start. But even my great-grandparents were so far removed from their Ozark and Appalachian roots that they would have had no help to give. Our family folklore is long since lost to time.

I know I’m trying to skip to the end, to have knowledge handed to me on a platter. The real answer is to start that book, to keep a journal with what I do now to bless or charge or protect, to experiment with ingredients and develop my own encyclopedia. But that won’t make my wish come true until I’m grey-haired and handing the thing on to my granddaughter.

I suppose I’m generating the raw material. Because I didn’t know what to do, I improvised: I took the bowl, put it on my altar, and put into items I know (can feel) are already blessed or charged: my beat up old triskele necklace,  a piece of quartz that lives on my altar, my bit of the maypole cloth, my brat bhríde, a couple of holey stones, my Manannán mac Lir necklace. I figure the bowl will pick up some good energy from my daily time at my altar, and those already special items will leak some of their good vibes into the bowl.

DSCN1620

It seemed as good a place to start as any. I guess I should write it down.

But I could use some guidance all the same: How do you all know what to do? Do you, as I did, just do what feels right? And, the big question, do you know of a great book that will help me start working some magic?