How To Make Yarn Dollies

Gothic Grimoire Review

I received this book a long time ago before I began studying Correllian Wicca.  Prior to that time my interests leaned more toward a left hand path instead of the center line I now try to balance on.

            If you are drawn more to the twilight hours then Gothic Grimoire by Konstantinos may be right up your alley.  From beginning to end the author shares his love and respect of the night mysteries with such poignant passion that it is almost tangible.  As this book is somewhat of a “Volume II” to his title Nocturnal Witchcraft: Magick After Dark it bypasses the basics and takes you right into advanced techniques and concepts.  Everything from self-initiation to advanced conjuring is covered with a healthy dose of mythology and lore sprinkled in.

            Overall I felt as though I were learning information from a capable and qualified source.  The subject matter, while I am sure is uncomfortable for some, was fascinating to me.  His personal experiences and indeed his personal Grimoire are right there in the text, exposed to the reader.  He did not shy away from delicate topics and where appropriate included words of warning and disclaimers. 

            Upon completing the book I was definitely compelled to not only attempt some of the techniques therein but also to read its companion novel, Nocturnal Witchcraft: Magick After Dark, which I did.   Konstantinos was able to express his values and beliefs without sounding condescending or superior in any way. 
            Had I been the author of this manuscript I would have included a chapter discussing some of the more popular “Dark” deities and their properties/origins.  He makes a lot of reference to God/Goddess but does not include any appreciable examples of them, choosing instead to refer to them as Dark Gods or Dark Ones.  Energies raised by invoking the Norse Hel would be quite different than working with the Egyptian Set and I feel the differences should have been discussed and carefully noted.

            Though the book is written as an advanced guide to nocturnal magick he includes basic rites for each of the eight Sabbaths which I found to be very helpful in understanding the night witch’s connection to not only the wheel of the year but the cycle of existence as well.  “Celebrating the Wheel of the Year is how a Witch strengthens his or her link with the magickal currents that flow through our world.” (Konstantinos, pg.25)  He goes on to explain that the rites contained in the chapter are his own versions and that they can be adapted and changed as much as necessary so long as the Sabbaths are honored. 

            In an attempt to gain as much from the text as possible I opted to attempt one of the rituals it contained.  I chose the Nocturnal Servant as described in Chapter 11.  The rite reminded me of a story I had read from Hebrew folklore where a Jewish craftsman convinced his rabbi to teach him how to bring a clay golem to life through faith and magick.  The spell outlined by Konstantinos was a bit more modern and of course contained a well-placed warning.  “Your servant’s actions are, for all the universe knows, your actions.  Use this being for evil, and evil will come to you.” (Konstantinos, pg.116)

            Rather than go into great detail I will simply state that, while the spell allows for a complete moon cycle, the tasks I set my servant to completing were completed within a week. 

            I learned through internet research that Konstantinos lives in New York where he has been a paranormal researcher for the last fifteen years.  He has a bachelor’s degree in English and technical writing, both of which show in the ease of which his texts are read and comprehended. 

            I would recommend this book to a select few, as I could see it frightening some and giving others (who may purposefully ignore the warnings) access to dangerous information that they aren't ready to respect.  But for those who can use it in a mature manner I believe it is a wonderful book for not only understanding the “darker” side of magick but also to help in understanding that you cannot have one without the other: light without the dark, dark without the light.  Both paths must tread together, whether or not they choose to acknowledge one another.

Wicca Wednesday: The Book of Shadows

The Book of Shadows

Though the modern Book of Shadows is believed to have originated by Gerald Gardner in the late 1940's, the concept of such a book dates back to the 5th and 4th century BC by the Mesopotamians.  Many incarnations of personal grimoires have been noted over the centuries and many superstitions and beliefs surround them.

The Book of Shadows can be used to record nearly anything of a magickal nature.  My personal book contains spells, rituals, incantations, an herbal glossary, crystal and color magic charts, planetary hours, wiccan and pagan symbols and imagery, poetry, sketches, and lyrics.  In fifth grade I began to study calligraphy and my entire book is hand written with a fountain pen.  There really is no right or wrong when it comes to filling your own pages. 

Some traditions believe that a coven should hold only one book for all of its members, held with the high priest/ess.  Today however this system isn't as widespread since covens don't always reside close to one another as well as the many solitary practitioners who don't desire to join or participate in a coven.  Often a coven with have one "master grimoire" which new initiates may copy pages from to add to their own books.  And now, with the invent of the internet, modern pagans may even have a virtual grimoire that can be downloaded to a tablet or an e-reader.

I began my personal Book of Shadows in 1998 from a sketchbook with blank pages.  To this day it serves not only as a reference for magickal workings but also as a visual roadmap of how far I have walked this path and where the journey has led.  There is a definite ebb and flow of light and shadow energies that is almost tangible within the text and artwork.

My family also has its own Book of Shadows.  I began it after we had our first son and each year I add more to it.  My husband and I decided long before we were married that our children would be raised in the pagan path and this is my way of creating something for them that can be passed on through the generations.  There is a hard copy which contains all of our sabbat traditions, family spells, ritual information, etc that rests in our front room on a shelf.  I also keep everything backed up on the computer so that when they are eighteen I can create one for each of them to take with them through life, to add to as they see fit and to pass on to their children.  I also added information about each of their family members (even the ones who aren't wiccan) so that they will have a sort of family tree that extends beyond just a name and birth/death date.

Some traditions state that the Book of Shadows should be laid to rest with the witch who created it.  Others believe that it should be passed to the witch's descendants.  This is a very personal choice and one that should be thought about thoroughly before reaching a decision.  

However you choose to handle it is completely up to you.  My personal book is open for viewing to my family since my energy went into creating them (or in the case of my husband, maintaining our relationship).  In my role as teacher to my children I can't imagine not using my own text to teach from.  This is, however, a personal choice.  Not everyone is comfortable revealing all of the thoughts and emotion that goes into such a book.

A personal grimoire is an excellent way to record your thoughts, spells, artwork, and ritual workings.  There is a reason that they have endured for centuries.  Your book should speak to you, it should sing.  There is no use trying to pour your energy into a book that just doesn't "mesh" with you.  Modern books come in all shapes and sizes and are made out of many different materials.  Leather, suede, velvet, wood, paper, even virtual memory.  Explore your options and enjoy the process.  Your book will be your companion for many, many years to come.

Archetype Cards

Of all the decks in my repertoire, the Archetype Cards by Caroline Myss are the most useful yet the hardest to use.

I bought this deck quite a few years ago and have used it since.  The deck contains a whopping 74 cards , making it easily the largest deck I own.  Each card represents a different archetype.  They range from common (warrior, hero, king, mother) to obscure (Don Juan, Alchemist, Femme Fatale) and each has a listed Light and Shadow attribute.  Also included are a guidebook and six blank cards so that you can add others that you discover to your deck.

Though it is technically an oracle deck it just doesn't read that way to me.  I am completely unable to do a full spread reading with these cards.  Even so, I use them nearly every time I do a reading, especially if it is for a new client.  Before any other cards are drawn I (or the client) draw one to two cards from this deck to represent their current state of being or frame of mind in regards to the situation at hand.  It has proven invaluable for interpreting the rest of the cards that my other decks reveal in the spread.  Because it showcases both the good and the bad within the archetype I am able to more accurately read for the client (or for myself) by coming from a voice of that archetype.

This deck may not be for everyone but it is very flexible which is one of the things I love about it.  It can also reveal pieces of your character that you either weren't aware of or had forgotten about.  You can pick up your own copy from Amazon here.

DIY Fairy Circle Kite

Wicca appeals to little kids on so many levels due to its mysticism and magick.  One being that children really identify with is the fairy.  Small winged creatures who flit about in the garden or around the home hold an almost tangible appeal to a child.  This week's craft is meant to enhance that sense of wonder.

diy wicca crafts for kids, pagan kids crafts

The fairy circle is a natural occurrence in nature as a ring of mushrooms growing in the wild.  British folklore tells that these circles are make by the dancing of the fairies.  The Fairy Circle Kite keeps with this tradition in that it is a wonderful addition to a child's play or dance.

For this project you'll need the following items:

A ring (I bought a set of clear plastic shower curtain rings for a dollar!)
Ribbon in varying colors
Washi tape or flower tape (if desired)

Begin by making sure that your ring is securely closed.  If you're using a solid ring then obviously you won't need to take this step.  But I got halfway done covering mine before I realized that it was closed but hadn't "locked" into place fully.  If you are wanting to cover your ring now is the time to get started.  Flower and washi tape both stick to itself so this was a fantastic choice for covering the ring.  In fact, the flower tape that I used make the ring smoother than it had been before I covered it!

It is completely up to you what type and length of ribbon you want to use.  I do suggest using ribbon that is 1/4" or less wide though.  Anything wider than that makes it difficult to work with and doesn't produce as nice of a result.  I used seven strands of ribbon to create mine.  Remember also to cut your ribbon twice as long as you want your tails to be since it will be folded in half in the next step.

For this step I chose to knot my ribbon over the bulk of the shower curtain ring where it connected under the flower tape to give the whole piece a more uniform appearance.  You'll want to fold one ribbon in half, put the center of the ribbon under the ring and pull the ends of the ribbon through the loop, making a single knot over the ring.

The next part is a bit trickier to explain.  Take one of the ribbon ends and push it through the slip knot that you just made like in this next picture:

Then, using the two ends of the ribbon, tie two single knots on top of one another (a double knot, basically) to firmly secure the ribbon to the ring.

Add your ribbons in whatever order you choose, just make sure that they are all close together.

And that's it!  These can be used by kids as a visual aid in raising energy or just for fun.  They encourage movement because it is by the wind moving through them that you really get to see them dance.  I gave mine to my four year old and let him be the judge:

 I think he likes it. :)  Happy crafting!

Raising Witches Review

When Caleb was born I threw myself into research mode to find the best way to educate him on the pagan faith without pushing it on him as so many of us had experienced with monotheistic religion as kids.  My search led me to this book:

Raising Witches is more than a simple teaching guide for parents.  The author, Ashleen O’Gaea, has compiled years of practice and study into writing a very user-friendly guidebook that takes the guessing out of how best to teach to children of any age.  While she of course has her own beliefs within the faith, she writes from a perspective that any practitioner can follow.

As a whole, this book is to be used as a guide for parents or teachers to educate children from infancy to late adolescence on the path of Wiccan and Pagan spirituality.  It carefully and clearly explains the stages of children’s development and capabilities for understanding material at each age group.  She offers advice, knowledge, and lessons for each stage along with age appropriate chants, spells, and activities.

Included in the text is a comprehensive breakdown and study of the Wiccan Rede.  The author explains the Rede before dividing it into sections and taking a look at each key point as well as comparisons between it at other “Golden Rules”.  “In a class we attended once, a student asked how you could reconcile ‘threefold’ with every action having an ‘equal and opposite’ reaction.  If we’d been teaching, we’d have answered that Newtonian laws apply only in certain realms of the physical dimension, and that what we do in the world has an effect on dimensions beyond the physical.” (O’Gaea, pg.126)  By doing this she puts the Wiccan Rede in a context that someone not familiar with the faith might be able to parallel with a more widely-known belief or understanding.

One recurring theme throughout the text is the need for your child or children to have a firm sense of safety and security.  “What children really need in the way of support, while they’re going through this first round of identity establishment, is security.” (O’Gaea, pg. 72)  She goes on to stress that a solid sense of sanctuary is essential for one’s emotional growth as well as spiritual.

The underlying tone of the book was one of concrete knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.  Not once did she leave you questioning whether the methods included were plausible or credible.  In fact, since reading her methods, I have chosen to implement many of her practices into the teaching and guidance I offer my own child.

The values gained both from reading as well as practicing the techniques described in the book are perfectly in line with my own beliefs, making this title a go-to reference for teaching my son the Wiccan faith. 
The only limitation I have found in reading this book is that while she incorporates song and chants she doesn’t include the accompanying tune to most of them.  Two lines of standard notation for guitar or simple piano would have gone a long way toward making this book that much better.

That being said however, I am unable to find fault in any other form.  Ms. O’Gaea has penned a manual that I believe every parent in the faith should read.  The way she separates the information and activities by age group makes the book that much more accessible in that it does not pour too much knowledge on the reader (and consequently the child) at any one time. 

What Ashleen O’Gaea did very well was write a book that is easy enough to read by a beginner yet thorough enough so as not to disappoint a seasoned practitioner.  Her points are clear and concise and her ideas are very well thought out and worded.  She even went so far as to include photographs of her own family to help illustrate not only the points of the text but to show that she practices what she preaches (so to speak).  By doing this she creates a tone of camaraderie rather than that of an authority figure.

A bit of digging on the internet revealed that Ms. O’Gaea is not only an author but was one of the founding priestesses of the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan Network, a very prominent organization in Tucson, Arizona.  She also helped to begin the Mother Earth Ministries-ATC, a Neo-Pagan prison ministry program.  She also, along with her husband, Canyondancer, provides clergy services in and around southern Arizona.

Again, I definitely recommend this book to any parent or teacher.  Not only those who follow the faith but also those who may have pagan or Wiccan students in their classes as a way of incorporating spiritual beliefs into everyday life.

This book can be purchased through nearly any new ago bookshop or you can find it on Amazon here.

Astrological Attributes

In keeping with the spell and ritual writing theme of the past couple of weeks here is a list of each astrological sign and the attributes associated with them.  This is handy when planning a ritual for many reasons.  Not the least of which being the position of the moon in the sky on the night of your intended rite.  A farmer's almanac will tell you which sign the moon is in on any given day for that year.  You can access the almanac online as well here.

Ascended Masters Oracle Review

As anyone who has been working with tarot for any length of time can tell you, there are certain decks that just sing to you.  Sometimes before you even open the package to feel the cards.  The Ascended Masters Oracle by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. is one of those decks for me.

At a first glance the deck is simply beautiful.  The borders of the cards vary in color from deep purple to olive, sage green to brick red.  And the edges have a shiny gilt finish.  The paintings are simply lovely.  Some sort of fade against the bold borders but for the most part they light up beautifully.  

As an avid lover of oracle decks I have to say that this one varies from any other I have in that it will give me a yes/no answer.  Most oracles that I work with tend to shy away from the definitive, choosing rather to guide you to your intended path.  Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of guidance to be had in this deck as well.  

One of my favorite aspects of this deck is that it spans over many paths an pantheons, not shying away from some who a lot of wiccans deem "unsavory".  It also included quite a few whom I had never heard of so I was able to expand my knowledge base by doing a bit of research.  

The included guidebook provides not only the meaning of each card but also a brief description of each Master featured.  Also it has instructions for clearing your deck as well as sample spreads and suggested questions.

This deck plays a core role in my standard tarot rotation.  It works well with other decks (a must if it is to thrive in my repertoire) though I find it doesn't stand alone as well as some others.  Overall I recommend it as a solid oracle.  You can find a copy here on Amazon.

Crafty Monday: Litha Wreath

With Litha just around the corner I decided to make a new wreath for our home in honor of the midsummer holiday.

Out here in the Arizona desert the climate and environment doesn't offer much in the way of green grass or summer leaves unless it's artificially planted.  So my wreath is a combination of yellows and oranges to reflect that.  But of course you can make yours in any colors you'd like.

Things you'll need:

Fabric - One yard was almost perfect
Decorations - I used extra resin pieces that I had lying around.  Also some fabric butterflies that I found at the dollar store
Glue gun
Pool Noodle
Duct or packing tape

I read on Pinterest awhile back about saving money on wreaths by forming the base from a pool noodle rather than spending an outrageous amount for a premade base.  I thought I'd give it a go with this project.

Cut the noodle to the length you want your wreath to be.  You'll notice
right away that the noodle just doesn't want to make a circle.  It will bend and kink rather than make a smooth shape.  The way I found to get around this was to manhandle it into submission.  Bend it, twist it, basically loosen the entire thing up.  Eventually it will be flexible enough to form a circle.  At that point join the two ends and tape them together.  I used packing tape and it worked quite well though the original pin called for duct tape.  I put a few layers of tape on just to make sure that it would hold and not pop apart later.

This next step is completely optional, depending on the look you are going for but I chose to cover my wreath with fabric because I didn't want any of the noodle showing through.  To do this I cut four inch wide strips of fabric and wrapped them around the noodle, securing them with hot glue.

Now for the overall style of my wreath I wanted that bunchy fabric look so I cut the rest of my fabric into strips about 3 inches wide and set to work gluing them down.

Once I had gotten all the way around I wasn't really happy with how it looked.  It was a little sparse.  So I added another row of bunchy fabric on the outside edge and one on the inside edge to give it more bulk and fluff.

Now comes the really fun part.  You can decorate it any way you want!  I chose little fabric butterflies, God and Goddess faces that were left over from previous projects, ribbon, etc.  The center star I made simply by gluing ribbon strips along the inside of the ring.

Once you've got the front how you like it it's time to attach a ribbon to the back so that it can hang.  I chose a simple strip of sheer red ribbon and hot glued it in place.  Make sure you bulk this glue up a bit so that it has a very secure hold and give it a bit of time to dry fully before you try to hang the wreath.

And that's it!  You can make just the one or you can make eight (one for each sabbat) as I plan to do.  Happy crafting!

Elemental Tarot for Kids

Last year I was interviewed by Miss Karin of The Pagan Homeschool Network.  Afterward she gave me this:

Whaaat?  A tarot deck just for KIDS?!  The Elemental Tarot for Kids by Rayne Store was the coolest thing I'd ever seen!  I opened the box and was just amazed at the detail and thought that went into its creation.  The cards are big and the pictures are bold and colorful.  The text is easy to read and large for children who are just learning to do so.

Every card has its name at the top and its basic meaning on the bottom, making it a wonderful tool for helping kids memorize the meaning of each card.  

The deck is split into five parts: the major arcana, earth, air, water, and fire.  Each section is easily identifiable by the border color of the card.  The major arcana are white, earth are green, air yellow, water blue, and fire is red.  Each image clearly shows the card's title, making it useful for even preschool children as flashcards!

Also included in the box are several cards that teach not only different tarot spreads but also tarot ethics, instructions, and the order of the cards.  They can be kept with the deck for quick reference since they are of the same size and material.

Also included is a 96 page companion book.  It differs from regular tarot guidebooks in that you can plainly see that it was created with children in mind.  It has puzzles, quizzes, and exercises designed to help children get more acquainted and comfortable with not just this deck but tarot in general.

I absolutely recommend this set to anyone with children who show an interest in divination.  I plan to introduce it to my older son this year when he starts preschool.  To get a set for yourself you can either visit Rayne Storm's website here or simply hop on Amazon here.

Cleansing Your New Altar

The following ritual I wrote to accompany the Pocket Altars that I sell in my Etsy shop.  However it can be used to cleanse and purify nearly any magical tool or set.

Cleansing Your Altar

Ingredients:  A small cup of water and a pinch of salt.

            Place your hand over the water.  Make three Tuathail (counterclockwise) circles over the water, concentrating on removing any negativity from it.  Say something to the effect of: 
            “Behold, I exorcise you, O creature of Water, casting out from you any impurities which may lie within!”
            Visualize yellow-white light pouring down from your hand into the water, and forcing out all negativity.
            Now make three Deosil (clockwise) circles with your hand over the water.  Say something like:
            “And I do bless and consecrate you to this work!”
            Visualize the water being filled with a clear, bluish white light.  Visualize the water filling with this light until it shines as brightly as if there were a blue-white sun within it.
            Now turn to the salt.  Place your hand over the salt and make three Tuathail circles over the salt, concentrating on removing any negativity from it.  Say something to the effect of: 
            “Behold, I exorcise you, O creature of Earth, casting out from you any impurities which may lie within!”
            Visualize yellow-white light pouring down from your hand into the salt, and forcing out all negativity.
            Now make three Deosil circles with your hand over the salt.  Say something like:
            “And I do bless and consecrate you to this work!”
            Visualize the salt being filled with a clear, bluish white light.  Visualize the salt filling with this light until it shines as brightly as if there were a blue-white sun within it.
            Now say something to the effect of:
            “Behold, the salt is pure!  Behold the water is pure!  Purity into Purity then, and purity be blessed!”
            Add the salt into the water.  You have now made sacred water.
            Dip your finger into the mixture and touch it to each ritual item, including the cloth.  As you do this, visualize each piece being flooded with yellow light.  Let the yellow light fill the area, going out in all directions for a good distance.  This is the act that actually sends out the negativity, so focus on it as strongly as possible.
            As you do so, say something like:
            “Behold I cleanse and purify my altar.”
            When you have completed this, take a moment to clear your mind before holding your hands over the altar.  Say something to the effect of: 
            “I bless and consecrate this space!”
            You have now cleansed and blessed your altar and prepared it for your magical workings.

**The speaking parts are simply suggestions.  If another phrase or sentence feels right then by all means, use it!  

Enchanted Oracle/Destiny's Portal Tarot Review

Third in my personal tarot arsenal is the Enchanted Oracle/Destiny's Portal Tarot by Barbara Moore with illustrations from Jessica Galbreth.

The package comes with the deck itself, the guidebook, a silver organza carrying bag, and a small fairy charm that can be used as either a pendant or a pendulum.  My first impression of this deck was that it was absolutely gorgeous.  The illustrations are stunning and the guidebook is very easy to understand and to navigate.  

As I have noticed with most oracle decks, the Enchanted Oracle isn't necessarily good for yes/no type questions.  It is much, much more effective for seeking counsel in regards to situations or circumstances.  The guidebook even states that in instances where a yes/no is required that it is best to use the fairy charm as a pendulum to divine the answer.  

Each card is recreated in the guidebook as a black and white image with all of its information on the next two pages, making it much easier to identify the card in question at a quick glance.  For each card there is a description of the fae chosen as its representative as well as an easy to understand Oracle Message which gets to the heart of the reading.  

The guidebook also states that this deck is most effective as a "one card spread" deck and it certainly is.  It is wonderful when used each morning to draw one card as a guide throughout your day.  It is a bit more tricky when used in "traditional" spreads since each card is very definite and stands just fine on its own.  Interpreting them together requires some skill.  Also since there is no arcana in this deck you can't rely on previous tarot knowledge to help you get acquainted with it.  This deck is its own entity and really demands to be treated as such.  I tend to find it extremely flexible though when used together with other decks.  Especially other oracle decks.

This deck was originally purchased by my husband as it sang very loud to him in the store.  However with the pendulum being his oracle of choice it was passed on to me about a year or so ago.  I don't get to use it as often as I would like though when I do I absolutely love it.  Mine was purchased at Barnes and Noble in Scottsdale, Arizona but you can find it on Amazon here.

Perler Bead Captain America

I know I just did a perler bead tutorial not long ago but I fell in love with this idea and just had to make it happen.  When I was younger my favorite Nintendo game was Mega Man II.  *cough* it still is *cough*.

When my second son was born we did his room all up in superheroes since my husband is a major fan.  So when I saw this guy I just HAD to do it.

How cute is that??

Celeste | iOS App Review

This week on Friday Favorites we're talking about an iOS app, Celeste by Astrolabe.  This used to be a paid app but now it's free in the app store.

If you are into astrology at all then this is definitely the app for you.  Set it with your location and every time you open it it will give you information about the location and associations of the planets. 

The part about it that I love is that you can input any date, time, and place and it will give you a full comprehensive chart for that moment.  For example, I put in a random birthdate:

And it brings up not only a visual chart but also detailed information for every point on it:

Definitely a must-have for on-the-fly astrology work.  

Now I don't have an Android so I can't speak for any charting apps for that platform.  Anyone know of something comparable?