I want to take a moment and talk about beginnings. I could talk about how the new moon in Aries starts on April 5th, just a few days after my birthday. New moons are perfect for new beginnings and cleansing of spaces or ritual tools. But let's delve deeper.
The phrase "new beginning" is redundant ; as an English teacher, it makes me cringe a bit when I use it. The word origin is "beginnan" in Old English, the first Old Germanic variant specifically identified as English. This tells you that as humans, we've been discussing what it means "to begin" since before Beowulf was written down and Christanized. As creatures who generally live linear lives, why the obsession with "new" beginnings? (Insert cringe here.) It implies a cyclical life, like getting sent back to start in Candyland or hitting the "reset to factory defaults" option for electronics.
I could get into a long and involved discussion about reincarnation, but I think I'll leave that to a person more learned on the subject. As an writer and feminist and teacher, however, I can speak to the power of beginnings in a literary and theoretical sense.
The beginning of a story is very important. It's not necessarily THE most important part, but it ranks up there! Beginnings have a "hook," or the attention-grabbing line that ensures the reader is sucked in. The appeal of escaping into another world --in essence, to begin again as someone else, without the pain of change or moving house-- is irresistible. The beginning is where the story has yet to unfold; where the writing hasn't shaped a path to take through the woods, the battles to fight, nor the pain to cry. Beginnings are not necessarily all joy-- just look at the opening scenes in Hamlet-- but they usually are before the inconvenience or even trauma of change and growth sneak in to toy with characters' and readers' hearts.
As humans, we love that. Beginnings are scary... anything can happen next... But again, ANYTHING can happen! We like being in charge of writing our own stories. We like choosing who we join our stories to as friends, lovers, and family. We like writing new lines to say and new actions to take. And we certainly like that, should we choose, we can hit "delete" and start again.
This new moon, I am not doing new beginnings. I'm doing re-commiting. I'm re-commiting to my dreams and forming a plan to achieve them. I'm keeping to the path I've been walking lately. It's leading me in a good direction. That's not to say that I'm telling you to abandon the idea of rituals or plans to start again. But I do encourage you to include a continuation of at least one thing that you're working on. Don't start it over, however flawed it may seem. Revise it! Write it down, as a statement, and examine the phrasing you used. Is it immediate? Firm? Believable? Accessible? If not, rephrased it. "I want to manifest a new job" becomes "I manifest new career opportunities every day." Write it powerfully. Write it actively. Since we're in Aries season, consider burning it ritually.
Author: Witchwriter of Silfren Circle
As you may have seen from my bio, I consider myself an ecclectic witch. I started out as a general Pagan, and my earliest mentors were Wiccan. I read a lot of books (a favorite is still PAGANISM: AN INTRODUCTION TO EARTH -BASED SPIRITUALITY by Joyce and River Higginbotham), shuffled tarot cards, and sneaked into parks for rituals that I didn't understand. I knew... I KNEW... That Paganism was the right religious umbrella for me, but all of the Paths felt like clothing that wasn't quite the right size.
While I lamented the lack of definition, I also knew and accepted that finding my Path was something to work on. Religion and Spirituality are paths and practices, not sidewalks and perfection. I knew that I had to stick it out and keep trying different things until I had a list of what felt right.
For me, the Practice part helped me define the Path.
My teachers faded away. Some became friends, others drifted off on other roads. For a while, I stagnated. I had books, tarot cards, herbs and thoughts, but no direction or motivation. The bookmarks stayed put, the cards went un-shuffled, the herbs went into soups and sauces. But I talked about my thoughts on spiritual subjects with friends and family. Some of those discussions were lovely, even enlightening, and others halted awkwardly. My parents were confused and sometimes upset about my religious choices-- I recall the shocked disappointment on Mom's face when I refused to attend Easter services -- but I stuck with my convictions.
Even if I wasn't super-clear on what they all were, what I followed what felt right to me.
Life continued; and I developed serious issues with anxiety, to the point where I had panic attacks. One day, as I felt a bad one starting, I heard a voice telling me to GO. I headed outside to the park across the street, where I had ventured only once before, years ago. I walked and walked that day, through the park, around the neighborhoods... I felt better. Especially in the park, where I was surrounded by plants and quiet. It almost felt like a hug... It certainly felt like home.
I don't recall specifics from this point, but around that week, I dove back into Paganism. I was drawn more and more into witchcraft. I liked that it could be practiced in conjunction with other religions, and I liked the variety. Witchcraft is a spiritual practice that places an unusual amount of personal responsibility on the practitioner for decisions about worship, beliefs, and faith. The practitioner must find their own answers; there is no prescription or dogma to follow. And yet, as I discovered, most of us find ourselves arriving at similar answers.
Not all of the time, of course. There will always be disagreements and discussion. As long as we stay appreciative of our differences, and not convince ourselves that we have The Answer and others Must Be Enlightened, we'll be ok. It's hard not to judge others for answers we don't understand. I recently had to call myself out about this. I honestly don't know if I would've had that kind of healthy self-awareness without Paganism or witchcraft.
And I think that's where ultimately my path lies. Witchcraft and Paganism for me are constantly helping me to access and assess myself and my dreams. The type of witchcraft that I practice may change labels -- currently, I can best define it as ecclectic -- but I am confident and comfortable in living my best life on my path. It's mine, after all. You're welcome to join me on it, and if we part, good luck and thank you for all you've taught me.
Candle magick is a very basic form of spellwork. The essential idea is to charge a candle with a specific intent, using a much or as little ceremony as you're comfortable doing, and then burning it all of the way down to activate the spell's energy and send the magick out to do your will. It's very easy and powerful.
Any candle will work! I have used birthday candles with great results, but chime candles, votives, tea lights, pillars and tapers work as well. Try to choose a color that corresponds to your intention (red or pink for love, green for money, ect) but white is universal. I also try to pick a manageable size if I intend to burn it all in one go. (You can, however, burn in increments; just use safe practices! Also, many traditions say not to blow out the candle --use a candle snuffer instead -- so that part is up to you!) I will generally opt for votives or chimes, since there is plenty of surface area but not overly -long burn times.
Why did I mention surface area? For two reasons: sigils, and dressing & dusting. Allow me to address sigils first. A sigil is a personal sign created for and charged with your intention. There are many excellent free resources to get you started with creating them. The easiest method is to write out your intention as a simple statement, cross out vowels and repeat letters, then rearrange the forms and shapes of the remaining letters until you like what you see. I charge mine by visualization and energy. You choose your method! Why do you need a sigil carved into the candle? It's not necessarily a "must," but it sure adds more punch to the spell! Once you've carved the sigil into the candle, it's a good practice to hold it for a while. If you're drawing or attracting with your spell, roll the candle towards you. Do the opposite for banishment work. This begins to create the flow of energy for the spell.
Next, it's generally best practices to dress and dust your candle. This means that you'll annoint it with an oil and roll it through herbs/spices/ect that match your intention. I like to blend my own oils, but you can buy great ones on Etsy or another retailer. Sun's Eye makes great ones, and they're on Amazon. Again, if you do this step, be conscious of directionality! Rub the oil root to tip for attraction energy, or tip to root for banishment. I usually sprinkle my "dust" on a plate or piece of foil; it helps mitigate mess. Roll the candle (remember directionality!) through the "dust" and you're ready to burn. Or, you can choose to wait. I once let a love spell "marinate" through a full moon cycle and when I burnt it on the following full.moon... WOW. Also, be aware that because of the herbs and oils, the candle flames may do some cool things. It's EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to use SAFETY AT ALL TIMES, because herbs bits combined with magick can be relatively explosive! There are many resources on the internet for interpreting the flame. I read them and use my gut.
You can also burn the candle on a day that corresponds to your intention (for example, burn a love spell on a Friday), or as soon as you like. Use safe burning practices AT ALL TIMES (I put mine on an old cookie sheet). You can choose to use as much ritual or ceremony as you like. I always speak my intention aloud before lighting up, and express gratitude after. Once the candle is spent, the spell is fully activated.
It can also be useful to examine the wax before discarding or re-purposing it. It's a bit like seeing the man in the moon... The shapes and forms that the wax takes can tell you about the success you achieved with the spell. Again, remember to allow the candle to burn down and out by itself. This ensures that the magick is worked with intention, but also in a way that naturally flows with the Universe. Below is a sample candle magick spell for you to try; safe spellwork and happy blessings!
Clear Communication Spell
White or blue candle
Carving tool (I use a manicurist's dotting tool)
Paper & pen
Oil of choice (self-blend: safflower or other oil with sage & eucalyptus essential oils)
Mugwart for insight & vision
Sage for clarity and anti-negativity
Rosemary for good memory
Hawthorn for courage to speak your heart
* If you're trying to sweeten up communication, add sugar!
Use the pen and paper to write your statement of intent, such as: "I have clear communication with my coworkers." If we cross out all vowels and repeat letters, we are left with: h, v, l, k & s. They consist of vertical lines, angles, and curves. Play with arranging the lines, curves, and angles until you have a symbol that represents the intention; this is your sigil. Using your tool, carves the sigil into the candle. (Don't fret if it's not perfect.) Spend some time holding the candle, sending energy into it through your hands and sigil. Then put some annointing oil on your hands, and rub it all over the candle (remember directionality!). Set the candle down on a protected surface. Wash your hands. Sprinkle the herbs (a little goes a long way) on a plate or something similar, and roll the candle on its side through them. The idea is that the oil allows the herbs to stick to the candle so that they lend their magick to yours. Roll towards you to draw good, clear communication your way! Now, you can let the candle sit until you wish to burn it, such as before a big meeting at work or on a Wednesday for Oden/Mercury. Or, burn it right away with whatever ritual or ceremony you wish. Be sure to say thank you when it burns out!
If you wish to read the wax, look for shapes and symbols appearing in the wax pools, puddles and waves. You may see couples embracing, hearts, entities, faces... I once saw a duck! These symbols have the same meanings in wax as they do in dreams or divine messages. For example, if you do this Clear Communication Spell, and you see lots of figures touching, that's probably a good omen! But if they're leaning away from each other, you may need to do more work. If there appears to be figures that have larger ones looming over them, that could mean that someone is spying or interfering!
If you read this, and do a candle magick spell of your own... Post it on Instagram and tag both Silfren Circle and me! We can use the hashtag #myfirstcandlemagick and support each other. Comment "Blessed be!" or " It is so! " to enforce each other's magick!
Blessings and Magick,
Witchwriter Author: Witchwriter of Silfren Circle
Witchcraft is a way of personal responsibility; we choose what we believe. How we express, worship, change, and live those beliefs are entirely our own and no one else’s. Sometimes, we meet people along the way who share our Path, and often we don’t. We still, however, have a certain set of rules and regulations upon which we can all agree to live our lives in a society. Some are set in state or federal laws—don’t rape, kill, or steal—and others are not so defined. Where does that leave the witch, especially in times of evil actions?
What is the social responsibility of the witch, when the witch’s path is so highly individualized?
At first it appears that it is up to each witch to decide, doesn’t it? And in a way, it is. There are some things that I would hope that as good, decent human beings, not just witches, we could all agree upon. On principle, we all agree that violence, especially unprovoked violence on innocent folk, requires actions to mitigate its effects and comfort those affected. Anyone can choose to provide donations, comfort and safe places to mourn and heal. But the witch?
The witch can do so much more… and ought to choose to do more.
As each path is so highly individualized, and emphasis placed upon doing what the witch feels is correct, there are a range of actions that a witch can take that are not available to others. Whatever your Path asks of you to do in this instance, DO IT. We must all find our way through the effects of evil actions, no matter their target. Hexes or curses upon the perpetrators, energy work aimed at comforting victims, candle magick to bring light to the darkness… witches have weapons to use and WE SHOULD USE THEM.
Recently, violence knocked down a door very close to where I make my home. I live in Pittsburgh, PA, and violent crimes are nothing new. However, this time, it was personal. The Tree of Life Synagogue was violated by a man crazed with hate, simply because of religious differences. He shot and killed eleven people, some of whom I knew personally from living and working in the area for years. As I watched the interfaith vigil in Oakland—the second such vigil—broadcast over the television, many different religious leaders stood up and gave messages of hope, comfort, and offered services. The Muslim community even offered to stand guard outside Jewish services or escort Jewish folk to the grocery store until they felt safe again. They raised over $90,000. I recently attended a pagan and witchcraft event… while the shooting was acknowledged verbally, there was no collection box or donation bin to be seen. I was highly disappointed to see that nothing was being actively asked of the attendees on behalf of the synagogue shooting victims.
But… then I checked my witch privilege.
Traditionally, witches have operated in secrecy, to keep themselves and each other safe. Many still need such protection and security, even though religious freedoms are supposed to be guaranteed by law in this country. Many times during history, every religious path has experienced such discrimination and persecution that secrecy of practice was necessary. I have recently experienced this personally. So I will not send out a call for a public display of solidarity from my fellow witches, nor will I hold it against the organizers of the event I recently attended. It is tempting! It’s sorely tempting because other, more socially accepted religious, secular and spiritual practices get to proudly state their contributions of money or emotional support or security. I recognize that asking witches to do this with so much persecution still aimed at us is irresponsible. It would be very nice if we could do that and still be secure in our jobs, friendships, and families… but, as I was recently reminded, that is a utopia at this point. We’ll get there someday, but we are not there yet.
So what is the social responsibility of the witch, when society refuses to respect, validate or sometimes even acknowledge them? What could we possibly owe a society who still, in the 21st Century, fears us and doesn’t want us near their kids? And should that responsibility depend on the individual ways of each witch?
First of all, as I said before, there’s the HUMAN responsibility: we’re all in this together, and we might as well help each other out because nobody else will. We all share this globe spinning unemotionally through space and hurtling itself around the sun, so just chip in and help out your fellow members of humanity. Or you can look at it this way: humans have one job to do, and that’s to be the best of ourselves that we can, including helping out each other whenever and wherever we can.
Witches are humans, but we have chosen to access and be accessible to something more. And while we are each answerable to that in our own individual ways, and we have our own separate ways of being accountable to that, the fact is: WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE. And we need to do more.
For some witches, this may look like casting Love & Light energy out into the world. For others, hexing perpetrators of crimes. And the list goes on: warding our neighbors’ houses, leaving talismans for protection in public spaces, setting out offerings to Brigid or Artemis on our altars, casting defensive spells over workplaces… even invoking the mercy of Quan Yin to help soothe victims. We must do more of what we are capable of doing, which is be witches! As all of our superheroes have taught us: with great power, comes great responsibility. Maybe we don’t have the power to repel bullets or read a stranger’s mind and intercept his ability to inflict massive destruction. We know what we are capable of doing as witches, and we know that the Universe responds to our will. We cannot wait for utopia to show up and enlighten those who cause us to hide ourselves, nor can we live in fear of violence. If the recent shooting proved anything, it is that religious intolerance eventually leads to violence, and so witches may be more tempted than ever to buckle down and disappear. But we can’t! Fear is no way to live. Regardless of how you think a witch should conduct themselves and regardless of what Path you walk, take it upon yourself to do something more. Society will only get worse if we don’t.
Author: Witchwriter of Silfren Circle