RuneSoup Grimoires Course

After Sigils came Grimoires, specifically their history and development with a view to helping people to give it a go should they want to.

I came at this from the historical perspective. The development of the magical process surrounding the grimoires has taken place over thousands of years and touches upon subjects that interest me such as Hekate and the PGM. Although these connections weren’t the main focus of the course the whole concept appealed to my inner history geek.

So over the course of about 20 hours of podcast Gordon took us on a journey from the Solomonic Prehistory of the grimoires right through the rise and fall of the classic civilisations, past the manipulations of Italian city states and into the new world.

The biggest hump to get across in the course was the aptly named ‘Spirit Lists Car Crash’. The deliberate deconstruction and mixing up of spirit lists during the Blue Grimoire and later periods makes it very hard to navigate the practices but Gordon provided a great base level to start from.

My Take Away

(I may have come up with this title whilst looking at my local fish and chip shop)

The ultimate focus of the course was to get us to perform our own invocation, specifically that of Birto from (Treasure Spiris). I did attempt, and will perform again, the invocation though I was likely unsuccessful in my first attempt. There was some indication that I garnered the attention of something but I was not able to achieve a visible manifestation and fit remains to be seen if my petition yields fruit. I am fighting my circumstance and setting, none of which are conducive to working with spirits according to Dr Skinner, but I do believe these can be overcome as my circumstances are not too far removed from those before. My biggest barrier was trying to choke out all those thee, thou’s and aforesaid’s so there is definitely going to be a “dumbing down” when it comes to language used. Barbarous words I can cope with, 16th and 17th century convention not so much.

Still, I will plug away at it and I recommend anyone with even a passing interest in getting their heads around the history and use of the grimoires hook themselves up with this course.

The third course, journeying, has just drawn to a close. Due to my circumstances in the last few months participating in the course has been neigh on impossible. I have either been on holiday, travelling or too uncomfortable to do anything more than listen to the content, which as always was brilliant. It remains to be seen what comes next as the voting “papers” have just been sent out; fingers crossed for something on the PGM. Any excuse to get my Betz out.

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Pagan Parenting – Ceremonies

Pregnancy  

Pregnancy is a magical time. New life is blossoming in every way and ultimately represents a new chapter in our lives.

Many feel drawn to create altars to celebrate the blessing of pregnancy as soon as conception is confirmed. This permanent and evolving altar serves a number of functions throughout pregnancy and after birth; enabling the prospective parents not only to celebrate their state of glorious experiencing but also support the process magically.

Birth Altar

Such altars initially start out as fertility altars. It doesn’t matter whether the couple performed fertility rites ahead of conceiving, though any altar previously dedicated to that purpose should form the basis of this one.

Items to incorporate into the space may include eggs, seasonal flowers, pomegranates and other fruit or animals associated with fertility and multiplicity.Associated colours would be green, for growth, and pink, representing love.

As the pregnancy progresses milestones, such as ultrasound scans, can be commemorated and the space can be used to perform personalised rites of celebration on a regular basis.

As time and pregnancy progress the symbolism of the altar should adapt to represent new life this might include using images of young animals with their parents. You may also wish to include images of family members that have gone before at this point.   

After the birth of the child a final rite of thanks and celebration should be performed. In particular any deities or powers invoked during its use should be thanked and any promise of offerings made good on. Once done the space can be deconstructed and cleansed for reuse in other ways.

Naming Ceremony

As society has increasingly become more secular there has been a rise in the popularity of naming ceremonies. These ceremonies focus on the welcoming of the newborn into both the family and often wider network of friends and community. The same kinds of promises of guidance and support are made by family and friends but the emphasis on a ‘God fearing’ duty has been removed.

In modern times these welcome ceremonies are performed within months of the new arrival however the ancient ceremonies which many Pagans like to cite as the origin of suggested ceremonies were more often carried out as children reached their third or fourth year. This is the point in life when a child had proved it was likely to survive and be able to offer something to society. Many modern pagans are uncomfortable with this seemingly mercenary attitude but in a time when infant mortality rates were high and the demands of life and society great such timings are understandable.

As a result most naming ceremonies are carried out in accordance with the prevailing Christian time scale of within a few months of birth. The necessity to baptise within the first minutes and hours of birth to avoid original sin is long since past and to retain this early welcome is more in keeping with social norms.

Organising a Ceremony

There are many naming ceremonies published in books and on website and it can appear that they differ wildly from one another. One reason for this is that many ceremonies are written to fit a particular tradition or understanding of Paganism. The underlying format of the ceremony is so simple that they can be adapted to suit the family needs. It is not unusual for a nuclear pagan family to have extended family members who are not pagan and the benefit of the naming ceremony is that it can be made ‘Pagan Lite’ by using the Humanist Ceremony and adding appropriate readings and invocations if / where appropriate.

There are people who, for a fee, will carry out a naming ceremony on your behalf. Often they will be willing to working with the family to build a ritual according to their needs however some may wish to limit themselves to their own traditions.

Given that there are no universally recognised officiating Pagan bodies those unable to find, or afford for someone to officiate on their behalf in an official capacity can always ask a trusted friend to officiate for them. Equally, there is nothing to stop the parents carrying out the ritual themselves, although the tone pf the ceremony may need to be carefully managed.

Themes to Consider

When constructing a naming ceremony there are a number of elements which can be included in addition to the central reason for the event, the presentation and naming of the child.

  • Consider statements on the following subjects
  • Responsibilities of parent towards child
  • Responsibilities of wider family towards child
  • Responsibilities of sponsors towards child
  • Nature of guidance in respect of nature
  • Nature of guidance in respect of wider society
  • Nature of guidance in respect of deities (if appropriate)

These may be made organised as statement and response, or repeat after me statements and pendants by the official or participants.

In Set Up

It isn’t necessary to cast a fully and ceremonial circle, or indeed possible or reasonable in all circumstances. That being said the symbolism of the circle is highly appropriate and where possible attendees should invited to stand in a circle or semi circle around the central participants.

Given that a wide range of people may be attending the ceremony it is advisable to keep ritual elements as few and/or as simple as possible. If casting a circle keep summoning simple and general. If invoking deity don’t get too in depth about their attributes, particularly if they are prone to be misunderstood by those lacking familiarity.

Ideas for Gifts

Living in a materialistic culture we tend to find new born are inundated with stuff. Toys, cloths, equipment; the chances of getting something in triplicate are high. When I was planning our naming ceremony we were given two suggestions for gift giving ideas, both of which fit into the concept of blessing a new arrival.

Blessing Boxes

Invite family to buy a gift for the child to receive in the future, say when they are 16 / 18. The gift should represent a wish that the giver has for the child. I invited people to write a little message on a tag which was then attached to the gift so that in years to come the intention, and giver,  were identifiable. Some of the suggestions may be

  • Animals ornaments with totem associations
  • Coloured candles
  • Crystals with meanings

After the ceremony the items and tags are placed in a box. There is no ceremony but at a later date it will be a fun family exercises to open it up and review with your grown child the gifts, the givers and all the thoughts and memories that go with them.

You don’t have to leave them alone for ever more. I have added items to the girls boxes over time, particularly as relatives have passed. Memories of milestones and activities are also things I have added, making the box as much about memories as blessings

Wish Trees

This option is really one for those with a little more space and requires the purchase of a tree sapling. The sapling, which represents the child and their future growth, should form a central part of the ritual and attendees invited to write down wishes and blessings for the child and to tie them to a tree.

After the ceremony  (and writing down who wished what for posterity) bury the wishes amongst the roots of the tree so they may nourish the seedling as it grows. So too, sympathetically at least, the child will be nourished.

Those that I am aware of having done this have invited those wishing to give to the child to gift the cash equivalent which has then been uses to start savings accounts for the child’s future.

Coming of Age

Coming of age ceremonies based on biological development are something society has has a fluctuating relationship with. Historically, and what is now called the Middle East, such times were important in marking when a child became ready to take on more adult responsibilities within their society.

Female

Female coming of age ceremonies are inextricably linked to the ability to reproduce. Those first, bright signs of fertility signal that a girl has become a young woman and is ready to take on fuller responsibility within the community. In times past these were not just relating to domestic roles but those of motherhood as well.

Male

In contracts, coming of age ceremonies for young males ceremonies were more often based on age, or the achievement of certain feats and social goals. Although physical maturation and development of adult characteristics may have played a part in timing they were not as significant with comparable female events in terms of significance.  

The form these ceremonies took would be dependant on the society and the particular skills or characteristics held desirable in the male population. Any even would have been designed to highlight the desirable characteristics of that society either through deed or instruction.

Modern Equivalents

In recent decades and in particular within spiritual circles, that has been an increase in the observing of female coming of age ceremonies. So called Red Tent rituals or Menses celebrations are used to celebrate feminine maturation and coming of age. These celebrations focus on the feminine identity and role of women as bringers of life and fertility. The appearance of the menses is is a key on dictionary that a your woman is biologically capable of bringing life into the world, if not physically so.

There are a number of issues that arise from this revival of observation. Firstly, in a modern western society girls can begin their menses as young as 9 and 10 years old as a result of the improvements in diet and health care. Historically, such ages ranges would have been unusual, even amongst the higher classes. Even today, these tender ages are hardly classified as being ‘mature’  and the concept of coming of age at this point seems somewhat premature.

Secondly, not everyone agrees that the revival of such practices are a positive step. Red Tents were, originally, a form of social exclusion of women who were experiencing their menstrual cycle based on the believe that women were made impure by this natural process. The issue of social exclusion, lack of access to feminine products and even healthcare because of these antiquated believes is still very real issues in this day and age, particularly in third world countries. Whilst many who recreate Red Tent and similar rituals do so from a standpoint of reclaiming femininity not all agree that it is a universally positive process.

Next is the tonality that is associated with some Red Tent movements. Take this as an example. Presumptive? Definitely. Creepy? Pretty much. It is hardly a good advert for the Red Tent movement but even step back the movement encourages some unhelpful and hazardous (biologically anyway) practices, such as free bleeding in an attempt to reject the patriarchy.

Finally, many feel that such biologically driven ceremonies exclude too many people from participating. In addition to excluding transgender children it is important to note that not every young woman will experience a menstrual cycle for a whole host of medical reasons.

For these reasons, and others which I am struggling to articulate, I won’t be recommending this kind of ritual. Instead, I belief that such coming of age ceremonies should be based on age in relation to societal role and responsibility.

The obvious age to go with is sixteen. Generally this is considered the point of social maturation it is at this age a young person can leave compulsory education and get a job should they wish to. Although the really juicy possibilities like voting,  buying alcohol or becoming totally emancipated from adult guardians will not occur until the age of 18; at 16 the responsibilities of adulthood coming creeping into their awareness.

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Suggested Celebrations

I have not reached this stage with my children and the subject is such a minefield that I am hesitant to direct people to online resources.

Personally I would like to arrange a good old knees up, tied into the 16th or 18th birthday, and invite friends and family. Ultimately this would be something that the children would have to decide on. They may not be interested in a pagan path in years to come and as it has never been my intent to force my path on them. It might just be a birthday party but they may wish to have something more ritual in nature as well. In my mind this would be something very similar to the blessing ceremony we had previously, with a small ritual content which called on the ‘powers’ to witness the event. Given that 15-16 years is a long time I would also want to work in an ancestors element, calling on departed loved ones to witness the occasion and guide the maturing child in the years to come. In concept I also like the idea that the parents would be adjusting the promises made at the naming ceremony to reflect the increased maturity of the child. This should both confirm the child is moving towards adulthood and ready to assume greater responsibilities but reaffirm that the parents will always be there to guide them.

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Invocation to Coffee

I’ve recently had minor day surgery to the back of my hand to remove a small ganglion from my wrist joint.  Its been painful, even after having a nerve cluster removed along with the offending lump, and there is nothing more laborious than one handed typing and mousing so excuse the brevity of today’s post. Last week I had my post final edited well in advance so posting it would be easy but I completely underestimated what kind of dressing I would get post op. I was expecting a light-ish bandaged which would allow me almost normal movement once the aesthetic wore off. What I got was a plaster-cast splint which completely immobilised my forearm.

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Yay! (not)

As well as weighing a ton I’ve not done any crochet… for two weeks! Its been horrible! I managed to get a lot of projects done before hand, including some Halloween props, but there are so many works in waiting looking at me from across the room it has been depressing.

What was great was the post operative coffee (and toast). There is absolutely nothing better in this world after being nil by mouth so when I rediscovered the Invocation to Coffee by Aleister Crowley it seemed foolish not to share.

“O coffee! By the mighty Name of Power do I invoke thee, consecrating thee to the Service of the Magic of Light. Let the pulsations of my heart be strong and regular and slow! Let my brain be wakeful and active in its supreme task of self-control! That my desired end may be effected through Thy strength, Adonai, unto Whom be the Glory for ever! Amen without lie, and Amen, and Amen of Amen.”

Invocation of Coffee from the diaries of Aleister Crowley and published in Liber DCCCLX, John St. John by Aleister Crowley

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I have an appointment at the dressing clinic soon and, assuming that everything is healing well, I should be back to normal sometime on Monday. After that we can return to our regular schedule, including some long over due Hekate posts and a crochet catch-up.

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RuneSoup Sigils Course

Anyone who has anything to do with me on Facebook will have heard me talk about Gordon White’s RuneSoup podcast and blog over the last few years. Gordon, often called the Magician’s Magician is a leading practitioner of Chaos Magic and may be best described as heir apparent to Pete Carroll and Ray Sherwin.

Whilst I have a fairly chaotic approach to the way I piece my praxis together Chaos Magic is not entirely my thing, at least judging by the various groups on Facebook. That being said, I find Gordon’s approach to pretty much everything very relatable and I am totally on board with his efforts to ‘re-enchant the world’ or as I prefer to put it, be more wyrd.

In my efforts to achieve higher levels of wyrd this year one of the things I did was to sign up to Gordon’s premium membership courses. There have been two so far this year, one on Sigils and one of Grimoires and both have been to such a fantastic standard that I am not regretting this little monthly treat to myself.

I thought I’d give a little review of the courses; what was different to my previous practice and what I’ve taken into my practice, starting with the sigils course

The main topics covered in the course are

  • History
  • Target Writing
  • Timing
  • Construction
  • Activation

The evolution of written and spoken language to one side, listening to Gordon’s explanation of target writing and then participating in the group homework was very informative. I have been very guilty of falling into the new age permissive target writing trap and having Gordon take my offerings a apart and putting them back together again was very useful.

The course also provided introductions to planetary and lunar timings at a whole new level. Although I am familiar with the importance of the planetary days and hours, which I will often prioritise over moon phases in my own workings! Gordon not only tied the discussion into the hygromanteia but also introduced the Luna Mansions. This concept is not your run of the mill associations of luna cycle that is found in every pagan 101 book. In this system each day in the moon cycle is associated with a particular kind of operation which can be further empowered by being associated with a particular planetary hour, day or even zodiac aspect. Again this system is outlined in the hygromanteia  and the website Gordon suggested as the best resource for working out the luna mansions was the Lunarium website.

Obviously the more of these elements that can be aligned the more auspicious the process so individual addition having us write practice target statements for the full luna cycle he had us identify an optimal day for workings.

The other highlight, for me at least, was Gordon explaining the concepts of the Robo-Fish and Shoaling. Although I had read the blog the explanations the concept was passing me by because they rely on you having read Chaos Protocols, which I hadn’t at that point. No spoilers from me but I’m a convert and will be using both concepts from now on.  

The last, but by no means the least, big take away for me was the use of magical alphabets to easy the process of sigil construction. As regular readers will know I am a fan of the Jackson Method of sigil reduction however my biggest bugbear with sigil creation is my inability to turn letters into a meaningful image which hasn’t annoyed me to death. Gordon’s suggestion of using Passing the River alphabet has been the missing hack in all of this. Of course there are other languages you could try such as Theben but Passing the River was the one suggested in the course. I will be having a play in the future but it is probably best to have a go and see what works for you.

Image result for passing the river alphabet

All in all the course is excellent, and definitely recommend regardless of your level of experience in the use of sigils. There is a cost involved in accessing the members area however it is marginal compared to other web based courses for the occult community.

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Mokosh and Devana – Mother and Maiden

I have mentioned a small selection of the male deities of the Slavic Pantheon, just the surface of the various Gods and semi-divine beings that stalk those Easter European lands, but I have only mentioned one Goddess so far. Although Mati Syra Zemlya is an important Goddess she is one among many, so it is about time I turn my attention to them.

Pantheons are made up of archetypes. We have seen the Lord, the Lawgiver and Trickster in the previous posts but now we look at some different ones. The roles of women in traditional cultures are not as one dimensional as we may first believe. The identity of Wife and or Mother are two very important ones but they are not the be all and end all of being a woman. The wild child and huntress are also identities which many woman claim as their own. Even though these independent women may decide to marry or have children that doesn’t mean the have to give up an element of their identity or freedom in the process. 

Mokosh

Mokosh is another of the supreme goddesses of the Slavic people. Although she is often referred to as being the same as, or interchangeably with, Mati Syra Zemlya there are some critical differences between them. Mokosh is the Goddess and Protector of Women.

She was often accompanied by the Suđaje, divine figures who would foretell the future of new-borns as they spun wool and flax into fine thread, similar in nature to the Greek Fates. Similarly, Mokosh is associated with the act of spinning, and with the nurturing and protection of the herd animals which provide the wool to enable such an activity.

Mokosh was honoured at all times of the year, being honoured at the start of spring as being pregnant with the forthcoming harvest and then celebrated upon the successful delivery of the seasons bounty. She was honoured as being accomplished at all tasks associated with womanhood and the keeping of the house.

Offerings – mead, porridge, cottage cheese, bread, flax seed, golden apples, grapes, wool, hair.

Altar – spindle, distaff, shearers, scissors, sheep’s wool, yarn, wooden idol.

Space – home, hearth fire, pastures, barns

Day – Friday

Animals – bird, sheep, bee

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Devana – Goddess of the Hunt

Devana is the Goddess associated with the Hunt and of the Wildwood. Like Diana and Artemis she is described as a maiden and virgin, wild and unwilling to be owned by any one man. She is fiercely protective of her virginity, bordering on the aspect of a warrior goddess when aroused.

Unlike her Roman and Greek counterparts Devana does become the wife of Veles after he manages to placate her by transforming himself into a basil flower. Although she does retain her fierce independence she is often referred to as being the help-meet of her husband and is sometimes referred to as the mother of Yarilo, God of the Harvest, Anger and War.

 

Because of her close similarity to Diana and Artemis, and the fact that her story is attested in only one 15th century Polish source now thought to be unreliable, it is thought that Devana is not an originally Slavic deity but represents the defining of an older concept known as Šumska Majka. Meaning “Forest Mother” this entity was believed to wander the wildwoods as a protector of both land and animals although in later tellings she becomes a being of torment, said to plague young children with nightmares.  

Offerings – meat (preferably hunted), mugwort, mullen, wormwood, basil, elm, silver.

Altar – forest animal motifs, bear, fox or marten skin, silver, moonstone, stone icons

Spaces – forests, elm groves, wooded mountains

Day – Monday

Animals – mare, bear, marten, fox

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Pagan Parenting – Essential Crystals for Kids

Crystals are often recommended for children as indirect methods of introducing them to a spiritual mindset whilst at the same time bringing healing and soothing influences into their lives. One of the reasons I introduced my girls to crystals was their preference for exploring the world through a sensory experience. The various colours, shapes and textures they were able to experience through my crystal collection drew them in and they would often come up with spontaneous associations as to how the stones could help and support them. Sometimes they were right on the mark, often they would shoot miles wide but their reasoning was always fun to listen to.

I have two main rules when picking out stones for kids when they were small

  1. nothing which dissolves in water and/ or is poisonous
  2. the stones must be too big to fit in the mouth

Obviously anything that was heavy, has sharp edges or was particularly fragile was off limits but beyond that they had full access to all the stones I had to hand without much real concern about the uses.

Now they are older I am less bothered about the size as they have (theoretically)gotten over the “exploring the world though the mouth” stage. I am still mindful that there are toxic stones which are commonly used but as long as they are not putting them in water and/or their mouths there should be little to no concern.

There are some stones that that come highly recommended for children and blogs recommend anywhere between 7 and 25 different collections. I have chosen to list 14 in total, split into the seven Chakra Stones and seven key healing stones, for your consideration.

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©Victoria Newton

Chakra Stones

Crown Chakra – Clear Quartz

Clear Quartz is the most abundant and popular crystal available on the market and is the most helpful and healing as well. As well as helping maintain a clear mind clear quartz is also useful in clearing away negative energies and also protecting against them.

For Children – meditating with clear quartz will help them with attaining higher vibrations whilst at the same time offering protection from negative influences.  

Third Eye Chakra – Amethyst

Amethyst is another popular crystal and what attracts people the most is the variety of shades of purple that can be found. From calming lavender hues to deep soothing purples Amethyst is often used to improve intuitive abilities and dreaming as well as supporting them emotionally.  

For Children – carrying amethyst can help with processing periods of emotional pain, such as after a death or divorce, as well as providing general emotional support in anxious situations.

Throat Chakra – Sodalite

Sodalite is a stone which helps strengthen self expression and confidence in oneself through through the power of self belief. It can be difficult to find a sense of identity when you are young, and it is tempting to join the herd mentality; Sodalite can help find the confidence to be who you are.

For Children – encourage your child to carry Sodalite when they are experiencing peer pressure and need to stay true to themselves.

Heart Chakra – Aventurine

Aventurine is a balancing stone which helps people to connect with their emotions and find balance in stressful situations. It is also used to stimulate creativity and the imagination whilst at the same time encouraging confidence in expressing our ideas.

For Children – Aventurine is often called the Friendship Stone and can be used to boost the confidence of children entering a new situation.  

Solar Plexus Chakra – Citrine

Citrine is a stone prized for its ability to brighten even to most down of outlooks. Known as the confidence stone it helps the carrier find happiness, confidence and joy in their lives.

For Children – meditation or reciting of positive affirmation which help your child in finding confidence through a soothed and balanced mind state.

Sacreal Chakra – Carnelian

The warm hues of Carnelian range from deep reds through burnt orange and warm pink giving it a wide range of uses. It is particularly associated with self esteem and self acceptance.  Carnelian also helps us connect with our creative side, giving us the confidence to express ourselves.

For Children – carrying carnelian before and during school performances can help with your child’s confidence.

Base Chakra – Obsidian

Obsidian is black volcanic stone known for its grounding qualities amdrew it is most often used to ground negative emotions such as anger, Grief and despair. There are many different varieties of obsidian but with regard to grief many prefer the use of Apache Tear because of its association through mythology with the tears of grieving Apache women.

For Children – meditating and carrying obsidian can help your child deal with feelings of anger or grief over the death of a loved one. Placing a stone undress their pillow can also help with this process as well.  

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Healing Stones

Blue Lace Agate

Agate is one of the most common gemstones available on the market, and it is available in many colours but blue lace agate is particularly useful when given to children. Agates in general are grounding and calming and Blue Lace Agate particularly opens the Throat chakra for more effective communication and acceptance of oneself.

For Children – Good for children with short tempers who struggle to communicate effectively what is frustrating them.

Flourite

Flourite provides a rainbow of colours ranging from pinks and green to purples and even golden colours. This crystal helps promote mental acuity and focus and is useful for older children who may be going through phases of testing.

For Children – This powerful healing stone helps in meditation and is used to neutralise negative energies.

Jade

Jade is a soothing and inspirational stone which helps boosts a sense of confidence and resilience. It is also able to help children realise their dreams and desires whilst at the same time promoting a sense of being loved. Jade can help children who may be staying away from home for the first time.

For Children – This stone is able to sooth the emotions of more sensitive children, helping them to feel that they are not going to overwhelmed by emotional situations.

Moonstone

Moonstone is inextricably linked with the moon and with women’s mysteries but this is a stone that can be used by any of the sexes to help soothes emotions and calm hyperactivity. This shimmering stone can also promote intuition and empathy whilst at the same time promoting an awareness of the phases of the moon.

For Children – Moonstone can help sooth children experiencing nightmares and troubled sleep. Place a stone under the pillow, or within the vicinity of the bed.

Pyrite

The energy associated with Pyrite is best described as “energy” which makes sense as it is a masculine stone. Pyrite lifts and energises our little ones, helping them feel more confident and willing to have a go at new things. Pyrite inspires creativity, particularly in fields where patterns are strong like art, maths and science.  

For Children – A protective stone, placing brassy stones around the room to reflect negative influences away from your child.

Rose Quartz

This soothing, pink stone is filled with gentle and loving energy which helps children learn unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion. This stone promotes a sense of nurturing and bonding and helps children develop and maintain positive friendships.

For Children – Rose Quartz helps soothe emotional states, keeping the Heart Chakra open and protected.

Tiger Eye

This stone promotes clear and grounded thinking in children, allowing them to focus on the world around them. Sometimes children get carried away and get lost in their dream world and Tiger Eye helps to pull their awareness back into themselves.

For Children – This stone promotes good luck when trying new ventures and activities so it perfect for children trying things out for the first time or when success is important to them.

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Flint & Chert

Following on from my post on beach finds something else that I found, and seem to find in perfusion, is flint. I am always drawn to this silicate based stone, in particular because I can ‘see’ the possibilities within it, even if I don’t have the skills to bring it out.

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© Vicky Newton

The Ancient Multi-Tool

Flint is probably the most versatile stones out there. A skilled flint knapper can made any number of bladed tools, or weapons, from it including;

  • Axes
  • Adze
  • Chisels (admittedly, only aware of these in archaeological reconstruction)
  • Arrow Heads
  • Spear Heads (hunting, fishing, battle)
  • Knives
  • Scrapers

Technology and techniques changed not only over time but as a result of available of quality of the materials available. Where high quality flint was unavailable in quantity the production of a hand axe from a single nodule would be high consumption. Great for displays of wealth but not all that practical. This partially accounts for the changes in practice that occurred during the Mesolithic. Now, instead of production objects made of single flakes and nodules tools and weapons would be constructed by mounting many small flakes into wood. These may be secured using pine resin and other forms of naturally occurring glues. As flakes dulled, broke or were lost they were easily replaced by roughly napping. Or even from the waste materials left over from producing larger items.

Modern knappers and reconstructionist are constantly exploring the techniques associated with the process of crafting a usable blade out of a lump of flint. As well as attempting to recreate the techniques of the ancestor they explore just what is possible and practical to achieve in this medium. I’ve seen some interesting experiments by following people like Will Lord on Facebook.

Stone of the Underworld

I find flint on my beach walks and although what I find is relatively low grade and are small, water worn pieces it is possible to find larger nodules from time to time. The most reliable way to find good quality flint in large quantities is through mining. The mining of flint took on a life of its own during the Neolithic period, when a whole ritual process was built around the mining process.

The most famous prehistoric flint mines are found at Grimes Grave in Norfolk. The mines were recently reopened to the public and it is possible to explore the world of ancient flint miners and there are some startling observations to make. Many of the off shoot mine shafts are small, in some cases too small for a full grown adult to traverse indicating that adolescents were being used in the extraction process.  The inherent danger involved in this process has lead some to suggest that in addition to the practical element the use of adolescents, males in particular, may be a process of initiation or transition from boy to manhood. The mines represent a connection with the Underworld, which is presumably where the Dead and other worldly spirits reside. The act of descending into this realm in order to remove a material which may then become a prized tool can be viewed as a transformative act both for the object and the individual. Working in the mine may become a task that is carried out on a regular basis but that first venture into the mine will be filled with fear and apprehension. That there were ritual elements to the work being carried out in these spaces is not disputed, though the exact  nature and rational behind he acts is open to discussion.

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Putting that level of speculation aside there is clear evidence of planned abandonment of tools and objects as tunnels were decommissioned. Antler picks, pots and other objects can be found at the end of tunnels and left upon special altars through out the mines. The justification for this may be two fold.  

1) the process of mining removes any object from the ground and people may have believed that a reciprocal object be added in its place, especially if a locating is being decommissioned. Certainly there is evidence from smaller flint mine features, and even granary stores, that pits ‘closed’ after objects were ritually placed at the bottom and then filled with detritus. It is possible that the same process is beige undertaken here as well.

2) objects become spiritually tainted and cannot return to the mundane world. There is evidence from any cultures of the spiritual processes which can be undertaken to purify the body of negative forces and the miasma of the Underworld but personable this process was not an option for essentially disposable objects like antler picks.

It wasn’t only the mining process our ancestors found fascinating, the changes that it can undergo also drew their attention. The most common process is heat treatment. Flint nodules are heated to temperatures in excess of 300 – 400 degrees Celsius, temperatures which are well within the capabilities of wood fires, to create micro fractures which improve the knapping process. The heat treatment also alters the appearance of the silicate, giving it greater shine and lustre. The transformation would have appeared magical, without explanation even though the benefits would have been clear.

Another magical transformation of flint appears to have been the impetus for the beginning of the Stonehenge landscape. Blick Mead, a site not far from Stonehenge which has evidence of human activity dating back from the Mesolithic, made a splash in the media when title was noted that flint placed in the waters of a nearby spring would change colour after about five hours and the flints take on a bright pink hue. The effect, which is caused by the combination of the warm water, dappled sunlight and algae, would have been striking and again without explanation and it is thought that this may have been the origin of the emphasis on this landscape as a ritual space. True, no finished items in day glow pink have been located but this is likely because the process does not survive log periods of burial in the ground.

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I couldn’t resist including a pic of     Pink Flint

Just as our prehistoric ancestor had their own understanding of the magical properties of flint so to did they pass them on through history. Flint has been perceived as a magical stone throughout time so here is a quick trip through some of the historical associations of the stone.

Magical Uses of Flint – A Potted History

The main theme associated with flint, and it’s sister mineral chert, is protection. Just what it is protecting you from depends on the culture and land you are looking at. The most prevalent use of flint in a religious or magical context is in the form of “Thunderstones“. After the end of the prehistoric period it was not unusual for farmers to find flint axe and arrow heads which would have been strange and magical in appearance, emerging from the ground fully formed as if crafted by unseen hands in the Underworld. It is important to remember that the farmers of iron and early middle ages Wrexham far more removed to the earliest stone ages than we are from them and there is no written record for the to refer to. These stones were therefore associated with God’s and otherworldly beings you explain not only their original but various other phenomenon, or ward against them.

For example the northern cultures of Scandinavia believes that if offered to the household Gods the Thunderstone would aid them in protecting the house and people within it. This could be from evil spirits, witchcraft or even from lightning strike. In Switzerland, if a farmer found an arrow head he would suspend it from from a string, swig it above his head three times and then release it to strike the door of his home in order to protect it in stormy weather. Moving further south the protection offered morphs to ward against elves (Sweden), protect mothers and babies during childbirth  (France), protect against the Evil Eye (Italy) and to prevent madness in dogs (Roman times, interesting side note the same operation of placing placing a shard of flint and a nugget of coral in a pouch around the animals next has morphed into a modern spell to protect animals against wandering).

In Britain the associations of the stones centre around the elves and various fae and the names associated with them, particularly arrow heads, reflect this.

Elf arrows, elf bolts, elf darts, or fairy arrows were all names given to these prehistoric finds and the Powers associated with them reflect this. The most common expression of this was the linking of pain, particularly unexpected and unexplained ‘shooting’ pains as being caused by being hit by these magical bolts. It was believed that being shot by such a bolt could kill, both human and animal, and the way to ward against this was to wear one around the neck.

In the Americas the associations vary depending on the tribe but the themes remain consistent being associated with fire, protection against evil spirits and against witchcraft.

The Attributes and Qualities of Flint

  • Core Qualities
  • Protection
  • Grounding
  • Manifestation

Specific protective qualities include protection during meditative, spiritual and astral journeys and against mischievous entities such as elves and fairies.

Flint stimulates our psychic abilities and perceptions and can support through processes of spiritual transformation.  It grounds and strengthens us  during times where our will power and determination may be tested. It can help us understand the messages we receive during meditative journeys and allows us to refectory upon meanings. Flint is particularly useful for journeys into the lower spiritual realms and when working with chthonic energies. It can also support past life regressions and reviews of our personal history with with a view to growth.

On a metaphysical level flint creates balance and is connected to all of the chakras, facilitating the movement of energy from higher to lower energetic levels and back again.

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© Vicky Newton

Hekate and Flint

It has been a little hard to build deity associations for flint. Beyond the associations with Mayan death cults and North American shamanism. The most local connection I could make was the association of particularly shaped Thunderstones appearing in burial and ritual contexts with Thor, God of Thunder and Lightning.

In truth I was searching long and hard to find a connection between flint and the Great God Pan but beyond my own belief that He prefers a more rustic blade over metal, in the same way the fae and other otherworldly beings do, there is little I can find. What I did find was was a couple of devotees that believe that flint is one of the stones associated with Hekate. Their rational was clear, flint is a stone which has the ability to produce a spark. Strike a flint flake with a metallic substance a in just the right way and you can turn the resultant spark into a flame. With time, care and attention this method of fire stating can be even more effective than messing around with matches and lighters and the parallels to Hekatean devotion are also clear. Hekate is the keeper of the flames. Whether you define those flames as being divine emanations, knowledge or the generative spark of creation she is the curator of these flames. When they ebb low she tends to them, and where they die, or require lighting she is there to strike that first spark. Many devotees refer to Hekate as igniting something within them, be that inspiration or devotion itself; what better way to apply that spark than with a flint.

I would take this a step further and draw on the chthonic nature of flint. This light giving stone is mined out of the earth. We’ve already looked at the prehistoric ritual context on mining and it is impossible not to draw links to a Goddess who has strong chthonic connections Herself. Historically, Hekate is often approached in Greek literature through the process of digging a pit in order to measure out libations or place the remains of animal sacrifice. The placing of a substance into the earth in thanks or supplication is consistent with the prehistoric use of pits, including decommissioned flint mining pits/shafts.  Similarly, As a torch bearing goddess who guides the vernal Goddess Persephone back into the world the emergence of light out of underground places also plays it’s part.

A Witch Alone suggests handing flint above a heketeion for protective reasons, drawing on the many associations that exist around this stone already, but there are other associations to be drawn which make the inclusion of flint on a Hekatean altar appealing. For those who offer their own blood as part of their practice flint may also be appealing because of the wicked edge that it can carry.

I’ve had a flint blade for a number of years now. Although it really intended for decorative purposes it carries enough of an edge to be a practical in cutting and carving but is is, by and large, not edged sufficiently to cut skin. In the process of breaking up a large flint node in order to make a pendant I managed to add an effective cutting edge to a couple of the flakes, as you can see by the sliced finger I gave myself. The cut was very clean, deep and slow to bleed and didn’t actually hurt all that much at the time. The wound healed quickly and cleanly. It was unintentional, but that pendant flake will make a very good ’emergency’ blood letting tool should I not have a lancet to hand.

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© Vicky Newton

What I Will Be Doing

I’ve already mentioned that I will be turning one of my pendant pieces into a wearable ritual blade, and to do so I will use the wire wrap method of jewellery making. I will add more pieces to my shrine and altar area specifically for Hekate rather than in the generic space in association with Pan.

One plan is to turn some of my favourite pieces into pendulums for myself and the girls. The biggest issue will be how to hang them as wire wrapping will not work well on these smaller pieces. I am researching capping methods and may even try my hand at polymer clay.

Finally, I will also be incorporating flint into my household protection. There are a couple of suggested processes available on the Web but I intent to craft something myself in the future. If nothing else it will give me the opportunity to use some of the masses of flint I have collected from beaches in the last 5 years.

Posted in Ancestors, Archaeology, Foraging, Hekate, History, Magick, Photo Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment