Time to Tarot

One of my new years resolutions for 2018, in addition to the traditional ‘loose weight’ directive (which isn’t going too badly by the way), was to get more in touch with my intuition and even divination. This lead to me working with my own personal demons and all sorts of Tarot related opportunities popped up out of nowhere.

In my nearly 20 years of magical practice I’ve paid very little attention to Tarot as something I might use to give readings myself. I found the depth and symbolism within the cards overwhelming and whilst I saw their value I didn’t count it as a tool I would ever learn to use. Now, after a series of jailbreaking realisations and the appearance of striking inspiration, I am realising that the tarot can be ready on an intuitive level as well as a technical one and that might just make it somethig that will work for me as I tie up my thoughts and feelings about particular cards with the visual cues and the details they will bring to mind.

In my posts I will be talking about both the popular and tradition Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck and the Nyx Hydra Arcana deck, the deck which so captured my imagination.

So, by way of introduction;

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck

The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck was originally published in 1910 by the Rider Company and since then it has become go to tarot deck across the world. Illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith using the instructions of academic and mystic A E Waite the deck incorporates the occult symbology of Eliphas Levi and draws heavily on the minor arcana images found in the Sola Busca tarot of the 15th century. The deck has been so influential that there are very few modern decks that do not carry an element that can be traced back to it and most introductory materials relating to the tarot are written with the Rider-Waite deck in mind.

Magician / High Priestess / Hanged Man from the Rider-Waite-Smith

The Arcana Tarot Deck

The Arcana by Nix Hydra Games
The Arcana is a fantasy/romance visual novel and the story line is built around the major arcana. You follow the journey of the Apprentice, the playable character of the game which is represented by the Fool, through a variety of adventures and encounters whih allow you to unravel the Apprentice’s origins and connections to the main love interests; Asra, Nadia and Julian . As part of the development of the game the artist of Nix Hydra, Dana Rune, designed a full 78 card Tarot deck which is wonderfully illustrated to both compliment the gameplay and yet retains many of the original elements of the Rider-Waite deck.

The reason that I have chosen to compare this deck with the Rider-Waite deck is because this is the deck that made me want to learn to read the cards. I’ve seen hundreds of decks but this is the one that flipped my switch and changed my mind about learning to read the cards.

Magician / High Priestess / Hanged Man from the Nix Hydra Arcana

Unfortunately the Arcana is not a physical deck although there is a great demand for a physical deck. The developers have been showing a level of intent in this direction so I am hopeful. My aim is to become confident in reading the cards and familiar with the main symbols of the Rider-Waite to be able to pick up the physical Arcarna deck and run with it straight away.

The lack of physical deck means there is no book/ set of meanings to work with and there doesn’t appear to be a record of the meanings which are generated by the in game tarot reading feature. As are result my observations will be limited to the symbols within each card and how it relates to both the game and the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The fandom has, however, worked hard to made sure that the full 78 cards are available as images so I am greatful to the many people who worked hard to upload high quality images to the games Wiki page and of course the original design team at Nix Hydra.

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A Deipnon Ritual

As a process of rededication and to celebrate the dedication of a new statue to Hekate I decided to review my current depinon practices in light of my recent study, changes in praxis ect. The resulting ritual is a blend of things I have done before and new ritual elements which I have developed over the last couple of years and feel ready now to share with everyone.

You can download my ritual outline via the link at the bottom of this post, in the meantime this post will deal with some practical considerations one might want to think about before planning a Depinon ritual.

This post is intended to read in conjunction with a post on the history of Depinon which can be found here

Location

Offerings from the Deipnon ritual are traditional left at a three way crossroad however any liminal location, such as a property boundary, is equally appropriate. If you choose to perform the ritual at a liminal site (secluded crossroad, graveyard etc) then some ritual items will not be necessary and actions such as the cleansing of sacred space and home will need to take place in advance of the ritual and fumigation would take place after it. Equally you may be in a position where you make the initial offering but complete the ritual in full before leaving the offerings at the crossroads. Use this ritual structure flexibly and adapt it to your personal situation and preferences.

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Offerings

The following are a combination of traditional and modern ritual offerings given to Hekate at Deipnon.

Libation

  • Water (spring or purified)
  • Wine
  • Milk and honey

Food

  • Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Sweet cakes
  • Fish (mullet)
  • Goat meat

Other Items

  • Sweepings from the home and altars, including any previous food offerings
  • Things you don’t want to bring into the next month as a written list
  • Details of a devotional act to be carried out before next Deipnon

You are neither limited to the list given here nor should you feel the need to include everything I have suggested. At minimum you must have a libation, one food offering, and ideally one thing that from the cleansing of the sacred space or your person/al life.

When considering your offering plate keep the following things in mind. The plate should not be one from with the living has, or will, eat from. Ideally it should be dedicated to use in deipnon rituals and/or similar practices involving the dead however if this in not possible wash the plate in salt water between uses to purify the object.

To Circle or Not

In magical practices circles are usually constructed as a method of protection, as a process of making a space sacred or as a containment for energy raised for a particular purpose. In deity devotion these conditions do not necessarily apply and thus it is up to the person conducting the ritual as to whether or not they wish to include the process of casting a circle.

When performing my Deipnon ritual I do not include the casting of protective circle as

1) I am performing the ritual in a space already sacred to Hekate

2) I do not include spellwork in this ritual and therefore do not raise energy

3) the presence of a circle can cause a delay between deposition and completion of the ritual.

Particularly on this final point it is important to note that whilst we carry the ability to cast a circle within ourselves, meaning we can cast them at a time and place of our choosing, a constructed ritual circle is static once it has been established. If the practitioner leaves the circle they leave its protection behind. I’ve seen a couple of discussions suggesting that if the practitioner leaves the circle to make depositions they carry the protection of the circle with them which is untrue, at least in accordance with all my years of training and research.

Personally I use a method I developed which is not too dissimilar to the opening stages of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram which I call the Ephesian Compass. This process allows me to achieve balance and establish personal protections at the same time as clearing down the energies around me whilst at the same time invokes the presence of Hekate through the use of barbarous words and phrases commonly used to honour her. Using this method I am able to forego the full ritual circle and move between ritual space and deposition site freely and with confidence about my personal protections.

Were I performing the ritual out doors and away from my own property I would most likely incorporate a full circle casting (situation and location dependent) however because I am already at the deposition site the circle does not become restrictive in any fashion.

So – have fun. Use what is relevant, adapt or replace what isn’t, feedback to me here or via Facebook what you think of my mad crazy ideas. Remember, you are free to download and use my ritual but if you share it please do so with credit and a link back to this page or the blog overall.

Deipnon Ritual

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A Practice A Day…

The Craft is a matter of practice, practice and more practice from start to finish and one way to establish regular engagement in magical matters is to use daily ritual. Establishing a short daily practice, particularly early on in ones journey as a seeker, is beneficial for a number of different reasons.

Firstly it allows the seeker to practice key skills on a daily basis. It also allows the practitioner to establish patterns of engagement early on, which comes in useful later if they decide to engage in  longer ritual practices. Next it is usually as it helps the practitioner monitor how factors such as health, moon phase and other external factors beyond their control affect them as practitioners and track their development in general.

It wasn’t really clear to me when I began my own journey about how important and beneficial these practices are to a seeker early on in their development and sometimes now I feel their lack, particularly in terms of my own discipline in maintaining these practices for any length of time. I tend to find that I do not weather unexpected disruption very well, and that my personal circumstances don’t lend themselves well to elaborate or early morning daily practices. For me it needs to be short and sweet, easily conducted in a few moments peace.

Yes, the old argument is that you can wake up a little earlier than normal to try and fit everyone you want to into your morning but that doesn’t always fit individual circumstances.

With that in mind here are a couple of things to consider when deciding on your daily ritual activity.

Be Realistic

Look at the time and routine you have and compare it against the list of things you want to achieve. If you can’t fit in a 20 minute meditation alongside a daily three card spread and 10 minute devotional practice because you have to be out for work at 5 am every day then you need to tailor your expectations. Pick one thing to concentrate on, you can always swap it for something else later on, or do one at the beginning of the day and the other at the end of it. Daily practices can take place at any time of the day to suit your routine. That being said there are some rituals that have a time and a place. You don’t want to be performing an energising ritual right before bed time yet equally you don’t want to meditate yourself in to near in sensibility half way through your day if you’ve got a busy afternoon planned.

Keep it Short and Sweet

It might be nice to think that you will do that long ritual devotion but actually you run the risk of serious ritual fatigue. When you find yourself thinking “that’s too much hard work I’ll do it tomorrow” you’ve reached the point where you need to consider if you are actually trying to over do it. Don’t be afraid to pick something relatively simple and quick to run through in a confined spaces (say the office toilet) or that can be achieved in 5 minutes quiet time. You can do the lengthy journal writing and ritual play another time to suite you if that what you want to do.

Here are a couple of things I have done both in the morning and evening at one time or another.

Morning Ritual – Breathing and Stretching
Okay, usually my stretches are physio related to account for my various aches and pains, but taking a moment out to stretch and breath is very beneficial to ones mindset. The ability to quickly achieve a sense of calm is very useful in a magical context. The Sun Salutation is a useful, and relatively short, simple yoga routine which people interested in yoga are encouraged to learn early on. The process can be done at a speed to suit the individual but for it to have the most benefit time should be taken to breath deeply between each movement. There are other forms of yoga and stretching routines which you may want to consider but you can find a illustrated breakdown of the Sun Salutation here.

Morning Ritual – Energy Work
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is a powerful ritual tool that comes out of the Golden Dawn tradition which is readily available to anyone who wishes to practice magical arts. The ritual is primarily used for banishing energies at the beginning and end of rites but as a method of personal consecration it works really well as a daily ritual. At first glance it may seem quite complicated, and it may take time to memorise the ritual process and Hebrew language however it is really worth taking the time to do so and once you’ve got it you will realise actually how simple, and effective over time, the ritual actually is.

There are a couple of variations, and I may even one day publish my own version, however for now you can find a well presented explanation here.

Morning Ritual – Devotional
Many pagans have permanent altar and shrine spaces, where possible at least, at it is always useful to have one close to your bed or main door to make a short morning devotional ritual possible. This can be as simple as quickly, but mindfully, reciting a hymn of praise or verse associated with said deity to ask for their guidance and protection in the day ahead. As ever, when asking to the aid of a deity it is good practice to offer something in return. LIghting an incense stick or cone as you begin your invocation is usually sufficient for day to day purposes, and shouldn’t pose a fire hazard if properly housed and secure in its location. When I had time I would combine energy work with this act though it is now no longer possible.

Evening Ritual – Meditation
I have always found meditating at the end of the day to be more beneficial to me than attempting it in the morning. In the evenings I generally have more time to devote to the activity, and had a desire to calm the chuff down. This can either be a detailed visualisation and journey to find inner peace or a simple visualisation technique to keep oneself practiced in the process.

Evening Ritual – Energy Work
You could redo the LBRP to close your day, particularly if you opened your day with the practice, but instead of repeating myself I will add another energy work which is particularly good for the end of the day and clearing away the cares and worries before turning in for the night.

In my case I have a shower so the visialistion described in my 2014 post B is for Bath is relatively straightforward however if you are taking a bath instead it is still possible to do the same process. Rather than standing in the shower stream with the visualisation hold to one side a small bucket or jug of water which has had salt added to it. As you get ready to get out take perform a short visualisation which charges the water with white light. Then set the bath to drain before standing and pour the reserved salt water over your body. As you do visualise the charged water washing away negative energy from your body and then down the drain. As you dry yourself take a moment to visualise a white light being drawn down from the heavens to fill your body anew ahead of a decent night’s sleep.

Evening Ritual – Devotional
Okay, so again I want to avoid repeating myself because a devotional act performed in the morning really doesn’t have to be all that different in the evening, though you may request a different kind of guidance. For myself I have combined daily evening devotional rituals with lucid dreaming attempts, and made offerings of herbs or herbal tea (being drunk to promote dream states and lucid dreaming) to Hekate instead of incense. Any offering was disposed of the next morning, ideally at my garden boundary if there was opportunity.

Learning New Things

Some choose to combine daily practices with learning new skills or information, particularly when it comes to divination and correspondances. Things like daily tarot and rune draws allows you not only to get a flavour for the day ahead but also allows you to learn a little more about the divination system as you go. Keeping it simple and down to one card is useful if you don’t have a lot of time, and it is something you can do at either end of the day either as a predictive or reflective process. If you don’t have the opportunity to do this every day you can consider scaling up the process to say reviewing seven of the major arcana according to the Fool’s Journey each month before moving on to the individual suits within the minor arcana. There are many possible arrangements, pick something that suits you.

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I should note that bullet journaling lends itself well to this kind of process and you may want to consider looking it to the system both from the point of view of divination and learning correspondences as well. I have been looking into the process and will admit that I have been put off by the artistry of the process but I am trying to get past that. As part of getting ready to do a Tarot Bo-Jo myself I am doing some handwriting practice to try and even up my handwriting (which I hate almost as much as my lack of art skills) and come up with some inserts I can print off at will.

These are just a couple of ideas to get you going, whatever you do have fun and engage with the practice wholeheartedly to get the best possible effect.

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My Little Goetia

I’ve been a little quiet when it comes to my spirit work, I had originally intended for it to be a standing monthly topic but life has been a little hectic. The rituals have been on going but the opportunity to write about them repeatedly failed to present itself as other topics came to the fore. Given that this was because of how things were kicking off in this specific area of my life I decided an irregular round up was no bad thing as it gave me time to reflect on my experience so far.

What’s Gone Well

Well my intuition has been ringing like a bell in recent months, from warnings about things to come to prompting meeting new people. I won’t say I bimbled through life without insight or intuition until now but since starting this process things are cropping up more frequently and in sharper focus than ever before. I’ve misinterpreted a couple of things, and some of my margins of error are amusing in their telling, but my mistakes have been easily identifiable and corrected when things actually start happening.

Now that I seem to be developing an inner voice I want to move things up to the next level. I’ve had an abortive attempt at starting a tarot journal but it fell almost at the first hurdle. I don’t have enough to a grasp on the cards to be doing anything more than copying this by rote and that is totally not the point of this.

Another idea, a blinding bit of inspiration that came to me in a discussion on the subject of spare decks was to get a cork board and hang it above my altar and create a visual learning tool upon which to gaze every morning and night.

At its centre will be the card of the week with initially it’s meanings mind mapped upon the board, then decorated with associated images, personal insights etc. The board would then serve as a mini altar to the card so I can take at least one meditative journey into the card to be then written up in my journal.

I want to get this right because I found the Arcana game with its amazing art and designed tarot deck and when they finally come out as a deck (the designers have been hinting at it recently) I want to be able to hit the ground running with it. 

What’s Not Quite Rite

I am not experiencing much in the way of in ritual manifestation, be that audio or visual. I am not disappointed by this, give the quick and dirty nature of my simplified method that sense of presence during and in the days after my rite are an acceptable (to me) sign of success.  I know a lot of hard core grimourists wouldn’t accept that so I have to acknowledge that as a failing in my ritual.

Also, I’ve come to realise that my ritual does not involve a particularly strong sense of gratitude towards the spirit for acts performed. Incense and anointed candles are all well and good, but my eitual is very pact and command driven. I have been researching appropriate offerings for Purson and will be doing some divination work to make sure that everything I have identified is to the spirits liking. 

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Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox

  • Also known as: Autumnal Equinox, Fall Equinox, September Equinox, Harvest Tide, Harvest Home, Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest.
  • Mabon (pronounced MAY-bun, MAH-bun, MAY-vhon, or MAH-bawn) note – the naming of this celebration as Mabon outside of specific contexts can be problematic. I have a number of Welsh friends that get *very* upset by it. For some thoughts you can visit my friend Cymraes’ blog Mabon?

Dates

  • 21st to 24th September (Northern Hemisphere)
  • 20th to 22nd March (Southern Hemisphere_

Season

  • Autumn

Zodiac Aspect

  • 0 degrees Libra

Themes

  • Harvest
  • Gratitude
  • Abundance
  • Balance
  • Preparation

 

Meanings

Don’t let the UK weather fool you. The dog days of summer have come to an end and the Wheel has turned to the Autumn Equinox. Partner to the Spring Equinox the hours of daylight and night have become balanced but rather being the herald of light and life darkness and death is all that awaits us now.

The night sky encroaches on our day earlier and earlier, casting long and delicately painted skies of pinks, reds and purples over a land which is slowly retreating. The deciduous trees are slowly beginning to lose their green hues in favour of rich tones of yellow, orange and red whilst other plants begin to die back in readiness for winter. Animals who winter in Britain are beginning to pick dens and hibernation sites and stockpile food for the winter months ahead.

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Not my image but every year I receive a glut of wind blown apples and pears from my parent in laws and have a field day making preserves and fillings for storage over the winter.

The Equinox marks the second of the three harvest season, and having brought in the crop of grain we turn to the trees and bushes for their wealth and this is the perfect time to make jams and preserves which can be safely stored for the darker months. Mundane preparations for the winter begin in earnest as well, and now is the time to finish of those pesky DIY projects which will make the house safe and warm in the coming cold.

Now is the time to share our good fortune and food wealth with the people around us and our thoughts turn to our friends and family with us in this life, just as we will dwell on the ancestors during Samhain. The developing and maintaining of harmony between people upon which we rely, like friends and family, should be at the forefront of our minds, and this theme is reinforced by the fact that the Autumn Equinox times according to the Sun’s entry in to the star sign Libra.  

Light and darkness, life and death, harmony and balance are are the centre of the celebration but there is no doubt that the balance is shifting towards death at this point in the turn of the Wheel. The God ages rapidly and his increasing weakness is evidenced by the weakening of the sun. The Goddess also ages even as the new God grows within her. Some interpret the slowing of growth and the preparation of animal as a sign of her sad realisation that her Lord will soon die and she will be forced to rule alone until his rebirth. The earth prepares itself to lie fallow through the winter months ahead of spring renewal and this in turn represents the Goddess preparing to marshal her energy for the gestation of the new God ahead of his birth come Yule/Imbolc.

Ritual Idea

Given that the equinox is a time of balance this is a perfect time to take a moment to meditate on the subject of balance within your life. The hurly burly of the summer is past and now is a time to centre oneself and prepare for the cooler months ahead. You can turn this inward reflection out into your own home and look at the balance you have with your family members at the same time. Rituals to draw people close together and to generate harmony can be performed at this time, as well as the establishment of wards and protections around people and the home.

Craft Idea

A lot of my own craft focuses around this time are around the hearth and home. Just as spring is a time of repair and recuperation in preparation for the summer ahead the autumn is a time to prepare for the lean times ahead. I like to celebrate the changing seasons by gathering in nature’s bounty. Living in an urban environment that means blackberries, rosehip, rowan berries and the like. I’ve got half an idea where there may be some blackthorn growing locally and one of these days I’m going to go looking for it.

This means that we are tramping through growing places and encountering the changing leaves and falling nuts and we often find things to do with the things we find. I’m am inspired with the leaf art that I see photos of around this time of the year and whilst we have created collages in the past my favourite thing is to make altar displays such as the one pictured below.

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© Victoria Newton

These are definitely things that children can get involved with but if you want to make autumn decorations which will last then get yourself down to your local haberdashery and craft store and grab some mod podge.

Leaf Bowl

Leafy Mason Jar

Leaf Mask (this link doesn’t actually use mod podge in its method but if you wrap a plastic mask form with cling film and form the mask around that mod podge is the way to go.

 

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The Magical Uses of Salt

Salt is one of the almost ubiquitous elements of modern day witchcraft practice. We have a pot on our altar, we sprinkle it in our baths, we bury crystals with is and wash our services down with it. It is an important part of western magical practice so I’m going to take a moment to look into it.

Use of Salt

Many of the uses of salt relate to its folklore and mythology. Throughout Europe salt is associated with repelling get evil spirits and entities. For example in Scotland housewives would sprinkle salt around the butter churn to stop witches from souring the butter whilst the Irish believed that combining salt with the Lord’s Prayer would protect the against Fay and their enchantments.   

A lot of the salt folklore comes from the relative expense of the mineral. Salt was one of the driving forces of the La Tène culture expansion and the Roman army would sometimes pay their soldiers in salt so that they did not have to then buy something so important to the preservation of food. Given its importance and expense as a commodity it is not a surprise that the spilling if salt became associated with bad luck and quarrels. This association was further enforced by artists incorporating the spilling of salt in their paintings to indicate a sinister aspect. The most famous example of this can be found in such as Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of the Last Supper, with Judas Iscariot spilling the salt indicating his intention to betray Christ the next day, who himself is referred to in the Bible as the ‘salt of the earth’.

Of course for every contraindication there is a remedy, and this is where the tradition of casting spilt salt over the shoulder comes from. The believe that such discord was caused by devils and negative spirits and that by casting the salt over the left shoulder would ensure that they were driven away when the salt filled their eyes.

As a result salt is used a number of magical operations including (but not limited to)

  • Purification
  • Protection
  • Blessings
  • Used to represent the element of Earth
  • To define circles
  • Repels / Absorbs many types of negative energy

These are a lot of potential uses but it is important to remember that before it can be used salt must be purified for use. This is because of its tendency to absorb energy. Whilst this can be useful in the grounding of energies it does mean that salt often contains energies which would be counterproductive to magical operations. There are a number of different methods to achieve this cleansing but the most common can be found in the various internet books of shadows out there in the greater world wide web.

Consecration of Salt

Whilst drawing a pentagram of Earth in the salt say

“Blessings be upon this Creature of Salt; let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hence, and let all good enter herein; wherefore so I bless thee, that thou mayest aid me.”

Thus the salt is made pure and ready for use in magic. Primarily it is added to water that has been purified with the same actions and words to create holy water which can be used for purification, consecration and the casting of magical circles.

Types Of Salt

There are lots of different types of salts available on the market, each having their own magical attributes. This list is not entirely exhaustive however these are some of the most common, and the different types that have caught my eye.

Table Salt

Common table salt could really be the start and end of this part of the post. It is cheap, readily available and universal in its uses. Because it is so common it is perfect to use in bulk to create physical barriers! And it’s small uniform crystal make up make it easier to dilute in water and tidy up at the end of a ritual.

That being said table salt is often highly processed, with additives such as iodine and anti-caulking agents. Although this doesn’t negatively impact it’s effectiveness some may prefer a salt which has undergone fewer processes such ass…

Sea Salt

Sea salt undergoes fewer processes and is obtained through the evaporation of saltwater. This produces large irregularly shaped flakes which can vary in taste and colour. You can obtain your own sea salt however you are only going to achieve small yields and it is just as available as table salt and can be picked up in any well stocked supermarket. It is somewhat more expensive and this may mean it is more cost effective to use in small pinches and diluted in water.

Himalayan Salt

The pink tint to this form of salt is due to the higher iron content found in the region’s where it forms. This emails the sale with all the attributes of iron, heightening the protective and averting qualities of the salt. Some of its specific uses relate to astral journeying and out of body experiences. Himalayan Salt is expensive, but can be found in larger supermarkets and in many new age stores. Because of the cost I recommend using it sparingly.

Black Salt – Lava

Black Lava Salt is a form of sea salt which is mixed with active charcoal and is available from countries with active volcanoes on the sea coast, like Hawaii and Cyprus. Although mainly used for cullentary and cosmetic purposes, the qualities of charcoal to absorb and remove negative toxins can be extended to include negative energies as well. This means that in small amounts black lava salt is useful in purification rituals and process. Whilst this can be bought in some limited stores at a price it is possible to make your own by grinding food grade active charcoal into sea salt, covering the salt in a layer of black.

Black Salt – Soot and Char

The other way you can make black salt is by using standard table salt and combining it with lamp black (soot) which you can gather from candles by holding a metal object directly over the flame or from around open fire places and then scraping the resultant smut into the salt. This can take a very long time if you are working from candles and a quicker way of doing it is to add the burned remains of ritual herbs and incense to the salt. Not only is the same absorbing and trapping effect achieved the salt also takes on the attributes of the herbs, lending the black salt further qualities. Black Salt made in this way often uses uncrossing herbs as their base to increase the salts potency in relation to breaking magical workings.

Fire Salts

Fire Salts are an entirely new one on me, but I was looking for an alternative way of representing fire when flames were not an option and this seemed like a good one which would double up as a nice condiment. Once you get over the idea that Fire Salt is something that you collect from the bodies of Fire Atronachs in Skyrim I think it is quite an appealing idea.

Fire salts are a mixture of salts and herbs which can be used to add the element of fire to your rituals and spells. They can be used to heat up relationship spells, add a spicy edge to protection spells and wake energies up. The salt forms the base whilst spices like paprika, red peppers and garlic bring ties to the element of fire. Other fire related spices can be used to create fire salts and can be substituted according to spell/ritual purpose.

To make fire salts you will need

  • 2 parts table/sea salt 
  • 1 part paprika,
  • 1 part red pepper
  • 1 part garlic

Unlike black salt simply mixing the herbs and salt together is not enough to activate the fire salt, particular if you are intending to use it in ritual as symbolic fire. You will also need to use a process of charging and/or visualisation to achieve this.

Charging

If you have a gas hob put all the ingredients into a pan over heat and stir the mixture well. Visualise the energy of the flame imbuing the mixture with intent.  

If you don’t have a flame based hob or oven but access to candles perform the mixing process in front of a candle lit in honour of the element and perform the same visualisation.

if you are making the mixture as an alternative to open flames to represent the element of fire and you have neither candles or gas hob then heating over an electric heating element will suffice, just add to the process a visualisation of the pan being filled with flames which are absorbed by the mixture.

There are a large number of other types of magical salts, including a variety of herb salts where the protective, cleansing effects of the salt are increased and complemented by various magical herbs. I am not going to attempt to cover them all and will leave it to the reader to research, or imagine, such salts for themselves.

When using salt one must always be cautions. Salt easily absorbs energies from its surrounding, quickly becoming energetically impure, and it is best practice to ensure that salt is consecrated anew for each use. Equally you should be aware of scattering salt, or salt water, in your local environment as it can have a negative impact on local fauna and flora. Small amounts are usually easily absorbed but dumping a large chalice of water so salty it may as well have come from the dead sea by your begonias isn’t going to do them much good. Just be a little cautious and circumspect and I see no problems with having salt water out in nature.

 

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Hekate’s Deipnon

Deipnon is here again, and it is past time that I post on the subject and about my practices as a witch alone. I have been on a long break from devotional work with Hekate whilst I explored other aspects of my spiritual and magical development but now, having achieved a measure of balance and recovered from a couple of niggling injuries, I am ready to return to regular devotional work. As I usually do when I return from a break from anything I reviewed my ritual practice and examining the things that felt stale or previously or which particular stood out as resonant. I have also taken the opportunity to review my research into Deipnon and its place within Hekate’s cult and mythology, setting out the who what wheres and whys of the ritual as well.

My thoughts on Deipnon are therefore split into two parts. Firstly this post looks as the historical origins of the dark moon rites performed by the Ancient Greeks and their relevance to the household cult of Hekate and Hekate as a goddess within the city. I will also look at how Deipnon is celebrated in a modern devotional context and at particular aspects of ritual which are common throughout modern interpretations and where and how they relate to what we know about the original practice. The second post represents my current working ritual, which is an evolution of the last five years of devotion and research.

What is Deipnon

Deipnon is usually translated as meaning “meal”, specifically evening meal which is why the ritual is also referred to as Hekate’s Supper. This ritual meal involved the sharing of a household meal with the remnants being taken to and deposited at a crossroad or shrine dedicated to Hekate. The meal took place on the last day of the lunar month, according to the Ancient Athenian calendar, and was the start of a series of rituals intended to expedite miasma at the end of the month in preparation for the new lunar cycle. Hekate was honored on the last day of the lunar cycle specifically because of her association with the restless dead and it was believed that she would walk through the world, with the dead in her train, on this moonless night. Additionally, if any member of the household was thought to have offered particular offence to Hekate during the preceding month specific rituals of expiation, involving the sacrificial offering of a black puppy, were conducted on this night in addition to the Depinon ritual itself.

Ancient Depinon

We don’t know exactly what ritual processes took place during the Depinon ritual but we know broadly what took place. During the day the family would involve themselves in ritually cleansing their home and and ritual shrine dedicated to Hekate they may have in the home. These shrines were sometimes located in portico or entrance way to their home, often located out of sight of the main doorway. After the cleaning process was completed, and the remains put to one side, the family would then engage in a family meal from which a portion of food was retained as an offering to Hekate. The food, along with the detritus from the cleaning process, was then taken by the family (or a specific member) along to a local shrine to Hekate or near by crossroads where they would deposit the offering before returning home, taking care not to look back as they returned home.

There is some evidence, in the form of satirical writings, that the food left for the Depinon offering found its way into the hands, mouths and bellies of the homeless. Aristophanes writes

“Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month [food placed inside her door-front shrines] and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.”

Whilst the taking of an offering made to a deity, particularly a chthonic one such as Hekate, would have been considered a profane act and would have been associated with miasma it is possible that the gifting of food to this group of people was a conscious act which made up part of the devotional process. According to Pausanias in his Description of Greece “Whatever is thrown or dropped is lost to this world, whatever is caught is gained” and this might suggest that food was thrown rather than ritually deposited, giving the poor and hungry the opportunity to catch a portion of food for themselves. It may also indicate that this portion of the population were not overly concerned with the social implications of miasma and were willing to take the offering from the ground thus cleaning away the offering before morning. This might have been seen as the vehicle through which Hekate acquired the offering, and you may want to review my thoughts on Hekate and the Homeless to find out more about the connection between the Goddess and the downtrodden.

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©Victoria Newton

Modern Depinon

As with many aspects of modern Heketean devotion modern Depinon practice often closely reflects those of the ancients. The dark moon is used as a time of ritual cleansing and whilst it is unusual for modern devotees to conduct a full dumb supper every dark moon cycle, saving the full ritual meal for festivals occurring in August and/or November, food associated with Hekate is offered to her along with the resultant debris of ritual cleaning. These foods include fish cakes, garlic and eggs, as well as other types of foods which are made using traditional Greek recipes and deposition takes place at a liminal location such as boundary, gateway or crossroads.

Just as the homeless seemed to have gained in the ancient ritual of Deipnon many modern practitioners will make donations to homeless and animal charities in their modern observations. These acts recognise Hekate as the Goddess of her restless souls, those who are ostracised and displaced. Another element that remain as part of the ritual include not looking back after the offering is made.

Some Questions

Why are ritual debris and household waste included in the offering?

By offering the combined cleaning remains from both the home and ritual space we are symbolically asking Hekate to bring transformation and renewal to all aspects of our lives.  In the context of Hekate, one of her epithets from PGM P.G.M. 1402; 1406 is Borborophorba (eater of filth). This title is rooted in the connection between the womb and tomb, with the Goddess taking in that which is unclean in order for it to be born anew, in this case in the new lunar month. This is not the only place within the PGM where Hekate is associated with unclean aspects, such as cow dung, and some spells in which she is invoked involve the excrement of other animals. Anyone interested in following this thread a bit further would do well to refer to the Rotting Goddess by Jacob Rabinowitz but in the meantime you can read something from him on the subject here.

On a more practical level, this cathartic act of cleansing the ritual space provides an opportunity for a little housekeeping, and many devotees will combine any remains of offerings made to other deities in this act.

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Hekate – Artist Unknown

Isn’t the offering of last leavings and ritual waste from devotional acts to other deities offensive to the Goddess?

Not at all. Last leavings and ritual waste are not traditional offerings to Celestial and Terrestrial offerings as they are deemed as being unworthy of them. In a Greek context however they form part of an acceptable offering to chthonic deities, who were seen as taking the unclean into themselves in order to render it pure again.

When it comes to the ritual waste from other devotional act the inclusion is not a slight to either Hekate or the other deity. The deity receiving the original offering has already received the essence of the offering, a process best described by the master wordsmith and (IMO) magician Terry Pratchett in Going Postal

“As I understand it,” said Moist, “the gift of sausages reaches Offler by being fried, yes? And the spirit of the sausages ascends unto Offler by means of the smell? And then you eat the sausages?”

“Ah, no. Not exactly. Not at all,” said the young priest, who knew this one. “It might look like that to the uninitiated, but, as you say, the true sausagidity goes straight to Offler. He, of course, eats the spirit of the sausages. We eat the mere earthy shell, which, believe me, turns to dust and ashes in our mouths.”

“That would explain why the smell of sausages is always better than the actual sausage, then?” said Moist. “I’ve often noticed that.”

The priest was impressed. “Are you a theologian, sir?” he said.

As for Hekate, I have already mentioned that in her form of Eater of Filth she is enacting a transformation, creating an offering to herself in the acceptance of it. It is that transformation which makes the offering acceptable.

Why eggs?

Whilst many understand the connections of garlic to a Chthonic goddess associated with Witchcraft and the aversion of evil, and as a deity with a portion of the unfruitful sea the offering of red mullet makes a certain amount of sense, but the offering of an egg to Hekate doesn’t always. Eggs have always carried a strong connection to the occult and appears in a number of traditions in rituals involving renewal, rebirth and cleansing. African diaspora traditions use eggs to form aura cleansing, with the egg broken and the yolk and white read in a number of different processes. On a mundane level eggs, when kept in the refrigerator, are known to absorb bad odours from the unit and help other things stay fresher longer. All of this is because of the porous nature of the eggshell itself. In a Greek context the Cosmic World Egg of the Orphic tradition the Egg from which the great God Phanes was born was believed to have the ability to absorb negative influences, such as miasma, and convert them in to more positive, if not divine, energies. This Orphic connection is very much in keeping with our previous conversation on Hekate as an eater of filth and is the likeliest reason for the traditional association of eggs with the Depinon ritual.

Do people still offer puppies to Hekate?

The simple answer to this is no, we don’t do that anymore for a variety of reasons. Some practitioners incorporate the imagery of a black dog into their Depinon rituals, and at times of specific expedition may symbolically sacrifice the image of a black dog, but the sacrifice is not carried out in actuality. Devotees may also make offerings of bloody meat, such as goat and ofel, to speed up the process of expedition or as a special form of offering however this form of offering is not limited to Depinon and such things are bought from the appropriate retailer. 

In Closing

My post which contains my ritual outline covers questions relating to the practicalities of the Depinon ritual but if you feel there is anything that I missed out between these two posts give me a shout. If I don’t know I’ll have fun finding out the answer with you.

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