The Things You Find

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I like walking in nature, even if my body doesn’t and having two kids in tow makes it harder to appreciate the signs and sounds. One reason I enjoy these walks is the foraging; whether it is edibles, interesting rocks or the occasional twig you can always guarantee we will find something to bring home.

This past May bank holiday weekend visited the North Yorkshire coast, in particular, Boggle Hole, for a spot of beach combing. I am never going to stack out an Etsy shop with curios and creations but I like finding things that I can incorporate into the witchy household environment and maybe even my practice. There were a couple of finds on this trip which underlines why this kind of thing can be very ‘profitable’, particularly for a budding witch who is on a budget.

 

Pentagram Rock

The striations in this stone are what made it stand out to me. It may not be perfect but this is defiantly a pentagram. This stone is pocket sized so it would make a perfect addition to any of my travel altars either as a focal point or elemental representation. I’ve been seeing a trend towards themed altar kits so for inspiration, this stone would also be a wonderful addition to any sea themed altar space.

 

Other Ways To Use Rocks

There is a massive emphasis on the use of crystals and semi-precious stones in new age circles but you can build some very real and meaningful relationships with more prosaic stones. When taken from a particular location the stones carry some of the energy of that location with them. Whilst you should never remove a stone from an ancient monument (not even if it has fallen from the monument) taking one from the surrounding area will allow you carry some of the places home with you, something that is particularly relevant if you regularly work in a particular place on a regular basis.

Even if you don’t work with genius loci stones can be incorporated into your practices as markers for altars and circles. The size you use will depend on the purpose; larger stones for marking out outdoor circles, smaller stones for marking particular components of the altar set up. Smaller stones are also useful for making divinatory sets be that runes or some other tool.

Your chosen stones should be as flat as possible at least on the side you are going to draw your design on. Prepare your stone by washing it and cleaning it well, ideally with a toothbrush to remove any in the ground dirt. Any rough patches can be smoothed out using sandpaper, using finer and finer grades to create a smoother finish. Acrylic paints, fine point markers and marker paints are the best mediums for drawing your design on your stone, though it is also advisable to prepare by drawing your planned design in pencil or chalk. Once you have the design finished the stone needs sealing such as mode podge or similar. A good option for smaller stones or when you are in a pinch is clear nail polish, particularly chip-resistant polish.

 

Something A Little More – Jet and Hematite

Amongst the granites, sandstones and slates that you often find on the beach, it is also possible to find something a little more precious. Because they are knocked about by wave action it can be a little hard to compare them to the ones we find in the shops but they are there if you know how to look.

The most common find possible on any beach in North Yorkshire are quartz based. Ranging from pure to off-white in colour it is possible to find carnelian and citrine but they aren’t all that common, or evident. The region is more famous for its deposits of jet, the fossilised remains of the monkey puzzle tree. This very light, black ‘stone’ is can easily be mistaken for coal but it can be distinguished by rubbing it up against sandpaper or sandstone. Coal will leave behind a black streak whilst jet will leave a reddish brown mark.

There are no laws about taking Jet from any of the beaches between Staithes and Runswick, at least that I can find, but discretion is advised. Jet is still an important commercial resource in the area so please bear this in mind.

The other thing I found on my recent visit was this interesting stone.

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Based on the sheer weight and sheen I am hesitantly identifying it a hematite,  an iron-rich stone regarded amongst healers as providing grounding and stabilising energies. I found it mixed within a deposit of other stones in a rock pool just below the cliff face and it was the rainbow sheen of the wet surface that attracted my attention. I’ve been doing some research and it is possible the stone is naturally occurring, rather than a previous ritual deposit and the fact that I was strongly attracted not only my its appearance by the feeling of it in my hand and pocket indicates to me that even if it were, this stone was meant to find me. I am planning to wire wrap it so I can wear it in the future.

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Perun and Veles

All good pantheons contain adversaries. Two powerful deities which are in conflict with each other over power and prestige or some other reason. The Greeks place Hades in opposition to Zeus, one being the God of the Underworld and the other being God in the Heavenly realms, one feeling outdone by the other when it came to the apportionment of power and prestige. In other families, a trickster god, such as Loki, is set against all other deities in a combination of hijinx and malice against another God of power and prestige.

It is a combination of these two dynamics which is at play in the story of Perun and Veles.

Veles is both outcast and trickster, forbidden from the realm of Prav whilst beguiling God and Man alike with his shapeshifting and wiles. Perun, on the other hand, is a supreme deity of war who protects and rules over both Prav and Jav at the behest of their father Svarog, a deity which I will post about next time.

 

Perun

Perun is the supreme Slavic Deity and is known as the god of thunder and sky. Unlike his Norse equivalent, Thor, his thunder and lightning were caused by his war bow and arrows. He also wielded a battle axe. The root word per- in proto-Slavic means to strike or to slay and the Lithuanian word Perkūnas both refers to the God and the phenomena of thunder.

In addition to meeting out punishment to mortals who took oaths in his name Perun was charged with protecting the gateway to the heavenly world of Prav, and the associated World Tree, from the onslaught of his brother Veles. It was thought that thunderstorms represented this cosmic battle and that Veles was overcome and returned to the Underworld, Nav, where he would prepare for his next attempt on the Gates of Prav.

Perun is the god of justice and punishment of the wicked and is particularly venerated by modern Rodnovers as he is considered to have control over who can and cannot enter the realm of Prav.

Offerings – meat, ale, mead, golden apples, red/gold candles

Altar – axes, arrows, hawthorn, juniper, sage, nettle, apple, storm water, amber, thunder-stones (flint arrowheads), wooden icon

Spaces – hilltops, mountains, oak or yew groves, home

Day – Thursday

Animals – goat, rooster, eagle

 

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Perun

 

 

Veles

Veles is another major God within the Slavic pantheon and stands in opposition to his brother Perun as the trickster God of the Woodland. Veles was originally charged with protecting the World Tree from encroachment from the Underworld of Nav, however, he soon became jealous of his brother’s holdings and stole his cattle. This resulted in Veles being banished to the Underworld where he plotted his return. 

Veles is a shapeshifter and is alternatively said to take on the form of a serpent, black bear and other animals in his attempts to regain his place in Prav. When seeking to escape the thunder and lightning of Perun Veles is said to change his form into both plants, animals and even hide behind people to escape his brother’s rage.

Though his association with trickery and wild places Veles was often associated with matters of commerce and long distance travel. He is associated with herd animals, particularly sheep and the root origin of his name is shared with words meaning wool and hair.

Offerings – chicken hearts, cooked corn, basil, barely, wheat, mistletoe, bread, mead, music.

Altar – black animal motifs, ram horns, black wool/fur, cow bell, herb bundle, musk, wooden icon

Spaces – forest crossroads, riverbanks, woodland groves

Day: Wednesday

Animals – black bear, black ram, black dog, black sheep, snakes

 

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Veles

 

 

Artwork

Artist – Viktor Korolkov

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Pagan Parenting – Having Friends Over

I’ve found myself increasingly having to consider the ‘what ifs’ of my children having friends over to stay. Although we have had parties and play dates at home the parents of said children are either family or friends that know that I appreciate that we are a ‘non-Christian’ household. Now, as the children are getting older and developing strong friendship bonds with children outside of our circle I have had to review the kinds of things that are out on display, especially as I expand my statue, skull and book collections.

The core of my position is that it’s my house and I’ll have out when I jolly well want, but actually there does need to be a bit of giving ground on my part.

 

General House Rules

The rules for guests would be the same as for the children; Do not touch without permission. The added caveat would be ‘the children cannot give permission’. When considering items out on display I am somewhat relaxed. I’d be a fool to believe that the kids, who get up way earlier than I do, don’t rummage trough crystal bowls or manhandle objects on the sideboard. Generally, anything on display is the equivalent of an ornament so as long as there are no breakages I turn a blind eye.

Boxed items are another story. If something is in a box and I see tampering then there is big trouble. Boxes are where I keep my tools, herbs and ritual items which I do not want touching. Most of these are in my bedroom so there are no excuses but there a couple are on display in the living room (mainly divination equipment so it is close to hand).

The other biggest rule, particularly with overnight guests, is that my bedroom is off limits. Not only because that is where I keep the really illicit stuff but also because I have no desire to be working up at 6AM on a Sunday morning.

 

Divination and Magical Tools

Any object which is sacred or, for energetic reasons, shouldn’t be handled by anyone but me. As such they are stored in boxes and out of site. As noted above boxes are off limits regardless of where they are in the house. Occasionally I have ‘retired’ objects from active use and they have been incorporated into shrines around the house. In these cases, the items are to be treated as any other ornament though the girls know I would strongly prefer them to leave well alone.

 

Skulls and Other (MM)

Death isn’t a subject I feel needs to be hidden from children. Whether it is the death of a beloved pet or relative they need to share the experience with their family, at a level appropriate to their age group. The presence of skulls and other remains, and (mm) in general is something that I don’t believe should be shirked from and my policy is that those skulls which are on display remain on display. There have been a few goggle-eyed looks but never more than that.

I am starting to include some trance work involving animal skulls in my personal practice. These skulls will be dedicated items with their own rituals and spirits attached. As such they will be an off-limits item to all except myself, as is the case with any form of divinatory tool and will be stored appropriately.

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Icons and Statues

I don’t have a lot of ‘sexy’ icons but some of my Pan statues are more than a little… phallic. My OH isn’t exactly comfortable with these images as it is so they are confined to the back of a bedroom cupboard and are only on display during ritual work.

This is not my preference.

Whilst I am happy to keep such things confined to the bedroom, particularly when it comes to considering the feelings of visiting family members and guests, but I dislike like hiding them from the Girls but I am content to respect my husband’s wishes… for now.

In a more general sense, I have things out on display as shrines and altars which are not moved or redressed for visitors.

 

Herbs and Consumables

Young children explore their universe through their mouths. If it fits it ships as the saying goes. I’m not entirely convinced that this gets better as they get older it’s just the ‘I wonder…’ thought process has greater imagination and possible trouble behind it.

Whether the item may be considered ‘not great’ or ‘extremely NOT’ for human consumption I take no risks. All herbs and loose incense are in a box within a box which is located in my room. The few that aren’t are kitchen herbs.

 

Teaching Some Lesson

Most of our rules are based either in so-called ‘common sense’ or good spiritual practice. Magical, sacred or divinatory items should only be handled by the practitioner and/or designated individuals unless invited. Equally sacred or spiritually significant objects really shouldn’t be on general display. One of the reasons I have and enforce, these rules with the girls is that they are something they may need should they take their practice forward and in recent months it has become very relevant for ED.

The ED has been collecting bits and pieces of ‘ritual’ items for years. Some are things she has inherited from me, others she has made herself and she’s even asked me to buy items from charity shops from time to time. She keeps her items in her bedroom on a special shelf but she had found that play dates would rummage through and pick things up and ask permission second. She found it a little frustrating so when she started to collect the Hatatchet Partworks Mind Body Spirit magazine she asked for a box of her own to keep all the crystals and cards out of sight. Gradually more of her items moved in and now she has a well-developed beginners altar box (sans oils and herbs).

 

 

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She does have the candles, but we’ve had a long long long fire saftey talk

 

 

Not only is she better organised she can keep things separate and special. Admittedly, it’s hard for her to access because she refuses to keep her cupboard tidy buy at least the intent is there. Now her things are out of sight out of mind and now she is the one who decides if and what can come out.  

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Visualisations for Protecting the Self and Home

Here is another post inspired by some nonsense I came across on the web. There seems to be an epidemic of people concerned about being beset by, or at risk from, negative energy and looking for ways to protect themselves. Quite often the suggestions range for complex rituals and spells to the use of white sage smudge even though the poster and commenter have no idea of the native origins or practical application of the process. What a lot of new practitioners tend to miss early on is that this kind of ritualization is completely unnecessary when it comes to personal protection. Even when protecting the home visualisation can provide a quick fix whilst you resolve an existing issue, or even form one layer of defence.

Many new practitioners feel that they don’t have a large budget, or the ability to buy ritual items either because they are practising in private or are not aware of physical stores in their area. The great thing about visualisation is that it is completely free. You don’t need candles or incense if you don’t want/have them, or anything else for that matter. I do recommend the Headspace app for people who are just beginning to meditate for the first time, all you need is a smartphone. The free 10 sessions are all that is needed to learn effective methods of entering the meditative mind space and you are able to track the number of days and length of time completed. It is not necessary to pay for a full account as even after completing the initial 10 sessions they remain available to you for as long as you have the app installed.

Defences of these nature are not permeant fixes and need re-visualising on a regular basis. A skilled practitioner may be able to go up to a full moon cycle between each session and will be able to tell if they need to top up after encountering particular situations or individual. Someone who is less confident may want to do this more often, say daily or weekly. Confidence will come with time and practice, as will the ability to go longer between visualisations. Whilst they do assume some familiarity with meditation I have written them to contain grounding and centring as part of it, two steps new practitioners routinely filter out of their practices.

 

 

Personal Protection Visualisation – Rubber and Glue

The old school yard saying “I’m rubber your glue, what bounces off me sticks to you” may appear a really petty idea at first but as a sympathetic idea, it works well as a personal protection method.

Intent – to protect the individual from negative entities and intent by reflecting away from the person and back to the sender.

Maintenance – Skilled Practitioners may consider performing this on a monthly/lunar basis, but should be performed more regularly if required.

Process – In an upright and seated position, feet firmly pressed against the ground, and begin by entering a meditative state in your usual way. Visualise roots extending from the soles of your feet down into the earth, anchoring and grounding you. Feel a bright white energy flowing up through these roots and into your body, progressively rising to extend throughout your being. Once you are filled with light withdraw these roots back into your feet.

Now visualise a small rubber ball slightly in front of you at eye level. The initial size and colour of the ball are up to you. See the ball split into two and realise that it is hollow inside. Visualise the two halves of the ball grow bigger and lengthening until they are large enough to totally enclose you in the inner space both over your head and under your feet. Once large enough seen the two halves move around you and then come together, completely enclosing you. From the inside the ball appears transparent and although you do not feel enclosed you are aware of the impenetrable rubber surrounding you. Visualise the seam sealing itself fully until it looks as if it has always been a single continuous layer of protection. Be sure to do this all the way around.

Anything energy that is directed towards you will be rebound off the surface of the rubber ball and back towards the caster. If you would like to receive those energies that you consider healing or positive make a clear statement within the visualisation that such energies will be allowed to pass through and undesirable energies reflected away. Consider affirming that old schoolyard saying to embed in the visualisation that returned negative energies will stick to the caster. Once you feel the visualisation is firmly in place allow the rubber ball fade from view knowing that it will remain present and reflect unwanted energies even though you are unable to see it. Bring your awareness back into yourself and open your eyes.

 

Household Protection Visualisation – The Mirror Dome

Mirrors are often preferred for reflecting negative energies in personal protection and this visualisation works on a larger scale, able to protect a room, property or building.

Intent – to protect the property and people within it from negative entities or intent by reflecting it away from the property and back to the sender.

 

Maintenance – Skilled Practitioners may consider performing this on a monthly/lunar basis, but should be performed more regularly if required.

Process – In an upright and seated position, feet firmly pressed against the ground, and begin by entering a meditative state in your usual way. Visualise roots extending from the soles of your feet down into the earth, anchoring and grounding you. Feel a bright white energy flowing up through these roots and into your body, progressively rising to extend throughout your being. Once you are filled with light withdraw these roots back into your feet.

Visualise a dome of white energy forming completely around you, your body should be totally enclosed by the dome which touches the ground on all sides. Begin to project this dome outwards to enclose more of the space around you. First, the dome fills the room, then moves on to enclose the floor above you and then beyond to the roof. If you are on the second story or above visualise the dome reaching down to connect with ground level.

Continue to project the dome until you are able to visualise the entire property is enclosed within this dome of white energy. Hold this visualisation for a moment and the see the energy change into mirror panels, with the reflective side facing out and away from the property. Now all energies directed against the property will be reflected away and back to the person who sent them.

If you would like to receive those energies that you consider healing or positive make a clear statement within the visualisation that such energies will be allowed to pass through and undesirable energies reflected away. Once you feel that the visualisation is firm and in place bring your awareness back into the room and yourself, knowing that the dome of mirrors will remain in place once you leave the visualisation. Slowly become aware of your surroundings and open your eyes.

Note – you do not have to extend this around your house if you don’t want to, you may simply want to protect a single room or even just your bed. In this instance rather than a dome visualise a sphere so that the underside of the area is also protected.

 

Household Protection Visualisation – The Web

Not for the arachnophobe. Spiders are one of the most underrated household residents, actively keeping the home insect free for nothing more than a quiet corner. This visualisation draws on the function of the dream catcher as well as the spider’s appetite for little black things that fly.

Intent – to protect the property and the people within it from negative entities or intent by capturing it and grounding it whilst allowing positive energies to pass through.

Maintenance – Skilled Practitioners may consider performing this on a monthly/lunar basis, but should be performed more regularly if required.

Process – In an upright and seated position, feet firmly pressed against the ground, and begin by entering a meditative state in your usual way. Visualise roots extending from the soles of your feet down into the earth, anchoring and grounding you. Feel a bright white energy flowing up through these roots and into your body, progressively rising to extend throughout your being. Once you are filled with light withdraw these roots back into your feet.

Visualise a dome of white webbing forming completely around you, your body should be totally enclosed by the dome which touches the ground on all sides. Begin to project this dome outwards to enclose more of the space around you. First, the dome fills the room, then moves on to enclose the floor above you and then beyond to the roof. If you are on the second story or above visualise the dome reaching down to connect with ground level.

Continue to project the dome until you are able to visualise the entire property is enclosed within. Hold this visualisation for a moment and then see the dome transform into spider webbing, strong and flexible and able to capture any negative intent which may be directed towards the property and the people within it, knowing that positive intent and energy will be able to pass through unhindered. See large spiders moving around the web ready to gather the negative energy and consume it. Once you feel that the visualisation is firm and in place bring your awareness back into the room and yourself, knowing that the web and spiders will remain in place once you leave the visualisation. Slowly become aware of your surroundings and open your eyes.

Note – you do not have to extend this around your house if you don’t want to, you may simply want to protect a single room or even just your bed. In this instance rather than a some visualise a sphere so that the underside of the area is also protected.

 

On Ritualization

Meditation and visualisation do not require any form of ritualization in of themselves. They can be easily incorporated into your own ritual practices should you feel they fit however they do not need any special lead in or out beyond what you would normally use in this kind of process. If you wish you could burn incense to help set mood and space, or you may want to light a candle which has been charged with intent. This is not necessary.

 

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Original Inspiration and Warning

I am not linking the original inspiration because once I stripped away the bad ritualization, terrible poetry and mixed deity/pantheon reference all that remained was the concept of a “spider web household protection” and I didn’t see the need to promote the terrible content. The three visualisations grew out of this concept, we all take inspiration from somewhere.  

I am aware that the spider visualisation may attract our eight legged friends into the home in a form of sympathetic resonance so please be aware of this is you are afraid of spiders or have an arachnophobe in the house.

 

 

 

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Rod and Cosmology

A few months ago I was challenged to look at a European pantheon outside of my comfort-zone of the Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome. I finally settled on the Slavic God’s, simply because it was a group of deities I knew nothing about. In the process, I learnt about the modern reconstructionist movement Rodnovery.

Now, a quick disclaimer. The intention was never to adapt my practice or take anything from this modern expression of pan-Slavic tradition, and not being part of this tradition means that what I have to say is (at best) superficial. However, it never hurts to learn something new and get outside your comfort zone when you do it.

 

Introduction To Rodnovery

Rodnovery is an anglicised compound word made of the Slavic words rodnaI (native) and vjera (faith). This broad term is used to describe the contemporary revival of the polytheistic and pantheistic religion and practices indigenous to the 13 Slavic states which include;

  •  The Czech Republic
  • Bosnia
  • Serbia
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Belarus
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Bulgaria
  • Macedonia
  • Croatia
  • Slovenia
  • Montenegro

Like other modern reconstructions of ancient practices, Rodnovery is informed by surviving writings, archaeology, folk traditions and the work of contemporary Slavic pagans. The practice centres upon the worship of Slavic deities however in addition to indigenous Slavs people identifying as Rodnovers include the Slavic diaspora (Slavic peoples living in other countries) and non-Slavs with close ties to Slavic culture also.

Rodnovers follow a calendar not dissimilar from the modern pagan wheel of the year, with season rites and observation of the Solstices and Equinoxes forming the eight spokes of the Kolovrat, the Slavic variation of the Swastika or “Wheel”. In addition to these are rites venerating Nature Spirits, Gods, Ancestors and other dates of significance historically or to folk tradition are also observed. The Rodnovery Calendar may include upwards of 20 significate days depending on the group or individual.

Like other modern Heathen practices, Rodnovery involves a very visceral connection with the Gods of the Pantheon. Celebrations take place in nature, occasionally within the precincts of wooden temples were the icon of the God is housed. Whilst this is not always practical in the case of the Slavic diaspora an emphasis is upon connecting with the Gods through a connection with the Land. Rodnovers also connect with their Gods through methods identifiable to their ancestors.  Alcohol, sleep deprivation and sweat lodges are just a few ways that modern practitioners seek communion with their Gods.  

 

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Cosmology

As with many Indo-European cultures, the Slavic Cosmology is a linear structure involving a World Tree. More simplistic than is Norse counterparts the Slavic World Tree connects three realms of existence;

  • Prav – the realm of divine order where the Gods reside,
  • Jav – the material realm where humans reside,
  • Nav – the Underworld where the dead and other chthonic forces reside, the realm of Nav is also described as the formless abyss from which creation emerged.

The formation of the Slavic Cosmos is described in two stages, the first being the emergency of the God Rod from a golden Cosmic Egg. The shell of this egg provides the crown and roots, which will become the realms of Prav and Nav respectively, and as Rod disperses his being across creation the realm of Jav is formed. As Svarog begins to define and refine the material world and its laws the 12 Pillars become part of the World Tree, further separating the realms of Jav and Nav.

As with other examples of the Axis Mundi, or cosmic axis, in the form of the World Tree, it is possible for the magical practitioner, be they shamanic in origin or otherwise, to travel the length of the World Tree in order to communicate with the beings and entities which dwell within them.

Given that Rod, the primary God of Rodnovery and the root of the word itself, is responsible to the foundation of creation it only makes sense that we start with this deity.

 

Rod

Rod is the ultimate creator God of the Slavic pantheon. It is from his very being that all of creation is established and it was through his thoughts that the Universe was ordered into the three realms of Jav, Prav and Nav.

It is the name of this God that word Rodnovery takes part of its meaning and many words relating to blood relationships, nationality and family contain this common root. Rod is recognised as the God of Universal Law and Order as well as hospitality and oath taking. Any oath that was taken in the name of, or sight of, Rod was a sacred oath particularly when it related to the treatment of others.

As his body dissolved into the fabric of creation; his eyes became the Sun, Moon and Stars, his breath the wind etc, Rod left his son Svarog to complete creation and formalise not only the boundaries of the three realms but also the land itself.

Offerings – mead, plum brandy, walnut nuts, porridge, bread, plums, honey.

Altar – Family heirlooms, photos, keepsakes, bloodstone.

Spaces – home, burial grounds, woodland groves

Day – none

Animals – raven

 

 

 

Going Forward

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, I will supplement my normal musings and ramblings with posts from my research. Watch this space.

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Photo Inspiration – Red Fox

 

This week I am taking inspiration from a recently acquired fox skull, which I purchased through a friend recently.

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There is nothing more beautiful than the Red Fox. Increasingly a symbol of the urban wild; this small predator is at home both in the meadows, fields and forests where it hunts for small herbivores (and other foods) and the big cities where it both hunts and scavenges. Often viewed as little better than the vermin it hunts foxes are a common sight in our suburban gardens and parklands.

The house I grew up in was bordered by some private allotments, most of which were untended and overgrown. We often listened to the unmistakable sound of the vixen in heat and each year a little fox family would play in our garden. Our rabbits and guinea pigs were never bothered by these foxy visitors because my mum insisted, we had a running deal. They would get the choicest leftovers from our roast chicken dinners and in return wouldn’t eat our pets.

Being able to view this wonderful animal from a relatively close distance, albeit through the window, left me with a reverence and respect for these creatures. They are predators, of this there is no doubt and I watched more than one tuck into a fat pigeon on the lawn, but they are also incredibly playful and affectionate. The connection between mates is strong and monogamous and whilst the cubs are young and learning they are a close family group. You would rarely see the adults coming because they knew the lay of the land so well they had all the advantages when it came to sneaking but they were not above a bold statement of presence from time to time if the situation was in their favour.

Foxes appear one most of the continents on the planet, the exception being Australia where they are an invasive species introduced into the country in the mid-1800’s for sport. As a result, there are many interpretations on the qualities of the Fox but by and large, they are split into two main categories; wisdom and guile.

 

Wise Guide

Ever had a fox trot across your path, pause and then continue out of sight and felt that they were beckoning you to follow them into the unknown? Although foxes are normally considered nocturnal animals they are most commonly seen during dawn and dusk, those liminal times of days when many consider the wall between worlds weakest. Through their association with these times of day, foxes are often regarded as spirit guides, able to lead the adept over the threshold between worlds and beyond.

For this reason, they are often associated with the higher knowledge and wisdom associated with the spiritual realms and the sighting of a fox seen as an omen to be reckoned with. It is always why the fox is regarded by some as an auspicious spirit guide/animal for those interested in crossing these spiritual boundaries. Working with the energies of the Fox can help the practitioner find their way across these boundaries and through the complexities of such spiritual realms.  

The Fox also shows wisdom in the way it employs its skills as a hunter and expert in camouflage. Hunting requires energy and failed hunt can be more costly than not hunting at all in some situations and the fox knows this well. When they hunt they do so in an efficient and arrow-like way, pursuing their quarry carefully and efficiently.  When hunted themselves they are savvy prey, and their skills lie in knowing ahead of time when they are likely to be hunted and hiding well. Man alone struggles to track the fox and relies heavily on trapping known food sources (chicken coupes and the like) or the nose of the hound. This is one reason that the illegal fox hunts which take place across the countryside rely so heavily on dogs going out ahead of time to track the likely location of their quarry.

Their adaptability and knowledge of what skills to use when are spiritual messages which can be gained from working with this spirit animal and another reason this animal is a popular spiritual guide.

 

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Wise Fox – Artist Aimee Stewart

 

Cunning Trickster

The fox is often regarded as a sly character, able to catch even the most suspicious of opponent off guard. From ancient land spirit bringing fire to man through cunning to sly old Mr Fox trying to trick rabbits into his pot; the Fox has long been associated with guile and diversion. Such behaviour can be seen in two lights. On one hand, it is an extension of wisdom, using one’s natural abilities to ensure the best outcome for the self or others. On the other hand, it is seen as a misuse of wisdom and knowledge, particularly by the victims of such wise ways and words. In dream symbolism the fox almost universally represents an opponent of some kind, drawing on the many phrases associated with the fox such as “foxy lady” and “sly as a fox”. The image of the fox can, therefore, represents both sides of this coin, representing the cunning enemy or the cunning needed to prevail in any given situation.

Some cultures also accord Foxes with shapeshifting abilities, drawing on the ability of this animal to move unseen through its environment. Like many predatory animals, foxes have evolved to blend seamlessly into their native environments but time and again they have shown their ability to adapt to new environments and thrive. On a spiritual level, this message of adaptability is a positive one, encouraging us to remain open and able to change according to our situation.

Shapeshifters are also notorious tricksters, playing situations to their advantage to create chaos for others but their role is always coloured by the perception of the outcome. Victims will always feel that the Trickster represents a negative force, the chaos they being breaks the bounds of conventional behaviours and rules to the detriment of all. Those that benefit will view the Trickster as the little hero, the underdog which has defied all the odds and used their cunning to defy both the odds and maybe even overwhelming strength. The Fox also falls into this category of liminal creatures, dancing back and forth across the line of what is acceptable and what is not.

 

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Fox Maiden – Artist Susan Seddon Boulet

 

Closing Musings and Ethical Statment

The fox is a rather magically animal of layered meanings and associations all of which can be seen as two sides of the same coin. The adaptability and shifting nature of the Fox are certainly qualities to be prized in modern life

Like many witches who use animal remains in their Craft, I like to be aware of where I am sourcing from. Foraging, roadkill and ethical population culls are my preferred source for animal remains. In this case, the fox pictured was the victim of a road traffic accident (aka roadkill) and not from an illegal hunt or trapping.

Not everyone is comfortable with using animal remains in their practice and some may find it strange to have the skull of an animal which may be considered revered on your living room sideboard. I personally find it a powerful way in which to invoke the energies of that animal in your life and, in my case at least, a significant reminder of not only my past interactions with this wonderful animal but also of significant family members. With proper ritual and care any skull can become a vessel for the spirit of the animal it represents and although this particular skull hasn’t undergone these processes I am not precluding it from my personal practice at this stage.

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Pagan Paretning – Viking Homework

ED’s homework book finally came back from school for the holidays and with it her cross stitch homework.

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It’s the first time she’s worked with anything other than plastic mesh and the pattern is a little more complex than what she’d done previously but it turned out really well. She doesn’t quite get the importance of counting in counted cross stitch, and she hasn’t quite got my compulsion to un-pick everything when she makes a mistake but she’s getting there.

This project turned into another lesson around magical theory. We discussed the associations of the colour red, what boat symbols mean, what the pouch could be used for etc. We did have to put the cart before the horse in terms of defining purpose after choosing the design and thread colour but perhaps ED had a purpose in mind all along.

 

Viking Dream Traveller Pillow

Design – Viking Boat

Meaning – boat representative of both real world travel and dream travel (think In the Night Garden as she did). Thread Colour – Red, used for good luck and protection.

Stuffing – a combination of normal toy stuffing and an Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm tea bag.

Theme – Dream/sleep pillow for protection

Why Use the Nine Herbs Charm?

The ED’s homework at the time was to do with the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons and there was absolutely no way I was going to miss out the opportunity to include this herbal charm. Plus, it had the added bonus of actually fitting into the theme of the pillow

Relevant Magical Uses of the Nine Herbs

Mugwort – Used in a number of ways to increase the strength of dreams and prophetic skills. Also used in protective sachets relating to travel to avoid bad luck or protect the home against unwanted energies.

Plantain – Drunk as an infusion to promote vivid and prophetic dreams. Also used in protection spells, particularly for children.

Watercress – Used to promote clarity and strength of mind, aiding visions and dreams. Also used for protection, particularly relating to travel by water.

Chamomile – Used as an infusion to wash liminal points of a property (doors and windows) to protect against unwanted energies. The infusion can also be used as a Good Luck hand wash.

Betony* – Protective herb, historically used to guard against evil or mischievous spirits. Also used to protect against unwanted energies, negativity, misfortune and hexes.

Crab Apple – generally apples are associated with the realm of the dead and the appeasement of otherworldly spirits, being associated with immortality through mythology. They are also associated with protection as a result of the natural pentagram which can be found within them.

Nettle – Protective herb used to keep out negativity, unwanted spirits and protect against curses.

Chervil – Generally considered a funeral herb, Chervil is associated with the spirits of the dead and both aids in communication whilst also offering protection.

Fennel – Used as an infusion to wash doorways to keep away bad energies and spirits and can be used in protective charms.

*Betony is often substituted for the ‘hidden herb’ called Attorlaðe in the poem. Attorlaðe is often translated ‘venom-loather/ loathing’.

These associations fit with the overall theme of protection during the night and increasing dream view all and vision. Added bonus for the ED is that she felt that it was something she could take on holiday so that even away from home she would have protection.

Synchronicity

As it happened I had just located an Etsy seller who was selling a blend of herbal tea inspired by the Nine Herbs charm.

I can’t recommend this brew enough. The brew is pleasant on the palate, though if you prefer sweeter drinks you should add honey rather than refined sugar and I have very interesting dreams when I drink it before bed. I’ve not used it in ritual context but I’m sure it would be more than suitable. You can buy the blend as either bags or loose leaf and as fortune would have it I had opted for bags on this first occasion.

The tea bags are really well sealed, and the bags themselves are a high quality so I hade no fear of it bursting within the pillow at a later date.

Needless to say, ED got a few extra merits *buffs nails*

Use and Ritualisation

I will be honest, we didn’t make this with the intention of it becoming an operation. Regardless it will make a nice dream pillow in a style similar to those I have used in the past to protect the children at night, and explanation of which will/has appeared under the Pagan Parenting tag as “Things That God Bump in the Night.” If you were making something similar from scratch there are a number of operations you would follow.

Firstly, as it is a hand crafted item, you can charge the pillow with intent during the stitching of the design and again during its construction. The next thing that can, and should, be done is the charging of the herbs. Even though in this instance a sealed tea bag is used this process can still occur. Instead of stirring the herbs by hand they would have to be held and empowered that way. If you were wishing to invoke a deity I would recommend Frigga. Although Woden/Odin would be the first deity to come to mind the pillows use as a dream pillow for children wouldn’t really fit his domain so whilst I would reference him his wife, and central matron figure within the tradition, would be a more appropriate figure to call on.

Given that I am working retrospectively I will need to work in a different way. Instead of charging all items separate they will have to be charged in a single operation, at the same time that I invoke Frigga.

Posted in Cross Stitich, Magick, Musings, Pagan Parenting, Spells, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment