Pagan Prayer Beads, Part Two

This is part two, see part one here.

Once you have some simple ideas under your belt for using prayer beads, you can move on to more complex ideas. They are of course great for repeating simply mantras over and over again, but what about the beads that have multiple sections, or sections with differing numbers?

In the last post I briefly touched on the ideas of sacred numbers. Expanding to a more complex format for meditation, often incorporates these sacred numbers and using them in different ways. For example if you have a set of beads with 4 sets of 9 beads, 3 sets of 3 divider beads, and a lead in section of 3 beads,  you may wish to use the 4 sets as the four directions, elements, etc. So one each bead in each of these sets you would say a short prayer or mantra appropriate to each element. As you come to the divider sections, you may repeat an opening or closing, or a gratitude prayer on each one. So that might look like this:

Lead in section: (breathing and spending as much time on each step as needed)

  1. I am grounded in my practice. I am grounded in my breath. I am grounded in my body.
  2. I am centered in my practice. I am centered in my breath. I am centered in my body.
  3. I am aligned with the earth. I am aligned with the axis mundi. I am aligned with the central star.

Then the first set of 9:

  • In the east I align with the prosperity in earth. Through this wisdom I know. (9x)

Then a divider section:

  • Within and without, I learn the wisdom of the elements. (3x)

The second set of 9:

  • In the south I align with the power in fire. Through this wisdom I will. (9x)

Then repeat the divider section.

The third set of 9:

  • In the west I align with the peace in water. Through this wisdom I dare. (9x)

Then repeat the divider section.

The fourth set of 9:

  • In the north I align with the protection in air. Through this wisdom I am silent. (9x)

Then you can continue around as many times as wanted, or complete the meditation by using the lead in beads in reverse.

  1. I am aligned with the earth. I am aligned with the axis mundi. I am aligned with the central star.
  2. I am centered in my practice. I am centered in my breath. I am centered in my body.
  3. I am grounded in my practice. I am grounded in my breath. I am grounded in my body.


This gives you 9 (3×3) recitations for the divider section, 9 for each element and an opening and closing. That is just one example of course, with just one possible format. The possibilities and combinations are endless. But it is important that once you find one that works well, you keep repeating it. The power of meditation beads lies in repetition.

If you wish to repeat the cycle multiple times without using the lead in beads some people like to flip the beads over in their hand and go back the other way counting on them. Other will use the connector to act as another divider section, making for a seamless round of repeats. It is all about how you want to use them.

Sacred numbers and their meaning vary from culture to culture, and practitioner to practitioner. You should find what each of the base or prime numbers mean to you. There are a lot of books out there full of ideas for you to start with, but I think the most meaningful comes from applied life experience and an understanding of your own culture’s mythos.

For me, I have associations with the numbers 0-10. However 0 won’t be applicable to a number of repetitions. I don’t really have many associations with the ‘double’ numbers such as 11, 22, 33, 44, etc. Some people do.

  1. The self, the monad, the singular point. An idea, beginning.
  2. Duality, opposites, cancellation. A line, force before form.
  3. Triad, form, the plane. Relationships, community, flow.
  4. Grounding, stability, stasis, protection, fortification.
  5. Dynamic, movement, humans, divine spark, centering.
  6. Balance, rotation, harmony.
  7. Path, plan, journey, transition.
  8. Manifestation, double fortification.
  9. Action on all three planes (from and Indo-European idea of here, above and below), 3×3, flow of the flow, divine harmony.
  10. Completion, end, full set. everything grounded and ready to begin again.

These are just my ideas. They have influences from all sorts of things; math, study of dimensions, tarot, etc. Develop your own that makes sense within your worldview.

Also remember the ideas of applying these when we talk about repetitions. So if we take a 6 idea (harmony and balance) and repeat it 3 times (community, relationships) we would be using the numbers to develop a community of harmonies and balances, lots of already balanced people or things coming together to make a new community. But conversely if we take a 3 idea and repeat it 6 times, we would be developing a harmony of community, taking an existing community and bringing it into harmony. Subtle difference, but I find it does make a difference when using the beads for casting or other work.

One of my favorite uses for witch’s beads, especially if they have a clasp, is to enchant things. I like to tie or string the item to be enchanted onto the beads. So the beads can spin through or by the object being enchanted. So for example I might take a ring and slide it onto the strand of beads. Then let it hang at the bottom as I rotate the beads through my hand, and repeat the spell or enchantment while counting the beads.

I encourage you to come up with different ways to use your beads. Explore the magic of math, and incorporate it into your meditations and casting. I would love to hear how you do that, your own associations for numbers, and some ways in which you’ve used your beads. Especially if it was something I didn’t cover! I’m always looking to learn.

Pagan Prayer Beads, Part One

I’ve been making a lot of sets of prayer beads, based on all sorts of formulas. I am totally loving it! The use of a strand of knots or a strand of beads for a counting charm, or for counting prayers is nearly universal. Something small, and in the hand is a common human invention. It has, however, become ubiquitous as a Catholic (which means Universal) rosary. So much that there is a specific style of jewelry called a rosary chain.

Rosary Chain
A rosary chain is when each bead is strung on its own wire with an eye or loop on either side. These are hooked one to another without the use of additional jump rings.

Rosaries, and other meditation beads such as malas, become powerful tools in and of themselves, absorbing the emotions and energy of thousands of prayers and mantras said over them over time. Here are some prayer ideas to go with them:

Many folks in heathenry and paganism are loathe to incorporate Christian practices into their own practice, and I can completely understand why. However, as with so many other things, the idea of using a counter to keep track of prayers is much older and more widespread than the Christian practices.

Here I offer some prayers, mantras, and other ideas to go with the use of pagan prayer beads.

Pagan Prayer Beads
Three 9 count sections, separated by 4 seasons, and lead in with 3 beads for Land, Sea and Sky.

I’m kind of partial to the number 9 in my prayer beads. Oðinn hung on the tree for 9 nights, there are 9 worlds in Norse mythology, Heimdall has 9 mothers (along with numerous other occurences of 9 maidens or mothers in folklore), and the so many other ways in which 9 shows up as a mystical and sacred number. It is 3×3, and expresses a rhythm that feels like the rhythm of the earth to me.

Prayer beads may be used to say a mantra at each bead, or as a way to count breaths for meditative practices (among many other uses). For breathing, I enjoy the count of breath in 4, breath out 5. I also like breath in 2, hold for 2, breath out for 3, and hold for 2. The breathing out being 1 beat longer allows for me to completely empty my lungs, leading to deeper breathing and hence deeper, more solid trance states for me. Find a rhythm that works well for you.
A 9 or 10 bead count set lends itself wonderfully to spellcasting and using the traditional 9-knot charm:

By knot of one, the work’s begun,
By knot of two, the aim is true,
By knot of three, my words shall be,
By knot of four, the power’s stored,
By knot of five, the work’s alive,
By knot of six, the work is fixed,
By knot of seven, the truth is given,
By knot of eight, my will is fate,
By knot of nine, the work is mine.
(So mote it be, or other closing for the tenth bead if needed)

You could change the wording from “knot” to “count” or “step” or whatever works for you. When it comes to raising power or meditation, it is pretty personal.

Many prayer beads and rosaries have an introduction section that sticks off the main section. These are usually composed of a charm (in cases of Catholic rosaries this would be the crucifix), 3 or 4 beads or sections to count, and then the connector to the main body of the beads (known as a station on a Catholic rosary). There are many ways to view these beads and use them in your practice.

For sets with 3 lead in beads they may be seen as:

  • Maiden, Mother, and Crone
  • Mother, Father, and Child of Light
  • Land, Sea, and Sky
  • Grounding, Centering, and Alignment
  • Son, Father, and Sage
  • Body, Mind and Spirit or Physical, Mental, and Spiritual
  • Gods, Ancestors, and Self/Folk
  • and so many more combinations.

Some of the lead ins have 4 beads:

  • Earth, Air, Fire, Water
  • North, South, East, West
  • Inner, Outer, Lower, and Higher Selves
  • Home, Family, Work, and Self
  • any associations with the four elements
  • and many more

And some even have 5 beads:

  • Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit
  • North, South, East, West, Center
  • Opening up the first five chakras

With any of the lead in sections, you may use them for deepening breath work, and inducing opening stages of trance. I personally tend to hang out on these opening beads, repeating my entire breathing and deepening routine on each bead. This gives me a nice, solid trance state from which to work. And later associates in my mind these beads with the idea of a deep stable trance state.

Now, move onto the connector. For some people this may be a place to say a special opening prayer, or set the intent for the work ahead. It may also be seen as something like a guru bead on a mala, something not to be counted or prayed upon. The guru bead is often said to represent one’s teacher(s) both physical and spiritual, and so you allow them to be your doorway and connection, but you do not count on them, as it would be like stepping on them, or using them inappropriately. The important thing is that you find a reason and a meaning behind the action you choose to take. Meditation beads are a tool, and they are there to serve your practice.

Next is the body of the meditation beads. These are usually divided into sections, each with a certain number of beads. Some have 3 sets of 9, 13, or other. Some have 5 sets of 10. And some, like zen malas have a pattern of 7, 14, 66, 14, 7, or some other pattern of beads.

You may have purchased or made your beads with a set form in mind, or simply because they appealed to you. I suggest to start with that you simply work with your beads simply. Go around once, repeating the same thing for each section. After you’ve spent some time handling and working with them, you can begin finding more complex patterns and establishing your own patterns.


More on that in Part Two.

Some Harvesting- Roses

Rose petals on the table cloth

Look at all the rose petals. A few days ago the rose bushes were burgeoning with beautiful flowers. So I did the ‘Morticia’ thing and picked them all off. Then I sat down and watched a History Channel special while I separated the petals from the rest of the flower. It came out to about a gallon and a half of fresh rose petals.

I took them up to the third floor, where it is warm and dry and spread them out on this drying cloth. I checked on them today, and they have dried, but they aren’t done yet. They have reduced their volume by about 2/3rds. These smell lovely! They will be used to make teas and incenses. They will also be put into oils and perhaps a few mojo hands. There is now a second crop out on the rose bushes of about the same quantity. I think we may take these fresh and make rose water out of them. The rose water is a great astringent and toner for the skin, very good for that emerging acne of the hormone laden teenage years. I also use it as an offering during full moons, and as a component in the blend I make for water used to pour ghost roads. When adding a rose flavor or scent to a smoke, I prefer to use rose water as the moistening agent while rubbing the herbs into the mullein.

Magically speaking, these rose petals are of a delicate vibration, and make many things sweet. The dried petals would be ideal in a sugar jar for love and beauty in the home. They would also go well in the sugar jar with some cloves for eloquent speaking or ‘honeyed words.’ Rose petals are of course known for their use in love work. But the love here is very young, naive, and innocent. So, if you are looking for any other flavors of love, be sure to add to those roses. Another thing to note, is don’t burn roses for love. The changing of the smell doesn’t seem to carry through the love feelings or energies.

Rose petals are also great in an anointing oil for enhancing the psychic senses. I prefer to add lavender if I’m going up in vibration, and mugwort for going down in vibration. For communing with fey on midsummer’s eve, adding in some flower petals from the mallow family also has a synergistic effect for me.

Basket Progress

Here is where I am currently at on my basket project. Things are coming along nicely. I am not sure where to go once I get this pattern finished though.

I am debating whether or not to continue with the twisted stitches method, working increases between the black diamonds, and decreases inside. The other option is to switch to charted diamonds and work them that way. I also have four more colors to add in. Most likely I will combine the charted with the current twisted somehow. Still haven’t puzzled out the details.

I am also not feeling too fuzzy about the current shape, I think it needs to be more flat. I was working 12 increases per round for the flat bottom, and I dropped to six per round as I move up the sides. But I think I need more than six and less than twelve. Which is going to be tricky on a pattern based on six. I am also debating ripping back about three rows to start some big diamonds with their points lower in the design.

In other news, I am doing the beginning research for a new column. I am going to be writing about books, as I spoke about in a previous post. Any thoughts, hints, or tips are most welcome. If you have books to recommend, or suggestions for what you would like to see in a column about books in the pagan/occult world, please send them my way.

House Friends, Progress, and Ramblings

This little guy is one of my house friends. I love summer when they all come out and start to move around the house in the light. This little guy is about the diameter of a dime, and this picture is of him on the ceiling. I have only seen about 15 out and about recently, but I imagine the population in the house is somewhere around 50-70.

They are of the genus phidippus, and are jumping spiders. I find them just cute as a button, and I like the fact that they eat other bugs and spiders! About every three years I buy a batch of eggs from our garden center and plant them in the couch to ensure a robust population in the house.

Since we have a lot of bugs here, living by the river, it does help. Although, I am definitely not winning the war.

Here are some updates on my progress with the crocheted basket. I have just finished the flat bottom and the very next round I am going to begin the gentle curve up to form the walls of the basket.

Things are going well so far, and I have only had to rip it back three or four times. I consider that pretty well considering that I am making it up as I go, and only have a very general plan in mind.

I worked on this on Sunday. My sweet husband and kids let me relax and watch movies while I crocheted. This biggest problem I encountered was how tangled my three yarns became as I continually switched colors. Anyone out there have any tips for this problem with tapestry crochet? Or perhaps I am picking up the yarns wrong when I switch? Having to stop every 15 minutes and untangle the yarn between the hook and the holders is a bit frustrating.

Mostly I watched ‘An Ideal Husband‘ that I had recorded with the DVR a while back. I am not a huge Cate Blanchett fan, but she was quite charming in this. Although Julianne Moore was by far my favorite, but I tend to love the villains. It was a charming and very funny yarn. I wasn’t terribly into the romantic side of things, but I love turn of the century stories and Old English. The rest of the time I caught up on episodes of The Riches. I am a huge Minnie Driver fan, and who doesn’t adore Eddie Izzard? I am still a month or so behind on the episodes, but I will catch up eventually.

I am pleased to feel ahead on my writing for a change. While I have been focusing on this new aspect of my craft, the housework has fallen behind, but I am still pleased with myself. I will spend today catching up on the necessaries, as I listen to past episodes of Cast On. While knitting is not my primary fiber pursuit, I still enjoy the podcast immensely. Stop by and give Brenda a listen if you haven’t already.

In the mean time, I am trying to keep track of column ideas and articles seeds. I think the next one will focus on books. Not only recommended reading lists and book reviews, but how to find out of print books, how to care for old and damaged books, and how to use bibliographies. I think this information would be of use to the greater occult community, both new and old. I may even delve into the depths of book creation and repair.

I also spent a portion of yesterday refreshing my memory of wood kilns, for pottery. For many years I have built and fired my pottery in wood kilns. Living near the river, I have access to natural clay deposits, and enjoy harvesting in the summer, when the organisms have had a chance to deposit a good layer. It then takes time to clean it, and form it. Then I have to build a kiln and chop the wood and fire it. But as a work of Craft and a trans formative process it is a great teacher. A friend and I are exploring taking a group of young Warriors out to a local site for the same process. I think we will build a small tunnel kiln in the ground, and perhaps mix some low fire clay with the local clay we harvest. Time constraints will probably limit us to only 3 hours of firing time or so, since we will have to remain on site for the cooling also. Or perhaps, we may explore building the kiln here in someones backyard. More things to explore and ideas to pursue that call me away from folding laundry and doing dishes. But alas, the family deserves my care, and so I part for another day.

Drifiting Off Again

Witchyness strikes at the oddest times. This afternoon I was making a batch of guacamole for our coven wisdom circle tonight. I got down my big mortar and pestle to grind the herbs and onions. I chopped and diced and peeled and begin adding everything into the mortar and grinding away. As I pressed and worked the pestle, I felt my muscles flex and the stone grow warm under my hand. Standing there at the kitchen counter, falling into the familiar rhythm I drifted back again, thinking of all those times at Darius’s table in his little apothecary off the back of the kitchen. 
It was summer in Montana, and we were all on break until the fall semester. I had moved out of my tiny dorm and was staying with Darius and his wife out in their country home for the time being. I had been initiated into this coven earlier in the spring of this year. And now I was living the life of a full time apprentice. My lessons came fast and furious. When I was not working in the apothecary or cleaning ritual tools, I was pouring over books and manuscripts in the library.
But today was all about the herbs. When I first became a witch, this was the area I dreaded most. I had a notorious black thumb, and had trouble figuring out how to take aspirin some days. Natural healing, incenses and brews just didn’t seem up my alley. But under the careful guidance of my magister Darius, I was finding a love for the green.
I was in the apothecary, which was a converted pantry, just big enough for a little counter and two people. But the walls were filled, floor to ceiling with jars of ….. things. I would say herbs, but there were tinctures and incense blends, and wines, and meads, and several things I couldn’t identify. 
Darius had pulled out an old stained recipe card from the box and had said we were making some incense today. As we went back into the apothecary, I had opened up my dog-eared spiral notebook to take notes. He let me copy down the recipe as he pulled down assorted jars and oil bottles full of the ingredients called for.
But then, just as I was ready to write furiously while he ‘measured’ the ingredients, he bid me to trade places with him.
“You’re doing the work today, little one. Gotta get your hands dirty.”
He called me little one as a joke. We were only a few years apart, but the nickname made me feel like part of the family. So, knowing hesitation would cost me a lecture in the Will of a witch, I stepped up to the plate. This particular plate being a mortar and pestle.
I started to open jars to figure out what was what and Darius began to explain the unwritten part of the recipe.
“An incense must be blended to be sticky and wet. You are making a sort of pasty clay. The wetness helps it smoke and not just burn. Balance your dry herbs with your fresh, and balance that against your resins, gums and oils.”
“But we don’t have any fresh herbs here.” I stammered out.
“No worries, little one. We have some roots to dig once we blend the resins and dry herbs.”
Nothing like some time in the dirt I thought, but I knew to keep my snarky comments to myself. I may have been quick then, but my tongue was no match for my teacher.
I found the dry roots first, and put them into the mortar. They were valerian, and smelled vaguely of feet.
“Always enliven the plant as you add it to the potion.” Darius instructed.
I scooped them back out and spoke softly to the roots in my hand, telling them their job to do in this incense.  I held them close to my face so my warm, wet breath was upon them. I could feel them turn in my hand from dead stick like things to living little beings housed in these roots, almost being encapsulated.  Darius nodded in approval.
I added them to the mortar again. Then I put in the pestle and begin to sort of bang about. I tried pounding the pestle up and down, and that resulted in a spray of roots all over the counter, the floor and myself. So I carefully picked them all back up again and returned them to the mortar. Then I tried just putting the pestle down in the middle and twisting it back and forth. This just moved the roots out to the side.
“Firm circles, grinding against the sides and bottom of the mortar. Use your biceps.” Darius offered.
This is why we have teachers. I could have been at the root spraying about the room method for a while. I followed his advice and after a few minutes I thought my arm was going to fall off. Who knew I should have been lifting weights to prepare to be a witch?
“Let me see how you are coming.”
I showed the mortar of admittedly finer crushed roots to him.
“Looks good, now for seeds and stems.”
“Stems?” I asked. “I thought we picked those out.”
“This particular recipe calls for 9 stems from the yarrow. It will add some fiber to the incense, and make it burn and smolder with a longer life. Besides, yarrow stems are great for divination.”
I added the yarrow stems, remembering this time to speak to them and breathe on them. Then I looked for the anise seed. I scooped up the tablespoon of them and tried to speak to them still in the spoon.
“Tut, tut” came the admonishment from Darius.
I raised my eyebrows in question at what I screwed up.
“No plastic” he said quite succinctly.
Oh! The measuring spoons were plastic. I dumped the seeds into the palm of my hand carefully so as not to spill them everywhere. Again I spoke to them, breathed on them. But this felt different. Nothing happened. They didn’t wake up in my hands.
Again I looked to my teacher. “They won’t wake up” I said. Almost like a little kid dismayed at a broken toy.
Darius smiled warmly and went into the kitchen. “Just a sec.”
He returned with a tumbler of warm water, and instructed me to put the seeds in. I put them in and stirred them about with my finger. And again spoke to them and breathed on them.
“Let them sit a bit” he said. So I went back to my grinding.
Again I felt the fire in my muscles. I was going to be so sore tomorrow. But I kept at it. Focusing on the work, letting my mind enter that soft trance state I knew so well from hard work. I let the power flow from my heart down through those sore, screaming muscles and into the pestle in my hand.
Just as I was about to give up the ghost, Darius handed me the water and seeds. I could feel them just starting to wake up now. I eagerly spoke to them, encouraged them to come alive for me. To awaken and help out. They did in short order.
Darius now took the glass from me again, and using his lips as a strainer, drank the water.
“Too much moisture if we just put that in” he explained. “Besides, we drink as the spirits do.”
I scooped out the wet seeds and into the mortar they went. And then more grinding. And more grinding, and more grinding. Well you get the idea.
Finally it was time for leaves. I added the dried leaves and switched arms. It was clumsy at first, but it sure didn’t hurt as bad. In short time the flower petals went in.
When everything seemed a good mash Darius said we could add the resins. I scooped out the heavenly smelling frankincense and again spoke the words, warm and wet over it. I was surprised at just how fast and how warmly the resin in my hand awakened. It was nearly on fire!
My teacher saw my surprise. “Resin is the blood of the tree. It is what heals over the cuts and wounds.”
Well awakened, I added the resin to the mortar. It crushed easily, but made a sticky mess on the pestle. I could grind for a bit, then I had to get out my knife and scrape it off and back into the bowl. I buried it under some of the drier leaf mix and had better results.
When I was done the mixture was still dry-ish, not wet as my magister had spoken of. But we still had oils and fresh roots to add. I scraped the pestle clean again, and we turned a plate upside down over the mortar and left it to set while we went out to the garden.
I looked down and realized I had been grinding away at the onions this whole time I was reminiscing. I ground in the salt, and scooped it into the avocado and tomato mix. I stirred it all up and tasted it. Fabulous of course! I popped it into the fridge until later. I still had to vacuum before everyone showed up!

Witch Bottles

Here is an interesting formula for making a protective Witch Bottle

Take a clean Brown or Blue bottle that has a cork to it, and mark on the bottle a six-sided white snowflake symbol. This symbol is known as the Witch’s Foot, and is an ancient symbol of protection. I would recommend marking the witch’s foot with a grease pencil or white paint. Then begin to roam about your home (and it must be you home) and begin to fill the bottle with buttons, needles, housedust, strings,etc. You want the bottle to be filled with the odds and ends of the home, its essence. Dust bunnies are great. Bits of string or fiber from the carpets and furniture, etc.

Only fill the bottle part way. Then return to your work space and mix equal parts of the following herbs;

Thorns from a Rose bush

Just a pinch will do. You can order this blend here (temporarily down while I move the site, please email if you would like to order. I will have it back up soon).

Place the mixed herbs into the bottle. Top off the bottle with your own urine or white vinegar. Then add 3 drops of your own blood. Use a lancet and be sure to clean your fingers first. The middle finger of the right hand is the ideal place for this spell, but if that won’t work, be creative. If you absolutely can’t do your blood for some reason, use a lock of your hair with spittle and sexual fluids on it.

Hold the open bottle up and invoke into the mouth;

“Callieach Looms and Nicnevens Sending,
Bring ye all ill Unseelie to an ending,
Bottle,Stone and Sacred Tree,
Be upon the Blood and Not my Bones!
Cast ye to the Earth and Not ye roam,
Cast ye to the Seas and Begone!
Free am I,and Safe as the Holy Stone!”

Speak with feeling and force. Repeat until you feel the power has entered the bottle. Cork it at the peak of energy. Seal the cork completely with red sealing wax. Then gently shake and roll the bottle in your hands to mix the ingredients and allow things to stir about.

That night, bury the bottle by your front door. Make sure it is far enough down that rain or animals won’t unearth it. If you live in an apartment or other dwelling without a yard, put it at the bottom of a large planter, and put some flowers (real or fake) on top.

As you are putting the earth on top of the bottle, you make chant:

“Bind Rending, as the Cauldron Turns,
Trapped Sending, as the Oceans Churn,
Return Not or thy Presence to Burn,
Turnabout, Turnabout, Turnabout,
Bound will ye be..I cast ye out!”

Return to your work area after cleaning up, and burn a white candle and your favorite incense for filling you with good energy and happy thoughts. I recommend some Blessing Incense.

Within the coming week pay it forward, do a kind turn for someone, and share your new abundance. Think not of the bottle as you cross by it, just know that it is doing its job, tying up all the ill thoughts and maleficia sent your way.

Do not dig up the bottle for any reason. If you move, make a new one. If you feel it has filled up with bad energy and can not hold any more at the time, make a new one and bury it near but not touching the old one.

Rainy Walks, Part II

My mind flashed back to the present. Soba was ready to go home; she was wagging her tail and waiting patiently for me to realize we had stopped. I realized my legs were aching and I was ready to head home too. We had walked in a large circle, and only had about a mile back to the house. I sat down with Soba on the wet ground to relax a little bit longer in this cool morning before returning home. As I stretched out my legs, Soba licked my face, wanting attention. After rubbing her ears for a bit, I got up and we started home. We wandered through the near by park, enjoying the wet grass, the budding trees, and the freshness of everything just washed in the new rain. The rhythm of the walk, the smells and the cool air transported my mind right back to that night.

I was a bit nervous, but I felt like I shouldn’t show it. After all, I trusted these people, and they didn’t seem nervous at all. Every time I looked at one of them I could feel their happiness coming through their smiles. Selene and Karyn went over to the pile of backpacks again, and came towards me carrying a bundle of dark cloth. As Selene handed me the bundle, she explained that this was for me, it was a robe. I was a bit puzzled, and I guess it showed. Karyn jumped in with explanations as she hugged me. The five of them had made the robe over the last year, I was impressed. I hadn’t even known I would be practicing with them back then.

“It is for you to wear when you are with us, on ……. special nights.” She seemed to stumble over the word special. Selene suppressed a smile at this, and I thought it odd. But I was quickly ushered away to the other side of the oak tree to change. At first I was afraid someone would see me. But after I looked around a moment, I quickly realized we were all alone out here. Selene had said to take my time, and linger a bit. Karyn said to look at the moon. So I stripped off my clothes, and slipped the robe over my head. I could smell the incense still heavy on the fabric. I could feel the soft cotton against my skin. Just that small act, that feeling, those smells, they did so much to my mind. They made me feel alive and present in the moment, and at the same time I suddenly felt huge, and spread out over time like a great ribbon. I looked up at the moon. After a moment’s thought, I took off my boots and wet socks too.

The moon was very bright; it looked bigger than it was in the sky. I could see plenty of stars out too. ‘The sky is so big out here’ I thought to myself. As I looked up at the moon, I almost felt like it was looking back at me. I remembered sitting around the fire with my friends a summer or two ago as Darius talked about the moon as the connection point through history. Every human on earth has gazed at that same full moon. Each priestess has lifted her arms in praise to that moon over the course of our history. All witches have looked at that moon in many times and places. And the moon is a mirror for the light of the sun, but also a mirror for each of us as we gaze upon it and bridge space and time to connect with our ancestors. I felt the weight of such a great thought crash into my chest as I stumbled slightly and fell against the tree. I shook my head to clear away the thought and started back around the tree towards the group.

Everyone had donned similar robes, and they had pulled up their hoods, so I couldn’t see their faces. Brian was standing at the little doorway we had left in our trench looking at me. It was easy to pick him out, being the rather large man that he was. I felt comforted that it was him standing at the edge. As I went to join the group around the fire, he held a hand up to my chest and stopped me. A bit forcefully I thought. Darius was down on the ground lighting the bundle of tinder. And the others were gathered around him, holding out their arms so their robes would block the wind. Just as they began chanting together, the wind changed directions, and I couldn’t make out the words. But soon there was a blaze of light from inside the little circle of robes, and they stepped back as the fire caught.

They all came to join Brian and I, and Darius and Selene began to ask me many questions. I found the answers coming easily, even though I had never heard the questions before. They were odd riddles, but I puzzled them out quickly, thinking back to the many stories my friends had told me over the time we had been together. I felt nervous each time they asked, thinking I had no idea what it could be. And then, there flowing out of my own lips as if rehearsed were answers that brought smiles to my friends faces. The riddles had all been answered, Selene nodded and stepped back slightly. Brian stepped forward and pushed back his hood. He placed his hands on my shoulders. He was very solemn and very serious. Not a look I was used to seeing on my friend’s face.

“In order to join us as a sister, you must take the same oath as we have. You must take this oath of your own accord, understanding it fully. If you wish to take this oath, we will call forth the witnesses.”

I responded that I was ready, because at that moment, there was no doubt in my heart, that this is where I needed to be, and these were the people I needed to be here with. He hugged me tight, in his big bear hug. I hugged him back, and all was joy. Then secrets passed between us, passwords and codes for entrance into this liminal space of the compass.

I was invited to sit by the fire as they prepared. They bustled around me, first pouring out the contents of the cauldron into the trench, and then taking the cauldron over to the stang. I watched the warm vapors rise as the cool earth was filled with the liquid. The smell of the broth filled my nose, and I began to feel light and full of joy. They began walking around both inside and outside the trench, knocking on the earth and calling out. Sometimes I understood what they said, sometimes I didn’t. But it wasn’t long before I felt many people arrive. I couldn’t see them, except just at the edge of my vision, but I knew they were there. Brian came and took up my hand, as he helped me to my feet.

“Only a few more.….”

I snapped back to the present, as I realized we had just walked past the house. Soba was pulling the leash back the other way. Feeling a bit sheepish for spacing off, I turned with her and went back to the house. The evening still hung on my mind as I put the leash away and fixed Soba’s breakfast. I fixed a glass of ice water and sat down on the couch to continue my musings.

As I began to think through the rest of the amazing evening, I unconsciously recited the words of my oath out loud to the room. And like a thunder clap, there it was, as plain as day! The thing I was searching for, that empty spot that had been heavy on my heart for the last season. It had been several years since I had to part ways with my group of friends and I missed them terribly. Selene had passed away only a year ago, and the thoughts of her funeral tempered the joy of my discovery with bitter sweet reality.

I knew what I had to do. It was so plain now, just like all of those riddles that night. I went back into the bedroom, and took the lantern off of my bedside table, given to me by Karyn to light my way. She had said, when the time was right, I would know how to use it. This lantern would serve well as a beacon to anyone who needed to find me. I opened the little drawer in my desk in the living room, and pulled out the little tinder box with the flints that Darius had given me. ‘Sometimes we need warmth, and sometimes we need a signal fire’ he had said.

As I worked carefully over the small bundle of tinder with the flint, saying the proper words, Soba came to sit and watch me. The tinder took a spark and I cradled it and nursed it to a flame. I touched the flame to the wick in the lantern and turned it down so that the flame was bright yet controlled. As I walked the lantern out to the hook in the back yard, I spoke to the little delicate flame inside.

“The old magic needs to live here again. It is time for the fire to spread, and for me to pass on what I was taught. Light the way for me to find the next in our line. Be a beacon to them that they may find me on their walks. Let those who are called awaken to the knowledge that a warm hearth fire has been lit for them, and that the door is open for them to come home now.”

With that, I went back inside, and gathered up my jacket, purse and keys. I had a feeling that I just might bump into someone interesting at the local coffee shop today.

Zoos and Goats

Yesterday was pretty much a wash as far as getting much done in my crafting or Crafting. I did however enjoy the day taking my oldest son Oz to the zoo with his class. We had quite a day there. We had a very big scavenger hunt to complete, along with a lot of questions about the animals we saw.

But the kids had a good time. I made sure to bring quarters for the petting zoo, since the kids weren’t allowed to bring any money. I enjoyed petting the animals just as much as the kids did! The Australian exhibit was open again. It has been closed for remodeling for some time now. We saw the anteaters, which all of the children thought were very, very strange.

We saw this guy, an Andean Bear. He was surprisingly playful and
active. While we were watching he sat down on his haunches and
picked up on of the balls he had in his cage.

Before lunch, we had a chance to stop and feed the goldfish. They were quite frenzied. This photo was maybe a sixth of them that were swarmed around where we were tossing the food.

After lunch we went to the petting zoos. This peacock decided to chase me around with his tail spread. It was a bit frightening, but I did feel quite flattered, that I was worth his display. The other male peacock near by was going after a female peacock with his tail. Ah, spring is definitely in the air here.

Speaking of spring, here are some photos from a trip to the zoo with just family in late March. I was of course entranced by the goats, and the baby goats, and sheep that were just heart-melting cute.

These little babies were curious about us, but wore out easily. They would run around for about 2 minutes, then lay down and let the kids pet them for about 15.

I just love these little cuties. Something about combining sheep or goats and babies just puts me over the edge.

And then, I managed to come upon the vampire bats while they were eating. These little guys are so neat. I love how they walk on their hands, and the wings curve around them as they do it. I am fascinated by bats.

Which brings to me to something related to occultism, the subject of animals and anthropomorphic forms, especially that of the goat. Thinking of the bats, it reminds me of the Winged Serpent, and why that is such an important function in Meso America. While extremely fascinating, and educational, that is not the culture that pulls in my blood. The Northern European cultures that revered goats are what calls to me. Goats are something special, they eat most everything, they are single minded, and they have a distinctive personality. They are also very useful animals for harvesting and services when domesticated. They provide milk, meat, fur, recycling, and protection to a certain degree.

The worship of the Goat footed God extends across many lands, and the power of tragomorphic ritual is well known to many writers of the older grammayers.

Rainy Walks

 (Nota bene; This is a work of fiction, but it is based on actual events. I have made it into a story to preserve the mystery that surrounds initiation. Names of course have been changed)
I awoke again to a dreary, rainy morning. It was Saturday, and at least I had the day off work. These fifty hour work weeks were really putting the screws to me lately. But the money was good, and the work was enjoyable. It even gave me time to think. Sometimes too much time.
The nagging thoughts were there again, that I needed to be doing something more with my life. Here I was, in my late thirties, working a good job, and just kind of coasting. I had no drive, no passion anymore. I knew there was something out there; just begging me to come and find it, but it still eluded me. What was it I was searching for? What was that calling inside of me?

I brushed off the thoughts and got out of bed. After my shower I took the dog for her morning walk. This was the best part of my day. Off we went through the city, wherever our feet took us. The cool wind on my face, the steady rhythm of our walk, the smells of budding spring all around and the joy of finding something delightful just around the corner. Perhaps we would find a bird’s nest, or a new tree we hadn’t seen before, or some flowers, just waiting for us to come along and enjoy their delightful scent. Soba led me on as we trotted from block to block, and I let my mind drift. I thought of the group I had encountered back in college. They had said they were magicians, and they performed some rather odd rituals. But the more I got to know them, the more I realized the rituals weren’t odd, just unfamiliar to me. I had spent several years hanging out with them, and occasionally catching glimpses into the other world they seemed to live in. After a while, I realized I was learning from them, and soon yearning to join them there. I caught the smell of the wet grass under my feet, and I remembered the night they asked me to join them for the first time. It was the full moon, and I remember the walk to the field.

It was spring, like it is now. The wind was cool that evening, and the air was wet with the rains of April still in the air. We were walking quietly in a line, following Darius at the front. He was leading things tonight, and he had picked out a location for us. We were out in the back woods of Montana. We had all driven out there together that afternoon. The drive had seemed like any other road trip, lots of fun songs in the van, junk food and jokes. But after our picnic dinner, things began to take on a solemn tone. We went back to the van and drove off onto a back dirt road filled with holes. After stopping at what seemed to me a random point we gathered our back packs and set off in a line for our ritual site. I hadn’t packed any of the bags, but the one on my back sounded like it might contain some metal wrapped in cloth. It wasn’t heavy, and I was curious as to what it was we were carrying.

I looked up ahead again, bringing my thoughts back to our trek. Darius had stopped and was surveying the land and sky. He seemed to be looking for something. It struck me briefly that we might be lost, a bunch of college students out in the middle of nowhere as the sun set. But soon he turned to the right and set off to the East with a definite purpose, and my mind was reassured. Selene fell into step beside me. She was Darius’s partner in the group. They both had lovers outside of this little circle of friends, but together they lead the group. She looked at me in her way, which was to look deep inside my eyes and ask questions that she found the answers to. I never quiet knew what her questions were, but she seemed satisfied. She gave me a reassuring smile, which quickly burst into a grin of joy. I returned her big, glowing smile, feeling warm inside, despite my wet socks. And I had the feeling we had just had a conversation, but I didn’t know the words. She picked up her pace a bit, quickly closing the distance between her and Darius. They put their heads together and talked in low tones.

I looked around at the others I was walking with. I felt good about each one of them. After all, these were my close friends. We had been hanging out together for nearly four years now, and we had become a tight knit group. There were three others besides Darius and Selene; Karyn and Bacchus, who were a unit unto themselves. And then there was Brian. It was the obvious arrangement that he and I were working together tonight, since all of the things we had done seemed to happen in pairs so far. He was older than the rest of us, in his early forties. Doing post-graduate work in philosophy, I had met him first in the library. There was an instant attraction, not of the sexual kind, but something there piqued my interest. Since then we had become close friends, even though he was still mysterious to me. We studied together, and hung out on the weekends. He had introduced me slowly to the others, and carefully they had introduced me to their world.

I turned around and stumbled backwards a bit, to get a look at Brian. As I turned around, he was already smiling at me, as if he knew I was thinking of him. I had gotten used to that look, and shrugged it off. I winked at him and as I turned back around I stumbled right into Karyn. We had stopped, and she was staring up at the huge oak we were near. It was an amazing sight. It looked ancient. We were down in a little sort of valley, sheltered on three sides by hills. It was rocky here and there was moss on everything. The moss on the tree was caught by the last rays of sun and seemed to glow. I heard the rustling of the backpacks as they were set down and looked over to see Darius and Selene unpacking in what looked like a big dirt circle not far off. I walked over and set down my backpack with the others. No one talked, but everyone still communicated. I stepped back out of the way and let them go to work unpacking, waiting to help if I could. I knew from having been to less formal events like this to just step back until I was asked to do something, and besides, I was learning a lot by watching all that was going on.

Out of Bacchus’s pack came a small cauldron. I had marveled at it before. It was a dark black, iron I guessed. There were relief vines and figures all around it. He set it near the center of the circle, as Brian returned with an armload of rocks. They began to build a small fire pit. Karyn came over with what looked like a little bundle of poles. She deftly extended and assembled them into a tripod. She set this over the fire pit they had built, and unwrapped a chain from the center. On a little hook attached to the chain she hung the cauldron. Soon Darius came back to the circle with a grin on his face that could only be described as triumphant hunter. He was carrying a piece of fallen wood. It was forked in the middle into three branches, with a longer piece coming off the bottom. He was breaking off smaller twigs as he was walking. Brian and Bacchus, armed with camp shovels, quickly met him and walked to a spot outside of the circle with the branch. There was some discussion and counting and pointing, and I assumed they were trying to figure out where to put this new acquisition. I looked back to Karyn and Selene. They were laying out bowls, knives, and food on a cloth near the fire pit. I saw that it must have been the bowls I was carrying; each was wrapped in a cloth that was tucked back in the bags. They began to pour the contents of several jars into the cauldron, and I started to move closer to see what it was they were doing. But I was stopped short by Brian. He handed me a camp shovel, and told me we were going to dig a little trench.

Knowing Brian, I was a bit skeptical of the word little. But it didn’t turn out to be that bad. We dug a small trench around the outside edge of the circle about three inches wide and four inches deep. The ground was soft here, and there were no rocks. As I worked around I realized this had been dug a time or two before. We left a wide gap in the circle toward the branch that was now sticking upright out of the ground, with the three prongs at the top between our dirt circle and the large oak tree. As we finished with our digging, I looked up to see that all seemed to be ready. There was wood collected and laid next to the fire pit. A bottle of what I guessed to be wine was sitting next to a simple wooden goblet, along with the bowls and knives nearby. There was bread on a plate, and a little piece of cloth with a flint and tinder box, a bundle of what I knew was dry tinder, and the odd little bottle that Darius called old fashioned lighter fluid. There were two big ladles, and a tin lantern with some long matches beside it. Selene and Karyn were sweeping the edges of the dirt circle smooth. Brian and I returned our camp shovels to their little bags and took them over to the pile of backpacks out on the edge of the circle. I could feel the anticipation thick in the air, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. This was really it, I thought to myself. I was going to be initiated.