The Smells and Bells of the craft is a fun way of identifying those things considered as enhancers to magickal working. Because we are sensory driven beings, most of these things are selected because they act to stimulate our subconscious and form the necessary neural connections associated with energy and magickal working.
Another compelling reason to use these items is that they each carry a specific form of energy that can be woven into the basic mix of intent to produce a result that is fuller and richer in expression. Some of the ways these tools are used are in spell working, ritual, devotional and meditative practice. Be creative as you explore how and when to use these additions. As you become more familiar with these and other items that can be incorporated into magickal workings you will find that your foundational knowledge begins to expand in accord and this process is the beginning of formulating what works for you and what you enjoy working with as your tools of the craft. Always record your impressions of efficacy of use and the outcomes in a journal. This will actually become your own personal set of references for correspondences based on first hand experience.
The Tools of Purification
These are the basic items used to purify space and yourself prior to entering and/or establishing sacred space. When combined in this way, they represent the four elements and you as Spirit stand centrally in receipt and use of these purifiers.
Incense – The Combination of Air and Fire
In times of old, incense was used as a way of cleansing and purifying. Frankincense historically was used in churches as a disinfectant at times when plagues, disease and hygiene was less than sufficient and the routine death toll was high. Copal is noted for its ability to open the inner sight. Lavender calms and soothes and Myrrh works as both purifier and opener of the psychic and spiritual realms.
Incense comes in many forms, sticks and cones being the easiest to use. Resins of incense are used with charcoal discs and heat proof burners and produce the most aromatic and robust fragrance. I love using the resins, but care should be used if burning indoors in making sure the room you are using is well ventilated and fire proof under-liners are used for any burners set on furniture or other potentially flammable surfaces. The other caution is to have an oven mitt handy. There has been more than one occasion where I was so enthralled with the working, etc.. that I forgot about the practicality of not lifting a hot censor without gloves.
Recipes for making your own incense are readily found on the internet, and as with all magickal work, the more of your personal time, energy and effort you pour into the tools and products you use, the more effective the outcome. Making your own also allows for creativity in combining different ingredients and then tweaking the recipe til its exactly what you imagined.
The smoke from the incense can also be effectively used as a scrying tool. Review the Foundational Practice from last week:
Salt Water – The Combination of Water and Earth
Salt Water is often used as part of the purification process when entering sacred space. The combination of water and the mineral of salt from the earth serve to align those parts of self within as you enter into a sacred contract with the energies and realms you are about to experience. Ideally, if you can obtain salt water from the ocean (beach vacations are good for this) it brings with it the energies of all that has lived and moved upon and in its boundaries. The caution with this is to strain and boil it to remove any harmful bacteria and sediment that would be less than desirable to use as a topical purifier. It should then be stored in a clean airtight bottle or flask.
You can create your own salt using purchased Sea Salt and purified water. Mix a small amount of the salt in a small dish of the water. Stir it gently with your finger. To energetically “charge” the water:
Place your hand, palm facing down over the water. Breathe deeply calling forth your intent to enliven this water with pure and positive energy. Breathe into this intent and envision a stream of that energy flowing from your hand into the water. Hold this intention and allow the energy to flow for a few minutes. When complete, you may scribe an invoking pentagram over the top of the dish if you wish and make declaration of – So Mote It Be!
The Tools of Mother Earth
Herbs have long been used in ritual and healing practice. They are, after all, intimately part of nature herself and carry the life and light of the sun and moon’s energy. In celebratory ritual the herbs may be used in their entirety as altar décor, crushed to create an herbal incense or in a more elaborate process used as the ingredients in hand made tinctures and oils. The listing of herbs and their magickal and medicinal properties can be easily found on-line and in The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, which has long been a useful standard point of reference for witch’s and healers.
Herbs bring the raw energy of nature into our practice, and when ingested (food safe herbs only please!) as part of the ritual process can anchor that connection to nature we have. As part of our Lammas ritual, we have often made pizzas and infused them with specific herbs of our choosing to attract into our lives what we wish to harvest and have transformed in the months ahead. Eating these gifts is part of the ritual process and acted upon in sacred space is done in the witness of our Gods and Goddesses with focus and intent. ** See Below for a Cautionary Statement.
In fact, there is nothing more sacred, and mundane, than preparing a meal for those you love. Adding specific herbs and ingredients that promote well-being is nothing short of pure magick!
Oils, being the highly condensed product of herbs, transformed through a process of distillation, filtering and carried within the fluid of oil are often used in as a tool of anointing tools or as a purifier for the magick worker or ritual participants. Fragranced oils have been used for centuries in the making of candles and are often used when doing candle magick. Their application to the candle intensifying the intent and the rubbing onto the candle itself representing the union of solid and liquid- earth and water- contained within the vessel that can ignite the fires of intent and will by air’s breath. Others have the oils added directly to the candle making process to provide a specific scent that could be released as the candle slowly burned.
Depending on what the constituent properties of the oil are, they can serve to awaken and stimulate the latent psychic senses as in the case of Mugwort, stimulate as a powerful aphrodisiac as is the nature of Rose oil or calm and center as in the case of Lavender. I do not wear commercial perfumes. Instead, I use body oils for their spiritual properties as well as their rich aromas. My favorites are Tunisian Myrrh, Tunisian Frankincense and one that is the combination of the two. Because I routinely wear this for ritual work, when I apply them in the daily mundane setting as my personal fragrance, I am immediately transported back to sacred space and the joys of being in that state of mind.
**A Cautionary Note: Please never ingest oils. Many are highly toxic if ingested or come in contact with the mucus membranes. Always use a carrier oil (almond, jojoba, vegetable) and dilute properly as many essential oils are very irritating and should not be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil. Research into the cautions and properties of any oils you wish to use is a must and goes a long way towards effective use and safety. Please note that the same is true of many herbs. Not all that may be used are of the benign garden variety and making teas and tincture from these can result in serious illness. Always look at multiple reference sources if you plan in any way to ingest something other than a designated culinary herb.
Crystals are the direct product of earth, its minerals and salts and the alchemical reaction of heat, pressure and gas upon those ingredients to create something new of color, shape and texture. Once formed, crystals are the most stable and organized compound in the Universe. The color of the crystal is determined by the minute presence of other substances, for example: iron produces reds – smoky brown = uranium and pink = titanium. Each stone has its own and very unique predisposition and carries its own signature of light, heat and density, depending on the conditions of its birthing place.
Crystals have a variety of uses and because their inherent nature is that of holding and/or amplifying energy they are often incorporated into the design of the basic magickal tools. Wands and staves are often tipped with specifically chosen crystals. Swords and Athames may have crystal inlays in their hilts. Chalices and cauldrons may have a specific crystal strategically placed inside the bottom which is only revealed after draining the liquid. And, pure crystal balls have long been the standard scrying tool as well as crystal pendulums.
Color, shape and the properties of attracting or repelling energies are the considerations when choosing what crystal to work with or use to adorn your tools. Check out the reading section for some good starting books and one which is more in depth as to the nature of crystals.
REFER BACK TO LESSON TWO to review the Gifts of Mather Nature
THE NATURAL WORLD
The Tools of Illumination
Candles are a staple ingredient of the Witch’s work. They create a specific point of focus; incorporate Fire into any working and can hold the energy that is being created and directed in whatever manner is desired. The heat of the flame is the symbol of the desire of will within. Candles are also representative of Light. The Light that is ignited from effort and desire for illumination. The potential of Light that is ever present in the dark. And, once lit the determined intent of lasting and permanent change.
To enhance a working the color of the candle is often a consideration. White, being the most generically used, a red candle can represent the Fire of Will or be used in accord with a celebration of a Fire Sabbat or Deity. Blue is used for healing and to represent waters and emotional depths. Black is often used for rituals of release, to represent the Goddess in her form as Crone and to connect with the ancestors. Green represents fertility and prosperity and abundance. Yellow relates to vitality, summer and the Goddess Brigid. Silver, is representative of the Moon and Gold the Sun.
Candle gazing has long been used as an effective tool for increasing visualization skills, for quieting the mind to allow for scrying and obtaining information and to light the way proverbially and metaphorically as processional or recessional as part of powerful ritual.
Another very cool aspect of candles is that they hold the memory of liquid and solid form. The process of making a candle begins with the melting of a solid form (the wax) by heating and infusing it with Fire. That wax becomes a liquid form that is then malleable enough to take on whatever shape it is poured into. This is water expressed and extracted from what was formerly solid. The liquid wax flows into the boundary of container and with the cooling by Air of its form, takes on the distinction of being a solid (Earth) once again. The cycle begins anew, as the candle wick is lit, feed by the Air of oxygen and its heat (Fire) transformation its solid boundary (Earth) into a pool of liquid (Water).
Read More about Candle Magick here:
The Magickal Pen: Candle Magick 101
The Tools of Devotion
We are, as a species, highly visual beings. Having an appropriate statue of the Deity being honored or asked for assistance in magickal workings enhances the connection that may have already been made with that Deity in the form of meditation and/or devotion. What we see stimulates and provokes response and when entering a place of communion and interaction with the Gods and Goddesses, the visage of their presence makes a statement to that Deity that serious intent is proposed here and sends the signal to you that you are truly in the company of the Divine.
Now, let me clarify that you should not go out and purchase a statute of every God and Goddess you would like to work with. Not only is that costly, but let’s face it the opposite outcome would occur, in that you would have so many, that none could be more highly honored than another. Quantity definitely does NOT replace quality here.
A representation of a God or Goddess can be something as simple as a corresponding herb, flower, crystal or token that is compatible with that Deity’s energies. When you have arrived at a consistent working relationship with a specific Deity, then you may wish to consider purchasing a beautiful statue to grace a small altar area that has been dedicated as a devotional space for that Deity alone.
I’m sure many of us remember standing on the sidelines as a parade went by and the feeling of resonance within our bodies when the band would pass with the thumping beat of the big bass drums. We responded from the core and felt completely shaken from the vibrations of this massive instrument.
Sound is all around us; albeit transparent to most as we go about our busy days. But certain levels of sound and certain vibratory frequencies within that resonance can transport us from a harried pace to a calm peaceful setting. From a place of inertia to involuntarily making us move and finally transporting us to a place of altered consciousness and ecstatic experience.
The ringing of a clear bell just prior to ritual, cuts through the energy and with intent serves to clear the space to be used of negative energy. It also gets our attention; and signals that something is about to happen. The same toning of a crystal singing bowl can, in addition to clearing space also help to raise the level of response and vibration within our own energetic fields. We feel the energy rising within and consciousness moves in accord with that elevation.
The beating of a drum attracts our attention in a more grounded and earth bound way. It is almost as though we can feel the heartbeat of the earth resonating outside of us, and we internally move to a spacious consciousness that mirrors the heaviness and weighty feeling of connection to the deepest core of Mother Earth.
Sound creates different energetic patterns and states of consciousness. Incorporating sound into ritual and workings adds another layer of awareness and potential for opening and manifesting.
Please take a look at the Magickally Human and Sacred Vessel Blog series for more information about the sensorial tools we engage in magickal (and mundane) working and their impact:
Foundations of Practice
Review and Continue the Observation Practice: Spirit Flows
Pathworking of the Tools