Saturday SpellWork: The I-Screwed-Up Jar

So I thought I’d start a new feature here on my website. I’ve been practicing as a Pagan for thirty years now, and I’ve written a metric shit-ton of original spells. Some I’ve published – there are 366 of them in The Good Witch’s Daily Spell Book and twenty more in the upcoming Wicca Practical Magic (#shamelessplug!) – but there are countless others that I’ve never put out before. I thought it would be fun to start sharing them here with y’all, so I’m going to try to do a weekly feature called Saturday Spellwork, where I’ll share something new and nifty that you can add to your Book of Shadows.

I’m starting with this one because I had a reader message me on Facebook asking about reconciliation spells, and once I pulled this one out of my ol’ Hard Drive of Shadows, I realized that other than the old AOHell Message Boards of Yore, I’d never shared it publicly before. It’s a goodie, and comes in really handy if you’re trying to repair a relationship that you yourself have damaged, especially if there was deceit involved.

Have at it, kids!

The I-Screwed-Up Jar

You’ll need:

Two blue votive candles, to symbolize peace
Some salt
Rosemary
Sage
Mugwort
A taglock (this is a magical link) for each of the parties in the relationship
A clean glass jar, baby food size will do, with lid

**NOTE:  Feel free to change any of the wording as needed.

Light the blue candles on either side of your work space, so that you can sit comfortably between them. If you normally cast a circle, feel free to do so now.

Remember, this ritual is designed to HELP mend a relationship that has been damaged. That means that the person who did the betraying needs to accept the fact that they screwed up. Place the salt in the jar, and as you do so, say, “This jar is our relationship. It is clean, it is new, and it is pure.”

Add the rosemary and mugwort to the jar. The rosemary and mugwort symbolize healing and health, which is what you are trying to bring to the relationship. As you do so, say, “I have made mistakes, and I have brought deceit to this relationship. From now on, it starts anew, as  I bring honesty and truth to this relationship.”

Add the sage, which symbolizes wisdom. Let’s face it, you need to learn from your mistakes, right? As you add the sage, say, “My mistakes and lies were my own, and no one else’s. I take responsibility for them, and I use this knowledge to be sure I don’t repeat them.”

Add the taglocks. They can be whatever you choose, just make sure they’ll fit in the jar with the lid closed. As you add them, say, “We are in this relationship together.  We are two parts of the same whole, we are equal.  I owe you honesty and respect, and you owe me the same. Our relationship begins to heal even now, blending together you, me, wisdom and healing.”

Mix the contents of the jar around together, and add a drop or two of wax from the blue candles, to add peace to the relationship. Cap the jar tightly. Keep it in a place that has a lot of meaning to you and the person whose trust you have broken — the bedroom, a quiet spot in the backyard, etc.

Remember that trust is earned – no one owes you jack squat. After doing the ritual, show that you are worthy of the person’s trust.

Help Launch My Newest Book!

Help Launch the Wicca Practical Magic Book!

I’m so excited to let you know that my newest book on Wiccan magic is coming out soon, and there are some really cool things in store for you! I’m assembling a street team to kick off Wicca Practical Magic, available on May 23, and I’d love it if you would help me launch this awesome book.

What does a street team do? Well, if you sign up to be part of it, you’ll get an advance peek at the book before it releases, and you’ll get a chance to share some great content with your friends, family, and social media network. You’ll also get added to a private email list, for street team members only, which is where I’ll share exciting updates as we get closer to May 23. Finally, I’ll have some exclusive goodies to send your way, that no one else can get their hands on! Doesn’t this sound great? YOU BET IT DOES!

If you’d like to be part of this exciting opportunity, simply fill out the form here: http://bit.ly/HelpLaunchMyBook. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Plant a Goddess Garden

Gardening is a magical act. It allows us to take the simplest form of life — a seed — and plant it so that weeks later it will bloom. Plants and magic have been associated for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, so when spring rolls around and you’re planning your seasonal garden, why not set up a special area to dedicate to the goddess of your tradition?

Image of Atlanta Botanical Gardens by Sailn1/Flickr

If you don’t have a big yard to plant, don’t worry. You can still create a special goddess garden using a container.

Selecting a Goddess to Honor

Start by figuring out which goddess you’d like to honor. It’s probably a bad idea to just pick one at random — a better course of action would be to choose one you’ve got some sort of connection to, or that you’ve been interested in learning more about. If your particular tradition honors a certain goddess, or deities of a specific pantheon, that helps make the selection process a little easier.

Choosing the Perfect Spot

Next, figure out where the best place is to locate your goddess garden. Are you working with a vibrant, outdoorsy kind of goddess, like Diana? Perhaps she’d appreciate a spot in the sun. Maybe a water goddess, who would feel at home near your pond? Or perhaps you’re connected to a goddess of darkness, who might prefer a shady spot near the tree line? Obviously, you want to choose an are where plants will grow, but it’s also important to try to select an area where the Divine will feel a sense of home.

If you live in a small area such as an apartment, or if you have limited space, you can still plant a goddess garden. Choose a brightly lit spot on your patio and use containers for gardening, or create a tabletop goddess garden with a large planter.

Planting for the Divine

Your next step should be to determine what sort of plants are associated with the goddess you’re honoring. Think of this garden as a sort of living altar space, and plan accordingly. For example, if your garden is to pay tribute to Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, you might fill the space with seeds for vibrant and colorful carnations, hollyhocks, snapdragons and impatiens. A garden for Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess, might include catnip, members of the mint family, lavender, and lilies (for their playful, cat-like energy). If you choose to honor a goddess of the harvest, you might wish to plant fall-blooming plants, like mums or even root vegetables.

Making Your Garden Sacred

Add decorative touches like statuary, crystals, pretty stones, and other garden ornaments that correspond to your goddess’ attributes. Is your goddess a fire deity, like Pele? Add a fire bowl or candle holder. If your goddess is associated with air and wind, perhaps some wind chimes or a flag would be appropriate. Use your imagination, and take a few moments each day to work on your garden and re-connect with the goddess you are honoring.

Image of Atlanta Botanical Gardens by Sailn1 / Flickr via Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

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Reconnecting With Nature

One of the common themes in many modern Pagan belief systems is that of a connection to the earth, a spirituality that comes from our interaction with the different aspects of the natural world. It can be tricky, in today’s society, to keep our focus on nature. After all, we’re driving to work, watching television, answering our phones, and running around at a breakneck, hectic pace. Technology makes our lives easier, but it’s not hard to lose track of our connection to the land.

Studies have shown that people who spend more time outdoors – and not just outdoors, but unplugged from technology – are generally more relaxed. They feel a greater sense of overall wellness, report lower levels of depression, and experience less stress. Equally important, they’re better equipped, emotionally, to handle stressful situations that do arise. In addition to the mental health benefits, scientists say that being outdoors can be good for you physically.

So, I get that your schedule is busy and you’ve got a lot to do, but you can still make time, even if it’s in small increments, to get back

to nature. Here are five easy ways you can reconnect with the natural world around you.

Go For a Nature Walk

Walking has a lot of physical health benefits, and a 2014 study from the University of Michigan shows that going for walks in a group can be even better for your emotional well-being. According to author Sara Warber, M.D. “Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster. Our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone’s daily positive emotions but may also contribute a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression.” While you’re out walking around, consider doing some wildcrafting!

Go Hiking or Backpacking

If a leisurely stroll through the woods doesn’t sound adventurous enough for you, consider going hiking instead. Depending on where you live, there are numerous trails you tackle. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the end of a trail, and research indicates that there are both physical and mental benefits to hiking. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that offers primitive camping, try backpacking in with all of your supplies, and spending the night alone under the stars, away from your cell phone and your Netflix subscription. It’ll be good for you.

Do Some Gardening

Ask anyone who gardens why they do it, and chances are good they’ll tell you that it’s partly because they like to grow their own food, and partly because gardening is therapeutic. There’s something very magical about putting your hands into the warm soil of the earth, planting a seed, tending it as it grows, and finally harvesting the results.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that just two and a half hours a week of moderate activity – which gardening qualifies as – can help reduce the risks of numerous health problems. Equally important, though, a 2014 study from the Netherlands reports the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.

Get Out and Go Earthing

The idea of “earthing” has become a hot new trend lately. Not because it’s a new practice – plenty of us have been doing it without calling it “earthing” – but because the holistic community has started promoting the value of skin-on-earth contact. Earthing is based upon the idea that for thousands of years, we as human beings have benefited from the contact of our skin on the earth – walking barefoot, lying on the ground, touching dirt with our hands, that sort of thing. Go barefoot when and if you can, go to your local park and lie in the grass for a while, or even go for a swim at a lake or ocean if there’s one nearby.

Play in the Sun

The sun is nature’s antidepressant, and it’s easy to forget, as we go about our daily routines, how much we need sunshine for our physical and mental well being. Sunlight boosts serotonin levels, can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms – which means you’ll sleep better – and can reduce overall stress.

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, sunshine can make a huge difference as well. Go outside whenever you can, even if that’s just for your half-hour lunch break at work, and enjoy yourself. Walk around, sit still, meditate, do whatever – take in the sun’s rays. If you spend your day in an office, sitting near a window can help get some sunshine into your life as well. If you’ve got a beach nearby, try to get out there as often as possible, because it offers all of the best aspects of nature in one convenient location – water, sunshine, and fresh air blowing across the land!

Book Announcement! Wicca Practical Magic Coming May 23!

OMG YOU GUYYYYYYYS.

So I mentioned a while back that I had a Sooper Sekret Project in the works, and now I can officially announce it! My new book, Wicca Practical Magic, will be coming out on May 23, from Althea Press. You can already pre-order it on Amazon!

I’m really excited, because this is something I wish had been available when I first started studying Pagan belief systems. If you’ve read all the Wicca 101 type books, and have no idea how to actually put what you’ve learned into practice, this book is written just for you.

I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks, with all kinds of details – including how you can be part of my street team/ambassador group and score a free digital copy – but for now, just to tease you a bit, here’s a peek at the cover!

Join Me at FPG!!

Are you in Florida, or Florida-adjacent? Join me at Florida Pagan Gathering later this month, from Wednesday April 19 – Sunday April 23! You can still register to attend, if you check out the FPG website.

It’s going to be an amazing event – join me, Jason Mankey, Byron Ballard, Kyrja Withers, Onyx Moon, and more for a full weekend of rituals, workshops, vending, drumming, dancing, and fellowship. There will be some incredible magical music from Brian Henke and Wendy Rule, too!

I’ll be hosting three workshops – come to one, or come to all of them:

Thursday

The Magic of Household Witchcraft
3:00pm – 4:30pm ~ Thunderdome

Patti will be presenting a fun and interactive workshop on The Magic of Household Witchcraft. Topics include household altars, kitchen magic, and how to use mundane items around your house in magical workings. The only thing you need to bring is your creativity and imagination! (All Ages Welcome)

Friday

Raising Pagan Kids in a Not-So-Pagan World
3:00pm – 4:30pm ~ Ancestor’s Glen

Are you trying to navigate the waters of Pagan parenting? Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, we’ll share plenty of ways you can include them in Pagan practice with your family. (All Ages Welcome)

Saturday

Ritual Craft and Spellwork for Solitaries
1:00pm – 2:30pm ~ Blue Room

It’s sometimes tough to work as a solitary practitioner – after all, you haven’t got anyone to work magic with! No worries, though – writing your own ritual or spell doesn’t have to be a disaster. We’ll talk about some basic formulas for creating your own ritual or spell from scratch. (All Ages Welcome)

Come on out to Lake Wales, and let’s celebrate Beltane!

Human Sacrifice in the Ancient World

For many people in the modern world, finding a Pagan belief system is a positive and life-affirming experience. It’s not uncommon for us to find a joy and lightness in our traditions, something that brings light into once was a dark existence. This is indeed a good thing, and what draws many new people into the Pagan community. Unfortunately, the downside of it is that there can sometimes be an unwillingness to accept that not all Pagan cultures in the past were full of light and love and rainbows.

Our ancestors, hundreds of years ago, lived a completely different existence than we do today, and their relationships with their gods were different than ours is today. This means that their guidelines as to what was acceptable spiritual behavior is not the same as those we see as reasonable in the 21st century. As much as we may wish to deny it, or claim that it’s anti-Pagan propaganda, the inescapable truth was that for our ancestors, religious worship sometimes included things that modern Pagans find distasteful.

Sacrifice – both animal and human – was not an uncommon practice in the ancient world, and was generally performed in the context of making an offering to the gods. Animal sacrifice is still practiced today by a few religious groups, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll be focusing on ritualized human sacrifice in the ancient world. Obviously, this is a complex and vast topic,
and there’s no way we can cover every single aspect of it, so for now, we’ll be looking at the basics of human sacrificial practices among groups such as the Celts, the Greeks and Romans, and Mesoamerican tribes.

Human Sacrifice in the Celtic World

Although the Celts didn’t leave us much in the way of documentation, we can glean a bit about their practices from writings created by foreign observers. In particular, the works of Pliny the Elder, along with Julius Caesar’s Commentaries, give us some insight into sacrifice in the Celtic world.

Pliny and Caesar make a very big deal about human sacrifice among the Druids. However, keep in mind that both of these men were Romans, writing about the practices of a people who had been more than a little difficult to conquer. In history, not only does the victor get to retain the spoils of war, he also earns the privilege of writing about it afterwards.

That said, while it’s unlikely that the Celts – and specifically, the Druid priest class – was engaging in the massive wholesale slaughter of human beings that Pliny and Caesar suggest, they did utilize human sacrifice on occasion. Caesar describes Celtic funeral customs in his Commentaries, in which the body of the deceased is cremated, and the clan then adds to the fire “everything they reckon to have been precious to the departed, even living creatures…” He suggests that slaves and other dependents might have been tossed in there as well, to join the deceased clansman in the afterlife.

The Wicker Man

Did the Celts really use a Wicker Man? Yuuuup.

Perhaps the best-known summary of Celtic sacrifice is the concept of the wicker man, another practice we know about based on Caesar’s writings. He describes “figures of vast size, the limbs of which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames.” Caesar goes on to explain that the men burned inside one of these structures were often criminals – thieves or robbers, specifically – but in the absence of a criminal sacrifice, the Druids “have recourse to the oblation of even the innocent.”

Author J.A. McCulloch points out in Religion of the Ancient Celts (1911), “Human victims were also offered by way of thanksgiving after victory, and vows were often made before a battle, promising these as well as part of the spoil. For this reason the Celts would never ransom their captives, but offered them in sacrifice, animals captured being immolated along with them.”

Foundation Sacrifice

There also existed, among the Celts, the concept of what scholars called foundation sacrifice. This was, essentially, the sacrifice of an individual before the construction of a new building. In some cases, the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled around the foundation of the structure, and in others, they were actually buried beneath it. There are a number of locations, including Christian churches, in what was once the Celtic world that still have legends and rumors of foundation sacrifices.

In generally all of these cases, scholars believe that human sacrifice was intended to strengthen the connection between man and the Celtic gods, to bridge the gap between the mortal world and the divine realm. Human remains have been found which support the ideas of Pliny and Caesar, and indicate that these bodies were interred in a ritual context. However, we will likely never know the extent of human sacrifice, and academia seems to be divided on whether or not Roman writers exaggerated the number of deaths taking place as propaganda.

Wicker Man image by larajanepark via Flickr / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)