Cleansing and Consecrating Ritual Tools

Ritual Tools: Cleansing and Consecrating Is More Than Making Them Shiny

Recently, we have been talking about various ritual tools: the athame and the chalice, and so on. Whenever you procure a ritual tool–whether you buy it, make it, or find it–you want to cleanse that tool before you first use it, especially if someone else’s negative vibes have touched that tool, and periodically afterwards (several times a year, at least). Then, you want to consecrate that tool, blessing it in the name of the Lady and the Lord for the good of all and harm to none.

Why do all this? First, you want to set these ritual tools off as holy, special, sacred. You want your good spiritual vibes to permeate the tools. And you want to discourage negative energy from trying to invade your tools: this negative energy could seriously interfere with magickal or other rites.

Different ways of cleansing a ritual tool exist: pick the method that is right for you and for the tool. Here are but a few options at your disposal:

1. Cleanse, using the elements. Waft air, using a feather, over the ritual tool. Pass the tool through or above fire (the latter is recommended for candles; make it quick). Sprinkle a little salt, repreenting Earth, on the tool. Finally, sprinkle a few drops of water on the tool. As an option, you can touch the ritual tool with the athame, representing Spirit, as well.

2. You can use just one element to cleanse the ritual tool. You can bury the tool in the earth for a few weeks (don’t forget where you buried it, of course), hold it underneath running water, hold it against a gentle breeze, or let it sit underneath the afternoon sun for a few hours (not recommended for candles).

3. Place the ritual items underneath the light of a full moon and let them absorb the moon’s energy all night.

4. If you are a Reiki practitioner, you can use Reiki energy to cleanse the tools.

5. You can visualize a cleansing light in blue, pink, white, or another color that you associate with cleaning. Visualize that light emanating from your hands and embuing the tool with clean, positive energy.

After you cleanse your ritual tool(s), be sure to bless them in the name of Deity, saying something like, “In the name and service of the Lady and the Lord, for all good works, and for the benefit of all and harm to none. Blessed Be.”

How do you cleanse and consecrate your ritual tools? Do you use a method not mentioned here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Blessed Be!

Ritual Tools on Altar

By Fer Doirich (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
A Wiccan Altar with Ritual Tools

Suicide, Mental Illness, and Deity

A Recent Suicide: The Day the Laughter Died (with apologies to Don McClean’s “American Pie”)

Today I had planned to write about consecrating and blessing ritual tools, but yesterday’s news of Robin Williams’ suicide has put that topic, temporarily, on the back burner; I will revisit this topic next time. To say that Robin Williams’ death by suicide is a tragic loss, a heartbreaking blow to the loved ones, friends, colleagues, and fans he leaves behind is a gross understatement. Sufficient words fail here.

Robin Williams had been battling severe depression, as numerous Americans do each year. Depression, and mental illness in general, tend to be widely misunderstood, maligned, and stigmatized: even in twenty-first century society. We have distanced ourselves, somewhat,  from the nineteenth-century mentality, which saw mentally ill people as little more than freaks in a freak show: one fashionable pastime of the day was to go to a local asylum to gawk at the patients. However, how far have twenty-first century citizens come, truly, when it comes to understanding mental illness in general and depression in particular? Could societal ignorance have contributed to Robin Williams’ suicide? Did we fail him? Did he fail himself?

Whatever the case,  it would seem that he fell into a deep abyss and could see no other option than suicide as a way out.

From a Pagan point of view, each soul is born in order to learn a specific life lesson; this life lesson, however, may take more than one lifetime to learn. At death, according to some Pagan faiths, the soul goes to the Summerland, a place of rest and reflection, and also a place to review the life lesson: similar to a final exam, except without the test anxiety: here, Deity fills the role of patient teacher. One who commits suicide says, in effect, “Forget the final exam: I’m not doing this,” leaving the lesson to be learned in another lifetime. From this point of view, suicide is an exercise in futility.

Regardless, Robin Williams’ death is a senseless tragedy. I feel for his pain and that of his family. His is a life snuffed out much too soon.

Rest in peace, O Captain, My Captain.

symbol of depression and suicide

By César Astudillo from Collado Villalba, Spain (Suddenly, a black rose) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Suicide

Miscellaneous Ritual Tools

Other Tools for Ritual

In our continuing discussion of ritual tools, we come now to the nice miscellaneous category. Within this category are the besom, cingulum, incense, scourge, sword, bolline, and stang–all items that may be useful as you connect with Spirit. Keep in mind that the witch, or other Pagan, technically speaking, needs only herself or himself: the tools merely sharpen the mental focus and cue the mind that ritual–a sacred connection with the Goddess and the God– is happening and  magick is afoot.

The cingulum, sometimes spelled singulum, is a symbol of initiation in some traditions, particularly British Traditional Wicca,  and is a specifically colored cord, traditionally nine feet in length, that is worn around the waist.

 Incense is an herbal blend that is ground and then burned during ritual. You can buy or make incense in joss sticks, cones, or loose.

The scourge is a tool used to flagellate members in some traditions, notably Gardnerian Wicca.

The sword is often used as a ritual tool, instead of an athame, in certain traditions. Like the athame, the sword represemts the God.

The boline is is a curved knife, shaped like a half moon, that is used for cutting herbs–most famously, mistletoe–cords, and other items for and in ritual.

Boline Ritual Tool

Boline Ritual Tool, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1y908LW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stang is a staff that has two prongs or horns on top. Robert Cochrane  is usually credited with introducing the stang to Wicca.

We have talked qutie a bit about ritual tools lately. In the next blog post, we will discuss consecrating and blessing ritual tools.

On another note, this upcoming weekend, on August 10. we will see this month’s full moon, and it will be a supermoon–the closest supermoon yet this year. This month’s moon is also known as the Sturgeon Moon, the Green Corn Moon, and the Grain Moon.

Blessed Be!

 

Candle as Ritual Tool

Candle: Symbolism and Illumination

In our ongoing series about ritual tools, we come next to the ever-useful candle. This ubiquitous tool is used to symbolize the Goddess–often in colors of silver, white, red, or black– and the God, often in colors of gold, orange, or green. Also, in some traditions, candles are used to mark the Four Quarters: East, South, West, and North.

A central candle is often used to open and close the particular ritual ceremony.

Ritual Candle

Candle in the Dark
By Paolo Costa Baldi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, candles are often used in specific spells, such as attracting love or money (during the waxing or full moon) or banishing a bad habit (during the waning moon). The spell candle is usually anointed with a blessed oil beforehand, applied from the outside of the candle in (for attracting) or from the inside out (for banishing). This ritual tool can be a taper, pillar, figure, or other candle: the possibilities are limited only by your own vivid imagination.

figure candle

Witch Black Candle, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises bit.ly/1osnlqX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And let’s not forget that using candles in a Wiccan or other ritual imparts an air of mystery and of hidden, arcane knowledge: this tool certainly adds to the spiritual, occult ambiance.

Any new candles should be cleansed and consecrated with the Four Elements –air, fire, water, and earth–and then blessed by the Element of Spirit. This is a topic for another time, but here is a quick guide for your convenience.

If you are in an area that is under a fire warning, or in another area that does not allow burning candles, one solution is to use a battery-operated flameless candle. This option ranks as approximately better than nothing, and it is not as sexy as the real thing, but it is something to think about.

What are your thoughts about the candle as ritual tool? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

Celebrating the Early Harvest: Lughnassadh

Early Harvest Time: Lughnassadh

Lughnassadh, also known as Lammas and Cornucopia, celebrates the early harvest of summer, when the garden and/or field is overflowing in abundance. According to the Wheel of the Year cycle, this is the time when the Goddess is markedly pregnant with the God; the God Himself (as Father and not as unborn Son), is either weakening or has just died, depending on the tradition.

Lughnassadh is also a time to celebrate figurative early harvests in addition to literal ones. To that end, I brainstormed my own some early harvests, in no particular order:

1. I have realized more time for pleasure reading and have completed some books on my ever-growing must-read list, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

2. I have increased the level of more me time, without the guilt that usually accompanies it.

3. I have gained more quality time with loved ones (both two-legged and four-legged loved ones).

4. I have harvested a more comfortable peace with my own body.

5. I have realized more of a work-life balance.

6. I have gained more consistent workings of my creative imagination and sense of humor, and the permission (given by myself) to let both run freely.

7. I have learned more fully the ability to forgive instead of the act of holding a grudge.

8. I have harvested an increasingly closer relationship with the Goddess and the God.

 

Cornucopia, symbol of harvest

© Roland Fischer, Zürich (Switzerland) – Mail notification to: roland_zh(at)hispeed(dot)ch / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unported, via Wikimedia Commons Cornucopia, symbol of harvest

 

 

Some Harvest Quotes to Inspire You

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” – William Blake

“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year.” – Robert Frost

“A brier rose whose buds yield fragrant harvest for the honey bee.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

“It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.” – Margaret Fuller

“. . . it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself; it is needful that you frame the season of your own harvest.” – William Shakespeare

 

Blessed Lughnasadh, everyone! Blessed Be!

Wand as Ritual Tool

Wand: Another Magickal Tool Used for Directing Energy

In our ongoing discussion about different magickal tools used in ritual, we come next to the wand. Traditionally, this ritual tool is a slender, handheld wooden stick about the length of one’s forearm and can be handcrafted or store bought: whatever feels right to you.

The wand, associated with the God and with either the element of Fire or of Air–depending on tradition–is used to direct energy in a more subtle, gentle way than that of an athame. This ritual tool is especially used in Ceremonial Magick, although it can be used in any everyday ritual.

Magician with Wand

By Fuzzypeg at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons Wand and Magician {{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the magickal tools in Wicca and in other Pagan paths, the wand is certainly the most iconic. Not only does the Wand figure prominently as a Tarot suit, but it also makes an appearance in the Magician card. What would Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother be without her wand? Other popular characters associated with the wand are the titular character–portrayed by Micky Mouse or otherwise– in “The  Sorceror’s Apprecntice,” as well as the pupils, especially Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter book and movie series. On a more sinister side, the wand figures prominently in Circe’s character in Homer’s Odyssey and in C. S. Lewis’ antagonist in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Oak, willow, and ash are among the most popular woods for creating the wand.

 

wooden wand

Rustic Ash Wand, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1o8SNGb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In recent years, wands have been made of other materials besides wood. Wands made of certain metals, such as copper and silver, and of crystals, have become increasingly popular.

 

wand

Mini Chakra Healing Wand, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1AtwPHJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your thoughts about the wand? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

 

Pentacle as Ritual Item

Pentacle: Ritual Tool

As we progress through our discussion of ritual tools, we come across the pentacle, which is a pentagram–a five-sided star representing the five elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit–enclosed within a circle, which is also seen as sacred, since the circle has neither beginning nor end. The pentagram has its own spiritual uses, for invoking and banishing–a topic for another day.

The pentacle traditionally represents the element of Earth, itself a symbol of prosperity and stability, and is depicted as such in the Rider-Waite Tarot and many other Tarot cards.

On the altar, the pentacle is often used to consecrate other ritual items. On my own altar, for instance, my bowl of holy water rests upon a pentacle.

Pentacle

Pentagram Altar Tile, featuring a pentacle, courtesy of Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1z7fUsY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pentacle can also adorn the altar cloth.

Pentacle on Altar or Tarot Cloth

Pentagram Altar or Tarot Cloth, featuring a Pentacle, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1nXfXzk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worshippers can even wear the pentacle during ritual, or as a symbol of his or her faith.

Pentacle jewelry

Pentacle Necklace and Earring Set, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1AaKDqA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another note, this Saturday, July 26, 2014, we see the emergence of this month’s new moon in the sign of Leo. This is a time of new beginnings, a fresh start, and the opportunity to honor the Lady as Maiden and to “kiss the hand to Her, times two.”  If you acquire any new ritual tools, either bought or found items, during the New Moon is an ideal time to consecrate these new ritual items.

What are your thoughts about the pentacle as ritual tool? Do you use the pentacle in a way not mentioned here? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Blessed Be!

Bell and Besom: Two Ritual Tools

Ritual Bell and Besom Brooms: Useful and Alliterative

As we continue our series on ritual items, we come across two important tools: the altar bell and the besom broom.  The altar bell, symbolic of the Goddess Herself,  is used to clear the area of negative energy vibes as well as to call the Quarters and Deity to the magickal circle.

 

ritual altar bell

Large Wiccan Altar Bell, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1o4p3ir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The altar bell can also be used in some healing rituals: its clear tone is conducive to stimulating healing energies. You can say something like the following as you ring the bell for healing: “With the sound of  the bell’s tone/May healing be done/ For the good of all and harm to none/Blessed Be.”

 

altar bell

Tibetan Altar Bell, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1sJVV31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The besom, or broom, is also used for ritual in order to clear the area of unwanted negative energy. Before the ritual begins, it is customary to sweep the negative vibes away: visualization works well here. You can say something like the following as you visualize the negative energy being swept away: “Negative energy, I sweep you away/In the name of the Goddess and God, I hold you at bay/So mote it be.”

 

Besom

Altar Besom Broom, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1qxXiBZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer to hang my besom above my altar, rather than placing it on the altar per se.

 

ritual besom

Yucca Cactus Handled Altar Besom, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises bit.ly/UlF2gl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the altar bell or the besom is used for the first time, and periodically afterwards, it is necessary to cleanse and consecrate these ritual tools.

What are your thoughts about the altar bell or besom? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

Cauldron as Ritual Tool

Cauldron: Womb of the Goddess

In our ongoing series about magickal ritual tools, we turn next to the cauldron. A cauldron, traditionally, is a large cast-iron pot that is designed to cook food and/or to concoct magickal potions over an outdoor fire. Nowadays, cauldrons may be made of other metals besides cast iron, such as brass, and they come in various sizes: for instance, I have a mini cast iron cauldron, about three inches in diameter, that sits on my altar. In addition to cooking food and potions, the cauldron is also used in scrying and, in fire magick, burning herbs, petitions, and other items.

cauldron

Small Triple Moon Cast Iron Cauldron, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_99&products_id=3510

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cauldron is associated with the Goddess and with the element of Water: with emotions, with spirituality, of gradual transformation, of gestation. This ritual tool is synonymous with the womb, the nurturing center of developing life.  In particular, the cauldron is associated with Cerridwen, who was seeking wisdom and enlightenment to give to her rather homely, scary-looking, often-misunderstood son Afagddu. As told in the Mabinogion, she devised a potion, made with specific herbs, that had to simmer continuously for a year and a day. Cerridwen outsourced the cooking of this potion to the boy Gwion. After the potion had simmered gently for a year and a day, Gwion accidentally spilled three drops of the potion; automatically, he licked the hot drops of potion off his skin and immediately gained Enlightenment–Afagddu’s birthright. Cerridwen, in a rage, pursued him through a year’s worth of seasons–both parties shiftshaping along the way–until Cerridwen swallowed Gwion, becoming pregnant with the being who would emerge as Taliesen.

 

cauldron

Celtic Brass Cauldron, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_99&products_id=3464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cauldron is also mentioned in the Wiccan Rede: “Nine woods in the cauldron go/burn them quick and burn them slow.” This is but another nod to the transformative aspects of this ritual tool.

The cauldron is rich in symbolism and is another fine tool in becoming closer to the Goddess.  Blessed Be.

What are your thoughts about the Cauldron? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

 

Ra the Sun God: Deity of the Month

Ra: A Nice Solar Deity for a Hot Month

Each month, we take a closer look at a particular goddess or god: one aspect of Deity, or the All.  This month, we take a closer look at Ra–sometimes called Re–Egpytian solar god, particularly the noonday sun– who is synonymous with the creation of life. One myth says that Ra created each life form by revealing, orally, its secret name: this story emphasizes the idea that naming something or someone causes it to exist. Another myth says that Ra created life through the pouring of his sweat and tears: when these particular bodily fluids–notice that sperm is conspicuously absent– hit the ground, life resulted.

Ra is a “Father God”: according to one story, he spit out (ah, another bodily fluid) Shu (Air) and Tefnut (Moisture), who became the parents of Nut (Sky) and Geb (Earth).  Ra is associated with the entire life cycle: every stage that occurs between birth and death. This life cycle is tied to his daily solar cycle. During the day, Ra rode through the sky –yes, Nut–in a golden chariot. At night, he travels through Nut’s mouth and works his way through Nut, battling various night creatures, especially Apep, along the way, until he finally emerges through Nut’s vagina: symbolically, Ra is reborn each time.

Ra

By fi:Käyttäjä:kompak [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Ra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month’s deity is known by many names, depending on each day’s solar cycle. At dawn, he is known by Khepri, at high noon he is known as Ra, and at sunset he is known as Atum. As ancient Egypt’s influence spread beyond Heliopolis, our deity of the month saw his name joined with other gods’ names, a type of blending: Atum-Ra, Re-Horakhty, Amun-Ra, among others. Also, a ruling pharoah would identify himself as Ra, as a deity incarnate.

 

What are your thoughts about Ra? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be.