Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Setting Lights - What Is It, and Why Would You Want It Done for You?

Many times in conjure and hoodoo, and sometimes within other witchy contexts you will hear about setting lights, or candle altar services. If you're unfamiliar with the rootwork and folk magic culture these may seem like beautiful and intriguing concepts - so just what does "setting lights" mean?

Setting lights is a lovely service that many magical practitioners offer to the community. Sometimes setting lights is referred to as a candle altar service. Generally speaking, a client will tell a practitioner about their current situation, and the practitioner will decide what color candle and what herbs and oils would be best used to dress that candle in order to have the desired effect on the client's situation.

What the client is getting is a very basic magical consultation, spiritual prescription for a candle magic remedy, and a candle prepared and dressed especially for their case by that experienced rootworker.

Dressing a candle is when magically-potent essential oil blends and traditional herbs that resonate with an specific spiritual goal are rubbed onto or worked into a candle, to impregnate the candle with the desired energies.

The candle is dressed by the spiritual practitioner, while they pray or otherwise channel large amounts of energy for that particular purpose into the wax. The name or initials of the client, or symbols of their goal may be inscribed onto the surface of the candle, and then oils and herbs applied to it as well. The prayers of the practitioner help to awaken the spirits of the herbs that are within the oil blends and also in the dressing mixture, and call them to play a role in manifesting the goal on behalf of the client. The prayers also call upon the aid of the Divine &/or other helpful spirits such as saints and angels, asking for favor to be shown to the situation at hand. The candle may also be impregnated with planetary energies of the day and hour if a practitioner utilizes such in their work. All of this creates a candle that is "programmed" to manifest a very specific intent for the person for whom it is made. Once a candle has been dressed and is ready to be set working, it is referred to as fixed.

A small paper that has the name and goal of the client may also be prepared and will sit under the candle while it burns in order to help personalize and direct the energy even further. Such a paper is called a name paper or a petition paper. Petition papers usually include some form of a formal statement of the desired goal, and the name of the person the candle is meant to aid. Sometimes the name and petition statement will be written a certain amount of times for a stronger effect. In hoodoo 3, 7, 9, and 13 are common numbers used in work - but they are not a hard-and-fast rule. The name will sometimes be written in such a way as to cross the petition statement, which is a way of symbolically claiming power over the situation stated in the petition. If the candle is for money, dollar signs may be drawn upon it in the corners; if it's for love, hearts may be added. This just further solidifies the nature of the energy being summoned into manifestation by the candle. This petition paper will also usually be dressed with dabs of the same oil blend that has been used upon the candle. In some cases some of the same herbs which have been sprinkled onto the candle will be folded into the petition paper to make sure the request is well surrounded by the energies of the oils and herbs.

Sometimes a photo may be used, or a hair or fingernail of the person for whom the candle is being fixed may be also folded up inside the petition paper to make a powerful sympathetic link to that person. Modern quantum theory has shown us that matter that was once part of something will still be effected and be able to effect the original mass of which is was a part, even if it is far away from its source. Using a hair or nail, also called a personal concern, from someone is a very potent energetic link that will help the energy speed to its target without any trouble. Photos and handwriting can also be used very effectively as links, because these do carry an energy pattern closely related to the person, however they are not as reliable as actual personal concerns which come from the person's body. A good practitioner will be able to have some measure of success without having a personal concern, as long as they have the full name of the person for whom the work is being done. Names have power!

Once the candle has been dressed and fixed, and the petition paper prepared and set underneath, that candle - usually a 7-day glass encased vigil candle - will then be set to work by the practitioner there in their own home altar or an altar at their place of business. The practitioner will watch over the candle and see how it burns over the days, as they can often tell alot about how the energy is moving and working by observing the burn and any signs that occur during it.

For example, if a candle burns very quickly, it can indicate that there will be a strong positive result, but that it will not be long-lasting. The practitioner may wish to inform the client that they may wish to back-up their work with something else to make sure the result will last. On the otherhand, if the candle burns very slowly, it can mean that there are delays and obstacles that the energy is having to wade through before being able to manifest. Depending on how the burn finishes and what other signs may be present, it could mean success, but at a weaker level than desired, or simply that it will take longer than expected for the result to manifest. In both cases the practitioner will want to help the client decide if more work is needed for the desired outcome to be reached. However, if the burn is clear and steady, and finishes cleanly, this means that the energy has not encountered any serious impediments, and that all signs point to a successful outcome.

When the candle is through, the practitioner will report back to the client with news of the how the candle burned. This is sometimes referred to as a candle burn report. Often the petitioner paper which was underneath the candle during the work will be returned to the client - they can then bury it on their own property to create a physical link for energy of that work drawing it to their home, or they may carry it with them until the goal has manifested. If the candle burn showed some difficulties, the client may want to schedule to have a full reading and consultation with the practitioner to get a more detailed perspective on the situation, and determine what magical actions should be taken to assure the greatest possibility for success.

Having lights set is a very traditional way to have spiritual work done on one's behalf.

Considering all the work and knowledge that a client can gain through having this simple ritual done by a practitioner, the costs for this service are usually very low. Depending on the base costs that a practitioner incurs from the supplies needed to perform this service (some can afford to buy in bulk, while others pay retail or close to it for their own supplies), the price ranges from $10-30 for the entire personalized 5-7 day service. It is especially useful for those people who wish to utilize magic to influence their lives, but for various reasons are not at liberty to have candles burning in their homes - either for nosy or dissapproving housemates, not wishing to have candles burning 24/7 with a baby or pet in the home, or some other reason. Even if the client is able to work on their own behalf, it can be extremely beneficial to have another practitioner perform this service for them.

For one, it gets a completely separate and potent stream of intent pouring towards one's goals. Some practitioner like to back-up their own work by having another practitioner set lights on their behalf for just this reason. I know I often ask trusted workers to set lights for me when I feel I could use some extra support! It also can provide you with divinations as to how the work is going overall, when you may be doing more complicated work that doesn't present such visible evidence of how the energy is moving and manifesting. Sometimes I will have a worker set a light for me at the outset of a new complex working, just to get a read on the situation as a whole. Hearing the candle report gives me another source of info to work with in addition to my own divinations on the matter.

When having work backed up by having lights set, some clients may request that candles be set on their behalf in runs. This means that once one candle finishes, another one fixed identically, will be set working. This keeps heat on the situation and ensure that energy will be moving towards the goal 24/7 for the duration of the run. Court cases or other legal matters are situations where keeping the work going constantly during the period of time that things are taking place on the physical plane, is one example of when someone might have candles set in runs. Someone having a run of lights set for the healing of a loved one who is chronically ill, or in the hospital, is another example.

Professional practitioners will likely have a much larger inventory of oils and herbs than your average non-pro practitioner, and may also have a wider set of knowledge about which oils and herbs would be best suited to your particular situation. Rather than needing to go out and buy all the necessary supplies, you can have the professional prepare the work for you for you to burn at home. In this case, the candle is still dressed and fixed for your individual needs, but rather than having the practitioner burn it and watch over it, you can take that fixed candle home and do all that yourself. This service requires even a smaller monetary investment than having the light set for you, as the practitioner does not need to watch over your candle for signs for a week. However you still reap the benefits of the practitioner's skills, experience, and inventory!

Some people like to take advantage of this even more by employing a tandem burn. This is where two identical candles will be burnt - one by the practitioner and one by the client. This doubles the output of energy towards the goal, and also provides the service of the candle burn report. In most cases the client can present the finished glass candle jar from their home to the practitioner to get a general read on its appearance, and compare that with the candle burnt on the practitioner's altar for a larger picture of the work at hand.

Having lights set for you is also a great way to establish a working relationship with a magical practitioner. It involves very little financial investment, and with it you can get a good idea of how a practitioner manages their cases, get a feel for their working style, and also get a taste of their skills as a reader of signs. If you enjoy working with a practitioner through the process of having lights set, you will feel more confident in investing more time and money with them in the future for things like readings, consultations, individualized services and products such as mojo bags, bottle spells, etc, and even altar work done on your behalf by them.

I hope that you've enjoyed learning about candle altar services - and that you'll take advantage of enlisting spiritual aid in this way sometime in the future! It really is a unique and powerful experience to be part of, and it can be quite a comfort when times are challenging.

Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop and Village Witchery offers a full range of candle altar services for nearly any need - aside from crossing/cursing, revenge, break-up, or other aggressive or unjustified coercive work which we won't accept. Having a light fixed and set working for you, and with a detailed candle burn report complete with digital pictures of your candle is $15. We are more than happy to accommodate tandem castings, and setting candles in runs.

Our Setting Lights page provides pull-down menus listing all of the conditions for which we can fix your candle. If you are unsure as to what condition might suit your case best, please do not hesitate to contact us directly before ordering, and we can make sure that you get exactly what you need.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gratitude, Reciprocity, and Tokens of Faith: Priming the Mind, Body, and Spirit for Receiving Good Fortune

I originally wrote this article as a guest sermon for The Church of Good Luck.
Feel free to surf over to their site which is filled with fantastic luck-lore and fascinating info on the art of good fortune!

There is one thing that I do my best to do every night before I go to bed – take some time to give thanks. Even if it’s been a terrible day, I try to spend a few minutes thinking of things in my life that I am grateful for on that day. I try to review my day and find those moments of time, or small fleeting experiences that I may have had that brought me some enjoyment and made me feel good. I find that no matter how angry, or irritated, or sad that I am feeling, when I try and take a few moments to dwell on the good things in my life, as opposed to just mentally harping on the bad things, a shift in my internal spiritual and energetic atmosphere takes place…if only for the few minutes that I am giving thanks. My husband, my animal companions, and my lovely home are 3 things that end up on my list each night. Sometimes that’s all I can manage. But some nights I can give thanks almost endlessly for small things that brought me a little bit of joy during that day. That is the practice of Gratitude.

I have found that by training myself to focus, at least for a few minutes each night, on the things in my life which bring joy and comfort that it becomes easier and easier to find joy each subsequent day…and most importantly it becomes easier and easier to NOTICE when something brings me joy and positivity. It’s this noticing which becomes very powerful in changing our fortune. The Buddhists call it ‘awareness’ and speak of the process of practicing awareness, ‘mindfulness’. Practicing mindfulness helps to cultivate within yourself the ability to really experience things fully while you are in the moment with them, rather than blindly reacting to something without any real recognition of its presence and effect on your present experience, or without drifting off into reveries of past experiences, or fanciful dreams of the future. This allows a person to really experience their life as it is which has a lot of wide-reaching benefits for general mental and spiritual wellness.

Awareness is a real skill and blessing to have in one’s life – and it’s especially useful for changing your luck, or at least becoming more attuned to its flow through our lives. If you really stop to think about it, how often are you REALLY aware during the day - totally and 100% present in the moment with your life? Then think about how much of your day is spent thinking about stuff that happened in the past, or fantasizing or worrying about things that might possibly in the future. Is there a bit of a discrepancy? How many things happened around you that you simply were not aware of because you were living in your head in that moment, rather than living in the moment?

Luck lives in the moment – and so you should try to dwell more often in that oft-fabled realm too if you want to catch some of it! Luck often manifests itself in our lives through coincidences, or synchronicities. These are often very small, seemingly random happenstances that we often almost miss. Take that $20 bill that you found on the ground for example. What luck! How many other people walked past it before you did? Why were YOU the one that noticed it? Was it because you happened to be more aware of your surroundings and were more positioned in the moment than them? Very likely! Now what more good fortune could you discover for yourself if you actively practiced being more aware and specifically practicing being on the lookout for good things in our day to day lives? Ruminate on that and allow it to percolate inside your lucky skull.

So let’s assume that you’ve established a nightly practice of reviewing each day looking for good fortune, and being thankful for that. As a result you’ve started noticing more and more good things that happen to you during a day when they happen. What is the next step? Reinforcing and strengthening that new skill, and helping to open up other people to the experience of good luck! It’s the skill of “pay it forward”, or Reciprocity.

Luck is rather liquid – its natural state is to flow easily and freely. However it can become blocked and polluted, which makes it harder for it get to people. As someone who has managed to receive some of the refreshing waters of good fortune, it only makes sense to keep the river running through it by helping it travel onwards and bring positivity to more and more people. This practice of Reciprocity helps keep your lucky pipes clean!

If something particularly wonderful happens to you, make something nice happen for someone else – and especially someone in real need of it. I like to make a practice of providing some cash, or some lunch, to the first homeless person that I see after I experience some good luck. Giving a donation to a charity of your choice, or a charity related to the kind of good fortune that you experience is also a great option. This does several things that are beneficial:

1) It provides some aid and at least a small portion of luck to someone who could really use the helping hand. And we’ve all been in need of help before!

2) It creates a larger positive experience around the luck-kernel that you’ve sewn through your awareness, which helps to reinforce the mental efforts that you are taking to notice fortunate events, making it even EASIER to notice next time!

3) If you buy into the whole energetic resonance thing, it helps amplify the “good-luck vibrations” in your personal sphere, and thereby make you all the more attractive to the free floating “good-luck vibrations”, good luck imps, etc, et al, and invites more luck into your life. The Universe seems to know when good luck is hoarded and squandered, and when it is truly appreciated! So get on it’s Good Kids list so you’ll be positioned well for more good fortune in the future.

With all this Gratitude and Reciprocity happening in your life, you’re probably already a Good Luck Saint, and have all your ducks in a row effortlessly practicing perfect awareness 24/7 and basking in your perpetual good fortune. Right? Wrong. We’re all human. We need a little extra help to keep us on the right track. And that’s where Tokens of Faith come in, more commonly referred to as Lucky Charms! These tokens help to remind us to wake up and notice – to be on the lookout for the positive and the joyful. They help us to EXPECT it.

Expectation is a very powerful thing. If you wake up each morning just knowing that everything is going to be horrible, then you will have pre-programmed your mind to seek out any events that fulfill this expectation of yours. We’ve all had days like that. When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, even the good things that happen to you get minimized and rationalized and framed negatively to help fit your expectations. Sadly, it often seems a lot easier to have our negative expectations filled than our positive ones. It seems to be a common human skill to be able to find the worst in everything. We often need a lot of help turning our expectations around to begin to seek out the positive! Gratitude and Reciprocity can really help start to turn things around, and Tokens of Faith can often act as the catalyst for expedient changes in our overall expectations.

There’s something unbelievably comforting in carrying an object that you truly feel will help change your circumstances for the better. It’s a pretty universal experience judging by the nearly uncountable forms of lucky charms and talismans of good fortune, that cultures the world over have produced and continue to produce. Shamans, rootdoctors, village witches, magicians, and other spiritual innovators have dedicated countless hours to determining which herbs, roots, and stones in the world around us can most effectively aid us in gaining more good fortune. Priests and priestesses from time immemorial have received instructions from On High for ways and words to pray to increase our luck and overall positive circumstances. So why not utilize some of that knowledge, and tap into that current of belief, and grab onto a Lucky Charm that calls out to you?

When you have that curio in your pocket you will start to look out for its effects almost immediately! It helps to powerfully change your expectations - and that is a big key to becoming a walking luck-magnet.

Any one of the three practices of Gratitude, Reciprocity, and Tokens of Faith can be enough to shift one’s interactions with the world around them enough to start attracting more good luck into their experience. When combined they can prove to be a force to be reckoned with!

I hope that this information has entertained, and perhaps even inspired you somewhat.

May good luck follow you all the days of your life.

And as a post-script, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop & Village Witchery carries a fantastic Luck-Drawing Herb Blend, Luck-Drawing Mojo Bag Kit, and fixed Money-Drawing Buddha Statues!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sleep Paralysis and Nocturnal Supernatural Attack

So, I'm watching this documentary on the Space Channel called "The Nightmare" that covers the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, talking to scientists and those who have experienced this exploring the different opinions on what exactly is taking place - whether it be a simple sleep disorder, or whether it may have more spiritual implications .

This topic, along with other ones related to states of being experienced during sleep-states such as hypnogogic hallucinations and lucid dreaming, are ones that have fascinated me for quite some time. I've experienced lucid dreaming and hypnogogic hallucinations frequently my entire life, so I enjoy learning about all the various perspectives on these events, and attempting to find explanations for certain odd happenings that have occurred while in these states. However, I've only ever experienced sleep paralysis twice in my 30 years. Neither have completely fit the textbook definitions of these phenomenon, but share many key elements that others have described.

Generally speaking, sleep paralysis experiences is described as being an experience that may be had upon awakening from sleep. One "wakes" feeling that something (usually evil or otherwise terrifying) is in the room with them. They then quickly find that they are unable to move or scream - being paralyzed. They soon see the entity in the room with them, though the exact description varies from a black shadow, a dark featureless robed figure, a demon, a hag, and even aliens. In some cases this entity will approach the person, in some cases mounting them sexually, feeding from them in some fashion, or otherwise assaulting them. Feeling a heavy pressure on the chest or neck is commonly reported along with the attack. The whole experience is one of extreme panic, fright, dread, and horror, often being counted as the single most terrifying experience in the experiencer's life, and in some cases actually causing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms afterwards.

Sleep paralysis-type phenomenon is universal - nearly every culture throughout time has folklore associated with this experience. Some feel that it is spirits of the dead which do the attacking, some believe it is demons, and most seem to believe the attacks (whatever the nature of the spirit doing the assaulting) are conjured up by witchcraft. In modern times some believe the phenomenon of alien abduction is just a new cultural expression of this timeless experience.
Scientists explain this by saying that part of the REM state of dreaming is the paralysis of the body, a safety function to keep up from acting out our dreams. During sleep paralysis it is theorized that the sleeper awakens, but not completely, still remaining in a partial dream state with the natural paralysis still in place. Being awake and experiencing the paralysis can be frightening when not understood, and the fear triggers the partial dream state to create dream-hallucinations that create a source of the evil entity of some sort.

Some people seem to experience sleep paralysis much more often than others, and so it has been classified as a sleep disorder. However, it is said that up to 60% of the adult population have experienced sleep paralysis at least once, with only about 5% having multiple occurrences with the more disturbing symptoms. it simply a brain fart, or are there more sinister spiritual implications?

I think that it can be just a mental misfire, and that is can also be spiritual in nature...and perhaps sometimes both.

One of my two experiences with sleep paralysis was a mental misfire, and were I not educated on different dream states and comfortable with many different states of consciousness (including being fairly skilled at realized when I am dreaming and being able to make the choice to take control, or simply remain aware yet passive within the dream) it may have turned out differently. Basically, I awoke from sleep, and once my eyes were open I went to move and found that I could not. For about a second or two I struggled to move. This could quickly have become frightening, but right about the time panic was about to set in, it dawned on me that this was sleep paralysis. I remembered that the experience quickly turns frightening for many, and quickly looked around for any unpleasant beings...and there were none. I decided that before my brain had a chance to manufacture one for me, that I should really relax and allow my brain to make the appropriate connections and release me from the paralysis. I closed my eyes and relaxed within about 3 seconds was able to move and awaken normally.

So, for me, this was one instance where the state itself was merely a biological mistake. I can see how it could be frightening if someone was unfamiliar with the phenomenon (or especially if the only exposure that one had to it was stories of demonic attack), and if the dream function was more active at the moment, that it could have become a nightmare of epic proportions.

Does that explain all instances of sleep paralysis and nocturnal psychic attack? I think not. Here are two stories that make me think otherwise - one is my own, and one is my mother's. First, my mom's.

She was a teenager and had a small dog that would sleep with her each night, nestled up by her head. One night she awoke to the dog growling deeply which quickly morphed into whimpering, shuddering, and trying desperately to crawl underneath the pillow. Shocked and a bit freaked out by this very out of character behavior of her pet, she went to calm Tiny only to find that she could not move. Her uneasy feelings suddenly sky-rocketed into terror as she caught sight of the figure at her bedroom door. She said it looked like a sheet ghost - someone wearing a white sheet like the typical Scooby Doo ghost villain - but the heavy feeling of overpowering evil made it anything but campy. The figure began to drift towards her. She began to scream at the top of her lungs for her mother as it advanced. Her parents bedroom was literally 3 feet away and her mother was a notoriously light sleeper...yet no help came. The dog continued to cry and shiver and squirm in retreat, and the sheet drifted up over her bed and onto her. She said that when it got on top of her she could even see the threads in the sheet. Then it was over. My mother could move, there was no entity in the room, and the dog stopped panicking. She sat stunned, terrified, trying to understand what had just occurred - especially the fact that no one heard her scream. A few minutes later her mother came into the room saying that she just felt that something might be wrong. (The women in my family all are spiritually gifted to varying degrees.) My mother would likely have passed it all off as an extreme nightmare if it hadn't been for the dog's reaction to the whole experience.

She's never found an explanation for her experience and believes that it was a spiritual attack of some kind. I tend to agree as the dog reacting to the event seems to strongly suggest that there was an external force present, and it was not simply a dream-hallucination. Shared paranormal experiences between multiple people simultaneously are always extremely compelling. I count Tiny as a person!

My other experience with sleep paralysis contains some "classic" elements, but veers away somewhat. I was dreaming one night when the dream became extremely lucid, which wasn't uncommon. This time I was quickly joined by a guide that would sometimes pop into these states with me. We were walking in a beautiful manicured park type area, and my guide brought me to a large shade tree and told me that he had something very important to show me. He gestured to a gravestone that was suddenly present, and instructed me to remember the name. Unfortunately for me reading in dreamstates is something I've never mastered - the letters always squiggle and change. As I was concentrating on trying to get the writing to stay still long enough for me to read it, the atmosphere suddenly changed dramatically. It become cold, dark, and menancing. The guide was gone. I know a nightmare coming on when I feel one, and I didn't feel like dealing with this one so I willed myself awake (a very useful skill to have).

Right as I awoke, I opened to eyes to feel that I could not move to sit up, and even before the realization of the paralysis had a chance to sink in, a sensation like a cinder block being thrown into my chest impacted me. As the pressure hit me, I was forced back into the dream. It was the same tree with the darkened and spookified atmosphere that I had just left. There was somethingthere and it was set on attacking. I realized that the guide had been trying to give me the name of the attacker, so that I could fight it effectively. Sadly, I wasn't able to read the name, so I didn't have that power.

I was pissed off at the affront, and simply willed myself awake again. As before, when I awoke I was unable to move and a huge weight was thrust upon my chest and I was back once again in the dream. (Looking back the feeling was an interesting one - as the weight would hit it would feel as if I was pushed down into the bed, and through the bed, into the dream.) Now I was really mad. I drew my power around me, shouted out a Divine Name, and commanded the force in no uncertain terms to leave me alone. As I screamed and released the power, I willed myself awake once again and this time stayed awake. My heart was beating, I was sweating, and I was enraged, indignant, and empowered.

As the adrenaline wore off, and my logical mind started to analyze the experience, I started to feel fairly freaked out by what had happened. However, I did quickly decide that there was no point being scared - the threat was passed, and I had gotten away without any injury.

Many aspects of this point me to the belief that this was an actual spiritual attack, and not just a waking dream. While it does not fit the textbook sleep paralysis event, it does carry several of the hallmarks - the paralysis, the weight upon the chest, and the perception of an attack by a malevolent entity. I don't know whether this was actually a spirit of a dead human, as the name on the gravestone could have been more symbolic than literal. Then again, I've always just gone with the theory that it was a human spirit of someone who had passed. I don't know why a spirit would randomly attack me - this was during the first year of my occult practice, so I was doing alot of zealous ritual work. There was also a fair bit of drug use in my apartment at the time (hey, I was like 18), and also a fair bit of emotional angst (I was angsty-est between my 17th and 19th years). Perhaps it was a beacon for astral mischief. Very likely so.

So what is my final conclusion? I don't really have one - I tend to hold alot of multiple truths. I think many seemingly contradictory things can all be true within different contexts. I think some instances of sleep paralysis are exactly what the scientists think they are - a faulty awakening from sleep. I also think that some experiences are actual spiritual attacks, though I think the source of them can vary from directed psychic attacks, to wandering spirits with an agenda, to other things I haven't yet imagined.

I also think that perhaps the experience of altered state of sleep paralysis can result in people having access to spiritual dimensions of being that they would never normally encounter. I think the astral realms are sufficiently "peopled" with all manner of being that there's a good chance that something may be drawn to the unique energies of a sleep paralysis event, and be perceived by the paralysis-ee. Sometimes they just watch as is commonly reported, and sometimes they attack as is also reported. I don't know if the watchers are malevolent in and of themselves, or if the happenstance of being faced with a other-dimensional being is simply so foreign as to be frightening. Certainly those that advance, rape, or otherwise assault would be hard to label as NOT baneful. Though, everything's gotta eat, I suppose.

I would love to hear other people's experiences and interpretations of different aspects of the sleep paralysis phenomenon. I do intend to write later on my own hypnogogic visions that I frequently have upon awakening - the most interesting thing about them for me is that I will often have a run of nightly "visions" that are indentical and sometimes seem to carry a message.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to Smudge / Fumigate Properly

Smudging, also known as fumigating, is a very simple and powerful way to help keep the energies of an area clean &/or charged with a particular spiritual effect or magical intent. In today's article I will focus on smudging for spiritual cleansing purposes, give you some ideas of herbs and resins you can use to great effect, as well as provide some dos and don'ts of proper smudging.

Most people who are active in the spiritual community are familiar with using sage smoke as a form of spiritual cleansing and sanctification. Smudge bundles with sage, and sometimes accompanied by cedar, sweetgrass, and lavender are extremely popular and commonly used in a variety of spiritual and religious contexts- although the specific usage of sage, cedar, and sweetgrass originates with the Native American and First Nations peoples. Pretty much every culture has their own smudge practices, which utilize the plants which are native to their region, so you are in no way limited to sage, cedar, and sweetgrass when choosing a substance to use as a smudge. It need only be a material that has a traditional history of use as a spiritually cleansing natural substance which is non-toxic when burnt. Knowing exactly HOW that particular substance effects the environment in a cleansing way can really help you choose the right smudge for your needs.

Let's explore a short-list of substances that are commonly available and can be used for smudging your home, office, or magical working space. (This is in no way an exhaustive list, just something to get you started.)

SAGE: The smoke of sage is believed to remove any negative influences (energies, spirits, distracting thoughts or emotions, etc) from the area, carrying those out on the smoke tendrils as they waft away from the ceremony. It also establishes a boundary that repels negativity for a period of time. After burning sage, a properly smudged area should feel very light and airy, and those who took part in the smudge rite should feel calm and centered.

Generally speaking, sage is extremely effective for this purpose. However I have seen it said by an elder of the Sophian Gnostic tradition that in some places the spirits may become "immune" to sage if it is the only substance ever used in cleansing rites. Therefore, it is best to have other substances in your arsenal to avoid desensitization, or to be able to have another method to remove the negative influences should they prove stubborn against sage.

There are many different varieties of sage with white sage and sagebrush being the most commonly used forms for smudging. However all sages are effective for cleansing in this fashion. Living in Canada, I cannot grow the desert sages, however garden sage (salvia) grows very well here. I have several large garden sage bushes that I harvest for organic smudge material, and for use in my conjure work. Growing your own ritual herbs is extremely rewarding and in many cases extremely easy (I hardly have to do anything to my sage to keep it healthy).

CEDAR: Cedar is another traditional plant burnt for cleansing. It purifies the area and attracts positive energy at the same time. Cedar is also said to promote forgiveness and balance the emotions. Western Red Cedar and California Incense Cedar are the two most effective types to use for smudging purposes.

LAVENDER: Lavender is an herb which is extremely healing, calming, and protective, and so it is often used in smudge blends for these specific effects. It is rarely burnt on its own, but there's no reason why it can't be. Lavender smoke will help soothe any rough emotional edges that may have resulted from any negativity in the area, calm the nerves, bring healing to the situation, and establish a gentle boundary of safety and protection.

Some people really dislike the smell of burning herbs. For those who have breathing difficulties due to asthma or some other respitory challenge, the smell isn't so much of an issue as the smoke itself. If you, or someone you live with, happens to fit these descriptions don't despair! There are other substances you can burn if the smell is the problem, and there are
Smokeless Smudge options made from pure essential oils that do not aggravate breathing problems.

Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop & Village Witchery on Etsy carries one such Smokeless Smudge Spray that is a harmonious blend of sage, cedar, lavender and juniper, and incorporates cleansing flower essence of Pear for emotional centerdness and calm, as well as clear quartz gem essence charged in waning moonlight for the greatest clearing effect. It also have been embued with Reiki healing energy to increase the overall potency and light quotient.

FRANKINCENSE RESIN: Frankincense also has an extremely long history of use in spiritual ceremonies. It works by raising the spiritual vibration of a place to such a high degree that lower vibrations cannot stay in the same area. It also brings in a very high Divine influence, very conducive to spiritual work of all kinds. In conjure it is known to be extremely powerful and can be added to any magical mixture to boost its overall effectiveness and potency. Scientifically, frankincense smoke has proven to have an anti-depressive effect.

I use frankincense most often when I fumigate. It does not leave the smoky smell after it like burning herbs do, and the aroma is much more subtle overall. The actual smoke from burning tends to disperse and dissipate faster than herbal smoke as well. I find the spiritual sensation that it leaves to have a higher light quotient than herbal smoke as well. That being said, I wouldn't say that it is superior to herbal smudge, just that it definitely has different qualities - so try both and see which you like better.

As with other resins, you will need to burn frankincense on a self-lighting charcoal in an appropriate heat-safe incense burner.

CAMPHOR RESIN:Camphor is extremely purgative and slightly mind-altering. It is also EXTREMELY strong, so use in small amounts. When burning camphor has a heavy menthol smell that can be very difficult to breathe in, so again, just use a little at a time and add more as needed.

Camphor makes a space uninhabitable to spirits of lower vibrations (and that includes benevolent ghosts), as well as negative energy. Angelics and higher Divine beings can easily still dwell within the space where camphor is burned and kept, but other spirits (even well meaning ones) will be repelled.

Camphor can also be used to seal a room against spirit presences by first cleansing a room, and then placing chunks of camphor resin in each of the room's corners. If you cannot seal a room in this manner - for instance if you are not staying at your own home - you can place a piece of camphor in a glass of water and keep it under or beside your bed for spiritual protection.

I use camphor infrequently, as I generally like to keep my more earthly helper spirits around my working area and burning camphor makes it impossible for them to stay around. However from time to time when when I feel an area really needs a serious cleansing, or when a particular magical operation calls for me to burn camphor, I will respectfully inform my helpers that I'll be using camphor so they'll know to clear out before getting pushed out, and then add it to my smudge.

A NOTE ABOUT SMUDGING WITH AN ABALONE SHELL: Abalone shells are sold pretty much anywhere you can buy smudging supplies, as it has become almost "traditional" within many New Age communities to use it as an ash catcher, or as a burner for loose herbs, when smudging. Energetically this actually makes little sense, as the shells are linked to the energies of Water, and Smudging is a Fire/Air cleansing rite. There has also been some concern raised over the gathering methods for these shells, where little concern for ecological balance is shown. Not to mention that do you feel that an animal should die so that you can have a pretty shell to smudge with? It's much more authentic and traditional to use a ceramic or clay pot to smudge with, and there is are no animals harmed! You may also feel free to use a metal container, such as a small cauldron or large incense brazier.


So now that you've chosen what you want to smudge with - whether that be herbs, resins, or using a Smokeless option - it's time to get to the cleansing rite itself. It's actually extremely simple, it just takes a bit of time to do it thoroughly.

1) Get whatever you will be using as a smudge burner. It should be something heat-safe that you can carry around with you. You may also want a paper-fan or something to direct the smoke with, although your hand can work perfectly well.

2) Open all your windows and doors so that smoke can escape as your smudge - this let the negative energy and spirits leave easily.

3) Light your smudge material and let it start smoking strongly.

4) Start by waving the smoke around your own body to smudge your own aura. Say a prayer or affirmation that states your intent to be spiritually clean. This can be as simple as "May this smoke cleanse me", or "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, may I be cleansed and purified". Whatever works for you.

4) Next begin walking around each room wafting smoke. Some people start in the East and move counterclockwise, which is the direction of banishing. However if you have a system that works differently, please feel free to use it. If you have no system, then simply move in an intuitive fashion.

5) As you waft smoke, repeat your prayer/affirmation.

6) Make sure the smoke gets into EVERY CORNER, UNDER EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE, BEHIND EVERY CURTAIN, INTO EVERY DRAWER AND CABINET, and INTO EVERY APPLICANCE. This is very important!! Just like dust will move into and accumulate in areas that are harder for you to dust or vacuum, the negative energy and spirits will hide in any areas that are missed, so make sure to be very thorough.

7) Go through your entire home/office/etc this way.

8) When you are finished, you may say a prayer or affirmation confirming that the house is now clean and purified. You may wish to pray over a white candle annointed with Holy Oil or Blessing Oil and light that candle at the conclusion.

9) Leave your windows and doors open until all the smoke has dissipated.

10) If after smudging you wish to impregnate your atmosphere with a particular magical energy, such as prosperity, love, etc, then you may burn some appropriate incense, or an appropriate Magical Herb Blend.

That's it!

Now because this does take a bit of time and effort doing a very thorough smudge may not be convenient to do before or after each and every ritual. It's certainly not a daily ritual. I tend to do what I call a "Big Smudge" once a month in my home, and once a week in my magical work space. Between Big Smudges you can do "mini-smudges", which is where you just smudge yourself and the immediate area that you will be/were working in. I do a mini-smudge before and after each client that I see for healing work.

Smokeless Smudge is a ideal option to use for mini-smudges, especially when you may have more than one client in a day and you do not wish to have your space become permeated with smoke. It can also be wonderful to use before meditation or yoga to help you brush off the energies of the day and find your calm center. It can also be used by professionals in a variety of contexts, from counselors and therapists, to doctors and healers!

Keeping your home and work space spiritually clean is a very important step that will help protect you from negative influences, and help your magical work be more effective. So try starting with something simple, like smudging, perform it regularly for a few days or weeks, and see for yourself the positive effects it can have in your life and work!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Put Some Heat on that Mojo!

I have an affinity with Fire, and so I incorporate candles into nearly all my works whenever possible. I like the energy it brings to things, and to me it seems as though it starts and fuels a current which the rest of the work can ride on. So I like to keep a glass-encased vigil light burning continuously when doing any other spell work on a matter.

Because I've had such good results using this method of "keeping heat on it" as some workers would say, I thought I would present a short process for creating a potent love-drawing mojo bag.

You could take this piece and add it to a more complex working, if you wished.

What you'll need:

* red flannel mojo bag

* Queen of Pentacles' Love-Drawing Herbs, or appropriate love herbs of your choosing

* love-drawing condition oil appropriate to your petition (for example, are you drawing lusty passion, or long-term romantic love - that will determine what oil is best, if you are unsure book a consultation at Queen of Pentacles, or with your own trusted worker)

* Love-Drawing Incense, or mix some of the love herbs with some frankincense resin to burn as incense

* small lodestone and some lodestone food

* small square of parchment paper

- OR -

* Queen of Pentacles Love-Drawing Mojo Bag Kit which includes the herbs, the mojo bag, the lodestone and lodestone food, and small bottle of love-drawing condition oil


* red ink pen

* copy of the Song of Songs, or other love poetry (optional)

* glass-envased vigil candle - red for passion or pink for romance

* a nail or other sharp object to inscribe the candle with

* Florida Water, salt water, or other spiritual cleansing agent

* whiskey

* personal concerns (hair, fingernails, etc)

Now to the work:

1) Start by cleaning & blessing all your supplies - wipe down the candle, your inscribing tool, and the mojo bag with Florida Water or salt water. As you are doing this pray over them or otherwise state your intent for them to be cleansed and blessed to your love work, in whatever way is comfortable for you. If you have not purchased an herbal blend from Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop & Village Witchery, or other reliable botanica or candle shop (in other words, if you are unsure if they have been prayed over or otherwise empowered), then pray over them as well.

2) Light some Love-Drawing Incense, or burn some of the Love-Drawing Herbs or your own herb mixture with some frankincense resin.

3) Take your lodestone and bathe it in some whiskey. As you do so, talk to the spirit of the lodestone telling you that you are bathing it to make it clean and blessed. Pat dry.

4) Annoint the lodestone with some of your love-drawing oil and sprinkle some lodestone food onto it, while talking to the spirit of the lodestone telling it that you are feeding it so it can use it's magnetic powers to draw love to you. Place the lodestone in the red flannel mojo bag.

5) Take your Love-Drawing Herbs and put a portion into the mojo bag. As you do this, speak to the spirit of the love herbs telling them to help draw love into your life (if you have a specific petition, like a particular person you are drawing, or you want to draw an unnamed partner with specific qualities, then state that.) If you are using your own blend of love herbs, dress them with some of your love-drawing oil while stating your petition, and then add them to the bag.

6) Next, inscribe your name and symbols of your petition into the top of the vigil candle. You can use whatever words or symbols that strongly represent love-drawing and your specific petition for love. As you are inscribing the candle, pray or speak your intent over it. Allow the emotion of your words to ride your breath and flow down your arms and into the candle as you inscribe.

7) Dress the candle with a few drops of the love-drawing condition oil, and as you rub that oil on the candle, repeat the process of letting your emotions flow through the breath of your prayer, down into the candle.

8) Finish fixing the candle by sprinkling some of the Love-Drawing Herbs, or your own love-drawing herb mixture onto the top of the candle. Then knock the candle on the table 3 times to seal it.

9) Take the red ink pen and write your petition on the parchment paper square. Include your name, and a clear and concise statement of your intent. Draw love symbols, like a heart, on each corner of the paper. As you write and draw, again let your emotion flow through your breath, through the pen and down into the paper impregnating it with your desire. Complete the paper by making a 5-spot pattern (the 4 corners and the center) with some of the love-drawing condition oil.

10) Place the open mojo bag at the base of the candle, and place your petition paper underneath the candle.

11) Light the candle to set it working. Let it burn continuously until it burns out.

12) Each day light some of the incense or herb & frankincense mixture, and spend some at your altar reciting the Song of Songs, or other love poetry that is meaningful to you, or otherwise concentrating or praying on your intent.

13) Once the candle burns out 5-7 days later, take the petition paper and place it in the mojo bag.

14) Pass the mojo bag through the smoke of the love-drawing incense, or herb & frankincense mixture.

15) Pray over or otherwise speak to the spirit of the mojo bag and re-affirm its job to draw love to you and fulfill your petition.

16) Tie the mojo bag shut and feed it with a few drops of the love-drawing oil.

The ritual work is done!

Now you will want to keep this mojo on your person either at all times, or else whenever you may be in a situation where you could meet new people. Make sure that no one sees it, and DON'T LET ANYONE TOUCH YOUR MOJO - this kills it!!!

Once a week, on a Friday is good because it is associated with Venus, feed your mojo bag a few more drops of the love-oil, and re-affirm your petition. You must remember to feed the mojo to keep it working strong. Don't starve it, or it won't work very well, and will eventually stop working altogether.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cleaning Up and Getting Uncrossed

I’m sure we’ve all experienced times in our lives when we just felt like nothing was going our way, and that bad luck was an ever-present companion. This is what can be referred to in conjure as being crossed up –and it can be a somewhat random occurrence from time to time, or it can be caused by negative energy that someone has deliberately sent our way. Whatever the case, there are fairly simple measure that one can take that will help clear away these kinds of energetic messes and get us back on the right track. And it all starts with cleansing!

Spiritual cleansing helps to clear away negative energy that has come into our lives, our homes, and our bodies, and thereby releases us from the residual effects, clearing our energy, and allowing us to once again be open to receiving healing, goodness, and prosperity. You can think of it just like you do about regular cleaning – if you don’t shower regularly, you will start to smell, and all kinds of bacteria and viruses will build up on the body. Your state of “stinkiness” causes people to start avoiding you, talking behind your back, and it could even get you fired! You may find yourself acting angry and short with these people as you react emotionally to their poor treatment of you, and this anger may carry over into your close relationships until even those begin to crumble. Being unclean can also make you more vulnerable to becoming infected by all the germs growing unchecked on your person, and you could become very sick, or small scratches and scrapes could become seriously infected.

The same metaphor extends to your home. If you are no longer taking care to clean yourself, you are also not likely to clean your home very well. The dishes will pile up and dangerous fungus and bacteria will begin to grow that can cause serious illnesses in everyone living there. If dust and trash pile up inside, it can make it difficult and even hazardous to breath, causing your lungs to become stressed, and making everyone present vulnerable to asthma, or other respiratory illnesses. Debris that is not removed from your home and yard will pile up, and soon you will have the Health Department being called to your home, and you may even face eviction! The longer this goes on, the more ants, roaches, mice, rats and other pests will inhabit your home, causing even more health risks and property damage!

This is exactly what can happen when we don’t have a system for keeping ourselves spiritual clean. Negativity can build up, and may reach a tipping point where suddenly nothing is going right. Often this tipping point can happen when a particularly stressful event happens that causes us to have to face more negativity than usual. Build-ups of negative energy can effect every aspect of life, but finances, relationships, and health are some of the most common areas of our life that may start to take a noticeable hit when we’re crossed up. What is the solution then? It’s simple. Clean it up!

You’re going to want to hit 2 key areas – your body and your home. (If the problem has a root in the workplace, then you’ll want to do some cleansing there too, as far as you are able.) Spiritual bathing has a very ancient history, and is one of the first lines of defense. You don’t need to be crossed up to take a spiritually cleansing bath; in fact it’s good to take one at regular intervals just to keep everything flowing smoothly and to keep negativity from having a chance to build up. Taking a very good cleansing bath is fairly simple.

First, we’ll mix together a few cleansing ingredients – a 3 Ingredient Cleansing Bath is very traditional in conjure.

Get yourself some:

salt (sea salt, Epsom salt, or table salt – it really doesn’t matter, though you can easily get large bags of Epsom salt at the pharmacy for very little money)
• hyssop

Salt is known universally as a powerful cleanser, and hyssop and rue are two Uncrossing herbs extraordinaire. Hyssop is even mentioned in the Bible for its cleansing effect, and it cleanses away any negativity that we may have brought upon our self through our own actions, either consciously or unknowingly. Rue has a long history of use in cleansing in Europe, especially the Mediterranean area, where it is used to clean away the effects of malocchio, or the evil eye. Rue cleanses away negative energy that has its source in other people, either through them maliciously sending it your way, or simply from it accumulating on and around you due to your dealings with them. These 3 ingredients together can take care of pretty much any negative energy, no matter what the source.

If you can’t find the herbs locally, you may purchase and use a jar of our
Queen of Pentacles Cleansing and Uncrossing Bath. It includes several additional herbs and our Uncrossing condition oil to aid your work.

Now you’ll want to make up enough of this to last you a few days. When you’re crossed up it’s traditional to bathe for a number of days in a row, to make sure that all the energy that has built up has been cleansed away thoroughly. I’m sure you can appreciate this reasoning – when cleansing something with really ground-in or long-standing dirt, you sometimes have to clean it several times before it is actually clean. The same goes for you! 3 days will likely be good enough (though in tough cases you may want to do a 13-day cleansing bath schedule, and possibly use a stronger cleansing mixture, such as the traditional 13-Herb Bath).

For the bath itself you will need:

• 3 Ingredient Cleansing Bath
• 2 white candles
• Clean change of clothes
• Small container to put used bath water in
• Cleansing incense such as Uncrossing, Van Van, frankincense resin, or simply some of the herb mixture burned on a charcoal
• Copy of Psalm 51 “Cleanse me with hyssop…” if you do not have it memorized (optional)
• The location of the nearest crossroads (where 2 roads or paths intersect and form a +)

It’s traditional in conjure to do these baths before sunrise, but other spiritual traditions cite different times. Use whatever timing is most familiar to you. If you have no particular tradition, then you may wish to just follow conjure guidelines and perform it before dawn.

1. About an hour or so before dawn gather your supplies in your bathroom, and disrobe.

2. If you are using incense, you may light it now.

3. Fill the tub about ankle deep, and add in your 3 Ingredient Cleansing Bath. Make sure the salts dissolve.

4. Hold the 2 white candles in your hands while you pray your intent over them.

5. Set the candles on either side of the tub, where you will walk between them when entering.

6. Light the candles, and imagine them making a Holy Doorway.

7. Walk between the candles and enter the bath.

8. Pour the water over your head and scrub your body with it in a DOWNWARDS direction.

9. While you are doing this pray the 51st Psalm, or otherwise pray and concentrate on your intent.

10. When you feel that you are clean, step back through the Holy Doorway.

11. Allow yourself to air-dry.

12. Collect some of your used bathwater in the container – an empty water bottle works just fine -then drain the tub.

13. Once you are dry, put on your clean change of clothes. You may snuff out the candles to reuse them the next 2 days you bathe.

14. Take the bottle of your used bathwater to the crossroads, and hurl it over your shoulder towards the West (where the sun sets).

15. Do not look back.

16. Go home!

Once home, you will want to give your home a thorough cleansing as well. You can do this using the same mixture that you used for your cleansing bath.

You will need:

• your 3 Ingredient Cleansing Bath
Uncrossing incense (you can use the herbs), or frankincense resin
• a white candle for each room in your home
• broom &/or mop
• dust cloths
• spritzer bottle
• Blessing incense, or frankincense resin

Simply add some of it to a bucket of water that you will use to clean with. Start at the back of your home and work your way towards the front door. Clean your floors – if you have tile you can mop, if you’d rather sweep then dip the bristles of the broom into the cleansing water, if you have carpet you can put some of the mixture into a spritzer bottle and spay it over the carpets after you vacuum, or you can use the broom method. If you have a lot of curtains and upholstery, use the spritz bottle lightly on them. Wipe down all your surfaces with some of the mixture as well. Don’t forget baseboards, window sills, doorframes, and walls as much as you can manage. Burn your incense while you do this, and keep the windows open so the smoke and negative energy can escape.

Pray the 51st Psalm, or otherwise concentrate and state your intent as you clean. Imagine all negative energy being pushed out of the room by the cleansing floor wash and the Uncrossing incense. Visualize bright White Light filling the space. When you are finished in a room, say a prayer of thanks over a white candle and light it. Allow it to burn out. (Birthday candles can be good for this, as they do not burn for very long.) You will need 1 candle per room.

The last room you clean should be the one with the front door. Have your final sweeps go out the front door of your house. Make sure to wipe down the doorframe, too. Light your final candle, and then put on some Blessing incense, or frankincense resin to burn. This will help bring in positive energy into your home, to fill the void that was left by the negative energy. Your home should now feel very light and airy, and much less “heavy” than before. (If it does not, then you may need to repeat, perhaps using a stronger spiritual cleansing mixture. If you do not know of a stronger mixture, you may wish to consult with a spiritual practitioner to have one prescribed for you.)

Continue with your cleansing baths for the next 2 days.

You may also wish to burn some of the Blessing incense or frankincense resin daily to maintain the pleasant, clean, and positive atmosphere. You can also always add some of the spiritual cleansing mixture to your regular cleansing products so that every time you clean your house you are also spiritually cleansing it. This will help keep negativity from easily being able to build up into crossed conditions again. If your workplace is also affected by the negative energy, you can bring in some of the cleansing mixture dissolved into water and wipe down your work area, or put some of the mixture into a spritz bottle to spray around your office and even your aura if you feel yourself being adversely effected by an stressful energies there.

Between the 3 baths and the thorough house cleansing, you should notice a remarkable difference in the energies. Things should start moving freely again in your life! Once things are moving well again and you are successfully uncrossed, you may wish to consider doing some Protection work for yourself and your home to add a further layer of defense against negative conditions being able to take hold again. This is especially true if you are still having to deal with the situation &/or people that contributed to the crossing in the first place! But by taking control of the situation, you can take back your power, and get your life moving in the right direction again, with health, wealth, and love flowing easily into your hands.

Be aware, there are certainly some times when we are crossed up so badly that simple cleansing methods just aren’t getting the job done. If you are in a crisis, feel that it could be due to crossed conditions of some sort, and are unsure about how to proceed, or have had no luck with more simple methods of Uncrossing and cleansing, you may wish to contact a spiritual practitioner to have a
reading and consultation on the matter. Through divination, they will be able to look at your situation in an objective manner from a more energetic and spiritual perspective, and be able to provide you with a course of action which should prove effective. Feel free to contact me at Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop and Village Witchery to arrange for a consultation.