Teenagers and Witchcraft: Exploring a Magickal Path On Their Own

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I was recently asked to contribute to a project for Denofgeek.com relating to teenagers and teaching them in the magickal arts. As an educator in both the mundane and the spiritual, this topic has been something I have written and talked about for years. I just never really touched it on my blog, however I thought it would make a perfect follow up to my last post and all the hype over the Sephora bullshit.

One of the concerns that a few had with this “Witch Kit” was that it was easily accessible to teens and that it wasn’t teaching them anything. Despite, how much I could write on that whole topic, the kit is a dead issue.

When I was about eleven years old I began my training in the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca and at thirteen years old I found myself standing naked among my coven mates being initiated. Although, this experience was uncomfortable as a teenager, it allowed me to understand its meaning of birthing into a new way of life. Although, I have walked on from my initial Wiccan teachings, I am grateful of their beginnings and having the privilege of being raised in a magickal environment. However, many children and teenagers do not have this same luxury. Even the ones that do, many of their teachers are their parents or a family member, who only follow one tradition. This was the case with me as well. It was my Aunt who had helped me begin my magickal journey. Unfortunately, I was forced to learn only her tradition and was given no room to explore in fear of being removed from the coven. It was this experience that later resulted in writing “The Little Witch’s Curriculum” (Hopefully to be released in 2019). Although, the book is mainly geared toward the parents of young children, the concepts would also work for teenagers. This is all fine and dandy for those already in a magickal household. But, what about those who are not, where do they go to learn, who do they turn to?

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To the surprise of many there is no “Hogwarts” or “Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies”. So, where is a budding teenage Witch go to learn? The truth is “NO WHERE!” well not in the sense of a traditional school or place of learning, Sadly, many teens have to turn to books, and dare I say it …the Internet. Many of the Witchcraft and magickal traditions only offer courses and training that is geared toward adults and in some cases young adults, leaving teens to the hopes that there is a local metaphysical store or center in their neighborhood that they can sneak too now and then. These learners are left with no real hands-on experiences with other like minded Witches and mentors. They have to explore and dabble on their own. Not that that is all bad, many have us had to do it that way. But, that doesn’t mean it’s right and fair. This vital spiritual exploratory age is left out. I feel that one reason that this is, is because this can be an area that many teachers and organizations are afraid of the backlash of consent. Teenagers are still minors, where many of them have to hide their interest from their parents and will have to forgo the idea of a commitment to a curriculum. Then there are also funds, many places that offer spiritual education charge a fee, which leave these magickal explorers on their own. Having to save up birthday money to secretly purchase Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch or Ellen Dugan’s Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens on the families next outing to the mall’s bookstore. Although, these are great books they are missing the element of hands-on learning when not in the presence of a real teacher or group setting.

The only ones who have this opportunity are the children who are being raised in a magickal or open-minded household. Where they are able to participate in home or group rituals and gatherings. However, even in these circumstances, I have found that the children are only taught what the parent knows and follows. They are often not given the means to explore on their own. It’s at no fault of the parent, they can only teach in their own state of knowledge. I have discussed before, here and in my classes, the importance of allowing children to explore their own path of spirituality rather than dictating to them one’s beliefs and paths. Which is why in my “Little Witch” classes I give parents the means to give children opportunities to explore spirituality on their own, while laying down general Pagan and Witchcraft foundations. This of course this has nothing to do with one’s family cultural and traditional “ways of knowning” or belief structure, in these cases I feel it is important to extend that knowledge and linage to child’s education.

So, to any of the well-known schools of magick I employ you to rethink your courses to include teenagers, young adults and even the “Little Witches”. FYI, I have a great curriculum already written. LOL.

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Many children who find themselves in Pagan settings often are not given the opportunity to choose their spiritual upbringing. Just like in many Christian homes, they are predestined to receive a Wiccaning and other rites of tradition. In many cases, these seem to be more for the parents rather than the child and might do more harm than good for one’s personal path of exploration. This is one reason I myself will never perform such rites. I will, however, gladly perform a child blessing or an introduction to the elements and universal energies. These initial ceremonies help the child’s own spirit or higher-self open up to the various energies found in spirituality. They also allow the child to choose their own path of spirituality in the future. In many traditions, earth-based and not, what tends to follow next is certain rites of passage and then later, a type of initiation into the parent’s coven or group. Usually, by then these children have already made up their mind if they are going to follow their parents’ tradition or not. They just don’t voice their choice against their parents’ wishes.

Going back to our teenagers of non-magickal households, these children are left to only self-initiate into a tradition out of a book, seemly one written for adults. The only options out there are for those who have been “fortunate” enough to be born into a Pagan spirituality or are able to get their hands on a book to follow, despite the prying eyes and ears of a concerned parent. We as a community need to be a little more willing to extend ourselves in teaching to those who are exploring a spirituality or magickal tradition. Who are we to question whether or not a teenager’s gateway opened up from watching a movie or a beauty store, we should accept with open arms that no matter how they got there, that it was the universe that has placed these children on their current path.

A Witch at Home: Floor Washes

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I normally do not post or give away any of my personal magickal secrets. However, so many people have asked me what I did upon moving into my new home for cleansing and purification, other than using sage and your typical products. So, I decided to talk about floor washes and for the first time ever post a recipe from my book of shadows.

The use of floor washes is what I would call the tried and true traditional Witchcraft. They are a common part of spiritual cleansing and are usually found in many old-world magick and Conjure traditions. Spiritual floor washes are especially found within the Hispanic and Latin American spiritual cultures, and in Hoodoo/Rootwork and folk magick of the Afro-American cultures. Whereas, the practice of washing an area with a specially prepared herbal mixture will bring out the magickal properties of the herbs and add to the desired intention. They are often used for such things as to attract love, luck, and money but can also be used for banishing and protection.

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How are washes used?

There are more ways to use floor washes then there are the traditions that use them. Typically, they are used after all mundane cleaning has been done. Floor washes are not just used on the floors of your home. They can be and should be used to wash windows, walls, and doors. The direction or start of the wash depends on the intention of the floor wash. In the case of cleansing and banishing, one would start at the back and top of the home and end at the front door. Many traditional practitioners feel the front door should also be washed from top to bottom and in some cases the porch and sidewalk. Cleaning everything along the way in a counter-clockwise direction. Some traditions ask that certain candles, oils, and prayers be used after the work is done. After everything has been cleaned the left-over water is disposed of toward the east or at specific places, such as a four-way crossroads.

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How are washes made?

Most Traditional or original floor washes were made with only three ingredients. Due to modern homes having multiple types of surfaces more ingredients and have been added. Others have been added over the years due to personal choice and tradition. The earliest floor washes were made by mixing salt with some form of cleaning agent such as ammonia or lye, and a variety of herbs. Some older recipes required the mixing in of urine. These items were/are all added in a magickal fashion to a bucket of water.

 

General formula for making a floor wash

  • Boil all of the ingredients for 20 minutes in 1 quart of water.
  • Allow the liquid mixture to cool.
  • Add 1 cup of ammonia to the liquid mixture.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Spiritual Water such as Florida water.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a glass storage bottle until ready to use.

Recipe for banishing old or harmful energies in a home

Although, the basics of this recipe was given to me many years ago by an old friend’s mother, I have altered it over the years to fit my personal tastes or rather my personal smells.

2 cups water

4 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 cup rosemary

1 cup Sea salt or Epson salt (not as harsh on floors than other salts)

1 cup Pine Needles

1 cup White Sage

1/2 cup Clove

1/2 cup Basil

1/2 cup Bay Laurel

10 Cinnamon Sticks

1 cup vinegar or ammonia

Go away evil oil (or any bansihing oil) added to bottom of the storage jar

Add all herbs to the water and boil for 10 min, allow to seep for 2 hours. Solid ingredients may be strained out before or during first use. Add to bottle with oil on the bottom. allow to cool. Add vinegar or ammonia. Close the jar and store before use.

Note: Floor Washes can also be used as sprays if you have carpet. Your floors should be physically cleaned before being spiritually cleansed.

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A Witch at Home: Outdoor Altars and Shrines

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There is a reason why my posts and I have been M.I.A. I have picked up my broom (which still needs to be fixed and saged) and moved to the Pocono mountains. The move has taken a lot of my time, with unpacking and organizing. So now that my altar, office, and most of the house has been put in place I can start focusing on my projects again. Thanks to the non-stop raining here all that’s really left to do is to find a home for the outside altars. Hekate was very vocal about where her altar should be. Oshun has chosen her spot next to the creek that runs right through the property and the ancestors have chosen a knotted-up apple tree as their home. Although, the places have been set, they need to be fed and awaken to the energies and relics need to be placed.

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With this on my mind, I thought this would be a perfect time to write a post about outside altars and shrines.

Before we discuss a few ways to set up outdoor sacred spaces, lets take a look at the basics of what they are.

There is a slight deference in what an altar is and what a shrine is. A shrine is a sacred place, which can be dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, or similar figure of respect, where they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain statues, relics, or other special objects associated with whom the shrine is for. Shrines are found in many of the world’s religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Pagan traditions. They can be found in almost every setting, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in and outside of the home. It is a sacred place that is dedicated to its resident. Prayers, blessings, and respect are the main focus for shrines, no other work is usually done at a shrine. If offerings are made or any other type of spiritual work is done, then it would be considered an altar.

An altar is any structure upon which offerings are made, ceremonies are held and is usually consecrated for spiritual purposes. Just like shrines they can contain statues, relics, or anything related to its specific workings.

Building a Permanent Outdoor Altar/Shrine

When first building your outside altar or shrine, be sure to ask its resident(s) where they would like to be placed. Begin by quieting your mind, relax open yourself up to the specific energies or call out to whom you are trying to connect with. Next turn slowly, notice if there is one particular direction that pulls or speaks to you. Walk in this direction, slow and deliberate. Pay close attention to shifts in energies and whether you are drawn one way or another.  Look and listen for signs or messages. Always ask for a confirmation.

Remember when constructing an outdoor altar or shrine keep in mind that the conditions around the area that has been chosen. Your altar’s area may become wet, flood, or have strong cross winds. If possible take consideration to these conditions. You also want to be able to safely access the altar, if the location is not safe, ask the resident for another location because it is unsafe or un accessible.

If you’re lucky to live in a wooded area and want to make a stone altar, but there are no rocks in to be found you will have to carry your rocks. As with any altar, you will want to try to use objects that are native to the area. You also want to make sure that your materials won’t harm the wild and plant life around. If you also plan to leave offerings, be mindful not to leave something that could be harmful.

Once the area is set, it should be dedicated in however your tradition calls for or how and what you feel is necessary.

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Guided Meditation: The Astral Travel Test

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After twenty plus years of being a Witch I have accumulated over ten journals, four of which are the traditional Book of Shadows. My first two have long been dismantled over time since my “little Witch” days. The remaining journals are used for my other spiritual practices, one for journeys and vision quests, meditations, and dreams. Another for ancestral work, two others are used only for specific deity and path work and the others are used for general magickal journaling. I also keep an ever-growing herbal reference book. This does not include all the uncategorized information on my computer. Journaling has become a huge part of my spiritual journey in Witchcraft and other magickal practices through the years. It has also been a lifesaver in my muggle world as well. I found that journaling during the hard-teenage years had helped me understand who I was. As a young gay man keeping a record of my thoughts and emotions had become therapeutic as I started to come out of the closet.

If you are already accustomed to keeping a daily diary, then magickal journals should be an additional easy habit to acquire. Most journal entries need not be wordy or even detailed; often, a single line entry such as “dreamt of a bear and the date” will be sufficient. When it comes to your book of shadows, more details and information might be warranted, especially when writing rituals and spells out. Many modern Witches keep a more detailed record, listing all pertinent information regarding one’s set-up, time and date, results and outcomes, and any other conditions they feel are important. Just as anything else in your spiritual journey the choice is yours and doing what you feel is right for you. In my newest book, “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum” explores a full two weeks of journal keeping and the benefits of doing so. Which also carries over into another two weeks of recording experiences of various journeys into other worlds. One way of journeying that the reader can experience is through astral travel.

In simple terms all astral traveling is, is a spiritual journey within the material world. This means that through an altered state our spirit travels through our world to a location where we can retrieve information and so much more. However, this cannot happen overnight, through practice the information you will receive will be clearer more detailed. In “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum” we explore this practice through guided meditation to lay the foundation of astral travel. In this guided meditation we will visit a chosen area using our astral self to test your accuracy of.

Before beginning this guided meditation, choose an indoor location that is close to your home that you have never been before. Have a glass of water and some type of food high in carbohydrates near the area you are working.

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Astral Travel Guided Meditation

This is best lying down at your regular altar or somewhere that is comfortable and where you can relax.

Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open. With closed eyes keeping them at a centered gaze. Count yourself slowly down from ten to one breathing slowly and regularly.

Begin to feel your energy throughout your body.

Visualize with intention your energy releasing from your body and taking form of yourself.

With eyes closed, look around the room take a mental note of items of interest. This will help you return.

Now thinking of the location, you wish to visit, count down from five; visualize your outer self-leaving the room.

This may be done any way you choose. Allow your intuition to direct you into the correct direction.

When you arrive at your location, look around taking note of items of interest, colors, sounds, building layout, and anything that you might need to remember. Collect as much information as you can.

Begin to return in the direction you arrived from. Slowly begin to feel yourself back in your room. Allowing your energy self to meld back into your physical body.

Recalling from the mental notes taken before become aware of what is around you.

When ready open your eyes. Ground as needed. Drink and eat to help ground.

 

While eating write down all that you sensed and seen in a journal. Remembering as much as you can, draw the layout of the building and items you saw on your journey. Do not worry about filling in what you have not seen or cannot remember. When possible, but not too long of a wait, travel physically to the location and compare notes. Keep in mind you will not receive a hundred percent on this “test”, but with practice you will get closer each time.

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Personal Power Rangers: Children and The Use of Magick and Spells

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A child’s imagination can take them to worlds we can only dream about, and for some adults that does not even happen. The possibilities are endless if we let a child play and allow them to take on the roles they choose. A perfect example of this, is after a child watches their favorite TV show or movie and for the week following that child will “be” and act out the scenes and characters they saw. As adults, we see the child flailing around or punching the air and think they really have lost it this time. But in the child’s mind they are creating wind with super powers or beating up a monster. The one thing we forget is they are actually seeing this happen. Sound familiar? If you are well versed in spell craft and Witchcraft, this is exactly what we as Witches do. What the children are actually doing is tapping into their personal power without even knowing it. Children are full of magick and they actually know how to use it. They just lack the information behind the magick. It’s up to adults to teach them this information and how to wield this power properly. Some may argue that a child does not have the will to create change because they are missing the intent. Bull dinkies!  When the child is making a pretend dinner for you, they are not only imagining the ingredients and items they are “using”. They are preparing it with love and envisioning the ways that you will enjoy it. Though it is in its most basic element, this is intent. When children have a pre-notion of an idea or outcome and combine it with the unconditional love that children possess, this is intent at its purest form.

Role-playing is an excellent opportunity for introducing the fundamentals of person power, magickal theory, and meditation. It can take children to places they are unlikely to visit such as the moon or under the sea where they can meet dragons, animals or even Batman. The possibilities are endless to the child’s imagination and for parents to find magickal “teaching moments”.

A few months ago, my “spiritual” nephew was having some trouble with another child in his class. What made it even worse for him, was that him and his teacher clashed in personality, so there was no support in what he was going through with his classmate. It had gotten so bad for him, emotionally that he didn’t care about his studies. Now, before you go into “TAKE ACTION” mode, from an adult point of view, this was more of an everyday normal social interaction that all children go through and not an aggressive bullying situation. However, my nephew can sometimes put his emotions forward and let certain things have a deeper meaning than others. The fact that I live with my “spiritual” sister and her children in our own little “Witchy” commune as we like to call it, magick is a part of everyone’s life in the household. So, we decided what better than to use this opportunity as a magickal teaching moment and together we would write a spell to help him with his situation. This of course would not only help him with his current situation, both by adding a little needed magickal push and to give emotional support to himself, but it would also help in his magickal studies.

We elected to perform his spell during a full moon ritual, in that way he can harness the power of strength and emotion, rather than using the current times waxing moon of growth. Although, the spell was written as a group effort, he would have the chance to perform the spell all on his own.

If you plan to do this spell with your child, allow them to do as much as possible, of course, this all depends how far they are in their magickal studies.

Sweet Water Bottle Spell for Children

Items Needed: Paper, Pen, A Small Bottle filled with water w/ tight fitting lid, Sugar

Have the child write down the names of people bothering your child, explain to them to picture in their mind these people leaving them alone and to see themselves have a good day at school or another place involved. Have them keep writing the names over and over until the paper is filled. Do this on both sides of the paper. When the paper is completely full.

Say:

“_____names___, your words cannot hurt me,

Your thoughts can not harm me.

You cannot harm me!!!”

Next, have them add the sugar to the water and say:

“From now on ____names___,

Will say nothing but sweet words about me.”

 

Lastly, fold the paper 3 times (you may seal it with wax) and say:

“With the energy of the moon I fix this spell,

For the good of all and with harm to none.”

“So, mote it be!”

Drop it in the water, close the bottle tightly, and shake it.  The child may shake it whenever they feel that they need to have these people who names are written be sweeter to them. Keep the bottle until the paper has completely dissolved.

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Hekate: Our Lady of Liberty and The Detained Children

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The inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

These lines come from a poem called “The New Colossus”, which was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 as a donation to help raise money for the base of the statue. The entire sonnet that was written reads as:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Now, it’s rare that I will post about anything political on my blog, if at all, and I am still not going to, but this one is more about the simple humanity and the treatment of children. For the last few days I’ve been having this ringing in my ear to petition Hekate about the children being detained at the Mexican border without their families. Then upon waking this morning and reading a post on Facebook by fellow Witch, Mat Auryn, who had posted a prayer to Hekate concerning the same subject matter (as well as Emma Lazarus’ poem, which I saw after starting this post, coincidence, think not). At that moment I knew what I had to do. So, I lit her candles and spoke away. After reciting Mat’s prayer (with a few personal alterations), she gave me this message:

“We are all, I am all, go forth and stand behind my blade and I will light the torch of freedom.”

Although, I am a devotee of Hekate and much of my practice revolves around her, I don’t claim to be an expert or even come close to the knowledge, scholarly or otherwise that others may have. I let her guide me to where I need to be at particular times and when working with her it’s not until after that I find out that what she has guided me to is within tradition, history, and practice. She also tends to not let me sway from things that she wants me to do or needs me to do. Point in case the petition for the children being separated from their families, which has also led me to writing this post and how the Statue of Liberty can be seen as a modern depiction of Hekate in these distressed times we find ourselves. This of course is not to deter from the artists’ inspiration from the Roman Goddess of freedom, Libertas, but to help refocus our collective minds to Hekate’s message via common symbol of hope and freedom.

Over the years, I’ve come across a few mentions that the Statue of Liberty is reminiscent of the image of Hekate. Whereas, both carries a torch, are adorned with a rayed crown, and are dressed in a traditional Roman/Greek gown. The similarities are not only in appearance but in meaning as well. Hekate is known as a guiding light to those lost, the opener of doors, and as the guardian of the threshold, all of which is also can be seen in the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty as well. The Statue of Liberty was at the threshold of America, where she opened the doors to wealth and happiness and became the light to many in the search of freedom. This makes “Our Lady of Liberty”, Our Lady Hekate who “will light the torch of freedom”.

“Hail unto the many named mother of the gods whose children are fair!

Hail unto Hekate of the Threshold!

Kourotrophos, comfort the children!
Phylakê, watch and protect them and their families!
Propylaia, open the gates and cell doors!
Propolos, guide them back to reunion!
Enodia, ensure that the journey is safe!
Phôsphoros, unite your torch with Libertas’!
Damnodamia, oppress the oppressors and remove them from positions of power!
Brimo, show your wrath against those who would demand or enforce ripping children from their parents to put them in cages!

Hail unto the many named mother of the gods whose children are fair!

Hail unto Hekate of the Threshold!

Prayer Written by Mat Auryn used by permission.

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An Excerpt From “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum”: Daytime Magick

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As the sun began to touch the tip of the mountains the drumming began again, the cries of the sacred drummers seemed to echo around us. I could feel the energy of the day to come pounding through my body. The fire that sent our prayers the night before was still raging in anticipation of the ceremony ahead. At this point I have not slept since we started, but the primal forces running in our camp kept me going. All through the night we prayed, we sang, calling on the spirits of the land. I watched as the poles were chosen, preyed upon, cut, preyed upon again and then placed in the ground. The smoke of burning sage never died away unless it was replaced with the sweet smell of mother earth’s hair. Although, I was not going to have the privilege of being a part in the ceremony or would even be able allowed to watch it as it unfolds. I did get a chance to see the dancers partake in some of their own private preparations. As much as I understood why I could not attend one of the most sacred ceremonies of my tribe, I still felt some disappointment. I held on to the satisfaction in knowing that the knowledge I had received from my elders about the Sundance was unlike any other that I would find anywhere else or by anyone.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to witness many different sun-based ceremonies and rituals, in part or in participation, all have been “spirit” opening and spirit learning. There is something completely different in the energy, the flow, and the meaning when working with the sun. My first ever experience, outside of a Wheel of the Year celebration, was when I was a “little Witch” and attended a Wiccaning that was being held just after the Summer Solstice. It was here that everything I had been taught seemed to be put into question for the first time. This Wiccaning was very different than I had learned about. The focus was on a god and not a goddess and utilized the sun and not the earth. This was the first time I had ever heard about “drawing down the sun” being done in a ritual or even at all. This was one of the first times during my initial training that my “why” brain screamed “whoa! Hold on just a moment?” After learning so much about the Goddess being first in everything, I now saw that there was room for the God to move forward and be the center of attention. It was not until years later that I experienced first-hand and participated in a “drawing down the sun” rite at a Beltaine celebration in New York City. Being part of this circle and learning the structure of the ritual was life changing. We can learn so much from another’s traditions and from experiencing things outside of our own.

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In “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum”, this chapter explores the magick of the Sun and how to work with its energies. Each week deals with a time of day and each day explores a different aspect of Witchcraft in a traditional curriculum style. Whereas each day has activities to foster spiritual growth.

Examples of Daily Activities Found in “The Modern Witch’s curriculum”

Sunday
Make a list of what the sun means to you spiritually and how you feel at sunrise. The sun can mean a lot to different people, memories of summer on a beach, fishing on a lake as a child or the evening sun glistening on a snow-covered tree. The times and memories we associate with the sun excite and vitalize us. Even during the dark days of winter or after a long rainy week we crave the warm rays of the sun, this not just a physical craving, but a spiritual one as well. The sun plays a major role in spirit and our spirituality. Depending on tradition, it can mean more for an individual Witch. Today, write out a list of your own personal and your traditions meaning of the sun. Just as with the moon we can also be affected by the phases of the sun, this week we will track these feelings to access our magickal time of day.
Friday
Study and learn the herbs, oils, and crystals associated with the sun. Create an incense for working with the sun. Planetary correspondences and their magickal properties can be an overwhelming and difficult practice. There are thousands of plants and natural items that are associated with the sun as a planet, as gods, or as a type of energy. Figuring out which is which can discourage any Witch. Some herbs have a connection to the sun because of its color, growth cycle, and so many other factors. To narrow your studies down I recommend looking into the teachings of your tradition or cultural beliefs and practices.

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