Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead

An arbitrary title given to an Egyptian funerary work called pert em hru, the proper translation of which is : ” coming forth by day,” or ‘” manifested in the light.”

There are several versions or recensions of this work, namely those of Heliopolis, Thebes and Sais, these editions differing only in as much as they were edited by the colleges of priests founded at these centres.

Many papyri of the work have been discovered, and passages from it have been inscribed upon the walls of tombs and  pyramids, and on sarcophagi and mummy-wrappings.
It is undoubtedly of extremely early date : how early it would indeed be difficult to say with any exactness, but in the course of centuries it was greatly added to and modified. In all about 200 chapters exist, but no papyrus has been found containing all these. The chapters are quite  independent of one another, and were probably all composed at different times. The main subject of the whole is the beatification of the dead, who were supposed to recite the chapters in order that they might gain power and enjoy the privileges of the new life.

The work abounds in magical references, and it is its magical side alone which wo can consider here. The whole trend of the Book of the Dead is thaumatin magic, as its purpose is to guard the dead against the dangers which they have to face in reaching the other world. As in most mythologies, the dead Egyptian had to encounter malignant spirits, and was threatened by many dangers before  reaching his haven of rest. He had also to undergo judgment by Ofiris, and to justify himself before being permitted to enter the realms of bliss. This he imagined he could in great part accomplish by the recitation of various magical formula?, and spells, which would ward off the evil influences opposed to him. To this end every Egyptian of means had buried with him a papyrus of the Book of  the Dead, in which was contained at least all the chapters necessary to his encounter with such formidable adversaries as he would meet at the gates of Amenti (q.v.), the Egyptian Hades, and which would assist him in making replies during his ceremony of justification.

First amongstthese spells were the ” words of power ” .

The Egyptians believed that to discover the ” secret ” name of a god was to gain complete ascendancy over him. Sympathetic magic was in vogue in Egyptian burial practice, for we find in Egyptian tombs of the better sort, paintings of tables laden with viands of several descriptions, the inscriptions attached to which convey the idea of boundless liberality. Inscriptions like the following are extremely common ” To the Ka or soul of so-and-so, 5,000 loaves of bread, 500 geese, and 5.000 jugs of beer.” Those dedications cost the generous donors little, as they merely had the objects named painted upon the wall of the tomb, imagining that their kas ox astral counterparts would be uneatable and drinkable by the deceased. This of course is merely an extension of the Neolithic savage conception that articles buried with a man had their astral counterparts and would be of use to him in another world.

Pictorial representation played a considerable part in the magical ritual of the Book of the Dead.

One of the pleasures of the dead was to sail over Heaven in the boat of Ra, and to secure this for the deceased one must paint certain pictures and mutter over them words of power.
On this, Budge in his Egyptian Magic says: ” On a piece of clean papyrus a boat is to be drawn with ink made of green abut mixed with anti-water, and in it are to be figures of Isis, Thoth, Shu, and Khepera, and the deceased; when this had been done, the papyrus must be fastened to the breast of the deceased, care being taken that it does not actually touch his body. Then shall his spirit enter into the boat of Ra each day, and the god Thoth shall take heed to him, and he shall sail about with him into any place that he wisheth. Elsewhere it is ordered that the boat of Ra be painted ‘ in a pure place,’ and in the bows, is to be painted a figure of the deceased; but Ra was supposed to travel in one boat (called Atet) until noon, and another (called Sektet) until sunset and provision
had to be made for the deceased in both boats. How was this to be done? On one side of the picture of the boat a figure of the morning boat of Ra was to be drawn, and on the other a figure of the afternoon boat; thus, the one picture was capable of becoming two boats. And, provided the proper offerings were made for the deceased on the birthday of Osiris, his soul would live for ever, and he would not die a second time. According to the rubric to the chapter in which these directions are given, the text of it is as old, at least, as the time of Hesepti, the fifth king of the 1st. dynasty, who reigned about B.C. 4350, and the custom of painting the boat upon papyrus is probably contemporaneous.

“1. ‘ This chapter shall be recited over a boat four cubits in length, and made of greenporcelain (on which “have been painted) the divine sovereign chiefs of the cities; and a figure of heaven with its stars shall be made also, and this thou shalt have made ceremonially pure by means of natron and incense. And behold, thou shalt make an -image of Ra in yellow colour upon a new plaque and set  it at the bows of the boat. And behold, thou shalt make an image of the spirit which thou dost wish to make perfect (and place it) in this boat, and thou shalt make it to travel about in the boat (which shall be made in the form of the boat) of Ra; and he shall see the form of the god Ra himself therein. Let not the eye of any man whatsoever look upon it, with the exception of thine own self, or thy father, or thy son, and guard (this) with great care.
Then shall the spirit be perfect in the heart of Ra, and it shall give unto him power with the company of the gods; and the gods shall look upon him as a divine being like unto themselves; and mankind and the dead shall fall down upon their faces, and he shall be seen in the underworld inthe form of the radiance of Ra.’

“2. ‘ This chapter shall be recited over a hawk standing and having the white crown upon his head, (and over figures of) the gods Tern, Shu, Tefnut, Seb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Suti, and Nephthys, painted in yellow colour upon a new plaque, which shall be placed in (a model of) the boat (of Ra), along with a figure of the spirit whom thou wouldst make perfect. These thou shalt anoint with cedar oil, and incense shall be offered up to them on the fire, and feathered fowl shall be roasted. It is an act of praise to Ra as he journeyeth, and it shall cause a man to have his being along with Ra day byday, whithersoever the god vayageth ; and it shall destroy the enemies of Ra in very truth regularly and continually.’ ”

It was understood that the words of power were not to be spoken until after death. They were ” a great mystery ” but ” the eye of no man whatsoever must see it, for it is a thing of abomination for every man to know it. Hide it, therefore; the Book of the Lady of the Hidden Temple is its name.” This would seem to refer to some spell uttered by Isis-Hathor which delivered the god Ra or Horus from trouble, or was of benefit to him, and it is concluded that it may be equally efficacious in the case of the deceased.

Many spells were included in the Book of the Dead for the purpose of preserving the mummy against mouldering, for assisting the owner of the papyrus to become as a god and to be able to transform himself into an)’ shape he desired. Painted offerings were also provided for him in order that he might give gifts to the gods. Thus, we see that the Book of the Dead was undoubtedly magical  in its character, consisting as it did of a series of spells or words of power, which enabled the speaker to have perfect control over all the powers of Amenti. The only moment in which the dead man is not master of his fate is when his heart is weighed by Thoth before Osiris. If it does not conform to the standard required for justification, he is cast out; but this excepted, an absolute knowledge  of the Book of the Dead safeguarded the deceased in every way from the danger of damnation. So, numerous are the spells and charms for the use of the- deceased, that to merely enumerate them would be to take up a good deal of space. A number of the chapters consist of prayers and hymns to the gods, but the directions as to the magical uses of the book are equally numerous, and the conception of supplication is mingled with the idea of circumvention by sorcery in the most extraordinary manner.


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Landmarks Of The Craft

Landmarks Of The Craft

Landmarks Of The Craft for your book of shadows. A landmark is a prominent feature used to mark the boundaries of real estate.

Therefore, these landmarks of the Craft are prominent features of the American Rite, or Druidic Craft of the Wise. 

Just as departing from the landmarks in real estate signifies that one has departed from that piece of land, so does departure from the landmarks of our Craft signify such a person or organization has departed from the correct defines of the Craft. Other branches of the Craft sometimes call this their “Law”.

The Landmarks

The landmarks were given to man by The Great God, Pan.

In the dim, dark ages of the past
For the rule and regulation of the wise,
To advise and help them in their troubles
And relations, one with the other,
That all might work and love together.

They are the Bill of Rights of each member,
And the code of operation of the Coven.
And are to be honoured by all
Or else they become meaningless and of little use,
And departure therefrom by any person or Coven
Shall be a departure from the rest of the Covens
Which constitute the American Rite.

And they shall be shunned, they from the rest of us,
And no further communication shall be established
Concerning things of the Craft
With either He or They until
They shall return to the fold of the Craft
In love and cooperation.

For the Gods love the Wise, the Brethren of the Way,
And so should we return that love.
But this can only be done and made manifest by love expressed
In deeds for the Brethren of the Craft,
Not in pride, but in cooperation and sincerity.

The Fellows Of The Craft

Any person, be male or female, who is of good mind
And free to decide for himself in good faith,
Who shall learn of the Craft and its Tenets,
And shall desire to follow the Way,
Shall be permitted to do so,
And none may say him “Nay”.

And the Gods will love him and look after him,
And they shall bless him on all things,
And his needs shall always be satisfied,
As he shall show forth love and affection
For all the brethren and sisters of the Craft,
And he shall obey the Admonishments
Of the Craft as to secrecy and correct living.

And when he shall desire to join the Craft,
And to follow the Way to Perfection,
He shall make his desires known to any member
Of the Priesthood.
And they shall observe his readiness and sincerity,
And shall then administer the rites of
Secrecy, which is sacredness and brotherhood.

But a Priest shall accept the Sister,
And a Priestess the Brother,
As an eternal reminder of
The duality of the Universe.
And a new name and secret mark
Shall be given each new fellow.

By this name, and under this mark,
Shall they be known among the members
Of the Craft, in love and harmony,
And their old name and identity shall not be known
Even among the members of their own Coven,
And none shall inquire for his name or his house
And he shall inquire these of none.

But the Gods have decreed that in joining the Rite,
Free Will and independence shall not be in jeopardy.
And he shall have the right to follow the Way.
Walking alone if he wills it that way,
Or with a Coven of living brethren
If he so shall choose;

And he shall have the right
To withdraw from any coven at any time
Without the need to say why,
If he shall so choose.

And this either for the purpose of joining another
Or to become solitary for his own reasons,
And there will be none to censure;

And he shall have the right to remain
In a certain Coven, and none shall say him “Nay”,
Or to attempt to force him to leave and depart;
Except that should he lose harmony with them
Then they may so decide
And he shall depart;

But no man shall have the right
To speak for the Craft,
And leaving one Coven does not mean
Leaving the Craft, or
Leaving the Way
And each is free, then, or at any time later,
To remain solitary
Or to seek admission to another Coven.

But let him and each other fellow of the Craft
Keep a book, and this shall be of the colours of the Craft,
That it may be readily recognized,
And here he shall keep all the Laws and Landmarks,
And the tenets of the Craft,
That he might not forget,
And if he do forget, that his mind might be
Renewed.

And in this book, all things shall be the mark
Of his own hand, and in ink,
That it shall be long lived.

Let each of the brothers and sisters
Copy what they will from the book,
Providing that they are of sufficient worthiness,
To receive it, and are of sufficient rank,
Or that the writings are of sufficient nature
As pertain to their own rank.

Never suffer this book out of hand or possession,
And never borrow the writings of another
To keep, but merely to copy.
And each shall guard and keep these writings,
As his most sacred possession
And destroy them when danger threatens.

However, should one be of sufficient power,
To remember his past as a wise man,
This book and other Craft artifacts,
May be buried in a stone box
Prepared for them from time to time,
And this in view of immediate death,
And the desire to save them for a future life.

Otherwise, on notice of impending death,
This book should be destroyed by fire,
As well as other things of the Craft,
Which one may possess.

But the wise man will have nothing around
Which has only a Craft use or meaning,
But only things which can be used in daily affairs.

If there is no reason to own a sword,
Then do not own one;
The white wand is just as powerful,
And less distinctive in the minds of the infidels.

If a white wand is too distinctive,
Then any old wand will do for the purpose
Of the ceremonies.

Have no names written and signs drawn
On anything permanently,
When necessary these can be written
In charcoal or chalk
And erased immediately without the telling of tales.

Let the knife have the shape of,
And be stored with the kitchen knives;
Let the cord be seen around the house,
And be used for a vulgar purpose,
In order to fool the infidels.

Never boast, never threaten, never brag
Of your powers; not even to the Craft,
Above all, never harbour ill thoughts toward another
For the power may make it happen for harm;
And never wish ill to anyone.
As it will occur.

If anyone speaks of the Craft, to down it,
Remember the Craft needs no defence,
For it has the Father and
All things will be as He wishes
In the end.

The Coven

And it shall be that any Fellow of the Craft,
Finding himself in a place where he knows of no Coven,
Or other Fellow of the Craft
Shall have the right, nay, even the duty,
To seek out such a Coven,
Or other Fellow of the Craft
Without censure.

Provided that he shall not reveal secrets to jeopardize
His former Coven or the members of it,
Or the Craft itself.

And two or three Fellows shall have the right
To meet and discuss subjects of Craft interest,
And to help each other along
On the Way to Perfection,
Except that Craft ceremonies
Must be done by the Priesthood.
Any five fellows who shall desire
To form a Coven may do so,
And they shall apply for a charter
To any High Priest or Priestess,
And they shall then select and choose
A man and a woman to lead them.

And their elected leaders shall be ordained by their High Priest,
And they shall choose two more,
A woman to be the deputy; to learn to be a priestess,
And a Scribe for their Coven.

But these shall not be ordained to the Priesthood,
Unless also qualified for another reason.

And this Coven shall belong to the High Priest,
And shall be answerable to him in all their doings,
Because they did owe their Priesthood to him,
And he shall act at all times in their interest
As their Spiritual Father in the Craft
So that he may lead them as they walk
The way to perfection.

But the newly appointed Priesthood,
Should it be lacking in the knowledge and wisdom needed,
For the positions to which they have been set apart
Then it shall be his responsibility as their High Priest,
To lead and instruct them,
Or cause it to be done by another.

But should the new Coven refuse to follow
The teachings and instructions of their Spiritual Father,
Then he may, at his discretion and Judgment,
Recall their charter, and their right to work as a Coven.
For that which one can give he may also retrieve,
And they shall not again meet,
Unless they can find another High Priest,
Who will assume responsibility over them.

It is the bound duty of the High Priest to preside, for all things must be presided over by the High Priesthood;

And should any Coven desire to change,
Their allegiance from one High Priest to another,
For any reason, even the loss of harmony,
Or if, in their considered opinion, their Spiritual Father
Is no longer spiritual, or serving the Father
Then they shall be re-ordained in the Priesthood
By the New High Priest, and this shall then
Have superseded the original ordinations,
And there shall be for them
A new Spiritual Father.

And if any Priest or Priestess, or other member of the Priesthood,
Find themselves in a place wherein there is no Coven for them to lead,
Then it is their bound duly to try to the extent of their Power
To find Fellows of the Craft
And organize them into a Coven.

And should they find that there are no other Fellows of the Craft,
In that place, but there are some of the same good bend of mind,
It is then their duty to teach them by word and deed,
Until there be sufficient to form a Coven,
And this shall be done under the supervision,
And with the knowledge of their High Priest,
Through which they received their ordination
And their Powers.

And they shall obligate, teach and initiate all the members of their Coven,
And they shall be theirs and they shall be to them
As elder brothers and sisters,
And shall care for them in all their affairs,
And not just at meetings,
For it is in this that the Craft differs
From all man-made institutions.

Should any member be absent, and love of the Priestess is such
That she shall continue to contact them in any manner
And by any method possible,
To tender them her loving care
At all times of sickness or stress.

And should any member move to a far city
The Priestess will continue to care for them
In love, by whatever method is available,
Until such time as they shall,
Of their own free will,
Obligate themselves to another Priestess.

And the Priestess shall at all times remember
That she is the direct representative of the Goddess to her Coven,
And the Priest is the direct representative of
The unknown God, the Father,
And both must act as such at all times.

Yet the Priestess shall have whomever she shall choose
As her Priest, be he of that rank, or qualified to be,
Or else another Fellow, who shall be called
her Magister.

And she must remember at all times that the man provides the power,
For the woman to direct, and so it is,
That the Priest resigns all his power over to her,
Yet it is not his power, nor hers to keep,
It is the power of God to use in the performance
Of the Work.
The Power of God is only lent to be used,
Wisely and Justly.

Both the members of the Priesthood shall remember their Spiritual Father,
At all times with gratitude, love, veneration and cooperation,
keeping constantly in contact, and acting with him in utmost harmony,
For they must always remember that the power
And wisdom which they use,
Comes to them through him.

In the days of old, ere the coming of Christendom,
The Craft was free and open in its ceremonies,
And entire states and nations worshiped the Gods
Freely and without restraint;

But in these unhappy days, we must remain secret,
And hold our rites and ceremonies in secret,
And there are those who will talk, even without torture,
Which loosens any tongue.

Then let it be ordained, heeded and supported by all
That no Coven shall know wherein
The next Coven shall abide, or who its members be,
Except only the Priestess, Magister and Deputy,
And even they shall not remember
Except for good and sufficient reason.

But, and if only, it should be safe, may the covens meet
In some safe place for festivals, and while there,
None may say whence they came, nor give their true names,
Or tell of where or when their meetings are, and
No secret things shall be spoken of
At these festivals for fear of Cowans and Eavesdroppers.

Let each Priestess govern her own Coven in justice and love,
Ever heeding the advice and instructions of her High Priest.
She will ever heed the complaints of the brethren
And strive to settle all differences between them with love.

But there are those who, in pride, will ever strive
To force their will upon others
But these are not necessarily evil
And will think that they do rightly.
Oft they have good ideas and such ideas
Should be discussed in council with their brethren.

But if they will not agree with their brethren,
Or if they say “I will not work under this Priestess”,
Then they shall have the right to withdraw from that Coven,
And work Solitary.
Or if five or more of them shall withdraw,
They shall have the right
To form another Coven under another Priestess.

Even as it shall be the right of any five or more persons of a Coven
To withdraw, and form a new Coven, for any reason whatever,
But they shall then utterly avoid the old Coven
In all things, as it shall then have ceased to exist for them.

The Book Of Shadows

Let every Coven of whatever rank
Keep a record in a book of black and silver,
And it shall contain, first, the Landmarks and Tenets,
Then a collection of Wisdom of the Craft,
The Rites and Ceremonies of the Coven
As well as the History of the Coven,
And its charter empowering it to work.

And a record of every meeting shall be written therein,
Together with a record of the doings of any member thereof
With the other side, or the Father, or
Any other thing which is for the teaching of all,
Even unto the listing of herbs and medicines
Spells and incantations and Rites
Which contain power for the use of man.

This book shall be kept by the Scribe,
And it shall be kept and approved by the Priesthood
And also the High Priesthood, when it shall come,
But no names or Craft secrets shall be written therein
That he Craft should not be betrayed
Should the book be taken by force,
Or slyness, by the infidels.

And when the coven shall disband,
It shall be the duty of the High Priesthood
To secure this book and make suitable disposition
That it might not endanger the Craft
Or any brother within it
As if the Coven were a person or Fellow
And the book were his book,
So let it be burned.

The Priesthood

The Mother, The seven Elder Children, and all the worlds,
Draw their power from the Father.

But the children of the Father are like the sands of the sea,
And He has ordained and set apart certain of his older children,
To help and assist Him in caring for the younger children,
And has given them the Power and the Wisdom to do so,
And these children constitute the Priesthood.

The Father will bestow this power upon whom he will, and none may say him”Nay”
Yet also may the Priesthood choose workers and helpers
And shall share their power with them,
And this is called ordination.

The Power of the Priesthood is that of the Father
And it is love unfeigned and sincere,
Compassion and gentleness and meekness,
Persuasion and long-suffering and kindness,
And there is no authority over the free will of men
Inherent in the Priesthood,
Nor to be assumed by the members of it.

And the Power of the Priesthood is the Power of God,
And the Power of God can never be wielded by an ungodly man,
Nor an evil man; nor the love of God by an unloving man;
And when the man becomes evil, the Power of God is withdrawn from him.

Nor can a member of the Priesthood be inactive,
For inactivity without cause is lack of love for the Father,
And this man’s priesthood shall depart from him
At the end of a year and a day,
For it is truth eternal,
That the thing which is unused will be taken away.

So if any Fellow of the Craft shall desire the Priesthood,
First let him learn to be a leader of men,
For a Priest with no following is no Priest,
And his Priesthood is in vain.

So therefore let the Fellow who would be a Priest
First learn the knowledge and wisdom he will need in the new appointment,
Then let him learn to lead men, and
When he shall either have been selected
As leader for his Coven,
Or when he shall have gathered up a Coven of his own,
Then let him apply for ordination.

And he shall apply to a High Priest, for it is written
That only the higher can ordain the lesser,
That there shall be an unbroken line
Of power and authority extending
Back through the line of ordination,
To the Father Himself.

And no man can ordain his peers,
For the Lord’s House is not a house of confusion,
So let not the line be broken
For it is the cable tow by which
Men are drawn from the lower
Up to the greater;-
An impossibility without it.

And each must work within their line of ordination
In perfect love and perfect trust,
With perfect harmony in all things,
But should they find that they fall out of harmony
With their line of ordination,
Then let him seek another, to be ordained of him
To be their new spiritual Father.

Let the Priesthood be a leadership of fact; not of fancy,
For those who have no following to lead,
Why are they in the Priesthood?

And so it is that they who lose or give away their following,
Or they who through inactivity have lost their power,
Or they who are not in harmony and love with their Spiritual Father;
Shall be retired from a rank to which entitled
Other than by leadership of men.

But this can only be done by he who ordained them,
For only those who give can take away,
Yet each High Priest is responsible that this is done.

Should any Fellow fain the Priesthood, and use it wisely and well,
The Gods have decreed that those who serve them
Shall prosper and grow in this life,
And shall gain eternal perfection
To be freed from the Wheel of Life,
And to become like unto the angels
In that they should be perfect.

For perfection is to be gained by love,
And there is no greater love than to
Lay down one’s life for his brethren
In their service and for their sake,
And the Father will reward them for
Their labour of love, because
He is not unjust.


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bouncy arrow

BELTANE MAY DAY

THE BELLS STORY

 

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Magical Yule Cards

Magical yule cards

Do you send out magical Yule cards to all your friends and family every year?

Then perhaps this magical craft idea will interest you.

Make handmade Yule cards. Use your imagination. Once they are all made, separate the cards into categories

Friends and family who need healing
Friends and family who need a financial boost
Friends and family who need protection
General Love

Match the four categories with your favourite incense, oils, and candle colour. Place the four piles of cards on your altar (stamped and ready to go), and say:

“Holy Mother (or divinity of your choice) I can upon thee. In your grace, please hear my petition of (love, success, protection, or healing) for those individuals who addresses lie here.”

Run the incense slowly over each pile, and say:

“In the name of (divinity) I cleanse and consecrate these cards. May they be vehicles of positive magic, and blessed by the Gods?”

Take your time with the incense so that the scent will permeate the paper. Light the candle colour of your choice and say the following verse seven times:

“Darkness to light
my wishes take flight
The Witch
The power
The flame.”

As you feel the energy building over the altar. Then, one pile at a time, focus on a pile saying the name of the category seven times. For example, repeating the word “love”. Allow your fingers to tingle your palms may grow warm. That’s fine. When you have finished with all four piles, hold your hands once again over the altar and say:

“Season’s Greetings
With Love in my heart
my gift to you
Is a magical art.
So mote it be.”

Seal the spell by drawing an equal armed cross (or pentacle, if it is your preferred power symbol) over the altar with your finger in the air. Thank Spirit in your own way. Then mail the cards.

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qw33222

A WITCHES INITIAL SUPPLIES

WAX DIVINATION

 

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Spell To Stop Harm Coming & Luck Jar

spell to stop harm coming

Spell To Stop Harm Coming & Luck Jar yet another few gems for you

Spell To Stop Harm

You need:

1 brown or maroon candle
2 blue candles
2 white candles
1 black candle
athame (or other ritual knife)
sage for smudging (optional)
Your brown or maroon candle should be towards the back of the altar, but close to the middle.
Your black candle should be immediately in front of it (in the center of the altar), your blue candles on the sides of the black candle (one on each side next to it, but about 3 to 6 inches spread apart), and your white candles should be directly in front of your blue candles (also about 3 to 6 inches in front of them). So you have your basic star pattern.

Cast your circle. Light the candles

Now you have cast the circle, place the blade of your athame into the fire of the black candle and chant:

“Hail to the gods and the goddesses of the earth, Please help stop physical harm from coming to (name).
I Thank thee.”

Do this to the black, then the maroon or brown, then the left blue, left white, right white, then right blue.
THEN, hold your athame straight up and say it again. As if you were pointing at the sky.

Now, do the whole chant again just like before, but replace “physical with emotional, then with mental, and so on…
Then point your tool in front of you, say “blessed be”, point to the left, behind you (turn around), and to the right, then point it up.
You are done.


LUCK JAR

spell to stop harm coming

If you are unlucky enough to break a mirror, collect all the pieces,
put in a glass jar and stand on you window sill, the shards deflect all the bad luck away from the house.


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qw33222

THE DRUM

PSYCHOMETARY

 

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Cerridwens Cauldron

Cerridwens cauldron

Cerridwens Cauldron is very interesting. Cerridwen is the Welsh crone, “the bent white one.”

Her name shows she’s amoon-goddess. This Crone keeps the cauldron of inspiration and transformation.

What exactly is this cauldron? In Celtic myths, several cauldrons appear, as John and Caitlin Matthews note in Encyclopaedia of Celtic Wisdom. These include the Dagda’s food-cauldron that leaves no one unsatisfied, Diwrnach’s cauldron that will not serve cowards, Cerridwen’s cauldron of knowledge and inspiration and Bran’s cauldron from which warriors are reborn – a cauldron that in Greek myth belongs to Medea, a priestess of Hecate.

The cauldron thus combines many levels:

physical sustenance, an emotional test, intellectual knowledge and spiritual rebirth. Into the cauldron the Crone throws many things, to mix and stew and come out changed. As the Matthews note, the Celts, from a land of bogs, their houses built in some places on stilts, might well have had a creation myth in which they sprang from a cauldron.

This cauldron is a traditional accoutrement of crones, and in it brews knowledge and rebirth. Meditation on rebirth is appropriate at the last harvest, the beginning of winter. At the time of death we most fervently hope to be reborn.

Cerridwen, the Great Sow, is also the White Lady, ruling death as well as inspiration. It makes sense too that she is a mistress of rebirth; through her, Gwion Bach becomes Taliesen.

Cerridwen has three children, including the dark and ugly boy Afagddu.

Worried Afagddu can’t make his way on looks; she sets a cauldron of knowledge to brew for him for a year and a day and gets young Gwion Bach to guard it.

But toward the end of the year, three drops spurt out and fall on Gwion’s finger, burning him, and he sticks it in his mouth. Those three drops hold all the brew’s potency; the rest is poison. As soon as he sucks his finger Gwion foresees all and runs away.

Cerridwen sees what’s happened and gives chase. Gwion changes to a hare Cerridwen to a greyhound; he to a fish in the river, she to an otter-bitch.
He turns to a bird, and she to a hawk stooping above him. Seeing a pile of winnowed wheat, he transforms to a grain in the heap, but she becomes a black hen and swallows him. Each change to a pair of totem animals in this cycle represents a season. Nine months after Cerridwen swallows Gwion, she bears him as a child.

He’s so beautiful she can’t kill him, so she sends him in a leather bag out to sea. The heretofore luckless Elphin catches the bag in a weir while seeking salmon. Disappointed, he takes the child home with him, naming the boy Taliesen (radiant brow). On the ride, Taliesen consoles him with verse, describing his provenance and Cerridwen, “a smiling black old hag, when irritated/Dreadful her claim when pursued,” as R.J. Stewart quotes in Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses.

This smiling hag is the Mistress of Awen, the flowing energy of the Druids, and Taliesen’s later poems sing of her lyrically.

But to receive divine inspiration, Taliesen has to endure death and rebirth, lying nine months in the belly of the Goddess. By her cauldron and womb he is transformed. If Hecate is a traveller, connected with the wild night, Cerridwen for all her moon-face is a hearth-goddess, stirring a heady brew. It’s easy in the Taliesen myth to see her as villainess, but Taliesen himself sang her praises. As goddess of the hearth, she is both the wise grandmother stoking the brands and the fire itself. For wisdom, for rebirth, you must feel this fire, stew in her cauldron a while. Cerridwen beckons you through the smoke.


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