Tag Archives: magick

Animal Totems

For many pagans, animals and insects act as spiritual guides and protectors. Many different animals show up at various points in our lives to deliver messages from the Universe, and to help guide us along our paths. By studying the spiritual and instinctual behaviors of the animals that appear to us we can learn much about ourselves, and our journey in life.

The best book I have come across for information on animal and insect totems is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  The info presented within the text is extremely helpful on a personal level, and can also be used by pagan writers seeking guidance for characters and/or plotlines.

Here are few of the animals we see most often in city dwellings, and their attributes.

(Information is taken from “Animal Speak” and various internet sources.)

The hummingbird represents tireless joy. They teach how to draw the life essence from nature and to use it for healing. As the only bird that can fly backwards, hummingbirds teach you to explore your past lessons and draw the happiness from the experiences, instead of despair. They are fiercely independent – they like to be alone and free except for when mating. Those with this totem have to be careful not to become completely antisocial.

Skunk teaches us how to comprehend a warning. Many times in life our instinct can foresee trouble ahead, but our mind gets in the way and inhibits this knowledge. By watching and learning from skunk, we learn how to honor that part of ourselves which like the skunk, gives us many warnings before an actual problem or disaster develops. When a skunk appears in our life it could very well be our intuition sending us a signal of imminent danger or caution.

In its travels, no matter where a pigeon ends up or how it gets there, it knows the way home. It never gets lost, for even when it is unsure of its surroundings, the bird listens to the rhythm of the earth, smells the power and hints in the air, and can find its way back to where it belongs. Pigeon teaches us of security, and how to make a home of our own. We learn to use all of our senses in an equal and balanced manner, to guide us on our path to wholeness. Set your sights and attention on your goals, visualize exactly where you want to be in your life, and trust your instincts to guide you there.

Hawk medicine unties Heaven and Earth, and allows us to hear the messages from the Universe and our spirit guides. The hawk shows us how to integrate these messages into our lives, as well as aligning the upper chakras to their highest potential. A hawk appearing suddenly in your life may signify the need to release issues from the past that no longer serve you. Hawks are known for their superior eyesight, and those with totem are encouraged to pay attention to details, to view each situation in its entirety.

The magic of the dragonfly inhabits both water and air, and brings in the influence of passion balanced with mental clarity. The dragonfly pushes us to move past illusions, to see the true colors of every situation. When the dragonfly appears, be ready for serious yet joyful transformation to take place in your life, generally in cycles of two days, weeks, months, or years.

In the Beginning…

In a time when the world was at its end, there lived a Great Queen whose name meant “honor.” Her blood was made from the sweat of stars, and she lived fire and breathed the ocean’s depths.

She taught the people of love and life, of hardships and forgiveness, of truth and apathy. And when the time came for her to take a place among the Fallen, she was greatly mourned. A sadness fell over the land as the last light the people had known twinkled out into the darkness which covered them, and the earth was still.

The darkness grew, and soon her name was lost in the blackness and chaos which ruled the earth. The people spread across the land like locusts, the anger and grief they felt inside hiding the trust and security they’d known, and before long they began to devour each other in their confusion. A time without measure eased along the horizon, quiet in its progress and cold in its passing.

When the pinpricks of light suddenly pierced through the black and the sulfur scent began to lift, no one noticed. But as the land began to heal itself and green stalks fought through the pestilence and tar, the tears of the Grateful nourished the earth. The Queen’s echoes were felt, and the people began to speak of a time which no one remembered but all knew to be true. Their skin sang, muscles hummed; their bones kept rhythm. The moments changed direction, warmth and calm embraced them.

And in the footprints of the Forgotten, life began anew.

Goddesses of Love and Inspiration

February is usually considered to be just about love and romance because of Valentines Day, but with the pagan celebration of Imbolc, the month is truly a time for creativity and inspiration. Here is a list of related Goddesses and basic info for those looking to plan out rituals and spells this month. This short list can also aid those writing new sensual stories with Pagan themes! Look up some of the myths of these Goddesses and let them inspire you.

Aphrodite – Greek goddess of love and war. Daughter of the sea, Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, love, and pleasure. Though she rules marriages and the love within them, she is also the goddess of illicit affairs. Thought to have originated from the Mesopotamian goddesses Astarte and Ishtar, Aphrodite has been associated with war and battles. She teaches dedication and love of the self, and is known for her quick and sometimes unscrupulous responses to petitions (remember it was Her response to a petition that was the basis of the Trojan War!) Her symbols are the ocean, doves, apples, roses, and the mirror.

Brigid – or Brigit, Brighid, Bride: Irish goddess of the Sacred Flame. Brigid is a threefold goddess, each one her faces representing her dominion over poetry, healing, and smithcraft. Called the Great Goddess, she is keeper of the holy wells and rivers of healing and rebirth, as well as the sacred flames of creativity and inspiration. Her festival Imbolc is celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, when sacred bonfires are kept burning all evening long to call forth the sun from hiding. Brigid is the mother of inventions and craftsmanship, the wise woman of healing, as well as the patroness of poets and priestesses. As Christian thought invaded the ancient world, thegoddess Brigid was morphed into Saint Brigid of Kildare.

Ch’ang O – Chinese goddess of the moon. Ch’ang O and her husband were banished from heaven and forced to become mortal and live on the earth. Seeking to return to her place of glory, Ch’ang O took a full dose of an immortality pill meant for both her and her husband. She floated to the moon, destined to spend eternity alone. During the moon festival in China, women pray to Ch’ang O to bring them their soul mate. Ch’ang O is offered sweet foods and incense, and the hare is her sacred animal.

Lajja Gauri, also Aditi – Hindu goddess of the sky. Her name means “free,” “unbound,” or “limitless.” Ancient art throughout India  shows Lajja Gauri as a lotus-headed goddess, naked and adorned with jewels, her legs raised in a birthing or sexual position, exposing her vulva. She is the Infinite Mother, ruler over the conscious and unconscious minds, the past and the future, and the universe. The ultimate protector, she provides her children with safety, spiritual enlightenment, and material wealth; she also grants her worshippers an easy path to their heart’s desire. Lajja Gauri is mentioned in the sacred Vedic texts as the Mother of All Gods, and the mediator between the mortals and the Divine.

Ninsun – Mesopotamian goddess of knowledge. Ninsun is primarily a Sumerian deity, though some scholars believe her to be a reflection of the Babylonian Gula. Her name means “Lady Wild Cow,” and she was worshipped by farmers and herdsmen to bless their animals and crops. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as the hero’s mother and counselor. She is the keeper of wisdom, and an interpreter of dreams.

Snake Woman, also Minoan Snake Woman – Goddess of Crete. While many historians believe Snake Woman to be a household and fertility deity, other sources cite her as High Goddess and Priestess of Crete, and a powerful, seductive sorceress. She represents the feminine mysteries and holds all the magickal powers of the serpent. Her statuette depicts her in Minoan dress with her breasts exposed, and snakes in each hand.

Sarasvati: Hindu goddess of words. Sarasvati is the creator of the  arts, including music, dancing, and poetry. She is the maker of sciences and mathematics, invented the Sanskrit language, and rules all aspects of teaching and learning. Referred to as “The Flowing One,” Sarasvati inspires devotees to great heights in intellectual and creative endeavors. She is depicted as a white-skinned woman, usually with a peacock.

Yemaya, also Yemoja, Iemanja: African goddess of water. Yemaya is honored throughout West Africa and the Caribbean as the mother of the sea and the moon. She is the keeper of the female mysteries and a guardian of women. Yemaya is also a goddess of love, blessing those who call to Her with romantic opportunities and marriage. She aids in the conception of children and their births, protecting and blessing infants until they hit puberty. She is a healing goddess, showing compassion and kindness to those in need. Yemaya is the personification of rivers and bodies of water, and is often depicted as a mermaid.

Ritual Planning Made Easy

Rituals have been a part of the world as long as humanity has existed.  From the annual celebration of our birth, to our daily behavioral patterns, we have all incorporated basic ritualistic activities in our lives.  Every culture on earth has certain customs they follow for births, weddings, religious rites, and funerals.  These actions, whether they are performed as festivities, for comfort, or out of habit, all have an underlying power that feeds our growth and wisdom.

In a spiritual sense, rituals are one of the most effective and reliable ways for people to honor and commune with the Divine. The act of ceremony not only gives a comfortable structure, but also allows us the time and focus to interact with Spirit and the divinity within ourselves.  Many practicing pagans and witches seem to fall out of ritual observance the longer we spend in the Craft. We begin to shortcut our practice, no longer taking the time and preparation needed to truly give honor to our spiritual path. By taking the quick and easy route, we are cheating ourselves out of the opportunity for great change.

Starhawk, one of the most prolific Goddess authors of our time says, “Any ritual is a chance for transformation.” Whether we are performing ritual to heal ourselves or in tribute, we are creating sacred space in order to change the energy that surrounds us. Each ring of a bell, each sage leaf burned, every prayer spoken, transmutes and re-develops our energy into a higher vibration.  The positive energy we create not only affects our lives, but creates a chain reaction of love and Divine connection which spreads throughout those we know and continues to vibrate throughout the world.

With the traditions in Goddess spirituality there are countless ways to effectively perform ceremony, whether you are working in a group setting or in solitude.  Generally speaking, the most powerful rituals you can perform are those created by your own hand; designed to suit your specific needs, desires, and the level of your spiritual connection.  Each practitioner follows their intuition to a certain degree, as the layout of the ritual is not as important as the faith and love that drive it. However, it is advisable to have a basic structure to follow within all your rites, regardless of purpose.

One of the best basic outlines for rituals, whether for solitary or coven use, is an excerpt from the book “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver Ravenwolf. It’s simple and to the point, works for personal or Sabbat/Esbat rituals, and is included below:

A.  Ritual Preparation

1.  Define purpose
2.  Write ritual
3.  Gather necessary tools
4.  Prepare area – (cleaning, sage, etc)
5.  Prepare body – (purification bath, donning special clothing/jewelry)

B.  Open Circle

1.  Find true North
2.  Set up Magickal ‘doorway’ / Cast Circle
3.  Call the Watchtowers / Elemental Quarters (East/ Air, South/Fire, West/Water, Earth/North)

C.  Invocation to the deities

1.  Align self with deity (evoke)
2.  Invoke deities

D.  Statement of Purpose

E.  Actual Rite

1.  Working
a.  Complete preliminary manual or visual task
b.  Raise power / energy
c.  Focus power / energy
d.  Ground power / energy

2.  Honoring
a.  Complete preliminary manual or visual task
b.  Dedicate cakes and wine
c.  Partake in cakes and wine

F.  Meditation

G.  Thanking the deities

H.  Closing the Circle

1.  Mentally and verbally dismiss the Quarters/ Close the circle
2.  Physically close the circle
3.  Clean up
a.  Disposal
b.  Washing of plates and glasses
c.  Putting away tools and other implements

There are many reference books you can use to help plan your rituals. Here are a few recommend titles, which are all available for purchase through Amazon .com:

And there are endless online resources available. Try a Google search – not only will you find information for planning your own rituals, but you may find public pagan celebrations in your area.

Blessed Be!