Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Candle Magick

Candles and fire have been used for centuries by Witches all around the world to evoke many different emotions and states of mind, as well as to set the mood. They have also been used to invoke spirits and entities, and to perform transformational magick.

The Mystical Power of Candles

Candle flames give off mystical power. This fact has been known by magicians and other similar practitioners for many years. They can be used cast a spell, perform divination, meditation, and healing, set the mood for a ritual, or banish or summon various entities. There is also great symbolism, from a magickal point of view, in creating light out of darkness.

The candle can also be seen as mystical in regards to the human body. Each part corresponds to a part of the body: the wax is the physical body, the wick is the mind, the flame is the soul.

Candle Colors

Colors are very important in candle magick. Science tells us that each color vibrates on a specific frequency, and magick tells us that these frequencies attract different spiritual influences. While this article cannot deal with color in detail, the following are some candle colors and their general meanings:
  • Black: banish evil and negativity, absorbing energies, meditation
  • Green: fertility, money, ambition, counteract jealousy
  • Purple: psychic power, healing the aura
  • White: consecration, meditation, divination, peace, spiritual strength
Candle Shapes

In candle magick, the shape is also important. There are many shapes available, and each has their own purpose. Many times, these purposes are combined with the color of the candle. The term ‘shape’ can also be used to indicate the symbols that may be carved into the candle, as it can often be difficult to find a candle in the specific shape desired.

Moon-shaped candles are burned to add power to magicks performed during the Full Moon, or to invoke the Goddess. Oftentimes, human-shaped candles are used to represent the person or persons the spell is directed at. Any phallic-shaped candle (which could be simply a taper candle, if needed), can be used for sex magick.

There are other shapes which are more difficult to find. Mummy-shaped or devil-shaped candles, used for Egyptian and Voodoo magick, respectively, are incredibly hard to find, and usually just carving Egyptian or Voodoo shapes upon a standard candle is easier. Skull-shaped candles are easy enough to find at Halloween, but rare outside that, and can be used in séances.

Probably the most commonly used candle in magick, apart from your standard candles, is the seven-knob candle. It has seven balls of wax strung together with one wick, and are generally used for spells which last seven days, where one ball is burned each day. During the burning, the goal is focused upon, and it is believed that after the seventh day, the spell will manifest.

Performing Candle Magick

Once the appropriate color and shape has been chosen, or at least the symbols necessary carved onto the candle itself, the candle must be prepared. This is generally done by consecration. Consecrating a candle can be as simple as anointing it with consecration oil, or as complex as performing a full ritual just for the purpose of consecrating the candles.

Once the consecration has been performed, the practitioner must clear the mind, and gaze into the flame until a trance-like state is attained. At this point, what happens differs. If the purpose is divination, typically the practitioner would stare into the flame during this trance, awaiting images or symbols that might connect to the purpose of the divination. If a spell is to be worked, then after consecration would be the time to do this.

Candles are a powerful tool for modern magickal practitioners, whether Witches, magicians, shamans, or anything else. They have many uses and applications, and their ease of use increases their popularity constantly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Wheel of the Year

Most religions mark the year in some way. In Wiccan thought, the different stages of the year are marked by what are called ‘Sabbats.’ These are the holy days of Wicca, the festivals which mark the cycle of the sun as it progresses throughout the year.

The Sabbats and Their Dates

There are eight Sabbats throughout the year, approximately six weeks apart (though this varies slightly). They are often divided into two categories, Greater Sabbats and Lesser Sabbats.

Greater Sabbats reflect the natural cycles of the earth, the seasonal changes which we cannot escape. Since these are not specifically solar holidays (unlike the Lesser Sabbats), the God and the Goddess are honored equally. For the northern hemisphere, the Greater Sabbats are:
  • Sahmain, on October 31st
  • Imbolc, on February 1st (sometimes celebrated on February 2nd)
  • Beltane, on May 1st
  • Lughnasadh, on August 1st
The Lesser Sabbats are the solstices and equinoxes, the exact dates for which can be found on most modern calendars. The solstices mark either the longest or the shortest day of the year. The equinoxes are those dates when night and day are exactly equal. Since these are based on the movement of the sun, the God is honored. The Goddess is acknowledged also, but the God should be given more deference at these times. The approximate dates for the Lesser Sabbats, in the northern hemisphere, are:
  • Winter Solstice, December 19th-25th, sometimes called Yule
  • Spring Equinox, March 19th-25th, sometimes called Ostara
  • Summer Solstice, June 19th-25th, sometimes called Litha
  • Fall Equinox, September 19th-25th, sometimes called Mabon or Harvest
The Importance of the Sabbats

In ancient times, these Sabbats were vitally important. Each marked a certain point in the year that was significant to the people. The Greater Sabbats marked the agricultural cycle. At Imbolc, even though winter was at its coldest, the people celebrated the coming of spring. This was a time of purification, of cleansing and preparing for the upcoming planting.

Beltane marked the beginning of the planting season. At this point, any crops that hadn’t been planted had to be, to ensure a decent harvest. The coming of Lughnasadh, often called the First Harvest, was the time when the first plants begin to drop their fruit. Samhain, coming right before the cold of winter, was traditionally the time when the animals that would provide food through the winter were slaughtered.

The Lesser Sabbats were also important. The Winter Solstice was the time of rest, while the Spring Equinox marked the true beginning of warmth, of the approach of summer. The Summer Solstice was the end of the planting season, and the Fall Equinox was the time of the Final Harvest, of ensuring that all crops were harvested and prepared for the long winter months.

The Role of the Goddess and the God in Wiccan Sabbats

The Goddess and the God were present and important during this cycle. Simply put, the Goddess rules the summer months, as She represents fertility and growth, and the summer is the time of crops and planting. The God rules the long winter months, for He generally is the God of the Hunt, and the hunt was vital to the survival of ancient man during the months when crops did not grow.

Though one may rule a specific time of year, both the Goddess and the God are present, and always equal. It is only that one is more visible than the other at certain times of the year.

Wiccan Sabbat Rituals and Traditions

Modern Wiccans usually mark the Sabbats with rituals. These rituals are designed for celebration, for merriment and feasting. No magick is performed unless deemed an emergency, such as healing. In times of old, many would gather to mark these occasions. Today, whether you are one or one hundred, the goal is celebration.

The altar and chamber should be decorated to reflect the ritual. Often, the decorating of the ritual space can become an important part of the ritual, if done immediately beforehand.

The rituals themselves vary greatly depending on the Sabbat to be celebrated. Generally, the core of the ritual, after the ritual space is cleansed, purified, and prepared, usually include:
  • Enactment – This can take a great many forms, from a skit, to a dance, to a song; anything that truly reflects the season and the reason for gathering.
  • Declaration – This is simply a statement of the meaning of the particular Sabbat, and this is sometimes combined with the enactment.
The Sabbats, both Greater and Lesser, are a highly important part of modern Wiccan practice. They are holy days, celebrations, and an opportunity to reflect, all in one.