As a practicing water witch, I often find it difficult to relate to the sabbats. We have several sabbats with a strong focus on the fire element (honouring the sun) or the earth element (honouring the harvest), but none really draw a focus on the water element. It can take some time, and some creativity, to work water magic into sabbats. However, if there is one sabbat that lends itself perfectly to water magick, it's Samhain!
One of the core aspects of Samhain is honouring the dead and ancestor worship. It is known as the time when the veil between this world and the otherworld is at its thinest, and so a perfect time for contacting, honouring, and working those who have now departed this world. I have heard both the element of earth and the element of fire being associated with death, but I would suggest that actually the element of water is most appropriate to be used in rituals and rites concerning the dead. In ancient Egypt they believed that water transported the souls of the dead to the afterlife, and many of their dead were buried with small boats in the hopes that this would help their journey to the afterlife. In Greek mythology the river Styx connected our earthly realm with the underworld, and the ferryman Charon would transport souls of the dead across the river and deliver them to the Underworld. In local folklore and ancient mythologies we see stories of beautiful water maidens who would lure sailors to their deaths, terrifying water creatures such as the Scottish Each Uisge who would carry men off into the waters and devour every part of them except their liver, and old hags like Jenny Green-Teeth who would entice children into the pond and drown them. With so many tales that weave the element of water with death and the otherworld, there is a clear and strong connection that makes it a great element to incorporate into your Samhain practices. Not only this, but with the veil being at its thinnest it is a great time to practice divination and seek answers from the otherworld - divination, dream work, and intuition are all practices associated with the element of water.
As many believe, death is just a part of the journey. Many see Samhain as a period for change and transformation; historically, Samhain is considered the last of the harvest seasons, which lends itself to its association with death and endings. It is a time to reflect on what we have and let go of that which no longer serves us, and again the element of water can aid us in this. Water is often used for cleansing and purification, especially salt water or moon water. The element is also associated with healing, especially emotional healing. If you have anything that you want to release and leave behind then ritual baths, showers, or even just focusing on what you want to let go of into a bowl of water and then pouring it away can help you heal and move on. Like the rising and the falling of the ocean tides and the cycles of the moon (which is also associated with the element of water), this element is not just associated with endings but also new beginnings. Different cultures, such as the Mesopotamians, have creation myths which teach us how all life sprung from the primordial seas and gave birth to the world, and all around us we see how water is needed for nature to flourish and grow. Once again through this association with transformation, with getting rid of the old so we can make way for the new, we see how the element of water can be seen as the ideal element to work with during Samhain.
So how exactly can you incorporate and work with this element in during this time? Below are some ideas to get you started, but as with all things in paganism, listen to your intuition and see where it takes you.
Wow - it has been a long time since I posted! Things in my personal life have been very hectic, and not in a good way. However, things are straightening themselves out again (thanks to a new job), and so I am going to be trying to blog weekly again.
As well as not really feeling it thanks to a toxic work environment bringing me waaaaay down, my focus from a witchcraft/writing perspective has been elsewhere. One of my main passions is teaching; I've taught in a school, I've delivered lectures to university, and in the witchy world I have written and taught classes on several subjects. I've decided that it is that element of my journey that I want to expand upon and really throw myself into. So, next year, I will be unveiling a range of courses available for you to take on a wide range of subjects. It is definitely an ambitious task, but one I am quite excited about!
The first course I have been focusing on is one of several courses focusing on animal guides, and this one is specific to sea animal guides. It covers over 30 animal guides and their meanings, 9 guided meditations for you to try, and also instructions on how to build your own sea animal guide oracle set (which if you follow me on insta you will see I have been building on for a while). So for todays blog post, I wanted to share a snippet from the course, and that is around the whale as an animal guide.
There are several traits associated with the whale, and these mostly centre around looking inwards.
One of those is wisdom. Many large whales live for around the same number of years as humans do these days, but some, such as the bowhead whale, can live for over 200 years. As such, we ascribe a level of wisdom to this creature; think about how much we as people can experience and grow in just a few years, let alone what we could achieve in 200. We can look to the whale to share the wisdom of its years, and help us unlock the wisdom that we need to guide us through our own journey.
Another association of the whale, and one which I personally feel very strongly when working with whale animal guides, is communication. Whales use three main sounds to communicate with each other - whistles, clicks, and what are known as 'pulsed calls'. They are very clever in their use of these communication methods. They will use clicks to help with navigation and understanding their physical surrounding, by analysing the way a click bounces off an object to help determine the shape and size of that object. Clicks are also used to help differentiate between those creatures who are friendly and those who may be predatory. In fact, different pods of whales have been observed to have different dialects when using these clicks and whistles which can help them identify other members of their whale pod. It is also believed through scientific study that whales use these methods as a way of communicating socially, not just for practical means such as navigating and hunting. As such, the whale represents finding, listening to, and expressing your inner voice. Use that voice and don't be afraid to tell the world exactly what it is you need. Find your own truth and feel confident in expressing that through language, whatever language you use. The whale is great for those who also need to feel more confident in the physical way they communicate - I'm very self conscious about the sound of my voice which doesn't really help when you're making videos! I can also stutter pretty badly when I'm put on the spot, but the whale can help us love and appreciate the uniqueness in the way that we communicate.
The whale is also associated with healing. Whilst it is associated with both physical and emotional healing, I personally find that its strength lies in emotional healing and emotional rebirth. There is strong scientific evidence which shows that whales, and dolphins actually, display behaviours which could be attributed to certain emotions, such as grief (although it is worth noting that we may never truly know how a whale 'feels' in the context of what it is experiencing). By focusing on the energies of these creatures we can help heal our own emotional hurts - it promises that if we look inward and trust in ourselves we can see it through the difficult periods, and that we will eventually look back on this time and feel proud of the strength we exhibited and the progress we have made. And this is another association of the whale; a peaceful strength that we can call upon to help us through when we need it.
The final core association of the whale is that of family and community. What with everything we have explored so far about the whale, it will probably be unsurprising to you that whales are sociable creatures. Whilst many whales live in pods some don't, and these pods can be of varying sizes. For example, the beluga whale will travel in pods of between 2 and 25, and the narwhal will travel in pods of between 4 and 20. In fact, sometimes beluga whales and narwhals will travel in groups together. However, there are some species such as the blue whale who are very solitary, and will only travel in pairs at the very most. On the whole though, the majority of whales prefer to keep within groups, and as we have said, even have different dialects that differ from other groups to help them differentiate their pod from others. They exhibit shared and learned behaviour including hunting techniques and songs. Whale song can vary from group to group and are thought to signify a variety of different things. In fact, whale song is learned from whale to whale and evolves over time, very much like our own musical evolution. The whale can help us realise and appreciate the benefits of living in a community - the friendship, the protection, the trading for foods and other goods, the sharing of knowledge and learning. It can help us to realise our place in our community and foster a sense of selflessness.
There are many different types of whale. The narwhal, the beluga whale, and the orca whale I talk about separately in the course as they have some differences in their associations that I want to highlight. However, there is the blue whale, sperm whale, humpback, fin whale...and several more. The majority of them share these associations, but they may also have their own, unique associations in addition to that. The best way to determine this is to look at their behaviour and ask yourself, what does it mean to you? For example, whilst the majority of whales are sociable creatures, the blue whale is much more solitary. As such, the blue whale can represent also recognising when you need to take some time out and go at it alone. The bowhead whale lives in the arctic and has a broad head to break through the ice. As such, it can also represent a more pro-active strength, and the ability to power through and break through all obstacles in your way. Meditate, or journey, and see what comes to you when you call upon these animals to get a better idea as to how they can aid you in this world.
The Weekly Witch:
Once I week I talk about something 'witchcraft' related I have done with my week. How we incorporate witchcraft into our every day lives is always a topic that has interested me, so I wanted to start this blog to explore it further!