Recently I decided to take myself off for a weekend away here in the UK - a bit of a 'staycation' to get out and do something a bit different. So I decided to go to the City of Bath - a beautiful city full of brilliant architecture and historical attractions, as well as the home of the Goddess Sulis.
Sulis is not a Goddess I have worked with before, but as a water deity she has been on my radar for a while. So I thought what better chance would I have to both enjoy a relaxing staycation, and learn about her?
So who is Sulis? Unfortunately, not much is known about the Goddess Sulis. Most scholarly accounts agree that she was a Celtic Goddess, although reference to her has only been found at the English city of Bath. Now, peoples from the Celtic period didn't write much down, and so most of what we know of her comes from Roman sources. However, it is believed that the Celts worshipped Sulis before the arrival of the Romans. As a part of their rule, the Romans took certain Celtic deities and 'Romanized' them, and so with Roman rule Sulis became Sulis-Minerva.
The city of Bath was called 'Aqua Sulis', literally 'water Sulis' and became an important town in Romano-British culture. It is believed that the main function of the city was to act as a religious centre, a dedication to Sulis and her healing waters. The waters that flow beneath Bath were reputed to have healing powers, and people would come from miles around to visit the springs to help heal various ailments. There are three natural springs in the heart of the city, and the water rises to the surface at a constant temperature of at least 45C, which is quite unique in the UK. As well as bathing in it, the water was also drank and came to be recognised as helping various ailments. This is by far Sulis' most prominent association - that of a Goddess of healing, specifically through the springs that still run through Bath.
You can visit Sulis' temple in Bath and see the courtyard, the altars, the various coins and offerings given to Sulis to petition her for healing (and other asks which I will go onto in a minute). Whilst you aren't allowed to touch the water from the temple, you can buy a bottle of it from the gift shop. Alternatively, head to the Thermae Spa which uses the water from one of the springs in its pools. It isn't a cheap experience, but well worth it if you want to experience Sulis' healing waters for yourself.
Sulis was also believed to be a solar deity based mostly on her name. However, there is some argument as to whether her name comes from the Proto-Celtic root 'Suil', related to various Indo-European words for 'Sun', or whether it comes from either the old Irish word for eye or sight. The heat of the springs and that being an important factor in their healing can also help us see how Sulis might be connected with the sun through that association, and the sun is often associated with healing energies in general. Honestly, whilst I was at the temple I could absolutely feel a solar connection with Sulis but again, there is not much historical evidence to back this up as far as I'm aware (and if anyone does know of any then please do let me know, always keen to find out more!).
She was also seen as a Goddess of justice. One of the interesting things about the bath temple was the number of curse tablets they found there. Roughly 130 of these curse tablets - also known by the latin defixiones - were found dating to the Roman period. These were small metal sheets inscribed with curses and then thrown into the spring.
These weren't exactly curses in the sense that we may think of today, but rather calls for retribution. The majority of them were to do with petty thefts, asking Sulis to curse the thief if they were not returned. Some of them were quite graphic in their detail when describing exactly what they wanted Sulis to do to the thief should they fail to return the stolen item!
Sulis could be seen as the shining light of justice, one who would grant retribution to those who had been wronged. This seems in polar opposite to her role as a healing Goddess, and shows the dual nature of this Goddess. And whilst it may seem difficult to reconcile the two, in my experience with Sulis, it just...works. Despite some of the graphic nature of the requests made to her, hers is not vengeance but justice which she delivers in a measured and balanced way. You can see some of these tablets displayed at her temple at the Roman Baths.
Whilst she later became 'Sulis-Minerva', it is difficult to know whether she took on any of Minerva's additional qualities thanks to the lack of information on her, such as Minerva's assocation with arts and crafts of strategic warfare. However, it is clear that Sulis was considered a powerful healing force by the Celts and the Roman's, and her power is still evident today when you walk herr temple or bathe in her sacred springs.
I wasn't entirely sure what to call this one, so it is probably best I explain the purpose behind this spell to see if it is one which resonates with you!
It is a sad fact, but society often pits women against one another, and it is us women who are the victims of this toxic mindset. We are told we have to be the prettiest, the smartest in the room, the most successful, and we are often taught to see other women as 'the competition'. Think of the trope of the 'popular mean girl' - we are taught to hate the popular girl, to be jealous of what she has, to want to be her. When in reality, most of the popular girls are lovely people! We are taught that we should feel threatened by women skinnier and prettier than us, we are taught that any woman more successful than us is a direct threat to our own success. And quite honestly, that's bullshit.
Maybe you have been lucky enough to grow up in a culture where this view isn't the norm, but for many of us this isn't the case. We end up tearing other women down so we can feel 'better' about ourselves, like we are the 'ultimate woman'. Not only does it harm other women, but it also increases our own insecurities and negative feelings about ourselves, forcing us to focus on what we lack rather than what we excel at.
We know we should support our sisters; we should celebrate their achievements rather than using them to measure our own success. But this can be difficult when we have this sense of 'competition' so ingrained in us. I'm sure most of us have been there, and most of us want to break out of this mindset, but it can be difficult. So this spell is to help you do just that - rather than see other women as your competition, or see their achievements as a threat to your own success, it encourages us to embrace the sisterhood. It helps us replace those negative feelings such as jealousy or insecurity with genuine love and support for those women in our lives when they do something great, helps us feel inspired by their success rather than focusing on what we lack in comparison, and helps us feel more confident in sharing our successes so we too can be supported by the women around us.
For this spell, you will need:
Start your spell work however you usually would; this may include cleansing the space, meditating, or you may just decide to jump straight into it!
First, reflect on why you are here casting this spell. Do you have a habit of comparing yourself to other women, or do you find yourself feeling insecure in the presence of other women? Do you find yourself feeling jealous, or feeling threatened by other women, or see their success as a reflection of inadequacies you feel within yourself?
Focus on letting these feelings go; open your heart chakra and see these negative feelings being replaced by loving energies, the energy of the feminine divine. It is hopeful, inspiring, and strong. Say:
"I dispel negativity such as (insert any specific feelings you have here, such as 'jealousy'); I replace it with the love of my sisters."
Start thinking about what you can do to ease these negative feelings you have and support your sisters more. It may be joining women's networking spaces on platforms such as LinkedIn, or praising your friends achievements when they post on social media. You may also have some more personal goals on there, such as being more vocal about your own successes and allowing others to lift you up and support you also. Write these down in your notebook and repeat them back to yourself to reaffirm these actions you will take.
Once you have done this, take the jug of water and pour it into the three glasses. As you do so, say:
"I support my sisters and lift them up, and in turn they lift me up.
I celebrate their achievements and share my successes with them.
We are community, we are strength, we are inspiration.
I connect with this feminine energy and use it to empower my own divine self!"
Pick up the first cup and say:
"I drink this cup for the Goddess, the feminine energy which binds us and flows through all of us."
Raise the glass as a toast, and then drink it.
Pick up the second glass and say:
"I drink this cup for my sisters, who I shall not tear down but shall support and celebrate."
Again, raise the glass in a toast, and drink the water.
Lift up the third glass and say:
"I drink this cup for myself, and my own divine femininity, a part of this sacred womanhood."
Toast the glass, and drink.
Finally, hold your hands to your heart chakra and say:
"Sisters unite! Together we are string, together we are powerful, and together we will inspire ourselves to be the best that we can be. So mote it be!"
You may have come across the term 'crane bag' before. But what is a crane bag? What is its use, and where does it come from?
There doesn't seem to be a one agreed upon definition of what a crane bag is. I've seen it referred to as a symbol of sovereignty, a place where a Druid keeps their ritual tools, and a tool itself used to empower magickal workings. So let's take a look at the origins of the crane bag and its role in ancient mythos to understand a bit more about how the crane bag could be used.
The crane bag is often called a Druid's tool, but it has its root firmly in Irish mythology. The crane bag was created by the sea God, Manannan mac Lir. As a major figure in Irish mythology he features in many tales, but the one concerning the crane bag features in 'Duanaire Finn', or 'the Lays of Fionn'. In this tale, we learn the Goddess Aoife, daughter of Dealbhaoth, fell in love with one of Manannan's sons named Ilbhreac. However, she was not the only one who desired Manannan's son, for another had also fallen in love with him - Iuchra, daughter of Abhartach.
Enraged, Iuchra invited Aoife swimming with her, where she used her magick to turn Aoife into the form of a crane. Iuchra determined that Aoife would spend 200 years in the form of a crane in the house of Manannan, and that when she died her skin would be used to make a vessel of treasures, which would be called a crane bag.
When Aiofe died, Manannan himself used her skin to create this 'vessel of treasures', which held every precious thing he owned. This included his shirt and his knife, Goibhne's girdle, a smith's hook from a fierce man, the King of Scotland's shears, the King of Lochlainn's helmet, the bones of Asal's swine, and a girdle made from a great whale's back. When the sea was full, all of these treasures were visible in the bag, but when the tide fell the crane bag would appear empty.
The bag passed through many hands, including the God Lugh, the high King of Ireland Conaire, and Fionn mac Cumhall.
From this we can glean that the crane bag was a magickal artifact containing treasures. Many of these treasures appeared to be weapons, which would have been useful to the warriors that carried it. So essentially, the crane bag could be seen as a bag which contained items of magickal significance, items which were precious or considered 'treasures' to its owner, or a bag which contained items useful to its owner.
In a magickal sense, we can see how the crane bag could therefore be used to hold ritual tools, or even as a tool itself to help empower workings with the magickal items it contains.
For those who use a crane bag today to aid them in their practice, any sort of bag will do. You can make it yourself out of wool or material, or you can buy one and use it as-is, or decorate it to add a personal touch. The main thing to consider is what exactly you plan to use your bag for and so the size it will need to be to hold all of your items. For example, if you plan to use one to hold your ritual items then it will probably need to be a lot bigger than one you wish to use to hold a small number of objects which have symbolic meaning to you.
The crane bag is unique to each individual, and can contain whatever you want! Below are just some ideas to get you started and may or may not be relevant depending on the purpose of your bag and your own magickal path:
I personally have a crane bag I created as a dedication to Manannan, and all of the items in it I use in rituals and prayers to honour Manannan. It is just a small one, and one which can be added to, but currently it contains a shell, a small bundle of dried reeds (as per Manx tradition), and a gold anchor necklace. Your bag doesn't have to be big, or fancy, or stuffed full of items - it just needs to be personal to you. Creating your own bag and finding objects to put in it is a lot of fun, as well as practically useful, so have a go and see if it works for you!
I will admit, I am a very lazy witch, and also a pretty forgetful one. As such, I don't really do much at the full moon except maybe make some moon water. But in the past couple of years I've heard the idea of not casting magick during the lunar eclipse being shared. I know older witches who, also being new to this idea, have said it is ridiculous and there is no reason not to cast magick during this period. I posted the topic on a subreddit to start a discussion and was told I was 'ignorant' if I believed that working magick during the lunar eclipse was a good idea. As I said, I don't really do much on the full moon anyway, so I've got no experience myself of casting magick during a lunar eclipse to make a judgement. But where did this idea come from?
The lunar eclipse is often seen as a super charged full moon, heightening all of the powers of the 'normal' full moon and its associations. It is also associated with dramatic change and intense growth. In fact, sometimes this energy can be chaotic; many people find the effect of the full moon quite destabilising and prefer to spend their time grounding and centering. For this reason, some believe that it is much better to instead sit back and process the changes the lunar eclipse is bringing rather than interfering. However, there are also those who believe that the power of the witch is being able to work with these energies, to transform and direct them, which is why some people don't see the lunar eclipse as a barrier to working magick.
From an astrological perspective, the position of the sun and the moon during this period are relevant as to why some believe it better to not cast any magick at this time. During an eclipse, the light of the moon becomes obstructed, as does its power. The moon, the sun, and the earth are all caught in this obstruction, unable to function as they usually would, and so it is best not to call on these energies lest they work in unexpected ways.
We must also consider what are called the 'Nodes of Fate'. These are lunar nodes. The southern node represents your past and what you are bringing into this life (such as past lives and karmic consequence) whilst the northern node represents your future, your destiny. Lunar eclipses align with these two nodes, and so it is believed that due to their association with fate, anything which happens during the lunar eclipse was meant to be. The eclipse simply heightens these, and helps us realise our unique and fated path. Casting magick or trying to manifest during this period is believed to have the potential to throw us off of that path, to interfere with destiny, and distract from the true purpose that the fates have in mind for us.
The above are just two interpretations that you will usually hear from those who work very closely with astrology. Whether you believe them, or agree with them, is up to you. Again I know there are many witches who will agree with this approach, and many who will instead say that we should focus and harnessing this power to manifest our own destinies. I have to admit, I am undecided as to which side of the coin I fall, but I feel is definitely something to explore further!
One of the courses I am working on at the moment is a 'crystals of the water witch' course. It will be one of the shorter ones, but will contain info on the various crystals associated with the water element, chants to use with them, making gem elixirs, and crystal grids. So, I thought why not put a snippet here for this weeks blog? This is just a selection from the list - you will find similar information in the 'crystals A-Z' sections of the website, but this has more of a focus about those associations in relation to water witchcraft.
Blue Aventurine: Aventurine is a stone of creativity and imagination, and I find this especially true of blue aventurine. I personally associate the element of water with creativity, and so this stone is great at helping you enhance that, and connect to water energies to further indulge in your creative endeavours.
It has a real uplifting energy to it, and is quite the motivator. When I look at this stone, and its markings, it makes me think of the open seas, a vast expanse of ocean just waiting to be explored, and all of the possibilities and adventures that you could encounter along the way. It is quite the motivator, and can help inspire us to take the opportunities that are presented to us. If you are struggling to make progress or feel like you are stagnating, then this is a great crystal to use to help you find the energy to seek and make those opportunities happen.
Green Aventurine: Green Aventurine is similar in its properties to blue aventurine; however, it has a much more 'down to earth' and grounded energy. Whereas blue aventurine is the young kid determined to climb the highest tree with complete disregard for the dangers, green aventurine is the parent saying 'yes, but is that a good idea? Have you really thought this through?'.
Whilst the energy of blue aventurine is very upbeat and motivational, green aventurine is much more subdued. It still encourages creativity, but is definitely more suited to those who want to make a living or career out of their creative endeavours, of have a specific project they need to see through. It teaches us to be balanced, to not just get carried away but to see the bigger picture, think of a the long term, and put a realistic plan together rather than just jumping in feet first. It evokes the feeling of still, calm waters, centered and balanced, and is a great stone to meditate with to help you feel grounded. Like blue aventurine, it promises that there are plenty of opportunities and we should embrace them, but we should also approach them with logic and consideration.
Kyanite: Kyanite is associated with communication and self expression - for these reasons I can't help but feel a close tie with the energy of the whale, an animal which strongly embodies these qualities too, but I think that is probably because I work quite a bit with animal magick in my own practice. It can help us think before we speak, and find the courage to speak up when we need to, helping us to choose our words carefully. It very much makes me think of the whole 'only speaking when you have something worth saying' sentiment, and that is the energy of the kyanite - careful, considerate, and confident.
It is especially good for creative self-expression; I'll admit, I enjoy art just for the sake of art - I enjoy drawing, painting, card making, scrapbooking, etc. Usually when I'm doing anything of these I'm not trying to 'convey' or represent anything - I like flowers, so here is a drawing of a flower. However, if you are the artistic type that uses art as a form of expression, or as a form of therapy, to help you convey what maybe you can't put into words, then Kyanite is perfect for you.
It is also used to aid in communicating with the spirit world, the other world, and our guides. Raw kyanite especially 'takes me back' and makes me think of when the first waters appeared in great mass upon this earth; the churning seas, the flowing rivers, the falling rains, all new and full of potential. It helps us reach across time, across the worlds and other planes, in order to get the answers we need, the help we require, or the knowledge we seek. It is a great stone to use to help us unlock the secrets of the seas and waters.
Lapis Lazuli: Lapis Lazuli has long been known as a stone of mystery, intuition, and ancient knowledge, and it is in these areas that it can aid us when working with water energies.
Life on this planet began with water, and water itself has been around for billions of years, perhaps even since the creation of the planet in the form of just a few droplets (although it is worth noting that whilst there are plenty of studies and theories, there is no scientific agreement about when, or how, water appeared on the earth). The deepest depths of the worlds oceans are still some of the most unexplored places in the world, and new species of sea creatures are still being discovered even today. If there is one element that represents mystery, the unknown, hidden knowledge and ancient secrets, it is the element of water. Many cultures have associated it with death and the passing of the living to the realms of the underworld, and divination to reveal the secrets of our subconscious and the future itself is associated with water. Lapis Lazuli is a great crystal to use to enhance these associations. Use it to enhance meditation, journeying, and divination, and use it in rituals and magicks aimed at connecting with the past (this can include deities of old), seeking the truth, and uncovering knowledge and information.
Clear Quartz: One of the main ways in which clear quartz is used is to amplify energies; it works almost like a conduit that increases the power or whatever you are doing and is often used to give a magickal boost to our workings. As such, it can be used in pretty much any spell or magick where you want to add a little oomph to your working - I will often use clear quartz crystal points in shell grids to help the energies flow for example. I find that it can really enhance our connection to the element of water; and help us feel more spiritually open to a connection not just with the element itself but with various water spirits. A very spiritual crystal, it helps us connect to the otherworlds and those that reside within them - and as someone who works a fair bit with water spirits such as the well maidens, lake maidens, etc., I find this a really useful crystal for aiding in that process.
Another association of clear quartz is healing. One of the main associations of the element of water is healing, and clear quartz is fantastic for that. My go to method of using clear quartz in healing is to make quartz water. I have a small, clear quartz bowl and I will use that to make healing water for spells and rituals. I also have a constant supply of quartz water on the go by placing a piece of clear quartz in a glass jar, filling it with water, and leaving it to allow the energy of the quartz to permeate the water. This is great for using in teas, for watering your plants, or even using as an offering for water spirits to ask for their guidance or just to say thank you. Quite a simple, but very useful crystal.
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 Maidens of the Well are a type of water spirit that appear in Celtic myth and legend and are most notably associated with the Grail mysteries. They first appear in a 13th century poem titled The Elucidation. Whilst the author of the poem is unknown it is believed to have been written as a prologue to Chretien de Troyes' Perceval, le Conte du Graal.
In this poem the Maidens of the Well would appear out of wells to give food to travellers, and offer them drink from their golden cups. They were described as joyous, beautiful women who would make sure that travellers were well look after on the road, giving them a place to rest until the were full enough to carry on their journey.
However, when King Amangon happened upon one of the maidens he abused the hospitality offered to him by raping the maiden and stealing her golden cup. When the King's men saw what their king was doing, instead of stopping him they followed suit and forced themselves on the maidens. As such, the maidens retreated, never to be seen or to offer their hospitality again. The land that they once occupied became a barren wasteland, and all those who had participated in the abuse of the maidens met a dreadful end.
Then along came King Arthur and a band of knights under his charge decided that they wanted to restore the wells and their maidens, and protect the maidens from anyone else who may wish harm upon them. They searched the land and eventually came across a group of maidens, but it transpired that these were not the well maidens the knights had been searching for. The knights promised to protect these women as they had aimed to do the maidens of the wells, and soon a battle ensued between them and a group of those who had come looking for the maidens. The knights of King Arthur won, and it transpired that these maidens were in fact descendants of the well maidens, and as such the knights of Arthur had fulfilled their promise.
There is a lot more to the tale than this, especially in regards to it forming part of the Grail mysteries, but I have to be honest - the Grail mysteries have never really been something I have been too interested in. However, there tends to be a wealth of information and other water spirits woven in with the Grail mysteries, and that I do find fascinating.
The well maidens are not completely lost. They represent hope, hospitality, generosity, abundance, the element of water, the land, and sovereignty. Leave offerings of food and drink at wells to show the maidens that there are still those out there who honour their spirit and appreciate their hospitality, or gifts of fresh flowers and other such offerings . Unfortunately there aren't too many natural wells left in this country, so you can always use a little statuette of a well to leave offerings at if you wish to work with the maidens of the well.
One of the 'non-witchy' facts about me is that I have a post-graduate diploma in information management. A large part of this based on how to properly research subjects and topics, and I eventually went on to get a job advising others how best to perform research. I love learning and researching new subjects, and whilst I say this is a 'non-witchy' fact, it has actually really helped me in my pagan studies over the years.
When I first started practicing witchcraft, the internet wasn't readily available in most homes, and mobile phones were those big chunky things that you only saw in movies (showing my age). My research was basically limited to a Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia CD and the small local library. One of the great things about the internet is that it has allowed so much information to be so readily available - simply hop onto Google, enter a search term and you are guaranteed hundreds, if not thousands of resources! Unfortunately, one of the not-so-great things about it is how much of that information is utter bullshit.
I was doing some research earlier for my latest book and came across an organisation - a specific 'temple' to a Goddess (which I won't name), based on myths and legends from a particular culture. And for a cool £1,000 a year you could train to become a priestess in this particular temple - neat huh? Except the 'ancient Goddess' they worshipped has never, ever existed in any of the mythos they were drawing from and seemed to be completely made up by the founder. They spouted a load of fantastic sounding information about how they also worshipped some very specific figures from history and then completely fabricated 'facts' about these figures that never appeared in the mythos they were aligning with. And those that weren't fabricated were just wrong! These are figures I personally work with and have done a lot of research into - the whole thing was actually kind of offensive. The worst part was that they actually had a pretty decent website, a physical location, and plenty of other training courses that looked intriguing. To anybody 'new' coming in, I can see how they would be fooled by this temple.
There is a huge problem within the pagan community when it comes to the spread of misinformation. Unfortunately this isn't a problem unique to the pagan community, but it is one we should be aware of. At best, this information is just wrong, and at worst it can be downright dangerous. On a practical level, most of us work with herbs, oils, and crystals, and not all of them are fit for human or animal use. Misinformation in this area has in the past caused death. On a more spiritual level, many of us work with deities and spirits, and not all of them are sunshine and rainbows. Getting involved with a spirit you don't fully understand can have some very undesirable consequences.
Whilst there is a lot of information out there which is just factually wrong, there is another grey area which can be a very interesting line to tread. This is the line between 'fact' and 'experience'. If I were to say that the Goddess Nantosuelta is often associated with the bounty of the harvest because ancient artefacts depict her as holding a cornucopia, then that is fact. If I say that the Goddess Nantosuelta wears a red dress because that is how she appeared to me in meditation, that is my experience. What is my experience might not be your experience. However, my experience shouldn't become 'fact' purely on the basis of my say-so. It may be a fact for me personally, but that doesn't mean it will be for you - Nantosuelta might come to you in a blue dress! Unfortunately there are a lot of writers out there who will misrepresent experience for fact to the extent that it becomes deliberately deceptive and misleading - I'm thinking of one particular book on Irish tradition which was released last year which got absolutely trashed after the author presented everything in the book as 'fact'. When a number of people in the Irish pagan community came out to highlight the discrepancies and falsehoods in this book, the author doubled down by saying that this was her 'experience' of it. And that's absolutely fine! But don't misrepresent your experience as fact, as this is how untruths get spread.
So, what can you do when you are conducting your own research to ensure that the sources you are using are true and factual? How can you tell if what someone is writing is based on empirical, evidenced fact, or whether they are writing from personal experience? Here are my top two tips. I was aiming to write more, but actually they can all be pretty much summed up by the two below.
1. What are the writer's credentials?
For example, if they have been practicing for five years but list themselves as 'Priestess of Hekate, Keeper of the Isle of the Hedgemaze, Oracle of the Sacred Potatoes, Watcher of the Snakes Supreme, and Third Level Initiate in the Temple of Dipshittery,' then I would be wary. Most titles worth earning will take years of practice and finetuning. Anyone can go on Udemy these days and take a 2 week course and qualify as a Reiki Master - that doesn't make them credible.
If you are on their website, take a look at their 'about' section. Do they list who have they trained with, if anyone (and remember, just because they haven't trained with anyone or might not have any titles doesn't make their information less valid)? Do they list any of their resources or inspiration (I find anyone who mentions Robert Grave's 'White Goddess' as a resource very difficult to take seriously)? Have they written any other books or articles that have been published by reputable sources or do they have support from others in the magickal community? Putting a writers name through Google - especially if you add words such as 'controversy' or 'bad review' to your search - can often bring up some very telling information!
2. Do they cite their resources, and if they do, can you locate and read those resources yourself?
It is amazing the liberties that some people will take, trusting that no-one will actually bother to fact check if they drop a source in there. In relation to my own research earlier with the temple I mentioned above, they stated that according to a certain ancient text there were 9 figures known as 'the 9 X's', and their Queen was 'figure X who is better known in history as figure Y'.
Luckily I have read that ancient text and knew right away that was bull - the author never referred to them as 'the 9 X's', and the whole 'Queen X is better known is history as Queen Y' is complete conjecture. Scholars and historians debate whether Queen X is the first incarnation of her name which inspired other tales of women with this name, but there is zero evidence to be able to state that Queen X went on to become the figure Queen Y. Absolutely none.
If you have read something that sounds plausible but there are no sources listed (I'll admit, I hardly ever list resources), then do a bit of research and see if you can find anything to corroborate this information. Ideally, you should be able to find other websites, books, articles, etc., that agree with that information. However, be cautious; look out for articles all coming from one website on the same subject (when I was researching a particular water spirit I found five articles giving the same background information on her - however, it turned out they were all from the one website. I couldn't find any information elsewhere on her). You want to look for different and independent resources to cross-reference your information with.
Also look out for repetitive information. Many websites will lift and shift information from others onto their own. If you are searching for a description of the Goddess Brigid, and you can only find three websites which say 'Brigid was a purple haired, yellow eyed vixen with a penchant for the strange and unusual' all using those exact words then chances are they have just copied each other. Unless you can actually trace these claims back to a source, I would be very suspicious about accepting them as fact.
Make sure that you are evaluating the sources themselves. You may have five separate sources that all say one thing, but if they are all from tumblr then again, it can be difficult to know where that information originated. Online resources such as the Royal Britannia are very useful, as are museums and local history societies. You can usually tell the validity of an author by their previous titles and reviews from other authors, especially those considered 'experts' in a particular sector.
This method is also good for helping establish what might be fact and what might just be a practitioners experience. Remember, experience isn't lesser than fact and it shouldn't be disregarded, but fact and experience are two different things.
Yes, research can be long, and sometimes boring. But please don't just read something on Pinterest and take it as gospel. Developing our learing and our understanding is an extremely important aspect of our spiritual growth, as is sharing that information with others. If you do struggle to find sources or aren't sure on the writer's validity, then you don't necessarily need to completely disregard it - it can still be useful, and it doesn't mean it isn't true! But it is suspicious, so take it with a pinch of salt, and be open to be corrected if it does turn out to be less than true.
I also refer to this spell as the 'speed up a situation' spell. It can help when there is something which is blocking progress, or if you are waiting on a decision which needs to be made before you can proceed. It works especially well when used to remove smaller blockages and inconveniences rather than large or more permanent issues - for larger issues, you may wish to repeat this spell over a longer period. Essentially, this is a great little spell to use when you just need to give something a 'nudge'.
All you need is some ice and a bowl - that's it! If you would like then you can also use representations of whatever your situation is to help you focus on your intent. For example, if you are waiting on a decision as to whether your offer has been accepted on a house, then you may want to have a door key present or a picture of the house by the side of the bowl as you perform your magick. This isn’t necessary though, and I have performed this spell successfully just using the ice and my own visualisation.
Place the bowl in the middle of the space you will be working in, along with any items you have gathered around it. Place the ice in the bowl - I just use a few cubes from the ice tray in the freezer - sit, and wrap your hands around the bowl.
Meditate on your situation; what exactly is it that you need to get moving? Are there any particular blockages that need to be removed? Or maybe things are just generally moving a bit slow? The ice will represent whatever that blockage or obstacle is, so make sure you really focus on the ice working as a symbolic representative of the issue at hand.
When you feel ready, say:
‘This ice represents [insert your situation here]
As it melts, so shall that which holds it back.
Any blockages shall be removed,
And a resolution will come soon
Begone all that stands in my way!
Bring me my answers without delay!’
Meditate for a bit longer and visualise any blockages melting away as the ice itself melts inside the bowl. Trust that progress will finally being made on whatever it is you are casting this spell for. I personally like to repeat the chant over and over to help raise power and direct that towards my goal.
You don’t need to wait for the ice to melt. When you feel you have done enough, you can just leave the ice to melt. Once it has you can simply pour it down the sink to dispose of it, or even just leave it to evaporate (I only use three or four ice cubes when I am performing this, and if I leave it overnight the water tends to have evaporated before I can pour it out).
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!