Flipbooks: Eliminate Losing Your Place in Ritual

A potentially easy way to organize a ritual script.

A potentially easy way to organize a ritual script.

In teacher school, I recently took a class where we learned about “foldables” or “interactive notebooks.”  These are basically semi-complicated ways of making notebooks more fun and showing students new ways to organize material.  If you want to see how absolutely bananas these things can get, I highly suggest searching both of those terms on Pinterest.  I have to admit, I’m fairly glad I didn’t do these in my own primary and secondary school days.  I was so OCD, I never would have used my notes for fear of ruining the artwork!

The simple foldables, however, I think are brilliant, both as teacher and student.  One organizer I really enjoyed was the flipbook.  I thought this particular one would be very handy for discrete notes, like parts of speech or comma rules, or even summary notes for reading a novel (a page for setting, rising action events, climax, new vocabulary, etc.)  But as I made my sample flipbook in class, it struck me that this would be brilliant for use in Wiccan ritual.

Follow me here.  How many of us have printed off a ritual script, brought it into circle, and then stumbled to find the different sections?  I know I certainly have.  And then you flip back and forth through different pages, convince yourself they’re in the wrong order, and basically go nuts trying to find your flow.  It doesn’t matter how big the font is–you constantly lose your place.

With a flipbook like this, though, you basically create labelled tabs for each ritual part, and the tabs let you quickly turn to the right area of your “script”.  If one page isn’t enough, you can always stack two or three and create a mini booklet for a section.  I’ve been using one for a couple weeks now to help me learn a new Outer Court script, and it’s been genius.


Count the number of steps you have in your script.  Take half that number in pieces of paper.  Fan out the pieces evenly as shown in picture one.  Then, take the bottom page and fold it so that the middle page meets itself in a second fan.  (Note how their are two blue strips in the middle.)

To make the booklet like you see in the first page, just count out the number of steps in your ritual, then take half that many pages.  You may wish to do as I did and add another page as a “cover”.  Fan stack the pages in an even row so that they are offset from each other by a quarter inch or so.  Then fold the stack over upon itself so that the top half of the middle page fans over the bottom half of itself.  Staple the folded edge to hold everything together.  Write the name of each step on the exposed flap of a page, then fill in the rest of the page with your script for that step.  With the booklet closed, you’ll just see the names of the steps and can easily go to any with just a page turn.  And all it takes to make this booklet is paper, a stapler, and a pen.  Easy as pie.


I actually prefer this method of creating a flip chart.  I made this one just for show.  If creating it for real use, I recommend extending the tape across the entire top of the card.  I also recommend using a plastic backer board instead of cardstock, which doesn’t hold up well against the weight of the cards over time.

There is one downside to the paper flipbook, though.  The amount of space you have on any particular page changes.  It’s hardly noticeable if you have four or five pages, but if you have 12, you’re really short on writing space for that first step. The outer court script I’m trying to memorize has 24 stages.  It’s impossible to get workable writing space using the construction method I described above, so what I actually did for this “ritual flipbook” was to return to my high school calculus days where I taped a series of notecards to a backer board to organize my notes.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was creating a flipbook.

These notecard flipbooks are also dead easy, though they require more supplies.  You basically take a piece of cardstock and a few pieces of note cards (4×6 unruled ones here), decide on a spacing you like (if you use ruled notecards, just space each on the last line), and then paste the cards into place with Scotch tape.  A nice bonus here is that you can change your printing settings to print to a 3×5 or 4×6 card, and thus save yourself some writer’s cramp.  You can even laminate the cards if you want to.  Whatever you do, I definitely recommend writing out all your note cards before taping them into place, as you won’t be able to write or print over the tape.

My calculus flipbook survived my year of high school calculus and my semester of college calculus.  It also survived both of my brothers’ high school years.  My current students are actually referring to it to help them pass their own calculus classes, so clearly a well-constructed notecard flipbook can take a beating.  I think the cards and tape can just go on forever, and it is fairly easy to replace one if it gets too beaten up. However, the cardstock will fall apart pretty easily in a binder.  The weight of all those cards and gravity is just more than the hole punches can take.  I actually stuck my calculus cards to plastic full-page sheet lifters for binders.  I also made sure that my tape went all the way across the top edge of a card, and overlapped the card on top of it.  They were really strongly affixed that way, and I never lost one.  If you’re creating a flipbook like this for a ritual you’ll be doing more than once, I really recommend finding the plastic lifters.  They can be hard to find, but definitely worth it.

An Initial Review of Timothy Roderick’s Wicca: Another Year and a Day

Well look at what the Amazon fairies left in my mailbox...

Well look at what the Amazon fairies left in my mailbox…

As of October 8th, Timothy Roderick’s second year-and-a-day course has been on the shelves of fine booksellers around the nation…or at least in Amazon warehouses readily awaiting shipment.

When I first learned about “Roderick Round 2”, I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in working through a second year and a day.  As much as I enjoyed going through the first book, it did take an awful lot of time to thoroughly journal, and time is thin on the ground for me at the moment.  In addition to the new job, I’m working with a new coven, and they take their training super seriously.  While little I am seeing in Round 2 would conflict with what I know about this new coven’s tradition, I think its best that I focus exclusively on the coven teachings for awhile.

That being said, I think I am going to put Round 2 on my horizon.  Flipping through the pages, I realized how much I’d missed the direct, concrete practices.  Most of the exercises are a page or so and incredibly approachable.  As the queen of the procrastinators, I appreciate anything that makes me think, “I can do this.  Let’s do it now!” and Roderick’s presentation definitely delivers on that.  I truthfully think it is his greatest strength.

There’s  more to love in this version.  In Round 1, the book was organized by topic.  You moved through several days on a particular topic, then did not really ever return to that topic.  I completely understand why that organization is useful in an introductory text–the neophyte needs time to taste and savor the major concepts before they can internalize them and use them in context.  After all, I don’t teach my writing students to do everything all at once–that would confuse them beyond measure!  Round 2 begins this complication.  The book is organized in a series of thirteen lunations, which are further divided into waxing and waning stages.  Here’s my description of the various stages:

  • First Lunation Waxing:  Preparation and execution of the first degree initiation.
  • First Lunation Waning:  Developing relationship with patron deities.
  • Second Lunation Waxing:  Air elemental work in knowing and wondering.
  • Second Lunation Waning:  Solomonic magic with Saturn.
  • Third Lunation Waxing:  Fire elemental work in willing and surrendering.
  • Third Lunation Waning:  Solomonic magic with Jupiter.
  • Fourth Lunation Waxing:  Water elemental work with daring and accepting.
  • Fourth Lunation Waning:  Solomonic magic with Mars.
  • Fifth Lunation Waxing:  Earth elemental work with silence and resonance.
  • Fifth Lunation Waning:  Solomonic magic with the Sun.
  • Sixth Lunation Waxing:  Affirmation.
  • Sixth Lunation Waning:  Reactive karmic clean-up.
  • Seventh Lunation Waxing:  Responsibility and vows.
  • Seventh Lunation Waning:  Exorcism.
  • Eighth Lunation Waxing: Unity and tree magic.
  • Eighth Lunation Waning:  Drawing Down the God
  • Ninth Lunation Waxing:  Bounty and generosity.
  • Ninth Lunation Waning:  Samhain and Yule
  • Tenth Lunation Waxing:  Imbolc, Spring, and Beltane
  • Tenth Lunation Waning:  Summer, Lammas, Autumn
  • Eleventh Lunation Waxing:  Impermanence and Ancestors
  • Eleventh Lunation Waning:  Unpleasantry and planetary Condensers
  • Twelfth Lunation Waxing:  Planetary condensers and the five points of fellowship.
  • Twelfth Lunation Waning:  Five points of fellowship.
  • Thirteenth Lunation Waxing:  Magic squares.
  • Thirteenth Lunation Waning:  Magic squares and preparing for elevation.

As you can see, there is some necessary “topic grouping,” but when looking at any unique exercise, you will see skill bleedover, so the whole year feels more cohesive and purposed.

I was also pleased to see that almost every exercise is to be lingered on over two days, which makes everything far more manageable.  For example, there’s an exercise that teaches how to image transfer a printed image onto a candle.  Having done this before, I know the whole process can take 2-3 hours, depending on the fiddliness of one’s printer, how many times the tissue paper rips, etc.  Life is much more manageable when you divide up the project; for example, printing the image on day 1 and transferring it to the candle on day 2.  On other exercises, you can take care of all the mundane preparation on one day and practice a dry run on day 1 in order to really sink into the exercise on day 2.  It’s  very simple and subtle change from Round 1, but it makes the whole year far more manageable.

My largest criticism at this point is that Roderick persisted in his exotic oils list.  Now, I love essential oils.  I have a whole drawer full of them, and use them frequently in my magic.  Roderick does ask for several oils that you can readily find, though some will be very expensive–jasmine, lemongrass, rose, cinnamon, clove, pine, myrrh, sage, sandalwood, frankincense, geranium, patchouli, cassia, cinnamon, and lemon dominate this list.  But he also asks for some oils that are difficult to find (if not impossible) or beyond expensive–musk, amber, dragon’s blood, gardenia, iris, lily of the valley, meadowsweet, violet, heather, apple, pear, ambergris, water lily, balm of gilead, storax.  Musk and ambergris I’m frankly shocked to see maintained–the proper version of these come from animals that ought not to be killed.  Amber and copal come from fossilized resins, which to my thought, are better used as resins than forced to yield tiny amounts of tarry oil.  Apple and pear literally cannot be found at all; 100% of oils under these names are synthetic.  And some of these oils are not essential oils at all.  Dragon’s blood, for example, is dragon’s blood resin chunks whizzed through industrial blenders with a carrier oil.

There is something undeniably witchy about mixing oils, and an amazing blend is pure magic.  But unless you’re going through a perfumery course, there is no compelling magical reason to knock yourself out trying to find heather oil when other correspondences will have the same effect.  (And if it’s a Scotch connection you’re seeking, just invest in a nice bottle of Glenmorangie.  You’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)

I’m also a little disappointed in how much Roderick glosses over in the Solomonic magic sections.  I was not expecting a doctoral dissertation’s worth of breakdown, but The Key of Solomon is an incredibly dense text that is utterly inaccessible to most.  Some attempt at a stronger explanation of what exactly has been cherry picked for this instructional year would not have gone amiss.

That being said, I continue to think that Roderick compiles a great training course, and one that honors traditional witchcraft well.  I look forward to working through the book myself.

Pray for Roseburg. Pray for the Pagans.

There are no words.

There are no words.

On October 1st as I left my classroom around 9 pm, I swiped through my phone’s apps to get a quick Facebook update in before my commute home.  My entire newsfeed was plastered with conflicting news stories about the Umpqua Community College shooting.

My blood ran cold and my legs went out from under me.  I sat there in the deserted hall of my school trying desperately to get the most updated, the most correct information while simultaneously trying to make contact with the faculty members I knew there.  Roseburg is the next large town south of Eugene, and a nice handful of my grad school friends work there either full time or adjunct–including one very favorite former housemate.  I was a wreck.

My people, as it turns out, are all physically fine.  Psychically…that’s a whole other story.  I don’t know how their healing will even begin.  I had a tiny taste this summer of what they’ve experienced, and it still affects me.

On my very first day of student teaching, I thought for a brief, brief moment that there was a shooter in my school.  I had looked up from helping a student and caught sight of the door.  There was a strange man there, and he was pointing a gun into my room.  My first thought was “protect the kids.”  I flew to put myself between them and the shooter.

It was the janitor.  Our air conditioner had gone out and he was using an infrared gun to take temperature readings of the classrooms without disturbing anyone.  I figured it out in seconds and continued teaching.  My kids never noticed, never knew how terrified I had been.  As soon as my time with them was over, I ran to the nearest restroom and was sick.  It’s now been months since that happened, and I jump a little when I see someone unexpected peering into my classroom.  I startle wildly when I hear a loud noise in the hallway.  The bile rises in my throat as I remember that simultaneous rush of pure terror and tiger-like protection.

Pray for Roseburg.  If my seconds of nothing affected me so, their road to healing will be a long and arduous one.

And pray for the Pagans, too.  We lost one of our own in the shooting.  As the Wild Hunt has reported, victim Kim Saltmarsh Dietz was one of us.  My HPS in Washington knew her.  They met at a shamanism class.  We’ve lost a wonderful soul there.

And we might have gained a black mark in return.  The media–to their credit–have not been focusing overmuch on the shooter.  But those stories that do show him as an “involuntary virgin”–a lonely, deeply pathetic young man.  Several cite an online dating profile he had made that lists “the left hand path” and “magick and the occult” as interests, and that he desired a partner who was “Pagan, Wiccan, Not Religious, but Spiritual.”

Already stories abound that the shooter was targeting Christians.  This has the potential to escalate.  Pray for the Pagans.  And educate yourself.  Calm and logic are the best defense against “war on Christianity” rhetoric.

Indy PPD Vendor Highlights

As I mentioned, Indy’s Pagan Pride Day is definitely a bit of a vendor fest–both one of its strengths and one of its weaknesses.  I do, however, enjoy the ability to flit from vendor to vendor and get a sense of new trends in Pagan merchandise.  I noticed a few area vendor regulars from back in my day–notably Hedwig’s Corner, who is still doing a brisk trade in bric-a-brac.  Three newer vendors stood out to me, though.

One of Faydwnn's Blades

One of Faydwnn’s blades. The image was shamelessly stolen from the Facebook page.

First up is Faydwynn’s Forge.  I was quite impressed by the selection of knives and swords she brought to Pagan Pride.  While I wouldn’t say the knives had impeccable balance or were absolutely perfect, they were gorgeous, carefully handcrafted, and full of love and skill.  You could tell that she had a great passion for her craft.  She also had a great panoply of historically inspired pendants and buckles and such from the Anglo-Saxon era.  I can definitely see where she’s a great asset to the Norse community.



I was also really smitten with the work of Sean Berne, an artist based out of Marion.  His runes were lovely–I ended up going home with a set–and I loved his work with leather cuffs.  I hope he comes up with a venue to make his work more accessible in the near future.  I could have gone broke in his booth.

Finally, I was rather taken by some of the artwork brought by Melissa Hamer, who was representing an area spa–Wellness Origin.  She had this series of botanicals that was to die for, and she had a few other very witchy prints, too.  I’m rather kicking myself for not snapping up several, but artwork was definitely not in my budget this month.  Maybe later!

The 18th Annual Indianapolis Pagan Pride Day

Yesterday, I took a few hours to attend the Indianapolis Pagan Pride Day, an event which I love dearly.  My very first time meeting other pagans was at something like the 4th or 5th Indy PPD, and I have loved seeing the event grow and change and become a major community staple.

These days, Indy PPD feels more to me like a vendor fest than an easy place to meet other pagans and experience other practices.  Unfortunately,  the schedule of rituals and workshops isn’t readily posted anywhere (not even online!) and the organizers of those events have a tendency to cancel last minute anyway.  Still, there’s usually a great event or two.  This year, my most powerful ritual experience was one crafted by Novices of the Old Ways.

The sign above Novices of the Old Ways' information booth.

The sign above Novices of the Old Ways’ information booth.

Novices of the Old Ways (NOW) is a group based out of New York City with chapters in various regions across America.  They describe themselves as a progressive Witchcraft community, which they further define as being based on a philosophy of using whatever methods necessary to better serve the immediate and broader communities rather than being based on a formal tradition.  They do, however, promote connection with Deity on a personal level as being of vital importance.  There is, naturally, a great deal of eclecticism in their practice, but they stress the importance of being thoughtful and selective in their choices, and they adapt praxis to the specific purposes of a ritual.

And man, did they ever create a great public ritual.  There are so many things that can go wrong in creating a ritual for many people.  It has to be simple so that many people can perform it and find meaning in it, but it also has to have strong visuals, ‘audience’ participation, and be fun to boot.  NOW pulled it off seamlessly.

The larger-than-life papier-mâché Gaia NOW created for the ritual. I was beyond impressed.

The larger-than-life papier-mâché Gaia NOW created for the ritual. I was beyond impressed.

The ritual began with NOW members carrying a papier-mâché sculpture they had created of Gaia into the ritual space while singing an adaptation of Reclaiming’s Harvest chant:  “Our hands will work for peace and justice.  Our hands will work to heal the Land.  Gather ’round the Pride Day Circle.  Let us vow to heal the Land.”  Gaia was veiled during this procession, and garnered herself quite a bit of attention.  People were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the spectacle, and quite a crowd amassed to draw near and take in the detail.  I, for one, was utterly charmed by the breaching whales and penguins and erupting volcanoes on her legs, and the dinosaur fossil tucked by her left hand.

When the crowd settled, the ritual leader, Tamrha Richardson, sensibly had us practice the chants we would be using and explained the outline of the ritual.  Essentially, she said that the earth, our mother, is hurting.  We pollute her and have become inured to that pollution.  This ritual would be a sacred marriage in which we would create a vow to Gaia to improve an aspect of our ecological footprint.

Some of the detail work on the back of the sculpture.

Some of the detail work on the back of the sculpture.

From my perspective, NOW accomplished that beautifully.  They had a member with Native heritage offer tobacco to the quarters while we sung Spiral Rhythm’s “Hey Yeh”, which I felt honored the First People and the unique spirit of America without co-opting Native culture.  We followed a simple Wiccan inspired circle casting, with a grounding and centering that used strong, simple visuals on the chakras and elegantly centered the energy medium upon voice.  We invited the quarter elementals to each space, adapting the elementals to quarters that made sense for our geographic location.  People at a quarter simply chanted the name of their quarter in unison-ish, and I was deeply moved to hear and feel the energy waving around the circle, building, ebbing, and building again even stronger.  We called in Deity, with all participants encouraged to call the deities they worked with best (as Gaia is such a massive concept), and hearing and feeling all the different archetypes join the circle was so strangely moving.  A pregnant woman, for example, called upon Isis, and I felt Her enter with such a strong, protective maternal energy, it brought tears to my eyes.

The core of the ritual saw three pairs of officiants conducting a sort of token Great Rite wherein participants would come up, take a wand one of the officiants held, put it into a cup of wine offered by another officiant, and state their vow to Gaia as they directed energy into the wine.  After this, the wand officiant tied a garland of green, white, and red yarn around the participant’s wrist to serve as the outward symbol of this marriage vow we had just made to Gaia.  As different participants were moved to come forward to make their vow, the whole group sang Spiral Rhythm’s “I Summon Her”.  Then, finally, to celebrate our marriage, the whole group danced a spiral dance, then dismissed the Gods and quarters.

My own wee Gaia and our handfasting cord.

My own wee Gaia and our handfasting cord.

Beautiful.  Simple.  Powerful.  NOW’s Gaia handfasting was definitely a textbook example of a public ritual done right.  I watched so many people walk away visibly moved by what they had done, and a large group of people clustered around the ritual leader and talked for a good half hour or so after the ritual concluded.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Prayerful Poetry

I take back every bad thing I ever thought of my high school teachers.  Since joining their ranks, I have been working harder than I ever have before, and I have never been so far behind.  These days, I’m waking up before 5 am, in to work before 7 am, begin teaching duties at 8, end teaching duties at 5:30 pm, finally get back home sometime around 9 pm after either working or attending graduate classes and collapse into bed around 10 pm.  Weekends?  I’ve forgotten what those are.

Funny, Lady Violet and I ask the same question but for entirely different reasons.

Funny, Lady Violet and I ask the same question but for entirely different reasons.

Spiritually, I’m floundering.  All my carefully crafted routines to help me worship and grow have fallen by the wayside in this relentless schedule.  When I was busy before, my fail safe was to pray and channel as I was cooking–to give thanks to the life that was giving me life and feel it as a connection to the Gods.  But lately? I don’t think I’ve so much as fried an egg since July and have consumed more fast food in the past five months than I have in the past five years.  And frankly, it is hard to muster a spiritual moment over a McDonald’s sausage McMuffin.

But last week as I was driving home after my Thursday seminar, I happened to be listening to NPR and caught a few minutes of The Writer’s Almanac and Garrison Keillor’s blood-pressure dropping baritone.  As he began reading a poem, I pulled my car off to the side of Michigan Avenue and let the words slowly fill my mind and heart.

In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.

As the poem closed, I scrambled for my phone to take note on the author and title so I could look it up when I arrived back home, and I laughed out loud when Keillor announced it was “School Prayer” by Diane Ackerman.  I do not know what Ackerman meant with her wry title, but her poem was a necessary balm to this Pagan teacher’s weary soul…and I’ve taken to reading it every night before I sleep.

And Now We Start All Over Again

I know that I just announced my elevation to second degree all of four posts ago, and that I’ve only been a second for five months now, but with all the big life changes that come with starting a new career and moving 2300 miles away comes another one magically.

In a couple of months, I’m going back to first degree.

Opportunities for Growth Abound!

Opportunities for Growth Abound!

Obviously, one does not simply wake up one day and say “you know, I don’t think that elevation really took…I’m going to pretend that never happened and say that I’m still a first.”  And that is certainly not what I am doing here.  Instead, I’m jumping lines (or perhaps traditions, depending on one’s view of the California line).

See, when I realized that moving to Indiana was a sure thing, I worried about how that would impact my growth in Wicca.  I didn’t jump into this new career lightly; I knew it would involve incredibly long hours consume most of my ‘free’ time.  I also knew that even if I lucked into some incredible flight prices, I would not be able to fly back to Washington frequently enough to continue with my coven.  I discussed the matter over with my HP and HPS, and we developed a few options.  One was that I use my new elevation to start a daughter coven in Indianapolis with my HP flying in for important events until I “raised up” a local gentleman to priest.  Another was to travel to Washington a couple times a year for week-long intensive trainings.  And of course, there was attempting to join an existing local group.

Long story short, I knew I wouldn’t have time or energy to put into starting a daughter coven while also learning to teach more effectively.  (Truth be told, I’m struggling just to find time to pray.)  Long intensives were out as I desperately need to invest more in my familial relationships and my school breaks are going to be almost exclusively claimed by them.  That, of course, left joining a local group.  Luckily for me, I found a great forming coven run by people I adore and with students who feel like siblings.  There was just one minor catch.  While this new group is Gardnerian, they are from different lines than what I am.  To be adopted into their line, I would return to first degree and then work my way up through their teachings.

My new teachers have checked in with me several times to make sure my ego can handle this.  And it definitely can.  After all, I’ve only been a second for a few months and really have no true “second” experience teaching or even really leading a circle.  In a lot of respects, I don’t feel like a second, and I don’t really have the ego that would go with it.  I also think I have a few gaps in my first-degree training, and–having given this group’s teaching materials a look through–I think that the opportunity to go through first again will fill those and make me a much better witch and priestess.  Over all, I’m really excited about going through a new training process and think it a terrific opportunity.

And, as I alluded to earlier, my mindset going into this new group has served me well.  This week I received some sad news from the high priestess of my Washington coven.  Ever since I met her, she has maintained that she was Gardnerian with dual-lineage in Long Island and California.  However, as an outcome of conversations held at the Portland Gather last month, she learned that the adoption of her California teachers into the Long Island line does not carry over to herself.  As she and the High Priest she trained were my initiators and elevators, this means that the only lineage I can legitimately claim at this time is California line.

Because the majority of the Gardnerian community (at least in America) holds that the California line is not a legitimate Gardnerian line, this also means that until my own adoption/initiation into this new group is finalized, I cannot in good conscience claim to be Gardnerian.  The fix?  To completely re-do my training with another line…which, as you know, is exactly what was in the works already.  So I suppose that all these huge life changes this year have been fated after all.

I’m really looking forward to working more with my new teaching grove and especially to meeting with even more new family members later this year.  I think there will be lots of positive aspects to all this change.