New Quarter Candleholders for Me!

Me

My appropriately colored glass votive cups nestled in standard taper candleholders. The best of both worlds!

I think I got something of a materialist nudge from the Mighty Ones this past Candlemas.  Unlike some of my friends and coveners, I’ve never really been one for creating mini-altars in my ritual space for the four elements.  The way I figure it, the elements already get incorporated into ritual in consecrating, water, salt, fire, and incense.  They’re already there and honored–no reason to construct anything more elaborate.  I’ve also got a practical reason:  since I live, work, and ritualize all in the same small room, any more altars than my main one would make my space look exceptionally cluttered in a hurry.

However,  I have been making strides in adopting one part of coven practice to my own:  lighting a candle in each of the four quarters.  Unfortunately, nothing I’ve tried in the past has felt quite right.  In my cash-strapped times, I used tealights in generic, fifty-cent glass holders but I abandoned that because they felt too mundane. Then a friend lent me a bunch of crystal taper holders and I tried that, but the flames were so open that I couldn’t stop worrying about setting myself or my house on fire the entire time I was trying to dance and raise energy.  I’ve kept my eye out for something right ever since then, but in the interim the Mighty Ones have gotten short shrift in my symbolic décor.

Well, that turned around in a hurry.

That little stump at the bottom holds the votive cup securely in a taper candlestick.

That little stump at the bottom holds the votive cup securely in a taper candlestick.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I discovered these things.  It was late at night, and I was dealing with my insomnia by puttering around eBay.  Next thing I knew, I was staring at a lot of blue, green, and yellow vintage votive holders.  They were different than anything I’d ever seen before: they had little stumps on the bottoms of the cup.

“Well, that’s weird,” I thought.  “How are those supposed to stay upright?”

As it turns out, you’re supposed to slide a rubber grommet over that stump and wiggle the whole thing into a standard taper candlestick holder.

When I found that out, I swear I heard an audible voice saying:  “Seriously?!  You have to get these.  They’ll make you happy and they’ll sure make us happy!  C’mon!!  Please?!”

When the Mighty Ones ask for something in a manner so uncharacteristically juvenile, you’re powerless to say no. The next thing I knew, I was typing out my shipping address.

I’m very pleased with them, and I think the Mighty Ones are, too.  While I’m currently using them in a set of thrifted (and kind of ugly) brass candlesticks, I can move them to anything else as my aesthetics and purpose dictate.  My goal, when I eventually create a space I can use more permanently for ritual, is to transfer them to wall-mounted candle sconces, perhaps next to paintings evoking the different elements.  With all the options ahead of me, I know I’ll be getting a lot of mileage out of these in years to come.

As I mentioned, I found my votive cups on eBay.  They are vintage, but I think they are still being made new.  I did searches using various terms and found the most hits using “pegged votive holders.”  One company in particular is marketing swirled versions in a similar shape to these in yellow, blue, green, red, violet, and clear.  Those particular ones sure come in handy if your practice follows the traditional Wiccan elemental colors as well as have you add a “spirit” candle, since spirit is usually either white or purple.

These votive cups have saved my bacon during many a ritual.

Very pretty!

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Element Consecrations, the Deborah Lipp Philosophy

Over the past four days, we’ve gone through Roderick’s exercises of consecrating a bowl of water, a bowl of salt, a candle flame, and incense.  However, I’ve long not been entirely comfortable with using another candle flame in this grouping.  In Wiccan circles, we tend to turn off all the lights and anything electric, so if we circle during night, it’s a pretty safe bet that lots of flames will be involved.  If the circle is inside, chances are there’s going to be a bevvy of candles already in use.  If the circle’s outside, there’s probably going to be some torches and a bonfire.  Bringing in yet another flame–one that’s just going to chill out–seems a little redundant.

So for years I’ve been taking a page out of Deborah Lipp’s book (almost quite literally:  look at pages 9 and 10 of Elements of Ritual) and using the incense to symbolize air and fire.  To be more exact, I consecrate the smoldering charcoal as the element of fire, then I consecrate the dish of loose incense for the element of air.  The joining of the fire and air–the smoke–I then use to consecrate myself and the physical space where my circle will be.

I find that this creates more balance.  It more closely matches what we do with the water and salt:  we join those female elements together at the beginning of the circle after we consecrate them and sprinkle ourselves and the space with the salt water, so why not do the same for the male elements?Of course, you can do anything you want so long as it makes sense to you and forms a working symbol system for your own practice.

 

Day 207: Elements and the Witches’ Tools

A disk picturing several witches’ tools, including the cord, scourge, censer, wand, stang, cup, pentacle, white and black handled knives, broom, sword, bell, boline, and cauldron.

Witches are fond collectors of their esoterica.  I’ve even known some practitioners who have multiple sets of everything, either as a byproduct of acquiring them as their tastes change or as a purposeful move; for example, they might have a set to use with a coven or in public, a set to use in private, a set to use with certain holidays, etc.  I’m even a little guilty of this myself, what with the three different athames I’ve had in my history, plus three different cups, two different pentacles, and a wide assortment of homemade wands.  And then there’s the rather astounding list of additional tools.

It’s all a little boggling, but–of course–none of these tools are absolutely essential to the practice of witchcraft and only four are really major.  These are, of course, the aforementioned athame, cup, pentacle, and wand.  Each of these is strongly aligned with a particular element (and gender) Roderick gives the descriptions of these tools below:

AIR, WAND:  The wand is usually a length of wood (traditionally willow for a woman’s wand and oak for a man’s wand) that a Witch uses to summon spiritual energies.  Witches also use the wand in lunar rituals and in rituals that involve “drawing down” the goddess or god into a priest or priestess.  Witches sometimes ‘load’ their wand by carving out a whole in the top and bottom and filling it with magical herbs and/or stones.  (Considered the masculine/feminine tool.  Some traditions also consider it the tool of fire.)

FIRE, ATHAME:  The athame is a double-edged, dark-handled knife.  The athame is the essential Witches’ tool, used to cast and summon magical forces.  Traditionally, a witch might magnetize the athame’s steel blade using a lodestone.  This practice allegedly assures the athame’s appropriate ‘attracting’ powers.  (Considered the masculine/masculine tool.  Some traditions also consider it the tool of air.)

WATER, CHALICE:  The chalice is traditionally a stemmed cup, but truly any cup or bowl could be used for the chalice.  It can be of any material, since the shape itself aligns with the energies of the goddess.  However, many Witches give preference to cups  made of silver (or silver metals).  Witches use the cup for blessing and fertility rites as well as for making potions and magical elixirs.  (Considered the feminine/feminine tool.)

EARTH, PENTACLE:  The pentacle is a disk that has a five-pointed star engraved upon it.  The disk can be made of any earthy materials.  Traditionally, Witches make the pentacle from wood, wax, clay, or copper.  The pentacle is a tool of fertility rites, blessing rites, and of summoning the goddess.  (Considered the feminine/masculine tool.)

Many witches use these tools personally, and many groups use them collectively, too.  In particular, many groups–such as Hartwood Grove–ask their members to bring their own chalices and athames to group rites while everyone uses the collective wand and pentacle.  Another practice is to maintain a few tools, the “grand tools”, specifically for group practice.  These are essentially just like the personal elemental tools, just scaled up in size:

AIR, STAFF:  Essentially a giant wand, the staff is a wooden branch rather like a walking stick.  It represents the coven’s collective link to air and their collective knowledge.  It, like all the other masculine tools, can also represent the phallus.

FIRE, SWORD:  Essentially a giant athame, the magical sword is a double-edged blade used only in ritual.  It represents the coven’s collective link to fire and their collective will.  It is a tool used in summoning the god and in casting the coven’s magical circle.

WATER, CAULDRON:  This is typically a deep set iron pot used in a ritual instead of a culinary context.  It represents a coven’s collective link to water and their collective power to dare.  It also represents the goddess’s womb.  Many individuals also use their own cauldron in various workings and as a ‘thurible’.

EARTH, HUMAN BODY:  As da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man clearly shows, the human body is a pentacle in itself.  In certain group rituals, the body can become a grand pentacle with the limbs and head representing the five points of the pentagram.  Some traditions hold that the priestesses’ body become this grand tool; however, many other covens believe either gender can be magically effective.

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”

If the four basic tools aren’t enough, there’s also a wide variety of other tools with their own unique, specialized purposes.

The boline and white-handled knives (Roderick gives air and fire as the respective elements for these tools) can be interchangeable terms for a “working knife” that cuts physical items, since the athame is traditionally a knife for cutting and drawing only ethereal items.  The boline can also refer specifically to a small sickle knife used specifically to harvest magical herbs.  The white-handled knife–as a single-edged sharp knife–can also be used for this purpose, but its straight blade is more conducive to a greater variety of things, such as chopping herbs, inscribing candles, and cutting cords.  Either are good “utility” tools.

The thurible (fire) is also a common utility tool.  It’s just a fire proof vessel that can be used as an incense burner or to burn items in ritually.  It’s often made of iron, and as such many choose to use one cauldron as both a utilitarian liquid container and fire-burner.

The broom (earth) is also a strongly practical tool.  It can be used in fertility rites, since the masculine staff meets the feminine whisk in one tool enabling it to represent sexual conjoining.  However, it’s also used practically to clear a ritual space of physical dirt.  Many also envision sweeping out stale energies along with the physical mess, too.

The bell (air) is something of a unitasking tool.  Ringing the bell is often done to signal the start and/or finish of ceremonies and rituals.  However, it can also be used in summoning energies and entities or to raise or influence energy.  The scourge (water) is also a vague unitasker tool.  Many traditions don’t even use it, but British Traditional Wiccans use it in initiatory rites and to rase or influence energy.  It is sometimes also used to purify the chakra system, since flagellation can stimulate the root chakra.  Cords (earth) an also fall into the unitasking category.  Used in the initiatory rituals, they are otherwise almost exclusively used to cinch robes at the waist even though they can be used in spell and prayer work.  Skyclad witches also often wear their cords as a badge signalling their degree within their tradition, and gain their earth connotations through that umbilical connection to community.

Other tools commonly used within Wicca are the Book of Shadows–a traditionally handwritten book containing the rituals and spells particular to a tradition or group.  Many witches also develop their own personal book, which many solitary witches call their Book of Shadows.  Group practitioners may call their personal book their grimoire.  Since even a group book can be considered a grimoire, the terms are largely interchangeable, especially outside the Wiccan context.  And then, of course, come all the odds and ends tools:  candles, incense, essential oils, herbs, divination tools, magical jewelry, robes, crowns, garters, statues, plaques, candle holders, bowls and plates…the list can get very lengthy very quickly.

In his description of the magical tools, Roderick concludes by asking us to ponder the following questions:

  • Which of the tools seems to be ‘mismatched’ with an element?
  • If you were to make your own correspondences, which of these tools would you match with elemental energies?
  • Consider the tools of your daily life (your car, fridge, lights, garbage disposal, etc.)  How might each of these ordinary items align with the elements?  Take time to consider this and commit your thoughts to paper.

I’m actually good with the elemental correspondences Roderick gives.  In Hartwood Grove, the athame is a tool of air and the wand a tool of fire, but that’s not something I agree with.  I can see tree branches swaying in the wind and the heat of the forge shaping the blade’s metal, so the athame:fire::wand:air associations make much more sense to me.  If given a list of tools, I think that I’d probably duplicate Roderick’s associations, though I might have gone with fire for the boline, air for the broom, and air for the book of shadows (which Roderick gives as spirit.)  Blades are ‘fiery’, and I stir up so much air and ether with brooms, and grimoires are all about communications.

Tools of my daily life?  My work things are all “airy”.  Books, pens, paper, Kindles, computers…it’s all communication.  Clearly a lot of my ‘cleaning’ things are watery–soaps and brushes.  My pots and pans are odd combinations of fire and water, my kitchen knifes are fiery, my furnishing and decorations are earthy…I think I probably have a normal balance of these energies in the mundane tools that surround me.

Elementals Recap

Well, I think it’s safe to say I learned a few things by going through the days of elemental and elemental king meditations.  At the very least, I learned my subconscious has a very healthy “inner child” thing going, what with the way the elementals often appeared like cartoon figures from my childhood.  Honestly, My Little Ponies and Pokemon?  Adorable seals and Harry Potter garden gnomes?  Well, I guess I’m glad I’m not a straight-laced stick-in-the-mud through-and-through.  (Holy hyphens!)  Funnily enough, I’ve subsequently found it a lot easier to visualize elementals now that I’ve done personal meditations and found these forms.  I hope I don’t outgrow them too quickly!

A major surprise for me, though, was that all the elemental guardians came to me as male.  I’ve been struggling to understand why this was so, especially since so much of my circling over the past few years has been following Hartwood Grove’s pattern and visualizing males–Gwydion and Mannanan–at air and water and females–Brigid and Arianrhod–at fire and earth.  I should be used to a gender balance!

I’ve pondered this a lot, and I think the male connection  is the result of several variables.  In the first place, I think I was mentally primed to accept male figures because I was invoking KING ____, and that title is exclusively reserved for male rulers.  I also think that I haven’t worked with a gender-balanced set that’s made internal sense to me for a long time.  I’m not exactly big on Celtic mythology, but the Gwydion-Brigid-Mannanan-Arianrhod guardians we use in Hartwood has always rung flat for me.  In my mind, Brigid is an aspect of the Great Goddess.  Were I practicing alone, I would petition Her as a Goddess instead of Guardian.  So too with Mannanan.  Gwydion and Arianrhod, though, are more mythological heroes to me, and not particularly aligned with the elements.  I also tend to favor air and fire as the masculine elements and water and earth as the feminine pair, which is not observed in the Hartwood calls.

I think a bigger factor, though, is the fact that I am a mostly-straight woman.  As the primary magical worker in my solitary practices, it sort of makes sense that male guardians would balance out my female energy.  And it is true that each of my male guardians was decidedly different from each other.  Air’s Paralda was a blond wisp of a teen.  Fire’s Djin was a smoldering dark man in his 30s.  Earth’s Ghob was a stout, bearded, auburn good ol’ boy in early middle age.  Water’s Necksa was an older, fit gentleman with a full emotional range.  Each of them tapped a different energy, and that was noticeable in their very physiognomy.  They didn’t need differing genders for more variety.

I think I’ve learned a great deal–the least of which is discovering the faces I can see whenever I call my own elemental guardians in the future.

Day 206: Elementals, King Ghob

Necksa’s mediation initially flustered me with the Disney association.  Let’s see what Ghob’s meditation evokes.

What You’ll Need:

  • Earth incense
  • Earth oil

It is best to try this practice in the location near your home where the gnomes reside. Light the earth incense and allow it to waft over your body. Dab some of the earth oil on all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, and crown of the head.

Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. With your eyes still closed, begin to intone King Ghob’s name, one syllable at a time for each exhaled breath:

Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Ghob.

Repeat this intonation twice more and then practice the following guided imagery. You can read it and memorize the energy sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes close, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Imagine that you stand once again near the freshly ploughed field. This is the spot where you first met the gnomes. Hold your spirit hands up so that they face toward the north, and again draw up the energies of this place and cast them in a circle of brilliant green light that surrounds you.

You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy. Raise your hands to the north and mentally summon forth King Ghob. Soon a bejeweled gnome emerges from the earth outside of your magic circle. Immediately ask Ghob what powers he offers to your life and what powers he diminishes in your life.

Reader: pause for a moment.

When you have heard his answer, bid him farewell and watch him vanish back into his hole in the earth. When he has gone, it is time to close the circle you created. Hold your hands up again to the west and begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Allow the energy to return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of Ghob and write down what powers he offers and diminishes in your life.

This picture of Zach Galifinakis is VERY close to what my Ghob looked like. A husky early middle-aged guy with a full beard and an amazing laugh.

Well, first thing’s first.  My Ghob looks remarkably like a smaller, bearded John Goodman.  Or Zach Galifianakis.  He was a guy with whom you could see yourself kicking back and sharing a joke.  And he was capable.  You could see yourself brewing beer or building a chicken coop with the guy.  He was solid.  He had your back.  He was a great mixture of bro and reasonable.  He was a partner.  I wanted to have his babies.

Yup.  That’s earth.

Good ol’ Ghob did happen to mention that he brings me the gift of my strength.  I’m the person that holds it together when my family and friends have problems.  I’m the support.  And I’m largely self-supporting.  But, as he also pointed out…I’m too self-supporting.  He made a very good point about how I reacted to him as a ‘partner’.  He doesn’t take over, he just provides a little brace and boost until a sapling can stand on its own roots.  I have made so much of my identity that of ‘strength’, that I don’t really let go.  I’m not a smotherer, but there is always a part of me that doubts if the person I’m supporting can ever stand on his or her own…so I do make myself a ready fall back.  I’m always waiting for their collapse.  And that’s being a doormat, not a partner.

Day 205: Elementals, Gnome Offerings

As with days 196, 199, and 202, today’s task is to visit the place revealed in yesterday’s guided meditation and make an offering to the gnomes to assure they become good magical partners.  Here is Roderick’s suggestion:

What You’ll Need

  • A cup of red wine (or a red fruit juice)
  • A piece of a baked good

When you first arrive at the place of the gnomes, sit on the ground and close your eyes.  Imagine the gnomes gathering, rising out from their underground dwellings and watching you.  Open your eyes and pour out a cup of wine.  Grasp the filled cup and baked good in your hands.  Hold your arms out, to shoulder level, offering the food to the spirits.  Cast your gaze to the ground (a respectful gesture), saying:

Gnomes of the earth, Lord Ghob,
Accept this offering of food and drink!
May the magic that I do be aided by your powers,
The powers of life that were, that are, and that shall be,
So Mote it Be!

Leave the baked good on the ground and pour the wine over it, saying:

From east to west, from south to north,
Ancient ones, I call thee forth!

Quickly gather your belongings and leave this enchanted spot. Return only when you wish to contemplate the gnomes or if you wish to invoke their magical energies for some purpose.

And as with the previous offerings, I modified this.  I decided to go to the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, since I’d never been there and thought that the novelty might help with an active, walking meditation.  Let me tell you, that was an experience not to be missed.  It’s surreal wandering through this wide prairie full of these tiny hills–but hills as tall as you.  It’s a bit like walking through a hedge labyrinth since your view is constantly being cut by the necessary twists and turns in the path.  You are literally walking in the earth at the same time you are walking on it, and you can’t help by think of the awesome power of the ground.  What sort of immense forces it must have taken to shift the ground in these patterns, and how astoundingly biodiverse the terrain is.  Life of all sorts is teeming on and between the mounds–something evident even in October when the prairie plants tend to go dormant.  I realized again that even though the earth is the source of so much stability and sustenance, it is not static.  It can change, and life changes with it.

The view from atop an observation building at the Mima Mounds park. Each one of these mounds is easily a foot taller than myself. It’s a little like walking through a hobbit village.

After I walked for some time in the prairie, I stopped by a tree stump that was criss-crossed with a number of cracks.  I centered myself and poured an offering of salt water and coins into one of the cracks, then said a variation of the following words.  (Alas, I had left my ‘cheat sheet’ in the car!)

Gnomes of the earth, Lord Ghob, I summon you.
Accept this offering of salt and coin.
I give this in thanks of your aid in my past magic
and hope you will answer my call in future works.
Enjoy this offering, and depart!
So mote it be.

I felt very at peace after I performed the offering, and a little more solid in my own body, if that makes any sense.  I do think that the earth elementals were a little pleased at my experiences and offerings today, for look what awaited me in my back yard when I returned!  Of course, they did have to think that pile of dead weeds I pulled from the hillside was a comfortable mattress.

You occasionally see a deer in the early morning hours at the fringes of my neighborhood. Once this summer we did see one in the yard. But you never never see more than one and never in the middle of the day!

Day 204: Elementals, Gnomes

Jordan Greywolf’s depiction of a gnome

The Oxford English Dictionary certainly is a great thing.  It tells me that Paracelsus was the first to use gnome as a rough synonym for pygmy in reference to beings who call earth their element and move through it as unobstructed as fish do through water or birds through air.  However, it had much earlier been used as a word to describe a short, pithy statement of truth, which makes sense as the root of the word comes from the Greek γνώμη, which relates to thought, judgement, and opinion.  Alas, earth is not really the element of knowing, even if its elementals are gnomes.

Roderick says that Wiccans typically  envision gnomes as small, stout creatures who live in small hills or mountains and maintain vast stores of treasure in their under-earth dwellings and in caves.  They bestow the spiritual powers of earth, such as stability, growth, material gain, mastery of the physical body, sensuality, pleasure, money, riches, and stamina, but can invert them and cause thick-headedness, tiredness, heaviness, dullness, insensitivity, gluttony, greed, or stinginess.  Witches work with gnomes when they want to rebalance their earth energies or when they want to work with earth energies.

Deborah Lipp says instead that “Gnomes are Earth.  Because we live on the Earth and we are solid, we can often relate to gnomes, but we can also be mistaken about their nature.  Remember that gnomes are slow, if they move at all, and are both infinitely patient and immensely stubborn.  Trying to talk to a gnome into something is like trying to persuade a rock.  They cannot be persuaded or enticed, although they do respond to sensory stimulation and to respect.”

“In appearance, gnomes are solid and squarish of shape, and have craggy brown, gray, or black skin.  They blend into their environment, and disappear into shadows.  Gnomes live in caves and caverns, and can be sensed in dark, inaccessible crevices whence a compelling stillness can seem almost to be calling you.”

Practice: Meeting the Gnomes

What You’ll Need

  • Earth Incense
  • Earth Oil

To begin, light the earth incense and allow it to waft over your body, infusing you with its energies. Place a dab the earth oil at all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, crown of the head. Next you will engage in a guided imagery. As always, you can read it and memorize the imagery sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Find a comfortable lying-down position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. Slowly allow the earth to hold you completely. Surrender your body weight to the planet, where it belongs.

Imagine that you stand at the northern edge of a large, freshly ploughed field. A musky, heavy earth scent fills the air and you welcome it. Hold your spirit hands up so that they face outward toward the north. Feel the cool, weighty energy of the ploughed earth circulate through you completely until you feel that you are one with it. Then imagine that you cast this energy out through your hands and it appears as an electric-green power that forms a protective shield around you. Turn your spirit body in a clockwise direction, casting the energy that bursts forth from your hands into a circle of protection and containment. When you face the north again, the energy that once emanated from your hands subsides.

You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy, yet you are able to clearly see through it. Imagine that you raise your hands to the sky and summon forth the gnomes–the spirits of this earthy realm. Soon you see figures crawl out from their holes beneath the neatly ploughed rows. The gnomes approach your circle and surround it. As they do, your circle takes on a sparkling emerald hue. Ask the gnomes who have joined you where they reside near to your home.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

When you have heard their answer, bid these magical creatures farewell and firmly request that they return to their magical realms. You watch as the gnomes depart and crawl back beneath the earth’s surface. All that is left behind is the green aura that surrounds you and your magic circle. This aura left behind is the balancing force of earth. Feel it penetrate you. This force centers you and causes you to become whole.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

When you feel you have absorbed enough of the elementals’ powers, it is time to close the circle that you have created. Imagine that you hold your hands up to the north, begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Then allow the energy to pass through your body and return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of the gnomes, and to write down where you can find them near your home.

Harry Potter fan art of a garden gnome and horklumps from “ratcreature.”

As initially disappointed as I was when King Necksa presented himself to me wearing the face of Disney’s King Triton, I’m equally pleased that my mental form for gnomes turned out to be a little like how J.K. Rowling described garden gnomes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets–little stubby humanoid creatures that kind of look like potatoes.  I guess I figure since the gnomes live in the earth, they might as well look like roots.

More importantly, though, I think this meditation was more powerful for me than the previous elemental meditations.  I normally struggle a little in visualizing casting the circle of elemental energy.  With this one, though, I had green light zinging around 360° in less than 2 seconds.  And the energy!  I quite literally felt encased in stone.  I’m a little worried about how easy and powerful this visualization was, and I worry that I’m taking earth energy into a little bit of excess right now.  As I read over Roderick’s description earlier, I guiltily felt that I’ve been awfully thick-headed and insensitive lately, and I’ve felt like my whole life is dull, and I’m awfully tired.  Not to mention I’m being really miserly these days…which is necessary given my lack of income.  Still…I’m thinking I need to be working on some elemental balancing.  Stat.

Interestingly, the gnomes mentioned that they’re pretty much everywhere not covered in water.  I could go into the gardens at my house and be with them very easily.  They did mention, though, that I am more cognizant of their energies after I’ve gazed upon Mount Ranier.  They also mentioned that I might want to go to the nearby Mima Prairie and feel them there.

Day 203: Elementals, King Necksa

It’s been a really long time since I did the Paralda and Djin meditations, but they were pretty powerful and I still remember the impact they had on me.  Let’s see what Necksa’s meditation accomplishes.

What You’ll Need:

  • Water incense
  • Water oil

It is best to try this practice in the location near your home where the undiness reside. Light the water incense and allow it to waft over your body. Dab some of the water oil on all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, and crown of the head.

Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. With your eyes still closed, begin to intone King Necksa’s name, one syllable at a time for each exhaled breath:

Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Neck.
Inhale slowly. Exhale, intoning the sound: Sa.

Repeat these intonations twice more and then practice the following guided imagery. You can read it and memorize the energy sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Imagine that you stand once again near the spring in the forest where you first met the undines.

Hold your spirit hands up so that they face toward the west, and again draw up the energies of this place and cast them in a circle of brilliant blue light that surrounds you.

You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy. Raise your hands to the west and mentally summon forth King Necksa. Soon a radiant, magnificent merman emerges from the spring outside of your magic circle. Without wasting time, ask Necksa what powers he offers to your life and what powers he diminishes in your life.

Reader: pause for a moment.

When you have heard his answer, bid him farewell and watch him vanish back into the dark depths of the pool. When he has left, it is time to close the circle you created. Hold your hands up again to the west and begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Allow the energy to return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of Necksa and write down what powers he offers and diminishes in your life.

Disney’s King Triton from The Little Mermaid

I was so angry at my subconscious.  The minute I heard the word “merman”, the only image that my mind would produce for Necksa was Disney’s King Triton!  Surely, I thought, my mind cannot be that stereotypical.  Triton is just about the only ready image most people my age and younger would pull for the word “merman”…but I wanted to be better than that.  I wanted to see something profound and really understand the energy of Necksa.  But all I got was a Disney character.  Or did I?

After I forlornly stared at this picture of Triton following my meditation, it suddenly struck me that Triton’s face had a tremendous amount in common with another favorite childhood animated character of mine:  the grandfather from Heidi’s Song (1982).  The grandfather obviously shares Triton’s white hair and beard, bushy grey eyebrows and intimidating frame, and both characters can really lay on the intimidation factor.  However, when both of their shells are cracked, their features allow for a lot of emotional plasticity to read on their faces.  In these stills of the grandfather below, you can see mass intimidation, anger/bewilderment, suspicion, and amused love.  It’s especially great to see such domineering characters melt with love.

Various stills of the Grandfather

I realized, then, that the face I saw Necksa wear wasn’t a Disney face, but a plastic face capable of displaying every emotion…and strong enough to come back for more.  He’s a complex king, he is.

When I asked Necksa what he brought to my life, the message was clear.  He brings a ton of love my way and is frustrated with all the walls I put up to block it out.   He reminded me that such resistance is ultimately futile.  As a tiny stream of water can eventually wear a canyon into a rock desert, water energies can wear away the thickest walls.  And when the walls come down, you’re often left wondering why you bothered to erect them in the first place.  Water will connect us all in the end, and life is so much richer when we let it.

Not to mention we avoid the pain of a flood.

Day 202: Elementals, Undine Offerings

As with days 196 and 199, today’s task is to visit the place revealed in yesterday’s guided meditation and make an offering to the undines to assure they become good magical partners.  Here is Roderick’s suggestion:

What You’ll Need

  • A cup of red wine (or a red fruit juice)
  • A piece of a baked good

When you first arrive at the place of the undines, sit on the ground and close your eyes.  Imagine the undines, gathering, floating, watching you.  Open your eyes and pour out a cup of wine.  Grasp the filled cup and baked good in your hands.  Hold your arms out, to shoulder level, offering the food to the spirits.  Cast your gaze to the ground (a respectful gesture), saying:

Undines of the deep, Lord Necksa,
Accept this offering of food and drink!
May the magic that I do be aided by your powers,
The powers of life that were, that are, and that shall be,
So Mote it Be!

Leave the baked good on the ground and pour the wine over it, saying:

From east to west, from south to north,
Ancient ones, I call thee forth!

Quickly gather your belongings and leave this enchanted spot. Return only when you wish to contemplate the undines or if you wish to invoke their magical energies for some purpose.

And as with the previous offerings, I modified this.  I spent one of the last sunny days in Olympia walking around Capitol Lake and the waterfront.  Then I poured out an offering of apple slices in water and said:

Undines of the deep, Lord Necksa, I summon you.
Accept this offering of water and fruit.
I give this in thanks of your aid in my past magic
and hope you will answer my call in future works.
Enjoy this offering, and depart!
So mote it be.

C’mon! Surely there are some undines here somewhere!

I really enjoyed the offering experience.  I have precious little call to walk around Olympia’s waterfront, and I don’t think I’ve done it at all since the first weeks I moved here.  I forget what a marine city we are…and I’m just a mile or so from the Inlet!  Down there the very air is salty and full of the sounds of water lapping against moored boats and shoreline and the cacophony of seagulls.  It was great to just feel the water with all my senses and to climb down on a dock and look down and see all the sea minnows popping up to nibble on my offering.  It really struck me just how apt the association of water and emotion is.  I could feel a lot of tensions wash away and leave me clean and placid.

Day 201: Elementals, Undines

Jordan Greywolf’s depiction of an undine

The Oxford English Dictionary lists one of the earliest usages of “undine” in English as occurring in 1657 with Henry Pinnel’s translation of Oswold Croll’s Philosophy Reformed and Improved.  Since Paracelsus’s De Nymphis was published in 1658, I wonder if he had a bit of a hand in coining this word as well.  After all, it isn’t much of a leap to take unda–Latin for wave–and make it undina, which is basically “one of the waves”.  At any rate, this is basically a word that can mean any water spirit in any body of water–not just a specific sea or a lake or a pool or what have you.

I’m very comfortable with using the term “undine” to refer to all water spirits, but others view them as specific creatures in their own right.  Roderick, for example, states that in traditional Wiccan lore, “undines are gilled, finned, and able to live in the depths of the seas, though their favorite dwelling places are wells, springs, and small streams.”  Roderick also notes that “undines bestow the spiritual powers of water, including intuitions, dreams, insight, compassion, spirituality, flexibility, understanding, love, and tenderness.”  However, they can also “impishly invert” these and create “foggy-headedness, weepiness, hypersensitivity, crabbiness, weakness, emotional instability, depression, and self-pitying.”  He also notes that “witches work with undines to rebalance their own water energies or work magic that connects to water.”

Deborah Lipp, on the other hand, seems to be a little more general.  She states that “Undines are Water.  They feel and flow.  They fulfill themselves in desire, intuition, and love.  Do not expect them to be sensible, nor to hold still for very long.  Sense is for air, stillness is for Earth, and undines have none of either.  You can’t reason with an undine, although you can attract her.”

“Undines can appear to be quite human, as they share many qualities with humans–we can often be irrationally emotional, and often seek love above all other things.  Folklore around the world is full of tales of lovely female creatures of the sea who attract men with their infinite sensuality–mermaids, selkies, sirens, etc., are all manifestations of undines.  Like the current, they “pull you in,” and like the tide, they are quite changeable.  Undines are graceful, their movements are fluid, and if they speak, their voices have a liquid, melodic quality.”

Practice: Meeting Undines

What You’ll Need

  • Water Incense
  • Water Oil

To begin, light some water incense and allow it to waft over your body, infusing you with its energies. Place a dab the water oil at all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, crown of the head. Next you will engage in a guided imagery. As always, you can read it and memorize the imagery sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.

Reader:
Find a comfortable lying-down position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. Slowly allow the earth to hold you completely. Surrender your body weight to the planet, where it belongs.

Imagine that you stand at the western edge of a large freshwater spring. The spring is set within a lush, green forest and you cannot see beyond the surrounding greenery. Hold your spirit hands up toward the west. Feel the cool, fresh energy of the spring water circulate through you completely until you feel that you are one with it. Then imagine that you cast this energy out through your hands and it appears as an electric-blue power that forms a protective shield around you. Turn your spirit body in a clockwise direction, casting a circle of protection and containment with this energy that bursts forth from your hands. When you face the west again, the energy that once emanated from your hands subsides.

You are now completely surrounded by this blue field of energy, yet you are able to clearly see through it. Imagine that you raise your hands to the sky and summon forth the undines–the spirits of this magical spring. Soon you see finned, human-like figures emerge from the depths of the spring. When the undines appear, you notice that your circle takes on a sparkling cobalt hue. Ask the undines where near to your home you can find them. Remember what they tell you.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

When you have heard their answer, bid them farewell and firmly request that they return to their magical realm. Watch them as they glide back below the surface of the spring, leaving only the sparkling cobalt aura that surrounds you and your magic circle. This aura left behind is the balancing force of water. Feel it balance you, center you, and cause you to become whole.

Reader: pause for a few moments.

When you feel you have absorbed enough of the undines’ powers, it is time to close the circle that you have created. Imagine that you hold your hands up to the west, begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Then allow the energy to pass through your body and return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.

Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.

Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of the undines, and to write down where you can find them near your home.

Seal!

Funnily enough, the forest spring I encountered in my mind was really similar to the Limpy Creek trails I found in Grants Pass, Oregon.  The pool was very much like the waterfall pool in which I skinny-dipped a few Yules ago.  I did notice a distinct emotional change after I mindcast the circle.  I think I felt safe, and I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of pure safeness in a really long time.  It was intoxicatingly relaxing.  When I asked where I could find the undine spirit close to my home, several places snapped into my mind.  There was, of course, Tumwater Falls, Capitol Lake, and the Budd Inlet of the Puget Sound.  I think I half-expected the artisan well to make an appearance, too, what with all the major Olympia water features that flashed into my vision.

Interestingly, I didn’t really ‘see’ the undines so much as felt a presence.  I wonder if that’s a by-product of my reduction in meditation and a subsequent skill loss, or if it’s more indicative of the undines’ energy.  If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say a little bit of both.

But what do I see in my mind’s eye when I lock onto undine energy?  Well…it’s kind of like a seal…but maybe a little longer and leaner.  Maybe it’s a selkie?