Calm yourself, Internet. This isn’t my photo.

Something decidedly amusing happened yesterday.  Mr. Jason Mankey posted a lovely piece on Raise The Horns questioning whether there can be Paganism without the occult and eruditely opining that Pagans who mock other Pagans who hold occult beliefs and practices are assholes.  It’s a great article, and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it soon.  But here’s what made this article funny to me.

I came home yesterday after work and immediately ensconced myself in our kitchen to make an enormous pot of ham-and-bean soup.  As I was elbow deep in caramelizing onions and deglazing pans, I heard a righteous cry of anger from the living room from my housemate.

“Melissa!  This guy on the Internet is totally stealing pictures from your blog!  You gotta see this!”

Now, I don’t believe it’s a secret that I use a lot of images here that I didn’t create myself, and I know I’m a bit slapdash at making sure I link back to where I got it from, so I laughed and told K. as much.  She was incredibly insistent that this was one of my original pictures, though, so I popped the onions on the back burner and went to peer at her laptop, where I saw this:

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It took me a minute, too, guys.

“Holy balls!” I cried, “That’s my pentacle! What the French toast?” I was so distracted by seeing my pentacle in a place I did not expect my pentacle to be, that it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to realize that none of the other tools were mine.  In my defense, I have a close cousin of that tablecloth, and I sometimes use a silver bowl about that size for salt, and I use a similar salt grain size for ritual.  There is, however, no defending the fact that I actually checked out my toolbox to make sure my pentacle didn’t grow legs and walk off to California.

Here's my tools, all snug as a bug in their rug...er, box.

Here’s my tools, all snug as a bug in their rug…er, box.

What really amused me, though, was the handful of e-mails I got today from total strangers saying, “Giiiiirl!  Jason Mankey done stole your photo!”  (That’s a direct quote from my favorite, by the way.  Hi, A.!)  I mean, I think there’s under 100 comments from people who are not me on this entire behemoth of a website.  I can count the private messages I’ve received prior to this point on one hand.  I can see that loads of people are reading, but the communication here at 366 has almost always been one way…so getting multiple messages in a day from more than one person was a very novel experience for me.

Pagans of the Internet:  Your interest in Intellectual Property Rights is to be commended.  You’ve darn well terrified me into making sure I always link back to anything I steal.  But this pic be Jason’s.  That’s one of his athames in the photo.  You can see it in this post.  I’m sure he’s probably posted a picture with his wand in it at some point in time or another, too.  It’s not a stretch to assume he contacted Godfrey and Alwynd of Gaean Allusions in Chehalis and asked them to make a pentacle.  I’ve shown mine off in lots of Gardnerian communities since I had it made, and I’ve always been forthcoming on who made it.  I really appreciate the alerts, but there’s no need for alarm here.

I’m tickled knowing my pentacle has a twin somewhere out there.  You have great taste, Jason.  🙂

Adding a White-Handled Knife to My Mix

My current collection of magical knives.  From top to bottom:  "Crooked" by The Metal Craft, "Olive" by West Elm, and "Candle" by The Metal Craft.

My current collection of magical knives. From top to bottom: “Crooked” by The Metal Craft, “Olive” by West Elm, and “Candle” by The Metal Craft.

Boy, for a practitioner who was ambivalent about knives before hooking up with a coven, I’ve sure acquired an awful lot since then!  Just before my 27th birthday in 2010, I acquired my athame, “Candle.”  A few months later in March, 2011, I found “Crooked,” my boline.  Both are handmade pieces by Brewan Blacksmith at The Metal Craft.

When I initially got Crooked, I intended to use it for my all-purpose white knife…but after about a year or so, I had to admit you could really only gracefully use it to cut herbs or slice through cords.  (It also makes a great ‘theatric prop’ for harvest rituals where we symbolically cut down crops in circle.)  I found myself grasping the blade for better control in, say, carving runes onto candles, halving-down cakes, carving wood, wax, or soap, etc.  Clearly that isn’t the safest thing to do, even if you’re not working in a darkened room heavy with incense smoke.  So I decided that Crooked would become a true boline–a knife dedicated to harvesting herbs for magical work–and I would acquire a straight-bladed knife to use as my white-handled knife–the all-purpose utilitarian blade of magical work.

Over the past year, I’ve had an opportunity to work with lots of different style of knives:  all manner of daggers, fantasy blades, and hunting knives.  None of them felt quite right, or even moved quite right.  Eventually I realized that what I really wanted was a sturdy paring knife, just like the one I use in cooking.  The thing, though, is that there really isn’t much of a market for light-handled paring knives.  They’re kitchen workhorses, so light handles would stain too quickly for anyone to want to spend much money on quality materials.  The only white handled paring knives I could find were invariably the cheap Victorinox or Norpro blades, which use plastic handles.  Others, like Wüsthof’s Ikon or Wolfgang Puck’s knives used a synthetic resin for their white handles.  I thought I’d never find an appropriate knife without going a custom route.

However, during a recent trip to Portland, I happened to browse the new Market section of West Elm’s store and found they were selling some very handsome kitchen knives:  Damascus-style blades with olivewood handles.  Honestly, these knives are about as close to my beloved Shun Classics as it gets (with the noted exception of having an ambidextrous handle).  They’re gorgeous, solid pieces, and I’m sure they’d stand up to a lifetime’s worth of kitchen abuse.  I, of course, was immediately drawn to their gorgeous olivewood handles.  I’ve always been drawn to olivewood pieces for their dramatic grain patterns, but had never really seen such light ones before.  It quickly dawned on me that I’d found my perfect white-handled knife, so I proudly totted one up to the cash register, where my wallet was highly pleased by its $15 sale price.

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West Elm’s Damascus Steel Knife Collection.  They look more brown against this grey, but I can assure you that the handles are very, very light-colored.

Since the handle is unfinished, I was careful to rub a mixture of beeswax and olive oil into it to help keep the wood moisturized.  I found that this treatment didn’t change the lighter parts of the handle, but it did make the darker parts of the grain stand out more, which looks lovely. My only regret with this knife is that the left side of the blade is imprinted with “West Elm MRKT China,” but then, most commercial blades have a similar marking on them, whether they’re meant for the kitchen or not.  All in all, I’m in love with my new blade, which I’ve lovingly named Olive.  It’s my hope we can make wonderful magic together!

A New Wand Smacks Me Upside the Head

My old wand above my new wand

My old wand above my new wand

I don’t even know what to say about this.  I have a new wand.  I wasn’t trying to get a new wand.  I didn’t even want one.  My wand was doing me just fine…or so I thought.

Coven sister W., her husband, our HPS Z. and I all ended up going to the Emerald Spiral Expo in Kent a couple weeks ago.  It’s a nice exposition, actually.  There’s loads of psychic readers, card readers, astrologers, palm readers, and even more crafts people.  I was especially struck by one woodcrafter in particular: Karl Feret of Rare Earth Designs.

I was more taken with Karl’s wooden journal covers, which are very ingenious–they bind regular old paper punched with a standard three-hole punch into a handsome book, but the pages can be re-ordered at whim or necessity–but W. started playing around with some of the wands, so I picked up a few, too.  They’re all lovely and masterfully made, and it was a pleasure to handle all of them.  Now, I’ve never had the opportunity to handle many types of wood all within a short period of time, so I was surprised to notice how different the different energies were.  They all shared that great, stalwart quality that all trees seem to have, but some felt like a mother’s hug, others like a father’s proud pat on the back, still more like a doctor’s concern, and some like the smile shared between lovers.  It was pretty amazing.

For awhile, I found myself really drawn to one particular wand–a ziricote specimen that Karl said had a paternal energy that helped one make well-considered choices–but talked myself out of it.  After all, I already had a wonderful wand back at home.  But as W. was paying for a wand she’d chosen, I picked up a couple of others…and when I touched my snakewood wand, I knew I wasn’t going to put it down again.

Holding both the snakewood wand and my old pine one, well it’s like the difference between holding a scalpel and a chef’s knife.  Both of them can get a cutting job done, but only one is going to have precision.  It’s remarkable how different the two are.  And almost scary how quickly I’ve fallen for my new wand.

But what do I do with my old one?  It’s been my trusty swish-and-flick for years.  I feel terrible de-commisioning it, but I doubt I’ll use it again.

Talk about first-world Pagan problems.

My New Rune Set from Alaska Laser Maid

My new runes, courtesy of Etsy seller Alaska Laser Maid

My new runes, courtesy of Etsy seller Alaska Laser Maid

All this work with the Elder Futhark over the past few weeks has definitely sparked my imagination more than any rune work I’ve done in the past.  The more I worked with them, the more I realized I liked using runes in divination and in magic.  I also, however, quickly realized that the quick and dirty set I made for completing the Roderick exercises (index cards with the runes drawn on them in red Sharpie) left a lot to be desired.

This realization coincided with the return to Etsy of the pagan-friendly artisan Deborah Ross, aka Alaska Laser Maid.  Deborah had taken a temporary hiatus from Etsy earlier this year while she did battle with cancer, but she returns to her store cancer-free and full of great ideas.  Deborah specializes in creating wooden pieces and then engraving them very precisely with a 30 watt laser cutter/engraver. She does, however, occasionally turn her laser skills to glassware, fabrics, and vinyl, so the sky is truly the limit for her!  I, of course, think her ability to create beautiful rune tiles and boxes is unparalleled, and I’m thrilled that I’ve finally been able to support her incredible work.

The particular set I ended up choosing isn’t one I’d seen before.  Instead of longer staves, Deborah placed these runes on 1-inch square tiles of red-cedar, and then put them in a small cube of a box.  I was a little hesitant about choosing these, but I’ve found I really like the square tiles more than longer staves, which I’ve made for myself in the past.  I think they ‘shake up’ more thoroughly, and I’m pleasantly reminded of playing Scrabble with my grandfather whenever I reach for these runes.  I couldn’t be happier.  Oh!  And as an added bonus, Deborah includes a little sheet of rune meanings with her sets so that anyone can use them right out of the box.  Thanks, Deborah!

The full supply of the Elder Futhark runes in my 'rune cube.'

The full supply of the Elder Futhark runes in my ‘rune cube.’

Pentacle Symbols of Today and Yesterday

In the interest of keeping oathbound material oathbound, my interpretation of all the signs in this post comes not from what is handed down in my tradition, but from those publicly available in the Farrar’s book, A Witches’ Bible.  Their discussion of degree signs are found in the chapters focusing on the different degrees.  For all other signs, please consult part 2, pages 253-261.  My discussion of gendering the kiss and scourge signs comes from my own application of Kabbalah concepts to the pairing of these tools.

I mentioned in my last post that it took about a month from the time I contacted Godfrey and Alwynd at Gaean Allusions about taking on my custom pentacle to being able to hold that pentacle in my hands.  Part of that extended time was normal logistics, but part of it was that I had a small crisis about what symbols to put on the pentacle and what order to put them in.

Pentacle with traditional Gardnerian symbols.

Pentacle with traditional Gardnerian symbols.

As I previously discussed in a Roderick exercise prior to my initiation, this image pictured to the left is what is typically shown as an example of an Alexandrian or Gardnerian pentacle.  I think it is best known outside the tradition for appearing in Janet and Stewart Farrar’s book A Witches’ Bible, where they explain the inverted triangle is a symbol of the 1st degree, the inverted pentacle is a symbol of the 2nd degree, the central pentacle capped with an upright triangle represents the 3rd degree.  The circle capped with a crescent stands for the Horned God, and the doubled crescents stand for the Goddess.  The S and $ at the bottom stand for the kiss and the scourge, respectively. But did they always appear in the order we frequently see them in today?

After I played around with the symbol arrangement, I thought logical arguments could be made for the primary arrangement and these two alternates, which I'll call A and B respectively.

The primary pentacle and my A and B variations.

With seven different signs in seven different positions around the center pentagram, we essentially have 5,040 possible arrangements here, so you do have to enter in a few variables to winnow out the logical grain from the nonsense chaff.  The first thing you can fix is placing the upright triangle at the top of the pentacle above the star, since that is the third-degree sign.  Since there isn’t enough room at the base of the pentacle to place the first- and second-degree signs, we also know that they’ll either have to be in ‘row’ 1 or 2.  You can also essentially fix the first-degree sign to be on the left hand side and the second on the right since it is convention in the Western world to order things as we read them  (lower items to the left and increasing items to the right).  Even cases like formal monograms (which put the initial of the third name in the center) flank the “outlier variable” with “correctly ordered” variables (and so the surname is flanked with first name initial on the left and middle name initial on the right).

Another variable to take into consideration are the kiss and scourge signs.  It makes theological sense to yoke them together since the kiss and the scourge two primary ways of raising energy and mercy and severity are the two primary ‘flavors’ of magic.  Though it is practical to place them paired at the pentacle’s base since they, as the most slender symbols, can both fit there comfortably, it makes theological sense to place them there, too.  These two flavors and these two methods of raising energy are essentially the praxis foundation of the religion.  Much of how we relate to the degrees and to the divine can be interpreted through these practical lenses.  With the scourge and kiss signs, though, there is some logical ambiguity in how we can order them.  We can opt for a kabbalah-inspired order and place mercy (the kiss) on the right and severity (the scourge) on the left to better mirror the column arrangement on the Tree of Life.  But we can also look to the genders of these qualities in the kabbalah and let those take precedence.  Mercy there is associated with a male aspect and severity with a female aspect.  Since the degree signs and the deity signs are gendered, gendering the scourge and kiss signs may factor into how we choose to arrange the signs…and there are lots of places for gender to go.

With these variables set, we can argue that the Primary Pentacle’s arrangement is logically ordered to first keep all the degree signs together in a culturally accepted fashion and to place the most important gendered signs (the God and the Goddess) to the farthest left and right spots in the pentacle.  When placed on a north-facing altar, this then puts the Goddess in the east and the God in the west, which works nicely with our stresses on the Goddess as a deity of beginnings (births) and the God as a deity of endings (deaths).  We order the genders of the kiss and scourge to essentially ‘match’ the deity positions to reinforce the concept of “as above, so below.”  Unfortunately, this logic does result in the degree genders to be swapped, and standard “stuff on top is more important” logic to erroneously assume that degrees are more important that Gods, but it overall does a nice job.

In Variation A, the logic fixes the degree signs in the same position as the primary pentacle, but gender ultimately trumps other mystery concerns.  Since the first degree sign is fixed on the left side and the second on the right, all female signs are placed on the left side and all male signs are put on the right.  This does coincide with the belief that right is the active, masculine direction and left the passive, feminine direction, but we lose the mystery aspect of the Primary Pentacle.  We also have an unfortunate side-effect of essentially “blocking” energy flow.  In circle, we order our practioners in alternating genders (male, female, male, female) to better spin energy around the circle.  Here, the energies are just pitted against each other.

Variation B, I think, comes closest to honoring all aspects of the pentacle.  By holding the general left/right positions of the Primary Pentacle static but switching around its Rows 1 and 2, we get to see Goddess energies in the east and God energies in the west along with the “as above, so below” matching of the kiss and scourge signs.  We also get “male, female, male, female” energy flow around the outer circle.  (This does, of course, ignore the upright triangle, but it conjoined with the upright pentacle is a gender-neutral unity.)

Now, when I figured this out, it took a lot of self-restraint to keep myself from saying “well, screw what the tradition typically does…I’m going to put Variation B on my pentacle.”  It was really just my belief that power is built in collective practice that kept me from shifting things around.  But it did make me wonder if a Variation B order was on older Gardnerian pentacles.  So I scoured the Internet to find images of various “First-Generation” High Priests’ and High Priestess’ altars in hopes that I could make out their pentacles.  Unfortunately, I had very little luck on this front.  In fact, I was only able to find three images of Doreen Valiente’s altar and tools.  What I found there, however, surprised me.

Doreen Valiente's more famous pentacles.

Doreen Valiente’s more famous pentacles.

As far as mostly clear images of altars went, I only found two:  a photograph from about 1962 where Valiente sat among her tools, and an undated photograph from the Doreen Valiente Foundation.  Unfortunately, the Foundation photograph doesn’t offer any information on from what era of Valiente’s magical studies these various tools date.  The 1962 photograph, however, would be during the years after Valiente broke from the Bricket Wood coven but still led a Gardnerian coven (sans Ardanes) with Ned Grove.  I’ve isolated the pentacles from these photographs in the image to the right.

Though it’s hard to make out the signs on these images, three things are very clear.  The first is that the 1962 pentacle has far more symbols on it than what we have today, including what appear to be athame symbols and an ankh.  The Foundation photograph shows less symbols, and–indeed–most of them are on today’s pentacle.  The scourge and kiss signs, however, are replaced with power signs.  What is most important to my purposes, however, is abundantly clear:  The degree signs are not grouped together on either pentacle.  In fact, God and Goddess signs are above them on both pentacles.  With the exception of the lower signs, they follow the pattern I worked out in my Variation B!

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The first image is my own (poor) drawing of what I see in the black and white photo.  Places where I can see a sign but can’t make it out are numbered.  The numbers correspond to potential symbols (taken from A Witches’ Bible) below.  The second image is another of Doreen’s pentacles, and is very similar to the one pictured above that is set with colored stones or glass.  John Belham-Payne found it among other items in a catch-all bag.  Apparently this was a sort of “grab and go” witch kit of Doreen’s!

As visually cluttered as the 1962 pentacle is, I rather like the logic of what symbols were included, particularly if my guesses are right.  Using the information given for various athame symbols in A Witches’ Bible, it appears that the top pairs of symbols likely stand for the God and the Goddess and the initials of their names in BTW traditions.  Between Mathers’ Key of Solomon, Gardner’s High Magic’s Aid, and Gardner’s B-text Book of Shadows, we get a collection of three potential sigils for the God’s initial.  (Frankly, I think they’re all a little silly.  If I were to follow suit, I’d probably use the Hebrew letter kaph…which I think others have done, come to think of it.) The ankh, a symbol of life, doesn’t appear in Gardner’s materials (either for the athame or the pentacle), but Doreen’s personal suggestion to the Fararrs on the subject of athame symbols were that the initial signs were to be replaced with the ankh and the sign for Scorpio to signify life and death/the beyond or the light and dark halves of the year.  (Alternately, a sickle sign would symbolize death and the beyond, but on the athame that’s paired with a serpent for life, not the ankh.)  I like the thought that these life and death signs would be incorporated near the deity signs on the pentacle, too, since we so closely associate those states with the divine.

Below the two clusters of deity signs, there’s what is essentially a central row of the degree signs, and they’re all about the same relative size.  Below those are signs for what I like to think of as “how magic works.”  There’s the kiss and scourge which, in addition to being themselves symbols for mercy/severity are also actions performed to purify and consecrate, which paves the way for magic to be made.  There is what I believe to be the symbol for the connection of the God and the Goddess creating the power that goes forth in magic, and it is directed to the eight-spoked wheel, which can stand for the eight ways of making magic with that power.  All in all, these symbols very potentially tell a cogent story of Wiccan theology.

It looks like the same pattern is present in Doreen’s wooden pentacles, only simplified.  The God and Goddess signs don’t have the ‘extra’ signs of the initials or of life and death, but they are in roughly the same place as they are on the black and white pentacle.  The degree signs are in the middle again, but this time the center pentacle is enlarged and appears to do “double duty” of being both a pentacle and part of the third-degree sign.  The scourge and the kiss signs are absent, but the flow and path signs are present.  Interestingly, I think you could argue that the ‘flow’ sign is masculine and the ‘path’ sign feminine, particularly if you ascribe the “power flows from the God” meaning in A Witches’ Bible.  Power flows from the God and the Goddess births it into a form.

At any rate, I am very satisfied with my pentacle and my decision to conform to the contemporary Gardnerian sigil set.  I think it would be a very worthwhile endeavor, though, to start an oathbound dialogue on what we’ve chosen and why.

Pentacle form the Witchcraft Museum.

Pentacle from the Witchcraft Museum.

UPDATE:  I just came across this image of a pentacle that was purported to be in Cecil Williamson’s Witchcraft Museum back when Gardner collected various items for it.  I don’t know if Gardner collected it or where it originated, but thought it might be of interest here.  I’m not sure what the circle with the double cross is, but the other symbols are the pentagram with the tetragrammaton written in its center, the swastika, an ankh, and a templar cross.

A Marlboro Ashtray Turned Ritual Tool

This just goes to show you that if you’ve got an eye for creativity, you can find ritual tools just about anywhere.  I picked up this metal box for a whopping $1 at a local thrift store not too long ago.  Of course, I bought it because it’s basically a pentacle box, and I figured that I’d find some use for it–even if it was to just hold the jewelry I don’t want to sleep in.  After I brought it home, I did a bit of research and discovered that it was a promotional ash tray that Marlboro offered its customers several years ago.

My Marlboro promotional Star Dome Ashtray

My Marlboro promotional Star Dome Ashtray

If I didn’t already have a censer I loved, I might have been tempted to make this pentacle ashtray that tool.  If the bottom part were filled with sand, you could set a lit charcoal in the center and cover it with the open star.  You’d likely need a nice trivet to set it on so that you could carry the incense if needed, but I think this ashtray has decent censer potential.  However, I recently came across a video that really sold me on a great use for the box:  as a fire stove.

As you can see from this video, what this star does is direct alcohol flame into a manageable columnar flame.  In my prior practice of putting alcohol straight into my cauldron, the flames would eventually become kind of dangerous.  They’d be all around the perimeter of my 10 inch wide cauldron, and plumes would shoot several feet up into the air, and random ones would arch a good couple feet away from the cauldron.  If you’re trying to dance around it inside, your concern for personal and property safety ends up interfering with your magical focus.  What I did this Imbolc was put some of my homemade gel fuel inside this box, and set that into a bed of Epsom salt in my cauldron.  I got decently theatrical flames, but in no way were they extreme enough to cause me worry.  The extra control given by a smaller aperture also seemed to let the gel fuel last longer.  While I didn’t test it, it seemed like an equal amount of the gel fuel lasted considerably longer in this pentacle burner than it did just globbed into the bottom of my big cauldron.

I’m starting to think this ashtray might just represent the best dollar I ever spent.

Day 251: Pentacle Consecration

What You’ll Need:

  • Your usual circle casting tools and your pentacle
  • Earth incense (or use frankincense or oak)
  • Earth oil (or one of the following oils:  patchouli, honeysuckle, tulip, or lilac)

To begin, prepare a small altar at the northernmost point of your sacred space.  Cast your magic circle as usual, but this time use your newly consecrated athame to cast the circle.  Once the circle is cast, transfer your pentacle, incense burner, incense, fire candle, essential oil, and water, and salt bowls from the central main altar to the one you have prepared in the north.  Set your pentacle in front of you, kneel before the altar with your arms open to the sky, and say:

Lady and Lord, God and Goddess,
I bring before You this pentacle, ready to
Receive Your blessing, that it may ever
Be guided by Your hands–in the ways of nature.

Sprinkle water on the pentacle and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of water.

Take a small portion of salt in your hand and rub it onto the pentacle, saying:

From earth, earth is made.  Consecrated are you with the element of earth, your sister.

Place a small amount of earth incense onto the hot coals of your censer.  Hold the pentacle over the smoke and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of air.

Hold the pentacle above the flame of the fire candle.  While it is there say:

Consecrated are you with the element of fire.

Finally hold the pentacle between the palms of your hands.  Close your eyes and imagine that the energies of your body, mind, and spirit channel through your hands and enter into the pentacle.  Rub the pentacle with earth oil, then hold the tip of the athame blade to the pentacle and say:

Consecrated are you in the art magical.

Your pentacle is now consecrated.  Close your circle as usual.

As with the other three tools, I don’t notice the pentacle as being especially more ‘earthy’ than I did before, but I do feel a greater elemental energy and a stronger attunement to myself.  I’ve also noticed the pentacle has an odd energy kind of like a cross between the wand and the chalice.  It’s one of those tools that holds and stores energy, but instead of pulling my energy into it, it does allow me to direct some of its energy out.

Day 250: Chalice Consecration

What You’ll Need:

  • Your usual circle casting tools and your chalice
  • Water incense (or use frankincense or sandalwood)
  • Water oil (or one of the following oils:  jasmine, rose, or water lily)

To begin, prepare a small altar at the westernmost point of your sacred space.  Cast your magic circle as usual, but this time use your newly consecrated athame to cast the circle.  Once the circle is cast, transfer your pentacle, incense burner, incense, fire candle, essential oil, and water, and salt bowls from the central main altar to the one you have prepared in the west.  Set your chalice on your pentacle, kneel before the altar with your arms open to the sky, and say:

Lady and Lord, God and Goddess,
I bring before You this chalice, ready to
Receive Your blessing, that it may ever
Be guided by Your hands–in the ways of nature.

Sprinkle water on the chalice and say:

From water, water is made.  Consecrated are you with the element of water, your sister.

Take a small portion of salt in your hand and rub it onto the chalice, saying:

Consecrated are you with the element of earth.

Place a small amount of water incense onto the hot coals of your censer.  Hold the chalice over the smoke and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of air.

Hold the chalice above the flame of the fire candle.  While it is there say:

Consecrated are you with the element of fire.

Finally hold the chalice between the palms of your hands.  Close your eyes and imagine that the energies of your body, mind, and spirit channel through your hands and enter into the chalice.  Rub the chalice with water oil, then hold the tip of the athame blade to the chalice and say:

Consecrated are you in the art magical.

Your chalice is now consecrated.  Close your circle as usual.

As with the wand and the athame, I don’t necessarily feel that my chalice is anymore aligned to water than it was, but the elemental energy does seem more acute and the tool does seem more of a part of myself.  I do also notice a definite difference between the chalice’s energy and that of the wand and athame.  I’m ashamed it surprised me as much as it did.  The wand and athame are male tools and definitely point and direct energy, while the chalice is the most ‘receptive’ of all the tools.  I don’t feel that it directs energy so much as stores it, holds it near and dear, and then sort of draws you into that energy instead of you pulling it out.  It’s an interesting tool, the chalice.

Day 249: Wand Consecration

What You’ll Need:

  • Your usual circle casting tools and your wand
  • Air incense (or use frankincense or white copal)
  • Air oil (or one of the following oils:  bergamot, sage, star anise, or lemon verbena)
  • A deep bowl of earth

To begin, prepare a small altar at the easternmost point of your sacred space.  Cast your magic circle as usual, but this time use your newly consecrated athame to cast the circle.  Once the circle is cast, transfer your pentacle, incense burner, incense, fire candle, essential oil, and water, and salt bowls from the central main altar to the one you have prepared in the east.  Set the wand on your pentacle, kneel before the altar with your arms open to the sky, and say:

Lady and Lord, God and Goddess,
I bring before You this wand, ready to
Receive Your blessing, that it may ever
Be guided by Your hands–in the ways of nature.

Sprinkle water on the wand and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of water.

Take a small portion of salt in your hand and rub it onto the wand, saying:

Consecrated are you with the element of earth.

Place a small amount of air incense onto the hot coals of your censer.  Hold the wand over the smoke and say:

From air, air is made.  Consecrated are you with the element of air, your brother.

Hold the wand above the flame of the fire candle.  While it is there say:

Consecrated are you with the element of fire.

Finally hold the wand between the palms of your hands.  Close your eyes and imagine that the energies of your body, mind, and spirit channel through your hands and enter into the wand.  Rub the wand with air oil, then hold the tip of the athame blade to the wand and say:

Consecrated are you in the art magical.

Your wand is now consecrated.  Close your circle as usual.

Again, I have to echo what I noted upon consecrating my athame. I don’t particularly notice my wand being any more attuned to air than what it was before, but I definitely notice a stronger elemental energy as well as a stronger attunement with my own self.

Also the anointing air oil did a marvelous job ‘glamming up’ the wand.  The wood looks so vibrant now!  I guess I’d really let my poor tool get awfully thirsty.

Day 248: Consecrating Your Athame

What You’ll Need:

  • Your usual circle casting tools and your athame
  • Fire incense (or use frankincense)
  • Fire oil (or one of the following oils:  cinnamon, bergamot, clove, orange, or pennyroyal)
  • A deep bowl of earth

To begin, prepare a small altar at the southernmost point of your sacred space.  Cast your magic circle.  Once the circle is cast, transfer your pentacle, incense burner, incense, fire candle, essential oil, and water, and salt bowls from the central main altar to the one you have prepared in the south.  Set the athame on your pentacle, kneel before the altar with your arms open to the sky, and say:

Lady and Lord, God and Goddess,
I bring before You this athame, ready to
Receive Your blessing, that it may ever
Be guided by Your hands–in the ways of nature.

Sprinkle water on the athame from hilt to blade-point and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of water.

Take a small portion of salt in your hand and rub it onto the hilt and blade, saying:

Consecrated are you with the element of earth.

Place a small amount of fire incense onto the hot coals of your censer.  Hold the athame over the smoke and say:

Consecrated are you with the element of air.

Hold the tip of the athame in the flame of the fire candle for 10-15 seconds.  While it is there say:

From fire, fire is made.  Consecrated are you with the element of fire, your brother.

Plunge the tip of the athame into the bowl of water and hold it there until the blade is completely cooled.

Finally hold the athame between the palms of your hands and imagine that you fill it with your own life energy. Rub the blade with fire oil, saying:

Consecrated are you in the art magical.

Your athame is now consecrated.  Plunge the blade into the deep bowl of earth and allow it to stay there for twenty-four hours.  Close your circle as usual, and use the athame in your ritual work from now on.

Upon doing this exercise, I flashed back to the first time I attempted a tool consecration–all the way back when I was still in high school. As Roderick supposes in his 366, it was one of my very first circles. It was a hot mess. I was so concerned with doing things right and saying the right things that the energy was very lacking. By the time I was done ‘consecrating’ my tools, I rather felt the whole thing had been a waste. Other than the fact that I now didn’t touch the objects unless it was for a ritual, nothing really felt different. The objects didn’t feel holy.

I now have an entirely different athame, pentacle, wand, and chalice since those days, and–believe it or not–I don’t believe I’ve actually ever gone through and thoughtfully consecrated them. I treat them as consecrated, and technically most of them have gone through a “consecration lite” method (by touching them to my High Priestess’s tools), but I’ve neglected to really go through and attend to it myself.

Consecrating my athame was an experience that wasn’t accompanied by spectacular magic, but things did change a little. In a way, it was like my tool was soaking up the water, salt, incense and flame I introduced it to, and then mingled them with my own energy and locked it up. Holding it now, I don’t necessarily feel like it’s more attuned to the element of fire, but it is definitely attuned to both me and the elemental powers, and visualizing energy movement with it is now several degrees easier. Very interesting.