When it comes to practicing witchcraft, it’s important to know the basics of ritual. This can apply to both solo practitioners as well as covens. The basic building blocks of a ritual are cleansing the space, setting up your quarters and boundaries, casting a circle and then calling the quarters.
To cast a circle you can just point your finger, but using a wand is much more effective.
Finding the right wand for you is a personal thing and can take a bit of time, but it is worth having the right tool for the job which resonates with your energy. There are a few ways you can approach it; research different types of wood or crystals and then make a wand yourself or have it made out of raw material; or, set an intention to find the right tool for yourself and then keep a lookout for that special fit.
Once you have what you need, you can use it as part of your rituals.
To set out the boundaries of your working space start with putting elements into the corresponding directions at the outskirts.
North = Earth
South = Fire
East = Air
West = Water
When you have an element in each direction, you can cleanse the space with a bessom (ritual broom) either literally or metaphorically.
Now you can set up a working altar and/or fire in the centre of the ritual space. This will be the focal point of your work within the ritual so make sure you have everything you need before casting the circle.
Every ritual is different so that’s the part you’ll make up for yourself and change to suit the purpose.
I cast a circle
Within its field
I’m safe and sound
As you cast your circle you want to set the intention that your ritual space is sacred and secure. A chant will help with this.
To cast the circle, hold your wand in your right hand and cross your arm over your body to point the wand on the left. This should mean you walk in a clockwise direction (Deosil) and the metaphysical line is outside the boundaries of your quarters.
In Scottish Gaelic the term for clockwise is Deosil and the term for anti-clockwise is Widdershins.
Part of circle casting is visualising the line you’re drawing as a boundary but also imagining it as a sphere which surrounds above and below.
When the circle is cast, no one enters and no one leaves the ritual space until it is complete. At the end of the ritual you use the wand again to cut an imaginary slit and step through.
A door wreath is often something we only think about doing at Christmas (or Yule for the pagans) but it should be a regular part of your witchy practice to draw in positive energy and good luck throughout the year.
A wreath is a type of portal, similar in principal to the dream-catcher but without a trap set in the middle. The circle is made from twisted and intertwined strips of branch and can be made from rattan or willow straps. You can make it yourself by weaving green strips and then drying it, or you can buy a ready-made base at a craft store.
The other element of the wreath is a collection of flowers and herbs. These should also be fresh when you make it, but suitable for drying as the wreath “sets” over time. Which herbs and flowers you choose is personal, but they should be congruent with cleansing and abundance. For my wreath I chose lavender, rosemary and everlasting daisies as I’m constructing it for the celebration of Imbolc and the onset of spring.
I find the portal works better when the fresh greenery is lined up in one direction, preferably anti-clockwise to pull inwards.
When you have constructed the wreath, perform a blessing with either incense smoke, anointing oils, or both. State your intentions for the wreath as you bless it and be as specific as you like with what you’re wanting to attract into your home.
Next, set a hook in the middle of your front door at about eye-level and then hang it up.
The wreath can serve you until the next seasonal celebration where you might like to thank it for it’s work and ceremonially burn it before making a new one.
When it comes to the study of alchemy, the symbolism carries a lot of hidden meaning. In particular the symbols which represent both the astrological bodies and common metals can convey a lot of layered messaging.
Lets take a look at how the concept of transmutation of metals can be applied to the transmutation of human consciousness.
Dark, heavy and poisonous, lead is also an impenetrable substance when it comes to things like radiation. It protects through containment and is the ultimate shield.
In the same way Saturn is renowned as being a planet of restrictions and boundaries, but we all need parameters in our lives so that we understand what is possible and what is not. Saturn can feel like being held down and limited in a lot of ways, but can also teach us the art of timing.
After all, timing is everything.
Jupiter is the planet of expansion, abundance and material gain, but it can also be hedonistic and frivolous. It’s the planet of optimism, gumption and pluckiness required to forge ahead or throw caution to the wind.
Tin is a strong but light-weight material which is very useful, resistant to corrosion, and food-safe, but melts easily under heat and is highly malleable. It might be good for the short-term, but won’t be able to hack it over the long-term the way other metals can.
This energy will get you places, but it won’t necessarily keep you there.
Strong, uncompromising, masculine. Iron is synonymous with the will and so is Mars, the planet named after the god of war. The blood which flows in our veins is red from the oxidisation of iron in haemoglobin and the red planet reflect this hot, surging life-force within all of us.
As a metal it is rarely beaten and once smelted properly and alloyed with carbon, iron becomes steel. At times in life we need this steely resolve to give us the nerve to do things which are difficult and a lot of our braver aspects can be found in our Mars placement.
Shiny, feminine, rich and also conductive, copper is a metal we associate in modern times with both safe plumbing waters and electrical wiring.
The planet is known as both the evening star and the morning star, switching position in our night sky from one to the other after travelling close to the sun for a year and a half in between. Venus is our brightest star when it is visible and heralds either the beginning of the night, or its ending.
As a planet shrouded in mystery it has been likened to the feminine aspects which are part of the hidden realms. It has also been dismissed by Christians as an evil omen of wild and untamed magics.
It’s little wonder, then, that copper is so valued by the Fae, who also inhabit the liminal spaces between our waking and sleeping states, appearing on the edges of our consciousness. The hidden dimensions of the Otherworld are unlocked by this Key of Life, represented by the Ankh.
The only metal in this family known to exist in a liquid state at room-temperature, quicksilver is thus named for the speed at which it can move and it’s brilliant appearance.
Mercury is known as the planet of communication and is named after the messenger god who flew with winged feet to deliver news. It is also the planet known to affect technology, which is the modern equivalent of lightning-speed communication and information.
Being in such a fluid state is beneficial if you would like to makes moves outside of the box or if you don’t want to be constricted by impositions of others.
The moon rules our subconscious and emotional aspects and in it’s likeness silver is considered to be a medium of mystery. Here, the psychic realm opens up as the moon wanes from shining silver into the tarnished blackness of night. It does this in order to initiate a person into a deeper understanding of their own mind, wandering through the night in order to see what is not seen during the daylight.
Silver is the metal within our mirrors, reflecting back to us how we truly appear to others. When we understand this aspect of ourselves, we can form better relationships where we practice self-awareness instead of projecting our insecurities for others to see plainly while we ourselves remain oblivious.
Obviously, gold is considered the most precious metal and the main objective in alchemy. Gold is synonymous with wealth, power and beauty, but it can also be seen as the light which shines truth on a situation.
The sun provides us with warmth, maintains the seasons, gives life to plants and shines a light for us to go about in a flurry of activity. It also washes away the fears and insecurities so prevalent in the night.
The sun is our logical, philosophical self. It is the self that we can be when we’re at our best; operating from a place of kindness, patience, rational thought and calm demeanor. Our higher-self if you will. The self who knows intrinsically that they have a connection with the universe at large as well as the world in it’s micro form.
As the famed alchemist William Blake wrote, it is an ability to see beyond the mundane and appreciate the world in gratitude at how miraculous it can be;
I was talking to my Dad who is almost 80 years old now and a Druid himself back in the day. We were discussing the lockdown situation unfolding and how he had been born during WW2 but he had never seen times like this.
At the end of our very normal conversation about staying safe and not going crazy, I remembered something which had happened just one month before.
I was previously living in Queensland at my brother’s farm and it was taking me a very long time to get a job in the place I wanted to live, close to my partner in Tasmania. The months of applying had worn away my ego and thoroughly convinced me that I had zero ability to manifest whatsoever. In fact I had stopped sending in applications a week before I got an offer.
However, I was aware that bigger things were playing out at the time, in particular unprecedented massive bushfires covering most of the terrain between where I was and where I wanted to be. If I had gotten a job sooner I would have had to postpone or turn it down because I literally couldn’t have transported myself, my things and my pets through the fire zones.
Shortly after the rain came I got the job.
I described driving through the charred bushland with melted signs to my dad and thinking as I traveled; something else is coming. This is my one window of opportunity and it’s going to shut behind me.
Sure enough, a few weeks later the borders are closing and no one knows when they will reopen or who can come through.
“That’s your witchiness kicking in,” my Dad laughed.
“True,” I smiled, appreciating the fact that he doesn’t bat an eyelid to such things. “But it’s interesting how often things will work out like that for me.”
“Oh yes,” he said, suddenly thoughtful, “those things would often happen to me too. I always had to make the decision first though. If I wasn’t working towards it, it wasn’t just going to happen, but yes; strange timing.”
“It’s like meeting something halfway,” I added, “like a trapeze artist. The thing you want is swinging and you have to swing out as well and grab hold at just the right moment.”
“Yes, that’s a good way of describing it,” he agreed. “If you miss taking that leap of faith you end up falling.”
And that’s divine timing in a nutshell.
We can’t always see clearly why things happen the way they do, and we certainly have to put in the work, but sometimes we just have to wait for the right moment when we reach out in perfect synchronicity and grasp that swinging opportunity.
If you’re one of the rare personality types which have the dominant cognitive function of Introverted Intuition (Ni) then this article is the advice you probably need to hear.
The two personality types I’m referring to (but this can apply to other types who tap into intuition) are the INFJ and INTJ. I’m the former and currently dating the latter (hopefully ongoing I must say).
Because it’s early days in the relationship, I haven’t necessarily wanted to talk about some things which may have left me with PTSD. Discussing trauma and uncontrollably sobbing is not sexy or fun so I ended up being a bit cagey around previous attachments.
Him being an INTJ immediately knew I was leaving things out and assumed it was because I still had feelings for someone.
I have feelings alright but they are mostly fear and revulsion. Generally though, I’m trying to repress the trauma so I can work on it gradually and rebuild my life. I don’t want to be reminded, however trauma is very patient and waits for you, ready to come rushing to the fore as soon as you look at it.
Intuition is a funny thing because it will ping on a very subtle and almost intangible level. It makes itself impossible to ignore and niggles at you like an insatiable itch. Intuition will prompt the question, but it cannot always provide an answer.
Intuitive types can be like a dog with a bone; unable to let it go until they get an answer. Sometimes they think they already know the answer and keep hammering away at the subject from that angle, determined to uncover the truth.
This creates a perfect storm.
He wanted his intuition validated and wouldn’t leave the subject alone which in turn triggered my PTSD and caused me to launch into fight-or-flight.
The only resolution came when I provided screenshots and details about things which happened to me which left me so upset I almost ended things.
No one likes false accusations.
No one likes being kept in the dark.
It’s an impossible situation but we managed to work through it.
Just because you know something is amiss, doesn’t mean it;
Sometimes you just need to leave people alone and let them do their thing. Persisting on exposing the truth no matter what can damage trust and relationships. It can also make you look very insensitive and if the truth is not what you assumed it was (because intuition is not knowledge as such) then you can end up feeling terrible.
This is a balancing act because there are times you need to act on intuition and times when it probably doesn’t matter.
Whatever the case, never assume that you have figured out the answer without more information. By all means distance yourself from people who you feel unable to trust, but don’t get into harsh judgments. There might be more to it than you can see.
You don’t have to validate your intuition every time.
Almost two years ago I wrote a blog article about the signs which indicate you’re destined for the path of witchcraft. I followed it up a year later with a companion video on my YouTube channel and recently I got a comment on the video which prompted me to revisit the subject once more…
The comment stated that it is not necessary to have signs in order to choose the path of witchcraft. That’s very true. Anyone can make the choice to explore witchcraft for themselves at any stage of life and probably find a meaningful addition to life. Also, witchcraft doesn’t just make itself available for you, it’s something you have to actively pursue for yourself.
There’s two things you should probably know.
These are the things which are not always mentioned until you’re in the middle of it.
Usually, if you’re happy to be one of the herd, you’re unlikely to choose such an anti-establishment journey. Being safe, content and oblivious are the key ingredients to staying enmeshed in the system. When you cannot be content with the basics, if you see too much, or if you go through great struggles, you won’t be able to turn a blind eye and follow the flock of sheeple blindly accepting rules which keep them imprisoned.
To recap some of the more significant signs you’re likely to choose witchcraft:
As you can see, these are the traits of a person who is not just a follower, but is someone prepared to do what is right, even if it means doing it alone.
Traits like this will make you incredibly unpopular, maybe even ostracised by peer groups or society at large. Other people will find you triggering because you shine a light on their shadow and they would rather pretend that it doesn’t exist.
You won’t be able to fit in. The box is too small.
If you think that witchcraft is going to save you from being this way, I can tell you now it will only make it more pronounced. You’ll have even less tolerance for BS. You won’t be very good at keeping your mouth shut. You’ll be even more unpalatable to people who’re invested in a toxic system.
Witchcraft is not going to make your life easier. It’ll demand a great deal of courage, accountability and resolve. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, or swallowing the red pill; once you wake up you cannot go back to sleep.
Welcome to the dark night of the soul.
In almost every religious practice around the world is an element of prescriptive diet. Most religions tell their followers what NOT to eat, such as Muslims and Jewish people not eating pork, Hindus observing at least one meat-free day per week, or Mormons not having caffeine and alcohol.
Why are most religions so strict about what people put in their mouths? Some of it, such as the tradition of Lent, is about observing self-denial in order to appease an angry God or to make a plea for something.
A lot of structured religion also tends to be like a controlling parent who doesn’t trust their child to make good choices on their own. The parent believes that if they don’t tell the child what is good for them, the child will make a fatal mistake and ruin their own lives. Not eating pork in a hot environment was pretty good advice because of the dangerous parasites present in the meat, however for cold Scandinavian countries there was very little risk and pork was a dominant part of the traditional diet.
How does a spiritual practice such as Paganism deal with a topic such as this? Certainly pagan practices are not usually prescriptive or demanding in such a way, and some things which would be denied in other religions (such as alcohol) are actually an integral part of the practice.
The first thing is: you’re more than welcome to design your own diet, whether that is carnivorous, gluten free, vegan or raw juice. It doesn’t really matter in terms of your spirituality (although lots of online content will tell you what is “correct” in terms of food) and the only important thing you need to know is how your diet works for you in terms of health. The rest is personal choice.
Like other religions, fasting does feature in Pagan practice because it creates an energetic shift within the body. Some people find it “cleansing” for both body and soul, but ultimately it is denial of the physical needs in order to create a sacred space within.
Fasting can mean different things: it can be giving up sugar, meat, alcohol or restricting calories while maintaining the same diet as usual. It can also be abstaining from sex, so it doesn’t have to be just about food.
Because Paganism is generally a nature-based religious practice, so caring about the environment is pretty central. What that looks like in your craft may evolve over time or change with your needs. Some people opt to be vegan or vegetarian, but those are not automatically superior from an environmental perspective.
Reducing plastic, opting for organic and staying away from monoculture are big steps you can take towards contributing to the environment. I’ve been working on becoming zero waste and it isn’t easy, but it is an ideal I want to move towards.
Creating your own garden can be an entire witchcraft practice in it’s own right. Druidry is all about trees, so creating a food forest is an amazing way to observe your spirituality. No matter where you live, you can grow food in pots for personal use. This can also be an act of emancipation from money to grow your own food.
I highly recommend permaculture and I know it works really well in small spaces so even suburban gardens can produce abundance.
Food is central to a lot of ritual. Just think about the Christian Eucharist and it makes a lot of sense that imbibing certain things can be representative of other things.
Sharing food in general with other people creates community and bonding.
Food is also a great way of grounding after ritual and placing your consciousness back into your body.
For witches, the end of a ritual usually involves “Cakes and Ale” which is a biscuity/cakey treat paired with some form of alcohol. Typically, when the coven shares the plate and cup they wish one another to always have their fill in life.
A common feature on the altar is offerings to the deities. This can take the form of actual money, vases of flowers, nips of alcohol or foods.
What sort of offering you make depends greatly on who you’re making the offer to and for what purpose. Sometimes an offering isn’t to a deity at all, but rather a visual example of the abundance from harvest time, which reminds people to have gratitude.
For pagans, the Wheel of the Year is the circular calendar of festivals centred around the agricultural cycle. It celebrates harvest times and seasons with the use of feasts and fire.
Certain foods and ferments are synonymous with particular festivals, such as pumpkins at Samhain and summer fruits or berries at Litha.
Druids venerated the bee as a sacred animal so they use honey and honey mead in their practice. Keeping a hive or encouraging bees with plantings is a very ecological thing to do as well as Druidic.
The Greek pantheon is often referenced by Wiccans and they had certain foods associated with particular gods. Persephone is represented by the pomegranate which also symbolises fertility; Bacchus is synonymous with grapes and the subsequent production of wine; Demeter was goddess of the harvest and associated with wheat sheaves.
If you have a particular deity you connect with, there may be an associated food which can be used as a method of connection.
If you haven’t yet been part of a ritual practice, or if you are trying to figure out how to create one of your own, it can be a daunting proposition. One of the easiest places to start is within a coven or an order who can teach you how they do their particular brand of rituals.
How you conduct a ritual really depends on what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. There’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” so much as the right set of ingredients for what you’re creating. It’s kind of like baking; you wouldn’t leave out sugar if you’re making a cake, but it’s not something you would put in Yorkshire Pudding.
The first place I was exposed to the art of ritual was within the Anglican Church. My family attended a very old-school place where the service was sung (thankfully not in Latin) and all of the most traditional aspects used such as piped organ music, a fully robed choir, incense swung from a brass burner, and the sacrament of bread and wine.
Of course there were many components which make up the church ritual including taking an oath, “passing the peace” which is basically sharing a blessing and positive energy with everyone there, invoking the spirit, unburdening the conscience, and raising energy through song.
In the mediumship training I undertook, there would be a pre-session meditation designed to change our frequencies so that we could channel other dimensions. The frequencies were literally assigned a number, basic everyday function was set at 9, while a channeling state was set at a minimum of 22 but usually something like 33.
We were not supposed to draw on our own energy because that would be exhausting. Instead, we had to align with a higher state and tap into that source of energy in order to hold a connection with spirits who had crossed over. It still used a lot of energy to do that, but was nowhere near as taxing as using our own, or worse… stealing it from people around us. A post-session grounding had to be done as well to disconnect and return to normal.
When I joined the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, their rituals were very similar to the Wiccan style of the coven I later joined. The basics of a pagan ritual are set out down below:
As you can see, the main purpose of most ritual whether it is Christian, Pagan or Spiritualist is usually to channel higher energies and reconnect ourselves with spirit. The post ritual supper is also very important because it returns you to the present physical realm so that you can go back to normal.
What you do within the ritual will often vary depending on your objective, but here are the basics you can use to set an intention or channel different energies:
A ritual, at its most basic form, is an exchange of energy. What you put out you theoretically get back so the more time, attention to detail, and effort you make; the better the outcome.
I find it useful to spend time preparing for a ritual by meditating on what my objective is and what elements will align with that. When I have a clear plan in my head I can start designing the ritual and gathering all the ingredients as well as setting up the space and waiting for the right astrological alignments.