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.
When the sun sets on the longest day of the year, pagans gather to celebrate for a variety of reasons. In the Northern Hemisphere it falls on the 21st of June and in the Southern Hemisphere it falls on the 22nd of December.
We know that the solstice celebrations are an important milestone on the Pagan Wheel of the Year and were actively celebrated by ancient peoples at sites such as Stonehenge. The summer solstice marked the point of descent halfway through the light half of the year where agriculture would start to wind down and preparations must be made to survive the winter.
But before that, it was vital to give thanks to the gods for the bounty of the spring and summer months. Flowers, fruits, honey and leafy greens were paired with wines and ciders to refresh the palate on a hot summer day.
Bonfires at the beach would be lit and serve as a beacon to gather the community who may choose to stay up late enough to watch the sun both set and rise once more.
Playing in the water, feeling the sun on your naked skin and paying homage to the masculine deity of the sun god also feature in Litha rituals. A sun-disc can be incorporated as part of your altar decorations, or perhaps something of a phallic nature would be entirely appropriate as well as offerings of fruit and alcohol.
It’s a time of ripening, a time of sexual prowess, and a time of bountiful excess.
Feel at liberty to luxuriate in the sensual nature of Litha.
The Pagans celebrate a number of different festivals throughout the year, but none have quite the cultural history that Yule does.
Traditional Celtic, Nordic and European cultures structured their lives around an agricultural calendar which modern pagans call The Wheel of the Year. It marks eight distinct seasonal celebrations; four fire festivals, two equinoxes and two solstices. The one we’re going to explore in this article is the Winter Solstice, which occurs around the 21st of December in the Northern Hemisphere and June 22nd in the South.
In the Scandinavian and Germanic countries, Christmas is still called Jule (pronounced Yule) and indeed, a lot of what we know to be traditions of Christmas are far more pagan in their origins than Christian. After all, the church had to try and sell a new mainstream religion to a society which had ingrained generational practices they would not easily forego.
The actual time of the birth of Jesus (that a historical person existed is actually supported by documentation, whether he was the Christ incarnate is open to speculation) is unknown but a lot of theologians estimate it was probably in March, so why was it amalgamated with the winter solstice?
That has a lot to do with the main theme of the festival; The Return of the Sun.
A lot of people would expect that a celebration marking the shortest day and longest night of the year would be about death, however it is the exact opposite. The solstice marks a turning point from the darkest days of the year, to a time when the sun starts to come back and warm the earth once more.
This fits into a lot of myths similar to the Christ story, such as the legend of King Arthur. A lot of people had faith that when things were at their darkest, a leader would be born who carries an eternal light which can guide people out of it. At the winter solstice pagans believe that a Child of Light is released from the darkness of a cave and he’s known as Mabon.
Mabon is also a separate celebration of the Autumn Equinox and the legend goes that the Child of Light is born at this time, but is stolen away and seconded in a dark cave. His mother grieves for him and the earth withers in response, rather like the legend of Persephone and Demeter from Greek mythology. Eventually she finds him and he is released at the time of Yule.
For an agricultural society, seasons and their timing were of vital importance and they looked to the skies for patterns they could recognise in order to keep track. As part of this, standing stones were often built in alignment with the solstices and large gatherings would be held to mark those auspicious events.
We know a lot about the celebration of winter solstice thanks to Stonehenge.
In recent years archaeologists have examined the isotopes in pig bones over 4000 years old found at various settlement sites surrounding Avebury and Stonehenge. They discovered that all the bones in question were killed at a specific time of the year, namely the middle of winter. They also discovered that those pigs had lived all their lives in various areas of the British Isles as far away as the north of Scotland. They concluded that people of the Neolithic in Britain would muster their excess livestock, take them all the way to Salisbury Plain, slaughter them and enjoy a large feast in celebration of the winter solstice.
What makes them think it was specifically held on the solstice? Because even to this day the stones perfectly mark the rising and setting suns of both the winter and summer solstices. In the winter solstice, the sun will set in direct alignment with the south-west trilithon and it will rise again directly in the middle of the south-east trilithon. The alignment is so perfect it still baffles scholars to this day as to how they did it.
The main reason why livestock were slaughtered in large numbers at this time of year was to put less pressure on feeding them from grain and hay stores. All they really needed were the good breeding stock, especially the pregnant animals, in order to replenish their numbers in the coming spring. Again, there was a lot of practical consideration for agricultural needs behind a lot of the festivals.
Asides from the livestock management side of Yule, there was a lot of symbolism in plants which have carried over into Christmas, where their meaning is a bit obscured.
Evergreen plants were venerated at this time of year because it was generally so bleak and lifeless. Coniferous plants, holly and mistletoe featured as decoration in the home as symbols of hope for the return of life to the land. Holly in particular symbolises the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King for supremacy of the wheel of the year. At the summer solstice the Holly King is triumphant and the world descends into the dark half of the year, then at the winter solstice the Oak King is victorious and virility is restored.
The Oak King is also sometimes portrayed as the Green Man and both Holly and Oak Kings can be considered split personalities of the horned god, Cernunnos.
Male fertility is a recurring theme in Yule and you may be surprised to know what kissing under the mistletoe actually means. This information will either put you off doing it, or spur you on…
For the druids, mistletoe was a plant associated with divine male fertility because it resembles… issue. That is, it hangs from the boughs of trees like god-jizz.
Being a plant which grows from above the ground after being excreted by birds and forming a parasitic attachment to a host tree, it was considered to be sent from the heavens and so retrieving it was a ceremony in and of itself. The High Druid would climb the host tree and cut down the mistletoe with a golden sickle. This represented the feminine deity (the moon goddess) harvesting the seed of the god in order to create new life. Kissing underneath the bough of a tree laden with mistletoe was believed to bring fertility to the couple and make the man more potent.
Another tradition was the Yule Log. This was the largest possible log a household could find, and outdoor fires were not a thing at this celebration, so it had to fit the family hearth whilst also lasting a full 12 days of burning.
The ritual goes that in the lead-up to Yule the log would have pride of place on the family table where it would receive sprinklings of libations (alcohol) along with wishes for the season ahead. On the evening of the solstice it would be lit from a piece saved from last year’s log and then kept burning for 12 days which ended up about the 1st of January. At that point a piece would be saved for the next year.
This ceremony was believed to bring plenty of food, good fortune and warmth to the household for the rest of the year.
Very little has changed about a lot of the traditions we now associate with Christmas, especially the feasting. Whether a pagan is marking this event in December or June, the most important thing is to gather friends and family together for a good time when the season can be at its bleakest.
Traditional foods are roast meats (especially pigs and ducks), fermented vegetables, starchy goods, preserved fruit, nuts and… booze! For a real winter warmer, try making a mulled wine or mulled cider to go with whatever feast you have planned.