Pagan Hints, Tips and Tricks.
Experienced Pagans pick up a lot of tricks and tips that we use, without really thinking about them, so often when we are training a novice or apprentice we forget to include these little hints that make living a magickal life just that little bit easier.
I've gathered together some of these little tips in the hopes that they will aid beginners with some simple solutions, or maybe give some long term practitioners hints on some things they may not have considered trying.
Wax on your Altar Cloths?
Personally I have foregone the use of Altar cloths altogether, I prefer to work directly upon the surface of my Altar, but I often hear complaints amongst my students of wax dripping down from their candles and marking their, either very expensive or 'hours of handiwork,' Altar cloths. As with most problems there are several solutions.
- Glass Topped Altar: Something you may want to consider is to do like I did previously and measure your altar's top exactly and then go visit a glass shop and ask to have them trim a piece of 1/4 inch thick plate window glass for you (plate glass, is heavier and sturdier than regular glass, so if one of your Altar items falls over, it is less likely to crack the glass). Ask them to also round the edges for you to prevent cuts. This is then placed on your altar OVER your Altar cloths. It is not usually not very expensive, and saves your Cloths from damage. By having a piece of glass over the altar's cloth, you now only have to scrape off the candle wax with a razor blade.
- Iron out the drips: This is a time consuming process and doesn't always work well. You will require an iron and both newspaper and paper towels. First scrape off ax much wax as you are able from the cloth. Then lay down a few sheets of newspaper, then a few of paper towel, then lay over the Altar Cloth, then some more paper towel and some more newspaper The next step is to iron over the top. The heat melts the wax which is then soaked up by the paper towel, the newspaper helps to protect you Cloth and the table (or ironing board) from the wax. You may need to change the paper towels and repeat the process.
Cleaning and Cleansing your Altar
We all know that anything left to sit for any length of time gathers dust, but your Altar also gathers energies. So how exactly do you clean and cleanse your Altar without removing the positive build up of your own energies?
- Citrus Essential Oil Cleaner: Citrus oils have a neutralising effect of negative energies but don't affect the positive energy, so many Pagans will clean and cleanse their Altar with a homemade cleaner incorporating citrus oil (see Forum - Kitchen Wytchery - Household Products, for recipe)
- Florida Water: In some of the Hoodoo and Voudoun traditions, the practitioners use Florida Water which is a citrus cologne that has a pleasant scent and this also neutralises the energies on your altar.
Grounding your Indoor Altar
If treated well (cleaned and cleansed) and worked upon regularly, the indoor altar can easily become a 'battery' charged with power that you can tap into when required. However it can also become 'overcharged' and this one of the earliest things I teach my student;
- Take some dirt from your garden (or from the bush if you don't have a garden) and place this dirt on a plate under your altar. If you are unable to do so because you don't have space underneath then you can place it on your Altar or in a drawer or anywhere where it comes into contact with the Altar. This dirt then becomes a conductor of the energy building up on within your Altar and also links your altar to the earth outside and therefore to nature - which is one of the rootsof a Pagan Magickal energies. It is important to have your Altar connected to the earth in some manner, as the practitioner's Altar is item which links the practitioner to both the mundane and the spiritual worlds within the Sacred Circle.
Empowering and Anointing your Altar
Most Pagans new to the Craft know they need to Clean, Cleanse, Consecrate and Bless their Ritual Tools, yet forget to do the same with their Altar! We have covered Cleaning and Cleansing and now we will look at Consecrating and Blessing your Altar. This may of course depend upon your Tradition, however in Primordial Wytchecraft these are our methods;
- Empowering (Consecrating): To Consecrate we place our palms face down upon the top of the Altar and visualise our energy flowing down into the Altar, until we can see the Altar filled and glowing with our own power. We then state our intentions for our Magickal Workings ("I empower this Altar with positive energy to enable my Magick to assist those in need, to fill my Rituals with joy and to allow me to connect with the Divine, so mote it be!")
- Blessing (Annointing): To Anoint the Altar we use a specific oil blend ONLY for the Altar, this blend is specific to our Tradition, your own Tradition may have a specific blend it uses for this purpose, or if you are a Solitary you may wish to develop your own. Our Tradition's Altar blend incorporates 3 drops each of an oil linked to each of the Elements (12 drops), 3 drops of an oil associated with the moon, 3 drops associated with the sun , 3 drops associated with the earth and 3 drops associated with our ruling planet (12 drops) 3 drops of oil linked to our Patron Goddess, 3 drops linked to our Patron God, and 3 drops linked to our own vibration plus ,3 drops of our own blood (12 drops) - (36 drops total) - This is then blended with a base oil and stored in a glass bottle. We anoint only using our bare hands (please ensure they have been washed with salted water prior!). 1) Anoint the top of the Altar (Blessed is Sky Father), 2) Anoint the base of the Altar (Blessed is Earth Mother), 3) Anoint the four elemental directions (Blessed are the four most Sacred Things, Fire, Water, Earth and Air), 4) Anoint by drawing a pentagram in the centre (Blessed are the Four as they become one, creating the Fifth sacred thing which is life), 5) Anoint ourself (Blessed are all the Children of the Old Ways)
Spells and Ritual Tips.
Long Term Workings/Multiple Spells.
Many Pagans find they have times when they have an ongoing spell, so how do you use your Altar when your not supposed to mix energies?
Rather than have several Altars (although most Pagans seem to have at least a few, myself included) there are a few simple methods that can be employed.
- Multiple Altar Surfaces: Begin your working on your regular Altar but on another movable working surface, (for myself I bought several of the ceramic plates that sit under pout plants, you may choose to use these, I have seen mirrors employed the same way, as well as the glass plates designed to sit under large candles) In this way you are able to begin the spell, then should you require working space on your Altar you are able to move the ongoing spell without disturbing it. By using this method you are able to continue to charge or do whatever is required throughout the progress of the spell on it's own 'mini altar'.
- Jar Candles: When performing long term candle spells, I prefer to use jar candles (I try wherever possible to choose one in a colour and scent that compliments the spell's energy) as I am able to move these readily, and have no concerns about burning down my house!
- Tree Charms: For ongoing spells that do not require a candle but do require regular charging, I create what I call 'tree charms'. I adopted this idea from the Native American's "Grandmother Tree". I have a large flowering tree in our Yard which called to me the day I moved in. I leave offerings there, to Mother Tree (She's not old enough to be a grandmother yet), bury remains of spell workings there by her roots, that need to be transformed back into neutral energy. In Her branches I hang tree charms. Some of these are simply empty vials, which I purchase and fill with the appropriate spell ingredients, charge etc as required by my spell, then hang in the tree. Others are handmade charms and amulets, crafted depending upon the spell requirements. By hanging in the branches in this manner these charms then are able to be continuously charged by both myself and the natural elements that surround them. I also ask Mother Tree to add her energies to them. (And She looks very pretty with them all hanging from her branches).
Source: Terra Sphere Coven Book of Shadows