The Big Book of Practical Spells
by Judika Illes
File Size: 1125 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Weiser Books; 2nd Revised edition edition
Practical, inspirational, and comprehensive, The Big Book of Practical Spells is a useful tool and resource for beginners and experienced devotees of the magical arts. Here in one majestic volume is a basic introduction to magic; a psychic glossary; a primer on the four elements, colors, and magical supplies (including minerals and botanicals); and a compendium of spells for any situation you may face.
With Judika Illes as your guide, you will learn how to enhance your psychic power, cleanse your aura, protect yourself from malevolent powers, and create and use a wide variety of spells. There are spells for marriage, fertility, pregnancy prevention, babies and children, money, healing, and transitioning to the next life. These are spells that will help make life easier, more productive, and stress free.
*Previously published at Pure Magic
“The Big Book of Practical Spells”, how big is it? It’s so big that I threw it up in the air and it got stuck. Sorry, I’ve been dying to use that joke.
If you are at all interested in spells, this book is a must-have. As most of you know, I am a back of the book kind of guy. There is an excellent Appendix of botanical classes and a good bibliography. The Index makes for an easy-to-navigate experience for those of us who want to review something in the book.
Having read the book, I will never look at the phrase Florida Water the same way again. I thought that it was something we Floridians drank. Who knew that the pagan community think it’s a cleaning agent. That being said, a lot of our water contains alcohol — just saying.
So, how do I score this tome of pagan wisdom? Well, as I said, I think that it is a must-have for those interested in spells. I give “The Big Book of Practical Spells” 4 1/2 stars. Run down to your favorite bookstore and pick it up. If you don’t have a local bookstore try ( http://amzn.to/28ZSfFA ) at Amazon and I’ll get a modest commission from the sale.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Weiser Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
LITHA – MidSummer
Also called – Summer Solstice, Adonia, St. John’s Feast Day, Līgo, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Alban Hefin, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, Rasos
Observed by – Europeans, Westerners
Type – Cultural, Baltic Finns, Pagan, Christian, Celtic, Norse/Germanic, Balts
Significance – Marks the ancient middle of Summer, astronomical beginning of Summer, and the nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Date – June 21, 24, 25 or a date close to the Summer Solstice on June 20–23
Celebrations – Festivals, Bonfires, Feasting, Singing, Maypole Dancing
Related to – Summer Solstice, Quarter days, Nativity of St. John the Baptist
European midsummer-related holidays, traditions, and celebrations are pre-Christian in origin. They are particularly important in Northern Europe – Sweden, Denmark, Norway Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – but are also found in Germany, Ireland, parts of Britain (Cornwall especially), France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, other parts of Europe, and elsewhere – such as Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, and also in the Southern Hemisphere (mostly in Brazil, Argentina and Australia), where this imported European celebration would be more appropriately called “Midwinter”.
Midsummer is also sometimes referred to by Neopagans and others as Litha, stemming from Bede’s De temporum ratione which provides Anglo-Saxon names for the months roughly corresponding to June and July as se Ærra Liþa and se Æfterra Liþa (the “early Litha month” and the “later Litha month”) with an intercalary month of Liþa appearing after se Æfterra Liþa on leap years. The fire festival or Lith- Summer solstice is a tradition for many pagans.
Solstice celebrations still center around the day of the astronomical summer solstice. Some choose to hold the rite on June 21, even when this is not the longest day of the year, and some celebrate June 24, the day of the solstice in Roman times.
Although Midsummer is originally a pagan holiday, in Christianity it is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches. It is six months before Christmas because Luke 1:26 and Luke 1.36 imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus, although the Bible does not say at which time of the year this happened.
In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer day, June 24, is a public holiday. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland, but in these countries it was, in the 1950s, moved to the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 26, respectively.
The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s Eve among Christians) was from ancient times a festival of the summer solstice. Some people believed that golden-flowered mid-summer plants, especially Calendula, and St. John’s Wort, had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.
The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, as it is customary for cultures following lunar calendars to place the beginning of the day on the previous eve at dusk at the moment when the Sun has set. In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer’s Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
In the 7th century, Saint Eligius (died 659/60) warned the recently converted inhabitants of Flanders against the age-old pagan solstice celebrations. According to the Vita by his companion Ouen, he’d say: “No Christian on the feast of Saint John or the solemnity of any other saint performs solestitia [summer solstice rites] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants.”
As Christianity entered pagan areas, midsummer celebrations came to be often borrowed and transferred into new Christian holidays, often resulting in celebrations that mixed Christian traditions with traditions derived from pagan Midsummer festivities. The 13th-century monk of Winchcomb, Gloucestershire, who compiled a book of sermons for the feast days, recorded how St. John’s Eve was celebrated in his time:
Let us speak of the revels which are accustomed to be made on St. John’s Eve, of which there are three kinds. On St. John’s Eve in certain regions the boys collect bones and certain other rubbish, and burn them, and therefrom a smoke is produced on the air. They also make brands and go about the fields with the brands. Thirdly, the wheel which they roll.
The fires, explained the monk of Winchcombe, were to drive away dragons, which were abroad on St. John’s Eve, poisoning springs and wells. The wheel that was rolled downhill he gave its explicitly solstitial explanation:
The wheel is rolled to signify that the sun then rises to the highest point of its circle and at once turns back; thence it comes that the wheel is rolled.
On St John’s Day 1333 Petrarch watched women at Cologne rinsing their hands and arms in the Rhine “so that the threatening calamities of the coming year might be washed away by bathing in the river.”
The 8 Sabbats
A SENIOR Druid is campaigning against plans by English Heritage to display human remains at the new Stonehenge visitor centre.
King Arthur Pendragon says that remains excavated from the world heritage site should be re-buried, and models and replicas put on public display instead.
The £27million visitor centre at Airman’s Corner is due to open later this year with a large exhibition space aiming to give visitors a better understanding of the history of Stonehenge and its significance.
I can imagine how he feels. The body of the St. Bees man may be connected to my family and I feel uncomfortable about the thought of it being on display. Having said that, Pendragon’s neo-pagans, who take their inspiration from what they believe ancient pagans practiced, sound like anti-intellectual Christian fundamentalists.
Stonehenge belongs to the world and it’s mysteries should be explored, debated, and analyzed. It should be a source of inspiration for the young and the young-at-heart. If you want plastic skulls, there is always Disney World.
- Druid wants fake bones at Stonehenge (bbc.co.uk)
- Druid challenges ‘macabre’ display (independent.ie)
- Stonehenge seeking general manager to maintain ‘dignity of stones’ and speak to Druids (metro.co.uk)
Artist – John Collier (1850-1934) (English)
For thus it chanced one morn when all the court,
Green-suited, but with plumes that mocked the may,
Had been, their wont, a-maying and returned,
That Modred still in green, all ear and eye,
Climbed to the high top of the garden-wall
To spy some secret scandal if he might,
Excerpt from the poem “Guinevere” by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
The Ancient Origins of Mayday
Mayday originated as a pagan festive holy day celebrating the first spring planting.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1.
The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning.
Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets”, small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours’ doorsteps.
The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated May 1st as Beltane, which means the day of fire. Bel was the Celtic god of the sun. The Saxons began their Mayday celebrations on the eve of May, April 30. It was an evening of games and feasting celebrating the end of winter and the return of the sun and fertility of the soil. Torch bearing peasants and villagers would wind their way up paths to the top of hills or mountain crags and then ignite wooden wheels, which they would roll down into the fields below.
The May eve celebrations were eventually outlawed by the Catholic Church, but were still celebrated by peasants until the late 1700’s. While good church going folk would shy away from joining in the celebrations, those less afraid of papal authority would don animal masks and various costumes. The revellers, lead by the Goddess of the Hunt, Diana (sometimes played by a pagan-priest in women’s clothing), and the Horned God, Herne, would travel up the hill shouting, chanting, singing, and blowing hunting horns. This night became known in Europe as Walpurgisnacht, or night of the witches.
The Celtic tradition of Mayday in the British Isles continued to be celebrated throughout the middle ages by rural and village folk. Here the traditions were similar with a goddess and god of the hunt. As European peasants moved away from hunting gathering societies their gods and goddesses changed to reflect a more agrarian society. Thus Diana and Herne came to be seen by medieval villagers as fertility deities of the crops and fields. Diana became the Queen of the May and Herne became Robin Goodfellow (a predecessor of Robin Hood) or the Green Man. The Queen of the May reflected the life of the fields and Robin reflected the hunting traditions of the woods. The rites of mayday were part and parcel of pagan celebrations of the seasons. The Christian church later absorbed many of these pagan rites in order to win over converts from the ‘Old Religion’.
The two most popular feast days for medieval craft guilds were the Feast of St. John – the Summer Solstice – and Mayday. Mayday was a raucous and fun time, electing a queen of the May from the eligible young women of the village, to rule the crops until harvest. Besides the selection of the May Queen was the raising of the phallic Maypole, around which the young single men and women of the village would dance holding on to the ribbons until they became entwined, with their (hoped for) new love. There was also Robin Goodfellow – the Green Man – who was the Lord of Misrule for this day. Mayday was a celebration of the common people, and Robin would be the King, Priest or Fool for a day. Priests and Lords were the butt of many jokes; mummers would make jokes and poke fun at the local authorities.
The church and state did not take kindly to these celebrations, especially during times of popular rebellion. Mayday and the Maypole were outlawed in the 1600’s. Yet the tradition still carried on in many rural areas and the trade societies still celebrated Mayday until the 18th Century. As trade societies evolved from guilds, to friendly societies and eventually into unions, the craft traditions remained strong into the early 19th century.
May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Bealtaine and in latter times as Mary’s day. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter. Officially Irish May Day holiday is the first Monday in May. Old traditions such as bonfires are no longer widely observed, though the practice still persists in some places across the country. Limerick, Clare and many other people in other counties still keep on this tradition such as the town of Arklow in Co. Wicklow.
May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged.
During the Cold War, May Day celebrations fell out of favor due to its association with the USSR.
For More Info & See the Resources for this Article:
Think Easter is just a celebration for those of the christian faith? Well, think again!
Click on Picture Below for More Images.
Before christianity many others celebrated the Vernal Equinox which falls between March 19th and 22nd. This Sabbat is primarily a night of balance in which night and day are equal at the midpoint of spring, with the forces of light gaining power over the darknes. This is when the cold winter leaves and the warmth of the spring sun brings rebirth and new life, the awakening Mother Earth. The next full moon is called the Ostara and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit).
Because the Equinox and Easter are so close, many Catholics and others who celebrate Easter often see this holiday as being synonymous with rebirth and rejuvenation: the symbolic resurrection of Christ is echoed in the awakening of the plant and animal life around us. It was only natural for christians who were building their church to combine these two holidays to entice the pagans to come into their fold!
(The following are excerpts from WitchVox)
The traditional coloring and giving of eggs at Easter has very pagan associations. For eggs are clearly one of the most potent symbols of fertility, and spring is the season when animals begin to mate and flowers and trees pollinate and reproduce. In England and Northern Europe, eggs were often employed in folk magic when women wanted to be blessed with children.
As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our “ancient history, ” there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the “Old Religion” were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone’s gardens and beneath fences and other spots.
It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone’s property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways. I have never read any historical account of this, so I cannot offer a source for this story (though I assume the person who first told me found it somewhere); when I find one, I will let you know! When I first heard it, I was eerily reminded of the way my own family conducted such egg hunts: our parents hid money inside colorful plastic eggs that could be opened and closed up again; some eggs contained pennies, some quarters and dimes and nickels, and some lucky kids would find a fifty-cent piece or silver dollar! In our mad scramble for pocket change, were my siblings and cousins and I mimicking the treacherous activities of children so long ago?
A favorite part of Easter for kids, no doubt, is that basket of treats! Nestled in plastic “grass” colored pink or green, we’d find foil-wrapped candy eggs, hollow chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, marshmallow chicks (in pink, yellow or lavender!), fancy peanut butter or coconut eggs from Russell Stover. How this custom began and why are the baskets supposedly brought by a bunny???
In the faery lore of the Celtic countries it is customary to leave food and drink out for the fairies on the nights of our festivals, and it is believed that if the fairies are not honored with gifts at these times, they will work mischief in our lives. Certain holidays call for particular “fairy favorites.” At Ostara, it is customary to leave something sweet (honey, or mead, or candy)–could this be connected to the Easter basket tradition? Perhaps a gift of sweets corresponds to the sweet nectar gathering in new spring flowers? The forming of candy into the shape of rabbits or chicks is a way to acknowledge them as symbols; by eating them, we take on their characteristics, and enhance our own fertility, growth and vitality.
So, now you know how the Easter Bunny got to share the day with the christians belief of Christ’s resurrection! Pretty smart way to make religious peace between the people, no? 🙂
Here are a couple of templates to print and color and make decorations for Easter. Also, I’ve included a wee bit of interesting facts and activities that you may like to add to your celebration. Enjoy!
Symbols: Egg, Rabbit, Equilateral Cross, Butterfly
Deities: Youthful Deities, Warriour Gods, Deities awakening to sexuality
Leafy green vegetables, Dairy foods, Nuts such as Pumpkin, Sunflower and Pine. Flower Dishes and Sprouts.
Herbs and Flowers: celandine, cinquefoil, jasmine, rue, tansy, and violets may be burned; acorn, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, gorse, honesuckle, iris, jonquils, lily, narcissus, olive, peony, strawberry, woodruff and violet may be decorations.
Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry, Floral of any type.
*Taken from Celtic Myth and Magick – Edain McCoy
*Here are a few suggestions for activities that may be part of the Sabbat celebration or something to do during the day:
Make Hot Cross Buns to honor the union of the Earth and Sun for spring. Slash the ‘X’ with your bolline and bless the bread.
Have a traditional breakfast of buns, ham, and eggs. Save the eggshells and after breakfast, throw the crushed eggshells into the garden and say:
For fairy, for flowers, for herbs in the bowers,
The shells pass fertility with springtime showers.
Wear green clothing.
Bless seeds planted in the garden.
Color hard-boiled eggs and add the symbols for the Fertility God, the Goddess, the Sun God, unity, fire, water, agriculture, prosperity and growth, strength and wisdom, spring, love and affection, and protection.
Consecrate the eggs by saying:
In the name of the Goddess of spring (name),
And the ever-returning God of the sun, (name),
By the powers of the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water,
I do consecrate these eggs of Ostara.
Point your athame at the eggs, make the sign of the pentagram, and see the energy flow through the blade into the eggs, and say:
New life writhing as new life shall enter the soil.
Let those who see this life find it and consume it,
for all life feeds on life.
The eggs may be hidden and the Ostara Egg Hunt commences.
On Ostara Eve, light a purple or violet candle and burn patchouli incense. Carry them both through the house, saying:
Farewell to wintry spirits and friends;
On morrow we greet the spirits of spring;
Our blessings to thee as your way you wend;
And merry we’ll meet next winter again.
Blow out the candle and say:
Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!
*Activities from “Green Witchcraft” by Anne Moura (Aoumiel)