|Quite the nicest sort of vampire|
Saturday, August 31, 2013
I have been trying to avoid this post but mother's early training means I'm ridiculously early for everything so have some time to kill before starting a late shift.
Yesterday I went to the doctor's for a prescription for eye drops. There was an elderly lady there with her son (who must have been pushing seventy) waiting for an ambulance to take her to hospital, whence she had obviously been discharged too soon the day before, after treatment for a stroke.
What this has to do with psychic vampirism is this: the son, who wasn't excessively debilitated himself, had driven his mother to the surgery, put her in a wheelchair, & taken her in. This was a total distance of about 25 yards, but I heard him on the phone to his daughter saying how that had exhausted him.
The exhaustion is the point: it is no coincidence that I mentioned my mother at the beginning of this post, since some people live off other people. I'm not overly concerned by the distinction you read about between those who do it consciously & unconsciously, since the end product is the same.
And here's the real problem with these people: because their life source is other people any attempts to solve the problem as perceived by those around them - that is, them draining the life out of you - is doomed because this isn't a problem for the vampire. A short sharp cut from all relations with them - if this is possible - can be the only way.
Those who do it unconsciously may be prepared to change some of their behaviours & may even be cured of it if we make an alternative source of energy available to them. If after a divination the conclusion is reached that the person does it consciously there are several routes available.
The only way in which a psychic vampire will ultimately stop being parasitical of those around them is through a full & frank realisation/admission of what they do & a resolution to change. Confronting them with it in a non-confrontational way may therefore help. It is no coincidence that the maxim of 'know yourself'' is a major element of magical traditions, since knowing oneself is the key to discerning your own 'stuff' from things happening around you. The magician who doesn't know him or herself is a danger, and amongst other things is in danger both of vampirizing others and being sucked dry by them.
The people whose energy they sap must ensure their defences are up: unfortunately this will then make them vampirise someone else. Those who adhere to the Wiccan rede will be able to see at this point that the use of nonconsensual magic on a psychic vampire is essential to prevent harm to anyone.
What the vampire wants is energy so a longer-term solution is to attach them to an energy source - a volcano, a river, a nuclear power plant, whatever.
If the vampire is your nearest & dearest - an elderly or ill relative is common - sharing the person out with others reduces the drain. Be wary of having children near a vampire - they often have no defences at all. If the vampire is obsessed with a single energy source - a person or group of people - to the extent that they won't leave alone, the only option is an amputation. In my own case a motherectomy stopped it. They won't accept it, but the vampire's own actions lead to this point.
Finally as magical people we have to be aware of our own energy levels & sources, so that we don't become psychic vampires ourselves. Virtually all magical practices connect the practitioner to greater sources of life & energy in addition to the self-awareness mentioned above.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
In the Egyptian tradition it is about now that the Contendings of Horus & Set are kept/marked/enacted...I'm not terribly well up on Kemetic stuff so I'm not really clear what they do. In fact I may kave missed them completely because I was hesitating over how to relate it to what I want to say, & knew full well that calling this post, 'Mum, Mum, come & see what Set did to me' with an illustration of that incident, would mean making this blog adult & unsearchable for ever.
You see I have a soft spot for Set. In many ways he embodies my self-publicity: of course I don't ultimately believe in a complete evil, nor yet that I embody it. I'm all sweetness & niceness, darlings, just those two attributes with power behind them.
A friend recently characterised my magic as removing the malign, which was one of the most gratifying things I've ever had said about me. I only make myself out to be on the dark side in reaction to the fluffy approach where *everything* is sweetness & light.
The energy of the contendings is played out in our daily life in the right-sized pursuit of power. Another friend commented that I'm not really introverted, I just like being on my own because then I can guarantee I won't be surrounded by idiots! Or rather, as a remover of the malign, you attract the malign because you can remove it: it's part of nature's way of maintaining homeostasis.
And in every interaction there is the making of a bigger picture, of which we are part of the weave. When things get challenging, as they do when contendings come up, we magical people are challenged to envision the world we want to create. The contendings of Horus & Set were so important to ancient Egypt as establishing the pattern of kingship. Our own contendings are so important to us personally as making or allowing us to make decisions & establish patterns for the future. And I can't think of a better way to describe this than sovereignty, which brings with it a degree of responsibility & - don't laugh - noblesse oblige.
Monday, August 19, 2013
My previous posts on the Circle have focussed on the nature & significance of the circle itself in magic; this one will focus on the next bit of circle casting rituals. The Circle in ritual Wicca & Witchcraft is not merely a circle, it's a sort of circle with corners. It will come as no surprise that I don't like 'how-to' witchcraft books that tell you that things *must* be done in a certain way or tie people up in too many knots, since this will inevitably prevent people developing into, & being changed by, a witchcraft of their own.
The immediate source for all this ceremonial stuff is simple: it's the Golden Dawn. Books with diagrams for invoking & banishing pentagrams of this, that & the other could merely lift similar diagrams out of Israel Regardie's book of Golden Dawn rituals.
The other source for this idea of a 'squared circle' is Masonic, referencing a problem of Euclid. This problem is one that has been proved to be insoluble & 'squaring the circle' has become a phrase meaning trying to do the impossible in some languages.
The 'spiritual', moral, or mystical significance of this is found in the Masonic square & compass emblem. The compass draws a circle & the square draws a square, which together, as in the magic circle in Wicca, represents the union of our spiritual & physical natures. A soul manifest in a body, & so on. The union of these two brings the physical into subjection to the spiritual, & this is how one might be/come a god.
'The Vitruvian Man lives in a perfect state of balance, enjoying a well-intentioned life, esoteric, stable, kind, capable and abundant. The circle is his eternal soul. The square is his temporary body. He knows this; he is illuminated into its gnosis. [...]
'This apotheosis [of Washington] is not �man becoming a god� or �Washington becoming a god.� That�s a critical misinterpretation. It�s more like �man realizing he is a god already�, a soul manifesting as a body�or, in symbolic terms, a circle surrounded by a square.'
The square representing the physical is why the elements - philosophically the building blocks of everything - are placed at its corners. In magic we invoke the elements as part of the changes we make in reality: we get our building blocks all ready to create something.
Of course this only applies to using the elements - some people call other things to the corners of the circle, but if your tradition is influenced by Wicca they will have some correspondence to the elements. Most recently I have moved to a much simpler 'casting' where I circumambulate with incense to mark the space & light four candles on the altar to invoke the elements. However until I started doing that, when casting the circle I used elemental directions I had decided based on where I live. I did this off my own bat, but discovered afterwards it is exactly the method Fred Lamond proposes in Fifty Years of Wicca. I didn't realise that I had started off with the heaviest element, but assigned Earth to South to reference the woods near my house. I gave Water to West because there is a stream in that direction, & Fire to East for obvious reasons, & Air to North. Frankly because that was the only direction left.
The spur for this post was actually relistening to an episode of Hex Education in which Gavin & Yvonne Frost said that in casting the circle they assign the element of Air to the direction Up. Presumably on that basis you could assign Earth to Down. That would leave the 'corners' of the circle placed vertically rather than horizontally. They said that they assign Time to the corner vacated by Air, but since the circle is usually thought of in three dimensions as a sphere, that would give you two spare corners to put things in.
Because in reality there is nothing - except Western Esoteric Tradition as it comes down to us through the Golden Dawn - to say that there must be four elements. A friend of mine is fond of recounting a ritual in which the Circle had five quarters! I believe in China there are different elements traditionally. In yet another example of the principle of cyclicity & the inescapable nature of that which you have flunked, I have found myself confronted with yet another way of dividing everything. It was when I first thought 'What's the point' about the Periodic Table of the Elements, that I knew chemistry as a subject was never going to do it for me. Nonetheless it may illuminate this subject:
'Hydrogen and helium are by far the most abundant elements in the universe. However, iron is the most abundant element (by mass) making up the Earth, and oxygen is the most common element in Earth's crust. Although all known chemical matter is composed of these elements, chemical matter itself is hypothesized to constitute only about 15% of the matter in the universe. The remainder is believed to be dark matter, a mysterious substance that is not composed of chemical elements, since it lacks protons, neutrons or electrons.'
One could have four quarters for the four most common elements, I.e. As representations of everything in the magic milieu. But what excites me most about this idea is getting away from the one called Spirit - it has such negative connotations as something separate from our embodied lives that I personally feel any reference to anything 'spiritual' isn't terribly helpful. Replace Spirit with Dark Matter, & you're immediately putting 85% of the universe's matter right there at the centre of your working, exactly the basis, height & depth of everything that Spirit is supposed to be. And even better it's hypothetical - just like Spirit. And that's even without considering Dark Energy, which - I can't claim really to understand this - is hypothesised to speed everything up & explains why the universe is expanding at a prodigious rate. Also these things are Dark, & I like dark, dark is good. It's sexy & stylish.
I can see at this rate I'm going to end up with many more candles on my altar!
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I have been thinking a lot about this most unfashionable of subjects recently. We witches have a problem with it - we're not the only ones as we shall see below - & the immediate reason for this is the media image of 'satanic' 'ritual' abuse (notice the only word not in parentheses) which is wrongly connected with us. In fact it's wrongly connected with anything resembling reality & is better understood as a modern group delusion or hysteria, just like the witch scares were, in fact.
The troubled relationship with sacrifice is connected to our WASP-ish ideas of progress & civilisation. What started me off thinking about this was a comment on flickr, on a photo of an offering being made in someone's home Buddhist shrine:
'When I lived in Asia it always disturbed me that the local people in Bali and China used the word 'Sacrifice' to describe the deep devotional offerings of flowers, incense and other traditions which they placed on their altars at home and in temples. I helped them to explore the meaning of the English word 'Offering'.
'So much painful history and intent seems attached to the word Sacrifice - but the word Offering rises up with prayers from folded hands. "May all beings be free from suffering".'
Well, bully for the local people having the advantage of 'Room With A View' help them explore a better idea than the terrible one they've been following for millenia! So much imperialism & condescension seems attached to her attitude, which reflects a problem our society has with sacrifice. We are inheritors of a tradition of missionaries taking Christianity & civilisation to other cultures - I believe missionaries try to be more sensitive to what they find in other cultures now, but that sensitivity is too late as in parts of the two-thirds world Christianity is equated with civilisation, & Western ways with progress.
At the heart of this is a denial of the real nature of the central mystery of Christianity: yes, kids, that's right, it's a sacrifice. The attempts to tidy it up detract from the fact that Christianity's divine economy is as messy as any ancient religion's.
They even deny sacrifice yet expect self-sacrifice. I found a Catholic priest's blog post making a binary opposition - such a monotheist thing to do - between self-sacrifice & self-fulfillment:
'Self-fulfillment is a way that leads to death: the death of every relationship around you as you consistently put yourself first in front of friends and family, and ultimately the death of yourself because as your relationships dry up, there is nothing left of your life. Because self-sacrifice for the good of others gives them life, the more authentic our sacrifice is, the more we end up fully living, because we are thriving in the midst of flourishing friends and family.'
Needless to say this makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable as a witch, because this is exactly the sort of philosophy that makes me see abuse built in to the structure of Christianity. You have to sacrifice yourself to live fully. There is no guarantee that your friends & family will not respond by using & abusing you at all, but you must carry on sacrificing yourself because if you are not doing that you are self-seeking & then it really is all your fault. As a witch I don't want to make myself or anyone else the last & least - because for me that will not lead to them being first - I want everyone to act & be treated decently & with kindess.
This denial of sacrifice has been incorporated into modern witchcraft from the start - 'I do not demand sacrifice,' says the Goddess in the Charge, & Gardner messed that up by prefacing the Charge with the line about the Spartan youth making due sacrifice. It is unfortunate if that is intended to be a theologising of the ritual scourging - as it is sometimes understood - since Wiccan ritual involves no sacrifice & the scourging is for a quite different purpose.
That said, sacrifice can carry a broader meaning, descended from two Latin words & meaning 'to make holy'. When a witch consecrates any tool, she is essentially sacrificing it - making it for ritual use only.
I am aware that this post is becoming a perfect form-example of the history of modern witchcraft - almost completely defining everything by saying we don't do what another group does. Another example of that would be that modern witchcraft's cyclical understanding of history implies a different understanding of sacrifice. In linear history you sacrifice something - to propitiate a divinity or whatever - & that's it, over. The whole point of the wheel of the year is that everything dies & is reborn over & over. A chant goes, 'one thing becomes another, in the mother, in the mother,' & the idea of sacrifice not leading to something else would be alien to our cosmology. If everything dies & is reborn, the ending of one thing - situation, relationship, life, thought - for us is a fertile thing, causing the start of a new thing.
At its heart, witchcraft is always about life & death, it's about blood & bone. Our Goddess does not require sacrifice because sacrifice is an inescapable part of human life. In our initiations - whether 'ritual' ones or enacted in the field of active service - sacrifice a bit of us. This is the tradition that the magician is always in some sense sacrificing himself: every time a part of us dies we open the gates to a new self, a magical self. This is the Great Work.
That's not to say that things can't be helped along by a real sacrifice. There was a great tradition in the ancient world of Hecate's suppers: leaving food at the crossroads. I like doing this with the sesame seeds that are sacred to her. If you're frightened of being discovered then leaving dog food for the hounds would merely put you in the eccentric category if you had to explain it. Blood is always good in a sacrifice, & it should cost something, if not in money - although sirloin steak ticks both boxes - then in terms of the time it takes you or the difficulty of getting to the place. Now, Lady Nemesis, if you're reading this, I haven't forgotten to mention your sacrifice of a black pudding!
'One thing becomes another' is the essential bit, so it is important to walk away from your sacrifice & just leaving it, knowing that a process of rearrangement is in action, & keeping your magical intent in mind, if that is what your sacrifice is for.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I'm nearing the end of a week's holiday, & it's been a real holiday, which was much needed - a diversion into a different place, & without the need to do any 'tasks'.
However, needless to say the work of witch never ends & I've found a new project to get my head around. I recently discovered, while looking at pictures of vintage tarot decks on ebay, that there are such things as kipper cards. I had not heard of them, & indeed suspect they are all but unheard of in English-speaking circles, so this post, which I'm hoping will be the first of a series on these cards as I get my head round them, is purely intended to get me in at the vanguard of what I'm confidently predicting will be the next big trend in divination! Both larger & smaller Etteilla decks have been done to death, the Lenormand craze has been going on for some years now, we all know about Waite & Smith, but the name of Kipper is not so well known.
The contents of this post will be largely based on the little white book - actually printed on a number of the cards - that came with the Original Kipper Cards I bought from amazon.co.uk after I found they existed, and the German wikipedia page on the cards: of course interwoven with a lot of my own thoughts & opinions. I fully expected I'd have to get the cards from amazon.de & was pleasantly surprised to find they only cost £3.48 & were eligible for free delivery. Say what you like, short of making your own, this is the cheapest method of divination you're going to buy off the peg.
If I may confess to a hint of altruism, I'm hoping that my exploration of these cards will make it available in English - I suspect for the first time. I am hampered by the fact that I don't speak a word of German so am limited to translating the information line-by-line, using an online translator, & we all know how smooth & hassle-free that is.
The introduction to the cards indicates a few important principles of reading kipper cards: numbers 1 & 2 indicate the male & the female querent respectively. Apart from that the cards have individual meanings - but in a reading they are heavily influenced by surrounding cards, the cards' relationships to each other. The most important thing in reading the cards is combination. Combination is all.
There is a refreshing lack of pseudohistory about them - although they are supposed to be similar to the gypsy cards, whose history is totally unknown to me. I am not aware of who Kipper was, apart from that she was one of these renowned fortune tellers. They first appeared in 1890, sold by the stationer Matthias Seidlein in Munich. That edition is essentially the one still sold & that I bought, with one slight difference noted below.
Seidlein released further editions in 1900 & 1910, inscribed Drawn & published by F Kipper. After the F X Schmid company acquired the rights to the cards in 1920 (there is a refreshing Germanic roundness about the dates in this history) a technical error resulted in the first 22 cards being printed reversed.
However a new edition has corrected this mistake. The rights to the originals are now owned by the company ASS Altenburger, since 2000. Spoiling the rounded figures in this history, a completely new version, the Mystic Kipper, came out in 2006.
The deck consists of 36 cards, a number which places it well in the tradition of European fortune-telling. The Petit Etteilla has 36, as do the gypsy fortune-telling cards & the Lenormand cards. The only one of these three I haven't had a go at is the gypsy cards: I'm hoping I do better with the Kipper cards than the Petit Etteilla & the Lenormand, neither of which do anything for me. Incidentally there's a simple reason for the reappearance of 36 cards: before the growth of interest in fortune telling in the 18th century, & the occult surge of the 19th century, both of which led to the proliferation of tarot & oracle decks that we know today, you had a simpler choice of two divination tools. Either you could make one yourself: no shame in that, the only danger may be that it's too individual or eccentric. Perhaps it's a little late in this post, but I meant to express the opinion I've come to, which is that the purpose of divination tools is to open up your own perception as a practitioner, so that ultimately you don't need divination tools at all.
The other choice from making your own was to adapt something to divination, & there was a great tradition of fortune-telling the with the shortened piquet card deck, which plainly influenced all these oracle systems. The tarot - with its more luxurious 78 possibilities made for a more luxurious divination tool & attracted more outrageous stories to itself!
If I had to think of a word for these short fortune-telling decks it would be bourgeois: the things they depict happening are solid & respectable. Even the pictures on the Kipper cards depict respectable backgrounds: yes, I know there's a prison, but it seems to me part of an ordered society. The furniture is solid & the wallpaper embodies respectable 19th century aspirations. If Kipper was born anywhere, it was in a respectable sitting room, not a Romany caravan or a tavern.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Yes, that's right, Birmingham, in common with many other cities, has a Soho. I walked through it today without meaning to, which sounds silly but is true. It seems what I unintentionally walked was the Soho Loop of the canal, which I did by getting onto the canal down the side of Winson Green prison, a stretch of the canal I knew existed but knew no more about than that, except to assume that it would go to the city centre at some point. I also discovered that you can walk further around next to the wall of the prison than I thought you could.
None of this may sound worthy of a spirit of place post until I provide the context that this is one of the older parts of the city as we know it, & which saw much of its development. I see that that stretch of the canal was completed in 1769 - not old old, but relatively old given that the majority of Birmingham's development took place in the industrial revolution & afterwards. This canal section's status is open & useable, despite being bypassed by the new canal in 1827. I've commented before that spirit of place is influenced by the nature of what takes place there: in this case the loop of canal (the first picture shows how curved the canal is) contains 110 acres of densely-populated land, 49 acres by City Hospital, & the rest by dense housing and industry.
City Hospital started out life as Birmingham Workhouse. The second picture shows the 'gate of tears' by which those entering the workhouse would go in. I don't think you can actually see it at all at present: the site is very overgrown, & I don't know what will happen to it when the hospital moves to a new site in Smethwick. Nonetheless the workhouse/hospital is exactly the sort of institution that contributes to strong emotions imprinted into the carbon of a place.
Similarly the area was an early site for the development of the industry for which Birmingham was/is known, & the hopes, dreams & despair of running businesses will have pressed their own emotions into the place. I feel that the activity of a place causes a spirit of place change in itself, & industry is no exception. Of course industry & canals went together for purely practical purposes, but I like that energetic mixture. I am a fire sign myself, & I will often seek out water to temper my own fieryness. Towards the end of the loop there is an electricity place (third picture) right next to the canal, placing both fire & water together, then the railway line crosses the canal, & I would attribute railways to fire myself. Possibly only electric ones, though.
The energetic signature of the place is very Birmingham: unpretentious, busy, & strangely welcoming. I liked it.
Then the best bit came at the end of the Soho loop: the Rotton Park canal junction, a genuine city cross roads (fourth picture, and I think I'm going to try to find a better one of it to replace Spaghetti Junction as the background photo for this blog). That junction bears all the psychic imprints of several centuries of travelling, even of joggers today. Today, bizarrely, someone was camping down the side of the bridge in the picture, even with a line of washing up. And that's the point of a crossroads, it's a place of coming & going, which because it has seen so many facilitates transformations. In fact since Sandwell Council ruined my favourite crossroads by improving the lighting, I may transfer my affections to that one for my sacrifices & to leave spell stuff. It didn't feel dangerous - no needles or anything about - but I may go back in the evening to see what it feels like.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
|Fort Augustus monks of long ago entertaining their charges on Loch Ness.|
Another abuse scandal has recently broken: I found out about it last night. It is around the now-defunct Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland and is a depressingly familiar tale: monks grooming youngsters while hiding under their respectable facade and other monks disbelieving what they were doing and punishing their victims. There are several points that stand out for this case for me:
1. The school closed twenty years ago (this seems to be a standard time before the targets of abuse talk about it), the monastery closed fifteen years ago. My normal response to this would be to hex the bastards, but given that the majority of the perpetrators are dead, even I can see that this would be of limited use.
That said it is important for these things to come out, so that even in their sixties the targets of abuse can get the validation of finally being believed. It is important that the perpetrators get the consequences of their actions of course, despite being very old men. The dead ones should have believed as Catholics that they would get those consequences after death. My wish for their surviving targets is that they are able to make the best out of their remaining years that they can do.
2. The targets' testimony on youtube should stand as a witness that neglect f*cks people up. To see grown men shaking and tearful shows what turds their abusers were. this is not just negligence: we have here a witness of the effects of negligence by the church authorities which amounts to an act of abuse in itself.
3. The Bishop of Aberdeen has apologised for this. Now. It is not widely connected that he is also a Benedictine himself. Fort Augustus were English Benedictines, he is the different congregation of Subiaco. Frankly I can't think of an English Benedictine monastery that has not had a sex scandal, frequently with children because until recently they all ran schools. Now I'm not a journalist but if I were I would see no reason why this story of Benedictines & abuse should not continue & would be looking for my next story of abuse in a Benedictine monastery. The other thing that strikes me about that is that he described the abusers in his apology as a few, but frankly there are a lot of barrels with rotten apples in here, & isince these few rotten apples keep appearing over & over, I'm not seeing a few rotten apples, I'm seeing a cesspit of rottenness.
Abbot Laurence Soper was an English Benedictine of course - you didn't think he'd passed under my radar, did you? He's still on The List. When you get on the list you stay on it until you're crossed off. There has been no news about him, but of course as a witch we don't have to rely on google to find things out.
What's happening with him? 2 of wands reversed. Etteilla keyword: Surprise! This means his downfall is coming along nicely. Don't forget my previous divination about him that he is a conscienceless sociopath, who genuinely believes he's done nothing wrong? This is how his downfall has to happen: it's a surprise!
Monday, August 5, 2013
I have recently discovered this excellent blog: http://gleamingsfromthedawn.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/poor-magicians.html?m=1 The link is to a specific post discussing differences in why we are magicians, & particularly whether it is for 'spiritual' reasons or for purely 'practical' reasons.
'Talk to most people in the Golden Dawn/Western Mystery Tradition community (and this includes Thelema and Wicca) and you will hear that the purpose of the mysteries is spiritual development and service to mankind. In fact, there are groups that will bar you from entering if you say anything other than those two reasons for wanting to join. Anything else, especially practical magic, is viewed as black magic and power seeking.'
Of course it would be too much to hope that I could resist putting my oar in here, but for me this isn't quite the point. I am fortunate that I have never been poor so that is not the reason why I would practice magic. The reason I personally am a magician is that people think they'll take the piss. The direct experiences that pushed me into witchcraft were people taking the piss with me, when I wouldn't have had any legal redress, so magic was the only way to go.
In this I can sympathise with Eckstein's position - that he is a magician to escape poverty - because there is exactly the same sensation of having your back to the wall. However, I would like to think that probably the magic you're pushed into at a certain time is to do with where you are. I suppose I'm trying to say that there may be a bigger overall outcome for you in the longer time - lifetimes - than is apparent in a single magical act.
I feel the division here is wrong: it creates a dichotomy between 'higher' & 'lower' purposes that I'm already writhing under, just thinking of it. Here's the thing: even the most lackadaisical magician will be changed by the simplest magical act for whatever purpose. Magicians of any experience often speak as if magic is some entity outside of themselves. And make no mistake: to get good at magic you have to give your life to it. No, I don't mean that, I mean the power that is in us is so great we are -almost - its servants. We may be the vessels for the power, we direct it.
This is why seeking magic for purely 'spiritual development' is asking the wrong question. Crowley said that ultimately the object of all magical acts is the magician himself. Whatever the act, it will change you. Similarly magic for purely 'spiritual development' will cause material changes on this plane for the magician, quite frequently a string of disasters. Fortune thought that this was because you get more karma back in proportion as you develop. The point of magic is the unification & interconnection of all things. But it seems some people miss the point.
Friday, August 2, 2013
My reference for the 'textbook' way to do candle magic for this post is Cat Yronwode's page on hoodoo candle magic divination at http://www.luckymojo.com/candlemagicdivination.html, which links to other pages on the excellent Lucky Mojo site about candle magic.
I have recently been rethinking the way I do candle magic. The main thing I have changed is that shibboleth you read in all the books that you must never never under any circumstances blow out the candle. The reason given for this in Wiccan sources, & others that use the elemental approach, is that the candle represents the perfect balance of the elements, & that blowing it out disrupts this. The hoodoo sources don't seem to give a reason for this, but it is still maintained as something you must not do.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that no way of putting out a candle does not disrupt the elemental balance (even using a snuffer, which obviously works by making the candle use up a restricted supply of oxygen, thus removing one element of the fire triangle). I have also become dissatisfied with pinching them out as I always find some of the wax dried on my fingers afterwards.
This may sound like an uncharacteristically nit-picking approach to magic for me (at least I hope it does, I'd hate it if I routinely came across as nit picking), so I have taken the bold step of deciding that I will blow out candles mid-spell & not be held to rules laid down by others that don't work for me.
What does continue to do it for me, though, is what happens to the wax, both how it burns, of this more anon, & also how I dispose of the remains of the candle. The traditional way of disposing of the remains would be to bury it under your doorstep if the spell is to bring something to you, or to put it in flowing water, or a graveyard, if the spell is to get rid of something. If I want something more exciting than a mere vanishing trick to befall the person I like those bins for dog mess. So does the Goddess.
Because this is something that really does it for me - plus I like not having the remnants of spells hanging round - it is gratifying to find that when I'm doing a spell for someone else I can do what they want with the remains of their candle without qualms. I'm obviously not in the habit of doing spells for other people (while *to* other people doesn't bother me at all, if they deserve it), I'd rather teach people how to do it themselves, but in the circumstances where someone can't do it, debilitated by illness for example, I will.
I have recently done three candle spells. I use just candles for them, I don't fret over what colour they are. I do it when the time feels right. The candles I've used for these spells were quite cheap so have burned badly & allowed scope for divination by the way the wax has dripped.
Cat yronwode says that candle workers in spiritual churches are looking for three witnesses to how the spell is working - how it's burning, the appearance of the flame, & what's left at the end.
I'm tending to focus on the first & last of those. The first spell (the first picture) was a healing spell for a person with fibromyalgia. The candle burned very quickly, with the wax running off in a single stream, until the flame got into the flower-shaped wax thing caused by it running onto the candlestick. There it burned very slowly, it took several evenings to get to the point where it couldn't be lit again.
Now my interpretation of this & that of the person concerned is completely at odds with what I read on the Lucky Mojo website. Because there was a large amount of wax left, the problem should be unresolved - no doubt true with such a chronic condition - & the running wax would indicate tears.
The person the spell was for felt nothing until the long slow burn at the bottom, when she felt all the pain leaving her (which we would equate to the wax running off) & returned her to feeling as normal as she has for ages. Don't you love magic - miracles to order, & frankly who cares if it's psychosomatic, she *feels* better, that's the point!
The second spell (the second picture) was a spell to fix a boss, so the candle - all three candles came from the same cheap box from the shop round the corner - was anointed with Boss Fix oil. This time the wax ran off in multiple rivulets, which knowing the situation the spell was for I feel means the layers & layers of stuff that this boss has caused will be coming out all at once & biting her on the bum.
The third candle (third picture) was for another boss, & anointed with Boss Fix. I seem to be getting a reputation for sorting out bosses. This time the candle burned less quickly, but the wax - and less of it ran off - ran into the sweet little curlicues you see in the picture. Once again I would interpret this as multiple schemes & deviousnesses coming out into the open.
I have no doubt I'll be returning to this subject, I wanted to post on the subject of how the Hound approaches candle magic - that is, not completely as you're supposed to, but you expected that, didn't you?