Summer is my personal favorite season. In New Orleans, we sort of start “Summer” at Beltane, and it runs through almost Mabon, from a weather/temperature perspective. Early May is usually bloody hot, and the heat doesn’t often break until well into September. Still, there’s a lot of societal norms that we must observe which better define/mark the Summer season, such as the end of school. When the kids hit the streets in late May/early June, parents start focusing on what the family’s going to do to pass the time until the kids go back into the academic routine.
Making Summer Magic!
Yes, even though my kids are older now, I still frame Summer around the school year. I haven’t taught high school in over 30 years, but the folks I currently work with often have kids. They structure their schedules around home and hearth, and that determines my current teaching schedule (corporate training). One of my favorite things that truly marks summer is is playground baseball. Folks who have kids, ranging in age from six to twelve often have the kids doing playground sports. Baseball (t-ball for the littles, then up from there, starts in the spring, and is usually over with by Litha. When the team obligations are over, the family can go on holiday!
Many witchy families aren’t that much different from their muggle counterparts when it comes to kids’ activities. Observe Litha, then summer is truly begin. Whether the family takes a travel vacation or everyone stays home, getting out on the grass, next to water, catching a cool breeze when we can, opening up to the vibrations of New Orleans’ hot summer is a great experience.
Kids or no, Summer is about re-charging the batteries. Even when our society was more agrarian, a lot of what folks did in the Summer was watch the crops grow. Living in the modern world, we may not slow down at work, but we do in our off time. Festivals and events in South Louisiana don’t stop because the heat goes on. We just don’t cover as much ground in the heat. It’s easy for witches to blend in to those celebrations, as well as making our own time and space for reflection, improving our connection to our deities.
Working with Air
I have a strong affinity to Water, but in the heat of the Summer, I often work on my focus with Air. Everyone appreciates that cool breeze in the afternoon, or that wind that kicks up just before a thunderstorm passes over. June to November is also hurricane season, and while there’s not much we can do to harness those winds, they’re still dominant in everyone’s thoughts when the storms develop. I’ve got a couple of sets of Elemental stones I keep in my travel bag. Right now, I’m keeping the Air stone with me regularly, to help develop that focus. Thinking about Raphael, the Guardian of Air, the Healer, I use that gold stone to connect with Air.
Before doing an invocation, it’s always a good idea to banish, ground, and center. That way you focus yourself and establish your personal protection from any nasties that may be in the vicinity. Then, if you have an athame or ritual knife, great, if not, extend your right arm with two fingers pointing forward. Draw an Air pentagram by going across, right to left, then down, then up, down, up, so you end where you started, on the right.
Welcome the Guardian of East/Air in your tradition’s way. Invite the Guardian to give you some cool breeze, while you reflect on Air.
(“Summer” graphic shamelessly appropriated from the lovely and talented Katy of Northshore Parent)
Our world is a place full of negative energy and “bad vibes.” Last week was particularly bad by American standards (which I’ll admit, are really nothing when compared to other parts of the world, but still, it’s important for us to take a step back and do what we can to keep the negative energy from overwhelming us. Practitioners of Magic/Magick refer to this as “banishing.”
Mind you, there are times when embracing the dark is a good thing. Balance is necessary in all things, so don’t think of banishing as a “fluffy bunny” technique. When you banish energy/vibes, you take control of your personal space. You should be the one controlling the energy around you. You are the one who decides what gets through your shield.
But you have to have the shields there in the first place!
Banishing with the Pentagrams
Invoking Banishing Pentagrams (courtesy Llewellyn Publishing)
The simplest form of banishing are the pentagrams. Drawing banishing pentagrams in the air around you is a good start. When you feel you’re in a situation where you’re surrounded by negative energy, at a minimum, raise two fingers and sketch Earth, Air, Fire, and Water pentagrams around you in the North, East, South, and West, respectively.
Drawing the pentagrams for banishing (courtesy Llewellyn Publishing)
Simple focus on the pentagram you’re drawing, and your intent (pushing away bad vibes/negative energy) is all you need to do at first. After you’ve practiced tracing the pentagrams, you can consider a more in-depth ritual/spell for banishing.
The most popular ritual used to banish negativity is The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Its roots are in Ceremonial Magick, and as such, the ritual uses imagery and language from that world that some Pagans and Witches may not be comfortable with. Take a look at the ritual, nonetheless. It’s possible to modify it to fit specific Goddess/God forms/pantheons. The framework is solid.
The illustrations presented here are from the late Don Kraig’s wonderful text, Modern Magick, from Llewellyn. I highly recommend it.
A daily ritual to banish negativity serves to build up your personal shields, as well as your overall ritual technique. If you work with banishing pentagrams in a formal setting regularly, your ability to draw them and use them to shield you on an ad hoc basis will be even stronger.
Two-card draw, Silver Witchcraft deck
#TodaysTarot – Follow the Cards
Today’s draw brought me back to Robin Wood’s book on Tarot. One of the things that stood out to me was her thoughts on shuffling. Robin’s advice was, if you’re shuffling, and a card sticks out, you want to have a look at it. While sitting here at the coffee shop, shuffling the cards, TWO cards fell out of the deck. OK, let’s take Robin’s suggestion and take them as a pair and see what they’re telling me today.
Page of Wands
Good news! An encounter with a young person, who is passionate. New beginnings, new directions. Adventure! All sounds good and positive.
An interesting aspect of the Page of Wands in the Silver Witchcraft deck, and there’s no wand in the illustration. The focus in the card is on the fire, which is, in many ways, more powerful than the wand that controls it. The Golden Dawn “flashing colors”, red and green for Fire/Wands/South, are strong. No wand, though. The image is much more powerful, and that’s important. The pages represent young people. There are a LOT of younger people who are strong and powerful!
In terms of importance, I should have considered The Tower first, since it’s a Major Arcana. For #TodaysTarot, however, it was the second card, so let’s stick with Robin’s lesson of “falling cards”.
The Tower — Destruction, a catastrophe, a negative/destructive influence. Where the Page of Wands offers good news and power, The Tower tempers that good news, foreshadowing potential catastrophe. The seeker should guard against going full-on into the adventure offered by the Page of Wands, lest it not merely be a failure, but a full-on disaster.
The takeaway for #TodaysTarot – I’ll be on the lookout for the younger person, or the interesting project or adventure, but cautious that following this path will be catastrophic.
Seven of Chalices, Silver Witchcraft Deck #TodaysTarot
#TodaysTarot is the Seven of Chalices from the Silver Witchcraft Tarot. This is a fun deck, with nice imagery. So many options! When I’m not teaching, it’s a challenge for me to focus. My dreams go all over the place, and while that generates a lot of interesting ideas, it’s tough to pin them down. This card is a good caution–hey, dude, you want to pause for a few minutes and organize!
And organize I shall! I’ve been making some changes to the three computers I use, office, home laptop, and travel laptop (the one I’m on now). Think of it as a midsummer cleaning and re-org. The other big thing is to keep focused on projects. Book proposal for the history book, work on the two novels, all needs to keep going forward. Moving the blogs back to a Linux server from the Windows environment is also a thing. With the slow, sluggish server, I was reluctant to put anything on the blogs, lest people get frustrated that the links didn’t work. Now, the floodgates of posting ideas are open again.
Seven of Chalices is a warning! Don’t go off in so many directions you lose track of what’s important! Even this morning, listening to the BBC’s report on the Juno probe arriving at Jupiter, my muses hit me with a story idea. So, now I need to write that down before I forget, but then I want to do it in the NOLA Writer’s group as a writing prompt. See? One thing leads to another and another. Focus!
That’s why I’m a big believer in writing at the coffee shop, fewer distractions, and the music’s good.
Making sense of confusing decisions isn’t one of my strong suits. I tend to let things go to autopilot when I’m traveling. Teaching is quite structured, so it reins in my mental wanderlust. With the caution from the Seven of Chalices, I’ll do my best to stay on track.
Folks who are in the #BroomCloset often find it difficult to wear some of the lovely goddess and pentacle jewelry available for sale from various shops and online sellers. It’s still possible to wear what pieces that overlap the Christian and Pagan spheres, like solar crosses, and this lovely Tree of Life from RoJen Jewllery.
I initially got the inspiration for the notion of “subversive” jewelry when talking to a friend’s daughter who attended a Catholic high school in New Orleans. The school’s good, but not exactly the sort of environment where a young lady can easily wear a pentacle pendant. That’s when earth symbols that aren’t obviously-pagan come into the picture.
The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol. In terms of modern paganism and hermetic practice, the Tree of Life illustrates how the universe came into being. There are references to the tree in many belief systems, including the Book of Genesis. While this particular piece does not display the ten Sephirot of esoteric Judaism, or more modern Kabbalistic practice, the idea is to stay connected to your beliefs and practices without using a bullhorn to advertise them.
The Kabballah is a fascinating subject of study and practice that’s often dismissed as a fad, when a celebrity announces that s/he is taking it up. Kabballah is studied by Ceremonial Magicians such as those following Golden Dawn-style traditions. A number of Pagans have added Kabballah to their practices as well. Ellen Cannon Reed’s book on the subject is an interesting reed, as well as other basic Ceremonial Magic texts.
Back to the symbols! Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that is a bit “subversive”? Maybe a solar (equal-armed) cross? A Celtic knot or other pre-Christian symbol that is easily passed off as “Irish Heritage” if someone gets nosy? When you can’t be “out”, stay connected.