The last two weeks have brought us some lovely weather which motivated me to get outdoors and do some work in the yard to engage in some spring gardening and just some normal yearly freshening up of the garden. This little chore is never finished, but still always brings enjoyment and most importantly; exercise that gets the blood pumping.
After I finished breaking up some dried fallen twigs that fell from the trees from winter in order to save for kindling for summer bonfires, I knew it I needed to rake away some of the last fallen leaves away from the herbs and flowers. As I was raking some of the last dead leaves that covered up some of the flower beds, I received a nice whiff of the large spring Hyacinths that smell just so beautiful each spring. This is a smell that always feels like spring to me, as there is just nothing like it. The pink and purple Hyacinths are just magical as their scent awakens the olfactory senses. What starts out as a chore, turns into a labor of love.
As the rake pulled away the damp leaves, in my mind I am envisioning the awakening of the Great Earth Mother. Like we find a nice back-scratch from a loved one so stimulating and sometimes needed for relief of sore muscles, I imagine in my mind and visualize how this little act must feel for the Great Mother Goddess as I tend to her as she has tended to me. Though I don’t look at her as a humanized figure, I can’t help but relate the two. This is a simple act of magic to me, and just like at the Sabbat ritual itself where the poundings of the High Priestess’s hand on the ground to invite the Great Mother Goddess back to spring and awaken Her and the corresponding pounding of the besoms on the ground. Now, the final uncovering begins so that delicate herbs and plants can come through in full bloom.
It wasn’t long after that when even more flowers fully sprouted forth into small photo-worthy scenes. As these flowers smiled at me, I smiled back towards them.
This above little narrative is something that I try to get across in a number of the articles here which is that even the most routine acts can be practical forms of magic and meditation which has the potential to enrich the soul, promote happiness and assist us in the cultivation of a harmonious existence with man, crops and animals. A quote to illustrate this point further by Wilfred A Peterson:
“Happiness doesn’t come from doing what we like to do but from liking what we have to do.” (1)
We have to do many, many things in our lives, and how we go about them can make all the difference. Some of the things we have to do can take a lot of blood, time, sweat and tears; so why not approach them with an awareness of mind and heart in which we infuse a bit of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition into it?
Even the most humdrum affairs can be approached with a personal awareness in which we can find comparisons and matters in which those that follow more Eastern belief systems might call our dharma.
So what are some other spring-time spells and rituals that we might engage in?
Well, one of the first things that comes to mind is a little ritual that our coven participates in during our Spring Rite in which the planting of prayers, petitions and wishes of things we wish to work for and cultivate in our lives. This technique is one that is so well-known amongst witches and has been written about in many different forms. One technique of doing this that is very effective is described by William G. Gray in one of his excellent old books titled “Seasonal Occult Rituals” (2) and is one that I am fond of. These rituals were tried out by occultists and witches alike in England before its publication and adapted in various ways that suited different groups. Patricia Crowther has talked about performing these same old rituals in one of her books (3) too that I would assume she and her coven adapted for use in witch-rituals as well. Even though she doesn’t call them out in full specifics, I could tell immediately by the descriptions that she shared a fondness for these same old rituals too – as Gray was an associate of Patricia when he was alive. I was delighted to read that her coven was engaged in the use of these same old rituals as well and would be fascinated in how she adapted them for use compared to how we adapted them for use – the similarities and differences.
The technique itself may be best summarized by the writing of petitions which are ceremonially collected and then invocations to the Supreme Being made before the eventual burning in the Sabbat balefire. Then, a little of the ashes are scooped out and mixed in which the soil with a blessing. The breath of life is breathed over the soil, and then the water is blessed. The seeds or bulbs are then planted and ceremonially watered. The resulting blossoms which should be produced by summer are a figure in the Summer Rite, and then by the Autumn Rite should go into seed. When autumn comes, we must accept our just rewards – either the attainment of our desires or the failures of that which we didn’t tend to. This teaches us the important lesson learned from what we may describe as the Law of Compensation which is one way of describing Karma.
As you can see, this technique described above and in itself is a way of keeping in touch with the land, its growing cycles and the results. What can be more beautiful than that than engaging in a ritual or seasonal cycle in which we attempt to stay in touch with the growing, nourishment and harvest of the earth? Even if you cannot perform this ritual outdoors with other witches at coven, you can indeed participate in this ritual indoors with simple supplies of seeds, bulbs, pot, soil and water.
The beauty of some of these simple spring rituals is they can be adapted whether you live in the country or in the city. They can be adapted to those who can be physically active outdoors and with much drama or pomp and circumstance as you prefer or performed in a more scaled-down version if you have disabilities which prevent you from traveling to coven in the woods or countryside. This is the beauty of occultism and magical practice.
Before we leave the topic of planting rituals, another spell that seems to be as old as the hills is a particular Love Spell which typically involves the planting of a bulb such as an Amaryllis, Hyacinth or Daffodils for the purpose of obtaining what we all seek after at some time in our lives: Love! This spell is very hard to cite in the Bibliography below because it, like the last one, has been written about so many times and in so many different ways and is incredibly old. However, I will list two places in which it is referenced in case you want to explore this spell further.
One famed witch known as Gundella, the Green Witch has spoken about this spell on her wonderful record on the practice of spell making titled The Hour of the Witch (4) which is a Vinyl record that has been around for quite a while.
In all the various versions of this spell, the bulb is named after the person whom love is sought after – where amorous feelings of love is sought to be reciprocated. The bulb is then planted in a pot and is tended to each day so that as the flower grows, so it is alleged that the love between you and your intended lover will grow. Some witches add a little verbal charm to this – and this is another case where this charm and various versions of it has been written in so many ways and so many different times that it is hard to pin-point, but one particular version of this was written about in a wonderful little booklet on witchcraft by Delphine C. Lyons called Everyday Witchcraft. (5)
“As this root shall grow, And this blossom blow, So let his heart be Inclined unto me.” (5) -Delphine C. Lyons
A more modern book in written by Pauline Campanelli and illustrated by Dan Campanelli that is titled Wheel of the Year (6) and it can give you various spells, lore and rituals that they enjoy at their home at Flying Witch Farms in New Jersey. It is quite a delight and entertaining read that gives you a whole seasonal cycle of lore for all 12 months of the year. They also have written a number of other books that are equally entertaining, but the fascinating and handy thing about this book is they make it easy to flip to the month of the year that we are in and read about activities that you can enjoy by yourself, with other witches, or even if you have a family tradition of witchcraft that the whole household can be involved in.
One April tradition that the Campanelli’s discuss is a sanctuary garden. This one looks near and dear to my heart as I have performed similar types of activities on my own. I will most likely eventually blog about this somewhere at a later time!
One thing to be aware of when it comes to seasonal grimoires such as this: most books will typically be written with a local flair. This book works very well for me because since at the time of its writing, the authors are/were located in New Jersey which matches my local environment/seasonal cycle. For those that are located in areas other than the Northeast, you may have to adjust some activities a bit to match your own local seasonal cycle. There will always be activities that are universal, but some may occur at earlier or later months. For many of our witch friends who live in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasonal cycles might be reversed. This would be an easy adjustment to make for. Witches make do!
To end this article, I wanted to leave you with a spell that could be done at any particular season of the year and either indoors or outdoors and can be performed easily whether you have physical limitations or not. This would be what is famously known as the Seven knob Wish Candle. This spell is a very common spell among witches, but today, it seems many folks forget its wonderful simplicity.
The only supplies you need for it is a candle and matches. You can either use a molded seven knob candle that has been molded with the seven knobs already such as can be found at most occult supply stores, or if you can’t locate one of these specialty candles found in occult candle shops, you can make do by taking your White Handled Knife and carving 6 circular lines in the candle. Many people like to inscribe their candles by writing the summarized wish directly onto the candle with their W.H.K. and if you do so, a molded candle will be better for this than a taper – as one that is traditionally dipped can flake off because of the layering process that occurs when you dip the candles. In this case, another work-around that witches might typically do is to take one of those long hat-pins and place it into the candle and when the pin falls, they extinguish the candle and the next day they will engage in placing the pin down the candle a little bit more – doing this for seven nights.
You would then take the correct magical occult oil and begin the process of anointing it. For witches, there is a specific technique that we use when anointing traditional candles for spells and rituals that I can’t go into here, but for Seven Knob Candles you would typically anoint then from the top down. The purpose of the carving and the anointing is to magnetize your wish into the candle. The thought-impregnation enters the candle, and being a “magically magnetic” object, it is easy for candles to absorb our thoughts. The process of burning the candle releases those thoughts through the fire elemental which responds by combustion. (the burning of the candle)
So here is how I do this spell when by myself outside of coven:
I take a circular brass tray and set it on top of what is known as a T.V. stand near the couch where I typically do my reading and such and place on top of that a candle holder that is fireproof that will hold my candle. After it has all been anointed and carved, I will light the candle and concentrate my summarized wish and burn only one knob. I blow out the candle after the first knob is burnt and then go on with my night. I do this for 7 nights in a row – the only difference is that on the seventh night, I allow the candle to extinguish itself.
Some witches might even incorporate magical talismans such as can be found in The Greater Key of Solomon or even the seals in the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses by drawing them out on one side and then writing the wish on the back of talisman/seal in the Witches Alphabet. These little petition papers can be burned on the 7th night or carried on the person if you wish. The finished talisman or seal can be placed on top of the circular brass dish and the fireproof candleholder placed on top of that. That can be great fun as well and can be another way to add more thought-concentration to the wish you are making.
It is a fun little spell in total, hope that you enjoy its simplicity!
One last resource I want to leave you with is a reference to a book of days. These are fun books to flip through as they typically will leave you with quotes and seasonal thoughts for you to meditate on or think about. I can’t tell you how many times I will pick up a book of days, quotes or poetry to contemplate and mediate on. Sometimes, entire rituals can be penned from the inspiration of reading a simple quote. I have a collection of seasonal books and books filled with quotes, but one little gem that I refer to for seasonal inspiration from time to time was edited by the founders of The Witches Almanac, Elizabeth Pepper and John Wilcok, which is called A Book of Days: Wisdom Through the Seasons. (7)
To finish this article, I will leave you with a spring-time quote:
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan but also believe.” -Anatole France
Bibliography & Works Cited:
- Peterson, Wilfred A., The Art of Living, This Week Magazine. 1961.
- Gray, William G., Seasonal Occult Rituals, The Aquarian Press. Great Britain, 1970
- Crowther, Patricia., High Priestess: The Life & Times of Patricia Crowther, Phoenix Publishing. Blaine, Washington. 1998
- Gundella., The Hour of the Witch, Mutt Record Productions. Inkster, Michigan, 1970
- Lyons, Delphine C., Everyday Witchcraft: love magic, charms and spells, fortune telling; everything you need to know to enjoy occult power!, Dell Publishing Co., 1972
- Campanelli, Pauline., Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life, Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN. 2000
- Pepper, Elizabeth and Wilcock, John., A Book of Days: Wisdom Through the Seasons, Capra Press, Santa Barbara, CA. 1996