Contrary to common belief, we’re all psychic. Granted, this may not mean that we’re all beset by visions of disaster and doom, or are frequently visited by the spirit of our deceased Grandmother, but psychic abilities are talents that are open to us all, and always have been, we just closed ourselves off to them somewhere along the way.
Also contrary to popular belief, psychic abilities don’t always manifest themselves in blatant ways (i.e. being visited by ghosts and spirits, being able to “guess” the lucky lotto numbers, etc.) Rather, one’s psychic abilities may manifest themselves as a strong “gut feeling” about something or someone, this is intuition, also known as “clairsentience.” Another example may be a strong connection you have with someone, perhaps a friend or relative, that allows the two of you to know when the other one is having a rough time or is just thinking about calling on the phone. This connection, a psychic connection, allows for various psychic senses to manifest as needed in order to provide you both with the information you need (i.e. clairsentience, “psychic knowing,” lets you know when something’s wrong, clairaudience, “psychic hearing,” means you may “hear” the phone ring all afternoon, with that person’s specific ringtone, until they finally do call.)
Within the practice of magick and Witchcraft, as well as the religion of Wicca, there is a strong emphasis on cultivating psychic talents. The reasons for this, though not readily apparent, come down to one fundamental point: the ability to recognize and manipulate energy. This one thing is the entire basis of magick and Wiccan ritual: if you cannot recognize energy or work with it, then you have no chance at being successful at either.
The ability to work magick comes down to recognizing that everything is made up of energy, including us, and as such, we have the ability to influence this energy, to redirect the flow, and thus create changes (i.e. “make magick.”) Wicca is a religion that is strongly grounded in the ability to work magick, the entire process of ritual, without any formal spell casting or such, demands the ability to work magick. How can one cast a Circle if they are unable to feel and project energy? How can one call the Elements to their Circle if they don’t know how the varying Elemental energies feel, what makes Them different from each other, and how to go about channeling that energy? And what of calling the Gods? Sure, They may come of Their own accord, but if one is working with more generic forms (such as “the Goddess” and “the God”) rather than specific Deities, how can one “call” anything/anyone if they don’t know what they’re calling (i.e. how that energy feels) and how to do so (i.e. how to channel and direct that energy)? This is why the need for honing one’s innate psychic abilities becomes so crucial.
The ways of increasing one’s abilities are many, and can be found in any basic books on magick/Witchcraft or Wicca. But two factors are a requirement, regardless of what exercises you choose to do: 1) you must be open to the idea of psychic abilities and that you are fully capable of possessing them, and 2) you must pay attention, so that when your abilities do begin to make themselves known (and they will!) you can recognize them as such, for doing so only makes them stronger.
Candles flicker, their light glinting off of ceremonial knives and offering bowls, casting strange shadows on solemn statues. The heavy scent of smoldering incense fills the air. The altar is set and at the ready.
But what is the true point of the altar. More than just a place to store tools, books, and magickal paraphernalia, an altar is meant as the focal point within a ritual or working. Set at the center of a Circle, it embodies the element of Spirit and its use is dedicated to the reverence and worship of that element, most often in the form of one’s God(s.)
Though not crucial to the practice of Magick and Witchcraft, the use of an Altar can prove beneficial to one’s spiritual practice as the altar becomes a trigger point, aiding in slipping into the proper mindset, both for magick and for proper worship of the Gods.
Many things may or may not be present upon an altar. Common through numerous religions is the presence of an effigy (symbol) of that which is being worshipped, such as statues, pictures/paintings, or even a simple candle. Also common, are containers for libation and offerings, such as shallow bowls, cups, and plates (allowing worshippers to partake in the offering as well.) The burning of herbs, often in the form of incense, and other items, such as food and oil, is another common component of worship and so a container for such or even a full fire pit may also be present.
Within the practice of Wicca, there are a few standbys for how an altar is setup, and although what is present varies from Tradition to Tradition, there are few, if any, constraints for the solitary practitioner.
The altar itself may be placed so that it faces any direction, though common placement is facing the North (the realm of all that is physical, where we are at the start of a ritual, for a cast Circle is seen as being “between-the-worlds,”) or the East (as the place where the Sun rises, it is seen as the direction from which all things come, it is also the realm of travel: a necessary component of ritual, be it for magick or worship.)
NOTE: As you stand/sit before your altar, the direction you are facing is the direction your altar is facing, so technically it is the back of the altar, not the front, which is closest to the direction it is “facing.”
Generally, altar space is divided into three sections: the left being dedicated to a female form of the Divine (i.e. a Goddess) and the right to a male form (i.e. a God,) with the center space being reserved for the Divine in its true state: as the One-Unknowable-All, genderless and encompassing everything.
In each section, then, are placed items for that form of the Divine, such as a candle or statue, an offering bowl, and various tools. Exact placement may also vary depending upon elemental association of the items (e.g. incense may be placed at center so that it is offered to the Divine in its pure form, or it may be placed to the right side of the altar, as it is masculine and this would also be the direction of East if the altar is facing North.)
However, the creation of an altar is in no way a requirement spiritual or magickal practice. All that is truly needed to work magick is focus and will; all that is truly needed to honor one’s Gods is focus and sincerity. These are things that you carry with you always and can access at any time.
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A subtle switch, barely percievable, but something changes. Winter loosens its icy grip on the land and the snows begin to melt. A few brave animals awaken and begin to move about. The sounds of rushing water are heard. Sometimes, one can even smell fresh earth. This energy continues to the Equinox where we find all awakened, but still a bit sluggish. Signs of life have returned to the land, green buds and tiny, fresh leaves on the trees, young animals take their tenative first steps away from mom and explore the warming land. At Beltaine, all are awakened, activity has returned. How good it is to be alive! To live! To love! So, as the Goddess and God intertwine and celebrate Their love for all creation, we do the same. A pull at the loins, we celebrate creation in the most suitable way possible, by creating more.
This is a time of new beginnings, of planting, starting new ventures, fertility, and hope. This is the middle of the Waxing Year (the beginning is at Winter Solstice and the end is at Summer Solstice,) and corresponds to the New and Waxing Moon Phases. This time also corresponds to infancy and childhood.
aka Brigid's Day, Lady Day, Candlemas, & Purification Day
Winter finally eases its grip upon the land and the ice and snow begin to melt. The Lady awakens from Her slumber and so, too, do some animals. The start of the Spring, this is a time of initiations.
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