“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us.” – John Lennon
I am not religious. I find organised religion a frightening doctrine and one that is inherently flawed. After years of examining life and the powers above I came to the conclusion that I believe in mother Earth. I believe in loving thy neighbour, Atman and the truth of suffering. But most importantly: I believe in life, the beauty of people and the just equality of our own eclectic, individual state of enlightenment.
Human beings have an intrinsic need – even longing – to believe in something. I remember, as a child, sitting at home in despair at the hollow, nauseating disillusion that accompanies an unknown existence. A small child frantically trying to make sense of why they are on Earth, or what is beyond Earth, what happens after Earth, why there even is an Earth and indeed, who decided that there was to be such a thing in the first place? What a terrifying notion, having nothing to believe in!
That is why I understand religion. I understand the need to find out why. I respect anybody who has the courage to believe in something wholeheartedly and commit their existence to whatever it is they believe guides them, deity or otherwise. I have even greater respect for those who are absolutely firm in their intolerance for any form of fanciful religion and its grandiose elitism. But I know that many people (including myself) could not commit even to the outfit they were wearing on any particular day. And that’s okay.
I’m one of those people who want to feel spiritual, enlightened and purposeful in a non-committal, yet innocuous way and will use whatever resource, God, ritual, song or human being that resonates with me on a personal level. It may be flaky and offensive to most but to me, it’s understanding.
The answer? Eclecticism: the free-spirited friend to every disconcerted commitment-phobe in the land.
On my one-woman search for the “meaning of life” I found I was growing increasingly critical of any religious doctrine: ‘This part seems a bit hypocritical… This part definitely isn’t for me… But I’m a feminist!” I came to accept that I would never agree with a single religious paradigm. Any autonomous, divine being perched illustriously upon a throne of promising absolution I found mistrustful. I was biting into the crisp, ripe crimson from the Tree of Life with almost carnal expectancy and tossing it aside lamely with child-like disillusion.
In short, I was faced with four options:
- Give up on the search for spirituality altogether and throw my hands up in glorious defeat;
- Become comfortable with agnosticism;
- Pave my own spiritual path to enlightenment, cherry-picking the beliefs and energies I resonated with individually;
- Make a new religion.
Granted, I am prone to (endearing, I promise) bouts of whimsical grandeur, but not even my ego would allow me to go ahead with creating a Kingdom of tiny, rock and roll feminists with a hankering for gothic literature. So I went my own way. I quietly furrowed through resources, trying to figure out whether I connected with the Moon, or the Earth, or Science, Jesus, Buddha or all or none of these things until I felt I understood myself and my position in the Universe.
It was a frantic discovery. I clutched at Wiccan beliefs and grabbed a few more from Buddhism because sure, I grew up with a philosophy of “an it harm none, do what ye will” and an antagonism towards authoritarian hierarchy – not to mention a belief in and respect for magic and the existence of multiple dimensions.
And yes, I give my spare change to Buddha to bring prosperity and understand that karma comes back to bite us both in this life and the next. And no, nothing is permanent but meditation will bring you enlightenment. I tapped into my own Hindu Goddess when I accepted that we reap the rewards and perils of our actions (threefold, whispers my Wiccan voice) because uh-huh, Karma is indeed a bitch. Most importantly for me, I believe in honouring the Earth, the lunar and solar cycles, and the elements. It’s a loose and light-hearted overview, but it’s a start.
And when you get comfortable in the knowledge that you perhaps cannot conform to any single absolute, that’s where the fun begins. Take whatever resonates with and fascinates you and utilise its energy for your own enlightenment. For me, it has always been magic. The mysterious allure of the paranormal is mystically seductive, the possibility of a magical realm a provocative mistress.
Magic is in all of us: the power to heal, dream and protect our loved ones is intrinsic to us all. It’s just that some of us are able to listen to it and tap into our magical energies more effectively than others. For whatever witchy reason you want to practice the Craft, here are a few little rituals and tips for beginners that you can practice to help you get in tune with your own spirituality. As a spiritual waif and stray, I truly believe that incorporating the following into your daily lives will help balance your energies and increase prosperity, health, protection and enlightenment in your own life and that of your family and friends. They’re also really fun to practice, especially if you turn the lights down low, grab a black cloak and wear a lacy garter belt.
1. Monday Candle Ritual
Candle magic is the most natural, ancient form of magic and is fairly simple to do in the home. There are countless rituals one can perform using candle magic – from healing, communicating with another dimension or even material motives. I have chosen a simple candle ritual that can be performed each Monday to help balance any uneven energy, whilst helping nurture and ground the relationship between the practitioner and their spiritual self to create emotional wellbeing.
The colour of the candle you will burn when performing your ritual is important, for there are different colours for each purpose, zodiacal sign, and day of the week. For instance, if I were to perform a candle ritual on a Sunday I would be using a yellow candle, for according to Wiccan philosophy, Sunday is ruled by the Sun. I have chosen Mondays to perform this particular candle ritual because here at Luna Luna we are pro-women, and Monday is a great day for women and female empowerment! Monday is ruled by the Moon and corresponds with the Water element, so it would be a good idea to burn a blue candle.
If you’re finding it difficult to get a blue candle, don’t sweat it. We aren’t Wiccan; therefore the rigidity of any particular religious rule shouldn’t overwhelm us too much, it’s important to concentrate on what feels comfortable to us. If you can get a blue candle – great! If not, you can substitute any colour candle for a white one.
(I also like to use pillar candles, but that is my own personal preference).
Use a candle that has never been burned before, for failing to do so could nullify any magical potential. Once you have your candle, you should charge it with your own energies and the magical intent you wish to achieve. This is called ‘dressing’ the candle. To do this, we rub the candle with oil in a downward motion from the tip of the candle to the halfway point, and then repeat from the base of the candle upwards to the halfway point, rubbing the oil into the wax. By touching the candle we charge the wax with our own energies and vibrations, which will enhance the potency of our magical desire. Any oil is fine, but sage, mint or chamomile oil corresponds nicely with Monday.
Monday is the day of the week associated with the privileges of being a woman. It corresponds with healing, childbearing, wisdom and intuition, so Monday is the day to focus in on and nurture these qualities to help us prosper as the amazing women we are. Burn your candle in the morning, focusing all your energies in on your achievements for the day – how are you going to sustain and develop your emotional, feminine wellbeing? Take that day and assign it to understanding what empowers you as a woman, and use the elements to ignite this understanding.
Encompass water into your Monday routine. It is a really great day for taking a cleansing bath, collecting rainwater, anointment, walking in the rain or even watering the plants. Become one with the element and let it guide you.
Monday is the day of fertility! So if you’re trying to conceive, grab your other half and spend the day having dizzying sex. Or even go it alone, because, why the fuck not?
Finally, it may be a good idea to cook with mint or sage, or drink a chamomile tea.
2. The Witch’s Bottle
Witch bottles have been in use for centuries, prosperous as instruments used to banish evil spirits and protect ones self from any entities threatening malicious intent. Witch bottles are used for protecting the home, your family and yourself from any harmful energy you feel you are being subject to.
A homeowner creates a witch bottle (or indeed any person feeling threatened), and places in a permanently undisturbed area of the home. By storing the witch bottle deep within the home, this guides the negative energy toward the bottle itself, in which the malice and harm will be captured and deflected away from the person to whom the witch bottle belongs.
If you feel you need to create a witch bottle, it is important that its contents represent you.
Firstly, you will need a glass jar. An old jam jar is perfect. Within this jar you will deposit a sample of your own energy, whereby the perpetrator of the threat will be tricked into thinking that their harm has found their suitor. Throughout history, various samples have been deposited into the bottle. Traditionally, a common deposit would have been urine – or even blood – but nail clippings, hair, or saliva will suffice for the more squeamish among us.
Once you have given your energy to the bottle, it is imperative that this energy is protected from the harm intended toward it. Half fill the jar with a selection of pins, screws, bent nails, tacks or any small, sharp instruments and cover with salt. The sharp objects act as a shield to deflect the harm away from you and the salt acts as a purifier. Adding salt is arguably the most important step, for it negates any negative energy you may possess within yourself and thus ensures you mean not malice unto others with your witch bottle, but protection unto yourself.
Trusting that you have completed the previous steps, it is time to seal the bottle – seal the spell, if you will. Tightening the lid of the jar is most common, but sealing the jar with candlewax was historically thought to be most efficient for permanently eliminating negativity.
Remember: hide the jar in a deep, untouched part of the house to guide all malevolence in its direction, where it will be trapped permanently.
3. The Key
Ancient folklore emphasises the significance of a key. Undoubtedly, we have all, at some point, stumbled upon an old, forgotten key lying dustily and dormant at the back of a bedside table…
Well, keys are metaphors for journeys traveled. When coming across a forgotten key, you’d probably toss it away with a shrug of overlooked nostalgia at this foreign deity and forget why you were looking in that abandoned drawer in the first place – perhaps even swear you’d never seen the key before.
Or maybe you would satisfy that it belonged to a diary. You know the one, your top-secret diary with Take That smiling suggestively on the cover – the same diary you had forgotten the padlock combination to ten years earlier and had since rendered the thing useless. You’d probably spend the rest of the day realising just why Americans never embraced Robbie Williams.
Folklore warns that when we discard of a disused key we bring discord into our consciousness and our energy becomes imbalanced. To throw away a key represents a shutting door. We could be shutting the door on our past, dismissing important life experiences or losing a path that the elements are warning us it is imperative to take.
Instead of tossing it away, nail your key to your bedpost. The key acts as a sort of dream catcher, per se, where it will trap nightmares and any evil spirits from entering your unconscious. You can even embellish it with string or ribbon and hang it from your bedpost as kitsch décor.
If you have children, you may also want to attach it to the underside of their crib, safely out of reach. Ancient folklore believed that doing so would keep away goblins that would steal away children in the night.
Finally, one should never place a key on top of a table, for terrible luck will soon follow. Instead, nail it to the inside leg or underside of the tabletop to ignite positive energies around the communal family area. Any animosity or negativity will be trapped within the key and replaced with a harmonious family atmosphere.
4. The Magical House
Placing an array of magical items around the home conjures positive energies, making your home a more harmonious, balanced place to live. I like to incorporate quirky, magical items in my home not only for weird and wonderful décor, but to protect myself from potential threat and negative energy.
Start with the doorways. Doorways are the largest vortex when it comes to stirring up energy. People constantly pass through the doorway, bringing with them and taking away a multitude of energies and it is so important to control this flow of energy. We want the energy in our home to remain balanced and positive, so we must be careful that whoever comes and goes through our door does not bring harmful, negative energies unto our family and ourselves. Similarly, windows act as a vortex for letting in and releasing energies, so the following items can also apply to your windows.
My favourite tool for capturing positivity is the horseshoe. Place it above your doorway in an upright ‘U’ shape to stimulate good luck. By doing this, whatever positive energy passes through the door will be retained in the ‘U’ shape of the horseshoe. Contrarily, placing the horseshoe in an upside-down, inverted ‘U’ causes energies to escape, taking with it any good luck.
Keeping in tune the doorway spirit, attach a bell to your door handle with a ribbon. As well as being a beautiful decorative piece, when you open the door the bell will ring, sending positive vibrations through the house and stirring up good energy. Bells are also useful instruments for prosperity, so with the ringing of the bell brings wealth and good luck.
Placing a mirror above or next to your doorway will reflect the intentions and energies of those passing through it, helping you to be more vigilant in protecting your home. Similarly, activating the Water element will encourage intuition and life giving. Water is a beautiful tool for both understanding and uniting the past and the future in both yourself and any visitors you may have. It is a reflective element, which is helpful when inviting new people into your life and home. Therefore, placing a water feature outside your door will activate the element. Alternatively, any sort of container (even a watering can) will collect rainwater and ignite the reflective energies that the element simulates.
The poppy and the rose correspond with Water, so it may be an idea to plant these seeds around the garden to activate the elements’ properties.
My final tip for achieving spiritual balance would be to love, cherish and nurture the fireplace (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Treat your fireplace like a sort of spiritual altar. Go outside and collect pieces of dirt, leaves and wood and throw them into your fire. Oak particularly, if you can, for it corresponds with Fire. By throwing in these pieces of Earth you are allowing yourself to burn away the old and let in new life and energies. If you feel as though you need the courage to enter a new phase in your life and you need a little push, this is a great way of letting go of the old and allowing yourself to move forward. Fire, the element of courage, tenacity and inspiration, will provide you with the will to achieve what it is you want.
But remember, Fire is both a reckless and intuitive element. You must ensure that you direct your energy positively and for the right reasons, for failing to do so can cause your energies to be misplaced and your misdeeds will come back to bite you.
Finally, place candles, wood, leaves, incense and oils on your mantle as an ode to your spiritual path and watch yourself become balanced within the Earth, the elements and your own spiritual self.
Sophie Elizabeth Moss is a second year undergraduate at the Cardiff school of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, a faculty of Cardiff University. When not searching for the perfect leather jacket, she can be found wincing the night away in a quiet corner of the English countryside, penning gritty horror novels of grandeur supernatural splendour and nurturing a dysfunctional relationship with her out-of-tune bass guitar and misanthropic pendulum. Disillusioned with societal expectations of the ‘modern woman’, she is a pro-choice, body positivity supporter and is haunted by the ghost of Simone de Beauvoir. @Sophiedelays