Saturday, May 12, 2018

[Part Five] Hermetic Spellcraft: The Principle of Polarity

"Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."

In the first three principles, we defined our world as three realms - the physical, mental and spiritual/subconscious - and their position in relation to one another.  This in turn explained the concept of energy through vibration.  Today, we'll begin to look at the ways we can affect those realms through that energy by utilizing intent.

All Opposites are the Same

The easiest way to explain this principle is to relate it to temperature.  Scientifically, temperature is a description of the vibration of particles.  The faster the particles move, the hotter something is.  The slower, the cooler.  But where specifically on the thermometer does "cold" end and "hot" begin?  It's subjective, isn't it?  Even more so, hot and cold, or even boiling and freezing, are not at the extreme ends of that scale.  Instead, temperature is a spectrum with a variety of markers that we create based on our personal experiences.

The same can be said of all things we consider opposites.  The higher the vibration, the closer to one end of the spectrum we travel.  The lower, the closer to the other end.  But our definitions of those ends, those opposites, are entirely subjective.  We see and understand that vibration through our mental lens, a realm shaped by our surroundings, thoughts, actions and life events.  What may be a high vibration to us may have a low vibration to someone else.  There is no universal definition.  Without a that, the reality is that all opposites on any spectrum are actually interchangeable depending on our mental lens.

In this, the Principle of Polarity encourages us to see all sides of any argument, all angles of any problem, and requires us to analyse those various perspectives before pushing forward.

Dichotomies Do Not Exist

If no universal definition of opposites exist, dichotomies as a whole do not exist.  For this concept, think of east and west.  They seem like opposites but, in reality, once you go too far east, you're actually more west of your starting point.  The two are really one in the same.  Similarly, the spectrum we understand opposites to lie on is not a straight line.  Linear duality is too one-dimensional for our multidimensional reality.  Instead, think of it as a spherical surface, a moon on which we place little flags to mark our personal experiences and definitions.  Here is east, to me, and there is where west is.  Here is cold, there is hot and somewhere over there is just right.  Everyone's experiential spheres look different depending on their life events.

Good and Bad are Subjective and Interchangeable

If dichotomies do not exist, then what is good and bad?  Good and bad, virtue and evil, are subjective and interchangeable, mutable based on our experiences.  So when we describe vibrations as "low" or "high," what are we really saying?  Are we implying that one type of vibration is better than the other?  In fact, both high and low vibrations have their use and can be applicable to varying kinds of magic.  Sometimes we need things like anger and sadness, not just to fuel our spell work but to shape our perceptions of the world.  I see no need to overcome or transmute lower vibrations, burying them in some sort of shame, when they can be recognized and utilized - unless that's something you feel the need to transform in the first place.  Vibrations, like any other kind of wave, simply are.

While some see the Law of Polarity as a way to “rise above lower vibrational emotions,” hence “love and light,” I instead see it as a warning against rigid dichotomy hindering our ability to expand our work.  It’s easy to get stuck as viewing hate as bad and love as good rather than sliding on the same spherical spectrum of emotion.  By seeing the gray area between two ideas that seem black and white, we can transmute our spell work into something more refined and expansive.

The Visual Representation: Our Intent is a Sphere

In the previous principle, we established that the three realms inhabit the same space but just a degree off from one another, creating a vibration we know as energy.

In this principle, we defined our intentions and the way we affect those vibrations as a sphere with no extreme points.

When we cast our spell, we are aiming this sphere at these three planes, looking for a specific spot to hit where we feel we will enact the most change in our favor.

In Magic

The Law of Polarity requires critical thinking and responsibility in our work.  If we understand that rigid dichotomies do not exist and that all perceived opposites lie on a spectrum, we must analyse our intentions from all sides before making a commitment, creating a pathway of least resistance for our spell work to be most effective.  Try looking at the perceived opposite of whatever spell you're attempting to work and decide if that approach would be better suited to the situation.  Do you want to cause love or lessen disdain?  Bring healing or banish illness?  Is one way going to be easier than the other?  Is there an in-between, a gray area, where your spell would be even more effective?  Once we've decided on a concise intent, we must take responsibility for that intent, whether that means we must notify the target party or be willing to accept whatever universal backlash our spell may cause - or anything in between.

Part Six: The Principle of Rhythm
Part Seven: The Principle of Cause and Effect
Part Eight: The Principle of Gender

Part Nine: Putting it All Together

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Natural May Day Altar 2018

A recent rainstorm meanders away from the low-hanging sun in the sky and the soggy ground gives way to the first flowers.  The rainy season has only just begun.  If Beltane is meant to celebrate the middle-most height of spring, you certainly wouldn't know that at my Midwestern home.  We saw snow and sleet in mid-April, paired with record lows and wind chill numbers enough to make you think we were nearing the winter solstice more than May Day.  I shouldn't complain though; Kansas City summers are scorching and stifling.  This is a welcome pause in the extremities of temperatures.

At 8:13 this morning, we marked the official cross-quarter holiday between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice: May Day.  We erect May Poles from flowers and ribbon, dancing about them to symbolize love, happiness and fertility.  Bonfires created on this sabbat are used to rekindle the hearth fire of the home.  As the holiday across from Samhain on the Wheel, Beltane marks the other time of the year where the veil is thin.  For this holiday, however, we focus more on the other that ventures through the veil: The aos si, the daemons and the Fae.

At the end of 2017, my readers told me that they wanted simple, natural and affordable altars.  This series is in response to that need!  I created a set of rules:

I cannot go out and purchase anything for these altars.
The altars must be made of natural items found around my house, in local parks and walking trails or items that I already own.
The value of already-owned items cannot exceed $5 and should be easily accessible.
The emphasis should be on natural items.
The altar can take no more than 10 minutes to put together and photograph.

For this altar, the only non-natural items used were the glass and edible sugar-based glitter.  While the latter is technically just sugar, I'm including it in the non-natural category because you can't just go out and get edible glitter from the wild.  The latter was difficult to work with thanks to natural humidity.  It wanted to clump together and didn't originally look like the kind of glitter I wanted.  However, with a little flour, a marshmallow and some patience, I was able to create the kind of loose, powdery consistency I needed for this altar.

I also sat a deer antler at the front of the altar.  Though it's not part of the main altar, it was an important piece of representing May Day.  Deer are often seen as highly spiritual, kind and proud.  Their antlers invoke a projective energy.  With this, I was protecting the altar and its potential visitors.

I began by pulling some flowers from around my house.  Flowers included indigo-colored hyacinth, standard daffodils and pink Amaryllis Belladonna, commonly known as "Naked Ladies."  Admittedly, I felt a bit guilty plucking the few that had sprouted.  I made sure to give egg shell and coffee ground offerings to the area, but the guilt persisted.  These flowers were some of the first food for bees.  What would they eat?  This became the base theme for my altar over the course of the next ten minutes.

Pictured above in detail, the indigo hyacinth is commonly associated with spirituality, sincerity and forgiveness.  The latter perked my attention, especially as the regret gnaws at me.  The name "hyacinth" comes from a Greek legend involving Hyakinthos.  As Apollo taught the young man how to throw a discus, Zephyr became incredibly jealous.  God of the west wind, sent a strong wind that threw the discus into Hyakinthos's head, killing him.  Apollo felt responsible for the death of his friend and, from his blood, created a flower in honor of Hyakinthos.  As I felt guilty for plucking the first flowers of spring and removing much-needed food for bees, I thought of this tale.  I placed one hyacinth at the center of the altar, asking for forgiveness for removing the flowers, and plucked the individual buds to form a circle around it.

Naked Ladies are a lily that pops up in early spring only to wilt, giving way to another, taller blossom at the end of summer.  The technical name for lily, amaryllis, comes from the Greek story of a shy, young nymph who fell in love with a stoic shepherd.  This shepherd demanded of the nymph a flower he had never seen before.   The Oracles of Delphi told her to pierce her heart with a golden arrow at the shepherds door.  Out of pure devotion and love, the nymph Amaryllis did so and, from her blood, the lily was born.  

The color pink lends itself to the same traits Amaryllis showed - love, devotion, compassion - but also nurturing.  As I built the altar by placing the tiny buds of amaryllis belladonna between the hyacinth, I began to think of what ways I could possibly nurture the bees I felt I was stealing from.

In the center of the altar, I placed a few bright daffodils to add a pop of color.  With yellow and purple being complimentary colors, the two stood out against each other.  While the original myths surrounding daffodils vary and are questionable, this flower undoubtedly symbolizes the first of spring, the rebirth of the land and brand new beginnings.  The bright yellow associated with daffodils offers correspondences of happiness, inspiration and communication.  By adding the daffodil to the altar, I'm invoking polite communication that I'm willing to nurture the bees.

At this point, I boldly stating to the bees:  Please forgive me for taking the first flowers of the season for this altar.  In exchange, I am offering something of nourishment gifted in love and in happiness.  Originally, I had brought in my box milk to add to a glass for the fae.  While the fae were still in the forefront of mind, I also wanted to take the bees in to account.  Besides, fae often disguise themselves as small flying bugs, so the offering would still go to them.

Running back inside, I created a mixture 2:1 of water and sugar in the cup.  Once outside, I added a bit of edible glitter (which almost instantly dissolved into the water) as an offering for the fae, and a large hyacinth bug for bees to land on.  This mixture of sugar and water is a common way to hydrate and revitalize bees during the hot season.

And it worked!

Multiple bees came to feast on the flowers and water offered.  Some of them, I thought, glittered just a bit before they landed - an sign of a fairy in disguise.  I had one particular moment with a ladybug who did the same as well.  My altar was a success, creating a nurturing landing pad for fae and bee alike.

I will say: Taking pictures of bees when you're allergic is every-so-slightly terrifying.  But my allergy need not dictate who I help - just that I use caution in doing so.

And so my altar for the fairies and bees for May Day was complete.  Enjoy the picture below relaying the correspondences!

I hope everyone had a blessed May Day!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Full Moon in Scorpio Altar April 2018

Scorpio is deeply intuitive, passionate, emotional and intense yet secretive and untrusting.  A full moon in this sign ensures something hidden is about to be brought to light - a secret revealed, a door opened.  It's a time to be aware, to look for clues and to arm ourselves with the proper protection.

For this altar, I wanted to break away from the standard conventions I had been using for the past three months.  Gone is the circular mirror representing the full moon and the crescent candle holder.  I also avoided making the altar symmetrical - something I do in almost all of my work.  This is truly a break from the norm.

Instead of the mirror, the central focus for this altar is an offering bowl to Scorpio.  Inside, I've included a variety of herbs: Coriander, bay, orange peel, rosemary, chamomile and sandalwood.  All of these herbs focus on divination and/or protection.  With Scorpio looking towards the secret and unknown, I wanted to both take an opportunity to seek that out through divination while also keeping myself well-guarded.

At the center of the bowl is a glass scorpion in gold and red to represent the sign.  Gold is a projective color with links to justice and divination.  Red is related to Mars, one of the ruling planets for Scorpio, and focuses on passion and combativeness.  These two colors, along with black for protection and scrying, are echoed throughout the altar.

On the right side sits the scrying mirror I obtained from my coven's last full moon ritual.  While we charged our mirrors as a group there, this divination-focused altar is a perfect way to truly enchant this tool for future use.

On the right of the mirror, I've placed a large chunk of smoky quartz.  This semiprecious gemstone is not only a birthstone for Scorpio but also assists in protection and grounding during divination.

A small orb of obsidian sits on the left side of the mirror.  This stone is also commonly associated with Scorpio and assists in protection, clarity and strength.  This stone and the smoky quartz guard the gateway between the worlds as seen through the mirror.

Also included on the altar are shells.  Scorpio is a fixed water sign despite its desert-dwelling symbol.  Some theorize that the original sign was a serpent of sorts that, over the years, has transformed into what we know as the scorpion.  Whatever the case may be, these shells bring the element of water to the table symbolically.

Water is also literally on the altar for charging and purification during the full moon.  This offering is accented with gold flowers and edible gold glitter purchased for this occasion.

Throughout the altar, I utilized sets of three.  This emphasizes the numerological correspondence for Scorpio: 9, or three-by-three.  The candle and shells are set up in series of three while the herbs are set in six.  The obsidian is paired with two candles to create the illusion of three.  This focus on three emphasizes the sign for this altar.

In the end, I utilized this altar to focus on divination and protection for the upcoming full moon as a way of receiving that potential hidden message it will inevitably bring.  Enjoy a fully dissected image below!