Honouring our ancestors

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Flower offerings on the altar, alongside Maman Brigitte from the Dark Goddess Tarot and an icon of Mary

Today is Samhain. Today is the Day of the Dead. Today is a New Moon in Scorpio. It is a time of potency, and a time of magic. It is also, a time to honour our ancestral lineage.

Our modern world, with its constant future-driven deadlines and technological advances, has little time to spare for our collective past. Yet, as a practitioner of natural magic, as a pagan, tarot reader and astrologer, knowing my past, where I come from and what sustains my roots in this physical and psychic world, is as imperative as the air I breathe. And I find myself, a Romanian born kiwi now living in tropical Australia, at a cross-roads in my magical practice.

It’s more of a conundrum, I suppose, and it essentially boils down to this: what traditional practices do I make use of, what do I apply from the rich lore handed down over generations (and what do I discard), now that I live in a place that is so foreign to my cultural background, but also that is essentially uncharted territory from the perspective of modern magic and witchcraft, most of which is based on English or American traditions.

As a simple example, take Samhain, an autumn festival, which is now being celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere – however, down south, most of the pagans, witches and those immersed in the rhythm of our natural world, are celebrating Beltane, which is a spring festival, in line with the climatic (seasonal) changes that apply “down under”. But let me take even this one step further, and note that to be honest, in this part of Australia (north Queensland), there are only two seasons: winter (dry) and summer (wet). You can see it’s starting to get murky, for to me, the practice of natural magic is a practice rooted in your own current environment, and a knowledge and awareness of that environment is critical to your success – particularly when you start to work with herbs, with the crystals and stones of your own ground, with the waters that flow in your region.

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Flowers and Frankincense (Star of Bethlehem) on my altar prior to craft work

And so, I found myself pondering these matters yesterday in preparation for my ritual work today, and came to the conclusion that I need to do what feels right for me (versus what a book dictates). In line with this, the New Moon in Scorpio confirmed this to be an auspicious time to honour the dead, specifically my ancestral lineage.

With this in mind, I collected a mix of flowers as an offer to the dead. These were all collected on the morning immediately prior to the ritual, and grow easily in my garden: nasturtiums, dill, marigolds and Mimosa pudica (sensitive weed).

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Burning incense: frankincense, myrrh, sage and lemon myrtle

I also offered fresh water and incense, and burned a variety of herbs for protection and magic. I acknowledged my ancestors, and thanked them for their guidance and blessings. There is no set ritual wording I use for this – it is a fluid, flexible dedication that comes from the heart, in the spirit of connection and reverence.

Once done, I spent some time shuffling the cards and doing an Ancestral Lineage tarot spread, which I will share with you next time for it’s too long to go into detail here. Suffice to say, it left me a little stunned to read (in a good way!). I literally felt the magic envelop my room as I was dealing the cards, always a good omen that my dedication was acknowledged.

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Ancestral Lineage Tarot Spread using the Haindl Tarot (to be posted in the next instalment)

Finally, I went for a walk and collected sensitive weed. I will also post about this in a later post, but essentially, I am trying to work with what I’ve got, for both medicinal and magical purposes. It’s a thorny plant, so I figured it goes well with that Scorpio Moon energy 🙂

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Collecting sensitive weed (Mimosa pudica). This is, as the name suggests, labelled a “weed”, and yet its medicinal uses have long been recorded and recently proven by science.

Wishing everyone all over the world a safe and magical Samhain / Beltane / Halloween / Day of the Dead, and New Moon in Scorpio.

Blessings,
Monica

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Natural magic journeys : Ondines

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Witch of Water (from the Dark Goddess Tarot) on my altar

For the last few years, I have cautiously, yet certainly, started to tread upon the path of magic. I think for all purposes, I have been doing this ever since I acquired my first tarot deck back in 2008 or thereabouts. However, in recent years, my book collection has increasingly shifted towards natural magic authors, practices and methods.

To be specific, my interest lies solely with natural magic. Someone asked me recently, what I mean by this (natural magic). For me, natural magic is the magic of nature, of trees, of the earth, of rivers and lakes, the magic of stones, birds and sky. Natural magic is the magic practiced by those who connect with nature, whose spirituality lies rooted in the sacredness of all life. Natural magic is magic that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, it is the magic of common people, of folk peasants, of wise women and men.

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The energy of a natural, untouched and wild nature is incredibly healing for the human body, mind, heart and soul

To me personally, there is a clear distinction between natural magic and ceremonial magic. I find ceremonial magic far too convoluted, and I care not for complex phrases, distinguished robes or following a particular order when reciting a spell.

Deciding to “officially” start my journey into natural magic, I have begun by exploring one of the four main elements that a magician makes use of. The four elements are fire, air, water and earth. To be a well-rounded magician, one needs to understand and incorporate these elements in equal measure throughout their work.

“Although all four elements (in the form of physical objects) should be used in every magical operation so that you can raise as much power as possible, in actual practice one element is usually emphasized over the others, depending on the goal and the element to which it belongs.” Nancy Watson

I started with water, though I now realise this is a particularly difficult element for me to explore for various reasons I won’t go into detail here.
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 12.12.53 pmBefore I go on, I should make a note that I have based my work on Nancy Watson’s brilliant book, Practical Solitary Magic. I have found this a great reference for the beginner, though I am sure it is by no means the only one.

Each element has a spirit, or elemental, associated with it. The water elementals are called ondines.

Elementals are little creatures which animate the four elements. You cannot ordinarily see, hear, feel, taste or touch them, but this doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” Nancy Watson

So, in order to delve deeper into the water element, I thought it would be a good idea to try and connect with the water elementals, or ondines. One way to do this is to find a body of water, such as a creek, river, lake or the sea, and express your intentions out loud to the water spirits, followed by the offering of a gift.

The sequence I followed prior to setting out on this journey is as follows:

  • Decide on the intent of the journey (so for me, this was to connect with the water elementals)
  • Choose a place to do this (in my case, the local waterfall)
  • Choose a time to do this; for me this involved three considerations: first, I needed to be well rested; secondly, it must be early morning in order to avoid the tourists and any other people that I find disturb my focus; and thirdly, the moon phase must be in a Water sign
  • Pack the tools you need: tarot cards, crystals, and a gift for the ondines in my case
  • Choose correct clothing – I live in tropical Queensland, so long pants and long sleeves were mandatory to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes; I do not use chemical mozzie repellants as they are far too toxic
  • Any other considerations you may need to make depending on your goal and place
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The local waterfall on the morning of my visit 

On a Scorpio Moon, early in the morning, I set off to the local waterfall. This is about a 5 minute drive from where I live, and I feel incredibly blessed to have such a wonder so close by. This also means that every tourist camper van can be found here during the day, hence my early morning start.

As it happened, no one was there when I arrived, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I then proceeded to walk to the top of the waterfall, which is a more private space where I felt I could say my words without worrying that people may arrive and see me.

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The river at the top of the waterfall, before it heads out over rocks; this is where I chose to sit by the water edge and connect

Once I arrived, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts (and breath), and to absorb the energy around me. When I felt comfortable, I spoke my words, infusing as much intent, focus and reverence for the water spirits as I could. That done, I offered my gift: I took a small bottle of perfume from my bag, and poured a couple of drops into the water. Ondines love perfume, however note that this is not to be substituted with an essential oil (perfume is water based, however essential oils belong to the fire element).

I was amazed – actually astounded – to see the “jelly donuts” Watson describes in her book appear in the water where I had poured the perfume. This was a great sign my intent had been acknowledged, and made me feel rather elated.

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After thanking the water spirits for their help and guidance, I walked to the water rapids, sat down and took out two aquamarine crystals for cleansing. I placed these in a safe pool of water and let the flow wash over them, cleansing them as it did so.

 

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And then it was time to go.

Once home, I placed the crystals on my altar, where I also have a bowl of water to acknowledge the water element and spirits.

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My simple altar is also a bookshelf

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The Witch of Water, from the brilliant Dark Goddess Tarot, I chose on purpose.

My work with the Water element, and ondines, is by no means over. I am not sure what direction to take next, however I am certain guidance and direction will arrive as needed.

Wishing everyone a blessed weekend,
Monica