Speaking In Ritual

I am not an expert in creating ritual. If anything, I am just barely a journeyman, starting to create outlines that work without mentorship. I have noticed something, and I wanted to talk about it. There are multiple ways to use speech in ritual. “Speech” in here in a broad sense, to encompass sign language and singing.

The first technique I have seen is carefully written and memorized speeches, such as the parts of the Gnostic Mass. The advantage of these scripts are many. First, making someone memorize something (or at least think very deeply about notecards) tests their dedication to the ritual and ensures that those who undertake the ritual are firm in their desires to do so. Scripts allow for a lot of nuance and care in weaving the relationships between the various forces at play. That is to say, scripts are more precise. This technique also seems to lend itself well to rituals that are meant to be repeated, making every single iteration of the ritual very alike.

There are downsides. Some people cannot memorize despite being very dedicated. For those, there is no shame in notecards, and if the notecards are made into a ritual object it does not interrupt the flow. Also, though other people seem to experience this differently, I do not find that heavily scripted rituals move very much energy. From my perspective, it feels like someone fiddling with the Universal Powers with a watchmaker’s tools: precise, subtle, but effective in the right situations.

One way to counterbalance this lack of energy is ritual hollering. One year I was blessed to be invited to a Passover Seder. (Is that capitalized?) The Seder had a script which the leader of the ritual read from. However, along with his very jovial tone and unhindered side commentary, he instructed us that we were allowed to holler, “FREEDOM!” or “LIBERTY!” whenever those words were said in his script. We were also encouraged to sip our drinks whenever the hollers occurred. Wine, juice, and water were provided so we could make individual decisions about how much alcohol and sugar to consume. The simple cue to holler helped hold my attention as a participant, and raised quite a bit of energy during the pre-feast ritual.

Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight shadowcast showings have a similar dynamic of speech. The movie is identical every time, and forms the script. The shadowcast, copying all the movements below the screen, have painstakingly memorized the movements. The audience, meanwhile, has several ways to interact with their voices. One, there are certain cues which can be learned in a matter of minutes, like shouting “ASSHOLE!” every time Brad’s name is said. There are jokes which are learned over the course of multiple viewings, such as tauntings of “We see you, Riff, but the virgins don’t!” in the opening scene. There are also cues to dance and throw various items about the theater, all cued by the script of the film. Participants are encouraged to try and make new jokes. A lot of energy is raised.

A particular kind of memorized speech is singing. Especially with short, repeated chants, this method of speaking is agile and can be used in heavily scripted rituals or in looser preparations. To date, I have only seen it used in more extemporaneous rituals, but I have heard rumors that it is used as a scripted ritual technique.

The second technique I have seen is improvised words. Every Reclaiming ritual I have been to has used this technique. Essentially, the outline of the ritual notes what the words need to do and when they are to be used, but the exact words are created on the fly. This provides a powerful challenge for participants to tap their creativity as well as the creative powers of the people around them. On the one hand, this technique creates a lot of energy and helps adapt rituals to the particular time and place they are being held. On the other hand, being called to add one’s voice causes some people to shut down.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I enjoy that. As much as I have tried to outgrow the elitism of my childhood, some part of me revels every time someone fails to step up and into their own power. “Yeah,” I think to myself like a snotty playground bully, “You can’t keep up. We gave you the perfect place to be held and to take the power you wanted, but you missed the lesson. Your power cannot be given to you wrapped in a little bow. You have to take it, have to face the same fear we all did.”

It’s a growing edge.

Open Mic poetry readings are delightfully weird mix of script and extemporaneous speech. MC’s often read the same words every time, though they do seem to tadd their own ad libs. People on stage can freestyle. I have seen poems written during the ritual itself be taken to the stage as well as poems that represent long hours of work. Much like RHPS, the Open Mic ritual has cues for audience members to speak, typically words of encouragement for the artist on stage. This ritual, more than the others, seems to be a strong container for the feelings of the artists, a sort of ritual cleansing of negativity and secrets. However, I have no idea how that effect relates to the way speech is used.

The final technique is one I only use in private rituals. I would love to see it used in group ritual: silence. In my private rituals, I usually say very little or nothing at all. The movements speak for themselves. A nod or bow toward an icon welcomes the power/spirit/deity. Another nod or bow dismisses. A pause and breath concentrates and summons my intent. Circles are made by the locking of doors and a careful movement of the ritual knife. I find silence helps me concentrate, and it is something I only feel comfortable doing when I am very safe and very certain I won’t be disturbed. Sound, for my mind, anchors things in memory, but it takes me out of the present moment a bit.

How have you seen speaking used in ritual? Have you seen singing used in a way that is the same every time the ritual is held? Have you seen a public ritual that was completely silent? How do you use speech? What ways do you want to experiment with? Comment below!

April 14th Ritual

Pigeon and I will be leading a ritual and discussion based on the Garden of Eden story. It is part of a four ritual arc we will be presenting this year with with the aid of the facilities of OTO Golden Thread Camp. 

Please note that the ritual is clothing optional, and that no minors are allowed to attend.

Where: 300 Camp Horne Rd. Pittsburgh, PA. 15202 Parking is available. The building has stairs and is dusty.

When: Sunday April 14th. Doors open at 1. Ritual starts at 1:30. Discussion starts at 3:30. Doors close at 5.

How Much: Recommended donation is $5 to attend one portion, $10 for both. All proceeds go to Golden Thread to cover cost of space.

Ritual Intention: We reject a paradise built on obedience, and bite into the wisdom of our own becoming.

Discussion Topic: We will be using this article to talk about Antisemitism. Reading the article beforehand is not required.

 

 

 

City Magic

City Magic is a form of the craft that makes use of the specific nature of cities.  It is a location based toolset, focusing on places where humans live in concentrated numbers in a permanent fashion, typically building structures in order to make such densely packed living possible.

If you are looking for the shortest way to tell the difference between cities and towns, look to public transportation. The more densely packed an area is, the less sense it makes to have everyone use private transport. In a way, it makes sense to think of population density and public transportation as measures of “cityness” that coagulate slowly, so a place can be “kind of a city” or “citylike” as opposed to there being a hard division.

What kind of magic do cities have?

To get an understanding, let’s start with a quote from The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Part of the American canon of city planning and beloved by many, this book makes a pretty interesting claim in the last chapter.

“And so a growing number of people have begun, gradually, to think of cities as problems in organized complexity- organisms that are replete with unexamined, but obviously intricately interconnected, and surely understandable, relationships.”

What makes Jacobs so notable is her complete rejection of the idea that cities can be predicted. To her, a city is so complex and interconnected that it is impractical to attempt to account for every variable. Put simply, when you put humans in large numbers in a space, they will move in unpredictable ways. (Exhibit A: The Internet)

As a result, Jacobs places an emphasis on trusting what people who live in a particular place have to say about it, and to her a city planner really only addresses a single issue at a time rather than trying to control everything at once. She suggests observing how people really move through their spaces and building according to their needs, which is also an idea talked about in A Pattern Language, for those wanting an in-depth treatment.

The idea here is that cities behave like ecosystems, that they are unable to be separated from their environments.

Continuing this, let’s consider is the human vs nature divide. After the Industrial Revolution, many people began to feel separated from nature. To this day, many report a feeling of being cluttered, a need to routinely leave the cities and suburbs for a less densely populated areas in order to ground themselves. Even people who love cities report the importance of “lungs” or large, central green spaces.

Additionally, when humans threaten our own survival with issues like manmade climate shift, it can be very easy to paint homo sapiens as supernatural beings destroying the planet, with cities being the ultimate concentration of this anti-nature, anti-magic energy.

For a city witch, this thinking is counterproductive. Magic tends to involve the connections between things, so thinking of cities as separated from the land and people lessens their power. In 1969, James Lovelock brought forth an idea called The Gaia Hypothesis suggesting that humans are not separate from the earth’s self-regulatory systems. He additionally suggests that Gaia may be sentient to some degree, and that humans may simply be an expression of that sentience.

In this context, we can form more complex narratives of the relationship between humans and nature. Are humans are an invasive species, one that been overly successful and that now threatens its own survival due to limited resources?

Many “unnatural” aspects of humanity are found to have parallels elsewhere in nature. Ants and termites are known for their large structures and dense living. Apes are routinely shown to have complex social patterns that mirror our own. The language and tool-making of other animals may not meet our own for complexity, but it is there. Seeing these parallels allows us to start asking how we can stop choking ourselves out of a home.

Most importantly, it means that a city witch sees a city as a kind of place with its own magic, not separate from nature.

So what are cities? Cities are a great concentration of the magic of humans. Personifications of magical currents or energies allow for parallels to be drawn between city living and witchcraft. This means that spirit work is central, as are the relatively new concepts of ley lines and Psychogeography (cw antisemitism).

Circles: Mercury and Venus

When it comes to the Sun and Moon, our experiences of these bodies is visceral enough that the wax and wane of their power needs no explanation. Mercury and Venus, however, are simply two dots in the sky to the untrained eye. The moment when these two planets are closest to the Earth is known as the inferior conjunction. At this time, those planets “pass” the Earth and appear to move backwards in the sky.

Here we come to an important side note in our derivations. Retrogrades have been known for ages as times when the planets powers are turned around, and here we come to a personal choice. One the one hand, the inferior conjunction as the peak of power maintains the idea that proximity to earth is directly correlated to power of influence. It updates notions of planetary power past the rudimentary understanding Europe had in the 1500’s.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the power of tradition, and astronomy has its own internal logic: that the appearance of things moving across the sky is what dictates their power.

For the foreseeable future, I will be using the idea that physical proximity directly correlates to power of influence. Following this, the inferior conjunction of Mercury and Venus, the retrogrades, are the peak of their powers.

Mercury is known to multiple cultures as “traveler” due to how fast it moves in the sky. Being the fastest, it also governs communication and commerce along with travel. For this reason, I have chose this to use for an incantation.

There are two sets of numbers significant to Mercury. First, there are 3 Mercury days for every 2 Mercury years. Here we find the ratio of 2:3 to be important. Then Mercury’s synodic period, the amount of time it takes Mercury to return to the same place in Earth’s sky, is 116 Earth days. The 2:3 ration gives us the fundamental rhythm of Mercury; the synodic period gives us the timing that connects Mercury to Earth. 116 factors into 2*2*29. Using this information, we derive the circle.

mercury

Venus’s magical associations are often tied to its brightness in the sky, particularly, to how it shines at sunrise and sunset. For that reason, I am using this as my incantation.

Following the pattern we set at Mercury, we are interested in Venus’ synodic period and the ratio between its days and years. Venus takes 243 earth days to rotate once on its own axis, and 225 earth days to go around the sun. This gives us a ratio that’s sufficiently close to 1 that I don’t see a need to include it in the derivation of the circle. The synodic period, which ties Venus to the magician on Earth, is 584 earth days. This factors to 2*2*2*73 and gives us a five pointed inner polygon.

venus
You could also use the naturally occurring Pentagram of Venus.

I would like to make it clear that the circles can still be used on a traditional astronomical calendar. It is my personal choice not to do so. Also, as a small safety reminder, these have not been tested as much as they need to be. I am still in the early phases of making these, even though it has taken me years to even get this far.

A Circle for the Moon

Moon Circle

I recently wrote an article explaining an alternate method of constructing circles for magic work. I mentioned the importance of interfaith, accessible magic. A key aspect to writing for a multiple faith group is using an experimental approach. Magic is part of the natural world, and as such we are constantly collecting information about how it works.

Additionally, different people within the same group will want to do different things with the same magic. This is how I wound up with the next circle in my series.

Continuing the same method as last time, I constructed a circle for the moon. The number which ties us most closely to the moon is 27, the approximate number of days it takes the moon to circle the earth. 27 is 3 cubed, a very harmonious number. Using this, I was easily able to construct sacred geometry to get the following circle.

mooncircle

Now, the good thing about the moon is that it doesn’t change its distance from the Earth, and as such can be used pretty much constantly. However, the different phases will have different effects. The moon affects the earth in two big ways: it provides soft light at night, and it pulls the tides. On the full moon, we receive both the soft light and the tides. On the new moon, we receive only the tides. I won’t go into further detail as people have their own ways of interpreting these facts.

As with the sun circle, I have my personal favorite incantation to cast and decast, but I encourage you to find your own. Keep in mind that while I use the same incantation to decast every time, you do not have to. Heck, you could get funny with it.

Zodiac Spirits and The New Moon

Inspired by a question one of my circle-testers asked, I did some research. Turns out, when it is new, the moon aligns with the sun and the zodiac sign the sun is passing through, and on that day we have an opportunity. It is a good time to ask the spirits of the zodiac to come and speak with us. You could see if your sun sign is okay protecting you, for instance, or asking them how to unlock your solar potential. You could ask your moon sign what’s up with all the weird feelings.

Today, Feburary 26, 2017, we will be in line to talk to Pisces, so I have provided an example ritual for this occasion. This also is a great time to talk about an interesting attribute that this circle design has that previous ones did not; they can overlap as needed.  Since the moon is closer to the Earth, I have made that the inner ring.

newmooncircle

Paying attention to an updated scientific understanding of how planets move and layering a simple set of tools gives us subtle and complex structure, pictured below.

Please note that since there is an identical triangle in the moon circle, I did not draw it in the outer circle. I then made the bottom two points of that triangle 3*13 = 39 and 3*14 = 42. It’s these sorts of changes that truly harmonize and join the circles together.

An Intermediate Summoning

Before I go any further, I want to stress that this is not a beginner summoning. Please make sure you have a firm grasp of the following skills before you attempt this: grounding, cleansing, summoning, banishing, visualization, and spirit communication.

Additionally, I am going to assume you already have: a preferred method of drawing circles, a sky map to find Pisces, and incantations that fit your style to cast + decast each circle

Steps

  1. Cleanse yourself and the space
  2. Draw the circle facing Pisces
  3. Draw the symbol of Pisces in the center of the circle
  4. Use your incantation to cast the circle of the sun
  5. Use your incantation to cast the circle of the moon
  6. Summon Pisces
  7. Do your work
  8. Dismiss Pisces
  9. Use your incantation to decast the circle of the moon
  10. Use your incantation to decast the circle of the sun
  11. Ground yourself

Conclusion

The person who inspired this circle had a fun time using it, and so did I. I hope that other people will be able to do the same. However, without input from other people with perspectives different from my own, it is a brittle construct. Writing for an interfaith community means writing with an interfaith community, with the spirit of experimentation, with an open mind that things can and will change as you go.

Cursing or Binding 45

Prolonged obsessive religious activity will, for the ordinary man, create a minor aetheric thought form that he may call his god. This effect is partly transferable and explains the difficulty in attacking popular public figures.” – Peter J. Carrol, Psychonaut, Magical Combat

Here in the small cities of Witchville, Pagantowne, and Mageburg, we like to put our magic where our mouths are. So it’s completely understandable that those of us who are furious about the republican president would want to curse, hex, jinx, bind, and otherwise take responsibility for him. I’m proud to be in the same metaphorical neighborhood as all of you.

This article is aimed at people who are able to take magical action. I recognize that many people cannot, that for them survival is the best resistance. Take care of yourselves, neighbors. “From each according to their ability,” the saying goes.

That said, I firmly believe many of you are taking the hardest road possible for the least effect. While I acknowledge your right to do that, I feel it would be rude of me not to at least mention this. 45 is a symptom of a greater problem. There are magicians and Christians protecting him, and people of great power and repute have already been trying to oust him via spellwork. If it was possible to solve the problem of our republican president with that kind of work, it would have been done already.

I am also a firm believer that if you criticize a tactic, it is up to you to propose a different solution. Directly after the election, there was a storm of magic practitioners asking why all the baneful magic against 45 had done nothing to stop him. Many explanations rose up, one being that the Pepe the Frog meme had been turned into a sort of chaos magick sigil by members of the alt-right. Lost? Here are links to Pepe’s history and the terribleness that ensued.

Out of that theory rose my personal favorite plan of action: a counter meme. In short time, appeared: BODE. Following that line of thinking, I have already been designing rituals to empower BODE with our intent to disempower the alt-right: remove their veneer of credibility with conservatives and moderates, de-radicalize those we can, and protect those fighting to put America to rights.

To continue focusing on magical attempts to control American politics, remember that the Evangelical Christian right is salivating in the wings to have Pence become the next republican president. I am willing to bet actual money they pray fervently every day, and that is a powerful magic all its own. Christian witches, please send help.

Additionally, let us not forget that before 45 many of us were about ready to dance on the grave of the GOP. It is clear that a vacuum of power and a deep understanding of the hatred many Americans felt for Obama led to the rise of our current republican president. Let us not forget the role that fake news and channels such as FOX play in the current divisions of the country. Let us not forget the rich lobbies that continue to deny what is right for the working class. If you feel called to cast curses, there are a dozen targets that are far closer to your claws.

Next, for those of us who shy from baneful magic, there are a myriad things to empower. From the growing rumors of a women’s party to an already prepared antifa network, many people doing the work of fixing this mess could benefit from our spiritual support and protection.

The draw of casting baneful magic on 45 is easy: he is a clear target, and we have seen the power of a large group of people  doing the same action together. However, I would like to posit that there is equal power in an ecosystem of resistance, that each of us working in our own ways to do what we feel strongest about is perhaps the way that the left fights. After all, if our central tenet is diversity, it makes sense that would include a diversity of tactics.

So fly, my neighbors! Go into the world with your beautiful magic and your strong hearts. Please take this tiny piece of advice with your for the road: it is difficult if not impossible to cast baneful magic on someone with a strong media presence. And if you need any help redesigning your spells, feel free to contact me.

Protective Circle of the Sun

When we think about magic circles, many of us envision these, which makes sense because they seem to be the origin of most circles used today. However, for many people the Abrahamic aspects of these can make them unusable.

The circles are made of two simple parts: sacred geometry and names of power. Names of power are the aspect from which the rest of the circle is derived. Traditionally, the names of power are taken, some say appropriated, from Jewish mysticism and filtered through a thin veneer of Catholicism. Truly, the question is what one calls upon to power the circle.

Reading the texts, we find that planets are important over and over again. You must select the day and the hour of the planet most appropriate for your work, according to the tomes. Each day of the week has one of seven planets ruling it, and we switch planets every hour. Keep in mind that this idea comes from a time and place where saying, “The earth rotates around the sun,” could get you placed under house arrest as a heretic. Now, you can use the small flat rock in your pocket to pull up a window to the stars.

Additionally, many of us are much more comfortable calling on the power of nature. Whether you view them as deities, large energetic bodies, or just ideas that have grown strong with the weight of human history: planets make a lot more sense for a general purpose circle than the Abrahamic God does.

Of all the heavenly bodies, the Sun is the easiest place to start. Even children can understand its movements once a few basic concepts are explained, and you can measure its efficacy by asking yourself how cold and dark it is outside.

So now we know what the names of power refer to, but what names will we use? The answer is math. One of the reasons why Hebrew is considered such a powerful language, aside from being the language of Genesis, is because each letter also has a numerical value. So instead of searching for or creating a replacement language, the power of numbers should suffice.

The number which best represents the relationship between the earth and the sun is 365. The property of this number which makes it unique and places it in the universe is that it can be described as the sum of consecutive squares not one, but twice. So we have two overlapping sets of numbers with which to describe the connection between earth and sun: {365, 10, 11, 12} and {365, 13, 14}.

The next thing to consider is sacred geometry. Ultimately, we want shapes inscribed on the circle. You can be very elaborate, but I prefer my tools to look simple. About 12 tries later, I get this:

suncircle

Obviously, the timing and direction of the circle matter, but in a much more updated fashion. If you cannot see the sun due to nighttime or cloud cover, the circle will not be effective. In warmer seasons the circle will be more effective. In colder seasons, less. The point of the 365 should always point toward the sun. Sunrise is the best time; sunset should be avoided. Similarly, the transition from warm to cold season is a bad time for this circle. In the Northeast USA, the time between mid-fall and the winter solstice is an especially bad time.

In the old texts, any spirit listed was also ruled by a planet. Prescriptive lists of spirits are a thing of the past, but the pattern remains the same. If you power your circles with heavenly bodies, you should find the heavenly body most like the spirit you wish to summon to power the circle. You should then plan your work on a day when that body’s influence is strong. More likely, you would keep an eye on the skies, and work based on what heavenly bodies are strongest at the time you want to do the work.

Finally, you will need a pair of magic incantations to activate and deactivate the circle. I’ve got a personal favorite for activation and another for deactivating, but this is a bit of a personal touch, since incantation style varies so much from person to person. Also, my deactivating chant is particular to Goddess-centered spirituality and won’t work for everyone.

To summarize, a wide range of circles are easily designed if one understands the basic principles and applies them. Choose a power source, find some relevant mathematics, use the math to design some shapes, and test the circle rigorously to find weaknesses.

The next question, now that we have a circle, is materials and usage. A 9’ circle drawn with an engraved sword is expensive in terms of time, space, and materials. Not everyone has the ability to even perform such an act.

For a larger, quick method, you will need:

  • Chalk
  • A floor you can write on, wood seems to do best

To Cast

  • Cleanse or banish your space.
  • Draw the circle on the floor.
  • Take a moment to empower the circle with the incantation you selected.
  • Visualize a sphere arising from the drawing.

To Decast

  • Make sure you have thanked and said goodbye to any powers you called while working.
  • Pull in the energy in with with second incantation you selected.
  • Erase the circle completely.
  • Ground yourself.

The second method is firmer, slower, and designed specifically for spirit work.

You will need

  • A 1 ½’ square of cloth, preferably canvas, with hemmed edges.
  • Fabric paint
  • A brush
  • An item bearing the sigil of the spirit you want to work with
  • Censer
  • Charcoal
  • Incense (frankincense is preferable)
  • Tongs
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A lighter, preferably the long kind used for grilling
  • A well ventilated area

To Prepare the Cloth

  • Hem the edges
  • Light the incense
  • Pass the cloth through the smoke to cleanse it
  • Recite the prayer/blessing of the sun over the paint and brush
  • Paint the circle onto the cloth
  • Dry according to paint directions

To Cast

  • Cleanse or banish your space.
  • Lay the cloth on a flat surface
  • Lay the item bearing the sigil in the middle of the circle.
  • Take a moment to empower the circle with the prayer you selected.
  • Visualize a sphere arising from the drawing.
  • Summon the spirit by your usual method.

To Decast

  • Banish or devoke the spirit you were working with.
  • Take down the circle with the second incantation you selected.
  • Ground yourself.

These methods can be applied to various circles, not just the one I designed here. It is entirely possible to construct the circle using only visualization. However, when doing something heavier, there is benefit in having tools to do some of the lifting. To speak metaphorically, even something as simple as a handcart can triple your carrying capacity.

More importantly, this is what magic looks like when you make room for people to have their own interpretations of it. The individual using this circle may believe in deity or not, may believe in energy or not, may have guardian spirits or not. There are very few wrong ways to use this. All that matters is that they do choose to bring their personal spin to the template. It is a construct that grows more powerful as it becomes personalized and adapted.

This is is the future of magic and paganism: an interfaith approach to techniques. It requires a constant study of the concept of accessibility, an admittance to constant imperfection. However, to do any less is irresponsible if you want to create a space that can be shared by a variety of people. Perhaps this is because I am queer, and queers can’t agree on anything, but as magic becomes popular with my peers I hate to see any of them left out due to a difference in personal beliefs, money, ability, time, or other constraints.

A Rope Circle

Magic circles are an important tool for magic practice and Neopagan worship. However, we only have two major models for how circles can be set up. First, we have the occultist’s circle, which tends to rely on the power of the Judeo-Christian God. Then, we have its derivative, the Wiccan circle, which has spread to many other branches of Neopagan practice. While the Wiccan circle is fine and dandy all on its own, it’s not optimal for all practices. Spirit work, for example, tends to need a circle with a stronger oomph, and it is good to consider standing outside the circle into which you summon a spirit for the first time.

That’s not to say that people haven’t been making other circles. Circle of Eight, for example, has people thinking about and altering the Wicca-based circles. There is a wide world of publishers out there beyond the reach of my paycheck. However, here in broke witch land, there doesn’t seem to be much interfaith discussion or trading of notes regarding this very central construct to our communities.

The following circle is meant to be lightweight, beginner-friendly, and available for people with a wide variety of faiths (or lack thereof) to use. You will only need to buy a rope, whipping, and some baking powder, so it’s fairly cheap as well. As always, you should have a basic understanding of grounding, cleansing, and visualization before starting to work with magic. You will also need to know where your magic comes from. Everyone has their own answer: God, other deities, the earth, other planets, your Will, etc. I will refer to this as your Source in the spirit of being as neutral as possible.

The Rope

Find your height, multiply by three, and get a rope of that length. For example, I am 5’ 4” tall, I need a rope 16’ long. The rope should be heavy enough not to be moved easily, ½” thick should do. Natural fiber is preferable; your local hardware store should have options.

Before consecrating, whip (option 2) or burn the end of your rope to keep from fraying. To consecrate, prepare a bucket of cold water with ⅓ cup of baking soda. Wash the rope in this as you repeat a prayer that you feel good about. The point is not to soak the rope or wash the physical item, but to cleanse the energy of the tool. Hang dry at room temperature.

Use of your ritual items for anything other than ritual will lessen their power, and you will have to re-consecrate or outright replace them before ritual use. Remember to care for your equipment properly.

The Circle

  • Before casting, cleanse or banish your space.
  • Lay the rope out in a circle and tie the ends together in a square knot.
  • Take a moment to empower the circle with your source: prayer or invocation work well, but also make sure to visualize a sphere or cylinder of energy arising from the rope. It must be a closed, 3-dimensional shape.
  • Do your work.
  • Make sure you have thanked and said goodbye to any powers you called while working.
  • Untie the knot.
  • Make sure to wind your rope up for proper storage.
  • Ground yourself.

Notes

I want to be completely clear that I did not invent the rope circle. It’s one of those techniques that appears here and there in the writing, and if I could remember where I originally found it I would put a link here. My work has been to cross the t’s, dot the i’s, provide links, and give a modular context for the technique.

Please feel free comment with any complaints you have about the circles you have seen, or with the variants you’ve created.

The Godden

In Wicca, we generally recognize two deities: the Goddess and the God. According to legend, they have been with us since pre-history, changing names and faces slightly to stay with us through the years. The truth of the matter is far more complicated, but let us work with the legend for now.

Here is my legend: That the duo is really a trinity. That there has been a third deity erased from history, the Godden. That xe has been Loki, Agdistis, Aphroditus, Amun, Dionysus, Baphomet, and others. If the Goddess is the moon and the God is the sun; xe is the stars. If the Goddess is the source of all creation and the God is the face of death; xe is decay. The body is always aging, dying, preparing to become something different. Xe is the compost, the rotting log growing mushrooms, and the mold that makes penicillin. Xe is the chaos that balances the order, that which always escapes categorization, a loophole in every contract, an exception to every rule, and that which cracks the foundation.

Symbols of the Godden

  • that which defies classification (platypi)
  • that which changes shape (butterflies/moths)
  • that which thrives on or aids decay (scavengers, fungi, some insects, mold, ivy in some cases)
  • glitter

Sample Invocation of the Godden

Godden, you who cannot be contained, you of the forever shifting names and forms, guardian of transformations, you who craft beauty from decay and waste, we invite you to this gathering.  Hail and be welcome!

The Wheel of the Year and the Godden: Notable Days

Midspring (aka Beltane or School End)

Midspring is the time of the year where Godden, Goddess, and God all come together. Plants, animals, and other forms of life are all blossoming. People celebrate a sort of carnal togetherness in their own way. Most people have sex. Many choose instead to feast or dance together, both ways that help people feel an important, body-centered togetherness.

Plants need three things to grow: soil, sunlight, and rain. The Goddess is the soil, the fertile creativity that is the origin of all things. The God is the Sun, the eternal warmth that asks for nothing in return. The Godden is the rain: fluid, coming when the wind changes, and a harbinger of mushrooms.

In “ye olden dayes”, legend has it that folks liked to dress up a giant Maypole as a phallic symbol. While it isn’t for everyone, decorative genitals can be great fun. “Feminine” phalluses can be sacred to the Goddess or Godden. Similarly, “Masculine” vulvas can be sacred to the God or Godden. Dildos and doorways provide a great way to decorate indoors or on a tight budget. Make sure to hang a clit-symbol at the top of a yonic anything; that’s where most of the fun is.

For people who have reasons to avoid genitals, flowers do just fine. Another thing that can be done is to focus on symbols for dirt, sunlight, and rain.

Summerfirst (aka Litha, Midsummer)

June is pride month in the US. We honor the Stonewall riots from the summer of 1969 by holding parades and political demonstrations. We honor the ancestors and elders who worked so hard for our liberation: Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Riveira, Jackie Hormona, Zazu Nova Queen of Sex, Miss Major, Storme DeLarverie, and countless others. It is a time to donate to LGBTQ charities, to remember to loosen our expectations of gender. It really is okay for men to wear nailpolish and makeup. I promise the world will not end. In fact, we all might have a little more fun and laughter.

As such, Summerfirst is for the Godden, for all those whose gender cannot be contained in the words man or woman, for the words that have shifted over the last 50 years because no word will ever hold us for long. It is not a time for comical cross-dressing, but for earnest gender exploration. Even if you are cisgendered and heterosexual, ask yourself: is there any gender stereotype I wish I could break loose from? Well, try it out!

Midfall (aka Samhain, Hunter’s Harvest, Red Harvest, Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or Witches’ New Year.)

This is a time when the God and Godden are in sync. Everyone knows this as the day where the veil is thinnest, especially between the living and the dead. Since it is a harvest holiday and very tied to the dead, it is sacred to the God. It is sacred to the Godden, because boundaries are thinning, a year is changing over, and costumes abound.

There are as many ways to celebrate Midfall as there are witches, but my personal favorite is to get a bottle of liquor and sit around telling stories about the ancestors.

Conclusion

Wicca is a young religion, and our legends are exactly that: legends. What our history shows, however, is that it is possible to consciously create new ways of connecting to the divine. I don’t know if deities are created or if they change names or they are eternal and simply waiting for us to call to them. I suspect all are true. What I do know, however, is that divinity shifts its face as human culture shifts, and I see no reason why I should be exempt from the flow of human history. I see no reason why, as my agender body writes itself into existence, there would be no divine force reaching out to me.

Please do not imagine me as a mathematician following formulas, but as a poet in twilight feeling my way along the walls of an alleyway. The Godden has been whispering to me in the form of UPG for some time now, and here I have collected what I heard.