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If you’re a Witch, you’ve probably got attitude. If you don’t, I’ll bet your witchy friends will help you find some.
Attitude is that little extra bounce in your walk because you are getting a zing from nature, whether it is the shine from the full moon, the call of the coyote up on the hill, or the crash of the waves on the shore.
Attitude is your secret smile that says that you know a few things that most of the folks around you don’t.
Attitude is having a charm in your pocket, a chant on your lips, and faith in your heart.
Attitude is being a Witch—and proud of it.
So smile that smile, sweet Witch, and make the most of who and what you are—but don’t forget to stay just a bit humble … after all, the gods are watching, and there is such a thing as too much attitude!
They say that home is where the heart is—if so, then a Witch’s home is her altar. That is where your most precious tools live: athame, god and goddess candles, incense, crystals … whatever you use to connect with the gods in your most private rituals.
Your altar is where you go when you are most troubled and in need of help. It is where you go in your greatest moments of joy to give thanks.
You stand at your altar to summon what you want and banish what you don’t, to ask for help and to ask for answers.
What better definition of home could you have?
So tend your altar carefully. Find items that you will treasure, and set them lovingly in their places. You don’t need a lot. One candle or six (god and goddess and the fourquarters)—it’s your choice. That one perfect leaf, feather, or rock. As long as it means something to you, your altar is where it belongs.
And your altar is where you belong, too. It is the one place where you can truly be you, with nothing hidden or held back. Laugh, cry, howl, or simply be silent … it’s all good.
So go to your altar often, even if only for a minute or two at a time, and check in with yourself, the gods, and the universe. Ground back to the earth and to your truest self. And don’t forget to dust on occasion, either.
Helpful Hints: “Hidden in Plain Sight: Altar Alternatives”
Most Witches like to have an altar, but not every Witch lives someplace where he or she is comfortable having all that magickal stuff right out in plain view. So here is a list of the usual items we witchy types tend to have on our altars, and a few possible, less obviously Pagan substitutes:
GOD/GODDESS STATUES = gold/silver candles or plaque of the Tree of Life
ATHAME = fancy letter-opener or wooden branch
CHALICE = any nice cup or goblet, or small bowl
SALT & WATER = stone and seashell
QUARTER CANDLES = rock (earth), feather (air), shell (water), and tealight (fire)
You can always put out flowers as an offering and a few colored stones (for the quarters), and no one will be the wiser. After all, you know what they’re for—and so do the gods—and that’s all that really matters.
If you’re only going to have one stone to use with your magickal work, get an amethyst. Amethyst is one of the best all-around gemstones there is, and its use as a magickal tool is as old as time.
Gemstones in general are perfect for use in magick because they come from the ground, gifts of Mother Earth and full of her power and energy. Amethyst in particular is an especially powerful stone and is good for a multitude of magickal tasks. One of its common uses is for love magick, either to draw it in or to aid in keeping the love you already have.
Amethyst can also be used to boost courage, promote peace or prophetic dreams, overcome addictions, increase psychic ability, and help you sleep. Amethyst is a powerful protective stone, said to shield its wearer from illness, harm, and any type of danger.
Most of all, amethyst is a healing stone, probably at least in part because it is good for calming the stressed-out mind and spirit. (Not that any of us ever have problems with that!)
And last but not least, amethyst is beautiful, the deep purple of the desert at dusk or of a goddess’s eyes.
So get a crystal, a chunk, or a globe of amethyst, and put it on your altar or around your neck. Then go work some magick!
Magic the Cat’s Simple Spells: “Amethyst Dreams”
To dream about love, put a few drops of rose essential oil on a piece of amethyst, and place it under your pillow. (Use a small piece, or you’ll never get to sleep!)
Want to be a Witch on the cutting edge? Then you need to have at least one knife, maybe two. The athame (ATH-ah-may) is one tool that almost all Witches end up getting eventually. A dou-ble-edged straight knife that is used for pointing and directing energy during ritual, the athame can be made out of any material and decorated a little or a lot, depending on your preference.
The athame represents masculine energy or the god (probably because it is long, hard, and pointy—Pagans are not so big on the subtle, in case you haven’t noticed yet). Some traditions connect it to the element of air and use it as a symbol of intellect, while others consider it a symbol of the element of fire. Use it for whichever seems right to you. Either way, the athame is not used for actual cutting but rather to trace signs of invoking or banishing, to project energy as an extension of your will, to inscribe the circle during casting, or simply to mix salt and water.
If you want to make a store-bought athame your own, you can add decorations such as feathers, runes, or the like (some knives have wooden handles, into which you can carve symbols or your Witch name, should you so choose).
Some Witches believe that you should never buy your own athame (or, for that matter, that all your tools should be either found or given to you as gifts), but that isn’t always practical. They also say that if you are given a knife, you need to pay the person a penny or the gift will cut the friendship. I don’t know if that’s true, but why risk it? More importantly, if you are not sure where your athame was before it got to you, be sure to cleanse and consecrate it before you use it for powerful (or even not-so-powerful) magick. Nobody likes a magickal tool with cooties.
You might also want to get a boline, which is a curved knife, usually with a white handle, that can be used for harvesting herbs, cutting cords, or any other practical magickal task for which the athame is not suitable. The boline (or bolline) is a nice extra, but an athame is a must-have tool for most Witches. Just don’t try to pack it in your carry-on luggage…
Helpful Hints: “Call of Nine, My Athame Is Fine”
I found this rhyme to call power into an athame before casting a spell in Raven Grimassi’s terrific book Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft: 1
Raise the blade into the air and say the following words:
Gracious goddess Holy and divine Answer to the call of nine.
One—I stand before thy throne
Two—I invoke thee alone
Three—I hold aloft my blade
Four—descend as the spell is made
Five—lend thy power to give it life
Six—thy power into my knife
Seven—on earth, in sky, and shining sea, Gracious goddess, be with me
Eight—come now, the call is made
Nine—give power unto my blade.
Wit from the World Wide Web: “Top 10 Reasons Why Athames Are Black”
10. So they’ll go with any color of robe.
9. So you can cover up nicks and scratches with shoe polish.
8. It’s slimming. (Can’t have fat athames, can we?)
7. It doesn’t show dirt.
6. Because finding a dropped athame in an outdoor ritual in the dark is a test of loyalty to your faith.
5. It’s so much more dignified than chartreuse.
4. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
3. Someone spilled all the paints together, and that’s what ended up.
2. No, no! Black is for winter rituals—use white before Labor Day!
1. So that we’d have something to argue about other than how athame is pronounced.
Ask Magic the Cat: “Aura You a Good Witch?”
My Witch says that she can see people’s auras, and that she knows things about them from the way their auras look. What’s an aura—and will she be able to tell I’ve been up on the counter again from looking at mine?
Auristocat in Albany
The aura is the energy field that surrounds all living things. It exists on three levels: the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. Some people are able to perceive the auras of others on one or more of these levels. Your Witch may be picking up on physical auras (she can see if someone is sick) or on emotional auras (if someone is happy or sad). But don’t worry—as far as I know, there’s no such thing as an “I’ve been on the counter” aura, so I think you’re okay. (But to be on the safe side, you may want to sit on top of the TV
Magic the Cat
Elemental Essentials: “An Apple a Day…”
Apples are a truly magickal fruit. If you cut one in half across the middle, you will see that they have a pentacle inside! Apple blossoms and apple wood are used for love and healing magick, and apple wood makes a great wand. It can also be burned on the fires at Samhain, since the apple is one of the symbols of that particular holiday. And of course, apple cider is the perfect drink for cakes and ale if you want something nonalcoholic in your chalice.
Athena, Aphrodite & Artemis
Athena and Aphrodite and Artemis, oh my!
Many Witches call upon gods and goddesses from the Greek pantheon, and among my favorites are Athena, Aphrodite, and Artemis. These three powerful ladies were worshipped in Greece and the surrounding area right up until the advent of Christianity.
Athena is the counterpart of the Roman Minerva, and both were goddesses of war and wisdom (gee—you’d think that the two would be mutually exclusive, wouldn’t you?). Unlike most of the (rather unruly) Greek gods, Athena was known for her discipline, as well as her gift to man of the olive tree, which was sacred to her. So whenever you have a martini, be sure to send thanks to this lovely lady. She was also the patron goddess of domestic crafts and shipbuilding.
Aphrodite is the goddess of sexual love and has connections to Ishtar, Astarte, and her Roman counterpart, Venus. She is said to have had a girdle with magickal properties—very handy for when the diet fails. (Oh, wait; I think that back then, girdle just meant “belt.”) Her sacred animal was the goat, so if you are making an offering to her, why not try some goat’s milk cheese?
Artemis is known as the huntress and is a goddess of animals and hunting, as well as being a maiden goddess. She was often shown with wings, surrounded by animals. This is one strong lady who stands for independence, self-esteem, and aggressiveness. The original feminist, if you will. She is a protector of women and is often called upon during labor.
Artemis is also the patron goddess of dogs (and a good one to invoke for any magick you might be doing for your pets). Here’s an interesting tidbit I found in Yasmine Galenorn’s book Embracing the Moon: “The word ‘bitch’ comes from Her, and was originally a positive term (‘son of a bitch’ literally meant ‘son of the goddess’).” 2 So the next time someone calls you a bitch, just smile and say thank you!
Witch 101: “Amulets, Talismans, and Charms”
These three items are very useful witchy tools, but what are they, and how do you use them? And what the heck is the difference between an amulet, a talisman, and a charm, anyway?
I confess that I use the three terms more or less interchangeably, although according to Raymond Buckland, a talisman is human-made, whereas an amulet is natural (such as a bear claw, a stone with a hole worn into it, and so on). 3 Charms can be either of those or a charm bag, which is usually filled with herbs, along with perhaps a stone or other meaningful additions. Charms are either worn, carried, or used to protect a home or a tomb (if you should happen to have one of those that needs protecting).
The best description of these items and their use comes from The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, which says they are “objects imbued with magical properties that protect against bad luck, illness and evil. Amulets are universal answers to age-old needs: to be healthy; to be virile and fertile; to be powerful and successful; to have good fortune.” 4
Generally, amulets with inscriptions are called charms, but otherwise I see no particular difference. And, hey, who cares what you call it as long as it works?
1 Page 55.
2 Page 245.
3 Buckland, Buckland's Complete Book, 255.
4 Guiley, Encyclopedia of Witches, 8.