Over the years I have formulated spells and magical practices to help me attune to the seasons and their unique energies. I have shared some of these with my private students, and I now share them with you.
SPRING: Crafting a New Wand
The wand is an extension of you and your personal, magical will. You will use it to cast the magic circle, to raise and direct energy and to cast your spells. When making your own wand, choose the wood associated with your birthdate according to the Celtic Tree Calendar (as devised by Robert Graves). If your tree is not available or difficult to locate, choose another tree that you feel a close connection with. According to some traditions, the branch is cut from the tree in the Spring, as close to the Full Moon as possible, and must not be allowed to touch the ground. Do not use a branch that has fallen to the ground. Before cutting the branch, place your hands on the tree and state your intention (“I wish to use a branch for magical purposes and for the highest good”). In your mind’s eye, bathe the tree in white healing light. Traditional wand length is from the inside of the elbow to the tip of the third finger. Cut the branch with one quick movement to minimize damage. Do not let it fall to the ground. After cutting the branch, wrap it in a natural fabric, such as cotton, wool or silk. Give thanks to the tree and leave a gift in return. Water, fertilizer, flower seeds, crystals or stones are all acceptable gifts. After taking your wand home, cut a small hole and place three drops of your blood into the wand. Allow blood to dry, then cover the hole with wax. This infuses the wand with your DNA, forging a bond between you. You may decorate your wand any way you wish, or leave it as is. Some attach a crystal to one end. Others wrap their wands with copper wire, or carve magical symbols into them. Simple is often best. A wand you make yourself has your own energy and power within it.
The Celtic Tree Calendar
There is much controversy surrounding the Celtic Tree Calendar, devised by Robert Graves. It has been called a modern invention and a fabrication. By these standards, we could also call the Wiccan Rede (devised by Doreen Valiente) a modern invention, as it was penned two decades after the Celtic Tree Calendar. It is true there is no documented proof that druids or pagans followed this calendar. However, it’s origins are irrelevant, as it still provides a useful and meaningful tool to study the lore and magic associated with trees and the Ogham. There is a fine line between fabrication and inspiration. Fabrication implies an intent to deceive, while inspiration implies divine guidance. I’m sure many Wiccans believe the Rede was divinely inspired, just as many Celtic pagans feel the tree calendar was inspired as well. Some avoid both altogether. Wands are chosen from the corresponding tree according to your date of birth. Since my birthday is June 19th, that places me in the OAK category. Fortunately, we have an abundance of oak trees where we live. See the list below to find the tree associated with your own birthday. Some of these trees may be difficult to locate in your area. If you feel an affinity with a different tree altogether, you may choose to make your wand from that tree instead.
The Trees and Dates of Celtic Tree Calendar
BIRCH: December 24 to January 20
ROWAN: January 21 to February 17
ASH: February 18 to March 17
ALDER: March 18 to April 14
WILLOW: April 15 to May 12
HAWTHORN: May 13 to June 9
OAK: June 10 to July 7
HOLLY: July 8 to August 4
HAZEL: August 5 to September 1
VINE: September 2 to September 29
IVY: September 30 to October 27
REED: October 28 to November 24
ELDER: November 25 to December 23
BLACKTHORN: October 31 (Samhain)
YEW: December 21 (Winter Solstice)
SUMMER: Amulets and Talismans
Amulets and Talismans work like magical charms. Any object can be made into a charm, however, many witches and magical practitioners prefer to make their own. Some use polymer clay to make amulets and talismans. What is the difference between the two? An Amulet is a charm that banishes unwanted influences, neutralizes energies, and protects you. Amulets are created while the Moon is waning. A Talisman is a charm that draws fortunate influences to you or generates the energy you seek. Talismans are made when the Moon is waxing. Each ingredient must be cleansed and consecrated as you make it, and then the entire thing should be specifically programmed with your intention while in the magic circle. When making an amulet or talisman with clay, keep in mind that it must be baked in an oven to harden. Your home oven will work fine on a low setting for about three minutes. I use a special clay oven, made specifically for polymer clay projects. Be sure to bake your clay amulet or talisman before adding paint or glaze, which may be flammable. Various ingredients can be placed in a clay talisman, such as dried herbs, small stones and crystals, bits of bone or fur, or a few drops of essential oil. While the amulet or talisman is being formed, magical symbols (such as rune symbols, pentacle, triskele or Ogham script) or anything related to it’s intention can be drawn or impressed upon the clay. Once the clay has been baked and hardened, it can be painted, decorated or given a glossy coating. Your amulet or talisman can made into a necklace to be worn around the neck, or it can be made into another shape to be placed in a location where it will not be disturbed. Some witches make elemental talismans and bury them on each side of the home according to their directions. Some make amulets for healing or give them to those who need healing. Others make protection talismans for their vehicles. Still others make special talismans dedicated to a particular God or Goddess, to be carried on their person or kept on their altars. All of the time and effort used to make your amulet/talisman will infuse it with your own energy. If you are making one for another person, try to involve them in the process so that they are touching it with their own hands, infusing their own energy into it. If this is not possible, paint or draw the person’s name on the back of the amulet/talisman before giving it to them.
AUTUMN: Ancestor Summoning Spell
For this spell you will need the following:
- 1 small black taper candle
- Sandalwood or Dragon’s Blood incense
- 1 small to medium-sized mirror with a stand
Cast your magic circle as usual. Place the mirror so that it is standing upright and facing you on the altar. Light incense and place near the mirror. Carve a triskele symbol on the side of the black candle and light it. Place near mirror so that it is not reflected. Turn off all lights except for candle flame and natural lighting. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. As clearly as you can in your mind’s eye, visualize the departed loved ones you wish to communicate with. It is best to call on them one at a time.
Say the following: Through mist and shadow, smoke and flame, in this portal of glass I speak your name, I call upon (speak departed loved one’s name) to communicate with me, as this candle flame burns, so mote it be.
Close your eyes and be open to any impressions, feelings, scents or images you receive. Ask questions and quietly listen. Keep a notepad handy to write anything down. This spell is best performed on Samhain night (October 31st), in the evening, after dark. Communication and spirit presence continues for as long as the candle flame burns. I usually include some divination as part of this practice, as departed loved ones may choose to communicate through tarot cards, runes, Ogham or another form of divination. On Samhain evening I typically call upon my own parents. Allow the candle to burn down completely or snuff it out when you have ended the ritual. Dispose of any un-used portion of the candle.
WINTER: Anxiety Spell
As much as I loathe snow and cold weather, I still recognize the importance of tuning in to the energies of the winter season. On the Winter Solstice as the sun is setting, this is a short spell that I do outside to help chase away my anxieties and fears. All you need is one small beeswax taper candle, a pen, a small piece of parchment paper and a little bit of snow. If there is no snow on this day, then you can wait for the next snowy day. You may also choose to do the spell indoors using a candle-holder, but it is best to do the spell outside in the snow when possible. If you dislike snow as much as I do, and yet I still do it, you can too.
First, draw a circle in the snow, about six inches diameter. Place your taper candle in the center of the snow. Write on the parchment paper all the things you give you anxiety. Write down your fears and worries. Place the candle directly in the snow, in the center of the circle and light it. If the wind is blowing and keeps putting out the flame, re-light the candle and place your hands around it to keep the flame burning. Light the parchment in the candle flame and say:
By the powers of winter, fire and snow, I release my anxieties, I let them go.
Let the parchment burn away completely. Allow the candle to burn all the way down into the snow until it goes out. If it is just too windy and the candle won’t stay lit, you may choose to place it in a hurricane candle holder, or take it indoors and re-light it until it burns all the way down.