Saturday, January 28, 2012


I can't stress enough how books are an important part of my life. When I finally realized all the knowledge I could acquire from devouring books, it was a blessing. I was never rushed to read by my mother, nor she told me how important it was to read, but I guess that often seeing her with a book in her hand, should it be a novel or a reference book, was enough to set the example.

And references books had to be her favorite kind, and she would always look for those about history of art... It was while browsing a book sale in the middle of a mall (her favorite kind of book shopping!) that I found my very first book about witchcraft, pictured above. A very poorly made book, with very little content... But I was 11, and this was about Witchcraft! SO cool, I thought, and asked my mom to buy it, which she did without really looking. I remember reading it from cover to cover in the car on our way home, which took about 20 minutes (told you there was not a lot of stuff in it...) But it changed everything! From now on I started seeking for witchcraft and wiccan books at the library and bookstores. Found books about runes, herbs, crystals... Oh, the possibilities!

I read on everything I could get my hand on, and became very serious about it. Eventually I read books that went way deeper into the craft then the (so beloved) first book I bought. Without books, I might have never stumble on all that knowledge. It's most likely that I would have never met an initiated Witch so early in my life, and with books I acknowledged that what I felt deep inside was also true for some peoples, should they live far away.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pagan Blog Project calendar

I thought it would be useful to have a calendar of what letter of the alphabet will be the topic for each Friday of the upcoming year. This way we can plan what subjects we want to prepare a post for and maybe even get it written well in advance. Remember that you can write your post anytime and schedule it to appear on the appropriate day. Of course this list is subject to change, and Rowan Pendragon at PBP is the one who announces the official letter each week. She may adjust the position of the letters over the course of the year if she needs to.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Bone was probably one of the first materials used by humans to create sacred objects. It's readily available, fairly easily worked, and even the most primitive societies readily recognize that bones are directly related to the person or animal from which they came. As blood has always represented Life because it comes only from living creatures, bones have always had a connection to Death because they are all that remains of us when we die. Although most of us no longer have mounds of fresh bones cluttering up the kitchen every day, modern Pagans can still use bone in many forms to connect with our Gods and especially our Ancestors.

The simplest and perhaps most beautiful way to use bone in a sacred setting is to place an animal bone or skull on your altar. At Samhain, skulls (either real or sculpted) are de rigeur, but they can be kept on an Ancestor altar year-round. Skulls and bones of animals and birds can be bought in stores or online, or even found in the wild. I have a couple of small skulls (a squirrel and - I think - a skunk) that I just found in our urban back yard. The intricacy and simplicity of skulls makes them quite beautiful, and they can be left bleached white, stained or painted. If you have a totem animal that you connect with strongly, a skull or bone of that specific animal can be a powerful bond, but ultimately all bones connect to our own ancestry at its most ancient.

Bone can also be used as a creative material in many ways. One of the oldest forms of bone craft is scrimshaw, which is simply scratching designs onto bone and staining the markings to make them visible. This is a wonderful way to make amulets and talismans, and the availability of small bone disks and plaques from craft and bead suppliers means you don't have to prepare your own from raw bones. (Which is cheap and fairly easy, but messy and not for the squeamish.) Bone is fairly hard, so you need to use a fairly sharp tool to engrave it. A short-bladed knife or a sharp awl will work, though care is needed to do a neat job and prevent accidents. A Dremel or other motor-tool is excellent for this, though grinding bone with a tiny drill does produce a characteristic smell that may invoke unpleasant memories of dentistry. When you have marked your rune, petition, sigil or other design, paint into the lines with ink or thin paint (India ink is traditional for this, and works very well) and wipe it off the surface to leave only the fine markings darkened.

While at the bead store, you can usually find other kinds of bone beads that are perfect to use in magical crafts. Cylindrical, oval and round bone beads are readily available, as are long tube beads which can be either sewn on or left hanging as pendant decorations. I particularly like these because of the lovely rattling sound they make. (Incidentally, this is the first test of whether beads are real bone or plastic - bone always knocks together with a high-pitched "click", while most plastic sounds dull.) Many suppliers have small Tibetan skull beads carved from bone, which seem inherently magical.

A simple bone craft that you can create, as part of a ritual or just by itself, is a bone cross. I made the one shown here in a workshop with the Niagara Voodoo Shrine a few years ago, and it's a protective charm that can be hung over the door (as I do) or anywhere else in your home to invoke the powers of the dead to protect your home and family. Besides the Ancestral connection of the bones themselves, the shape is a representation of a crossroads, which is a traditional place to petition the dead for help. Any large fowl bones and good for this, turkey, goose or even very large chickens, which can be kept from your next big family dinner (which connects the cross even more closely to your family) or you can buy two large turkey legs, make soup with the meat and use the bones. Clean the bones very thoroughly and put them into a pan with water and a little chlorine bleach to soak for a while. This will sterilize and bleach the bone. Hang them to dry, preferably in the sun, for several days.

To make the cross, simply attach the bones together with a dab of hot glue to hold them while you lash them together with yarn or embroidery thread. White, black or red are all traditional colours for this, or you can use any colours that seem right to you. Tie a small loop onto the top of the upright bone to use as a hanger, and decorate the cross with buttons, beads, cord or anything else that speaks to you. I used old buttons, a plastic skull, glass beads and red leather thongs. As you create the cross, concentrate on your intent to create a powerful protective amulet, and request the assistance of the dead, your own ancestors and those spirits who remain among us, to keep your home safe. The more time you take to add decoration to it, the longer you have to imbue it with your intent as you work.

Hang the cross over the main door or in a central position in your home. You can put it in an out-of-the-way place if you're worried people might think it's creepy, but mine has been hanging in plain sight over our front door for several years and nobody has even noticed it. (Many of us already have enough odd things in our homes that one more won't make much difference!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A for Altar by Jeanette

Altar: is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship. Today they are used particularly in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, as well as LaVeyan Satanism, Thelema, Neopaganism, and in Ceremonial magic. Judaism did so until the destruction of the Second Temple. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Greek and Norse religion; Information taken from

I’m a “born again” Pagan. I wasn’t raised this way but it is the path that I’ve been led down and I love it. I’m currently working on gathering alter tools and learning bits on the different celebrations and enjoying my new path. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Monday, January 9, 2012

(Family) Altar

Our altar is placed in the kitchen; for everyone to see. It's a match of pagan altar and nature's table (from the Waldorf pedagogy). It always reflects what's going outdoor as the Wheel turns. Below is our altar as of now, between Yule and Imbolc.

I never do a by-the-book altar...I don't even own an athamé. Water is represented with seashell and Earth with sand, nuts and even a heart-shaped potato instead of salt. I do have a wax pentacle... I was cleaning one lantern from all the melt wax and a nice thick circle of wax formed, I took the occasion. I include figurines that represent the season, as well as children books for my daughter. She was very thrilled when I introduced the evergreen shaped candle in the beginning of December, telling her we'll light it when there will be snow!

I like how it's not in-you-face but more of a subtle way to decorate for the season. I let my children play with the figurines I put, and actually try the change the scene often to keep them thrilled and interested. As Imbolc comes I will take out the snowdrop fairy I made last year and put their wooden lambs toy on our altar. My daughter is 3 year old now so I'm slowly starting to explain her some things. So for Imbolc I want to explain her how Mother Earth is slowly growing all the flowers and greens in her tummy, so that when snow is gone (usually after Ostara) they will come out of the Earth. I want that to reflect in our altar, and keep it simple for a 3 year old to understand.

This altar is to create for my family something that I quite lacked of as a kid: A sense of Magic, Respect for the Earth, and Celebration of Life.

Kitchen windowsill altar

My simple windowsill altar consist of herbs that do me the favour of not dying after 2 weeks, an oil dispensers with my favourite oil of the moment, lanterns, an offering bowl in which I put pinches of salt and herbs as I prepare the meals, and my tiny red cauldron filled with crystals, stones and matches. (the toothbrush is for washing know...). It doesn't really look like an altar at all, but I know it, so that's what's counting. My offering bowl invites me to stop and be thankful and grateful for what I have. The simple lanterns are so welcomed when it's already dark at 4pm, the time I usually cook. They are simple gestures that makes a routine magical and the sight of all my little witchy thing just makes me happy.

What does the letter A inspires you?