what witches believe
Being a witch is about freedom. Freedom to be who you are, to grow as you wish, to worship in the way that you desire. There isn't a single book or law you have to believe in that officiates your initiation into the world of witch. But there are certain cosmic rules or laws that we acknowledge, which allow us to grow as magick makers and bewitching weavers.
We don't imagine God as being a giant man in the clouds. God-or the force I prefer to call the Universe-is also known as the Goddess, the Source, Creation and many other names; it is our essence.
She may wear many faces, or none at all. This force is bigger than we are; why would we put human qualities and characteristics on something that's not human? It is part of us, and we are part of it. It's from where we came and to where we shall return; it's the purest form of our soul and more. The language of the Universe is the feeling of being in love, of seeing the stars on a dark night, or of smelling fresh roses, and much more.
working with your karma
We all know Karma. She's the one friend who never leaves us alone. Who comes over sometimes at the perfect time (like when she randomly lends you that dress you were gonna ask about) and then also manages to find you at the most inconvenient times (like when she needed your help when her dog fell sick and you were on your way to a date). And while we love holding grudges against her, she always manages to teach us something important, so we can't get too mad.
Karma's not a bitch. She's that bitch. If you struggle against her and what she's teaching you, it's only going to get harder. But if you recognize her for what she is-a magnified mirror reflecting back your own stuff-then the rest of the lessons get easier.
Just as Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is also an equal and opposite reaction, Karma says the same thing. Except in our case, this means that the energy you put out in the Universe at a spiritual, emotional, mental or physical level will come back to you in some way. Positive inspires more positive, and negative inspires more negative.
Karma is just, though we may not always see it. Karma can take generations to heal or generations to wound. We have personal karma: how we act and live in this life, generational karma, the karma of our families, and cultural karma: the karma of a region or society. These all interplay in different ways in our lives, and carry over from our past lives too.
life after life
Each witch will have her own beliefs about death, the afterlife and heaven, which is known as the Summerland in some neo-pagan traditions and Nirvana in some Eastern traditions. This is a notion that will probably evolve along with your practice of the craft, with there being no single "right" answer to the question of life after death. Personally, I believe in reincarnation or the idea that the soul is reborn life after life. Karma is reincarnation over time; we are born as many times as we need to be, until our souls become as pure and close to our true essence-and the Universe's essence-as possible. A belief in reincarnation is common among witches; however it's not universal, and not believing in reincarnation doesn't make you wrong.
your cosmic team
Time doesn't exist beyond this world. Our loved ones who have died can stay and assist us through our lives in the form of spirit guides, much like the idea of guardian angels. Spirit guides can be your ancestors from this life, or they can be guides from past lives. They can even be figures that you admire and look up to, who inspire you and have taught you in some way.
There are also ascended masters. They're like a spirit guide upgrade; they've fully broken free from the cycle of karma and death and rebirth, so they really know what's up. They're there for us in times of intense spiritual and emotional turmoil. While our spirit guides may help us in day-to-day life, the ascended masters help us in things that involve the bigger picture of our lives, which is often spiritual in nature.
Working alongside your spirit guides and masters are your angels. While the idea of angels may have Judeo-Christian connotations, angels are actually nondenominational beings who work to bring peace and love to us-the creatures of the Universe. They, like our other spirit guides and masters, are simply a call away.
Angels, spirit guides and ascended masters are like a team of cosmic cheerleaders and teachers who are here for you whenever you feel disconnected, alone, anxious or unsafe. Talk to them! I talk to my guides in the bathroom at work, in my car and when I'm walking down the street. They are with you for a reason, and even though it may take a second to learn their language, you can! Ask for signs, and invite their help in. Make art for them, decorate an altar and don't forget to talk to them.
Meditating to Meet Your Cosmic Team
If you want to meet your cosmic team, you can meditate with them and invite them to make their presence known. You can use crystals like amethyst, angel aura quartz, clear quartz, angelite or celestite to assist you in accessing your guides.
Cleanse your space with sweetgrass or mugwort, and then find a comfortable seat. You can hold a crystal in your nondominant hand, or place it near you.
Start to ground your energy, focusing on your breathing as you imagine a door at the crown of your head opening.
Invite your cosmic team to make their presence known. Call on your spirit guides, angels, animal guides and benevolent beings, inviting them to show their presence.
Continue to focus on your breath, noticing if any messages, feelings, colors, smells or voices come up. When you're finished with the meditation, thank your team, imagine the door at the crown of your head shutting and ground your energy.
Inviting in the Elements
The Elements (or Elementals) are our connection to Nature and the Earth, as well as part of our emotional makeup. By inviting in Earth, Air, Fire and Water for magickal work, we are forming a relationship with these archetypes and energies, as well as the natural world. Water represents our emotional body, Fire represents our passion, Earth represents what supports us and keeps us safe and Air represents our creativity, dreams and desires.
You'll need: herbs such as palo santo, copal, sage or mugwort; something to light them with; and a chalice or bowl of water.
Ground yourself (see the exercises on pages 29-30) and connect to the Earth. As you begin this invocation, connect to the energy of each Element. Start by calling on Earth while imagining that you're lying in a field atop the grass. When you connect to Air, feel the wind kissing your cheek. As you call on Fire, imagine feeling warmed by a fireplace or bonfire. When you call on Water, visualize swimming in a pool of healing water.
Next, take the herb in your hand and say:
"Element of Earth, I call upon you and invite you into this space. May I always feel your support and protection."
Light the herb and blow out the flame (if there is any) and move the herb so the smoke fills the space and say:
"Element of Air, I call upon you and invite you into this space. May I always feel your presence guiding me and supporting my flight."
Light the herb again so there's a flame (if possible), and as you do, say:
"Element of Fire, I call upon you and invite you into this space. May I always see your light and feel your passion."
Take the chalice of water and say:
"Element of Water, I call upon you and invite you into this space. May I always feel my intuition and your calming waters."
You can either dip your herbs in the water, or sprinkle water from the chalice onto your herbs.
Take a second to sit with these Elements, receiving their energy and their blessing.
Proceed to your magickal work, meditation or divination.
When you're done with your spell or ritual, and feel called to dismiss the Elements, you'll take similar steps as before, but starting with Water and then dismissing Fire, Air and finally Earth.
Dip your fingers into the water and press it on the space between your eyes and say:
"Element of Water, I thank you for your blessing and energy, and I dismiss you from this ritual."
Light your herb from before and say:
"Element of Fire, I thank you for your blessing and energy, and I dismiss you from this ritual."
Wave your herb through the air so smoke fills your space and say:
"Element of Air, I thank you for your blessing and energy, and I dismiss you from this ritual."
Put out the herbs and say:
"Element of Earth, I thank you for your blessing and energy, and I dismiss you from this ritual."
Ground your energy by pressing your forehead into the Earth or by sitting in a cross-legged position. Imagine all the excess energy in your body and the room moving back into the core of the Earth, to be recycled and transmuted into love and healing. Thank the Elements and write down any feelings that may have come up.
how to cast a circle
You can't be a full-fledged witch without learning the basics of casting and closing a circle! Think of the circle as a sphere that surrounds you and your work completely. It keeps the energy you've raised inside it and any negative energy out.
There are different methods for casting a circle, but the most important thing is to find one that resonates with you. Here are a few ways to figure out your own circle casting style.
casting the circle
The circle should encompass whatever space you need to perform your spell or ritual, including your altar or whatever surface you're working on. For a solitary practitioner, this area should measure around six feet in diameter.
Before you cast a circle, make sure that you won't be interrupted and that you have everything you need. Take a second to ground yourself (see pages 29-30) and burn incense or herbs to help cleanse your space. Imagine you're surrounded by white light that comes from the heavens and descends upon you.
When you're ready, walk in a clockwise direction (also known as deosil) around the space you want to encompass, starting by facing North.
Use your finger, a wand or an athame (ritual knife), and imagine a bluish-white light extending from your fingertip or the object to form a protective hedge around you wherever you point.
Walk the circle once or three times, while imagining the bluish-white light extending into a sphere above your head and below your feet.
You can also physically mark the exterior of your circle with shells, crystals or salt. Salt is one of the smallest natural crystals and absorbs excess energy.
When you've circled and returned to the front, you can say something like the following:
"I cast this circle in perfect love and perfect trust as a meeting place between worlds. May this boundary protect and hold my energy."
Once you have cast your circle, you should do your very best not to leave it while you are working, because the energy will dissipate if you do. However, if it's necessary to leave the circle, you can cut an energetic door into the circle, and pass through this so as to not disturb the surrounding energy.
To cut a doorway, you can use your finger, wand or athame to mimic "cutting" a doorway into the circle, rising up from the ground, above your head, to the side and then down again. Step through the door, and try to do what you need to do quickly. You can reenter the circle through the same doorway, recutting it if you wish. If you have to be gone for more than ten minutes, it might be best to recast the whole circle.
closing the circle
Close the circle the same way you cast it, after your ritual or spell is complete. Except this time you will walk in a counterclockwise direction (or widdershins) to close it, instead of clockwise.
Using whatever tool you used before, imagine the energy you cast coming back to you, through your body, through your feet back into Mother Earth. Walk once counterclockwise around the circle before stopping at the front of where your circle was, and say:
"The circle is open, may it never be broken."
Ground your energy by pressing your forehead and palms to the floor, imagining any excess energy returning to the Earth.
As your magick starts to grow in strength, you may find a better way to cast your circle. Perhaps you will do yours seated or during meditation, imagining a giant bubble filling up with golden white light that surrounds you. Perhaps you make up your own prayer or song to sing as you're casting your circle, using a candle at each corner to mark the boundary.
Traditionally, to open the circle you walk clockwise, or deosil, and to close it you walk counterclockwise, or widdershins. It's up to you to find the method that makes you feel the most protected, safe and supported.
the universe and witch's laws
All that we see and experience is but one aspect of the Universe. The Universe is divided into levels, each composed of energy in a different way. And while we live in a level ruled by our senses, this is only one plane of reality. If our Universe were an onion, then our level would represent a single layer. As we move higher and higher through the layers of the onion, they become less dense-just like the Universe moves away from the physical toward the energetic.
I will be talking about the astral realm in more detail later in this book. This is the realm parallel to our own, where the faeries and other Nature spirits, like sylphs, nymphs and unicorns, exist. It is where we find ourselves when we have a lucid dream. It's where our ancestors come from to talk to us.
First, we must remember the laws of the universe that allow us to work our magick. Understanding these spiritual and energetic laws will help us learn how to work with the universe to allow our magick to unfold as effortlessly as possible.
Copyright © 2018 by Gabriela Herstik. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.