Wiccans and Druids, Shamans and Sacred Ecologists, Odinists and Heathens... Paganism is not based on any doctrine or liturgy. Many pagans believe 'if it harms none, do what you will'. Following this code, Pagan theology is based mostly on experience, with the aim of Pagan ritual to make contact with the divine in the world that surrounds them. The recognition of the divine in nature is at the heart of Pagan belief. Most Pagans share an ecological vision that comes from the Pagan belief in the organic vitality and spirituality of the natural world. Pagans are deeply aware of the natural world and see the power of the divine in the ongoing cycle of life and death. Pagans worship the divine in many different forms, through feminine as well as masculine imagery and also as without gender. The most important and widely recognized of these are the God and Goddess (or pantheons of God and Goddesses) whose annual cycle of procreation, giving birth and dying defines the Pagan year.
Many people are using the word amulet and talisman as synonym, yet the truth is that these two items have similar purposes, however they differ in the style and the way they are worn. Amulets are usually worn all the time and they are believed to have special powers that can protect the people who are wearing from the evil forces that lurk outside, whereas talismans are placed somewhere in the household and suppose to protect the people who live inside that house. Talismans are rarely worn on the garments, while the amulet is believed to protect the person only if he or she is carrying with it all the time. These days it isn’t uncommon for people to have ‘lucky’ items of apparel, wear items of jewellery with special meaning, and have items of personal or cultural significance in their homes. The actual item used as a talisman or amulet can be anything that connects the person to the source of the items’ power, be it their own mind or something more esoteric. Even on the mental level the possession of a “lucky” item can dramatically improve a persons’ performance by keeping negative thoughts at bay and the person in a relaxed and confident state of mind. This enables them to perform at their best mentally and physically by stopping any inhibitory factors on the mental or physical plane.
The eye of the providence is a symbol that dates back from the Ancient Egypt, and the Great Priests ordered the slaves to craft an amulet that will protect the Pharaohs from all of the evils that linger on this world and beyond, so they crafted the All Seeing Eye. This Eye of Providence amulets will ward off the curses and black magic spells that are cast upon the person, so it’s advisable to wear them if you have a feeling that something bad might happen. In most cases, in addition to the magic spells, the Eye will repel the spells and revoke their actions.
Talismans in earlier times were natural or found objects with connections to nature and Gods and Goddesses in a more representational way than the sophisticated methods that evolved in line with more urban societies. One of the first talismans was the stone with a hole in it. These ‘holey’ stones are thought by many authorities to have given rise to the term ‘holy’ meaning sacred and may have connections to the various megalithic sites throughout the world that feature stones with holes that are big enough to pass a person through. These were used in various healing and consecration rituals so the smaller ones probably held equal importance as talismans.
The Pentagram is a symbol of a star encased in a circle. Always with 5 points (one pointing upward), each has its own meaning. The upward point of the star is representative of the spirit. The other four points all represent an element; earth, air, fire, and water: all these things are a part of each of us. To wear
a pentagram necklace or other form of jewellery, is to say you
feel the connection with the elements and respect the earth.
The number 5 has always been regarded as mystical and magical,
yet essentially 'human'. We have five fingers/toes on each limb and
we commonly note five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.
We perceive five stages or initiations in our lives - birth, adolescence,
coitus, parenthood and death. (There are other numbers / initiations / stages / attributions). The number 5 is associated with Mars and signifies severity, conflict and harmony through conflict. In Christianity, five were the wounds of Christ on the cross. There are five pillars of the Muslim faith and five daily times of prayer. Five were the virtues of the medieval knight - generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety as symbolized in the pentagram device of Sir Gawain. The Wiccan Kiss is Fivefold - feet, knees, womb, breasts, lips - Blessed be. The number 5 is prime. The simplest star - the pentagram - requires five lines to draw and is a continuous loop. The pentagram has long been believed to be a potent protection against evil, a symbol of conflict that shields the wearer and the home.
The Ankh has long been associated with the Egyptians who presumably created it. Although it's true origins are debated amongst many archeologists and egyptologists. One thing is for sure, the Egyptians revered the Ankh as a spiritual symbol. Considered to be the symbol of life, immortality and the universe, the Ankh is both a symbol of the Goddess and God heads. The tau, or loop at the top has also been associated as a symbol of spiritual reflection. This could be a result of its use by Tutankhamen who often used a large hand held Ankh with a mirror positioned in the loop. The loop has a couple of common meanings. It represents the three upper chakras, also known as the spiritual chakras, which are associated with the divine. It represents the Godhead (not just the masculine, but God as an all encompassing divine being). It also represents the female principles or the Goddess, within nature and the divine universe. The staff has a few meanings as well. It is a representation of the masculine God and male principles. The vertical line is a symbol of the lower four chakras also known as the physical chakras. The cross bar represents the division of the male and female aspects of life, and the balance of polarity between the two. As an amulet, the Ankh is worn for good luck and for protection against bad luck. It is seen in Egyptian art as a scepter in the right hand of deities, and as a tool used upon the nostrils of the dead to bring them back to life.
As a magical tool, the Ankh can be used for healing and to promote psychic communication with the divine. Some Egyptian art depict a priest or priestess placing an Ankh in the middle of their forehead (over the third eye) as a means to connect to the divine God/Goddess for communication. Healers often placed the Ankh over wounds or areas that required attention, to promote regeneration and divine healing.
The Mayan believed heaven to be a wonderful, magical place on Earth hidden by a mystical mountain. They called this place Tamoanchan. Heaven, Earth, and Underworld (Xibalba) were connected by the ‘world tree’. The world tree grew at the locus of creation, all things flowing out from that spot into four directions. These were: East associated with red, North represented by white, West that is black and South that is yellow. The Mayan tree of life is a cross with its centre being the point of ‘absolute beginning’, the source of all creation and its branches passing through each of the three layers of existence - underworld, earth, and the sky.
Ancient Celts (Druids) believed that the tree of life or crann bethadh possessed special powers. The tribal people of Ireland while clearing a piece of land for human settlement, used to leave a tree in the center; they called this tree the crann bethadh. These people used to hold assemblies beneath the crann bethadh. The tree provided food, warmth and shelter to people. It also provided nourishment to other forms of life such as animals, birds, insects, etc. Therefore, the tree was described as a force which took care of life on earth. The Celts believed that trees were actually ancestors of human beings. The Celts inhabited only those places where such trees were present. Teaching centers of the Druids too were located in quiet and tranquil surroundings of Oak groves. One can find the designs of tree of life depicted in a manner that it is emerging from a pot. The pot, as depicted in Celtic designs and patterns, is a symbol of Mother Earth - the source that nourishes all forms of life.
Sumerians and Babylon Tree of Life
The oldest name of Babylon, Tin-tir-ki, meant ‘the place of the tree of life’. To the Babylonians, it was a tree with magical fruit, which could only be picked by the gods. The earlier Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian culture. The early Sumerian art (around 2500 BC) depicts pictures of a pole or a tree called the ‘axis mundi’. Guarding this tree is a snake or a pair of intertwined snakes. Babylonians have the concept of the ‘navel of the world’, the place of the connection of different spheres. This vertical dimension, axis mundi, is the connection between three cosmic spheres: heaven, earth and underworld. The sacred mountain, the temple, the sacred city are all considered to be this Sacred Space, the axis mundi, the connection of the three cosmic dimensions.
Assyrians substituted the tree for the caduceus with coiled snakes circling around the wood of the wand. Here we see a snake symbolising an underworld consciousness, passing through earth, climbing a stick, transcends to a winged reality, a heavenly creature. Wings on a wand became a symbol of transformation and transcendence.
Egyptian Tree of Life
In Egyptian mythology, the first couple are Isis and Osiris. They have emerged from the acacia tree of Iusaaset, which the Egyptians considered the tree of life. Egyptians considered the Tree of Life to be the tree in which life and death are enclosed. The direction East was associated with the direction of Life, the direction of the rising Sun, and the direction West was seen as the direction of death, of under-world, because Sun sets in the West. Egyptian creation myths refer to a serpent and a primordial egg, which contained a bird of light.
Within the Nordic cultures we also find a Tree of Life called
Yggdrasil. It is a massive holy ash tree where Gods assemble
daily. the tree provides a magical springwater of knowledge.
An eagle is on the top of the tree and a serpent is coiled
around the roots of the tree. The eagle and the snake hate
each other. On the top of the above tree is the symbol of Thor, the
eagle. The dogs guarding the Tree emulate the guardian lions depicted in Byzantine works.
Chinese Immortality Tree
In Chinese mythology a Taoist story tells us of a peach magical tree that produces a peach every three thousand years. The one who eats the fruit becomes immortal. At the base of the Tree of Life is a dragon, and at the top is a phoenix (a bird). A tree has deep connections with the earth, yet its branches reach up to the heavens. It embodies a connection of earth and heaven, of spiritual and physical realms. In Chinese cosmology, there are four Dragon Kings (Qin, Kuang, Jun and Xun), each with his own elemental domain.
Kabbalah Tree of Life
The Tree of Life that is in the centre of Kabbalah’s symbolism can be studied as a complex formula of existence, the flow of creation from the Divine to Earth and back to the Divine. It is the Tree of Life and Knowledge, a magical key to how life manifests itself. The Tree of Life is comprised of ten sephiroth, with twenty-two paths interconnecting them. The Kabbalah is a magical framework for the Hebrews' mystical thoughts.
Tree of Life Knot in the shape of a Shamrock
The tree of life represents harmony and the shamrock represents good luck.
The claddagh represents love (heart), loyalty (crown) and friendship (hands) with the circular knot showing continuity.
The lovers knot represents the intertwining hearts of those in true love with each other.
With no beginning and no ending this knot is
symbolic of eternity or continuum. This symbol
of continuum reinforces the endurance of
tradition and heritage.
This knot has pre-Christian and Christian meanings. The druids believed that this traditional triquetra represented three seperate entities that are interconnected like earth, air, and water. The Christians believe that the knot represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Newgrange Triple Spiral
This ancient design is carved into the stones at Newgrange which is a burial mound that dates back to 3200 BC - 500 years older than the pyramids at Giza. Its true meaning is unknown but many scholars believe that the three spirals represent birth, life and afterlife.
The Celtic Cross
This is a symbol of faith for all Celts. It appears as a decorative element on large standing stone crosses and in the Book of Kells.
The Celtic Nations Knot
This symbol is said to represent the seven Celtic nations which are: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Galicia in Spain and Brittany in France.
Claddagh with Infinity Knot
With the infinity knot above the Claddagh this piece
of art represents infinitive love, loyalty and
Celtic Clan Knot
This symbol represents the Celtic family with intertwining hearts showing the love we have for each family member.
The Celtic Shield Knot
This symbol represents protection. The Celts used this symbol to ward off evil and sickness. They put this design on warrior's shields and on children's clothing to protect them.
This symbol represents no beginning and no ending - continuity into eternity and beyond.
This is a variation of a spell used by European Gypsies for asking for a lucky talisman from nature to aid in general luck or success in a specific undertaking.
Take a clean sheet of paper and write either “For general luck” or “Success in (insert wish)” and wrap it around a coin or other small item such as a crystal. Take this, some compost or a stick of fertilizer, and a jug of beer or spring/rain water to a Thorn, Ash, or Oak tree. Kneel or squat by the tree and scatter the compost at its base and say “Tree I feed you, feed me in return”. Then empty the liquid at the base of the tree and say “Tree I quench your thirst, quench mine in return”. Finally dig a small hole near the base of the tree and bury the package of written wish and item as you say “Tree I bring you a gift, bless me in return.” Then place your hands on the tree and say three times: “Rain falls, wind blows, sun shines, grass grows.” Then walk away without looking back. After three days return to the tree and pick up anything (within reason) lying on top of the fresh earth where you buried your gift. This may be a leaf, twig, a stone or even a piece of some rubbish you may find there. This is your talisman and should be carried with you for best results.
The runes are an ancient alphabet used in Germanic countries. Today, they are used in magic and divination by many Pagans and Wiccans. Although their meanings can sometimes be a bit obscure, most people who work with runes find that the best way to incorporate them into divination is to ask a specific question based upon your current situation. Early runes were carved on stones, wood, and bone. The most popular version of the runes comes from an old Teutonic alphabet, the Elder Futhark, which contains twenty-four letters. Each rune is a letter. Unlike the letters in modern alphabets, however, these ancient glyphs aren't intended simply to form words. Instead, they individually convey complex meanings. Although you don't have to be of Norse ancestry to use the runes, you'll have a far better understanding of the symbols and their meanings if you have some knowledge of the mythology and history of the Germanic peoples; this way you can interpret the runes in the context in which they were meant to be read. Much like reading the Tarot, runic divination is not "telling the future." Instead, rune casting should be seen as a tool for guidance, working with the subconscious and focusing on the questions that might be underlying in your mind. Some people believe that the selections made within the runes drawn are not really random at all, but choices made by your subconscious mind. Others believe that they are answers provided by the divine to confirm what we already know in our hearts. The easiest way to do a reading with runes is to spread out all the rune stones in your set, then close your eyes and mix up the runes while you contemplate your question or situation. Select one. Its meaning provides the answer to your question. More complex rune readings involve casting several runes onto a cloth and interpreting their positions. You can lay out runes in patterns or spreads just as you might lay out cards in a tarot reading. In these instances, the positions of the runes as well as their individual meanings become significant. Runes can be used for magical purposes as well as predictive ones. In early times, runes were carved on swords, amulets, jewellery, and household objects to encourage blessings — such as love, fertility, health, prosperity, or victory in battle — as well as to ward off harm. A runemaster was believed to possess the ability to communicate with divine forces and to command supernatural powers to do his bidding. You can use rune symbols in your own spells, just as the ancients did. If you're making a love charm, for example, you might want to paint the rune Gifu, which looks like an X, on a small stone and slip it into the pouch, along with other love-drawing ingredients. Carve runes that represent your intentions on a candle, and then burn it to make your wishes come true. You could also paint or inscribe runes on your magic tools to enhance their power.
A Magic Wand transforms your inner intentions into a powerful outward magical charge and functions as an antenna. When pointed upward and used with ritual and focus, it enables you to draw down magical energy. When spell casting, you can then point the wand at an object to release this power down your arm and into the wand, where the energy is intensified by its crystal tip. You can also focus on directing your own energy into the wand. Thus, double-pointed crystals work very well on wands, enhancing power from yourself and external forces. A wand is imbued with the properties of the tree from which it is make. Willow is the most popular choice of wood, but you can make wands from most trees and reserve individuals wands for specific purposes. Birch trees, for example, signify renewal and a birch wood wand could be used in spells to bless new projects. You might want to use a wand made from a specific wood to celebrate a seasonal festival. A holly wand, for example, could be used to perform magic at a Winter Solstice ritual. Choose your wand carefully, your inner spirit and the tree spirit of the wood of the wand must connect. Some witches and wizards have only one wand others have several. Choose with care and attention to what you are trying go to do. You may want different wands for different purposes and seasons. When adding crystals and gemstones, start with quartz as it is amplifier of all magic. You can use a magic wand for a variety of purposes when practicing magic and rituals and casting spells: sleeping on a willow wand is said to make your dreams more vivid and meaningful and rowan wands can help to enhance your clairvoyant abilities. Wands can be used to cast sacred circles, which you can then step into and cast a spell. You can put a wand on an altar at a Wiccan celebration as your offering to the ritual. Use a wand to enhance the power of your spells to focus more energy on your intent, whether it be for love, prosperity or healing. You must have a specific inner intention, well thought out before hand or be extremely quick witted at a moment’s notice should the need arise in order to effectively use a magic wand. Be very focused and not waver on desiring your chosen outcome. This is the inner intention that you are going to cast out of you and into being in your life. You must remember, we can never cross the will of another! The movements a witch or wizard makes with their magic wand are called strokes. A stroke begins the process of developing the inner intention in the outer world; it clears the field, prepares the field, and gives form to your inner intention. Think of the each stroke as a letter. Learning to use them becomes like spelling a word or phrase. When you use a series of stokes linked together, they form your magic word: you cast your inner intention into becoming a spell!
Witches brooms are used in Witchcraft, Wicca and Pagan rituals, spells and magic. Magic brooms are called Besoms by those of us who use them, and in fact are very magical. They do not however fly. They are used in Rituals of cleansing, and they are a standard part of handfastings and marriages in a lot of Pagan communities. One of the main uses is sweeping the negative energy away. The earliest brooms (besoms) were made of twigs tied to a handle. The bristles could be made of various materials such as straw, herbs, or twigs. The shaft is round to represent the branch of a tree and associates the broom with the Tree of Life which was an important symbol in ancient pagan Europe. Traditionally a Besom broom is made from hazel wood and the bristles are birch twigs. A besom is one of the important ceremonial tools for this spirituality.
Crystals have long been cherished possessions of humans for their magic, healing and beauty. Many Wiccans and Pagans use crystals and gemstones in workings, because every stone is connected to some aspect of the human experience. Different traditions attribute various therapeutic and magical properties to each stone and crystal. Crystals can generate energy through a phenomenon called the Piezoelectric effect. This process occurs when a crystal is compressed or bent. The crystal then generates a charge or voltage on its surface. In the same way, if a voltage is applied, quartz will bend or change its shape very slightly. You and everything else in this world are made up of electromagnetic energy. By holding a crystal your electrical impulses interact with the crystal creating this same type of Piezoelectric effect. The crystal begins to vibrate and the energy it creates can be transmitted to your own internal energy circuits.
The Elven Star or the 7 pointed star has many different uses. One is to keep secrets safe from prying eyes of other magicians. People sometimes wear it as an amulet to keep people from reading their mind. You could also use it on a book of spells to keep people from understanding, or knowing the true nature of the contents. The seven pointed star is a magical symbol, and the 7 points have many secret meanings, such as the 7 days of the week, the 7 pillars of wisdom or the 7 wonders of the world.
The connection between humans and cats dates back nearly 10,000 years. The first sign of some sort of companionship between a human and a cat can be dated back over 9,500 years ago. On Cyprus, a grave was excavated in 2004 that contained skeletons of both human and feline origin, and they were close to each other. Various rumours and stories have evolved around the reason why this relationship was formed. The ancient Egyptians loved and revered cats. This went so far as to mummify their bodies after death. Historically, black cats were symbolically associated with witchcraft and evil. In Hebrew and Babylonian folklore, cats are compared to serpents, coiled on a hearth. Originally in Britain and Europe, a black cat crossing one's path was considered good luck; however they were also seen by the church as
associated with witches. This association with witches possibly stems from pre-Christian Europe when witches weren't considered evil. In fact, it was the church, who considered them unholy and pagan, who altered their reputation. Stigmatised to be evil, in league with the devil and demons, they were said to bring bad luck and especially black cats were often caught in baskets and burnt like witches at the stake. It was considered blasphemy to have any kind of caring or loving relationship with a cat. Little wonder that women, who cared for the mistreated and persecuted creatures, were considered witches and their "devilish" feline companions the connection with the evil powers. In places which weren't affected particularly by witch hunts, black cats retained their status as good luck, and are still considered as such in Japan and most of Britain. Cats are said to have healing powers, and somehow this little hint of mysticism never left the feline species. Modern times have given us a tiny glimpse of what "Magic" a cat can do. Science has proven that to stroke a cat and hear and feel it's purring relaxes people and reduces stress. Modern medicine confirms that to have a cat close to or on a limb that pains with arthritis or rheumatism has a calming and pain reducing effect. With Paganism and old beliefs growing stronger these days, a black cat once again takes her rightful place besides her human companion, modern witches once more call the cat lovingly their "familiars". Although in most cases cats do not fulfill their role as protectors of the home from vermin infestation these days, surely they keep many people from loneliness. Their gentle and comforting nature heals many a psychic wound. Cats have a very fine sense for moods of their companions, and contrary to the belief that cats are loners, they search for and enjoy closeness.