Making Talismans

I’ve always loved making altars. My house is full of them … or, rather, is one big altar.

Using altars, in all the ways I did before illness descended in 2001, is no longer an option, long story short. Making talismans has picked up the slack. Many are ones I can wear. My body is an altar, and I adorn my body with magic.

Every talismanic pendant, necklace, hair adornment, or scarf I make for myself is magic for my altar. You’ll often see me wearing two or three magic pendants. I almost always wear the same enchanted earrings and rings every day, and did this long before the illness came, but these magical staples are accompanied by ever-changing Fey-touched adornments.

In the evening, choosing which talismanic pendants, necklaces, hair adornments, or other pieces to wear the next day is a meditation, part of a spell.

Making talismans for myself, both to wear and to place in my environment, is an important part of my magic and spirituality. I constantly make new items. Crafting and using them have become vital stepping stones. Each one—both the making of it and its use—paves my shaman path, furthering my journey. Each piece calls me, in a different way: calls me back to myself, calls me by one of my true names, calls me to my ancestors.

Others call my heart’s desires to me, invoking prosperity, protection, wisdom in a specific area of my life, success with a specific project, or whatever else I might long for.

In 2001, illness came as a permanent guest. By 2004, I only had months to live. However, now, I’ve another 20 years in me. Talismans are one of the things that made all the difference. In fact, I get healthier every year.

When I was first sick, a physician told me that most people in my situation never get back out of bed and can accomplish nothing for the rest of their lives. I am up and about and doing all sorts of things! Some day, I might completely recover and bid farewell to my longtime guest, a teacher I will no longer need. Talismans are helping pave the way. Though almost 70, I don’t feel old, just ill, and the illness decreases constantly. Eventually, old age will catch up with me. But, ha, it hasn’t caught up with me yet, and I’m 68.

I make talismans for every purpose possible, and might make several talismans to the same purpose.

I make so many talismans, but it works out beautifully. After they have served me—and many of them continue to serve me for years—I might combine several of them into one necklace or wall-hanging, one grand spell. Or, when a charm tells me to do so, I will pass it on to someone else or to the earth. Some charms I will probably always keep, they continue to hold me up. Some charms I will asked to be buried with.

When I have time, I make talismans for other people. … Well, I’m constantly making digital talismans for my students, but I don’t usually have much time to make many non-virtual amulets except for myself.

I make talismans out of wood, stones, beads, bones, and feathers. Or I spin cord from silk, wool, and bamboo. I dye silk cloth and paint it. I calligraph words and symbols on paper or tree bark. Spoons and forks and anything else at hand might become a talisman. Magic is in everything, so anything can be used to make a talisman. Or can be used as a talisman without being crafted into one.

The cast-iron skillet in which I fry my breakfast eggs is a talisman. After all, a pentacle is an amulet, and what better pentacle than a heavy cast-iron piece in which the four elements combine: the heat from the stove, the fruits of the earth, the moisture in foods, and the scents filling the air.

Perhaps a pentacle and frying pan would be better named ritual tools. Or altars. But words can limit magic. Everything is an amulet, altar, magical tool. Unlimited by definitions, imagination is allowed to bring us in mystical directions we might not notice otherwise.

As distracting as words can be, they are equally useful, wondrous, and enchanting. If I frame a shoe as an “amulet,” that might show me its magic and how to use it. The next day, if I frame the shoe as an “altar,” other valuable ideas might emerge. Ditto framed as “magical tool.”

Dividing a shoe into amulet, altar, or magical tool as strict categories is beside the point and self-defeating. These words—amulet, altar, and tool–can evoke significant perceptions, and the perceptions evoked by one word might overlap with perceptions evoked by another word. That’s not a problem; the point is to find power; I refuse to forsake power by restricting myself through the mental rigmarole of categorizing everything into little boxes.

Magic is in everything.
I am its altar.
I am the magical tool on which I draw the most.
I am a talisman.

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Scrying on an iPad

Scrying on an iPad
Using Commonplace Items for Scrying

ScryCalS Fey Witches tend to be resourceful, using what’s on hand, instead of being uber-consumers. In that spirit, here are helpful hints for determining which everyday objects you already own are suitable for scrying, to spare you an unnecessary purchase.

As a reference point, let’s start with items commonly used for scrying:
* crystal ball, either quartz or glass
* polished obsidian ball or egg
* fire in a fireplace, fire pit, or cauldron
* large concave clock face, which has been painted black on one side: if you place the clock face so that it’s like a right-side-up bowl, it would be the bowl’s outside that is painted; then when scrying, you’re looking into the unpainted shiny surface inside the bowl.

Now that you know those traditional objects, you can search your home for something similar. Be creative and you might end up choosing—or adapting—an unexpected object.

When teaching scrying recently, I’d told people to bring scrying tools to the class and that, if they had nothing else, to bring a candle. A lit candle is certainly a traditional scrying tool.

One student had trouble scrying in her candle. A candle flame is one of the more difficult things to scry in, because the flame provides such a small point to focus on. So I asked if she had a large black bowl. Many witches fill a large black bowl with water and peer into that for divination. I do not know if that’s traditional, but it’s definitely an option.

She had no such bowl. Then I got really excited, because I remembered she has an iPad. I grabbed my iPad and looked at it. Sure enough, it was a perfect scrying surface. Take note, I did notice my iPad was grubby with my fingerprints, so would not be good for scrying without a cleaning. You want a smooth reflective surface (although there are exceptions, but that’s a whole other story not relevant to most peoples’ scrying).

TrdWtchPsbltTraditional witchcraft relies on the ever present sacred possibilities that surround us disguised as mundane objects. See what you have on hand. Look around the room and note where your eyes fall.

After suggesting the iPad, I realized—and therefore suggested to the student—she could just take a small piece of clear glass and lay it on a black piece of cloth, then scry into it. In fact, if you had a clear plate or bowl, you could do the same.

In the same vein, use an old picture frame. Paint the back of the glass black. Once the paint’s dried, put the glass back in the frame. I suggest you choose a simple frame and paint the frame black as well. My reason for that will become apparent in the following paragraphs.

Something to keep in mind when choosing or creating a scrying surface is the benefits of simplicity. Recently, I’ve seen scrying mirrors for sale with beautiful elaborate frames. I wonder if those frames might impair one’s scrying when one is first learning. My reasoning is as follows:

In my early scrying days, I placed a crystal ball on a black velvet pillow, not only to hold the ball in place but also to serve as background. Very simple. And if memory serves very traditional.

In the same vein, traditional scrying mirrors I’ve seen are frameless; if set at all, I’ve only seen them set into black velvet boxes. This speaks of a simplicity I believe is conducive to scrying. I have never seen elaborate settings or complex backgrounds in traditional scrying tools.

(I guess one could argue that ancient witches, in using what’s on hand to scry, would not turn their nose up when faced with an elaborate object. But that argument starts caving in when I realize simple things are more available. For example, in ancient times, it was easier to access a dark moonlit lake—or, at least, a dark moonlit puddle—to peer into than it was to approach an elaborate mirror protected in a fortressed palace. Often, witches would only have simpler items on hand.)

Another reason I suggest simplicity: When learning to scry, using a black bowl filled with water required I play with the surrounding light. In other words, I had to try scrying in the bowl to see if it worked better in a fairly dark room or a room with a single candle in it. I decided I needed a candle, but then had to determine its best position in terms of its reflection in the water. Or even whether I wanted it reflecting in the water. Otherwise, the water became less tenable as a scrying medium. I don’t remember what I decided, but my point is I needed utter simplicity.

In fact, I just realized my iPad is black, but some are white. I imagine white ones create a white frame around the black screen. If that’s the case, you’ll have to try it out to see if a white frame is a distraction or other problem.

Perhaps elaborate frames and backgrounds will not be a problem for you. For one thing, my preference for simplicity is based on the particular Faerie scrying modality I know, which entails a relaxed, soft focus that complex backgrounds can mess with. Perhaps there are other scrying methods that do not involve that soft focus.

Plus, my quartz crystal ball has a veil through its middle, and it does not distract me. But I’m not necessarily a good reference point, because I’ve been scrying for decades, so it would take a lot to sidetrack me. I can scry into complex objects. I’m not saying that to brag (we all have our strengths). Instead, it’s relevant to our topic:

I’ve taught a lot of people how to scry. Over the decades, students repeatedly told me scrying has been one of the hardest magics they ever attempted; overall, my students found it so difficult that a large percentage never pursued it past their assignments from me.

The context of this feedback from students is important: a good number of these trainees who could not scry well did fine with almost all other magical techniques I gave them. Even more striking is that they also tended to be comfortable using some divination form other than scrying. And even more striking is the fact that, among the students who could not scry very well were amazingly talented—and advanced!—witches who mastered far more daunting spells from me. They mastered spell after spell I gave them, and magical technique after magical technique, willing to work endlessly to become an adept.

So no point making it hard on yourself with ornate frames and backgrounds, or stones with elaborate mottled patterns, or the like, unless they happen to suit your style.

Another suggestion: different witches seem to do better scrying into different mediums. Some seem to do better in water, some in fire, some in crystal. Keep that in mind, so if one household item you try doesn’t work, it may not show a lack in you but that you chose the wrong item for your particular predisposition.

So those are some considerations when trying to choose—or adapt—something you already own for scrying.

Play around, see what works for you, and let me know how it goes. If you come up with something new, share it below so that others can use it for their own scrying.

Blessed be.
BoSNwsltrSm

Altar Cloth: Pagan Joy

Exuberant Cascades!

Exuberant Cascades!

Detail of final piece: A Faerie Glimmer

Detail of final piece: A Faerie Glimmer

This altarcloth is raucously pagan. For ecstatic worship, Solstice and other sun ceremonies, Beltane, sex Magic, or to add exuberance to any rite.

Click pics to see em full size and un-blurred.

You can skip process to get to Product and Purchase Info.

Ironing the silk. Sunshine!

Ironing the silk. Sunshine!

Three layers of dyeing: First I dyed white silk yellow with low-immersion dying. The color is absolutely radiant! The snowfall means no place outside to get pics in good light. The background color is not the honey that’s in some photos. It is a bright, unrepentant, primary yellow! Not for someone afraid of color. Celebration!

“Imperfections” from low-immersion dyeing are part of its charm. Heh, charm, that’s a pun.

InitialStrokes3

initial strokes of the second round of dye

Second layer is the basic design. This is actual hand painting.

More hand painting made the third layer: I went over some lines with Lumiere to make them pop. You can’t tell from the photos that, for example, many of the fire symbol’s orangey-red lines were done twice, once with the first paint, the second time with Lumiere, which would “talk” more on the yellow. Then came the Lumiere that has a lovely sort of glimmer, which the photos may not be showing. I also used Lumiere paint for detailing.

I applied four Lumiere paints. The red and purple Lumiere have a subtle sheen. “Bright gold” and “super sparkle” are more overt but still tasteful, not garish: Faerie glimmers.

Earth

Detail of Final Piece: the Element of Earth

Product and Purchase Info:$145, plus $4 S & H. 100% silk, 66 X 13.” I am 99% sure it is 12 mm Crepe de Chine. (It is new cloth, but I accidentally discarded its label.) OOAK, original design, painted freehand, initialed and dated by artist. Hand washable. If this item calls you, grab it. I’m almost constitutionally incapable of repeating my designs.I can only ship within the U.S.

Finished piece: Right end is Water and Fire

Finished piece: Right end is Water and Fire




Finished piece: Left end is Air and Earth

Finished piece: Left end is Air and Earth

My Personal Web Charm

My Personal Web Charm

I’ve been asked to paint a spiderweb on a few altar cloths. (She suggested it as a focal point, but I just had to tuck one into the star, lol.) Her request was lovely synchronicity because, unbeknownst to her, I’ve been creating intense spiderweb spells in recent months again, for my own use and various students. I’d even made spiderweb charms for myself and students. I’ve been wearing my charm everyday for months, dangling from the gold hoop in my right ear.

Center

Center

Fire& Water

Fire& Water

Do you want an altarcloth with the four elements and a Faerie Star?