Ask Phoenix: The Magickal Properties of Stones, Rocks & Crystals

Q: I am told that there is a special energy in stones, rocks, crystals,
and other natural earth formations. how does one go about *feeling* the
energy in these objects, how does one meditate on these things, and what
are they used for?

— Marley

A: The energy that is attributed to stones and crystals is usually a
product of an association, emotion, or other sense that someone feels
about the stone. It may not necessarily be the case that a spark like
lightening jumps off that chunk of obsidian, but its smooth surface may
spark images in your mind’s eye that are just as potent.


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Charmed, I’m Sure: The Ethics of Love Spells

Charmed, I'm Sure To gain the love of someone: On a night of the full moon, walk to a spot
beneath your beloved’s bedroom window, and whisper his/her name three times to
the nightwind.

    –Ozark love spell

It seems to be an immutable law of nature. You are interviewed by a
local radio or TV station, or in some local newspaper. The topic of the
interview is Witchcraft or Paganism, and you spend the better part of an hour
brilliantly articulating your beliefs, your devotion to Goddess and nature,
the difference between Witchcraft and Satanism, and generally enlightening the
public at large. The next day, you are flooded with calls. Is it people
complimenting you on such a splendid interview? No. People wanting to find
out more about the religion of Wicca? Huh-uh. People who are even vaguely
interested in what you had to say??? Nope. Who is it? It’s people asking
you to do a love spell for them!

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Midwinter’s Eve: YULE

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans
celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season. Even though we prefer to use
the word ‘Yule’, and our celebrations may peak a few days
before the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional
customs of the season: decorated trees, carolling, presents,
Yule logs, and mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting
up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three central characters
are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and
the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to
anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.

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All Hallow’s Eve

    Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.
    But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?
    ‘You don’t know, do you?’ asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out
    under the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. ‘You don’t REALLY know!’

    –Ray Bradbury
    from ‘The Halloween Tree’

Samhain. All Hallows.
All Hallow’s Eve. Hallow E’en. Halloween. The most magical night of the
year. Exactly opposite Beltane on the wheel of the year, Halloween is
Beltane’s dark twin. A night of glowing jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for
apples, tricks or treats, and dressing in costume. A night of ghost
stories and seances, tarot card readings and scrying with mirrors. A
night of power, when the veil that separates our world from the
Otherworld is at its thinnest. A ‘spirit night’, as they say in Wales.

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Harvest Home

There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die… listen

Despite the bad publicity generated by Thomas Tryon’s novel, Harvest
Home is the pleasantest of holidays. Admittedly, it does involve the
concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic only. The sacrifice is
that of the spirit of vegetation, John Barleycorn. Occurring 1/4 of the
year after Midsummer, Harvest Home represents mid-autumn, autumn’s
height. It is also the Autumnal Equinox, one of the quarter days of the
year, a Lesser Sabbat and a Low Holiday in modern Witchcraft. Recently,
some Pagan groups have begun calling the holiday by the Welsh name
‘Mabon’, although there seems little historical justification for doing

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Lammas: The First Harvest

It was upon a Lammas Night
When corn rigs are bonny,
Beneath the Moon’s unclouded light,
I held awhile to Annie… audio

in the heat of a Mid-western summer it might be difficult to discern,
the festival of Lammas (Aug 1st) marks the end of summer and the
beginning of fall. The days now grow visibly shorter and by the time
we’ve reached autumn’s end (Oct 31st), we will have run the gammut of
temperature from the heat of August to the cold and (sometimes) snow of
November. And in the midst of it, a perfect Mid-western autumn.

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A Midsummer’s Celebration

The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow’r;–
‘Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John’s wort tonight,
The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride.

addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there
are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two
equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four
‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four
‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is
one of them.


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A Celebration of May Day

‘Perhaps it’s just as well that you won’t be here to be offended by the sight
of our May Day celebrations.’
–Lord Summerisle to Sgt. Howie from ‘The Wicker Man’

There are four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year and the modern
Witch’s calendar, as well. The two greatest of these are Halloween (the
beginning of winter) and May Day (the beginning of summer). Being opposite
each other on the wheel of the year, they separate the year into halves.
Halloween (also called Samhain) is the Celtic New Year and is generally
considered the more important of the two, though May Day runs a close second.
Indeed, in some areas — notably Wales — it is considered the great holiday.


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Lady Day: the Vernal Equinox

comes the Vernal Equinox, and the season of Spring reaches it’s apex,
halfway through its journey from Candlemas to Beltane. Once again,
night and day stand in perfect balance, with the powers of light on the
ascendancy. The god of light now wins a victory over his twin, the god
of darkness. In the Mabinogion myth reconstruction which I have
proposed, this is the day on which the restored Llew takes his
vengeance on Goronwy by piercing him with the sunlight spear. For Llew
was restored/reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now well/old enough
to vanquish his rival/twin and mate with his lover/mother. And the
great Mother Goddess, who has returned to her Virgin aspect at
Candlemas, welcomes the young sun god’s embraces and conceives a child.
The child will be born nine months from now, at the next Winter
Solstice. And so the cycle closes at last. 


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Candlemas: the Light Returns

It seems quite impossible that the holiday of Candlemas should be
considered the beginning of Spring. Here in the Heartland, February 2nd
may see a blanket of snow mantling the Mother. Or, if the snows have
gone, you may be sure the days are filled with drizzle, slush, and
steel-grey skies — the dreariest weather of the year. In short, the
perfect time for a Pagan Festival of Lights. And as for Spring,
although this may seem a tenuous beginning, all the little buds,
flowers and leaves will have arrived on schedule before Spring runs its
course to Beltane. 


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