Global Mercury Rite

 As those of you who have read this blog for any amount of time know, I’m a big fan of Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery materials.  One of the nice things is that once you’ve signed up for the course, you will get invitations to participate in world-wide rituals, usually focused on some sort of planetary energy.  A few days ago, I received a PDF with instructions for a global Mercury rite to be performed between July 29th and August 1st.  So after getting Hufflespawn  to bed, I read through the ritual and decided to stretch the ol’ magical muscles.

One of the things I really dig about Miller’s rituals are that they’re pretty flexible and can easily be combined with other paths and traditions–or perhaps that’s also a function of OBOD rituals and the two just complement each other nicely.  I tend to set up an OBOD grove initially, then move into Miller’s script for the main event–and of course add herbs and spices as desired!  (‘Cause magic really is like cooking–it’s not your recipe until you fiddle it to your tastes.)

I waited until 9:44 PM, the beginning of the hour of Mercury, on the Day of Mercury, to start the rite.  The Moon was in Capricorn, and waxing/almost full, which should lend a more mature and stabilizing influence to all that Mercury energy flying around.  For offerings I used cinnamon incense, dried Nicotiana sylvestris from last year’s garden, and apple cider.  I set up the circle with eight beeswax candles and my own personal Mercury sigil, in addition the to usual ritual paraphernalia.

A couple of immediate takeaways:

  • Even the most eloquent orators have practiced their art.  I botched reading one section of the rite pretty badly.  I took a deep breath and delivered it again, and woah, there a punch there that I lacked before!  The story about William Jennings Bryan practicing speaking in the woods comes to mind.
  • Sometimes clouded vision produces rainbow or other sights of beauty–but to see clearly you still have to wipe them away and stare into the hard edges of the fire.
  • Steady breeze from the West during the entire ritual.
  • The following phrase floated out of the ether into my brain as I closed down the grove: “Three again, and three times three, As I will so must it be.” Now curious about repetition of 12 in magical practice.  Must go research!
  • Very much inspired to make a set of 100 beads for longer ritual chants.  Most of my rosaries tend to be in sets of 3, 4, 7, or 9.  I’ve consciously avoided multiples of ten since that’s what the Catholics do, but they tend to use repeats of five decands, so I think I’m good.
  • I can still pronounce Latin really easily aloud.  Thank you, Dad.

Definitely another ritual for the every-growing grimoire. I’m looking forward to whatever Mr. Miller chooses to tackle next.

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Strategic Sorcery Homework #3

Druid Bugout Bag and Mobile Working Altar

The planetary power exercise took a cleansing ritual of our old property to a whole new level. The following took place on the 5th of April 2012, Day of Jupiter, Hour of Mercury.

Tools: smudge bundle (white sage, common sage, and lavender, the last two being grown on the property), dagger, hurricane water, salt, talisman (upright pentacle, seal of Mars in the center, Jupiter to the left, Mercury to the right–on a post-it note).

The working altar was set up in the kitchen, as it was the center of the house.

Divination as to the outcome: Four of Pentacles, Ace of Pentacles, High Priestess.

Process: First, cleansed the hose/drove out the critters, working from basement to attic (counter-clockwise on each room and level), by Fire and Air with smudge bundle, saying:

I cast you out by Fire and Air,
I cast you out by the steel of my blade,
I cast you out by the force of my will.
You cannot hide from me,
You are not welcome here.
Flee before me!
The grasping tendrils of smoke drag you away, far from this place.
By the storm of my heart, the flames of my will and the strength of my arm, I cast you out!

Then, purify and bless with Water and Earth, using hurricane water (from Sandy) and salt, again working up from basement to attic, but moving clockwise.

I bless and purify this place, by Water and Earth, of any stain of sorrow or pain.
May this home be blessed by the love of Water.
May this home be blessed by the gifts of Earth.
Pain turns to strength and sorrow becomes wisdom.
Shine, that the light of this place may join the greater Light.

The results were immediate. Both my (ex-)husband and I have been able to work in the house without anxiety. We also had a rash of new interest in the listing; this does coincide with the usual spring real estate boom, but it was waaaay more than we had last year.

Juniper

Week 20 of the PBP.

Juniper has been something of a love-hate relationship for me. I love the berries, love the flavor that they give to corned beef and other stews, love the smell of its burning branches.

But I hate how ubiquitous is has become in suburban American landscaping. It seems like anywhere a landscaper doesn’t know what to do with, they stick in a low-growing juniper, just to break up the mulch a little bit. Ugh. This can be such a useful plant in so many ways from cooking to magic, but it fades into the very background of our consciousness because it is so common. (I do have to admit to being slightly allergic to juniper leaves, so maintaining or planting them has never been a joyful experience.)

My personal association are of Mercury and Air, particularly because of its fragrant, opening qualities. This is another shrub I would like to make a wand of at some point, though finding a specimen large enough to do that can be tricky. An ogham few for my North American set is much more likely at this point!

Monarda Didyma (Bee Balm)

It is also sometimes called ‘Bee Balm,’ as bees are fond of its blossoms, which secrete much nectar. […] It is a very ornamental plant and readily propagated by its creeping roots and by slips or cuttings, which, if planted in a shady corner in May, will take root in the same manner as the other Mints.  —Grieve 1931.

Week 27 of the PBP.

Bee balm, often called bergamot, is really funny looking stuff.  With flowers that range from blood red to Barbie pink, they look like punk teenagers clustering together with spiky Kool-Aide hair. My fascination with bee balm (pronounced “bee bomb” in my native NJ :p) started when I first thought it was that oh-so-wonderful citrus flavor that is the hallmark of Earl Grey tea. It’s actually not, Earl and Lady Grey being flavored by the bergamot orange, but it was enough to pique my interest at the time. I worked at a garden center when I first encountered this guy and was truthfully a little shocked when I saw the plant that produces such a wonderful aroma. I suppose it makes sense that the flower would be just as showy as the flavor!

Bee balm will grow happily just about anywhere there’s full sun. It’s in the mint tribe, although not a true mint, and multiplies beautifully over time—one of the reasons garden centers and the like charge more for perennials, since you only ever have to buy one! Native to the U.S., Monarda was used as both a medicinal and culinary herb by a number of Indigenous American tribes, including the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa and Winnebago.  Another common name, Oswego Tea, “refers to the use of the leaves for a tea by the Oswegos of New York. Early colonists also used the plant for this purpose when regular tea was scarce.”

Wrong kind of bergamot, but the pic was too good to pass up!

Magically speaking, bee balm is written about only by Cunningham, who sees it as Feminine, Airy and unattached to any particular planet; it brings “clarity and good working order” to any situation (2003, 54). Personally, I associate Bee Balm with Fire and Mars, both from its growing habit and flavor. I do agree about it’s ability to bring clarity, or more specifically, burn away confusion. While I have not yet brewed tea from its leaves, it’s something I would like to try this summer since my neighbors have a bumper crop this year!

Practicing Together #10

Seed thought taken from Leaning into Mystery’s “Practicing Together” weekly series.

I noticed  the hawthorns blooming. I noticed the swans in the southwest, the red winged blackbirds in the north, the wood ducks in the northwest and the woodpecker in the east. I noticed the hum that comes from the land in the spring and summer, and discovered a new path through the white pine grove that I had never seen before.

This week, I invite in clarity. Clarity of purpose, clarity of motivation, clarity of action. I invite in the Dawn Shiner, and the true seeing that he brings.

Ways this could happen: Color breathing white and yellow. Entering the Eastern Gate in meditation. Invoking Mercury and the Sun in my morning practice.

What went well: Embracing spontaneity served me very well. I was able to adapt to different needs during our grove Beltane ceremony, and take advantage of the coincidences and synchronicities that where available to me. This resulted in an open, sensitive ritual, and an impromptu meal of garlic mustard pesto later in the week!

Updates: More oghams gathered—hawthorn for Huathe and a new piece of pine for Ailim. I’ve decided to leave the bark on the fews, which means I also need to replace the willow stick. Both it and the old pine few have taken up residence in my crane bag, though, so nothing is wasted.

Honeysuckle

Playing catchup for week 17 of PBP.

Honeysuckles are cleansing, consuming and digesting, and therefore no way fit for inflammations. Take a leaf and chew it in your mouth and you will quickly find it likelier to cause a sore mouth and throat than cure it. If it be not good for this, what is it good for? It is good for something, for God and nature made nothing in vain.  —Culpepper quoted in Grieve 1931.

So many of the plants that I’m talking about in this series were significant in my childhood. I’m beginning to feel a bit repetitive when I find myself writing “When I was a kid…” over and over again. But it seems that many of the relationships I have with plants were begun when I was young, and many of my memories and experiences date back to that time. Honeysuckle is another one of those plants. He was one of the first (along with wild blackberries) that I learned to identify as safe to eat (the nectar, NOT the berries!), and I remember going outside nearly daily to bury my nose in his fragrant flowers. The variety that grew in our back yard had a mix of white and creamy yellow flowers, and I found the scent both calming and uplifting.

There are hundreds of species of honeysuckle (Lonicera), most being native to Europe and Asia, several of which become invasive when introduced outside their native ranges. Much like clematis, is likes to have cool feet and a sunny top—that is, roots in the shade and sun on the leaves—and can be found on the edge of the woods. It blooms prolifically in the summer, and seeds itself with just as much gusto.

There is quite a bit of magical lore surrounding Honeysuckle. Grieve says Culpepper associates him with Mercury,  Cancer, and Leo, which makes him a good ally for negating problems caused by Jupiter (at least in regard to physical health problems). Meanwhile, Cunningham associates him with Jupiter and Earth, for magical purposes, making him a good addition to money spells as well as being protective and an aid in perceiving non-physical realities (2003, 140); Hopman concurs about his ability to increase both money and psychic ability (1995, 50), though like Culpepper she prefers the associate of Mercury to Jupiter (124). Personally, I associate Honeysuckle with Mercury and Air, which results in dealing with money problems by negating any negative influences from Jupiter, rather than drawing on Jupiter’s money-making qualities directly. Cunningham doesn’t draw any connections  to specific deities, but Beyerl states that Honeysuckle may be used to pass through the mysteries of Cerridwen’s cauldron (1984, 225) and that the dried bark and wood make an excellent autumn incense when ground (333); Beyerl also says that honeysuckle flowers should grace the ritual circle at the Vernal Equinox (329), but this is a hard thing to achieve as the plant doesn’t usually bloom until June!

A useful meditation to connect more deeply with the Honeysuckle spirit can be begun by sitting either at the base of a physical plant, or by anointing yourself with honeysuckle essential oil or hold a branch or flower of the plant to anchor yourself to his energies. As you breath slowly in and out, inhaling the fragrance of the flowers or oil, let the plant wrap around and enfold you in his twining vines. Rather than being consumed or smothered, I usually find that Honeysuckle will begin lifting you upwards, carrying you on his branches until you’re cradled in nothing but vines and sky. What do you notice from this new perspective? Just rest and let your thoughts move in and out with your breath, and the breath of the Honeysuckle. When you’re ready to come down, ask him to lower you gently back into your body. Feel yourself on firm ground, anchored and secure in your physical body. Ask Honeysuckle if there is anything you can do in return and wait for his answer. Thank the plant for helping you connect with the larger spirit, and ground out any excess energy.