Archive for January, 2007

Exploring Candle Magick by Patricia Telesco – Book Review

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

MM,

It’s now rare for me to pick up a book from the Wicca section of the bookstore. I have found that there are one too many “fluff bunny” books out there, including some that I read when I first started reading about witchcraft and Wicca. There are some things to look out for in book titles that should tell an intelligent person to just leave the book where it is and move onto something else. One such thing is the word magic spelled with a “k” in Crowley fashion. (I have to wonder if these authors even realize that’s where the spelling came from?) I have to admit that spelling “magic” as “magick” was a novelty for even me, but then you move on (and frankly, it’s redundant and takes too much time to add in the “k”, if you really want to use the “k”, why not drop the “c”, then it wouldn’t take as much time). Exploring Candle Magick by Patricia Telesco is one such book that I never would have bought from the book store. Of course, I didn’t. It was a free book sent to me by someone who had some books to get rid of. Thus, I said to send it to me and I’ll review it. (By now, I have over seven years experience as a Wiccan and exactly that many years studying with the WCC.) So, here’s my review.

First off, the book is written in that lovely language we call “plain English”, which essentially means it’s written at something like grade five reading level. The authors of such books claim that the publishers require them to write at a lower level (even for adults), to which my response is “Sheesh, people are getting too lazy to exercise not only their bodies, but their brains! No wonder illiteracy rates are rising and people are having more heart attacks.” This being something that supposedly we can’t do anything about, I’ll not judge the author too harshly on this.

The book is nicely organized and the author stays on topic in each chapter. She includes a bibliography and an index. This is a must in my opinion for all non-fiction reference style books (basically, most witchcraft and Wiccan books). As a beginner book on candle magic, this book should give you enough information to start off, but I would highly recommend that readers do further research into many of the topics mentioned in the book.

There are some things written in the book that I would like to clarify and expand on.

On pages 66 and 67, the author mentions “invoking” and “invocation”. I realize by now that these terms are in common usage amongst Wiccans. However, these terms are often misused such as the case of “invoking pentagrams”. Telesco may actually be referring to an invocation in this book, but her definition is misleading. An invocation does not invite a presence into the area, it specifically invites a presence into someone called a “vessel”. If you’re inviting a presence into an area, but not within someone, that is an evocation. What is the difference? Well, what is the difference between extrovert and introvert? One is external (note the prefix “e” or “ex”) and one is internal (note the prefix “in”). The same with evocation and invocation or evoking and invoking. Evoke specifically means to make outwardly manifest. Invoke means to manifest inward. Thus, an invocation involves bringing a presence inside a person, not into the area outside the person. If someone does an invocation, expect that the presence is manifested inside the person. An invocation is in actuality an advanced form of magical work (and is also a specific ritual invoking a specific deity), the presence and power invoked can be overwhelming to those not properly trained for the work. What about “invoking” and “evoking” pentagrams? “Invoking pentagrams” is a misnomer, unless you want the presence of the elements inside you as a vessel (I can’t imagine that to be fun). All the pentagrams that are drawn in Wicca are “evoking pentagrams” as you are evoking the presence of the elements into the circle and outside of your body. All this is not to say that invocation for spells cannot be done, it’s only to say that you must be careful and aware of what is being done. I feel the author was careless and negligent in not elaborating further on invocation. But frankly, I don’t think it was necessary for the author to mention invocation in this book on candle magic.

One page 68, the author mentions reusing wax remnants for later spells. DO NOT do this! All I have to say that this is a bad, bad idea if you believe that the energy of the spell remains in the wax after the candle burns down. There are just some energies you don’t want to mix together. Something is invariably going to conflict. Another thing to consider is if you are doing a new spell, why add old energy to it? It is better to start out new and get rid of the old. Wax remains from a candle used in spells or rituals can be collected and burnt down together of course, but is not to be used for another spell. The only “spell” (and this is a stretch) is to be rid of the remaining wax. Personally, I feel that once a candle burns out, the spell and magic is done (the results may appear later). Wax remains are remains and do not add any energy to a new spell. Frankly, there is really no good reason to melt down all your wax remains from previous magical work to make a new candle for another spell, unless you ascribe to chaos magic theory. (I don’t.)

On page 70, the author provides a peace/forgiveness spell. Ah… sweet, isn’t it? But what if you cannot contact the person you wish to forgive and have peace with? And why blow out the candle and bury it – why not burn it down completely and just bury any remaining wax? Is the spell complete if the candle hasn’t completely burnt out – just something to think about.

Okay, on page 72, the karmic fortune spell had me confused. I have to ask, has she done this spell? I’d be surprised if she did, because when you burn the candle down while adding money to the jar, the money in the jar will gradually cover the candle – there’s no way you can burn the candle all the way down and put more money in the jar. If there is, I’d like to know. It is an interesting idea though. Perhaps it would be better if you just put the candle beside the jar – it would have the same effect. I don’t see that there is a good reason to put the candle in the jar, and the author did not explain her reasons.

Oh dear, amulets and talismans (pages 73 to 77)! You can have more than a few hours discussing whether or not amulets are natural objects only and talismans are man-made. Apparently, Telesco is of the opinion that amulets are only protective while talismans can be used for any magical work, but both can be made. I have yet to determine which opinion is correct about amulets and talismans. I still need to find historical references for either opinion (I’ll get to this sometime, I’m sure).

On page 76, the author mentions fetishes and fetish candles. She states that fetishes “represent some type of indwelling power”. However, a fetish is “an object (as a small stone carving of an animal) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner; broadly : a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence” (from http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/fetish). According to this definition, a fetish has power and does not need to be released as she suggests in her book when discussing a fetish candle. A candle on its own does not have power. When a candle is used for magical work, it’s given power from the person. Power does not reside in the candle itself, and we do not regard the candle with “extravagant trust or reverence”. Based on this, I find it strange to suggest that a candle is a fetish.

Returning back to the topic of invocation, prayer is not an invocation! On page 80, the author says that prayers are invocations. To clarify, a prayer can be used in an invocation, but a prayer alone is not an invocation. For an invocation, you must be specifically calling an energy into yourself.

Regarding the chapter on rituals – you do not need to engage “as many senses as possible” in a ritual as this could be overwhelming. It is best to use what is needed and no more. Make sure to have a reason for doing something in ritual. Her ritual ideas are interesting, though I’m not sure how well her rituals would work in practice (they would need to be adapted). Before doing any ritual found in any book, I would suggest analyzing it. Break it down, and try to determine why something is done, and why something is used. Constructing a ritual is not as easy as you may think, so it’s best to analyze any ritual you get out of a book.

The chapter on feng shui and candle magic was interesting, but I would recommend that people find a good book on feng shui and study that as a separate practice before trying to mix it with candle magic. It is easy to make some mistakes otherwise. The author talks about how feng shui can be used to determine physical illnesses and treat them. She mentions use of the Chinese five elements. In treating physical illnesses using the Chinese elements, it is best left to those who practice Chinese medicine professionally (and make sure to get conventional medical treatment). Chinese medicine and using the five elements is much more complex than presented in this book. A good book to read is Natural Remedies from the Chinese Cupboard.

Astrological candles is a common idea, but I personally don’t go by my sun sign when doing magic. Having studied astrology for about half of my life, I know it is much more complex that just looking at your sun sign. A good book on using astrology for magic is Astrologickal Magick (yes, the overabundance of “k” is annoying, but the book was an interesting read) for more information on how to use astrology with magic. This book will teach how to do the astrology that you can use for magic. It does not, however, attempt to make one an astrologer.

A comment about the whole book: always check your correspondences and use your own judgment. Not everyone makes the same associations between two things. Such as the colour red for passion or for anger? A red rose for romantic love? Red roses were my father’s favourite flower, and they were used in his funeral. Thus, red roses do not represent romantic love for me.

To sum up, here is a bad quote from page 77: “For where there is spellcraft, there is often divination. Where there is divination, there is often a prayer. Where there is prayer, there is quiet introspection.”

My rating from 0 to 10 (5 is average): 6

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Sunday circle – January 21, 2007

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

MM,

Public ritual this past Sunday was a simple one. The primary purpose of it was to connect with the goddess and the god in by whatever names we know them. The format of the ritual was the standard Odyssean. The main part of the ritual was the reading of “The Charge of the Goddess” and “The Charge of the God”. Then the wine was blessed and shared with the participants. The participants were then anointed with oil. Laments as opposed to chants were used to create a mood and to fill in space where needed.

I particularly felt it was a good ritual – one of the better ones I’ve seen so far this year since I started as Summoner. That’s saying much, as I’ve often tuned out the ritual so as to keep an awareness out for any potential dangers or, since its indoors, people having any medical crises. Overall, I felt that we need to do more rituals like this where we are just connecting with deity. It can be a specific deity as well.

The only thing I must comment on that may have been a “bad” thing to happen was that the laments felt more like water and earth energy, even though laments were done for each element and during the sharing of the wine. This seemed to be contrary to the purpose of the ritual as the High Priestess said that the oil mixture she used was intended to be light and lift one’s spirit (something to that nature). Laments that felt more like water and earth energy might have conflicted with that intention. There may have been evidence of this in that some people felt like the energy was unusual or just pulled them down too much. (Of course, this was likely unintentional. My opinion is that the Bard may be unaware that the energy in her music is more often like water and earth energy. This seems to a common occurrence lately for some reason or other – perhaps for some people feeling calm and peaceful is exemplified in water and earth? I disagree with that because all the four elements can be calm and peaceful, but it may just be an instinctive reaction in some people.) An uplifting song was needed.

For my part, I was to get the people into a relaxed, almost meditative mood. It wasn’t a meditation ritual, but we wanted people to sit back and absorb what was happening in it. Thus, I had to get them to do some deep breathing before doing my Summoner’s Charge. I tried to convey a peaceful feeling in the charge that night. It seemed to have worked as people seemed fairly calm and relaxed going into circle. But, of course, that’s my biased opinion (I’m allowed though!)

All in all though, I felt the ritual was nicely performed by Priesthood. The god and goddess charges were beautiful, I’d love to hear those performed again.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Do jang and gym day – January 17, 2007

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Finally, I had a chance to go to the do jang for an evening class yesterday night. I was pleasantly surprised by class as we did some conditioning type training instead of just focus pad kicking. I’ve been getting bored from just focus pad training, so it’s nice when classes change up a bit. I’m hoping this will happen more often. It’s good to do different things in class – keeps everyone on their toes (figuratively and literally).

After the taekwondo class, I went to the gym for some weight training and a little bit of cardio. I started with 10 minutes of cycling, then did some weight training.

COMPLETE LIST OF WEIGHT TRAINING EXERCISES:
Machine/apparatus Exercises:
Leg lifts
Pull-ups/chin-ups
-military
-parallel
Dips
Leg press
Hamstring flexor/seated leg curls (machine was broken :( )
Hip adductors
Hip abductors
Seated row
Seated chest press
Lateral pull-downs
Pectoral fly (sometimes done using free weights)
Shoulder fly
Shoulder lift/press
Back extensor
Tricep extensor
Bicep curls (usually done using free weights now)
Weighted squat machine

Free weights:
Two additional shoulder exercises
– lift weight in front using shoulder muscles
– bending at waist lift weight out to the side using muscles along the scapulae
– wrist strengthening

Other exercises:
Pushups
Situps
Cycling (10 minute warm-up)
Elliptical

After, I worked on some stretching. It’s been a while since I had a good full workout – I needed to stretch out my muscles again. My triceps and biceps were still sore since I did some push-ups and weights at home recently. With free weights, I can work on my biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles at home.

Cassandrah
(in pursuit of healthy body, mind, and spirit)
Brigid’s Flame

Book Nook

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

MM,

I finished reading The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She’s a great author, I have to say. Although the book seems to be another Romeo and Juliet type romantic tragedy, there’s still a twist at the end that I was not expecting. Compared to other fiction writers, she can make a fairly boring story intriguing with the way she writes. Somehow I suspect that even though I thought the story for this novel boring, it will stay with me a long time.

I started reading book six (Lord of Chaos) of The Wheel of Time. I made it through the 72-page prologue and into chapter one. Though now I’m distracted from it because I decided to start reading Ian Irvine’s fantasy serial, The View from the Mirror. I’m on book one, The Shadow on the Glass. I decided to read this serial because the story is interesting, though as Nathan likes to point out every so often, Irvine isn’t a great fiction writer. Nonetheless, I still find myself intrigued because I want to find out what happens to the main characters. Basically, Irvine’s book is the opposite of Bradley’s above – great story, but not the best writing.

I also found copies of David Eddings’ books, The Diamond Throne and The Ruby Knight from the serial, The Elenium, in our laundry room. (We recirculate books we don’t want through the laundry room.) I’ll get into that serial at some point too.

I put aside The World’s Religions for a bit since I have to review my WCC stuff, but I’ll probably get back to that book every so often because it is such a good starting point on other religions. I also finally found a good little book that covers the history and culture of China. It’s China: Its History and Culture by W. Scott Morton and Charlton M. Lewis, second edition, published in 2005. Thus, it’s fairly up-to-date.

I finished reading Gardner’s Witchcraft Today. Interesting, what “ol’ uncle Gerald” has to say about witchcraft. Definitely worth reading for anyone interested in Wicca – the tradition of witchcraft he started. Now, I have to read The Meaning of Witchcraft, and strangely enough, I saw it at the used book store last week. Of course, I snatched it up. I just haven’t had time to get into it yet. Plus, it’s good to vary my reading material so I don’t get too bored with one topic!

BB,
Cassandrah
(Too much to read, too much to do, and not enough time!)
Brigid’s Flame

Happy January!

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

MM,

This year started out busy for me.

First, Nathan and I were treated to a visit from his brother. He came to stay with us during the New Year’s weekend. Thus, the last part of 2006 was spent showing our visitor around the city and taking him to a few places.

Public ritual on New Year’s Eve (yes, the WCC was open) was a Compitalia where we paid tribute to the Lares (sort of like Italian fairies) of our physical boundaries. We did this by having a pig roast, then leaving some of the food at the boundaries and doorways. A very simple ritual.

After the ritual on New Year’s Eve, Nathan, I and our visitor went to hang out at Tamarra’s place. She always holds a party on New Year’s Eve for the WCC community. This year was busier than in previous year’s, so we ended up leaving after the fireworks show. (Lucky us, we have a licensed pyrotechnic in the community who’s more than willing to display his talents. :) ) Since Nathan’s brother had to leave in the early morning to get to the airport on time, we went back to the apartment early and toasted in the CST New Year. 😉

On New Year’s Day, Nathan and I had to go out for dim sum with my mother and family, pretty much a tradition in my family. Because of all the craziness during the holiday season, I ended up spending the first week of January resting and recuperating (puttered around the apartment, read, went walking around the city some more). It was fun though having a visitor to show around the city. (I probably should have been a tour guide.)

Public ritual on the 7th was a sort of meditation. Being Summoner, it was amusing watching everyone sprawled out on the temple floor half asleep. Haha… peace at last!

Last week, I went to my group ritual and the women’s group ritual on top of the public ritual. The group ritual was an interesting one to Janus. (I knew he’d show up sooner or later!) We tossed a coin to determine if we needed help from the past or the future for the upcoming year. I got tails (past), which means I need to look to the past to see what needs to be done. This sort of makes sense as there is so much I still need to finish. Hehe… I guess I laid a good foundation already, but I just need to keep building.

The women’s group ritual was a Trimestra ritual. It is one of a set of rituals that were written to correspond with each stage of pregnancy that a woman goes through. It is one of the major female rites of passage in the Odyssean tradition. It’s a lovely ritual – each time I see the ritual performed the energy is amazing. The mother-to-be always seems to sparkle and shine.

Public ritual on the 14th was another little meditation. We were given rocks in which to tell one secret, then we were to bury the rock as soon as possible. It was interesting. Being Summoner though, I didn’t really pay attention to the meditation. I did get rid of my rock though – buried it on my way home.

Yesterday I went out to the public class. It was a class on elements, and I thought to compare the notes I have with the class. This way I have an idea of what topics to teach for each class. Plus, it’s good to refresh my mind every so often. I need to sit down sometime and review the notes for all the classes (52 plus because some class topics don’t come around every year). I’ll probably end up typing up a whole set of teaching notes that are separate from the student notes I took.

I managed to make it into the do jang last Thursday in the early afternoon. It was nice to be able to just concentrate on some things that we don’t practice much in class. I worked on my stances and hand strikes, even my elbow strike. I worked on the form of my kicks and blocks. It felt good to be able to do that. I will be trying to get into the do jang in the afternoon more often this year. This will give me training time even if I can’t make it to the evening or weekend classes as much. I haven’t been running much – it’s been so busy, and so cold on the days I feel like running that there’s no motivation. Hopefully in the next month or so, I can get back into it. I haven’t been to the gym in a month. At the very least, I was able to do some push-ups and light weight training at home. Free weights are always handy. I hate missing the do jang and gym so much that sometimes I get up and do some things around the home.

I still need to set aside some time to review the stuff I have to teach for reiki. I have a teaching plan, but just haven’t gotten around to finishing my teaching notes yet. I’d like to read over my reiki manuals again before I start teaching. I also have to get some supplies. Hopefully, I can be set to teach before spring sets in.

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame