Self-Love and Acceptance Spell

Casting this spell during a New Moon is ideal since it is about releasing negativity and setting new, positive intentions. Remember, when using fire always be cautious. You will be burning only a few small pieces of parchment paper, but if the fire gets out of control, place the lid on the cauldron so the fire will go out. Safety first, always.

Self-Love and Acceptance Spell

Ingredients

Black candle (substitute silver)
Book of Shadows/magickal journal (optional)
Cauldron or fire-safe container with a lid
Lighter or matches
Parchment or paper, cut or torn into small pieces
Rose oil (substitute preferred scent)
Rose quartz (optional)
Writing utensil
Yellow candle (substitute white)

Directions

To begin, cleanse, ground, and cast a circle to keep unwanted energy away. Using your small pieces of paper or parchment write things about yourself that you do not like and would like to release. Use one piece per release. If you have a long list it might be best to perform the spell several times over the course of a few months and release different things each month. Be careful about your wording; this is a release of negative emotion. Don’t write “I’m ugly,” write “My negative self-image.” Write “Feeling shy around others,” but avoid “Boys/girls don’t like me.” Using the rose oil anoint your black candle from the top down to diminish negative energy. Take each piece of parchment and read it aloud saying, “I release: [text written on the paper],” then light it using the black candle and drop the paper into your cauldron to burn away.

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The Lunar New Year 2016: The Year of the Monkey for Pagans

2016 the Year of the Monkey

2016, the Year of the Monkey

The Lunar New Year was on February 8, 2016 this year, though technically, this is the 4,713th Lunar Year. As a Monkey (metal) myself I welcome all the new Monkeys (fire) born this year. Many pagans don’t know much about the Lunar New Year (also called the Chinese New Year), even though so many of us follow a Lunar cycle. I believe that there are lessons for us in it regardless, and as an eclectic Pagan-Taoist, it’s a holiday that is especially important to me.

Monkeys are a sign of laughter, goofiness, intelligence, and a lack of self-control. For me, some of it seems to make no sense because it am not indulgent in vices and I work hard, but if you look closer you’ll notice I have lots of hobbies and interests which removes the ability to focus on just one. I am a very sarcastic person, always joking, and was the class clown in High School, but I’m also finishing my MA in English Literature. As with all signs balance is key, so this is not necessarily going to be an easy year for us Monkeys, as we are the ones whose issues come to the forefront. That being said it has the potential to be amazing because happily our strengths are here as well! Physical health, good communication, and temperance must be kept in mind this lunar year. It is a year of activity, creativity, and harnessing those things, if you can make them work to your benefit, is a very good thing. Monkeys are smart but they can also be dishonest, so spend the year experimenting with honesty, it can be freeing (see Pamela Meyer’s “How to Spot a Liar” TED Talk). The Tao says not to try and eliminate your weaknesses, but to make them into your strengths, excellent advice for this lunar year.

Monkey’s complimentary signs, Rat and Dragon, will have especially good years, since the Lunar zodiac is very focused on balance. Like with tarot, I do not believe in negative readings in astrology, only challenges that we will be given the chance to overcome, and never-ending chances to work on our karma.

Ideas for Witches

If you are a witch who is interested in adding some Lunar New Year magick to your practice here are some suggestions.

New Moon Ritual – Adding Lunar New Year elements to your February 8/9 New Moon Ritual is an excellent way to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Set an intention related to creativity, physical health, education, or temperance.

Auspices – Creating and searching for auspices on the Lunar New Year is a long-held tradition. Wearing a lucky color like red is one way to celebrate the New Year even if you’re in the broom closet. Mandarins, tangerines, or oranges are excellent for eating and bringing as gifts for co-workers or class mates as they symbolize abundant happiness.

Imbolc – The Lunar New Year is closely associated with Imbloc as it is a time to completely clean your house and an excellent time to plant seeds and/or bring flowers or small plants inside. The Lunar New Year is also a candle festival (plus fireworks), and you can even consider adding the Legend of the Guo Nian to your Imbolc celebration if it resonates with you.

Divination – If you keep a divination journal recording dreams is important, even if they don’t make sense immediately. Looking at them again at your year-in-review almost certainly will make their meaning clear. If you keep an animal journal remember to write down every animal that you see today, they can have meanings for the entire year to come. In my tradition, New Year’s Day is used to symbolically represent the entire year. Depending on your tradition this could be Samhain, Yule, the Solar New Year, or the Lunar New Year. Try recording the events of the New Year’s Day in a diary/journal and reviewing them at the end of this year for accuracy. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, record and review for all four; the right answer will reveal itself to you. Also, and this is important, do not stress about a “bad day,” I’ve had a number of bad New Year’s Days and those years, while challenging, were ultimately very necessary for happiness.

Lai See Envelopes – Even if you’ve never heard the name, you’ve probably seen red Lai See envelopes somewhere before. I have Hello Kitty ones that I got at the Sanrio store, so trust me when I say they’re pervasive. It is traditional to give these envelopes down the ladder, meaning, not to superiors. For example, if you are a parent you would give an envelope to children, however, you would never give envelopes to your parents. If you’re a manager you would give them to your employees, but not your boss. If you are a school teacher your students would receive envelopes, but not the principal. Traditionally the envelopes contain money, but you could include lucky Feng Shui coins, joss paper (aka Hell Bank Notes or ghost money) that can be burned to deceased ancestors, or a heartfelt letter of appreciation.

Continuing Education – If you are interested in adding Lunar New Year traditions to your pagan practice then this is an excellent time to expand your knowledge of these traditions and see if they are right for you and your craft. Learn more about Feng Shui, read Eastern fables and fairy tales such as Ancient Fables and Folklore of Japan or The Kojiki, or research Eastern gods and goddesses. You might just find something that works brilliantly for you, and at worst, you will learn something new. Perfect for the Year of the Monkey!

In conclusion, I hope that you found my write up for the Lunar New Year, the new Year of the Monkey, to be interesting and informative. Please let me know if you have any questions, anything to add, anecdotes about your own experiences, or anything at all!

Here’s to an auspicious Year of the Monkey!

Further reading/resources:

Astrology Club – 2016 Year of the Monkey
Flower and Fruit Meanings for Lunar New Year
Wei Terng Tong’s Predictions for the Lunar New Year

Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2016 Witches’ Companion

Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' CompanionThis year one of my goals was to read more, specifically on witchcraft and paganism. I picked up several 2016 full-year books to see which would resonate with me the most. Llewellyn’s 2016 Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living is the first I’ve read through completely and I have to say that I love it. I have also decided to post reviews here to help other people sort through the huge amounts of pagan/witchcraft books available and assist you in making decisions about which witch books to add to your magickal library.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from the 2016 Witches’ Companion, but whatever I was expecting it definitely wasn’t that. The Companion is a series of interesting articles that range between 8 to 13 pages long that take up debates and interesting issues in the pagan community and explore them in a well-written and thoughtful way. Not all of the articles will resonate with you, but that’s okay, because the wide variety of articles means that something almost certainly will touch you, and you might learn about something you have never considered before. It’s also diverse enough that an eclectic pagan like myself, who does not follow one path religiously (pardon the pun) will feel welcome. Instead of speaking in endless generalities I’ve decided to give more information and specific reviews of my favorite articles and how they impacted me and my practice (reviewed in order of occurrence in the book):

“The Path of a Priestess” by Stephanie Woodfield
This article discusses what it truly means to become a priestess and dedicate oneself to one particularly god/dess. Woodfield is a priestess of Morrigan, who does not resonate with me specifically, but my High School best friend and coven leader did follow Morrigan (if I’m remembering correctly). What I got out of this article was more diaphanous in that it made me consider dedicating my work to one goddess specifically. Woodfield also wrote a book called Drawing Down the Sun that I picked up at Barnes and Noble yesterday because I’m extremely drawn to sun goddesses.

“We Are Everywhere: Finding Pagans in the Wild” by Laurel Reufner
This article made me think seriously about “coming out of the broom closet.” Like so many pagans I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences because of my beliefs, but as an adult I feel more of a pull to be an example for young witches, and part of that is being out in the open. Amazingly, coming out to my father (who is gay) was great, he was so much more supportive than I expected. Even more surprisingly, one of my good friends practices as well, and I had no idea! I have this article to thank for giving me the push I needed to inch out into the open.

“Why is Journaling Such an Angsty Process for So Many People?” by Susan Pesznecker
An excellent article about the merits and difficulties of journaling in the pagan community. Pesznecker explains the neuroscience behind journaling and why it is so important (the article is so well-written that I want to give it to my students) and explains that handwritten journals are “better” than online because the act of writing with a physical object transfers what is written into long-term memory more effectively. There is also a magickal dedication provided along with “best practices” and a list of recommended reading. This article absolutely made me feel that journaling was essential to my magickal practice and made me want to come up with journal prompts to help other pagans struggling with the journal keeping process.

“Easy Guide to Guided Meditation” by Blake Octavian Blair
Helpful tips on guided meditations as well as how to write them. This article reminded me of when I was a younger witch I would conduct guided meditations all the time without any self-consciousness. Now that I’m older I feel more anxious about this and I have no idea why. This article rekindled my interest in guided meditation and made me want to write and conduct one again.

“Recognizing and Combating the Evil Eye: Putting It On and Poking It Out” by Esthamarelda McNevin
This article gave me some really excellent visualization techniques to deal with negativity and ill-wishes. As an energetically sensitive person who is also a classroom teacher I often walk through the day feeling bombarded and leave my workplace feeling so drained that I go home and sleep. The techniques McNevin discusses are immediately useful and, of course, I am very drawn to eye jewelry, so that didn’t hurt anything. There’s some great history in the article too, as well as ways to combat and recognize the evil eye. There is nothing about how to cast one, however, since that is black magick, so just put that out of your mind right now.

This is just a small sampling of articles that had a particularly strong impact on me personally. The entire collection is very well-written and, as we expect from Llewellyn, beautifully illustrated. There were only a tiny handful of articles that I didn’t feel that I got that much out of, and a few out of twenty-eight is pretty impressive. I highly recommend this book for pagans of all paths, new practitioners and seasoned witches alike.

Blessed be!