7.7.15 – Northern Hemisphere
This daily journal exists so that I can explore mystical correspondences and symbolism, so I’d like to take a moment and talk about why I’m interested and why these correspondences are important to me. I don’t come from a specific mystical tradition such as Gardnerian Wicca, and as such, my beliefs are generally called “Eclectic.” I don’t pray or make offerings to specific gods; instead, I think that the whole process of spell-work is ultimately about mystical semiotics.
In spell-work, herbs, colors, and other materials are combined to give form to an unformed will. They serve to assist a witch in carving out his or her intention. Without debating whether spell-work works, I can say that half of the craft is in knowing yourself, and the other half is in knowing the rest of the world. The hard work lies in aligning yourself with the world, in a way not dissimilar from the practice of many Zen Buddhists, but in a way that is usually more sensually engaging. For me, it’s less about changing the world to my will, and more about understanding the world through this lens of mystical associations and semiotics. It’s probably unsurprising that my entrance into the occult lay in alchemy, a tradition which has had a great wealth of visual symbolism in the form of direct equivalence (i.e., crown = divinity), endowing meaning to color and shape (cf. sacred geometry), and diagrammatic representation of cosmological relationships.
Because I was raised in the Christian tradition, I sometimes find it useful to seek parallels between this mystical exploration and my own knowledge about Christianity. I hope that will not offend anyone; if anything, it’s only my own lack of imagination that makes it difficult to reach out for something new without having a foundation in something familiar. So here is an analogy that I have found useful in thinking about the role of symbolism in ritual and spell-work: in most Christian churches, the central ritual of worship is the Eucharist. This is the ritual in which the church follows the commandment of Jesus, “Do this for the remembrance of me,” by sharing wine and bread, which are meant either to symbolize, or actually be, the blood and body of Jesus. It is a ritual that involves a lot of symbolism: the wine, the chalice, the bread, the breaking of the bread, the blood of Christ, the body of Christ, broken and sacrificed for humanity.
In most churches, the majority of a service is spent in reciting words, singing, or kneeling — but the Eucharist is the part where you actually get to take part in the ritual. (The same could be said of Baptism or Matrimony — but in practical Christian living, these sacraments are far and few between, and often involve only one or two people.) In individual practice, Christian ritual might include praying with a rosary, or blessing an object with holy water obtained from a priest.
I have long since released myself from trying to make myself believe certain fundamental tenets of Christianity, but it’s the desire for individual ritual that has drawn me towards witchcraft. I don’t have a mediator between myself and the divine anymore; I am my own priestess. I don’t have to believe someone else’s rules for how to live my life; I get to discern and direct my own intention. For the first time, I feel in control of my spiritual life, instead of enslaved by it.
I don’t want anyone to think that I resent Christianity; it’s just that I feel I have grown out of it. I’d rather not have ritual only once a week on Sunday. I’d rather have my whole life endowed with that kind of symbolism and meaning, because it brings me more awareness, and an enriched experience of life. Instead of looking up a specific ritual in a book, I can make my own. With a growing mystical vocabulary that encompasses all aspects of life, I feel like I actually have a spiritual life, instead of a spiritual hobby, and one in which exploration of new beliefs and possibilities doesn’t instantly fall under scrutiny for heresy, because the community is one without specific institutionalized beliefs and practices, and is about sharing possibilities more than it is imposing rules.
Tuesday is ruled by Mars and masculine energy. It is a day for contest, war, hunting, and politics. It is a day of dynamic energy and courage.
Herbs: Unsurprisingly, herbs associated with fire tend to be red and/or spicy in flavor: allspice, barberry, basil, black hellebore, bleeding heart, clover, comfrey, coriander, cumin, curry leaf, damiana, dragon’s blood, echinacea, garlic, ginger, hydrangea, jojoba, kombucha, lemon grass, lungwort, madder, marjoram, morning glory, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rosemary, self-heal, white mustard, witch hazel, yellow dock, yellow gentian.
Colors: Red, orange.
Season: Summer, after Litha/Midsummer