Smudging is the ancient practice of burning medicinal, sacred herbs with the intention of clearing the energy of your home, office, an object, or yourself. It corrects and balances the energy, immediately. It cleanses negativity and even kills germs, as this article states. It’s like taking an energetic shower!
White Sage is one of the more popular smudging herbs used, oftentimes in bundle form (otherwise known as a smudge stick). However, White Sage is often combined with other sacred herbs, such as Cedar, Sweetgrass, Mugwort, Yerba Santa, and Lavender.
Smudging can done by burning smudge sticks or loose herb. But, either way you burn it, once you bless yourself with this White Sage smoke, those dark energies will start running for the hills. And, that’s definitely a good thing!
Why smudging your body with White Sage is a must for every Highly Sensitive Warrior
To read the rest of this article please click on this link: Smudging for Cleansing
Samhain Magic, Divination and Spirit Work [Part 4]
Think you might have a helpful spirit guide hanging around? Before you go getting too involved, you may want to read this information about what a spirit guide actually is — and what it’s not. Here arefour different types of spirit guides. More »
By Patti Wigington
Beltane Magic [Part 4]
The garden can be one of the most magical places in your life. Be sure to read all about how to plan, create, and grow your magical garden, as well as ways to create specialty gardens, herb plots, and more!
- Make Magic in Your Garden
- Plant a Magical Moon Garden
- Plant a Goddess Garden
- Magical Spring Flowers
- Spring Garden Folklore
- Magical Herbal Correspondences
By Patti Wigington
This is written by:
Question: What’s the difference between Paganism, Wicca and Witchcraft?
A reader asks, I met a woman who is a witch, but she says she’s not Wiccan. Then there’s some guy I know who says all Pagans are Wiccans. Even more confusing, this site says Wicca AND Paganism, like it’s two different things. What’s going on?
There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.
So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, somewitches are Pagans, but some are not – and some Pagans practice witchcraft, while others choose not to.
If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past.
You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.
For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.
Paganism is an Umbrella Term
Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.
Not All Pagans are Wiccans
There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.
Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianityspread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.
In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.
Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.
Think of it this way:
Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witchmovement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.
What About Magic?
There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” or to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious system. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.
http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/wiccaandpaganismbasics/a/WWPDiffs.htm From and Owned by About.com
Beltane is a Celtic word which means ‘fires of Bel’ (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
Other festivities involved fire which was thought to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. Cattle were often passed between two fires and the properties of the flame and the smoke were seen to ensure the fertility of the herd.
Today Pagans believe that at Beltane the God (to whom the Goddess gave birth at the Winter Solstice) achieves the strength and maturity to court and become lover to the Goddess. So although what happens in the fields has lost its significance for most Pagans today, the creation of fertility is still an important issue.
Emma Restall Orr, a modern day Druid, speaks of the ‘fertility of our personal creativity’. (Spirits of the Sacred Grove, pub. Thorsons, 1998, pg.110). She is referring to the need for active and creative lives. We need fertile minds for our work, our families and our interests.
Fire is still the most important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.
Although Beltane is the most overtly sexual festival, Pagans rarely use sex in their rituals although rituals often imply sex and fertility. The tradition of dancing round the maypole contains sexual imagary and is still very popular with modern Pagans.
The largest Beltane celebrations in the UK are held in Edinburgh. Fires are lit at night and festivities carry on until dawn. All around the UK fires are lit and private celebrations are held amongst covens and groves (groups of Pagans) to mark the start of the summer.
Beltane in Edinburgh
Every year on 30th April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh thousands of people come together for a huge celebration to mark the coming of summer. The evening begins with a procession to the top of the hill led by people dressed as the May Queen and the Green Man (ancient God and Goddess figures representing fertility and growth).
The May Queen crowns the Green Man, in a ritual similar to that carried out by Wiccan Pagans (who follow a structured set of rituals). The winter ends when the Green Man’s winter costume is taken from him and he is revealed in his spring costume. A wild dance takes place and the Green Man and the May Queen are married.
The main element of any Beltane celebration is fire. On Calton Hill torchbearers carry purifying flames and fire arches are used to represent the gateways between the earthly world and the spirit world.
Most of the imagery used in the costumes and rituals comes from the Celts and from Scottish folklore. Other influences come from indeginous people world wide. For instance, the symbol of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron, can be seen on the faces of some of the performers, and the Geisha traditions of Japan are evident in the dress of the White Women (assistants of the May Queen). Due to the ecclectic nature of the celebrations, Edinburgh’s Beltane is not recognised as a religious ritual by many practising Pagans.
- The blue paint of the Blue Men refers to the woad used by Celtic warriors.
- The May Queen’s male consort is the Green Man, sometimes called the May King, Jack-in-the-Green, Robin Hood or the woodland faery Puck.
- The Red Men represent mischief makers, Pan-like figures who live for the moment without a care in the world or inhibitions.
- The White Woman and her handmaidens protect the May Queen and attend to her later in the evening. They are the order and discipline in the face of the Red Men’s chaos.
- Torch Bearers are an important, trusted group. Dressed from head to foot in black, with blacked out faces, their hair covered, they are protected from fire and other elements.