Author: Ellen Russell

Pentagram

There is no faster way to erroneously convince an interloper that you worship some interpretation of the devil is to have a pentagram anywhere ever. The pentagram – or five pointed star – is the most useful symbol in Wicca and has associations to Wiccasns as a symbol of faith, Christians as a symbol of the five wounds of Jesus, and Freemasonry. Because of its association with the magic practiced by Wiccans – often misinterpreted as being related to Satan – the symbol often has Satanic associations. This is a disservice to a peaceful earthly worship system.

I keep a small talisman, a stone with the pentagram carved into its face, on my altar and I use it to remind me of the power inherent in Wicca and how I, human on earth, can harness it. I found the stone during a Wicca ceremony at a lake beach. I kept it in my pocket for years, rubbing my thumb on its face whenever nervous or anxious. Over years, the face wore down beneath the manipulation of my thumb – slow motion magic – into a perfect canvas for carving. I used my ceremonial blade to carve a simple five pointed star into the front – tracing over the line each night for seven minutes until the shape was unmistakable.

The talisman now reminds me of the time and energy it takes to manipulate inevitabilities and how powerful it is to manipulate the environment using magic. It is not always the most appropriate course of action and sometimes earthly processes better serve the hoped result.

This stone, if anything, discourages my use of magic when the simple harnessing of energy will suffice. Isn’t this the opposite of how squares interpret the pentagram?!

The Craft

Sometimes people snigger at me when they ask how I became Wicca and I respond by detailing the film The Craft. When I first saw it in 1996 (I was 11), I thought I was drawn to the high school drama, the cool high schoolers doing spells in the forest, the sexy twists on schoolgirl outfits, Nancy losing her mind, the moody goth teenageness of it all! But as I aged, I kept finding new elements in the film that spoke to me. What really resonated with me was the focus on elemental power harnessing to manipulate earthly inevitabilities.

The film shows the dangers of practicing any worship that you do not fully understand, it demonstrates the power of friendship between women, it respects the elemental grounding of the practice, and doesn’t hide behind the practice as a phase. The film concludes with the most powerful woman in the coven demonstrating her continued power following the group’s disbanding, and not in a childish tween way. The film doesn’t suggest the practice is childish, silly, or delusional – it simply shows that some people are childish, silly and delusional.

Music

For many members of our coven, music is a central tenant to worship. We are so blessed to have many musicians in the coven so whether an event is best suited by piano, ukulele, lute, or harp – we have someone to provide the soundtrack. I learned Piano in 21 days to be able to help out my coven and have a deeper relationship with my own sense of hearing.

My alter is atop my upright piano so that I can worship the elements and call upon their power while I practice. I can’t be certain that there’s magic happening, but I know that I feel more focused and powerful when grounded elementally, so keeping my altar items in view helps me excel at whatever I am practicing.

Sometimes a fellow worshipper will come over and write poetry or dance or dream while I practice the songs. We share the elemental grounding and we share the progress – by the time we attend a group worship, she’ll marvel at my piano progress, I marvel at her poem or dance, and we share in the knowledge that human work and elemental support produced these beautiful things.

Altar

A wiccan altar is a place for worship – it can be a raised table or just a small collection of items. These may be practical or symbolic items for worship, chant, prayer, or spells. I advise, when beginning to put an altar together, to start with 1-2 candles to provide light and warmth, a ceremonial blade in case your worship or spell requires blood, a small bowl or cauldron for mixing ingredients, a chalice from which to drink, whichever talisman you use for conjuring, and some salt to represent earth and ground your work.

I have a standard altar set that I keep set up on top of a vintage suitcase in the Northwest most point In my dwelling. I prefer to do my worship and spells outdoors so I can quickly move everything into the suitcase, gather what I need specifically, and head out to the forest. An altar-to-go, if you will!

Each item in my altar represents the four elements – in the North spot is the earth element, either a gem, stone, or salt; in the east is air where I burn incense; in the south I burn a candle for fire, and in the west is water where I keep my chalice. This is called calling on the elements and helps to harness the elements needed for a manipulation.

It’s also just very pretty and a very good reminder to stay grounded elementally and directionally on earth.

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