Tag Locks

Not all the spells you cast are going to be for yourself, many witches cast spells for their loved ones or cast curses on those who deserve it.  Yet the people you’re casting these spells for might not always be near by or able to take the spells with them (if you have them in a physical form), so many witches use tag locks in order to tie the spell to the person.  A tag lock is either something from the person, whether hair, blood, or nails, or something that reminds you of that person.  Many people use pictures of the person they are trying to affect with the spell or curse as well.  The tag lock that you are choosing to use doesn’t have to be something obvious to everyone, recently I made a protection spell with gears for a friend who loves inventing.  As long as it reminds you of the person, it will help direct the universe’s energy towards them.  Just make sure you get permission from the person before using a tag lock for them.

~Elyce

Egyptian Weighing of the Heart

In the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, you had to pass through the Hall of Ma’at, the goddess of justice, truth, and harmony and the daughter of Ra, before you could move on to the afterlife. In the hall, a dead person’s heart would be weighed against Ma’at, represented by a feather. If their heart was lighter than the feather, they were free to move on. If it was heavier, then a goddess named Ammut would gobble up your heart. She is usually depicted with a crocodile’s head, a hippo’s hindquarters, and a lion or leopard’s forelimbs. Besides Ammut and Ma’at, Anubis and Thoth would attend this ceremony. Anubis, the god of mummification and the afterlife, would weigh the heart and Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing, would record the findings.

~Victoria

Egyptian Pantheon

This list is by no means complete, but it does list many of the major Egyptian deities. All of these deities also have several different names and variations in spelling those names.

Geb: Geb is the god of the Earth. He lies flat on his back, with his wife bent over him. She is held away from him by the god Shu. His wife is Nut and his children are Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

Nut: Nut is the goddess of the sky. She is bent over her husband, Geb, held apart from him by the god Shu. Her children are Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

Amun: Amun is a god with a ram’s head that ruled over the wind. He was once king of the gods, and he later was combined with Ra as Amun-Ra.

Ra: Ra is the great Egyptian sun god and is often considered one of the most powerful gods. He was later combined with Amun to become Amun-Ra. In one Egyptian creation myth, Ra called all things into existence by saying their secret names. He is often depicted as a falcon with a sun disk on his head.

Osiris: Osiris is the god of rebirth, renewal, fertility, and the afterlife. He is married to his sister, Isis, and is the father of Horus. At a party, his brother, Set, asked Osiris to climb inside a sarcophagus. Osiris did so and Set killed him, chopped him up into little bits, and hurled them all over Egypt. Isis managed to put Osiris back together (except for his genitalia, which she recrafted for him out of wood) and resurrect him with her magic. Because of this, Osiris became associated with not only the afterlife, but the Nile itself. Every year, the Nile floods onto its banks and deposits fresh, fertile soil for farming, which allows life along the river to continue.

Isis: Isis fit the ancient Egyptian ideal of the perfect mother and wife. She is a goddess of nature and of magic and is associated with resurrection, as it is her magic that resurrected her husband, Osiris, when he was murdered by Set, and that allowed her to have her son, Horus. She is usually depicted with a headdress with a throne on it. Isis actually was so popular that the Greeks and Romans even worshiped her. Cleopatra and her family were actually Greek, not Egyptian. She actually was the first of her family to learn the Egyptian language and to actually behave and worship like an Egyptian. She heavily worshiped Isis and actually made herself out to be sort of “Isis on Earth”, making herself very popular with her people.

Set: Set is the god of chaos and desert storms. He is the son of Geb and Nut, the brother of Osiris and Isis, the brother and husband of Nephthys, and the father of Anubis. No one is entirely sure what animal Set’s head is supposed to look like, and it’s been compared to an aardvark, donkey, fennec fox, and a jackal.

Nephthys: Nephthys is the goddess of funerary rites and, like her sister, is also skilled in magic. She is usually depicted as a woman with a headdress with hieroglyphs on it or as a woman with falcon wings. She is the sister and wife of Set and the mother of Anubis. According to the Pyramid Texts, it was before her and Isis that evil spirits quaked with fear. While Isis was the birth mother of Horus, Nephthys nursed him. Like her sister, Nephthys also had some Greek and Roman worshipers.

Anubis: Anubis is the god of burial and mummification and is usually depicted with a jackal’s head. He is the son of Set and Nephthys.

Horus: Horus is a god of the skies and is the son of Osiris and Isis. He directly opposed Set and often tried to avenge his father by fighting his uncle. In one story, Horus loses an eye to his uncle in a fight. The eye he lost became known as The Eye of Horus, or Wedjat Eye, and was used for protection and warding off the Evil Eye. He is usually depicted with the head of a hawk or as a hawk.

Hathor: Hathor is the Egyptian goddess of love and happiness. She is most often depicted with a cow’s head, or as a woman with cow horns with a sun disc in between them. She is the wife of Horus.

Ma’at: Ma’at is the Egyptian goddess of justice, truth, and harmony. She is usually depicted with a feather in her hair, or just as a feather. She is the daughter of Ra, and it is against her that someone’s heart must be weighed when they die. If their heart weighs more than the feather, their heart is devoured. If their heart weighs less or the same, they get to go to the afterlife.

Ptah: Ptah is the god of craftsmen and is usually depicted as a man carrying a staff.

Thoth: Thoth is the god of knowledge and writing. He is usually depicted as having the head of an ibis or sometimes a baboon. The Egyptians believed that Thoth gave them the knowledge of hieroglyphic writing.

Sobek: Sobek is the god of water and of crocodiles and is usually depicted with the head of a crocodile.

Sekhmet: Sekhmet is a lioness-headed goddess of destruction, fire, and war.

Bast: Bast is a cat goddess of protection.

~Victoria

Human Sacrifice Among the Inca

The Inca had a different way of going about sacrifices than many other cultures. First of all, the Inca rarely, if ever, sacrificed prisoners, or even adults in general. All Incan sacrifices were children between the ages of six and fifteen. These children went through a process called capacocha, a process which ended with their inevitable sacrifice. Children were sacrificed to the gods because they were considered the purest of all beings, and so much more worthy than any adult could ever be. Those chosen were always the healthiest, and the closest to the Inca idea of perfection. To be chosen was considered quite the honor. Chosen children were given clothes and food that were quite similar to those of the highest-ranking people in Incan culture. They also were taken to Cuzco to meet the emperor. Then, they were taken to live high in the mountains. Until the time of their sacrifice, they’d be given increasingly high amounts of coca, which is the type of plant used in cocaine production and the production of the soft drink, Coke. Although, Coke has started removing the cocaine from the leaves before using them. The children would chew the leaves and several of the mummies have been found with chewed leaves still inside their mouths. A few weeks before the sacrifice took place, the children’s dose of coca would increase dramatically and they would also start consuming large quantities of alcohol. These would have made them very incoherent by the time of the sacrifice, if not unconscious. At that point, the children were killed in one of three ways: strangulation, one quick blow to the head, or left in a secluded cave to die of hypothermia in their sleep. Strangulation was the least common, with the quick blow to the head being the most. Usually, the children were killed quite quickly while as incoherent as possible, in an effort to make the child’s death not quite as traumatic.

~Victoria

Elemental Correspondences

This post will consist of elemental associations from modern beliefs, as well as older metaphysical and alchemical ones. Not all of these will be consistent to all Neopagans or Wiccans of course, given that different people from different places and cultures may have different associations.

Note: An Athame is a ritual dagger.

Air

Latin Word: Ventus

Direction: East

Color: Yellow

State of Matter: Gas

Season: Spring

Solar Midpoint: Spring Equinox

Time: Dawn

Weather: Windy

Attribute: Intellectual

Four Humours: Blood

Four Temperaments: Sanguine

Characteristics: Hot and Wet

Altar Tool: Wand (Sometimes Athame)

Tarot Suit: Wands or Rods (Sometimes Swords)

Alchemical Elementals: Sylphs

Fire

Latin Word: Ignis

Direction: South

Color: Red

State of Matter: Plasma

Season: Summer

Solar Midpoint: Summer Solstice

Time: Midday

Weather: Hot

Attribute: Spiritual

Four Humours: Yellow Bile

Four Temperaments: Choleric

Characteristics: Hot and Dry

Altar Tool: Athame (Sometimes Wand)

Tarot Suit: Swords (Sometimes Wands or Rods)

Alchemical Elementals: Salamanders

Water

Latin Word: Aqua

Direction: West

Color: Blue

State of Matter: Liquid

Season: Autumn

Solar Midpoint: Autumn Equinox

Time: Dusk

Weather: Rainy

Attribute: Emotional

Four Humours: Phlegm

Four Temperaments: Phlegmatic

Characteristics: Cold and Wet

Altar Tool: Chalice

Tarot Suit: Cups

Alchemical Elementals: Undines

Earth

Latin Word: Terra

Direction: North

Color: Green

State of Matter: Solid

Season: Winter

Solar Midpoint: Winter Solstice

Time: Midnight

Weather: Cold

Attribute: Physical

Four Humours: Black Bile

Four Temperaments: Melancholic

Characteristics: Cold and Dry

Altar Tool: Mortar and Pestle

Tarot Suit: Pentacles or Coins

Alchemical Elementals: Gnomes

Alchemical Glyphs

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~Victoria

Abrahamic Religions

The three most popular monotheistic religions in the world are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  While lately a lot of people seem to be focusing on the differences these religions have, they’re actually more similar than they are different.  All deriving from the same background, the religion of Abraham, they share very common beliefs.  In fact, many people would say that all three religions are different interpretations of the same god, since they worship the same god with different names.  Below we’ve included a list of the similarities between these religions, in hopes that, in this time of hate, people can start seeing how similar we all are.

A List of Comparisons

Holy Books: Torah (Judaism), Bible (Christianity), Quran (Islam)

Holy Book Languages: Hebrew (Judaism), Latin (Catholic Christianity), Local Language (Protestant Christianity), Arabic (Islam)

Places of Worship: Synagogue (Judaism), Church (Christianity), Mosque (Islam)

Names for God: Yahweh/God (Judaism), God (Christianity), Allah (Islam)

Names for the Devil: Satan (Judaism), the Devil/Satan (Christianity), Shaytan (Islam)

Name for Good Afterlife: Gan Eden (Judaism), Heaven/Paradise (Christianity), Jannah (Islam)

Name for Bad Afterlife: Gehenna (Judaism), Hell/Inferno (Christianity), Jahannam (Islam)

Places of Origin: Kingdom of Judah (Judaism), Jerusalem (Christianity), Mecca (Islam)

Times of Origin: c. 2000-1800 BC (Judaism), 33 AD (Christianity), 610 AD (Islam)

Holy Days: Saturday (Judaism), Sunday (Christianity), Friday (Islam)

Religious Leaders:  Rabbi (Judaism), Priest (Catholic Christianity), Preacher (many sects of Protestant Christianity), Imam (Islam)

Major Prophets: Moses (Judaism), Jesus/Twelve Disciples (Christianity), Muhammad (Islam)

~Elyce and Victoria

Islam

Islam

Islam is the youngest child of a religious family that includes Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity. Just like the others, Islam was born from a religious movement in the Middle East. The holy book of Islam is the Quran and Muslim people worships in mosques. Muslim people believe in most of the same prophets that Christians and Jews do, including Jesus. However, they believe that Muhammad was the last prophet and that he gave the truest view of God, who they call Allah. Islam is currently the fastest growing religion in the world.

Five Pillars

There are several different sects of Islam, just as there are with any other religion. However, all of them share a belief in the Five Pillars of Islam. Each sect has slightly different pillars, but most have similar ideals at heart. The following are the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam.

Shahada (Faith): This is a declaration of faith that states, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”. This phrase, repeated in Arabic three times, is how one converts to Islam.

Salat (Prayer): This pillar states that Muslims must pray five times a day, facing the Kaaba in Mecca. They must pray before the sun rises, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. Muslims must wash before praying, and this washing is called wudu (purification).

Zakāt (Charity): According to Muslim belief, Zakāt is vital. It states that if a Muslim is wealthy, then they must donate a percentage of their income to charities in their community. If a Muslim does not have enough wealth to do this, then they are supposed to do acts of charity rather than donate money. In other words, they’re supposed to perform good deeds. This pillar is supposed to help reduce inequality.

Sawm (Fasting): Fasting is an important part of Muslim faith. They fast ritually, to repent, and to achieve the self-discipline that their religion holds in high esteem. Ramadan is a sacred month, and during it all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk. However, those who are medically unable to fast for long periods of time are exempt. The people who are exempt include, but are not limited to: prepubescent children, elderly people, diabetics, pregnant women, nursing women, and menstruating women.

Hajj (Pilgrimage): The Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca which every able Muslim is supposed to make in their lifetime. After making this pilgrimage, Muslims are known within their communities as Hajj or Hajja, depending on their gender.

History

Islam first appeared around 610 AD. It was born from the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, who received his knowledge and prophecies from an angel of Allah (God) named Jibril (Gabriel). Muhammad preached his teachings first in Mecca, but he and his followers were persecuted by the local authorities. Muhammad preached about racial equality and religious tolerance, which threatened the power of the city’s leaders. After a long struggle, Muhammad and his followers traveled to Medina and formed a Constitution for the settlement. The Constitution of Medina included, but is not limited to, the following rules: that the city was a sacred place where weapons and violence were not permitted, that the city had freedom of religion, that the tribes maintained stable relationships with each other within the city, that there was a tax system to support the city if conflicts arose, and that women had secure positions in society. In addition, the Constitution also created a judicial system for resolving disputes. This judicial system even allowed non-Muslims to bring their own laws and judges to court.

Islam began to spread quickly, much to the dismay of leaders in various parts of the world. It even was quite popular in Spain. However, as Catholicism grew in religious power, many of the Muslims (often called Moors) were persecuted and even killed for their beliefs.

Unfortunately, this discrimination, persecution, and Islamophobic behavior have continued to this day. In fact, many Muslim women are currently afraid to wear their hijabs. And hijabs, or other headscarves, are simply worn as an expression of modesty in their religion. They aren’t using them to hide diabolical secrets or wearing them because they’re oppressed. Many of them enjoy wearing their hijabs and take a great deal of time to coordinate them with outfits and to make sure they’re sitting correctly. The mods of this blog really don’t understand why some Islamophobic people find it fun to rip off these women’s religious headwear. You aren’t going to find your long lost morals hidden underneath.

~Victoria

Christianity

The world’s largest religion, Christianity is based around the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Christians believe that God comes in three forms, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Where Christianity differs from Judaism and Islam is that they believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.  According to Christian scripture, the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus and gave birth to him in Bethlehem.  Jesus grew and eventually gained a following, including twelve disciples.  One of these disciples, Judas, betrayed Jesus to the Romans, leading to his crucifixion (which is why the cross is a holy symbol).  After three days, Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.

Ten Commandments

One of the most important set of laws that govern Christianity are the Ten Commandments.  Brought to the Hebrews by Moses after he freed them from the Egyptians, they lay the groundwork for worship.  While some of the commandments changed depending on the translation, in modern day, the King James’ version (listed below) is the one that’s commonly agreed upon.

  1. Thou shalt have no other god before me
  2. Thou shalt not make upon thee any graven images
  3. Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain
  4. Keep the sabbat holy
  5. Honor thy mother and father
  6. Thou shalt not kill
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
  8. Thou shalt not steal
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors
  10. Thou shalt not covet

Different Sects

Perhaps one of the most well known parts of Christianity is how many different sects there are.  From Catholic to Baptist, there seem to be as many ways to practice Christianity as there are fish in the sea.  While Catholicism is the oldest form of Christianity, the other sects were derived from it due to differences in belief.  While some people argued over the religious leadership, and others argued over whether the Bible should be read by the public. One of the most famous schisms is that of the Church of England.

King Henry VIII is best known for two things: having six wives and creating the Church of England.  These actually go hand in hand, harkening back to the marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Catherine was originally supposed to be his brother’s wife, and did marry him, but Prince Arthur passed away shortly after the marriage.  Rather than go back to Spain, Catherine stated that her husband had passed so quickly that they hadn’t had time to consummate the marriage.  Due to this, the Church decided that she was free to marry King Henry.  Fast forward twenty-four years and Catherine had yet to give Henry a son.  Henry was also falling in love with a young woman at court, Anne Boleyn, who refused to fall for Henry’s charms unless he made her queen.  In order to do this, Henry declared that Catherine had actually consummated her marriage with his brother and attempted to divorce her.  When the Catholic Pope refused to grant the divorce, Henry broke from the Catholic Church and created the Church of England, where he then divorced Catherine.

~Elyce

Judasim

The tenth largest religion in the world, Judaism isn’t just a religion, but a culture and a way of life.  With the Torah as their major religious text, Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic (one god) religions in the world. The Torah is very akin to the original Old Testament of the Christian Bible.  Originating in the Middle East, the Jewish lineage is passed down through mother’s line, though in Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism, it’s passed down through the patrilineal line as well.

Beliefs

Jewish belief holds that there is one true God and while they recognize that Jesus existed, they state that he was a prophet rather than the son of God. Their house of worship is called a synagogue and acts as both a house of prayer and a community area.  Jewish people also follow a dietary restriction known as the kosher where the only meat they are allowed to eat has to have split hooves and chew their cud.  Seafood wise, the food must have fish and scales and a list of kosher birds are listed in the Torah.  When a girl turns twelve and a boy turns thirteen, they celebrate their bar mitzvah, or the traditional coming of age ceremony.  

A Few Holidays

The celebration of Hanukkah takes place over eight nights during the month of December.  Originating from the time when the Jews were under the rule of the Assyrian empire, it celebrates a miracle during the reconsecration of their temple.  The Syrians had invaded the city of Judea and sacked the Holy Temple, outlawing the practice of Judaism.  The Syrians ordered a temple to Zeus to be built where the Jewish temple was, and the Jews revolted.  When the Hebrews had managed to recapture the temple, the first thing they needed to do was rededicate the temple.  In order for this to be done, the Hebrews needed to burn kosher oil blessed by a high priest.  However, the temple only had enough oil for one night, where as it would take eight days to make more oil.  The miracle that is celebrated during Hanukkah is the fact that, against all odds, the oil lasted all eight nights.

Passover is another important holiday in Jewish tradition, harkening back to their enslavement by the Egyptians.  While Moses was trying to free his people from the Pharaoh’s rule, he called down ten plagues on the Egyptians.  The final plague was the death of the firstborn Egyptians.  Calling upon the angel of death, all the Jewish people were instructed to place lamb’s blood on the top of their door frame.  This was a sign to the angel that it should pass over these homes and move on to other ones.  Thus, the celebration of Passover is in reference to this event.

Sabbats (or Shabbats) are the traditional holy day for those who follow the Jewish tradition.  Starting at sundown on Friday, it carries through the entirety of Saturday.  The beginning is marked by the lighting of Shabbat candles and reciting the Kiddush over a glass of wine.  During the Shabbat, the daily prayers are read, as is the weekly section of the Torah.

History

Jewish people have been persecuted throughout history for their religious beliefs. This persecution goes back to the medieval era, and even before. For instance, during the Black Death of the mid 14th century, many Jews were persecuted and even murdered. The Jewish people were a minority in a very Catholic Europe and were blamed for the Black Death. Many believed that the Jewish people, by not being Catholic, had angered God and that their sins were the source of the bubonic plague. As such, they hunted down and murdered Jews in an effort to appease God. But, obviously, the Jewish people were not the source of the Black Death. The source was actually a bacteria that lived in the fleas that fed on rats, and since rats were so common in the densely packed and unsanitary European towns, the disease spread like wildfire. The most well-known event caused by Antisemitism was the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. Somewhere between six million and eleven million people, most of whom were Jewish, were slaughtered by Hitler and his Nazi Party. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if more countries, including the US, had allowed more Jewish refugees into the country. And, disgustingly enough, Antisemitism continues to this day. There are people who still believe that the Jewish people are taking jobs from “more deserving” Christians, and many others that believe that the Jewish people are somehow in control of the world and need to be removed from power. Some powerful families may be Jewish, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Jewish people have been persecuted for their beliefs since the very beginning and only continue to be harassed, threatened, and killed by groups like the Neonazis, who idolize the worst genocidal murderer in history.

~Victoria and Elyce

Religious Resources

Given recent events, our blog will be doing a short series on various religions for the next week. As such, our first post will be a list of resources that has to deal with these religions. I apologize for the brevity of this list, but it’s hard to find sources on the history and practice of major religions that are unbiased. I have included links to the main texts of each religion and to historical resources.

Judaism

Torah and Judaism Resources: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/

Christianity

Latin Vulgate (in Latin): http://www.drbo.org/lvb/chapter/01001.htm

Latin Vulgate Bible (in Latin and English): http://vulgate.org/ot/genesis_1.htm

King James Bible: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/

History of Christianity Resources: http://theologydegreesonline.com/christian-history/

Islam

Different Versions of the Quran: http://www.quranflash.com/home?en

History of Islam: http://islam.uga.edu/history.html

~Victoria