Making and Using a Witch’s Mirror

by Hayley Arrington

scying mirrorOne of my favorite activities at Hallows is to perform divination for others and myself. The liminality (it is the Celtic New Year, after all) and the thin veil between the worlds, make Halloween an especially auspicious time for all manner of divinatory work. Scrying with a black mirror (popularly called a witches’ mirror) is also very witchy and fun. Scrying is a form of divination that involves staring at or into something to induce psychically perceived visual images. As far as we know, viewing images in a reflective pool is the oldest form of divination there is.

There is also a belief that spirits actually speak through the mirror to the one scrying. This hearkens back to fairy tales where the Wicked Queen entreats a spirit in a mirror for knowledge about her own beauty and about Snow White. Some say that black mirrors, as opposed to regular reflective ones, are best for speaking to spirits who can advise or inform you of things you wish to know. Either way, using a black mirror is a great way of focusing your mind and being open for visions to come.

Making your black scrying mirror:

Materials:
~Glass pane. Choose a piece of glass you would like to use. I found a really cheap round clock that, while plastic had a glass pane covering the face.
~Black acrylic paint and a brush
~Black felt
~Craft glue like Elmer’s Glue-All

1. Thoroughly clean your piece of glass with warm water and soap. Let it dry completely.
2. Using your black acrylic paint, make long broad strokes across the side of the glass that will be the back of the mirror.
3. Once it is completely covered, allow it to dry and reapply the paint until you can no longer see through it.
4. Cut the black felt around your mirror so that it is its exact size. You can use the glue to draw divinatory and magical symbols on the painted side of your mirror; they will not be visible when dry. Place the sized felt onto the glue side. The felt will keep the paint from chipping.
Storing your mirror:

Keep your mirror wrapped in soft black cloth somewhere safe. You can also keep it on a small wooden or plastic stand as a metal one may damage an edge of your mirror. I prefer to keep mine out of sunlight once it has been consecrated.

Consecrating and dedicating your mirror:

Like other magical tools, you may find it important to consecrate your witch mirror.  Here are several ways of doing this:

~ Simply visualize it as cleansed.

~ Cleanse by charging beneath a full or dark moon.

~Clean it with a mugwort infusion. Say, “Blessed be, my tool of divination,” or something similar, in order to bless it, as you wipe the infusion onto the glass.

~Consecrate it by the four elements: Say, “Blessed be, my tool of divination! I consecrate this witches’ mirror with the power of the four elements.” Bless and imbue your mirror with the attributes of each element as you pass it through, or above, that element: for instance, incense, candle flame or smoke, water, salt.

~Dedicate it to a Goddess: You may want to do any of the above before dedicating it to a Goddess, perhaps one associated with divination. Light a candle and/or sit in front of a statue or picture of your chosen Goddess. Say something like, “I dedicate this, my witch mirror, to you, Goddess of the Far-Seeing Eye!” (or whoever).
Using your black mirror:

~It is best to use your black mirror at twilight or at night, illuminated only by candle or moonlight.

~Some people like to gaze into their reflections, as this may aid in connecting with their higher selves, but this is not necessary for scrying. You may not like to see yourself; perhaps you like candle flame reflected back, perhaps not. Experiment to see what works best for you.

~Mugwort is a great psychic aid. Anoint your mirror with mugwort infusion before and after your scrying. Anoint your third eye with the same infusion or oil. Place dry or fresh mugwort on your altar, or wherever you will be scrying. Drink mugwort tea sweetened with honey to aid in prophecy. Burn mugwort, sandalwood, or wormwood incense.

~Talk to your mirror. Ask it to aid you in learning that which you wish to know.

“Queen of Faerie, Lady of the Sidhe
Open my eyes that I may see” (p. 93).

“Golden Lady, silver boughs
Sparkling crescent at Her brow
Lady Moon, Mother Sun
Tell me now what’s to be done” (p. 95).

~Invocations by Yasmine Galenorn from Embracing the Moon: A Witch’s Guide to Ritual Spellcraft and Shadow Work
Viewing Past-Lives

“Find a dark place where you only have enough light to make out your own reflection on the mirror’s surface. Close your eyes for a moment and allow your mind to relax. Concentrate on the past and focus on seeing what and who you were/are.

Close your eyes, and allow your mind to slow and detach itself from your everyday reality. Then begin softly chanting about your goal. As you do this, feel yourself slipping backwards through time with each rhythmic beat. Try one of the following couplets, or create your own:

Mirror’s face in dark of night,
open the past bringing dark to light.

Darkened misty hidden past,
open your secrets to me at last.

Across the veil of time and space
show me myself in another place.

When you feel sufficiently in the right frame of mind, open your eyes and gaze into the dark surface of the mirror. Do not try to force images—wait for them to come to you. Some people see only the face of who they once were; a few will see entire dramas from their past playing as if on a movie screen. Most experiences fall somewhere between these extremes. As with any occult endeavor, the more you practice, the better you become.”

Excerpted from Lady of the Night: A Handbook of Moon Magick & Rituals
by Edain McCoy

Witch mirrors are an interesting and very effective way of changing consciousness and diving.

Happy scrying and Happy Halloween!

Hayley Arrington earned her M.A. in women’s spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where she wrote her thesis on Celtic sun goddesses. Her interests include mythology and folklore as sacred text, writing essays, fiction and poetry, and discovering women’s myriad ways of knowing. Her writings have been included in the poetry collection Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads, The Oracle, SageWoman Magazine, and Eternal Haunted Summer. Initiated into the Twilight Wiccan tradition, she is very active in Twilight Spiral Coven. Hayley was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where she still lives with her husband, David and their son, Stephen.

Additional references:
Scrying the Secrets of the Future by Cassandra Eason

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My journey to an altar…

by Krystal Rains

20161106_090026For several years I have been attending the local Canoga Park Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in November. It is a lovely combination of Art show, Chalk Festival, and Car Show; that has grown and expanded over the years. My favorite part of the celebration is the Ofrenda tent of family altars.

Each year I go visit the tent and ask those by the altars, “who is this family member?” I listen as they tell me all about their father, mother, uncle, grandparent, auntie or other family member and often, what they meant to this person. The altars are similar from year to year, as these are local families. One year I mentioned who my boyfriend Richard’s parents are, as they were devoted members of the Catholic community in the SFV for 50 years and found that several knew of them. I was excited to share the memories of his parents from the community with Richard when I got home.

When the movie Book of Life, by Jorge Gutiérrez, came out, I was excited to learn more about the tradition of Dia de los Muertos. As I watched it the first time, I realized how my interaction with the family members is an active part of the tradition to ‘remember’ the person and bring them life on the other side of the veil.

In our home, we have an ‘altar’ by our door for Richard’s parents. I created it in 2009, after the death of his mother in early September. His father had passed away two years earlier. I had new bookshelves and had not populated them yet, so I used the top shelves to celebrate their lives. This original altar was relocated to a lit cabinet next to the front door and is kept up year-round.

In 2015, Richard and I were visiting the Ofrenda tent at the festival together and he obtained information about participating in the festival with a public altar for his family. Our first altar was created in 2016 at the 16th annual Canoga Park Dia de los Muertos festival. It celebrated his Mother and his Father, their lives and their dedication to their faith and community.

 

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All Hallows

By Jesper Toad

21909026_10155895424080116_2119218784_oThe festival of All Hallows marks the third harvest, following the harvest sabbats of Loaf Mass and Harvest Home. All Hallows witnesses the bringing in of the last of the fruits of the field: pale, fleshy turnips, potatoes, and bloody turnips dug from earthy beds, squashes stacked in barns as their vines wither in the field, and the last of the apples gleaned from the trees. In past centuries this was also the time when herds were culled. Animals not expected to breed back, that were nonproductive, low performing, or too fragile to last the winter were slaughtered, and the resulting meat dried, smoked, pickled, honeyed, and salted so that it might feed the people in the coming winter months.

The eve of the last day of October, called Samhain by Witches and Wiccans, and popularly known as Hallowe’en, falls midway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, and directly across the wheel of the year from the festival of Beltane. The tide of life energies that reversed direction at Midsummer, crossed the point of equilibrium at the equinox, has now descended into the darkness of the underworld. This energy of this season partakes of the tides which it intersects: the dry drift of the autumnal equinox, and the dark cold spate of the winter solstice. Even in Southern California, where our growing season extends through the winter, most biennials and perennials have slowed above ground growth, sending their energies downward into their roots to survive the dark and cold of the months to come. The last of the annuals—those plants that live only for the space of a year—are being harvested and processed, the seeds saved away to be planted when the light returns. The fields are full of yellow stubble, withered vines, and the rustling of dry, dusty corn stalks. Brown leaves stir in the sudden eddies of cold wind, and shadows haunt the corner of the eye. This is all part of a great annual pattern, and the descending energies of life. All Hallows is a liminal time, nearing the nadir of the dark, descending energy of the winter solstice, which will trigger the enantiodromia—the abounding toward an excess of force or quality of energy that invariable leads to a shift toward the opposite force—that initiates the ascent of the energetic tide toward the light.

For Contemporary Pagans, this greater sabbat, or cross-quarter day, marks the beginning of winter, and is considered the time when the veils between the worlds thin, allowing phantoms of all sorts, including the spirits of the ancestors, to cross over into the realm of the living, to be recollected and receive offerings of love and remembrance. This festival is a time to celebrate those who have preceded us in death, honor their memories, share with them the food and drink they loved in life, and stop a moment to commune. If we do not, these spirits may engage in mischief or vengeance upon those who refuse to remember. This is also the time when the dwellings of the good people, the gentry, are open. Visitors at your door at this time may not be only the spirits of the dead, but the fair folk themselves. Be your visitors fey or dead, it might be best to leave them an offering, and remember them with a kind word. Additionally, the thinness of the partition between the worlds and the coming and going of spirits is a perfect time for rituals concerning divination, in particular those concerned with the usual milestones of life: birth, marriage, and death.

The myths and legends Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans associate with the time of All Hallows involve the descent of a spirit of life—either feminine or masculine, depending upon the culture from which the myth is drawn, and possible the sex of the storyteller—into the underworld, where it encounters a dark entity, either a king or queen of the realm of the dead, in an attempt to discover the mystery of death and what lies beyond. This katabasis—from the Greek κατάβασις, meaning to “go down”—is a common pan-cultural mytheme of the descent into the underworld, and the seeking of the hidden knowledge of life and death. Examples of this mytheme that include a descent of the feminine are the legend of Inanna and Ereshkigal, the abduction of Persephone by Hades, and the Descent of the Goddess contained in the Gardnerian canon. Other iterations of this mytheme, with a descent of the masculine into the underworld, occur in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, wherein Gilgamesh travels into the underworld to obtain the secret of immortality, Orpheus braving the Greek underworld to retrieve his beloved Eurydice, and King Arthur’s excursion into Annwn in the Welsh Preiddeu Annwfn, to save the imprisoned Gwair and retrieve one of the cauldrons of the underworld.

The myth of the wild hunt is also prevalent during the dark season. The folklore of the wild hunt occurs throughout Europe and into the United States, and involves a supernatural hunting party made up of the fey, the dead, or witches, following a hunt master with underworld connections, that passes in savage pursuit, sometimes gathering hapless travelers into its retinue. Often the leader of the wild hunt is gathering the souls of those who have died over the course of the year and taking them down into the underworld. The wild hunt has become a popular motif among Wiccan and Witches, and the leader of the hunt is often identified as the horned spirit of the Witches, Cernunnos or Herne.

My gathering up and cobbling together of bits of folklore and legend yields what can only be one of the many mythic narratives for the time of All Hallow’s Eve. In my story, the masculine spiritus vitae, personified as the King of the Wildwood and the Life of the Fields, follows the tide of life as it turns at the Autumnal Equinox, and begins to flow downwards, out of the world of men, and into the underworld. He descends until, at All Hallows, he comes face to face with the Lady in White, the mistress of fate, initiation, transformation, and rebirth.

As syntheses of these mythic elements, I offer the following: a rewriting of Gerald Gardner’s invocation to the Lord of the Gates of Life and Death. Rather than an invocation, however, this verse describes the moment of the opening of the Gates from outside the underworld, in order that the King of the Wildwood may enter, descend, and encounter the Lady in White, the Pale Queen who is the keeper of the Cauldron of Rebirth, and the tender of the seeds that hold the life that will rise again in the spring.

Dread Lord of Shadows,

Spirit of Life,

The knowledge of you is

The knowledge of death.

Hunter and hunted,

Throw wide the gates

Through which all must pass!

Throw wide the gates

And descend into darkness!

Throw wide the gates

And behold her pallid face!

Throw wide the gates

And release the beloved spirits,

The ancestors,

those who walk before:

Let them return for this season

Of hospitality and remembrance.

And when our time comes, as it must,

Be our co-conspirator and confidant,

Our companion upon the crooked path

As we pass the Gates

Of Life and Death

Into that other place

To face the Pale Queen

And rest in her embrace,

Safe in the knowledge

That we shall be initiated into death,

To be transformed

In Cauldron of Rebirth.

Let us be born

In the same place

And the same time

As our beloved ones:

May we meet, and know, and remember

And love them again.

 

Jesper Toad is a Georgian and a Gardnerian initiate, and studied the Feri Tradition with T. Thorn Coyle for nearly three years. His personal practice of three decades blends elements of all these traditions, as well incorporating spiritualist, shamanic and depth psychological perspectives. These seasonal writings and images are excerpts from The Enchiridion Magistellus, A Visual Handbook of the Witches’ Art. Jesper can be contacted at jespertoad@gmail.com.