Magical Missive: How Do You Honor Your Beloved Dead

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, beloved dead

As promised, the next few Lunar Letters will continue a series I call “Magical Missives”. These are letters in which I share specific magic know-how for your pleasure and personal adaption. I know, I’m excited about it too!

For this Magical Missive, it’s only fitting that we work with our Ancestors and the Beloved Dead. After all, autumn is in the air, and we are nearing Dia de Los Muertos, or the Days of the Dead, as well as the day of Samhain/All Hallows at the end of October, beginning of November.

My goal here is not to overload you with information (we’ve got enough of that, don’t we?) but for you to walk away with a way to frame the work and some super practical ideas you can use to help you cultivate and enrich your relationship to your Beloved Dead.

I have seen quite a few articles advising people on the one true way to honor their Ancestors and/or to build the altars, make the offerings, etc.

The question I always ask and encourage you to ask, is: is this helpful to you? There are about as many ways to honor the Ancestors as there are Ancestors to be honored!

So in this missive I share with you how I do it and how I was taught, and how many locals in my city go about honoring their Ancestors, not as THE ONE TRUE WAY, but as helpful suggestions and enticements to you to get started in what is a wonder-filled deeply personal adventure.

Start Here: Discover and Reflect
So you want to cultivate your relationship with your Beloved Dead. Wait. Hold on. Why in the world would you want to do that?

Here’s why, y’all: your relationship to the Dead, paradoxically, nourishes and vitalizes your relationship to life. For real. If you want more vitality in your life, begin with the ways you are or are not honoring those who have passed away, those Beloved Dead.

If you are like most people who have grown up in the pretty conventional parts of the United States and Canada, you likely won’t even think it is possible, let alone desirable, to have a vibrant and active relationship with the Dead. You probably think building rich and creative altars for the Dead is, well, a little weird, a little morbid. In fact, you likely don’t even think about it at all. Honoring the dead with lovingly created altars is probably not even on your radar, except when we are hard-pressed to do it by necessity. And even then, many of us honor the dead as little as possible, and with as little as we can.

The truth is that honoring our Beloved Dead – as often as possible and with as much joy and love as we can – is a normal and deeply human preoccupation, something people have done in most times and places, all over the world from ancient times down to the present day.

The fact that we do and can relate to our Beloved Dead is one of those universal themes we see repeated again and again. Some of the earliest human habitations feature ritual burials placed lovingly, exactingly, right under where the current generation lived, slept, ate, and raised their children.

Traditions honoring Ancestors can be found in ancient Africa and Asia across the Mediterranean, throughout Europe, and of course in South and Central America as well as Mexico. The conventions around death in much of the U.S. and Canada and some parts of Western Europe are quite simply an aberration (and typically a sanitizing cover-up of more vibrant indigenous traditions that needed to be rooted out for political and religious reasons).

Despite our technological advancement, we seem to be the illiterate brothers and sisters of a wider world of humanity, peoples who are highly literate in the ways of death and honoring the dead.

Now different cultures have different rules and norms when it comes to how you relate to the Dead. The good news is that we can begin to learn again the ways we’ve forgotten and enrich our relationship with our Beloved Dead. But we have to be willing to listen and learn.

We have a great teacher in North America: Mexico and certain parts of the Southwest of the United States. Honoring the Ancestors and celebrating our Beloved Dead has become much more popular in recent years, especially with the release of movies like “The Book of Life” and “Coco.” Those of us who grew up with these traditions typically feel that this newfound popularity is well deserved.

Where I was born and raised, in San Antonio, Dia de Los Muertos is a big deal – the whole city celebrates it. In one area of town, a large community altar brings together people of all walks of life in a colorful a rich celebration of those Beloved Dead. Even if you are not Mexican, South, or Central American or of descent from those countries, you can learn from this tradition about your own relationship to mortality. For it strikes a deeply human chord, and resonates with the heart, with what’s true.

I always advise my students to first begin where they are. Do a little digging into your own background. I am not talking about taking a DNA test – although if you want to, go for it. I am talking about speaking to any living family members you have about death lore and death customs in your family. Maybe all has been forgotten, but maybe not!

You may be surprised to learn that you have more than you think you do. This, in turn, can lead to learning new things about your heritage and lineage deeper than modern memory, and it is a wonderful way to begin the process of honoring your Ancestors before you build a single altar!

Ancestors Alive: Who are the Ancestors?
Before we talk about how to honor your Ancestors let’s talk briefly about who the Ancestors are. Generally speaking, the term Ancestors simply means the ones who came before you and in common usage refers to relatives and family members (typically, but not always, related by blood).

You don’t need to go very far down this road before you discover that you probably have some ancestors that you did not know and did not hear stories about (and therefore have no relationship with) and you may have ancestors that you did not get along with while they were living and you do not want to have a relationship with them.

This is why I break the term of Ancestors up further and talk about our Beloved Dead. Your Beloved Dead are the people related to you through blood (family members) or spirit (the family members that you choose. The Beloved Dead can include well-known or even famous historical figures) that you have a deep relationship with and to. They are the ones you love.

There are more levels of Ancestors you can work with, but for starters, we will just talk about the Beloved Dead – they are the ones you will honor during this time of year and they are the ones who will be represented and nourished at the altar.

And while we are on the subject, let me remind everyone that our pets and animal familiars are also included in the category of our Beloved Dead! It is completely traditional to honor deceased pets and animal companions on the altar and to work with them throughout the year. So do include your wild ones when considering who your Beloved Dead are.

While there are many ways to honor and work with your Beloved Dead during this time of year and throughout the rest of the year, in most cases, the first step is to build them a house so to speak. This house is what we call the altar.

Altars, Altars, Everywhere
The first thing you will want to do before you place a single thing on the altar is deciding who and which Beloved Dead you wish to honor. Yes, you may have only one individual on the altar if that is the only Beloved Dead you have. Yes, you may have lots of individuals on the altar if you have lots of Beloved Dead. A couple of rules of thumb that are useful to keep in mind are:

  1. As I was taught it is inappropriate to honor the Beloved Dead that has not been deceased for at least a year. This means that if your Aunt or your beloved cat died in March or April they would not be included on the altar you build in October. There are exceptions to this and ultimately you have to do what feels right and in alignment for yourself.
  2. It is not appropriate to put the pictures of the living on the altar with images of your Beloved Dead. The exception is babies that have not yet been born (ie, ultrasound pics) may be placed on the altar. It is also customary to put items that belong to the living, especially the living you wish the Ancestors to bless and protect on the altar, just not their actual image. For example, you could have a charm bag that you made for one of your children on your Ancestor Altar but not the picture of the child. Again, consult your own best lights when following these guidelines.
  3. Family members can usually happily share an altar space together. This includes in-laws, so you may include all the Beloved Dead in one place. The exception to this is if there was a serious rift between certain family members. If there was, and you wish to honor both of them then it is a good practice, at least as you begin this work, to give them each their own space.

Keep in mind that the altars and offerings we make for our Ancestors are basically proxy centers for working directly with their graves. It is still typical in many places to go and feast right at the Ancestor’s grave. If you can do that then I highly suggest it. Pick one Beloved Dead to honor each year when you follow this protocol unless you have a bunch of family members buried in the same place in which place you can have a complete fiesta!

With these points in mind, the next thing to do after selecting which of your Beloved Dead you will honor during this season is to decide where you would like to place the altar. When thinking about your altar you mostly just want to have a place where you can set up a picture, candle, glass of water, incense, and a bit of food without having it majorly disturbed. It is quite traditional to place these altars outside and if you have young children or cats that may well be the best choice.

Once you have established where your altar is going to go ahead and cleanse it. You can get directions on that here.

Elements to Include
Once again, you will be the best person to determine what you want your Ancestor Altar to look and feel like but my recommendation is that you start very simple and grow your altar in cooperation and relationship to the Ancestors. The essential elements you will need to include are:

  1. An image or object to represent the Beloved Dead you are working with. Pictures when available are often used but other objects can be as well. For instance, I have the strings from the last guitar my grandfather played as well as his guitar pick on my altar. This is also where the use of sugar skulls comes in to play. The custom is to make (or buy) a sugar skull for each Ancestor you wish to honor. You write the name of the ancestor on the foil strip that is on top of the sugar skull’s head to designate that is is the stand-in for that particular ancestor. This is also why some altars have lots and lots of sugar skulls. Once the Days of the Dead are over you can remove the sugar skulls and set them out around your home where the late autumn rains and snows will melt them into the ground ensuring you have a sweet year ahead.
  2. A candle – any kind of candle works although beeswax is a traditional choice. Nowadays in San Antonio, I mostly see the glass-encased paraffin candles.
  3. Water – a glass or bowl of water is a mainstay on an Ancestor Altar because water is seen as both refreshing to the ancestors and it also creates a barrier between the living and the dead so that nothing gets confused.
  4. Incense – Copal resin is the scent of choice for many of us in the Southwest and Mexico but choose something that is pleasing to you and if possible that has resonance with your Beloved Dead. The presence of incense carries over into the marigold flowers you often see on Dia de Los Muertos altars – these flowers are associated with the dead because they have a pungent and sharp odor that allows the dead to find their way to the altar. For in several traditional understandings our Beloved Dead does not have possession of the senses we do. In fact, the only sense that is left fully intact is their sense of smell which is what they use to find their offerings and places of honor. This is why having a scent is so very important.
  5. Offerings – Offerings for the Dead call upon what they enjoyed in life. Where I live we make a special bread called pan de muerto which is offered, but we also offer up elaborate food: usually I whip up a batch of drinks using my family’s secret margarita recipe, add chips, salsa, cerveza, enchiladas, and tamales. I might make a big pot of chili and I always give my maternal grandfather a can of Big Red as that was one of his favorite indulgences.Offerings of tobacco and alcohol are also common. Some schools of thought encourage such offerings to be left out, but I have found that as long as the individuals being honored did not have a destructive addiction to their favorite substance it is fine to include it on the altar.It is fine to create a small plate of goodies and put that on the altar and then eat the rest of them yourself. A bunch of my family members are buried in a nearby military base so I make their margaritas and serve them up graveside!
  6. Flowers – these can be plastic, paper, fresh or dried. Flowers are not absolutely necessary but they do add a nice touch!

Timing
A very frequently asked question I receive is on the timing of all of this — when does the altar go up? When does the altar get taken down? What are the days when the altar is most active?

And the answer is…it depends. It depends on who your Beloved Dead are and what they want, it depends on your lineage and heritage, your culture, and traditions, and it depends on how you are working with your Beloved Dead.

It also depends, quite practically, on how long it is going to take you to create your altar. If you are working with a lot of ancestors and making lots of offerings then you obviously will want to give yourself more time.

All of that said, there are certain times of the year when it is especially auspicious to connect with your Ancestors. Some of those times are:

October 31st – Halloween/Samhain in some European traditions and it also kicks off the three days celebration known collectively as Dia de Los Muertos. Some folks build their altars on this day. Some choose to begin altar construction a week before, and some choose to build their altars beginning the day after Michaelmas (the Feast of Archangel Michael) on September 29th. There is a lot of Halloween/Samhain folklore out there pertaining to the Dead, probably the best known is the hosting of a Dumb Supper.

November 1st – El Dia de Los Innocentes or the Day of the Children (Innocents) – this is when children who died are especially honored and remembered. The altars are full of toys, sweets, maybe a favorite blanket or stuffed animal during this time. Children lost in miscarriages, stillborn, and aborted children are also traditionally honored during this time. The altar would be up and active by this point in time.

November 2nd – Dia de Los Muertos/Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead – this is the day when the Beloved Dead who are not children are honored – it is when we cook a lot of food! The altar is up and active at this point.

Once these days of the dead are over some folks take the altar down immediately. Some will leave the altar up past Thanksgiving (here in America) and some will leave the altar up through the Christmas season – which is also strongly associated with ghosts and the Beloved Dead, and take the altar down around Candlemas on February 2nd. Some (like our family) leave the altar up all year round because our relationship to our ancestors is ongoing.

Christmas/Yuletide Season – as previously mentioned, the days around Christmas and especially the Omen Days that follow Christmas are traditional times to make contact with ghosts and our Beloved Dead. Creating an altar during this season and/or refreshing an altar already built is a worthwhile endeavor.

Memorial Day – here in the U.S. the last Monday of the month of May is celebrated as Memorial Day and in the Deep South, it is known as Decoration Day. This is a traditional day when folks come together to clean up the cemeteries where their dead are buried, refresh their flowers and keep up their tombstones. It is also pretty typical for old time cemeteries to have their annual meeting on this day. Although it is in the thick of Spring this is a powerful time to contact your Beloved Dead, build or refresh their altars.

If you are working regularly with your Beloved Dead then the monthly upkeep of the altar is a good idea. You can work with the Dark Moons to clean off the altar and remove anything that does not belong and the Full Moon is a time to connect and commune with your Beloved Dead.

Communion
So, once you have your altar up and have decided to have an ongoing relationship with your Beloved Dead, then what? What do you do?

Traditionally we approach our ancestors the way we approach any Holy Helpers. We thank them for the goods and blessings in our lives and we ask them for whatever we have need of. In the case of our Beloved Dead we also welcome them, we feed them, we tell their stories to the younger generations, and we build an ongoing relationship with them. How do we do this? It depends on you and your family members, and what makes sense for you.

Simply the act of building your Beloved Dead a dedicated altar space and feeding them already lays a solid foundation for the relationship. You can speak to them, cook their favorite foods, play their favorite music, and write them a letter.

You can pray the prayers that they prayed in their honor and make special pilgrimages to the places that mattered to them. If you have household implements you inherited from your ancestors you may use them on a regular basis to further cement the relationship.

When my paternal grandmother passed away I did not receive much, but I did get a collection of the wooden spoons she cooked with (and the woman loved to cook) that I use whenever I cook. I always feel her presence with me during those times. The point is…these are your people, so you will have to decide what the best way of communing with them is.

Magic
Magic is deeply associated with our Ancestors and most of it incorporates divination of some kind. It is commonly believed that our Beloved Dead have the ability to “see” into the future in ways that we cannot. If you want to try your hand at this, here is one Ancestor-Informed Reading How-To I shared several years back.

Another very common way to work magically with our Beloved Dead is to appoint one (or more) of them as special protectors for the living. They typically line up to do this job, especially if they are being asked to protect and keep an eye out on children, ie, the Descendants. Seeking aid from your Beloved Dead in whatever situation needs help and support is also quite par for the course.

Typically this takes the form of making a petition, followed by an offering or a promise. As you work and get to know your Beloved Dead you will find that they will share other magics with you in due course.

However you choose to go about it, I wish you a happy, healthy, vibrant and wise relationship with your own Beloved Dead. Building altars to the Dead can be a fun and creative experience for you and your loved ones, not somber and grim duty. And as one friend from Mexico told me, don’t hold back. Have a party!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missives: A Mid-Summer Potion ~ The Golden Rose

Alchemy and Magic

M

iracles,

You are receiving your magical missive a bit early this week (so there will be no email on Sunday) because I wanted you to have this recipe available *before* Summer Solstice.

So in South Central Texas Mid-Summer is HOT. We have already had a couple of weeks where temps regularly exceeded 100 degrees – ick!

What’s a Sacred Artist to do? Make a potion of course! This is my current favorite Mid-Summer potion. I am giving you both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions because children love this too.

First, let me say a few words about Mid-Summer: like Christmas, Mid-Summer is actually a series of days and not a single event. There is Solstice which is tomorrow, but then there is also the Feast Day of St. John which is on June 24th – so basically the revelries continue through the morning of the 25th.

Many magical things happen during this time. Women gather herbs that are believed to be especially protective and healing – and then they wash their faces in the dew the hanging herbs have collected overnight – in order to see visions of their future.

Faeries are believed to run rampant, which means that wishes can be granted and treasures revealed.

One of my favorite forms of magic is potion-making. It calls to mind bubbling cauldrons and water-drenched buds, and potion making is at its best when the magic goes hand in hand with good taste. Don’t just trust me though, try it for yourself:

The Golden Rose – A Mid-Summer Potion

What you will need:
1 cup water flat or sparkling – I use Topo Chico
1 table spoon Saffron flavored simple syrup (I like Oak and Salt’s syrups)
1 table spoon Rose flavored simple syrup (or a splash of Rosewater)
1/2 table spoon Raspberry simple syrup
If you want a bit more zing to your potion add Lillet Blanc to taste
Finish with a splash of Orange Flower Water + a handful of rose petals
Ice

Significance:
Water is cleansing, healing, and nourishing
Saffron is wealth and abundance bringing, associated with treasure acquired through diligence (you try harvesting Saffron from the Saffron Crocus and see what I mean) – this is the “gold” part in the Golden Rose.
Rose is associated with love, romantic and otherwise, pleasure, sex, intimacy, and the Divine Feminine in her many, many forms.
Raspberry is resonant with themes of procreation, fertility, fecundity, flow, and creative work.
Orange Flowers are associate with joy, happiness, prosperity, wealth, and celebration.
I recommend Lillet as the spirit addition if you want one because it is an herbed apertif wine (stronger in alcoholic content than regular wine so do keep that in mind) and it is infused with oranges and other herbs that make it especially suitable for this potion.

Ceremony:
Make the potion and as you mix the ingredients together speak aloud your petitions, intentions, and blessings for yourself during this Mid-Summer celebration.

Final act:
Drink it up! Share it with friends and family! This potion is best enjoyed by moonlight, firelight, and in time of joy and celebration.

And if you want more Mid-Summer magic come and join the Feast Days for the Radically Reverent – it is free as always!

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon Notes: Aquarius Edition

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

Blessed New Moon in Aquarius. Big thanks to all of you who celebrated Candlemas and Imbolg with me this year. Your prayers, intentions, petitions, and blessings to and for Brighid created a beautiful and potent altar of joy and devotion. As many of you know, St. Brighid/Goddess Brighid is honored for many things, among them the returning and strengthening light. Though spring may feel far away for many of us, Her presence reminds us that underneath the cold and frozen ground there is motion, warmth, and life – remember that it is this way for us too. I find that often at this point in the year we start feeling a bit dull and frayed around the edges – tired of Winter, not yet seeing Spring, and ready for something…new. And yet, within and underneath that dull and frayed surface there is so much and such continual life.

Aquarius is one of the signs that truly celebrates life, always showing up to ask: what’s new, what’s next, what’s possible, what seems impossible and how do we make that happen? This New Moon at 19 degrees Aquarius happens at 8:39 AM central time on February 8th. It is a wonderful time to ask: How do I honor new relationships and how do I renew old relationships?

As you think about this question and your own relationships, you may become aware that some relationships are in need not just of a new life but of healing. Or, as you consider what is new and next and possible for you right here and right now you might find that there are certain wounds that are finally ready to be dealt with. In this spirit, we are focusing on health and healing of body, heart, mind, and soul in our next Here Be Dragons Ceremony. Join here for $10.

For those who love their devotional candles, the next candle lighting will be on March 11th. Orders should be received no later than March 10th at 12-noon central time.

Remember, you can get accurate information and inspiring prompts tied to all of the major celestial events this year on the Astro RX 2016 page right here.

Adventures in Soulful Seeking

Love seems to be on everyone’s mind at this time of the year. Here are my favorite (and most popular) posts on love, relationships, and desire:

For those of you wondering about reconciling with a past lover – it is often possible, but the first step is much closer to home.

Care is an integral part of love. And where does care begin? With yourself of course.

Along those lines, here is the very popular Blessing for the Body – a very deep Valentine’s Day or any day ceremony.

My favorite bit of love and romance alchemy? The making of a sweet and sublime honey jar.

If you are dreading Valentine’s Day and the whole “romance in the air” then I’ve got you covered.

And if you are more interested in what you will nibble on this month (as opposed to who you will nibble with) check out my Vday truffle recipes.

Finally, my personal favorite love post.

And, because receiving is nothing without giving, here are some of the things I am loving right now:

Theresa Reed’s new blog series on astrology, Star School, is seriously awesome.

The lovely Pamita of Parlour of Wonders has a nice give away when you sign up for her newsletter.

Téa Silvestre of Story Bistro is our next guest on Talking Shop this month – be sure to tune in and learn all about beautiful, soul-filled, approached to marketing. You can also snag the most recent Talking Shop show (during which we talked to the amazing Chris Zydel and got the inside scoop on creativity) right here.

Bari Tessler’s amazing program The Art of Money is starting – I know Bari, love her work and highly recommend this program – as usual I receive no kickbacks and I am not an affiliate, just a true believer!

Words and Wonderings

I have a bunch of reading suggestions for you all – which is appropriate given the fact that Aquarius LOVES books, information, reading, and learning (as any good Air sign does).

David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Paul Kantner. Abe Vigoda. Glen Frey. These are just a few of the celebrities that passed beyond the veil in January 2016. As a result, especially from Bowie and Rickman’s death, there was a huge outpouring of public grief on social media and of course the subsequent rebukes for those who made their feelings known. This Atlantic article looks at the public outpouring of grief throughout history and considers how it is working in our culture today. Of course for soulful seekers and those working with the sacred arts we recognize that there are ancestors of spirit as well as ancestors of flesh and blood and we honor our beloved dead, ALL of our beloved dead, accordingly.

And, if your heart is feeling a bit raw and bruised from all of the loss, then why don’t you spend some time with the daily blessing collection?

I am so excited about this: the world’s oldest temple is being restored!

Longtime readers of mine know that I adore Terri Windling’s blog. Her December post on Sacred Ground is of especial interest to our community, check it out.

It has been a good month for the happy marriage of high fashion and fairytales.

Actually, it has been a good month for fairy tale writings, period. Eyebrows raised when this article claiming that fairy tales are much older than we originally thought arrived. Some of us had the immediate response of “well, yes of course they are”, while others were not so sure. If you want to take the article a bit deeper, here is the research methodology that was employed. Wrap it all up with a final article on the ways in which these stories pre-date Christianity.

Some of these topics came up in a recent conversation we had in the Spinning Gold forum and I mentioned what my own approach to fairytales is…I work to understand the stories as they understand themselves. This is a point both my informal and formal education agrees on and it has served me well – may it do the same for you!

And one more (my personal favorite) on fairy tales by Philip Pullman, author of the Golden Compass books among others on the challenge of re-telling Grimm’s fairy tales. I have experienced much of what Pullman points out in my own re-telling of beloved stories for Spinning Gold – a highly challenging and highly rewarding endeavor.

This is what we are noshing on at my house right now, sans the MSG. Yum!

I’ll leave you with this final thought from Bruno Bettelheim’s wonderful book on fairy tales, healing children, and much more, The Uses of Enchantment:

“If we hope to live not just from moment to moment, but in true consciousness of our existence, then our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives.”

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to make a honey jar (with pictures!!!)

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles,

Life is sweet but sometimes it needs to be a little sweeter, yes? So it is that honey jars were born and have become one of the most popular and well-known techniques in folk magic. Today I wanted to share with you both in words and pictures on how to put a honey jar together.

As it turns out, honey jars are not just for tea and biscuits! There is actually a long history of folk magic traditions working with sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, simple syrup, and other sweeteners to promote love, kindness, joy, harmony, goodwill, and favored status. The theory is simple enough and a great example of sympathetic and contagious magic: because the primary medium (a sweetener of some kind) is used in a directed manner towards a specific person the intention is that said person will become “sweeter,” more kind, tender, loving, and harmonious.

Although “honey jar” is the preferred term, I actually like to use Whole Foods’ vegan sugar in my jars. I like sugar because it is less messy than honey, it’s easy to take petition papers out and add new papers if the need arises, and sugar is also less expensive than honey. I use vegan sugar which might seem strange until you understand that most sugar is processed through filters made of animal bones (due to the high heat required during the refining process). Vegan sugar is not.

honey_jar_contents

Honey Jars and sweetening bottles are created and worked with for a variety of reasons. Some like to make a jar that represents themselves so that they will be kinder and more loving to all of the people in their lives. Others choose to create a honey jar to mark a marriage or special anniversary and to bless a couple with years of love and tenderness. In other cases, honey jars may be used in a more compelling manner–to make a difficult boss like you better, to encourage a judge or jury to find in your favor, or to persuade your students or clients to work with you and follow your lead. Making honey jars is relatively easy; because of this they have become one of the more popular forms of magic–and because of the materials involved, you can get very creative (or stay simple) in the creation process.

First, you need to write a petition:

honey_jar_petition_1

The petition made for a honey jar tends to follow a specific format. First, you will write the name of your target (the person you would like the honey jar to effect), then you will turn the paper 90 degrees and write your name on top of the target’s name. If you are doing a honey jar on yourself then you do not have to do this second step.

Some people like to use pencil for the target’s name and then a pen or permanent marker for their own name–the idea behind this is that permanent ink is “stronger” than a pencil (which can be erased) and therefore exerts more influence. I personally like a strong ink that I can see well for both names. After the names have been inscribed its time to create a magical circle around them like this:

honey_jar_petition_2

During the writing in a circle around the names, the pen cannot be lifted from the paper and this is why it makes sense to use a short and sweet prayer. In this demo, I used the prayer: “love and blessings” over and over again.

An optional but fun step is to embellish the petition paper:

honey_jar_petition_3 (1)

Once the petition is completed you can anoint it with oil and then fold it towards you. Turn the paper 90 degrees and fold it towards yourself again. Now you are ready to add it to the sweetening jar. Different people have different attitudes about the jars themselves. Personally, I like Ball Canning Regular Mouth Half Pint Canning Jars. I like using a regular, inexpensive jar and then embellishing it myself–that is part of the magic! It’s also essential to have a metal/heatproof lid if you want to burn candles on the jar.

honey_jar_complete (1)

You will add your sweetening agent be it sugar or honey but then you will also want to add roots, herbs, and curios that are appropriate for whatever situation you are working on. If you do not know the first thing about herb magic, don’t worry–I have an Amazon store chock full of my favorite herb books! Once you have added what you want in the way of herbs, roots, and curios your jar will look beautiful and you can tuck the petition right in. Make sure that the petition is totally covered by the contents of the jar. Now in some cases at this point, people like to ask if they can use the sweetening agent that is in the jar and the answer is…it depends on what you put in it!

Obviously, if you used any toxic roots or herbs when making the jar you will not be able to consume the sugar/syrup/honey. However, if you used edible plants (of which there are MANY) you can eat the sweetener and you can also use it in baking, cooking, and beverage making. In fact, one very simple and stripped down honey jar spell involves putting a whole vanilla bean into the family canister of sugar–it is believed that this leads to a happy and peaceful home. The sugar, of course, is used in the day to day doings of the family and its magic extends through use!

At this point, you could stop. These days a lot of people are making sugar jars and then they work them and magically impart their intention onto them by praying over them, stating their desires and shaking them rhythmically. However, some of the oldest honey jar workings do center around a candle and adding a candle to your honey jar is a wonderful way to imbue the magic of fire into your work–and it also can provide you with a great focal point as you pray or charge up the jar.

Choose a candle that resonates with you–many people like to work with specific colors of candles. For the demo, I went with a blue and yellow candle since the jar I was demoing was made for love, communication, and healing. You will want to anoint the candle with a ritual anointing oil appropriate to your situation. Hold the candle at heart level and draw the oil from the base of the candle towards your body. You may also want to dress the candle with ground herbs, ground herbs and magical sachet powder, and of course glitter:

dressing_a_candle_for_honey_jar

Set the candle on top of the honey jar and it’s time to light it!

I consider honey jars an endurance type of ritual work. Typically they are fashioned with the intention of being worked for a long time — at least several months and often for years. The jars are usually set up on an altar or dedicated working space. Candles can be burned on them and they can be prayed over and put to work every day, two or three times a week, or on a monthly basis. Pay attention to the way the wax of the candle melts and the way the flame burns when you are working your honey jar–these are two of the main ways that you will receive confirmation and affirmation that your magic is doing its thing! And remember, when in doubt you can always order a custom-crafted honey jar of your very own.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.