_Let's get festive - a bumper Yule inspiration pack to get you in the mood! This may seem a bit Chrismassy for a Pagan Blog but since the Pagan roots of CH

First my favourite seasonal recipe.

Mulled Apple Juice

1 litre of apple juice
3-4 slices of orange/lemon
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp of cinnamon (Or a small stick)
3-4 allspice berries
1/2 tsp nutmeg
(sugar to taste if you want to)

(or a sachet of mulled wine spice instead of the spices)

I like to put everything in a slow cooker and then leave it to infuse
for a good long time maybe an hour as there is no alcohol in this you
don't have to worry about accidentally burning it off. You could use a saucepan on the hob instead but I wouldn't leave it as long, maybe a gentle heat for 15 mins and check the taste.

The TV is saturated with Christmas films this time of year and as
popular as they are I have never really managed to get into "It's a
Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street", sacrilege I know!  But
that doesn't mean I don't love a bit of Christmas TV even though I am a Pagan, so I have listed my top 4 below if you want to try them out.

A Christmas Carol (the 1984 version please!) is a story I read every
year at Christmas.  I am sure this story started the tradition of
ghost stories at Christmas and couldn't be more appropriate in this
day and age, we could all do with a bit of the Milk of Human Kindness at the moment.

The Children of Green Knowe - set in post-war England at Christmas time, a charming tale of friendship and more ghosts, but it remains responsible for my lingering fear of Peacock cries!
__The Box of Delights - Carols, Herne the Hunter, snow, a
Punch and Judy show and a magical box.  The Wolves are running!

The Blue Carbuncle (Sherlock Holmes) - An adventure from the great detective set at Christmas time in the heart of the Victorian
Christmas revival.  Missing jewels and a missing Christmas Goose - it will not disappoint!

Finally Music for the Season (Remember how I said I couldn't quit the folk music!)

Steeleye Span "Winter" Album, especially the Mistletoe Bough for real Pagan flavour! See track 8 on the link.

Loreen McKennit "A Midwinter Night's Dream" especially my perennial favourite carols "Holly & the Ivy" and "In the Bleak Midwinter".
_I was recently asked this question over on twitter and I knew straight away that the answer was going to be a blog post and certainly couldn't be limited by 140 characters. 

I wasn't quite expecting how passionately I would feel about such an innocent question, which has been a interesting journey in itself.  This might even get a bit controversial!

The quick response to the question is "no I don't" and frankly the words seem like a bit of a cop out.  It isn't that I don't want to "harm none" or fail to work only for the "highest and best interest" but I think these caveats and qualifications lead to a certain kind of moral and magickal laziness (there I said it, judgmental warts and all).

If I do a piece of magic then I should have considered well in advance whether it harms any or serves a selfish and damaging desire rather than something in my highest interest.  This moral/psychological preparation requires a lot of work, hard work where you have to be brutally honest about your motives, desires and where you must really think through the consequences of your actions, possibly even question your values and whether you really live up to them.  Once this sort of "hygiene audit" has been done I have the confidence of knowing that there is nothing within me which will lead to an unwanted result.

There are four scenarios behind using the above words, two of which I disapprove of, two of which could be useful.

Firstly, you haven't don't any sort of moral audit or mental
preparation prior to doing your magick then you can't make the
Universe your safety net by making one of the above statements.  That abdication of personal responsibility is not cool and often cited as a reason for Pagans leaving mainstream religion. If I actually want to cause harm or revenge is deep in my heart this will be expressed in my magic regardless of what I *say*.

Secondly I have done all my soul searching and moral preparation and yet still feel the need to have a safety net.  By doing all the hard
work and *still* whacking a caveat on your magick you are putting a
big sign up to the universe that you are not confident, perhaps even
that you don't really believe you are capable of assessing a situation
and choosing the right course of action.  That should be a big signpost that you need to work on your confidence and self belief because if you do harbour secret doubts about your magick then they will probably come out somehow - probably not by causing harm but these insecurities will undermine your magick.

Thirdly, there may be a situation where you have done all your soul
searching, are completely confident and don't need a safety net and
you may choose to use these words anyway to announce to the Universe that you have done your homework and are confident you are causing harm to none.  I can see how giving voice to the preparation you have done could be a powerful magickal tool - but easily confused with scenario two.

Lastly, I can see an argument for using a form of these words in group magick, just because you are working with a group of individuals who will likely be at different stages in their personal development etc. and in this case it works well to bond the group and remind everyone that you are doing this for some sort of highest good.  Using it as one of the many tools to align a group of disparate individuals to a single focussed magickal working is a very different proposition to the above.

Successful and responsible magick is a discipline, it requires a lot
of personal work and confidence.  I am a Witch, I work magic according to my will (possibly even my Will).

I don’t hedge my bets.

What do you think about making these statements in your own workings?