How have I managed to be pagan so long without knowing how to draw a basic labyrinth! 

Recently I hosted a Stitch and Witch at my home with invocations to Brigit, great company, great cake and a skills exchange.  I taught sock darning and various aspects of knitting and in return I learned to draw a 7 step labyrinth.  Thank you M!

It is so elegant and simple I want to share it all with you.

1. Starting point.
2. Now draw a connecting loop from the top point of the inner cross shape to the top of the L shape on the right side of the page.
3.  Then working from your left to your right draw loops linking the points of the cross and the points of the L's.  Move out one on each side every time  until all the points have been connected and you have circled the whole Labyrinth.
Just remember that the top of the Labyrinth will be much bigger than the bottom so make sure you take this into account when choosing where start your drawing.

I am so impressed with this technique - I don't draw often and yet I shall always be able to make a Labyrinth, it won't be long because I am embroidering them on prayer flags, icing them on cupcakes and splashing them all over my house. Best of all if I want to lay out a huge Labyrinth in my garden for a ritual working I can just use this template.  Want it to be bigger than 7 steps just keep on adding the L shapes in the four corners.

It couldn't be simpler!

You will be drawing labyrinths on everything for days to come, I promise you.
_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?
I fluctuate in my relationship with the Tarot, sometimes it works well for me, other times I need the clean simplicity of the Runes.  But then I have never been great at divination.  I firmly believe that all magickal practitioners should have a divinatory system they are comfortable with (even if they rarely use it) but I know where my strength are.

But I do think that Tarot is a powerful tool for working magick and one which is often overlooked. To illustrate that I wanted to suggest a simple exercise to help you with visualising and manifesting “more of what you need”.

I would take your Tarot deck and sit calmly, perhaps light some candles and incense or meditate first, to really signal to your mind that you are taking your attention away from the mundane worries of the day.

Then we need to think a little about what it is you are looking to bring more of into your life; money and love are perhaps traditional but the Tarot can do so much more that these things. For example you could look for financial stability or a business opportunity; you could be seeking a spiritual mentor or for greater creative flow in your life.  As you are thinking about the amazing things you are seeking to bring into your life start to leaf through the deck, look at all the cards and pick the one that catches your attention as holding whatever it is you are looking for.  Don't worry about *getting it wrong* just let your intuition guide you and don't spend too long looking at the cards at this stage.

Once you have picked your card, now is the time to really scrutinise it. Look for all the little details in the card which you are associate with the thing you are searching for.  Once you have scrutinised the card carefully, start to meditate on the card allow your eyes to un-focus from the card and see if elements of the design come into sharper focus.  You may find some aspects of the card grey out whilst other elements become brighter.  Pay attention to these little cues, this process is all about becoming familiar with the card visually and psychically/energetically.  I want you to really feel the energy in the image, feel it, imagine it, visualise it (whatever your preferred method) but I also want to you really connect and understand the card.  It is during this process that hopefully you will start to pick up insights about your relationship with the "thing" you are seeking more of.  Concentrating in this way may reveal to any blocks within your own mind connected with what you are seeking, or give you inspiration and ideas about how to manifest what it that you want. During the meditation you are looking to keep yourself open to receiving some sort of message from the card itself and if such a message comes, by words or images or even a smell then just note that it has happened, you can come back to it later to assimilate it or evaluate it further.

I find that the reason this works is due to the rich imagery of the Tarot, this gives your brain a lot of space and a lot of inspiration to start free associating ideas.  Within that free associating will probably be something which is a powerful trigger to help you get where you want to be. 

Check out the free ritual Journey with the Fool for another way of approaching this exercise more formally as a tool to understanding the Tarot.

For example I may be looking for a greater sense of calm in my life and in my first flick through the deck I see the sense of calm that I want on the face of the High Priestess.  In thinking about how the card relates to my getting more "calmness" in my life I might reflect that there is nothing in her surroundings which would particularly evoke calm.  Which could lead me to the conclusion that such a sense of calm comes from within and that is what I have to work on because I won't find it outside myself. I kick myself that this is so obvious, but really I just needed to give myself a bit of space to work it all out because normally I am too busy to really process things properly.

You may be thinking "Oh Antara, this isn't magick, this is psycology."  To which I would answer, "maybe". But I think this sits in the broad place magick and psycology overlap to the point that the distinction is meaningless.

Oh and if this doesn’t work for you…don’t worry.  Come back and try it again maybe or just leave it behind and try something completely different, you aren’t necessarily “doing it wrong” maybe this method just isn’t for you…and that is ok!
So all week I have been off my game, magic wasn't flowing, I wasn't writing and everything just felt a little "stuck" compared to before.  I wanted to be doing lots of writing for the Witches Table and other projects, but I just couldn't get down to it and so I set about fixing things in an alarmingly short magickal working on Sunday.  The process had interesting results which indicated a) I should have done this much earlier in my stuck phase and b) I should write it all down in case it is useful to anyone else.

I think my first mistake was a bit of lazy thinking, namely that if I wasn't feeling magickal I couldn't do magick/meditation etc.  I *know* this isn't right but it is such a frighteningly easy trap to fall into and it took me a week to realise I was doing it.  I show up to work when I don't feel like it, so I can do magick when I don't feel like it.

So what did I do?

I started meditating and reaching out to my patrons.  At first this felt like I was pushing through a brick wall, but I kept breathing and letting my mind wander regardless. I find in these circumstances the best thing to do is not try and break through the wall - that just makes the wall more solid, just imagine yourself floating and formless.  Don't try to solidify your thoughts. Let them gently bobble along, observe but don't engage them too much.  For example if you find yourself thinking you're nearly out of milk then;

a) don't sit there worrying about the lack of milk and how you're sitting meditating instead of going shopping, and

b) don't sit there worrying that you are thinking about milk instead of meditating.

Instead try simply shrugging and thinking "ok milk - I'll get to that later" and let it go.  I consider either options a or b above are engaging, the shrugging is allowing your thoughts to bobble along.

Eventually I slid through the wall and then I became very aware of how many elements of myself were out of alignment in that moment - my mind was in turmoil, my body was not being nourished or celebrated in the way it should be, I had stopped a couple of daily practices without really realising it and all added up to a sudden and powerful image.

I had the image of myself as an arrow, the different elements of physical body, mental discipline, openness to spirit etc. were all represented as jigsaw pieces that made up the arrow but which were all very slightly out of alignment so that the arrow was not in its intended shape.  These little mis-alignments were all creating drag on the arrow so that it was fighting to travel forwards against the very air.  In my vision I experimented with moving all the pieces into their perfect slots (something which I knew was a representation of eating really soulful food, doing lots of spiritual study, dressing myself in a way which truely reflects who I am and many other things) and just as I placed the last piece back into alignment the arrow sped off into the distance faster than I could track it with my mind's eye.

Obviously the last scene felt like a complete and obvious resolution.  But it gave me a powerful lesson: there isn't one single thing to be done to get my mojo moving forward but there are lots of little things which will all add up to one great big mojo boost and when I really thought about it, it was very clear to me what those things were.

To summarise.

1. You don't need to feel magickal, you can do magick anyway and perhaps you need to in order to work out how to feel magickal again.
2. Check in with the personal arrow  image from time to time, work out what is in alignment with your life path and goals and what is not.

I still don't feel perfect but now I have a plan on how to move towards greater alignment again, I got some pretty powerful messages that I was on the right track from my patron and my subconscious which was gratifying.

Now all the remains is to consider where the arrow is heading.  This was a clear life path probably in accordance with some Crowley-esque idea of True Will or something.  I don't yet know where the arrow was going...I'm still working on that.
I was flicking back through my last few blog posts and they seemed to have concentrated on self empowerment a great deal.  Now that is important and I truly belief that unpacking and examining your own psyche is essential for practical magic work but I felt like it was time to give a little bit more of an insight into the nuts and bolts of Antara’s ritual work personal.

I don’t tend to use a lot of physical tools in my personal magical practice but rely more on visualisations, trance work, meditation and getting my psychology in the right place.  Any physical tools I do use will be as an extension of my visualisation work and deliberately keyed to create certain emotions and thought processes in my mind.  This works in two ways

  1. I have certain formulas, mental exercises, breathing exercises, smells, music and sights which will (if I wish) quickly get me into a ritual state of mind to work magick.
  2. I will use other smells, environments, physical objects, herbs, sigils, drumming etc. to build energy for ritual work, build up new correspondences and to use as physical triggers to execute the magickal work done internally.  That is not to say these objects don’t have their own energy which I might be using to either make the direction of my own will flow more easily or augment what I am doing.

Group work for me involve trying to attune myself as much as possible to those people I am working with and to build up shared triggers and associations. I read widely and practise lots of things but always with a view to building a core of practices, ideas and exercise I can call on with ease and confidence.