Magick for the Real World

One couple's dream of being the change they want to see in the world.



Altars, Altars Everywhere, But Not a Bit of Spirit to be Found

/start sarcasm

My exaggerated view of a Barnes and Nobles metaphysical bookshelf

Hmmm… this is a pretty big Barnes and Nobles, maybe they’ve got something different than the one from my small town in South Texas. Oh yeah, there’s some Silver RavenWolf, that’s what I’ve been looking for. Sweet! I’ve been needing a sixth book on Magick 101! This one’s got a pretty picture of a flower on the cover and it’s all sparkly! Oh yeah, and there’s the section on Cunningham, definitely haven’t seen those before. I hear they’re good especially if you’ve never heard of primary sources. Oh and here’s the section on meditation. Probably much different from the meditation that’s taught in Asian philosophy and everywhere else. Oh yeah, and there’s the 270 page fairy book that has absolutely no information that can’t be found in a child picture book. Definitely my choice purchase. Oh wait, it costs $31.99? I’m sure it’s worth it. Oh yeah, here’s what I was looking for, the section on altars. So there’s Altars for Different Seasons, Basic Altars, How to Make Your Own Altar, and the ever popular Different Crap You Can Buy to Decor…I Mean Honor Stuff With Your Altar.

/end sarcasm

I wonder why the average Pagan creates an altar. I also wonder why there is such a market for books on the subject. I know that some people need ideas for their first altar, and most books are marketed to the novice in their practice, but the idea of an altar is fairly simple and doesn’t really require buying anything–even books on the subject. An altar’s three-fold purpose is to create a sacred space in a home that is normally filled with non-sacred emotions and actions, to honor spirits, and to use as a magickal tool for filling something with energy and power.

When taking the purpose into account, can you really tell me that you need to buy a bunch of overpriced stuff for an altar? And how can you make an altar out of a book? I know that my altar has a few things that a book would suggest, but I wouldn’t ever go buy the items just to build an altar (which the books seems to suggest that you do). I’ve got a chalice that I used long before I ever had an altar. Yes, I’ve got a few crystals that I had before I was Pagan and was using them for meditation practices. Yes, I’ve also got an incense burner that is actually a mortar filled with salt. I’ve got a few feathers…that I got as a gift my spiritual teacher.

So what is it that I’m trying to say? An altar is supposed to bring you closer to “God” as the Christians say. It’s supposed to open you up and allow you feel safe and calm. It’s no different from the sacred temples of the ancient Greeks or groves of the Druids. Do you really think that the priests of old went to their local Magick-Mart for a bunch of stuff made in China or Korea in sweatshops to put in their brand new temple? We don’t have to hand-make everything like they did, but please remember that the energy in these cheap foreign-made products is likely to be less that awesome. I would rather have an incomplete altar than one filled with items that will bring negative energy into my workings. Magick is a subtle art that is heavily influenced by the nuances of the practice rather than the basics, and so in this case, yes you should sweat the small stuff.

The other thing to think about is that an altar is not so much a tool like a rake or steak knife. It isn’t just something to use in order to get results. It becomes a living extension of yourself. That is one of the primary reasons that taking care of it is such an important task. It needs the love and attention that you give in order to put you into that place of spiritual openness.

How is it so necessary to own 7 books on a subject that is simple. Put pieces of yourself into the altar above all else. Put spiritual pieces that mean something to you next. Yes, it’d be nice to honor the elements and certain gods, but remember that the altar is your gateway to the infinite, and so it should be a part of you rather than some altar template that you found in a book.


Welcome back! And a few ramblings on magickal practice

Welcome back to Magick for the Real World!

It has been a long time since I wrote a regular blog here, and I’m hoping that I can again entertain and inform a few people with my thoughts and ramblings. I’ve experimented with a lot of other media in the past year and a half, and have again returned to my writing’s origin here at

The blades and bowls lay in the dying light, rusting not the from the air around them, but from the lack of care and use of their spiritual owner. The stones no longer glow with life and energy; they have taken on the look of the dead earth of winter. They long for their master and friend. How has this happened?

It is a common occurrence for everyday life to come between a magician and his magickal practice. Children are born, family emergencies happen, and jobs get hectic. The magician usually is slowly called back to the craft whether internally or by external stimulation, but sometimes this return can take months and even years. It is only in the recent past that I was called back to my magickal practices and when I looked at my stones, blades, and other tools I found them to be foreign, almost as though they were not mine. I felt as though I had never had the soul-bond that I had felt for so long. I had no idea that this bond could ever be weakened or broken. These were the tools that helped me to attain my spiritual identity and power. I looked at them as friends and have now found that they were much more than that; they were as much a part of me as my arms and legs.

I am not sure exactly what the importance of this is, but I know that there is a revelation to be had from this experience. Obviously, it is important to maintain your personal connection with spiritual tools for them to be effective in any of your pursuits, much like a soldier must carefully oil and clean his weapon daily. I had never realized how much of a spiritual process this could be. The soldier is bound to his weapon for survival, and the magician is bound to his weapons of the spiritual plane for his power and survival as a spiritual warrior.

For many years, I had always believed that the magick was solely in the magician and that the tools allowed the magician to enter into another state more easily. I have had to reconsider these beliefs after experiencing the intense sadness when I realized I had forsaken these pieces of my soul. Though it is hard to believe, it was as intense a sadness as the loss of a loved one. This should not be the case if they are merely tools for my metaphysical advancement.

So where does this actually place the tools and weapons of the magician? Does the soldier weep for a destroyed weapon? Does the carpenter mourn the loss of a good saw or hammer? The soldier depends on his gun and knife for survival, but I doubt that he would weep if it were replaced. The carpenter depends on his tools for his craft, but he will easily replace one if it begins to grow ineffective, and rarely cares for them as the magician cares for his tools.

It seems more and more apparent that the wand and chalice are more than simple tools for a purpose. The energy that passes through them brings about a change in them. They become alive with the constant life-force passing through them. The magician’s place in the web of life becomes intertwined with these seemingly life-less objects, possibly giving them a life of their own. Or possibly, the alchemical idea that when a spirit is evolving, all of the world around him/her evolves as well. It could also be possible that all things have a life to them, and that through the energetic workings of the magician that the item awakens. Whatever the case, it seems that the tools become alive in the process of the magician’s practices.

So what exactly does this mean? The tools are alive, but how does that affect the magician? That’s the real discussion question. It could mean all sorts of things. Can the tools guide the magician? Can the athame show the magician how more effectively create a magickal circle? Would the magician even know that this was happening, or would it seem to be an intuitive leap by the magician? How many times has this happened to any given magician? Can the tools become angry? Can they purposely refuse to work? Can they do their own magick to protect or hurt?

Metals and Gemstones Pt. I: Amethyst

Gems and metals are significant parts of many people’s magickal toolbox, and for good reason.  They are ancient, have been used for that exact purpose for thousands and thousands of years, and if nothing else, are simply very beautiful.  Because of this, many books have been written on the subject, and most of them are encyclopedia style.  In actuality, I think that one of my first books was Cunningham’s take on the subject.  After looking at many of these books and feeling disgusted by the lack of creativity and/or new material, I decided that more than likely most of these authors have done almost no actual work with 90% of the stones in their books.  They have simply plagiarized the ideas from elsewhere and repackaged them into a new prettier package, and that’s pretty much worthless to me.

So, in response to this massive plagiarism realization, I decided to start working on my own encyclopedia from experience rather than from other sources.  I’m starting with stones and metals that I’m familiar with and then am going to expand on that.  My process will include such experiences as doing true meditations (not visualizations, and this is a topic for another post), visualizations, researching the stone’s lore mostly through mythology, and examining the physical properties of the stone.  After doing all of this, I will report back and hope to get some thoughts and criticisms.

My first attempt at that is with my most familiar stone, Amethyst.  This stone most commonly is considered to be a soothing stone that is connected with psychism, dreams, good night’s sleep, enhancing magickal pursuits, and fertility.  These seem like an extremely broad description, and that’s basically what it is.  Most people regularly use color alone to describe the effects of most stones and this is where these descriptors come from.  Purple is associated with the Brow or Third Eye chakra in the Indian traditions (and more modernly, with New Age stuff in general), and the Brow chakra is associated with the above-mentioned attributes.

My experience has shown that many of these are true, but in differing degrees.  I have an extremely strong connection with my Amethyst and if I hold it I almost immediately get sleepy.  I have used this trait on many occasions during finals or if I have trouble sleeping.  On the other hand, I rarely have any dreams after doing this.  I also sleep for extremely long periods of time and have a hard day functioning the next day because I’m still tired.  In truth, I feel like this is an extreme effect of the calming influence of the stone and as with most extremes, is not nearly as useful as a more moderate effect would be.

On the other hand, I sense energy much more easily while holding the stone and whenever any important or difficult to accomplish magickal efforts are attempted, I immediately go to my Amethyst for the extra power boost.

Now as far as meditations go, I always feel slightly cloudy whenever I meditate with this stone.  I also can definitely feel a “heart beat” that is different from mine.  I believe the cloudy feeling has to do with the fact that the stone is a very cloudy stone as well as the fact that it is a calming stone, and that the heart beat is the energetic signature of the stone.

The physical attributes of the stone would probably be that the stone is hard, purple, transparent with a large amount of cloudiness, that the stone has 6-sided cleavage, and that the stone comes to a point.

Amethyst is a type of quartz with a trace mineral within the crystal lattice which produces the purple coloring, and quartz has a hardness of around 6 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.  This means that it is at the cusp of being considered a hard mineral.  Glass (which is made of quartz grains that are melted and cooled extremely quickly) has a hardness of 6, Talc has a hardness of 1, Diamond has a hardness of 10, and Sapphires and Rubies have a hardness of 9 for reference sake.  In my experience, hardness is a good way to estimate how dependable a gemstone will be and how strong the influence will be.  I’ve had my Amethyst for 7 years and my sense of it is much stronger than my sense of a random Ruby that I come across, but my sense for a random Ruby is much stronger than my sense of a random piece of Quartz.

I’ve already covered the color aspect.

I believe that the fact that the stone is transparent naturally lends itself to being a more astral stone.  Because mine is cloudy, this could be why I don’t remember any dreams.  I meditate much more quickly with it than without but I rarely remember much of the meditation.  Metals are not commonly known for being good conductors of astral work, and many sources recommend removing all metal (which includes almost all jewelry) before trying to do any astral work.

Cleavage is a description of the natural faults within a stone’s crystal lattice structure as well as how the stone naturally grows.  Pyrite and halite (table salt) are stones with natural cubic cleavage which is easy to see because the stones grow in cubes (which is really strange to see for the first time), and Mica has perfect cleavage in sheets (the mineral can be split into sheets like paper).  Everything that I’ve seen has shown that this hexagonal cleavage of the stone explains how it holds energy so well and how it is easily accessed.  Six is a very balanced number and is the number most associated with following the life path that will lead you to happiness.  This may or may not be success or love, it is simply the path that makes you happy every day of your life.  I personally have found this to be one of the most prominent aspects I see change when I work with my Amethyst regularly.  Many parts of literature will say that it helps depression and to help your happiness, and this is more than likely a result of simply being lead in the right direction to your own personal happiness.

The fact that the stone comes to a point is a very good reason behind the increased ability to focus energy while using it.  The simple idea that energy is focused through a point or edge (whether that be strength behind a knife or light being focused through a magnifying glass), the energy becomes far more useful in a practical sense.  This is absolutely true of focused energy through crystals.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑