Ritual your way: an amateur's guide to astrology, tinctures and worshipping celestial bodies
Hay girl! (I was talking to the moon.)
If anything, the Pink Moon and lunar eclipse last night were a great break in the status-update monotony that usually plagues social networks -- for a few hours, Scandal, Game of Thrones and the cockroach of all television shows, Breaking Bad, were not dominating newsfeed conversation. Instead, I was pleasantly greeted by dozens of camera-phone shots of the moon through the stages of the eclipse as my friends shared their views from whatever part of the world they were in. I was so moved by the Internet, I actually went outside to see the blood-colored celestial body in real life.
Of course, I had already gone outside earlier in the evening to talk to the moon and put my crystals out to be cleansed and charged overnight.
I like my altar to be portable, so I keep it in a Chanel box.
Since I grew up in the era of The Craft, I am surprised I never went through a Wiccan phase. (Not that being an active Wiccan should be viewed as a "phase," but growing up a teenager in the '90s and wearing fishnets and black eyeliner for all sorts of inappropriate reasons and listening to Souixsie and Kate Bush leads me to believe I wasn't the only one with friends who went through witchy phases.)
But I have also always been interested in things like astrology, spells and very novice-level magic. I have collected crystals and put them alongside the religious trinkets I've had since childhood. I grew up Catholic in a virtually atheist household (non-religious parents but very religious grandparents). I went to Catholic school and loved every minute of it, so I'm already used to talking into the air at night before I sleep. I mean praying before bed.
In the last few years I have learned more about crystals -- cleansing them and charging them via the moon -- and I found it easy to connect with the celestial body. It was just like all the praying I had done in elementary and middle school, except now I was talking to the sky directly. This is the cool part about DIY-ritual: You can do whatever you want.
During full moons, I like to take my rose quartz and phantom quartz, along with a rock I found a the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, out into the back yard and place them in the moonlight. Then I talk to the moon, the Virgin Mary, family members who have passed away and Kristin Pfaff and Amy Winehouse (two deceased musicians who are special spirits in my book). I realize as I type this that it makes me sound crazy, but luckily I am past the point of caring what people think about me, which is why I wear Uggs.
Once my crystals are charged, I set them back on my altar. Again, DIY-ritual is all about anything goes, so altars can be anything you want them to be -- you can build them anywhere and out of anything. My altar is a Chanel box (see above) packed with all kinds of special stuff like my crystals, my Catholic Sedona rock, a photograph of my grandpa with a Budwieser and a cigarette in his hand, makeup jars from the '50s that were my grandma's, a Kewpie doll and more.
My roommate has an alter specifically for her ancestors and she feeds them lots of food. She says they like chocolate the best. Ritual is what you make it. I realized that after forgoing praying for so many years when I gave up going to church, I was really missing the ritual of church. So I created my own. DIY-church is awesome!
The Witch House House's general store.
I don't know much about spells and tinctures, but lucky for me, I live with an alchemist/herbalist. Basically, I can get all of my witchy goods right inside my house -- aptly called The Witch House House (which is a reference to Witch House, if you were wondering). When I was having drama in my life that all seemed to coalesce around the time of my period, my personal alchemist Neko made me a tincture called "Bree's Chill Pill." I don't know what all is in it, but I know that it worked. We trust the chemicals in Western medicine all the time -- I don't see a reason to be skeptical about herbs.
Also, when I was hoping to bring some success into my life via my career as a writer, I asked my witch roommate to make me a money spell. These are the kinds of things I can't pick up at Target. (And shameless plug: If you're into tinctures, salves, homemade raw chocolates, Reiki, astrology, etc. my friend Neko 360 offers them all at reasonable prices.)
If crystals and tinctures and alchemy seem too kooky for you, astrology is also a good way to get in touch with the intangible world. I, like many, was a Susan Miller fanatic for a long time. I took her as the foremost authority on horoscopes, because she was a client at a fancy 5th Avenue hair salon in New York that my best friend managed, and that's how the underground girl network works: We do what our friends do, go where our friends go, trust the astrologer that our friends trust.
But at some point, Susan got to be a little too Debbie Downer for me, so I switched to Astrobarry. These are just two sources among hundreds, so finding a horoscope that fits what you like/want to hear is totally up to you. I like to know what days I should or shouldn't do important business stuff or take my boyfriend on a date or why I have such an attitude problem on a certain day in the month. Astrology is the shit for this reason.
If you missed the excitement of last night's blood moon, just know there are three more coming. You've got plenty of time to create an altar, find some rocks that you think are special and figure out what planet is in retrograde, thus affecting your ability to be a good driver or control your anger. Or maybe just get some help from the moon picking your lucky lotto numbers. Remember: DIY-ritual is whatever you want it to be!
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies
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