Natural Magick & Ritual Correspondences:
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Nature Correspondences?
- Why do I need these things anyway?
- Do I have to use them?
- Am I doing Natural Magick to please a god or other spirit?
- Am I just doing this because people used to do it in ancient times?
- Do I have to believe in Nature Correspondences for them to work?
- Is it necessary to "give back" to nature when using Nature correspondences?
- Which categories (herbs, oils, incense, etc.) of Nature Correspondences make magick work the best? Are some categories more powerful than others?
- Once you figure out which category of Nature Correspondences to use (herbs, oils, incense, or other) which ones do you pick within each category since there are so many that symbolize the same thing?
- Why would anyone use anything but Correspondences that are most likely to work (and most available)? Why use anything but the strongest, surest (and cheapest) materials and for that matter why bother having more than one Correspondence for a specific purpose?
- Do I have to incorporate a Correspondence from each of the categories you have listed here? How many categories should I use to be successful?
- In movies, these plant/amulet/totem Correspondences sometimes donít work. Why should I take it on faith that they will work for me when the people who use them in movies are so often cast as stupid and ignorant?
- Are there some spells/rituals that cannot be performed using Nature Correspondences? Can you use Nature Correspondences for curses, hexes and other workings of black magick?
- What are Time Correspondences?
- If all things are one as in the phrase, "As above, so below" or "The Microsm is equal to the Macrosm", then doesnít that mean that all the types of magick are one? Isnít Natural Magick the same as Spiritual Magick and Mental Magick if we are all supposed to be united with gods and goddesses?
Nature Correspondences are the tools witches and magicians use to perform a type of magick called Natural Magick. Natural Magick involves the organization of certain of objects and substances from nature so that the current of energy in the atmosphere is in harmony with the magician/witchís desires.
Nature Correspondences can be anything natural that is not altered much from itís original state. For example, herbs are often used by practitioners of magick to create change through ritual workings. Herbs can be harvested from wild settings such as forests, or fields or they can be grown in captivity. Their power will be just as strong. The herbs can further be dried, crumbled or pressed so that the precious oils within can be obtained or so that they can be used for incense blends.
However, the plants (or gems, woods, etc.) still must come from nature. They must be somehow grown (or otherwise naturally formed) in order for them to carry the appropriate energy patterns to be useful. Herbs and the oils that come from plants will not carry the same specific energy pattern if their scents are artificially generated in a lab. Nature Correspondences further lose potency in magick when they are combined with artificial colorings and preservatives.
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At all times in our world, a current of energy is moving and churning around us. Different types and concentrations of energy rise and fall constantly affecting the events in our lives to one degree or another like a ship swaying with the tide.
The purpose of using Nature Correspondences is to influence that current so that it flows harmoniously with the energy patterns of our desires. An example to simplify: you wouldnít expect a ball thrown westward into the crushing eastward winds of a hurricane to get very far. (In fact, the ball would probably end up propelled backwards into your forehead.)
Neither would you expect a swimmer to have much success swimming against the current of the Grand Rapids. The best swimmer with the strongest muscles and the most advanced training wouldnít have a prayer, and even if he did, he would have to work pretty hard for it.
On the other hand, if you threw a ball westward into hurricane winds blowing towards the west, your ball would go very far. Much further in fact than you could ever have thrown it if the air was totally calm.
This is the purpose of Natural Magick and the Correspondence system that practitioners use. The point is to supplement your workings of Mental and Spiritual Magick with energy from outside yourself thus improving your chances of success. You also want to make sure that the current of energy around you is not working contrary to your intentions, something that can foil the plans of the even most advanced master.
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Absolutely not. There are three types of magick. Natural Magick is only one of them, the other two being Spiritual Magick, and Mental Magick.
As a witch or magician, you will most probably use at least one of the three methods of magick even if your workings are mostly religious in nature (in which case you would be using Spiritual Magick). The specific practice of your magickal tradition even if it is eclectic is entirely up to you.
Some Chaos Magicians, to name one example, use Mental Magick almost exclusively in their magickal workings. Some will use no other correspondence than candles (technically a Nature Correspondence because of the shape, color and action of the candle usually corresponds to the intention of the working and comes from nature) while others incorporate all three forms of magick including Spirit Magick through the use of thoughtforms and other ritually created energy forms (for more information on Chaos Magick, see Traditions of Magick, Chaos Magick). And while some Chaos Magicians do make use of every tool at their disposal, they are not expected to.
Neither are you expected to utilize any tool that others use to accomplish similar goals. While few witches avoid using Nature Correspondences, due in part to the long-standing history and tradition of Natural Magick with witchcraft, many magicians prefer to stick with Mental and Spiritual Magick. This is entirely a matter of choice.
Truthfully, magick can work without using Nature Correspondences at all, and to say otherwise would be a flat out lie. However, history has proven time and again that successful results through magick without some attention to nature will be harder to accomplish for two reasons. One is that without the added energy from nature, you will have to work longer and harder to supplement the energy that would have been added freely with the addition of a few items from nature.
Another reason is that unless you are uncannily psychic you can never absolutely tell what "direction" the current is traveling in. Is it moving in harmony with your desires or is it opposing them? The power of nature is massive far beyond any energy we could easily (or consciously) conjure up on our own. This is demonstrated by the unyielding power of a tornado that can demolish one house in a neighborhood and leave the house next door untouched. To expect to be able to oppose nature and always come out victorious is naive.
So the question becomes one of statistics. If you wish to focus all your attention on another type of magick and donít mind reduced odds of success, then Nature Correspondences are not essential. However, if you like to think every working should have as high a chance of success as possible, then learning a few Nature Correspondences would be invaluable.
You donít have to learn all of them by any means. You will find that even one or two is sufficient for most rituals. However, it is highly advisable that those practitioners who wish to exclude this form of magick from their workings to at least consider checking the Time Correspondences before beginning an important working. Even if you donít care to wait until the proper time of month, week, day, etc. you might want to at least want to make sure that the current of energy is not in opposition to your intentions.
Small things like this can make a world of difference and can take a great deal of the mystery out of why one working succeeds while another fails.
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Many people begin magickal workings without any knowledge of why they are doing different things. Some people believe that the purpose of organizing Nature Correspondences is only to appease certain spirits.
In some cases this is true. Various spirits connected to our world, do react to and respond to the mirrored energy patterns of Nature Correspondences on the Astral Plane. That is, the herbs, oils, candles, etc. that we set up here on the physical plane act as a beacon to spirits residing on the Astral Plane. Some spirits view this practice as a communication, telling them who is open to them as well as which physical beings are knowledgeable enough (and sometimes worthy enough) to bother responding to.
Other spirits actually feed off of the energy rising off of lighted candles and smoldering incense. Some spirits even feed off the mental energy that humans and animals radiate when the fine scents of aromatherapy oils permeate the environment. (For more information on methods of Spiritual Magick, refer to The Triad of Power: Learning The Three Worlds Of Magick.)
All the above scenarios improve the magicianís relationship with spirits through simple communication or in some cases by providing the spirit with something (usually energy) that they want or require to continue their own existence. This trade off (our energy in exchange for attention or favors) is common in Spiritual Magick and is referred to as an offering or sacrifice.
However, there are other more fundamental reasons for using Nature Correspondences that are as old as the practice as magick itself. Harmonizing natureís current of energy with the energy patterns of our desires is the primary reason for using Nature Correspondences. Furthermore, this method of magick also provides the proper foundation for implementing Spiritual or Mental Magick should we choose to employ them as well.
Unfortunately too many practitioners mistakenly believe that Nature Correspondences have no other value except in creating a sound working relationship with or sacrificial offering to a spirit. And if they choose not to practice Spiritual Magick, they wonder why they should bother with arranging Correspondences to please spirits they donít care about.
By accepting this erroneous assumption, many practitioners deny themselves a quick source of power and success in their workings.
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People in ancient times most definitely relied on Nature Correspondences to improve all areas of their lives through magick and medicinal means. Of course they had no access to modern medicine and therefore had strong incentives to learn about the gifts around them as quickly as they could. Today, we benefit from the experiments they did thousands of years ago to find out what works and what does not.
What they were learning was to identify the specific energy patterns that each herb, oil, color, tree, etc. held and how they could use them to improve their lives whether by ingesting them or using them in some other ritual action.
The only reason the lists of Nature Correspondences have survived all this time is because they work. Ineffective systems (magickal or mundane) donít last very long and effective ones are traded, passed down and improved over time.
We use the Nature Correspondences today because of their effectiveness rather than their antiquated charms. However, many new practitioners of magick rush to find the Correspondences most publicized in literature and film. Most notable of these Correspondences is the mysterious European Mandrake.
Known for its powerful protective and love inspiring properties, the Mandrake root is the most popular herbal correspondence in pagan circles today despite the fact that is also a deadly poison dangerous even to the touch.
However, once a witch has acquired this fabled root, is it the energy of the *herb* (and thereby nature) that affects such powerful changes in his rituals...or is it the fact that the witch heard it would work?
In fact the answer is probably "yes" to both questions. At the very least the Mandrake, (if it is genuine), is doing its part. It doesnít matter whether the witch has heard of it before or believes in its power. It has set the current of energy to conform to the will of the caster.
So while old spells might seem to have more appeal to modern witches and magicians simply because they are old, Nature Correspondences donít have to be recognized as old in order to work. They have an energy all their own. Arranging them allows you to harness their power and makes your task of creating change that much easier.
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Believing in something in order for it to work would make the usage, Mental Magick. There are some forms of Mental Magick that require props from nature. However, workings of pure Natural Magick do not require your belief any more than a prescription antibiotic requires you to believe in it for it to effectively treat an infection. (This may help, but then again this is the cross over contribution of Mental Magick rather than a requirement for Natural Magick.)
The energy in Nature Correspondences (when they are used for Natural Magick) comes from energy outside of you. You might be arranging the proper balance for your working by setting things up, but your personal energy is not responsible for changing the current of energy.
The object or substance you have taken from nature is directly responsible for the changing energy currents. It does not matter what you believe. The same amount of energy will be released from the herb, oil, candle or whatever you use.
The only added benefit of "believing" is that your working will have the cross over contributions of Mental Magick (in fact believing your spell/ritual will work is a working of Mental Magick in and of itself).
Your confidence will make the working that much smoother and easier with the power from inside you available to complement the power from outside of you. What better combination could you ask for?
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Iíll answer the second question first with another question: Who are you going to ask? And, if you do ask, who is going to answer for permission? Thatís probably far too cynical, but I have heard people state hard and fast that this is the only way you can harvest herbs, plants, trees, etc. from nature. You have to ask Her first.
Let me first say, I donít think this is altogether a bad practice. It fosters respect for our environment that is sorely lacking in todayís generation. However, I think a more universal concept might be to, rather than ask nature/the goddess/the deity/the universe/etc. for permission is to consider preserving the balance that the universe works so hard at maintaining.
This balance may involve "giving back" as in planting a tree where it can grow strong or even sprinkling seeds after harvesting an herb from the wild.
A group of Wiccan witches I know always take a vial of consecrated water with them when they harvest in the wild. After they take what they need, they pour the water over the plants that remain so that they can grow stronger. All such practices are up to you. You donít have to give back, but remember that nature exacts a high price when her body is thrown out of balance. Just look at the price we are paying for the ever dwindling Rain Forests being cut down and left to burn. The medicines and treatments we could have found there will soon be gone, and once they are, nature will never give them back to us.
So donít worry about giving back if it seems hokey to you. Just make sure that your presence is not disrupting the balance. Listen to the lessons of our Native American brothers and sisters. Donít take more than you need, and donít pollute an outdoor area with litter. If you notice a wild area is starting to get over harvested by you or others, choose another.
This way, you can make sure that you and those that come after you will have access to those resources for many years to come.
*A final note: It is theoretically possible to give too much back. I mention this only because it emphasizes the concept of balance. Nature is unconcerned with quantity. She already has enough, and too much of a good thing will destroy the very balance she holds dear just as easily as too little.
Especially in this day and age, it probably is not possible to give so much back that nature is thrown out balance. You could conceivably go on a rampage and spend a hundred billion dollars planting trees on every square inch of dry ground on the planet. But then nature would be forced out of balance and would no doubt respond with massive hurricane that would wipe ninety percent of them out, thus restoring her equilibrium and negating your original plant to "help".
However, that kind of extreme undertaking is not only unlikely but humorous. The contributions we could add to nature would probably never even come close to pushing her out of balance, but the question should still be asked anytime we try to "give back". Are we preserving balance or threatening it?
Truly, in all things dealing with magick, we need to think "balance" rather than "excess". The two are not the same and one will bring peace while the other will bring only ruin.
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A very good question. One that most practitioners of magick would love for there to be a good answer to. Unfortunately like every art form, the truth is subjective.
Various cultures around the world view Nature Correspondences in different ways so different spells and rituals will reflect this disparity. Most practitioners of magick use what has been historically used by their culture in the past and also what is most convenient. Herbs, oils, incense, candles (for their shape, color and symbolic manifestation), wood from trees, flowers, and many others are convenient to acquire and use. They can all be used quite effectively to set the proper stage for magick.
Correspondences that have been altered or added to the least will be the most effective because they carry the strongest natural energy patterns. As Nature Correspondences are altered with chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, etc., they lose the vital energies that make them so powerful. Subsequently, fresh cut plants, harvested by the practitioner herself, will have the best chance of succeeding in a work of magick if for no other reason that she knows for a fact what has gone into growing the plants. Nothing hidden or surprising goes into them.
Plants grown by the practitioner who uses them can also benefit from the increased power that the practitioner feeds the plant from her own personal energy. Talking to plants, praying or chanting incantations over them daily, and simply tending to them with love all make the final products far more powerful for use in magick.
Of course most of us cannot grow everything we require for magick and when you simply cannot grow your own resources, those produced by reliable, organic producers are a close second to home grown products.
In sum, the best thing that the beginning practitioner can do is to study spells written by others to get a feel for how others have approached natureís system before.
You can use a single Correspondence from one category (ex. mugwort, an herb) or many from more than one category. It is true that the more you incorporate into your workings, the better your chances of succeeding will be, however, donĎt drive yourself crazy trying to use all of them. Three to five physical Nature Correspondences (not including Time Correspondences, discussed further in a later question) should be more than enough to set the current in your favor no matter how serious or difficult your task is. Even one is often enough with the additional ones being added for security rather than necessity.
Herbs, plants and trees are grown in the earth and imprinted with their corresponding energy signature through their DNA. Anything grown (and hopefully healthy--avoid sick, dead or dying plants as their energy will be far less and sometimes even counter to the energy of healthy plants) will have strong powers of influence over your environment. Furthermore, products that are derived from healthy herbal and plant essences are also highly useful in magick. For example though oils and incenses seem to have been altered dramatically from their original herbal forms, the processes used do not seriously affect their energy patterns and little or no chemical additives are necessary, they retain nearly all of their original potency.
Crystals are also a very strong source of energy as they are also "grown" from in nature though not the same way plants or other living organisms are grown. Crystals are thought by some to give off energies that are far stronger than any other Nature Correspondence hence their extensive use in healing rituals and Chakra Alignments.
When it comes to establishing your foundation for magick, you canít beat the power of crystals. They are inexpensive and easy to use with their mere presence doing most of the balancing work.
When working on your own without a pre-written spell to refer to, try to stick with one or two Correspondences from no more than five categories (preferably three especially in the beginning if you are just starting out--perhaps an herb, an oil, and a gemstone). Your environment can only get so stable and after that, you may want to consider adding one or both of the other two forms of magick (Spiritual or Mental Magick) to give your working the added push it needs to succeed. With practice you will quickly decide exactly which Nature Correspondences (and how many) you work best with.
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This comes with study and research. The more you look at different lists of Nature Correspondences, the more you will notice that different people from all over the world say the same things about the some of the same Correspondences. For example, in the category of herbs, there are several herbs that magickally (not necessarily medicinally) signify healing. From one list it says that Adderís tongue, Allspice, Amaranth, Angelica, Bay Leaves, Lemon Balm, Balm of Gilead, Barley, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Fern, Goatís Rue, Golden Seal, Heather and many others all can be used in magickal workings to heal.
Which one do you use?
This question is tricky because it has two answers. One is that you use the one that practice and experience has told you works the best in your environment (what works at stabilizing the energy currents in an environment halfway across the world may not work as well in your area and vise versa). However, you also need to be able to find and afford your resources.
This knowledge, however, does not necessarily have to come from trial and error. For the most part, this work has already been done for you through others performing magick and writing down what has worked for them.
As previously stated, scholars of esoteric knowledge have compiled many listings of Correspondences that may or may not agree with what others have written. What you can be certain of is that the more you see a Correspondence repeated in several lists, the more common it is. Correspondences only become popular if they work and the more you see them, the more likely that example is to work for you in your area as well as being available and affordable.
Roses, for example are recorded on almost every herbal Correspondence listing available. The reason is that roses are highly effective in magick. This is one correspondence you can almost bank on being compatible with ritual workings in your area.
So keep your eyes open to different sources of information and experiment, experiment, experiment! Many Categories of Correspondences are available from this source so that you can learn about and maintain a working reference to both the common and obscure examples. However, there is also a listing of the most Common Correspondences used in magick today and throughout the ages. These are not only the most likely to work in magick, but they are also the easiest (and usually the most inexpensive) to find.
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Various rituals require exotic and sometimes expensive ingredients for a number of reasons, but the simplest reason is illustrated by William Shakespeare when he said, "If this be magic, then let it be an art form."
Over the centuries, different people have expressed their art form in different ways. Their culture and times all played a large role in how they picked their correspondences. Magick has many objective faces, however, it is essentially a subjective art. When someone creates the recipe for certain spell, personal preference, result-experimentation and geographic location all play a major part in determining what correspondences will be used.
For the most part, it is not necessary to concern yourself with using exactly what someone else uses, unless you are deliberately experimenting with different spells from different time periods or cultures. Just make sure that the Correspondence you choose is known for it's effectiveness or you know from your own experimentation that it is attuned to your particular ritual intention.
Most magicians and witches will only bother with exotic ingredients when the results they seek through magick are highly unlikely to occur by chance and therefore are considered difficult. Such "hard spells" often require more time, effort and experimentations in order to be successful. Just keep one point in mind. What you lack in one are of the three forms of magick (Mental, Spiritual, or Natural) you can make up for in another. If you find yourself feeling insecure about your abilities with Mental Magick, then you can easily justify experimenting with more exotic ingredients. This decision is entirely up to you. Sometimes more exotic (and more expensive) is better, however this is the exception to the rule rather than the rule of thumb.
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Like any other art form, magickal workings have different degrees of impact. You can use no Natural Magick Correspondences at all, and your magick may still work. In fact depending on your knowledge and experience, you may need no other tools than your own mind (which means your workings would fall under the heading of Mental Magick). Some witches and magicians are very skilled at this. However, most of us are not so overconfident that we ignore details that might increase the possibility of success in our workings.
If you are a beginner working without a reference (a spell or ritual written by someone else) then try to incorporate no more than one or two Correspondences from no more than three categories until you gain more experience (ex. an herb, an oil, and a candle).
If you start out with too many, you will be unable to determine which ones are working for you and which ones are not. As you become more advanced, you should add as many as you feel you need to stimulate the appropriate energy currents.
Whatever you do, donít pick a Correspondence just because it is the only one you can find. Research to find out which Correspondences have been used with success by others. For a list of common and effective Plant Correspondences, see Common Correspondences.
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Many times, characters depicted in literature and film are seen as ignorant and stupid for utilizing different folk remedies and pagan ritual correspondences (instead of mainstream Judeo-Christian artifacts and incantations) to prevent misfortune and ward off evil. A prime example is the old pagan peasant who uses garlic (*unsuccessfully*) to ward off a vampire. Of course throughout the course of the story, the hero quickly discovers that the evil spirit (in this case, the vampire) is too powerful for such heretical non-sense, and the only real way to destroy the enemy is through the power of some mainstream religious archetype, in most cases, Jesus Christ.
We, as enlightened pagans, have to look at spiritual and auspicious conditions from a more broad standpoint than the rest of mainstream society. In fact, all religious faiths from Wicca to the Native American faiths to Christianity and others exert a powerful force on the physical world as well as the spiritual ones.
While I have no doubt that Spirit Magick is a potent and powerful solution to unpleasant supernatural phenomenon, Nature Magick is also extremely powerful and quite often serves as a necessary foundation for successful ritual workings.
Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that people writing movie scripts and books for everyday people are rarely educated enough in the alternative religions to understand how and why anything in magick works. Often they rely on the widely accepted premise that only Judeo-Christian archetypes (or even ones created solely for the purpose of the story) can protect people from the evil and destructive forces in the universe. (There are some refreshing exceptions, but they are unfortunately rare.)
And, while it is true that the Judeo-Christian god is an extremely powerful and protective force (many pagans also invoke him for protective and healing rituals), he is not the only one available to purify, exorcise and battle disruptive entities. Nature (through the use of Nature Correspondences for Natural Magick), other spirits, as well as the will of a witch or magician can perform feats similar to that of YHVH (Jehovah), the Judeo-Christian god (or simply "God").
The problem lies in the fact that pagans are in the minority compared to more mainstream deities such as Jehovah, Jesus, and Allah. Movies and books are rarely written or marketed for the minority in a capitalist nation. Publishers and film producers are far more concerned with writing stories that have widespread financial appeal than writing what is historically accurate and perhaps losing their audience (not to mention their money).
And of course there are also many instances when magickal workings among real pagans seem to fail. While they never really fail (all magick works, though sometimes it does not create changes that are visible to us or the changes we had in mind), we may mistakenly assume that our efforts have been in vain if we donít see results. Thus the premises that pagan rituals are ineffective is that much easier to believe.
Of course in many works of fiction, pagan deities are regarded as being less powerful than mainstream deities which isnít surprising since we do not live in a predominantly pagan society.
However as soon as we see the motives behind Hollywood story telling, a different perspective becomes clear. It only stands to reason that people raised in one culture would promote their beliefs through their story telling, and just because one group (though the group we call Hollywood is very convincing at times) portrays their religious beliefs in a certain way does not mean the rest of the world is bound by them.
Literature and film have so much impact on our psyches that we assume they must be correct in nearly all their interpretations. Sometimes we have a hard time believing that people with so much insight and creativity could be so uninformed.
It is unfortunate that the same works of art that inspire us to practice magick donít teach us the proper ways to maximize our effectiveness. In fact the "rules" of most stories in popular literature today exist to support the plot rather than reflect how energy really moves in our universe.
Fortunately, if we recognize the inconsistencies inherent in our culture, we are that much further towards mastering magick as well as our imaginations. We can filter out the bad information and still retain the inspirations these works of art can provide.
And while it is tempting to insult mainstream writers for their lack of knowledge with the occult, it is hardly fair to blame the lay person for his or her ignorance when so many students of magick are also unaware of the principles by which our universe is bound.
The bottom line is not to take popular literature too seriously. It was not written to teach you magick nor was it written to reflect the way the world works, only one personís interpretation of it. If writers are inspired by true premises, then history will judge them, and their premises will withstand criticism through the years. If the story is just for entertainmentís sake, then it will fade.
In short, embrace the parts of art that inspire you and ignore the rest. There may be a true lesson to be learned...then again, it may be just a story.
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To answer this question, the spirit of nature must be first discussed in greater detail. For starters, natureís foremost goal is balance. Everything that happens in natures involves the efforts of nature to compensate for excesses. When imbalances occur, nature watches closely and resolves them in her own time to regain her equilibrium.
Regaining equilibrium sometimes involves violence as we see when a volcano destroys wildlife with tons of fiery liquid rock. After seeing such destruction of plants, animals and even human lives, we wonder how this can ever be seen as restoration of balance.
Then, if we stick around for a few months we observe the land coming back to life with vital nutrients from deep under the groundís surface providing fresh green ecosystems for thousands of creatures. Where once only concrete and nutrient-poor soil lay, fresh, nutrient-rich soil lays ready to house new life.
This brings us back to the question of whether Natural Magick can be used for any (specifically harmful) spells. Many practitioners assume and teach that Nature Correspondences cannot be used for negative intentions.
This is only partially true. You can curse someone using Nature Correspondences, but since the action will probably be against natureís balance, the majority of the energy for the working will have to come from either yourself, another group of magicians, or a spirit.
The reason for this is because negative intentions rarely restore balance. More often they compromise it and thus are not as effective as they would be if you were to use them for protection.
That is not so say that you canít use them to curse or hex someone. There are a few Nature Correspondences that have almost no beneficial attributes except for defensive magick, however they still only set the stage.
They alter the current of energy around the witch or magician so that it does not run contrary to the harmful magick he or she casts.
Thus, if you tried to use a sprinkling of wormwood oil to curse an enemy and no other form of magick, you would be less likely to have success. In this case you would need to "force" the issue with either Spiritual Magick or Mental Magick.
On the other hand, if your working were somehow necessary to restore balance (and I mention this only hypothetically because it is very unlikely that this would happen) then simply using a Nature Correspondence to cause harm would be effective on its own.
The reason for this difference between the two examples, cursing and protection, is that almost all actions of protection maintain balance. While there are a few exceptions (like a murderer using magick to protect himself from getting caught), protection opposes actions that cause sudden change. Cursing, on the other hand, causes sudden and disruptive changes that cry out to be remedied. It is nature that will inevitably have to repair the damage one way or another, and therefore all devices of nature will be less likely to actively support harmful endeavors.
So, while nature will accept sudden and violent changes like the earlier example of the volcano, they must be warranted as the result of accumulated imbalances. This is definitely something to think about before engaging in harmful magick.
If your actions are habitually harmful, you may become the imbalance that nature has to violently attack in order to restore her symmetry. It wonít necessarily happen every time. People do get away with black magick sometimes and as much as we hate it, there is nothing we can do about it. On the other hand, while some negative actions may not have immediate backlash, habitually negative ones always do.
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The term "Time Correspondence" refers to the time frames when various magickal intentions are most likely to be successful. There are many different ways to correlate magickal workings with time. Descriptions of the most common Time Correspondences are listed below. Click on the links to read a description of how to use each of them for your workings.
Historically, the cycle of the moon has been the most important Time Correspondence, and you may see references to its affects even in non-esoteric settings. For example, the word "Lunatic" is derived from the word Luna--the Latin word for moon--as it has been illustrated time and again that mentally-ill humans and animals react more forcibly during different phases of the moon.
Whenever you see that a theorem or principle of magick has been accepted and embraced by mainstream society, pay close attention to it. Such crossovers of information from the esoteric to everyday scientific circles are rare and when they happen, there can only be one reason: They are both valid and practical.
Remember that scientists donít want to be connected with what their colleagues might consider non-scientific flights of fancy. And yet, psychologists and psychiatrists still know enough through experience to take extra precautions in hospitals during different phases of the moon, even though some of their most difficult patients have no idea what phase the moon is in when they act out.
Fortunately, coordinating magickal workings with the proper phase of the moon is one of the simplest Time Correspondences to follow with a full half of the month being available for each type of intention (usually the waxing or waning phases are all that need to be adhered to).
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Zodiac Sign The Moon Is Traveling Through:
Next to the proper phase of the moon, the sign of the zodiac through which the moon is traveling is the most helpful in planning the appropriate times for magick.
Again, mainstream societyís acceptance of this system is no accident. Farmers consider the calendar showing the zodiac signs for each day in the Farmerís Almanac before planting their crops because they know from experience that their returns will be much better if they do so.
Workings of magick respond similarly to coordination with lunar zodiac signs and again the system is not difficult to learn or work with.
Note: Two definitions that all practitioners of magick should be aware of when using the lunar zodiacal system are Void of Course and Via Combusta. These are both times when magick should NOT be performed unless you are very advanced and you have a very good reason. Historically, these are erratic times when magick has been known to go haywire. Even if you choose not to incorporate any other Nature or Time Correspondences in your workings, I strongly urge anyone practicing magick to purchase a Farmerís Almanac that lists these times to avoid disastrous failures or even reversals of your magickal intentions.
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After the phase of the moon and the lunar zodiacal calendar, the planetary hour holds the most weight in magick. Each hour of the day corresponds to a different planetary satellite including: the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These seven celestial bodies are also referred to as "The Seven Stars" because when the system of the planetary hours and the days of the week were developed, they were thought to be the only bodies in our solar system. (See also The Seven Great Powers of Magick for more information.)
(NOTE: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as well as the other smaller bodies in our solar system are considered the "modern planets" because they were discovered after the late eighteenth century--discovered in 1781, 1846 and 1930 respectively--well after much of the astrological systems of magick were developed. Thus they are not included in the planetary hour system used by most practitioners of magick today.)
Each of these Seven Stars rules different characteristics and as with the zodiac signs of the moon, coordinating ritual intentions with them makes magick more likely to succeed.
This is the last of the three major Time Correspondences. If you are just starting out and you decide to use this system, the above three are probably all you need to concern yourself with. Many practitioners choose only to use the phase of the moon and this is fine, however, I strongly urge all serious practitioners of magick to learn and monitor the other two systems for times when the energy current will run against your magickal intentions.
(These times will not necessarily be frequent, but they do occur. For example trying to perform a love spell during the hour of Mars or while the moon is traveling through the sign of Capricorn. These two times would be particularly bad for love spells and thus you might find yourself wondering what it is about you that is keeping your magick from working. In this, feel free to experiment to see how closely you need to follow the system. You may find that your strengths in Mental and Spirit Magick make following it closely unnecessary.
The additional Time Correspondences listed below will contribute only a marginal power to your workings and may not be worth your time to try and incorporate them as well.
In any event, if you find you canít use all the three listed above either because you canít get the proper charts (for the last two--you wonít need one for the moon phase) or because you donít have time to wait for the proper time to come, then use whichever ones you can, remembering that the moon is most commonly considered to be most important followed immediately by the lunar zodiacal calendar and then by the planetary hour.
Day Of The Week:
This Time Correspondence involves coordinating your magickal intentions with the days of the week which were also named for each of the Seven Stars mentioned above for the planetary hour. Sunday (Sun), Monday (Moon), Tuesday (Mars), Wednesday (Mercury), Thursday (Jupiter), Friday (Venus), and Saturday (Saturn). Coordinating spell and ritual intentions with the attributes of these seven celestial bodies is thought to increase the likelihood of success.
However, while this Time Correspondence is highly publicized, especially in modern witchcraft, there are many flaws with it that make it quite frustrating to incorporate into magickal workings.
For one thing, the system of planetary Correspondence is already accounted for with the planetary hour. It does not need to be repeated with the day of the week.
Furthermore, the day should already have been designated by the sign of the zodiac through which the moon is traveling (a more far more potent system). Even if you decided to be extremely thorough and include both systems to "cover all your bases" you would have a difficult time because the two systems are rarely compatible.
For example, the moon takes approximately 2 and 1/2 days to travel though each sign of the zodiac. Say you wanted to perform a spell for healing, and you chose Taurus as your zodiac sign because this sign is strongly associated with healing. You have only 2 and 1/2 days (maybe 5 if you are lucky and the sign happens to appear twice in the same month) out of the whole month to work your spell. In order for you to coordinate your day of the week with the day of the month you would have to be lucky enough for your 2 and 1/2 days to fall on a Friday, (ruled by Venus, it is the day of the week most strongly associated with healing).
In 1999, only three of the 12 months of the entire year showed a Taurus Friday: May, June and July. This means that this spell for healing could only be performed using both systems on three occasions out of the whole year.
You donít want to have your movements so limited that you feel like walking away from magick altogether. Of course you could perform the spell using only the days of the week, but history as well as my own experience has taught me that this system is far less reliable than the lunar zodiacal system. It is not used around the globe for planting or tending to crops because it lacks potency.
Even so, using the day of the week alone is definitely easier to do especially in the beginning of magickal study because you donít require any special charts and you have a full one seventh of the month to work your spell where as with the lunar zodiacal system your time ranges from 1/12 (2 and 1/2 days) to at most 1/6 (5 days) of the month, only slightly more then the day of the week system.
There are a few occasions when the day of the week system can be used as a substitute as when it simply is not possible to use the lunar zodiacal system. If you canít get a listing of the signs the moon travels through, then the days of the week will add a little additional power to your ritual intention.
Again try to at least get a listing of the Void of Course and Via Combusta times. Even if you choose not to use the lunar zodiacal system, always make sure to be aware of these two erratic times to avoid problems.
In the end choose either the day of the week or the sign of the zodiac that the moon is traveling through. DO NOT try to do both. You might get lucky once in awhile, but more likely, you will probably drive yourself crazy.
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Time Of Day:
The time of day used in magick does not refer to the planetary hour but instead typically refers to one of the four cardinal times of the day: dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. These Correspondences are sometimes used in specific spells, however, when crafting your own spells, you may wish to avoid this system and focus on the more potent one mentioned previously unless you have a definite significance you wish to symbolize with one of the aforementioned time spots.
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Seasons Of Year (Zodiac Sign The Sun Is Traveling Through):
This system is used primarily for celebration (the four Greater Sabbats and four Lesser Sabbats) though ritual intentions are often coordinated with the appropriate seasons to bring about changes with long range benefits meant to last for at least the whole season or year.
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Further Notes on Time Correspondences:
To a beginner just starting out, all the above information may seem overwhelming. In fact it's not as long as you keep things organized and remember to keep good notes. If you decide to work with Nature Correspondences, a spell template can help you to master the practice of coordinating all types including those used for time frames.
Again, like all other Correspondences, you are not required to incorporate time frames into your workings. Magick can still work without it. On the other hand, performing magick at the wrong time is the single most common reason for failure. Even if you only follow the cycle of the moon, your magick will have a far better chance of success than if you had used no time correspondence at all. If you have the time and the knowledge to incorporate multiple Time Correspondences, by all means do so. It doesnít cost anything and it may greatly improve your chances of success.
However...and I canít stress this point enough, you will undoubtedly encounter situations when you need to practice magick during times that do not correspond to your intentions harmoniously. In these situations, you should never give up on magick (especially in an emergency) simply because it is the wrong time of month, day, year, etc.
Use what Time Correspondences you can but donít allow them to hold you back. Sometimes we have no choice but to push forward with magick even if we have no supplies and the time is all wrong. In situations when the timing is wrong you can offset the problem by increasing the number of physical Correspondences from nature. You might, for example use extra herbs, stones, flowers, trees, etc. to increase the probability of success. After all magick is a probability game that the scientists have not figured out yet. You can also greatly improve your chances of success by using one (or both) of the other two types of magick (Spiritual and Mental Magick).
If one "ace in the hole" (i.e. the correct moon cycle) is not available then use another source of power. Ideally magick is most likely to be successful if all our "ducks are in a row" and all our Correspondences are in perfect alignment. However, this is neither necessary nor practical for every working though you will no doubt come across some that are especially difficult and thus require more preparation. Such endeavors are precisely why master magicians and witches write down what works for them. This way when they must repeat their success in the future, they do not have to start all over again by trial and error.
Experiment and practice until you find the timings that work best for you. Again remember to consider geography (what works in one place or with one group may require adjustment for another) as it can greatly affect your results.
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A more advanced question, but fortunately the answer is not so difficult that it would confuse the novice reading this.
Many philosophers and occultists alike have embraced the idea that all gods are one, that people are one with the gods (and all other spirits for that matter), and that all living creatures are part of the same source (the universe). There are many ways to illustrate this concept of universal oneness. Everyone you know, everything you see is really one or part of the same source.
Whichever way you look at it, the concept can confuse a rather simple though often misunderstood system of categorizing the three methods of magick.
It is true that we might be one with the universe (although I stress the word "might", for those of you who have not yet decided for yourselves which theology is right for you), but we still maintain our separation (as many lonely individuals will quickly attest to).
We are not "united" every day of our lives with everyone and everything else around us. The fact is that we are operating on a physical plane, and while the philosophical and esoteric arguments may lean towards the reality of total union of all things (and therefore all forms of magick) with the universe, these are not practical for our everyday needs.
We still must exist separately in the world in which we live, and especially for the beginner, lessons in magick should focus on the practical side with as few confusing concepts as possible. Spirits do not seem to have the same identity as a bottle of sandalwood oil nor do I feel entirely at one with the willow tree in my back yard.
This whole concept is too deep for many people to digest, and since the philosophical aspects of magick are more likely to develop with time and experience, I urge anyone who has difficulty with the question to let it sit in the back of your mind for awhile. Study and experience will eventually provide an answer more enriching than any I could illustrate here.
So in answer to the question, "Are all forms of magick one?", the truth is that they probably are. But then that doesnít really help the average magician when she needs to get something done.
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