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*** Part Two: More Practical Advice ***

By Baroness Tamar the Gypsy, Deputy Guildmistress

Paraphernalia such as a special tablecloth can be made of materials which engage your belief in their purity and naturalness - pure silk is impressive, and, like wool, was once part of a mobile living thing, but pure cotton (or linen, ramie, hemp, etc.) will do. Some extreme vegetarian belief systems would favor cotton, though sheep drop their wool naturally anyway and there is a kind of silk that is harvested after the worms have hatched.

The choice of color is very likely to be affected by cultural symbolism. On the whole, I feel that blue is best, but white and yellow can be extremely effective. Pragmatically, they are harder to keep clean, and a dirty white cloth can cause a psychological backlash. It's said that purple can be too powerful for a beginner. Muddy colors can lead to a muddy reading, if only by association of thoughts.

When sealing a new area, remember all that stuff they do in the occult novels. Sprinkle the salt in the magic circle, draw the pentacle, and mark the doors and windowsills with holy water in your choice of symbol. Call on powerful spirits, if you sure that you have the name right and know precisely what they are good for. Trace your favorite religious symbol in the air with a candle at the four cardinal points. These and other ways are just fine. However, there are less obvious methods, useful for those who are setting up to read at a fair, for instance. A powerful symbol may be used mentally, with no outward indication that anything has been done - trace it with your eyes, while visualizing a candle flame. This has the advantage of not letting anyone know what symbols you use; it is also less upsetting to the casual bystander who only knows the esoteric arts from what he saw in the latest Stephen King movie.

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Salt is a good link to Earth. Running water from the tap is a grounding earth connection as well as the element Water. Candles are a good focus and energy image for Fire. Incense, though somewhat Fire-y, will represent Air. Horseshoes whether new or used, as iron bear the associations iron's elemental strength and historical association as a protection from black magic. The potential for symbolic use of horseshoes is huge. They can be a link to the Celtic goddess Epona, the crescent crown of Isis, the horns of the bull Apis, the Greek Omega, the womb and the void. Some people hang them with the points up, to hold in good luck (or represent Isis); others swear that the points must go down, to hold down the Devil (or represent Omega). It's all according to your personal belief system. The downside of course is that some cultural variants hold that putting a horse the "wrong" way up is a symbol of evil. If you know which version is prevalent in the local area, that may help.

If you wish to purify yourself before a ritual, avoid eating meat for a few days. Don't drink (alcohol). Stop smoking if possible. Be scrupulously clean in body, clothes, room and furnishings. The theory is that the least trace of dirt or dust will assist evil. The ritual of cleaning will, at the very least, help you focus your mind on purity. Similarly, white robes or clothing are a psychological aid for both you and your clients.

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If you feel that someone is drawing energy from you without your permission, feel around in your "energy body" to locate the places they draw from. Remove the "hooks" and meditate on what opening or attachment in you allowed them to attach such hooks. If necessary, avoid the people responsible. If the hook comes back, repeat the procedure. They can't do it if you don't let them.

If you feel you are being attacked, either deliberately or unconsciously, fill yourself with the feeling of righteous anger - How Dare You! Ground your energy body to the energy body of the Earth (a good idea anyway). Some ways to ground easily: put your hands in running water. (A faucet is fine.) Take a shower. Find a structural member of the building you are in and visualize your energy body connected to it, and through it, to the Earth. Visualize yourself in the center of an oval of intense blue light, streaming around you. Harden the outside of the oval; make it a one-way mirror, with the mirror side to the outside.

Or, alternatively, you can ground and pull energy from the Earth up through and around you, so that it creates a continual gentle outflow, deflecting any inroads by others while not interfering with your ability to perceive and work with others.

More traditional methods are often easier for the novice. If you have paraphernalia available, and time, draw a circle around yourself with a knife or sword or staff, or sprinkle salt, or use chalk --whatever. Repeat a simple prayer for protection (complex ones may confuse the issue). Strong herbs such as garlic flowers or asafoetida resin will have a similar effect to that of incense. If you can't manage Four Elements, the basic elements of Alchemy are Salt and Mercury; salt in one breast pocket and a thermometer in the other will balance elements. Holy water may be used to seal openings, of a body or of a room (doors, windows, chimneys, plumbing). Many books will give you precise patterns to follow when drawing a pentacle for protection.

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According to a popular occult-mystery novelist, Dennis Wheatley, an outer circle eleven feet in diameter should be drawn, with an inner circle nine feet in diameter, containing a pentacle. Holy water in silver cups and white wax candles can be put at the four cardinal points on the outer circle. More holy water and candles, and salt and horseshoes, can be put on the points of the pentacle on the inner circle. The horseshoes should encircle the candles with their points out. Words can be chalked around the rim of the inner circle. Popular ones are the names of the Hebrew letters from the Cabala, combined with Agla, Tetragrammaton, the Eye of Horus, and various Christian prayers. The words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in Latin are popular now, but in the Middle Ages and Renaissance an almost equally great power vas attached to Kaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior --the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men.

Remember: it is relatively rare for anyone to be attacked directly. By far the greatest number of problems can be described as accidental attractions, or subconscious desire to make the connection.

If you wish to try astral travel, first learn to be aware when you are dreaming. Then practice controlling what happens in your dreams. Then, if while traveling astrally you meet a fearsome creature, you will have the experience to know how to use your courage as a shield, and use your determination, your will, to make it fall to pieces and crumble to dust. If it is too strong for you, call your teacher for aid.

RECOMMENDED READING: For how it works: Stalking the Wild Pendulum, by Itzhak Bentov For encouragement: The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment, by Thaddeus Golas For exercises: The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk For symbols and on general principles: Rites and Symbols of Initiation, by Miecea Eliade

I hope that this article will not be taken as a comprehensive guide but rather as an essay with a few hints. I hope it will draw questions and comments from other practitioners.

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