December 2020 Grey Matters
The Grey Matters
Table of Contents
The Three Rules of Wizardry
Creating an Athame
New Alchemy Classes
The Magick of Holly
December Candle-Side Chat
The Magick of Stories
The Dean's List
Magick Alley Sale
The Three Rules of Wizardry: Foundations of Wizardly Growth
By Apprentice Truston
In any profession or sphere of existence, there are social constructs in place that govern accepted behavior. Occasionally, specific professions or social situations require the codification of those constructs to provide a frame of reference for judging ones own behavior, and the behavior of our peers. Lawyers, in every state and jurisdiction the world over, have established a set of rules and guidelines for their professional conduct and ethical code. Doctors do the same. These guidelines exist in part because of the nature of these professions. Lawyers and Doctors have an influence over the people they advise, and because of the nature of their professions they have more of a responsibility to the people they serve than the average person. This additional responsibility requires rules that govern what could otherwise be considered legal behavior in the eyes of the law. A doctor, for example, may legally be able to offer only one course of treatment for a patient, but ethically they are required to present all of the options and possible outcomes and allow a patient to make their own decision. Without standardized guidelines, a doctor who does not honor this ethical rule may cause undue harm to their patients physically or mentally. Similarly, Wizards operate with a certain amount of influence over the people and communities who seek their advice and assistance. This influence necessitates a set of rules that govern a Wizards behavior so that undue harm is not felt at a Wizards hands and thus the Three Rules of Wizardry are born.
The first Rule of Wizardry states: A Wizard takes responsibility and credit for their actions and deeds. This rule requires the Wizard to examine their actions to determine the results of their work. A Wizard cannot just cast a spell or offer advice and let what may be, be. They must follow up on their casting or their advice and determine the courses of action that sprung as a result of their work and the outcomes of those actions. Additionally, the Wizard must be honest in their analysis and take credit and responsibility for any outcomes that may be a result of their work. A Wizard may not always be able to determine the level to which their work played into the results of their work, but they must always take responsibility for their potential part in the outcome. Furthermore, a Wizard must be willing to accept that their work may result in a negative or undesired outcome. This rule sets the foundation for the proper functioning of the other two Rules of Wizardry.
The second Rule of Wizardry states: Reputation is power. This is a simple rule that reminds the Wizard that their reputation directly influences their power. As a Wizard, it is through our reputation that we are sought for council and advice. With a strong positive reputation within our communities we will be sought for council more frequently and for issues of a greater nature than otherwise. Similarly, a negative reputation will see a Wizard with little ability to influence their community, as those within it will seek advice and council elsewhere. The second Rule of Wizardry is a reminder to the Wizard of their potential to have great effects on the world around them.
The third Rule of Wizardry states: With great responsibility comes great power, and with great power comes great responsibility. The third and final Rule of Wizardry reminds the wizard that they have the ability to influence events and decisions that shape the world around them and that is not something to be taken lightly. As a Wizard grows their experience, and as a result their sphere of influence, so too will the impact of their actions be felt more strongly and by further people. At its most basic, the third Rule of Wizardry serves as the building that rests on the foundation of the first and second Rules of Wizardry. As our reputation grows through acknowledgement and ownership of our actions, we see our responsibility and power rise.
These three rules work together intrinsically to influence a Wizards decisions and behavior. When a Wizard adheres to the first Rule of Wizardry, they are owning their actions and deeds, and taking responsibility for their outcome. The implication of the first rule is that the Wizard will not only take responsibility, but furthermore, examine the results of their actions and deeds to determine if their work has had a positive, negative, or neutral outcome. The Wizard who properly examines the results of their work through the lens of the first rule, will see how their reputation has changed. By doing so, the Wizard is working with the second Rule of Wizardry. A desired positive outcome at the hands of a Wizards council will result in that Wizards reputation positively growing, and thus their power as well. The third Rule of Wizardry then reminds the Wizard that the first and second Rules of Wizardry will continue to influence their Wizardly work in greater fashion as time progresses. As their body of work grows and they continue to have influence on the world around them, their reputation will continue to grow. The third rule states that as the Wizards work expands so too does the importance of adhering to the first and second rules. Additionally, the third Rule of Wizardry implies that the Wizard must be even more discerning and cautious as their sphere of influence and ability to effect change grows. A flippant mistake for a young wizard is likely to have little impact on the larger cosmos, however, a master wizard who makes a flippant mistake could have drastic and far reaching consequences for a greater period of time. Perhaps most importantly, all three Rules of Wizardry require the Wizard to examine and learn from their body of work, and to continuously grow as Wizards.
The Rules of Wizardry form a sound foundation for the Wizard to continuously examine and hone their work. The Wizard who takes them seriously and applies them rigorously will not only see growth on their Wizardly path but will also recognize their ability in influence the world around them with greater clarity than those who do not. It is important to note that the Rules of Wizardry do not provide ethical guidelines, only the framework through which ethical implications may be viewed. This allows for continued growth of ethical boundaries and guidelines within the Wizarding community without restriction. Ultimately, Wizards are honor bound by these rules to do their work with full awareness of how their work may influence not only the lives of those around them but themselves as well.
Kingsley, Nicholas. Wizardry 100: Becoming an Apprentice.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon. Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard. New Page Books, 2009.
Creating an Athame
By Apprentice OberonMorningstar
Completing my assignment on creating my athame was more of a focus on the consecration and ritualistic aspect as opposed to the crafting as in the previous three assignments: wand, chalice, and panticle. I considered going out to my local occult shops and hunting for a ceremonial blade to use as my magickal tool, however I already have a knife that I keep at my altar cabinet and use for magickal purposes. Many years ago, my parents took a vacation in Spain, and my father brought me back a beautiful knife. The blade of the knife is steel with a curve to it, giving a Moorish appearance in design. The blade also folds forward into the handle, so it does not require an external sheath. The design of the blade itself is rather simple, with a small engraving of the manufacturer on one side: “Muela Spain” and “TOLEDO” on the other side. The handle has a curve to it that matches that of the blade, made of a combination of black and golden metals. On the handle, the black areas are plain with a few round golden studs, while the golden areas have intricate zig-zag and diamond/triangular designs.
I had the knife as a keepsake, as it travelled with me during the various times I moved homes over the years. Feeling a special affinity for the knife and as a memento with ties to a love of travel and cultural exploration as well as family lineage. When I first started my personal discoveries and practices into magick without formal training and study, I set up an apothecary at my altar. I kept this knife in my altar cabinet and would use it for shaving resins and barks and other wortcunning needs. Although I would not yet consider myself a practitioner of magick, I held the idea that this knife was my athame. Upon moving to my new home earlier this year and setting up my space for my altar, I made the intention to develop my magickal practice and began my studies at the Grey School of Wizardry. This knife was kept at my altar more as a symbol than as an actual magickal tool.
When it came time to defining my athame as a tool in my magickal practice, I considered going to the local occult shops and browsing around for various options available for an athame. Before taking the time to actually go out and do this, I recalled the knife that I have kept in my sacred space, and became inclined to attune and consecrate this knife as my official athame. I had a few reservations though, which stemmed from adding paint or engravings on the knife. Feeling that the design of the knife was rather complete as it was, upon asking the knife I received messages that it was not necessary to have to put physical paint or engravings onto the surface of the knife in order to deem it a magickal tool. Feeling very aligned with this train of thought, I decided that I would consecrate the knife as is to be my athame.
Setting the intention to welcome this knife into my magickal practice as my athame, I aligned the consecration and attunement with the full moon blue moon on Halloween, when the veil is thin and I could charge my ritual with these auspicious powers. This coincided with my ceremony to consecrate my magickal chalice and panticle, creating a ceremony of the elements. On the night of the full moon, I prepared my sacred space by lighting candles and a salt lamp, and cleaning the surface of my altar. Placing my altar cloth horizontally across the center space, I positioned my wand at the east to represent the element of air, chalice in the west to represent the element of water, panticle in the north to represent the element of earth, and athame in the south to represent the element of fire. In the center I positioned my thurible, where I would burn incense for the consecration. In the northeast corner, I anointed a black candle with Florida water, to add blessings of protection and offer to the night of the moon and spirits. I also placed a colourfully designed skull next to the candle to welcome in the ancestors to the ceremony. In the southeast corner I placed my smokey quartz wand, which I use as a tool in energy healings. In the southwest corner was positioned a ramekin of kosher salt, offering protection and purity. In the northwest corner I placed an abalone shell with sage to smudge before and after the ritual.
I began the attunement and consecration ritual by lighting the candles and calling upon my ancestors, guides, and angels to help assist me and be present for the ceremony. Igniting the bundle of sage in the black anointed candle, I smudged my auric field, the tools upon my altar, my altar space, and the room. Cracking a window, I allowed the energies to safely release from my space and set the tone for a clear and cleansed beginning. Having first completed the consecration of my chalice followed by my panticle – wand had been attuned at the previous full moon in September – it was now time for the consecration of my athame. Using a ramekin, I combined some herbs associated with the fire element and athame in accordance with the given knowledge in the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard: dragon’s blood resin, crushed black pepper, bay leaf, and kosher salt. Adding purified water, I mixed the herbs together and placed the ramekin in the southern position of my altar, resting my athame atop. Using my magickal wand, I drew the reiki symbols over my athame, activating the energetic frequency in alignment with a higher purpose and connecting with a divine healing nature. Holding the handle of my athame with both hands and blade pointing upward, I asked for assistance from my guides, angels, and ancestors to help attune the athame with the divine element of fire, and connecting myself with my athame and the divine element of fire into my magickal practices. Dipping my finger into the herbal solution and swirling it around, I wiped the fire-inspired solution on my Third Eye and Heart Center. Placing my athame back atop the ramekin of herbal solution, I began the consecration ritual.
Following the guidance given in the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, I set the intention to consecrate my athame. Taking a stick of frankincense incense from my altar cabinet, I split the stick into three pieces, offering blessings to the element of fire, full moon, and to the ancestors. Lighting the sticks of incense in the flame of the anointed black candle, I placed them in the thurible at the center of my altar. Picking up my athame, I held the tip of the blade in the flame of the candle, reciting the mantra from the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard:
“Blade of steel I conjure thee
To ban such things as named by me.
Cut clearly through adversity,
As I do will, so mote it be!”
I recited the mantra three times while heating the tip of the blade in the magickal flame. I then dipped the heated blade into the special solution prepared at the southern position of my altar, tempering my athame. Next, I took a magnet that I had gotten as a souvenir from my travels, which had a ceramic image of a sun and moon attached to one side. Magnetizing my blade, I gently and swiftly swiped the magnet while reciting the mantra from the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard:
“Blade of steel I conjure thee
Attract such things as named by me.
Draw tight the circle ‘round the tree,
As I do will, so mote it be!”
Reciting this mantra three times, I moved the magnet along alternating sides of the blade. Running the knife through the smoke of the incense, I offered thanks to my guides and angels, as well as the ancestors who made an extra special appearance due to the thinning of the veil on Halloween night. I gave thanks to the divine element of fire, welcoming my athame into my sacred space to be used as a channel of the divine fire in my magickal practices.
Letting the anointed black candle upon my altar completely burn out, I gave a special toast to my ancestors, offering a glass of whiskey while revelling in the light of the full moon shining in through the windows. Fireworks were going off in the distance, adding to the element of celebration and ceremony around the community. I ended the ritual by smudging my magickal tools, altar, the room, as well as my energetic field, cleansing the space to be ready for future magickal practices. Having completed the consecration of my athame, I now have access to four cardinal magickal tools to represent the elements, four cardinal directions, and suits of the tarot, to use for my magickal workings. These four tools are now attuned to my vibration and frequency, and charged with my will to be channels in my magickal practices as well as charge my magickal intent.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon; and Prof. Frank “Salient” Griggs. “Magickal Tools”.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon; and the Grey Council. Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard. 2004.
New Alchemy Classes
By GSW Staff
Greetings, apprentices and magisters! The Alchemy Department has some exciting news! Dean M.T.O. has uploaded a new Introduction to Alchemy class to the Department which is now available for you to enroll in. This much-revised class replaces the former Introduction to Alchemy class and offers a fresh look at what alchemy is and isn't, it's storied history, the various aspects of the Art, and even gives a chance for some hands-on learning. Even better, this is but the first of several new classes in the Department that will be available soon. Exciting things are happening in the Alchemy Department, so stay tuned!
Seasonal Music: On Midwinter's Day by Damh the Bard
From the GSW Archives
Christmas Wassail (non-alcoholic variety)
1 gallon apple cider
25-30 whole cloves
6-10 cinnamon sticks
1 quart pineapple juice
1 6-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
Serve chilled. Garnish with citrus slices, if desired.
Eggnog Milkshake for One
Vanilla ice cream
Whipped cream (canned whipped cream will work in a pinch)
First, choose a special mug, one with Yule accordances for extra magick.
Fill the mug half full with small spoonfuls of ice cream. Working quickly, add a generous spoonful (or squirt) of heavy cream. Stir to blend the ingredients, mixing just until the ice cream reaches a soft-serve consistency.
Fill the mug the rest of the way with eggnog. Stir to blend slightly.
Top with another dollop of heavy cream. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
Holiday Peppermint Cookies
1 C. butter, softened
¾ C. sugar
3 C. all purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ C. crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
5 tsp. warm water
¾ C. confectioners sugar
Additional crushed candy (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and beat until blended.
Stir in flour and salt, then the crushed candy.
Add red food coloring to dough if desired.
Roll tablespoons of dough into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes until firm.
Cool on sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Mix water and confectioner’s sugar together to form icing. Dip top of each cooled cookie in icing (sprinkle with additional crushed candy, if desired) and allow to dry.
Yields approximately 48 cookies.
From the GSW Archives
In the black season of deep winter a storm of waves
Crashes along the edge of the world.
Sad are the birds of the meadow,
Save for the ravens that feed
on crimson blood.
At the clamor of harsh winter––
Rough, black, dark, smoky––
Dogs vicious in cracking bones;
The iron pot is put on the fire
At the end of the dark black day.
- Irish, attributed to Amergin, 11th century
This is the long night. This is the dark night. This is the cold night. This is the night of last hope. This is the night of the little spark. This is the night of turning from darkness. This is the night of turning toward light. This is the night of wonder. The long night is here: come to us, you spirits; together let us fill the long night with light, calling all beings to warm themselves at our fires.
- Ceisiwr Serith, from A Book of Pagan Prayer
The Magick of Holly
From the GSW Archives
Insight: Holly reminds us to sharpen our wits and strengthen our resolve as we face life's spiritual battles.
Down with the Rosemary and so,
Down with the Baies and Mistletoe,
Down with the Holly, Ivie, all,
Wherewith ye drest the Christmas hall.
--by Herrick, a Devon villager
The ancient Gaelic word for Holly, "Tinne", is related to words for fire such as "tinder". Holly wood was once used for charcoal to make axes and swords. Holly was a Chieftain tree of the ancient Celts associated with Taranis, the Gaulish Thunder God, Tina, the Etruscan Thunder God, Taran, the Pictish Thunder God and the Scandinavian God, Thor.
Holly was planted near the home to protect it from lightening, storm, fire, and hexes. It's wood was used in door sills to repel sorcery. War clubs and chariot wheels were made from Holly wood.
In English tradition a ritual combat was enacted every year involving the Oak King who rules in summer and the Holly King who rules in winter. At Midsummer and Midwinter these Divine Kings would battle for the hand of the Goddess (Queen). The Oak King always won in summer marking the season of green and the Holly King in winter, marking the dark season when only meat was available as food.
In ancient Rome gifts were decorated with sprigs of Holly at the Saturnalia, a Midwinter festival. The use of evergreens as decorations has traditionally been associated with good luck - Holly and other evergreens in and around the home are a signal to the Nature Spirits that they are welcome to find shelter and comfort within. A round evergreen wreath on the door is a solar symbol and a sign of faith that life, like the sun, is cyclical. A dark phase such as the apparent "death" of the trees and herbs at winter is merely temporary.
In English tradition it was unlucky to bring Holly into the home before Christmas and unlucky to take it down before Twelfth Night. A sprig was kept in the home to perpetuate luck in the coming year. By Imbolc (Candlemas) on February second, all greens were to be out of the house.
The color red having intense magical significance, Holly's with their red berries were regarded as powerful protectors by the ancients. A branch was placed in the cowshed to keep the cattle from harm. The common English Holly was regarded as a male tree and the variegated variety a female tree. In the forest of Bere, Hampshire, herbal potions to treat whooping cough were drunk
from a bowl made of variegated Holly.
Native American herbalists used the Mountain Holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus L.) and the Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) as medicine. Winterberry buds and wood were used in decoctions and externally as a wash for herpetic eruptions, gangrenous ulcers, jaundice, fevers, and diarrhea. The berries were used as purgatives and to expel worms (lubrici), especially in children.
The bark of the root of the Mountain Holly was used in decoction for jaundice and intermittent fever. The bark and leaves were used for fevers and the leaves alone as a beverage tea.
English Holly leaves were used as a tea substitute in Europe and for coughs, colds, and flu.
Divinatory Meanings: If Holly has come to your awareness today you are being offered assistance in life's trials. As a Spiritual Warrior you may feel abandoned from time to time, as if you have been left to face life's battles alone. Holly reminds you to take heart from your plant allies who are always with you if you but take the time to remember.
Affirmation: Spirit of the Holly, I call on you now. Give me the courage to face life's trials with strength, determination, and certitude.
The Magick of Stories
By Provost Nicholas Kingsley
In this video, Provost Nicholas Kingsley discusses the magick of story. In doing so, he explores how wizards interact with fantasy and how roleplaying – and playing a role – intersect with the realities of our lives and wizardry. He also explores how wizards harness the power of story as a shared language to bridge gaps in understanding and to convey meaning and wisdom in a manner that is accessible to others. Join him for an intimate chat in the candle-lit sanctum of the Grey School’s physical home in Whitehall, New York to learn more about how and why wizards, and the Grey School, present themselves to the world in the way that they do.
This educational and informative video is available at https://www.greyschool.net/videos