We can sometimes become lost in how to connect to our Divines. Most of the time, just sitting with them strengthens that tether. It takes time to build any relationship and altars are a beautiful way to do so.
There are a number of reasons to create altars. The above is one of many protection altars I’ve created over the years. It features some of the dolls I have purchased for my practice from Silvia’s Spirits. Many more have joined the fold since then.
As a Witch, many things have gone into my practice over the last 3 decades. There are pieces of music that have shaped me. There are Tarot decks that have helped define my practice. Goddesses that claimed me a long time ago. As such, I have devotional shelves that I use to remind me of my roots. They need not be full on altars, or even shelves. A windowsill is a perfectly acceptable.
Ritual & Spellwork Altars
During rituals and Spellwork, I use any number of surfaces for my altar. I have used those wooden magnetic boxes to hold everything. I also use small trays or shadowboxes. A picture frame works too. Remember, this is YOUR practice. Only you define it. What we here are DGC show you is merely one way of doing it.
Below is one of the more elaborate altars I have created for a rather large ritual.
Creating an Altar
The only limitation when creating your altar is you. Decided how big or small you wish to go. Whether you want it elaborate or simple. There is no right or wrong, when it comes to altars. Follow your intuition. We have been given the gift of intuition for a reason. If it feels like it’s too much, then scale back. The Divine WANTS you to trust your gifts.
Cerridwen Devotional Altar
I love creating altars and devotional altars really help with that connection. I started the month by creating a cave from Air Dry Sculpey. Many of the Goddesses we work with are deep within the cave. For Cerridwen, we must enter the cauldron to travel to the cave.
Then I used our incense blend daily, either by burning it or lighting the Black Sacred Candle. I placed a small bit of the blend on this lovely Raven & Skull dish I have, along with a basic black candle. The sigil is beneath it. I decided that Labradorite was perfect for the work ahead. My lovely sister, Wendy, gave me this heart as a Yule gift and it just felt right.
Each day I have connected with Cerridwen, through sitting before this simple, yet powerful altar. Remember, it’s not so much what is on the altar, but how you connect with what you have placed upon it. Placing it on a tray I am able to move it where I need it to be for the days workings. Putting your heart and soul into the creation, even if not perfect, is how we honor the Divine. Both within and without. They know your intention when you work intentionally with them.
Berchta is a Winter Goddess with many threads (and names!) throughout Germany, Austria, and the region of the Alps. There are still areas where some rituals to Berchta still take place even after her demonization by the Church.
She appears as either a veiled young woman (Perchta) with pearls woven into her hair or as a disfigured hag, with unruly hair and dirty clothing. As the young woman, she carries keys and mayflowers. As the old woman, she carries a distaff (for unspun wool). Her plant spirit allies are Holly, Mayflower, and Birch.
In Bavaria, she is one of the Leaders of the Wild Hunt. Leading the procession of those she protects, it is a Yule time procession of the ghosts of women, children, and animals. Other stories include her sovereignty over the fields, as Holda, Goddess of Abundance shaking the snow from herself over the ground that will allow the rebirth and abundance of the fields in Spring. Like many of our Dark Goddesses, she is a bridge between the living and the dead or the cycle of death and rebirth.
Perchta, Holda, Diana, Frigga, La Befana
The list of names and energetic similarities of this Winter Solstice Goddess expands through archeological discoveries by the likes of Marija Gimbutas and many other historians. From appearing with a Swan’s foot, as a Maiden or a Crone, to her demonization by the Church and slitting bellies if not properly behaved and consuming the right “meals”– Berchta and her conflations and sister Goddesses are here to teach us how to regain our own sovereignty through our renewal and rebirth.
Welcoming Berchta – Kaycee’s Experience
Like most other Goddesses, I was deeply intrigued by Berchta. Pre-Christian forms of Goddesses hold so many dualities, are all encompassing, but are historically demonized to control the populace instead of being beautiful stories explaining the seasons and highest connections to divinity. After creating the Berchta Candle, I set out to get to know her even in her darkest forms.
The Stomach Slicer
The stories of Berchta slicing open the stomach of those who didn’t leave the right food or who consumed it all and didn’t leave any for her caught my attention. When I connected with her about this story, this story was changed to inspire fear. In fact, the feeling was that her demonization led her to becoming the Stomach Slicer to free those who are being mercilessly controlled. She explained she is emptying the contents of what has been force fed to us so we can find our inner wisdom, our inner fire, our inner motivation, and purpose. This clearing out and imminent death allows the transformation of rebirth with the return of the solar fire, not just the celestial sun, but the fire within us.
Looking to 2022
Berchta asked me what I am cutting myself open for in 2022. I was taken aback, but she was very persistent with this question. How am I growing my fire? How can I expect this flame to grow without the space available for air to reach it? What must I carve out myself? She tossed her distaff at me, the end having a blade attached. She said this is also a key, I would know where to cut and where to weave when the time is right, but the time is approaching quickly. I look forward to continuing my work with the fierce love of Berchta!
Illes, J. (2009).Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Saints, Angels, Fairies, Demons, and Ghosts (Witchcraft & Spells). HarperOne.
My Journey with Berchta
2021 has seen many upheavals in all of our lives. We have lost loved ones through sickness, conspiracy, and growth. Mother Berchta has taken the pieces I could no longer hold and tossed them into the aether. I am grateful to her for doing so!
I started the month knowing the shifting and cracking of bones was necessary. We are all remade over and over, if we allow that growth to lead us to all of the places and spaces meant to be ours. As I get older, I see shades of my own grandmother begin to appear. It was never more prevalent than this holiday season.
Kaycee has spoken about a tradition we started for ourselves this year that we’re affectionately calling Witchmas. It is her, myself and my dearest sister Wendy, we are the Witches Three. In all the years I’ve known these two lovely Witches, we hadn’t spent a December holiday together. That needed to change! With a plan hatched, my beloved checked maps and found a place of roughly equal distance for us all to travel to meet.
I began to plan gifts and Hygge became the theme. It was for all of us, without even knowing it. Selfcare during the busy holidays is a must. It’s not too late, head over to 12 days of Self Care and bring in the new year at peace.
This is where my beloved Gran came in. I crafted teas and cocoas, flavored sugars and mulling spices. Even charmed planner clips. I found an adorable Etsy shop or three and obtained the most luscious hand lotion, soap and shower gels.
I’ll be the first to admit, I went overboard. Yet, Berchta sat with me as I crafted, nodding her head or showing me a better way, depending on what I was doing. I even made Wassail as an offering to her. Then sat with her and sipped it.
The Wisdom of Berchta
There are words of wisdom in the breeze and as I sit here, writing this, there is something I must pass along.
“You love so hard and so deeply that sometimes it gets you wounded. Those that are your tribe understand that. They will ALWAYS have your hand when you need them most. This world needs more of the souls that love that deeply.”
The people in my life, that have seen me at my best and my worst, and stayed anyway? Those are the people that carry a piece of me with them. Those that I come to with an idea and they say “Let’s figure out a way to do that!” They ARE my tribe.
Tonight, I will sit with Mother Berchta and release the things I didn’t know I still held.
I am forever grateful for her gentle nudges toward my own mother. For the first time ever, my gifts were something so truly me. It is only Berchta that I feel could have planted that seed.
She is wise.
She is caring.
She is the Mother.
She is me.
And she is all of you.
Building it Up
This is a free series from Dark Goddesses Collective and is a part of our December 2021 work. We believe that it is important to empower each other, this includes providing free information that provokes or encourages knowledge of self, of sovereignty, and that which builds intuition. Over the course of 12 days we will be building up a practice of selfcare that invites in the deeper knowledge of self and building up awareness of the importance of Full-hearted selfcare in our practices of magic.
We are building a network of Sovereigns too! Stay tuned!
A candle & a key, With Darkest Gratitude, Kaycee & Ivy
Nyx, born of chaos/khaos she is a primordial Deity and one feared by Zeus himself. She is far older and far more powerful. Yet, little remains of her mythology. This month, we have spent sometime rediscovering her. She is far more than appears on the surface.
As much as she is darkness itself, within the cloak of stars she wears are brilliant bursts of light. She, like many of the Greek Deities, is honored through an Orphic Hymn. The translation of it is here for you to add to your own practice.
Orphic Hymn to Nyx
I shall sing of Nyx, Mother of gods and men. Nyx – and let us call her Kypris – gave birth to all. Hearken, O blessed goddess, jet-black and star-lit, Whose delight is in quiet and slumber-filled serenity. Cheerful and delightsome, O mother of dreams, you love the nightlong revel, And your gentleness rids of cares, and offers respite from toil. Giver of sleep, beloved of all you are, as you drive your steeds and gleam in darkness. Ever incomplete, now terrestrial and now again celestial, You circle around in pursuit of sprightly phantoms, You force light into the nether world, and again you flee into Hades. Dreadful necessity governs all things. But now, O blessed one, yea beatific and desired by all, I call on you to grant a kind ear to my voice of supplication, And benevolent, come to disperse fears that glisten in the dark.
If you would like to hear it recited, you can find a recording within the article linked here. You will also find a sigil for inscribing upon candles and placing into your own workings with her.
If you are feeling lost, or stuck, you can call upon her for clarity. She can guide you through the dark, as it is her domain. Sit in darkness, on the New Moon. Call to her and explain your situation. Then, simply listen. She will show you the way forward.
Darkest Blessings Ivy
The buildout of our private community is well underway. Stay tuned!