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Stone Familiars Twilight heralds Witches' dawn For 'neath the Moon and silver stars Far below

the frozen earth Crystals await to be reborn. Witches gather through the night By river rock and crystal cave Sky-clad in the misty gloom Stone goddesses in spirit flight. Crystals and gemstones are powerful familiars no practitioner of the Craft should be without. A familiar is an ally, totem, helper, or guardian spirit, one honoured for the empowerment and protection it can provide. Stones function as familiar spirits in much the same way as the plant and animal helpmates we hear so much about. They can bring us the questions we need to ask ourselves, and the answers that we seek. Stones in particular give us a sense of cosmic security in a rapidly changing world because they represent a solid, living, indestructible, and absolute reality. Indeed, crystals and gemstones are very much alive, and can assist us in our magical work should ever the need arise. The shamanic belief that stones are alive is widely accepted among Pagan tribal groups the world over, including Native American, Siberian, and African cultures. The Pagan religions of the Norse, Celts, and Greeks were also deeply rooted in shamanism, making it the spiritual root of Western culture. Consequently, shamanism may also be at the core of modern day Wicca. Shamans see nature as the true church, and universal energy as spirits, angels, devas, and gods, just as Witches do. The spirit energies embodied in the shamanic world view live in the center of the universe on the World Tree, an ancient mythological symbol for all creation and our relationship to it. In some cultures, the World Tree is represented by a mound of earth, formed by lumps of clay, or it is shaped into a cylindrical stone. Precious gems and minerals are born from strata, rock, clay, and dirt, following gestation in the belly of the earth. This process demands a host, and long ago this meant feeding the earth with blood to promote fecundity and growth so that the crops would ripen for the harvest. Thus, in ancient Europe, the best horse in the countryside was sacrificed to ensure good crops and the well-being of the people. Similarly, European shamans would pour blood onto the earth to call upon the spirits of the dead, or feed their magic crystal familiars the blood of an animal throughout the year as a way of propitiating the spirits that dwelled in the stones. The spirits of the stone kingdom are earth elementals, typically known as elves, gnomes, and dwarves. These mischievous earth sprites can be a source of minor irritation, or they can bring up feeling of doubt, insecurity, lust, or greed. They can also be a source of power for the practicing Witch. Each stone spirit has a particular purpose to fulfill, which may or may not be in synchronistic harmony with one's magical operation, personality, or chosen destiny. Therefore, a sensitive, ecology-conscious Witch does not bind a stone spirit for his or her use by way of enchantment. Crystals and gemstones, especially one that is your personal familiar or one to be used for a specific magical purpose, should actually choose you! Never underestimate how this may come about. Your stone spirit helpers may fall from the blue, clear sky and land at your feet, someone may give you a stone, or you may already have several special stones in your possession. One in particular may have unusual powers, granting you the ability to heal or see into the future. This may be any type of stone at all, even one that is very plain or ugly, though most likely it will be transparent, and contain some kind of distinguishing mark or picture inside or out. You may work with your stone familiars much as Witches have done for hundreds of years. SCRYING Scrying or crystal gazing is an art of the Craft that has survived the test of time. This predictive process allows intuition to run free. Therefore, the first requirement for the novice scryer is to keep an open mind that can receive spirit signals coming in from the ethers. A stone familiar provides the central point of focus. One common method of scrying

uses dim light and concentration on the question at hand. Questions are asked of the spirits and the answers read as they appear in the stone. Usually a clear vision comes to the scryer immediately. Scrying may include the use of jewels, beryl, crystal balls, and stone-hewn mirrors. Beryl spheres or eggs were used for divination during the renaissance. They increase psychic awareness, help you form a deep connecting link with nature, enhance prophetic vision, and enable you to converse with water spirits. The beryl family includes emerald, aquamarine, golden beryl, heliodor, morganite, and goshenite crystals. Quartz crystal balls are very popular among Witches, magicians, and occultists, and have been treasured for their magical and healing properties since the beginning of time as we know it. Obsidian balls and mirrors are used as divination tools by the brujas, or Witches, of Mexico and South America. They can help you make decisions, repel negativity, and ground you when you are feeling off-center. AMULETS AND TALISMANS Amulets and talismans are magical mascots or lucky charms, little tricks of the Craft trade often carried by Witches to grant special powers, warn of coming danger, or give protection. Jacinth, chrysolite, and pearl are used in the Middle East to attract and maintain wealth, while blood agate was worn in ancient Rome to guard against insect bites, heal and purify the blood, and to relieve anxiety. You may choose among a great variety of crystals and gemstones to serve as an amulet. Try opal for balance, malachite for happiness and protection, quartz for healing, bloodstone for prosperity, carnelian for sexual energy, or chrysoprase for tranquillity. Carry your stone amulet in a medicine bag or pouch, or wear these stones in jewellery to ward off the proverbial "bad hair day." WATCHER STONES Watcher stones are elemental guardians also known as old ones. Stonehenge and Avesbury in England are representative of these ancient rock sentinels. Stones that serve this purpose work via the principle of proximity. Place them strategically in areas that you frequent, such as the kitchen, bedroom, office, or car. Put them in the four corners of your house -- east, west, north, and south. You can also bury stone watchers under the ground to form a protective circle around your property. River rocks, lava rocks, and halite crystals (solidified salt, often used by Witches to ground, protect, or block negative energies) tend to keep a sharp eye on things around the home front. BLESSING YOUR STONES First, ascertain that the stones in your possession are your personal familiars. Sit quietly for a time with each stone in question. Roll the stone around in the palm of your dominant hand. Ask it to tell you its purpose, and listen for a response. The answer may come to you through sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, feeling, or instinct. Expect the unexpected. If you get "good vibes," thank the stone, then work with it accordingly. Clear the stone by placing it in sea-salted water, or by burying it in the earth overnight. You may also smudge clear the stone. This is done by lighting herbs such as sage, cedar, sweetgrass, or copal (a tree resin), and holding the stone in the smoke. Be sure to feed your stone familiars on each and every sabbath. Cornmeal, wheat grains, tobacco, or rum are choice offerings. Just sprinkle some over the stones, or place the stones along with your offering overnight in a crystal or earthenware bowl.