Tag: rituals

June Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Year of the Dark Goddess” by Lara Vesta

Journey to the Underworld

I want to clarify that this is a journey to the mythic Underworld, but not a journey into the ancient land of the dead. We will be traveling to the outer gates of a mythic vision for the land of the dead. According to the historical lore, it’s important that you don’t touch the wall or the gates of the land of the dead nor attempt to enter the land of the dead. Psychologically, it is important to adhere to these prohibitions.

It is traditional to make offerings in the mythic Underworld. I invite you to consider metaphorically what you have with you, what you can give as a gift. It can be something that you’re ready to give up and leave behind. And in fact, something traditional in the exchange of the Underworld is that we leave something there of significance to us; we allow something of ourselves to remain.

I also recommend grounding yourself into the here and now after the journey with some food and water and going outside, putting your bare hands and feet to the earth, breathing with the earth and just giving thanks for whatever it is that you receive. That’s going to help bring you back into your body.


Ensure you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Because this journey takes us deep into psychological space, you do not want to be jolted out of your travels. If you are playing a recording of the journey or having the journey read to you, you may choose to lie down in a dark room. If you are reading the journey aloud, you might wish to place a veil over your head. Choose one that allows you to see the text below you but blocks out surrounding light.

Center and ground yourself.

Journeys to the mythic Underworld all follow a formula in Old Norse sources:

First you must choose your transportation.

You may either ride on a borrowed horse, which will become the magical transporter for your journey, or you may encounter a woman whose arms are filled with hemlock greens, who greets you and wraps you in her mantle drawing you down beneath the earth.

Once you have decided on your transportation, begin to envision yourself in a protective circle. You might choose to visualize yourself in the web of life, connected above and below, encircling yourself in a web of light. Breathe into the web.

Or you might wish to imagine you are a tree, sending your own roots down into the earth and connecting deeply with the stones, the ancestral bones, even the magma from the earth’s center. Then allow your branches to extend up into the sky above you, while also dropping down into the earth to meet your roots so that you become a circuit of energy.

Breathe into your web or energetic tree. Release anything that is no longer serving you into the earth below.

Invite in any protectors—your helping and compassionate ancestors, guardians, and guides—to be present with you in this journey.

You are now in a sphere of protection and support.

And from within this sacred space, find yourself at the center. Feel your strength, the power of your container, your readiness for making this journey, and give thanks to yourself for being here, for showing up, for being willing.

Feel into your choice of transportation. Now either mount your borrowed horse or find yourself wrapped in the mantle or shawl of the woman bearing hemlocks. Either way from this place we begin with your guide, horse or woman.

And we are in the forest.

You see before you a large tree, maybe an ash, a yew, a redwood, a sequoia, or a great oak.

The tree is vast. Its branches reach up so high that they disappear into the mists above it, extending out, holding an entire forest within the circumference of the tree roots. And inside the tree is an aperture, a portal. Now with your transporter, woman or horse, make your way into the tree. Notice how in the trunk of the tree opens a wide road, the path pointing down and to the north. It is damp and slippery.

And as you become a part of the journey on the road, you can hear footsteps—your own or of the horse or of your guide—resounding on the road, echoing out into what seems like an endless chamber. You travel down and down and down for nine days and nine nights.

We move now down nine days and nine nights on the road. Day is felt, not seen, but sensed; night is luminous in the distance. A feeling of stars.

Nine days, nine nights.

Eight days, eight nights down and down.

Seven days, seven nights,

six days, six nights down and down.

Five days, five nights,

four days, four nights down and down.

Three days, three nights,

two days, two nights down and down.

This day, this night.

We stand now on the Earth Road.

And still the road leads down.

The way is full of mists and darkness. Feel the mists curling around you. As you walk, a sense of sovereignty and centeredness fills your every motion. Even though you can’t see where the road ends, you know where you’re going: you are going to the land of the dead.

You travel over deep, dark valleys, through more mists and more darkness. You find the road beneath you has become well-worn, and you notice that you are not alone. There’s a community with you now of travelers, richly clad and walking, all of them down and down.

You move with the travelers until you find yourself alone again in a sunny land. Now, light is coming from somewhere bright and glowing. The plants are growing fresh and green, beautiful all around you. Notice which plants you recognize, which ones you have seen before, or perhaps they call to you, tremble as you approach, or brush your hand.

And we travel on down and down.

There is no sound except for the footsteps and your own breath. And through the ever-present mist, a dog approaches, its breast bloodstained. And it barks at you urgently, but not threateningly.

And you travel on down and down. It becomes so dark that you see nothing at all. But you can hear the roar of a great river, the river whose name means “echoing, bellowing,” a swift and tumbling river of leaden waters, which contain weapons of all kinds. At the banks of the river there is a battle unending. Those who have died in war are fighting forever by the river that separates the living from the dead.

Over the river before you, there is a bridge. The bridge is also called Bellowing, and it is roofed in shining gold. Suddenly everything around you becomes luminous, bright with the gold of the bridge as you approach. And in the shadow of the roof, emerges the guardian.

Her name is Morgu∂, which is said to mean “courage in battle” in most translations, but it comes from roots that mean “heart” and “mother.” She greets you and says:

What is your name? What is your lineage?

Tell her now your name; tell her who your people are.

Morgu∂ says:

Why are you on the Earth Path?

And you answer:

[Whatever it is you are seeking in terms of support, answers, or guidance for your rite of passage, this is where you ask.]

Morgu∂ says:

What you seek has crossed the Bellowing Bridge and the Earth Path lies downward and to the north.

And again, we are on the move, crossing over the Bellowing bridge. Visible to the east is a glow. And shimmering before you is a mysterious wall, the gates of the ancient Land of the Dead.

Maybe you can see the outlines of apple trees and the orchard of this mythic Underworld, beautiful in mists and full of soft light. You must not touch the wall, but in ancient times, were you to pass through to the Land of the Dead, there would be a restoration, for when the time comes that is where the dead are restored.

Now you walk between the wall and the river following the Earth Path. It is smooth and worn from many visits. And you see a ring of fire in the distance, and there is something within the ring that calls you forward. Notice how you feel approaching the fire. It is not in the Land of the Dead, nor is it in the Land of the Living. It is on the borderline, the liminal space, the space of sleep, the space of forgetting.

You come to the fire, seeking to remember, re-member, to bring together something missing, something essential to you. Something that you have lost or forgotten in your rite of passage. Perhaps something was taken from you in this transition or something was put to sleep for reasons of protection or reasons beyond understanding.

As you approach the fire, feel what it is to be in that liminal space between the worlds.

Step forward to the fire.

If you carry fear from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it.

If you carry doubt from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it.

If you carry shame or pain from your rite of passage, this is where you leave it, shedding it like a skin and leaving it outside the wall of flame—emerging new and whole.

You enter the flame itself, and it does not burn.

You feel the sensation of the flame, the sacred fire that heals and anneals, that holds what is precious, but does not burn. Now, notice.

What is in the circle of the fire?

This symbol may represent support you need for your Dark Goddess Year. If you choose to bring the symbol back with you, you’ll have to leave something symbolic in its place, something of equal representational value. Even if it is something that you need to let go of, there may be some pain involved.

If you bring an object back with you, you will be responsible for it. You will have to tend it. It is an obligation. It is an honor that you are committing yourself to here in the sacred circle of fire.

When you make your decision, you may claim what is in the circle and leave something, honoring for this exchange. Say some words of blessing or thanks for this symbolic action.

Now say some words of blessing and gratitude for the mythic Underworld realm.

Bless yourself at the center of the sacred liminal fire.

Bless the fire.

As you turn, walk back to the path, exiting the fire and leaving behind your offerings of anything you do not wish to carry any longer.

Bless the river to one side of you.

Bless the path beneath your feet.

Bless your guides, either woman or horse, all those that have been with you on this journey.

Make your way to the bridge and bless it as you arrive to it again. Give your thanks to Morgu∂ as you pass from the depths of your unconscious.

And now you must return, leaving Morgu∂, over the bridge.

You move now to the south and up, the path resounding beneath you.

You bless the dog with the bloody breast who barks at you as you move up and to the south.

You enter again the realm where the plants are eternally fresh and green as you travel up and to the south.

You pass the well-dressed travelers on the path; you bless the dark valleys.

You bless the mists as the path arcs up again.

You bless the nine days and nine nights it takes to return, up, up, up and to the south.

This day and this night, second day and a second night,

a third day and a third night,

a fourth day and a fourth night,

a fifth day and a fifth night

a sixth day and a sixth night

a seventh day and a seventh night,

an eighth day and an eighth night,

On the ninth day you see the light above you.

And you return to the trunk of the tree, emerging into daylight.

As you come again into the realm of life, the realm of the living, bless your symbolic guide, woman or horse, and give gratitude in exchange for the accompaniment they have shown you on this journey.

Your guide or mount embraces you or nuzzles you.

And then they melt back into the earth becoming one with the chthonic dark below. You find yourself again on the path of the forest.

Begin to bless yourself.

Root into your physical body. Notice the taste in your mouth.

Notice the smell in your nose.

Notice what is touching your skin.

Notice any noises you hear and bring your hands to yourself, to the sacred center, and hold yourself close.

Feel again the web of life around you, or your energetic roots and branches, created by you in relationship to the place that you are now, to your ancestors, your guardians, your guides, and fill yourself with love for who you are right now at this time, this deep honoring on this sacred day. Continue loving yourself, loving your task, loving your transformation, loving the rite of passage that you are honoring.

Bless yourself; bless your life; bless your relationships, human and nonhuman. Bless the place where you live; even if it’s not the place that you think you should be, it’s where you are right now. It is feeding you and holding you, so offer it your blessing. Bless your ancestors, all of the lives and deaths that created you, that brought you here to this moment in time, human and nonhuman all. An infinitude of lives. An unbreakable matrix connecting you to all life.

And bless the mystery, the source of all life, that holds us in presence and joy and possibility.

Now, with a heart filled with compassion and empathy for the mythic Underworld, come back into your center. Open your eyes.

By this and every effort may the balance be regained.

—Lara Vesta, Part 1 The Dark Goddess Awaits: Journey to the Underworld, Copyright © 2024

March Author Blog

An Excerpt from “The Marie Laveau Voodoo Grimoire” by Denise Alvarado 

Marie Laveau held her services on Wednesdays and Fridays. Never on Sundays. But people went to see her all the time.” —Mrs. Marie Dede, 1939

People often wonder whether or not there are optimal times—days of the week, phases of the moon, and so forth—when it comes to conjuring. As a practitioner, you can cast a spell at a moment’s notice, but there can be advantages to using certain timing correspondences to optimize power and impact. The association of special times with ritual activities is called magickal timing.

One of the primary things to consider about pairing ritual work with specific timing is intention. People are often driven by emotion and act on impulse; thus, they do not think the work through clearly. As a result, they experience any number of unwanted consequences; the most common is simply an ineffective conjure. We live in an instant gratification society and want what we want when we want it. We don’t like to wait. However, waiting for the right time can sometimes be one of the most important things you can do to render an effective spell. The intricacies of magickal timing are why many folks hire a professional rootworker to perform a spiritual service instead of attempting the work themselves.

Magickal timing can be broken down into several categories, including days of the week, moon phases, sunrise and sunset, planetary hours, time of the year, major life events, hands of the clock, biblical associations, and even a woman’s menstrual cycle. The most commonly considered magickal timing categories are days of the week, phases of the moon, and sunrise and sunset. Which method a worker subscribes to is entirely personal; it boils down to what works.

In Hoodoo, timing is associated with activities of daily living and the days these activities typically occur. For example, people generally get paid on Fridays, so Fridays are associated with prosperity work, getting a job, and getting a raise. In classical traditions, Friday is associated with Venus, the love goddess, and therefore is the ideal day to perform spells related to love and relationships.

While there are other ways to incorporate magickal timing into ritual work, the ones described in this chapter are easy to implement. Try pairing your ritual work with one of the described methods, and you should see an improvement in the power and success of your ritualistic endeavors.


The days of the week are associated with magickal timing in many esoteric and occult traditions, but it was the Babylonians who first created the concept of a seven-day week. They named each day after one of the seven celestial bodies known at the time: the sun, the moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. According to Babylonian beliefs, these heavenly bodies impacted people’s lives on the corresponding day.


Sunday is the sun’s day, and its power can amplify any ritual work. It is a good day for gaining wisdom and seeking assistance with health, wellness, blessings, prosperity, individuality, and power. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Sundays are devoted to God and the orishas Obatala and Orunmila and the loa Gran Bwa.


Monday is the moon’s day, a great day for water rituals, healing, fertility, transformation, intuition, and family matters, particularly those concerning women and children. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Mondays are devoted to the gatekeeper spirits Papa Legba, Ellegua, Eshu, and Exú, the ancestors, and the barons.


Tuesday is ruled by Mars and is appropriate for works involving aggression, offensive battle strategies, enemy work, protection, justice, and manipulating testosterone. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Tuesdays are devoted to Ogun, Erzulie Dantor, and the spirits of the Petro nations.


Wednesday is Mercury’s day, ideal for communication, teaching the arts, transformation, traveling, learning, and luck. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Wednesdays are devoted to Ogun, AnnieChristmas, Oya, Damballah  Wedo, and Babalú-Aye.


Thursday is ruled by Jupiter, and is ideal for conjuring increased wealth, finding treasures, abundance, success, and seeking answers to burning questions. In Catholic Conjure and Laveau Voudou, yellow candles are offered to St. Roche and St. Expedite on Thursdays. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Thursdays are devoted to the spirits Damballah Wedo, Olodumare, Olofin, Oshun, Obatala, Agassou, and Orunmila.


Friday is Venus’s day, and the classical love goddess makes Friday ideal for working on matters of the heart—love, desire, beauty, and romance. Friday is also the day many people get paid for their week’s work, so it is a good day for prosperity work. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Fridays are devoted to Chango, Oya, Babalú Aye, the barons, Erzulie Freda, and Manman Brigitte.


Saturday is Saturn’s day, perfect for conjures related to righteous anger, justified revenge, causing sickness, creating obstacles, banishing, binding, and destroying enemies. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Saturdays are devoted to Yemaya, Oshun, and Baron Samedi, and it is the day to celebrate all spirits.


A moon’s phase refers to the shape of the illuminated portion of the moon as seen from earth. Since the moon and earth are forever locked by the tides, we always see the same lunar surface. Four principal lunar phases hold significance to magickal workers: the first quarter (waxing), full moon, third quarter (waning), and new moon. There is also the period at the end of the waning phase, just before the new moon crescent, that holds significance to workers. This is referred to as the dark moon because the moon is not visible.

The new moon is when the moon officially begins to wax, growing invisibility until it reaches full moon status. The new moon is an excellent time to start new projects and prepare new conjures.

Waxing moons begin after the new moon and visibly grow until the full moon. Rituals designed to draw things to you are best done during this moon phase.

Waning moons begin after the full moon and end the day of the dark moon. Rituals designed to eliminate obstacles, conditions, or people are best worked during this moon phase.

The dark moon is the day before the new moon. Take advantage of the moon’s invisibility to perform clandestine works such as crossings and reversals.


Working by sunrise or sunset is another way to enhance magickal work. Do works designed to draw things to you from dawn until noon, such as love, money, and success. Do works intended to remove or eliminate conditions such as debt or illness from noon until sunset.


When both hands of the clock point upward, it is the ideal time to perform work to draw something to you. When both hands face downward, it is the perfect time to repel negativity.


The traditional time for taking a spiritual bath is at or right before dawn. Some folks pay attention to the moon phases for enhancing the power of their cleansing. For example, when the desired result is removing a condition or obstacles, then cleansing during a waning moon is ideal. A waxing moon is ideal if the goal is drawing something to you. A full moon is perfect for harnessing all the moon’s power towards a desired goal. However, a cleansing can be done any time the need arises, so don’t wait until morning comes if there is an urgent need.

—Denise Alvarado, Chapter 3, Copyright © 2024