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As I’m sure you all know by now, I am not the best when it comes to keeping up with rituals and holidays. Not just Craft related, I even suck when it comes to, for lack of a better word, secular holidays. Case in point, the date of Thanksgiving always eludes me. As do the dates for Memorial Day, Easter, and Presidents Day. I know they are holidays but damned if I remember when and doubled damned if I know what to do for them.

So I hope you will forgive me if I don’t write you a refresher course on Imbolc.  I know that it is important and has major significance as it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox and is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. I know it is often seen as a women’s holiday and is one that centers around the goddess Brigid, especially in the Wiccan tradition. But this is nothing that you can’t find out via hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources. Most, if not all, will be written much better than this, I’ll bet. But for me, it’s just not something anything I’ve ever been about.

Imbolc had never called me the way other holidays have.

I don’t know if the weirdo kid in me was just predestined to feel more comfortable with Samhain once I fully learned about it or if the end of the year is just something I prefer.

Maybe its the timing of the year that makes Ostara feel right. I’m not sure.

And Yule, well it’s Yule!! Even if I say I don’t get hyped for Yule, I do.

But Imbolc? It just doesn’t work for me.

I know that’s not much of a thing to boast about but, maybe that’s just another part of the beauty of being an eclectic witch. You find what works for you and use it. When something doesn’t, well you can leave it behind.

The key thing to remember however is that just because one thing is not your scent of incense doesn’t mean you get to ruin it for others. With being on this grand adventure of eclectic witchiness comes some responsibility. Just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean those that feel it is are wrong. The converse is also true. Just because our path is roomy enough for some spiritual pick and choose doesn’t mean that those that stick to a more narrower version can gatekeep and try to keep us in their lane. It’s a two-way street, and if we all check our egos, it’s one that’s big enough for all us.

When the sticky parts of something as personal as religion and spirituality are discussed it’s hard not to be defensive. And for those of us who have lived for years in a society that has always made us have to be prepared to protect ourselves, we tend to walk around with our fist clenched. But when it comes to being honest, open and understanding among each other, it’s time to unclench those fist and listen. We have enough enemies. We don’t need infighting to pick apart what those on the outside would celebrate seeing undone.

So, me not being into Imbolc isn’t a big deal. If you are, that is awesome. I hope that your Imbolc is amazing. Whatever it is you have planned, I hope it is wonderous. I hope it is beautiful and brings you happiness. (And if you are going to share it, I want to see!! I might not be doing anything, but I love seeing others doing their stuff. I’m a pro selfie/picture sharing person. If it makes you happy, share it with the world. I want to see it!)

While a whole lot of us in the Americas are frozen right now, being reminded that Spring is on the way isn’t a bad thing. Knowing that the thaw is on it’s way is something to look forward to. Enjoy whatever makes you feel good inside and fills your heart.

You do you, Dear Readers, you do you.

Pagan Hide and Seek: Christmas Edition

For the record, when it comes to Christmas, I’m kind of a Grinch. Christmas music annoys me. The endless rush of shopping spikes my anxiety like a kid left unattended at a trip at a dessert bar. And while I love gift giving and sharing a huge feast with people I care about, the strain of getting together and rushing about, traffic and schedules, wish lists and shipping dates, often leave me stretched thin.

We could blame it on the martyrs in my Christmas Past who made the holiday less a family-focused event and more an over the top drama fueled pageant. You know the kind of dog and Pony show that becomes a “my way or the highway” fueled by Martha Stewart worship and spiked with guilt. We could also blame it on growing up poor and being the oldest who understood “that the youngins need it more”. Even if the youngins in question weren’t siblings but cousins, second cousins, friends kids, and kids at school the had been to the house a time or two. Or finally, we could chalk it up to not being a Christian and year after year having everyone tell you that the reason for this season, the only thing we are really celebrating for, is a God you don’t believe in.

I know all of that makes me sound like a big old sour-ass. It paints me about as bitter as the crab apples at grew in my grandpa’s front yard. It adds just a little bit of validity to the jokes my husband and I throw back and forth about my saltiness level (which is somewhere between the level of rent and Willie Nelson). Maybe I am a salty old crone who fun sucks the life out of the party. Or maybe I’ve just had it with the typical holiday rigamarole.

Observations about my personal flaws aside, let’s get back to that whole reason for the season issue I mentioned earlier. Being told year after year that Jesus is the real reason for the season, by loved and unloved ones alike, takes it toll on a poor Pagan girl. That’s why out of all the holiday shenanigans, my two favorite things about Christmas are watching my loved ones be happy and pointing out all the wonderfully Pagan things being celebrated by nonPagan people.

Let’s start with an easy one. 

The Christmas Tree

There’s a lot of Pagan lore about the Christmas tree but it’s roots are commonly said to be in the story of an English Benedictine monk named Boniface who was doing some missionary work in Germany during the eighth century.

One day Ole Boniface was doing whatever missionaries do when he observed some locals performing sacrifices in front of an oak tree for their god Thor. This angered Ole Boni because by God, Thor was a false God! How dare these native folks to worship their own gods in their own land while he was there!! So he grabbed his axed and felled the mighty oak tree in an effect to stop the heathery where it stood. When he wasn’t struck dead by the local’s gods for, you know, shitting all over their holy site, Boniface decided he could use this as a teaching moment. He hauled the tree inside and thus began the Christmas Tree tradition. Like many holy people after him, he would take something belonging to the Pagan locals and claim it in his God’s name thus using it as an outreach and a subjugating tool.

From that story alone, it’s clear to see that even before dumb old Boniface was roaming the German countryside, the German people were using trees in their devotion to the Norse gods. It was Boni’s appropriation of the tree worship that helped bring it into mainstream usage.

So remember,  every time you see straight-laced Christians oohing and awwing over a big pretty Christmas tree, they got the idea from a practice much older than their religion. They got it from us.

Of course, this is just one of many different stories that feature a connection between trees and pagan practices. Trees are a key element of Nature and Nature is a foundation of Paganism. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, because I really try to be an accepting and nice person, but it boils down to this: Pagans did it first and when Christians saw it, they stole it and rebranded it without giving us credit. And then they tried to erase our fingerprints from its history.

Maybe I’ll use a little of this long-held salt to make some salt dough ornaments with my kiddos.

The Man Who Put All Those Presents Under The Tree

 Well, if you didn’t know that Santa’s origins were Pagan in nature, I’m not sure where you’ve been.

While we most commonly know Santa Claus as the Coca-Cola red suit, white-bearded big belly version, we also all pretty much have a passing knowledge of him as Ole St. Nick and Father Christmas. Some of us are probably even familiar with the story of the bishop St. Nicholas and the legend about how he provided gifts, including doweries, to the poor. The juicy part of Santa’s history that a lot of people don’t have knowledge about is that Santa has a lot more in common Odin.   

Before Christianity took over Germany, the people there (probably the same ones Boniface ran into) celebrated Yule like many of us do. And during Yule, as many of us know, The Wild Hunt happens. It is part of that happening that many believe influenced the idea of Santa for those who don’t subscribe to the Norse beliefs.

In her 1972 book Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites Throughout the World folklorist Margaret Baker postulates that “”the appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is the 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts. […] Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild, became a leading player on the Christmas stage.”

You are free to believe what you will. I personally can totally see how the lore of the Odin could be taken and morphed into the idea of Santa Claus. There would have to be a lot of creative editing, but as we have seen, for the Church, that has never been a problem. Once again, I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I’ll be damned (pun intended) if after a while it doesn’t feel like most of their canon is just hastily written rewrites.

Before we leave the topic of Santa, I’d just like to throw this in for consideration. While originally, Santa’s sleigh was only pulled by one reindeer in Old Santeclaus with Much Delight ,an anonymous poem published in 1821, by the time Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicolas” came out two years later, Santa had upped his caravan to eight reindeer. The interesting part?  

Odin’s horse Sleipnir has eight legs. I mean,  I’m just saying.

Deck The Halls

Even the decorations Pinterest is all about this time of year aren’t something that just organically popped up in the mind of the Christian faith.

In order to protect the celebration of the birth of the brand new baby Jesus, early Christians would often make a wreath of holly and hang it on their door. In Roman mythology, holly was the sacred plant of the god Saturn so this was a clever way for them to make it seem like they were celebrating Saturnalia when in fact, they weren’t. Since then, holly has been overtaken and used heavily as a prominent decoration.

Photo by Annie Spratt   https://unsplash.com/@anniespratt

And if you want to get petty, which you know I do, you could even say that the tried and true holiday colors of green and red are in fact lifted from the red of the holly berries and the green of their leaves.

Another plant that has become part of common Christmas decorations is the mistletoe. Originally used for more than stealing the random kiss, mistletoe has been held as a sacred plant by the Celts, the Norse, and the Native Americans. Used by as a symbol of peace and joy, during the Roman era, enemies would meet under the mistletoe to reconcile their differences. Thus, during midwinter, it would be placed in houses and temples to appease the gods.

Photo by Annie Spratt   https://unsplash.com/@anniespratt

In Norse mythology, mistletoe is a big fucking deal to the goddess Frigga. The weak little mistletoe was the one plant that Frigga did not make promise her to leave her son Baldur unharmed. So of course, it was the one that Loki went and found when he was ready to stir some shit up. It, in the end, made up the spear that killed Bladur. The importance of the story of Baldur’s death and later resurrection is a pivotal part of the Norse belief. And the mistletoe plays an important role in it. There are different endings and interpretations to the tale but I’m pretty sure none of them include seeing Loki seeing Mommy kissing Santa Claus under the mistletoe.

I don’t want you to think I have waged my own personal war on Christmas. I haven’t. I wish people “Merry Christmas!” when it’s expected and when I truly mean it. And I truly mean it often!  Although I usually say “Happy Christmas!” instead because I’m a socially awkward weirdo. I still want those people around me to have the very best holiday they possibly can. I do wish them well.  I want them to celebrate however they feel is appropriate and makes them happy. I want everyone to be jolly and full of love, even if its just a few hours. If anything, the world needs more of that.

But I also want the world to stop mandating that we celebrate the season one specific way by using trying to pass off time-honored bits of other religions’ traditions as belonging to one specific religion. Not everything falls under the Christian umbrella. Not everything is about the Chrisitan God. There are many gods, many traditions, and many religions under that holiday umbrella.

So really, there are many, many, reasons for the season. And if you look hard, you can see them all.


The Normalcy in Magick

Picture this Dear Readers,

I am standing in my front yard. The light from the full moon shines down upon me. Coupled with the warm glow from a light deep within my home, my face is illuminated as I call the corners and cast a circle in the grass below me.

In the circle, a small collection of crystals glitter in the moonlight. A pitcher of collected rainwater reflects the broken sky above, with glimpses of stars and the Moon herself peeking through.  freestocks-org-425057-unsplash

 

The late October night around me swells. The crisp air, finally fulfilling Autumn’s definition causes goosebumps on my exposed flesh. I raise my arms in total awe and thankfulness. It is late and the neighbors have long turned off the lights in their windows. The street has been asleep for hours, no one is out but me.

The wind rattles the old rosemary bush near my front door and the smell fills the air. And in that, lost in the smell, the cold, and the connection to the moon, I am home.

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Now let me tell you how it really happened.

While all of that is true, and all of that did happen, it probably looked nothing like how you just imagined it did.

We tend to think of any working of witchcraft as this ultra-feminine well maintain beautiful artform. Basically, we either all look like a young perfectly made up Stevie Nicks with our flowing layers of hair and fabric twirling in the breeze or like the cast of some CW show. I can assure you Dear Readers, that ain’t me.

As I stood there under the moon, in all my glory, I was anything but well maintained. My hair, which is dyed black, except for the bleached part around my face, was tied on the top of my head in a messy loose ponytail. It’s only bleached in that area to hide the gray that is coming with a vengeance at my temples. I can’t wear it in a bun because it the tightness gives me headaches. So I have like this messy valley girl 80s vibe constantly just to keep it out of my way.

I wasn’t wearing one of those cool witchy flowy outfits for my ritual either. I had on a pair of Halloween theme leggings I got from Wal-Mart because they were cheap and super comfy. Plus I’m a sucker for anything with a pumpkin and a bat on it. 

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I was also wearing an oversized Golden Girls t-shirt with the collar cut out. I had borrowed my husband’s slide on sandals because I’m a baby and my feet are really tender. Walking outside in the dark barefoot seemed like trouble waiting to happen so the grass, which was a little longer than it should have been for this time of year, tickled my toes.

The sounds of the night that surrounded me? Most of them were dog barks and police sirens. And someone who really needs a new muffler.

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The romanticization of witchcraft in modern culture has given everyone, on both sides of the broom, the wrong idea about what is and isn’t witchcraft.

While witchcraft can be long black dresses and All Black Everything, it can also be burning sage while listening to Johnny Cash and wearing your ratty sweatpants. It can be all rituals and rites but it can also be drawing sigils with mustard on your kid’s sandwiches on while packing their lunches.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It can be lighting candles and sprinkling Flordia water or it can be noticing that certain bird landed on your car on a certain day.  I think the amount of normal that is actually in witchcraft gets painfully underrepresented.

We are not all fairy tale creatures or lead characters in a story. We just normal people who have normal people lives. Yes, we use magick and talk with spirits and some of us have gods and goddesses. But we have bills and jobs, some of us have kids and cats and laundry to do too.

We are our magick and our magick is us.

It’s as wonderful and really at times as boring as we are. If we are going to let it be part of us, it’s got to be all of us.

The good parts and the waiting in line at the grocery story parts.

The helping the kids with homework parts and the whistling for the rain parts.

The being mad in traffic parts and manifesting change parts.

The praying that there is enough gas in the tank to get home parts and the making shit happen parts.

It’s not quite shadow work. These are not hidden parts of ourselves we have forgotten. These are parts of ourselves we overlook because they are so mundane.

This is everyday work. It’s part of who we are and what we do. As much as it’s ingrained in us, it is in our Magick.

So never feel bad if your practice doesn’t look anything like what you’ve read or seen before. Don’t feel like you’re a failure because your altar isn’t Tumblr or Instagram perfect. And never, ever feel you aren’t witchy enough. What you see other’s presenting is not the standard you should measure yourself or your Craft by. Other people and their path, whether real or for just for show, has diddly squat to do with yours.

You and your magick are just fine the way you are. You’re normal. It’s normal.  It doesn’t have to be flashy. It just has to work for you.

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Stop Using That Broom Just For Sweeping. Get Flying, Witch! : Reconnecting To Your Craft

Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “You could not step twice into the same river.”

Angela of Conjure and Coffee is saying now “You can not meet the same witch twice.”

One of my favorite things about Witchcraft is how individual our paths are. There are no two witches who are alike.  Even though you and I might believe in the same concepts, we will not have the same journey within them. There is no “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” here. Because we are all different, our practices are all different as well.

But the one thing that is similar all across the board, is how it’s damn easy to get unplugged from your Craft. There are many reasons for this. Location, work, family demands, monetary demands, health. The list is endless. For as many desires to practice there are that many things standing in our way.  My personal struggle involves caregiving and family obligation. I am currently a stay at home mom. You’d think that would allow me plenty of time and chances to incorporate my practice into my everyday life. But honestly, it doesn’t. Finding time for myself in the hustle and bustle of this life is very hard. And I’m sure for so many others, maybe even you reading this right now, it’s the same.

How can we change that? How can we throw back the layers of the mundane to find the magick in every day?

Here’s a handful of ideas for reconnecting to the magick you are missing.

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Stay Lit

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

 

Fuck “Chill Out”.

Fuck “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Double fuck “Calm down. Everything is okay”.

Stop letting someone else tell you that your fire is not appropriate. It’s that fire that connects you to the Universe. That burning in your soul fuels you to live the authentic life you deserve. When we are told to sit down and be quiet, that is the lesson we feed our soul. We dampen it until it becomes nothing more than an ember.

And why? Why are we so ready to diminish ourselves to fall into line with what someone else thinks is okay? It’s important to remember that “okay” and “normal” are social constructs. They are ideas we’ve all accepted because it makes life easier for those who are in power. They want to you to be separated from your flame. It’s easier to rule the pacified.

Stop living your life for the ease of others. Find the things that ignite you and douse yourself in them. For some, this may happen with meditation. For some, it might be shadow work. For others, it might be blowing everyone off for a few days and playing hermit. Introspection is one of the most powerful ways to replenish.

The fire that sparks inside you will fuel your journey. Once you allow it to burn out all the expectation and obligations you hold for others, your magick will be in clear view.

Up, Up, Down, Down

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

It is common knowledge that the moon controls the tide. It’s also common knowledge that humans are over 50% water.

So what makes people think the moon doesn’t influence human behavior? Ask any EMT, police officer, ER nurses, or mother and they will tell you that the full moon totally affects human behavior. Our connection to the moon is much more than it just being a satellite. Hell, even the term “lunatic” comes from the Latin word “luna”! There’s no doubt that the moon is a heavy influence.

For us witch folk, the moon is so important. It’s a constant agent of change that we use to chart our cycles, cleanse our crystals and even power us. The phases of the moon and the phases of our lives often fall in step with each other. In the midst of the chaos of our lives, the moon is there.

So if it’s good for empowering and charging our crystals, it has to be good for us too right?

But it doesn’t end with the moon. The elements around us are the elements IN us.

We are Air.

We are Water.

We are Earth.

We are Fire.

We are Spirit.

When we connect to the elements around us, we connect with the elements that make the magick in us. And when we awaken them, the magick they produce is outstanding. We can not be whole with ourselves and deny the elements.

A trip outside can do wonders to help center yourself.  Whether it’s among the trees, or in the dirt, or sitting by the crashing to sea, any place where you can let the earth restore you is the right place. It doesn’t have to be a great mythical journey either, even a quick sit outside with an open heart will count. The intention to bond with Mother Earth will be noticed, no matter where or how.

Talk To The Past

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Here’s something you may not know about me. My paternal grandmother’s name is Jerushia. We often talk when I am driving around town. She’s stubborn and has some extremely outdated opinions. She also thinks I’m a bad driver. (To her credit, I totally am.)

The kicker? Jerushia died in 1978.

Her and my maternal great-grandmother, Katie, are the two main connections I have with my ancestors. When I’m driving or cooking, or about to make a mistake, it’s usually their voice I hear. They aren’t fairy tale guardian angels, but what we have works.

For better or worst, the family we are from influences who and what we are.  We all have our fair (or unfair) share of influential ancestors. Some of them act as an inspiration to be a better person, to reach our full potential. Some of them show us exactly what not to be.

The connection to your ancestors can be a great way to open up the avenue to magick in your life. I have a big deficit in maternal figures. So being able to connect to the ones I can means a lot to me. Most of our talks are through meditation and random pop ups. Like sometimes they will just pop up and into my daily life. The car being Jerushia’s favorite place to make an appearance.

For as many different relationships there are, there are ways to communicate with the ones beyond. Spirit boards have long been the way to breach the divide. If that doesn’t work for you, there are so many different ways. All you need to do is find the one that works best for you.

Sidenote: Please don’t think I am advocating for everyone to reach out to every member of their family and take them in. Yes, we are all related to some bastards. We all have people we’d rather not have under our umbrella whether it be in this world or the beyond. I am not saying open the door to the people who have wronged, hurt, or abused you. All I am saying is that the people of our past can hold the key to so many things we don’t understand. They can be a reference for us to learn and experience more. They can even just be figures of guidance and love to help us in the moments we need someone.

Don’t Be A Drag, Just Be A Queen (or King)

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Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

Ever have a really bad argument with someone one day and then still feel it the next? Even though you resolved the problem and made amends, you wake up the next morning feeling like you are neck deep in hangover mode? You drag your feet through the day, spreading that nasty hungover feeling around like a virus? You act short with someone and get a rude reply. You get pissy about that person being rude and end up being rude to someone else in return. The circle goes on and on, drowning you and all those around you in negativity.

When you are negative, the things and people around you become negative too. While I am NOT a follower of the rule of three, I do think the nastiness you send out, you get returned to you somehow. It feeds on itself and multiplies. When you drag it out, when you’re a drag, it builds and builds and pollutes everything.

The longer you hold onto it, the longer it will stay with you. The pains of our past, the bruises of our egos, the unravelling of our threads, are all things we have to eventually let go of. Those feelings will dampen any chance at magick inside you. They are the mortar that holds the bricks together in the wall between you and your magick.

Breaking free of that, breaking apart that wall comes at a cost. You have to be ready to put yourself in a leadership role and take control. You gotta put on that crown and rule over your kingdom. Owning up to your own negativity is a big job. But heavy is the head that wears the crown. Being strong enough to acknowledge that you might be the thing holding yourself back is worthy of a storybook legacy.

Once you clear away the comfortable but problematic skin of being negative, magick will be much easier to find. The restrains will fall away.

Another side note:  I am in no way diminishing the struggle that is depression. I understand, very very well, the struggles of battling depression. I know how it drains the color from everyday life and highlights the negative. It filters everything you see and do through its monochrome lens. Living with depression isn’t what I’m talked about in this section. That’s a whole different demon to battle.

Blessed Be All The Things

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Our surroundings influence us away more than we admit. That’s why we decorate our homes with colors that feel right, keep photographs of those we love, trophies from our accomplishments. That’s why stuffed animals keep their place in our beds way past childhood and why our favorite hoodie just makes us feel so safe.

If you follow the belief that magick is everywhere and in everything then the things around us are open conduits for it to move through. Why not make sure we are surrounded by magickal things and they are clean, charged, and blessed?

Your favored aesthetic can lead directly to inspiration. Being surrounded by things that make you feel magickal will lead you back to being magickal. Wanna wear black on Wednesdays? Do it. Want your living room to look like a Victorian seance? Do it! Having the area you reside in feel magickal to you will allow you to connect with your inner magickal.

There are so many magick tools that have a perfect fit for everyday life. These items can be special occasion pieces or just mundane things you’ve designated just for magick.

Let’s say you surround yourself with candles, incense, besoms, and/or crystals. At a glance, these are just items. But you and I both know they are full of potential energy when it comes to practicing your Craft.

From your atheme to your tablet, the contents of your altar to your phone, any and everything that you use throughout your day can benefit from being cleaned and repowered. So every time you touch or use the item, you’re getting an extra boost of magick.

Take A Look, It’s In A Book

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

I’m going to be a little bit pompous and say we are living in one of the greatest time for obtaining knowledge. Yes, we here in America may be teetering on the edge of an Orwellian ultra-pasteurized world. It’s scary and confusing. But honestly, never before has so much information about witchcraft, magick, history and women’s mysteries been so easily available.

Books about magick, witchcraft, and all sorts of Pagan ideas are everywhere these days. There’s no more secret meetings or newsletters. You can walk into any bookstore and find hundreds of titles. If you let your fingers do the work, Amazon has more books on these subjects than Carter’s has little liver pills. There are some amazing authors who are putting out some outstanding work.

Personally, Lisa Lister’s Witch was(and still is) a huge inspiration to me. It’s the book that, without doubt, kicks me in the ass and pushes me back to where I want to be. It’s inspirational in a way that works for me.

Books aren’t the only place you can expand your knowledge.

The internet is full of resources that we may never be able to visit them all. There are so many personal blogs and websites that are amazing!! It’s a brilliant time to be alive and Pagan online. I’ve learned so much about myself and my personal Craft by reading the knowledge others have decided to share. As with anything, there’s bullshit. Just like publishing and face to face interacting, not everything is going to be a fit for you. The great thing about having all this information is that you are always able to move on and find something else.

The magick in you is only a few clicks away.

You Do You

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Connecting to your craft is in essence, reconnecting to yourself. There’s a part of us that just is magick. It’s the part that tingles your fingers when you touch a deck of tarot cards or the voice in your head that tells you not to take the shortcut home. We are the magick that has flowed through our ancestors’ veins. We are the magick that fills the air and causes the leaves to fall.

Like I said earlier, WE. ARE. MAGICK.

But here’s the problem. We live in a society where even though we can be different, it’s not always easy or safe. And while it would be easy to say “Fuck ‘em”, sometimes that’s just not the answer.

So what do we do? Like Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” Your life has to be YOURS. It has to be painted with your brush and in the colors you chose. It’s not going to always be easy. The world will constantly stand in your way because you’re going against the grain. You’re trying to be something outside the conventionally accepted normal.

Let me tell you this. Normality is simply a cultural construct. And you don’t have to play by their rules. Your magick is what makes you whole. Live your magick out loud. Take action each day to make sure you are living the most authentic life you can. Once you allow yourself to fully and truly live out loud, your magick will be bursting at the seams.

Let go of the restrictions you think you have to abide. Let go of the stress from the obligations you take on. Whether that be through meditation or medication. YOU DO WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU.

And fuck ‘em if they try to tell you different.

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Being in touch with our inner magick is important. But trust me, I know it’s not easy. Life gets in the way. Obligations get in the way. We get in our own way. Breaking all those walls down and reigniting our inner pilot light is the only way we can heal the wound the emptiness causes.

Reconnect to your magick, dear reader, any way you can.

It’s all we really have.

 

A Smudging Primer

Gather round friends. It’s time to talk some Conjure.

Here’s my quick rundown on Smudging.

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It’s said that the average adult washes their hands about 8 times a day. The same average adult showers between 3 and 7 times a week. Obviously, being clean is important. But what about the spiritual part of us?  

Think of all the times you’ve ended a call or walked out of a room and were left feeling gross. Or how after an argument or altercation full of heavy emotion, you can feel the negativity around you like a cloud of second-hand smoke. For those times when negative emotions overwhelm and stain, there’s smudging.

Smudging is done by burning certain herbs, typically sage, cedar, or sweetgrass, bundled together into smudge sticks. The herbs can also be used in loose leaf form. (Hell, once I used powdered sage). Then the resulting smoke is used to cleanse a person, place, thing, or even animal of negative or stagnant energies. It is also a way promote healing, to honor, and as an act of purification.

Personally, I love sage. For my entire life, I’ve been drawn to the herb. Honestly, I am not a plant person. I’m pretty sure sunflowers turn away from me when they see me. But something about sage has always felt right to me. I haven’t tried to grow my own yet though. I think I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever tried to grow. But very soon, I am going to get a few sage plants to cultivate in the dilapidated herb garden in my yard.

Smudge kits typically contain a smudge stick, a feather, a shell, and like the one I got recently some matches. Each part of the kit is correspondent with an element. The shell for Water, the dried herbs for Earth, the matches for Fire, and the smoke from the herb for Air.
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image source

As with any ritual or practice, the intent is important. Smudging should be done with positive, determined heart and mind. You should hold sacredness and respect while you are smudging, There are prayers or chants you can recite while taking part, but as with everything, you don’t have to. The importance is that you do what feels correct.

The act of smudging can be both an every day and a ceremonial practice. It can be a periodic “Spring Cleaning” for the spirit or it can be a prescribed solution to a problem. Also, it doesn’t have to be just for you. Any item that you use frequently can and should be smudged. Crystals, tools (magick and secular alike), even your cell phone and computer could benefit from the act. If it’s in use and important to you, a quick smudge can’t hurt.

The same is exceptionally true for your home. Smudging your house can eradicate the lingering energies that you want gone. There’s even scientific thought that the art of smudging has antibacterial effects. And as someone who has a house full of what feels like constantly snotty-nosed children, I will take all the antibacterial effects I can get. 

While I am no expert and hold no degree or title of rank, I know this:

Smudging works. It makes me feel better, mind and body. It makes my house feel better and safer. I’d say my results were purely anecdotal, but for thousands of years, it’s been proven.

 

 

My Thoughts On Saint Patrick’s Days

I’m writing this on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day 2018. Instead of going out and taking part in the merriment, I’m at home writing in my pjs. The kids are in bed, a crime show is playing at a low volume and I’m trying to decide if I should have a post-dinner snack. For me, it’s just another night while the husband is at work. But outside my boring world, this is a day of celebration.  

Today online has been swamped with countless talk of parties and shamrocks, “Kiss Me I’m Irish” declarations and green beer. I have absolutely nothing against people revelling in a holiday. With the shape of things in the country right now, I can totally get behind a day of hearty fun. If our hands are busy lifting beer glasses they are won’t have time to attack each other. So by all means, drink, eat, and be merry!!

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My gripe and the gripe of so many of my fellow Pagan brothers and sisters is that the snakes St. Patrick ran out of Ireland weren’t the kind that slithers. They were actually Pagans. In a quote attributed to him, his views of the Irish people were explained:

Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God. The sons and daughters of the leaders of the Irish are seen to be monks and virgins of Christ!” source

St. Patrick is said to have created over 300 churches in the Emerald Isle. More importantly than just the physical buildings, it’s alleged that he baptised over 100,000 Irish people. Through his teachings, the native polytheism of Ireland was all but wiped out. If worries of appropriation were a thing in the fifth century they would have been cast at St. Patrick. He understood that incorporating well-known ideas and beliefs into his teachings was the fastest way to get the locals assimilated. He took their beliefs in their “unclean things” and sold them back dripping with Christian tint.

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This was, and still is, the standard modus operandi for the Church. First, find a heathen population and pillage their beliefs. Then, change just enough so they can’t prove you copied them before you finally shove them down their throats. Rinse and repeat until you’ve pushed the populous belief so far underground that it gets referred to as “The Old Ways”.

And that’s exactly what Saint Patrick did. But being credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland may or may not be completely historically accurate. Sent to Ireland around 431 by Pope Celestine, Palladius was the first bishop of Ireland. As with many characters in historical lore, at this point, Palladius and Patrick have probably been conflated to become one person. Either way, I personally don’t see the brainwashing of a people something worth celebrating.

But, and this is a very important but, what the holiday is now is not its intended purpose. The festivities we have become accustomed to here are more celebration than reverence. It’s an important celebration of the incredible spirit of the Irish. From Ireland to America, the Irish people always faced hardship with determination. That is something that is worthy of celebrating and drinking to. In a weird sort of way, it’s kind of poetic. St. Patrick used a country’s religion as a stepping stool to expanding his religion. We now use his day to as a stepping stool to expand our exaltation. That’s reason enough to have a drink.

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But make sure its a really good Irish beer, not that dyed green crap.

The Problem With Purity Rings

After days of conversation and hours of introspection, my husband and I have decided that on our son’s thirteenth birthday we’re giving him a necklace. Unlike the “chains” that so many others boast about this necklace will be a locket. Inside that locket will be a picture of me.

More than just a lovely picture of his forever smiling mother, this locket will be a promise between my son and I. It will be a promise that from the day he receives it to the day he says “I do”, he will love no other woman as much as he loves me. This necklace will be a physical representation of the connection between us. And it will always remind him that no matter what, Mother knows what’s best for him. Every time he wants to make a decision on what to do, he’ll feel the necklace around his neck and will think of me and consider what I’d say in the matter.

*record scratch*

What? Is that too Norman Bates for you?

If the concept of that Mommy Dearest necklace makes your skin crawl, then so should the idea of a daddy-daughter purity ring.

 

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Photo by Jacob Rank on Unsplash

 

Purity rings, also known as promise or chastity rings, are typically given to a young girl in the Evangelical community as a commitment to chastity. A fashionable part of the abstinence-only sex education club, the purity ring is like a wedding ring but in a creepy incestual sort of way. Typically silver and simple, some of the rings have witty little mottos stamped into the metal while some feature a cross wrapped in a lazy sort of swoop way around the finger. Diamonds or their lower cost alternatives are also frequently used.

Instead of being between two consenting adults starting their lives as a wedded couple, the purity ring is typically between father and daughter. It signifies that the daughter will remain chaste until she marries. Since “purity” is all that is clean and beautiful in their world, the ring will help keep the girl on the straight and narrow. It’s a giant bubble of Godliness that protects her from the filth of premarital sex and the temptations of the secular world. Because of course, a young woman’s worth is totally dependant on how “pure” she is. Who needs brains, talent, or personality when you can say you’re morally unsullied?

Two of the high profile organizations responsible for the popularization of the purity ring in America are the True Love Waits* movement and Silver Ring Thing* movement. The mission’s statement on the Silver Ring Thing  (abbreviated as SRT, cause abbreviated are cool) reads:

“To inspire sexual wholeness in this generation through the power of the Gospel.”

It goes on to explain a little bit more:

Silver Ring Thing is a radical response to culture’s view of love and relationships.  Our events inspire teens to defy the meet-up, hook-up, break-up culture of today and discover true life found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This goes way beyond just ‘purity’ to embrace our identity and pursue a lifestyle that brings honor and glory to God.”

Sounds like some party people right? Part of the allure of groups like this is that they make their message seem hip. Most utilize a concert like atmosphere that rivals most rock bands. Some use comedians and celebrity testimonials to influence their audience.  More than that, they understand how the teenage brain works.

 

 

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Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

 

Peer acceptance is a key element to a young person’s development. If you’ve known a young person for any amount of time, you’re well aware of how important being accepted is to them. So for this movement to prey upon youths desire to fit in is as genius as it is disturbing.

While young people who make pacts to lose their virginity is a topic for countless exposes, tv shows, and movies, the reverse is not true. The market for hive minded purity was largely untapped. That was until these movements began their “Purity is cool! God is rad!” message. Based on the way young people work, the message went viral. Not because it was actually believed but because it was believed in mass.

The creepiness factor of a father, mother, or organization stomping on a child’s bodily integrity is huge. Forcing a child to take a vow on what they do with their body is troublingly archaic. It’s a practice of eliminating the sovereignty of a child before they can fully understand the meaning. While the common joke is to call followers of religions sheep, that’s exactly what this causes. The children grow up not understanding that their body is their own. This causes a dependence upon a hierarchy that puts the child on the bottom with parents and the church standing tall above them.

In Conclusion

The practice of purity rings is troublesome. It’s a restrictive, oppressive act that teaches children they are not in control of the only thing they truly have, their bodies. It is no wonder that we struggle with body autonomy in this country if this practice is so commonplace. So much time was spent wondering how to control what children do with their bodies, no one thought if they should.

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* Call it shitty writing, but I’m not linking to the organizations mentioned in the text above. You’re welcome to Google them on your own. I don’t want to support them by sending any traffic their way. After cruising their pages for information, I feel mighty dirty.

  

 

Why I’m Thankful For Prayers (even though I don’t believe in their God)

Growing up in the South, most conversations that involve tales of hardship end with a hug and one party saying to the other, “Well, we’ll be praying for you.”. As someone who doesn’t follow any of the branches of the Abrahamic faith that influences every bit of life below the Mason Dixon Line, even something as innocuous as prayers can get overwhelming. If I had a nickel for every time someone informed me that they were going to pray for me, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. It seems like everyone wants to include you in their conversations with the Lord. And really, I’m okay with that.

 

To a lot of believers down here, not being a Christian makes me an uncaring godless heathen. Which is funny because as a polytheist, I have more gods than fingers to count them on. And as a person, I’m an Empath. So I care. I care a whole hell of a lot. While I don’t think of prayer in the same way most Christians do, I believe there is something powerful in communicating with the beyond. When that communication is done for the betterment of someone else, no matter who is listening, it’s incredibly meaningful. Whether you’re talking to God like a Southern Baptist, taking part in your daily Salah, whispering to The Goddess, or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo there is something profoundly magical in the connectivity of that act of compassion.

To me, magic is all about energy. It’s about being connected to not only yourself and others around you, but to the Universe. So taking your energy and manifesting it into something positive for someone else is huge. It’s a big piece of everyday magic we all agree is powerful but we don’t talk about. It’s like telling someone to have a good day, wishing someone a happy birthday, or saying bless you after someone sneezes. It’s taking a bit of yourself and turning it into hope for someone else. That’s what prayer is for me.

I know it’s easy to think that the people praying for you are doing it only for themselves. And you know what, maybe they are. I’ve never inquired as to the rhyme and reason of someone’s prayers for me. I’m not naive enough to think that some of them weren’t straight up “Please Lord, help this girl find Jesus” ones. But, I’d be willing to bet you all my nickels mentioned earlier, a lot of them were for good outcomes. I’ve lit candles and cast circles for people who would have burned me at the stake for doing so hundreds of years ago. And I did those things out of love with the hope that they helped. And in the world we are living in right now, we all need all the help we can get to achieve a good, safe, and peaceful life.

So please, if you feel moved to do so, pray for me. Meditate for me. Chant for me. If my name and my situation are put upon you, do what feels right in your heart of hearts. Because I promise you, every time I feel that need, I will do so for you. I’ll just do it in my own way.

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I Remember

I Remember

Sometimes I stand in the shower

Cold water turned off

Scalding water raining down on me like cinders

My skin goes through a transformation

Milk white, then new born pink, then cattle brand red

In that moment when all the blood rushes up and my skin threatens to bubble,

I remember

I remember the cords around my wrists

The way the sap from the stake penetrated the hand spun cotton of my dress.

How many people there were gawking, both aroused and appalled

Hiding behind and covering their eyes with their holy claims.

The urgency in their eyes,

the hunger that would have pulled my meat from the bone if the flames didn’t take.

I remember the rush of heat, of pain, of cosmic elation as the smoke found a new home in my lungs,

throwing out all the oxygen that has once resided there.

It thickened my blood and blocked my nose,

Fervent prayers weighing down the blanket of flame

that consumed me.

I remember I was gone before the body was done,

before my meat and fat had melted like candle wax

the salivating audience ,ready for my ashes got them on their tongue

proof they saw an abomination erased, stayed until the moon rose high

my body becoming the smoke that itched their nose and stayed in their clothes for weeks to come.

I remember they put my remains with the animal waste

and then wondered why their crops didn’t return, even with the manure.

I remember the cries of hunger, of pain, of violation as the little village

became nothing more than an empty field again.

You say you’re the granddaughters of the witches they forgot to burn.

I was burned.

And I remember.


Poetry has long been a love of mine.

It started with my love of country music. In grade school, I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a songwriter. I’d write song after song, no music just lyrics. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my depressive preteen years that I figured out, lyrics with out music are just a poem. I devoured poems (and paper writing my own) throughout my teenage and young adult years. Then adult life struck and being a mom and wife forced my writing to go into hibernation. That seems to be changing now. Some of it has to do with reading Lisa Lister’s  book Witch. Some of it has to do with having some amazing friends who inspire me every day to be more authentic. Some of it is because I’m waking up. And I’m thankful for it all.

#wakethewitches

 

 

 

Low Class Witchcraft

One of those most daunting things about my recent belief voyage is feeling slightly outclassed.  Witchcraft, Wicca, the Mystical and the Occult, often have a flair for the dramatic. Candles and robes, crystals and essential oils, sliver ceremonial tool. Just so much stuff!  The practical side of me keeps considering the cost associated with all this. And after reading the Modern Girl, Mystical World book, I was feeling a little too low class to take part.

Let that sink in for a minute. I was feeling like I couldn’t commit to what my soul was calling me to do because of my socio-economic status. My family’s situation is better than some and less than others. We don’t face fears that we will go homeless or even hungry. But we do have three children. And as we all know, kiddos are expensive.   Because of this and my upbringing in cotton mill generational poverty, I don’t feel comfortable spending money on myself when I know there are other needs that need to be met. I also don’t think MFMW made me feel any better. Sorry, I can’t go on retreats to find my OM. Sorry, I can’t drop hundreds of dollars on supplies to do rituals to put me in touch with my gods and goddesses and,more importantly, myself. Designer shoes and crystals? Yeah dude, that ain’t happening.

While reading Witch by Lisa Lister (side note: I’m going to reread this wonderful book and bring you guys a review soon. It was so good!) I realized those things don’t really matter.  I didn’t need certain items to strengthen what I believe.  All I needed to do is awaken what was buried somewhere deep inside of me. The ideas of the kitchen witch and the granny witch resonated with my soul.  It’s that practical everyday magic that I feel drawn to. So, it’s what I’m going to focus on.

I come from a long line of women who did what they could with the little they had. If you think feeding a gaggle of people on a pound of beans ain’t magic, you’re mistaken.  If you can’t see that magic in keeping the house warm when you’re out of cut wood, you’re blind. And that ability to chase off the nightmares with nothing but some loving words and a silver coin? Pure magic. That’s what is inside of me. That’s what I need to remember. Having pretty robes and shiny tools won’t make one bit of difference if I don’t follow the path my feet know.

 

There is no wrong way to be a witch.

I’m going to wake up the part of me that remembers how.

Wake up witch, we got magic to do.batborder