Imbolc-less

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.

The Blood Moon Eclipse

Excitement abounds!

Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon Eclipse!

Overnight from January 20th to the 21st, the Moon, who happens to look a bit larger thanks to its Supermoon status, will turn a bloody dull red color as it slips into the Earth’s shadow. The event will be visible in North and South America. Parts of Western Europe and African will also get to see the event as well.  

According to the site TimeandDate, for me, the partial eclipse will start at 10:33 pm with the moon getting a little red. The party will really begin around 11:41 pm when the total eclipse starts. It will reach it peak around 12:12 am and from there on start to decrease.

(Short unsolicited plug for that website: Just plug in your zipcode and boom! It will tell you the times, direction, altitude, and give you a nifty animation of the eclipse. And if you are boxed it, there are links for a live stream of the event so you watch from home. I stumbled upon via a google search and it looks to be a really handy tool.)

I am pretty psyched about the eclipse.
One, because duh, it’s a moon event. It’s pretty common knowledge, witches love moon events. I’m totally one of those “Hey look at the moon!” type people.

And two, it gives me something to look forward to, and a small goal to set in the continued effort to make myself better.

Staying awake at night is one of my current struggles. I have never been a night person, but recently? It’s like a hundred times worse.

Not an actual picture of me, but close enough.

I don’t know how much of it is related to emotional exhaustion and how much of it is actually being tired, but once it gets dark and we get the kiddos to bed, my brain pretty much shuts off. All of my evening plans get canceled and I end up pre-sleeping on the couch before I shuffle off to bed to sleep some more. And to top it off, that sleep isn’t even restful! It’s frustrating having a sleep schedule that rivals that of a retirement community when you physically have a lot to do and so many ideas you want to accomplish.

So this rare occurrence gives me something to strive to stay up for. Unlike the 20/20 on Jim and Tammy Bakker that I really wanted to watch that other night, I really feel I can achieve this.  (Listen, they were local and it was a huge scandal. Tammy Faye and her full face of makeup can never be forgotten. Also, I love stories about disgraced pastors. It’s a guilty pleasure I will never feel sorry for.)

My plan tonight is pretty simple. Seeing as how I’m more of a play it by ear witch than a ritual specialist, I plan to just spend some time observing the Eclipse. I’m going to take out some of my crystals out for charging, burn a new palo santo stick, and, until the cold makes me too uncomfortable, recharge myself under the Blood Moon.

While I am not an astrologist, I do accept that the eclipse and the full moon are agents of change. They are symbols that everything is in flux and that sometimes we have to be open to the shake-up of cyclic nature of the world around us. They are a reminder that all things, all ideas and more importantly, all struggles, are temporary. We are forever changing and experiencing growth. And if the Moon can travel into the path of the Earth, and change her color, while in the middle of her shape changing dance, we can change the things about us that we are struggling with.

And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty damn inspirational.

I hope no matter where you are Dear Readers, you take advantage of the Magick of the Blood Moon tonight. Even if it’s from indoors or online. Whatever you need to replenish and replace during this amazing event, whatever you need to heal or fix, I hope the Moon and her special event provide you some support and clarity.

Accepting The Approaching Crone

As this year slips quietly into the next one, I’m thinking a lot about the passage of time.  

I told you about turning another year older a few posts ago in Chapter 34. And while I mostly used that post to describe the day, I did speak briefly about how now I need to start letting go of so much of the baggage associated with my birthday. Like Elsa in Frozen, I need to Let It Go.

(I have a four-year-old little girl. I’ve seen Frozen more times this year than I’ve seen Law and Order. It’s worked it’s way into my brain. Please send help.)

Part of letting it go is accepting that while I’m still knee deep in the waters of motherhood, cronehood is within my sights.

Physically, I can no longer make babies. In August of this year, after years of struggling with birth control, I had a tubal ligation. Four months later, I am not sad nor do I mourn the loss of the ability to make a new life. Maybe it’s because I’ve supplied the population with quite a few new faces. I’ve done my part and met my baby quota. I honestly no longer get that fever feeling when I see a cute little dumpling of a baby. I’m ok with never having to carry a child again.

The three children that I am circled by are more than enough. And while they are my world, every day I can see them growing slightly more independent and getting closer to the edge of the nest. While that might strike fear in the hearts of some mothers, it makes me really happy. I want them to be free to be themselves. They have to fly away sometimes. They have to be complete people outside of me. I will be the tree they can always return to, not the anchor that weighs them down. It’s going to happen, they are going to get older.

And you know what? I want to get older too.

But it seems that the world keeps telling me that I shouldn’t want that.

Every time I open one of the magazines that show up at my house randomly or scroll down the social media platform I’ve been meaning to quit, I get reminded of all the steps I should be taking to keep my impending age at bay.

I’m shown creams to stop wrinkles and spots, dyes to hide gray hairs, undergarments that lift, flatten and boost body parts that need to be modified. It doesn’t even end there. I’m reminded by billboard ads and radio jingles that there are plastic surgeons who can make me look younger and thinner in just a few trips. And if that’s too drastic of a change, I could always just purchase a Groupon for a spa nearby and get some Botox and eyelash extensions for 40% off. I don’t have to let time effect how I look. According to all these ads, I have the power and the opportunities to rally against it and forever maintain my youth.

(Just to put this out there, I am a huge proponent of dyeing your hair all the colors of the rainbow and I support every person that decides that plastic surgery is for them.)

But what if I don’t want to participate in that war? What if I don’t want to hold on to my youth?

My issues lie in that I do not support being told by people I don’t know that I NEED these things in my life. I do not support the idea that I must take part in these activities as some act against my body. I don’t like the idea that I should wage war on myself just because the years are changing my outer husk. I sure as hell don’t appreciate being held to a standard of beauty that I didn’t sign up for. If I want to change my hair color, fuck yeah I’m going to do it. If I want plastic surgery, fuck yeah I’m going to get it. But it’s going to me for my own reasons. Not to fit into so some “forever young” standard.

Listen, I think women are beautiful. That includes all women. From the young, shining and dewy-eyed to the old, bent, and wrinkled. I want to live a life that shows I’ve done both. I want to experience both ends (and the middle) of my womanhood with the same amount of reverence.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

By pushing us to worship youth, our culture pushes us to hate aging. And there is a huge fault in that. We demean and devalue the act of aging and of growing because we fear moving away from what is accepted. We see being old as being less. And we really fucking fear being seen as less. Less beautiful, less worthy, less important, anything that is deemed less, we strive against.  We have fought long and hard to not be seen as less because we’ve been told endlessly how just being a woman makes us such. So for something as simple as the passage of time to render us useless is unnerving. That is why there are billion dollar industries that make their money by telling women that there is only a fleeting window of beauty they can attain. They don’t want us to see the beauty in all walks of life. They want us to desire to be unblemished, unmarked, untouched maidens forever. Just the type of maidens they, conveniently enough, find attractive.

It’s a little messed up, isn’t it?

Cronehood is just as worthy as maidenhood and motherhood. It is not diminished because of the ability or frailty of the human body. It is not diminished because of the perceived lack of beauty. We are not made less because our bodies are weathered by Father Time. If anything, we are made more. The knowledge we acquire through the tribulations we face accumulates. If we mature as we age, by the time we have reached the age of the crone, we should be a wealth of experiences and knowledge. We should be a library ready to share with those around us. We should be well-written books full of adventures, ready to share our worn pages and the stories within.  

(Obviously, this is not always the case. Personality disorders, untreated mental illness, and being an asshole are a motherfucker. The inability to change and accept your faults hinders the ability to grow and learn. But that’s talk for another day.)

I don’t want to be frozen in place forever. Life was not ment to be lived in stasis. I want to evolve and grow old. More than anything, I want to experience life and learn. I want to learn all the things. The good ones and the bad. And life can only be learned by undergoing the passage of time.

Life is fleeting. We must respect and enjoy its passing.

So bring on the wrinkles. Bring on the gray hair. I welcome the bent fingers and curved spine and the age spots and the declining eyesight. I want to be the old woman with silver hair, covered in tattoos, sitting under the old oak tree teaching grandchildren how to snap peas. Or how to tell if a storm is going to be bad. I want to tell them stories like my grandmaws told me. I look forward to my older self and all the adventures that await. I don’t care what society tells me. When it’s time for me to be a crone, I will wear the title proudly.


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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Autumn Complications

It’s hard to believe if you’re living in the Carolinas like me, but it’s officially Fall.

As of today, it is October. And for all of us who relish the spookiness of autumn and winter, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

There are skeletons and pumpkins, Halloween decorations and costumes galore. rawpixel-973117-unsplash Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Aaron Mankee is releasing weekly episodes of Lore this month, and all those great cheesy horror/comedy movies we grew up watching start airing on repeat. (Heads up, Freeform has 31 days of Halloween. You should check it out if you’re looking for something to do.)

The veil is thinning! For those of us who practice a Craft, now is like our time of the year. Mabon has just passed and Samhain is quickly on its way. If ever there was a time when we are the most grounded and closest to our beliefs, it’s this period of the year. 

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On a personal front, I’ve finally found the strength to say “Bye Felica” to my anxiety induced self-sabotage. I have actual plans to sign up for some classes at the closest witch emporium. I’m reading some kick-ass empowering books. I’m giving myself the time and space to write which in turn makes the content I’m creating better. I’m branching out and trying some new ideas which I hope will be fruitful.

Overall I think this is the prime time of 2018. I feel that’s there so much about to happen and so many things about to come into themselves.

But why am I not excited about all this?

What’s keeping me from being a witch in a crystal shop, exploding at the seams with excitement, happiness, and a sense of belonging? What name is this weight tied to my ankle, holding me back?

That weight is called Grief. And let me tell you, Dear Readers, it weighs a fucking ton.


 

November 3rd is three days after Halloween and a week before my birthday. And it’s the anniversary of the day my son died.

It was 2011 and we were still eating on the candy from trick or treating a few days before. He had been a ninja, I made his sword out of cardboard and hot glue. He had a cold. We all kind of did. He had started kindergarten and had brought home so many new germs.  It was cold that year and the leaves and been piling up for a while. Beside the small noses and straight hair, I had passed down my tree and dust allergies too.

But it wasn’t allergies. It wasn’t even really a cold. We didn’t even know what it was when we had to take him to the ER in the early morning hours.  All we knew is that he was sick. And then, a few hours later, all we knew was that he wasn’t coming home.

We wouldn’t find out it was Streptococcal Pneumonia for sure until the autopsy came back.

Those are two words that you never should have to associate together in your head. No one here should have to ever hold their child’s autopsy in their hands. It burns it’s reflection onto your eyes and deep, deep into your soul. Every parent who’s ever seen one can attest to the fact that it is not a document you every erase from your memory.


Obviously, this is a very condensed version of our personal tragedy. Every written account of it will be a condensed version.  There are words and emotions that don’t have names. And I’m not good enough of a writer to create them.

Reliving this event isn’t centralized to just November. It doesn’t just cast its shade on my birthday and Thanksgiving. The whole three month period of October, November, and December is darkened.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

October is the month of anxiety. It settles in my shoulders without my noticing. Each day that passes is a tightening of hands around my neck. I feel that it is what’s keeping me from being able to click my heels with happiness about the rolling of the seasons.

November is the month of nightmares. Each night is a drive-in theater that shows nothing but the worst day of my life. Sometimes, especially around my actual birthday day, there’s a double feature. The other movie that plays is always “A Face A Mother Wouldn’t Even Love”. It’s a biopic about a woman who does everything “right” but gets everything so wrong. My name is always the biggest in its title scene.

December is the ghost of what can never be again. It’s strained conversations over meals with a plate no one eats from. It’s choking on the well wishes and Christmas lights and trying not to cry while watching the parade in the cold.


I want to be excited and take part in the celebrations that come with this season. I want to be excited and carry on with my creepy friends.

And now, seven years later, I think I am doing better. Like I said in the opening, I’m breaking up with my anxiety. I’m exploring things I have been hesitant to before. Will I ever be the happiest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch? No, I won’t.

In the beginning of Mike Shinoda’s music video for “Ghosts,” the screen is black. You can hear him talking before you can see him. He’s sitting in front of a laptop that’s in front of a keyboard. In a rather intimate shot, his voice cracks a bit as he says, “I’ve had enough hard days. It’s like if I wake up and feel good, I shouldn’t feel guilty about having fun, ya know?”

And I feel that. I feel that in my bones. That’s how I think about the fall.

I know I won’t be able to escape this weight on my leg. I won’t be able to shake the leaves off and feel okay standing stripped down like the trees around me. Just like the eventually changing of the seasons, I won’t be able to escape it.

And I don’t want to.

I just want to feel excitement for the end of the year.

My Take on Starter Witch Kits

If you are part of the IWC (Internet Witchcraft Community), you’ve been seeing some drama lately. Not ever being a group that could be called boring, the latest drama circles around a witch starter kit, a makeup store, cultural appropriation and something called “gatekeeping”.
Earlier this month, make up giant Sephora and perfume brand Pinrose joined forces to publicise the launch of their new collaboration. Packaged in a shiny pastel box was Sephora’s official Starter Witch Kit.
Inside were nine tiny scents, one white sage smudging stick, a rose quartz crystal and what looked to be a pack of tarot cards.
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The kit was supposed to drop in October (cause you know, that’s basically All Things Spooky Month) and was to be priced at $42.
Sephora pimped this product hard and good. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the seeds for excitement for the Starter Witch Kit were planted far and wide. Before long, a buzz developed.
Then that buzz turned into a roar. And that roar was from pissed off witches.
Before I go over what happened next. Let’s bring up a term that we’ve heard a lot of in the past few years.
According to Wikipedia, cultural appropriation is:
“the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. It is distinguished from an equal cultural exchange due to an imbalance of power, often as a byproduct of colonialism and oppression Particularly in the 21st century, cultural appropriation is often considered harmful, and as a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating, minority cultures, notably indigenous cultures and those living under colonial rule. Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural appropriation can include using other cultures’ cultural and religious traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and songs”
Basically, it’s that thing that Katy Perry does really, really well.
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So let’s say, you are not of Native American blood, but you put on a war bonnet because it looks cool while you’re at your shitty music festival. Or let’s say you want to fit in with the cool kids, so you go from the chick from Clueless to the girls from Friday. When you use the cultural or religious traditions of a minority culture for your personal, popularity or monetary gain, you’re appropriating it.
Now the line between appreciation and appropriation is pretty thin. What some people call appropriation others often see as the appreciation and celebration of ideas and customs. The line is thin and sometimes not always clear.

How does that play into Sephora’s Starter Witch Kit and why were all those witches mad?

The insult came from Sephora and Pinrose so blatantly taking something from Witch culture and mass marketing it. They took things that are quite often part of the being a Witch, threw some pretty shiny colors on it and had the intent to make money off of it. They chose not to cater to the people who believed in those parts of being a Witch. By calling it a “Starter Kit” the audience they targeted was one that did not and had not ever identified as witches.
Let’s take a second to break that down. There is said to be one million Pagans in America. We all know that not all Pagans are Witches and not all Witches are Pagan. So it would be safe to estimate the number of Witches in the United States is much less than one million. In contrast, the number of Christians in America is nearly 240 million. Some of those Christians might be Witches, but I’m willing to bet my left ovary most of them are not. So according to the definition of cultural appropriation (especially the “the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture” part) the actions of Sephora were clear cultural appropriation.
But wait, I hear you yelling from the back, who are you to say who can and cannot use and have access to Witchcraft! Why are you gatekeeping?
For those not up with all the current Tumblr friendly lingo, gatekeeping, according to the definition that Google spat out, is “ the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.” 
After the initial complaints about the Starter Witch Kit started popping up, other groups of people online, some witch and some not, started yelling back about gatekeeping. They used the argument that witchcraft was not a religion but instead a practice. And you can not claim ownership over a practice. Everyone should be free to have personal experiences with the practice.
They also brought up the idea that restricting the production of Witch influenced items might keep young witches from finding The Craft and discovering themselves. There could be thousands of people out there who might be inspired by the kit and go and learn about witchcraft that way. (As a personal side note, the only thing a scent collection has ever inspired me to do is throw up from a migraine, but hey, your mileage may vary)
What has been dubbed gatekeeping by those people is from a personal standpoint, something else entirely. It is not a restriction, it is a protection.
The depictions of witches and witchcraft in modern culture have very rarely beenadult-15620_640 positive. From Disney and slutty Halloween costumes to prime time TV and shitty Hobby Lobby decorations, witches hardly ever get adequate representation. Not only are we often the villains but almost every aspect of our beliefs (and there are so many to choose from) are stomped on and disrespected.
This Starter Kit is another branch of inadequate representation. Smelling pretty and burning sage does not make you a witch. Thinking you can make someone a witch with mass-produced products that carry with them no actual knowledge is problematic. There’s a lot of study and dedication that go into witchcraft. It’s not an episode of American Horror Story or Charmed. A person can’t pick up a kit and suddenly start doing spells. You aren’t a normal person one moment and a witch another. It just doesn’t work like that.
The idea of money being made on this misrepresentation feels wrong. It feels like a big company who has no idea about or real interest in the importance of history trying to make a quick buck. I shouldn’t have to remind you of all the struggles Witches have had in this country. I shouldn’t have to remind you of the struggles we still face. I also shouldn’t have to remind you that right now, in 2018, people are murdered for being Witches in this world. The seriousness of being a Witch is lost on Sephora by choosing to have a product as silly as a Starter Witch Kit. Its tone deaf and out of touch, which just feeds into the misrepresentation that the world already carries.
There were also arguments that we should support any small business (like Pinrose) ran by women who are getting a break. And by being upset over this Starter Witch Kit, we were turning our backs on those people. This is a hard pill to swallow. I totally and firmly believe in supporting small business. But when that small business is doing something I don’t believe in, or that offends me, don’t I have a right to not support them? If we can stop going to restaurants and put people on blast because of their political persuasions, shouldn’t we also be able to choose which company’s products we support or not? Is being in the “Girls Club” more important than listening to your own feelings?
For every argument raised by the people upset about the kits, there is a group who has a counter argument. I, personally, was pretty upset over these kits. I felt they were disrespectful. The whole idea of them making money off something so close to so many people’s hearts and souls felt gross. Using something so personal and so important for monetary gain without actually honoring those that live it leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. This whole experience is a great example of something sacred being diluted and deformed for masses. And that, no matter how you cut it, is wrong.
In the end, Sephora and Pinrose canceled the product. The Starter Witch Kit will not be popping up makeup shelves near you in the future. Sephora will have to reach their October “spooky” quota by other means.
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The debate it’s caused, however, will live on. Where is the line between appreciation and appropriation? What is being protective and what is gatekeeping? What are we going to allow the mainstream to define us as? What are we willing to accept before we say enough is enough?
All I want is that we as a community work together to make strides in being taken seriously. We need to focus on how to find our place in mainstream culture and, more importantly, among ourselves. Our magick is bigger and more important than a poorly thought out product.  We don’t need Starter Kits.
We’re witches. We’ve been it all along.

 

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.

 

Bless Their Hearts, But Take No Shit

Fun Fact Time:

Like many uncertain baby witches, I spent a block of my youth getting my wand wet in Wicca.

Let’s face it, there’s not a world where an outcast girl growing up in a single wide trailer wouldn’t be infatuated with the idea of Wicca. The songs, the rituals, the connections with the gods and goddesses, it was everything to me. I was a huge fan of To Ride A Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf. Everything about her and the book seemed immensely cooler that than the life I was living. The book became almost another appendage of mine, I was hardly seen without it. But like most things deemed THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER!!! In those precious pre-teen years, it eventually lost its shine. Like a pair of second-hand shoes, Wicca became something too tight and strange. It just didn’t fit me.

One of the lessons that did stick from my splash in the kiddie pool of Wicca was the Wiccan Rede. The full rede is long in that Terms and Conditions kind of way. It’s sing song-y advice about the Old Ones, the Moon’s phases, and speaking little but listening much. Basically, it’s LifeProTips with a NeoPagan slant. Most people boil it down to an easy to remember eight word maxim:

An it harm none, do what ye will

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Basically, it’s the same philosophy as the 1969 hit “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers (record label drama aside). If you aren’t hurting anyone, by all means, go on with your bad self. It’s an acknowledgement that you are free to do what you need and/or want to do without having to worry about a series of expectations hanging over you. It’s the idea that you are free of sin or commandments and are able to live the best life you can.

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I want to stop here and mention Thelema. Developed in the early 1900s by everyone’s favorite eccentric Aleister Crowley, Thelema is the spiritual belief structure based on the Western Mystery Traditions. Basically, Aleister went to Egypt with his then wife and had a spiritual occurrence that paved the way for his development of this sometimes religion/sometimes philosophy that he brought back and spread to his influential friends. The basis of Thelema, also known as the Law of Thelema is

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.

You can see how this and the Wiccan Rede are similar. The difference is that with Thelema, harming none is left out and love is added. There’s enough here to for its own post, so I’ll tackle that at another time. Stay tuned.

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From that basic validation of the Wiccan Rede and Law of Thelema comes the often quoted and frequently over shared “Do No Harm But Take No Shit.”

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No doubt you’ve seen this one on your daily scrollings on social media.  It’s a solid philosophy that is kind of the bastard child of the two other ones. It has purpose and meaning as well as a much needed importance placed on the individual. Yes, we should not harm others, but we should also protect ourselves. Sometimes doing what thou wilt is not taking shit. It makes sense right?

So if “Do No Harm But Take No Shit” is the child of the Wiccan Rede and The Law of Thelema, my new adage is its redneck cousin:

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Bless Their Hearts, But Take No Shit

Any Southerner worth their salt knows that the phrase “Bless your heart” has a whole mess of meanings. The phrase can mean anything from “Well good for you!” to, “I’m so sorry” to “Damn, you’re an idiot”  and to my personal favorite, the trying to look sweet when you’re really being ugly “ go fuck yourself”. It’s a phrase that fluctuates from love to sympathy, to passive aggressive hostility by vocal inflection alone.

That versatility makes it the perfect partner for the “take no shit” mindset. No matter what your intentions are for the other person, you are prepared not to take an ounce of their nonsense. And while you may not always be supporting them lovingly, you and your smug opinions probably aren’t doing much harm. We all entertain our own personal judgments from time to time. But in a perfect world, we do what we can to keep them personal. And like the Law of Thelema, the phrase indicates we are in fact doing what we will, even if it is in a backhanded, sided eye sort of way.

There’s a lot of obligation that comes with expressing concern and showing empathy towards someone. Often because we feel sorry or attached or even in love with someone it’s expected that we allow them their vices. Even if those vices are harmful to us, we are supposed to overlook them. Love prevails over all, right? In believing that, abusive behaviors are granted a pardon. Wounds are allowed to fester to save face and prevent the assailant pain. It’s not long until the rose-coloured glasses that society gave you wreck your eyesight permanently.

While it’s true that everyone has a dark side, a less than pleasant persona, it’s also true that we don’t have to put up with it. We can love and care for them without putting up with their shit. You can’t keep someone else warm by setting yourself on fire. You’ll burn out, but it will be long after they’ve already walked away.

So bless their hearts, in whichever way that works for you. But remember, no matter what path you follow, don’t take any of their shit. You have enough to carry, you don’t need to add more.

 

Duel Review: Women Who Run with The Wolves and Light is the New Black

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m kind of a mess. Around me gravitates a sort of controlled chaos.

For example, currently, I’m totally into subversive embroidery. (You mean you can stab a thing thousands of times to create words and images that would give the sewing circle at church a heart attack? Sign me up!) I’ve also just bought and printed like half a hundred pages in a coloring book of shadows off Etsy. So on my desk is haphazardly piled with embroidery junk and printed pages, colored pencils and half-read books. Like books are everywhere. If there’s a flat surface, it probably had a few books on it.

Which brings me to admit I’m the type of person who reads more than one book at a time. Some books are living room books. Some books are bedroom books. And there are some books that are travel in the purse, pull it out when you need a few bumps type of books. And that’s what I’m doing with Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Light Is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell.

Ever heard the phrase “same but different”? Well, that describes these books, kinda. Both of them emphasize the importance of understanding one’s true self. Both of them describe the struggle of breaking down the walls that contain us. And both books, to me, provoke unmistakable inspiration.

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Women Who Run WIth the Wolves is a deliciously heavy read. The author, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, is an ultra-accomplished Jungian psychoanalyst, a storyteller, has a PhD, and is an illustrious post traumatic stress recovery specialist. She uses her expertise in analysis and her innate storytelling ability to examine the Wild Woman archetype in the feminine psyche. And that she does just that in the book. She breaks apart some of some of the most well known myths, fairy tales, and folk tales and exposes the threads that are woven together to create and rally for the Wild Woman ideal.

41xwfptiavl-_sx317_bo1204203200_Light Is The New Black is a light breeze on a hot day. It’s an airy, high-spirited sprint into the world of light working. Not only light working, but light acknowledging. It’s a how-to guide to letting the light inside you out and how to process life shining out loud. The author, Rebecca Campbell, is a well versed jet-setting Australian who has been known as The Skype Nomad and is one of Hay Houses outstanding authors. Hip, fresh, and personal, her writing is easy to connect to. Her voice echoes through the words on the page. With the title playing off the popularity of the TV show Orange in the New Black it’s almost a testament to the influx of spiritualism into current culture. The book is in a similar vein as Modern Girl, Mystical World which you know I am not a fan of. With the exception of one short passage, I have found so much more enjoyment in Light Is The New Black than I did in Modern Girl, Mystical World. And I think that a lot of it has to come from the author being more relatable.   

There’s more to these books than I can put into words. The authors themselves have done so much work to create these volumes of truth anything I try to come up with will fall short. Even though the books are different strengths they both pack the same punch. Sometimes you need to jump into the deep end and surround your mind and soul with ideas that rattle you to the core. Sometimes you need to open a door to a shining light surrounds you and starts healing your wounds. These books do both.  

And both of these books are hitting me right where I need to be hit. Like you’ve read earlier, I’m balancing a lot of things right now. I’ve been balancing them for a long time. With my attention, soul and inner light going into fixing things for others, it’s left me empty. If I’m a match, these books have ideas in them are a striker strip. In the few moments I get, these books have reached inside and found the voice I had thought was lost.

And man, they are inspiring the fuck out of her to do something great.

Even if she is tired and scared and totally washed out. Even if she’s a mess of overstacked bookshelves and tumbling papers. She’s awakening again. These books are guiding her home.  

Featured Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash 

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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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.