Friday, December 16, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 40-something

Magical Recipe:

All my recipes are magical. Ha!

I don't lightly share my recipes. And I don't draw lines between my mundane and magical recipes. So do I share a recipe for hair oil? or incense? or my infamous pumpkin muffins?

My incense for Hekate:

Make on the night of the Full Moon.

2 parts dried rose petals (I use roses from my beloved husband.)
1 part lemon balm
3 strands of saffron
3 bits of dragon's blood
1 part beeswax
1 part mint
1 part white oak bark
1 part myrrh gum
9 drops of honey

In a mortar and pestle, grind all but the beeswax and honey together. Add the wax, grind again. Lastly, place the honey in the mix and grind carefully.

Allow it to marry until the New Moon before using it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

44 Days of Witchery 42

A favorite Nature Spirit:

I'm big on Trees. :)

There's an awesome ancient Oak tree on the campus on my local university. He's huge and his branches are so heavy that they're slowly growing towards the earth.

As a spirit, he's sweet and graceful. And slow, but most Oaks are.


There's also the Spirit of a spring near here. Legend has it that a Spanish Saint created it to bring water to the people that were there. When we first moved here, I left an offering there to the spirits of the city to introduce myself. It remains a favorite place to commune.

Note: the oak tree in the photo is not the tree in question. That's the Angel Tree in the Carolinas. Sadly the surroundings of the tree on campus don't make for the best photos.

Friday, December 9, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 41

A spell I've cast.

I generally don't share my spells with others so much, since I take the whole "To Keep Silent" thing fairly seriously... but here goes.

A Spell for Confidence

Tools: A Strength Card, a candle, a sheet of paper and pen.
Any awards or other momentos that bring up pride or feelings of accomplishment.

It is extremely important that you take a bath with your favorite scents and soaps, and take the time to fix your hair and clothes. You want to look and feel your best, or as close to it as you can get. Even if you don't feel like it, just do it.

Establish your space according to your tradition.

Charge the candle with your favorite perfume.

Take several deep slow breaths, and find your center. When you are able to speak from your heart, continue.

Talk about what's making you feel like less than you are. Try to get to the bottom of the situation. Don't hide from the feelings or bury them. Follow them and see where they're coming from.

If you need to cry or be angry, roll with it.

Then take up the momentos of your successes, and start writing what you love about yourself and your life. Write your gratitude for the things you have accomplished on the paper, list out your best and brightest moments.

When you can't think of anything more, fold the paper and set it under the candle.

Light the candle, and meditate on the Strength card.

This spell is not a quick fix, but a means of finding one's confidence and a method of understanding the ways that you are undermining yourself. As such, it might take more than one casting before you really feel the changes it can bring about.

And of course, if you hold back, aren't honest with yourself, or otherwise don't fulfill the real work of the spell... well, you get what you put into these sorts of things.

If you think you can't find anything to celebrate or momentos or awards that you've received, look again. Everyone has accomplishments. Even you. If you can't sit back and acknowledge the good things in life then the spell has no real chance of working.

And last disclaimer, if you are depressed or struggling to cope with life, the best thing you can do is to seek out help. Find a good therapist, talk to a support line, and generally get help. You don't have to suffer alone.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 40

My Altar.

I've developed a habit of photographing my altar as I change it. I have dozens of shrines here and there around the home. The kitchen has Dionysos, Helios and The Green Man. The bathroom hosts one to Bast and Amun. My bedroom and living room has Hekate, Artemis, and Demeter.

Admittedly Hekate's are the largest and most elaborate.

This one is from a ritual I did about three years ago.

Monday, December 5, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 39


I am inspired by time outside, amidst the trees.
By the beauty of human creativity.
By my loved ones and all that they've survived and accomplished.
By the compassion one can find in the world, if one has eyes to see.

The power of imagination makes us infinite. - John Muir

Monday, November 28, 2011

End of Line

Until I can write again.

I'll be back soon, and likely have quite a bit to share when I return. Hope everyone has a great time of it while I'm elsewise engaged.

Only a few posts left of the 44 Days of Witchery meme.

Friday, November 25, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 37


My cauldron is a dutch oven. It has three legs, and is made of good cast iron.

I don't use it much, I admit. My fireplace isn't large enough for it really. It is a bit too heavy to take camping when one of my campgrounds requires a bit of hiking.

So, it is much neglected. Right now I'm storing river stones in it.


So, blogger has forgot all the blogs I've been following. >.< Grrr...

I'll be taking a break from blogging for at least a week starting Monday. Hope you all have a beautiful week! :D

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And sometimes... Life shifts its balance

No matter how close you feel to the Gods, to your True Will, and to your goals in life, sometimes life changes.

You have to skip a ritual that you love.
A planned outing gets cancelled.

It happens.

And coming to terms with that, and forgiving yourself for that is part of the journey.

Recognizing boundaries and priorities is important.

I didn't get to do what I wanted on the 16th for Hekate, and my New Moon ceremony for this month is not going to happen either. But I'm glad.

What I will get in return for this break is well worth the cost. But don't worry!

I plan on continuing my blog posts, though they're going to be a little bit more erratic.

To my fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for, starting with apples, hot tea, cats and dogs, and paint and pencil, and ending somewhere around zoology. I sincerely hope, no matter where you live, that you can take a moment to give thanks for the good things in life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 36

A famous witch...

Truth be told, I tend to read what the popular Pagan authors write and then go my own way.

In terms of who I most look up to...

T. Thorn Coyle is big on my list.
As is Grey Cat.
In podcasting, I have a lot of affection for Mojo and Sparrow of the Wigglian Way.

I'd like to go back and ask Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley some questions. And then again, if I could time travel, I'd love to talk to Pythagoras and Paracelsus and Hesiod. To talk to Medea and Kirke would be divine.

I'm not sure that the traits that make a person capable of attaining any sort of fame are those that I want in someone that I learn from. I don't really think of any of the Pagans above as famous really. Fame connotes a wide following, and even our most well-known contemporaries are really only known in our community... or in their local community.

I mean, does the average Californian know who Starhawk is? I'm pretty sure Salemites know Laurie Cabot, but that's a smaller town and she's a loud person.

Anyway, I admire some Pagans for what they've written. But they're still people, with all the flaws and fun that that entails. They don't necessarily have the key that fits the lock of my path of mysteries.

Still, if I could I'd love to study under T. Thorn Coyle, Sorita D'Este, Grey Cat, and the Wigglians. It isn't happening anytime soon, and I'm sure if it did happen, I'd question some of the lessons pretty harshly.

Ultimately we each have to walk our own way, and that means being willing to admit that being famous or published doesn't mean that the Gods whisper in their ears. I'm always a little skeptical of fame. I admit it. Fame seems a fickle beast.

Better to listen to the wisdom of what's actually being said, and weed the garden of what doesn't' work for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 35

Lemon Balm: Melissa Officianalis
Origins: Mediterranean World
Astrological Associations: Jupiter and Cancer (according to Culpepper.) Moon (Candace Hunter.)

For the Greeks, the honeybee was considered associated with several Gods and Goddesses. Bees attended the birth of Zeus, and several Bee Nymphs were among his nurses. The priestesses of Cybele and Rhea were called Melissae, which means bee. Even the human soul was associated with the bee.

Of all the blossoms that were beloved by bees, the lemon balm was understood as most prized, according to Pliny the Elder. It was traditional to plant lemon balm near hives to encourage them to stay and be happy.

The flowers of lemon balm are tiny, delicate, and lovely. Charlesmagne found the plant so lovely that he is said to have insisted that it be a part of all monastery gardens. In fact it was a main ingredient in Carmelite Water, which was a popular tonic in the nineteenth century and earlier.

It is also included in the liquor Chartreuse and Benedictine, both of which are medieval recipes for tonics. Paracelsus said that Lemon Balm is an herb in the elixir of life.

Shakespeare uses lemon balm as a symbol of sympathy in King Richard II, King Henry IV, and King Lear, where he describes it being used to anoint the kings. His plays also describe using lemon balm as furniture polish. The British colonies in North America use lemon balm in beverages, food, medicine, cosmetics and around the home.

It was believed in the 17th century to be a balm against baldness, mental degradation, and depression. In Polish folklore, new mothers are refreshed by a tonic of lemon balm or chamomile. It even has some reputation of extending the recipient's life.

In magic, Lemon Balm is very soothing and kind. It grows with a sense of resiliency and strength in spite of its delicate appearance. Melissae Officianalis is also known as encouraging joy and peace and self-nurturing. It is a relaxing presence. Some flower languages list lemon balm as bringing merriment and relieving stress.

If you lightly rub the leaves, a light lemon scent fills the air and your hands.

In modern medicine, studies show it can be useful for insomnia, anxiety, cold sores, antibiotic effect, and indigestion.

Shatoiya De la Tour, "Earth Mother Herbal: Remedies, Recipes, Lotions, and Potions from Mother Nature's Healing Plants"
Liebreich, Wagner and Wendland, "The Family Kitchen Garden"
Deborah Anders Silverman, "Polish-American Folklore"
A Modern Herbal:
University of Maryland's Herbal Database:
Mountain Rose Herbs' entry on Lemon Balm:
The Practical Herbalist:
Herbal Legacy's entry:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 34

Something I think people who don't know much about Paganism/Witchcraft should know.

I think I'd like to bring forward the idea, as put forward by Michael York, that we shouldn't be talking about Paganism, so much as Paganisms.

The sheer diversity that our community possesses means that there are always exceptions. One can only talk about their own beliefs and experiences and use the lens of other's experiences and history to test what has happened to you.

When a Wiccan talks about the Threefold Law or Law of Return or the Rede, that only applies to Wiccans, and different traditions deal with them in their own ways. And there's a lot more out there than Wiccan witchcraft.

It all seems to delineate along certain lines though:
Eclecticism vs. Cultural Specificity
Historically based vs. Inspirational
Gods-centered vs. Magic-centered
God is One vs. Gods are Many

Really it isn't a clear distinction however, as each category is really more of a spectrum.
For example, I lean slightly towards eclecticism, but don't cross the line of approaching Gods from multiple pantheons in the same ritual. While I may maintain certain devotions to Bast-Mut and Amun, I don't do those things in the same rite as one to Hekate. The rituals are even different based upon their cultures.

To know what needs to change for the rituals, I look to history, but I also listen to my intuition and when I am inspired to think of something new, I try it out. If it works, I may keep it. If it doesn't, I toss it.

I fall pretty far towards being focused on my relationship with the Gods rather than working a lot of magic. Magic happens, sure, but it usually has a lot to do with something I'm doing for the Gods. I don't cast spells for parking spaces or the like. I do cast healing and love into my cooking, and maintain some basic magic for my home and sanity, but really my work is about learning about myself and how to become a better devotee to the Gods in my life.

When it comes to the last bit I'm a blend. I believe that the Gods are unique parts of one greater whole. Just like I'm part of humanity but am independent. Or the way that we're all part of Earth's ecosystem without losing our individuality.

The important part to consider is that other Pagans would fall in a completely different pattern than I. Some of us are conservatives politically, and some of us are assholes. Some of us are big ol' hippies and others aren't at all.

And some, like me, may cast spells and do divination, while holding great affection for the world of Science.

Friday, November 18, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 33

Rune of my Choice: Hagalaz

Not a rune that I suspect many people would choose. I don't really work with the runes much, though I have a set that I made and blooded myself. If I need divination done, I tend to go to Tarot, Oracles, or my pendulum.

That said, a few runes have special places in my heart, and Hagalaz is the most loved by me.

Hagalaz is generally understood as "Hail" - it denotes wrath, storms, destructive forces unleashed upon one's life or psyche.

The Old Icelandic poem for it is:
cold grain
and shower of sleet
and sickness of serpents."

So, why do I value it?
Really, it isn't my story to tell. Suffice to say the first real gift that my husband gave me was a glass pendant he made, and, totally by accident, one side of that necklace had the rune Hagalaz on it.

It suited my life at the time, and when he made it the rune fit that time of his life as well.

I keep that necklace in a special place today, as it really can't be worn any longer without risking damage to it.

For me, when I see that pendant, I am reminded that I weathered the storm, and out of it I was born renewed. My life today, for all its occasional headaches and issues (and who doesn't have those!), is amazing and I love it with all my heart. Without that storm, I never would have been able to grow and change into who I am today.

So, in spite of its ill tidings, Hagalaz fills me gratitude. It may not be a very traditional understanding, but it works for me. With thanksgiving just around the corner, this actually makes for a very appropriate post. I love how that works out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 32

Faery of my Choice, eh?

I don't do much with the Fey, except bribe them when they steal my stuff.

There's so much misinformation about them. People seem to either want to make the Good Folk all gentle and sweet or they try to make them into the incarnation of evil. The truth is a bit of all of the above. Traditionally you don't talk about them directly out of concern for attracting their attention. Thus the euphemisms...

The Good Folk, Fair Folk, The People Under the Hill.

There are a lot of Kings and Queens of these fine peoples, and the landscape of Scotland and Ireland is dotted with their names.
From Cnoc Aine in Limerick (that would be it in the photo) to Dunany in Louth in Ireland, Aine has left her stamp throughout the land. As the Queen of the Good Folk, Aine continues to influence the world.

Her name means 'Brightness' or 'Delight,' and before she was understood as a Queen, she was a Goddess. The daughter of Mannannan Mac Lir and fostered by a King of the Good Folk. She gives the body its vital spark of life.

Yet for the family of the Corrs of Derry, she is the Bean Sidhe who fortells their death.

Like I said, the folk are a bit more complex than a lot of things like to make them out to be. Much like the rest of life.

Sources: has a lot of great information on the figures of Irish Mythology.
There's also this bit on The Folk.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 31

Pagan/Witchy artwork

This is a pastel by M. Pirner of Hecate from 1901.

I could've rambled about my own art here, but a lot of my training is actually in art history, so I couldn't just go with one... or with any old piece. :0)

Patricia Ariel's Hecate

Alphons Marie Mucha's poster for his Slav Epic. The figure in the background is a Slavic Goddess.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 30

Pagan/Witchy Movie:
I love and adore The Fountain. There are no Witches or Pagans in it. Just eternal love and devotion that transcends death.

From being inspired by the Popol Vuh to talking about Xibalba, The Fountain has a lot of elements of the original Maya beliefs. The way I understand the non-linear story is one that embraces reincarnation. Even better there's a theme of the quest of immortality which is a common theme in ancient myth.

And lastly, throughout the entire film is the symbol of the Tree of Life.

"All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time."

Monday, November 14, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 29


My wand isn't finished, and hasn't been finished for about four years. lol - I'm big on feeling my way through the process of making my tools, and this one isn't ready yet. I think part of my problem is that it doesn't look like your typical wand. It is about 3/4 of an inch thick and shaped more like a wand from a tarot deck than like the wands you buy at the store.

It's made of plum wood, and the bark has been carved by me into a design of ivy leaves. I'm slowly carving the tip of it back so that it can hold a crystal. I have a grip made of green cotton yarn on it.

It'll get finished one day, but for now, I do without.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 28

I seem to have skipped a day, but I am not sure where at... *shrug* Oh, well.


Today's topic is Water.

When I was about 8 or so my mom took me and my brothers out to the Hill Country. I had never seen water so pure and clear as they have at the Frio River. I love to swim and it is hard to keep me from the water.

I think about the Frio when I consider water. The Frio is spring fed and ice cold. It is clear as glass and deceptive. When you first look at this river it looks shallow and placid, but the first thing my mother said when I got ready to get in was, "It's deeper than it looks." And she was right. What was more, the water was home to monsters. In the warmer waters, the waters in Texas harbor snakes and, closer to Louisiana, alligators.

She made me step into the water where it was shallow, tumbling over riverstones and sparkling in the dappled light.

Water is that way though. It is beautiful and deceptive. It can be freezing yet swift. It can be clear as the sky or grey as storms or the color of stone. Blue, turquoise, purple, grey, or glass. Swift or slow, it takes the form of where it is or whatever it is held within.

All this is much like the way of the heart. Emotions are changeable, flexible, and move deep inside of us all. They can spring up in unexpected places, and have unknown depths. There are even monsters lurking in the darkness of the invisible currents.

The ability to recognize those currents and navigate our lives through doldrums and storms can soothe the journey of our lives. But it is a treacherous path, and means confronting memories and instincts that we might not wish to see.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To Be Silent

Last night was the astrological cross-quarter of Samhain, the ritual honoring the ancestors and the end of life mysteries. Our society shies away from death, so its no surprise that the decline of life isn't talked about so much.

I was fortunate this year. No one died in my family, that I know. Even though my eldest cat is suffering from Chronic Renal Failure, she's stable, if slowly declining.

I have a bit of a cold or crud or seasonal somewhat happening to me, so the ritual I wrote to honor my ancestors was tossed for something less strenuous and simple. Simple is good! :)

I unpacked my ancestor box, which is what you see in the photo here. Photos of my ancestors, trinkets, flowers, shells, stones, and other things that make me think of my beloved dead are stored there and maintained year round. Only at Samhain do I ever unpack the contents. I keep a list of the names of my dead there as well.

I established my space, and sat silently writing the names on parchment. The entire ritual was silent on my part. I sat and considered my photos and their names. I offered them beans and tea, which reflects something of my family ancestry.

All in all, the result was a peaceful and sweet rite.

I can only hope that others' rituals were as meaningful.

It doesn't sound much like what people think of when they're imagining what a Witch does for this time of year. No loud chanting or spellcraft here, no poppets or spells. I do those things, but only when necessary.

I just don't see it as necessary very often. My usual work is more focused on what T. Thorn Coyle calls the Great Work. I want to know myself and be the best me ever. My practice is about growing and knowing peace with myself, good and bad.

I know that not everyone sees their spiritual or magical tradition that way, and I try not to judge too harshly. Yet when I see people embracing their jealousy and thriving in it, when people allow their anger to sweep them up, I find that I can be all too judgmental. Losing yourself in destructive emotions instead of engaging them and discovering why and what is their source seems counter to living a spiritual existence to me.

But I'm not them, and I don't know the background. Some of them, no doubt, look at my simple little ancestor right and wonder where the juice is, why I don't call down the Gods and dance vigorously, why I don't stir the powers up and make them bring me more prosperity or something.

They're not me, and don't understand my life either. :)

And I value those differences. Nature adores diversity, and abhors homogeneity. I need to remember that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 27

Today's entry is supposed to be a witchy "want-it-now"... Hmmm...

I don't exactly have something I want right this moment. Stuff can be a distraction from the spiritual.

That said, I'm patiently biding my time until I can commission a statue from Jeff Cullen of Hekate. They're not too expensive, and he builds them around a core of stones and herbs that are relevant to the deity.

I'm also hoping to score a copy of Maxine Miller's statue of Hekate.

But these aren't things that I want right this moment. What one really desires to have in their lives, one should be willing to wait for.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 26

Photo: Earth

Roots breaking through asphalt. :) A bit blurry, but I love the way that roots do that sort of thing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween!

May your candy bags be full, and your costume malfunctions be few. :)

If you practice, may the Gods and Ancestors bless you and yours on the Samhain night! If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, may your Beltaine be beautiful and full of life.

Today's 44 Days of Witchery topic is about podcasting...

Here's one that I enjoy when I have time to just relax and enjoy music: A Darker Shade of Pagan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 25

What do my loved ones think about my witchery?

I know my mother's uncomfortable but resigned. It's actually a bit of a sore spot. Some of my proudest moments have to do with my spiritual path, and she has absolutely no pride about those contributions. In her mind, my other endeavors are the only ones that count. Contributing to Sorita d'Este's Hekate: Her Sacred Fires matters for naught.

Oh well. I can only control myself.

My friends are largely either at peace with it, are Pagan themselves, or are vaguely uncomfortable-ish but don't say anything.

It doesn't come up much to be honest. I don't deny my spiritual life, but I also don't shove it at people.

My husband has absolutely no issue with it whatsoever. His step-mother and I have had discussions and she's intrigued. His father doesn't seem to have issues, nor his siblings.

Truth be told, I suspect that my in-laws are more at peace with it than my family.
One of my brothers is a bit anti-organized religion and spirituality as a whole. The rest of the family are pretty diverse religiously. We have Church of Christ, Baptist, Catholic, Atheist, and me... the Witch and Mystic.

So yeah, a mixed reception to be sure. The worst reactions have come from complete strangers, and those have been visceral and awful, but were totally the issue of the person rather than my own baggage. I don't worry about it much.

Monday, October 24, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 24

My Moon Sign.

Tropically: Taurus 2*
Sidereal: Aries 42*

This is one of those places where my charts look really different depending on which system I'm using.

With my moon in Taurus, I am very attached to what is familiar and prefer to live a steady life. It says I am romantic and value deep connections with others. Sentimentality and affection is important to me. Overall a Taurean moon is also determined and hard to force to give up on what matters to them. Serenity seems to be the watchword for this moon position.

But with a Aries moon, impatience, passion, and fire drive my subconscious world. It reflects a live in the moment perspective of the world. I take things personally. I come across as being confident, whether that's what I'm actually feeling or not. It signifies an inability to tell wants from needs and a plethora of crushes and flirtations. On the other hand, Aries Moons don't usually play games of manipulation, but can't be rather self-centered when they face an emotional crisis.

Parts of both fit me. I don't know if that's because at 2*Taurus, my tropical moon would reflect some of the Aries' traits. Or am I just making leaps in an effort to reconcile astrology to my conception of my self.

After all, I flip flop on how much stock I put in astrology in the first place. But looking at this sort of comparison can tell you a lot about astrology and about your perception of yourself.

Interestingly, I think I present an appearance of a Taurus Moon while possessing an Aries Moon internal landscape.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 23

Today's topic is Favorite candle which is a really light thing to talk over... ba-dum-dum.

I adore beeswax candles; they burn better and cleaner as well as smelling better than the chemicals that most candles carry.

But conceptually, I really love the red candle that I keep to represent Hekate's Sacred Fire when I am doing my Work. It isn't beeswax, but I love it for the pure fact of its symbolic meaning.

As you can tell, things have been becoming a bit more erratic. Autumn is so important to me, and we're getting right into the swing of things. I'm going to love it. :) In other words, expect some occasions when I won't be able to blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 22

Current Moon Phase

It's the waning crescent. The New Moon is coming on the 27th. :) All in all that means that Samhain will be early Waxing Crescent, which I really like for the spiritual new year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 21

Favorite Scent:

Natural or chemical? I'm very keen with my sense of smell. I have a raging addiction to Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. One that has been sorely ignored in the past year or so.

Favorite scents...
Honeysuckle on spring mornings.
Bread yeast proofing in the kitchen.
Apple cider warming on the stove.
Roses fresh from the garden.
Live rosemary - There's a huge patch of it on campus and I regularly visit it and run my hands through it just because it smells so good.
Fresh lemon balm from my patio.
Warm hot Earl Grey.
Dragon's blood burning on a charcoal.
Campfire smoke in my clothes after a good time hanging around a fire with friends.

and lastly, not really a scent... exactly, but
the sharp ice sensation when you get the first really cold snap in winter. It feels and smells clean to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 20

A picture of a tarot card and its meaning.

That's my bedroom altar with two cards from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck.
You can see The Star clearest.

The Star is about hopes and dreams. She is the guiding star. The Star inspires us to our higher purpose. She is about flow and serenity.

In The Fool's Journey, the Star follows the tumble down chaos of the Tower, and the pain thereof. The Star is the moment when you start looking past the struggles and life-changing moments with the Tower.

But the thing about following our hopes and dreams is... we can get lost. So the card that follows is the Moon. The Moon offers spiritual guidance, but can also lead us towards confusion, or lunacy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 19

The Element of Fire -

A short post today since I'm at a deadline crunch. :) A few of them actually.

Which rather works for a discussion on fire now that I think on it. After all, this is the point where I summon all my Will and buckle down.

Fire is about Willpower and passion, heat and transformation. It devours earth and air and in the process creates renewal. It tempers steel so that we can hunt, cook, and defend for ourselves.

A healthy fire is delicately balanced, and needs tending to, just as our send of Passion and Will. An imbalanced Will can either result in lethargy or in being run down into exhaustion. Imbalanced Passion means rage or apathy.

Fire can burst free and break down everything of value. It destroys, and the ashes of its destruction lays out the foundations of a new creation.

It is the phoenix, and the wildfire, the volcano, and the desert. It isn't always comfortable, and even challenges our definitions of good on occasion, but it lives within all things as the illuminating force of life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 18

The Paranormal *cues creepy music*

Strictly speaking, I'd argue that what most people think of as "paranormal" is really just plain old normal.

I think the chances are that things like aliens exist, but I'm not won over as far as whether they visit Earth. It just isn't likely that we're the only life in the universe.

I have had experiences with ghosts, most of which are extremely private. It started when I was a child, and I eventually got to where I blocked it. Modern society says that people who can communicate with the dead are weird at best and delusional at worst. I put up walls. Now I am working on breaking those barriers down.

I even do the occasional ghost hunting with a friend or three.

I guess that's about it. I can't think of anything else that might fall into the category.

Ultimately, I think my view of it is that there is more to life than is dreamt of in all of our philosophies, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 17

A picture of Fire

This is my Samhain ritual altar from last year. I hope this years is half as pretty.

This year, Texas has been ravaged by wildfire. This is a photo of the Angelina River Bottom Fire about two weeks after the fact. The scent of smoke and fire still lingered there. This is just the barest edge of it. The scary thing about some types of wildfires is that the fire can smolder inside of the roots and trunk of the trees and bloom up days after the fire has been contained.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 16

Favorite Witchy Website.

Hmmm... How can I choose just one???

I have to share two, followed by a confession.

My favorite Witchcraft site is from Forest Grove Botanica. There's a lot there that I know with which some will take issue. After all, there's a blog entry on how to use chicken hearts in magic just a bit down the page. But I learn so freaking much about witchery there.

For my simple love of altars and sacred objects, I head over to tumblr and fuckyeahaltars.

The truth is however, that I am doing so much work on my computer lately between doing some coloring work for a publisher and writing... that I don't visit many websites lately, witchy or otherwise. I check my favorite facebook groups - Covenant of Hekate (which is not a fb group but has a presence there), the SFASU Pagan Student Alliance, Hekate's Crossroads and the group of friends back home called cictrclan Shaman.

Of those, Covenant of Hekate is a closed group for Devotees and Torchbearers. For more information on that, check out the following links: - Sorita is the founder of CoH.

And that's about it. I've been so busy lately that not even Forest Grove has gotten my attention much.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 15

The afterlife. It is the question that everyone asks eventually, I think. What happens when we die?

Any ounce of honesty requires one to say, "I don't really know."

But I have had dreams of other lives. I am certain that something of us survives, and I believe death to be a doorway.

Now when I say that I've dreamt other lives, I don't mean that I think I was Cleopatra or Napoleon. That's ego speaking when people think that... maybe.

I mean that I was the child of a farmer. I was the daughter of a slave. And I don't remember much.

I have a complicated understanding of the afterlife, however. It was born out of the contradiction of believing in ghosts (I've seen those too!), Ancestors, and reincarnation. Why establish a practice talking to one's Beloved Dead if they're already back amongst us?

Now I don't really see a contradiction, but my original solution to the question holds still. The Afterlife isn't beholden to the same laws of time as this existence. Perhaps my next life will be in Sumer. Maybe I'm already living out my next life right now in the Czech Republic. Who knows?

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

I believe that we have lessons we take in and that we have the chance to integrate our experiences when we die, and then we come back. Outside of that, I don't have a clue.

I don't think of life as something to escape. I consider the idea that the material realm is automatically foul to be short-sighted and anthrocentric. I believe that animal souls and plant souls are just as vital and important as we are, and that we can come back in those forms as easily as we can as humans.

As a Panentheist, I don't believe that there is anything that doesn't partake of the Cosmic Soul, who I name Hekate like the Chaldaean Oracles have for centuries.

Monday, October 10, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 14

Favorite Witchy Day.

Halloween/Samhain is definitely my favorite for decoration and social activity. We buy a single witchy decoration per year, and we have a huge box of them as a result. I love it.

I maintain an ancestor altar year round, and it is generally small, but carefully cared for. I keep an ancestor box, and photos of my Beloved Dead. As the veil thins in October, I move it to the main altar, which quickly becomes dense with items and memories.

The university students host a public ritual, and I help design the ritual and supply what is necessary for it. Usually it is a grand time. This year's seems promising.

For my own purposes, I don't do my ritual until the astrological cross quarter, which is usually around Nov. 5-10, depending. This year Samhain is November 7th at 6:30 in the evening.

All that said, in May of 2010, I was honored to do the Rite of Her Sacred Fires with hundreds of people around the world. I invited a few friends and the ritual was so enriching that it has become an annual affair for all involved. We get together every May to feast and commune. It has overtaken Halloween in terms of meaning for me.

I'll also be hosting that ritual in November this year for a small group because a friend hasn't been able to attend any of the May ceremonies. I am curious if there will be differences as a result.

It all goes back to Hekate lately, I admit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 13

Witchy Books that have influence my path:

I'm a bibliophile. There isn't a room in our home that doesn't have books, and we regularly struggle with figuring out where to put the new ones. I try to keep them organized, and all, but it would be in truth a full time job.

When I first started out, I wasn't very good at picking out reliable books. Early on, I picked up some that I still really appreciate like Ray Buckland's Big Blue Book, and Scott Cunningham's books on Wicca.

However, for a while there, my biggest influence was Edain McCoy... Potato Goddess and all...

But I got better. :)

These days I'm influenced more by Judika Illes, Phyllis Curott's Witchcrafting, and several books edited by Sorita D'Este and Bibliotheca Alexandria. Oh, and Dianne Sylvan! Along with some classics like Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner.

My practice is a heady mix of old school witchcraft, Wicca, mysticism and somewhat traditional Hellenism. Most of the time, anyway. Labels just don't fit well.

Lastly, in spite of the links to Amazon Pages, if you buy these books, support your local Pagan shops or your small publishing houses.
For Avalonia Press the address is

Friday, October 7, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 11

Oils - I do so love to play with herbs and the like, though my magic in the kitchen is with bread and tea. :)

That said I have my fair share of oils I make when I need them. Currently I have some mint stewing for oils to use later.

I even have fake ones that I make for Halloween decorations. :0) If I told you how to make the sun cry or steal a hippogriff's tears, it would rob the fun of the decoration. Suffice to say, the real magic is in the tea stained labels.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 10

Sun Sign: I am not very skilled at astrology, I admit. I have a friend who is very good with it however. She doesn't do the tropical system, which doesn't correlate with the position of the sky in truth, and has blown my mind when it comes to the whole shebang.

In the tropical system, I am a Gemini with a ton of earthy signs in my chart, which is how I dealt with the simple fact that I don't act like a Gemini very much.

In the sidereal system that my friend uses, I am a Taurus with a lot of fire in my chart, which is a bit more me.

I know, I overcomplicate everything. To sum up, I'm a sidereal Taurus.

I'm also a Fire Snake in the Chinese Calendar.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 9

Favorite Mythical Animal

That's a hard one. I am an avid book collector, and I have a weak spot for bestiaries. It all started when I was browsing the library as a teen and found a Sci-fi bestiary that had corny pictures of aliens from other worlds. I can't remember who wrote it or even what the full title was, but it amused the heck out of me at the time.

Then I discovered the strangeness of the real thing. Medieval Bestiaries are full of oddities. Hedgehogs are said to use their spines to roll across feasts and steal food by having it stick. Ants and lions lay in bed together to produce ant-lions, and everything is a metaphor for the Christian worldview.

If you'd like to see for yourself, some of the better bestiaries are available online.

But as far as modern mythical beasts, I think my favorite is definitely the Gryphon. As a creature, it merges some of my favorite animals together: Lions and Eagles and rarely, snakes. Like a lot of monsters, they're said to guard treasure. Their favorite food is horse, and they're strong enough to carry oxen away in flight.

From that simple premise, artist have made some amazing adaptations. Now you can find gryphons in art that are part canary, or leopard. Pretty much any sort of bird or cat can be found in a gryphon in modern iconography. It makes for some amazing art.

Artists, like Nambroth, aka Jennifer Miller, McGibs, and Windfalcon play with the infinite variety that can be found in the modern Gryphon.

Please go check them out, and who knows, maybe you'll find you love the gryph as much as I do.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 8

A magical place outdoors:

What could be more magical than the Sea? Meet Sea Rim State Park, which isn't too far outside of Galveston, Texas, but doesn't have the crowding or the town. Part of a preserve, Sea Rim is three hours from here, give or take, and amazing to visit.

Nearby, one can birdwatch and alligator watch while simultaneously listening to the waves crash on the shore.

I was going to share some place more local to me, but I can't find the picture I had in mind.

Monday, October 3, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 7

Air, Wind, Gales, Breezes

Air connects all things. The air travels the entire world. The breeze that tugs your hair and clothes has visited Mount Everest, London, Antartica. It is a gift from the trees and grasses that we can breathe. It is our gift to those same flora from our own lungs. We nourish each other with every breath.

In many traditions, it was breath that brought life. It is breath that allows us to speak. It is the air that carries sound between us.

When I meditate on Air, I see a broad field with the sky spread bright and blue above me. The clouds are wispy and white, high above, looking like feathers. Birds take to the winds, singing and dancing on the drafts. The grasses whisper around me, shifting like water around me.

Air is the power of knowledge, and of communication of knowledge.

Gods associated with Wind are:
Amun(Egyptian), Aeolus and the Anemoi (Boreas, Zephyrus, Notus, and Eurus)(Greek), Shu (Egyptian), and the Venti (Roman), among many others.

I associate Wind with the Power of the Magus, "To Know."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 6

A favorite god:

I don't really have a practice with a God at the moment, but I have had such in the past. One of them, I suspect, is waiting for me to ask him back, so I'll talk him up today.

So what's with the photo of the kite?

Amun, the Egyptian Blue-skinned God. Primordial and immense in his nature, the surviving stories of him describe him as one of the creators of the Universe. His name means Hidden, and I associate perfect blue skies with him. He's what isn't readily visible in the photo.

Because he's so enigmatic and vast, I have trouble describing him and feeling like I'm remotely doing him justice. (I can say the same thing about Hekate, but there's been a lot more written about her than Amun and my relationship with her is more intimate.)

He's a wind god, and thus a god of storms. He can take the form of a ram, frog, or a goose, but don't think that that indicates that he lacks for authority. He's the King of the Gods, even when he isn't syncretized with Ra.

His wife is Mut, or sometimes Amunet. Luxor, which is overrun by tourists in Egypt today, was his temple, and some of the most magnificent art I have seen from Kemet was worked in his honor.

In the times that I have sensed him, it has been during crisis, and has been a comforting presence, a brief insight that the geese flying nearby aren't just a coincidence.

Just thinking about him makes me smile, yet Hekate is the primary force in my life right now and he seems okay with that. I know that when the time comes and I am ready, Amun will still be there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 5

A Favorite Goddess: Hekate

I'm pretty much a walking fan club for the Light-bearing Savior, Hekate. Much maligned in literature, much loved by her people, Hekate is the Goddess known as the Gentle-Hearted, the Guide, the Protector, and also the Queen of Phantoms, the Destroyer, the Invincible.
Her earliest images are of a young maiden sitting on a throne, or running with torches (though those images can also represent Artemis). The image of her with three forms seems to have been born in Athens.
As the Goddess of Crossroads, she is more associated with three-way junctions than with four. As locations where suicides and criminals were buried (and in some societies where criminals were executed), she does hold sway over the Restless Dead.

In my own personal experience, she is kind, but firm with her needs. She almost always has me hard at work, if not on an offering then on my self. Doing the work with my own inner demons is, of course, the harder of the two.
She loves to communicate with visions and dreams.

When she first came into my life, she intimidated me into a tiny ball, but now, I wouldn't have it any other way. She pushes me in new directions, reminds me of the majesty of life, and generally has made my life a better one.

She is one of my first thoughts in the morning, and my prayer before I sleep.

Hekate, Queen of Heaven, Earth and Sea
Who ensouls the world,
She who is the bringer of New Life
and the Guardian who accompanies the Dead into the World Beyond.
Hekate, Mistress of the Wild Beasts,
Whose light-bearing presences
Warms the souls of those who speak your names
and Guides us through towards new mysteries.
Hekate, Gentle Nurse,
Whose call strikes fear,
She who stands at the limit
where ever that might be.
Offer thanks to her,
She was there when we were born.
Offer thanks to her,
She will welcome us when we pass onward.
Offer thanks to her,
Her Mysteries are the secret that shall never be spoken, but felt and known.

Friday, September 30, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 4

Picture Day: Water

The Native Plants Center, Nacogdoches, TX. Boggy water, irises, cattails, and plenty of bees.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 3

3. Witchy tools: Athame(s)

I have two, one of which is extremely non-traditional.

There you have it. My first Athame was a letter opener. My second was a kris knife a friend gave me. I still have that one stashed away for the day when I can do some much needed repairs on it.

The two I use now are as follows.
My older of the two is the deer antler pocket knife. I use it as an athame and as an art tool and for harvests. I am not one who believes that the athame shouldn't be used to cut. It's a knife! If the athame is a symbol of one's Will, it does not do to immediately castrate the item's central purpose of being.

The other I commissioned from Lupa. She is far more specialized and nothing feels like she does in ritual. She responds very quickly to me and is truly my ritual knife. She is not sharp, but her purpose is not the same as that of a pocket knife, and she does her job very well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 2

2. A favorite myth or folklore:
There are so many I love. When I was a kid, I loved the story of Athena and Poseidon fighting over the adoration of the Athenians, and the "Clash of the Titans" movie was a good bet for me.

Then I got older and discovered Aesop, and the Celts as well, so I'll share a few.

Hercules and Pallas

Hercules, once journeying along a narrow roadway, came across a
strange-looking animal that reared its head and threatened him.
Nothing daunted, the hero gave him a few lusty blows with his club,
and thought to have gone on his way. The monster, however, much to the
astonishment of Hercules, was now three times as big as it was before,
and of a still more threatening aspect. He thereupon redoubled his
blows and laid about him fast and furiously; but the harder and
quicker the strokes of the club, the bigger and more frightful grew
the monster, and now completely filled up the road. Pallas then
appeared upon the scene. "Stop, Hercules," said she. "Cease your
blows. The monster's name is Strife. Let it alone, and it will soon
become as little as it was at first."

"Strife feeds on conflict."

My favorite Celtic story is The Cattle Raid of Cooley, because I love Cuchulain.
It is far too long to share in a blog, but can be read here:

Lastly, I also love the story of Psyche and Eros, though I didn't really enjoy it until I understood just what Psyche represents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 1

44 Days of Witchery - stolen from Tumblr
1. What's your witchy background?

I started off where a lot of people start, Scott Cunningham and the like in the library and the bookstore. It is really hard to describe the path I've taken. I did the out of the book Wicca stuff with a focus on the Greek pantheon (I was going with what I knew!), then more bookish pseudo-Celtic Wicca (what? I was a teenager, and didn't know it wasn't Celtic.) Then I started educating myself and went more towards Druidry, then to Gaelic Traditionalism.

But I never connected well with the Irish Gods that I was trying to chat with - except An Dagda, and he made it clear that he was happy to hang around while I needed him, but that was about it.

I drifted a bit. Life got in the way and I found myself in despair.
Then Sekhmet and Bast helped me out, and Aset too. I was Kemetic Orthodox for a good while. Then some of the Greek Gods from my early days showed back up and went, "Ahem." They reminded me of some promises I made a long time ago. The Kemetic Gods were cool with me going elsewhere with my life, so I did.

I followed the bread-crumbs and ended up with Hekate. I don't really have a name for what I do, but I love it here. ^.^ My Lady pretty much rules my spiritual life, and, sometimes that's a little scary, but I'm good with it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Anyone still here?

Life has been super crazy. We'll leave it at that. >.<

In an effort to re-awaken my blog, here are some surveys to answer some questions that folks might have about me:

1) How do you label yourself as a witch? (Pagan, Wiccan, eclectic solitary witch, Gardnerian Wiccan, Asatru?)
Wiccan-influenced Witch
2) Do you believe in or follow any gods, goddesses, entities? If so, which ones?
I believe in a bunch of Gods, but I am devoted to Hekate.
3) Name three simple things that make you feel like a witch.
1. I cast spells.
2. I commune with spirits.
3. I worship my Gods in witchy ways.
4) Are there any aspects of witchcraft in which you excel or have a stronger pull towards (e.g. herbs, candle magic, healing, or animal magic)?
I'm good with animals, tisanes (herbal remedies), cord magick, and I'm told I have talent for healing.
5) What is your stance on curses?
I don't think they're the wise thing to do, but my personal path is a lot about becoming a better person. Curses require a willingness to pay a price I'm not willing to pay. At least, I haven't found a reason to hex yet.
6) How many people (if any) know that you do witchcraft?
A bunch, both online and off. I couldn't give you an exact number though.
7) What age did you start practicing witchcraft?
I discovered witchcraft and started practicing around twelvish. My first sabbat was that Beltaine.
8) Are you pulled closer to the light or darkness of witchcraft?
I don't use those terms. I'm big on balance - don't avoid either. Dynamic balance is the way to go.
9) Name your favorite animal, plant and color to work with in magic.
Animal - Fox, Vulture, Horse.
Plant - Lemon Balm, Oak, Holly.
Color - Depends on what I'm doing, really. Red, Yellow, Orange, White, and Black are pretty common on my devotional altar.
10) Do you have any witchy friends where you live?
11) Is your spellwork done formally (all planned out with specific clothes and rituals done before starting) or done on the spur of the moment?
Either. It depends on how large a spell we're talking. Small ones, like finding my keys, are spontaneous. Spells for other purposes require more planning. Holy day rituals are usually sketched out and then the details are spontaneous.
12) Have you made your own tools before? If so, which ones?
My wand, staff, details on my athame, details on my drum, devotional artwork, altar cloths, runes, and ritual jewelry are all mine. My athame itself was commissioned from Lupa (
13) What are some talents that you have that don’t pertain to your spiritual self (e.g. singing, dance, artwork)?
There is nothing in my life that isn't spiritual. The mundane is spiritual. Breathing is spiritual.

Generic Pagan Survey
B A S I C S //
Do you have a magickal name? A few. Currently, Neheti, which I gained when I was active with the House of Netjer.
What does it mean? Neheti means "Shelter, or House, or Sycamore Fig" - all of which are intensely synchronistic and amazingly meaningful.
How did you find Wicca/Paganism? I've been connected to a lot of this since I was a kiddo, but I started really discovering my path thanks to mythology and a deep love of libraries.
How long have you been practicing? Ahem.... twenty-ish years.
Solitary or group pratictioner? Solitary with attendance at open rituals. I would join a coven if one of the ones that calls to me were near here.
What is your path? Unique.
Are you out of the broom closet? I'm not a stand on top of the car shouting my beliefs kind of girl, but I don't hide it either.

D E I T Y //
Who is your patron God? Don't have one. I've got a relationship with An Dagda, Amun, Dionysos, and Helios, but they're not patrons.
Who is your patron Goddess? Hekate, Hekate. Hekate. She's everything to me. Since she called me, she has spread out and expanded and changed my world.
What Gods do you worship? I send up the odd conversation to the gods listed above.
What Goddesses do you worship? Hekate first. Bast, and HetHert also get attention, much like the gods.
Do you fear darkly aspected Gods/Goddess, or rather respect them? Fear can be healthy, or it can be crippling. Balance is important though and I have no trouble with looking into the void.
Do you worship the Christian God? Not really.
Do you ever worship animals? Not worship, but sometimes they act as messengers of the Divine. Totems are a whole 'nother bag.
Or plants? Not worship, but again, sometimes they're messengers of the Divine. Again, Totems should be separate.

N A T U R E //
Do you regularly commune with nature? Yes.
Ever walked barefoot in the woods? Yes, when I was little, but the ticks in this area are vicious, so I don't recommend it.
Taken a camping trip just to talk to nature? Yes! I love doing that.
Describe the moment you felt closest to Mother Earth? There isn't any one moment that qualifies - there are a few moments that totally blew my mind however. Those are experiences that cannot be shared in words.
What is your power animal? Fox and Vulture and Grackle and Leopard.
Do you have a familiar? I have a cat that seems to want to be, but no.
Have you ever called upon the powers on an animal in ritual? Yes.
Or a plant? Yes
Do you hug trees? Yes.
Give them gifts? Yes
What is your favorite flower to work with? Roses.
What is your favorite tree to work with? Oak

W H E E L . O F . T H E . Y E A R //
What is your favorite holiday? Samhain and Yule
What if your least favorite holiday? I struggle with the Spring Equinox.
Have you ever held a ritual on a holiday? Yes, both on the astrological date and on the calendar date.
Ever taken a day of work to celebrate a pagan holiday? Not that I recall.
Do you celebrate Yule on the 21 rather than the 25? I celebrate Yule for a bunch of days - just the height is at the Winter Solstice.
Have you ever felt the veil thin? Every year. It is starting soon.
Ever danced the Maypole? No
Know what the Maypole symbolizes? Yes.
How do you usually celebrate the pagan holidays? It depends on what is happening. At the worst I simply take five or ten minutes to contemplate. At the best, there is a camping trip with a full ritual.

D I V I N A T I O N //
Do you use Tarot? Yes
Do you use runes? Not really
Do you use a pendulum? Occasionally
Do you use dowsing rods? No, but I would like to learn.
Do you use astrology? It stumps me.
Any other form of divination? I scry and am learning palmistry.

S P E L L S //
What was the first spell you did? That's really private. Not sharing.
What was the latest? I cast a warding spell on my home while I went on a trip.
Ever done a love spell? Nope.
A job spell? Yes.
A healing spell? Yes.
What was the most powerful spell you’ve ever performed? I don't brag about my spellwork. Sorry.
What deities do you usually call on? If a spell requires a deity's assistance, Hekate.

C R Y P T O Z O O L O G Y //
Do you belive in Vampires? Only psychic vamps.
Werewolves? Not exactly - Lycanthropy exists both as a disease and as a psychological disorder. I have known some people who were extremely animalistic though. Read Lupa's books for more info.
Shapeshifters? In the spiritual realm, yes.
Elves? They're a form of Nature Spirit or Wight.
Fairies? Again, Nature Spirit.
Dragons? Yes, another Spirit.
Nymphs? Nature Spirit.
Sprites? Nature Spirit.
Mermaids? ditto.
Sirens? ditto
Satyrs? ditto
Ever “seen” any of the above? Yes.
Ever talked to any of the above? Yes.
Ever used any of the above in magick? "used" no. Visited, bargained, and communed with some yes.
Do you have one of them as a personal guardian? Yes.

R A N D O M //
Do you see a rabbit, a man or a woman in the moon? Yes. Depends on when you ask me.
Own a cat? Yep.
When you mediate what does your happy place look like? That varies with what I'm working on - it's a large place
Do you work with Chakras? Not often.
Do you believe in past lives? Yes
If so, describe a few briefly: That's pretty private. I don't share that with strangers.
Do you believe in soul mates? Yes, but not like you think.
Do you have a spirit guide? Yes.
Is it always love and light? No, thank all the Gods.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ritual Design Considerations

Life has been so crazy around here. There is a lot to be grateful for, and some that has our household reeling. This Saturday is the Full Moon and it is also a festival that historically has been dedicated to Diana. In recent years, however, August 13th has become linked with Hekate.

So I'm trying to figure out what to do for the event. I have a few people coming over for a potluck, but I also have responsibilities to Hekate that night via the Covenant of Hekate and my own relationship with the Keybearer.

I have a painting that I did of a vision that Hekate gave me back in March that I will be dedicating to her and offering, then hanging it at my altar in my bedroom. It is moments like these that I realize it is probably good that we live in a small place right now, because the list of people that I wish we could invite.

Ritual design can be tricky, especially when designing for a group. One needs to take into consideration the space, the way that sound carries, the experience levels of each participant. For example, you want people to each participate, but you don't want the new person to be put in charge of holding a quarter during an intense ritual.

If you don't own the room you are using for the ritual, you want to look over the rules of the property. Follow the rules, even if they put a cramp in your hopes for the property.

At the same time, think about why you are doing the ritual. If it is like this weekend's plans for me, dedicated to a specific deity, try to tailor the food as well as the ritual to their tastes. Decorate with the symbols of the god in question, and plan to answer questions about the deity from those who aren't familiar with them.

If your ritual is more focused on spellcraft, then tailor it towards your intent. If the ritual is one of healing, then try to decorate with colors that are soothing.

Begin the ritual with an explanation of your purpose, and then do something to delineate a difference in purpose. Most neo-Pagans do this by casting a circle.
In my experience circles work best with altars in each direction for the elements, but that isn't always practical. In my current living room, there isn't room for that many tables. So we tend to keep all the elements on one table.

Ultimately, rituals all follow a pattern, so it is important to make sure that your own design touches each of the steps.

I. Preparation: Set up the space. Ritually bathe and purify the area. Dress in fresh clean clothes. Take a moment to prepare by meditation.

II. Establishing Sacred Space: In many Pagan rituals this means casting the circle, inviting the elements, and welcoming the Gods and ancestors.

III. Statement of Purpose

IV. Ritual Acts. This is where you do the work itself. It might be as simple as meditation, or it might be ritual dancing and singing. Sometimes it is a lengthy event.

V. Gratitude. Be sure to give thanks to the Gods and spirits involved in the ritual. If you have a feast as part of the event, ask the Gods to bless the food and offer part of it to them prior to sharing it amongst yourself.

VI. Ending the Rite. Give thanks again to the Gods and Spirits and explain that the rite is done and that the Elementals should depart. Essentially you want to say, "Thank you for coming, the party is over." Then be sure to ground and center. Take a moment for meditation.

VII. Clean up. Pick up everything. If you need to do something like set out your offerings, do so now.

VIII. Follow up. If you were casting a spell, you need to do something in your everyday life to enact the ritual. If you cast a job spell, send in applications, go to interviews and generally do the footwork involved in getting a job. For a healing spell, eat accordingly if you are the recipient of the spell.

And there you have it. Sit back and let the acts reverberate through your life. Pay attention to dreams and the events of your life afterward. Some people include divination in their rituals, which would take place after the ritual act or after the gratitude portion.

This is, of course, just a basic outline. It won't work for everyone obviously.

May the Gods walk with you in darkness and light,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hekate and a Tarot Spread

I want to share with you a tarot spread inspired by Hekate. As a goddess, she inspired Shakespeare's three witches in the infamous opening scene of Macbeth, which helped to create her modern conception of Hekate as a crone. For the 5th century Greeks, Hekate was described as a maiden goddess of roads and witches. Her name was invoked at three way crossroads and, yes, by witches.

Her epithets describe a goddess of immense beauty and power. Zeus honors her, and she rules earth, sky, and sea. She stands watch over birth as well as death.
For the later mystics, she came to be understood as the Goddess who Ensouls the world.

Hekate's Crossroad Spread

This spread was created for me at a time when I was really mired and stuck immobile in my life. My obligations were simultaneously telling me to remain where I was and to move on to grad school, and I needed insight.

As a result, it works best for moments when you feel like you are in between, such as deciding whether to quit a job or between any other situation. That said, it can be used outside of that situation with some thought and consideration.

Card 1: Significator: This card represents the querent, and may be chosen or pulled. It may refer to how the querent is behaving or the situation that they are facing.

Card 2: The Path: Represents the situation, or the recent past that has brought the querent to the crossroad.

Card 3: The Rope: Represents the limitations that the querent is experiencing, or the responsibilities that the querent has. This may also indicate other influences not described in the prior cards.

Card 4: The Knife: Represents the factors that the querent can discern about the situation, what the True Will thereof might entail, or things that must be culled from one's life in order to proceed in the situation.

Card 5: The Triodotis/Herm: Represents the central fact of the situation, the crux of the decision.

Card 6: Torch the First: Describes the first option before the Querent.

Card 7: Torch the Second: Describes the second option before the querent.

Card 8: The Cavern: Represents Hekate's chthonic character. Hekate's cavern is a door to the underworld, and a place from which the ancestors can lend insight as well as the Goddess.

Card 9: The Stars: Represents Hekate's celestial character. Hekate's stars are a door to the deepest aspects of the soul. The guidance offered here can reflect the will of the divine or offer a glimpse of the future as it presently stands.*

*By the mere chance of doing a spread and accepting that knowledge means that the future changes.

The image above is Hekate from Pirner, 1901. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Apothecary: Home-made Bath Salts

A friend of mine asked how I make my bath salts, because lately I'm on this kick about how many things we buy from the store when it can be made at home with fewer artificial ingredients and many times it will cost less.

Bath salts are incredibly easy to make, and so long as you have a good sealable container can last several months. Be aware that any essential oils that you use in the mix will change the shelf life of the salts. (If your lavender oil has been sitting in your cabinet for a few years, you should probably get new oil instead of using it. Herbs, even in oils, lose their vitality over time.)

Bath Salt recipe:

6 parts coarse salt - usually kosher or sea salt
3 parts epsom salts - these are in the drug store, and are actually magnesium salts. They help to relax the body.
1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda - this softens the water in the bath.
1 tablespoon of olive oil - great moisturizer for the skin, but be forewarned, the tub will be slick after your bath from this key ingredient.

If you are using essential oils, a little goes a long way. I usually do the drops in five drop increments. Five drops for oils that are likely to be overpowering, such as any of the mints. Ten drops for those that are somewhat less so, such as lavender. Only rarely would I ever go above that amount.

Mix all your ingredients in a bowl, preferably ceramic. Some herbs can be altered by contact with aluminum, so if you are using essential oils, keep this in mind - no metal bowls or utensils! Also, avoid using a wooden bowl for this sort of work. The wood absorbs the oils and can eventually contaminate anything else you do in that bowl.

Ceramic is where it's at, folks. Or other non-porous non-metallic substances.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly. If you want, you can add food coloring, but I don't. When trying to make something that's free of nasty additives like what's on the store shelves, adding food coloring can introduce all sorts of fun and unpronounceable substances!

Honestly, I think the stuff is divine without the addition of essential oils. Always consult a reliable herbal before playing with any sort of herbs. Herbs can interact with your medications, and can trigger your allergies if you aren't careful.

I don't make any of my herbals often anymore, because in an apartment, there just isn't room for some of the things I would really need to do it right, but this is one recipe that I continue to do from time to time.

Of course, don't ingest this stuff. Epsom salts are not your friend when taken internally.

That said, I'm not a doctor or a professional herbalist. :p

I can say, however, that my personal experience is that my skin is extremely soft after using my bath salts, and that with some candles and incense, they can make for a very relaxing few hours.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Ancient Gods and Ethics.

I know I said my blogs this month would be about the virtues from "The Charge of the Goddess," but sometimes the Muses say otherwise.

There exist several books for exploring ethics and morals from a Pagan perspective. The earliest that I know of is "When, Why, If..." by Robin Wood, a very talented Pagan artist. If one works through this book honestly, at the finish the reader will have a much clearer idea of what they personally hold as a code of ethics.

Much more recent, and more apropos to today's topic are Brendan Myers books "A Pagan Testament" and "The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Come From, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us." Myers has his Doctorate in Philosophy. I haven't read the latter, but "Testament" is a great exploration of the stories of the ancient world and Pagan cultures.

I've heard more than one folklorist and student of mythology make the mistake of assuming that the Ancient World had no moral basis. They get caught on the stories of rapine and the mysticism of the myths, and don't look deeper.

The vast majority of the stories that have survived are snippets and bits, broken and unclear. Some of them are missing a word or two, and others have the entire story lost but for a few words, and some of what has survived was meant to be pure entertainment. Even if we were to have the entirety of the stories, they varied from place to place in most cases. Each city, clan, or tribe would have their own understanding of the tales they shared. In the ages since, the Western World has been fascinated with the puzzle of it all, and has assembled composites, which have been told to people as the myths.

This is especially true of the Greek Myths.

Still, we can glean insight into how the Hellenes (the Ancient Greeks) understood right and wrong.

It seems to me that discussion has to start not with the King of the Gods, but with the Goddess of all what is right and true, Themis. One of the daughters of Ouranos and Gaia, today most people know of her a lover of Zeus. The Titaness was first and foremost the Bringer of Law, who taught mankind the concepts of hospitality, proper relationships, and social order. Her children are most often listed as the Horai (the Seasons, whose names translate as Good Order, Peace, and Justice), the Fates, and Prometheus (whose name means Forethought, which also means She is the mother of Epimetheus, Afterthought.) She sat beside Zeus as a counselor and arbiter.

That isn't to say that She and Zeus always made decisions that fit with our modern conceptions of right and wrong. It was, after all, a totally different society from our own.

Many of Zeus' epithets hints as his role as a God who governs over ethics and morals and right behavior. He was Ktêsios, the God of the Home, who was always honored as part of the proper activities of the family and household. He was Boulaios, the God of the Council, and Amboulios, Counsellor.

Here is a small list of relevant names:
Kosmêtês Orderer
Epidôtês Giver of Good
Theos Agathos The Good God
Xenios God of Hospitality
Meilikhios Merciful
Palamnaios Punisher of Murderers
Agoraios God of the Marketplace

Looking at the ways in which Zeus was understood to exist in the lives of the Hellenes, it becomes challenging to understand how anyone can honestly argue that the Ancient Greek world lacked in ethical or moral bases.

And that's without even beginning to discuss the moral philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Diomedes, or Epicures (or dozens of others.)

Just scraping the surface of one culture here. I don't want to bore you or confuse anyone with more.

This is also where we get back to one of the themes that keeps cropping up here. If one is inspired by the ancient world's stories of the Gods, and if one is worshipping those Divinities, then one should eventually look at how proper or right action is expressed by those same. Whether you find that Plato's "Republic" is inspiring or that it offends your modern egalitarian virtues, or if you look at the role of Themis and Zeus, ultimately, the pressure is on you.

You have to find your way forward. That's where books like "When, Why, If..." and authors like Brendan Myers can really help. Most of us don't have the time to become classical scholars, but would still like to live good lives that are reflective of our spiritual lives. To do that, we have to be willing to honestly face down our own actions, the consequences of what we have done, and to be willing to keep going. It also means being willing to screw up on occasion.

Far from being bereft of moral thought, the Ancient world was intensely centered around proper and right action, even if the modern world doesn't always agree with their conclusions, something that is also certainly true of mainstream religious history as much as our own.

The question becomes then, do you have the courage to seek out the guidance of the Gods with honesty and conscious acceptance of the hard work that is involved? Even if one is following a path that offers a seemingly clear set of principles or virtues, there is still the process of negotiating how you understand those same.

Sources: entries on Zeus and Themis

To buy the aforementioned books:
Robin Wood "When, Why, If..."
Brendan Myers

Monday, June 13, 2011

Power isn't One, it's Many

One day some years ago, around the time that the second or third Harry Potter movie was coming out, my husband and I were listening to a Christian Radio program. I like to do that so that I hear different perspectives than my own. The local Christian stations are all very Conservative.

This particular day they were talking about the "evils" of the "occult" and Wicca. At least, what they think the occult and Wicca entail. Which is to say half-truths and falsehoods shaped to support their own spiritual understanding of the Divine and the world. (I realize that those half-truths and the like were based on ignorance, but still...)

They talk about Neo-Pagans with minimal understanding. They say that we worship the creation, not the creator (that is not true.) They also paint us as a bunch who are hungry for "power," and they claim we are simply lost and seeing to gain that power through consorting with fantasy or worse, diabolical powers.

If you read the earlier post on Pagan values and compassion, then you read "The Charge of the Goddess" by Doreen Valiente, and you will have noticed that power is indeed listed there.

But this isn't power like the Christians on the radio are thinking. Starhawk writes extensively about power. She classes various types. Most people interpret power to mean "Power Over." Which is, she posits, where a great number of our society's errors descend from. CEOs have power over their employees. Hierarchies and the like proliferate. Few understand that it is much more important to have "Power Within." This is the ability to manage our impulses, our base urges. It is the ability to master our sense of duty, to face our responsibilities with honor.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. - Lao Tzu

But really power is more than that. Power is the ability to believe in yourself. To understand that you can make a difference in the world. Starhawk classes this as "power with." It means being able to unite in common cause to do what is right.

This includes power within as a matter of course, because working with others is not always easy and means mastering one's smallness inside.

I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do we as Pagans seek power? Yes. Many of us do. But by that do we mean the power to curse? I'm sure there are some who do so. Just as there are Christians who pray for the harm of others. Those who have, honestly forgotten that even those who you despise carry the Divine within them.

But by power we do not mean power over. Power over is manipulative and destructive and often relies on tearing others down, when in truth we are all equals. The money and materials we gather do not make us better or worse than anyone else.

Power is bigger than that. Power is the ability to face fear and do right in spite of it. Power is the ability to overcome what challenges we face. Power is the call to become whole, to be empowered to act in a way that best reflects our world view.
And it is a view that accepts diversity, that accepts that we can be wrong and that we should grow.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. - Epictetus

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. - Alice Walker

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
Mohandas Gandhi

I only wish that ordinary people had an unlimited capacity for doing harm; then they might have an unlimited power for doing good.

Nothing external to you has any power over you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.
Tony Robbins

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Marcus Aurelius

The power to do good is also the power to do harm.
Milton Friedman

May the Gods guide you true,