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Reality Check

I know I’m a little late with this – I haven’t been able to decide what to write about. (It wasn’t so much that I was undecided, it was that I was decided on too many things.)

So, I was poking around on Face Book, procrastinating hoping a topic would leap the forefront, and I noticed that I was suddenly seeing a lot of spider pictures on my timeline.

Now, I like spiders – they are a great totem for writers and other creative sorts – so of course, one of my first thoughts was to wonder what it meant to suddenly be seeing so many, especially since I haven’t been feeling especially creative lately.

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

I see it over and over again in Pagan groups on Face Book: someone, usually someone new to the path, will post that s/he has seen such and such, or that this, that, or the other has been happening and “What does it mean?”

Chances are, it means nothing. Not everything is a sign. Trust yourself to know when something is. (A large part of walking this path is trusting your inner knowing: get used to it. Sure, you’ll make some mistakes, but that’s how you learn.)

In the same vein, not everything has a metaphysical cause. Sure, everything is connected, and yes, I am a firm believer in a holistic approach to medicine and healing, but let’s get real here, folks: a sudden rash of headaches, or tummy upsets, or hives, or what-have-you is most likely not the result of someone cursing you, nor the result of a plague of demons, or… (fill in your own favorite “reason” here) so…

Get. Thee. To. A. Doctor.

And still in the same vein are the people who are looking for a magical solution to their problems. Yes, magic works, and it can be used for mundane purposes, but it’s a lot easier to tackle most stuff on the physical front first. And even if you do use magic, it doesn’t solve the problem – you still have to get up off your butt and do what needs to be done on the material plane.

In short – and in what may become a recurring theme – believing in magic doesn’t mean losing your common sense.

Hmm… maybe that spider did mean something. It certainly kicked off a blog post…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying Spells

Recently I posted about casting spells to help yourself, and why it’s okay to do that. But what about casting spells to help others?

Of course that’s permissible. I think it’s better if it’s done with their knowledge and consent, but everyone is going to have different opinions on that, and I’ll admit that there is a huge grey area there.

What about charging someone to cast a spell for them? Much bigger grey area. I mean, yes, your time and energy are worth something, and there should be some sort of exchange if you are doing work for another. And money can be considered to be a form of energy. But…

Are you liable if it backfires or doesn’t work?

I think I’d be more comfortable with teaching them how to do it themselves: not only does that relieve you of liability, but it helps to demystify the process, make it more accessible and understandable.

And more enlightenment can only be a good thing, right?

Right.

Now, what about going to someone to have a spell cast for you? (This is what prompted this post…*)

Personally, I’d rather do it myself.

For one thing, no one is going to be more emotionally invested in your problem than you are, and it’s emotional energy that fuels the magic.

(Note: if you are sick or run down or otherwise unable to raise enough energy to do a spell, then by all means, ask for help from friends in the Craft until you are back on your metaphysical feet.)

But more importantly, this path is about taking responsibility for yourself and your life, for creating the change you want and the outcome you want.

Giving that responsibility to another lessens your own power and control over your life.

Don’t do that.

Be wise.

Do it yourself.

 

 

*I’ve been getting  comments about how great so and so is and how much s/he helped the poster gain control over their life or do whatever. 

Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do

(Oops!  I thought I scheduled this, and found it still sitting here in “edit post” mode.)

 

Before I start, let’s talk about the Rede.

“Harm None.”

Nice sentiment.

What is frequently not considered is that “harm none” includes yourself.

Taking it a step further, it also means not permitting harm to come to yourself. (And I include harm to loved ones in that.)

Keep in mind, also, that the Rede applies to Wicca and its offshoots.  Not all Witches are Wiccan and not all follow the Rede.

That’s not to say that they are unethical or that they go around cursing people at will. It just means that they aren’t afraid of the dark.

Nor are they afraid to be proactive, or to take matters into their own hands.

Sometimes a situation arises where you need to not be a doormat.

The other night there was an incident with a new neighbor that set off some caution flags.  He didn’t do anything, or even make any threats, but… let’s just say that his application for asshole has been pre-approved.

So, what to do?

He hasn’t done anything, but the potential for trouble is there.

Do I ignore my instincts or take action?

I believe in being proactive.

No, I’m not going to do a spell to get him to move.  (Although people tend to not stay in that rental for long and I am going to hope that the trend continues.)

I will, however, be putting some extra protections on my home and my car.  And I may extend them to the neighbors on either side of me.

Proactive defensive magic.

This can take many different forms.

Probably the most common is to place some sort of wards on your home, especially doors and windows. to keep out negative energy.  I’ll admit, I’ve become a little lax about that lately, as the neighbors on either side of us are good people.

A friend of mine suggested some prickly plants on the porch, so maybe I’ll start a dish garden for cacti.  Once it’s warmer (on a consistent basis!) I think I’m going to do just that.

And I was thinking about growing some rue in a pot on the porch as well.

You can also charge an object to act as a protective device:  a rock, a statue, etc.  I’m going to be on the lookout for a statue (or maybe a wind chime) of a cat to do that with.  (Why a cat?  Because for some reason, “Cat” is a protective totem for me.)

And, of course, there is always the standby of a line of salt.

And binding magic.   I don’t use knot magic a lot but I have used it quite effectively to bind negative energy.

So many options…

I love being a  witch!

Familiars

It’s been a pretty busy week.  I’ve been working, writing, editing, and trying to create space for new members of the household…

Rats.

I was supposed to be getting some last month, taking the last four males from a litter.  The deal fell through, but she offered me first choice of a litter due in mid-March.

Meanwhile, however, I found another offer and called and I will be picking up three little boys this afternoon.

I am so excited!

I love critters of all types, and I’ve missed having a pet.  (The semi-feral cat doesn’t quite count.)

The cage for the rats will be right next to my computer (yeah, that’s gonna be good for productivity…) so we’ll get to know each other pretty well.

But that doesn’t mean that they are going to be acting as my familiars.

A witch’s familiar isn’t just a pet.

It’s not even a pet that you have a close relationship with, although that helps.

A witch’s familiar is a working partner.  It lends energy to rituals and it acts as a defender.

Depending on your belief system, a familiar can be one of many things.

It can be a pet with which you have an especially close bond.

It can be a spirit that has assumed an animal form and comes to assist a witch in his or her workings.

In a more shamanic tradition, it can be a spirit animal, perhaps not even a physical animal at all, and in addition to protecting the worker and aiding in rituals, it can retrieve information and relay it to its partner.

There are also totem animals, power spirits, etc.

Hmm… maybe I’ll do a series on animals in magic.

But, anyhow…

You don’t find a familiar – a familiar finds you.  They come to you when they are needed and they may choose to stay with you or they may leave when they have served their purpose and return if needed again, either in the same form or a different one.

I’ve never worked with a physical familiar, but I have had spirit animals show up, primarily big cats in a protective role.  I didn’t summon them or ask for them, they just showed up – and I was grateful.

Would I like to work with a familiar in a physical form?  I’m not certain. I think I would worry about it too much.

Not that the choice seems to be up to the witch…

Casting Spells To Help Yourself?

Lately, I’ve seen the question asked if it is all right to cast a spell for yourself, for a new job, money, etc.

Why wouldn’t it be?

As long as you are harming none with your actions, why wouldn’t it be?

You are as valuable as anyone else.

Your needs are as important as anyone else’s.

Not less than.

Not more than.

The same as.

Equal to.

Where does the thought that it might not be all right come from?

I had my own suspicions as to the origin of that thought, but I ran the question past some Pagan friends of mine to see what they said.

Caro, a traditional Witch (not a Wiccan!) believes that it is a “recent” development that grew from Neo-Paganism’s desire to get away from the image that witchcraft is “evil.”   Many modern Pagans are still strongly influenced by Christianity and its moral code and seem to have just replaced the (Christian) God with a Goddess without making a real break.  Scratch the surface of many Pagans, she says, and you’ll find that their Paganism is only skin deep – the concept of divine punishment is replaced by a form of “karma” or the “rule of three.”  Real witchcraft is still frightening to many who claim to be witches and they seek to sanitize and emasculate it.   Adding the gloss of altruism made witchcraft less frightening, both to its practitioners and to those outside of the Craft.

But, I argue, the Bible basically says what I said above.  It says to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Not more than, not less than, but the same as.

Brandon’s response to that is that most of the dogma of the last two thousand years is not based on the Bible, and part of the non-biblical dogma includes a denial of self, not for the greater good of the group, but for the divinity.  Being “selfish” – even in a healthy sense – is seen as “bad.”   In fact, we are still fighting the “evil” of masturbation because it is a “selfish” act.

In addition, he points out, our media and daily culture are all about stories of selflessness, of people risking their own lives for others, of putting others ahead of themselves, of giving “selflessly” to others.

This is reinforced by Becky’s experiences.  As the oldest of three children, she was expected to be the more “responsible” one and help take care of her siblings, take on more chores around the house, etc.

She says that she still doesn’t know how to put herself first, and feels that putting oneself first is looked upon as being selfish by society.  And especially so for women, who are taught to be everything for everyone, whether it be for our children, spouses, other family members, etc.

Thus, casting spells for oneself would be considered selfish by society in general, regardless of any religious overtones.

So, how do we get past this?

Well, for starters, by accepting that we are as worthy as the next person.  There is no need to feel guilty for wanting to better yourself and for using your skills – including magical skills – to do so.  It doesn’t make you a bad person.  Honest!

And by understanding that there is a huge difference between the God of the Christians and the deities worshiped by Pagans.  It’s not easy to cast off a lifetime of indoctrination into guilt and fear, but that is not what our deities are about.

You are worthy, not worthless.

“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.”

Love Spells 2014

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again, when a young witch’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love – and love spells.

Pagan/Wiccan/Witchcraft Facebook groups are being hit with questions almost daily about “How do I make someone fall in love with me?” “Do you know any love spells you can share?” “How can I break up this other couple?”

Now, granted, not all witches follow the Rede, but most have some sort of code of ethics, a knowledge of right and wrong, and believe in some sort of Law of Return, that what you send out comes back to you in at least equal measure.

And interfering with someone’s free will is just plain wrong.  (Well, there is a grey area on that – if someone is hurting someone, yeah, then I’m cool with stopping him or her.  But back to the subject at hand.)

You can’t force someone to fall in love with you.  You can’t force love.

Not real love, anyhow.

Yes, it is possibly to get someone obsessed with you, but what happens when you get bored and want out?  Uh-huh. You’re bored and they’re still obsessed.

Besides, why would you want someone that you had to force to love you?  Being loved freely is much better – you know that they are with you because they want to be, they choose to be. That’s a far better ego rush than “I forced him/her to love me.”

That said, it is possible to do ethical love spells.

How?

A couple ways.

One is by focusing on yourself.  What might you be doing to block yourself from being in that perfect relationship that you want?

Which leads, of course, to the question, “Do you know what you want?”

 

 

 

Spend time thinking about exactly what you want in a life partner, what s/he is like, what things the two of you would do together, do you want someone who is outgoing and always on the go or do you prefer (or need) someone quieter, someone who is content to spend quiet evenings at home together.

(HINT: If the only things you can think about are your potential partner’s looks, then you are not ready to do any sort of love spell.  You’re not even open to real love – go back and re-think your answers to “What might you be doing to block yourself from being in that perfect relationship that you want?”  When you’ve gained some insight and maturity you may continue.)

This doesn’t need done in a day.  In fact, it probably shouldn’t be.  Spend some time on it, say from new moon to full.  You want your list to be as true and complete and in depth as possible.

Once you have the qualities you seek firmly in mind (and preferably written down) there are several ways to proceed.

You can focus on your intent to draw love into your life, charge a pink candle with that intent, and light it.

You can charge a piece of rose quartz and carry it with you.

You can make a poppet – just be careful that you aren’t tying it to any specific person, but to the concept, the ideal that you have been creating.  Then sleep with it under your pillow, carry it with you (if it’s small enough), leave it on your altar, leave it on your dresser in front of the mirror – whatever works for you.

But the most important thing is to put yourself in places where you can meet the person of your dreams.  Staying home and waiting for her or him to come knock on your door is probably not going to yield the best results.

 

 

* * *
Recommended correspondences for love spells include roses/rose petals, rose quartz, and pink candles. (Roses make us think of love, rose quartz promotes self-love (and it is necessary to fully love yourself in order to fully love another) and pink is the blending of the red of passion with the white of purity.)  And, of course, anything that has meaning to you, personally.

 

 

 

 

List Magic

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year when, despite your best intentions, the number of things to do and the number of days to get them done are constantly at war with one another.

I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do between now and the end of the year, which means it’s time for a little List Magic.

Seriously, lists are magical — there should be an actual “school” of spell casting based on lists, like candle magic, sex magic, knot magic… list magic.

How does it work?

Well, you start with a list.  For ongoing things that need to be done daily or nearly daily I have a Word doc on my computer.  For more short term lists (errands to run that day, for example) I prefer a paper one.

And sometimes the two lists get combined into one and sorted out later.

So, my current list of things to do by the end of the year might look something like this:

put together yearly calendar
Weekly Pagan Coffee Night
get gold spray paint
check to see if I have regular blue paint
ornaments for in ornaments
make ornaments
Diet Pepsi
clementines
24s (this really does mean something to me, honest!)
post office
library
memoir group
Sue’s graduation
writers’ group
socks
grocery list for Yule baking
eggnog
finish Book One of The Other Mages
get Sanguine printed
first edit on Sanguine
get book 5 of The Academy of the Accord printed
print outline for bk 5
find editing bag (seriously? how do you lose a large bright red and black bag?)
White Elephant
read for Seidh group
Weekly Pagan Coffee Night
books for Becky
stuff for Caro
sign for library

That’s all that I can think of off the top of my head, although I know there is probably more. (Weekly Pagan Coffee Night is on there twice because it meets two more times this month.)

The list looks long — and intimidating. (It’s especially intimidating because I know that there are some things I’ve forgotten to put on it, but that’s the great thing about list magic — it is endlessly flexible.)

So, I have my list.  I can approach it in one of two ways.  I can leave it as is and just cross stuff off (or use strike-through if I keep it in Word) or I can prioritize it either by importance or immediacy (when stuff needs to happen).

It doesn’t really matter how or if you organize it, but I usually like to organize it a bit more as it gives me a better grip on things. (For example, I would make a list of the places I need to go and things I need to do and get while I’m out today, and another list of things that are happening/need to be done soon, and another list of more distant deadlines.)

Once you have your list (or lists) the key is crossing stuff off of it.

If you’re keeping it on the computer, don’t just delete the completed items, use the strike through. (With a hand-written list there may come a time when you need to rewrite it so that you can better see what you still need to do, but before you dispose of the old list compare the two and see how far you’ve come.)  If you delete things, yes, the list gets shorter, but you don’t get the same visual satisfaction of seeing how many things you’ve accomplished.

And here is the important part:  everything that you mark off of the list is an accomplishment.

Everything.

And that’s where the magic comes in.

Everything that you cross off of the list is one less thing hovering over you.  One less thing to worry about.

And one more thing that you have gained control over, one more step taken toward gaining control of your temporarily out of control life.

If you’re the sort who likes the drama of ritual — or if it’s been a particularly nasty list — you might enjoy tearing it into long strips when it is finished, or burning it, or even giving a satisfied smirk as  you delete the file from your computer as you free yourself from the tyranny of too much to do and too little time to do it.

Book of Shadows

I don’t have one.  I have been on this path for 25 years or more and I still don’t have a Book of Shadows.

Why not?
Because indecision may be the basis of flexibility but it is also the bane of progress. In short, I can’t decide how to organize it, and my perfectionist streak wants it to be done right, not just done.

I do know that it is going to be in a three-ring binder instead of a journal-type book.  (So why do I own so many journal type books, including ones that actually say “Book of Shadows” on them?  Um… Good question.  Probably for the same reason that I own enough spiral bound notebooks to stock my own office supply store.)

Why a three-ring binder?  So that I can organize it and find what I’m looking for, and so it has room to grow and still stay organized.

Because my non-existent Book of Shadows has grown.  When I first started it was a “Manilla Folder of Shadows.”  Then it was “A File Cabinet Drawer of Shadows.” Then it became a “Box of Shadows” which at least had the right initials.  That, however, quickly became an “Overflowing Box of Shadows,” which grew into an “Overflowing Box of Shadows with More Scraps of Paper Crammed in Along the Edges.”  And so on.

I know what sort of sections I want, and three of them are spells, prayers, and rituals, but that’s where a large part of the problem comes in:  what distinguishes between the three?  When does a prayer become a spell and when does a spell become a ritual and when does a ritual become a prayer?

For instance, if I make an amulet of protection, and I do it inside a circle and I ask a deity for assistance… is that a spell, a ritual, or a prayer, or all three?  Which section does it belong in?

Another thing that has held me back is the fact that I have lousy handwriting. (There’s that perfectionist streak again…)  That has been more or less circumvented by the existence of computers, so it isn’t really an excuse anymore, although I do really love the idea of a hand written Book of Shadows.

And at this point, I’m wondering if it is worth it to create one.  So much of what I do is informal and spontaneous, not to mention second nature to me, that I wonder if I would even use one.

And yet, I still love the idea of having one, although I don’t know why.  Maybe just for the creativity of it?  My current plan is to use scrapbooks and make a “Scrapbook of Shadows.”  (Which, of course, gives me the excuse of finding the perfect paper for each page…)

I think I’m going to make making a BoS one of my goals for next year.

If anyone reading this has one, what is in it and how is it organized?  I’m open for suggestions.

 

Kitchen Witch

What is a kitchen witch?  There are a variety of answers to that, but the most common is that a kitchen witch is someone who uses the kitchen and cooking as their primary focus of magic.

Many also set up a small altar in the kitchen.  (When I find the image I want, I will have one to Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, on, over, or near the stove, which is the modern-day equivalent of the hearth.)

I don’t know if I am strictly a kitchen witch, but I do use kitchen magic a great deal: from my own “traditional” meals at Sabbats to daily cooking to making something special.

And, as with many things on my path, I got my start long before I had heard of any form of Paganism, and back when “magic” was just something in fairy tales and fantasy novels.

I was in high school, and was tasked with making a meatloaf for supper.  Normally I didn’t mind cooking, but for some reason lost in the halls of time I really didn’t want to do it that night and was feeling somewhat resentful.

I asked my (paternal) grandfather why his meatloaf always tasted better than mine:   after all, he was the one that I had learned from.

He said he didn’t know, but he would watch me make it and see what I was doing that was different than the way he did it.

Ground beef in a bowl, salt and pepper added, eggs added, I started tearing bread into chunks and dropping them into the bowl, all under his watchful eye.

“It’s the way you’re tearing the bread,” he said, reaching out and taking it from me. Strong gentle fingers broke the bread into pieces.  “You have to do it with love.”

And in those words is the key to kitchen magic – to any magic, really:  intent.

Many years later those words still guide me in my cooking and I am aware of when I am not cooking in a spirit of love and nourishment, but doing it with an attitude of resentment.

I try to remain focused when cooking. (It’s not always possible, but I try.)

I stir widdershins to banish illness if cooking something when I’m sick (or for someone else who is sick), and deosil to draw in health and prosperity.

Of course, the direction you move the spoon isn’t all there is to it:  there is also the focus, intent, and visualization – illness leaving, or abundance and health coming in – imbuing the food with magic.

And, truly, it is the intent that makes the magic…

“You have to do it with love.”

Religion or Magic?

I love synchronicity.  So often it seems that I’ll be thinking about a subject, or talking about it with a friend, and suddenly that same topic seems to turn up in half a dozen different ways in vastly different areas of my life.

The two current topics are finding time for spirituality, which has been cropping up a lot for the last month or so, and, more recently, the use of magic.

And, oddly, the two are related.

When I first started on my path, I did a lot of energy work, both with and without crystals.  Healing, shielding, meditation… all were part of my daily life.  And I cast a circle for every Esbat (full moon ritual, for the non-Pagans who might be reading) and Sabbat (our eight “holy days” (in quotes, because all days are holy – or should be) that mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year.)

And I used magic.   I used it to clear negativity from my home and to keep it a safe haven.  I used it to clear my own emotions.  I used it to help in job-hunting.

I was open to energy and magic and my life was full of wonder and connectedness.

And then… something happened.

I’m not sure what, or why, but it seems as if I sort of… stopped… working.

My Esbats and Sabbats became more informal.  I rarely if ever cast a circle or even had cakes and ale.  They became more of a mental exercise, a meditation on the meaning and event.

And slowly the magic in my life began to fade away.

And I want it back.

“As above, so below,
As within, so without,
As the body, so the soul.”

Somehow I had forgotten the connection:  that what we do on this plane ripples into the others.

I always felt that magic was secondary to the religious and spiritual aspect of my path, but now I am beginning to realize how completely intertwined they are.   When one of them fades – becomes less important in your life – the other fades away as well.  And when I let magic fade — because it was the religion that was important — ritual observances faded away as well, because, after all, it’s what’s in the heart that matters most, right?

I’ve been feeling as if I’ve lost my way, and now I’m beginning to see why:  it’s not magic OR religion, it’s magic AND religion.   And with that realization came the understanding of how to get back on track.

I need to get back to basics, to bring the spiritual into the physical.  That was sort of the point of this blog – that spiritual life was taking second place to physical life and I wanted to correct that, to bring spirituality back into my life.

But I’ve been going about it the wrong way:  instead of trying to bring the spiritual into the physical, I need to start by taking the physical into the spiritual.

“As the body, so the soul.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a ritual to see to…