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Showing posts from 2010

Happy Solstice

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Wishing you all a Wonderful Midwinter and Happy Yuletide!

Idolatry

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I have always been a lover of Sacred Stuff.  I grew up with it.

My Catholic grandmother had a shrine to the Virgin Mary in her bedroom, where she lit candles and poured offerings of rose water and left sweet pastry at the Blessed Mother's feet.

"Mother's deserve something sweet in the afternoon.  Our work is hard.  A fat Mama is a good Mama" she would say in Czech, both about the Virgin and my mother and aunts.

So naturally when I found myself dancing the Pagan path, I was happy to find that there was Sacred Stuff for us, and admittedly better stuff than the Catholics had.  Real pieces of art, and quality replicas of Old Good Things.  As an enthusiastic young Witch, I bought a lot of statuary from Sacred Source. 

Most of it, I'm sad to say, ended up just being pretty art pieces that lived on a bookshelf.  I only had real devotional practices for a handful of the Goddesses they represented, and the Male faces of the Divine were sadly absent.  Not so much from per…

Giving Thanks

In the wee hours of the morning, me and mine shall be travelling to visit family in Northeast Texas, deep in the Piney Woods region.  It's a truly magical place, and what it lacks in progressive mentality it makes up in unspoiled natural beauty.  I wouldn't want to live there, but it's lovely to visit!

I know there are many Pagan-folk who object to the celebration of Thanksgiving, for a long list of very valid reasons.  And that's fine.  No pumpkin pie for them.  But I love Thanksgiving; the food, the family, the tradition, and the shopping!

So I wish all of you dear readers old and new a joyous and filling Thanksgiving!  May your tables be bountiful, your bellies be full, your hearts be merry, and your stress levels be low!  And if you are able to celebrate at all this year, in this unfortunate economic time, then you most certainly have something to be thankful for.

So in the interest of good manners, please make offerings to your local spirits of place.  One can nev…

Story Time

I love stories.  I love stories about magic.  I especially love true stories about magic in the day to day lives of Witches.

When the Witch is one of your dearest friends, it's just the best thing ever.

I was baking a cake, a Devils Food Cake to be precise, for this weekends Halloween enjoyment, when I got a phone call from Co-Witch and Compatriot Evn, directing me to read his latest blog entry.

And I did.

Best.Fucking.Story.Ever.

Treat yourself to a little Pre-Halloween storytime, courtesy of the Lord of Strife.

Quote Of The Day

"The suggestion that spells of domination should never be performed suggests at best naively idealistic, at worst ignorant, protected, Ivory Tower sensibilities.  Images of powerful wizards in castles to the contrary, magic spells have always served as weapons of the disempowered.

Societies where every individual is free, has enough to eat, isn't dependent on others and is able to retain control over one's own body, sexuality, family, and personal destiny, do not develop domination spells.  They don't need them."

- Judika Illes Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells

Samhain is coming...

Samhain is fast approaching and all throughout the land of fair Pagandom, folks are getting ready to honor their Beloved Dead.

Altars are being set up, shrines erected, and offerings made.  I love this. 

Having grown up Catholic, my childhood Halloween fun was sometimes interrupted by All Saints Day observations, depending on where Halloween fell in the week.  Placing cheap flowers on graves, a half-hearted invocation from our Parish Priest, a few chats with living relatives, and then back home where I put on my conical hat and waited for trick or treating.  Even as a child it struck me as being...soulless.  I didn't connect with it. 

But I've grown up a lot, and more of my extended family and friends have crossed the veil.  This year alone brought a number of deaths, and I've had to face the mortality of my parents, my friends, and myself.

The wonderful thing about families such as mine is that tradition and heritage are so important and so strongly interwoven into ever…

Hints From Hertha: Dripping Candles

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Chances are you've had a taper or fifty drip and make a nasty mess on an altar cloth, a table, or the carpet.  Maybe even on the cat.

Putting the tapers in the freezer for a few hours before you use them helps to cut down on the amount of drippings and makes for a cleaner burn.

If you divine the outcome of a working by reading the wax drippings...ignore everything I just said!

Full Moon Musings On Praxis

My freshman year as a theatre major brought with it lots of surprises, in addition to all of the normal surprises one experiences their freshman year of college.  For one, theatre majors are generally required to take two years of dance lessons; including jazz, tap, and ballet.  Included in these classes were also a lot of yoga, tai chi, and meditation instructions. 

Obviously, all of these things are beneficial for performers; you have to get in touch with your body, you have to know how to move, and you're also going to be doing things with your body that could lead to permanent damage.  Serious permanent damage.

I am not especially willowy or petitite, and the thought of having to do ballet was not one I was amused by.  I took a lot of teasing from high school friends, and even some family members.  But when the time came for me, in character, to hurl my body across a stage as if I had received a powerful blow, I was thankful that my body had been conditioned to accomplish thi…

Harvest Home, Harvest Moon

There was three kings into the east, Three kings both great and high, And they hae sworn a solemn oath John Barleycorn should die.
- Robert Burns, 1782
This year the Autumnal Equinox and the Harvest Moon are back to back, a two for one special if you will!  So for those of you who will be celebrating, have a happy and joyous Equinox!
*And in case you were wondering, nothing can compel me to refer to this holiday by the incorrect and utterly modern label of Mabon  

Eleanor Bone

Today is the anniversary of Eleanor Bone's death, and I thought it fitting to share this little gem from Witchcraft 70.

In photographs, Eleanor always looked like a very proper Englishwoman, so I was delighted to see her having as much fun as she clearly was in this video.

We need more Witches like her.

Hints From Hertha: Cleaning Metal Altar Furnishings

Chances are you have some sort of metal on your altar; perhaps a brass censer or candlestick, or something made of copper.  If so, you also know how quickly brass and especially copper start to tarnish or look a bit dull.  Doubly so if things are getting handled a lot or sprinkled with salt water or wine. 
A handy tip I picked up a few years ago for cleaning metal is to make a paste of equal parts salt and lemon juice and use it as a cleaning solution.
Please note this only works on real brass, copper, etc.  I have not tested this on plated metal, and I don't advise you to try it either. 
The salt acts as an abrasive and the acid in the lemon juice cuts through dirt, oil, and tarnish.  The two combined with a little elbow grease leave the metal very bright and shiny.  Ketchup will do the same thing for brass, but it's very messy and smells foul.
Copper tarnishes much more quickly than brass or other metals, and if your pentacle is made of copper, mine is, then you're li…

Hints From Hertha

Awhile back Trothwy posted a blog about solving one of the many wax-related dillemas we Witches sometimes find ourselves facing.

In the comments, there was some discussion about a Hints From Heloise type thing for Pagans; a Hints From Hertha

*Since I am, in fact, very much a Dude, I wonder if Hints From Herne would perhaps be more appropriate.  Please weigh in with your opinions*

Being responsible for most of the domestic tasks around my house, this sort of thing is right up my alley.  There are plenty of books on Witchcraft, and how to do some of the things that Witches do.  How to make incense.  How to pour your own candles.  How to stick a damn crystal into an otherwise lovely piece of wood.

But a guide to some of the more mundane things that seem unique to Witchcraft?  Hardly.  At least not in the Woo-Woo section of your local Barnes and Noble or Occult shop. 

We're always getting wax on something, or needing to get wax OFF of something.  Ever mixed incense by hand and fou…

Cross that palm with a shiny dime. Quarter? Master Card? Platinum?

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The Season of the Witch is approaching, and something about this time of year always makes people in my social circles seek out tarot readings or other forms of divination.  Sometimes even a brave few who are wanting love charms or to hex a rival.
I have never read or done spell work for money, mostly because I keep a low profile in my everyday life.  When I was in college, people would come to my apartment and share their liquor in exchange for a tarot reading, which I thought was most fair.  One fella even offered to clean my apartment...shirtless.  Natch, I thought that was fair as well.
But at some point I realized how draining it can be to have constant requests for divination or spell work without getting some kind of compensation for it.  Spell work especially can be a major drain on one's resources, and an intense round of divination can be very taxing on my system.
So I look to you all for guidance.
What better way to ask a question of some of the most awesome Magicians in th…

Isaac Bonewits

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"May he return again at the same time and at the same place as his loved ones;  may they meet, and know, and remember, and love again."

Hail and Farewell, Great Druid.

Struggle/Practice

Whenever I read about fellow Pagans getting up at 5 am to pray and meditate, something in me revolts.  For one, I keep weird hours, and 5 am usually means bedtime.  And that kind of discipline scares me, because I generally lack it when it comes to forcing myself to do something.

I have famously gone through periods of Circling daily for months at a time, and then going back to integrating small moments of magic worked into the every-day flow of things.  But I prefer when the simple every day moments of magic and gratitude includes starting and ending the day at my altar, lighting candles and incense, and speaking to my Gods.

But after finally giving in and reading Eat, Pray, Love and working again with Thorn Coyle's Evolutionary Witchcraft, I'm scourging my own rear-end to resume daily practice. 

Last night I cleaned and set-up my altar, invoked the Witch-Father and the Lady of the Crossroads, offered them candles and incense.  My witchery tends to be a bit formal, but last …

Stick In The Mud

An Open Question:

Who exactly was it that decided a Wand = a stick covered in glitter with a fucking quartz crystal hot-glued to the end of it?

I want answers.

And speaking of Oracles...

I purchased a new Tarot deck today.

I've collected a number over the years, given many away when I got tired of having to dust them, and retained only a choice few.  I think Crowley's Thoth deck is one of the most beautiful decks ever, but it doesn't Talk to me.  Robin Wood's deck is pretty, even though there are a few cards whose imagery I find problematic.  See the Hierophant card for more information. 

And while I do love the Rider-Waite deck and it's various versions, I have to admit that I don't really grok the Cabbalistic/Masonic thing.  When you start having theological debates (read: Tantrums which involve throwing things and threats of immolation) with your oracle...maybe it's time to look for a new one.

So I returned home with my brand new deck and checked out Gordon's blog, as I often do.  And he has this great post up on Calibrating An Oracle.  You should go read it.

Portentous or merely Noteworthy?

Midsummer

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The Lord from The DruidCraft Tarot
A happy and joyous Solstice to you all!

June in Texas is really just the beginning of a very hot, miserable season which is at it's nastiest in August and September.  My ancestors were not people who lived in hot climates, so their eventual decision to settle in Texas is an odd one.  Maybe they were tired of the cold.  Maybe it was the abundant farmland.  But my lily-white skin and red hair does not like the sun, or the heat, very much. 

So, I'm really not the sort of Pagan you'd likely find roughing it at an outdoor festival, at least in the daytime.

Appropriate Solstice celebrations for me include staying inside all day with the AC cranked up while sipping iced tea, lemonade, or perhaps a nice pitcher of Margaritas.

Later tonight, I'll quietly step into the Circle and congratulate Himself for reaching the High Point of His power.

Wicca: Everyone's Favorite Whipping Boy

Sometimes when interacting with Neo-Pagans you'll hear a lot of talk about community, plurality, and the need for tolerance amongst the various sects of Paganism.

And I agree with that statement.

But sometimes you'll also notice a bit of condescension whenever the subject of Wicca comes up.  Which is oddly amusing, since most modern Pagan paths wouldn't be alive and kicking today if Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner didn't have the testicular fortitude to write a couple of controversialbooks way back there in the dark ages of the early 20th century.

Sometimes practitioners of Asatru, for example, will poke fun at NeoWiccans for being fluffy. And you know, sometimes the things people do in the name of Wicca are incredibly ridiculous.  Sometimes a harmless joke about tye-dye and crystals is just that: a joke that anyone with the maturity of an adult can laugh at. 

But the most venomous attacks directed at Wicca is often from people who claim to be Witches of the NeoPag…

Hey! It's Spring!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

May your season be full of sunshine and flowers!

*and chocolate.  lots and lots of enchanting chocolate*

Herman Slater on The Craft

Move On Already!

That deliciously cheesey song is right. Breaking up is hard to do.
Whether a relationship, a friendship, a career, or even a religious practice/philosophy, there is nothing easy about ending something and moving on.

The period that follows of sleepless nights, tears, and the need to verbally lash out at the former beloved (or whatever) is a necessary and natural part of the healing process. It's good. It's healthy. Eat a box of chocolate, watch a tacky movie and spend a week in your pj's if you can.

And then put your big girl underpants back on and get over it.

The same needs to be said to those person's who are "Abandoning Wicca" throughout the interwebz.

We get it. We really do.

You took a good look at the amalgam of practices that you threw together from Llewellyn books, dubious new-age ideas, and poorly understood Eastern concepts and was calling Wicca - and realized that it didn't satisfy your needs.

And that's fabulous! It really is! Please, …

To Keep Silent

For good or ill we are living in a technological age. An age that likely will not move away from technological development any time soon.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and the blogging phenomenon has given pretty much everyone - from seasoned academic to Joe Schitz, a voice. A voice to say what he wants, when he wants, in whatever format pleases him.

I'm generally of the mind that this is a good thing.

But the simple fact remains that not all voices are equal or equivalent. This, sadly, is especially true amongst Pagan's who participate in the world of online communication.

I'm aware of the history of the Occult movement. I've seen old newsletters and zines where some of the more prominent public Pagans hashed out grievances, spread lies and gossip, and generally made asses of themselves.

There is nothing new under the sun, and this isn't what I'm referring to. Occult folks are a snarky bunch, with very strong opinions, and even stronger Wills, and if this were…