Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just Do It

Since we just had a New Moon On The Block a few days ago I decided to consult the cards about some magical work I was thinking over in my head.

I burn some incense, focus on the question, and shuffle.

Q: What steps can I take magically to accomplish X? 


A:


As exciting as "taking a leap" is for some, I am not one of those people. Maybe runes or scrying would be less snarky methods of divination.  





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This Book Reads Like Stereo Instructions*

A friend and I spent a few lovely hours at the local Barnes and Noble yesterday. I was there to pick up Anne Rice's new novel, and it should have been an in and out shopping trip seeing as the book was on display right as you entered the store.  Can anyone just pop in and out of a bookstore? I'm sure such a person exists but I am not one of them.

We eventually found our way to the Aisle du Woo. My friend isn't Pagan but he is vaguely aware of what Paganism is. He started flipping through a book as I did a quick scan of the shelves.

Five books on Wicca. Three tarot decks. One book on general Occultism. One book on Satanism. The rest of the shelving unit was filled with books on ghost hunting, astrology, and Doreen Virtue.

The Wicca books were surprisingly retro - Buckland's Complete Book Of Witchcraft, To Ride A Silver Broomstick and Solitary Witch by Silver RavenWolf, Wicca and Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham. There was a copy of The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish and LaVey's The Satanic Bible for good measure. There was no Necronomicon in sight.

I'd been expecting there to be some newer releases on the shelves that I could flip through and possibly buy. I didn't expect to only find the least exciting** books that were on reading lists twenty years ago. It could just be that there isn't a high demand for witch books in my area and so the store only stocks the books that are statistically going to sell well.

My friend started thumbing through To Ride A Silver Broomstick and asked me which book would give him the best picture of what Wicca is about. I told him I wasn't sure any one particular book could do that job properly given that most people today practice Wicca as a free-form religion and that we don't have a bible. I've been looking over my own bookshelves trying to decide which book, if any, I might suggest to him if he asked me again. I'm not sure I have an answer.

I once gave my parents The Truth About Witchcraft Today by Scott Cunningham when they had questions. Today I'd probably recommend the Wikipedia article or The Bast Novels by Rosemary Edghill, not that I'd ever loan those books out to anyone.

I suppose I could always invite him to circle with me.






*Yes, the title of this post is a Beetlejuice reference. It's also a joke at the expense of The Big Blue Book. You know it's true.

**Fully recognizing that when I was reading those same books twenty years ago I thought they were the best books ever written, and that the Goddess Herself wanted to be my best friend.

Friday, November 4, 2016

What Witches Do



I've been wanting so desperately for it to actually feel like Fall that I decided to start making scarves for winter. I haven't done any serious sewing since I was in college and no crocheting since high school, but it's been really nice to take up an old hobby. If nothing else, it's keeping my hands busy while I take a break from the ever-constant stack of books.

Do you do any kind of handicraft?

Friday, October 7, 2016

I have a blog?

I'm sorry to the 1/2 of you out there who read this blog. I sometimes find myself thinking "I really wish X would write more often" and then I realize I'm just as guilty. So, hello all 1/2 of you reading this!

On the mundane front I've done a lot of important work at my job in the last year that kept me dedicated to what I was doing when I really just wanted to quit.  Beyond saying that I work in a hospital, I can't say much about my job, but it was an honor to have the assignments I did. In some ways it helped heal some personal issues as well.

In September my dog Draco died. He was sixteen, his health was declining and I knew he would be leaving us soon. He had what looked very much like a heart attack one morning and I thought we were going to lose him then, but he was fine shortly after it was over. Better than fine, really, with lots more energy and a better appetite. On the morning of the Harvest Moon I found him cuddled up in his bed with his blue blanket and favorite toy, gone to the Big Sleep or the Rainbow Bridge or to join the Hounds of Annwn. I catch myself going about our normal routine only to realize there is no one there who needs to go outside or have a meal provided or take medicine. He was cremated and now there's just a tiny box and a plaque with his name on it where a very opinionated chihuahua used to be. I miss him.

I didn't do anything special or formal for Lammas or the Equinox but I have done a lot of Witch related reading this year and I still have a nice stack to get me through the rest of the year. After spending so much time with the wonderful books written by Phillip Heselton, I've been reading Gerald Gardner's novels. Margaret Murray will follow. There's also some "Traditional Witchcraft" material to get through. I worry sometimes that I've crossed that dreaded line into "armchair occultist"territory.

I'm still solitary. There still isn't much in the way of a local Pagan community here, and if there is, they aren't advertising. I pray a lot. I light candles, burn incense and pour out offerings. I try to be as in tune as possible with the patch of land I live on.

I hope October is finding all 1/2 of you well.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Necromancy 1972



If you ever wanted to see the horror movie that Raymond Buckland served as a technical adviser for, well, here it is!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Because I need more things to do

I've recently started keeping a journal as a coping skill to deal with stress. I'm using cheap composition books, so I don't have that anxiety about messing up a nice book. I just write about whatever. Some of it's deeply personal, some of it's just doodles. I make shopping lists, write about the books I'm reading, the date I went on, and how much I hate my job.

I've found all of this extremely therapeutic, and I find that writing helps me to be brutally honest about what I'm feeling. Whodathunk it?

I don't know how I managed to not keep a diary as a young person. I was obsessed with them, and had lots of them over the years. My first was purchased through the book fair at school. It was purple with a white kitten on the cover, and there was a lock with key. I carried it everywhere and never wrote much of anything in it. I didn't trust my family not to read it, and I've always been skittish about committing very personal things to paper that can be accessed by anyone.

Then witchcraft entered the picture and I have been failing at keeping a BoS, grimoire or magical diary for twenty years. I created a BoS in the 90's in Microsoft Word, complete with stolen pictures from the internet, clipart, and Old English font. It was hideous and I wish I still had it because the cringe factor alone would make it priceless to me now.  I have a book that I started in 2012 that I still work from sometimes and add things to now and then.

I've been thinking about retroactively creating the magical diaries that I didn't keep for twenty years. I'm not sure how valuable it will be, or if I'll be able to refrain from filtering my memories through the lens of my cynicism. I do think it would be nice to have everything I can remember written down so I can refer back to when my memory really starts to go.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cards Against Veles

I asked my question and drew a card.

The Tower.

Fabulous. Though, in light of my question, I want to know if I'm going to be the casualty of destruction or if I need to embody that destruction and upset some false foundations.

I shuffle again. The Hermit, Queen of Cups, Strength, swords...lots of swords.

I light more incense, thank the cards, and go to sleep.

I'm on Skype with Kelden, bitching about my problems. I mention that I did a reading, but don't give any details. He gets out his own cards and begins to shuffle.

The Tower.....The Hermit....Queen of Cups.....Swords, lots of swords.

Fuck. You hear stories about this sort of thing, but I never believe those stories. Now here I am copying down the same reading I gave myself the morning before.

The ultimate outcome looks good, but I'm probably going to have to wreck some shit...with my prayers.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We really ARE the weirdos, mister!

"Don't bother with tools right away. You don't need them. You don't need an altar. You don't need books. You don't need to do ritual. Just write in your journal. Connect with nature. Drink tea. You are your own priestess! Your life is your magic!!!"

That's all well and good, especially from the vantage point of a decades long practitioner who is perhaps a bit jaded about all of the stuff she has to dust, but let's not forget the life changing power of the right book in the right hands. Let's not forget how important it is to an unhappy teenager to know they are wearing a pentacle under their shirt, or that their magic knife is at home waiting for them.  Let us remember the overworked young professional going home every day and laying their burdens at the feet of the Gods they worship, cast in clay or cheap resin, on an altar that serves double duty as a night stand.

If the tools have no value, why do we STILL argue about which tool is governed by Air? Why do witches seem to instinctively turn any flat surface in their home into a shrine of one kind or another if it's ultimately meaningless? If we don't need books, why are niche occult publishes getting away with charging outrageous prices for books that contain little substance you can't find in Doreen's work?

Why do authors (who write books they obviously want to sell and make money from!!!!) jump on the "no books, no tools, no stuff, just nature" bandwagon and then include a suggested reading list and a shopping list/shopping resource guide in the back of the book?

Further, if all we need is a cup of tea and an hour spent sitting on the grass in our backyard to practice Wicca (or whatever) then why do we, as a community, shell out so much money on the shit the "product makers" are telling us we don't need but kinda do? Why are people paying for training that ultimately amounts to breathing exercises? Celebrity Pagans? GTFO.

We are a weird fucking community.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Thought him to be a devil

As a young teen witch in the 90's, I was determined to find my "magickal" name. You had to have one, the books said. The name would reveal your life's purpose, it would guide you on your path and it might even have ties to a former life when you were an Atlantean Crystal Priestess devoted to the Great Goddess.

I did a petition spell to ask the Gods to reveal my name to me in a dream. I wrote a list of my "best qualities" on a piece of parchment paper from Wal-Mart and slept with it under my pillow that night. I don't remember where the idea for this spell came from, but it seemed the thing to do at the time.

I went to sleep and the Gods did not reveal a damn thing to me in my dreams. "What a crock" I thought, as I lay in bed with my eyes shut, wishing school would cease to exist.

When I opened my eyes, a name came to me out of nowhere, popping into my thoughts as these things did when you were a teenage witch in the 90's.

Morfran

It sounded like a villain from Power Rangers or something. I went to school and mostly forgot all about it. Then a family friend happened to drop off a box of unwanted books, in which was a copy of The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology by John and Caitlin Matthews. I hadn't yet been exposed to the All Things Celtic aspect of witchcraft, so this book wasn't of any immediate interest.

When I finally did get around to reading through it, there was that name.....Morfran.

"The son of Cerridwen and Tegid Foel. His name means 'great crow." He was also called Afagddu or 'Utter Darkness'. He was so ugly that his mother sought to compensate this by the acquisition of great wisdom. It was for him that she prepared her cauldron of inspiration, but it was Gwion/Taliesin who drank it." - John and Caitlin Matthews, The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology

They go on to write:

"Morfran was so ugly that...he was not slain at the Battle of Camlan because his enemy thought him to be a devil." 

I never did take Morfran as a magical name, nor Afagddu either, but I did begin a relationship with the Goddess Cerridwen that would wax, wane and then become very important through the years. The interesting part of this story is that Morfran/Afagddu's story reflects so many of my own struggles with family, self-confidence and acceptance.

I was abandoned by my birth parents, for whom I was a dreadful mistake. My paternal family, all dark featured Slavic people, looked at my pink skin and reddish hair with disgust and still do. I think there was some Irish among my birth family, and my adopted family is full of old world ethnic prejudices. My mother has been more hung up on my weight and appearance than I ever have, putting me on one fad diet after another until I went to college. The one saving grace is that I was smart, did well in school, and had no end of scholastic achievements they could brag about to friends and family.

I don't think I was given a magical name then, more that I was shown a theme I was living on an archetypal level - the sad, ugly boy in black trying to win his mother's approval. I had no context for any of this at the age of sixteen, but I can't help but be amused and a little amazed by it now.

Or I could be completely full of shit, using old myths for therapy and blog fodder.

Pick your own adventure.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Edmund Buczynski and the Welsh Tradition Lectures








My sincere thanks to whomever finally uploaded these rare gems online!

Shadows - The Witch Bottle (1975)



Shadows was a British supernatural television program from the late 1970's. I'd never heard of it before stumbling upon this little gem of 70's occult cool via a weird late night Youtube binge. This episode tells the story of a brother and sister who become drawn into the legend of a witch put to death during "the burning times." It was written by Stewart Farrar.

The other episodes were fun too, and it seems the series was marketed towards children or at least Young Adults.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Justify My Stupidity

When I was in college, I really liked this boy. Okay, okay, I was obsessed with this boy and wanted him to like me. Turns out, he didn't like me, not in that way. He probably also didn't like me in a "friend" way either, though he did like that I had money I was willing to spend on him and took lots of opportunities to spend time with me so that I could do just that. But I digress. Like Gillian Owens, I have the worst taste in men, but I didn't know that at the time. You never do. 

I'd been witching long enough to know all of the warnings about love spells and how they are very bad ideas and one really just shouldn't do them. I knew all of this, and acknowledging that knowledge, proceeded to go right ahead and do the thing I knew better than to do. 

I was also super gay. As in, away from home and able to be mega gay for the first time in life and catching up on all of that gayness I didn't get to do in high school. This lead to a lot of new musical interests and hair product. I tell you this because I took Madonna's song "Justify My Love" as inspiration for the spell I ended up working. 



Yeah, yeah, I know, wanna fucking fight about it? 

Needless to say, things did not end well. Things ended up being a huge fucking mess that I still sometimes find myself cleaning up after, especially when trying to pursue healthy relationships now that I'm an adult. (HA! and HA! again)

I tell you all of this, at the risk of much personal embarrassment, because the song came on the radio this morning as I was driving home from work. It's the first time I've listened to the song since the working. Are you hearing those lyrics? I took those words and lit candles and invited a great big pile of WTF to dump itself all over my naive twenty year old self. JUSTIFY MY LOVE? I could slap me for having been so dumb as to not grasp the desperation behind the lyrics or in myself. Sure the music and video are sexy, but fuck. 

I like to think I've learned a thing or six since then. I'll let you know when I'm forty.

Young witches - we weren't all stupid, except when we so very painfully were. 




Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Imbolc 2016


Whether you celebrate it as Imbolc, Candelmas or Brignasadh, (or Lammas or Lughnasadh for our friends down under) I hope you had a nice one. And if you aren't celebrating, Happy February!

It's rather warm in Texas - the dandelions are in bloom and the birds aren't sure what to do with themselves. This doesn't mean much, it will probably ice over before March arrives, but it was nice to be able to spend some time outdoors with bare feet in the squishy grass.

The Sabbats always make me long for others to celebrate with. It's too easy to just light a candle and say "Happy Imbolc, Madame!" and go about one's business when you are the only one who will be disappointed by the lack of ritual. Still, whether we do it with a simple prayer or a full ceremony, the Wheel must be turned.

After blessing new candles for the altar and making offerings to the Gods, I named all of the things I'd like to reinvigorate on a candle, and buried it in a cauldron full of ice.  Not that it's been all that icy here, but one does like a good metaphor. It didn't take long for the ice to melt - did I mention it's warm here? I carried my little flame in a well through the house, sprinkling water and lighting candles from the fire while chanting:

By holy well 
And sacred flame
In our Lady's hallowed name
I banish winter
I welcome spring
And forge anew
Each beloved thing. 

Now I will sit with a nice pot of tea and hold vigil with my little flame until the sun rises.

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