Category Archives: Witchcraft

Festival and Celebration Time

Feeling the itch for something new or a need to reach out to others?  This is the perfect time of year for it! As a solitary, it is vital to reach out to others, make an effort to connect and find a few like-minded individuals to share understanding smiles with.  The month of June is a time for many Pagan festivals across the United States.  Take some time out -even if it is just a day or two and weave some wonderful connections -or at least enjoy yourself!  That is exactly what I plan to do.

In 2010 I attended my first Pagan festival PSG (Pagan Spirit Gathering). Although a week long event, I attended only for the weekend.  It left an awesome, memorable impact that inspired me for years to come.  I found myself basking with friends in the river, watching the fire spinners with fascination and dancing to the drums around the fire until dawn.  How wonderful it was to feel so deeply connected to my tribe and others of like-mind.

In 2015, I discovered the Pagan Picnic in St. Louis.  This event came packed with many different vendors.  I was fortunate to come across one vendor who sold wood burned binders -perfect for the shadow book that grows with you.  H. Byron Ballard, writer of Staubs and Ditchwater, was one among many authors who visited and I cannot leave out the wonderful music by S.J. Tucker and Omnia.  As if that isn’t the cherry on top of the cake? The event is completely free save for a some fuel and a picnic basket!

I’ve recruited a friend and we are headed up to St. Louis.  Of course, I’ll be staying Friday night in ole St. Louie in order to get a good head start to the gate.  I’ll hit day number two for this three day event and enjoy the time looking around for old friends, new vendors and yummy food. So load up your little ones (if you have them), pack up the car and head out to this year’s Pagan Picnic at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis Missouri and I’ll see you there!

 

 

 

 

Building your own Protective Construct and Connecting

When we begin to approach spiritual practice and the idea of protective constructs it can often leave us quite baffled. For beginners, terminology might seem confusing. Attempting to wrap your mind around energetic concepts without having any experiences to relate to is one major obstacle. Over the past few days I’ve been contemplating how to explain it in a way that allows someone to personally relate and connect to these ideas -hopefully, without sounding too complicated. Here, I will discuss energetic constructs of protection    -essentially our psychological sense and over-all feeling of safety. I will discuss how we can tap into them and use them in our daily lives as a tool to begin to feel better.

First, let me begin by saying that my personal ideas and techniques are by far my own. They may or may not work well for you. As was once said to me “everything with a grain of salt.” Meaning, consider it, work with it and if it isn’t right for you, you’ll know. First, a construct is something that an idea is built from. Each person experiences life in varied ways. Essentially, what makes me feel safe may not be the same thing that elicits feeling safe for you. To begin you may have to introspect and ask yourself some of the following questions:
• What makes me feel safe?
• What made me feel safe when I was younger?
• How do I imagine that I would protect myself?
• Do I work with any symbols or idea that evoke the idea of protection and safety? Do I feel connected deeply to these ideas?

When I was a little girl, I thought the closet was a safe place. I found them comfortable. After-all, nothing could sneak up on me if my back was to a wall, right? To boot, I loved my silky blanket. According to stories, my parents confessed, I loved my blanket enough for “silky” to be my second word. So, what in the world does all of this have do with protective magic? Really, everything but specifically the way that we connect.

Often we read that to protect yourself you can start by visualizing a bubble of light. The idea is to shield you from usually unseen energy that bombards us. The energy may be emotional (from other people projecting it), mental and more. Don’t get me wrong, the basic sphere or egg shaped visualization works alright. However, in many situations, I discovered that the white-light construct would cut me off from useful energies that I was attempting to work with. It blocked too much out. The idea of using an image to bounce energy back (such as the mirror shield) was ok except I didn’t feel comforted with the knowledge that the energy could take on the function of the actual stuff I was imagining (mirrors reflect). I didn’t want that stuff “reflecting” back and forth or all over the place -I mean, who knows where that energy is going or who might slam into right?  I wanted to feel the connection -personalize it beyond its mere mental functioning.
Personal introspection led me to the idea that we can first build our own constructs by considering places and situations and events that have occurred that have evoked a sense of love, protection and safety in our own lives. When we imagine those situations, it can trigger memories and hopefully the safe feelings that went with them. Then, we can tie those into the visualization we are using.
To do this try the following. Limit distractions (T.V, phone, pets etc) and settle into a quiet spot. After contemplating your personal ideas and experiences of “safe” and hopefully writing it down, take three to five deep breaths. Breathe until the feeling of “safe” washes over you. Once you have a good hold on the feeling then visualize something that makes you feel safe. Maybe it is rushing water swirling around you in a sphere, maybe it is a ball of fire or that big ball of light. Consider for a moment what you would like to keep in, let in and keep out. One method is to literally tell it what its job is. In a sense, you are programming a projected idea around you. This idea and the energy you put into it becomes your personal construct. It follows you wherever you go. The more energy you put into it (like sitting and visualizing it every day) the more stable it becomes. Go out and try it for a while. I’d love to have your personal feedback regarding experiences.

Preventative Aides for Spiritual Attack

It is a given fact that if you practice magic or engage with spiritual energy on a daily basis that at some point, something not quite human or that was once human might find its way to your home or start following you. Part of this is energetic frequency and the other part, I feel is just a matter of being the metaphorical light in the dark. Think of…moths looking for light. This was a description my mother expressed to me in my early years. Now, don’t drop everything and run screaming witchlings that is the nature of energy in general…attracting and repelling etc. Also, there a number of things that you can do initially that will help avoid the likelihood that this may occur, as well as, prepare you to handle situations you feel intimidate you.

It is important to note, that as Wiccans (and other practitioners of magical crafts), encounters with spiritual energies of this kind can also indicate an imbalance.  There may be something important you are learning on your spiritual path that this experience can offer you such as the need to protect yourself, the need to set spiritual boundaries, expansion of energetic awareness, or acknowledgment of a spiritual gift that you are being called to use for the community.  A case in point is that Shamans who resist their spiritual gifts are often plagued by physical and spiritual events that are often initially perceived as attacks.  When the individual surrenders to their spiritual gifts the negative experiences often subside as the individual obtains a new sense of balance. Sometimes, to find your balance, the spirits knock you over, you teeter-totter back and forth until you discover a new equilibrium. Below, I cover three points that I feel all beginners should become exceedingly comfortable with early in their practice.  Despite specific religious, non-religious or spiritual affiliations and labels, these three items are, in my opinion, vital aspects of a healthy practice and contribute to the overall holistic health of the practitioner.

  • Understanding of the energetic foundations such as grounding, centering
  • Clearing, Boundaries, and Purifications
  • Forming strong connections

Energetic Foundations

People have often expressed to me that their beginnings flared after their first energetic experiences.  These events may have occurred during meditation work, after years of intense dreams, or may have taken any of the myriad forms of experience including but not limited to: receiving relevant spiritual guidance, hearing helpful spiritual forces, feeling awakened or quickened to new spiritual concepts and realities, seeing ghosts, being spiritually attacked, precognitive visions, successful first spell work –the list goes on.

While I’m not completely against throwing yourself into something new and just “going at” a practice, choosing that course of action may result in many hard-earned lessons that could’ve been more gently learned. The foundation of many spiritual practices involves the need to be aware of energy both within and around yourself.  Grounding, centering and breathing lays the initial foundation for beginning to physically and mentally sense the way that this force naturally flows. Long term practice results in an increased sensitivity to personal energy as well as the energy that exists around you.  This means you may be able to more easily tell when something is “Off” meaning “out of balance or unusual.”  It also aides you in recognizing when you need restoration and cleansing.  The routine practice will lead to lower stress levels (coping skill), clearer decision-making and aid in helping you maintain your over-all equilibrium.

 

Rituals of Clearing, Purification and the act of setting boundaries

There are many ways to perform such rituals.  Here, I use the word “clearing” as the act of ritually removing energy from a space.  This is often done by utilizing herbs such as sage and rosemary, purified water, or the sounds of bells, clapping or even voice work.  The premise behind a clearing rests in the act of raising the energetic frequency of an area.  By doing so, other energies essentially vacate.  That is putting it plainly.

Purification (Cleansing) is the act of removing energy of various kinds (usually harmful, stagnant or blocked) from the physical and energetic body.  Again, the idea is to raise the energetic frequency as well as to remove specific energetic/spiritual influences.  Cleansing rituals take various forms such as baths, smudgings, the use of plants to (very gently) strike a person on their body and may or may not include the ingestion of infusions (teas) or other substances.  In some cases, purification may require removal from social community and solitude as well as fasting rituals, increased consumption of water or other diets.

Take a cup and fill it with water.  Knock that cup over and watch the water spill out over the counter.  Boundaries.  Our energy flows much like water, the spiritual work performed often sets up well-needed boundaries that affect our overall psychology.  Here I speak of boundaries as they pertain to shielding, holding on to our own energy and not letting it over-pour into others to the extent that we may lose our sense of personal identity.  This sometimes happens when we constantly give and forget to honor our need to receive and reconnect as well as honor our inner sources. It may also happen that our boundaries are shaken up by traumatic events which may leave us vulnerable to similar events over and over again.  To begin, you may research learning how to shield (a mental projection around your energy body that grounds out, reflects, filters or otherwise prevents specific energies from entering into the body’s field.) The construct of the shield (what we imagine it to be) will affect its function.  Much of this has to do with the material we imagine it is made of and the mental associations we have with the construct we are creating.  Like meditation, working with a shield may increase personal sensitivity to what may be around or near your own energy fields. There are many more things to say about energy work where it comes to boundaries.  These practices may also include:  warding, sealing, barrier workings, learning to say no, setting personal limits to accomplish goals and more.

Forming Strong Connections

This particular work I cannot stress enough.  This can be a real challenge for those of us who work as solitaries or those that for one reason or another are rather isolated from the larger community. Community takes many shapes and forms.  We may discover online connections and communities.  Through networking, it is possible to make positive, healing, uplifting friendships that we feel support us.  Another source could be a local Unitarian Universalist Church.  However if you are located in a rural community and the closest Unitarian church is three hours away, as it is in my own case, the feeling might be more frustrating.  For those who happen to be rather isolated from community, I encourage you to become very closely acquainted with your online community.  Witchvox.com may offer the location of ministers that are close to rural areas (or maybe you will choose to become one to serve that need like I did!).  In times of spiritual crisis, these connections will serve to support you –even if only from a distance, many practitioners are willing to offer advice or energy to help.   If you’ve enjoyed this article, join me next week for:  Dealing with Spiritual Attack

Journey To The Underworld

 What Is The Underworld

I have seen that place as an endless forest full of lost spirits and creatures horrid that take the shape of something I desire. The cities are abandoned or forbidden, my beloved home is lost and my people are all gone. I am misplaced and my memories are so scattered I cannot recall how I came to this place or why I am here. Familiar places are buried by the sands of time and weep at the sight of them.  I swear to the archaeologists that it was only yesterday. I’ve wandered in honeycomb caverns with the deepest fear I’d never see light again.  My body has been pulled through the endless blues of a barren sea and I’ve felt devoured by it all.

The Underworld is a place to find lost things, to remember, to discover. It calls to us all and willing or not, there is a pull, a yearning, an urge to descend in order to discover exactly what is down there waiting for us.  What happens if we become lost?  How can we find our way out again?  Each person experiences the underworld differently and it may appear differently to each of us.  We go there when we choose to let go of a vice (addictions of all kinds.) When life reaches out with something unexpected and we feel devastated by a loss.  This might occur as a result of an accident, diagnosis of an illness that must be overcome or one that cannot be changed but only managed. It could be a sudden death, facing death or other unmentioned, unseen circumstances. One thing holds -none leave without being changed and feeling out of control is the general consensus.

Having spent many years descending and ascending, I wonder how long I stay before I dive into the depths of those places again. The recent Mercury retrograde has me in an introspective tizzy.  I have been reflecting on my experiences and how I have recorded (mapped) them through the years.  I hope to perhaps record my next descent consciously and place it here for all to see. Since each journey is different, my own can only be an abstract for those who are interested in swimming deeper.

Willing Descent

After the dream visit from the Crone, I started to feel like it was time to go see her.  For several weeks I spent time searching the various names any myths of the dark goddess.  I wondered why she had come to my door and what is was I needed to learn from her.  My own Underworld visits often begin with a dream.  These “big” dreams are my signpost for important change in my life.  With change always comes sacrifice.  I wanted this time to be different.  I didn’t want to go kicking and screaming to the underworld; pulled into the caverns by faceless, monstrous voids, grabbed and dragged into street drains into the watery depths.  This time, I wanted to go to the gates of the Underworld myself and descent into her sacred realms.  What might I lose or set aside?  What might I gain?  How much time do I truly have to prepare? and How can I utilize and integrate what I have learned?  These are the questions I set out to answer as I begin another descent.

What follows is a description of a ritual I will work to mark descent.  Often, these experiences happen all on their own without an individual seeking to initiate the experience.  In my own case, I have chosen to complete this ritual to symbolically mark my own experiences and process through what I need to ascend to the surface with.  As Meredith points out in her book, some people are caught in the underworld for a very long time without the understanding of how to integrate the wisdom accumulated there.

Signs and Preparation

The first signs I am entering the underworld is often an unsettled feeling followed by what I referred to earlier as a big dream.  The experience of such a dream indicates to me that my life is about to change (not that it is all doom -it is most definitely the opposite.) I didn’t plan to begin another underworld journey without research.  I discovered a book called:  Journey To The Dark Goddess, a book by Jane Meredith.  In her book, Meredith explains that prior to an intentional journey, the first step should be preparation. My own preparation will involve several steps. In my preparation, I considered the ways in which I have journeyed the Underworld previously and write out how I can prioritize time to visit this realm at least once a year.  I was delighted to find the suggestion in the book to write a letter to yourself prior to descent.  While different, I do often write letters to “Old Mother.”  These letters often provide me with guidance concerning daily aspects of my life. The outline below is a rough sketch of what Meridith describes in her book and it does not include every detail of ritual planning due to the spontaneous nature of my own work.

  1. Acknowledging the dream (the call) and asking myself big questions:  What must I face?  What must I embrace now?  How can I grow from this experience?  What actions can I take? (Reflection of the dream and contemplation through questioning and silence.)
  2. Prepare my backup plan. In this step, I decide who I will use as my “safe person” This person is aware of my ritual and what it is that I am doing.  They are there if I need them.  If I go to deep this person helps to pull me from the underworld. I let them know when I begin the ritual and when I end. In the past, this was sometimes a person who literally monitored the ritual.
  3. I spend time listening and nothing more.  This may be for a set time period such as twenty minutes for three days.
  4. Choose offerings for the underworld.  I will create something:  a song, a painting, a dance.
  5. Create a sacred space.  This can be done in a number of ways, I typically work with plants so I will smudge the area or burn an oil.
  6. I gather all of my tools which will include the way I plan to record or map out my journey.  Since I often write, journaling is the easiest route -of course, my journals are never limited to writing alone.  I will gather pens, colored pencils or any other objects I plan to use.
  7. Review my life journey so far both positive and negative events:  I do by first writing things out and then I create a drawing that expresses it.
  8. Conjure the energy for casting circle and complete the circle casting ritual.  Verbally announce the purpose for the journey.  Often, I go through these rituals and then they play themselves out in my dreamscapes.
  9. Descent.  Often I use dream imagery and guided visualization that helps to move me into the Underworld.  Since I’ve been there before, I often find myself descending deeper into broken roadways at construction sites that lead into the ground.  I’ve also gone to this place through a large opening in a tree.  This first image is the first gate.  I’ve heard that there are seven gates, from other’s who have made the journey, nine gates. At each of the gates, I give something up in order to go deeper.

Despite how the journey is made, whether you design your own or follow a formatted based from myth, understand that the journey results in an internal change that often causes external things in your environment to change.  The descent is only that.  Merideth pointed out in her book that the general format above can get you into the underworld but not out. While you are in the underworld,  it is important to keep your focus on the purpose of the journey and to give yourself a reason prior to return.  This was my own challenge as I discovered I’d already been living in the Underworld for quite a long time.  It is for that reason that I’ve chosen to ritually acknowledge the journey and begin the ascent to the surface once again.  If you a preparing for a descent, I’d fully recommend researching mythic stories of descents and picking up the book that inspired me to write this blog.

 

References:

Journey To The Dark Goddess How To Return to Your Soul -Jane Meredith

 

Grandmother Winter Challenge

Free Image from Pixabay
Free Image from Pixabay

The crisp air of winter crawls up my nostrils.  I watch the steam from my cup clash with the breath streaming from my mouth. Great grandmother watched the signs of the seasons, she said that that fogs during the autumn indicated how many times it would snow.  Already, there have been two foggy days.  With the cold comes Grandmother Winter.  I dreamt there was a knock on the door.  Without hesitation or concern for who may be on the other side, I opened the passage into my home.  Snow drifts were piled high, the wind howled and I felt her presence as she rounded the bend to my door.  Clad in a heavy cloak, slouched over with a twisted cane was an old petite woman with eyes dark as coal and skin reminiscent of the deep cracks in bark.  Here, before my eyes stood Grandmother Winter.

This time of year I prepare, I go within.  For the next month, beginning this evening I’ll set the intention to connect with the dark, with silence and see what it has to show me.  From tonight until the eve of December 21, I’ll be documenting my experience here on my blog for the sake of accountability.  Deciding to use my beautifully illustrated oracle cards by Stacey Demarco, I drew the Skull of Darkness, beckoning me into the shadows to explore my own nature.  My runes revealed Isa indicating the need for stillness and receptivity.

Skull of darknessRecently, I’ve found myself amused at all the challenges floating across the internet.  Over the past week, the mannequin challenge has been on the news, on campus and during my daughter’s birthday party, in my living room!  In the spirit of challenge, I charge my readers to complete the next 21 days with me and share your own thoughts and experiences along the way.  How will the divine feminine appear to you?  What do the Shadows have to show you?  What might you discover in the darkness?  Let’s find out!