Tag Archives: magic

Men Can Be Witches

The ambiguity of the word witch makes many people feel very uncomfortable and yet, that is what makes it amazing. This morning, I woke up to rather unconstructive commentary regarding how people feel about the concept that a man could be a witch. While historically speaking it has been a stereotyped word with the image of a woman taking central focus, I don’t think men were exempt.  Why you choose the word will ultimately have more value to you than the word itself but that doesn’t mean the word choice won’t have an effect on others.

Now you may be reading this and nod in agreement or reading through just to see where it goes, it is important to say that feelings are relative, subjective and ultimately they relate to the person who is expressing them -they go hand in hand with those fantastic things called opinions. Does a man who refers to himself as a witch somehow impact people negatively? No, of course not.  Will people verbalized their disagreement, opinions and most probably justifications for the choice concerning the life path of another -most certainly.  I am grateful for all of these opinions and how very diverse they are -but they shouldn’t divide us completely.

Men are/can be witches. I don’t feel that is mutually exclusive to women only. The terminology might indicate where you focus or how you feel about magical practice. Of course, what follows is my personal perception/ideas only.  Consider this lens for a moment:  warlocks, for me, has always been a term for someone at odds with themselves magically speaking and are engaged in using magick for purposes of conflict in one manner or another. Sorcerer, Sorceress; a magickal focus without religious overtones. Magus or Magician evokes images of ceremonial work, high magick.  The word witch conjures images of cooking, folk magic, animal spirits, ghosts, skeleton keys, knowledge of plants, dream working.  Wizards are the thinkers, the analyzers, the contemplators.  Meaning, those acts take primary focus prior to any magickal work (and may take precedence over magickal acts altogether.) Wizard shapes visualizations of the wise old hermit, the man in the tower with lots of books, the old wise man in a straw hat with a corn cob pipe (an old dream I had.)  Ultimately, I perceive the wizard as focused on the development and mastery of the mind.  Does that mean the witch doesn’t think clearly? Does that mean that all wizards are old men?  That would be laughable!  Of course not! In Wicca, men are considered not only Wiccan, but if they apply magic to their practices they are also witches.  These images paint the associations that I have with the word, they tell me something about the person (and therein lies the challenge and source of some of the apparent conflict.)  As people of varied experiences, we have differing lenses.  If those lenses are overlayed with others -quite frankly they won’t always match.  Suddenly, we find ourselves faced with a completely different idea about a label, idea, group etc.  What makes it more of a challenge is that the labels themselves are simply not just the images and ideas that come to us.  Often, they are a state of mind, a way of life, a matter of being and walking through life.

Don’t choose to adhere to one lens alone, be willing to consider the very varied opinions and ideas that exist.  The advantage is that it broadens the experience of the individual and promotes concepts such as inclusiveness, and diversity for a very beautifully colored community.  The witch is a powerful symbol -that challenges norms, that sees the magic in the mundane and that is willing to stand defiantly in the face of adversity -but there is always more to a word.  So to the men out there walking magical and/or religious paths, who feel aligned with the term “witch,” remember you have no need to justify how you feel and that you shouldn’t feel threatened to either voice your opinion in positive/constructive ways or simply stand tall and walk your path.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Spell Crafting and Casting

Casting a spell is about focus, intent, and energy. While there is nothing wrong with borrowing a good spell, the ones that pack a punch are those that are written by the caster.  This article helps you to prepare to write your own spells and then afterward document them (at least I would.)  As it is helpful later to see what worked for you best and what didn’t.

Spells do not have to be complicated but, it is helpful to understand the energy in your body when it comes to casting.  Imagine a water hose with a lot of holes poked into the sides.  If the water is draining out all over the place it is difficult for the water to develop pressure.  This is the way I think of how energy is directed; it needs focus.  Some things you may research in addition to planning your spells are the following.  I’ll be writing future articles in these topics as well.

  1.  Experiencing personal energy (this is your energy)
  2. Developing awareness of your flow. (there is a projective and a receptive flow)
  3. Connecting with other energy sources. (elemental energy, divine energy etc.)
  4. Drawing up and projecting energy (channeling the energy into your body, raising it and projecting it while focusing on the goal of the working)

Writing and Designing Spells

Spells do not have to rhyme though I do enjoy the way that they flow when they happen to.  It also has helped me to memorize them over time.  Spells do not have to be overly complex and require mysterious ingredients.  What you use in a spell is relevant because symbols have real power in the mind and because natural items such as shells and herbs carry energies of their own. When you become adept at the energy work aspect of spells, you’ll discover that you won’t need items at all.  However, I enjoy working with “things,” the colors, symbols, and tools appeal to my inner child.  You should know your intention prior to casting a spell.  If you are unsure of your motivations and the purpose of the spell a lot of energy will be misdirected.  It is important to set clear goals but not to over limit yourself.  For example, if I desire to own a vehicle for my transportation needs but limit it to a Corvette only, it may take much more time to manifest (setting up your own blocks in this case.)  Visualize the end result and don’t worry about all the details.  This was my challenge when I first started to practice magic.  I found myself bantering over the tiniest details and attempting to imagine how each thing would unfold.  Over analysis can be the death of a good working.

Consider what kind of magic will use.  There are various kinds of magic and though we will not be discussing them here, some of them include knot (cord), candle, petition (paper), elemental, herbal magic, art as magic, and combination magic (using multiple techniques such as stuffing a candle with charged herbs. Ask yourself questions (Will this spell take more than one day?  Will I need a place to keep spell remnants?   Decide upon the timing of your spell.  While not everyone plans their spells per the phases of the moon, I’ve found it very helpful. Is it necessary -no.  But, I’ll add that attuning my own work to natural forces has been personally enlightening.

Spell Casting

As you gather the items for your working, keep in mind what each item is for.  When I first began, it helped to tell the item as I picked it up what their purpose would be in the work.  I’ve referred to this before as “gathering with intent.” After all your items are gathered and your space is prepared, take a few deep breaths.  You might have a special ritual prepared around beginning a spell (such as lighting a candle, clearing the energetic space with a broom or sage, tossing salt or casting circle.)  This will differ from practitioner to practitioner.  It is important to note that over time, you will develop your own special rituals around your work.  Though being spontaneous has its high points, I’ve found great power in the personal rituals that have unfolded with time and remained relatively constant.  Now, there are multiple methods to magic, you may read about some of these in the Green Witch series by Ann Moura.  She discusses various methods:  sympathetic, directive, transference, and comparative.  I primarily use directive as a method which requires that personal energy is raised during the spell casting process.  For the spell, you are “raising” the energy both from your body and the energy that you draw in from around you.  To raise the energy, first, hold the goal in mind, then use one of the many various techniques to raise energy (drumming, dancing, chanting, humming, progressive tensing of the muscles in the body…)  At the end of your spell casting, remember to ground out any excess energy that you did not use.  This is important if you do not ground, it is likely that you will experience symptoms that are much like withdrawing from caffeine (tiredness, headaches, feeling the need to take a nap…just “zapped.”)

For the last fourteen years, I’ve documented my work as a practitioner.  I wish there were words that explained how useful documenting spell work, results, meditations, and experiences has been in my personal growth (especially in retrospect.)  Whether you are a planner or your spells just pop in your head spontaneously, try to jot them down and record the results.  Be excited to try new things prior to judging them.  Most importantly, let your personal experience dictate your work.

 

Magic and Integrity

Years ago, when I aided in teaching young children martial arts, we would attempt to teach children vocabulary relevant to their lessons.  One lesson was integrity.  It was defined as “Doing what is right even when no one is looking.”  The questions that rise to the surface are; What do you stand for?  What code do you live by? As a Wiccan hedge witch, I sometimes find it difficult to completely take in the concept of “harm none.”  Is that truly possible?  Do we not destroy life as we walk upon the land, deprive someone when we choose to take?  Talk about opening a Pandora’s box of philosophical questions that will make your head and heart ache!

This work tells a little about how I’ve managed to find a personal understanding of “harm none.” At some point in my contemplation came the realization that it is intention that is left out of that statement.   I’ve personally interpreted it as; do not intentionally seek to destroy another and do not use the power against your brothers and sisters in a way that brings ruin.  Let me clarify however that I do not mean that energies cannot be directed to bring balance to a situation, to uncover and dispel lies and illusions and to make someone responsible for their actions.  The best spells honestly are the ones that bring powerful, personal revelations to all parties involved.

Often, I have received requests to do magic for others.  This is a rare act on my part.  I’ve heard this said:  People that use magic are selfish, it shouldn’t be used for personal gain.  Ever dancing between the wondrous greys, I try to look beyond the black and white extremes (I do keep them in mind though.)   I use magic for my own ends ultimately as well as in a broader sense.  Let me explain.  When something terrible happens in the world, I work for peace, understanding, love and to dispel ignorance and confusions that pit people against one another.  Of course, that does not mean I won’t work for myself!

I deeply feel that in the endeavor to heal ourselves, to make ourselves more whole in each moment (yes even with the power of magic) is to begin to heal aspects of the world.  When we come from a place of love and healing we can begin to approach problems much larger than those on an individual scale. I have used magic to reveal the source of my anxiety, to face and dispel fear, to negate harmful energies (both intentionally and unintentionally directed.)  To clear space, to find courage and confidence, to bring me to resolution and so much more.  The greatest part?  Magic has taught me more about myself than I could have imagined.  While I can think of an array of examples, one stand out.

In 2012, I became quite aware that something wasn’t right in my marriage.  I’d no proof at all but suddenly a wonderfully detailed spell popped right into my head involving securing fidelity in my relationship.  I was supposed to do it right! I mean, it did pop into my head.  I chose not to.  Instead, I decided to follow the deep seeded feeling that something was wrong.  Animals came to visit me in my dreams, Lynx with her secrets and vulture begging to peck out the dead parts…and you know, it was painful as any hell I could describe.  I lost nearly everything I’d come to know during that phase of my life.  The real point is; I needed to lose it.  While I don’t have all the answers about personal integrity and the use of magic, I have learned that it isn’t always the answer.  Sometimes, you must put it down, tap into your deeper self and just listen.  You may not like what you hear, but most of the time it is well worth it -even if it sends your life reeling; you’ll find yourself on the road back home to your own heart each time.

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

 

The Mundagical

Aaron and I stood outside last night and gazed for a while at the recent planetary alignment. He pointed, “which one is that?” “That one is Mars.” “It looks like a tri-force.” We laughed. “You’re a geek, but that alignment explains the intensity of things lately,” I said, as smacked my ankles. Mosquitos nipped viciously at me and I scampered up the steps complaining about them before jumping into the cool sheets for a nice, relaxing sleep. This morning, Aaron’s curiosity got the best of him. I woke up seeing him swiping his phone screen while reading an article on the alignment. It spurred a conversation about whether or not there are meaning in such things.

My partner is a particularly rational individual. I often get the “eye” when I say something unusual, “superstitious” or mention things that could very easily be interpreted as coincidence. A bird breaks its neck on the window, sure it could be because there is a house there that got in the bird’s way. That is the practical answer. From my own perspective, it may be an ill omen of a death in the family. Mercury slams into retrograde and I’m a little cautious about signing contracts and making sure the car has been serviced, I shift awareness to the way I am communicating and double check that my emails went through. These behaviors may seem silly to some -even obsessive or as I’ve been described -a bit quirky.

Human beings are off-kilter. Attuning to natural cycles such as moon phases or seasons assist people to tune-in to natural rhythms. When we are connected and in sync, even the most mundane things have a meaning. When we are off balance it is difficult to make the connection. I’d used similar wording to explain this morning. Aaron looked over at me and smiled. “So, basically, regular things are Mundagical.” Amused, I wrapped my arms around him, “Exactly.”

When someone hears me talk about signs or omens, they may immediately think, this person is very superstitious -what hogwash! Often, I find it quite pointless to explain. This time, I thought, how can I explain this in a way that the most rational person may say Yes, that makes some amount of logical sense -if not in an illogical way. I’d like to share a few things that may illustrate what I mean.

Three Playing Birds
In 2002, while riding my bicycle, I passed a home where three cardinals sat together in a yard. My attention felt drawn to them and I recall thinking, I’ve never seen three all together that way. Two blocks later, at a completely different house, I saw the three cardinals again. I slowed my bike to the side of the road and watched them for a moment. They hopped around one another and pecked the ground. There was not a “why” or a “weird” or a need to analyze, I simply observed them. A bead of sweat trickled down my temple and I remembered the hot sun above me. Pushing forward on my bike, I was eagerly riding to a cool glass of water beckoning me from home. As I approached home, I nearly stopped in the middle of the road. There, on the corner of the lot, three cardinals danced around one another in play. I rounded the corner to the porch and noticed a white car. My mother had a visitor, an old friend we had not seen in several years.
Long before I knew what augury was, this experience had entered my life. Several years later, I’d find myself reading a passage in a book long forgotten that briefly mentions the behaviors of birds as a kind of divination. I came across a passage about cardinals representing the visit of an old friend. -How curious, I thought, it was exactly what had happened to me. I filed the memory away but pondered the chances of discovering text that correlated to my very experience.

 

Bad Luck and Black Cats

Chat dans un jardin

We’ve all heard it before: If a black cat crosses your path, you’ll have bad luck. I’ve never found this one to have relevance in my life. In fact, it is almost the opposite. I dreamt three people stood straight and tall in a line -the way kindergarten teachers wish their children would stand after school recess. Behind them, approached a strange, skinny, sick looking, white, mangy cat with large yellow eyes. Though I stood facing the three individuals, they could not see me but the cat’s eyes did not waver. It approached them and began weaving around them. In and out, in and out, the cat moved steady, stopped and glared at me. Then it made another weaving loop in the opposite direction with its tail swishing back and forth as though it were aggravated.

Most conclusions I’ve drawn in retrospect. Several months after this dream, I was arranging a small gathering of witches. Several of us had not seen one another in some time. Other individuals were brand new and wanted to meet witches in the local area. What a terrible but necessary disaster ensued when the several individuals in the group began verbally assaulting the other in a most victorian manner. It was not done with yelling or screaming but with rude and quaint insinuations, leaving a severe disequilibrium in the circle and several people choosing to walk away.

After the circle disbanded and damage control was complete, I discovered the “white cat.” Two women thought to keep the original group together it would be appropriate to cast a binding spell. They cast this spell upon themselves and one other member. The goal was to keep them together. However, they did this spell without the other person being aware of it. The result was complete dissension among them.

So what does this have to do with a sick kitty? The three individuals lined up in the dream were the same witches who’d cast a spell on one another. The cat was the binding spell. I too was a part of that circle, only I was not included in the binding spell -hence the cat did not weave its loops around me. The state of the cat indicated the state of their relationships and in my opinion the energy related to the binding spell.
Now, it would take several more “magical cat” dreams and encounters before the idea of sick cats or deformed cats of pale or unusual colors correlated these experiences with actual events beginning to manifest. That is when it hit me. This is the way superstitions were born and sometimes lasted for generations.

I do not find myself merely superstitious. I find that the superstitions have meat when personal experience has rooted them in some way. Therefore, I am not merely saying that I believe that if I see “this” then it means “this.” To the contrary, I am stating, this experience has connected with this type of event over and over again and has come to have predictive relevance due to repetition. These same observed patterns may or may not reoccur in families. When they stop being experienced, they become the watered-down beliefs that many people call superstition. Seemingly simple or even pointless happenings become little ways to see the web of connection or pathways for communication that give me better insight into situations that present themselves in this most curious, beautiful life. Embrace the mundagical.