Category Archives: CRONE WISDOM

Wishcraft or Witchcraft — The Power of Intention

I’m facilitating my Self CARE™ program of personal development for a closed Facebook group focused on healing of body, mind and spirit. It’s bringing me all the way back to my days as a health and wellness coach, and my blog,  Living Well, Body – Mind – Spirit.

I didn’t identify as a witch 20-some years ago. I was spiritual—delving into metaphysics and all the possibilities in the universe. I believed then, as I do now, that there was “something” to the power of attraction. I made vision boards, I filled journals, read all the books and listened to all the tapes for manifesting the life of my dreams.  

Now, after learning the craft of the witch, I see the intersection of wishcraft and witchcraft, even though the two are not one-in-the-same.

My definition of witchcraft may be different that yours, and it ever evolves the more I learn and practice. As a newbie, I can remember being disappointed that while there might be a secret club (many of them, in fact), there were no mystical secrets, no arcane words foreign to my ear, to be passed on, allowing me to unlock the power of real magick. At least not the kind of secrets I envisioned—where the knowledge, or the words, or the tool, would be imparted and instantly I would be able to change physical matter, levitate things (or myself), light a candle with mere thought, or be able to turn an enemy into a toad.

It’s almost embarrassing now to believe I even hoped that was possible, but I was at a place in my life where I felt completely powerless. I just wanted to make it all go away as soon as possible—poof! I say almost embarrassing, because this is the crossroad where so many of us choose the path of the witch.

Eventually, I began to see witchcraft as a practice, a skill that improves with dedication and experience. Still, something was missing from the equation. Now (over the past year or so), I’ve deepened my understanding of witchcraft to be a practice of personal power that comes from personal development. I’ve come around full circle, back to the basics of coaching. 

Desire + Intention + Action = Successful Outcomes.

But that isn’t witchcraft. Or, is it?

In 2000 my marriage of 23 years ended in divorce, my world was upside down, my future was unsure and the last thing I felt was that I had any control in my life.

Each morning before getting ready for work, I’d sit on the wide, raised hearth of the fireplace drinking coffee and making check lists. Most of them were straight forward chores, cleaning, painting, removing overgrown shrubbery, making flower beds—all things to make my new place feel like home. When I checked the items off a list, I tucked it into an envelope with others I’d completed. Seeing the packet grow thicker over time gave me a feelingI of accomplishment and confidence.

I started a wish list that included things like, new carpeting, remodeled kitchen, potting shed, potager garden, sunroom addition, gas fireplace insert, and more. My mother would have called my list pipe dreams, because I had no idea how I was going to make any of it happen. 

About the same time, I jumped onto the power of attraction bandwagon. Among other books in the genre, I read The Circle: How The Power of a Single Wish Can Change Your Life, by Laura Day. Much of the book’s contents fades from my memory, other than the objective to write a description of my perfect life.

I wrote of a small cottage in a, quiet waterside community, where I would spend my days writing, in a cozy room tucked under the eaves. I’d shop at the market for the evening meal, that I’d share with my spouse. We’d go for walks or ride our bikes, smile and wave as we passed by others, knowing most everybody we saw—a storybook existence, to be sure. I wrote it in great detail, including the style of the house and furnishings, the shops in the village, the colors of the sunrise and sunset, and everything that happened each day between those hours.

I was a middle-aged divorced mom still raising the youngest of three daughters, running around like the proverbial chicken, but trying to keep my head on. Looking back, that morning hour of list making and wishing was my instinctual way of tending to myself. The completed lists of everything I was doing, even if it was just remembering to buy groceries, do the laundry, and pay the bills on time, were reassuring me that I was capable, that I would make it on my own. The wish lists for my future were a promise to myself that I could still have everything I dreamed of—I wasn’t a failure and it wasn’t too late.

Life carried on as it does. I remarried, I went to work and came home every day. My youngest daughter grew and left the nest, she and her sisters all did what children do, built a life of their own. Routine days and milestones passed and I took it all in stride. At some point, I ran across those early wish lists, tucked into an envelope, slipped into one of my journals, forgotten.

Or so I thought. As I looked over the lists, and then read the description of my dream life, I was astounded to see how much of it had come to pass, without having consciously thought about it and in ways I never expected. I am still in the very same home, and though I envisioned something quite different, I realize I have almost everything I wrote in that description, vine covered cottage included.

Did I make it all happen?  Of course I did; I made the choices and took the steps. But success isn’t always that easy. Many, many people want things they never get, many try only to fail. Far too many are blocked by institutionalized disadvantage, discrimination, and oppression . . . and yet there are those who overcome.

The power of thought is limitless. I like to remind people that everything in this world that did not spring forth naturally, began first with a thought; everything made by man or beast exists by the intention to manifest a thought into being.

But thoughts work in the opposite way as well. There is a common misconception about aerodynamics and the bumblebee, with wings too small to keep its chubby body aloft. It’s been used over and over again to inspire determination. And, it turns out to be wrong. Bumblebees move their wings in a different pattern that indeed makes flight not only possible, but scientifically sound. So there goes the inspiration, right?

Perhaps, but think about it this way. What if the bumblebee had listened to all the bad press, and formed the thought that it was true, that it couldn’t possibly fly and so didn’t. The only single thing keeping it from flight would be its own thought form—it’s belief and acceptance of something completely false.

My mentor is talking a lot about thought forms, exploring the idea that everything in our personal existence is a creation of our thoughts manifest in form. That’s a very simplistic way to frame her concept—it’s not an easy one to wrap my brain around, and I have no idea if it’s valid or not, but I’m traveling down the track with her. 

How much of what I believe to be true and irrefutable is really a result of the thoughts I form around it? Does the placebo effect prove this out? In a limited fashion, yes. But if I’m diagnosed with a fatal disease, can I think it away? If not, how do we explain those rare cases of people who have survived against all odds? A miracle, yes, but are miracles necessarily divine intervention from some unknown and powerful source? If that’s the case, the seeming arbitrary determination of who deserves miracles and who is passed over is troublesome to me. 

As a witch who stands loud and proud for social justice and equal rights for all, I have to walk this tight rope carefully. Saying the power of desire plus intention is limitless— if we can find the key to unlock it—is one thing. Saying we can wish all our troubles away if we just think positive is another. One is a willingness to explore the possibilities and put in the effort (practice, practice, practice) and the other is toxic positivity.

For now, I’m willing to believe that my thoughts have power beyond my current understanding. I’m willing to put forth the required work in action, and explore the possibilities. I’ll never know if I don’t try, and really, what can it hurt?


Rainy Days and Sundays

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The sun woke me early this morning. 

It’s always a welcome awakening. Shining through my east bedroom window the beam strikes the mirror (positioned to catch it) and light floods the entire room. For a few moments, I lay silent, letting the illumination fill me; it reaches into the shadowed corners of my psyche and I feel both hope and purpose propelling me to rise.

This morning, like most, I fed the cat, made my coffee and completed my morning devotionals, a changing mix including meditation, prayer, intentions, reading, and journaling. Now, I’m sitting in my quiet space and the clear sky has given way to gray clouds. I hear the sound of soft but steady rain and it evokes a different feeling than the sunrise, a calm sense of contentment and appreciation. I’m reassured that all I need is provided in balance, in light and dark, sunshine and rain, stars and moon in the black velvet night, joy and sorrow, growth and rest.

It’s not always so easy to remember this. Quiet mornings become busy days and the voices of doubt and fear speak louder to me than the silent proof all around me that the light always returns, the bounty of earth blooms every spring, that I live in a place and time where my needs are easily met, and my worries are mostly a foolish waste of my time in this life.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

~ Julian of Norwich

It’s sometimes difficult to wrap my brain around what the 14th-century holy woman intuited in her messages from the Saviour of her understanding, Jesus Christ. It’s not as simple as saying this too shall pass. I think more so it means that what we experience in our human existence as suffering—unmet need, loss, sorrow, pain, illness, and death, are as well in the fact of their existence as when they are overcome; all manner of things shall be well.

It’s from the sun and the rain that bounty grows, it’s from the adversity and the prosperity that we grow. All manner of things.

Each of us meets our metaphorical rainy days against the backdrop of our personal experience. I have buried four young men in our family, my step-son and three sons-in-law, the most recent just six months ago. The depth of that despair is now familiar to me and colors the lens of my perspective.

Friends wonder how I survive, how I go on. For some time, I thought I didn’t have a choice; the world goes on, the sun continues to rise every day, sometimes the rain falls. I am faced with the same challenges and triumphs I have encountered before, and will again in many guises.

But with such great loss, has come a gift of deeper insight. I now see that the joys and sorrow of life dress differently for everybody but are felt the same. I may be able to look at a mother who mourns the loss of a baby never held in her arms and know she cannot imagine the deeper sorrow of losing one she has known and watched grow, maybe to adulthood; it doesn’t matter because this is her greatest pain.

A parent or grandparent who has never stood at the graveside of a child they nurtured and protected, sees a future taken away by drug addiction or unwanted pregnancy, or debilitating illness or injury, and feels that loss as deeply. A spouse who cares for their dying partner, or one who watches, helpless as their marriage dies in divorce, each feel their pain as intensely.

Regardless of what measure they are dealt in, sorrow and joy are the two sides of the coin that is this life. They boil down to two known quantities—what am I afraid of, and what do I yearn for?

My fear of loss is great, it haunts me daily because I know how much more I could still lose, but the depth of that loss equally expands the boundaries of my yearning for joy, because I know how much more is still here within my reach.

A moment spent with my daughters in their otherwise busy lives, the mess of my grandchildren’s muddy boots in the entryway, the comfort of a warm cat sleeping in my lap, the light of the sun breaking through the clouds, all give me infinite joy. I have only to choose to embrace it.

That is how I go on, in sunshine or in shadow.


Simple Witchery — Part 1

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What is simple witchery? Perhaps an explanation of witchery, or practicing witchcraft, is first called for.

Truly, there are so many schools and styles of witchcraft, and so many more personal takes on each, that trying to even touch on all would be a herculean task and not at all in the spirit of keeping it simple. You have Google for that.

Know this, the first rule of witchcraft is to seek knowledge, always.

It may be easier to explain some of the things witchcraft is not.

Witchcraft is not devil worship. In witchcraft there is no devil of the widespread Christian understanding. Witchcraft holds that all that is good and all that is evil coexists within each of us, much as in the Cherokee story of the two wolves. Witches acknowledge and work with their shadow side to recognize, understand, and in most cases, temper its influence, or at least reserve it for specific use.

Spells are not conjuring or working with the devil. See above, there is no devil. Spells are focused intention, usually a petition or expression of gratitude. In that way they are not unlike a prayer. However, unlike prayer they are not always directed to a deity or spiritual entity. This makes them also like a mantra or positive affirmation. To whatever extent science confirms the success of positive thinking, self fulfilling prophecy, and fake it ’til you make it, it also supports the success of spell casting.

Spells are also science. Whatever science has proven about quantum physics, it proves the same about sympathetic (or correspondence) magic.

Ethical witches do not attempt to manipulate the free will of others. This is probably the number one rule among true witches and translates to the shorthand, “You do you.” It applies to how you practice your craft, and all the personal choices you make both in magical and every day life. A coven or other gathering of witches may have guidelines and rules, but those are upon your voluntary membership—if you are accepted and join (initiate) you agree to this and that.

This is why most witches worth their salt will not cast a love spell to inspire or change the feelings of a specific person. A love spell is worked either on yourself to prepare you for the right relationship when it comes along, or to appeal to the powers that be (energies) that the right love be sent your way.

Witches do not always belong to a coven. Many witches practice their craft as solitaries. Take appropriate cautions if you join a coven, as you would joining any group of people you don’t otherwise know, remembering that a coven is considered a family bound by oath—you will likely share vulnerability and deeply personal aspects of your life.

If a witch ever, in any situation, asks you to participate in something that goes against your values and ethics, get thee away from said witch(es) post haste and never, ever return.

So, while were on the subject of covens and groups . . .

Sky clad (naked) ritual is not necessary. It is practiced by solitary witches and covens, but you don’t fail at being a witch if you don’t dance naked under the moon, or in the hot tub or whatever else may be the setting for stripping down. The reason for sky clad ritual is to show to the deity God/Goddess that you come in perfect love and trust with nothing to hide. It also demonstrates the same to your coven.

Again, if you join a group or a coven that does make sky clad ritual a required part of their group practice, it should be stated up front and understood. You can and should decline joining if it makes you uncomfortable. You should also leave any coven in which you feel there is an abusive element to naked ritual. I do not practice sky clad; for one thing, it’s too dang cold six months of the year in my realm to even consider it.  I doubt that I would ever join a coven that requires it—but never say never!

There is no rule against personal gain. Other than those which apply to dishonor and greed in every day life. So go ahead and cast that spell for a raise, or promotion, or the winning lottery numbers. It never hurts to try.

There is no threefold rule. Other than the every day concept that you get what you give, you reap what you sow, the golden rule, etc. The idea that whatever you send will come back to you times 3 is part of the folklore, crafted by some of the early, modern day witches. However, do not take this lightly, every witch has a story to tell of the spell that manifested with consequences not anticipate, even though they thought they had considered every possible outcome.

There isn’t even a rule of do no harm. That too, was written in by the modern day practitioners. Ethical witches are also just ethical people; we practice under the same real world laws of nature, physics, human emotion, and civil laws as everybody else. The important thing to remember here is our belief that all life is connected and what we do to any one, we do to all, including ourselves. For deity witches, there is also the belief that every living thing harbors the Divine within, and so to harm any is to harm the Divine. “As above so below, as within, so without, as the universe so the soul.” ― Hermes Trismegistus

Before we leave this concept, all witches believe in complete acceptance of the consequence of our actions. We do not deflect, we do not whine, we do not say, “Woe is me.” To know this down to our bones, greatly governs our actions.

Witchcraft in and of itself is not a religion. Wicca is a recognized religion, but not all witches are Wiccans. In fact not all witches practice the craft as a religious/spiritual practice. Some practice strictly as magic, magic being the understanding of the laws of nature and the physical world, and using that understanding to create (manifest) their intention, to the extent that many modern day witches study quantum science and string theory. Some witches are simply on a path of personal betterment without high magic.

Many self identify as folk, garden, hedge, herbal, kitchen, or green witches (not referring to skin color, but working with nature elements). Others identify by the deity they primarily worship, such as Hekataen witches, Dianic witches, etc. There are traditions pertaining to pantheons, such as Celtic, Norse, Italian, Slavic, etc. This is a comprehensive list.

Witchcraft is not all about the magick, but the magick is fun. First, magick with a  K differentiates the craft of the witch from the art of illusion practiced by magicians.
Magick is real. Think of it this way. Fire was magick to the ancients – sent by the gods in lighting bolts. It remained magick until they discovered the science behind fire, until some astute being observed that friction could also create fire and that s/he could create friction. And so it went until we were cooking with gas, not to mention short wave radiation! Magick happens all around us, understanding how it happens allows us to discover ways of harnessing it.

And while we’re on cooking . . .

Cooking is magic by definition. Taking any number of ingredients, applying either heat, cooling or some physical action, to arrive at an end result that is more than just the sum of its parts, is alchemical magic. Take the simple act of whipping egg whites into meringue, or churning milk into butter. Or combing milk, butter and sugar to make caramel. In a time before these things were common skill, they were first magick. Once upon a time, only nature could make a diamond, but not any longer.

Your near ancestors were witches. Women mostly, but men also, were kitchen, hedge and hearth witches, they were water diviners, weather predictors, and tillers of soil. Whether they called themselves such or not, their ways were the ways of the witch, they worked with the seasons, natural elements and physics. They practiced folk remedies and cures with plants and herbs. They tossed salt over their shoulders, hung symbols in their homes, planted their gardens and harvested their crops by the moons. Some of their traditions were part of a religious faith, but not all of them were. They lived with an understanding and working knowledge of the physical world around them.

Witch, as we know it, is a word and concept that was created by the early patriarchal religions of the world to wrest the power of a relationship to the natural world, divinity and faith, and cultural belief, from the hands of the masses. Power was shifted to the governing body of the church. Pagans were simply the unlearned, unbaptized country folk in the beginning—the simple folk. Most often, when they were persecuted, tortured and murdered, it was for ulterior agendas (such as property and land grabs) or out of ignorant fear.

As I said in an earlier post, my practice of witchcraft is a reflection of my reverence for the Divine signature in all living things, especially humanity. It is an ongoing effort to rise above ego and seek the greater good. My practice is rooted in the simple faith that there is something bigger than myself, bigger than humanity, bigger than this life as we know it. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I aspire to connect with it, because when I do, when any witch does, we are woke to the knowledge that God and Love are one and the same.

Blessed be and journey well.

Click here to read Simple Witchery — Part 2


Simple Ritual

As I move further along in my journey of  aging, along my path to becoming Crone, I notice that my life is less and less compartmentalized. Every aspect informs every other aspect. This doesn’t feel like an energy of diminishment, or downsizing. It feels like expansion, like the dissolving of walls, the removal of masks. It feels like integration and simplification, like becoming the one true self.

I haven’t exactly made my spiritual practice these past years a secret, but I also didn’t wear it like a tattoo. I’m still doing neither, but I am acknowledging it as a part of my complete picture. In case you’re wondering what my practice might all involve, this short video that came across my social media feed is close, although a little heavy on the ritual side even for this old Catholic girl raised in the rites and regalia of the Roman Church.

My spiritual practice is a connection to the Divine, whether called by Great Sprit, God, Goddess, Yahweh, Allah or the many names one may choose from. It is a partnership with the natural world and laws of nature that contain me in this life. It is a reverence for the existence of the Divine signature in all living things, especially humanity. It’s an ongoing endeavor to rise above ego and seek the greater good.

You can call me a witch, I won’t be offended, but I hesitate to call myself that. I’m not what you see in pop culture portrayals. Neither am I an epitome of evil, caught in satan’s grasp as most religions would have you believe. I am not Wiccan—which is a recognized religion. The saying goes: All Wiccan’s are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. It means we don’t all practice as religion.

I like to keep it that simple. I know all the magic, how to use the props, how to conduct a high ritual—I am in fact an initiated Priestess. But don’t need any of that. I can just as easily go to the forest, or the shore or hillside and open my heart, mind and soul to the messages that will come. I can sit at my kitchen table, light a candle and listen.

I can do this, because I have learned the more intricate ways, because I have sought out spiritual knowledge on many levels, because I have done this since I was that child in Catholic school, and then that young adult who wanted to know more about other faiths, and that mature woman who wondered how and why the feminine aspect of divinity was lost. In my searching I found the common threads woven through all faith beliefs.

And now the lines that separated it all into this or that religion are dissolving and it is simply faith. Faith that there is something bigger than me, bigger than humanity, bigger than this life. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I aspire to connect with it because when I do, when any of us does, we are woke to the knowledge that God and Love are one and the same.

But I am not through learning. I will not be through learning until this life is done, and I suspect not even then. To be a witch is

  • To Know
  • To Will
  • To Dare
  • To Keep Silent*

Blessed Be and Journey Well

A Simple Samhain Ritual

*In times and places of persecution to keep silent is for protection. But it also means to refrain from arrogance, to keep your own counsel, and most importantly, never to proselytize.

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Call to the Hunt

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such. little. men.

imagine
a woman unfettered by writ
pressing her down
crushing her spirit
taking her life

at least
the one she wanted
at most
the one she deserved

they piled rocks on witches
squeezed out words
foresworn until last
gasping breath
pressed out
Deny or confess!

held women down
drowned lungs with water
taunting
tempting
Witch save yourself!

set fire at feet
listened to screams
words seared
into throats
burned

life was the price
for the mistake
of wanting
her own
say

still now
how
little men
have
little changed
their skill at killing
women having
their own
say


By the Numbers & In the Cards

Numerology Path 8

Visit http://www.buildingbeautifulsouls.com for more numerology

For a good long time in my life, I have been fascinated by the mystical—blame it on my Catholic immersion, nine years of elementary education in a Catholic school attached to a diocese cathedral. Throw in a smattering of attendance at my father’s Christian Orthodox church and you’d be hard pressed to find a more acceptable and mainstream model of ritual and magic.

Yes, magic. All of the elements of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Mass, the candles, the incense, the regalia and adornment, the chanting and repetition—all of it correspond to magical ceremony. And the high holy grail of it all?  The changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through intention, played out in a very precise ritual? That’s alchemical high magic, baby.

Still, I am a skeptic of things spiritual; whether you call it miracle or magic, afterlife or ghost realm, as much as I want to believe it all exists, I can’t quite get there. I want solid proof.

The funny thing is, I’ve had more than a fair share of personal experiences that strongly support the mystical and paranormal, too many in fact, to list them here. But like Thomas who would not believe in the risen Christ until he could poke his finger in the wounds, I want indisputable proof. I want to see my brother or my parents materialize before me and hear at least one of them tell me something nobody on this earth knows.

My doubt doesn’t stop me from being intrigued and entertained with it all. I’ve developed a sort of take on things that fits into my rigid box. Magic happens when we access parts of our deep, reptilian brain, our rooted animal instinct. I beieve the observance, connection and logical predictions occur on a level so deep we aren’t even aware of them.

But there is an uncanny accuracy to these metaphysical means of receiving information that twangs my radar for magic afoot. I’ve had my share of hours on a therapist’s couch and as far as knowing how I tick, what my motivations and my needs are, I have to say my astrological birth chart gave me all the same information at far less the time and expense. Although, I think it’s obvious, therapy serves other purposes beyond just understanding how you tick.

I don’t read my daily horoscope, instead I prefer using a tarot deck. Even though I lean way over in the direction of tarot for entertainment, it seems more than coincidence that out of 78 cards, through the years and years of drawing from the deck, I’ll see the same ones coming up over and over again. There are cards in my deck I have never drawn for myself, but they will turn up when I’m reading for somebody else. How does that happen?

Today I found myself in a conversation about using numerology to find one’s personality and soul path cards in the tarot deck. Numerology is fun, I long ago found my birth number is 8, arrived at by adding the numbers of my birth date sequentially and then adding the two digit result to arrive at a single digit.

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Star card as depicted in Rider Waite tarot deck.

There is a twist, though, when applying it to the tarot deck. Since there are 21 major arcana, only numbers above that are combined down to one digit. So my 17 corresponds to the Star in the tarot deck. One card short of the Moon, which I would have preferred. But then, my mother planned my birth date (and those of all my siblings, there’s a whole other story in this) to fall on her mother’s birthday, a day later than I actually arrived. A number that would link me with the moon. Those who know me well, know the significance in that.

In tarot, the major arcana cards lay out a journey of sorts, beginning with the Fool, who is all about youth, energy and adventure, jumping in with both feet, never testing the water first. Innocent and unscarred, the Fool is childlike, joyful and ebullient. The Star comes along after the Tower. The Tower is a total shake-up of everything, a reversal of what’s been, the representation of it all coming down—or tearing it all down.

The Star is a transition into the next leg of the journey, the first step in a more spiritual path toward enlightenment after traversing some of the harder knocks (lessons) in life. It’s often interpreted as having faith, believing that everything has meaning and happens for a purpose. The Star is a card of hope.

My soul path reverts to the added digits, or 8. This is the Strength card, something that surprised me at first. The first time this card ever turned up for me in a reading was just recently. I don’t think of myself as strong, but in honesty I have to say that I rarely let anything defeat me if I can help it, a trait that causes others to label me stubborn. I am an Aries (the ram), fiery and determined.

What’s even weirder though, is that some decks put the Justice card at this position, the only two cards that can vary from deck to deck. My father wanted to send me to law school. Turns out I should have listened—I realized too late that I would have made a great lawyer, and would have loved it. Instead, I write murder mysteries, which is way cool too.

According to this Star and Strength combination, I am the epitome of eternal hope. Strength is a fire card fanned by the air of the Star. If that translates to never giving up, never letting anything or anybody keep me down, if it means lighting fires under myself and others, then yeah, it’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

But, I don’t believe this stuff really works . . . it’s all just coincidence, right?

 

 


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