Category Archives: SIMPLE WITCHERY

Grounding and Centering

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

For years I read and listened to the accounts of successful people who begin every day by collecting their thoughts, setting intentions, and mentally preparing for the day ahead. Nice luxury, I thought.

Recently, I decided to give it a go. I took a thirty day challenge to ground and center every morning, first thing, no excuses.

I knew if a daily practice was going to work for me, it had to be meaningful, not rote. To that end, it could be as long and elaborate as I liked; I work from home, my children are long since grown, and gone and my spouse is self-sufficient.

On the other hand, I was certain if it was too elaborate, I’d be tempted to skip it on busy mornings—like the day I was scheduled for lab work before 8 a.m. at a clinic 40 miles from my home.

Sunrise is my time of day, whether I’m up and about in the wee hours, or still lying in bed when dawn breaks, that first ray of sun cutting across the room, coming to rest on a table or dresser, awakens me.

“Light of the world, a new day dawns. Renew my spirit, awaken me.”

Those words became the first line of my morning prayer that begins my daily devotion. The prayer includes setting an intention for directing the energy I give and receive “this day” to a higher purpose and greater good. I follow with my grounding and centering cued to these words:

“Mother earth, supporting me, Father Sky, lifting me, Grandfather Sun, igniting my spirit, Grandmother Moon, lighting my compassion, guide me on my journey.”

As I speak the words, facing the sunrise, I ground my energy to the earth and extend it to the upper world (heavens, deity or higher self—as you believe). I then spread my arms outward, centering the energy in my heart. I finish by folding my hands at my heart and bowing my head. Standing in the prayerful position, I finish with my gratitude to the Creator.

Short and sweet, completed in a few minutes, and quite rote despite what I’d intended—not unlike the prayers I learned as a parochial school girl, rattled off in church every week. Yet, there are significant differences. The words of my devotion are my own and heartfelt, I am deliberately present as I speak them (in a way I wasn’t as a school child), and the memorized recitation is a mere warm-up to the real meat of my daily devotions, that being 20-minutes or more of meditation.

Busy days crowded their way into my month, more mornings that I had to be out the door and on the run early. I let the meditation slip some days, or fit it in later in the evening, but I never missed the brief, memorized prayers. It turns out, those moments of grounding and centering were what made the difference in my days.

Yes, the prayers are a preamble, enhancing what immediately follows, but the simple words, the deliberate connections, support me throughout the day. Going through the motions, speaking the words, creates a memory, a touchstone in my body and mind. In difficult moments I can call on the energy to remain grounded, centered and balanced. But even when I’m not consciously aware, the energy is there, within me.

There are numerous methods for grounding and centering, including mundane, magical, and religious. For the simplest approach, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, close your eyes and relax your breathing. Scan your body for any areas of tension, take a deep breath and release the tension on the exhale. Repeat until your body is completely relaxed.

Call to mind a calming image—it can be anything that makes you feel peaceful. Focus on the image and your breath, allowing the weight of your body to sink. Feel your feet on the floor, your thighs and back against the chair supporting you. Then imagine a beam of white, or pale violet light extending from the crown of your head. The light energy flows both ways, reaching up to the higher realm and coming back to you.

Next imagine drawing up energy from the earth, while drawing down from the upper world. Envision these meeting near your heart, then expanding out in every direction. With each inhale, see the light glowing and growing until it surrounds you, like a sphere. Imagine this light sphere in the center of body, mind and spirit, made visible and drawn out to encompass you, almost as a force field.

Image by LillyCantabile from Pixabay 

When you are finished, see the light growing smaller, until it becomes a tiny orb, nestled between your heart and solar plexus. Take three deep breaths and open your eyes.

You can envision any color you choose for your light. White contains all colors, and is also associated with cleansing and purifying. A warm yellow or golden light is healing. Explore chakra energy centers and colors for more about working with the energy meridians of your body.

Try starting your day off with your own, simple grounding and centering ritual.


Ritual Bath for Purification

Image by Tesa Robbins from Pixabay 

There are a good number of reasons, both physical and spiritual, for indulging in a purification bath.

  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling a virus coming on
  • Releasing physical and emotional stress
  • Releasing residual gunk during or after spiritual attunement and upgrades
  • Preparing for magickal ritual

What You Need

You’ll want to take your ritual bath in a sparkling clean bathroom. Bath salts added to your water draw out toxins (see below). Drinking water or herbal tea keeps you hydrated, but also facilitates the release of toxins and miasma. Plan for about an hour of undisturbed time. If you want the whole spa experience you’ll also need a supply of soft, fluffy towels, a robe, candles(s) and music.

Preparation

Like any magick, the more care you put into preparation the better your results. Start clean—this goes for your bathing space and your body. While there is a physical detoxing effect, a purification bath works primarily on a energetic and spiritual level; it’s not a time for personal hygiene.

Using natural based cleaners for your bathroom surfaces sets the tone. There are many good commercial products available. Or you can simply add I cup of white vinegar, orange and lemon rind, and 10-12 drops of tea tree or pine essential oil to a gallon of warm water. If you need an abrasive agent, use baking soda and salt in a 5 to 1 ratio (5 TBS soda, 1 TBS salt). Sprinkle on surfaces, scrub with a soft cloth and then wash away with the pre-made vinegar solution. Rinse all surfaces thoroughly.

When your bathroom is sparking clean, use incense or smoke/smudge of your choice to clear the space and consecrate it to your purpose. Start at the door and moving counter-clockwise (deosil), direct the smoke around the space, being sure to reach into corners, cabinets and drains. Douse the incense or herbs and flush. Clearing space leaves a void, it’s important to fill the space with the desired energy. Moving in clockwise direction, consecrate your space with a simple intention spoken aloud. Something like, “Bless this space, clean is pure. Restorative energy awaits me here.” Adding sound boosts the intention, so use your rattle, bells, a drum, or clap your hands.

The Ritual Bath

Step into the shower for a quick rinse before your bath. Using a loofa or body brush, buff your skin vigorously. This increases circulation at the surface and will aid in moving toxins from your body. Finish with long strokes in one direction moving away from your heart—from shoulders down to fingertips, from hips down to feet (dont’ forget your soles!), and down your back if you can. Rinse thoroughly. Alternately, you could do a black salt scrub (find DIY scrubs on Pinterest).

The Bath

Rinse tub, fill with warm to hot water. Add the following:

  • 1 cup Epsom’s salt
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • Several drops of lavender essential oil
  • A few drops mint essential oil, or fresh mint sprigs.

If you don’t have essential oils or prefer not to use them, you can purchase lavender and mint Epsom’s salt in larger pharmacies or discount stores. Or use fresh mint, available in the produce department of many supermarkets. In a pinch, use mint tea bags and dried lavender (you can put both in a coffee filter, gather into a pouch and secure with string, then drop in the water).

Light candles, cue the music (both optional) and slip into your bath. Submerge as much of your skin surface beneath the water as possible. Tuck a rolled towel behind your head for comfort. Place, cool moist teabags on your eyes for an extra treat—camomile is great, but plain black or green tea bags work.

Relax for 20 or 30 minutes. Sip your water or tea to stay hydrated. Visualize all toxic energy, tension, or gunky miasma leaving your body and completely dissolving in the water. Use a visualization of a protective boundary for your body, what you are releasing cannot renter . . . it’s strictly one way.

When you’re ready to leave your bath, drain the water while you’re still in the tub. Visualize everything your body and spirit has released going down the drain. Step out of the tub, wrap yourself in towel, then your robe. Spend another 20 minutes relaxing (in bed, on the sofa, or in a recliner). Do a body scan, focus on the feeling of relaxation and cleared energy.

Stay Hydrated

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay 

Lemon, mint and ginger all help to move toxins from your body. Add fresh or dried ginger, mint, and lemon slices to filtered or sparkling water, or buy as tea and brew a quart using one bag of each. Drink the detox blend only during your bath. Afterwards, switch to water with lemon only.


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?


Witching Up a Recipe

Nothing says summer picnic to me like sweet and tangy pickled beets. You can buy your fried or broasted chicken at any number of fast food places. Purchase a pint of potato salad at the deli counter, and pick up a watermelon from the produce stand. But pickled beets—really good pickled beets, are a work of kitchen magic.

My mother was an excellent cook, the kind who used a pinch of this and a dash of that, a few cups here, a handful there—stir and taste until it’s just right. When she cooked from scratch the results were five star.

She was also a busy woman and her forte was “doctoring” things up. That meant sometimes starting with store bought sauce, packaged macaroni and cheese, or other convenience packaged, canned, or frozen mainstay. Then she added her own magic touch. I do the same, but I prefer to call it witching things up.

Back to the beets. My mother made, hands down, the best pickled beets I’ve ever tasted. Judging from the request she received for the recipe, they are the best pickled beets just about anybody has ever tasted. And it takes less than 10 minutes to make them.

Refigerator Pickled Beets

  • 2 Cans Sliced Beets (with liquid)
  • I Medium to Large Onion
  • 1.25 Cups White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Quart Jar (with cover)

Pour juice from both cans of beets into saucepan, about 1.5 cups. Add generous 1 cup, (up to 1.5 cups) vinegar. I use half apple cider and half white vinegar; I like my pickled beets a bit tangier than they are sweet. Add sugar sliced onion and cloves. Bring to boil. Fill jar to 1/4 with canned sliced beets, then pour brine with onions to cover. Repeat this process until jar is filled, alternating beets and liquid with onions. Cover jar, let cool then put in refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before serving. If you can, wait a little longer to give the flavors a chance to develop and blend—it’s worth it. These will keep several weeks in refrigerator—but once you open the jar you’ll eat them all before that.

I alternate adding beets and liquid into the jar simply to distribute the onions throughout. You can add more vinegar or sugar to your personal taste, and yes, taste the brine while cooking until you get it just right . . . I wouldn’t know any other way to cook.

You can make this recipe with fresh beets, and I’m not going to argue that it will enhance the already delicious ambrosia. Simply clean, peel and precook the beets, and use the beet water. But honestly, if you buy a good quality of canned beets this recipe is hard to beet (lol) for it’s flavor and ease of preparation.

It’s up to you whether you share the bounty—or share the secret ingredient . . . “You’ll never believe I made it with canned beets!”

When I’m asked what the secret is, I just say, “It’s magic.”


Simple Witchery Part 3 — The Four Pillars of Witchcraft

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To Know,
To Will,
To Dare,
To Keep Silent

 

What does that mean for a practicing witch? These are the four governing principals of the practice of all witchcraft. Each is simple at first glance, and means just what you would think, to have knowledge, to be willing to apply that knowledge, to dare to test your limits, and to keep it all under your pointy little hat.

However, they issue a deeper command even in simple witchery.

To Know: As I touched on in Simple Witchery parts 1 and 2, the highest order of business for a witch is know self above all else. Does this mean I have to embark on a quest, submit to extensive therapy, unpack all my bags and rattle the skeletons out of my closet before I can be a practicing witch?

No. But it does mean that a large part of your on going practice is devoted to knowing what makes you tick, why you do what you do, why you want what you want—the unvarnished truth. This is mostly because witch crafting works with intent, and if you don’t know your motivations, your intent can backfire. In fact, it will backfire . . . every witch has at least one story of learning that lesson.

I spent years as a personal development coach. I helped clients discover their motivational style, to more easily understand their desires and choices. When taken down to the lowest common denominator we are all motivated by fear and reward, with each at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In a very simplistic example, if a bartender took the job because the tips are good and s/he needed to pay the rent, that leans toward a motivation of fear—afraid of being homeless. If s/he took the job because of s/he likes meeting people, loves to talk and listen, and finds the atmosphere energizing, in other words s/he loves the job, that is much closer to reward motivation.

The example above just touches the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it works. As a witch, do I want to cast a banishing spell because someone is truly causing me harm, or because I’m a little jealous of them, or annoyed by their needs or . . . (take your pick).  In such cases, it might be far better for me to work on myself, and if I cast any spell, to make it one for tolerance. At the very least, if I go ahead and work a banishing, knowing why I’m doing it will allow me to make it more effective.

A final note here; magic is not always the right or best solution and you have to know that too. Exhaust all mundane (non-magical) solutions first. Instead of casting a binding spell on a coworker who is bothering you—confront them in a calm and logical way. If that doesn’t work, take it up with human services.

So the first thing to know is yourself, the real you, the true you—warts and all as they say. Then, there is knowing the craft, the history of it, the thought leaders past and present, and the mechanics of it. There is only one way to achieve this and that’s research, research, research. If you’re a joiner, there are some great schools to be found online, and mentoring groups in social media. If you’re just starting out, I recommend finding somebody who is advanced and reputable, for some one on one mentoring.

There are many knowledgable writers at patheos.com. Circle Sanctuary is also another great source. Llewellyn is the largest publisher and book seller of pagan and witchcraft authors (among other genres).

As you can see, this To Know thing, is an on-going pursuit throughout the lifetime of a practicing witch. The wisest witch knows she doesn’t know it all and never will.

To Will: This is your intent. The magic of witchcraft is to actually will something to happen with focused intent through manipulating the laws of nature, human nature and physics. Let’s look at that word, manipulate, because it can have a negative connotation. 1.

handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.

“he manipulated the dials of the set”

So witchcraft can be described as skillfully managing, controlling or creating (manifesting) a desired outcome through knowledge of natural and physical laws.

The caveat with this one is to remember what Cyndi Brannen of Keeping Her Keys says (I’m paraphrasing a bit as she names a deity, rather than using the word magic)  “[Magic]  can not do for you, what it can not do through you.”  In other words, you can’t work magic to help you find the perfect job, and then not do everything in your (will) power to look for that job. You can’t cast a spell for needed money, and not be willing to work for that money.

Then, what do you need the magic for? Isn’t it all just willpower? Yes and no—mostly no, and you’ll understand this as you get better at making magic happen. It just works.

To Dare: For me, to dare means to take the risk, because being a witch is risky. We might not have witch hunts, persecution and death by drowning, hanging or burning at the stake . . . in most countries, but it’s still not all that safe to be a witch. Society doesn’t look fondly on witches, we live in the margins, we have truck with the undesirables—often we are their champions, sometimes we are them.

To dare also means to believe and to try. “Do I dare believe I can attain this, or create that with witchery?” And, “Do I dare believe I am deserving enough to have this power?” In this vein, to dare is to lay claim to your sovereignty, your divine-given right to strive for that which you desire. Your right to autonomy, your right to justice, your right to equality. Whether you are practicing in the broom closet (keeping your witchery secret) or you are a loud and proud witch – to dare means to take control of your own power and use it.

To Keep Silent: Again, pretty self explanatory on the surface. Historically, keeping silent meant to keep your practice secret, only share it with coven mates if you had them, It was self preservation. But there were, and are, family and legacy considerations for keeping silent too—just like secret recipes, a family might keep their particular ways only in the family, passing it down through the generations. This was often the root of the book of shadows and the grimoires.

In my opinion, it also means to be circumspect about your practice, being careful not to share with those who would misuse or cheapen it, who are interested because it’s a fad. Also, not to proselytize. The general rule of thumb is that somebody who seems interested in learning more, must ask of their own accord.

Finally, I see keeping silent as part of my personal spell work, in not broadcasting the spells I cast. Cast your spell, release the energy to do its work in the universe, and let it go, put it out of your mind. Keep your journal, or book of shadows, to write the spell and later note its success or failure. That is the way your practice grows and you become better at crafting spells and manifesting results.

I want to add one final note to this series on simple witchery—simple does not mean lazy. There is no room for lazy in effective witchcraft. Study, make time for devotion/meditation, practice the craft (work spells, keep notes, and track your practice). Prepare your spells carefully, researching correspondences, moon phases, and other influencing factors. In this way, a simple practice every day is better than an elaborate ritual once a month on full moon, or whenever you have time.

My vision for Simple Witchery is to help you create an effective practice that fits your lifestyle, your schedule, your resources and, yes, your finances . . . because the only thing you need to be a witch, is within you—your belief and your intent. The rest is window dressing.

Start where you are, go slow, and grow.

Blessed Be and Journey Well

Read Parts One & Two

For more Simple Witchery visit the MAD Goddess  Patreon site, where you’ll find lots of free content, and the opportunity to become a patron starting at $3/mo.


Witchy Wares: A Merry Little Gift List

I’ve been so busy in my northwoods realm I nearly forgot to share my list of witchin’ gifts for the holidays.

Topping my gift picks this year is anything from Sarah Ann Lawless’s newly launched herbal shop, Bane Folk. I have long been a follower of this folk herbal witch, watching her develop and refine her line of exquisite poisons into modern versions of historic flying potions and other products. Her mandrake ointment has been a wonder for easing the pain from my spinal stenosis.* Now that she offers 5ml tubes for sampling each of her six herbal salves, I can’t wait to try them all.Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 12.22.30 PM

The newest addition to her product line is her Poison Garden Perfume Collection. The website states, “Each poison garden roll-on perfume oil is crafted with the botanical extracts & essential oils of psychoactive and poisonous plants from the Artemisia and Solanaceae plant families.”

The size and price (a mere $4 +S&H) make this a perfect stocking stuffer.

*This is not an endorsement, recommendation, or suggestion for medical treatment.

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Listen, a witch can never have too many candles. For magics. I found these colorful beauties at Menorah(.com). Hand dipped using organic beeswax, they feature 100% cotton, clean burning wicks. Don’t be fooled by the picture, these diminutive tapers are only about 5 inches tall, but in my opinion that only lends to their magical uses. At $17.99 for a package of 45, it might be the best deal on this year’s list.

If you’re like me, scrolling through #witchesofinstagram, #pagasofinstagram and #castingspells on your Instagram feed turns you just a little bit green with envy. Some witches really know how to visually style a spell. While I’m waiting for the book of pretty spell casting to comeScreen Shot 2018-12-15 at 1.41.14 PM out (hint-hint Spell Bar), I find a lot of inspiration in the not-exactly-meant-for-witches magazine, Willow and Sage One year of four issues costs a dear price of $50 by subscription, a $2.50 savings per issue. It’s filled with how-to, ingredient lists and sources, and pages of visual eye candy for the home herbalist. A cleaver witch can see past the practical application and transform inspiration into beautifully laid spells.

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Of course, there’s much more to casting a good spell than meets the eye. This quirky little book, Composing Magic, by Elizabeth Barrette, covers the basics skills of  good writing and applies them to magical works. The easy to read format lets you jump around to areas of interest, such as spells, rituals, or a book of shadows, but the books flows from beginning to end with an easy to read style.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.05.07 PMI can’t leave without sharing my fountain pen pick of the year. I’m obsessed with these scratchy, inky, pens that harken to the past. This rose gold and aquamarine Ted Baker model is hard to come by, but a Google search will still lock in a few available for purchase. If you love it as much as I do, don’t dally!

Don’t forget the ink! Though this is categorized as a red, the shimmer in Diamine Red Luster gives it the appearance of a rich copper sheen.

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That rounds out my witchin’ gift picks for Yuletide 2018. Wishing you a bright and blessed Solstice Season.

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Simple Witchery — Part 2

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witch·craft
/ˈwich – kraft/
noun

synonyms: sorceryblack magicwhite magicmagicwitchingwitcherywizardry; spells, incantations.

I have to say I take exception to the rather archaic concept in the definition above specifically the descriptor, especially black magic. Most of the definitions I found with a simple dictionary search were equally as faulty.

Yes, some witches practice black magic, not all, and not even the majority. So why the inference that all witchcraft has a menacing element?

The persecution of witches (mostly women, but men too) is a time honored tradition of suppressing power. Not magkical power mind you, but that which resists the ruling powers of the prevailing institution. One very effective method to thwart opposition is to cast aspersions that create fear, and also promise repercussion for offenses. It plays out as convincing the masses that a witch is to be feared and reviled. It is a vehicle to prosecute and punish accused witches, up to and including death.

The rest of the definition, the casting of spells and use of invocation is accurate enough, if not amusing. By that definition, I was a witch sitting in the pew of the Roman Catholic Cathedral attached to the church school that I attended for 9 years—because if chanting litanies to the saints doesn’t fit the description of a spell, and calling forth the body and blood of a religious icon, a man who died over 2,000 years ago isn’t invocation of a spirit, then I guess I don’t know what is.

The largest misconception about witchcraft today is that is a religion.

~ Mad Goddess

Here is where I’m going to go off the rails because the further out of the broom closet I come, the more this is becoming my pet peeve. The largest misconception about witchcraft today is that it is religion. Some witches do intertwine their personal spiritual faith belief with their practice of the craft and in that way it fits the frame of religious practice.

The saying often goes, all Wiccan’s are witches but not all witches are Wiccan. It serves its purpose, but there are a few glitches even in that.

  • Wiccans are not the only witches who incorporate spiritual faith belief into their practice.
  • It is possible to practice Wicca without ever incorporating spell work, an essential component of witchcraft.
  • I know I can do spell work and invocations without a trace of religious trappings, or for that matter, belief in a supreme being; the only belief required is that in the properties of natural and physical laws, the properties of energy and the affect of motive and intention.
  • Finally, witchcraft can be practiced by those who follow a religious faith. Their faith may or may not approve, but otherwise, the two are not exclusive.

The least assumptive definition I found was, “The use of magic to help or harm people.”

Uhg. There is so much wrong with even that statement, some of which could be remedied by just dropping the last word. Yes, witchery (not necessarily magick) can and is used for both help and harm, depending on the practitioner—but help or harm can be directed to all things energetically connected by the web of life.

Witchcraft is the study and use of natural and physical law, for
the purpose of applying focused intent and personal will to a
specific purpose, and to manifest a desired outcome.

~ Mad Goddess

If any of those dictionary scholars were asking me (and they aren’t) this is what I’d tell them: Witchcraft is the study and use of natural and physical law, for the purpose of applying focused intent and personal will to a specific purpose, and to manifest a desired outcome.

A witch has a deep and abiding relationship with nature and the natural world, including an understanding that simply because many parts of the natural world are unseen to us it doesn’t mean we cannot enlist the aid of those properties and powers. In other words the belief that if E=mc², ( all physical matter consists of energy) that energy can be tapped into and used.

Many witches practice with a deity or deities, but even this does not a religion make. The major religions of the world call for belief in and worship of an all knowing supreme being (or beings) responsible for the creation and/or oversight of life as we know it, with the power to reward and punish our deeds. Witchcraft requires no such thing.

The practice of modern witchcraft, or neo paganism, primarily arises out of the desire to eschew the dogma and doctrine of organized religions, yet in many cases veers right back into those codes of behavior. Old habits and beliefs are hard to break; for those who were raised with prescribed religious practice it can be difficult to leave that aspect behind. Thus witchcraft and spiritual practice have become so enmeshed it can be difficult to tease one out from the other.

Working with the energetic qualities of archetypes and deities, gods, goddesses, prophets, saints or spirits, as opposed to worshipping or venerating and or submitting to the same, separates witchcraft from religious practice.

A witch might call on the energy of a particular animal to inspire its qualities, for example an Owl’s powers of observation. Indigenous American spirituality would describe it as calling on the animal’s medicine. Likewise, one could call on the energy or medicine of the ocean, the mountains, the sun, moon or stars, rocks and trees—as well as deities, spirits or human forms no longer of this realm; even archetypes and symbols have associated energy.

If witchcraft requires any faith belief, it’s the belief that all things have an energy that can be combined with our own to achieve a goal or manifest a desired result. Or, at the least the belief that we hold within our aspect the energy of all living things, each to be called forth as needed.

If either of those possibilities sounds a little crazy to you, consider how these concepts have permeated our culture:

  • He is the salt of the earth
  • She is an angel of mercy
  • I’m sly like a fox
  • WWJD – What would Jesus Do? What would your mother think? What would your father tell you?

All of these and many more are the calling forth of energy to our purpose. Of course, that alone does not make a witch. No more than my husband is a Catholic priest because he can still recite the entire mass in Latin (altar boy for three years). Nor I am Madonna because I can sing all of her songs. Yes that Madonna, not The Madonna—it’s okay for witches to have a sense of humor too.

You are not a witch until you know you are a witchTo Know is the first of the Four Pillars of Witchcraft*:

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

The meaning of the first might seem obvious—you have to know witchy things to be a witch. But this pillar also commands the witch to know thyself above all else. It is essential to know not only what witchcraft is, but why you choose to be a witch.

Whew! It sounds like simple witchcraft is anything but simple.

Think of it this way—it’s like playing the piano. You learn to read music, practice the scales, develop and ear for the the sharps and flats, you have to know how to play all the notes and chords. Where you take it from there determines whether you’ll become a virtuoso or play chopsticks the rest of your life.

There is nothing wrong with playing simple tunes the rest of your life, just as there is no failure in making simple witchery the entirety of your practice. It’s not necessary to have a working knowledge of the uses for every herb in the Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. You can do everything you need to do with herbs that are easily grown in your region or purchased (fresh or dried) at your grocery store.

Likewise, you don’t have to have one of every crystal and gem in your collection. A clear quartz crystal can be charged for any purpose. For that matter, a stone natural to your region holds scads of magick to be used.

Truth be told, you don’t even need that much. I’ll cover this in more detail in my next post—Everything You Need to Know About The Four Pillars of Witchcraft. Suffice it to say, the only thing you need to practice witchcraft is yourself and your intent. The rest is accoutrement.

My idea for simple witchery is to develop a practice easily incorporated into daily life, your daily life, because consistent practice is the key to effective practice.

Simple witchery is knowing that lighting a candle and invoking sacred space, is as effective as calling a circle and holding formal ritual. That drawing a magical symbol on a small stone to carry in your pocket, is just as effective (maybe more so), than a pricey, magical bracelet or amulet. That isn’t to say it’s okay to be a lazy witch (never putting much effort into your practice) or that you shouldn’t make fair exchange for the things you desire (it’s okay to buy the bracelet, purchased from the metaphysical shop).

Remember this; you will get as much out of your practice as you put into it—no more and no less.

Blessed Be and Journey Well

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