Category Archives: WITCHCRAFTING

Doing It All In Spite of Your Self

Image by Peter Lomas from Pixabay 

Many years ago, as a wife and mother of three young daughters, with aging parents living next door, I awoke one morning to the normal sounds of my daughters getting ready for school. Instead of getting out of bed, I uncharacteristically pulled the covers up under my chin, giving in to my desire to ignore the call of yet another busy day.

My husband worked rotating shifts; he was on the early watch that day. With a 45 minute commute, he was up and out of the door before dawn, having made his own breakfast. It was the one indulgence I’d claimed from the beginning of our marriage. I’ve never minded rising early, but my brain doesn’t fully engage for an hour or more. Trying to make breakfast is comical at best, sometimes even dangerous . . . cooking with gas. Tea and quiet contemplation are more my style.

This day, I begged off getting breakfast for the girls and overseeing their morning rush, saying I maybe had a cold coming on. I had that tell tale achey and fatigued feeling, despite having slept through the night.

The girls ate cold cereal and got themselves out the house and down the driveway to the school bus. Eventually, I had to get up and into my day, but when I tried, my back seized in pain, paralyzing me in place. Living on our little hobby farm, with large garden, a small menagerie of livestock and heating our home entirely with wood, any number of daily chores may have been the cause of my pain.

Even the slightest movement was excruciating. Anybody whose ever had back pain realizes very soon how much of our movement is supported by the back—it hurts even to breath. All I could manage was to roll to the edge of the bed and drop to the floor. I crawled on my hands and knees to the phone, to call my mother for help.

At the ER, a breif exam and X-rays revealed nothing more than severe spasm of the major muscles in my back (oh is that all?), and a bit of spinal misalignment. I was fitted with a soft support brace and scheduled for physical therapy. It ended up being months of therapy—six before the pain wasn’t a constant companion and nearly a year before doing even light work didn’t cause a flare-up.

It was that incident that started my journey to self care. I was the “backbone” of our family. I kept everything running, kept everybody on schedule, provided comfort and nurturing for my growing family and companionship for my aging parents. I worked out of the house part-time, but was home when my children were home. I cooked, cleaned and was responsible for most household maintenance as my husband work hours were long and demanding.

I didn’t just “have it all” as they promised young women of the day, I was doing it all . . . all by myself. I didn’t realize exactly how ego driven my need to be needed was.

The Natural Remedy Book for Women, by Dian Stein, introduced me to the idea that our body’s dis-ease is often the best clue to where we are suffering imbalances in our life. It sometimes takes a little detective work. For example, the skin is a barrier for the body, hinting that unexplained skin conditions could be the symptom of poor emotional boundaries. Chronic sore throats or difficulty swallowing may indicate feeling unable to speak freely or to call out untruths as you see them (a lot to swallow).

For years, even before my marriage, I was the fixer, the family mediator, the one jumping in wherever I saw the need to smooth things over, or maintain harmony. I was carrying the load, physically and emotionally, for too many who were willing to let me. And who would blame them? I was filling all the space, patching all the cracks before anybody had a chance to see them.

I didn’t know how to step back and leave enough room for others to step in. When my back gave out on me, I had no other choice.

It would be even more years before I awoke to the ways of witchery, and still more before I delved into my shadow work, where I would begin to understand that my desire to make others happy is a desire for their appreciation. I am a praise junky, no doubt because my parents showed love through expressing appreciation, whether for a job well done, a story or joke well told, a kindness given—any notable action or accomplishment. A high achiever, I became an expert at cultivating heaps of praise.

My default for receiving love is co-dependent, basing my sense of worth on what others tell me is valuable to them. I’ve learned to resist my first impulses to jump in and save the day, but it’s like fighting any addiction—my craving for acknowledgment and appreciation is always gnawing at me. Before I offer help, I have to ask myself if I’m doing it only for the praise I might get, and would I still do it if I knew for certain there would be no pay-off.

I once cooked meals for a woman after she’d done me serious harm that effectively ended our relationship. Her husband was dying of cancer. She was working full time and couldn’t quit her job. She’d asked among her friends and family if somebody could make meals that she could easily reheat at the end of her long days.

Nobody else responded to her need for this small comfort, so for several months I cooked a week’s worth of meals at a time, arranging for a mutual friend to deliver them to her. It was one thing she needed that I was capable of giving. If there were never a single word of thanks, I knew, without questions how much those meals would be appreciated.

I’ve also learned there are healthier ways to channel my penchant for trouble shooting, as I did when working as an events coordinator—there’s always at least one fire that needs dousing at every event. And there are far more enjoyable ways to receive accolades, like performing in community theater for one.

My mother used to say I’d cut off my nose to spite my face. As a headstrong and persistent teenager, I didn’t understand what she was trying to tell me. I spent a good part of my life, bending over backwards, doing cartwheels and handsprings, trying to get people to do the same for me. It’s taken me a long time to figure out I could put all that energy into giving myself what I need, instead of begging others for crumbs.

You don’t have to love yourself before others can or will love you; but if you don’t love yourself at least as much as you expect others to love you, there will be an emptiness in your heart that remains unfilled.


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.”


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