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Keeping the “I” in Witch

It’s Friday evening and you stumble home from another grueling work week. Your brain has assumed the consistency of tapioca pudding and the tightness in your neck and shoulders is showing no sign of letting up. Oh, no.  You suddenly recall that tonight is the full moon. Your magickal mind immediately turns towards ritual and communion,. Your body, however, is definitely unwilling,  What’s a witch to do?

We’ve all been there. Exhausted, stretched thin, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for witchcraft let alone taking care of yourself.  Yet we all know how important it is to take care of ourselves,  Our craft truly suffers when we are ill, run down, and energetically drained.  Still, we want, no need, to be there for our deities, our covens, and circles.  We are driven to practice, to connect with our magickal side. So how do we go about giving ourselves a well-needed rest, combined with a bit of pampering, and still practice our craft?  How do we keep the “I” in Witch?

In answer to that question I have listed below several ways you can give yourself the care and pampering your body and mind needs while still working on your craft.  Many of these require little to no special tools other than yourself and a few items you probably already have in your herbal cabinet or kitchen shelves.  Creating these items with intention and then allowing yourself to indulge in self-care will only strengthen you and your magick.

  • Give yourself an herbal bath:  Create a simple herbal bath with Epson salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oils such as lavender, rose, and sage.  As you add these into the water picture the ingredients taking away your cares and fatigue.  Relax in the warm waters and see the worries and stress sluicing off of your body and into the fragrant water. Arise from the bath feeling energized and refreshed and watch as the waters swirl down the drain taking with it your strife and lack of energy.
  • Meditate: Yes, meditation. It is one of the most beneficial and magickal ways we can pamper ourselves.  Even 10 to 15 minutes a day will make the world of difference in your mundane and magickal energy levels, not to mention the boost it gives to your general well-being.
  • Imbibe of the sacred chocolate: Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is a mood enhancer and anti-oxidant.  Magickal, and well, it’s chocolate.  Enough said.
  • Give your feet a good soak and scrub: If a full bath is not possible try a good foot soak and a sugar scrub. I always have a box of Epsom salts and “Mom’s” sugar jar that I have imbued with healing energies and stress relief.  On those stressful days I set the kettle on the stove to boil, set out the foot tub filled part way with cold water and add the salts.  When the hot water is ready I add it to my desired temperature. Then the bliss begins. Let your tootsies soak for a bit then grab a palm full of the sugar. Add a bit of the foot soak water to the sugar then start gently scrubbing your feet. Feel the stress slough off with each stroke, along with any rough spots and calluses. Rinse your feet when done, and as with the bath, watch the worry and stress flow down the drain as you pour out the water.  Ahh, the wonderful feeling of clean feet and no worries.
  • Listen to your favorite “Witchy” music: For me, nothing releases the stress, worries, and daily crap like listening to my favorite music, especially of the “witchy” kind.  My personal favorite, Stevie Nicks.  I turn it up load, sing, dance, and just revel in the beat and the sound.  Before you know it, stress be gone.
  • Indulge in a good cry: Yes, cry.  Talk your Deities.  Offer up your woes to their care. If you don’t work with the Gods then offer it to the Universe. Weep. Scream. Implore. Cry buckets. Get it all out. There is amazing therapeutic benefits loaded into a good cry.
  • Get a massage or Reiki treatment: Body and energy workers are some of the most magickal people I know, whether they realize it or not. They transform, transmute, move and manipulate the energies currently in our bodies,  changing them into something entirely different, something more beneficial.  A great massage therapist or Reiki practitioner will relieve you of your stress and replace that destructive energy with love and peace. If you haven’t had a treatment before I highly recommend one.  Don’t stop at just massage or Reiki.  There are many other healing modalities that are equally as beneficial. Explore and find one that works for you.
  • Soak in a hot tub in the light of the Moon:  If you are fortunate enough to own a hot tub or spa (alas, I am still saving up for this) a glorious soak under a full (or new, dark) moon is a fabulous way to relax and feel especially connected to the Elements and to your magick.  While the jets pulsate your tension away, the Moon will fill your essence with Its energies, renewing your body and spirit.

Life is full of stress, both in our mundane and magickal lives. Work, home, family, covens, kids, and responsibilities, all of these bring us both joy and stress.  How we handle that pressure can be magickal as well as practical. It is my wish that the few simple suggestions that I have made will aid you in placing that “I” back in witch. May your stress melt away and your magick forever thrive. Blessed Be!

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Mabon: Preserving the Harvest

The cooling breezes and turning leaves signal that once again the wheel of the year has turned towards the Autumn Equinox, also known as Mabon. This Sabbat, considered the second harvest of the season, was traditionally the time when farmers and home gardeners made haste to prepare for the coming winter.  The final seeds sown in the spring are now mature, ready. Golden grains are harvested and ground to flour. The hot summers have brought the fruits of the vine to perfect ripeness, overflowing our baskets with grapes and late berries ready to make into wine, juice, jams and jellies. Apples have ripened in many parts of the world along with pomegranates and early squashes. Harvested, they are stored in root cellars and basements, waiting to assuage the hunger of the cold winter nights.

Yet how many of us truly relate to the reality of this scenario?  The majority of us are city dwellers who do not get any closer to the work of the harvest season than a trip to the local farmer’s market or harvest festival.  Yes, we acknowledge the changing of the seasons with our rituals and circles, but the fear of the coming winters hold no sway. We are tucked snuggly in our city or suburban homes, larders full and pantries bursting.  We watch the leaves fall while sipping a nice California wine, eating Wisconsin cheese and Washington apples.  If the original intent of the season was the harvest and we no longer do so, what’s the point? Why celebrate this season at all if the meaning has been lost?

Harvests come in many forms. For many this season of Mabon has become one of spiritual harvests. Months ago, during the Sabbat of Ostara, the Spring Equinox, groves, circles and covens sowed the seeds of change, both in the physical and the spiritual realms. We planted our seeds with intention, giving birth to ideas and goals.  How did you nurture those seedlings, how did you make them grow?  What did you feed them during the summer?  Were those intentions watered daily? Was liberal spiritual fertilizer applied?  Did the warmth of your thoughts and meditations sprout those ideas or did you leave them unattended? Now at Mabon what does your harvest look like? Did it grow as you envisioned? How does that growth make you feel? Was it all that you expected? Is it ready to harvest? Should you have left it in the fields a while longer or perhaps have not planted it in the first place? Or like so many, did you forget what you had even planted to begin with?

Alas, while many of us will easily reap our harvests a great many in our communities can’t even recall what was sown in the Spring, let alone harvest the benefits. As busy as we all are in this day and age it is imperative to our spiritual harvests to keep records of that which we have planted.  Life happens, memories fade. Trust me, I have been guilty of this as well.  We complete our Ostara (or other Sabbat) rites, go on our merry ways, and forget. We get caught up in the magickal high of the circle and leave, unintentionally forgetting to take stock of the seeds we have just planted. We then neglect to add the necessary spiritual nutrients to our fields causing them to whither and die.  How can we nurture our crops and preserve our harvests if we’ve forgotten their contents? How do we watch our gardens of intentions grow and mature and be secure in the knowledge that our fruits will ripen on the spiritual plane? We write it down. Immediately.

Let’s hand out the dreaded 3 x 5 cards and pens to all ritual participants so they will be able to recall what they have planted.  Facilitators, add lines to the end of the scripted ritual for participant notes.  Our seeds, our goals, will then be made doubly manifest when we take these notes home and “plant” them in our Grimoires, Books of Shadows, and journals.  We will be able to refer back to those notes so as to monitor how our seedlings are growing. They can remind us of our intended crops so we may make the proper adjustments of light, water, and nourishment for optimum harvest.  At Mabon, we then preserve those harvests as we put pen to paper, inking the final words with regards to the quality and quantity of our bounty. We can then enter into the autumn and winter satisfied with the work we have done, ready to rest, ready to plan again for the coming spring.

Preserving our harvests is important but remembering what we have sown in the first place is vital.  By writing down, preserving our cycles of seed, seedling, plant and harvest, we remind ourselves of the beauty, the magick, of the changing seasons. As we continue to walk upon our individual paths, records of our traditions and practices, our sowings and our harvestings, are essential to our magickal and spiritual evolution. It is our sacred duty to preserve our knowledge, to preserve our seasonal and everyday harvests for ourselves and for the future generations of “farmers” to come.

May you be filled with the blessings of the season.   Happy Harvests!

 

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Witchcraft- Why hast thou forsaken me?

“So, you are a Witch.  That’s cool.  I used to be one too.  Now I’m (insert the path of your choice.)”

Cue the blank stare, jaw drop, and the inevitable, “Why?  Why did you leave Witchcraft? How?”

I have had several conversations along these lines. Every single time it has left me flabbergasted.  How do you stop being a Witch?  How does one make the decision to just stop? Why? Just why?

I realize that Witchcraft is not for everyone.  We all have our own paths to follow and sometimes that path takes us places we never thought  it would go. Where I have concerns during these conversations is how casually those I talked to had claimed, then abandoned, the title “Witch”.   Did they truly  understand what it means to be a witch? Was it the notoriety, the cool clothes, or the shock factor that got them interested in the first place.  Did they not have the proper training or were they even trained at all? Let me share with you some of the answers I’ve received when I’ve inquired as to why someone has left Witchcraft.

“Witchcraft is hard work so I stopped doing it.” –Yes, Witchcraft is work. You study, train, practice.  There are correspondences to memorize, rituals to write, books to study. We spend hours tapping into energies, meditating to open our minds, stirring the cauldron of our souls. We create on our own and with other witches. We network with like-minded people through festivals, workshops and classes. We experience, immerse ourselves in and practice our craft daily.  Witchcraft is not easy. But the rewards are immense.

“My spells didn’t look (work, make fireworks) like you see on TV or in the movies”- If I had a dime for every time I heard this one I’d be one rich witch.  While I’ve been a part of some pretty spectacular spells and rituals I have yet to see a big shiny spinning portal open up, sparkly stars shoot out of my cauldron, or someone “blink” from one spot to another.   But if that is what you were expecting Witchcraft to be you really need to put down the remote and get a reality check.

“I found out I couldn’t actually ride on a broom.” –Yes, really.  No words. None.

“I didn’t know that Witchcraft had rules. If I’d wanted rules I’d have stayed (insert mainstream path here). – Witchcraft does not have rules.  Certain traditions may have their own rules and regulations but Witchcraft does not.  If you came to Witchcraft through Wicca then yes, you may have been taught the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law, but these are guidelines, not rules.

My family and friends did not understand my path and ridiculed me.  – I am always devastated to hear that, but it is common.  Being a Witch is out of the norm. Many were taught that it is evil and an abomination.  This can be a difficult mindset to overcome and one many do not.  It takes guts, courage, and fortitude to throw aside the expectations and beliefs that have been drilled into us from birth to spring forth into a new reality.  Its often easier to give in. Much easier.

I waited and waited for a Goddess (or God) to choose me but they never did. –This one is more difficult to address.  Did they try to communicate or did the just expect one of the Gods to just jump in front of them and say “Hey, I pick you for my priest(ess).”  Were they of the “instantaneous, I want it now” mindset? Or did they not really understand the relationships between a Witch and the Gods? Many work for years without hearing the call of a Patron but have the privilege of working with many Deities. Many Witches don’t work with the Gods at all. For everyone it is different.  This is one of the things that makes Witchcraft so exciting.  We strive for connection with our Deities (or nature, the Universe, the All) through meditation and ritual.  They answer us in many different ways, we have but to listen. Carefully and patiently.

These examples are just a few of the most common (yes, most common) answers I get to my inquiry as to why an individual has left Witchcraft, why someone may feel that the Craft has forsaken them. While I can logically understand their positions (with the exception of that broom thing) these answers still leave me hollow, bereft.  I can’t imagine it, tremble at the thoughts that race through my head. How can one just leave Witchcraft? What is the reasoning behind the rending of the witch’s mantle? Why do some leave the Craft even after many, many years?  I’ve thought long and hard on the causes, the reasoning behind those who think the craft has forsaken them and I would like to address these issues.

What I have discoverd is that so many who leave the Craft seem to do so because of a lack of training, of guidance.  It can be scary when you are a newbie Witch to reach out and connect with others.  Finding an experienced teacher/mentor is even tougher. Witches usually don’t advertise.  Students are brought to us by word of mouth. If you are not connecting with other Witches and Pagans then it would be nearly impossible to hear about a good teacher.  Instead the fledgling Witch turns to books, hopefully the excellent ones.  Why this is a wonderful way to learn the basics of Witchcraft for many it just doesn’t work. Not everyone learns the same way. Some need face to face explanations and hands-on practice with a more experienced individual to feel confident in their skills. When they can’t find that person, they try to muddle through with what they have and eventually just give up.  This is tragic.  There are many sincere, talented people out there who would be a great asset to the community but we never connect and their talents are lost.

The second reason is clearly based on unrealistic expectations.  One cannot gauge a spirituality, a craft,  based on the fantasies shown in movies and television. Yes, many of us have used these shows as a catalyst in finding our callings and the Craft, but we truly did not expect that everything would be as fantastical and theatrical as we’ve seen on the big screen. It would be awesome if it did work like that all the time, but we understand that it is Hollywood, not true magick.  Those who leave because of reality of the Craft vs. Hollywood should probably reassess why they wanted to be a Witch in the first place.

And last, the pressure to conform is real.  Good thing Witches do not give a rat’s ass about conforming.  We are an open minded, rebellious, strong-willed, non-conformist bunch.   Yes, we have been pressured by friends and family, laughed at for our beliefs and ridiculed for being out of touch and in a fantasy world. We don’t care. We know who we are, what reality is and dare you to try and change our mind.

It is not easy being a Witch.  Anything worth while is not easy.  I for one shall never leave my chosen calling.  I will, however, always support those who do leave, whether I understand why they choose to do so or not. I will stand by their decisions regardless of how it personally makes me feel. Your life is yours.  I will never tell you that you are wrong in your choices.  I just ask that you show me the same consideration and understanding when it comes to mine.

May we all find our true paths, and be healthy and happy on them. Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

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Darkest Night

Darkest Night
A Poem for Hekate
By: Terry Lynn Pellegrini
©2016

In the darkest of nights, She lights my way.
Phosphorous, illuminating, brilliant one.
Torches held high, I follow.
Through my despair, through my apprehension
She leads me to knowledge, she leads me to joy.
And through my joy, She shows me life and what lies beyond.

Her torches burn through the forgotten fields of my soul.
Scorching that which has died, lain fallow, neglected.
Blackened earth and ash nourish the slumbering seeds of inspiration,
Pushing visions through the parched earth towards the moonlit sky.
I feel Her pull, Her presence quenching my thirst, slaking my hunger.

With Her keys, She unlocks for me the mysteries.
Invites me through the door and into the welcoming darkness I have forgotten.
Her hounds, black, menacing, ever at my side.
Guarding my steps, teeth bared, haunches taut.
Ever ready to protect as well as devour.
And they watch, as fears are defeated and yearnings are satiated.

And when I stand at the crossroads of my life, She comes.
Lighting the path of my existence, showing me the path to my destiny,
Gifting me with the secrets of life, death and beyond.
And I rejoice in the knowing of Her.
Giving freely of my heart, my devotion, my pain and my joy.

Hekate Soteria. Hekate Phosphorous.
She of the three faces. Guardian of the Crossroads.
She who stands as my Mother, my sister, my Goddess.
My teacher, my mentor and my muse.
Hekate. May I live a thousand years in your service.
May you be forever in my heart, my mind and my soul.
Hail Hekate!