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The Witches Garden: Part Two – Planting

Collage of planting a garden

Spring is finally here and in the California Central valley it is planting time. Part Two of our “The Witches Garden” series will discuss some of the ins and outs of planting our garden. From soil and amendments, to placing our seeds and tender plants into their pots and plots, let’s get our witches garden planted!

In Part One we decided what type of plants we wished to add to our gardens. We discussed the pros and cons of seeds versus purchased plants. Today I will walk you through both planting seeds and transplanting nursery seedlings. Let us begin by making sure we have the optimal bed for our new plants by looking at soil and fertilizers.

Soil for The Witches Garden

If you are going to be planting in raised beds or pots you will need to purchase a good quality, organic soil. Prices and quality vary greatly from area to area but I would suggest you purchase a soil that includes a combination of the following ingredients:

  • Compost
  • Worm castings
  • Hummus
  • Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • Perlite

I love using “Happy Hippie Mix”. It is contains all of the above ingredients along with a few more. While not technically organic, it is pretty darn close. It does not contain any added fertilizers so I am able to add in the organic types that work best for me. As always, when in doubt as to the correct soil, check with your local garden center professional.


Happy Hippie logo
Logo for Happy Hippie Garden Mix

When planting in-ground, preparing your plot is key. I could spend an entire book going over how to dig and prepare your beds for planting. However, there are three key areas I’d like to mention:

  1. Digging your rows: Make certain that when digging your rows that they are deep enough for the type of plant you will add. Root vegetables need deep, loose soil in their beds – around 12 inches. Most herbs and leafy greens only require about 6 inches of depth to grow strong and healthy.
  2. Soil conditions: Check the labels on your plants for the preferred soil conditions. Do they like the soil moist or dry? Do they require a special PH to grow properly? Do they prefer sandy, loamy or dense soil?
  3. Amendments: Depending on your soil conditions you may need to add amendments such as peat moss, vermiculite, or even a bag or two of potting mix, to get your soil soft and ready to plant.

Adding Fertilizer for a Successful Start

After testing the PH levels (kits are available at garden centers) and checking what the optimal soil conditions for your plants are, you will need to “feed” your soil by adding some fertilizer. To begin, I would suggest an all-purpose organic fertilizer be added to your raised beds and plots.

Sprinkle your fertilizer into your pots, raised beds and garden plots according to the directions. Till it in thoroughly and then give it a good watering. If possible, let it sit overnight so the fertilizer has a good chance to begin its work on the soil.

Some plants such as blueberries, grapes and specialty flowers will require individual fertilizers to optimize their health. I have special food/fertilizer for my camellias, fruit trees, blueberries and orchids. When in doubt what type to use on your plants check the internet. Google has a wealth of information on gardening to help you out.

Getting Your Hands Dirty – Planting

Now comes the fun part – getting our hands dirty and planting. Before you begin you will need to gather a few supplies and tools:

  • Pots and/or containers: Choose a pot or container that will give your plants room to grow. It should be of sufficient depth for the plants root system, should drain well (you may have to drill some additional holes in the bottom) and be easily moved.
  • A small hand trowel or shovel for transplanting into raised beds or rows.
  • Planter row markers for plots, containers and beds.
  • Permanent marker (to write on your row markers).

Once you have gathered your supplies, head for the beds to start planting. To demonstrate each step, I have planted Calendula seeds in my raised planter.

The Witches Garden - planting calendula in depressions
Planting Calendula

To begin, I read the directions on the package to determine how deep my seeds need to be planted and then how far apart they need to be for optimal growth. Using my pinky finger, I poked holes into the soil, pushing to just below my first knuckle – about 1/2 inch deep – and made each one about 3 inches apart. I dropped two seeds into each hole. This is because not all seeds may germinate properly so adding in two gives me the best chance of success. I can always thin them out at a later time if necessary.

The Witches Garden - Markers in raised planter bed
Markers placed in planter bed.

After I placed the seeds into each depression, I covered them lightly with soil and gave them a good watering. When completed, I marked the bed with a row marker noting the name of the plant. Here, I am using craft sticks as they are inexpensive. I have also opted to cover my seed beds with a mesh material because my yard is a bird haven and they like to eat my seeds. The screen allows the light and water to come through but keeps their little beaks out.

A mesh screen laying over a newly planted flower bed
Mesh screen over raised planter bed

Transplanting Your Nursery Plants

Transplanting is a bit simpler. Again, read the nursery label for instructions as to depth and spacing of your plants. If adding them into containers, try not to overcrowd them. While it can be fun to mix and match varieties into a pretty pot, just give each individual plant some room to grow.

6-pack of Nasturtiums at the nursery

Six packs of Nasturtiums at my local nursery.

Using your trowel, prepare the bed, row, or pot by digging a hole deep and wide enough to fit the root ball of the plant. Carefully remove your plant from its container by turning it upside down, while holding the plant gently, yet securely, at its base. Tap on the bottom of the pot (and maybe the sides) to release it. Place your plant into the prepared hole. You may need to adjust the depth by removing or adding soil to the bottom until the plant is in the correct position. Fill around the root ball with soil, covering it completely. Your plant should sit securely, the soil no higher than its first set of leaves. Give it a good drink, place a marker and you are done!

Enjoy Your Witches Garden

Your planting is done and you can sit back and watch your garden grow. But your work doesn’t stop here. In our next installment we will talk about maintaining your Witches Garden – keeping it growing strong, healthy and beautiful. So go on. Go get your hands dirty and plant away.

Blessed Be!

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Bibliomancy: Using Books for Divination

Bibliomancy - A bookshelf stacked with books

This week our Magickal Moment takes us to the art of Bibliomancy, using books for divination. This method has been used for many generations, most likely since books first became available.

Bibliomancy is similar to Stichomancy or Libromancy (“divination from lines”), which involves selecting a random passage from a random book of any nature.

Bibliomancy uses a sacred book, or a book with special meaning, in order to answer a simple question. Traditionally this book has been the Bible, but the Quran, and other sacred texts have been used. I personally have a couple of books that I use, depending on the type query. It’s also fun to just grab any book off the shelf and use it to add an extra dose of randomness to the process.

To perform your Bibliomancy grab your book and place it in front of you on a flat surface. You would then ask your question. While keeping your eyes closed, flip through the pages of the book. Once you have selected a random page, point at a line or passage in the book. Upon opening your eyes read the word or line that your finger is on and interpret that phrase with regards to your question.

Alternately, you may use a small, flat stone or piece of metal or wood. Flip through the pages and then drop the stone onto the book. The phrase that the object lands upon is the answer to your question.

My Bibliomancy Experience

Bibliomancy - A copy of Warrior Goddess Training
My copy of Warrior Goddess Training

For my Bibliomancy today I am using the book Warrior Goddess Training by Heather Ash Amara. My question was ” Where am I in my spiritual quest” I then flipped through the book to a random page. I set my finger down at the top of the book and landed on the first line “Opening your heart starts first with compassion and respect towards yourself.” I’d say I got a fairly clear answer to that question.

Bibliomancy - The phrase I chose today

Bibliomancy can be an insightful, simple and yes, fun way to divine answers to your questions. Why not give it a try today?

Blessed Be!

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Favomancy: Divining with Beans

Lately, I have been on a quest to unearth some of the older forms of Witchcraft. After more than 20 years of being a Witch, of working with covens, groups and as a solitary, I still understand that I have but scratched the surface of my Craft. There is so much more to discover, more than one can learn in a single lifetime. During this quest I’ve been studying different and unusual forms of Divination. This has brought me to Favomancy: divining with beans.

What is Favomancy?

Favomancy, the art of divining with beans, is a type of cleromancy that involves throwing beans on the ground and interpreting the patterns in which the beans fall. The term comes from the Latin faba for “bean”.

There are various forms of Favomancy present across the world’s cultures. This form of divination was once practiced by the Seers in Russia, most specifically among the Ubykh peoples. Though the exact methods they used remain a mystery it is thought that they used a set of 41 white beans. These beans were shaken, then thrown onto a cloth or flat surface. Seers would then interpret the patterns of the thrown beans to find the answers to the seekers question. Today, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a similar method is used, similar enough that they most likely had similar origins.

Today I’ve chosen to share with you a much simpler method than its ancient counterpart. It’s economical – using only simple, everyday items – and it takes just a bit of practice and time to begin using it as a reliable method of divination.

Using Beans for Favomancy

For our Favomancy set you will need:

  • Three large light-colored dry beans – I’ve used dried Lima beans in the example
  • Black paint and a paintbrush or:
  • Black permanent marker (Sharpie)

Using the permanent marker or paint, color one side of your beans black. Cover it completely so that little or no white is showing. Try and get the edges blackened as well.

Favomancy: Divining with beans
Paint brush, black paint - black permanent marker
Paint or color your beans black on one side.

Once the paint or ink has dried completely the beans are technically ready to use. However, I recommend carrying the beans with you for at least three days or placing them under your pillow for a similar amount of time. By doing this you are allowing your energy to come into contact with the beans. This energetic contact will in turn bring greater accuracy to your readings.

Similar to pendulum work, readings are done for questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer. Once a question has been asked, the beans are thrown onto a cloth placed on a flat surface and then the answer is given depending how they fall. The answer is interpreted in the following fashion:

One (1) bean with black side up : Yes

Favomancy: Divining with Beans
1 black side up - yes
“Yes” answer

Two (2) beans with black side up: No

Favomancy: Divining with Beans
"no" answer - two black sides up
“No” Answer

Three (3) beans with black side up: Maybe

Favomancy: Diving with Beans
"Maybe" three black sides up
“Maybe”

That’s all there is to it! Simple, effective, and fun! The accuracy of this method is on par with pendulum readings but I find it a refreshing change of pace. I hope you enjoy trying Favomancy: divining with beans and perhaps you too will add it to your list of “go to” divination techniques.

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Creating and Using Poppets

A Triune Moon Magickal Moment

Creating and using poppets is an amazing way to add to your magickal repertoire. Poppets are an old, time-tested form of sympathetic magick. Sympathetic magick works on the principle that like affects like. When you create a poppet you are making a visual representation of a person. This representation then becomes a focus device. You are able to “see” and interact with the individual you are working for by using their image, the poppet, you’ve created.

Poppets can be as simple or elaborate as you like. The basic rule is that it should be easily recognizable as who you are working for, with or against. If it is a person it should have two arms, two legs, a head and body. The exception to this rule would be a working for a differently-abled person. I use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to give me a basic shape. I am not very artistic so this works well for me. Feel free to create your own pattern or draw free-hand if you like.

Next, add features, hair, clothes, anything that would identify the poppet as the individual it is to be. Try using yarn, markers, paint, embroidery and other embellishments to achieve the look you desire. Don’t worry if you are not an artist, if you can visualize who it is, then even the crudest poppet will work.

Below are simple instructions on creating and using poppets. I’ve also included a simple chant to charge your poppet for its intended purpose.

Creating your poppet. Cookie cutter, material, scissors, thread, needle, markers
A few simple materials are all that is required in making poppets.

Creating your Poppet

Before creating your poppet you should have a firm idea of why you are creating it. Are you doing healing work for someone? Are you trying to banish someone out of your life and social circle? Perhaps it is something for yourself that you are working. Keep whatever the intended goal is for the poppet in your mind as you go about creating and using your poppets

There are only a few simple materials required for creating your poppet. Most can be found quite inexpensively at your local craft store. Below is a list of items to complete the “shell” of the poppet.

  • Cotton material – I used white but you may use any color that suits your purpose or the individual you are working for. It needs to be large enough for the cookie cutter, cut double.
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Gingerbread man cookie cutter – large
  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil to trace around the cookie cutter.

Place the cookie cutter on the material. Be sure that the material is doubled. Trace around the cookie cutter, then cut along the pen/pencil line. Sew the poppet close to the edge with small stiches, leaving a large enough opening for stuffing your poppet. Alternately you could use a sewing machine, but I like to place magick and intention in each stitch. Once you have stitched the poppet you will need to fill it.

Tracing a gingerbreadman cookie cutter to make a poppet

Filling and Personalizing Your Poppet

You will want to fill your poppet with not only something to give it shape but to add to the magick you are creating. Herbs, stones, and crystals that correspond to your working are beneficial. Adding something personal from the individual will bring an even bigger boost to your work. Hair, fingernail clippings, a scrap of material from something they’ve worn are all items that are easily added to your poppet.

Six jars filled with herbs
Use herbs that will aid you in bringing the desired results.

Below are items I used for the poppet pictured. This was a personal healing poppet so I am using herbs for healing the stomach and sinus issues. Please, use items that best fit your intent. Note: I also used hair from my head to add some of “me” to the poppet.

  • Fiberfill – this is used for all poppets. It can be made of cotton or synthetic materials.
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Feverfew
  • Mullein
  • White Willow bark
  • Marshmallow root
  • Slippery Elm Bark

I did not include any stones or crystals in this poppet because I did not feel called to do so. Use your intuition and magickal senses to choose each item so that it will aid in achieving your final goal.

Fill up the legs and arms of the poppet. You may need to use the end of a long-handled spoon or some other long, thin device to push the fiberfill into the corners. Place a small amount of fiberfill in the body then add in your herbs, stone, etc. Finish filling the poppet then sew up the opening.

Now you can personalize your poppet. Add on facial features, hair, clothing, etc.. You may even want to place a picture of the person where the face is. Use your intuition to create a connection between you and the individual.

Poppet next to a candle
Poppet Ready to Charge

Charging your Poppet

While you were creating your poppet you were keeping your intentions in the forefront of your mind. Now, it is time to reinforce that intention and charge your poppet.

Place your poppet on your altar or a table. Holding your hands over the poppet visualize its intended purpose. While keeping that purpose in your mind, “see” the poppet as the individual that it represents. Focusing on both the person and the intention say the following (or something similar that has meaning to you):

“The poppet I see before me is a part of (insert name of individual) and as such all that I do with the poppet I do for (name). I send (insert what you are working for here) into this poppet which is (name). May (name) be (healed, banished, etc).” Continue to send your desires into the poppet until you feel that the work is completed. 

End the charge with “As I will it, so shall it be.” or something else to signal that you have completed your work. Place the poppet in a safe place.

Releasing the Poppet Energies

You will want to keep the poppet until such time as you feel the magick has manifested. After that you will need to release the individual’s energy from the poppet and dismantle it. Below is a simple “de-programming” verse you can use.

“I separate the energy of (name if individual) from this poppet. What was once connected is now separated.” Repeat this until you feel that the energies have been disconnected. Then remove all the stitching, take out the stuffing and otherwise dismantle the poppet. Dispose of all the parts by burning, burying or throwing away. Caution: Do not dispose of the poppet without first disconnecting the individual from the poppet. This may cause undo harm to the individual.

Poppets are a simple, creative, and highly effective way to work powerful magicks. No matter how cute they may seem, they should always be treated with the respect you would give to any magickal working. May you find working magick with poppets as rewarding as I have.

Blessed Be!

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Embracing my “Air” Head

I’ve always been embracing my “air” head, having always been drawn to the element of air. I love anything that flies, has wings, that soars. It’s early morning and I am again sitting in my kitchen looking out the large plate glass window in our breakfast nook.  Outside, our bird feeders are standing room only.  There are 20 or so mourning doves, a variety of chickadees, finches and sparrows.  Occasionally one of the three blue jays that reside in our trees swoops down, squawking at the other birds. It pushes and shoves its way to the food, and generally plays the resident bully. As I watch, a ruby-headed hummingbird moves towards the hanging nectar, ticking at another heading the same way. The air stirs their feathers, holds them in flight as they move from perch to perch. Watching the birds fly I feel a twinge of envy, wishing I too could embrace the air. 

This “air” head watching the doves at the back feeder.

Near our gargoyle fountain my sole surviving chicken pecks around the yard, disinterested in all the tiny birds eating the seed around her. Several birds splash in the brightly colored bird bath, not seeming to notice that it is 43 degrees outside. In the distance I hear a hawk cry out and watch as the birds take to wing en masse, frightened by the predator gliding overhead. It is then that I realize that this is my happy place, surrounded by the denizens of Air, feeling the wind in my hair and the breeze on my skin.  I suppose I truly am embracing my “Air” head”.

Fond Memories

When I was a child I was always fascinated by birds.  We had parakeets in our home from a very young age.  I loved having them around but it always made me a little sad, seeing them in cages.  Once a day or so they were taken out of the cage and allowed to roam freely around the house.  As they flew around my head, then landed on my shoulders, I recall feeling positively giddy.  These were my friends, my companions. How I envied them their wings and the ability to fly.

Many of my favorite memories involve birds, the wind and stormy weather.  I’ve fond memories of standing and watching the winds whip the redwood trees that lined our school playground. Many hours were spent looking  at the windows as the hawks dipped and swirled high overhead. One summer I got bored and left my sister’s softball game for a large open field.  There, at dusk, I saw my first owl up close as it hovered over my head. It hadn’t expected the mouse that it was hunting to run across my foot, putting me in its flight path. The birds, the air, they were always my joy.

I can recall the feeling of exhilaration and joy a windy day brings and the kiss of a warm summer breeze upon my face.  Is it any wonder that when I started exploring the Craft that the element of Air called to me? And it did so not with a gentle wind but with a gale force summons. So, I strapped on my wings and answered.

Answering the Call of Air

Even after I’d started on my path, Air never quieted. The element of Air joined me at some of the most unusual times. Air showed itself each time I cast circle, breezing around the perimeter.  Air swept in and blew the herbs off my working altar even though there were no open windows or vents.  At the workplace, Air kept pushing at me, begging me to pay attention. Try explaining to a muggle co-worker why when I got upset papers would blow off people’s desks. It would seem that I needed to pay attention and learn to work with Air. Soon!


Is it any wonder that when I started exploring the Craft that the element of Air called to me? And it did so not with a gentle wind but with a gale force summons. So, I strapped on my wings and answered.

Terry Pellegrini – Embracing my “Air” Head

Once I began exploring and working with the element of Air I began to see what an influence it had over my entire life. Air’s correspondence sounded like a recitation of my own affinities.  My inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge of all kinds has never waned.  Birds, pardon the pun, flocked to me no matter where I was, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. My psychic abilities were always present although I didn’t truly embrace them until my twenties. As I worked more and more with this element, these affinities grew, becoming sharper and clearer.  Air had blown away the fog, allowing my inner light to truly shine. Embracing my “air” head became second nature to me.

“Air Head” Syndrome

On the flip side, working with Air can make you a bit spacey, put your head into the clouds and keep it there. This is where the term “Air Head” comes into play. When you work almost exclusively with one element you become unbalanced, often loosing your magickal footing. Working with Air may bring out the intellectual, the cerebral, in you but it may also cause you to daydream and space out. You can lose your focus easily, become irritated and petulant. For every positive attribute an element has, there is an opposite, a negative attribute.  Spend too much time with that element and it will show you all its sides.

If you spend all your time with only one friend, your other friends may feel neglected or even pissed off. The same goes with working with the elements.  After spending so much time concentrating on Air, when asked to call in another element, they responded weakly or not at all. Once I understood this need for balance and began consistently working with the other elements along side of Air, my magick and my life became less wonky, leveling out my one-sided gait.

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is to go ahead and embrace your element of choice, but don’t neglect the others.  Balance in magick, as well as life, is crucial for keeping your path straight and steady, your mind clear and your magick strong. It is okay to be an “Air” head, just be certain to invite the other elements into your circle, and your life, as well. 

Blessed Be!

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The Warp and Weft of Witchcraft


Inspiration for my blog posts often come from some of the most unusual sources.  Take this post for example.  I’d finished a crochet project and went to grab my loom to start on a table runner for my kitchen table.  As I prepared to place the warp on the loom, (I am a novice weaver having received my loom for Yule last year), I was trying to choose a sturdy warp thread for my project.  I’d used a thin yarn the time before and it kept moving and stretching causing my weaving to be weak and uneven.  As I readied the yarn I thought that in weaving, as in all manner of crafts, the warp, the foundation, needs to be strong so our creations can manifest the way we envision them.  If the warp is weak, no matter of how well we weave in our weft, our cloth may unravel in our hands.

Warp and weft for my new project,

It is the same in Witchcraft and all forms of magickal practice. If our foundations are weak, our magick will never manifest in the powerful ways it should.  The strong threads of practice and knowledge laid down before we spell cast will hold the weft of our herbs, stones, candles, all of our correspondences, in place, creating the firm yet pliable cloth of manifestation. But what does our magickal warp consist of?   

Our warp, our foundations, are those things that we were taught as budding magickal practitioners. With each coven, grove, and circle, these foundation will vary but without them, we cannot move forward along our chosen paths. Without first learning, practicing and becoming adept at these foundations our magick may work – for a time – but we will never move past the “keep the fingers crossed and hope it works” phase.  Below is a list of the “warp” that I share with my students. I believe that without these threads one cannot be expected to create a resilient, strong, beautifully magickal cloth – Witchcraft at its finest.

  • Meditation – As I’ve said many times before, without learning to clear one’s mind, to focus and be present in the moment, our magick will be just as unclear and unfocused. Creating a daily practice of meditation and communion with Spirit and other realms can only enhance our magick. Not only does it help us to focus our Will and our Word, it has mundane benefits as well.  Meditation aids in keeping our bodies and mind calm, relaxed, and healthy, making us better people and magickal practitioners.
  • Grounding and Centering – If we are unable to both ground ourselves in the Earth, in the Universe, before we begin our workings and then ground any excess energy afterwards, we can not only do harm to ourselves (magickal hangovers come to mind) we may also do harm to our spell casting and those caught in the crossfire when our ungrounded magick decides to manifest wonky – Yes, wonky is a very technical term. The same goes for Centering. If we do not center ourselves, that is get in touch with our core, our magick, then we have no starting point for manifestation, no point of origin from which to move forward.
  • Visualization – If you cannot see the warp threads as they move up and down with the heddle, you have know idea where to place the shuttle for the next pass of the weft.  In other words, without being able to visualize what we want our magick to do, where to send it and how we see it manifesting our magick will not weave into the creation we envision. Instead it will move into the Universe haphazardly, without direction. Learning to visualize properly and hold that picture in your mind for ever increasing lengths of time, is another sturdy warp thread in your cloth.
  • Energy Work – I cannot tell you how many time I’ve talked to people in working groups that have never had any training in energy work.  How can one expect to manifest magick without the foundation of good energy work?  If one does not know how to properly create, move, shape and then direct energy how can they be expected to confidently and consistently cast with the desired results?  Practice your energy work daily until it becomes as natural as breathing. The results will be a magickal thread that will bind and shape your spell’s fabric into whatever you can envision.
  • Ethics – Yes, this can be a controversial subject, but without our personal ethics how can we believe in what we are trying to create?  My ethics will never be the same as your ethics, but until we understand ourselves, understand what we feel is right or wrong, or somewhere in between, our workings will take on that ambivalence and become wishy-washy, uncertain of how it should express itself.  Its true in all aspects of our lives, we must believe in where we are coming from before we can go anywhere.  It’s like standing in the center of an amusement park, with rides all around you.  If you don’t know that you get motion sickness easily, then you may end up on a ride that makes you so ill that you are unable to ride on any others or even enjoy the rest of your day.  Ethics allow us to make the moves that are right and correct for us – not any one else – just us.

I feel that these five fundamental points are crucial for every magickal practitioner.  Yes, I do have several others that I share in my introductory classes, but without these five, magick has no where to start.  You may be an extremely powerful, natural-born witch, druid, wizard, but until you warp your loom of creation with strong threads, you may end up with a beautiful mess.  Take the time, the effort, to give yourself a rock solid foundation from which to begin your weaving and your magick will flow from your fingers, creating the world you desire.  

Blessed Be!

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Lessons From Ganesha

When packing up my desk on my last day before retirement, I scooped up a small statue of Ganesha. He had been placed there many years before, in such a way that he was continually in my line of sight.  I’ve always felt drawn to Ganesha, although I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe it was the elephant head, the cute rat at his feet or that he always looked so happy.  I knew a bit about his attributes so when I felt like obstacles were constantly being thrown in my path, professionally and personally, turning to Ganesha for some much needed help just felt right.

If you are not familiar with Ganesha, he is the Hindu God of success, wealth, the remover of obstacles, and on the flip side, can place obstacles in your path should you become vain and overly ambitious.  He is called upon when beginning any new venture, such as a new project or business.  Unbeknownst to me before I began writing this blog,  he is also seen as the patron of authors.  How cool is that?

Ganesha sat there on my desk, day after day, looking out over the chaos that was my work life.  I would silently talk to him, asking that he move the obstacles in my path so I could move ahead, get out of my current job, become the writer and witch I needed to be.  He would sit there, smiling, his eyes seeming to sparkle, but he never answered.  Or so I thought.

One particularly bad day I excused myself and went into the restroom.  Seeing that no one else was there, I entered a stall and promptly began to cry.  Not just a little, but big gut wrenching sobs. Ganesha, I thought, why did I feel blocked at every turn?  Why did I feel so bad, so stressed, so done? I wanted, no needed, to be out of that place but I kept hitting a proverbial brick wall.  Suddenly a picture of a caricature me flashed before my inner eye.  In the vision I stood, trowel and mortar board in hand, in front of a tall red brick wall. Slowly my cartoon self looked up just as the bricks began to break free from the highest point of the wall.  They fell, cartoon style, on my head as a dialog balloon popped up, filled with $%&* (cartoon cursing). My tears dried up and I began to laugh.  Loudly, nearly hysterically.

Drying my eyes and composing myself, I exited the stall, realizing that I’d just received a rather poignant, if not comical, message.  The world wasn’t giving me obstacles, I was building them myself.  Wow, talk about an “AHA” moment. I’d been looking at the big picture all wrong.  The obstacles weren’t something that the Universe had placed in front of me, they were of my own making.  I sent up a silent “thank you” to Ganesha and went back in to work.

Sitting down at my desk and smiling at the happy statue once again in front of me, I jotted down what had just happened. I did my best to identify those obstacles I’d built and then some ideas on how I would go about demolishing my obstacles.  Needless to say the list was quite lengthy.  Once finished, I felt an incredible weight lift off of my shoulders. I had a list and a plan. As any Virgo knows, those two things are what get us off our butts and moving forward. Every. Single. Day.

That evening, list and plan in hand, I began taking that edifice down brick by brick.  It took several weeks, a lot of research, number crunching and soul-searching, but cracks began to appear in the wall. When all was prepared I sat down for a long talk with the husband, four different spreadsheets in hand, each with a different scenario and budget carefully planned out.  I was going to retire – not quit – my current job, and write and teach full time. He looked them over, picked one, and my wall tumbled down.

Since I have retired Ganesha has received an honored place on my bedroom altar, the altar I look to every morning.  He reminds me to be careful of what I am building in my life.  Do my plans keep me happy, my options open and energy flowing? Or have I become the architect of a new wall, constructing another obstacle to once again trap myself in a situation or place I could have easily moved around? I am hoping I have learned my lesson and retired my trowel and mortar for good. If not, I know Ganesha is there, ready to teach me another lesson in obstacle demolition.

Blessed Be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer’s Ripening

Our coven had a beautiful Summer Solstice ritual this past week. Our theme for the ritual was “Becoming”.  We asked each other how has what you planted at the Spring Equinox helped you to become who you are today?  As things are want to happen, this planned ritual evolved into not only our becoming, but our ripening.  How I love that word.

As witches we can’t stay green forever.  We need to learn, grow, advance, ripen or we shall merely rot on the proverbial vine,  But how can we gauge where we are in the process? How can we identify if we are green, ripe, or somewhere in between? I’d like to share my thoughts on this.

A green witch is a newbie, a beginner.  This does not imply that the witch has just found the Craft, but may also designate one who may have been practicing for a few years but has never moved past the beginning phases.

The beginner, the green, unripe witch does only basic work. They feel uncomfortable delving into shadow work and the mysteries. Ritual work is minimal and why they may follow the cycles of the year they are doing so rote, without actually delving into why we do so, they neglect to learn about their meanings, their core.  Spell work is their main focus, but the outcomes are hit and miss.  They understand that they need to do more, may even want to do more, but lack the proper instruction and/or motivation. While many may feel the lack of instruction others are perfectly comfortable with the level they are at. This is not necessarily a bad thing.  If you are comfortable at this level, then stick to it. But when has witchcraft ever been comfortable?

Next we find the burgeoning witch, the witch that is in the process of ripening but still has time on the vine. The majority of witches I know are in this stage.  Here, we are constantly learning, taking in the nutrients of hard work, dedication and practice.  We are delving into our shadows and dealing with the crap that is holding us back from reaching our potential.  We are understanding that the mysteries take years, decades to understand, if we ever truly do. Spell work is done when there is a need, not just for the sake of performing a spell and when we do so it is with the knowledge that our skills, through years of hard work and trial and error, are such that our outcomes are 98% favorable (sometimes what we want the Gods know we don’t really need).

In this phase we may begin to share our knowledge with our covens, circles and groves. We may become teachers, priest/priestesses, and counselors. Still, we require the support of our sisters and brothers in the craft to aid us in moving into the more advanced aspects of our journey. Trance work, thought forms, advanced sigil magick and divination work all are made easier when the witch in this stage leans heavily on her/his guides and magickal families to aid them on their journeys into ripeness.

The ripe witch, the crone, the sage, the adept, is what we all aspire to be and desire to emulate. The ripe witch is the one we all seem to go to with our questions, our stumbling blocks, our magickal failures as well as successes. They have mastered themselves, have delved into their shadows and come out whole.  They “know” without seeming a “know it all”. A ripe witch is one that has done the difficult inner work, has delved beyond the veil and back, has a deep relationship with their chosen deity(ies). He/she understands the web of life and how each and evert action we make affects us all. They are simply themselves, strong, capable, bad ass witches.  They live their magick each and every day. They ARE magick.

Where am I on this journey? Somewhere between burgeoning and ripe, I think.  I do know that there is so much I still need to learn and experience, so many of the mysteries I have yet to delve into.  My inner work is on-going and my skills can always be improved.  No matter where I may be on this adventure we call witchcraft, this is the path I wish to be on. But today I will just enjoy the summer sun and then, one day, I too shall ripen and become the adept witch I know I can become.

Blessed Be!

 

 

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Bed-Head and Broomsticks

It’s three in the morning and I rise with anticipation, and a yawn.  I shuffle my sleepy butt to the front room, grabbing my tools along the way.  I set up my altar, checking the clock for just the right moment, the correct planetary hour, to begin my spell. I raise my hands to begin my work and catch a glimpse of someone in the hallway mirror. What is that hideous creature staring back at me?  Curious, I squint, taking a moment to adjust my rheumy eyes, then realize it is indeed, me. The picture is not pretty. Me, sitting at the altar with my glorious bed-head, carefully sculpted by drool and an uncomfortable pillow, looking for all intents and purposes like I visited Medusa’s stylist.  I’m taken aback by the sleep encrusted eyes and the scowl of caffeine depravation.   There is a reason why people are frightened of witches. It’s the bed-head and broomsticks.

Twenty some odd years ago when I first began practicing my Craft, it was possible to find me at 2 or 3 (or earlier)  at my altar/craft (as in sewing) room, or in the family room working spells and doing ritual.  It was joyous to be up and working when all else were asleep. The world was quiet, the energy of the night wrapping about me like a warm, comfortable sweater, alone but for the Gods I may be evoking.  I would do my work, go back to bed for an hour or so and then get the kids up for school and myself ready and off to work.

Now, at 56, I still get that call to rise, to work magick during the “witching hour”.  But reality is a cruel bitch. It reminds me that I have to be up at 5 to get ready for work, that my energy levels are not what they once were.   Sleep, it seems, is the siren that calls to me now. Am I any less of a witch? Is the fact that I am often in bed by 9 and rarely rise to meet the call of the “between” time of midnight a detriment to my Craft?  Nope.  it just changes how I work a bit.

As a student of witchcraft, quantum physics, and the theories of non-lineal time, I can tell you that “time” is definitely relative. Yes, I love working with the moon phases, the planetary hours and seasons. I do, however, realize that time, being non-lineal, that is not in a straight line, means that any time can be the “right” time to do magick. My head could be expertly coiffed or straight out bed-head but the timing could still be spot on. It kind of makes my life a bit easier, knowing that time is on my side (yes, I hear the eyes rolling).

Maiden, Mother, Crone, we all can work our magick at the time that best suits are lifestyles and energy levels.  We can be a morning person, night owl, or any place in between.  Whether we work with what time we can, stick scrupulously to the planetary hours or just freaking wing it, our magick is our own.  We need to do what feels right, what works with our lives, souls, and traditions. This is our Craft, not any one else’s.  We need to stop feeling guilty if we miss the exact moment of the Full Moon or fall asleep before our New Moon spell work.  We are witches, but we are also human.

So the next time you awaken at midnight eager to get to your spell work or are setting up your altar at 2 in the afternoon, remember that it’s all good.  Intention, focus and will are what truly make the magick.  The bed-head is just a perk.

Blessed Be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Laser Focus Recalibration

For the last month or so I have seen or heared the phrase “laser focus” everywhere I turn.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, the local eatery or boardroom. You can’t swing a deceased feline without being told to use your “laser focus”. Frankly the concept is nothing new.  It’s been around for years.  But why the resurgence?  Why now, and should we be worried? Let us first take a look at what laser focus actually is.

The Urban Dictionary defines laser focus as “Intensely paying attention to a single object, concept, person, or activity to the exclusion of everything else.” Really?  I thought it was some sort of high tech robot or something.  Just joking  Taken in context of the articles and videos I’ve seen laser focus is being used to hone in, concentrate on, your personal goals and dreams. Sounds great doesn’t it?  Focus is key in accomplishing any task, any goal.  But to focus on a single thing to the exclusion of any other? Will that work? Hmm, nothing could possibly go wrong now, could it?

Let me tell you a story.  Once, not too many years ago, there was a woman who worked for a man who spouted the phrase “laser focus” as his own personal litany. He worked hard, focused on his professional goals and became very successful in his chosen field.  However the beam of his laser focus was so small, so tight, that it blocked out everything around him.  His laser focus placed everything in his peripheral vision into the shadows, made it fuzzy, and therefore unimportant. He gave his wife and children not but cursory attention, preferring to spend his time at the office instead of at a romantic dinner or a child’s soccer game.  He neglected his long-time friends, often cancelling dates for dinner or an outing. He worked such long hours his health suffered, the beam of his laser so tiny it did not allow him the time or opportunity to pay attention to what his body was telling him. To make a very long story short, he lost his wife to a tennis pro who gave her the attention he withheld. After the divorce the children went with the wife.  The beam of his laser focus turned on him, like one of those cheap laser pointers, causing him to chase after the red dot of a happy life. Yes, his original goals were all met. His laser focus garnered him great success in business, but it ruined his personal life in the process.

This is just one story of  both the success and failure of using “laser focus”.  I’ve lived through, and heard of, many more.  Yet we are still using this as an axiom for the way we should live our professional and personal lives. Why?  Are we missing something?  If it only works on one aspect of our lives and we lose so much more in the process why do we keep doing this? Is there a way to recalibrate our laser focus so that our minds are pointed on our goal but we do not miss out on the rest of life while we do so? Yes. Yes we can.

May I suggest a two-pronged approach to this recalibration. First, try widening the beam of your laser focus. Widening the beam keeps the laser center pointed on the goal while the broadened beam allows a soft light to shine on everything around you. Let that light dispel the shadows of your original beam while keeping the ultimate goal illuminated, shining. Your goal remains ever in your sight but shares the light with those who love and need you.

Second, turn it off at regular intervals.  Don’t be afraid to take a day trip, a vacation.  Go enjoy a soccer game, a movie, a romantic dinner with your significant other. Have a night out with the girls, go to a football game with your buddies. Turn off the laser focus, rest your eyes, save some of that energy.  Take care of your loved ones, take care of yourself. The laser can be turned on again, its light shall always be there for you and within you.

Remember, while our goals and dreams are important, our relationships, our friends and families are even more important. We can continue to use our laser focus, achieving all that we want in our lives. We should use it, but use it wisely. With a few minor tweaks, a gentle recalibration to our beams, we can have it all. Success, fame, fortune, family and love, it is all within our reach.  The light just need to right.

Blessed Be!