Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent begins.

Today is the second day of the Filianic month of Astrea. It is also the second day of Advent. This is a hard time of year for me. I have a great deal of sad and painful things associated with what is, for most people, a time of gaiety and joy. I am, however, determined not to let this cast a shadow over things this year. As such, I am working on coming up with small celebratory things I can do each day of the months.

I am still working on my devotional journal. (I am actually a bit behind because of life complications over the last few months.) I am making a concerted effort to at the very least be grateful in my entries if I can not be joyful. It has been hard, though, because witnessing the atrocious things happening in the world, I have much fear and sorrow in my heart right now. It is my hope, however, that with focused effort, I will find things that will lift me up.

I was not able to locate an advent calendar for the boys that I liked. Most of the ones I found had strong Christian overtones (which is not surprising because that is the primary market for these things). I tried to find secular ones but those that I did find were constructed in such a manner where it was difficult to see the numbers on them. This leaves me in a position where I am seriously considering fashioning something of the sort on my own.

When the kids are at school, I will be making a paper chain marking the days until Yule. I am planning on doing something special with them weekly, at the very least. I have begun the process of getting things out of hiding for decorating for the season. In the past, I left holiday decorating until the last minute. Now, however, I am going to see if I can make arrangements to have a small tree that we can decorate a little bit every day. I don't think we'll be using all the fancy ornaments that we have in storage. No, I have decided that we are going to make our ornaments. I have egg cartons that will be turned into bells and snowmen with a few additional supplies. I have paper to cut into snowflakes and to make paper chains with. I have bags of popcorn to be popped and strung onto thread and hung up.

I'm going to try delving into my memories of what I did as a child to celebrate the holiday and see if I can reacquaint myself with the happiness and excitement I felt for this season when I was a girl. I have cleaned off the entertainment center in preparation to make a place where we might hang stockings. I figure on the day of Nativity, we can put on a youtube video of a crackling fireplace as we open presents. I look forward to taking my few trips for holiday shopping over the next few weeks. I do enjoy watching how the boys light up at the sights of the holiday lights and displays. I also love to watch them pick out presents for each other.

My stockpiling of empty quart sized jars will be soon turned into things like cookie mixes, hot cocoa mixes, and other goods that I will be giving as gifts. If I can, I am probably going to put the boys to work in fashioning these things. They've got some math skills now, I think it is a good time to get them started with how to measure things in the kitchen as a first step towards cooking. I don't know if I am going to get much done in the way of baking this year. As much as I would like to make some traditional foods such as Stollen and shortbread, I recognize that not everyone in my family would be interested in eating it.

My plan for overcoming the anger and grief that this time of year brings out in me is to fake happiness and cheer until I can make it happen. It may be that I tire myself out with this. But, a wise person I knew once said that happiness is a learned trait. I like to think that my late grandmother was right about that one. So, I'm going to try to teach myself how to be happy with this time of year. I will let the anger and such wait until January, if I can.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Video Message! Thank you!

This week's video message is short and sweet. I just want to take the opportunity to thank all of you for supporting my blog with your readership. It would be much harder to make this blog happen with out your presence. I look forward to another full year of adventure into magic and wonder with you. I hope that next Thanksgiving, I will have a longer message describing all the wonderful things that you have helped me accomplish.

So, thank you again! I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Divination Topic'sTo Be Discussed.

With the holidays approaching, I am working on getting myself a bit more organized. As I write this post, it is at the end of a long and busy day. I fear that the rest of the week will be more of the same because of Thanksgiving. I will attempt to post over the next several days, but I honestly don't know how much success I will have. With the children being off from school, I have very little writing time at the moment.

As I have been doing, I am going to use the Monday posts to discuss divination. I have pretty much hit the end of what I can cover with respect to Cartomancy at the moment. While I'd like to do something about oracle decks, I am still looking for my notes from when I last played with one. I honestly have no idea where they have vanished off to or I would be posting about that right now. At some point in the future, I may do something more about Tarot spreads. I'm undecided at the moment.

Next week, I will be posting about pendulums. I own a few and have used random objects on chains to accomplish the same goals. It is not my strongest suit but I know quite a few people who find that the directness of a pendulum is easiest to work with. It is my hope to lay out the basics of how they work and what you can do with them.

The second week of December, I plan on talking a bit about stichomancy. This is a really accessible method of divination. And I regularly get some pretty interesting results. The fact that my apartment is reaching the status of living in a small library may be part of the reason why. But, the use of books for divination has been in practice for as long as there have been books (even longer if you count scrolls and other forms of text).

The third week of December, I am going to talk a little bit about runes. They really are such a big topic that they need to be handled on their own. That post, I am going to talk about my approach to reading them, which is intuitively based. (And to weigh in on the blank rune controversy, I use it in my readings if it strikes my mood. It generally pops up as a need to pause and reflect on the previous rune's meaning. Sometimes it is... different.)

The final week of December, I am going to share something that could technically be called Cartomancy. I have a few different ways to do readings using note cards. One involves using blank ones. It's a cool party trick once you figure it out. I will get a little into how to develop your own divination deck. I'm trying to decide if I want to jump whole hog into discussing how to develop your own divination system next year or not.

If you have something you'd like to see me post about or any questions, let me know. The comments are a great place for a short note. If you want to do something more detailed, send me an e-mail.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Recommend This: Internet edition.

There are a great many worthwhile projects and programs that a person can get involved with over the Internet. The ways we can act in accordance with our beliefs has as many manifestations as there are people who have ideas. While there are some really awesome programs that you can do within your local community, there are also things you can do that effect the world wide community.

The World Needs More Love Letters is a really great little project that I personally think is serving a niche that frequently gets over looked. The premise is that you write an anonymous letter expressing good will and love towards individuals who are selected from a pool of people who could use encouragement. The letter is then sent to the program. The program sends it on to the person in question. They receive a package filled with all of these letters which serves to help them through rough times and restore some faith in humanity.

It is in terms of investment of time and energy on the low end of the scale. It is also a really inexpensive thing to participate in. All your costs is a bit of paper, an envelope, and postage. But the benefits of it are really wonderful. Through this program, you help lift up someone who is in need of encouragement. You create a greater sense of community and goodness within that community. Also, you get all the warm fuzzy feelings that go with doing something to help others in need.

I am, personally, going to be participating in this. Having been in a position where I felt like the world had turned against me, I know just how important little things like words of encouragement from people around you are. And sometimes, the fact that those words of encouragement come from people who are completely outside of the situation makes them resonate better. I don't claim to understand it, but sometimes it works like that.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Video Message: On Terrorism.

I don't typically comment on the political things going on in the world. I try to avoid it. Sometimes, however, and issue comes up that crosses political, social, and religious lines. This week's video message addressed one that has been really big: terrorism.

Now, some of you may take exception to the premise that I put forth in this video, namely that terrorism will not be defeated by force of arms. I have a lot of reasons behind that position based in philosophical consideration, stratagem, and observation of what is going on in the world. It is something that I'm not going to get into here because it is tangential to my argument here. If you are curious as to my reasoning, please take some time to view this post on my other blog.

The terrorists want us to be afraid. They want to divide the world and conquer through fear and force of arms. One of their weapons in this is hatred. A lot of people want to defeat the terrorists and make the world a safer place. There is something powerful that you as an individual can do. Create an environment where hatred will not be able to take root.

Love and good will are the antithesis of what people like Daesh are attempting to sow. Make a point to go out and help your neighbors. Actively express our love for the world and each other and we will make hearts that are impervious to hatred. Filianism calls this a heart of water. The heart of water is a pretty complex concept that I'll post more about a bit later. For now, let's consider one of the traits of the heart of water.

The heart of water surrounds that which attempts to penetrate and change it. It does not lose its nature by way of the things that are cast at it. It actively overwhelms the things the world throws into it and is flexible enough to work around most anything. That responsiveness and ability to drowned out that which is not compatible with its nature comes from love and gentleness.

Let's cultivate this within ourselves and the world. This way we may overwhelm the hatred that Daesh and their ilk tries to make take root in the world. Just as a rushing river will cut a path through even the hardest stone, so too shall our love cut through the hatred of Daesh, and diminish them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spell craft: To Rhyme or Not?

There is a history of presenting verbal incantations as rhyming verse. Perhaps the most famous example is the witches's curse from Shakespeare's play Macbeth. A quick review of the spells published on the internet and it is apparent that a large portion of them are rhyming. This overwhelming amount of poetic verse in spell craft can lead one to the conclusion that spells must be formulated with rhyming verse for the incantation, but is it necessary?

The short answer to this question is no. As long as your incantation assists you in presenting proper focus and direction for your magical efforts, rhymes are not needed. The tradition of using rhyming verse for spell craft is of an uncertain origin. When we consider the historic evidence of past witchcraft practices, we find that a vast majority of it comes from people of the lower social classes. (Witchcraft has historically been a tool through which the oppressed strike back at their oppressors. As such, it has a very strong association with the lower classes, which will generally include the oppressed population of a culture.) This association with lower socio-economic status often comes with a lower level of formal education.

One may ask what this has to do with the presentation of spell craft in rhyming verse. Generally, complex formulaic verbal incantations come with a higher degree of literacy and education. While rhyming is found in the spell craft of the lower classes, it does not have as great of an emphasis as that of people in higher classes, with allowances made for cultural emphasis of course.

In western magical practices, we find there are two purposes for rhyming. One is that it serves to assist the practitioner in maintaining focus upon their magical efforts and target. The other is that it is a functional component of the spell craft. Incantation and enchantment both have their roots in the Latin term incantare, which translates to: to chant [a magical spell] upon. The native English term that is corresponding to this is galdr which translates to: song or spell. Generally, however, incantation is not a necessary component of witchcraft.

While song/verse based magic does exist, it is its own class of magical exercise. In ancient times, there was a distinction made between song based magical practices and that which is based in other practices. In the native English terms, galdr was the song based magical practices. Other practices were known as seith. It is reasonable to believe that similar distinctions have been made between these two different ritual focuses, though there may not be specialized terms for them.

An additional wrinkle to the practices that could fall under the category of galdr is the fact that not all poetry or music is composed of rhyming verse. It can also include what is known as blank verse or non-rhyming poetry. Thus, incantations can be of a greater variety of forms as long as there is some sort of rhythmic stress pattern through out the charm, though this is not a hard and fast rule.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads (IV)

This is a basic seven card spread. It is designed to give information about an existing relationship. While I have frequently used it for romantic relationships, it really is effective for pretty much any type of relationship. This is one that I learned from's selection of tarot spreads, therefore I can not take credit for it. It is, however, one that can be built upon for additional detail as you place cards to clarify the details.

Position one shows how the querent feels about their role in the relationship. Position two shows what the querent feels is the standing of the relationship. Position three shows what the querent feels about the other person involved in the relationship.

Positions four through six present the same information but from the perspective of the other person in the relationship. Position seven presents the objective perspective of a third party on the relationship.

Sometimes, I lay an additional six cards out, three to either side of the columns. They present the hidden aspects of the three cards they are beside.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Video Message: Help Someone.

I was watching BBC news as I ate my lunch. It was painful for me to see the report about the terrorist attack in Egypt and the factory collapse in Afghanistan. It grieved me to watch the special report on the ostracizing of ebola survivors in Sierra Leone. In the news here in the U.S., there are daily reports of violence of neighbors against neighbors. To say that it makes me sick with sorrow to be witness to all these things really is not strong enough to describe what happens to me.

I know that it is easy to feel like you are utterly helpless to do anything about the overwhelming mass of tragedy in the world. I, too, have felt that despair upon looking at the news and seeing endless reports of the awful things that happen in the world. It is possible, however, to make a difference. Help at least one person when you have the means.

It may be something as simple as helping someone carry their groceries to their car. It may be something as little as picking up litter left on the sidewalk. For my part, over the last year, I have been making hats for the preemie babies at one of the hospitals up in Rochester. It doesn't take me much time and, in the grand scheme of things, it really is time I would have spent watching cat videos or similar nonsense on Youtube. What is utterly inconsequential effort on my part, however, helps one premature infant at a time get a better shot at life and good health.

Small acts of compassion, kindness, and good will add up. For my example, working on those little, tiny hats in my idle moments has lead to donating near to 100 hats over the last year. The way to push back against the tides of tragedy in the world are not great and grand gestures. There is no one enemy to face off against and conquer for the good of the world. There is no one grand solution to the world's problems. It is through many small gestures of help towards others that we might make a change in the world. If each of us went out today and did something to help one person, we could make a significant difference in our community just based on our sheer numbers.

Please, help someone today. Help me push back against the tragedy of the world.

Today, I am wearing a black pashimina done up in a half crown style. To recreate this style, take a pashmina and fold it width wise until it fits comfortably on your head and will not slip off when tied. Center the scarf on your head and pull back the tails. Tie an overhand knot at the back. Divide the tails of the scarf, placing one free to sit on your shoulder. Twist the second tail and wrap over the crown of the head, tucking the end it at the knot in the back.

In case anyone is curious, the shawl I am wearing is my prayer shawl that I crocheted with yarn that was spun by my mother-in-law. It is a basic rectangular shawl. You can recreate it with sport weight acrylic yarn and it will not felt like mine did when it got washed improperly. With an 'H' hook, make your foundation chain of 45 stitches with two additional stitches to turn. Make a half double crochet stitch into the fourth chain stitch from your hook. Repeat across the row. Proceed with half double crochet stitches until your shawl is of desired length. Then make a knot and break the yarn. Wash and block out to final dimensions.

When your shawl is complete, take it in hand and ask that your deity of choice blesses it for the purpose you will wear it for. This may be to give comfort during times of distress or to assist in focus whilst engaged in prayer, or something entirely different. My shawl is blessed to provide comfort in times of distress and grief, as well as assisting me in maintaining focus whilst praying. It is a multi-purpose prayer shawl, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spell craft: Poppets

There is this image that Hollywood loves to use. It depicts the magical practitioner engaged in some dastardly deed via sympathetic magic using a figure (mistakenly called a voodoo doll) and doing something like pricking it with pins. The term poppet is actually more accurate. These have been in use in folk magic from just about every culture since antiquity. The term poppet comes from the English culture. It is still used to refer to dolls. It is also used as a term of endearment for young children and women.

The poppet in magical use is akin to an icon for a deity. It serves as a magical focus that assists the practitioner in directing their spell to the correct target. They are constructed in many different ways. In some cases, they are used from things in nature that are approximately humanoid in shape (such as mandrake root). Most often, modern poppets are made from fabric. They are stuffed with any manner of herbs and filler material, much like the cloth poppets of antiquity. There is a wider array of herbs and other components that can be placed inside a poppet in the modern era because of the fact that we're no longer dependent upon locally sourced materials (for the most part).

Traditionally, a poppet included some physical tie to the target. This was usually hair or nail clippings. Now, it is possible to use anything from a picture of the target to an item that strongly reminds the caster of the target. The use of nail clippings have fallen out of favor due to the general concept that it is unhygienic to handle them. Hair clippings are still used on occasion but they have become even harder to acquire with the fact that people go to hairstylists for their haircuts as a general rule.

This makes it harder to isolate the target's hair and puts the would be caster in the position of having to somehow take a hair from their target's person. Given the laws against assault, and the fact that cutting another person's hair with out their permission is considered to be an assault on their person, it is inadvisable to go this route. Hair taken from a willing target is, of course, easily obtained. In many cases, however, the target of the spell is not easily accessible and the caster needs to use an alternative method to 'tie' the poppet to their target.

Once the poppet is 'tied' to the target (spiritually resonant with them), it is manipulated in the manner that reflects what the caster is attempting to enact. In some cases, pins are inserted with the focus of causing pain. In other cases pins are inserted like spiritual acupuncture. They can be tied, burned, buried, or have any other manner of things done to them. Because of sympathetic magic, there should be a related effect upon the target. Once the poppet is no longer useful, the practitioner will sever the magical tie between it and the target it represents. Then, the poppet is destroyed.

In some cases, poppets are not destroyed but rather rendered magically inert to be recycled for future use. This is done with poppets that do not have physical links to the target embedded within them. Those that have physical links to the target of the spell should be rendered magically inert and then destroyed, unless the caster has future spells they wish to perform upon the same target. The reason why these poppets need to be destroyed is because the physical ties to the target will continue the resonance, albeit at a less effective level. This complicates future recycling of the poppet and makes it harder to attune the poppet with a new target.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spread (part III)

Today's spread is a twelve card spread that bears a great deal of resemblance to an expanded version of the basic three card spread. Don't let the similarity in layout fool you, though, because this spread has an entirely different focus. In many ways, this spread could be compared to the Celtic Cross when it is used to learn what is going on with the dead. 

I don't have a fancy name for this spread. For lack of a better name, I call it 'spirit talk'. It is one I developed by accident when I was laying out cards whilst interacting with the dead. I discovered that the cards facilitated the conversation and actually provided greater clarity to the impressions I was receiving. It is generally more effective when there is a topic focus. When just used with out a focus, the spread still works relatively well, but sometimes it is hard to see the connections between the cards.

Position one is the card addressing the immediate answer to your query. Position four clarifies the card at position one. Position seven reveals the way the immediate answer relates to you. The remaining cards of the first row (2 & 3) each address more nuanced answers. Position two's column relates to what people the spirit you are communicating with believes to be influential on the matter with the subsequent cards in the column serving the same roles as positions four and seven did for the card at position one. Position three's column relates what additional information the spirit believes is especially important to focus on.

The column of three cards off to the right summarizes the details of the matrix on the right. Card ten summarizes column one. Card eleven summarizes column two. And card twelve does so for column three. Taken together, these three cards give the answer to your query and what focuses the spirits believe important. It is possible to do the entire reading based off of the final three cards, but the prior nine assist in this process by breaking that major messages up into their salient points.