Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh my Gods, I've turned into Malcolm Reynolds!

In 1912, the Titanic sailed and sank on her first voyage. Ninety- eight years were spent on speculation of how the disaster originated, until one day this year a secret broke it's seal. It was not a hasty captain, it was neither the public relations person nor shoddy workmanship. It was the helmsman who lived with this horrendous guilt knowing that he was the cause. All of his instincts, all of his years on the sea, all of his skills in the moment he needed them, betrayed him. He was competent helms man, but this was new technology that defied his experience. When given the order to turn and turn hard, he did. In the moment of crisis, his instincts should have save him and the Titanic had the steering technique not shifted. You see, in the old world sailing vessels, you turned left to go right. In the Titanic, a brand new modern vessel, you turned the real direction. I hope this good sailor is resting in peace.

I am an old world witch trying to cope in the new world. I know I am not necessarily a dying breed. I speak to some of my peers and elders and they too are baffled how some of the new blood do not seem to understand the words honor and gate keeping. I realize there are not many real secrets to the craft. There never have been and there never will be. These days there are even less secrets because more of us are out of the closet. One of the secrets supposed to been have kept was the list of names. There are still those who are in the closet and their identity, should I know them, are kept as secret as they would have been hundreds of years ago, as should be. Granted, now a days, the punishment for witchery is no longer blood, stakes and fire. Now a days, economic hardship, the tearing apart of family, two faced back stabbing and hate crimes are on the menu. These things are rarely executed, most people either don't care that we exist or are amused by it. It's the rare hard liner filled with the rhetoric of brimstone and hellfire that acts against us. Don't mistake, they are there. . .

The inquisition these days looks different and acts different. Instead of long, regal robes adorned by crosses of gold, it looks more like misinformed bureaucracy all across the board. I'm not saying every member of bureaucracy is a member of this inquisition, it's more like a small pious cabal of people who seem to think that every witch is crazy, evil and out to hurt everyone in their path. Or at the very least a poor, delusional wretch being used by the black man himself or possessed by a demon. They make fallacious videos for law enforcement, perform dangerous and hateful exorcisms, pass out pamphlets filled with fear and cancel Halloween! This small cabal feels it is their duty to save humanity ( specifically other people's children) from the devil. I guess they don't understand that there is no devil in the craft. Then again, we are talking about a small group of people who see the devil in everything that isn't just like them. If human means 'just like me,' witches aren't human. Not to them anyway.

Now to make things even more ugly. There are genuinely unstable people out there who claim to the craft. Every deed that violates human trust is blamed upon their religion. What's worse is they make a large amount of noise dragging their supposed religion with them through the muck and mire. They go to craft elders and demand defense. They go to the ACLU and the Lady Liberty League and demand defense because they are being persecuted for their religion when in fact their religion is not in question. It's their criminal activity, what ever it is. (Keep in mind there are those who go to the ACLU and LLL with genuine grievance.)  We have seen a lot of this done in our name: rape, murder, sexual exploitation, child abuse, child neglect, senseless killing and torturing of animals, the list goes shamefully on. Just like child molestation is not a part of the Catholic religion, none of these things are the craft. Never has been, never will be. Those who do these things in our name most certainly should not be defended by us.

I am an old world witch trying to cope in a new world. I have taken oaths to protect the craft and my kin. I shall uphold them. I know many of  those in my order have taken similar oaths. I also know there are those in my order who have done no such thing, which baffles me. It occurs to me that that I may be just like that old world sailor. I am expected to sail a new ship and when I say no thanks I get salty remarks aimed at keeping me in line with the party line. I say no thanks, I'll stick to the vessel class I know my instincts won't betray. You see, I have taken a lesson from that old sailor, and being a sailor's daughter, I have to thank that sailor for breaking the silence on his most revealing secret. I may add new things like a better compass, comfy quarters, better communications equipment and lasers instead of canons, but the helm set up will remain the same. . .

Oh my Gods, I've turned into Malcolm Reynolds!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rolling Eyeballs. . .

A couple of years ago I went to a local witches meet up. It was held in a bookstore and we all sat around in a circle with a cauldron full of questions. We each took a turn answering the question, which was at the moment, do your spirit guide give you direct answers? Most of the people there answered along the vein of no not really they seem to ask more questions and let me come to my own conclusion. At least until it came to a friend of mine: she began to mention her experience in trance.

Immediately everyone in the circle, with the exception of myself, began to roll their eyes. No one really wanted to hear what she had to say. It contradicted everything they thought they knew and therefore this woman's information couldn't possibly be anything other than gobble-de-gook. I was a little insulted and haven't been back since.

I bring this up now because I want to discuss the fact that not one tradition, one line within a tradition or even one witch can possible know and understand everything there is to know about the craft. What I know in the craft has taken me at least one life time to attain. Even with that stated, I believe I have been helped along by some past life memories that have risen up in dreams and trance experiences. I have also been helped along by listening to those with differing experiences. I have also been helped along my path by those who are no longer incarnate here and those who have never been here. Most importantly I have accepted that I do not know everything.

I do have to agree that there are those out there who are either full of themselves or just full of that which smells like cow patty or even worse. . . out to make a buck by selling out a tradition. There are those who will deliberately misguide you to throw you off track or to make themselves 'King of the Mountain.' You can still listen to them respectfully without rolling your eyeballs. This is where you ability to discern truth comes into play. If it is flat out lie, you must then decide whether it is beneficial or not to correct them or if arguing with fools is all that will happen. We all know what happens when you argue with fools. If you smell fool, the best thing to do is politely excuse yourself and walk away. No need to give the fool ammunition by making yourself look like a donkey's behind.

I have noticed that there seems to be a long tradition of 'witchier than thou' that runs around between lines and traditions. I think it is unnecessary. You don't need to say anything to convey power. You don't need to roll eyeballs to discern and express the 'truthieness' of a statement. Silence, I have found, is the most potent tool in your witch box. The only time where silence does not serve anyone well is when there is an immediate danger posed by lies, deception, vile deeds done in the name of witchdom. When these things come about, and they have, you can correct these things without betraying your tradition and fellow witches.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Familiar. . .

Meet Miss Nike!

Most of my life has been lived in the presence of a cat or two. The times when there was no cat were lonely. Some of those cats were just friends who curled up with me and a hot cup of tea. Others were far more than that. They curled up beneath the working altar, stood over my readings, investigated oddly flickering flames ( a few times coming out of it with less whisker), alerting me to weird things floating around and patiently waiting for me at the door to come back in after a smoke. These cats were familiars, magical partners. Familiars can not be made, they choose the work.
Familiars are energetically sensitive and are willing and capable of forming a psychic bond with the person they choose to attach to. Over the years, I have found they can choose to perform one service or many. I don’t understand yet if it is just “these are the skill I have” or whether “these are the skills I have and you most need help in; the rest I hide or reveal in my own damned time” ( insert kitty laughter here.) Most recently, I have found myself in trance with an extra companion. I have heard reports of it happening from other witches I have worked with. She was sort of along for the adventure: what are you doing in here Mom??? I came out to find her happily purring away in a curled up, warm, fuzzy, ball at my feet.
As there are benefits to the familiar relationship, there can be things you must be cautious with. That psychic connection??? If you are not in the presence of your familiar and you have an emotional melt down, so does your familiar. It is very traumatic to your familiar to not understand what is happening to you. They will act out in negative manners, even appear to have their own melt down. My suggestion to remedy this is to take a moment and send a calming visual to your familiar and when you come home expect to be glommed upon; break out with the kitty nip. It takes practice, but it will enhance the communication between you and your magic friend.  
I can’t say that I have actually trained my familiar. I think “training” your familiar is probably a misnomer. I just sort of tried stuff to see what works and what she responds to best. It is more of establishing a working relationship with a person than a power over situation where “you belong to me.” I find those relationships to be most unhealthy to live in.
So if you find yourself in a relationship with an animal that seems to be waiting for you to do something and hogs up your altar space, give ‘em something to do besides singe their whiskers off.

Time Lapse; In 6 days, Buddhist monks create insane sand mandala sculpture

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four Thieves Vinegar

Not last night, but the night before, 24 robbers came running through my door…
OK so there weren’t 24 of them, only four. They were robbing the homes and businesses of the black plague victims AND not catching it which was something unheard of. Apparently as the story goes one of those dastardly dude’s mother was an apothecary, at least this is the version of the story I heard. She had whipped up a brew of cootie whoop ass so they wouldn’t get sick. Whether she knew what her brew was being used for is questionable; no one seems to talk about that detail. Eventually these thieves were caught and in exchange for the recipe they escaped execution.
So today, we have a brew that has been passed down through history that is not only a antimicrobial (if made with food grade materials you can eat it) but it is a potent magickal protection brew used for everything from averting the evil eye to getting rid of bothersome folk. Good stuff to have around as a staple if you ask me.
Here is a common recipe:
 You can make your own “Four Thieves Vinegar” by following the simple recipe below.
Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe: Use equal parts of the following herbs:
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Melissa (lemon balm)
  • Hyssop
  • Peppermint
  • A handful of garlic cloves
Let these ingredients cold infuse in a glass jar covered with apple cider vinegar for about six weeks. Shake it up periodically during that six weeks. Filter out the herb and pour into a clean bottle. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator.
While my personal recipe is a little different, the important factor lies in the fact that each of the herbs used are antimicrobial. I also do a similar mix using essential oils that I put in a spray bottle with water to mist around the house when the kids bring home the cold or if tensions in the house get high due to conflict in or out of the home.
You can make a salad dressing of it by mixing 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil. Shake well before pouring over leafy green salads. You can take it by the teaspoon to help ward off winter illnesses.
I like to put about a teaspoon of it into a bucket of water and use it as a cleaning rinse. I also put it in a spray bottle to clean off counter and stove top surfaces.
While all of these seem to be rather mundane uses, the thing you have to realize that as you are physically cleaning, you are clearing out the magickal realms of your home as well. Negative energies love to gather in dusty, dreary, dirty cluttered places and the best way to deal with negative energies in your life is to give them no refuge in your home. WIth no place to hide, negativity and bothersome folk scurry away like the man in black himself is on their tail!

Energetic Effect of Time

  • 3: circulation and blood stability is affected
  • 11: the pituitary and nerves begin to change
  • 22: the three minds ( negative, positive and neutral) begin to work together
  • 31: meditation begins to affect your whole mind, your aura and internal elements ( earth, air, fire, water, spirit)
  • 62: Light and shadows of the mind begin to integrate
  • 2 1/2 hours: Holds the subconscious change for the entire day’s cycle
  • it takes 40 days to change a habit
  • it takes 90 days to confirm that habit
  • it takes 120 days for the habit to become who you are
  • it takes 1000 days to master the new habit 

Graveyard Etiquette and Dirt!

“Hecate Prytania, you saffron clad one among the tombs, I ask permission to enter the gates of this graveyard. I seek your blessings and safe passage.” 
Wait for a sign of Her permission to enter. Before you enter the gate announce your gift of 9 wine soaked dimes and a bulb of garlic. Shake the dimes up in their container so She may hear them before you empty them onto the ground. There are many different traditions that talk about using pennies as entrance tokens, there are those that talk about using dimes, some specifically talk about Mercury head dimes other talk about a specific number of pennies or dimes. I prefer the modern dime with the torch on the back. I like the connection that implies to Hecate and Her torches. I use the number nine because it is the number of all triple goddesses: (by the power of three times three.)
Take the bulb of garlic to either a triple crossroad in the graveyard or a tree you feel call. Some practitioners feel it is appropriate to entice the Goddess to let you in with a gift. However, my intuition tells me that Hecate may be insulted with something She may view as a bribe, so I wait permission to enter then give Her my gift regardless of the answer.
When leaving the graveyard there are traditions that view turning your back upon the mighty dead as not only rude, but foolish. Not all of the mighty dead are benevolent and would leap at a chance to cause havoc and mischief in your life if given the excuse. So before you walk out the gate face the dead and back out of the gate three steps. Bow to the mighty dead and say:
“Thank you to the mighty dead who have shown me hospitality in their home. Merry Meet and Merry Part.”
Bow to the mighty dead and leave the graveyard gate without looking back.
Graveyard Dirt

When researching graveyard dirt I found a whole bunch of people selling it (????), some of the formulas for sale had absolutely no dirt in it. I found mullein, patchouli and a few other herbs powdered and mixed together. None of this felt right so I had to go and ask a few of my elders to help me sift out the crap. My intuitions were confirmed by both my elders and this statement I tripped over:

Against a few modern white authors claiming that “graveyard dirt” is a secret code for mullein herb, we have evidence that the folklorist Harry M. Hyatt interviewed hundreds of black people in the late 1930s who told him the proper ways they knew to collect and pay for graveyard dirt — and NONE of them mentioned mullein.

Take the dirt from the seventh grave from the gates, they told him, or from the third grave on the left, or from any grave; make sure you get it from the grave of a murderer, from the grave of a baby, or from the grave of someone who loved you; collect it at the foot of the grave, the head of the grave, from the head and foot both, from over the corpse’s heart; pay for it with a dime, with three pennies, with a measure of rum, with a measure of whiskey; dig it with a silver spoon, dig it by hand only and use no tools — their instructions vary, but they ALL are speaking quite frankly of literal graveyard dirt — some even calling it “that old yellow graveyard clay.”

There are as many ways to buy graveyard dirt as there are cultures. So my intuition tells me that I should be sure that I do things that are congruent to my own beliefs while respecting the tradition of graveyard etiquette: be polite, because you are in someone else’s ‘house’, pay for what you take, leave an offering to the patron deity, in my case, Hecate Prytania presides.
For me it makes sense to take dirt from one of four places on the grave: the head, the heart, the feet, and the groin.
Head: to deal with thought forms, gossip, protection, liars
Heart all matters of the heart positive and negative
Feet: safe travel, make someone go away, wealth ( I associate this with the Italian tradition of old shoes being thrown at a wedding for wealth of the couple)
Groin: sex offenders ( payment here is higher due to the nature of root chakra energy and it being the base of all beings… nine pennies face up)
I know I have not listed all matters. I do not want to get too specific because a lot of this is intuitive and common sense based. Our ancestors were practical people after all. If it didn’t work, they didn’t use it.
For common use graveyard dirt, the gate is a good place to but it from, but because you are dealing with the Goddess herself here and not an individual from the yard, a higher price is called for. I use nine pennies here as I would for groin dirt. Now as much as there is rules for where to take the dirt from there are also rules about who to buy it from. The first rule is always ask permission and know who you are dealing with.

Teenager (11-19): to cause inattentiveness or irresponsibility in your target or to kindle sexual attraction
Child (2-10): great for appearing innocent, developing friendships, or obtaining necessities ( best to get this from a poor child rather than one who ate from a silver spoon)
Baby: when you need someone to cast a blind eye to what you are up to, insuring that someone remains dependant on you, or when you need to appear indispensable
Adulterer: to create a love triangle or breaking up a relationship ( esp helpful if you know the relatonship is toxic)
Doctor: to either cause or heal illness
Insane: to bring on madness in your target, remember that the person you are dealing with may not be coherent enough to understand your request and you may not get the desired affect you expected.
Magical Practitioner: virtually everything
Pet: Protection and loyalty
The Abused: to assist in removing one from an abusive relationship.
The Murdered: to right an injustice or to seek revenge.
Murderer or Serial Killer: do not use his dirt unless it is your intent to cause grave harm to your target. I would reserve this only in the most dire need and even still I would hesitate. You may not get the desired result you wish, in fact, you may unleash Hell.
Nun or Priest: spiritual protection and to convey the sense of innocent goodness to the outside world.
Soldier: soldiers are trained to follow orders think on their feet, be strong and courageous. Therefore this dirt is good for just about anything, but you would be wise to understand what this soldier believed in and his/ her causes so that you do not get worked against.
Lawyer/ judges: winning a court case, to protect your rights and dealing with injustices.
Housewife: to ensure domestic tranquility or protection of the hearth and home. May also be used to create discord and chaos in your target’s home.

These are all suggestions I have been able to glean from the online materials I have found. I don’t think anything is truly set in stone as all magick under the realm of Hecate tends to be liminal anyway. Use your intuition and good common sense. I have heard that it is best to buy dirt from someone who knew and loved you in life, but not all of us have that luxury, so be certain of who you are dealing with is not only willing to help you but capable. Meditating and having a conversation with the passed one is necessary before you do any work with them.

Unwelcome Visitor

Rule number one: do not panic.

Rule number two: get rid of it!

Rule number three: see rule number one.

Well apparently while hubby and I were sick, we attracted a wee bit of a nasty. No problem. Now that I am feeling better and pulling back my energy reserves I picked up on it. What do you do? Simple. start with a reasonably clean house. Make sure garbage isn’t overflowing, sweep and vacuum, pick up and put away any clutter. Then start in on the clearing.

I usually use a smudge for general clearing purposes but for something I know to be in the house I pull out the gang buster. It’s a mix I call “bridge over troubled water” because surely anything that cannot contain itself on it’s own light is indeed troubled. It’s a mix of powdered herbs to exorcise any negative energies and entities. You can easily make your own, there are several magic herb books with great ideas. You can also get great ideas on the net.

I like to rattle out any ‘stuck’ energies so that when I smudge everything is loose and ready to be shooed out. I pay extra attention any part of the house that seems to be heavy or cold or thick. After I smudge out the house, I go through with all the elements and call in their blessings. You don’t leave a vacuum for just anything to fill. After sacred space is clearly re established I call in divinity, my divinity of choice in this case would be Mari. After the blessings and protection of divinity has been called in I seal everything with my ancestors oil and call upon their love and protection. I trace pentacles on all door thresholds and window sills to further the magick seal. the final move is to re create my energetic bubble around my entire home to keep the space free of anything that may be curious ( and negative) from taking up residence. Tonight after t he house is still I will be leaving out a dish of milk and honey for the little ones who come to visit. Sound easy? It is.

The worst thing you can do if you feel there is something in your house causing trouble is to panic and be afraid. The second worse thing you can possibly do is do nothing about it. These entities feed on your fear, in fact, the more noxious ones will cultivate fear for them to feed on. I’m sure you can imagine how nasty that can get.

This is your space, you live here, you are in power. Use it.

Blue Beads and the Aversion of the Evil Eye

There are cultural references to the evil eye from all over the world. It sits in the back of the human mind like an old cautionary tale from childhood bedtime stories and not like the watered down versions that most western children are told for bed time entertainment. Its symptoms vary from uneasy feeling of dread to headache and fatigue; in extreme cases, physical illness. It is believed that this superstition radiates out from the lands of Sumer where moisture rules the day. The evil eye is believed to cause withering and drying causing harm to beings and even destruction if caution is not taken. So it is no surprise to me that the color of water is the cure. 
The most common blue bead seen for this purpose is a cobalt blue bead with an iris appearing dot at its center. It is commonly called a nazar boncugu. It is believed that if the iris falls off the cobalt bead then the evil eye had been cast and averted. A new charm would then be acquired.
The Hebrew community also has its own belief in the evil eye and uses red ribbons to deter it and even spitting. On occasion an elder hebrew woman can be spotted making a peh- peh -peh sound upon a compliment paid her grandchild as they are believed to piggy back the evil eye. Better safe than sorry is the axiom used to justify this action.
So I have asked myself: Am I as superstitious to believe in the evil eye? All evidence points to yes and not out of the axiom ‘better to be safe than sorry.’ My grandmother believed in the evil eye, my mother in law believes in the evil eye, my own experiences and actions reflect to me that I do as well. Each of my children have been made blue bead anklets on a red cord. And they wear them. Not all the time mind you, My eldest seems to go through periods where he feels just fine not wearing it, but I have noticed that during times of strife among classmates or when school events take place, he hunts high and low for his anklet. My daughter is the same way, particularly around choir performance time. 
I tend to defer to simplicity and obscurity. I use cobalt beads on a red cord. The red cord denotes to me protection and connection to the vitality of life and the blue beads represent the life nurturing properties of water. Within my own tradition the colors also lend the protection of both the God and Goddess. I chose to place it upon my ankle simply to keep a low key on my superstitious nature. While there are those that believe that the charm must be seen to work, I believe no such thing.
There are many cures and preventive measures used for the evil eye, including mirrors, black eyeliner, incense laden prayers and horseshoes. My answer, the one that works for me and my family are blue beads on a red cord as protection and an egg rolled down the body to remove it. I like simplicity. I like unobtrusive accents that won’t smack to the viewer, if they are paying attention, of a superstitious ninny. I realize that we live in an industrial age and there are those that pooh pooh old world beliefs. Just because the world has turned it’s back on spirits and nature, doesn’t mean that spirits and nature have forgotten us and will stay their hands for good or for ill. 
Here are some good links for more information on the evil eye, it’s prevention and some cure if you care to do your own homework: