Interviews & Reviews

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life by Imelda Almqvist

April, 2018

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages by Imelda Almqvist

In 2008 when I set out with my co-authors to write a book about doing shamanic ceremony with children and families, there was almost no literature on the topic–save Starhawk’s landmark “Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.” Since our book was published in 2012, many more authors have been responding to the immense need for these resources, thankfully. When I discovered Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans,” I was thrilled to see another shamanic practitioner working with children and youth who was also dedicated to adding to this body of knowledge responsibly. Throughout the book, readers are warned of some of the pitfalls in doing shamanic work with children, as well as, how to work around those thoughtfully and with respect for both the child’s sensibilities and the family culture. Indeed, I use Imelda’s book as a reference today for my own work with children and families. This book achieves its stated intent:

All existing societies and cultures were preceded by shamanic cultures, where people lived in close relationship with the Earth, the ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. Connecting with Spirit is our own birthright and the birthright of our children. As I hope this book will demonstrate, it can give young people an exceptional spiritual toolkit for life in the 21st Century.”

Imelda explores key spiritual concepts and tools in ways that children and families can understand. Some of these include: shadow work, death and change, shapeshifting, dreaming, forgiveness, divination, and taking one’s power– learning to wield it responsibly. Imelda brings her substantial experience working with children of all ages to this book. I’ve worked as an educator for two decades; it’s easy to see how certain activities can be adapted to children at different developmental stages. Parents who have raised children through different stages will, also, likely find this easy to do. In addition, Almqvist speaks at length about the importance of offering rites of passage ceremonies to children to support them in the many transitions they make during childhood. She, also, describes the adult’s role in guiding children on their spiritual path:

If we do not offer Rites of Passage, children will either fail to complete crucial developmental stages or they will place themselves in risky situations trying to create communities and initiations for themselves, such as through street gangs, joyriding, drugs, crime or alcohol.”

This book provides a compassionate and extensive look at issues facing parents and children in today’s world. It offers ideas for how to look at these challenges through a shamanic lens, introducing new possibilities for transformation that are holistic, healthy, and healing. Imelda’s approach enrols children in their own healing and shows them how to become more confident in who they are at their essence. Through Imelda’s personal stories, parents receive understanding and wisdom from someone who has guided her own children through spiritual and developmental transitions. If you are a shamanic practitioner interested in working with children and families, this book is a “must have” for your resource collection! It is full of great ideas and links to the work of other shamanic authors that inspire her work. It will spark your own imagination and creative juices! “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life” is published by Moon and widely available online. International shamanic teacher, Sandra Ingerman provides a wonderful foreword to this important book.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

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For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Interview with Michael H. Hughes, Magician & Author of “Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change”

April, 2018

 

In his latest book, Michael H. Hughes brings together activism and magic as tools for the resistance.

What I’ve discovered doing research for this book is witchcraft, in particular magic, has always been the tool of oppressed people. When you are out of other means of getting something done, you still do what you have to do, and in many cases that involves magic,” he said.

Enslaved Africans used hoodoo and root work. Voodoo was instrumental in the uprising against Haiti’s white class. In medieval Europe, there were poppets and wax figures used against royalty.

The more you dig into the history of magic used as a tool against oppression, the more emerges. There’s even a book that just came out serendipitously for my research, I must say, called ‘Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England: A History of Sorcery and Treason (International Library of Historical Studies).’ about how magic was used against the ruling class or how the ruling class sometimes used it to persecute people, to accuse them falsely as in the witch persecutions,” Hughes said.

In the introduction to his book that is due coming out September 8, in advance of the midterm elections, he states, “We are living in a time of great turmoil at the edge of history. A time in which liberal, democratic values and ideas that have withstood wars and despots are under attack by rising tides of nationalism and racial supremacy; in which the industrial model of our society is crumbling, and with it the patriarchal, hierarchical structure that has kept it in place. An era in which our very existence as a species is imperiled by a warming planet, overpopulation, and our unquenchable desire for material goods.”

For those who don’t wish to give up and are willing to advocate for change, this book can serve as a toolkit to manifest equality and peace. It contains spells, rituals and historical examples to help readers put their magic to work to make the world a better place.

Magic, Hughes explained, is “innate in us. It wants to express itself.”

What Hughes found when he stripped away erroneous history and dogma were folk traditions and indigenous traditions he considers the roots of magic – the basic techniques that are universal. Those include sympathetic magic and elemental associations. For instance, he noted, traditions all over the world consider fire a creator and a destroyer. Everywhere people work with the four directions. Magic words, chants, song and dance are used in every culture.

I was just working on a chapter on talisman and amulets. I was looking into how they evolved and where they came from. It’s so fascinating to think that Africans from the Congo are brought to this continent and they meet Native Americans who were using medicine pouches that there’s no difference between the Congolese bags that they wore around their necks, even to the same natural items that they would have in their bags,” he said in early March as he was putting in long hours to get the finished manuscript to his publisher.

Ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus they rolled up and put in a little tube that they wore around their necks. Observant adult Jews put on tefillin, small black leather boxes holding parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. Catholics are given the scapular to wear.

So even if a lot of these don’t come from the same roots, they’re universal. For me, it seems to argue for the fact it works. It’s effective magic. When you carry around items symbolic, important, protective or powerful on your body, then, for whatever reason, as humans we like to do that. So if you don’t believe in magic, then you have to assume it’s somehow part of our psychological makeup or something like that. But if you believe in magic like I do, then the ubiquity of all these kinds of traditions seem to indicate that it probably works; that’s why people do it.”

When people think of magic they think of spells, and when they think of spells, they think of witches. But magic does not belong to one group or one culture. It underlies all spiritual traditions and systems. In it’s most basic sense, Hughes defines magic as the use of directed consciousness to effect change in the world.

What I’m trying to do with this book is be clear this is just magic. It’s not witchcraft, it’s not traditional witchcraft, it’s not Druidry, it’s not indigenous tradition, it’s not chaos magic, it’s not post-modern magic, it’s just magic. And as such, I try to create these rituals so that they can be plug and play, which is what I think the success of the Trump binding spell,” he said.

The Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him led to this book.

Originally I was going to write a book on magic, theoretical and practical magic before this Trump spell took off and had a life of its own and dragged me along with it,” Hughes said.

At the time he crafted the binding spell used for the first time February 24, 2017 , Hughes said, “I really thought, ‘This is just going to be some small thing that I publish [on Medium] and a few people, maybe the pagan community, they’ll argue about it,’ which they did. But wow, it really just blew up beyond anything I could have imagined. The whole thing has been a really surreal experience.”

Within days, it went viral.

A couple of stories that blow my mind,” he said. “One is I was going to do the ritual. I had about 30 or 40 people who were going to gather to do it and the night of it I went to pick up some wine and beer for afterward and I walk into some random liquor store in Baltimore and the woman, probably in her 20s, said, ‘Do you want your receipt?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah I’m hoping to write this off. I’m cursing Donald Trump tonight.’ And without batting an eye she said, “Oh, do you have the unflattering photo?” I just stared at her. She said, ‘Me and my friends are doing it later tonight.’

I was dumbfounded. I knew it was circulating pretty wildly. The entire week after I published it, I was on the phone all day. People calling, reporters emailing. I did so many interviews it was ridiculous. As the ritual got closer, I realized how big it was getting, I started getting calls from TV reporters [wanting to film the ritual]. I didn’t want reporters, especially at the first time. You never know how they’re going to portray it. I didn’t want it to be really intrusive … but they were so insistent on filming it, I said, ‘Oh, I hear there are going to be people at Trump Tower doing it.’ I just made that up.’”

When the film crews showed up at Trump Tower in New York City, there were 20 witches outside. More were in front of his tower in Chicago.

It happened and I had no idea. I really just pulled that out of thin air thinking, ‘Well, maybe there’ll be some people there doing it’ and sure enough they showed up and did the ritual.”

The witches weren’t the only ones. Thousands upon thousands of occultists and magicians took part. Even Christians and Buddhists – many tweaking it to use their way in their tradition – performed the ritual. Many had never never performed a ritual in their lives. It became the largest and longest continuing magical working in history.

Did it work? Well, Trump’s initial travel ban was rescinded, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was halted, Robert Mueller’s noose has tightened and no wall is being built. However, the tax bill passing, the threat of war and the assault on the environment show there is still much work to be done. Each month, members of the magic resistance continue to perform the ritual. Hughes also offered a daily version as well.

I realized that the fundamental Christians were going to freak out, even Evangelicals, but I was really surprised at some of the vehemence from the pagan community. I guess I should have known better, but I was still a little surprised by the number of witches who said it was awful and I was destroying the reputation of witchcraft. First of all, I’m not a witch. I don’t identify as a witch. But obviously this became witches versus Trump and no matter how many times I … [said] ‘This is magic. I’m a magician, I’m not a witch.’ It just went right over their heads.”

The magic resistance that galvanized around the binding spell is committed to using spells, rituals, prayer, divination and other techniques to resist or impede dangerous or oppressive political movements, politicians, and actions. This, Hughes states in the introduction to his book, includes “authoritarianism, white supremacy, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, environmental destruction, attacks on marginalized populations, as well as other harmful ideologies. It can be viewed as a magical form of self-defense, or defense of others. But it is not just about resistance. This movement also uses magical practices to promote progressive, inclusive, liberating, and empowering political, environmental, economic, and social causes.”

The book gives readers ideas for altars, meditations, community organizing, self care and more. and provides spells for racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, environmentalism, immigration, refugee support and nonviolence.

The magic in this book can be broadly adapted to many traditions, and is meant to serve as a foundation for experimentation and incorporation into other progressive and inclusive causes,” he said.

One of the spells Hughes offers is “Hands Off Laws Off: Hecate Invocation” to protect women’s reproductive rights, women’s health clinics and their staff. Meant to only be done at night, its components include a red candle, bay leaves, myrrh, a representation of the lawmaker or organization, a call to Hecate, and a chant ending with “Hands off/Laws off.”

His “Healing the Earth (Microcosm Ritual)” uses a pot of earth, a green candle, stones or crystals, feathers, an edible herb plant, a small representation of an animal, a prayer, and optional tarot cards of the moon and the sun. It has people caring for a plant as a representation of caring for the entire earth – and the magic can he “hidden in plain sight.”

The “thoughts and prayers” offered by politicians inspired a spell called, “We Shall Form a Circle to Protect Our Children” that uses a white candle and a piece of rose quartz.

These, like the others, are based on standard magical elements, directional attunement, ancestor communications, calls to a spirit, astrological influences. They are not part of any one particular tradition and can be modified to align with anyone’s practice.

I always felt like the world was a magical place,” Hughes said. “My thinking has always been sort of magical, even before I understood the magic in theory, as a kid, I would draw something to manifest it or just little sort of ritualistic things I would do in my life even before I knew that was practical magic. It was actually in my early 20s when I really started immersing myself in reading magic and occultism.”

You don’t have to understand how magic works or even believe in magic for the social justice spells Hughes provides to work, as long as they are done sincerely, with full commitment and energy. After all, people who play lucky lottery numbers, pray for healing, throw a coin into a well or leave flowers at the grave of a loved one are all practicing magic.

As the introduction on the yet-to-be-published book states, “If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burned out because of the slow progress of social change, this magical work can nurture and support you, sharpening your focus and resolve for a more sustained, long-term activism.”

For more about Michael H. Hughes, his earlier trilogy and his blog, visit his website.

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book Review: How to Read Your Horoscope in 5 Easy Steps by Chrissie Blaze

April, 2018

BOOK REVIEW

HOW TO READ YOUR HOROSCOPE IN 5 EASY STEPS –
Stop Reading (Except This One…) and Start Reading Charts

By Chrissie Blaze

Chrissie Blaze has created a deceptively simple “introduction” to astrological chart reading. Yes, the book covers the basics of chart interpretation and how to work with each factor as an entry point into chart analysis. But Blaze takes us into advanced “seeing” by moving past these individual factors into what I call “the blend” – she teaches us to weave the parts into a greater whole that reflects the creation story written in each birth chart. If you have ever looked at your birth chart and wondered how to make sense of your Venus in Aries AND your Mars in Libra opposing each other, Blaze’s book will help you sort it out! As she points out, all of the elements of the chart combine as if they are playing in a symphony. Parts are harmonious, parts are discordant – and you can teach yourself to make a whole out of all the parts.

Blaze’s “five easy steps” are not simple! Each step contains many baby steps that culminate in leap forward. I have studied astrological charts for many years and found her process outline to be clear and quite useful, with each step building to a sense of competence. Suggestions for weaving the many parts together are excellent. Blaze tells us that working with what seem like a bunch of disconnected pieces is like learning a language. We have to learn the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Once we practice putting them together, we speak effortlessly! And like getting the “gist” of a language we don’t yet understand, we can work with our first impressions to find a way into the chart. In fact, Blaze starts out in Step 1 by taking us into deep waters – chart shapes! We look at the overall pattern the planets make in the astrological wheel – are they “splashed” all over or in a “bucket” in one part of the chart? The shape tells us something about the overall energetic design of this person’s lifetime. Identifying chart shapes can be tricky, but Blaze wades right in and use our intuition to feel into the chart as life’s destiny blueprint. She asks us to see and to trust what we are seeing. So, in Step 1, we begin reading the chart without any feeling of overwhelm!

(Photo by Diego on Unsplash)

Blaze is correct – you can stop reading other books and use the great technical information in this one to dig deep into your chart. She addresses all of the key factors – chart shapes, planets, signs, houses, chart angles, elements, modalities, nodes – and more. And you can add to the technical information the ability to weave the multiple factors together into a creation story. There are short descriptions of the signs and the qualities of the Sun and Moon in each sign that you can use as references and an excellent discussion of using the Sun, Moon and Ascendant to identify themes and characteristics in a person’s inner and outer selves. But this is no ordinary cookbook of canned interpretations. Blaze shows us her process of analysis in discussing examples of each factor, which I found invaluable. These discussions are a great reference as reading and re-reading them will teach you to think in “astrological language.” And as with learning a language, you will begin to recognize the energies and metaphor that the symbols convey. Blaze emphasizes fluency, rather than rote memorization, and offers practices that will help you achieve it.

At the end of each of the five steps are a “jargon” list and a set of exercises that almost trick you into chart reading without a sense of overwhelm. At the end of Step 1, you are already identifying chart shapes, looking for empty and “full” houses and listing “missing” and predominant elements. Blaze asks you simply to sense how these factors might affect you. You are encouraged to study Sun signs, but not to memorize a list of meanings. She also encourages you to be curious, wide-eyed, to explore and to trust your instincts. It’s a shamanic approach – ask the living energies of the planets how they are working through the houses and signs they occupy! By Step 5, you will know enough to look for themes, using Blaze’s list of interpretation guidelines and working with your findings in the very useful interpretation outline. The outline is a fantastic starting point for looking at your life as a whole through the lens of the chart. Do you want to know about your character and leadership potential? Blaze suggests that you look at placement of the Sun, Saturn, Mars, the Ascendant, what sign and planets are in the first house and how these relate to each other. Blaze will tell you that this is not a hard and fast “rule,” but a good place to start. You will evolve your own way of seeing into these destiny patterns, but these guidelines are a fantastic place to start. I printed them out to use!

Learn the “jargon,” use your intuition and work with “the blend,” and you will be reading a chart by the time you finish this book!

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Interview with Jason Miller: Author & Strategic Sorcerer, About His Latest Book that offers Keys for Better Spellcrafting

April, 2018

There are a few cows Jason Miller does not consider sacred, including the reverence for the do-it-yourself approach and the notion that magick should only be used in emergencies.

A sorcerer from New Jersey who practices and teaches magick professionally, his latest book, “The Elements of Spellcrafting: 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery,” is a magickal manual to go deeper and get more out of witchcraft.

Miller was given the name Inominandum, which means “he who cannot be named” by a spirit in the 27th Athyr.

It fits my attitude towards magic,” he wrote in his strategicsorcery.blogspot.com, “the moment you and your work can be completely described by an ‘ism’ or a label like ‘Buddhist’ or ‘Chaos’ or ‘Hermetic’ you are setting yourself up for a huge obstacle to hurtle later in your practice. As Krishnamurti wisely said, ‘Truth is a pathless land,’ and the last thing that must be given up before crossing to the other side of the abyss is the very boat that took you across.’”

His interest in the occult was sparked by an incident on the playground when he was 5.

I don’t know what happened beforehand. Maybe I was hit in the head, maybe not, maybe it was just a weird mental shift for no reason, but I looked down at the ground and I remember looking at the sand … and then looking up, but instead of looking up and seeing the playground and everything else, I looked up and all of reality was at my feet. It was as if the world became a two-dimensional painting and I looked away from it. I’ve had this sense ever after that reality was this show and there was stuff going on behind the curtain.”

The memory of that never faded.

In some ways, that moment of looking away felt more real then reality feels. And so I was always left with this nagging little piece of my brain that told me that what we see as firm and concrete is not as firm and concrete as you think, and that there are things going on behind the scenes.”

That led Miller to explore magic and mysticism in his teen years.

I asked my parents to start taking me to church and started exploring magic as it related to Christianity, and the grimoires, and so on, and then I found paganism.”

He took up the practice of both high magick and hoodoo rootworking while still a teenager, learning how ceremonial and folk magick can work together and compliment each other. When he discovered spellwork and spirits, and was able to do invocations with some success, he knew it he wanted to devote his life to it. And he has.

He traveled to New Orleans to study Hoodoo, Europe to study witchcraft and ceremonial magick, and Nepal to study tantra. Miller is an initiated Tantrika in the Nyingma and Bon lineages of Tibet, an ordained Gnostic Bishop, and a member of the Chthonic Ouranian Temple and the Sangreal Sodality.

What I found in Nepal was a practice that embraced both the very complex ceremonial magic and pretty simple hedge magic and folk magic, and blended them seamlessly together. I also found a practice that was rooted in mysticism and direct experience, rather than blind belief. … It forever changed my view of how magic works, of what was important,” he said in an interview last month.

Many of the ideas about magick that have become sacred cows he has found not to be true.

I deal with a lot of these in my book Elements of Spellcrafting,” Miller said. “I have a whole chapter in the book called ‘DYI is Over Rated.’

You see people a lot saying things like, ‘Any spell that you write yourself is going to be more powerful than something you learned’ or ‘Any tool that you make yourself is going to be more powerful than something you purchase. Any oil that you make yourself – whatever it is, there is this do-it-yourself ethos in Western magic, in paganism, especially.”

While it serves its purpose, taken to the extreme it can cut you off, he said.

It’s one thing to say that developing the skills and training necessary to be able to innovate is the best way to do things. That I think is correct. But this idea that right from the start, anything that your brain farts out is going to be better than anything that people have spent enormous time recording, and in some cases hiding at great personal cost, it undercuts the idea that witchcraft is a craft. A craft is something that you learn, that you practice, that you study, that you gain first competency in and then mastery in, and that you stand on the shoulders of giants. You learn what came first and also you recognize the fact that you can’t master everything in life.”

Miller described himself saying, “I am a witch in the sense that I do magic that is rooted in folk magic sometimes. I do magic that is rooted in intuition. I do magic that is rooted in the nocturnal and in the feminine at times. But I’m not only a witch. I’m also a magician. I call myself a sorcerer. We straddle both of those worlds.”

No one has the full picture” and no one “knows all the great secrets of magic or the universe or mysticism. … I personally think that we don’t even have the capacity to hold that information yet as human beings.”

There are master crafters who specialize in their respective fields, making such things as athames, oils, drums and candles.

It depends what you want,” he said.

You can take a weekend course to make an athame. There’s something to be learned from the doing, there’s an alchemy to it that is important,” but I it will not be the same as one made by a master.

I know how to make my own oils but I don’t find them more powerful than oil from Wolf and Goat, just because I made it. There’s a certain reverence for the do it yourself that cuts people off from taking advantage of and also appreciating people that master a craft.”

Different situations call for different things and there is a place for doing things yourself, but “that holding it up as this incredible power in and of itself is false,” Miller said.

Another sacred cow he shuns is that magic should be done in emergencies only, after everything else has failed.

You don’t hear this as much anymore, but when I was coming up, this was a big thing. … You would hear also, ‘People that go for magic for selfish reasons, it’ll blow up on them,’ and none of this, none of this is true. None of this is true. First of all, if you’re doing magic only when urgencies happen, there are two problems. One, you’re already in the emergency, so by definition, you are managing destruction, your plane is crashing, you’re just trying to decide if you can land in the Hudson or crash into a building. It’s too late to save the business, just figure out how to minimize the damage. And here’s one of the great dangers of magic, too. We can prolong things that are better off ending. …

Problem two is because magic is a craft. Witchcraft, as far as spells go, it is a craft. Sorcery is a craft. You have to be good at it in order to make full use of it. … That’s why emergency magic is bad. If that’s the only time you’re using magic, something already went wrong.”

Spells used in emergencies tend to have a higher frequency of success, likely because of the energy, approach, zeal and ardor put into the spell, but not because you are more deserving at that time.

Miller dismisses the idea of selfishness.

There is this idea that if you ask for money, the spirits will be angry with you, the gods will be angry with you. They don’t care. Money is not a bad thing. It’s not unspiritual,” he said, urging, “Go for what you think you don’t deserve. … In this book, I talk about blowing that out of the water entirely, just blasting against the idea that you deserve or don’t deserve anything.

There is this idea that if you don’t deserve something, then your spell work might not grab it as well, but it has nothing to do with whether you deserve it or not, it had to do with what you feel you might deserve.”

Olympians who get the bronze medal didn’t start out shooting for the bronze, he said, urging, “Go for the gold of whatever it is you want.”

Go big.

He noted that “a shocking amount of people” with whom he’s spoken “want to do money magic, they want to improve their financial lives – but not too much” because that would take them out of their comfort zone.

Let go of the idea of need. Let go of the idea of yes or no, black or white.”

If a spell did not work, it’s not because the caster is not deserving, but rather they’re “shooting for something that unenchantable, they’re not approaching it from different angles, or there’s a technical failure like they’re not using a clear link to get what they want to occur or influence the people they want to influence.”

The idea that intention is all that matters is another of the sacred cows Miller dismisses.

Everything matters is the fourth of the 21 keys he offers in “The Elements of Spellcrafting.” The fifth is that not everything is necessary.

Equating spellcrafting to cooking, he said. “I like to make gumbo in my new Instant Pot. Gumbo has a ton of ingredients. The first few times I made it, I followed the recipe that I was given exactly and the third or fourth time I made it, I didn’t have any frozen okra and I had to put a little more celery in and I was also having someone over who doesn’t eat pork, so I left out the andouille sausage and doubled down on the shrimp and the chicken. Did I still make gumbo? Yes, of course I made gumbo, but it was different than the gumbo that I had made previously.

Now let’s say I decided that making a roux is a pain in the butt, you have to sit there, stirring this mixture of butter and flour for 10 or 15 minutes until it becomes the color of peanut butter. If you let it go for even two seconds, the crap will burn. Let’s just say I decide not to do a roux. I’m just going to cook it like a soup. Am I still making gumbo? No, because the essential ingredient that makes it creole cooking with that thickening agent of the roux is gone. I have not made gumbo, and that’s okay. Soup is good, too. Yes, we can take things out of their original context, but we no longer should call it that same thing. We can replace some ingredients and say this is that thing but with this particular spin, and maybe it will make it better. Maybe you will add an element that really amps it up, or maybe not.”

Back to spells, Miller described a time he found himself without a red candle to summon a particular spirit. Instead, he used a red glass lantern and a white tea light candle.

It actually kicked things up a notch because while the wax wasn’t red, there was a glow, so it changed it a little bit because it wasn’t burning off that red as an offering, but giving red light for the spirit to manifest it. The dynamics of the ritual changed, but it was still successful.

So those are the things that people have to remember: everything matters but not everything is necessary. People really need to get out of this yes or no, either I have to do it by the book or just anything goes dichotomy and start looking in the middle of the spectrum.”

Highly eclectic practitioners may know that what they did works, but do not necessarily know how well it worked, or if it could have been done faster or with less discomfort. It’s important to stop asking if it worked and evaluating how it worked.

Now we’re starting to think like spellcrafters and sorcerers,” Miller said.

Cartoons featuring sorcerer and a demon – drawn by Mathew Brownlee, an occultist and tattoo artist, while sitting with Miller in a bar in Philadelphia – introduces each chapter. The one paired with sane eclecticism has the sorcerer holding up a phurba, a Tibetan three-sided dagger, saying, “By this holy phurba of Odin! I call thee Jeeezusss!’ The demon has a hand in front of his eyes and says, “That’s not how any of this works.”

Some people, Miller said, will “grab a phurba at a new age shop and they’ll say, ‘This is my wonderful athame’ and that’s not at all what it’s used for in Tibet. It’s a dagger, a nail. And then sometimes I’ll give a talk and talk about phurba practice and some of my experiences and people will say, ‘Yes, I do phurba practice, too,’ and what happens is that they bought a phurba somewhere and they dance around their living room with it and basically use it in either ceremonial magic or witchcraft and they don’t know anything at all about it from the Tibetan perspective. So this is where eclecticism sort of goes off the rails. It’s fine, just … stop confusing it with the original thing.”

When something is taken out of context, different terminology is appropriate.

This is where I believe in eclecticism – I believe that eclecticism is the gift of the sage – that multiculturalism, the openness and some access to so many different avenues of knowledge and practice – but we have to approach that gift with sincerity and respect and some amount of intelligence and awareness.”

By providing 21 keys to successful sorcery, from ‘Know What Magic Actually Does’ to ‘Maintain Sovereignty,’ Miller hopes readers will optimize the magic they do.

Let’s start turning our attention to deepening our experiences and doing things that change our lives and really matter in the long run,” he said, concluding the interview.

The Elements of Spellcrafting” details 21 keys best practices grouped into three sections: principals and strategies for how best to apply magic before you begin, methods and tactics that will ensure a positive outcome, and how to take spells to the next level.

Miller is the author of “Protection and Reversal Magick: A Witch’s Defense Manual,” “The Sorcerer’s Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magic,” “Financial Sorcery: Magical Strategies to Create Real and Lasting Wealth,” and “Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic.” He teaches and blogs about strategic sorcery.

Learn more at http://www.inominandum.com/home.html.

 

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book Review: Healing Crystals the A-Z Guide to 555 Gemstones by Michael Gienger

April, 2018

Book Review: Healing Crystals the A-Z Guide to 555 Gemstones by Michael Gienger

Healing Crystals is all about truth in advertising. It’s author, Michael Gienger, tells us that this is the A-Z guide to 555 gemstones, and that is exactly what he gives us. It measures 4 1/2″ by 6 1/2″. It is small but it is mighty for what it is.

It is 117 pages of crystals, giving their names, their mineralogical name, and the common name used, as well as a photo of each. This would be the one complaint; because the book is so small, the photos could be described as tiny.

It, also, lists the healing effects, if any, and the areas which the crystal will affect. It lists a spiritual aspect and a mental aspect, as well as a body aspect.

For each crystal, it will list if it is rare, commonly found and readily available.

This is what I would consider a “quick look” guide to crystals. It is small enough to carry with you to crystal shopping, however, for a more in-depth look at crystals, there are other books which give a more comprehensive discussion of the crystal in question.

But, it definitely delivers what it says it will; an A-Z guide to 555 gemstones.

 

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April, 2018

Bright Blessings!

We have “sprung forward”, and are rejoicing that the daylight hours are longer. Some of us are STILL adjusting to the time change, however happy we are about it. Spring officially starts in four days from the time I am writing this, and many have already had their Sabbat celebrations for it.

Like many others, I am coming out of hibernating with the warmer, longer days. My energy levels have increased, and my mood is more enthusiastic. I have been a LOT more busy, and that means that I have forgotten to pace myself. As a result, I have had a couple days when absolutely nothing got done, and I sat around a whole lot.

One thing that has gotten done is massive patio cleanup, and hand fertilizing of the raised garden bed we built some years ago. I have carefully crumbled eggshells, cut up fruit peels, and thrown in both tea grinds, and used coffee grinds.

I am glad I live in modern times and get to “cheat” and throw in store bought soils as well. Soon, peas will be planted in the beds, and after those are spent, pretty flowers, all of which I have seeds for already!

Spring is a big deal at our house!

In Nature, everything is sprouting, and the snowdrops are already glittering through last fall’s dead leaves, on the forest floor. Daffodils are about to sprout, and our crocuses came up first, and soon, fritillaries will follow suit.

Birdsong has returned, and gets louder daily. Squirrels, and bunnies are jumping all over the place, reminding us of how very alive the Earth is. I’ve even seen a couple of mosquitoes already!

Everything in creation from plants, to animals, and even people , are seemingly awakening from Winter’s deep sleep, and are raring to get out in the sunshine and enjoy life!

Some of us spend time outdoors, gardening, and “grooving with Nature”, as my Priest puts it, but are more into the arts. We create, we dance, we enjoy music and theatre. Many of us LOVE to read! What is better than a nice book, and a hot cuppa’ in a cozy room with Spring light streaming in?

Those who are prolific readers are in for a real treat!

A new book was published recently, and let me tell you, it’s an exquisite read.

It’s called Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), which is part of The Bury Down Chronicles by Rebecca Kightlinger and is set in Thirteenth Century Cornwall, England. It is magical, chock full of mystery, the Old Ways, and Family Traditions. This book draws you in immediately, and Kightlinger’s descriptive narrative voice is so deep, you actually FEEL like you are THERE, watching in person. The firelight flickering in the darkness is so well detailed, you can almost smell the woodsmoke, and the faces of the women are so well described, you can almost reach out and touch them. You need this book, like , yesterday. Step into Bury Down with Kightlinger’s book.

 

 

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Kightlinger via emails, for an in depth, very intimate interview, in which she speaks not only of her book, but her own background, and women’s issues.

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

And next enjoy the interview! Afterwards, this month’s working will be provided below.

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

Saoirse (S)– Bright Blessings, Rebecca. First, tell me a bit about yourself and your work!

 

Rebecca Kightlinger (R)My book, Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), is about the daughter of a midwife in medieval Cornwall. Megge’s mother and aunt– a healer and a seer, respectively—each hold an ancient grimoire that they must pass down to their daughters, who will then become their apprentices. The books are companion tomes that together enable the women to harness the knowledge and wisdom of every previous heir to the books. They are able to query these ancestors in order to learn the secrets that enable them to serve the people of their village. The problem is that although Megge wants nothing more than to become a woman of Bury Down and be truly a part of her family, she is frightened of her mother’s book. When the time comes for her to accept it, she refuses. 

The stakes are very high for Megge’s mother, so she and Megge’s aunts must bring Megge to accept her charge and assume her role as a woman of Bury Down.

The themes are the desire to belong while being unable or unwilling to do the one thing that will make you a part of the group; the desire to find and follow your own path despite pressure to follow one laid down for you; and the closeness that can unite two people of different generations, the younger being able to learn from the elder, who brings wisdom and unconditional love.

I was an obstetrician gynecologist for many years; but in  2010, a serious injury to my right hand brought that work to an abrupt end. It was then that I started writing fiction. One day in 2011, when I was writing another story, letting scenes play out in my mind and describing them on paper, I saw not New York City or Amsterdam, where that story was set, but a pastoral scene: a grassy hill where sheep were grazing and a girl dressed in rough, heavy woolens was sitting on a big rock at the top of the hill. The girl seemed to look right at me and said, “When you’re done with those Dutch people, I want to go next.” And when I had finished the other story, she showed up again and just started telling me about her life and the lives of her ancestors. At the time, I knew very little about Cornwall and even less about the middle ages. But Megge spoke to me clearly, and with humor, showing me the scenes, and I felt this was something very real, though I had never before experienced anything quite like it.

Having been a visitor to Lily Dale spiritualist community many times, I called a medium, Jackie Avis, to talk to her about it. We had a telephone visit, and even before we started to talk about Megge, Jackie said she was seeing near me a big, very old book with a heavy wooden cover carved with symbols. She perfectly described The Book of Seasons, the book Megge was so afraid of. Our long conversation set my mind at ease, making me comfortable inviting Megge into my life. 

I knew that in order to tell this story well, I would need some serious writing skills, so I applied to The University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Poet Annie Finch was the director, and we spoke by phone. It was she who accepted me into the program.

In the summer of 2013, I went to Cornwall to visit the place I thought might be the region Megge had described as home. Arriving at Botelet Manor, where I was staying, was an incredible experience. Everything Megge described was right there. There is even a house on the manor that had been there during Megge’s day. The remains of Bury Down hillfort, built thousands of years ago, stood at the site Megge had described as the healer’s grove, where women came for healings at night. The church, the village location, and the castle were all as I had seen as she spoke.

Writing this book has been the most rewarding experience, and I hope this comes through in the book. 

 

S- I will add, I am a psychic advisor/seer/reader, or whatever people choose to call me also. I am thrilled you spoke with a seer! I refer to this as a gift of spirit, as do many others. I feel we all have gifts of spirit including, speaking with the dead, healing, comforting the grieving, ability to use prayer to intervene in other’s lives, etc. What are your personal beliefs and views about oracles/seers?  Do you feel you have gifts of spirit, and if so, what are they? It sounds like a spirit showed up and told you her story! Is that right? What is your spiritual path, and how does that influence your writing of this book, and your writing in general?

 

R- My mother and great-grandmother had strong spiritual gifts, and it may have been their openness to spiritual communication that has enabled me to accept this communication without fear, judgment, or censure. Like you, I think we all have the ability to perceive the presence of some who are now, as Megge says, in the ether. I sometimes feel my mother or father very near and have had communication of a sort with my mom through dreams after she passed. She told us in her final days that she would “stay nearby as long as possible” to comfort us after she passed, and when she did, I felt her spirit in the room with us for a good long time. It was a sense of joy I’ve never forgotten. 

I believe strongly in the power of intention and prayer, and I know that people’s needs are somehow made clear to the person who can help. I’ve been in that situation many times as a physician, and I know it’s true.

Is Megge a spirit? I can’t say. All I know is that when I’m ready to write, she seems to come and take me through her story. I don’t see or hear her with my senses, but her words come through me onto the page along with scenes as clear as any you’d see in a movie. And the only time this happens is when I’m at my typewriter or keyboard, ready to write. Her home, her village, and all the people in her world are just as vivid and consistent as anything in this world. 

I don’t know what my spiritual path is or where it is leading. One thing for sure is that my daily life is much more solitary that it ever was, and this feels right. It’s not lonely or boring in any way. The writer’s life seems to suit me now, where it would have been wrong for me before this. I used to have a busy practice, which I loved, and I worked with and taught some wonderful, caring, skilled, intelligent people. My patients, mostly middle-aged and elderly women for the last ten years of my practice, were smart, canny, funny, and insightful. I loved being their doctor. I remember talking to a lot of them about matters of the spirit, and I saw that as we all got older we seemed more in touch with it. It stopped seeming like something outside ourselves and became a source of both comfort and, well, interest, for lack of a better word. As I and my patients and friends began to experience more of the spiritual, we began to talk more openly about it and realized that we were having many of the same experiences. 

Other authors, I’ve learned, experience a similar kind of communication in their writing. One young man related in a lecture that when he sat down to write, he would close his eyes and see his narrator arrive at the door and ring the bell. He would let her in, and she would tell him her story. At a recent book-signing event, I asked the author how he invented his characters, and he kind of laughed and shook his head. “They just show up,” he said. “They do whatever they want. I had no control over this story.” Other writers have no idea what this means. They construct charts and plot points and have the beginning, middle, and end mapped out before they even start their story. Many search newspapers for inspiration or ideas, or capture snippets of conversation that they write down and build a story around. That sounds harder to me, more cognitive, but is probably a more efficient use of writing time!

For me, the cognitive part begins after a scene is down. I research the era and place–I visited the place Megge described–and cut and splice scenes, sometimes changing names or details where needed. But I don’t change the overarching story. I stay true to what I’m seeing so the story can continue to move forward. It may sound funny, but I want my narrators to trust me. I want the narrators who are waiting in the wings to tell their stories to know that I won’t mess with them too much. 

It feels like there are countless narrators/spirits out there waiting to tell their stories and searching for someone who can “hear” them. Is this how we return to the living world? Through a storyteller? Is this why many stories somehow just ring true? I can’t say. The first novel I wrote was narrated by an entire town. I had asked my husband for a manual typewriter for Christmas one year. He bought me an Olivetti, and I sat down at it for the first time ever and had no idea what to write. So I closed my eyes and thought, “Who has the story?” And in seconds, probably thirty or forty people showed up in my mind’s eye, all looking like working-class people and farmers from the 1930s, and all jostling to be the one to tell the story. It seemed they had all come back to tell their part of a horrific event that involved all of them but that that none of them knew the whole story of. Each one ended up telling his or her part, often interrupting each other and correcting details. Every night, at 8 pm, I sat down to write. For an entire year. And the whole story came out, all the details that had been kept secret. When it was done, those narrators disappeared. I’ve not heard from them again. One day, when Megge’s story is done, I’ll go back to that one. I hope I will have developed the skills by then to tell it well.

And this is probably much more than you wanted to hear! But it is unusual for me to be able to relate this kind of information about myself and my writing to someone who will understand and not judge. I’ll be very interested to learn if others have this experience and how they deal with it. How it first started and how they reacted. To me, it felt natural, inviting. I’ve never questioned it, and I hope it never stops

 

S- As somebody with a medical background, how does the past misunderstanding of illness, combined with superstition strike you? What do you have to say about it? Have you ever seen similar attitudes in today’s world?

 

R- There have always been and probably always will be superstitions about illness. Back in the Middle Ages, when so little was known about the body in health or illness, it’s understandable that people would confuse association with causality. The scientific method hadn’t yet been designed to distinguish between the two. So, when a patient made a spontaneous recovery from illness after taking a remedy or submitting to bloodletting, charms, or prayers, the association of that treatment with recovery meant that it must have worked! Word went out, and the treatment became more widely used.

My feeling is that even today there are treatments that work but whose mechanism of action we don’t understand despite considerable scientific research. Additionally, there are many treatments and remedies that might be beneficial but that will never be adequately studied simply because no one has a sufficient stake in the results of controlled, double-blind studies. And if the research might show that the product doesn’t work, it’s a gamble. For this reason, some approaches that are considered “superstitious” or “magical” may never be scientifically proven safe and effective, even if they are. 

But, while superstitions in healing can sometimes result in harm, I’m less concerned about that than I am about people harnessing the power of superstition to do ill to the most vulnerable in society. We saw this in Megge’s story just as many have seen throughout history: the most powerful in society using both superstition and strong beliefs against the most vulnerable.

In the worst cases, superstitions are thinly-veiled excuses for committing violent acts. In The Midwife and the Witch, author Thomas Forbes cites “the crowing hen.” From the time of Aristotle until as recently as the late 1800s, a female showing masculine characteristics or behaving “like a man” (i.e., talking) was said to foretell doom. Often, this resulted in the death of the offender.

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

A German proverb prescribed punishment for both hens and women who would dare make their voices heard:

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

So, to my mind, the danger of superstition is not so much that the superstition itself will directly harm the believer, it is that others often use the power of belief to control and punish. In the case of Megge and the midwives in her life, someone uses both religious dogma and fanciful beliefs as an excuse to harm both women and children. 

 

S- Attending University in Maine placed you in New England- not horribly far from Salem, Mass. where one of the most famous accounts of witch scare happened. Have you studied this much, or have any insight into it? 

 

R- I’ve studied witch trials from all over the world and in different eras. When I first started looking into the history of this horror, I went to the Cornell University special manuscripts library and studied some original trial transcripts. 

I came away with a picture of ordinary women being tried, often tortured, and put to death after having been accused of witchcraft, sometimes by her neighbors, and often out of fear or retribution. The accusations rarely made sense, and the atmosphere of misogyny and hatred was almost palpable in these documents. Those who controlled communities engaged in witch trials needed a scapegoat for their rage and to control those in their jurisdiction, and this was often either the most vulnerable member of the community or the outsider.

Midwives were often targets of accusations, especially in the Middle Ages, as they treated the most frequently maligned portion of the population–women–and they often did so through techniques and remedies outside the understanding of the medical and religious communities. This made them suspect, and suspicion made them victims.

 

S- Magic is all around us, and in many forms. Your ladies in your book understand this, and practice well. They understand the power of blood bonds, as well as adoptive family bonds. They understand the power of women working together in a man’s world. They understand the power of working in generations. Today’s neo-practitioners are 50/50 in love or hate with this idea. Some shun it, and recognize no elders, believing they are born very powerful and don’t want anybody telling them how to practice. Some like me value our elders, who are passing our craft on to us. This is more ancient, and what the women of Bury Down are doing. I see value in both, personally. In your historic readings, what have you read about passing traditions down? About mentors and students? About family traditions? What examples can you share from history?

 

R- Nearly every profession, skilled trade, and educational or spiritual community relies on one generation teaching the next through both formal, didactic education and mentorship or apprenticeship. The alternative to being thought by someone more skilled or educated is to be an autodidact. People will dispute this, but while I understand that many of us possess innate talents and gifts that we can develop to some extent on our own, I think raw talent needs shaping from the outside, otherwise one’s learning tends to center on readings and teachings that substantiate our own theories and biases rather than challenging or questioning them with an eye to dispelling misconceptions, arriving at a truth, and honing our skills. 

Living by and passing down traditions is documented in religious, cultural, medical, artistic, and every other societal group or profession I can think of. While there are many short-lived splinter groups organized and led by one person, religion and spiritual traditions probably provide the most universal example of laws, rules, mores, and history transmitted to children through their parents, their schools, and their religious/spiritual leaders and teachers, with didactic learning supplemented by sometimes very intimate, inter-generational mentorship in the home. This is documented throughout history in religious texts and in literature ranging from The Iliad to the Mists of Avalon and The Red Tent

Another example of passing down traditions is the oral, storytelling or bardic tradition strikingly manifest in The Mabinogion, a suite of eleven Welsh prose tales passed through generations by storytellers (another profession whose practitioners learned from masters from the preceding generation).

Finally, witchcraft and magic have a long tradition of being practiced by those who draw on ancient knowledge coupled with the skill and insight of a master practitioner. In preparing the manuscript of Megge of Bury Down, I studied numerous grimoires including Picatrix, a compilation of works from the ancient, the medieval and the Renaissance eras, which urges its readers and students to learn from sages: “The wise who are endowed by nature with intelligence never cease nor neglect to seek and inquire that they might learn and understand the secrets of the sages, who sealed them up in their books and wrote them in hidden words, that the aforesaid might search them out by careful investigation until they attain what they desire…” [The Picatrix, Trans. Greer, John Michael, and Warnock, Christopher. Adocentyn Press, 2010, 61.] 

While I am neither witch nor magician, I see in the writings about spiritual practice the value of sages, of teachers, of mentorship. This is the basis of Megge’s story and path. She seeks and finds mentors throughout her life; and this, I believe, is what many people have always intuitively known they’ve needed, have sought throughout history, and continue to seek.

 

S- What that we have not discussed would you like included in my article, please?

 

R- Megge of Bury Down is the story of a young girl growing up in another time and place. It is historical in that it takes place in the past. But it is not really about the history. It is magical realism in that Megge’s family is charged with passing down two grimoires whose power preserves the spirits of their ancestors. But it is not about the genre of magical realism. 

The historical research and the literary technique here serve story: the story of a girl growing up in a family of women. A girl who wants to be one with the mystical women she admires but whose fear and misconceptions keep her apart. A girl who must find the courage to look past her fears to a terrible truth and find a new path. It is about the love, the traditions, and the teaching that unite generations. It is about the women of Bury Down, but it is mainly about unbreakable bonds, crafted over lifetimes, that precede us into each life, sustain us as we find and do the work we came to do, and then guide us into the next. 

 

Many thanks, Rebecca for this amazing interview! Blessed Be!

 

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This Month’s Working

Our next Sabbat after this is published is Beltaine. For the first time in years, I am not hosting!

I’m also not planning to attend Sabbat anybody else hosts!

What will I do with myself for Beltaine this year?”, I wondered.

I thought on it, and was inspired by some things I saw, and decided to send out an appeal to other women to do a One Month Challenge with me instead of a one-time Sabbat rite.

In Wicca Beltaine, May traditions crown a May King and May Queen, and they represent the Goddess and God in ritual, blessing everybody, and bringing life, growth, and in some traditions, sexuality to the people in the ritual.

There are a lot of “Sabbat Pagans” who attend Sabbat, and seemingly forget they are Pagans until the next gathering.

What can I say? It saves time for some folks.

Not everybody has the time, or ability to do lengthy daily, or even weekly devotions. It is easy to assume that we do, but the truth is, for some people, it’s just not happening, and it’s not in any way a choice.

What I thought of was a way to, for 30 days, bless other women, and ourselves, thus blessing, venerating, and adorning the Goddess in each of us women. Collectively, then, we adorn the Mother Goddess through the bodies , hearts , and souls of her daughters, the Earthly representations of her.

The topics brought up in the interview, specifically of abuse of women, and children made me think of an ugly truth. We often focus on abuse men direct at women, and completely ignore the toxic competitiveness we have with one another.
“That bitch thinks she is something, doesn’t she? I’m prettier than her!” Instead of “You go girl! Shake that tailfeather!” We sometimes become jealous that another woman has pride, and we are afraid if she is proud, she will take away the good things about us. Instead, we need to ALL root for one another.

It is not a competition- we should ALL want to help each other succeed.

I see examples of women who are not fat at all get attacked online, and called fat by women who are obviously jealous. Why does this happen? Because we think we don’t look as attractive? Because we would rather she be physically ill and bulimic or anorexic than comfortable in her skin, and healthy?

And why do we make fun of the “scrawny” girls? Maybe they DO have an illness, but this does not mean they should shroud themselves away, unfit to be seen.

Why do we place unfair demands on mothers? If they work, they are accused of putting career before family. If they are stay at home moms, they are accused of being ambitionless freeloaders. If they are tired, and not all made up fancy from keeping up with kids, we accuse them of “letting themselves go”. If they do not want children, they are accused of refusing the “responsibility” of being moms. If they have a lot of kids, we ridicule them, calling them breeders, sluts, and baby factories.

These harsh words do not just come from men. They oftentimes come from other women.

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

Without Further adieu, I would like to share my working with you.

If you would like to, do this working with me.

 

Saoirse’s Solitary 30 Day Adornment of the Goddess/Crowning of the May Queen

For thirty days, do these three things. If you forget a day, oh well, nobody will know!

You may journal every day what you do if you like, but you don’t have to.

  1. For 30 days, give an honest compliment to one woman per day. Build another woman up with your words. Words are mouth magic, and we create whatever we want to with them. Use your words every day to build one woman up to bless, and adorn the Goddess.
  2. Reach out to one woman in the next 30 days, and do something nice for her that will make a difference in her life. It can be small, or great. Maybe you know a lonely woman who loves coffee. Dedicate one day every other week from now on to sitting down to coffee with her. Say you know a woman who is trying to eat healthier. Encourage her, and share recipes with her if she would like that. Say your neighbor loves plants, but says she has no time to garden this year. Gift her with a hanging basket, and offer to help keep it watered if she needs it. What you do to make a difference in one woman’s life can be a great thing or a small thing, but it will make a huge impact.
  3. Finally, do not forget the Goddess in you. It might be easy to do something good for others, but not yourself. It’s time to do one of the kindest things for yourself.

We are often our own biggest, and harshest critics, and while yes, others may tear us down, we sometimes internalize toxic voices, and tear ourselves down worse than anybody else.

Think of something you really find frustrating about yourself. This can be something as simple as age spots on your skin, or something big like, having panic attacks. This is to be a thing that always bothers you. Something you are upset with yourself about.

Now, you are to start forgiving yourself of whatever this is.

This is going to be the most difficult part of the challenge, and it will last beyond 30 days. It may entail deprogramming, tears, or the resurfacing of past aches, but it’s very important.

While we can easily see the Goddess in others, and nurture that, we also need to see the Goddess in ourselves, and nurture that as well.

Enjoy the Spring, Beltaine and being the Goddess you are.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

 

 

Book Review – Secrets of Chinese Divination: A Beginner’s Guide to 11 Oracle Systems by Sasha Fenton

April, 2018

Review of Sasha Fenton’s Secrets of Chinese divination: A Beginner’s Guide to 11 Oracle Systems

As readers of this column know, I have been a fan of Sasha Fenton’s for years so it was with great delight that I opened this new (to me) book about Chinese divination.

Just under an inch in thickness, this richly colored volume is filled with the wisdom of the ages. As Fenton explains in the first chapter, there are links between the various divinations – they share common ideas, such as the “root concepts” of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements (page 2). In addition to this, many of the major divination systems cross-reference each other in many ways. As I read the book, I would become confused and have to refer back to this or that chapter and refresh my memory – sometimes I would have to skip ahead to some other chapter to find some other reference! But as the Buddha said: “Confusion is good!”

The first divination system Fenton covers is the Ming Shu or what we know as Chinese Astrology. If you are aware that you are born in the year of the Horse or the year of the Rabbit, then you know a little about this complicated system. And it is complicated! If it was just a question of the year you were born and whether you were born in a Yang (Active) Year or Yin (Receptive) Year and the Element of your year – that would be enough. For instance, I was born in 1960 – that makes me an Active Metal Rat. In general, Rats are intelligent, tenacious, artistic and they hate to be rushed – much like the Taurus sign under which I am also born. A Metal Rat is “idealistic, deeply emotional, clever with money…they suffer from jealousy and envy.” (page 16) She continues to explore the influences of the elements. Metal Rat women are “very demanding. They pursue the man they fancy, and the guy must toe the line or suffer the consequences.” (page 52). And how!

Fenton says there are ways to forecast with Chinese Astrology, but again, it’s a different concept than how it’s done in the West. There are “Active” years, “Harmonious” years, and “Difficult” years, and these depend on the element of your sign as opposed to your animal. So as a Metal person, I am active in Metal year. My harmonious years are Earth and Waters years. Alas! This year, 2018, is a difficult year – it is a wood year! Fire years are also difficult for Metal people. But I would imagine that going through fire would make metal stronger, wouldn’t it? Like molten steel?

This chapter is filled with charts and lists, all designed to help the beginner diviner become adept at drawing up a horoscope for her- or himself or for anyone. If you take your time and read carefully, any confusion you may have will soon be gone.

The next chapter is about Face Reading. This was quite interesting. I liked the concept of the “Three Zones” of the face, as well as the “Thirteen Divisions”.

Each zone and each division of the face has a name and a meaning – as well as the eyes, the nose, the jaw, the ears, the forehead – every part of the face! I have admit, though – as I was reading this chapter – it seemed to me that much of the information here was medical in nature. The meaning of moles and brown spots on the skin and yellow eyes and so on. But – in the East as in the West – the witches in any village were the original doctors, so this makes sense. You’d find divination was often just medical advice.

Chapter Five is about Feng Shui, which I personally never thought was about divination. But if you want to create harmony and balance so that you are able to properly meditate and use your divinatory gifts, Feng Shui is all-important. One thing I read that I hadn’t heard before was: “a straight path that leads directly to the front door is simply asking for bad spirits to zoom in.” I had never thought of that before. This is not an issue where I now live but if it is an issue where you live, Fenton suggests breaking up the path with some tubs of plants that tumble over the path – anything that breaks up the straight line. (page 80).

The next chapter is about Hand Reading. Fenton reports that the Chinese categorize types of hands by element. Apparently, they also link it to the I-Ching, as seen by this diagram:

In her explanation of each section of the hand, she links back to Western hand interpretation but that really doesn’t make much sense to the reader, unless they’re already acquainted with Western Palmistry. Looking at the diagrams of both systems, I personally think the Chinese system is much simpler and easier to use.

Quite naturally, a chapter about the I-Ching follows the chapter about Hand Reading. I have written about the I-Ching before – it is one of my favorite methods of divination and I use it quite often. I throw pennies, as opposed to yarrow sticks (I always have pennies on hand). I like the simplicity of her explanations of the trigrams – I think I will be using this book as a reference the next time I throw the I-Ching.

Next comes a chapter called the Lunar Oracle. I am not sure at all if this is any use at all. But at the end she mentions that the Lunar Oracle “seems to show particularly strong links to the Tarot” although she personally “would opt for ancient Egypt” as the source of the Tarot (page 151). I have to add my own two cents – given the names of the days of the Oracle – they could easily be an influence for the Lenormand as well!

Chapter Nine is entitled Mah Jong Reading. As someone who has played numerous games of “Mah Jong Solitaire” on my I-Phone, I was instantly curious to know how Mah Jong could be used in a divinatory fashion. But of course – the tiles have suits, just like cards, and those suits have meaning. There are also “Honors” tiles – Winds, corresponding to the four directions, and Dragons, also four in number – and the Guardians – Flowers and Seasons – also four apiece. Like the Tarot, you think of a question as you shuffled the tiles and then you pick out thirteen tiles. You place them into a spread:

Naturally, each direction has a meaning and which tiles land on which direction determines the outcome of the reading.

This is really interesting and I am definitely going to look for a Mah Jong set so I can actually do a reading and report back to all of you about this.

The next divinatory system she reviews is called The Four Pillars of Destiny and she admits that it is so complicated that she didn’t think she could “only get it across in person” but she included it in the book because a book about Chinese divination wouldn’t be complete without it. (pages 169-70). I read through this chapter and I have to admit that it made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I knew what the basic concepts were about but that was IT. It made me think of that first day in calculus and opening up the text book and seeing all those numbers and letters and symbols and knowing that I knew what they were – because I’d had algebra and trig – but beyond that, I was lost. The Four Pillars of Destiny are just like that.

Lo Shu is a numerology system based on the magic square. It’s also known as the Nine Star Ki but apparently that name is Japanese.

Like so many of the Chinese divinatory systems, this looks easy at first but then it opens up into a roomful of mirrors and suddenly – it’s all confusion. I have to say – this chapter – like the Mah Jong chapter – deserves a posting all of its own. I am going to definitely look into finding out more about this system of divination. Just for my own edification! But of course – whatever I find out, I will share with you!

Weighing the Bones is something completely different. I am not even sure where the name comes from. It has nothing to do with bones or weight. You have to look up your date of birth – year, month, day and time – on a series of charts and then add up the corresponding numbers. Mine all added up to a “3” which meant “A life a hard work and much travel” (page 219). Well – I can’t argue with that!

The last chapter is called The Chien Tung: Yarrow Stick divination and I always thought that yarrow sticks were used for the I-Ching – you used yarrow sticks or you used coins. But although Fenton concedes that yarrow sticks are used in I-Ching divination, she says she would “like to take yarrow stick divination into a unique direction” – she suggests connecting Yarrow Stick divination and the Tarot. For this, of course, you have to have seventy-eight sticks, numbered 1 to 78, each one meaning a card of the Tarot. There’s a chart for the correspondences:

Personally, I think this is a stretch. Ok – on one hand, I admit it’s cool, connecting the two divinatory systems – but on the other hand, the whole point of Tarot cards are the pictures on the cards. What are you supposed to do here – imagine the picture? Or just be so adept at the Tarot that you just know the concept when you draw the yarrow stick or sticks? Honestly – it really doesn’t make all that much sense to me. But to each their own!

At the very end of the book, there is a glossary.

All in all, I think Secrets of Chinese divination: a Beginner’s Guide to 11 Ancient Oracle Systems is a very fine book and I am glad to own it. I plan to use it quite often and I guarantee you that some of the topics reviewed here today we will be revisiting in the near future!

Until next month, happy divining! Brightest Blessings!

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References

Fenton, Sasha. Secrets of Chinese divination: A Beginner’s Guide to 11 Ancient Oracle Systems. Charlottesville, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., 2003, 2018.

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Book Review – Wicca, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need by Leanna Greenaway

April, 2018

The cover states that the book is plain and simple and, also, the only book you’ll ever need. The forward of the book was written by Judika Illes, who is, also, an author and I quite liked it. The first chapter informs the reader about Witches and magic. She touches on the different types of Witches like Hedge, Traditional, Gardnerian, etc. It’s nice because she just does a quick little description of each, but it’s enough to give the reader a good idea of the differences between them. After that, she mentions Covens and how they were formed when Wiccans were persecuted so they had to worship in secret. Then she gets into Angelic Wicca right at the end and how she has personally chosen to follow the Angelic Wiccan path. It’s a great first chapter considering all that she mentions, but it doesn’t seem overwhelming at any point.

Chapter two breaks down Wicca and positive thoughts. “Life is like a big classroom. With each day, we learn and encounter new experience, and although at times the problems we face are hard, by going through the processes, we climb that spiritual ladder and evolve to a higher plane.” Has got to be my favourite quote from the book. It resonated to me as someone who has survived a lot of abuse and it made me feel like maybe my next life may be better due to the struggles I’ve already endured. She ends the chapter after going over some “Wiccan Ground Rules”

As with almost all Wiccan books, there is a chapter about Tools. That’s chapter 3 here. She gives a good list of typical items, touches on colour significance in the candle section and briefly talks about all the things you should have on your altar. This book lives up to its claim of being plain and simple, but in a good way. The way she just touches the tip of everything would make it a great book for a beginner.

Lunar magic is next. I think lunar magic should also be a pretty standard topic in Wicca, as a lot of what we do is based on the moon cycle. “The gravitational field of a full moon changes energy particles that reach the earth, influencing the way that we think and feel by changing the functions of our brain”. She informs the reader about the various cycles and the importance of each.

Chapter 5 is a very short chapter about initiation, specifically self-dedication and initiation, with just a few steps. The following chapter is about growing your own garden, the benefits of that and some ideas on which plants to grow and why. It’s one of the longer chapters of the book, and for good reason. She writes about what would be good for teas, tonics and superstitions, but again, in a user-friendly way with nothing being too complicated.

Chapter seven delves into animal magic. It’s another very short chapter that doesn’t get into much. I would have liked this section to be a bit better as half of the chapter is a personal story that is nice, but considering how much space if takes up, there isn’t a lot on animal magic itself. The tarot magic chapter is next, and that one is much better, with a lot of good information in a short amount of space and she writes about how “all tarot cards hold a magic of their own, and they can all help to bring about a positive result to your spells.”

I really liked chapters nine and ten. Chapter nine is about magnetic magic and chapter 10 is about the power of the pendulum. I, personally, use a pendulum all the time to help me with tough decisions and she suggested a great way to use a dictionary to help with divination, and the way she talks about the healing powers of magnets, I think a lot of readers would like it. She touches on some basic spells as well, which they are plain and simple again, so beginners can feel like these are spells they can do easily.

The rest of the book is spells specifically. There are spells for love, health, wealth, prosperity, happy families, career and willpower. All of the spells are user-friendly, and don’t need much for supplies. I am a fan of casting a circle before doing certain types of magic, but the author suggests just sitting and asking for protection. I personally wouldn’t feel safe enough to perform some of these spells without a proper circle, but I’m sure a lot of people would be fine with it. I think once a person has had experience with darkness, they are a bit more cautious.

The book overall is only 127 pages, and so it really is “plain and simple”, but she touches on a lot of different topics in those few pages. I would recommend this book to anyone starting out, but not really to anyone that has been practicing Wicca for a while. I still took some information out of it, as I do every book and I was really happy with it. The book is a quick and easy read, and I know if I meet anyone who is interested in Wicca I would for sure tell them about this book. I, also, think I will be looking into more of Greenaways’ books as it seems like she knows what she is talking about, and I love that she doesn’t over-complicate anything. I am happy I had the opportunity to read this book and write a review for it.

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Book Review – Paravision: Theory and Practice of Visual Clairvoyance by Rodrigo Medeiros

April, 2018

Paravision: Theory and Practice of Visual Clairvoyance

Author: Rodrigo Medeiros

Publisher: 6th books

First Published in 2018 but Text copyright 2016

If you are looking for a book that removes all Spirituality and Occult from Clairvoyance, this is your book. It reads a bit like a tech manual, as it has a new language for you to get used to. Words like: Thosene which is a combination of the words thought, sentiment, and energy, this is the basis for consciential manifestation. Or calling: Third Eye chakra the Frontochakra and the Heart Chakra is now Cardiochakra.

The central idea of the book that Mr. Merdeiros has written is to present a technical approach to clairvoyance, one that is neither mystical nor religious with the central goal of personal development (evolution). The author states that he developed clairvoyance and other forms of parapsychism through techniques, self-experimentation, and willpower. The author goes on to define clairvoyance as;

1. It is extra physical or beyond the physical dimension.

2. It is visual, and not auditory or tactile for instance.

3. It is a perception of the now, of the present, and not of the memory or premonition.

He further develops clairvoyance by dividing into two different types depending on the distance between the experimenter and the observed target: look clairvoyance is something in your immediate environment or traveling clairvoyance what was always called before “remote viewing”.

The author states in this book that prayer, mantras and rituals are also not necessary for extra physical vision. And, considering the long-term benefits we are seeking, those practices are not desired nor indicated despite its occasional efficiency as those do not help to increase self-confidence, self-radiance, and tend to perpetuate a cycle of restrictive indoctrination that prevents achieving a higher lucidity.

I have been in classes that taught Aura reading and used many of the same techniques that Mr. Merdeiros uses in this book to turn on and develop the ability to see the extraphysical body. He states that by developing our parapsychic ability that we will be able contact conscex (consc from consciousness and ex from extraphysical) energy of someone that doesn’t have a physical body, because they are either dead or they are at a period between lives.

It is an interesting book with exercises that will expand your ability to see that which is there, just unseen with our normal vision. So I will suggest getting it, and working with the teachings in this book.

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About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Review: Council of Light – How to do Toe Readings Webinar with Katherine Veltri

April, 2018

Review: Council of Light – Toe Reading: How to do Toe Readings Webinar

Reading Your Soul Through Your Soles with Katherine Veltri

 

 

Before I started this course, I had never even heard of toe-reading. It was pure intrigue that led me to choose the course, as I’m always open to learning new things. That said, I was a tiny bit skeptical, as I felt it would be perhaps just a transplantation of ‘palm reading’ onto the feet, or something along those lines.

I’m pleased to say I was wrong, and that the skill of toe reading stands alone as a therapy quite in its own right. I was surprised to learn that each toe represents an element, and also a part of our psyche or personality. Also, deeper than that, how we interact with the associations of that toe depends which foot it is on. The shape and condition of the toes can also lend insight into the past life, or destiny of the foot owner.

The course itself is hosted by Katherine Veltri. Her introduction to the course is lovely; very upbeat, very positive; welcoming the student with ‘open arms and open heart’. She tells us a bit about herself, which is a nice touch. Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of Joy, Katherine! Once introductions are done, Katherine tells us a bit about her qualifications and how she loves to teach. It’s clear she has a real passion for learning and loves to instill that passion in others. Her introduction leaves me excited to start the course.

This toe-reading course is one of the shorter courses on the Council of Light training pages, and is priced accordingly. It’s very short, but well worth the few dollars you would normally pay to gain access. All the coursework is downloadable, so there is no time limit to complete the work. I doubt this would be an issue anyway, as once you start the ‘webinar’, the coursework is interesting and keeps you engaged. The webinar is basically a slide show that takes you through all the aspects of toe reading, from the history and basic principles to actually putting it into practice. I don’t want to say too much about the details of the content, as that seems unfair to the Council of Light and their paying customers! I can say that the coursework follows a consistent thread, is clear, easy to follow, and leaves you keen to learn more.

My favourite thing about the toe reading course is the way it teaches you to be open and non-judgemental with those you may practice on. It encourages open questions, without probing, and discourages diagnosis. My overall feeling was, even if you don’t believe that the toes hold genuine insight into someone’s past or their destiny, you can absolutely use toe reading as a tool to open up gentle conversations that may allow the client to be honest with themselves about crucial situations in their own life. Discussing the different aspects the toes represent is a way to encourage a therapeutic and holistic approach to mental well-being, and could be very useful to lots of different types of people. I can imagine that toe reading could easily be implemented by reflexologists, masseurs and a range of holistic practitioners.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed my first course with the Council of Light immensely, and look forward to my next educational foray. I’m hoping to do some study with them around Chakra Meditation soon, so watch this space for further reviews.

If you are interested in this course you can head to http://www.lifeshare.thinkific.com/courses/toe-reading-webinar or click HERE.

For a full list of courses offered by the Council of Light head over to http://www.lifeshare.thinkific.com/?page=1 or click HERE

**Full disclaimer: I was offered the course for free in return for an objective review.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

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