Spells & Rituals

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

May, 2018

Dandelions


Merry meet.

I think the very first spell I ever did involved a dandelion. I can see myself as a young child, picking dandelions with the dried puffy seed ball, making a wish, and blowing them onto the wind. I would watch as they danced on the wind like whimsical little fairies.

Someone later told me if I got all the seeds off with one breath, my wish would come true.

Magic doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Just as simple as tossing a coin into a wishing well and the first star spell, “Starlight, star bright / First star I see tonight / I wish I may, I wish I might / Have this wish I wish tonight.”

As I got older, I came to know how much adults with lawns hated the intense yellow flowers atop long stems, swaying in the breeze, and didn’t appreciate my spreading the seeds to make even more weeds. But I saw something special about them as they opened and closed with the light. I saw little suns looking up to the big sun in the sky, later equating it to male God energy. Then, when the plant went to seed, I saw it as the silvery full moon, or feminine energy which I later equated to feminine energy I came to call Goddess. The dandelion illustrated how both male and female vibrations coexist.

As I got older, my wishes turned into dreams, and the abundance seeds floating off meant an abundance of chances that my desires would take root. I also, without really thinking about what I was doing, would blow on them to release what I no longer wanted, giving it back to nature to absorb and transform. It was like blowing a kiss goodbye to something.

Now I see dandelions as containing the elements: the seeds are air, the flowers are the sun, the liquid in the stems as water, and both the green leaves and the moon I associate with north and the earth. Eat them (flowers, leaves, roots) and you will literally be taking the plant’s magic into yourself.

This is the perfect time of year to be doing dandelion spells. Where I live, they have burst into full bloom this past week. They’re a powerful little plant; their name means “lion’s tooth,” thanks to their yellow “mane” and their jagged “tooth” shaped leaves.

Look for that first seed head and let it carry your wishes, landing and planting, growing and prospering in the coming summer months.

If you wish, add a chant:

Dandelion, carry my wishes for me / Grant all that I wish for, so mote it be”

One spell I saw called for picking four seed heads, speaking your wish out loud to each of the four directions and then blowing a dandelion head in each direction, assuring they reach to the whole universe around you. Their proliferation helps in spreading possibilities and success.

You could also blow on the seeds to send a message to someone or someplace.

If you’d like, aim to blow all the seeds off an individual dandelion in one breath as an extra bit of good fortune.

Offering other ways they can be used in magic, Mackenzie Sage Wright wrote in “Lessons in Magical herbalism: Dandelion” for Exemplore April 4, 2018, “Dandelion tea is said to aid psychic visions and astral projection. The steam of the tea can be used to conjure spirits.”

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

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.

 

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

March, 2018

Egg Spells

Merry meet.

Eggs are one of Ostara’s most prevalent associations. Like all seeds, it contains the promise of a new life. It is a potent symbol of fertility because it contains the power to become something: a chicken, a turtle, a bird, a fish. Eggs are a symbol of abundance, prosperity and the rebirth of nature. In some traditions, the entire universe is portrayed as an egg. That makes them very magickal.

At Ostara, the Wheel of the Year is perfectly balanced. Day and night are of equal length. Masculine and feminine, inner and outer, dark and light are also balanced as the world begins to come alive. Imbolc’s whispered hopes become Ostara’s actions. At this moment, the light defeats the dark. The power is expansive and exuberant.

To harness Ostara energy in a spell, let an egg be the seed that will bring forth your desires. Inscribe it with symbols, pictures or words for abundance, joy, healing, strength, security, laughter or whatever you can imagine and feel yourself possessing. Consider dying the egg in a corresponding color, such as green for abundance, fertility, or eco-magic; and red for will, strength, passion or purification. Yellow corresponds with laughter, thought, travel, communication, happiness, freedom and beginnings; while blue can be used for healing, compassion, love and dreams.

As you decorate the egg, infuse it with the feeling of already having these qualities, of having reached the goal or of having had the wishes come true. Clear your mind and hold the egg as you continue to add your energy to it with breath, song, dance or words, focusing on your desires and their place in your life.

Then, on Ostara night, bury it, perhaps in a garden, as an offering to Mother Earth, and know that as it transforms and feeds the earth, it feeds and transforms what you wish to manifest.

You can also use an egg as a spell bottle of sorts.

First, make holes at both ends of the egg and blow the contents into a small container to be used for recipes. Rinse out the empty shell and let it dry.

Write your spell on a piece of paper small enough that you can roll it up and slip it into the hole at one end of the egg. You might want to include symbols, anoint it with an oil related to your desires and perhaps include corresponding botanicals before rolling it up.

Once it is inside, seal the holes by dripping melted candle wax on them.

Place the egg at the base of a special tree and ask it to guard your workings, adding its strength to yours.

If you have other spells involving eggs, please share on our Facebook page so that we all might benefit from your experience.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

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.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

February, 2018

Self Dedication

 

Merry meet.

 

Many witches practice the Craft as a solitary, so they never get to be initiated into a tradition with a formal ceremony. That leaves the option of performing a rite of self-dedication. Some people choose to wait until they have studied the Craft for a year and a day before holding this rite. Others will choose to do a self-dedication on Imbolc, which is often the time of initiations and dedications in the pagan traditions. New moons are a time of new beginnings, making them another option.

 

(Phyllis Curott)

 

Wiccan High Priestess Phyllis Curott said in a video found on Howcast,

 

When a witch makes a promise, it must be kept. So a self-dedication ritual is a promise that you make to yourself. It’s a promise to go in pursuit of your purpose, the reason that you’re here. It’s a promise to go in pursuit of the sacred that lies within you and to seek it in the world around you.”

 

Committing to your path and the deities you choose to follow requires devotion, self-discipline, self-care and courage because, Currott explained,

 

you are pledging yourself to your future.”

 

Your commitment deserves thought and preparation. The most meaningful and powerful ritual will be one that you write yourself, so let this column be an inspiration and a guide as you find the words and actions that best express yourself.

 

Write out the ritual, assemble the necessary items and take a purification bath. If you can drip dry and proceed skyclad, so much the better. It could be done in front of your altar or outside in a favorite place of power.

 

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

 

In the ritual she presents in her book Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic,” Curott suggests remaining outside the ritual space while you prepare yourself. Write the parts of yourself you wish to release on slips of paper and burn them. Surrender, let go and banish them from your life. Meditate on your path – how and when it started, what it is now and where you want it to take you.

 

Then, holding your athame, Book of Shadows and chalice, step into the circle, stating your intent to dedicate your true and sacred self, in perfect love and trust, to your Wiccan path. Call upon the Divine energy and offer yourself to it. Surrender and let it flow through you. Feel yourself coming home to your authentic self, your sacred self and your destiny.

 

 

(Stoneware Ritual Pentacle Altar Chalice by artists Nels & Judy Olson-Linde of artifactorium)

 

 

Now is the time to recite the oath you prepared. Look for inspiration in Curott’s book. Anoint yourself with the moon water in your chalice, or with oil or other natural substance such as clay dust.

 

Proceed as you would to ground and open your circle.

 

Many self-dedication rituals exist online and in books. In an article on thoughtco.com, Patti Wigington presents a ritual where you sprinkle salt on the ground or floor before an altar, stand on it and light a white candle, feeling the flame’s warmth and thinking about the reasons for your dedication.

 

After asking the gods to bless you, you anoint your forehead with oil saying,

May my mind be blessed so that I can accept the wisdom of the gods.

Anoint your eyelids saying,

May my eyes be blessed, so I can see my way clearly upon this path.”

Moving down your body, you anoint the each part, speak the appropriate words:

May my nose be blessed, so I can breathe in the essence of all that is Divine. … May my lips be blessed, so I may always speak with honor and respect. … May my heart be blessed, so I may love and be loved. …May my hands be blessed, so that I may use them to heal and help others. … May my womb be blessed, so that I may honor the creation of life. (If you’re male, make the appropriate changes here.) … May my feet be blessed, so that I may walk side by side with the Divine.”

 

Next pledge yourself to specific deities or simply to the God and Goddess with the words,

Tonight, I pledge my dedication to the God and Goddess. I will walk with them beside me, and ask them to guide me on this journey. I pledge to honor them, and ask that they allow me to grow closer to them. As I will, so it shall be.”

 

The occasion can be used to take your magickal name.

 

At sacred-texts.com, Vitriol London posted such a ritual in a Book of Shadows section. After preparing for the dedication, calling on the wisdom of the God and Goddess, and the blessings of the elements, he suggests meditating or chanting to reach an altered state of consciousness and gather energy. Standing before the altar, anoint first with oil, with salt and water, and then with wine, saying,

 

I am reborn into my true and magickal self, and I take on the name of (Witch name). I ask for the blessings of the Goddess and God on my endeavors, and I vow (make your vows).”

 

(Aphrodite/Venus Rose Quartz Love Pendant by Sierrablaise of HighVibrationaLiving)

 

 

He has individuals present themselves to the quarters, dedicating to their solitary path, and then consecrating and anointing ritual jewelry you will then wear.

 

 

(Witches herb Altar Box/Beginners Altar by Shona Winter of TheherbalCabinet)

 

Tools that you will use in your magickal work can also be blessed before consecrating the wine and cake using an athame through which you channel energy. Eat and drink, ground, thank the entities and open the circle.

 

While this column discussed dedicating to your spiritual path and the Divine, it is possible to dedicate yourself to anything: learning a new skill, your career, achieving a goal. It can be for a year and a day, until it is achieved or for a lifetime.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

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.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

February, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Imbolc


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across…


January was called Wolf month in Anglo-Saxon. Where the starving creatures ventured into villages snapping at the young and helpless, just like the bitter winter winds. January stalks through the cold and damp towards the wet helplessness of Imbolc, lambing season.


There is power in that fragility, in the force of hope. Power in the vulnerability to decide to grow and reach towards the light. February can feel more like winter than December weather wise at least in the British Isles. Sometimes we get unexpected sunshine and warmth, but for the most part it’s sleet, snow, high winds and driving rain.

 

(Brigid Imbolc Corn Dollie by Carlie Bodey of GreenWitchGlamour on etsy.)


Imbolc to me makes more sense if it is part Valentine’s Day, part Mother’s day, part birthing ritual. It is a celebration of hope and the power of love. Sexual love, motherly love and love of life. Brides (Brigid dolls and crosses) are usually the decorations but in truth in our house, we usually finally take our live tree from Yule outside. It is still covered in lights but the ornaments are packed away long ago. We have a Spring clean. I might set up a small altar or temporary shrine to spring.


Breed day, Brides day, all have a sense of sexual expectation I can never seem to muster at this time of year. It is still too cold to shave my legs! I grew up on a farm and much like Lughnasadh represents the frantic hot work of getting the hay harvest in rather than some languid holiday revelry; Imbolc is lambing season. You might have to herd sheep in from one place to another. Bring them in (or let them out, weather dependant) and hunt for stray ewes and small grey bundles abandoned on the luridly green grass. It is cold work. Usually having to be done gloveless. It lacks the communal jovial atmosphere a lot of other seasonal farm jobs have. There is loss and death aplenty. Little miracles happen too.


After all these years I can’t get the after-birth off my hands. I can’t get my hands warm, my feet either to this festival. I don’t hate it. Imbolc is necessary. Birthing is hard. It is dangerous. Liminal and primal. It is a labour. A labour of love. It is where all the loving words are blown away by the roaring wind and your actions really matter. It is what you do, here and now that counts.


I guess this is why I struggle with the whole modern idea of fasting and dieting around January. It feels punitive when everything already feels hard. The weather’s awful. A lot of people are sick. It feels counterintuitive to try and throw yourself into some fake “good” mood. I usually like January. For me and my family it is full of birthdays. And yet, and yet this anticipation of the grind, the work ahead feels overwhelming. So this year I am going to give someone who really needs some love some attention: me.
Just do the one thing that needs doing now. Then the next thing. One breath at a time. Keeping your head where your hands are. One step. One moment after the next. I’m going to try and stop myself from berating myself at how much I have not done, and try and celebrate what I do.


My bad witch self is going to clean and bless my space. Then I’m putting on a playlist designed to be impossible to feel sad or sluggish while playing. I might even eat some good stinky cheese (maybe even goat or sheep cheese) to honour the milk, blood and labour. Then I’m going to look at my “to do list” and try not to wince! I might feel up to doing something fancier on the full moon but I’m not going to force myself to “go through the motions” when all I want to do is hibernate!


Self-care and self-love seem to be so far down most folk’s lists of stuff to do. I have many of the women I know running families, jobs and education who refuse to stay home when they are sick because they “don’t have time to be ill”. Women are routinely told to put themselves last and in the spirit of the birthing season I ask you to give yourself the same compassion and support you give others because you cannot fill others from an empty cup. You don’t have to be everything to be enough.

 

Spell- Rite (You are Worthy)


You will need:


Feel good music (the only rule is that it makes you feel happy)
“Naughty” food, be it ice-cream, stinky cheese or a decadent veggie-burger.
Hot bath or shower.
Candle (scented or otherwise)
Incense (something sweet like amber)


Firstly have a long hot shower or soak in a bath. Use your best products, add some salt. Scrub it all off.


Next in your ritual wear. You can either, dress up the nines. Go all out, or put on your most comfortable ‘jammies or nightwear.


Light your candle and say


I light this fire to remind myself to shine. I am of the same radiant light and I am worthy.”


Then light your incense and say:


“I light this fire to remind myself to find faith in myself. I am of the same breath and I am worthy.”


Just sit for a moment and take in the light and sweet smoke. Then put on your playlist and grab your food and feast. Sing-along, dance, and enjoy.


When you are done extinguish your candle and if you like you can keep this as your self-love candle. You can light it if the day is dark and scary and remind yourself you are worthy. Learning to love yourself is important and honours the gift that the Old Ones have given you.

 

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

January, 2018

Happy New Year and Happy Carmentalia!

Carmentalia is two separate feast dates honouring the Roman goddess Carmenta. It is said that she could see back in the past as well as forward into the future at the same time, and her history is rife with protests and standing ones ground. At one point the Roman Senate denied certain privileges to women during the Second Punic War but didn’t immediately reinstate those privileges once the war had ended. As a mass of people started to grow to discuss and argue about this inequality, women from all over the countryside joined in, first gathering in the Carmentis gardens at the foot of Capitoline hill. They went as far as refusing to work on their husbands’ stock, and in some extreme cases even inducing abortion as a form of protest until privileges were restored.

They saw what they had, they saw what they lost, and they could see how it would affect them in future. And they did something about it. Celebrating Carmentalia honours the early efforts of these Roman women.

Observing Carmentalia can be for our own hearts as well. What can we do to attract love to our lives? What can we do to improve our sexual relationships? How can we nurture the connections we already have? What can we learn from the goddess of fertility and prophecy who cared for all womankind to in turn care for all mankind? It’s different for everyone.

We’ve see what we have had and if we look hard enough we can see what we’ve lost, and we can therefore prepare ourselves for the future. New Year’s Eve is a time when people make resolutions for change in the coming year. We vow to do better, lose weight, save money, stop smoking, etc, because we can see what we deemed was wrong or bad or off in the past and how it can be better in future – how we can be better in future. The changing of the year allows us to start fresh on a particular day when we would physically or metaphorically be switching out the calendar for a new one. We leave the past behind and focus firmly on the future.

Carmentalia was celebrated on two nights, January 11 and January 15, with a feast and celebration for achieving one’s goals. Two weeks into the New Year we can already see if our New Year’s Resolutions had an impact or if they were just words left spoken.

Start by burning some bay leaves as incense and offer popana cakes (a type of bureka) and milk and think on the following Carmentalia prayer:

With pious rite I call out, I summon, I entice with songs that You come forth, Carmenta,

And look favorably upon the matrons of our families.

In You, dearest Mother, in Your hands we place our safekeeping.

In offering to You this cake of cheese I pray good prayers

in order that, pleased with this offering of popana,

May You be favorable towards our children and to us,

Towards our homes and our households.

May Carmenta be favourable to you, your hearts, and your homes. And may you have a bright and blessed New Year!

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licenced Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

January, 2018

La Befana

 

(LA BEFANA. Magic stocking from BEFANA. By incantevolemerletto shop.)

 

Merry meet.

While my mother’s parents were from Sicily, it was not until recently I learned of La Befana, Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legend – about a witch.

In Italian folklore, she is an old woman with warts on her crooked nose, wearing a skirt and a black shawl, who flies around on her broom, delivering candy to well-behaved children. In Russia she is known as Baboushka.

Children await Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve, but the red-suited man is new compared to the story of the old woman who was too busy cleaning to join the Wise Men on their journey. According to the legend, they stopped by her cottage to ask directions and invited her to come along, but she refused. She also refused to join a shepherd who asked her to join him, as some tell the story.

Later that night she saw a great light in the sky. Regretting her decision, she sets out to give the Christ Child gifts that had, according to some, belonged to her child who had died. She never finds the Baby Jesus and instead, leaves her gifts for children she encountered along the way. Since the 13th century, children have left their shoes out or hung up their socks Epiphany Eve, January 5, for the Befana to fill with sweets and gifts. Bad children were given lumps of coal.

Often she is shown covered in soot because, like Santa Claus, she delivers presents by sliding down the chimney. Her name means “gift-bringer” and according to a post by DreamDiscoverItalia.com in 2015, many believe she also sweeps the floor before she leaves, sweeping away the old to make way for the new.

La Befana is a Christian legend that began in Northern Italy and became a big part of the Italian celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem and deliver their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Other versions of the legend have La Befana carrying a sack of bread, giving a piece to every child she saw in the hopes one would be the Christ Child. She never does find him and is still wandering around Italy on her broomstick.

Her arrival is celebrated with such traditional Italian foods such as panettone, fried doughnuts with dried fruit, and fritters with raisins. When children leave a snack for the witch, it’s something soft because she has few teeth.

While La Bafana is viewed most commonly as a village crone, she has also been called a sprite or fairy. Instead of a broomstick, sometimes she is said to ride a goat or a donkey. Rarely does she wear a pointed hat; a headscarf is more traditional.

According to an article written by Martha Bakerhian for tripsavy.com, “This folktale may actually date back to the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, a one- or two-week festival starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of Saturnalia, Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill to have their fortunes read by an old crone. This story evolved into the tale of La Befana.”

Heather Greene explains in an article for “The Wild Hunt” in January 2016, “As with many regional traditions, La Befana’s modern construction and appearance were developed over an expansive amount of time and stem from a diverse number of cultural elements. Her story has been adapted over and over to fit into a variety of different social or religious structures.

 

(La Befana the Witch Sculpture by Dellamorteco, Dellamorte & Co. Etsy Shop)

 

Similar to modern community traditions in the northern Italian towns, Circolo dei Trivi burns an effigy, a representation of Giobiana, within their ritual space. They collect the ashes and tell the story of nature’s death and rebirth, through the death of Giobiana and the birth of Belisama. In that process, they also thank nature, represented as La Befana, for bringing the final gifts from the previous year. Grazie, La Befana.”

Urbania, thought to be her official home, draws tens of thousands of people for a five-day festival that includes the arrival of La Befana to her cottage, which the townspeople built in her honor. There is music, dancing, parades, fireworks and letters from children asking for gifts. In Venice, men dressed as La Befana race boats on the Grand Canal, per DreamDiscoverItalia. In Rome and elsewhere, women dress like La Befana.

 

A Spell of Prosperity to Accomplish your Goals 

(Submitted by Gayle Nogas)

What you’ll need:

A red candle placed on a table or altar

Three figs or three dates 

A small cup of honey

A broom 

With this simple spell you can ask The Befana not only to bring your home prosperity, but also to send you powerful energy regarding your success and the goals you will work with next year.

In the evening, put the three figs or dates in the small cup of honey (this is a traditional offering for The Befana) and put them on the table or the altar next to the red candle. These offerings will show that you honor her powers.

Light the red candle. Pull up a chair and sit in it calmly for two minutes watching the candle and bringing your mind to the tranquility of the energy that is surrounding you. The red candle is a symbol of your own power to accomplish your goals and also calls the power of The Befana. Now repeat the following out loud or in your head three times:

“Come Befana, come to me.

Come from the mountains to make me free.

Come with your gifts of wisdom and power,

To make this a prosperous year for me.”

Once you have repeated this spell three times, take the broom and start sweeping the room in the direction of the clock’s hands, always sweeping towards the central part to concentrate there the powers and the charitable energy of The Befana in one place.

Leave the broom and dust all night long. Finally blow the candle and thank The Befana for her help by saying:

“Thank you, Befana, for giving me the gifts of your wisdom and prosperity.”

The next day, pick up the broom, clean up the dust and debris, and focus on a hugely prosperous year.

 

This year, in honor of my ancestors, I plan to recognize the Witch of Christmas for making winter a witchy season. Perhaps I’ll dress like her, or leave my shoes and a soft cookie outside my door. If you celebrate her, please leave me a comment describing how on the Pagan Pages Emag Facebook page.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

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.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Poppets

 

I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.


As someone who has only relatively recently learned to sew I had to get crafty with poppets. I am quite cool about substitutes like onions and lemons (as someone who LOVES to cook).


Salt dough

 


I started making my own salt dough for my family early on. I do suggest food colouring (and gloves) at least in the mixing stage otherwise it has a tendency to go a bit gray. Equal parts flour and salt with warm water added a bit at a time until it reaches a dough. You can add an oil to make it a bit more pliable but if you mix it then chill it it should work better without. Salt dough can be used to make decorations, altar pieces for Sabbat, and poppets to heal, or otherwise. To harden it drying it out in a low oven is best, but it does dry to a hard texture, a bit like crumbly clay.

 

Clay

 


Clay is old school! You can buy air clay and you won’t need to dry it in an oven or you could let it dry out slower. Again it quite hard when finished and you might need to “poppet it” (add openings, names and so on) before it’s dry. You can mix herbs and things into the clay but this will effect it’s structural qualities too. If you are going for a bigger poppet you will probably need an armature. An armature is a skeleton within an object to give it a structure. Small ones might need only a single piece of thin wire down the middle. Bigger poppets might need a wire body. Clay holds onto paint well when dried and if you are a person who paints well this can be valuable.

 

Fabric

 


Fabric cut out with wool or other stuffings make a cheap and useful poppet. They take pins and other objects pretty well. You can put hair, or an old piece of clothes inside. You can add cursing herbs or spices and they soak up oils really well. It’s definitely a different experience than the clay or dough. An accomplished person can knock one out in very little time, but the rest of us it might take more than an evening. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with you.

 

Wood

 


There are a couple of ways you can make wooden poppets. You can use the carving method which requires a lot of skill and tools. The peg method (a wooden clothes peg can make a quick and useful poppet in a pinch). Or you can make a bundle doll. A simple cross bundle bound with thread can make and excellent poppet or spirit doll. You can use all kinds of woods, all kinds of thread, from silks to rough jute and soak it in oils or tinctures. You can glue the threads or even wax them (making them easier to burn in a fire) to keep the binding together. You can of course combine materials and use clay and the like to make the thread hold. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.


Wool

 


I am a crafty witch, in all senses and I got into needle-felting recently and I love it. It’s sculpting with pointy needles! While you do need wool and felting needles (which can vary in price a lot) a simple set is not that expensive. What you don’t pay in money, prepare to pay in blood! No needle felter doesn’t stab themselves (with varying degrees of pain and blood loss) while making things. Sure you can by leather finger protectors but I never stab myself in the same place twice! That said you can make rather good likenesses, have a whole spectrum of colours and shades of wool to choose from and with an armature you can make them quite big. I have been making a lot of fae dolls this way (they just want to be made) and there is this strange alive quality to them even before they are finished.

 

Roots and Vegetables

 


From pumpkins to turnips we have been carving faces for a very long time of vegetables. My turnip head is still there from Samhain last year (and yes it’s terrifying). You can carve or make poppets from roots like ginger and even odd shaped carrots, or just parts like heads, or phallic symbols in all kinds of vegetables. They do perish (some more quickly than others) which can be great (or not) depending on what you want. Can be burned reasonably safely and put in rushing water without too much issue (polluting is bad people). You can also squish them quite well too, should you feel the need and compost with clear(ish) conscience. Being as they tend to be wet (ooh er) things like photographs, or other connections can be damaged in trying get them into the poppet. That said that might be a bonus and they take pins and such really well.

 

Wax

 


This is one I don’t often use but one of my friends is great at this one! They are not “pretty” but they have such a power to them. Good for a short sharp shock. They burn well (obviously) and if you do it right they burn themselves! So try and make sure if you are using a wicked candle to try and keep it central to the poppet. A candle, a craft knife and a hot spoon to smooth things out are all you need. It’s a cheap and powerful way to make poppets. You can of course buy and melt wax and sculpt it from scratch but it requires a double boiler and a lot of patience. This way means you can add oils, herbs, hair, photographs and so on. They take pins well and if you leave in a cool place can last a long time. No so great for throwing in water but good for jar work and fire work.

 

Grasses, Cornstalks, Such Like

 

 

Corn dollies are a very old poppet material. Good wheat stems can vary on how easy they are to find and there are hundreds of ways to weave these little lovelies. Dependent on the material weaving can be a simple or complicated business. It’s more like stalk origami than true weaving but you get some lovely pieces. They are a lot of work and you might not want to use them as a poppet unless you are really pressed. That said they are a beautiful and ancient form of poppet and it would be remiss of me to leave them out. They can last years, but don’t take pins well. You could use them as a basic armature for something like clay on top.
A good poppet is what you need in the moment. Whether it is for healing, focusing a group spell or cursing the crap out of someone making your own is an empowering and therapeutic thing.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

December, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times December 2017

Bright Blessings!

With Yule just around the corner, you are likely planning festivities, gatherings, and family nights!

Growing up, of course, my family celebrated Christmas, and large scale was the rule. Everybody sent cards, bought gifts, planned dinners and lunches, and I can say Christmas for many of my family members was one of the biggest events of the year.

After I moved out, and started my own traditions, I scaled back the complicated Christmas festivities, and after converting to Paganism, reduced it further to just a single day for Sabbat. The Winter Solstice is a big deal for me, because I am so happy about the fact the sun will grow stronger, and “be reborn”.

I typically do a firepit fire, and libations alone, although I’ve attended public Sabbat and officiated for friends before.

Many different topics can be explored in Pagan Yule or Winter Solstice observances, but this year, instead if exploring things related to the Wiccan or Heathen male gods rebirth, the topic will be mothers.

Yule and Mothers Night

Anglo Saxon Pagans, according Bede, writing in the 8th century:

… began the year on the 8th calends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, “mother’s night”, because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night.”

They supposedly venerated the Disir, or the mothers, mother goddesses, protective mother ancestors, and held sacrifices in their honor. They gathered, feasted,

Yule lasted three days in Pre Christian days, but a lot of modern people observe it for twelve days, beginning December 20 or 21, with Mother’s Night being the first thing observed. Many do a ritual honoring the protective female mother ancestors and goddesses. Some give food or other gifts to them, light candles for them, and ask them to protect, watch over, bless, and ensure good coming harvest.

Some sources state Mother’s Night was the final festivity in Yule, and it was observed then in honor of the goddess Frigg. She wove people’s fate for the new year on that day, which was counted as New Years, and Frigg was honored. It was said she had knowledge of the future, but would not tell anybody what it was! She also was unable to alter the future, as evidenced by the fact she foresaw her son Balder’s death, and try as she could, she was unable to avert it.

I have attended candle lighting ceremonies Norse friends observe for some of the twelve days. They do candlelight vigils all night, with a prayer on the hour every hour, and network with one another from household to household if they can’t do it all under the same roof.

Of course, it is the women/ Matrons of our community who do this.

Some of these women have moved out of state, and some are no longer in contact with one another, but those marathon candlelight vigils are one of many things that are still maintained by almost all of the women to this day.

This is an appropriate introduction, I think for this month’s topic.

Mothers, and most specifically, mothers who have lost children.

Somebody’s Mother

I had the privilege of reviewing the beautiful film Somebody’s Mother, which was created by The Tollman Sisters, Gabriela and Evelyne. It’s been very successful in the US, and is headed to China!

I watched the film, myself and I recommend it. It’s a film that will make you think, and gets right to the difficult to face, let alone discuss issues that come when you lose a child.

As somebody who has been trying to have children for twenty years, and have been unable to, this film really hit home. The Tollman sisters explored so many of the things you deal with after such loss.

In the film, one sister’s baby died, and the other loses custody of her son after inability to take care of him that was not in any way her fault, and that she never meant to happen.

In the instance of losing custody due to inability to care for a child, the number one thing I see happening in the lives of my loved ones who have children is they become so focused on making their kids their all, they become completely unaware of their own needs at times. This is due to the great love they have for their children that compares to nothing else in their lives, and to a loving parent, no sacrifice for their children is too great. It can mean that sometimes, they don’t know how to ask for help, and they forget that even parents need support too. The topic specifically explored is postpartum depression, which I have seen more than one mother I love deal with it.

In the instance of the death of a child, I have been told by more than one parent that the death of a child is something you never fully recover from, and one that literally takes a part of your heart away that you never get back.

The stages of grief are explored intimately from the viewpoint of both sisters, and done in such a way that viewers can relate.

The film takes a very compassionate view of suffering many films exploring pain lack. At one point, in the film , it was said “I don’t know why I needed to go through it…I don’t know why I needed such pain.”

The film shows how loss of a child impacts the relationships of the parents of the children with one another. I don’t have the statistics of how many people’s marriages or engagements are called off when a child dies, but I’ve seen it happen quite a lot. The film presented a relationship surviving, and another not surviving.

The film portrays the inability to function normally in your own life after such a loss, and the great lengths people go to in order to keep up appearances, so people leave you alone about what happened. Sometimes, not talking about something that is tearing you apart emotionally is part of coping with it. It also shows how sometimes, that is absolutely impossible, however, and many of us have endured well meaning questions after losing a child we are not ready for like “ When will you have another baby?”

The love of sisters and how they are one another’s number one supporter, and closest friend in good times, and bad is intimately portrayed. It is a beautiful testament of the Tollman sisters devotion and love for one another as well.

Finally, the film shows how to pick up the pieces after unspeakable tragedy, and find hope for the future.

The link to the film’s pages follow, as well as a trailer.

http://www.somebodysmotherfilm.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/

 

Trailer-

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/videos/504423143047518/

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

Interviewing Gabriela Tollman

I had the opportunity to ask Gabriela Tollman some intimate questions she lovingly answered. Her words are as heartfelt and nurturing as the film.

 

Saoirse- Some of the women I interviewed about loss of their children are deeply suffering, even decades later. Some wanted to share, but could not bring themselves to talk about it. What words of advice, healing, and wisdom do you have for women dealing with loss of their children, be it through death, or loss of their living children?

 

Gabriela- It is an intensely painful experience to live through the loss of an infant, and it has been important for to let myself cry all of my tears. I spent two to three years crying. What helped me cope and carry on was the understanding that everything that happens in life has a reason. I know this idea does not comfort everyone, but it helped me. I began to see the events of my life, and the loss of my baby Charlie as a way to further advance the development of my soul. I also found many healers and teachers who helped me. Brian Weiss’ book Many Lives Many Masters was integral to helping me transform my pain into a spiritual lesson. Other books and healers that resonated with me are Anita Moorjani Dying to Be Me, and A Course in Miracles.

 

Saoirse-What do you recommend to these women to find strength when their own strength seems to vanish?

 

Gabriela- Writing down my story was an immense help for me. I wrote down anything I was feeling, thoughts and ideas in journals. These writings eventually became part of our film, Somebody’s Mother. Creativity of any kind helps transcend circumstance. It allows one to rise above and take control of grief and pain instead of it controlling you.

 

Saoirse- In what do you find comfort when it seems things are at their worst, to get you through until things are better?

 

Gabriela- As mentioned above, writing and creating helped me transform. Other practices that have helped me transform the pain are meditation. I practice transcendental meditation and this truly was the tipping point in getting me through that horrifying pain of grief. TM allowed me to find a place of peace inside myself, and release the oppressive negativity, anger, denial, fear and anxiety of grief. It is an incredible tool for all types of trauma and grief recovery. I also practice yoga, hiking, swimming, and am a certified hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is extremely effective for those who have a difficult time meditating, as it delves into the subconscious where I find peace and answers.

 

Saoirse- If you are religious, how does your personal devotion carry you in these times of grief? If you are atheist, but philosophical, how does your personal philosophy and values do the same? 

 

Gabriela- One of my favorite quotes is by David Bowie “Religion is for those who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for those who have already been there.” I am spiritual. The works of Brian Weiss, an MD, hypnotherapist, writer and teacher changed my life. He writes a lot about past lives and lessons that we need to experience in the flesh in order to grow, evolve, transcend and raise our vibrations. Another brilliant healer and teacher that I follow especially in difficult times is the work of Marianne Willamson. Her teachings of A Course In Miracles help me find understanding. A COURSE IN MIRACLES offers a lesson for each day of the year, which is an incredible practice for self-healing and transformation.

 

More on this beautiful film follows the working at the bottom of this article.

 

The Mothers Stories

I could write volumes about how my personal miscarriage and being childless breaks my heart, but instead I reached out to friends who have lost their children. Their names are changed for confidentiality, but they were good enough to share their own heartbreaking stories with me, and all of you.

First, my friend Patty lost a child to death, and custody of another.

Here is our conversation about it:

 

Patty- In 1998, I gave birth to Anthony Joeseph Oliver. He only lived 3 days. He was born on March 14th and died March 17th. He had potters syndrome.

Me- Oh gods! How does it make you feel?

Patty- Kind of bad still, but it gets easier. I also have a daughter who I don’t get to see who turned 18 in May. I wanted so badly for her to know Anthony, her big brother. He would have been 20 in March.

Me- I wish that had happened for them too. Have you ever been able to get a hold of your daughter?

Patty- No, but I’m hoping she tries to find me. I think she lives in Missouri. I miss them. It’s kind of hard to talk about it.

Our discussion ended at that point. Patty just couldn’t bear to talk anymore, and I understand. My prayer is she is able to make contact with her living daughter.

 

The next woman I interviewed is 20 year old Jade, who lost her child very recently.

This is her story;

Marceline was a very healthy baby up until the last two weeks I carried her. I was seeing Riverside doctors as well as Knox Community doctors. KCH refused to coordinate my care with Riverside, and wouldn’t believe me when I said she was ten days ahead of development.

Since I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, Marcy was already going to be bigger than a baby from a low-risk mother. I started going into labor at about 34 weeks, but KCH said I was too early, and stopped me. I went into labor again at about 36 weeks, and they didn’t really stop me since I was at the minimum week requirement, but they were going to give me a steroid shot for her lungs.

They had warned me about it last time I went into labor, and I had asked Riverside how it would affect me. They said I didn’t need it, and if they gave it to me it would possibly send me into Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which would hurt my baby. I told KCH I didn’t need it, and they told me I was getting it whether I liked it or not.

About a week after that, I went in for a non-stress test, which I did twice weekly. I was scheduled for 10:00AM. I switched rooms three times, and they took an hour trying to find her heartbeat. They brought in an ultrasound machine to see if they could find it, but the machine wasn’t functioning properly. The next two weren’t, either. It was about noon at this point, and I’m already panicking.

I was already at a higher risk for a stillborn birth, and I was afraid that’s what was happening. Mike, my fiancé, was watching the monitor since I couldn’t see it. He told me that the cord was wrapped twice around her neck, and he could see her heart and circulation stop.

The doctor that was operating the machine told me, “I’m so sorry, but your baby has passed away. We can’t find her heartbeat.” I feel like I screamed, but I was in so much shock that I can’t remember clearly. I remember crying that entire day. It took them another two hours to start me on a Pitocin drip, and another two to start the epidural. I had to lay with my dead child laying still in my belly, because they were forcing me to deliver vaginally.

They told me that I run the risk of not healing properly from a C-section. I honestly would’ve taken that risk if it meant they could revive Marceline. I had to lie and wait until late that evening before I could deliver her. It was over an hour that I was in labor. Marcelne had shoulder dystocia, and was stuck in my pelvis. My pelvis was too small for her. They were using the vacuum on her.

I remember screaming, and feeling everything, even with the epidural. Mike, Mom, and my best friend Mickey all saw the cord around her neck, and heard the doctor say, “Oh, that’s wrapped tight.” I saw her turn a little to block Mike from seeing her cut the cord. Marcy was born at 1:16AM on Sunday, July 9th, 2017. They let Mike cut the cord, then laid her on my chest.

The skin on her cheeks had started to slough off from the cord strangling her. When I let Mike take her and hold her, they wouldn’t let me up to see him. I don’t remember much after that, and I think I had fallen asleep. The next morning the nurses had brought her in so I could see her. Her poor little hands were so cold. Her lips were so dark they were nearly black. I remember sobbing as I held her and being so afraid to touch her, thinking she would disintegrate if I did. When everyone had left the room, and it was just Mom and I with her, we sang her her lullaby, Loch Lomond.

I begged her to just come back to me, to us. I told her how much we loved her and how badly she was wanted, and how I was so sorry this happened to my poor little fox. She weighed 8lbs. 12oz., was 20.5 inches long, and looked exactly like I did when I was born. I didn’t get to hold her anymore after that. I could barely hold myself together; I barely can now.

The doctor also told me it was my fault she died, saying it was complications from diabetes that killed her. They also tried talking us out of getting an autopsy done on her. The autopsy results were eight pages long, and there was only one thing that may have been linked to my diabetes, but was not the ultimate cause for her inter-uterine demise.”

It is my prayer that the blessings from the goddess be upon my beautiful friend that she may become a mother of healthy children, and that she may heal from this terrible tragedy.

 

The next woman who shared her story was Mary.

I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was in and out of group homes for most of my teen years, so I was actually kind of excited that I would finally have someone who loved me who didn’t get paid to. (Teen logic). A few weeks later, I went to a party with some friends in a nearby hotel. I was the only one there not drinking. My baby’s life was too important to me.

Everyone was passed out on the beds in piles, except for me and one guy who was still drinking. I’d noticed him before, and he was cute, but I was in a relationship, so he was off limits. Besides, he was a cop’s kid, and he drank way too much, knowing he could get away with anything. I shook my head and decided to use the bathroom and find a place to go to sleep. He followed me to the bathroom. I won’t go into details, but he raped me on the bathroom floor, and no one even woke up. The next morning, I left before anyone else stirred. Once he had left the bathroom, I had spent the night curled up crying on the bathroom floor, so I was able to tiptoe out unnoticed. I called my best friend and asked her to come get me. She lived nearly two hours away, but she came, and instead of taking me home, she took me back to her house.

That night, I started spotting. Being so young, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t tell anyone, just got a pad and pretended everything was fine…until it wasn’t. By the next afternoon, I was bleeding heavily and having stomach pains so bad I couldn’t stand. I told my best friend what was going on, and she and some friends who were at the house took me to the ER. Of course, by then, it was too late to save the baby. That opportunity had passed the day before, if it ever even existed.

After the miscarriage, things are kind of a blur. However, I do remember what the doctor told me after my D&C. “You’ll never be able to get pregnant again. It was a miracle you were ever able to in the first place. And if you do manage to get pregnant, you won’t be able to carry a baby to term.” Just a few months later, I was pregnant again. This time, she was nearly a month late.

I was in the custody of DCS when I had my daughter. Less than two weeks after I had her, I turned 18. I told my case worker I wouldn’t leave the home for young mothers when I turned 18. I lied. I left on my birthday. She was livid, and actually tried to have my daughter taken from me. I fought like I had never fought before. No one was ever going to take THIS child away. I’d have died first.

Because of the miscarriage, and because I knew she would likely be my only child, I grew up and threw myself into motherhood head first. The late 80s were a time when almost all moms bottle fed their children, and preferred strollers and bouncy seats to skin on skin contact. I nursed my daughter, and improvised a way to carry her on my chest, much like today’s baby slings. She slept in a bassinet that was right beside my bed, and there were nights I would wake up and put my hand on her back, panicking a little until I could feel the rise and fall of her breathing. I never went a day without telling her I loved her, and I never went a night without reading a story and tucking her in. Perhaps I was TOO close to her, but I never wanted her to doubt my love.

The doctor was partially right. I was never able to have another child after my daughter. I tried to move on, but every year I would think about how old my first child would be if they were alive. Today, they would be 28. My daughter is 27. She is a beautiful woman with a wonderful life. I always told her growing up that she could be anything she wanted, but that all I wanted for her was happiness… I still feel that way. And she has it. That’s all a parent could ask for.”

I have thanked these beautiful women for sharing their stories, and they will be invited when I do the ritual I have written for this month’s article. It was very difficult for me to write this, as I could not stop crying the whole time. I will be blessed during this ritual as well.

I tried to think of something simple, but meaningful, and what I would want somebody to say to me for my grief over my own childlessness. I also looked to see what other liturgies I could find for women mourning loss of children, and I did not find much. I don’t ever remember hearing of such a ritual, and what little I did find was specifically for either funerals or miscarriages. I found nothing for women who are barren unless it was to pray for fertility. I found nothing for women who lost custody, as society tends to assume these women deserve that, but I’m not so quick to judge. I found a couple of Pagan prayers about miscarriage, and quite a few Catholic liturgies. I wanted to do something where the women bless and support one another, and as the women I am inviting venerate different gods and goddesses, I did not write this to be specific to honor a goddess, or to fit any one pantheon.

 

The Working

Instead of just honoring the Mother goddesses, living mothers, and mothers who have joined the ancestors, for your Winter Solstice Celebrations, I suggest a blessing for living Mothers who have lost children.

Decide if you want one officiant to act as a Priestess, or if you prefer to delegate parts and readings to multiple people, depending on the needs of your group.

You will need:

  1. One large candle for The Goddess,
  1. One candle for each child attending women have lost,
  1. A large pitcher of water, and cups to drink from.
  1. Boxes of Tissues in case anybody needs them because they are crying.

First, cast circle as you normally do, or leave the circle open as preferred.

Then light the large candle to welcome the goddess. Because of the solemnness of this rite, a silent lighting is acceptable unless you have a special way you want to welcome her.

Each woman should take the pitcher of water in her hands and bless it as she sees fit. The communal blessing is what will make this ritual powerful, as it is one another we oftentimes look to for love, and strength. Prayers, or focusing energy to bless the water as feels appropriate for each woman is acceptable.

After the water is blessed, have each woman light a single candle in honor of each child they have lost, saying the child’s name and sit all the candles in a circle around the blessed water.

The reading, as followed can be done by one person, or each person can take a part to read.

The unbreakable bond of flesh of our flesh transcends the body and mind, and unites through spirit.

Though their bodies are far from yours, their mother, your soul connection to your children is forever.

Though your life with your child ended, you are still their mother, and always will be.

Let the love of the Divine Mother who you manifest in this life fill the void the loss of your child left.

You, a vessel of life, create more than just human beings. You create life through joy, kindness, laughter healing, and love.

May the blessings that you, a reflection of the Goddess, bestow upon those around you be returned to you tenfold.

May those whose tears of sorrow you dry, dry your tears. May those who you bless with tears of joy fill you with joys beyond compare.

May the waters we have blessed heal us, wash away our sorrows, and restore things we thought our pain took from us forever.

May the Mothers mourning loss of connection with living children be reunited with them, and have a long, happy life together.

May the Mothers whose children have died be reunited with them in the place of the ancestors, if they do not reincarnate together.

May you have the love and support of other mothers around you. Know that you are never alone. You have the connection to the Divine Mother, and all Mothers on earth who embody Her.”

Next, give everybody a cup to drink of the blessed water.

Each woman will then take turns talking to their child, or children and think of something they would have done for their child. Since they can’t do that, let the Mothers take a pledge to do something for another child in honor of the child or children she has lost. It can be something as simple as babysitting for a single parent you know for free, or something as great as adopting or fostering another child who has no parents.

Next, take down circle as you normally do, and potluck.

Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be.

 

Below is more information about Somebody’s Mother.

 

From the Press Release about Somebody’s Mother-

FILMMAKER’S COMMENTS

I feel shattered, pieces of me flying everywhere. Some parts of me are back in the hospital with the ghost of Charlie. Some parts are on the other side with Charlie’s soul, floating, dancing in the light. Together the two of us, our forgotten love. The love we didn’t get to share in this lifetime because he died. My little baby died. He was born too early with a terrible infection. He became terribly septic and was suffering. We released him from his pain and took him off life support. He floated away back to the other side and he died. Some part of me is there with him. Another part is on the floor at Trader Joe’s, where I was just shopping but had to run into the bathroom, and beg God for mercy; from the pain that I was experiencing just walking through the bread aisle.

Grief showed me all its colors, textures, shapes and sizes. When I lost Charlie it felt as if I was never going to get out. One day, I had a vision in my meditation, that Charlie came and said I need to make this story, I need to talk about grief and loss and that there is a connection to the other side. He’s not lost, its just another realm. And so we began to change the script we had worked on. Making something, first by writing it down in the script, then re-enacting it out during production and finally observing it in the editing slowly allowed me to befriend the grief. The parts of my body rejoined other parts. Parts of my soul rejoined the other parts and the new fragmented me became whole again.

During a scene in our film SOMEBODY’S MOTHER I sort through a purple box, which was actually my Charlie’s baby items. These items were given to us from the hospital NICU and consisted of Charlie’s little hat, a lock of his hair, and his footprints. I hadn’t been able to go through that purple box since returning from the hospital over a year prior. I decided to go through it for the first time while we were filming. During the scene, I wept. I felt purified and cleansed. It was beyond healing, it felt shamanic. By fully embracing the pain, I somehow transcended it.

I wasn’t just doing it for me but as a way to understand others; who had or were going through this. I learnt that extreme pain forces us to leave our bodies and reconnect with something deeper than ourselves. In this process, we shatter into a million pieces destroying who we once were, our former selves; our ego identity to rebirth into a new self with new knowledge and a reconnection to “source” energy. Charlie taught me this. Making the film allowed me to fully understand it, and not become lost in the grief or hardened by it. Instead it helped me open and soften. The experience deepened my understanding that this pain is a universal experience, which ultimately made me more of who I am. — GABRIELA TOLLMAN (Director, Writer, Actor, Producer)

My sister and I were interested in exploring contrasting themes. So many women we know want to get pregnant so badly and when they do; they don’t enjoy motherhood. It’s complicated. The role of a mother; is expected of women. It is assumed that the role of a mother should come easily and feel natural, but this is not always the case. Not everyone should become a mother.

We wanted the audience to feel how lonely these two women feel. If we are disconnected from honoring loss and disconnected from pain then how do we move forward in life? If Anna had allowed herself to express the confusion as a mother, her guilt, shame and fear perhaps she could have sought help instead of walking away from her four-year old child and leaving him in a car. So many women go through postpartum depression but feel so much shame that they act out instead of seeking help. We wanted to explore these topics, these dark places that nobody really wants to see – the places that are uncomfortable for an audience to experience and yet when they do, they feel relieved that they survived and deepened their understanding along the way.– EVELYNE TOLLMAN (Writer, Actor, Producer)

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

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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

 

The Enchanted Cottage: Magick for the Witch’s Home

November, 2017

To Protect the Witches Home

“We will set to work on that” said Hansel, “and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and though, Gretel, canst eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.”

Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leaned against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the room.

“Nibble, nibble gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?”

The children answered,

“The wind, the wind,
The heaven-born wind,”

and went on eating without disturbing themselves….

From Hansel and Gretel—Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tale

 

Grimm

 

The above tale is from one of my favorite fairy tale books. Reading the myth and lore that the Brothers Grimm collected not only brings me comfort during the cold and dark months, I also enjoy unraveling some of the meaning behind the tales. One of the lessons I have learned from Hansel and Gretel is that if you don’t want random children nibbling on your home, you better learn how to set up protective boundaries. If the old witch in the candy coated cottage had installed magical shields around her property, she may not have ended up being cooked in her own oven.

There are many ways one can go about protecting their home from evil and unruly spirits, enemies, and unforeseen forces. It is always best to figure out what shielding magic works best for you but I will share a few methods that I have found to be effective.

Red Brick Dust. A staple in New Orleans Voodoo and Appalachian Hoodoo, Red Brick Dust is my go to formula for most protective magic. Easy to find on the internet and fairly easy to make, this magical powder is made from the grindings of a red brick. The trick is finding a brick that is red throughout, they can be difficult to find. To use, just sprinkle across your doorways and window seals. If feeling the need for extra protection the dust can be sprinkled around the perimeter of you house.

Gargoyles. Found on Egyptian and Greek temples and many churches, the grotesque gargoyle started out as a water spout. Now they can be found everywhere as a decorative feature on many homes and businesses. I have found these creatures to be fiercely protective and have a few around my home. They not only defend my home from unwanted entities, they also have been known to protect my home from natural forces such as storms and falling branches. All of my Gargoyles have names and they are treated like part of the family.

Herbs. There are many herbs that can be used in the protection of your home. You can sprinkle them across entrances much like Red Brick Dust or you can make magical brews and washes out of them to clean or draw runes and symbols with. This list is but a small portion of herbs that may be utilized for protective measures. Garlic, anise, bittersweet (poison), cinnamon, datura, juniper, wolfsbane (poison), and my go to favorite herb—vervain.

Runes and other symbols. These can be drawn through the air or “painted” on doors and windows with washes and brews. They can also be carved into the ground at the four corners of your property. Runes can be used on their own or combined to make bind-runes. Isa, Nauthiz and Algiz are just a few of the runes that can be used. The pentagram or pentacle is another popular protective symbol that is used as is in some magical circles, the cross.

What I have shared here are a few techniques that I use in protective magic for my home. There are many methods that have been known to work just as well as mine and it is wise to find the ones that work best for you. As the nights grow colder, I offer you many warm blessings for your hearth and home. May your home be safe from the nibbling of children…

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

November, 2017

Fire Clearing

Merry meet.

At pagan festivals, it is almost expected there will be fire performers. While fire is one of the elements and there’s something primal about it, I never saw it as particularly connected to a pagan or spiritual practice.

That was until six weeks ago when a coven sister did her first fire clearing.

Ever since I’ve picked up my fans, I knew there was a spiritual component to them,” said Becky Coates who has been a fire spinner for 18 months. “Before they came into my life, I was often seeing them in sacred space and dancing with them during meditations. The first time I had them in my hands they immediately felt so right. I then took them to all my spiritual circles, to pick up the energy of that, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” she said.

This past summer, someone picked up her card at a farmers market. Noticing it mentioned Coates as a massage therapist, tarot reader and fire dancer, and asked, “‘Do you do that for energy clearing?’ and my answer was, ‘I can, but not yet.’”

 

 

Wondering why she wasn’t doing that, she thought about what it would be like. At a Mabon weekend retreat with 20 other goddesswomen, she decided it was the perfect time to begin.

Every time I do it, I understand it more and more. It started out with the clearing aspect of it, but now I’m also getting into energy raising. I’m excited to see how this practice grows.”

 

 

She’s developed a basic structure for a routine that lasts the three minutes the fans burn. It starts when she approaches the fire, connecting with the fire source before she lights her fans and asks it to work through her. Barefoot, she then gracefully approaches the person to be cleared. She lets the fire greet them in the way it calls and then she casts a circle by spinning deosil around the person to be cleared. Starting in the center, she sweeps the energy from the center line out.

I can feel the density as I’m passing though, so I’ll feel a subtle shift. The faster movements bring energy up,” she said.

 

 

As she works on both sides of the body at the same time, Coates explained, “It’s learning and it’s balancing.”

As she sweeps and fans, raises and lowers, and spins around as you’re standing still, you can hear the whoosh of the air rippling through the fire as the fans are moved quickly. You can smell a hint of Coleman camp fuel. You can feel warmth come near and move away. You can also feel a stirring in you, a negativity or a block you are willing to release being swept away.

After her second clearing, Kelli Cooke said, “I always feel like old energy is being cleared out, and old patterns are broken and undone. Any heaviness I’ve been carrying is set free, burned away.”

For me, I could feel the fire burning away the frustration and fear I wished to release from my life, and I could feel them being pushed away as they lost the hold they had had on my body and spirit.

Coates brings the fans over the head of the person “to acknowledge the power within them.” From there, she follows what she’s called to do. It might be more clearing heavy energy out of the aura or rising the energy. The times I’ve watched her she’s been focused, eyes often closed, listening to her inner wisdom that guides her movements.

 

 

You’re so in the moment,” she said.

Those receiving cleansing have said the same.

Obviously, experience with fire spinning is a basic requirement for anyone wanting to do a fire clearing. So is a having a good sense of depth perception. In addition to fans, Coates thought hoops might also be used. If working with poi, consider using them to clear an area or cast a circle rather than for close-up work.

I could see using fire for more directive magic. You could use a staff or sword as a wand. If you have a prop that you’re playing with, ask it,’How do you want to be of service?’”

“Fire is such a communicative element and if you are touched by it, you know it’s power. It can feel like a warm hug or a blazing inferno and so much can be transformed through its energy,” Coates said.

Kerry Bower felt both.

She said she was honored to receive Coates’ first ritual clearing.

 

 

I still don’t know what happened to me the few hours before the fire clearing, but it was extremely intense. I was very emotional and vulnerable. The combination of physical feeling I got from the heat along with the sound of the flames and the sight of the light behind my closed eyes really helped me release the spiritual weight I no longer wanted to carry,” Bowers said.

It was purging the most physical and mental pain I had ever experienced. The flames took me from the low I felt hours earlier, and lifted my spirit, like a phoenix rising. I felt empowered and protected.”

 

 

While currently in Connecticut, Coates will be going on the road in 2018, so she may be at a festival or function near you – or could be. For more information, email BeckyCoatesMassage@gmail.com or visit her website at www.beckycoateslmt.com.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

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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.

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