author

Interview with the Author of We Are Magical Beings, Paola Collazos

July, 2018

Interview with Paola Collazos

Paola Collazos is a Reiki master, energy medicine practitioner and a licensed massage therapist. She is also the author of “We Are Magical Beings”. I had the chance to not only review the book, but also talk with Paola recently.

Deanna-In your book, We Are Magical Beings, you share the hardships that came with your childhood. You seem to have blossomed from that childhood once you found energy work. What would you say to your younger self?

Paola-To my younger self I would say I promise to nurture you and keep life light- hearted and fun.

D-Do you believe you would be where you are now, if you had experienced a different childhood?

P-I would for sure be somewhere else had my childhood been different. Our early experiences shape our personalities and decisions profoundly. But I wouldn’t trade my childhood, it was filled with lessons and I love myself the way I am today.

D-In today’s world, we are seeing a lot of high profile celebrities who have depression that are committing suicide.

What would you recommend to someone that is dealing with depression?

P-The thing about depression is that you have to catch yourself before you fall, and for that to happen one has to choose to be aware of the triggers way before you catch yourself falling.

BUT before wrapping your mind around that last statement, one must accept, and absolutely know within themselves that they are not alone, 44,965 Americans die by Suicide each year. The numbers show it, you are not alone. Even, I, with all the tools, experience lows sometimes.

Eliminate self-judgment and get to know your triggers, avoid them at all costs by keeping busy, work hard, volunteer, exercise, take walks, see friends, perhaps get a pet and breathe. I believe that breath is the closest thing to unconditional love. Oxygen is always there for you. Love yourself by taking deep breaths. Allowing the exhale to be longer than the inhale calms the nervous system by activating the vagus nerve which sends a signal to the brain telling it to hike up the parasympathetic nervous system and turn down the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic NS controls our rest and digest. It lowers our blood pressure and heart (this is an amazing natural effect of the human body. )

If you need to take medication then do so without judgments but do the self-work. Watch your self-talk.

Eliminate self-judgment and get to know your triggers, avoid them at all costs by keeping busy, work hard, volunteer, exercise, take walks, see friends, perhaps get a pet and breathe. Repeat, every day, and in every moment, that you can remember.

D-During your first Reiki session, you describe an emotional session that seemed to be a turning point for you. Do you feel that you would have reacted the same if the woman had not started crying?

P-I do. I feel that if the woman had not started to cry I may have been more open to energy the first time around. I have learned that with energy work people tend to be skeptical or perceive it as mumbo-jumbo therefore it is vital for the practitioner to be clear, professional and as informative as possible.

D-This book is packed with information on tuning into the energy that we are. For someone who might get overwhelmed easily, where would you recommend getting started?

P-They should find a comfortable quiet space, lay down, close their eyes and notice their breath, then they should notice their heart beating. Tune in to the simple things in life. Revel in the mastery of the human anatomy.

D-During this journey you went through a natural detoxing where your body’s chemistry started changing. You had a difficult time finding a deodorant that worked and you stopped enjoying the taste of meat. In your experience, is this natural detoxing a normal part of the journey for everyone when doing energy work?

P-This varies by person. It is different for everyone. One can even experience this natural detoxing by merely starting a yoga practice. So yes, it is a normal part of the journey.

D-After getting your Level One Reiki Certification, you waited a year before getting your Level Two. Would you recommend this same wait time for someone who is interested in obtaining Reiki Certifications?

P-Yes, I believe that one should take the time after level one to heal themselves before they start trying to help others however some people get both attunements and even the third all in one weekend. I’ve also heard of Masters not passing on the second attunement until years after the first.

For me, it depends on the student but I would encourage some time to explore their own chakras after the first level. There is a lot to explore within oneself and things start to shift. So, you want to be respectful and allow yourself the time to process.

D-Also, after waiting a year, were you able to obtain the Level Two Reiki Certification with the same Reiki Master that certified you as a Level One Reiki?

P-The First Reiki Master did my second level. The level three was done by someone else years later.

D-For someone who is serious about learning all there is to know about energy work, would it be more beneficial to study one area of energy work (Reiki) before moving on to something else? Or can different areas of energy work be studied and used at the same time?

P-Yes, they can be studied at the same time but it also depends on the person and their learning style. It also depends on what they are planning to do with the information. Are they curious for their own healing or if they would like to teach/work on others?

The energy systems are the same all across the board what changes are the ways in which the individual chooses to tap into the energies to keep them settled. One can get started with learning about chakras without having to get Reiki attunements however it does not hurt. It will certainly give you a boost.

When I got my first attunement the master provided me with a lot of information that I wouldn’t have known by merely researching chakras. Like that KAVA tea has spirit unifying properties and that it would help me with lucid dreaming. Once you get started with energy work things will unfold and one thing will lead to the other.

The Meridians or (energy channels) and five element theories are a little more complicated to understand and to apply and I only delved into that in massage therapy school however I do not think it is impossible to grasp. I tried my best to simplify these concepts in my book because I do believe it is necessary to understand. Think of the chakras as the Macro and the Meridians as the micro. Chakras governs the muscles, organs, veins, and ligaments within the chakra’s vicinity. They are super busy hubs of energy that receive and give out information. They also contain information about your life’s journey while the meridians are energy pathways that pertain to one specific organ.

And yes they can be used at the same time.

D-‘We Are Magical Beings’ contains many different areas of energy work. Out of Reiki, Meridians, Chakras, Auras, Yin and Yang, Elements, Centering, Inner Child and Visualizations; do you have a favorite energy work?

P-Picking one is hard because they are so intertwined. I do love visualizations and I think that visualizing and or tapping into the imagination is crucial for all of this work. So, visualizations are my favorite.

D-One of the quotes from the book is “There is perfection in imperfection!” This is very powerful. In today’s world it seems that we are constantly chasing perfection. This quote feels as if it is giving us permission to be who we are without worrying about perfection. Did you find it freeing once you rid the notion of being perfect?

P-Yes, allow yourself to be imperfect. Try your best but be clear about your process. Be mindful that you are not using this idea of perfection to procrastinate and not proceed with what you want. Remember the mind would much rather be safe in its routines so it will always convince you that you are not there yet.

It was freeing for me because I allow myself to have fun and try new things. I’ve heard so many people say they won’t try new things because they are not “good” at it. Allowing yourself to be imperfect is very freeing.

Thank you so much Paola Collazos for taking the time to talk with us at PaganPagesOrg!

If you would like more information on Paola Collazos visit her site at: http://www.paolacollazos.com/ or you can find out more about her book We Are Magical Beings by clicking the links or the book cover below. Enjoy!!

We Are Magical Beings: A Healing Guide for Earthlings

 

Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

July, 2018

Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

In Short: Helpful meditation primer – yes; authentic vedantic teaching – no.

Meditation was first introduced to the West from the yogic traditions of India. Even before The Beatles courted the teachings of Indian gurus, vedic philosophy had been brought to the Europe and America by Theosophists in the mid-19th century and yogis such as Paramahamsa Yogananda promoted vedic meditational practices (in the form of Kriya yoga) to westerners in the 1920s. However, a look at most literature on meditation today will reveal a strong dominance of a Buddhist or indeed a secular approach. Especially Eastern Buddhist traditions, with their focus on mindfulness meditation, are appropriately secular minded for the western audience. The de-emphasis on metaphysical doctrines such as reincarnation and karma allowed chan / zen traditions especially to be readily digestible in the West, so when scientific data started coming in on the benefits of meditation, the appetite for self-improvement boosted mindfulness meditation in particular to the status of a “mental workout”. As more scientific data has accumulated, over the last thirty years it has become the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of meditation practice that have become the reason to meditate. Even Buddhist journals such as Tricycle wax heavily on the neurological benefits of meditation and on secular Buddhism.

None of this is a bad thing, but it is what makes In The Light of Meditation stand out of the landscape. It teaches meditative practice from the yogic tradition of India. The secular is absent, spiritual development is central to the agenda and explicit in the teaching. The meditation taught by the book is from the Raja yoga tradition. The purpose of Raja yoga is to become aware of one’s spiritual nature and one’s connection with the divine (however one understands that for themselves), learning to recognize the divine flame within us.

So be warned – if you feel slightly allergic to chapters titled “Knowing and Understanding God”, “The Soul World”, and “Where do we go after death”, then this book will not be for you. While the book explains metaphysical concepts such as reincarnation and the workings of karma, it tries not to be necessarily religiously aligned and I don’t believe the exercises contained will necessarily contradict any other religious observances you might have. Rather than advocating offerings to any specific deity, the author has made an effort to couch the lessons with the Westerner in mind and direct the reader’s attention to the Divine, the language used sometimes even comes off as Christian.

In the Light of Meditation is designed to be a full 10-week meditation course in a book. I think this is well thought-out, since it is an appropriate amount of time to start noticing the benefits of a mind-body practice (it takes at least a month to make the relevant synaptic connections). Each chapter is an individual lesson designed to be read (and re-read) and digested over the course of the week. The meditation sessions start off gently at 10 minutes long, which is about the length that I started my meditation with, with instructional guides for you to read over before and while following them or preferably following on the supplied CD. Similar to many workbooks, additionally each chapter also has an FAQ, an encouraging personal experience testimonial, and various exercises such as visualization, ritual, or journaling prompts to help you integrate and reflect on your learning and to ground the meditating work in you life and psyche.

Something I found unique in the book was an email address provided for assistance for the beginner meditator. This address is staffed not by the author only, but by a number of experienced meditators at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, with which the author Mike George is associated with. While I did not “test” the email contact myself, this seems like it could be an invaluable asset for the beginner who cannot get meditation teaching in person.

Overall the production value of the book is high. It is beautifully designed, every page has the detail and charm of small illustrations or patterns, while the layout is kept streamlined and readable, not too broken up like many educational or coffee table books. Some books lend themselves well for summarizing with bullet points and notes in the margins. I am a big fan of the free public library for this reason – browsing through books, writing notes down to reflect upon later. This book is not so amenable to this approach though. The narrative nature of the writing and instructions don’t lend themselves well for quick notes to be practiced later; the design of a self-study course requires you to follow along over time. That said, for a workbook – and it is assuredly a workbook – it has an eminently readable flow and even comes with a CD with 15 tracks of commentary and guided meditation.

The book is not without its problems, however. As I mentioned above, the author is affiliated with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. This is not Raja yoga from a traditional lineage. The yoga practices taught are based on the teachings of Dada Lekhraj Kripalani (1876-1969), a diamond merchant turned guru who founded the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in the 1930s. Some of the teachings of the organization definitely contradict standard vedantic teachings. Their profound misunderstanding of the yugas (vedic ‘ages’) as only 5,000 years long and each cycle repeating the last exactly, seems to be at the root of such mistakes as making specific predictions of apocalypse, predicting that Sri Krishna will incarnate onto Earth around the year 2036, or a vague skepticism of dinosaurs. After all, if history does not just repeat itself, but repeats exactly, and it is comprised of four ages 5,000 years long, how on earth does a Jurassic Period make sense? These claims are not made in the book, but they are why the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is on CenSAMM’s (Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements) list of Millenarian and Apocalyptic Movements. The Brahma Kumaris also have a troubling belief in revealed truth, wherein the teachings of the founder Dada Lekhraj Kripalani were the direct words of the Divine. All of these are red flags to me. On the other hand, the organization has been a very positive influence on the position of women in India, with many women in top leadership roles. And the meditation instructions in the book seem worthwhile to me.

Nonetheless, I think the book is designed well. I think ten weeks spent on this book will generally be a good way to find a spiritual focus in life and in your meditation practice as well. However, just follow it with common sense and know that not all the teachings are traditional Raja yoga. Don’t stop questioning; find that is worthwhile and discard the rest.

In the Light of Meditation: A Guide to Meditation and Spiritual Development, with CD

Book Excerpt – Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions by Anastasia Greywolf

July, 2018

Book Excerpt

Love Magic

A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions

by Anastasia Greywolf

 

Whether you’re hoping to catch that person you’ve been secretly in love with for the past five months, or perhaps an unrequited crush is not getting your subtle hints, the one true adage is that love has no rules and sometimes needs a little help or gentle nudge. To help readers navigate through their amorous adventures, Love Magic makes love of all kinds as easy as simply knowing the right words. Inside, readers will find timeless incantations, mystical concoctions, and homemade talismans that will help them harness their inner love powers to:

Attract love

Find out you who you’ll marry

Become a better lover (or make your mate one!)

Keep your love going strong

Bring good fortune to your beloved

End and forget about a love

In addition to traditional spells, Love Magic includes spells from:

Susan Adcox, Gemma Aronson, Jennifer Boudinot, DY Edwards, Elisia G. of Ancient Nouveau, Greta Goldbart, Gabriel Grey, James Benjamin Kenyon, Suzanne Lareau, Savana Lee, Josephine Preston Peabody, Hollen Pockets, Calyx Reed, Jill Robi, Elisa Shoenberger Jeanne de la Ware, Marguerite Wilkinson, Des D. Wilson, Katriel Winter

Here are a Few Spells From the Book:

 

To Find Love in the Summer

by James Benjamin Kenyon

How beautiful the summer morn,
With billowy leagues of wheat and corn!
The shining woods and fields rejoice;
Each twinkling stream lifts up its voice
To join the chorus of the sky;
O beautiful unspeakably!
In the dry cicada’s notes,
In the thistle-down that floats
Aimless on the shimmering air,
In the perfume sweet and rare
Of the sun-steeped, dark-leaved trees,
Dwell the year’s deep prophecies.
Hark! the clangor of the mills
Echoes from the drowsy hills.
The foamy clouds, the smiling dale.
The dimpling waves, the laughing flowers,
The low, faint droning of the bees.
Mixed with sweet twitterings from the leas,
Conspire to charm the magic hours.
Under a spell the spirit lies;
Sundered is sorrow’s misty veil;
Today life is a glad surprise,
A tranquil rapture, fine and frail.
Wherein to joy-anointed eyes
The old earth seems a Paradise.

 

To Help Bond You With Someone

TRADITIONAL MAGIC

To make a romantic partner feel bonded to you, use this Gaelic charm. Keep a sprig of mint in your hand till the herb grows moist and warm, then take hold of the hand of the woman you love, and she will follow you as long as the two hands close over the herb. No invocation is necessary, but silence must be kept between the two parties for ten minutes, to give the charm time to work with due efficacy.

 

To Make Love Last

TRADITIONAL MAGIC

Love will last forever with this charm. Take a bay leaf and split it in half. Kneel with your beloved in front of a red candle. Kiss one half of the bay leaf, then press the other side to their mouth to kiss. They should repeat the same process with the other bay leaf half. Tie the two halves together with one strand of hair from each of your heads. Place it in a green sachet and bury in your yard or another place that has meaning for you.

 

If you have enjoyed these spells, you will certainly enjoy the many this collection book contains!!

Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions

Lessons From Indigenous Communities: How We Can All Benefit From Some Of Their Principles by Guest Writer Omar Beretta

July, 2018

Lessons From Indigenous Communities: How We Can All Benefit From Some Of Their Principles

By Guest Writer Omar Beretta

 

(Photo by Pablo E. Ortiz on Unsplash)

Imagine this: you switch off your iPhone now, pack your backpack, and get lost in a tropical jungle in search of powerful lessons from Indigenous communities. You’d better have a passport, because Indigenous communities are rarely found in our backyard. And we need to go now, because Indigenous wisdom is rapidly evaporating in the heat of modern times, but there is still a lot we can learn from them.

But direct to access Indigenous tribes isn’t always easy. Not everyone has an enlightened employer that will support your mystical journey and time away from the office. Or, an understanding and loving significant other that will drive you to the airport without a return ticket.

What’s the bottom line? Accessing alternative sources of knowledge may change your life forever — and this is good news. But you do not need to burn all your bridges to take the first steps in the direction of a new understanding of life. Take one step at a time.

First – what does “Indigenous community” mean, exactly?

This may seem crazy, but Karl Marx got it right when he explained that the natural world is further and further removed from us and arrives only in a relatively processed, mediated form. And he wrote that in 1844. The immediacy of nature has been lost, and nature confronts humanity as an alien entity. Moreover, as the Marxist theorist Max Horkheimer would later put it, “The history of man’s efforts to subjugate nature is also the history of man’s subjugation by man.”

The chances of finding an authentic Indigenous community in a natural, pristine environment, willing to share their wisdom to a newcomer that does not speak their language, are next to nothing. What we can learn from good old Marx is that we have created a production system that alienates us from nature, and over the years it has generated an urban malaise from which I suffer, and, if you have read this far, probably you too. The bad news is that apparently this malaise can only be cured by accessing the wisdom of aboriginal communities, which have been almost entirely crushed by the very system of production to which we contribute each day by waking up, buying coffee, and going to work.

But even if we got lost for a few months in the Peruvian Amazon, we would discover that most of the Indigenous knowledge has already been formatted to the urban lifestyle. It would take significant time and effort to find a spot where white men and women have not already set up a spiritual shop to cater to our quest. And before the spiritual shops arrived, various churches roamed the aboriginal wilderness, turning original knowledge into a mere remembrance of things past.

So, if you only have one or two weeks to spare for your spiritual quest, do not shop in the Spiritual Supermarket. More importantly, do not buy that six-day, four-ayahuasca ceremony package tour to the Amazon, facilitated by white people that can speak your language. Rather, donate that money to a reliable NGO and wait for good karma to hit back. It always does.

Here’s the kicker: we may actually find powerful lessons in our backyard. We have the atavic need to be a part of a tribe, because it offers protection and the possibility of achieving greater goals. Some of us might have belonged to, for example, a gym tribe or a clubbing tribe. Over the months we found out, perhaps with bitter resentment, that the tribe we thought we belonged to was actually what is called a pseudo-community, a gathering that was not based on fundamental principles, merely on transitory activities. The day I stop going to the gym or reduce my clubbing expeditions my tribe will desert me.  

But perhaps you have a meditation tribe going, or you feel that you belong to a yoga tribe that has passed the two-year acid test. If you and the core tribe members are still meditating or practicing yoga after two years, your tribe may be ready for the second stage. This is advice I got from actual Indigenous masters in the Amazon, as well as from teachers at an intentional community in Scotland: first you need to have things in common, then you strengthen the bond. Finally, a real community is born.

Want to know the best part? Here is something that you can take away. Basic aboriginal wisdom: consume less and spend more time together. You can divide your tribe in three groups. On week 1, the first group goes shopping for organic products to cook veggie burgers. The second group gets together and cooks the burgers, while the third group rests. On weeks 2 and 3, the groups shift chores. This may prove more challenging than you think, because it entails coordinating people to get together once a week to do an additional activity that is not merely recreational; it supports the welfare of the tribe. Thus, we learn to put the interest of the collective before the interest of the individual. If you can achieve this, you have probably learned the most important lesson there is to learn. It is highly likely that your tribe will be decimated over the first two weeks, but you will learn who is for real. Keep it going for a couple of years, and abundant wisdom you never thought you had inside you will flow from your heart.

***

About the Author:

Omar Beretta is the co-author with Bénédicte Rousseau of Shaman Express. A former lawyer, yoga instructor and publishing company owner who – after a near-death experience – left his corporate career to practice yoga and shamanism, Beretta is now a full-time world traveler. He learns from people living in countries not yet fully spoilt by Western capitalism as well as indigenous communities. When he is not traveling, Beretta teaches creative writing workshops in Asunción del Paraguay. For more information, see www.yacarevolador.com

About Shaman Express: Amazon US link: amzn.to/2vKd4CZ 

Shaman Express

Interview with Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

July, 2018

Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

Astrid Brown is a medium, a psychic, and an incredibly prolific author. Her most recent offering, A Psychic Affair, blends the mysteries of psychic development with the romance genre, exploring how long-distance relationships can develop not only through the words and messages we send, but through a true, psychic connection. The story is interwoven with poetry and descriptions of how certain aspects of psychic development work, creating something Astrid describes as a ‘hybrid’; a cross-genre concept that will appeal to romance fans and students of the psychic world alike.

Astrid was kind enough to give us some of her time, and here’s what she had to say to PaganPagesOrg.

Mabh Savage: What was the inspiration for the book, A Psychic Affair?

Astrid Brown: I was writing a psychic development book at the time, and I created a website to explain psychic phenomena as I found myself having to explain how we work, and how clients can help themselves. I still add to this site/blog: http://www.astridestella.info . So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be an idea to write a novel about a medium, and explain psychic phenomena at the same time?’

I had endless problems with publishers as they don’t like hybrids, but want one genre, and not a cross genre as this one is.

MS: What led this decision to craft the book as a hybrid between an educational volume on psychic development, and a romance?

AB: I wanted to write a novel but felt I had to explain how mediums work, and explain the phenomena; after all, ‘Maryann’ and ‘Annie’ are mediums

MS: Was the book based on events in your own life at all?

AB: I have used my life experiences to write the book. I was a lecturer (I no longer do this) focusing on writing and doing readings. Of course I am a medium, so I made ‘Maryann’ one. Some of the characters are based on people I’ve met in my life.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

AB: I would say its aimed at people who are interested in the paranormal and psychics, and readers who are open minded.

MS: You’ve written thirty books or so in the last ten years. How do you find the time, and how do you balance writing with your day to day life?

AB: I make the time for I love writing. Often the best time for me to write is the early hours of the morning. I get tremendous links with spirit at this time, and they encourage and influence my work. It’s not a job to me; it’s a pleasure. for there is no point in writing if you don’t enjoy it. Lastly, I want to let people know how amazing the Universe and spirit are.

MS: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

AB: Don’t give up. You will get many rejections; JK Rowling had 20 rejections from publishers before she had Harry Potter accepted. Your first books may not be that good but keep at it and you will improve. What is important though is spelling and grammar and don’t rely on Spell Check it makes mistakes. Everything happens at the right time and no experience is ever wasted.

MS: How long have you worked with developing your psychic abilities?

AB: All of my life.

MS: When did you first discover your psychic abilities, or your ability to work with spirit?

AB: From birth. I think my earliest memories of psychic phenomena were when I was a baby, and as I was growing up, I played with spirit children, so it developed from then. I was giving readings when I was school age. I might also say my grandmother who lived with us was a medium in the Spiritualist Church.

MS: What’s the most beneficial thing you find about your psychic talents and awareness?

AB: Helping others and bringing them comfort and reassurance, especially if they are bereaved.

MS: And what’s the most challenging?

AB: Explaining to people I am not a fortune teller but a Medium. I cannot conjure up specific loved ones from the other side. If they have a message they will come forward. I am also restricted by divine timing in that there is no concept of time in the spirit realms, so I don’t always get specific dates. Sometimes it’s not possible to do a reading on someone; they maybe inadvertently blocking me and they need to be relaxed. Sometimes spirit will come forward and they will not recognise who it is and for to continue the reading I need them to accept, or be open minded so I can continue the link.

MS: Was it a natural development to move from nursing into holistic therapies?

AB: I began moving to holistic therapies when I had my own children. They were my guinea pigs, but it was actually a very small homeopathic book I came across in the supermarket one day. I bought it, I don’t know why, I guess I was directed by spirit and I was fascinated by it, I wanted to know more and more. This led onto other energy systems of healing such as Bach Flower Remedies and Aromatherapy, so I studied and trained in aromatherapy and reflexology, therapeutic massage, Indian head massage, and crystal therapy. When I attended parapsychology college to improve my mediumship I studied spiritual healing. Then I decided to train as a beauty therapist to gain more clients, eventually becoming a college lecturer, teaching anatomy and physiology, and beauty therapy. I also introduced holistic therapies to the college and trained many students who now work in spas around the world.

MS: Without spoiling the story for prospective readers, the way it ends suggests there may be more to come. Will there be another book for Maryann and John?

AB: This was my intention, to write another, as I left an opening at the end of the book. If the book sells, well I will write another about Maryann and John.

MS: And are you working on any other novels at the moment?

AB: I’m always writing something, I am currently writing something completely different from my normal genre at the moment and a collection of short stories. I write poetry all the time, much of which is channelled from spirit, so it comes in very fast to me, often writing a poem in 2 minutes. Whilst I am writing I am not aware of what my fingers are typing. I do my best psychic readings this way either on messenger or emails.

Thanks for talking to us! Astrid can be found at her website: http://www.astridestella.info where there is a wealth of information about holistic wellbeing and mediumship.

She is also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Astrid.Brown/ and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/astrid_brown (U.S.A.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00AIOQR2I (UK)

 

A Psychic Affair

 

***

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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

Book Review- Gifts of the Crysnix by Lisa G. Shore

June, 2018

Book Review

Gifts of the Crysnix

Author: Lisa G. Shore

209 pages

 

(Author Lisa G. Shore courtesy https://lisagshore.com/)

 

This book brought me back to my younger years when my imagination was at its best. The author’s magical world includes fairies, kings/queens, princes, ogres, underworld creatures, laws of light, crystals, and much more.

The story is set in a small town called Galvin Colve. In the woods called Castle Forest lies a majestic Crystal Kingdom that is hidden from human kind. Inside the Crystal Kingdom are advanced beings who have unfastened the truths of the universe. They are crystal fairies who call themselves Crysnix. The Crysnix grant wishes for humans in trouble and try to guide them in the right direction while the dark side tries to create chaos. This story has celebration, love, tragedy, and war. Everything that makes a great story.

I felt young and happy while reading this book. It has “teachable” moments interlaced with the story which I thought was a great aspect. It’s about love, working together and helping one another mixed with magic and emotion. This book actually helped me realize how caught up I have been in my adult life that I had forgotten my whimsical creative side of me and I miss that.

I believe this book is good for children and adults. It was an easy read. I loved the fact that the author used quotes in the beginning of the book as well as in front of each chapter. The quote that hit home most for me was:

“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations.

For if you do, you may still exist but you have cease to live.”

-Henry David Thoreau

At times, I wish there was more detailed explanation involved, but not enough for me not to enjoy the adventure this book brought me on.

 

Gifts of the Crysnix

 

***

About the Author:

Amy Sweryda is a Legal Assistant for a Workers Compensation Attorney.  She works at PSRB.  Amy loves the products that she sells on the side, Safe, Natural and Essential products from health to beauty.  Her website is https://www.amysweryda.arbonne.comAmy, also, enjoys reading, animals & being outdoors.

 

 

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.

Interview with Author & Artist Lupa

March, 2018

Lupa is an author, artist, ecopsychologist, and naturalist in the Pacific Northwest.  She creates ritual tools and other sacred art from hides and bones, and is a prolific author of pagan nonfiction books.

The Tarot of Bones is a tarot deck that is inspired by natural history, and combines Lupa’s art and writing skills with her knowledge and appreciation of the natural world, adding the traits and habits of animals to the symbolism of the tarot.  

After reviewing Tarot of Bones last month, I was excited to catch up with Lupa and find out a bit more about this tarot deck and its companion book.

 

Raushanna: I know the natural world and the life and death of the creatures living within it have been a large focus for you for many years.   Your creative connection to the natural world has evolved in wonderful ways.  I admit to reading your Therioshamanism blog years ago, and was amazed at that time at the depth and breadth of your focus on the natural world, and your creativity within your field has blossomed since then. What circumstance made you first aware of this visceral connection between yourself and the natural world and its inhabitants?

Lupa: Honestly, it was early childhood when I first started exploring our yard and the various tiny beings in it. My love affair with nature has been a lifelong pursuit, and has taken many forms over the years. I discovered paganism in my teens, and the idea that there were other people who saw nature as sacred had me hooked from the start. Over the past two decades I’ve been a Wicca-flavored neopagan, a Chaos magician, and a neoshaman, though these days I refer to myself as a naturalist pagan. I don’t believe in supernatural things any more, and my path is firmly rooted in the physical world and ecology. I find my inspiration in the wonder and awe I feel at being privileged enough to be a part of this amazing universe for a few short years.

 

Raushanna: Tarot of Bones is a unique deck.  What were you hoping to offer to those using your deck for personal exploration?  What message or method were you trying to bring to a reader? 

Lupa: Honestly, I wanted to help people get out of the very human-centered approach we have to the tarot. Most decks, including the Rider-Waite-Smith, are almost entirely made of human figures and pursuits. Any animals, plants and other beings are there primarily as symbols for human meanings. The Tarot of Bones, on the other hand, has no humans whatsoever. The Major Arcana and Court cards all have very specific animal species associated with them, and while these have meaning to us, they are based on the animals’ behavior, not the values we associate with them as “good” or “bad”. It is especially important for those who claim to follow nature-based pagan paths to get their heads out of the human sphere and away from human priorities, and to see ourselves as just one of many equal species on a complex, life-supporting planet. The Tarot of Bones is one gentle nudge in that direction.

 

Raushanna: As a follow-up to the previous question, I would like to share how your Tarot of Bones affected my own Tarot practice.  These days, I tend to use the Tarot only for my own personal growth, and I only do readings through word-of-mouth requests.  I usually work with the Tree of Life, astrology and elemental dignities when working with the Tarot and its messages to me.  You have opened a new awareness within me of energy flows and entanglements occurring all around me that I knew existed, but never included in my divination interpretations before reading your companion book.  Because of your deck and book, I’m looking around at my surroundings and my Tarot cards with a new awareness, an awareness that is based on a combination of pure intuition and of “listening” to the plants, animals, people, and non-physical entities around me.  Thank you for that!

Lupa: That’s really cool—thank you for sharing your story! I hope you are able to continue deepening those relationships and understandings.

 

Raushanna: Your deck approaches the Tarot in a non-traditional way, particularly in the card images, and the companion book includes lots of useful information not usually found in a “LWB,” including your lists of inspirations for the assemblages.  The deck and the companion book in many ways reveal your inner self to the public (you state, rightly so, in the Introduction that this is a very personal deck) perhaps in some ways more so than your art because you explain to us all in writing why you chose the items in the images of the cards.  You created and self-published all this in a little over two years, not long at all!  Did you ever feel overwhelmed during the process of creating this unique deck and the companion book?  What kept you motivated to continue?

Lupa: Oh, so many times I asked myself “What have I gotten myself into?” It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I’m grateful that so many people hung in there with me, both in person and online. Being able to post the assemblages the deck was based on as I completed them helped me to stay connected with everyone, and motivated to keep going. Sometimes it seems absolutely unreal that I did all that, but I can look at the pieces hanging up in my home, and the boxes of decks and books, and think “Wow, I really did do all that!”

I have always been good at keeping myself on a task, even if things don’t always go according to schedule, and I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Now instead of one single project that I struggle to complete, I have a huge list of books and other projects I want to work on, and it’s just a matter of pacing myself as I work through each one.

 

Raushanna: You shared which card was created first, the card that led you into the process of creating and self-publishing the Tarot of Bones deck and its companion book.  Which card image was the easiest to create?  Which was the most challenging to get right?

Lupa: Honestly, they were all easy to some extent, because I was deeply in a creative flow for that year of 2015 when I actually made all the assemblages. The ones that were the most challenging were those that required more structural creativity; for example, trying to attach a full-sized bison skull to a small wooden door as its backboard took some manual labor that I wasn’t expecting. But in working with the spirits of the skulls and bones, and the tarot itself, I found it surprisingly easy to weave those threads of spirit and my own creativity together.

 

Raushanna: You have mentioned you worked with the Tarot before.  You offer some detailed card meanings in the companion book.  Has the process of creating the card image and/or writing the entry in the companion book that describes the meaning of the assemblage and the card itself caused you to re-write your own understanding of a particular card?

Lupa: Absolutely. My understanding of the tarot when I first started using it in the 90s was very much “by the book”. I revisited all that when I began the Tarot of Bones, combining traditional tarot meanings with more nature-based interpretations of the archetypes and concepts in the cards. So really I had to re-learn each card individually, especially as I hadn’t used a proper tarot deck in over a decade when I started the project. But that’s also why I wrote each card’s book entry as soon as I completed its assemblage, because the meaning was still fresh and raw in my mind.

 

Raushanna: Creating a Tarot deck is, I am sure, a transformative process.  What unexpected and surprising result(s) did you experience as you worked with both the natural world and the symbolism attached to the Tarot?

Lupa: I think I was surprised at how much of myself was still in the deck as I created it. I wanted to allow nature to speak for itself as much as possible, but it’s necessarily biased because I am the person communicating those messages. We all have to experience the world through a human filter because each of us is working in a brain formed by millions of years of primate evolution, and a mind that is influenced by the society and culture each of us comes from. So there’s probably a lot that gets lost in the translation when I try to speak what I learned from nature, and that’s why it’s so important to experience nature firsthand, without an agenda, for yourself. Don’t go into the woods expecting to find fairies and spirits or to have a vision quest or other journey. Instead, just quiet your mind and open yourself to the land itself, without overlaying it with human meaning. It will tell you what’s most important.

 

Raushanna: What role, if any, does this deck play in your life now that it is completed?  Do you have any other favorite decks?  Are there other divination tools or systems that resonate for you?

Lupa: Well, it’s the deck I do daily one-card draws for the public with, as well as one of my main decks for professional readings. The only other one I use on a regular basis is the Ted Andrews Animal-Wise deck, which I got when it first came out in 1999 and which I’ve been using for totem readings ever since then. I, also, like bone-casting, and there’s a simple set I’m working on getting ready for release, hopefully this spring. Really, any divination system is just a tool to help me focus my thoughts and intuition, and since I created the Tarot of Bones it’s a pretty tight fit.

 

Raushanna: You have a recommended reading list in the Tarot of Bones companion book that is Tarot-focused, and you mentioned that, at least in part, through your creation process for this deck you have reinitiated your connection to Tarot as a divination tool.  What processes and/or exercises do you recommend for a novice reader who is drawn to your deck?

Lupa: I like the idea of working with each card individually to really get to understand your relationship to it and understanding of it. That’s basically what I did as I created each assemblage. Study each card, both my version of it and other artists’; read the book, and other tarot books; study the animals that I profile in each of the cards, and the meanings and roles of each bone I use for the Minor Arcana suits; and create your own meaning and understanding of each card based on those things.

 

Raushanna: Your website, thegreenwolf.com, lists your own books; which of your book(s) would you recommend to a Tarot enthusiast who has become enamored with your natural world inspirations shared in the Tarot of Bones companion book, and who wishes to learn more about combining divination and nature?

Lupa: Well, right now the only other book I have specifically on divination is Skull Scrying: Animal Skulls in Divinatory Trance, which is a booklet on using a real animal skull for scrying. Beyond that, I recommend my book Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems in Your Ecosystem as a book for helping you deepen your connection with nature itself. I really feel that a lot of people are lacking in their nature literacy, even those who know a lot about tarot and other divination, and so boosting your experiences and knowledge of nature is important. And I don’t just mean things like “I know the four Wiccan elements”. I’m talking about knowing your bioregion in detail, where your watershed is, where your drinking water comes from, what sorts of fungi are in mycorrhizal relationships with the trees in your area, etc. Take away the supernatural and symbolic, and just get your nose in the dirt.

 

Raushanna: What is next for you?  Any plans for an Oracle of Bones as a companion to the Tarot of Bones?

Lupa: Again, I have a bone-casting set I need to put the finishing details on. I’d also love to do a Lenormand of Bones someday, maybe as a limited run since it’s not as popular as tarot. But right now my big project is Vulture Culture 101: A Book For People Who Like Dead Things. It’s a book about collecting hides, bones and other animal remains, including how-tos, advice, and other resources. I’m currently in the middle of the IndieGoGo to crowdfund printing and other costs, looking at a Summer 2018 release. That IndieGoGo can be backed at http://igg.me/at/vultureculture101.

 

I’d like to thank Lupa, very much, for this interview; it was nice to be able chat in more depth about her work!

For more about Lupa you can visit her site at: http://www.thegreenwolf.com/

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

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Nikki Sleath’s Book Explains Witchcraft to the Unfamiliar, for PaganPagesOrg She Talks About Her Magick to the Familiar

November, 2017

 

 

Just in time for Halloween, Nikki Wardwell Sleath self-published “You Might Be a Witch.” It provides a simple overview of the Craft, defining what modern day witches think and what they practice, dispelling myths along the way.

In the first half of the 103-page book, she talks about her own life, going from a child with no magickal exposure to a woman in her 40s who is the founder and High Priestess of the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick.

The second half of the book covers such topics as the general belief systems of a witch, the ethics of magick and how to speak to skeptics. It ends with a twenty-question, multiple-choice quiz to see if you’re “Cautiously Curious,” “A Witchlet in the Making” or ready for a coven.

 

 

It’s totally just for fun; the questions are stereotypical,” she said.

Sleath hopes her book will increase public acceptance of earth-based spiritual practices and will help readers see the magick in themselves so they can be more accepting of it in others. Although she expected those who might be curious to purchase it, she said she’s also had many witches buy copies to give to their family and friends.

I think a lot of people are maybe a little more witchy than they think,” she said, noting that magick often exists in ways that may not be recognized.

For instance, when she was six and in the first grade, she wanted to win a raffle for the angel her teacher had made. It would go to the first student to guess the number the teacher had selected.

I knew the number was 11. I felt the same sense of disorientation that I would have when experiencing déjà vu, except that I also felt a surge of adrenaline, knowing I would win and that it somehow felt like cheating to have known the number ahead of time,” Sleath wrote in her book.

 

 

She did win, and 11 was to become a determining factor in many decisions and superstitions.

I still have to look away after seeing 11:11 on a clock out of superstition that if I look back again at it before it has changed to 11:12, that my wish will not come true,” she wrote.

Another form of divination she relied on as a child was to get the answer to a question by kicking off her shoe. If it landed face up, the answer was yes and if it landed facedown, the answer was no. If it landed on its side, she took it to mean there was continued uncertainty.

For a high school genealogy project, Sleath learned her eight-times great-grandfather was Samuel Wardwell, one of the “witches” hung in Salem. While she thought it was cool, that’s where it ended.

Prior to finding witchcraft, she said her big ah-ha moment was when she acted on psychic impulse.

I had been dating the same guy in college for three and a half years and I loved him. I thought we’d have a life together, I really did. But I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t had a higher quality relationship yet than that one. I didn’t know that all of these things that were weaknesses in it, I didn’t know them to be real problems.

 

 

Then, just one day, all of a sudden, the way that he spoke to me, I kind of realized it all and I made a snap decision: ‘You know, I think we’re done. I can’t do this any more.’ That was just an intuition in the moment. I wasn’t planning on breaking up with him that night,” she said.

The big moment came the next morning when she threw away his key.

I knew that once I did that, I would never go back to his apartment. As it’s going up in the air toward the giant hole of the Dumpster, I had images of myself, like flashes of myself forward through my life in various adult stages. Just me. No other people involved. And I saw myself confident. I saw myself professional. I saw myself rocking it out. I saw myself enjoying my life in all these different decades. And in my moment, I was at the age of 21, I was gifted with this big revelation that I am the one. I don’t need any guy for me to define happiness in my life. I knew I didn’t need a man for me to be happy. And I decided that I didn’t care at all. … It felt really incredible.”

It was only looking back that she realized how magickal that moment was.

As it turned out, the next day she was introduced to the man she later married.

That same year, she recognized a pattern that had been occurring. Each fall, she would become more psychic and have more instances of deja vu, “knowing exactly what someone was going to say before they say it, knowing what people’s thoughts were.” Then, come winter, she would go back to her normal intuitive level.

That started her researching.

I stumbled upon some good websites about the Craft and that hit me over the head. Everything I ever believed and didn’t know that it was all there as a practiced religious and spiritual way. When I was a kid going to a Protestant church, I just thought I wasn’t a spiritual person because I never had a spiritual experience there. And that couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

Sheath got her degree and became a physical therapist, but the structure of the healthcare system burned her out quickly. She started to study holistic practices beginning with meditation, yoga and Reiki and going on from there.

 

 

While practicing the Craft on her own, in 2012 she opened Nikki’s Nature, offering energy healing, aromatherapy, auriculotherapy and hypnotherapy. She did past life regressions and Reiki. She also began attracting students who wanted to learn witchcraft.

The coven in which she had trained moved back to New Orleans, so she began her own.

Then it just started snowballing, she said. “Since then I have been teaching the classes to an ever-increasing number of people.”

She moved her practice into a bright, airy space in an old ax factory in Canton, Connecticut.

When she had only a few students, lessons were individual. As more people came, she began groups that met weekly, together moving through her year and a day progressive curriculum. As one group completed its training, they were initiated. With night now open, she’d begin a new group.

 

 

It’s a magical religious practice and I take it very seriously as do all the people in my coven and my community. It’s a large community. Right now we have 41 active members in the coven and I have nine or ten new people starting in a couple of weeks, so it’s going to be 50 people. … It’s an awesome community. I keep it 100 percent drama free. I won’t allow anyone to stay if they make it ‘all about me’ or if they can’t hold themselves together.”

Of all she does, the magickal training is most in demand. The ninety-minute classes cost $20. Groups are about six to nine people – nearly all of whom are women.

It is really hard to find, and even sometimes when you do find it, it’s not great,” she said of training in the ways of the Craft. “It’s random. I have people in the coven who have been in other covens and a lot of them are more social and they don’t get organized, learning and deep magick done. They get together because they all identify as witches and they want to celebrate the full moon and do things like that, but I think there has to be structure in order to see routine, progressive growth,” Sleath said.

In my coven it is a true occult order. We teach ceremonial magick and so people have to learn the Golden Dawn style traditional ways of establishing sacred space, but then of course within that, the ritual varies depending on what it is. It’s different if it’s a moon or a sabbath – different things are done, but the whole casting and setting up of the space is very ceremonial in nature. It’s amazing because obviously, everyone can do whatever they want outside of the large group gathering that we have, if they want to experiment with other things. You do what you want, but by doing that routinely in a coven, they just wind up with such strong skills. They know that they can command energy and focus their words and their thoughts at a moment’s notice when they need to, and that’s an amazing thing that a lot of people can never get from a book. So that’s one of the big benefits of structured training and practices. The confidence in your skill set is just so much beyond anything that I could have achieved when I was a solitary, for sure.”

In their own practice, “what each individual person does can vary greatly depending on what their passions are, what their talents are, what makes them feel spiritually connected. And one of the cool things about witchcraft is there isn’t just one way of feeling connected to the divine. There’s so many ways and I think that’s one of the reasons people love it,” Sleath said.

Some people simply are into the nature and earth-based energy parts of magick in the Craft. Some witches find a lot of gratification in working with various deities, mythologies, spirits, angels. I do both of those things. I work with nature very closely, but I also have a lot of guides and deities that I have very personal relationships with. It’s intensely gratifying on many levels.”

After years of practice, dreamwork became a large part of Sleath’s magick.

 

 

Dreaming, I believe, is every person’s spiritual birthright, but … [it] is important for me as a witch. I get a lot of insight, a lot of precognitive information, a lot of direct energetic and communication experiences with the divine through my lucid dreaming practice that you would never be able to experience in waking.”

It was after about seven years into her dream work – journaling every day – before, she said, “my lucid dreaming ability blossomed to the point where the deepest magick I could ever imagine happens in that space. For me, that’s a big part of my practice.

A lot of times when I start talking about lucid dreaming, and some of the really deep magical stuff that has happened, people want to know if their dream was lucid. The thing is, if you have to ask that, it was not. Every lucid dream has a very intense tangible ah-ha moment when you go, ‘Oh my god, I’m dreaming,’ and your whole sensation changes and you’re aware that you’re in your bed. It’s not astral travel.”

In lucid dreaming, she said, you’re in a different reality, a dream reality but you’re aware of real time in ordinary reality while experiencing the dream. “In that state, because we’re not limited by the physics here and our physical body, you can practice magick in ways [you can’t in this plane]. You can actually shoot lightning out of your hands and make a banishing pentagram and watch it dissipate. You can do all of the things we do here symbolically and energetically, but see, as if you’re in Hogwarts, the effects. And it’s amazing. But the deep magick is not just that energy stuff and the flying and all of that, it’s how I’ve been able to actually experience goddesses directly and that’s something that I can’t even make someone believe. No one can ever really believe or know what I’m saying unless they experience it for themselves. … It’s unimaginable.”

By setting her intention in the dream time and then again in the morning, she feels “in the flow of what I want to get done in my life.” If there is something urgent, she’ll do a spell. However, she said, most of the spells she does are on behalf of others.

The hard part of doing spell work is really knowing what you want and understanding the underlying motivations and getting the statement and the vision in your mind super clear. Most people never get that far. They have a vague idea. And then it’s hard to manifest. Doing a spell for money is not a great idea. People do it all the time and it doesn’t usually work that well, and the reason is that money is an abstract concept. We don’t need the money. We need the things that money affords us in our lives,” Sleath said.

For that reason, she tells people, “If you can’t afford a new car, do a spell for a car, because you don’t know by what means that may end up becoming available to you.”

Spells must have a crisp vision and a clear understanding of the goal. Lining up the correspondences – colors, herbs, gems, astrological timing – give the spell energy.

 

 

I think many witches nowadays are very, very ethical. We talk about ethics all the time and how to appropriately point your thoughts and your goals so that it is always as well-intentioned as possible,” Sleath said. “I think many spells done by witches are actually much more ethical than a lot of prayers being done by good-intentioned Christians. For example, I don’t think it’s ethical to pray for an outcome for someone else. … You don’t even know that’s the best thing for that person. That would be the same as me doing a spell for someone without getting their permission.”

In addition to ethics, karma is another topic that comes up.

It’s a bone of contention with a lot of groups online right now; everyone’s arguing about it. I absolutely believe in karma. I absolutely believe that you will attract what you put out there. … I teach that to my students, that you have to be aware that your thoughts are very powerful and what you think about – and especially what you put out there magickally in sacred space – will also return to you, possibly in an amplified way.”

While some people may poo-poo karma, calling it an Eastern concept that does not fit with their tradition, she boils it down to energy and ethics, saying there’s a reason all religions subscribe to that.

You do attract what you give off. If you do magick at all, the things you put together are sympathetic magick; you’re operating under the assumption that like attracts like. Well, if you’re thinking about revenge, that attracts revenge. To me it’s that simple. Our thoughts absolutely draw circumstances to us.”

When crafting a ritual, she encourages an escape clause, explaining, “If you’re not positive that there won’t possibly be an ill effect on somebody or on yourself in the act of conducting this spell, then you need to have a statement in there such as, ‘As long as it be for the highest and best good of all involved.’”

Witches need to be able to work with both the light and the dark, she said.

Given that light and dark are balanced in the world. Everyone has light and darkness within themselves. … I never intend people harm and I make sure I’m super ethical in any magick that I do, but I teach people to do shadow work. I help people to not fear death and to understand the affect of their consciousness that exists on beyond the body so they don’t fear moving on. I’ve worked in hospice. … I work with a goddess who is very closely tied to death and so it’s actually been given to me as a mission, to help people not fear the dark [and how] to conduct themselves responsibly.”

Sleath intends to write a book about dreams.

 

 

People that have excellent dream recall often have magickal tendencies because – and I did my entire master’s thesis on this, on dream recall,” she said.

Her survey-based research correlated a person’s rate of dream recall to how well connected to nature they perceived themselves to be.
“It was off the charts, statistically significant,” she said. “People who rated themselves as feeling like they were very closely connected to nature have much higher dream recall than people who say that they’re not.

In the act of doing that project I read every study about dream recall that exists. All of the factors come down to mental clarity, so all of the things that make you better at remembering your dreams are things that increase your mental clarity [such as meditation]. … A lot of pharmaceuticals ruin your dream recall and it’s because they have an effect on your mental clarity.

If you have a general belief that dreams are worth remembering, you’ll remember more. Your open-mindedness to the metaphysical enhances your dream recall. There’s even political ones, like Republicans have worse dream recall than Democrats. People who exercise more recall dreams better. People who do creative stuff, like music or painting, they also have better dream recall.”

That book, however, will come after she complete the one she’s already started that puts together two different magickal approaches. Unlike her first book that was meant to be accessible to everyone with an open mind, this book will be for magickal practitioners to augment their own practice and their relationship with deities.

Her message to witches is: “You can’t just leave your magick for your gatherings, your moons and when you’re standing in front of your altar. You have to bring it with you into what you perceive as the mundane, otherwise, how is it really helping you? You’ve got to trail those sparkles with you through your work, through the things [you do]. … I think that’s where the depth of experience really comes from – when you can maintain and live in your enchanted world view all the time, even when you’re not literally standing in front of your altar or gathering together with your friends to do magick. That’s like immersion. That’s really your Craft. And there’s a lot of ways to do that.”

For more information, visit nikkisnature.com, email her at nikki@nikkisnature.com or call 860-212-0055.

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

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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 – Pop Culture Magic Systems: How to Create your own System of Pop Culture Magic by Taylor Ellwood

September, 2017

Book Review: Pop Culture Magic Systems: How to Create your own System of Pop Culture Magic

Author:Taylor Ellwood

Copywrite:2017

Publisher: Megalithica Book from Immanion Press

Pages:118

 

 

     I enjoy Mr. Ellwood’s style of writing. His writing makes the reader feel he is very approachable. He could easily be a great neighbor to get to know. He has a web presence that also lets you know, that he is available to readers and fans. He is the author of over 20 books.

 

     In this book, the author gives you the complete breakdown of what you need to create your own system of magic from the pop culture that sparks your imagination. He writes of how he wants to help generations to come to work with the stories that fit the current time and the new heroes that current generations are growing up with.

 

     Mr. Ellwood talks about his own work in the Universes of The Legend of Zelda, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dragonball Z. He even includes a chant that he has used with the main character from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn. He does this to show that you can use just about any Pop culture genre that appeals to you.

 

     The author goes into great detail explaining what correspondence is and how to work with it in a meaningful way. Mr. Ellwood also has written about the different Principles of Magic. He gives full definitions of each principle and he writes about 11 different principles, this is something that I personally have not seen many authors do. The author has done this because this is a true break down of how to Create a Magic System that will flourish and grow for you in the future.

 

     Mr. Ellwood writes about all the different magical theories that will help anyone be that a pagan fan of a Pop Culture or a witch looking to use her old pantheon spells with a modern twist.

 

     Each chapter of the book that Mr. Ellwood has put his energy into builds on the one before. There is homework of sorts if you care to do it. And he even gives the name of his Facebook group dedicated to Pop Culture Magic. He has some great insights into how to build a system from the stories that speak to you.

 

 

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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/NumerologistDawnBorries/.

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