choice

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

November, 2018

October is quickly coming to an end, and I have never been more thankful. October brought sickness and trials. It was a difficult month to say the least.

But with October coming to a close, Samhain is fast approaching.

Samhain (or Halloween as Little Bear calls it) has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even when it was banned from my childhood home life.

The veil is thinning, the days grow darker, and the nights become almost black.

Living in the Midwest means the weather is unpredictable at the end of October. It could be sunny and hot, or rainy and wet. As a child, “Halloween” meant snow. I can remember more snowy Halloweens than not.

Little Bear and I will make the best of it regardless of the weather. He has his costume picked out. He is going as a zombie SWAT guy. He’s talked me into being a zombie also. He’s a bit obsessed with The Walking Dead right now.

This year, I let Little Bear go wild and decorate the whole house. We put up window clings, black garland, laid out fake spiders, decorated foam pumpkins, and hung up door covers.

Yesterday, we visited the local pumpkin field/corn maze. They have so many activities and it’s a must every year. They have goats, chickens, rabbits, long horn cattle, corn boxes, corn mazes, pumpkin guns, tug a war ropes, inflatables, wooden trains, etc. It is a full day.

Tonight, is pumpkin carving time. I’m sure that my excitement is at a way higher level than Little Bear’s because of the pumpkin seeds. I have dug out some recipes from Pinterest and plan on trying at least three. I have to do normal salt pumpkin seeds. But I’m going to try a sweet version with cinnamon and brown sugar. The other one I haven’t decided on because there is so many variations that can be done. However, I’m leaning towards a savory that uses sea salt and white vinegar. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but we shall see!

One of my favorite traditions for Samhain is the dinner. Eating dinner at the table is something that rarely happens in our home because of scheduling. But when Samhain rolls around, I take the day off. I plan a meal as if it were Thanksgiving and I set the table. I always set a spot for my sister who we lost back in 2015. It helps to bring her close. Little Bear gets excited and will start talking to her spot as if she never left.

Little Bear started asking questions again about “God” last week. This is a conversation that we have quite frequently as he has a hard time understanding something that he cannot see. So, I go into the explanation again. We have talked about the many different religions of the world. Although I am raising him in a Pagan home, I understand that the Pagan path may not be for him.

I found a wonderful series that touches on the spiritual side without focusing on one certain religion. It’s the The Giggles and Joy series. A three-part series that focuses on positive poems. It’s a neat series that I recommend. You can check out my review on them in this same issue!

Gael Song

May, 2018

The Wild Rose of Druidry

The Celtic path is unlike any other, unique in ways that mean so very much to me. The first blossom of this path is that it imposes absolutely no restrictions, except that one should not harm another (which seems like quite a sensible restriction to me!) In the Celtic pagan tradition, all paths are good, and everyone has total freedom to be, to wander into darkness and shadows, if one wishes, then out again into light. I searched for many years for a spirit tradition that would allow me the freedom I longed for, going through Congregational, Presbyterian, and Quaker phases over the past thirty years, dabbling in Buddhism and Sufism for brief periods along the way as well. But the formal Christian, Buddhist, and Muslim religions impose definite dogmas and expectations on their adherents, worshiping in very specific ways, often holding up their own paths as (far!) better than the rest (this one turned me off every time!). Even Quakers, who are accepting of all religions and impose no dogma whatsoever, have subtle restrictions, such as being quiet, no singing during meeting, wearing clothing that isn’t loud. I love the gentle acceptance, honesty, and social activism of the Quaker tradition, but there are mornings I don’t feel a bit drab or quiet! And God/Goddess are neither of these, ever! I want the freedom to sing in ceremony, to dance and laugh, to wear fairy wings if I feel like it! Ha. That would turn Quaker meeting upside down! (Now that I’ve thought of it, I think I’ll just have to try this to see what happens!) The freedom call of druidry draws my heart so strongly, like the wind across the moors in the Oak moon (June) or the hint of fairy flutes in the wood at dusk. Why can’t I be anything I feel like, as long as it harms no one at all? No other path I’ve ever seen holds out this wild rose promise to be whatever one likes.

And second, comes the complete druid acceptance of whatever folks may be going through in life. In the Christian tradition I’m most familiar with and still love in many ways, there were definite restraints on the expression of anger or sexuality especially, specific qualities that were held up as better than the rest (oh, not that again!),not to mention their utter horror of my pagan leanings! But I have wonderful friends who can be a bit volatile, who want to howl or drum half the night in their pain, who clam up, perhaps, or talk non-stop when they are stressed. I want to love them all, especially in their difficulties! I just can’t stand imposing goody-goody nonsense on them. And the druid tradition does not. It brings patient understanding that says challenges must be faced and walked through, the wisdom of knowing all is ordered from above for good reasons that will someday flower into the deep embodiment of truth that is far more precious and permanent for having been earned through hard experience. During my long years as a therapist, I watched clients turn early traumas into career choices time and time again, with hearts that held far more passion and determination for turning things around in the world as a result of those early difficulties in life. There is a reason for the darkness that comes into every life. Every druid knows this. I confess I can be a bit judgmental underneath of folks who seem loud and rough, but the druid path has taught me not to do that, or far less than before. The standard of accepting everyone onto the path just as they are is druid, held high, and I will follow it with my whole heart, inspired by the breadth of love it carries.

The third blossom of druidry is being deeply grounded in the earth, loving the sensual gorgeousness of this world; the upside down mirror in each raindrop, the softness of birch bark in the rain, the sweep of clouds twirling across the sky at dawn. At light healing school, we were often in the clouds ourselves, meditating and drifting for whole days at a time. And those hints of heaven are intoxicating and bring through shifts we probably couldn’t manage any other way. But some folks thought that passing over to the Otherworld would be just lovely, too, and focused on this end-of-life passage a lot of the time. Others forgot to look down again at the end of the day. Oh, goodness! Give me druids every time! I want to run my fingers across rose petals for a whole lot of years to come, make eye contact with real people, wriggle my toes in the mud! Earth is fantastic! Sensuality is phenomenal! And bringing all those dreamy changes into real work in the world is best part of all!!! This is what I love most, putting what I’ve learned into real effect in my life. I just adore that. It’s my coffee in life, truly. Other traditions are action oriented, too, of course, but none that I’ve tried have the earth-loving, sensual, vitality of druidry.

And this leads to the sweetest, most fragrant blossom of all, sexuality. (Not that there aren’t distortions mixed in here, there are.) Every formal religion I’ve been involved with has imposed fairly rigid restrictions on sexuality in life, Sufism and Christian particularly. And while druidry does have that standard of not harming anyone, which carries some responsibility with it, no dogmatic rules are imposed on this aspect of life, either. Everyone is left to choose and learn and explore as they wish. I was raised by a wonderful Bostonian/Scottish mother, but she had unfortunate puritanical underpinnings. If I went outside skyclad as a young child, this would cause an utter uproar in the household. Thank goodness druids are not this way! Thank GOODNESS a hundred times over! I was so relieved and happy to find a tradition without a straight jacket in this regard! And then, sexuality itself is so exquisite. There are no adequate words at all here, it’s beyond them all. I think this acceptance of sexuality is the greatest gift of the druid tradition really, the shining starry pentacle. For I believe that God and Goddess intimately overlight all sexual joinings, that They move into each partner and send Their intense loving passion for each of us, very personally, into our skin and eyes and hearts in just this way. It’s how we can unite with God and Goddess in the most intense form on earth, the most sacred act there is. This is what I feel, anyway. So, all those religious/societal severe restrictions on personal sexual expression keep God/Goddess at bay in a very real way. Besides being sacrilege, those restrictions are all control energy, pure and simple. So again, thank Goddess for druidry! For it allowed me to break out of the heavy gridwork those puritan leftovers built around my very affectionate soul! So there!

And lastly, I just want to add that all these special qualities of druidry are identical to the qualities I have felt in the Goddess, the White Tara, Who has led and assisted me over all these thirty pagan years of my life. She has embraced me in my deepest darkness and does so with everyone (a breadth of love I WISH I could embody.) She rules the path of experience, teaching us all through life’s hard lessons and bringing forth the fruit of these later on. These are Her very children, these highest destinies in us all. And the Goddess is as sensual as roses, the tongue of the wind on the skin of the sea, ocean breakers gently caressing the shore. She IS the earth! It is Her very Body! And then, lastly, sexuality is Her middle name! For She is the inner teacher of intimacy, love-making, lifelong partnership in real love. And druidry is Her religion on earth. Of course, it holds up Her standards of love to the world! Thank Goddess for druidry!!!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornVolume One Revised, and Volumes Two and Three.

Click on Images for Amazon Information

In the Words of Mama Bear

November, 2015

Take a look around the Pagan community these days, we have some amazing philosophers and some wicked intelligence. People like Raven Grimassi, who is so grounded and well versed (beyond well versed) in his craft and Jason Pitzl-Waters who founded the Wild Hunt. These people never cease to amaze me by the things they write, the ideas they inspire and sometimes even by the way they make me research something just to learn a little more. While writers and practitioners are amazing, we are in dire need of community leaders, in order to help our communities and causes move forward.

Paganism is amazing. The freedom, the whole antiauthoritarianism vibe really speaks to a lot of people who may have been mired in authority in their past. It’s a fact that people who have escaped those authoritarian clutches can get really hung up in their nervousness about people getting power crazy and trying to impose their beliefs on a group. Unfortunately organizations will fail without someone (or multiple someone’s) stepping up to take the reins of day to day operations. I also know that Coven leaders, Meetup leaders, Festival organizers, well they are all ambassadors to every community by facilitating events, rites, and community service. These amazing leaders have learned that democracy within a group is a handy tool to have and that working with the community, instead of above it is what really makes them leaders. Men and women who live in their spirit and walk their truth lead by example and encourage others to do the same.

Now, on higher levels, such as international, national and state levels, leadership needs to take on more of the tone of an advocate. Fortunately, discrimination against Pagans is fairly rare(in my experience) but there is a ton of misinformation about what Paganism truly is. People believe that the pentacle is a symbol of evil, that Pagans sacrifice black cats on Samhain, and that anytime a Pagan festival is held it’s nothing more than a naked –Pagan-kegger-orgy in the woods. There are organizations that work to dispel the misinformation, work with local law enforcement to prevent discrimination and be a resource to the community when it faces these problems. However, those organizations are few and far between. As an overall community, we need to begin developing more pagan advocacy organizations so that we as Pagans have a louder voice in this world.

As a community, we need to rethink the way we think about leadership, and who we entrust in these positions.  It isn’t about the power of one person, but the power of the entire community coming together.

Let’s look a little closer at problems faced in the local community first. (Names changed to protect those who need it)

Susan K. Broomstick is a local pagan celebrity. She is incredibly smart, yet incredibly young and has a great little locally owned pagan business and routinely donates her time, talents and heart to various functions across the community without discrimination because to her, that’s how the pagan community is supposed to work. She has noticed a huge problem with bullying, gossiping, flame wars, and ad hominem personal attack on many community leaders. She offers up her space and her finances to bring a “Big Name Pagan” in who specializes in mediation, leadership and repairing of community to help heal the rifts in the community. When she reaches out to the community leadership she is told in no uncertain terms that “It’s none of your business”, “No one wants that” and “Who do you think you are? You’re just a child”. She is called out publicly on social media and is, for lack of a better terminology, crucified for offering to help.

Those who criticize and flamed Susan are prime examples of community leaders who have no place in the pagan community. They are those people who flame others and react to them with anger, resentment and discord to someone who only offered love and healing from a place of concern. Often times these angry people are overly bitter about things they have no control of. It spills out into their circles, groves, covens and hearths, to public rituals and events. They continually seek discord and drama, and react to anyone younger or in a better place spiritually with this vitriol.

Secondly is Raven Elder. Raven runs a local pagan gaming group. Many nights you’ll find him hanging around the new, young and impressionable at his gaming sessions in the back room of a local restaurant that he conveniently owns. When asked about his path, he brushes people off and points them in the direction of the game room and encourages them to order something off of the menu. He’s been named Pagan Paragon of the Year, and is highly regarded as a person of high esteem. He never donates to local fundraisers, and does nothing for the community that he doesn’t get paid for.

Raven seems to be more of an opportunist using the pagan community as a source of income, while the leaders who flamed Susan on Social Media seem to not comprehend what it takes to lead a community, especially one that is hurting. These people and ones like them are the ones that the pagan community has to step back and carefully reconsider if they really do want them leading.

Yet every day, in cities around the country, we see people just like the ones we mentioned. People who want to help, give all they can to help and are beat down and flamed at every opportunity, and people who are celebrated for using the community to reach their financial goals.

What constitutes a good leader? What traits should you look for when choosing whom to put your trust behind?

First of all, do a little magic of your own when making the decisions of who you entrust with the leadership of the pagan community. Use the internet. Find out their real name and Google it. Secondly, watch and learn. How do these people act? Do they give to the community of both their time and talents? Before they act or speak, do they think? Is what they do or say true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind? Do they reach out to others? Do they support pagan events and programs in the community? Do they facilitate pagan events? What makes them worthy of a leadership designation?

Use your common sense and better judgment when choosing and empowering pagan leadership and watch your community blossom.

Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

April, 2013

Chance, Work or Choice?

 

No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance.

No one stays in love by chance, it is by work.

And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.

 

The above was one of those photo statuses on facebook that I encountered recently and while I understand the sentiment is meant to be inspiring I find that it does just the opposite for me. It elicits a feeling of disempowerment within me that I just will not accept. It seems to embrace the idea that there are things in my life experience that I have no control over … that life sometimes is random. And I couldn’t disagree more.

 

Let me explain my point of view by starting with the idea of choice.

 

A choice is a selection or a decision. It is the mental or physical act that an individual being does after consideration of the options presented to them. You and I make choices each and every moment of our life. Some of these decisions are obvious such as what clothes to wear in the morning, and others are perhaps so subtle or habitual we don’t even consider them, like what route we take to work, and sometimes we may even feel that our decisions are no longer choices as we have relabel them as ‘responsibilities’ or ‘obligations’. But they are choices. We have the option of not making that decision or fulfilling that expectation. It is our choice.

 

I realize that many people may perceive falling in love as an involuntary event that it is something they didn’t consider then choose however I believe that we all have the choice to fall in love or not but many of us already made the decision prior to it occurring or manifesting as it does. You see, it is my belief that we attract people into our lives that we resonate with on a spiritual or vibrational level. The individuals we love are those that we attracted. Some of these individuals will be people we love and some of them are people we will be in love with. Yes, I differentiate the two. I will agree that there are times that it may appear that we fall in love with individuals randomly but I believe this is because it is our higher consciousness or our Higher Self that orchestrated the meeting so that the lower self or more denser more physical self or ego might perceive the experience as mysterious or coincidental. This concept also can be applied to synchronicity.

 

So this brings us to the idea of coincidence or chance. Personally, I do not believe in chance, coincidence, randomness, accidents, luck or mistakes. I believe we create what we experience. Just as we attract into our life the people we meet I also believe that we attract the events we experience. Sometimes this is done by deliberately focusing on what we desire or want and sometimes it is done by focusing on that which we de not desire or want this is because as we focus on this particular thing, person or situation we add our emotional energy or Will into it. It is as we do this that we will begin to witness the manifestation of that which we are focusing on. That is how events occur. And again I stress that it is possible that this happen unintentionally … we may open ourselves up to other individual’s desires and not be consciously aware of this which then can appear to be a coincidence or an accident. I believe if we are aware of our True Will we would be able to avoid manifesting things we truly do not desire to experience. This is the power of magick.

 

So what about work? Work is defined as an activity in which one exerts effort or strength to overcome obstacles and achieve a result. I believe it is possible to achieve a result without exerting strength or overcoming difficulties that impede the forward progress. Any circumstance that an individual may perceive as an obstacle I perceive as an opportunity and in relationships whether they are romantic or platonic present many opportunities for our individual growth as well as growth within the relationship. When two beings meet on the physical plane and meld their personal energy signatures they give birth to a new vibration which can aid in the expansion of each individual if they allow it to occur. This is manifested through compromise. There need not be resistance.

 

Let’s talk about love. What is this feeling or vibration that we perceive as love? If we look up the definition we find that love is described as an intense or strong feeling of deep affection, tenderness and devotion originating from emotional, spiritual or energetic bonds. It can sometimes include sexual desire, being ‘in love’ but isn’t always determined by this as we can have these same feelings without that ‘loving’. Our natural state of being as non-physical vibrational or spiritual beings is love. It is the highest vibrational frequency there is. It is pure. It is unconditional. It is divine. It is only in taking on a physical form as we did when we chose to manifest on this physical plane of existence that we call Earth are we then able to experience the contrast between love and fear. These experiences in turn expand the Universe. This is our purpose for living.

 

So instead of saying:

 

No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance.

No one stays in love by chance, it is by work.

And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.

 

I would counter:

 

Everyone one falls in love, stays in love and falls out of love by choice; it is not by chance or work.

Proving Grounds

December, 2011

CHOICE:  WHAT A BITCH

The next thirteen posts of this blog constitute a “course in witchcraft.”  This post covers Lesson No. 1: How to choose your magical goal wisely, and articulate it precisely.

Choosing wisely assumes wisdom on the part of the chooser.  Unfortunately, wisdom is not a commodity easily come by.  To complicate matters, our society doesn’t value it highly. Nonetheless, wisdom is a necessity of witchcraft.

One goes about acquiring wisdom by first becoming self-aware.  There are as many roads to self-awareness as there are people, and there are no shortcuts.  Two of the most-traveled are meditation and/or yoga, and astrology.

Why develop self-awareness?  If you are going to be messing with the extra-physical world, you have to know what your own baseline is.  Then, if things change for you, which they may because of another witch’s targeting (sorry, but it does happen), or the unwanted attention of someThing out there, you will know it, and be able to take the appropriate steps.  A Muggle thinks they’re “just going through a hard patch,” and puts up with it.  That may allow an entity to establish a lifelong grasp on the person, or a curse to take root and take over long after the caster has forgotten about it.

Personal story alert:  Almost a year and a half ago, I moved into a new home.  I cleansed and prepared it in the usual way; noted nasty energy west of me and put some particular wards in that direction.  (The most likely source? An Alzheimer’s patient nearby. That dreadful disease opens a door to all kinds of entities as the person loses psychic energy and self-definition. This fact does not imply evilness on the sufferer’s part.)

About two months ago, new neighbors moved in next door, to the north.  I greeted them politely, but felt no push toward furthering their acquaintance.  Roughly two weeks later, I’d had ten days of losing or mislaying small but important items, having the washer eat my socks, and other general annoyances.

I was in my kitchen when things began to fall and rattle, and I had a sense of Presence not my own.  It wasn’t “evil” – most extra-physical beings are not, just doing jobs which are inconvenient to us.  However, it was apparent from the feeling of it that this one did not mean me kindly.

After almost forty-five years of practicing witchcraft, I can zing up a magic circle pretty quickly, and don’t need any props to do so.  I got some backing from the Goddess Herself for what I was doing, because the entity felt pretty large.  Telling it not to return, I quite literally pushed it forcibly out of my home with an explosive burst of energy, fortified by Her.  Then I went to my wards and strengthened them.  No further problems have manifested.

The next day, and every day thereafter for almost ten days, the police visited the new neighbors after the neighbor on their other side reported noises of domestic violence.  They have been evicted. The Alzheimer’s sufferer is still present; his caregivers, to whom I speak occasionally, say he is a little better, but they are resigned that his is a downhill path.

Were either or both of these people the source of that energy?  I’ve no real way of knowing.  It would not be the first time the Universe has used me in that fashion, nor would it be the first time She’s amused Herself with such coincidence.

And that, my dears, is why you need self-awareness to practice the Craft safely and wisely: not only to do the cool stuff, but to be so settled into the person you are that you can tolerate the uncertainty in that last paragraph.

Meditation, to describe it simply, is assuming a posture or performing a simple repetitive activity while the mind empties, until you can feel your Real Self in there.

To meditate, you need ten minutes.  Zafus, meditation gongs, sandalwood incense, meditation shawl?  Not necessary.

Very young children don’t tolerate their caregiver dropping out of here-and-now awareness, and will mercilessly interrupt meditation sessions.  See if you can swap childcare with another meditator, or time your sessions for naps.

You can meditate while you garden, drum, walk, run, chop vegetables, spin thread.  Any simple, repetitive action which does not involve language can be the road to a meditative state. (If you’ve ever driven for several miles with no memory of having done so, congratulations, you’ve meditated.)

To begin a simple meditation process, light a birthday candle, and put it a little below eye-level: on the floor if you can sit there comfortably, on a table if you’re using a chair. (Do I need to say the words “flameproof candle holder”?  Didn’t think so.) Lock the door, turn off the lights, draw the blinds, and sit in front of the candle, a slightly unfocused gaze on the flame.  Try to empty your mind.

When a thought intrudes, don’t reprimand yourself; simply see the thought evaporate, and begin again.  Begin again as many times as necessary. (The Zen Buddhists have a saying, “You are always at the beginning.”) At the end of ten minutes, commit to repeating the experience the next day.

If a candle is absolutely unsafe in your situation, try a battery-operated LED tealight that flickers.

Yoga is perhaps the best-known physical activity performed to reach a state of meditation.

The Iyengar school of yoga is most deeply concerned with the body’s alignment.  Proper alignment forwards the increase of awareness most quickly, and is safest.

If you are recovering from an injury, try restorative yoga.

B.K.S. Iyenagr’s own “Yoga, The Path Toward Holistic Health” is one of the best books on general yoga.

I also like the instructions by Nina Zolotow on the Rodney Yee deck, ”The poetry of the Body.”

Whether you practice at home or in a class, pay attention to your body.  She or he is your primary teacher.

If you go to a class, choose one whose teacher has certifications.

Discomfort is acceptable; pain is a warning that something is wrong.  If you have pain, come out of the pose, and then attempt it again.  This time, perfect your alignment, and don’t push for maximum extension.

Each body, each mind, and each process is unique. Value your uniqueness by not comparing yourself to another student, your teacher, or photos of regular long-time practitioners when you are starting out.

If you cannot get into a posture, get as close as you can. Sacrifice stretch to alignment; it’s a way to both keep yourself safe, and to make sure that when you do achieve the posture, it’s correct.

Never skip Corpse Pose, the ten or so minutes spent in that posture at the end of a class or home session. It’s a brief meditation session which allows your body to integrate the lessons just learned.

If you can do nothing else, try Tadasana – the Mountain Pose is both simple (you stand straight, hands at sides) and extremely demanding to do correctly. Ten or even two minutes in Tadasana will show you how you habitually misalign your body, and lead you into correcting your stance. (Don’t forget to do Corpse Pose after, to “set” what you just learned into your body.)

There are other methods of generating self-awareness.

One of the simplest is asking the question, “Why did I think that?”  Carry a small notebook, so that if the question occurs to you in one of those boring work meetings you’re forced to attend, you can write down what generated the thought, and take it apart later (makes the boss think you’re taking notes).

Journaling is another: as Julia Cameron has proven, hand-writing three pages a day will straighten many kinks in one’s psyche.  Even if you are not an artist, I highly recommend the self-acceptance techniques found in The ist’s Way.

These are the long walks of self-awareness: they cost very little, they take a while, but they get you there. The race car is, of course, psychotherapy: expensive to run, but you arrive at awareness much, much faster.  If you work at it, which can be a very uncomfortable process.

Master a form of divination, and perform regular daily and weekly divinings.  Journal on the results.

Astrology is the royal road to self-knowledge.  It is humanity’s first science.

Many websites will cast a chart free; some provide basic delineations as well. Take advantage of one, or contact a local astrologer; most will cast and print a chart for very little money, though delineation is extra. Specify or ask for the Koch house system.

Once you get your chart, find some delineations: go on the web (try “Café Astrology”), or go to the library.

Don’t waste time using Sun sign books.  There’s much more to the science than simply one’s Sun sign.

Seek out correlations of both the positive and negative traits described in your life. If you have Jupiter square Mercury, do you lie, exaggerate, write dystopian fiction, rebel, or some mixture of all three?

Avoid both getting so lost in self-admiration you forget your weaknesses, and so lost in self-abasement that you forget your strengths.

I require my students to pick up enough astrology to be able to spot Big Events in their charts – transits and progressions which could prove problematic, or provide opportunities.  There is always a work-around when trouble presents itself, although it can be a lot of work and a loooooong way around.  There’s a great deal to be gained from the exploitation of good conditions when they exist, as well.

Think that sounds too much like “letting astrology run my life”? Think again. Astrology is not to be approached as a set of orders, but rather as a set of directions which read, “Right now, this issue is being presented to you.  If you do nothing, your birthchart predisposes you to this outcome.  If you engage with the issue, other outcomes are possible.”

In the Craft, timing is everything, and astrology can help you to know the date and time of the Full and New Moons, and the precise date and time of solstices and equinoxes, as well.

Why bother?

For one thing, the Moon is only full visually for three days.  In December of 2011, the Moon will reach fullness on the tenth, at 9:36 AM Eastern time, which is also 6:36 AM Pacific.  After that moment, she is waning, although she will continue to appear full for another 36 hours.  Can this negate your spell if you perform a waxing-moon ritual after the moment of fullness?  You betcha.  You’re working against the Moon, and she’s a lot bigger than you are.

Drawing Down the Moon after she has begun to wane can be extremely deleterious to one’s health. (After the moment of Litha, it is as dangerous to Draw Down of the Sun as it is to Draw Down a waning Moon.  Wait until after the moment of Yule.)

The same precision of timing applies to waning moons, although I have formed the habit of doing Dark-moon work no later than the day before the Moon becomes invisible (and if I am doing a waning-Moon spell which requires seven or nine days, I like to end it on this day as well).  In my experience, there is almost no power available for spellwork while the Moon is dark.

Try performing a ritual at the exact moment of full moon, solstice, equinox, or cross-quarter day just once, and you’ll see that the available power at the moment is immense.

The culminating ritual movement of a seasonal rite should take place at the precise hour and minute of the solstice or equinox.  For instance, this is the moment when the Yule log should be lit, or the Bride and Stang be thrown into Brid’s Bed.

“Before” is miles better than “after.”  Even a week before is better than an hour after, as the energy declines steeply after the “perfect moment.”

You’ll have to do a bit of digging to find the time of cross-quarter events, the moment when the Sun reaches 15 degrees zero minutes zero seconds of the fixed signs.  This year (2011), for instance, while Halloween was celebrated on October 31, the actual cross-quarter day was the seventh of November. The Samhein power built up slowly until 9:56 AM (Pacific Time) on November 7; thereafter, it dissipated quickly.

Learn enough of astrology to steer your life’s course and time your rituals.

Choosing wisely requires that you know yourself sufficiently well to be able to forecast what effect a particular spell will have on your life.  It also assumes that you have thought the possible effects of the success of your spell through, and after that you still desire the spell’s outcome.

If you cast a prosperity spell and it is successful, what will happen as you become more prosperous?  Will you change friends, home, job, spouse, pet?  Are you willing to live with the consequences to those you leave behind?

If you cast a love spell and it is successful, what will happen as you commit to this person?  Will you be asked to move a long distance from family, to change jobs, to commit to a lifestyle you are unsure of, to be a stepparent? Are you willing to? If you do so, will the cumulative changes make you happier, or less so?

In general, if you cast a spell and it is successful, are you willing to accept both the effect you are casting for, and the unanticipated changes that effect will bring you?

Effectively performed, magic does not merely change the world around you.  It changes you, too.

Reason enough for acquiring wisdom, don’t you think?

Until next time, when we will discuss choosing or crafting a spell effectively, blessed be.