interview

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

April, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Within days, it went viral.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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 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.

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

***

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.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April, 2018

Bright Blessings!

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

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

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

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

Spring is a big deal at our house!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

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

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

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

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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This Month’s Working

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

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

 

 

 

Going Shamanic Radio

April, 2018

 

Going Shamanic” is hosted by Jennifer Engracio on P.A.G.E.  Media Project’s blogtalk radio each month. The show focuses on how to integrate shamanism into every day life. Instead of relegating the spiritual aspect of ourselves to Sundays at church or weekend workshops, this show will support listeners in weaving ritual, prayer, magic, alignment with the Spiritworld and the Earth into their lives to enrich their experience of living.

This month features Honouring Elder Wisdom…

We live in a time where elders are seen as a burden on our health system and as expendable by society at large.  This is not how we used to perceive elders in our community.  Today’s show explores the value of elders.  

Our guest today is Grandmother Ann Dickie.  She is a grandmother, mother, and fabric artist.  Ever since she was a child, she has known she was a spiritual being connected to all things.  Over thirteen years ago, she began studying shamanism.  During that time, she has done ceremonies with children aged five to twelve as well as participating in many personal ceremonies herself.  She co-authored the book “The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”.  

Join us for a conversation that explores questions around the value of elders in our society and what we can do to bring them to the fore.

 

 

Going Shamanic is hosted by Jennifer Engracio, about how to integrate shamanism into everyday life. 

Instead of relegating the spiritual aspect of ourselves to Sundays at church or weekend workshops, this show will support listeners in weaving ritual, prayer, magic, alignment with the Spiritworld and the Earth into their lives to enrich their experience of living. Jen is also the founder of Spiral Dance Shamanics.  

To contact Jen and find out more about services offered go to: www.jenniferengracio.wordpress.com

***

About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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

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For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

March, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for March 2018

Bright Blessings,

I write this on February 19, and it is a pleasant fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit outside, with a soft, misty rain.

My crocus, hyacinth, and daffodils are pushing their green fingers out of the earth, and I have the sliding glass door open to allow some of the nice, fresh air into the house. My husband was saying it “feels like” Spring yesterday.

I corrected him, “It IS Spring, and it started the first week of February.” I explained Spring is not something that starts all in one day, but is a season that unfolds gradually, and people miss out on most of it if they don’t observe Nature daily. There have been more birds present for weeks, and I have been seeing worms, squirrels, and stronger sunlight quite a lot as well. It gets warm, and then cold again as The Cailleach struggles to maintain winter, I explained.

He just smiled, and turned on the car radio.

I’m both the Pagan, and the gardener in our household, and nothing I said made any sense to him.

Looking in Unexpected Places

More than looking for signs of the seasons in unexpected places, we find ourselves looking for a lot of things that may not be as clear as day to us. We look for answers to life’s big questions. We seek guidance when we feel lost. We open ourselves to inspiration in our arts, when sometimes, we can’t come up with any ideas.

Most of all, for many of us, we seek out the faces and presence of our gods when we feel they have stepped away, or the ways we have perceived them before seem to point to their absence.

The gods are still alive, and out there, even when we cannot feel them.

The issue many have expressed to me is they cannot feel that strong, powerful indication their deity is nearby. I have felt that myself. My gods come to me in well defined ways at times, and others, more subtly.

For example, it’s always easy to pick up the shape of the runes in the clouds when I have called for guidance from The Alfather, but he is also speaking to me when I see no signs, and I do not see him in my spiritual eye. He sometimes expects me to make a decision on my own, so he does not provide an answer.

Turning to the Gods in Difficult Times

Those times tend to be most difficult for us, because we have been conditioned to see the gods and goddesses as powerful, awe inspiring, ever present beings who are glued to our side at all times. This is due to Christianization of our gods. We attribute the beliefs the Christians who raised us have, and we get upset with our gods for not being the way they never promised they would be.

We sometimes doubt them entirely if they do not do all the things we expect of them. We forget they existed before us, will exist long after we leave these bodies, and still exist during times when they have few or no worshippers. We ask for things like healing, financial help, or love, and if they don’t deliver, we sometimes feel betrayed. We forget that many of the Pre-Christian gods had very high expectations of their devotees, and accept prayers, but made no promises to be wish givers.

The Christianization of Pagan gods happens in more ways than this, but this is the biggest way.

We also forget these are gods and goddesses of Nature, and were not always honored with buildings. Some absolutely had temples, but some did not. For the devotees of Pagan gods from places like Rome, Greece, Germany, and Ireland, some of the structures for these gods are still standing, but we don’t have access to those temples, so going to “the house” of our god or goddess every time we want to communicate with them is not going to happen.

Their Answers

For me, I continue to struggle with the fact my ways of perceiving my gods has drastically changed since my body has. I used to see answers in dreams, and got strong gut feelings in regards to what changes and progress I was to make. I went to a lot of group rituals, felt the gods speaking through others, and the collective energies we raised filled me with the divine also.

I fell ill, and everything from my brain functioning to my ability to go places, and circle with people changed. Some days, it seemed the gods voices went silent.

At first.

I begged for healing, and it never came.

That did not mean that my gods were not listening. It means my body is mortal, and time changes how it functions. I begged to be healed, and the gods answered they wanted me to adapt to my body’s changes.

I prayed that I could get back to work, and of course, it’s been over three years, and that is not happening either. The gods answered they wanted me to learn to live on less money.

I prayed for the pain to stop, because it limits the things I can do. The gods answered they wanted me to learn how to cope, and work within the constraints the pain caused.

Worst of all came the terrible despair, anxiety, and fears this all caused. I asked the gods to take that away. Their answer was, they expected me to live with it, and function mentally despite it all.

I asked for it to stop, and I asked to go back to how I had always been before. The gods answered that they expected me to pull myself together as best I could, function as well as I could, and adapt to the new normal the changes in my body created.

I fail at these things some days, and other days, I succeed. The gods have not told me to be at peace with the way things are, or to give up. They tell me to do my best every day, even if my best isn’t as good as I’d like it to be.

I asked, and they answered in the way they decided to, not in the way I asked them to answer. We don’t get to decide how they respond. Oftentimes, when we ask them for help with something, they respond with a request from us instead.

In the past month, I have really reached into myself to try and find the old me. I want to be her again more than I can express. Some days, it feels like she is long gone, but I discovered something. She is still inside me. I have caught glimpses of her in reflections in mirrors or glass more than once. It feels so good to see that old, familiar face. I see my new face also, and I am still reconciling that I am the same person, when I feel very much like I am not. Rationally, I understand I have changed, but am still me. Emotionally, I grieve the changes, and I feel like I have laid who I was for all of my life to rest. The goddess has reminded me in the past month that is not so, and I am still very much alive with things to do before I reincarnate.

She didn’t take the changes in my body away like I wanted her to, but she reminded me I am still me no matter what.

Nunnos by Daniel Faria

I talked about these things to introduce a wonderful film about the god Cernunnos called Nunnos by Daniel Faria. Luckily, it is on YouTube, and we share it here on PaganPagesOrg. It’s a little over three minutes long, and you can watch it by clicking one of the links now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-cdYS_r2jc

I was lucky enough to be introduced through e-mail to Daniel by our beautiful editor, Jennifer, and he was good enough to let me interview him.

Interviewing Daniel Faria

Saoirse- I watched the film, and first, let me say it was very nice. You made me hungrier for the Spring and Summer! You really captured the spirit of the growing season and the forest.

I noted it was a unique take on the god, and focused on his healing, gentle, nurturing side, as opposed to his god of the hunt side. He was gentle and caring, as opposed to just powerful and lusty. What made you decide to portray him as you did? Also, I most appreciated the fact you selected a softer, less gym ripped actor to portray him. The ripped, buff image of Cenunnos, if you will notice, is a modern one, and old depictions showed him with an ordinary body- like your actors. 

What made you decide, specifically, to portray THAT particular god, and how did he speak to you before, during, and after the film? I paint, and I personally find deities speak to me extra when I am painting them. They tell me how they want to be portrayed. I’ve even been sent on a pilgrimage once before I was allowed to finish! Did anything similar to this happen for you?

Daniel- The process of creating Nunnos was very simple and fast. One day I took my notebook and then I wrote down four different short film scripts for Jesse, the actor who performs Nunnos. The four short films were really different from each other and only Nunnos was related to a God. I chose to portray this side of Cernunnos exactly because of what you said: the modern depictions of Cernunnos usually focus on his strength as a hunter and on his sexual energy. It is as if there was only this face of the God. But we know that Cernunnos, just like the Goddess, also has different faces. Why not showing another one?

When I come to think about it, I don’t really remember how I thought of portraying Cernunnos specifically. It could have been any other God like Odin or maybe Zeus. I think it was Cernunnos himself who asked and guided me through the process. I even made a sketch about the costume and the flute. Suddenly I had everything ready, just the way I first imagined.

I remember the day we went to Parque Lage, here in Rio de JaneiroParque Lage, to shoot the video. It was on a day in December 2016. It was a really hot day and there were many people in the park. Jesse and I walked through the park until we found that site under that tree you can see in the video. We asked for Cernunnos some protection, so we could prepare everything and shoot with no interruptions.

We prepared the camera, costume, make-up and everything else and shot the video. It was only one take. The final version is that take. No editions, just video effects. It was amazing!

I started editing in the same week. Everything went fine and easy until I realized something. I needed to record the soundtrack. Again, Cernunnos guided me. I made it besides I wasn’t a musician yet! From the video soundtrack, I was blessed with the idea of creating an audio track and then it turned out to be Nunnos’ Healing Song alongside the musical project Trismegistia.

Everything happened that fast. Nunnos, and Nunnos’ Healing Song were released on 11th February last year. It will be its first anniversary on a few days!

On the day Nunnos was released I received an Instagram message from a person I did not know. It was a young man who was thanking me for the short film. He said Nunnos really touched him and talked to him. He was considering to commit suicide on that very day, right before watching the short film. When he watched Nunnos he felt loved and remembered that Cernunnos would always care for him. He gave up the suicide idea, then. I was as surprised as happy!

Since Nunnos was released I’ve been receiving many other similar messages telling how Cernunnos touched people and how they felt better after watching the film.

So I think Cernunnos intention was to spread this message of “cure and love”. It’s been working, I guess.

Saoirse- That is beautiful! When you work with the Pagan deities, they speak, and give very good instructions as to how they want to be portrayed. Have you had any other experiences besides how he guided you to portray him, yourself?

What is your personal religious or spiritual path?

I’m going to guess you are also close with nature somehow? Am I right, and how so?

What other projects, pages, or websites can I share?

Daniel- Yes, I had many other experiences with other deities. When we were shooting Hounds of Hekate, for example, Jesse and I went to the same place where we shot Nunnos: Parque Lage. Again, it was very crowded. Different from Nunnos, Hounds of Hekate is a music video. It has got many different takes and there’s the dancing part.

We were looking for a place where we could prepare everything for the dancing part and we were guided by Hekate to that area you can see in the video. It was full of people when we arrived. We asked her to help us once we were making a video in honour to her. A few minutes later, it was completely empty.

We stayed there for around 40 minutes. Time to get dressed, prepare the camera and shoot the dancing part from different angles. No one appeared. When we finished shooting and started collecting things, people started gathering around again immediately.

In other occasions, not related to videos, I was also guided by deities. The creation of Santuario Lunar is an example. After I read the book “The Goddess Path” by Patricia Monaghan, I immediately started creating the website and I had no experience at all with blogs by that time.

I consider myself a natural witch. I’m from the Brazilian countryside and I used to be very close to nature. Nowadays I live in Rio de Janeiro, capital city. There is a park on the left side of my building and I can see a bit of Baia de Guanabara from my living room. I’d like to have more contact with nature, but here it is not very easy, though. I go to parks and to the beach, but not as much as I’d like to.

My current projects are Santuário Lunar website (http://www.santuariolunar.com.br), Trismegistia (https://open.spotify.com/artist/3oJxfvyA2GgoI7gLuwZXWt?si=pq-YQphRTNanELmFduYkbg) and Templo de Saule (Saule’s Temple) an online holistic therapy website which is starting in Portuguese and soon it is going to be available in English as well (https://www.templodesaule.com.br)

I’m currently starting a new music video for Trismegistia. The song and video will be available soon on every streaming platform.

Make sure to check out all Daniels projects through the links and his pages he provided!

Many thanks Daniel for the beautiful, healing film, and the amazing interview!

Cernunnos

I’d like to write a little bit about the god Cernunnos. Like many Pre-Xtian gods, devotion of him is being resurrected by today’s Neo Pagans.

Because our ancestors writings are lost if they were ever made, knowledge of him is lost, but what little we do know is enough for many to venerate him.

Gerald Gardner of course refers to him as The Horned God. Indeed, his name in both Gaulish and Latin contains parts of their words for horn. His name was carved in The Pillar of The Boatmen, which was created in 14 CE, part of which is missing. Only his head, the horns adorned with two torcs can be seen unless the lower part is found someday. His name was also carved on a metal plaque discovered in Luxenborg, naming the god “Cernunicos”, thought to be the same god, as well as an inscription from Montagnac naming “Carnonos”. Images of the horned god with torcs and or horns not using the name Cernunnos, or similar spellings are numerous, and perhaps the most famous being on the Gunderstrup cauldron with the horned god seated, holding a torc and serpent, and surrounded by animals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gundestrup_cauldron#/media/File:Gundestrupkarret2.jpg

We believe him to be a god of the hunt, the forest, life, vitality, strength, male virility, and power.

Due to the fact writings and unbroken tradition of worship do not survive, we are guessing.

However, I am of the belief these gods still speak, and make themselves knows to those who belong to them. Our devotions to them will never be exactly what pre- Christian Pagans were, but their voices communicate clearly with us, and we know them as intimately as people did centuries ago, before Christianization.

Here is his picture in The Pillar of the Boatmen-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cernunnos#/media/File:Cernunnos.jpg

More exciting than just the photo, one of the men who actually lives right here in my town traveled overseas and actually SAW the Pillar of the Boatmen! He made a beautiful video I am linking here for you to watch. Many thanks for this amazing educational video to Rev. Michael Dangler of Three Cranes Grove ADF, and co-owner of The Magical Druid in Columbus, Ohio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lzpQzxTk6c&t=218s

March Working to reach the Gods

I was gifted with a prayer I wrote four years ago today in my Facebook Memories, and I think it is perfect for this month’s working. This prayer can be to any god or goddess you like. You may give them a gift, and cast circle, or not before doing this prayer. This prayer can be said by anybody to any god or goddess anytime.

A Prayer to the Great Goddess

When I search for you,
remind me not to look
in places from a time
before my language was born-
in places far beyond the reach
of my yesterdays and tomorrow’s.

Remind me not to look for you
in some high mountain
I may never reach
or some ancient site
whose soil I may never touch.

Let me seek you, rather,
in the gray and the blue of the sky,
in the night,
and in the dawn.

Let me hear your voice
in the laughter of a child
and in the tears of the bereaved.

Let me see you in my suffering and my anger.
Let me search for you in the silence of my heart
and know you are there even when I think I can’t find you.

Help me to remember
the answers to the mysteries
are as simple as a smile

or opening my eyes from deep sleep.
I will see you in my visions
and meditations,
in my waking awareness,
and in my forgetfulness.

Let me never forget
your great mercy,
even when I’m not feeling especially merciful.
Let me hear your comforting words
when I feel attacked,
and assume your power
when I feel defeated or weak.

Let the earth, the sky, the forests be your temple.
Move in and out of dwellings.
Move beyond time, and flaws, and fears,
and let me remember that I, too, am you.

So Mote It Be.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

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

 

An Interview with Sanjiv Chopra & Gina Vild on The Two Most Important Days: How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Happier, Healthier Life

March, 2018

Bringing Joy to the World

Sanjiv Chopra and Gina Vild Compel Readers
to
Find Happiness by Living a Purposeful Life

 

 

Mark Twain famously once said, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.’ Hence the title, ‘The Two Most Important Days: How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Happier, Healthier Life,’” said Sanjiv Chopra, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, bestselling author and sought-after inspirational speaker.

 

(Sanjiv Chopra)

 

He co-wrote the book with Gina Vild, associate dean and chief communications officer at Harvard Medical School.

 

(Gina Vild )

 

Both live in Boston and worked together on other projects.

The book is an offshoot of a talk he’s been giving around the country and around the world for about five years, called, “Happiness and Living with Purpose.” People began asking for a DVD and a book, so he turned to his Harvard Medical School colleague; in an earlier book, he’d retold one of her stories.

It was originally a book on happiness,” Vild said.

We sat with our creative agent in New York and learned there were more than 200,000 books with the word happiness in the title so we purposely chose to focus on living with purpose,” Chopra said.

What makes it different from other books is that it provides the scientific data behind happiness, draws on the wisdom from ancient philosophies and poets, tells compelling stories, and guides readers on a journey toward a life filled with purpose and ultimately, joy.

It’s a unique genre,” Vild said of its multifacetedness. “In the book we discuss very practical things you can do that affect your own happiness quotient. … We talk about mediation. We talk about music. We talk yoga. We talk about living in community. We talk about friendship.”

There are suggestions for films, TED Talks, books, apps and songs to boost happiness as the result of the transformative power of gratitude, forgiveness and serving others. “The Two Most Important Days” reveals how these qualities become catalysts for resilience.

There’s a lot of practical exercises,” Vild said.

Many are those she’s done herself, such as sharing gratitude journals with a friend.

The book took about two years to write and was published by Thomas Dunne . It was released in December 2017.

When I began working on this book with Sanjiv, I was very happy. I had a very wonderful life … but during the course of writing this book I wound up having … dramatic change in the trajectory of my life. It was unexpected and so I found myself, ironically, if you will, writing a book about happiness during the most unhappy time of my life. And as I wrote I had to learn and practice what I had really believed and was teaching other people to do,” Vild said.

You bring to your life the lessons your soul requires,” she said.

One of the interesting sort of ah-ha moments from this book is that so much of how I was raised – the underpinnings for this book were really in my childhood, in terms of being raised to value things we talk about in this book: attitude, seeking resilience when you have turbulence, friendship, community,” she said, noting that “back then … there was no science to show that these things actually were demonstrated to boost happiness quotients. There was just no scientific evidence and today there is. That was a wonderful surprise as we researched the book,” she said.

She found there were studies that showed optimism could cut coronary disease in half, and evidence that happy people live longer.

One of the things my mom would say to me, ‘Even if you’re unhappy, smile,’ and I would say, ‘That doesn’t make sense.’ Data actually shows now that people smile when they’re happy and are happy when they smile and there are actually endorphins that are released when you smile so by smiling you can create this chemical cascade. It creates a positive feedback loop.”

Children, she said, smile 400 times a day while the average adult smiles perhaps 40 times a day.

Calling herself an optimistic person, Vild said after both her parents died suddenly when she was young, someone gave her a quote by Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger.”

I carry it with me … to every house I’ve ever lived in. I think that’s the key – to find that within yourself,” she said.

One of the many inspirational quotes in the book is by Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Both share their life’s purpose.

Chopra wrote, “To fulfill my dharma to teach medicine, leadership, and happiness and to do this grounded in humility and with an ardent desire to learn every single day. To treasure with gratitude my family, friends, colleagues, and students who inspire me in countless ways, and, in some small measure, to inspire everyone that I encounter during this amazing life journey.”

Vild described her life purpose as, “To pay attention to this precious world in which we live for such a brief time, to use the light that is our life to radiate kindness, to learn and to use that knowledge to illuminate the darkness, to appreciate, to forgive and to be grateful.”

She went on to say, “Your compassion is a verb … and that is a way of living a life of purpose, as well as living a life of kindness and compassion.”

Both authors have let their purpose guide their decisions in life.

Both call happiness a choice.

Everyone is born with a happiness quotient they believe and you can boost that happiness quotient you are born with 50 percent. Ten percent of your happiness quotient is dependent upon your living conditions, if you’re satisfied with them, but you have it within your power by the choices you make to alter that by 40 percent with the choices you make,” Vild said, adding, “Pretty empowering.”

Who doesn’t want to be happy?

It’s now the number one class at Yale,” Chopra said, citing an article in The New York Times about “Psych 157: Psychology and the Good Life.” Six days after registration opened, 1,200 students signed up for the course. That’s about a quarter of the university’s undergraduates.

There are four things you and I can do to be happier,” he said.

Number one is friends. Choose your friends carefully; celebrate everything – small and big – with your friends. Loneliness is toxic.”

The ability to forgive was his second point, made by offering the wisdom of Nelson Mandela who, after being imprisoned for 27 years, said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Vild said, “It’s certainly true that forgiveness is a precursor to change and growth. It offers you a new perch from which to live your life.”

To illustrate the third point – serving others – Chopra offered a quote by Albert Schweitzer: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

Gratitude was the fourth pillar.

If you do these four things, your happiness quotient will increase dramatically,” he said. “If you want lasting happiness, then you have to find your purpose and live it. We can find our purpose either by reflection, as I did, or by witnessing something very tragic and then saying, ‘You know, I’m going to make a difference here.’”
There are many moving and inspiring stories in the book.

It was no surprise that when Vild – who’s been curating poetry for 20 years – was asked what her favorite passage was in the book, she cited the poem “The Ponds” by Mary Oliver.

One of the reasons it’s my favorite poem is it’s about accepting imperfection,” which is a way of living a life that generates forgiveness and gratitude.

The poem talks about lilies as sort of the metaphor then it talks about ‘what I want in my life / is to be willing / to be dazzled – / to cast aside the weight of facts / and maybe even / to float a little / above this difficult world. / I want to believe I am looking / into the white fire of a great mystery. / I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing – / that the light is everything – that it is more than the sum / of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do,’” Vild said.

My favorite story is John Lennon,” Chopra said. “He’s five years of age, goes to school and the teacher gives the kids an assignment: write down what you want to be when you grow up. He writes ‘happy’ and he hands it to the teacher, and the teacher says, ‘John, you didn’t understand the assignment,’ and John then looks up – he’s five years old – and says, ‘You don’t understand life.’”

Along with their complicated jobs, the authors are granting interviews and promoting the book.

Sharing it has been so much fun,” Vild said.

The book does not need to be read from front to back.

We know people are busy,” she said, noting readers can turn to what’s most important to them at the time.

It’s a little gem of a book,” she said.

Amongst his upcoming projects, Chopra is writing a book on leadership for kids – whom he considers our bright, future leaders – with his 13-year-old granddaughter, Aanya.

 

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

***

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/

For Amazon Information Click Images

 

 

***

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.

For Amazon Information Click Image

Interview with Fiona Horne

February, 2018

 

Fiona Horne is a witch of many titles. Lead singer of Def FX and Playboy Cover Girl, just to name a few. Fiona bares all in her new book, “The Naked Witch”. I was given the chance to interview Fiona Horne and after reading her newest autobiography, “The Naked Witch,” I knew this was an opportunity I could not miss out on!

 

 

Deanna Lambert (DA): In your book, The Naked Witch, the reader is taken on a journey when you share all the things you’ve done throughout your life. Some of these were quite personal, did you find The Naked Witch to be more difficult to write than your previous books?

Fiona Horne(FH): I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be, I thought I had come to a reasonable place of peace and self -acceptance as I embarked on writing the book – but as I plowed through the mess and disappointments of my life all the feelings attached to the memories welled up. It’s quite extraordinary how the brain stores life events and when you give yourself permission to revisit them without reservation, it’s possible to relive them as if they are happening again for the first time. I cried and I laughed as I wrote the book, but I definitely shed more tears of sadness than joy. I hoped the book would be useful for its readers if they could learn something from all the mistakes I’ve made – but as it turns out it was a healing and educational experience for me too.

 

DL: America is currently experiencing an opioid addiction. You’ve been able kick several addictions. Do you have any advice for anyone battling addiction?

FH: I got sober six years ago in a 12 Step program. I can only share what’s worked for me and I’ve witnessed the most extraordinary miracles in 12 Step works. I can only recommend that.  But I will also say, as Witches its worth considering that we talk about ‘Creating change with Will.’   ‘Will’ is a huge part of releasing yourself from the prison of addiction to anything.  It’s not ‘willpower’ – my willpower ran out decades ago.   By ‘Will’ I mean you’ve got to really want it – more than anything else.  My sobriety is the most important thing in my life.  Everything comes second to it.  It is the key that unlocked the most crushing prison.  It is a miracle.  I’m just so grateful that I realized I wanted it more than anything and I would go to any lengths to get it.  I continue to work my 12 Step program a day at a time.  It works if you work it.  And I get to truly enjoy my life in all its gifts and all its challenges.

 

 

DL: When discussing your childhood, you made the statement “The kids picked on me so I hid from them. Nowadays you’d call it bullying. Back then it was just normal.” Bullying has been a hot topic in schools for many years now. We know bullying can affect how a child feels about themselves. Standing where you are now and having completed so much in your life, what would you tell your younger self when it comes to being bullied?

FH: Gosh its interesting thinking about that – what would I have said? I guess I would have given me a hug and said, ‘There is nothing wrong or bad about you. When people point the finger there’s two fingers pointing back at themselves. Have compassion for them – they are sad inside and trying to make you sad too. Forgive them and don’t feel you have to earn their respect or friendship by doing the bad things they tell you to do. It’s hard right now, but one day these people will be a distant memory and nothing they have said or done will matter. Focus on the things you love, that make you happy – your reading, your writing – you are a good, smart girl. I’m proud of you and I love you. Forgive these people and let them go.’

 

DA: One of my favorite parts is when you talked about your childhood in the bush. You called it “my first tangible, magickal experiences” and described yourself as “a little Pagan”. If you had not had that childhood in the bush, do you believe you would have still followed a magickal path?

FH: I was blessed to grow up in the bush – I didn’t realize at the time how lucky I was to be left alone to run around in it – I just thought everyone got to do that. I think I would have been drawn to esoteric things ultimately – but again I am grateful that the foundation for my spiritual life was laid in a real, tangible physical connection and relationship with nature as it manifests in the rugged, raw, potency of the Australian bush.

 

DL: Throughout the book, you mention your inner Witch. She seemed to be trying to guide you the best she could through the life events you were dealing with. How is your inner Witch today? Would you say that your relationship is stronger with your inner Witch these days?

FH: I’m just a Witch now – it’s not something I hide (as in Inner) or advertise (as in Outer) – it just is. I think right now, I’m more integrated with all the facets of my being than ever before. I don’t have to separate them to understand them. I’m a Witch whether I’m flying an airplane, casting Circle with other Witches or free diving with sea turtles. I’m, ‘All Witch All The Time’ 🙂

 

 

DL: Def FX has played a major role in your life. I hear that a reunion tour is happening this year! How are you preparing yourself for being on stage again?

FH: The boys and I rehearse independently – I literally live on the other side of the world to them! Then I arrive about two weeks before the tour and we rehearse as a band and back on the road we go. It’s like riding a bike – you never forget. We’re all passionate and enthusiastic about touring and that fuels the shows to be a lot of fun 🙂 We’re all busy active people, running around all the time so we have energy to spare and we just go for it. The vibe from our fans is awesome too – you just feel that energy rolling towards you when you’re onstage. We just go for it and party like its 1996 🙂

 

DL: You have had a very full life, from Def FX to writing books on magickal subjects to making TV appearances to sky diving to kicking addictions to becoming a commercial pilot.  That’s enough to fill a lifetime for one person! Is there anything left on your to do list or bucket list?

FH: I’m about to go to interior Alaska for a couple of weeks to live in a log cabin in subzero temperatures with a good friend who has lived off the land there all his life. Snow and ice and mountains are frontiers I have not crossed …. it’s going to be bloody cold but I can’t wait!

 

 

DL: In today’s fast paced world, how do you find time to slow down and connect with your spiritual/magick side? When you do find the time, how do you connect with that side?

FH: I don’t need to find time – I just live it all the time as far as being connected to a spiritual/magickal experience of life. Being sober enhances the ability to be really present and grateful in the moment… every single moment. But if I ever feel overwhelmed with my job or just ‘stuff’… like going through two catastrophic hurricanes recently on my island home, then free diving helps. There’s a lot of peace to be experienced under the ocean on a single breath – physically and psychologically.

 

DL: In the book, you share quite a few meetings you had with different people. Some of these include Gene Simmons, Gwen Stefani, Britany Spears, among others. Is there anyone out there that you would like to meet?

FH: The people I talk about meeting and having friendships and work relationships with in the book were all relevant to my life’s journey at the time. I really love meeting children now. I find them fascinating. I love spending time with them and seeing the world through their eyes.

 

 

DL: You have so many titles! Playboy model, Witch, author, Reality TV Star, Lead singer for Def FX, fire dancer, commercial airplane pilot, yoga enthusiast, humanitarian. Do any of these titles still surprise you and is there a title you still want to achieve?

FH: One title I don’t have is ‘Mother’ – I haven’t had children. I guess that’s why I’ve had the opportunity to garner so many other titles! Though I guess I am my rescued dog, Fifi’s mum 🙂 I want to skydive more again so you could pop that back in the list above 🙂 I have focused on staying in the plane and flying it the last five years. I want to start jumping out of them again!

 

DL: There are still a lot of witches in the broom closet. What advice would you give a witch that is considering taking a step outside of the broom closet?

FH: You don’t have to! Just do what in your heart feels right for you. In another interview, I was asked ‘What was your biggest achievement in your magickal career?’ And I answered, ‘The day it stopped being my career.’

So, stay in the closet if you want – you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

But that being said, it is really fun to be out and hanging out with other Witches and magickal practitioners – I love the annual HexFest event in New Orleans for this reason. This year will be my fourth year in a row appearing. The organizers, Brian Cain and Christian Day, are two of my dearest, wildest and most magickal friends – this event is one of the most powerful, tolerant and celebratory gatherings of Witches and occultists in the world. Please come along this year!  www.hexfest.com

 

 

DL: You touched on the things you’ve learned in 50 years. What do you hope to learn or achieve in the next 50 years? 

FH: Most immediately how to survive in subzero temperatures with this upcoming winter Alaska trip!! Lol. I want to fly more, doing aid work and missions and I also want to fly business jets. I’ve come so far along the path of business aviation that I might as well keep going. But I will always be a ‘stick and rudder’ girl at heart.

I also want to die well – in good health, at peace with myself and all things and ready to transition. So, I am educating myself on matters to do with that also. I’m currently reading the wonderful mystic and Wiccan Priest, Paul Beyerl’s ‘On Death and Dying.’ I was lucky to meet him at Hexfest in 2016 – he is such a compelling, knowledgeable and magickal man – his ‘Master Book of herbalism’ (1984) was one of the first I had on my magickal shelf back in 1984. I’m grateful to be able to learn from him.

So to sum it up in the next 50 years I just want to keep learning, keep adventuring and keep feeling ever more grateful for this magickal mystery tour called Life 🙂

 

 

Fiona Horne’s “The Naked Witch” releases February 2018. You don’t want to miss this one!

Click Image For Amazon Information

 

You can find more on Fiona Horne at www.fionahorne.com

You can follow Fiona on

Facebook @fionahorneofficial

Instagram @captainfifi

Twitter @fionahorne

 

Check out Def FX

Facebook @DEFFXOFFICIAL

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

December, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times December 2017

Bright Blessings!

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

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

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

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

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

Yule and Mothers Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody’s Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.somebodysmotherfilm.com/

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

 

Trailer-

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

 

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

 

Interviewing Gabriela Tollman

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Mothers Stories

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

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

Here is our conversation about it:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

This is her story;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The next woman who shared her story was Mary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Working

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

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

You will need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be.

 

Below is more information about Somebody’s Mother.

 

From the Press Release about Somebody’s Mother-

FILMMAKER’S COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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About the Author:

 

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

 

Interview: Artist Amy Zerner and Author Monte Farber Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ‘The Enchanted Tarot’

December, 2017

The Enchanted Tarot” has sold more than 250,000 copies since its release in 1992. On the 25th anniversary of the project that defined their lives, the creative couple – collage artist Amy Zerner and author Monte Farber – took the time to answer questions for PaganPagesOrg.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did you two meet?

Monte: My first prophetic dream when I was 14 years old was really my best, for that is where I first “met” my gorgeous future wife, soulmate and artistic collaborator. I actually felt the then-indescribable feeling of being in love with her! It was a harbinger of the total and complete love that is my present daily experience.

Amy: In “real life” we met at the party for the filming of a movie in 1974. At the time, my friend Sharon and I would sometimes go to parties. Though she was kind of ditsy and had some serious personal problems, she was fun. She would often mention her friend Monte. She liked him, but not as a boyfriend. For a reason unknown to me at the time, every time she mentioned his name, a bell would go off in my head. I wondered, “Why?” That had never happened to me.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was your first project together?

Monte: The Enchanted Tarot! Until then, we had worked separately, me as a musician who did readings on the side, and Amy as a fine artist who was pioneering her own fabric collage tapestry style after a lifetime as a painter. Although we had always been completely supportive of each other in our efforts, The Enchanted Tarot allowed us to work together on the same project for the first time and that, in turn, redefined our lives as artistic collaborators.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: Tell me about how the Enchanted Tarot came to be.

Monte: I’ll never forget that fateful day back in 1986 when we attended the American eller’s Association convention, now called the BEA, in New Orleans. While I was acting as my own agent and securing a publishing deal for my astrology flash card fortune-telling game, KARMA CARDS, Amy was doing the same for The Enchanted Tarot. The stars must have been aligned spectacularly that day for we were, literally, coincidentally securing our places in the history of the divinatory arts with what turned out to be our first two classic, “evergreen” (books in continuous print for years) publishing phenomenons.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What led up to it?

Amy: We wanted to make an original and unique tarot system to use to do readings and be restored, stimulated and energized by my art and Monte’s words. The tarot inspires us and its archetypal language came to be Monte and my language of love as we matured individually and as wife and husband. We found that it not only helped us learn about ourselves, each other, and other people and events, but also helped us to make better decisions and otherwise improve our lives.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Amy, what inspired your images?

Amy: I am a collage artist. My imagery is very romantic, layered and lush. I create what I like to call “dreamscapes” using lace, vintage fabrics, antique prints, and embellishments of all kinds. As a designer and an author for over 35 years, I have always been drawn to multi-cultural myths. My talents became rooted in the healing process of envisioning images that protect and affirm, so I incorporate spiritual stories and symbols to convey those qualities. I have studied metaphysics for several decades and collaborating with Monte, who puts words with my visions. We are both passionate about bringing insights, art, creative solutions and intuitive messages to a world that so obviously needs it.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Is there a reason the cards are longer than other decks?

Monte: We wanted to make sure that the cards of “The Enchanted Tarot” were big enough for Amy’s art to be seen and all of the detail and symbols appreciated, which is also why “The Enchanted Tarot” book includes color images of all 78 cards. Plus, we are celebrating 25 years of “The Enchanted Tarot” and we thought bigger cards with a beautiful velvet bag would make the kit even more special.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: What about this are you most proud?

Monte: We tried to brush away centuries of ignorance and superstition that surround the valuable ancient wisdom that can be found in the tarot, a tool to be used for contacting the divine within us all. The tarot is a sort of sacred machine devised to respond to your question and freeze your answer as a picture of it in time so that you may decipher it. The trick is to know how to derive meaning from your deck of tarot cards. In the book, we teach you how to do it. We are proud that with the publication of this most beautiful new edition, “The Enchanted Tarot” is recognized for its enduring power and beauty.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was most challenging?

Amy: I worked so intensely on this project. It took a tremendous amount of energy and focus. Nearly every day and night was completely devoted to making sure each piece was true to itself while fitting in with the rest of its suit. My work area lies beneath a cathedral ceiling twenty feet high with skylight. It was here that I would lay out all of the individual background fabrics for each suit. The creation of one piece would bring inspiration regarding another and so I would move from one to the other like a bee in a flower garden. In this way I was able to give each suit a look of continuity and make sure that all issues relating to each were symbolically represented by either the human figure(s) portrayed, by the images, shapes, and colors surrounding them, or by the card’s border. It was only after I had completed each suit that Monte would write down the messages, symbols and stories he saw in each piece.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How long did it take to complete?

Monte: It was truly a labor of love, as one can see in every one of the deck’s seventy-eight tapestry images. It took Amy two years of intense concentration involving finding all the right materials, immersing herself in the journey of the tarot, and perfecting the techniques that she had developed in her fabric collage tapestries that had evolved over the previous twenty years. She considers “The Enchanted Tarot” to be the first masterwork of her artistic career, since all of life is contained in its imagery.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did Monte devise the meanings? We’ve seen a lot of decks and none of them have offered information in such a format: Quick Read, The Dream, The Awakening, The Enchantment. Can you speak a little about this?

Monte: Until “The Enchanted Tarot,” decks and their books seemed to revel in being “occult,” a word that means darkened, hidden, or obscured. Many felt, and some still do, that keeping the tarot as a seemingly impenetrable jumble of esoteric symbolism would be a barrier to entry, that would keep out those who were not serious or otherwise not worthy to learn the tarot’s secrets. This was the old ways of what they used to call the Mystery Schools.

Amy and I, however, wanted as large an audience as possible to share in and benefit from the guidance we knew to be contained in the tarot and so we planned to make our deck beautiful, to ensure the widest audience and to avoid the harsh and garish images that we believed to be so off-putting to so many. Rather than make the text the usual medieval sounding word salad, I tried from the beginning to use the tripartite metaphor of The Dream, The Awakening, and The Enchantment to convey the essence of the tarot: it is a symbolic language that speaks to us in the same language as does our dreams.

The Dream is the gentle fable that reveals the fabric of each card’s allegorical meaning by weaving a tale of explaining the action and symbols portrayed. The Dream entertains as it penetrates the psyche to fulfill the card’s intention. The stories are full of the innocence of youth yet they also contain the wisdom of years. They can be seen as engaging fantasies that speak directly to our subconscious.

The Awakening brings the lesson of each story into our conscious mind for evaluation and assimilation, so it may be used as a tool for guidance and personal growth. It is a straightforward explanation of what each card signifies when it appears in a specific reading.

The Enchantment provides the link between our waking world and the land of dreams. The use of healing rituals, charms, chants and spells reinforces our awareness of the existence of the magical world and reminds us of our ability to draw on its power. These enchantments aid us in casting out fears, drawing in love and abundance, and healing emotional wounds.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What deck(s) did each of you use before beginning to make your own?

Amy: The Rider-Waite Deck.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Since you both appear to be living an enchanted life, do you see your own story in the cards?

Amy and Monte: In our lives, tarot is such a friend and ever-present intriguing and reliable adviser that we can’t imagine how it was to live without it. Our life, our story and our love is reflected in all of “The Enchanted Tarot” cards. The best thing about even our worst days is that we are together – we are very rarely apart, and it is very beautiful where we live. We have our mission, and that and our many wonderful and interesting friends are what gets us up in the morning – actually, that’s Mr. Zane’s job (our cat!).

 

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.

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