magick

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

November, 2017

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

That started her researching.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleath intends to write a book about dreams.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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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.

The Enchanted Cottage: Magick for the Witch’s Home

November, 2017

To Protect the Witches Home

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

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

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

The children answered,

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

and went on eating without disturbing themselves….

From Hansel and Gretel—Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tale

 

Grimm

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death Masks

November, 2017

At this time of looking back, memories and retrospect I want to share a wonderful experience I had a few years ago. I received an intriguing invitation: a workshop in making a death mask on Samhain with a small group! I didn’t have to think long and decided I’d definitely want to be there. We ended up being with 6 ‘wyld & wicked women’! Some had met each other before. At the time I only knew the hostess beforehand, so I had the privilege to get to know 4 wonderful women.

First we had dinner at a beautiful Samhain-decorated table. We had a very yummy salad, delicious pasta with pesto and salmon, an exquisite quiche and very tasty pizza! The dessert was even better: heavenly cheesecake and divine pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream. We started by reading ‘The Charge of the Great Mother’ out loud. Everyone had placed an extra plate on the table for someone behind the veils. We shared stories about those people and animals while eating in their honour. Lovely stories about beautiful memories… Some put a smile on our faces, some made us get all teary-eyed. It was very intimate and touching; it felt as if I got to know the people and animals, as if they were really there, sitting with us. I dedicated my plate to my dad. I told about our special bond, about my childhood memories and also about his death.

In the temple space we prepared everything for the workshop. We made the masks in pairs. One person was lying down, while the other one put plaster bandages on her face to make a very personal mask, a mask of our own faces. To protect our skin and to make the mask easier to release we covered our face with a lot of cream. I had a nasty cold, so I was a bit nervous whether I could persevere the plaster. I decided to put some straws in my mouth, so I had both nose and mouth to breathe. Still, it wasn’t easy! I started thinking a lot of “what-ifs”. That wasn’t going to help me persist so I went into a meditative state and that was the right decision. I did it!

Then it was my turn to make a mask. I soon felt I was very tired and the cold didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to finish the mask, so I kept on putting plaster bandages. I struggled. I realized it wasn’t working and felt so bad… Finally I asked someone else to take over. That was so hard, I felt I had failed miserably. In the kitchen I cried, but everyone was so kind and comforting! My mask partner got a beautiful mask nevertheless and she wasn’t disappointed (as I had feared). On the contrary, she accepted her own lesson in this with grace; we talked it over and hugged. Looking back now I can see it as it is: a wonderful experience for both of us, and a lesson too… I’m still very grateful for it.

deathmasks

 

Afterwards we all talked about what making the masks had done with us. Generally speaking death-masks are made after a person dies. To do it on a living person can feel strange, especially when the eyes and mouth are covered. You literally shut them up… and the other way around your mouth is covered and shut. Although I had the straws in my mouth, it still felt like that. We shared our experiences and feelings. Meanwhile, it was very late so we set up the beds and dived in! I slept next to the veils in the temple space. In the morning we had a long breakfast / brunch together, closed the circle and said our goodbyes.

Masks of deceased people are part of many traditions around the world. In some European countries it was common for death masks to be displayed at state funerals. Death masks have been a matter of practice from as early as ancient times and making death masks was routine until the late 19th century when photography took over in popularity. However, some death masks were still made in the 20th century and are made to this day. Death masks were sometimes used as a way to identify the dead and at other times the death masks were used as a way to remember the dead person or to use as a way to build their memorial on their grave. Death Masks usually involve the eyes of the deceased being closed but in a few rare exceptions the eyes are left open. This video shows the death masks of many famous people:

 

 

Sources & further reading/watching:

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

November, 2017

Fire Clearing

Merry meet.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

You’re so in the moment,” she said.

Those receiving cleansing have said the same.

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

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

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

Kerry Bower felt both.

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

***

 

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.

Crystal Connections

November, 2017

Hematite

 

 

Hematite is a common but sometimes overlooked stone because it lacks the bright flashy colors like its other crystal counterparts. In its understated, cool dark silvery tones, this crystalline structure contains some pretty great metaphysical properties. Even though it’s known as the “stone of the mind” for its clarifying and focusing abilities, for me its best properties are for grounding, balancing and protecting.

 

 

I will often carry a small tumbled piece around in my pocket or purse to roll between my fingers when I’m feeling out of sorts or confused. This stone has a way of bringing things into focus and keeping me on an even keel. I have found that Hematite helps me feel deeply connected and grounded to my most inner self. Because of these properties you may find when using this crystal that you are able to push through any previous obstacles and focus on moving forward in a way that is beneficial to both your physical and spiritual self.

 

 

Another great attribute that this stone has is its ability to absorb negative energy. Around my house I have varying clusters of crystals on display and mixed in with each display are a few pieces of tumbled Hematite to absorb or deflect any negative energy. I still cleanse and recharge my crystals but I feel like Hematite adds that extra protectiveness around them and my home.

How do you feel about this stone? Which of its many properties has helped you? Do you wear your Hematite or carry it with you? Remember there’s no wrong or right way to use your crystals, use them in a way that is most beneficial to you.

 

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About the Author:

 

 

Shiron (Shi) Eddy hails from the Pacific Northwest and shares a home with her husband, a Great Dane and a cat. Her love for crystals and minerals came from her dad who was an avid rock hound in his younger years. Shi happily shares her knowledge of crystals with anyone who is drawn to them, but especially loves to help people connect with minerals that involves their metaphysical properties. When she’s not networking with other crystal and mineral lovers, Shi can be found making jewelry, painting, crocheting Goddess dolls, selling her wares at shows or spending time with family and friends. You can find her jewelry in her shop ShiJewels or follow her on Instagram.

The Bad Witches Guide

November, 2017

 

The Bad Witches Guide to Aromatherapy

 


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

 


I have a super charged sense of smell. You’d think spending my childhood on the farm would have ruined it but I think it made things like chemical and perfume smells more sensitive for me. Smells can sometimes be so intense (not even bad) that they can make me throw up.

 

(image from here)


I was just at university when I first started using essential oils. It just sort of “made sense” to me from the get go. I wonder sometimes if this is my issue with being in a large crowd, all the smells. I can tell you what death smells like, what rot and sickness smell like too. (Death is sort of like crushed elderflowers with a hint of cat pee and a hint of tin).

 


I am a qualified aromatherapist. This sometimes put me at odds with some of my teachers who went from what was in a book rather than the smell of the person they were working on. Also people lie! You get a client before you and they never smoke (but you can smell it coming from them) drink only water (is that coffee breath I smell?) and have “the odd glass of wine” on the weekend (but are sweating out that alcohol smell). This taught me two things. People will put their health and well-being in danger rather than be shamed about their bad habits and start a little and work up!

 


What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the extraction of natural plant volatile oils. These small organic compounds change quickly from solid, liquid and gas and are easily absorbed into the body, even through the skin. Steam distillation is a common essential oil extraction process but some places use chemical extraction or compression too. The organic chemicals and compounds such as carvacrol found in many essential oils like oregano and thyme seems to disrupt bacterial membranes inhibiting their growth. It also seems to block certain kinds of pain receptors too. Science is starting to catch up with what aromatherapists have been saying all along!

 


Essential oils are extremely potent. They can burn or cause intense irritation not just alone but in combination with the chemical on the skin. Food, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, medication and even deodorants on the skin can react with essential oils in unexpected ways.

 


Then comes personal preference. Some people really don’t like certain smells. This can be because of a memory association, or just be the body knowing it would not be good for it. My mother hated the smell of lilacs, I disliked the smell of rose geranium for years. Some people hate the smell of rose, or jasmine. Some loathe vanilla.

 

 


Lavender is a common essential oil, and usually quite cheap. However learn the Latin! Knowing your Lavandula Augustifolia from your Lavadin is important. Much like the different between French and English lavender, or Spanish or Australia grapes, the earth, water and weather have an effect on the amounts of chemical compounds in essential oils. With cheap essential oils, you get what you pay for. Often chemically extracted, thinner and paler, with less of the extracts you want. It is often a false economy.

 


Keep your essential oils away from sunlight, pets and small children (as well as some ignorant adults: someone on one of my aromatherapy courses left a bottle of peppermint oil in a bathroom cupboard and had an uncle drink it to “settle his stomach” and ended up in A&E, or the ER if you’re in the States).

 

 

Magickally aromatherapy oils can be worked into workings in all kinds of ways. From adding it to the water of your ritual baths or to your asperging or cleaning water to burning it or adding it to water to make a steam, or making ritual oils for the body or objects.

 


Essential oils can be used like incense to cleanse and clear or charge a space or blended to charge spell candles; or added to sachets or mojo bags. Lavender flowers you buy can be a touch flat when it comes to scent so you can add a couple of drops of a good lavender essential oil to the dried herb. Lavender is considered one of the safest oil for beginners to experiment with. It is generally a relaxing oil (but about 10% of people have the opposite reaction to it) so using it as way to calm a space.

 


Tranquil Space and Mind Rite


You will need:

 


6 tea-lights (and heat proof holders)

 


4 pieces of amethyst

 


Lavender essential oil

 


Cold pressed organic almond oil

 


A small container or bowl for oil

A purple candle

 

Rite:


Take some 6 simple tea-lights and remove them from their metal base.

 

Add a drop of lavender essential oil and replace the tea-light. In three pairs place them around your space (preferably in safe heat proof places) with a piece of amethyst. Take 30ml of organic cold pressed almond oil and add three drops of lavender essential oil to it, swirling gently to combine.

 


Take a small amount of the essential oil blend and rub between your palms and dress a pale purple candle. Wiping off the excess oil carefully light the candles in your space and turn of any artificial light.

 


Now taking your blend slowly and deliberately massage your body with the oil. A small dab on the forehead to begin and then working from the feet up. Take your time and make sure you don’t rush. You can now play some peaceful music and meditate using the purple candle, or simply be in the calming space.

 


Candle meditation is about focusing the eyes on the flame but watching it passively (like watching T.V). It is a softness of gaze, and one of observation. Thoughts come, and thoughts go, just let them.

 


It sounds quite simple but it can be quite transformative. Don’t be worried if you have an emotional reaction. You might cry or get the giggles. You might feel angry. This is simply what you have been holding in underneath. Keep massaging and breathing it will pass.

 


**Please don’t fall asleep with candles burning!**

Book Excerpt from A Modern Celt: Day of the Dead by Mabh Savage

October, 2017

Day of the Dead

 

Samhain, for many on a Pagan path, is “the biggy”, the festival of all festivals, and much of this is to do with the day’s association with the dead and thus ghosts, spirits and other things otherworldly. It’s generally celebrated on October 31st although in Gaelic the word actually means “November” so the festival being named thus would seem to indicate that is to be celebrated at the start of November. This is probably because the Celts believed a new day started at sunset, so when fires were lit on the 31st October as the sun went down, it was already Samhain, the next day, and time to celebrate another point in the year when the veil is thin and one can almost speak to one’s ancestors, as they walk amongst us. Sometimes the night time celebrations are still called “Samhain Eve” rather than Samhain, and I think it’s key to understanding the Celts that we recognise that they weren’t taken too much by the time of day or the date, but more by splitting things into light and dark. Sunset was the end of the current day, therefore it was the beginning of a new day. Samhain was the halfway point between equal night and day (the autumn equinox) and the longest night (the winter solstice). Winter was darker; summer was brighter.

 

This is how I believe they saw the world, and this is how, as someone trying to understand their ancestors, I am also finding myself looking at the world. Even though we are, as a modern society, so obsessed with timekeeping and date stamping, it’s nice just to think “It’s cold and the sun is low after only a few hours, it must be winter. The moon is full and the sky is clear- it will be cold tonight. The leaves are yellowing; it is autumn.” It’s so much more special to watch the world change around you, to feel the turn of each season, than to mark its continuation by the flick of the page in a diary and waiting for dates to happen. The most physical evidence of any sort of calendar kept by a Celtic people is the Coligny Calendar, bronze plates dating from around the year 200 (although it’s thought the calendar usage may go back as far as 800 BCE) which show a calendar based on a 5-year cycle using both the solar and lunar cycles to describe an approximately structured year. This is not unlike our modern Gregorian calendar if you think about it- we have months roughly based on the cycle of the moon, although as we only have 12 now we stick in random days here and there (i.e. the 30 and 31-day months), and every 4 years when we’ve not managed to travel quite all the way around the sun, we get an extra day!

 

So here we are at Samhain. We now understand that the Celts were looking forward into the darker part of the year and preparing for winter, whilst at the same time feeling the touch of the other world; the fae, the Tuatha Dé Danann and indeed their own ancestors. Ever since I can remember this has always been a time to remember one’s own ancestors and honour them the best you can. This can be simply saying their names out loud, or holding a feast with their favourite food included. A common practice is to leave an image out of the ancestor or ancestors in question, and if no image is available or appropriate then something that either belonged to them or reminds you keenly of them. This is their physical link to you; this is how they know where to come through when they reach the veil. Offerings are left with this image or symbol, as a way of thanking your ancestor for what they have brought to you. Hopefully, your ancestor will see the gesture and be grateful, but also be at peace seeing that you are doing well and honouring your traditions; understanding yourself as a whole person, and acknowledging what came before you and what will come after; after all, by whole heartedly embracing this practice you accept that one day you will be on the receiving end of the gesture- whether through a direct blood descendant or even from friends or students- anyone you may have had significant and positive influence on.

 

As well as honouring our ancestors, we also accept that in the long run, they no longer belong here. Not that they are unwanted, but that they now reside somewhere else, and only at Beltane and Samhain can we be this close to them again. Samhain, starting at sunset, has the longer darkness, and therefore the greatest opportunity to light fires and candles as beacons to guide the dead, which I think is why this winter festival is more widely recognised as the day of the dead, rather than its summer counterpart, which is more about the continuity of life and fertility.

 

So at Samhain, there tends to be a threefold celebration. We welcome the ancestors- we draw them towards us somehow, we feel their presence and we celebrate their return. We spend time among them, enjoying their company like one would a friend you have not seen for years. Not only ancestors but friends and acquaintances past, including pets and working animals that may have been close to us. Because of this it can be a very bitter sweet time of year: although it’s wonderful to feel the presence of someone or something deeply missed, it also brings sharply into focus the original grief when you lost them. Because of that though, it can be a great way of dealing with grief. Sometimes we bottle things up too much, and Samhain has a tendency to bring to the fore feelings we would not normally have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a good idea, because of this, to surround yourself with friends, family and loved ones or whoever can best support you through this.

 

Of course, you may be someone who genuinely deals with grief better on your own, but when you are also dealing with the potentially supernatural, it’s good to know that you are not alone; that you are not the only person who is feeling the presence of someone long gone but clearly not forgotten. So this is the second stage of Samhain: being with those we lost, and dealing with it either with happiness or grief while ensuring we are supported and making it as joyous as possible with feasting, drinking, and even gifts. Some celebrate Samhain as New Year too (understandable looking at how the Coligny calendar split the year into two halves), so again, more drinking, gifts and excuses for tomfoolery! The third stage is a little more solemn, and just as important. This is the stage where we feel the veil closing, and we say farewell to our ancestors (and other loved ones) and ensure we guide them on their way.

 

There are many different ways of doing this and I would not recommend that you practice rituals, rites or magic with the intention of guiding the dead without the guidance of someone experienced in such matters- quite frankly it can be a bit scary. More simply and traditionally, candles can be lit as symbolic beacons to show the dead their paths. can be played, for in Celtic tradition music is a gift from the otherworld and thought to be very magical indeed. Ancestral feasts are cleared away and images of ancestors are cleaned and put away until after the season is over, to remove temptation for the spirit to stay. It’s like saying, we’ve been happy to have you here, and we wanted to let you know how grateful we are for your influence in our lives. But we are the living; you are the dead. It’s time for us to get back to our lives, and for you to return to whence you came. I think it’s very healthy in that way; we accept that our loved ones are gone. We in no way cling on to them or expect them to return to us to be a permanent part of our lives, and in this way we can deal with our grief and move on, although it can take several years for grief to lose its keen edge of course. But we also accept that here is a time when we can celebrate them. Whether you believe that the dead physically (or metaphysically) return or not, how can anyone sneer at the idea of having a whole festival dedicated to love, remembrance and joy?

 

 

 

 

 

***
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

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

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Spells for Self Improvement by Lauren White

October, 2017

By Lauren White

© 2000 by MQ Publications Ltd.

ISBN: 0-7407-0552-0

112 pages

 

This is a fun little book and I mean “little” literally. The book is roughly five by five inches. However, this little book contains a considerable amount of information despite the small size

 

I really liked the first part of the book which is a discussion on how to use the book. Each spell has a key included with it. This key list difficulty which ranges from easy or the author puts it, “a piece of cake”, to requires concentration. The second aspect on the key is for the amount of time it takes to perform that spell. This range goes from instant, to overnight, to needing patience. Finally there is a rating for reliability. For this the range is from a rating for it might work to it will work.

 

The next chapter covers the tools needed. The author doesn’t just list the tools needed but includes ideas on how to pick or create just the right tool

 

The spells in the book come under the headings – “for winning friends and influencing people, the secrets of success, beauty or the beast, having it all and emergency spells.” Each of these has several spells for each topic. Under winning friends and influencing people are spells for shining, a way to stand out from the crowd. This spell could be of great use for those looking for work and wanting something to add a little extra to an interview. Add to this the spell for a life buoy which is found in the success section. This spell is rated as one that is guaranteed to work to make any event go smoothly and greatly enhance your chance at success.

 

Other spells in the book cover gaining luck, gaining funds for a financial emergency, confidence, motivation, beautiful hair, getting your way, a fresh start and more.

 

This book is full of fun illustrations and drawings. At first glance it looks like just a fun little book full of colorful illustrations that brings to mind a children’s book. A further inspection shows this book is a whole lot more. It holds some amazing spells carefully detailed on how to create each one what is needed in the way of time and effort and the chance of success. I am looking forward to trying many of the spells found within the pages of this amazing “little” book.

 

 

Cunningham’s Thirteen Goals of a Witch: An Interpretation

October, 2017


 

 

 

In his book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham lists The Thirteen Goals of a Witch (in the edition I have they can be found on page 151). Cunningham does not give an explanation of each goal, which to me implies that they are his personal goals and therefore are able to be interpreted in as many different ways as there are witches.  The following are my interpretations of each goal:

 

  1.           I.    Know yourself.

This is a reflection of the first pillar of The Witch’s Pyramid. Knowing oneself is deeper than the knowledge one attains from books; it is the knowledge of self or understanding one’s motivations. It is vital for each witch to be aware of his or her abilities, strengths, weaknesses, dreams, desires and fears. If the individual witch resonates in a vibration of denial or ignorance then how can this individual be able to expand and grow? To be able to be successful in manifesting that which is desired the witch must be aware of her or his own energetic vibration. To know oneself means that the witch is willing and able to be honest and truthful with his or her self.

 

  1.         II.    Know your craft.

This is also a reflection of the first pillar of The Witch’s Pyramid. This goal speaks of the knowledge of how energy (and thus magick) works. are significant tools to learn from as well as other witches, however personal experience is vital. Learning from experience cannot be replaced by anything or anyone. This is how a witch will gain understanding of his or her own energy flow and how it works in harmony or dissonance with the energies of their environment as well as how it aligns with the correspondences that he or she incorporates into their personal practice. The witch will learn to manipulate and create through their craft.

 

  1.        III.    Learn.

One of The Laws of Magick suggested by Isacc Bonewits in his book Authentic Thaumaturgy is The Law of Infinite Data, which states that there is an infinite number of phenomena to be known that one will never run out of things to learn. With this understanding the witch would continue to seek out new information and apply it to his or her own practice and craft. Just as the universe is in a constant state of change and expansion so should be the witch.

 

  1.       IV.    Apply knowledge with wisdom.

This goal speaks of the ability to take the knowledge that one has gained from books, teachers, mentors and personal experience and relating this to his or her own insight, understanding and intuition gaining them a deeper and more meaningful perspective on not only their life experience but the nature of God Herself as well. This is the best way for a witch to achieve personal gnosis and spiritual enlightenment.

 

  1.        V.    Achieve balance

One of the main tenets within Wicca is balance. We view everything within the Universe (the macrocosm) including ourselves (the microcosm) as having polarity: masculine and feminine, day and night, creation and destruction (to name just a few). Since God Herself is the culmination of All That Is, the witch that achieves balance thus achieves vibrational alignment with God Herself. To gain balance and achieve this goal, the witch would begin with the first goal that Cunningham lists and work his or her way through each thus bringing their personal energy into alignment (balance).

 

  1.       VI.    Keep your words in good order

The definition of the word ‘good’ by Merriam-Webster Online is: of high quality, of somewhat high but not excellent quality, correct or proper. So this goal states that the witch is to keep his or her words in correct or proper order and to have them be of high quality. This is a subjective goal as it is dependent on the witch’s own belief as to what is correct, proper and high quality. This goal is a reminder for each witch to be aware of what he or she is writing, typing or saying.

 

  1.      VII.    Keep your thoughts in good order

This goal is aligned with the prior goal but is applied to that which the witch is thinking.

 

  1.    VIII.    Celebrate life

Life is a process, an experience and some would even say that it is a gift. Whatever perception held about life this goal encourages the witch to view it as important and to find the joy that is held within each moment, to be engaged, to be aware and to be involved; because in order for him or her to manipulate the energies within and around oneself it is critical to be connected to that energy.

 

  1.       IX.    Attune with the cycles of the Earth

Everything that is physically manifested on Earth, including the Earth herself, has an energetic frequency that is able to come into vibrational alignment with another frequency. When a witch is able to attune or regulate his or her own energy with the Earth’s tides and seasons that witch will find that he or she is able to manifest their intentions with ease.

 

  1.        X.    Breathe and eat correctly

Many individuals are in a constant state of anxiety. Their ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered continuously because of the level of stress in their lives. It has been proven that when an individual breathes deeply taking in a higher level of oxygen they can calm the body and reduce stress thus alleviating the continued state of ‘fight or flight’ bringing the body, mind and spirit into a state of overall well-being. Eating nutritious foods will also aid in this endeavor.

 

  1.       XI.    Exercise the body

Physical movement encourages the body to become healthier and thus stronger. Extreme exercise is not required just moderate movement to aid your body to come into a healthy state of being. Just as witches are encouraged to breathe and eat correctly in the previous two goals it is important to bring the physical body, the sacred temple, into healthy alignment as well. A body that is in misalignment makes manifestation a little more challenging.

  1.      XII.    Meditate

Meditation is a fundamental tool in achieving results from a magickal practice. It is the first step in achieving a successful visualization, which is necessary in the manifestation of a spell whether it be an intricate casting or a simple intention sent out to the Universe. It is also a major part of rituals and communing with the gods.

 

  1.    XIII.    Honor the Goddess and God

Honoring the Goddess and God means to show respect and reverence to them. They are and are part of everything that we see manifested on the Earth including the Earth. They are part of everything that we cannot see manifested on the Earth. Every experience we have is part of the energy of All That Is. Everything is interconnected which makes everything sacred. By honoring ourselves, the Earth and all beings we interact with and witness we honor the Goddess and God.

 

 

 

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

October, 2017

Releasing the Old Year

Merry meet!

While Samhain most often involves honoring the ancestors and divination, the night is also the eve of the new year.

Even if I have participated in a group ritual, there’s a simple ritual I like to do alone in front of my altar, or outside when possible, as close to midnight as possible. There is no reason this can’t be done in a group.

I gather some paper, something to write with, a cauldron and something with which to light a fire.

Once in sacred space, I reflect on the previous year, often flipping through the pages of my gratitude journals to remind me of all that transpired. I then reflect on what I want to bring with me into the new year, and what I wish to release and leave behind. Often it’s an attitude, a thought or a habit. It can be someone who is an energy vampire, expectations or material objects. If it no longer serves your highest good and greatest joy, it’s suitable for letting go.

Writing one thought per slip of paper, I light it and drop it into the cauldron, letting it turn to ash. I continue as long as there is something I want to purge from my life.

Afterwards, I stir water into the ashes and pour it on the earth, thanking all the elements for their part in the cleansing. I tend to journal a bit before opening the circle.

Whatever you choose to do, may you have a blessed Samhain.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

 

 

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

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