practice

Book Review – Witchbody: A Graphic Novel by Sabrina Scott

March, 2019

Book Review
Witchbody
A Graphic Novel
By Sabrina Scott
74 pp.

“Can magic teach us how to love?” asks Sabrina Scott partway through their graphic essay, “Witchbody: A Graphic Novel.” As Scott builds up layers of radical environmentalism and transformative animism through the book, the answer crystallizes: yes, magic can teach us how to love, because empathy and experience are the way forward, and magic gives us the tools to learn and practice both. While it is difficult to pin down a single thesis for this essay — perhaps only because the scope of Scott’s topic is so broad — one clear theme is that through the intentional sharing of spaces and bodies, and the experience of other bodies in relationship to our own, we come to know, understand, and love each other. By experiencing pain, grief, loss, and transformation, we learn to recognize and honor these experiences in others, and in the world around us. By seeing ourselves as we truly are, what we share and where we differ with others, we come to be one.

More a poetic essay than a narrative, “Witchbody” is a book which muses about ontology, experience, physicality, and spirituality — and what these things all have to do with each other. Scott’s beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations enrich their words, lending reinforcement to their message through the depiction of interactions between humans and the liminal spaces that guide us between and within our urban and natural environments. 

Scott’s magical attitude takes flight as everyday activities are transformed into moments of transcendent beauty, during which awareness and empathy inflame a daily sense of unity with the surrounding world. Man, earth, and animal engage with each other on a daily basis. In these watery, organic panels, bones, phones, ferrets, and flowers all float down the same stream as the self; all inhabit one sphere and collide with each other in the same space, as one body. And in these bodies, and in our shared body, we can suffer pain, illness, and death — and when we deny the truth of our shared body, we truly do damage to each other. At the same time, our sensuality is a gateway to ontological understanding; by having a body and engaging with our own bodies, we can come to understand what it means to have a body, to be a being in the physical, natural world.

But Scott does not praise only sameness or the recognition of shared traits by different bodies; while this is an attractive shortcut, it can also invalidate more experiences than it validates, and ignores a lot. Instead, Scott delves into how the self-as-same and self-as-different juxtaposition propels animistic empathy forward, causing true transformation and understanding through primary experience and communication, rather than analysis, reflection, or judgment. It is in the active compassion for the other that we build the bridge between our own experience as human individuals, and the experience of the others, by extending our own capacity for feeling and our borders past our own skin.

Sabrina Scott’s “Witchbody” is a beautiful book which will appeal to animistic and environmentally-minded witches, artistic witches, and anyone who believes that we are all one. While there is more text here than in a regular graphic novel of the same length due to the dense and complex nature of the content, it’s still an easy afternoon read that will leave you eager to experience how engaging with the natural other can strengthen and sustain our collaborative, shared world.

Witchbody: A Graphic Novel on Amazon

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About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Book Review – Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

February, 2019

Book Review

Besom, Stang & Sword

A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape

by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

*A Special Opportunity:

Christopher and Tara will be teaching at Delmarva Pagan Pride Day on April 28th.

Location: The Green in front of Legislative hall in Dover Delaware

Info: FB page- https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelmarvaPaganPrideFestival/

There is a stirring within the community of those who identify as witches as what was old has been lovingly and carefully made new again by those who stand at the gates of modern witchcraft. Besom, Stang and Sword is a guide of practice that evolved from the reweaving of Traditional Witchcraft and adding just enough of the evolved form of that practice to create something unique, new and highly relevant to our times.

The authors have done due diligence in both the scholarly rationale and the grassroots approach to the practice of witchcraft and its newer derivative form of Wicca. What emerged was the creation of their own path called the Blacktree Tradition….. a modern, nonreligious form of traditional witchcraft that is rooted in each witch’s specific region. Instead of deities, it deals with the spirits of the land and the ancestors-no gods, many spirits…

Chapter 1jumps right into the discussion of what Traditional Witchcraft is at its roots. As the authors state there are many types of practice that have presented themselves forged from the essential of a practice that is steeped in cultural practices such as Shamanism, Seidr and Hoodoo and magickal traditions, such as Victor and Cora Anderson Feri and Cultus Sabbati. All of the usual topics related to a pagan path and in particular, that of witchcraft are given attention and perspective that pulls together some of the more disjointed pieces of a puzzle that is complex, rich and deep. The Devil and the negative connotation that has come to be associated with those practitioners of the craft is addressed and the reality of this beings energy as being neither good nor evil, but a necessary component in the natural order of a practice rooted in the land. Blacktree calls to the Devil as the Witch Lord, the Lord of the Paths and is considered the embodiment of nature itself. This is a perspective that takes us beyond the semantics and associations accumulated around these that prevent us from seeing beyond and more broadly as to the deeper meanings.

You will find within each chapter the basics of teachings that form a solid foundation for stepping onto the path of the witch. Spell work, Diviniation, the Sabbats, Lunations, Hedgewitchery and more complete this instruction. Each chapter rich with theory and magickal technique. For those who are familiar with a Wiccan or other path that is similar to the principals of witchcraft, you will see the variances in application and tools that are of prominence in traditional witchcraft that have often take a side place of importance more recently.

The title of the book, Besom, Stang and Sword give reference to these three tools being those closely related to the natural world. This is further evidenced in the premise of Traditional Witchcraft and its roots being tied to the earth and at a time when many of the manufactured ritual items that adorn our altars and work were not available. Use of the Besom and Stang takes us back to those cultural roots of witchcraft and making use of and empowering all that we were given from the land itself. We are also introduced to some lesser-known tools, their purpose and how they may be used or created.

The author’s statement in the introduction nicely sums up the treasures and value of this book..

..Our perspective anchors itself with one foot firmly planted in the lessons of the past and the other stepping into the boldest future, while staying focused on the natural evolution of the craft…

I would highly recommend this book as a required read for those new to the craft and more importantly those who consider themselves seasoned and working witches. My gratitude to Christopher and Tara for being able to in such an articulate and grounded way call forth the best of what was and the vision of a practice that evolves and grows in an organic and natural way that we have long forgotten the simplicity, complexity and beauty of.

For More Information about Blacktree Coven:https://www.infinite-beyond.com/blacktree-coven/

Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Tarot Deck & Journal Review – The Fountain Tarot Deck

January, 2019

Tarot Deck & Journal Review

The Fountain Tarot Deck

The Fountain Tarot is created by Jonathan Saiz, visual artist, written by Jason Gruhl, writer, and designed by Andi Todaro, graphic designer. The deck was originally self-published in 2013 via a Kickstarter project and is currently published by Roost , an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc., 4720 Walnut Street, Boulder CO 80301.

The deck itself consists of 79 cards, the typical 56 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana cards, along with a bonus 23rd Major. The 23rd Major Arcana card is named “The Fountain,” the signature card of the deck, and assigned the values of infinity, oneness, and being fully awake. The deck is printed on sturdy cardstock (similar to the Wild Unknown Tarot), with a matte finish, almost powdery to the touch. The stock is sturdy enough to make a “bridge” or “riffle” shuffle a bit challenging, but the cards are otherwise easy to handle and nicely-substantial to the hand. The cards are 2¾ by 4¾ inches with a narrow white border around the images and a startlingly reflective silver guild on the edges of the cards. The titles of the Minors are at the bottom of the card image and at the top for the Majors, both in an easy-to-read font.

The deck comes in a very sturdy and practical hard cardboard glossy box designed by Andi Todaro that has a magnetic closure and a ribbon that allows the deck to be lifted from the box, rather than dumped out. There is plenty of room in the high-quality box to securely store the deck and the companion book that comes with it.

The softcover companion book has 112 pages. After a brief note from the creators of the deck, there is a suggested daily practice, a description of The Fountain card, the Major and Minor Arcana, the suits of the Minors, a few suggested spreads, and a sample reading and interpretation. The rest of the book is devoted to the individual cards themselves, with a page for each card containing the name and number of the card, a keyword, a brief description of the card image and the symbolism and artistic choices made in the creation of the image, and an upright and reversed meaning.

The images are modern and somewhat minimalist, with a subdued palette and geometric lines and angles. The art has an abstract or contemporary feel similar to the slight distortions of expressionism and combined with the non-traditional images, could be challenging to those who are more confident working with the traditional images of the Tarot. However, the artwork is not simple or shallow by any means. Each card image originated as an original full-size oil painting by artist Jonathan Saiz, giving each card image depth, power and intensity. The back of the cards, designed by Andi Todaro, have a beautiful geometric kaleidoscope design containing the palette of the deck and easily reversed (for those who read reversals).

If you are an intuitive reader, this deck might interest you. Normally I would not recommend a deck with non-traditional card images for beginners. Yes, the images do deviate somewhat from the traditional R/W deck in part because of their fluid abstract interpretations of the more traditional Tarot symbolism, however these ethereal and dream-like images are strongly grounded within the known and established traditional meanings found in the companion book, so the images make sense even to someone who has just begun to work with the Tarot. The setup of the companion book is well-balanced, with equal consideration given to the Minor Arcana as to the Major Arcana (unlike many companion books, which often offer more information and suggested interpretations for the Majors).

The Fountain Tarot Journal

Also available as a companion to The Fountain Tarot is The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year In 52 Readings, also published by Roost . The Journal has a matte finish color soft cover and 160 pages; it begins with a Note From the Creators followed with some useful information including How to Use This Book, Tarot Basics, Sample Spreads, among others. The rest of the 130 pages are for journaling, beginning with instructions for choosing a Card of the Year, space for a 3-card, 5-card and 10-card reading, and then space for the 52 readings (with 2 pages for each reading), including Quarterly Cards and summaries, and ending with a Year-End Summary and Reflection. Each reading section has space for the date and time, the question asked, traits and meanings, initial reaction, connections/relationships between the cards, patterns and themes, a summary of what the cards represent, personal reflections, action to be taken, and people to enlist. Although presented as a companion to The Fountain Tarot, this Journal could be used with any Tarot deck, and it offers a useful tool and process for nurturing a deep connection to the cards of Tarot.

The Fountain Tarot: Illustrated Deck and Guidebook on Amazon

The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year in 52 Readings on Amazon

***

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 Journal 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.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

LED Crystal Grid Review & Interview with Jessica Miller from Cracked Crystal Co.

October, 2018

LED Crystal Grid Review & Interview with Jessica Miller from Cracked Crystal Co.

Jessica Miller from the Cracked Crystal Co. was so sweet as to send me one of her LED light up grids to try out. It measures 11in X 9.5 in X 1 in. It came with 2 different design plates (made of glass). You can interchange them in the wooden holder. It’s so neat to have 2 options! You place the glass grid you are working with into the wooden slots to hold it in place. Then you attach the plugs that come with it and connect to an electric source. It’s easy to put together. Then you set up your grid. When you are ready to add color to your gridding experience, it comes with a remote to control which colors you want to use.

Only thing I would recommend is including instructions for the remote (sometimes I need the extra help lol). After I turned it on it was a gorgeous blue. I wasn’t expecting it to be so bright! It’s visually stunning! Then I changed the colors many times and each color looked cooler than the last! So much fun and really brings a new layer to the gridding process! I love being able to change colors to suit my intentions. I took pictures of the different colors but unfortunately the pics do not do this grid justice.

It doesn’t translate onto the picture. But trust me it is a feast for the eyes! I really am enjoying this grid and look forward to trying different color combinations with different stones. A whole new world of possibilities! This LED light up grid is $85 and comes with 2 glass grids.You can choose which 2 patterns you want.  In the etsy shop there are also wood and lucite grid options as well. I highly recommend this light up grid. It truly is magical!

I had the opportunity to ask Jessica some questions about gridding and here are her responses.

Q: How did you get started using and making grids?

Jessica: I’ve loved crystals for a long time and grown a lot in my spiritual journey throughout the years. Grids helped me better understand my crystals and energy work so of course I wanted to help spread that knowledge. 

Q: What are the different styles and materials you make your grids?

Jessica: Currently we offer grids in wood, lucite and glass. We feature several sacred geometry grids and a few homemade patterns.

Q: What is your personal favorite grid you offer and why?

Jessica: I am personally partial to our cut out flower of life grid. It’s delicate and gorgeous to look at. I also so appreciate how different our illuminating grid is. There is something powerful about that color under your crystals!

Q: What do you use gridding for?

Jessica: Stress relief mostly. I find setting up the grids very relaxing. Taking the time to listen to your stones and see how they work together is so rewarding. 

Q: What are some of your favorite crystals to grid with?

Jessica: Ok so my absolute favorite combo is amethyst and celestite. Such sweet and loving energy. Like a hug from the universe. 

Q: Why is gridding an effective tool to add to one’s daily practice?

Jessica: It’s a time to set aside for yourself and your crystals. Like meditation its important to take that time daily (or as often as you can).

Q: How long have you worked with grids?

Jessica: I began working with grids in 2017, so not very long! Honestly, I used to think they were foolish. What would I get out of gridding that I didn’t get from my stones on their own? Boy am I glad I tried it!

Q: What’s one thing you want to share that I haven’t asked?

Jessica: This practice is there for self-love and improvement. Remember, you are wonderful and your journey is beautiful. May you be well, happy and peaceful.

Q: For my readers to follow/contact you, what are all of your social media links?

Jessica:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CrackedCrystalCo

FB: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1669939697773948ref=content_filter

Instagram:  @CrackedcrystalCo

Pinterest: https://pin.it/in6qpprtysi5vh 

Thank you so much to Jessica for both sending me such a gorgeous grid and for taking the time to answer my questions!

Love and crystal blessings, Xoxo Retha

***

About the Author:

Retha N. Lent has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences from Drexel University. She is the owner of “Retha’s Crystals” & sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry & specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her customers and those interested in learning more about crystals & all things magical called “Retha’s Crystal Circle“. She is also an advisor in the Sage Goddess Affiliate Program. She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs, manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

You can reach her at rethalent@hotmail.com or on her business page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Rethas-Crystals-197411227666484/

Or in her FB group:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1960619300929876

Her Sage Goddess affiliate link is:

www.sagegoddess.com/ref/84/

Or follow her on Instagram at @spookygirl16

 

Book Review: Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice by Candice Covington

July, 2018

Book Review

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice:

Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

by Candice Covington

This book has a decidedly Eastern, rather than Western Hermetic approach to the use of Essential Oils, herbs and the elemental correspondences. In fact, the page opposite the title page is a full color and beautifully rendered graphic of the shapes and colors of the Five Tattwas, the Eastern cousins of the traditional alchemical elements that are used in most pagan magical practice.

The Forward sets the tone for Candice’s work and is written by Sheila Patel, M.D. and medical Director of the (Deepak) Chopra Center. Despite what appears to be not very well aligned with traditional pagan practice, this book is a definite keeper for anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge of adding the layers of subtle anatomy, Divine archetypes and vibration in the form of numerology and color consideration in selecting essential oils for mundane and magickal pursuits.

The book is neatly separated into major chunks of information with Part One taking the reader through the basics of Theory and education about the Tattvic elements, Divine Archetypes, Chakras and concluding with a chapter on manifestation and consciousness. This lays a very well-thought out foundation before discussion of what essential oils are and how they may be used comes into play. This approach also affirms the interwoven energies of these areas of consideration and their usefulness in fine-tuning what and how you will use the oils.

Part Two gives a complete picture of how essential oils may be integrated as part of daily practice as well as an alphabetical listing of some more commonly used oils, their properties and a host of correspondence categories aligning with the information provided in Part 1.

I especially liked Part Three and the way in which the author engaged the reader in exercises and quizzes, all weaving back to reinforcing self-study and self-reflection as paramount deciders in the work you choose for your essential oils. Healing is prominently highlighted and deepening your own experiences with meditation as you allow the energy to flow in accord with what your intention is in choosing an essential oil for this journey.

All in all, I would say this is definitely worth a look regardless of your spiritual path or preferences. Having different tools in your kit ensures that you are adequately prepared and informed for any task.

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice: Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book Review: Reiki Insights by Frans Stiene

June, 2018

Book Review

Reiki Insights by author Frans Stiene

Publisher: Ayni

Text copyright: Frans Stiene 2017

I’ll be honest this book wasn’t what I was expected it to be. It turned out to be more. Mr. Frans Stiene (stee-nuh) has been a major global force in Reiki. He is the co-founder of The International House of Reiki.

In this book, Mr. Stiene has written about what Reiki truly is, a spiritual practice. The founder of Reiki Mikao Usui’s teachings shows that it was a spiritual practice. Reiki is a practice, has meditations on mantras and the symbols, on the hand positions, being in a meditative state while performing or receiving the reiju/initiation/attunement.

Mr. Stiene states that when he was working with his teachers in Japan and researching the original teachings of Mikao Usui, that the precepts where instructions to be followed. This teaching worked to help students bring about a state of wholeness. Wholeness is a state of mind: in which we are happy, content, at peace and full of compassion. This wholeness was a form of healing for the students and all who followed Usui’s teachings.

In today’s world, we often talk about either giving or receiving a Reiki healing. In the spiritual practice of Reiki, it was taught that you were “Being Reiki.” Reiki is often called spiritual energy, and we are always working with spiritual energy in that We are Spiritual beings having a human experience.” (unknown author)

Mr. Stiene also states in this book that through his research he found there is a correlation between the 5 precepts of Reiki and the 6 paramitas from Buddhism. In Japanese Buddhism, there are 3 precepts. I found it interesting that these 3 systems shared so much.

 

The 5 Precepts For Today

Do not Anger

Do not Worry

Be Grateful

Practice this Diligently

Show Compassion to Yourself & Other

 

6 Paramitas

Generosity

Morality

Patience

Persistence

Concentration

Wisdom

 

Japanese Precepts

Cease to do bad actions

Do Good actions

The action of helping others

If you want to get serious about your practice of Reiki, I would suggest this book no matter what your level is. Mr. Stiene wrote this book for all practitioners and teachers.

 

You can find out more about Reiki Insights by Frans Stiene on Amazon.

Reiki Insights

 

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Learning Lenormand

March, 2018

As Above, So Below

Learning any kind of divinatory method takes a lot of practice. Yes, some people have a natural skill. But even those people practice, practice, practice. I cannot stress it any stronger. You have to get out your cards, shuffle them really well, and lay them out. Not just once, but twice, three times, four times or more. And not just once a day. Several times a day.

It is often said that you can’t read your own cards. It is also said that you can’t read your cards everyday or more than once a day. This is pure hogwash. When you are learning a skill, repetition is the key to proficiency. There is literally no other way to do it. You would never say to a student learning the piano to only practice once a week. No! You tell them to practice at least half an hour a day. You tell them to learn their scales and their arpeggios and learn them well. And not only that, you tell them to learn to play the piano for the sheer pleasure of playing it. This is the way it has to be with divinatory skills. Practice, practice, practice! But also take pleasure in what you are doing! If you’re not having fun, then you should really think about developing another skill.

The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews has exercises for learning how to read Lenormand cards in every chapter. Each exercise builds on the one before it, so you are always working with concepts that reinforce what you have already learned. Appendixes I and II have keys to the exercises for quick references and to check your own progress. This book rocks!

I have been working with Spread 1/Practice 7 in Chapter Three, which is called “As Above, So Below”. You shuffle the cards, and lay out three cards on top and three cards on the bottom. You read the three cards on the top as one concept (Card 1 + Card 2 + Card 3) and then the three cards on the bottom in the same way. And then, you read the three cards on the bottom. Then you read the vertical pairs – remember, as a single concept. So you have two 3-pair concepts and three 2-pair concepts to consider. Matthews presents several readings with questions to answer and how she used this spread to answer the questions. In my practice, I just laid the cards out over and over again to get proficiency in putting the concepts together – at first, I shuffled the deck but I was getting the same cards over and over again – which makes sense in a divinatory way – so I started just laying the cards down and reading them. I did this over and over again one night. Mixing the cards up in all kinds of combinations and reading them in all kinds of ways. I spent several hours at this!

One thing I noticed – especially with the 3-card combinations, which can be very tricky to put together, conceptually – is that some cards just go together better than other cards. Sometimes you look at the cards and the concept just jumps into your brain and you wonder how that happened. Sometime you look at them and you can put two together two of them but that third card is from left field and messing up the whole idea. When I read some of Matthew’s take-aways of the 3-card combinations, I think, “How did she get that?” It’s almost like taking calculus again and having to take it on faith. You know the answer is correct – you just don’t know how the teacher got there. But you know if you keep working at it, you’ll “get it” someday.

But I figured I should ask the cards a decent question and see what kind of answer I would get. It took me a while to come up with a question. Lately I have been feeling rather depressed and honestly, quite stuck in my current life. So I asked: What can I do to become “unstuck”? I know as questions go, it’s really quite lame, but it was the best I could do.

Maybe I made the question too general. After shuffling and cutting the deck three times, I drew these cards:

OK: so the top row is 25 Ring + 19 Tower + 2 Clover. Unless the meaning just pops into my brain, I take it slowly, like a math equation. Ring is commitment and Tower is institutions and 2 Clover is luck. A lucky merge with some institution? That’s what I’m reading. Now the bottom row. 3 Ship + 22 Path + 27 Letter. I long to travel to the many places I have read about.

Now the vertical pairs. 25 Ring + 3 Ship could signify some kind of long-distance commitment. 19 Tower + 22 Path could mean working with an alternative institution – not the ones I have worked with in the past. 2 Clover + 27 Letter obviously is any kind of good communication – I have to hang in there and be patient – it’ll come!

Obviously, there’s a lot going on here and as usual, it brings up more questions than it answers. But – it gives me something to work with. The business with the Tower – I can’t just sit in my apartment and feel depressed anymore – I have to get out and do something about it. And not the usual things, either – some alternative method – as indicated by the 22 Path card. Things will look up – the 2 Clover card is there to attest to that. But it isn’t going to happen today. My ship is still out at sea.

I must say that this is fabulous spread and opens up all kinds of ideas for divination. I like it for Tarot cards, too. Being able to read the cards in various ways is an important skill for any reader, whether they are using Lenormand cards, Tarot cards, Oracle cards, or ordinary playing cards. So get those cards out and practice reading them!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

Click Image for Amazon Information

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

What Your Pagan Teacher Wants you to Know…About Practice

March, 2018

(Leather Bound, Pentacle Journal by Samantha & Jason of Earthwork’s Journals, Home of the Handmade Journal on Etsy.)

 

My mum was a music teacher. A strict one at that. She had this way of showing her immense disapproval with a slight tut and a look away. You ask any music teacher, any teacher at all really if they know that their student has been practicing or not, and they can tell a mile away.


“And you practiced every day?”


Maybe that’s where I get it from.


I’m a pretty good student. I take anything I study seriously (I make Hermione Granger look like a slacker) and I love to learn. Yet even as young as 18 I was already teaching my peers. I was good at encouraging and explaining. I was pretty fearless (but not reckless). It just kept happening really.
My last year of 6th form college (high school) I was sitting as a medium with psychic circles between three or four times a week on equal footing as some who had been practicing some 50 years (Glenis was lovely). I was doing card readings every lunch and break every day. I started reading cards at 14 (playing cards) from my friend’s mum who was a real gypsy.


It didn’t think of it as “work” back then.


Back then it was like finding out you’re are a prodigy at something and going full tilt.


This means I don’t get it.


I just don’t understand the excuses. I’ve heard a lot over the years.


“I didn’t have time.”


“I have a lot on at work.”


“My husband/boyfriend/girlfriend was…”


“My parents were around.”


“I didn’t understand it.”


I mean I could go on and on and on. The only excuse I allow is sickness. It’s damn hard to work on a breathing technique if you’ve been throwing your guts up!


Let me start with “I didn’t have time”. There is no perfect time to do the work. It’s like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth; it doesn’t care how busy you are and it shows if you do it “only on the weekend”. The magick techniques I give out to students are accumulative and knowing more in the craft means I expect you to do more, not less. Most of my assignments I give take between 10 minutes daily, maybe slightly longer on the weekend or a pilgrimage somewhere. The other thing is the techniques are of for you to use in the world, in your life. They are designed to change how you see, and think and interact with the world. When you give me this excuse I hear one thing: “I couldn’t be bothered”. I don’t care if you do it in the shower, in the car, on the loo, getting your mind in order is important.


“I have a lot on at work.” In truth I don’t really know why this is seen as an excuse. If I am trying to give a tool that helps focus your thinking and mind I am actually trying to help you, not hinder. This reads in a couple of ways. “I’m important in my job so you can’t make me feel bad for not doing what I said I would do.” Or “I am so stressed out that I worry if a take a minute to think about it my head might actually explode.” Either way your clear and clever excuse sounds like what it is to me: fear. I hear the fear and the bluster. Either way you have to show a little faith. Set aside your ego for a few minutes and I promise the world won’t fall apart.


“My boyfriend…” I understand that the drama of some relationships impacts a lot. However this relationship is your choice. If it is damaging, violent or difficult don’t bring it to me. You will not want my honest opinion. Relationships are hard work but they shouldn’t consume your whole life. If things are tense or very emotional maybe the work I’ve given you is supposed to help soothe that? Trust me a little? The truth is you can not (and should not) control other people’s behaviour. What you can control is yourself and I’m guessing that’s what I am trying to teach you.

 

My parents…” I don’t teach kids, except my own. So I am supposed to be talking to a grown ass adult? Most of the work I set is not a big witchy ritual with lots of pagan drumming. If you mean you have to clean your whole house because you are about to be “inspected” I can sort of understand. Yet again I say grown ass adult. If you mean, I must remove all pagan, witchy, spiritual stuff from my judgmental folks because I’m afraid, still in the broom-closet, don’t want to deal with that fight, I say “Oh boy, you need some good therapy”. Families are difficult and hard work and some are even legitimately dangerous for your wellbeing. If you are feeling fear, shame or any combination thereof I would kindly suggest that while they might share your D.N.A. that isn’t family. Family is safety and support. Family is love and trust. If you have to hide such a fundamental part of who you are from these people, then my home work is the least of your problems. I’ve known pagans come out to deeply religious or difficult parents, it tends to go one of two ways. They range from loving and surprising supportive or amazingly indifferent at one end to violent screaming loathing at the other. The truth is they might surprise you. Good parents are usually that, and crappy ones are well, crappy. None of which is about you.

 

I didn’t understand it.” This comes down to the idea that magick and its practice should enlighten and fix things immediately, well, like magick. They try something once and if it doesn’t fix everything at once it can’t be “real” or “special”. It is hard to see the benefit of brushing your teeth if you only do it once. I mean they get dirty again, what’s the point? Spiritual practice is like that. Magickal and mental cleanliness are not just good practice but important foundations. This is a trap more mature or experienced practitioners can fall into. They know the how and the why, and they do other deeper work and neglect the basics. Understanding something doesn’t always happen the first time you try something, or the tenth, or the hundredth. In fact understanding a practice ca be layered and nothing it teaches you is “wrong” or useless. It can’t teach you anything if you don’t do it!

 

In other startling revelations if you’re going to do your “daily journal” in the car before you turn up, park further up the street so I can’t see you! Magickal practice is not difficult. It’s not for only one kind of pagan or witch. It doesn’t care if you are bookish or not, or if you are smart or not. Able bodied or not. It doesn’t care how rich you are or what kind of background you have. It is open to everyone. The only factor is this, will you leave your excuses at the door and do the work? Then magick and knowledge will come. Maybe not easily, maybe not quickly but if you work at it you will be rewarded in ways you can not imagine.

MagickalArts

December, 2015

To Join (or Not to Join) A Magickal Group

This is an article I wrote many years ago and I’ve decided to share it in this month’s column. As the community and spiritual paths of pagan practice become increasingly more available, so too are the opportunities to become intimately a part of that expanding community. What that participation looks like and how in depth are multi-faceted. It is particularly timely for me since I have been in process of Hiving and forming a new coven within our Tradition, The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. And, so in this spirit I pose the question that should be explored before committing to any one path of spiritual community.

The choice to remain a solitary practitioner or join a magickal group, coven or lodge is a very personal matter. Both offer benefits and detriments. Even if you consider yourself to be a solitary practitioner, there will be celebrations and stages in your development that will generate a desire to share, commune and connect. Similarly, those who choose to join a group will have specific times in their path of journey where they may wish to celebrate and/or practice in private; leaving group work behind.
Solitary Practice

Many pagans choose to walk a Solitary path. In former years this could be a very lonely, albeit a fulfilling one. We are fortunate to be on the Path at this particular time as there are many festivals and open events that both solitary and group affiliated members can attend. Meet-up Groups that have a pagan flavor are in abundance throughout the United States and the opportunity to interact without the deeper commitment of joining any organization has never been more accessible.
For some, group work and the structure needed to have things run smoothly is too restricting and limiting. For others, jobs, lifestyles or family obligations prevent the individual from attending group functions (there is usually a minimum requirement of events throughout the year that a group member would be expected to attend, unless there are emergencies), and this creates stress for both the group and the member. If a ritual at 2:00am is all you can easily fit into your schedule, most groups will not be accommodating to that and the pressures of having to fulfill attendance obligations can often sour the group experience.
Those who work as solitary practitioners often develop a very creative outlook that is largely self-directed. This is primarily because everything they do ritually or devotionally is generally self-generated and created and therefore they become quite adept at improvising. Working alone also guarantees that everything will be done at your own pace, in your own way and ultimately makes you solely responsible for your own experience, success and failures. Many prefer this freedom to connect to their spirituality by creating their own traditions and ways of offering up devotion to those deity and spiritual beings they commune with.
Group Work

Depending on the Tradition you are interested in joining there will generally be a specific length of time and protocol specified to facilitate the orientation process. Within our coven and Tradition we require at minimum a six-month “getting to know you” period where the prospective dedicant (newly dedicated member) attends open events and interacts with the other members of the coven and Tradition. Other groups accept members immediately and are less structured in their process of fully integrating you into the group and/or specific Tradition and still others have a lengthy process of education and training and when and if you are felt to be an acceptable candidate you are then invited to join as a member of the group.
Working within a group provides opportunity for direct sharing, access to those who are more experienced than you and the feeling of an energetic community and bonds to those who are your spiritual family. You will also have greater opportunity to network and meet others if the group you select holds open or sister events in collaboration with others in the Tradition, Coven or Lodge. Ritual work becomes a group effort in which you are able to be simply the participant and are able to open yourself in a deeper way since you are not the sole person responsible for the workings at hand. It provides the ability to see how others structure their practice and exchange ideas and suggestions about different approaches and subtleties. Now, of course, these are all things a solitary practitioner can experience in an open ritual; but the depth and openness that is shared between those within a group often occurs at those times when you are setting up or preparing for ritual before guests arrive or sitting in a group- only social event.
Some considerations you should have as you decide on what group is the best fit:
The group you select to petition for membership should offer a stable and fair structure of spiritual progress with resources to further and enhance your personal growth. Working within the group should feel like a spiritual family and these should be people that you trust to see you at your best and your worst. The energetic connection that you weave with this group of people will strengthen and build as you continue to work together and it is a very intimate relationship that requires respect between all of membership.
You should never feel pressured to do anything that you do not consider to be safe or is coercive in nature. Unfortunately, not all groups are ethical in their actions and offer up empty promises of the gifting of great powers and knowledge of the mysteries in exchange for sexual, monetary or other favors. Some traditions do work skyclad (naked) and perform sex magick as part of their magickal rites, but do so with the consent of all concerned and are up front from the very beginning, ensuring that everyone is on board. Bottom line is- if it doesn’t feel right to you and is not in accord with your beliefs you will probably not make much spiritual headway.
The leadership of the group should be people who live by example those teachings that they have been entrusted to pass along. There should be a comfortable exchange between leadership and membership such that any discord, or misunderstandings can be discussed and resolved in an ethical, intelligent and mature manner. Respect is key here, on both sides.  Respect that leadership has the best interest of the group, Tradition and its members always in sight. And, respect that membership will be supportive and helpful in maintaining a positive working environment and good intent for those they work with.
There should be encouragement of all members within the group to excel and progress in their magickal studies at a pace that will provide challenge but also allow for life events to take priority as needed. And, although healthy and constructive criticism is a great motivator there should never be an ill-intended push or encouragement towards unhealthy competition for recognition, roles or initiations among members. There will be many times when you will feel challenged unjustly and perhaps even feel as though you are not progressing in the way or at the speed at which you feel you should. A good barometer is to step back from the situation for a moment and ask yourself if you are just annoyed at the inconvenience or is there something truly and viably wrong.
It has been my experience that frequently the people who are meant to become members of our group, find their way to us through a synchronistic moment. They happen to be in the right place at the right time, find our website and decide to come to an open event or become interested through a friend who is already a member. Don’t be afraid to be selective. Take the time that you need to make an informed decision and never allow yourself to be pressured into joining a group. If a group is that desperate for new members, there are most likely other areas in which they will exert or force their will on the existing members- the number one “no-no” in pagan philosophy and ethics.

The bottom line is that if the group is a viable and healthy one, they will want to take their time in getting to know more about the potential members who come knocking on their door, and if the fit is right there is no need to hurry matters.  Neither your nor their interest in having you join them will diminish or lessen. If it does, perhaps it was not the place for you after all. The commitment to a group should be entered with the thought that this will be a place of working and growing for several years. There is no short track to magickal mastery and those who frequently leave and join groups, as well as groups who have a fast moving revolving door usually do not stand the test of time and longevity.

A Timely Choice

Just as all of life’s experiences change and flow as you change and grow in years and time, the decision to remain solitary or join a group will follow its own meandering course as well. Many start as Solitary workers; come to a crossroads where the progress they require includes working with others in a committed way, and when the lessons are integrated go back to Solitary practice. This is the nature of all spiritual growth regardless of tradition.
The start of your journey is begun of your own accord and decisions about how and in which direction it moves are formulated by you and you alone. As you move along the path of your making there will come a point in the road where the need to offer the mysteries learned in a broader and more communal sense rises to the surface. The yearning to share and exchange this wisdom with like-minded people and the security of feeling that you are part of something larger than yourself is the gentle rise of the hill ahead that offers no glimpse of what lay on the other side. You reach the summit of this path and begin the process of gathering to yourself all of the outer influences, interactions, joys and sorrows you have experienced. You take in new sights from this higher vantage point. These spread out before you in panoramic view. And, as the choices blur and thin in detail in the vastness of what can be, you look around and see that you have returned to the space of standing alone and quiet in your inner sanctum; new choices ahead and new paths to walk. And, so the cycle begins anew.
It doesn’t really matter whether you choose to join a group or remain a solitary practitioner. The important thing is that you continue your practice. That you seek out the resources you are guided to when and where you are led. And, when the time is right, you gather with like- minded individuals as one in celebration of the Pagan Path.
Blessings on your journey!