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Musings from a Hereditary Witch

June 1st, 2013

Being a Hereditary

A Hereditary tradition does not have to be transferred from parent to child. Often it can skip a generation and be passed from a grandparent or an aunt, uncle or other family member. A Linage tradition is passed directly from parent to child and so forth down the generations. Of course, I am speaking from my family’s understanding within our own tradition.

My own line of hereditary witchcraft began with my great, great aunt who was adopted into a hereditary line of witchcraft. Often entrance into a family tradition was through birth, marriage or adoption. My great, great aunt then passed on the tradition to my grandmother and from that time it has been passed on directly from parent to child. I am the fourth generation and my children carry the path forward with my granddaughter being the sixth generation. All in all we have a hereditary path spanning over 125 years. We are by far not the oldest hereditary family path, nor are we the youngest.

I know that I am very fortunate to have grown up in a family tradition as opposed to seeking one out later in life. I am often asked what it was like growing up with a path already set in place. It was magical, like living within warm earth and it was lived every day. My family raises cattle for a living and every day we were surrounded with the cycle of birth, life and death. We grew our own food and butchered our own animals. It was hard work.

While my mother worked a day job, I lived with my grandparents. Grandma was the local healer and a semi-self taught veterinarian. Someone was always bringing a sick or injured animal, domestic or wild, to the house. Sometimes grandma would go to administer healing at someone’s home. There was always some sick person or animal she was tending too. Family and non-family referred to my grandma as ‘aunt’.

We are an oral tradition. The closest thing to a Book of Shadows would have been the Old Farmer’s Almanac. We do not adhere to the tenets of the new religion of Wicca; we have our own codes of conduct and honor. We do not take magical names, let’s face it, we are family and everyone knows who we are. We do not use terms such as Priest or Priestess, but we do have an Elder who is elected by the family. We do not wear special clothing for our rituals; as long as we were clean, pants and shirts were fine. Of course today I can afford to wear something more to my liking for ritual.

Growing up, there wasn’t a local metaphysical shop to drop into to pick up supplies. We either made what we needed or used what we found in nature. Candles were made from canning paraffin and oil lamp wicking. We were lucky to get colored birthday candles on occasion. We grew our own herbs, made our own teas, tinctures, salves. Sometimes we found quartz, serpentine, arrowheads and sea shells in the creek, washed down from the mountain.

Our rituals are rooted in our family land. We work with the land children and the guardian who watches over our land. We differ from some traditions by not calling quarters, casting circles, or worshiping gods & goddesses. Well, that’s not quite so, because the gods & goddesses of my dad’s family claimed me when I was young, but that is for another column. The ritual tools we use are the cauldron, knife, staff, broom, stone, and antler. Our rituals may include healing work, gratitude, communion with the land, journey work, learning a new skill, divination and sharing what portents & signs we observed. We work with folk/sympathetic magic which may include workings for justification.

We celebrate the seasonal shifts and moon tides; however seasonal shifts do not necessarily coincide with a date on the calendar, but rather with the physical shift of the season on the land. We do a spring cleaning and a fall cleansing. We have rituals for honoring the steers before slaughter and when we drive the cattle from the winter pastures to the summer ones.

This is but a small glimpse into my family tradition.

Like many others my age, the first witch I saw on TV was Samantha on the show Bewitched. But there was real life witch in my area whom I saw on TV several times. Jeffrey B. Cather RN, better known as Lady Circe of Toledo, OH, was respected by the media when they turned to her as the unofficial representative of the Pagan community. She was well spoken, knowledgeable and had an air of leadership about her. When I saw her on TV in the 70s and 80s, I was not yet studying the old ways, but it was in the back of my mind and the knowledge that such people existed kept the spark of my interest alive. When she passed away in 2004, I read she was a WW II veteran and since this was before the VA decision to add the pentacle as a symbol of belief, I’ve wondered if her headstone was ever changed.

Shortly after I was hired by the Postal Service in 1994, I saw a documentary called “Witches, Werewolves and Vampires.” It was more on the lighter side, but I was intrigued by what the Witches were saying about a magical nature centered religion which included a goddess. This was the moment I decided to see if what the Witches were saying was true and if this was something for me. Its funny how the words and attitudes of someone we never meet and who have no idea we exist can change our lives, so perhaps our words and attitudes can in turn affect people we will never meet and may not even know they exist.

I looked in the library in Port Clinton, OH where I was working at the time and found a book, the name of which I have long ago forgotten. It claimed to be about witchcraft, but with instructions to self initiate that included saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards three times at midnight and making a wand stuffed with a blood soaked cotton ball, it sounded weird even in my naiveté. Fortunately it disappeared never to return before I could check it out. Perhaps someone was keeping me from starting out with misinformation.

Eventually I found a few useful accurate books at the library and bought some at a bookstore in another town. But I yearned for contact with a like minded person, someone I could learn from, ask questions, and gain understanding. There was a woman on my mail route I wanted to talk with as she received metaphysical catalogs, had a stained glass pentacle on her door, stickers on her truck reading “witches heal” and “born again pagan” and had a banner in her window wishing “Blessed Samhain.” One day she was sweeping her sidewalk, so I stuck up a conversation, complimenting her on her Halloween decorations. She replied that it was important to her as she was a Witch. I replied that I was a newbie Wiccan and she offered to be of help.

I learned so much from Soraya. She explained the difference between Witch and Wiccan and elaborated on her path of Hedgewitchery. She was the first other Pagan I had met in person, so being a newbie, I tended at first to hang on her every word, something she discouraged. Instead, she encouraged me to listen to different views, try different things and see what worked for me. There was an author whom I idolized at the time, but my mentor had a rather negative opinion of her. I was able to step back and be objective about that author as well as any other. We were comfortable disagreeing agreeably and I never felt pressure to agree with or imitate her. I was a fan of the TV show Charmed and she thought it was stupid. She thought the movie The Craft insulted our religion but I could watch it over and over although I understood how those not familiar with our ways could get the wrong idea. Practical Magic was a movie we both enjoyed.

Soraya encouraged me to interact with other Pagans. She started a local meet and greet called Pagans in the Pub and invited me to come. I was too reluctant to do so and unfortunately after two meetings, it stopped due to lack of interest. She was a member of a Cleveland, OH based group and drove to their monthly meetings. We talked about me riding with her sometime but again I was reluctant. Considering the problems I have now finding the time to participate in Pagan groups, I wish I would have went.

I did manage to find other Pagans online and she pointed the way. She recommended the Witch’s Voice and a few other quality sites as well as setting up her own Pagan message board, Soraya’s Witch’s Tavern. I was one of the first members at her invitation and as I sat at the library internet computer pondering a user name, it came to me, Postalpagan, a name I still use 12 years later. It amused me when she said that some of the other members asked her if it was a reference to the term “going postal”, and she replied that I was her mail carrier. When someone asked her how she changed her hair color like one of the girls in The Craft did, she replied that she started by going to the drug store and buying a box of hair color. One Imbolic morning I knocked on her door because I had been feeling like I had way too much coffee since an early morning ritual. She went through a checklist of the steps of ritual and when she got to grounding and centering at the end, I realized my omission. Once I followed her advice to perform the missing step, I felt myself calm down. One thing she would not do was let me join her in ritual as she said she was strictly a solitary.

Her proudest moment during the time I knew her was the front page story on her in the local newspaper. She had called them about ten days earlier to point out the error in a Halloween article that claimed the Celtic god of the dead was Sam Hain and Samhain was named after him. After she replied yes to a newspaper staffer’s question if she was Pagan, she agreed to an interview at home. The article with a photo of her on her porch swing was published October 23, 1999 in the Port Clinton News Herald. It was spot on both in regards to her personally and our religion. Only one of my coworkers at the Post Office criticized her as eccentric and I defended her even though I was still in the broom closet. In spite of her fears, she did not receive any threatening phone calls or hate mail. I walked into the newspaper office to praise both the article and their willingness to be open minded. Sadly, I found out a few years later from another newspaper staffer, who was Pagan, that they received so many complaints that the editor decided that they would never run another piece on anything Pagan.

A little over two years later, I transferred to Clyde, OH and said goodbye to Soraya thanking her for her help which had meant so much. She encouraged me to keep learning and practicing as well as remaining active at the Tavern. But she soon closed the message board and I heard she moved to North Carolina. I saw her on the membership listing of Witchvox under that state for a while, then she disappeared and repeated web searches have found nothing. If perchance she is reading this, I would like to give her a big thank you for being my mentor and my dream is that someday I could be as helpful to a new Witch somewhere.

Concepts of Deity

As mentioned last month, divinity can often be a touchy subject.  Ask ten different people what their definition of the divine is and you are likely to get ten different answers.  Is there a God?  Is there a Goddess?  If so what are they like?  Every soul will ask these questions in their lifetime and either accept established doctrine or come to their own conclusions.  Spiritual growth is our quest for understanding of that which is greater than ourselves. And while we may arrive at ideas which are universal, the journey is, by necessity, personal.

Wicca is not a religion that promotes dogma or rigid notions on what deity is or is not.  Instead it offers a general framework of thought that most Wiccans share, but which is by no means written in stone.  Like any pagan path, the Craft embraces diversity.  The most fundamental concept is that of immanence.  In contrast to the monotheistic faiths, Wiccans do not consider their gods or goddesses to be “out there” somewhere.  Rather they are here, in the most immediate sense, and in all things including ourselves.  Transcendent deity is the common idea of a powerful figure in the clouds far removed and above humankind.  Immanent deity is also powerful, but it is not separate.  This is difficult to truly grasp because it is beyond the intellect alone.  One analogy is just as all cells of your body are part of you, we are all part of the divine.  Or to state it another way, we each have an inner God, Goddess, or Higher Self within us upon which we can call because we are part of the whole.  Deity is part of nature, or rather is nature, and as natural beings we are constantly in communion with it if we accept that it is so.

The next basic concept of Wiccan deity is that it is dual: there is a God and a Goddess.  There is wide variation and emphasis within the traditions here, but the basic model is that of complementary forces whose combination produces life as we know it.  Remembering that these are immanent forces, the God and Goddess are not a superhuman man and woman.  We may personify them as such in order to relate to them, but when we speak of Wiccan deities they are first and foremost the most primal of forces in nature.  Their interaction is necessary for life, time, and growth.  Without the light of the sun or the rain from the sky (the God) the seeds of the earth (the Goddess) would lie dormant and sterile.  Though we say God and Goddess there is no gender bias between them.  It would be just as accurate to envision deity as twins of the same sex, as many cultures have done, and arrive at the same ideas.  The important point is that they are dual in order to express their interaction.

Beyond the two teachings of immanence and duality there may be little in common for divinities between individuals in the Craft.  Everyone will attune to these greater forces in their own way and this is as it should be.  Many if not most Wiccans find that they connect with the pantheons of a particular culture.  The God and Goddess are seen as universal deities that can be personified and related to more easily as a particular god or goddess from ancient myth.   For instance, groups with a British Traditional focus may invoke the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.  Classical pantheons may choose Diana and Pan, or Demeter and Dionysus.  The list is endless.  It can also vary with the intent of a particular ritual or magical working.  Perhaps I may call on the Goddess as Brigid at the Imbolc sabbat, but as Venus if I am in need of a love spell.  All of these gods and goddesses are faces of the larger deity they personify and none are incorrect.  Meditation upon the greater forces of God and Goddess is the surest way to find your own connection and know what works for you.

Besides calling on specific deities it is also popular in Wicca to represent the deities according to the archetypes of the Horned God and Triple Goddess.  Both of these motifs were common in ancient mythologies as expressions of fertility and immortality, survival and continuation of life being vital preoccupations.  The Horned God rules the wild forests and the animals therein.  He is the king of all noble beasts who is born at midwinter of the Goddess, grows to maturity to become her partner/consort, and gives his life in the autumn so that life may continue.  His cycle follows the solar cycles and the harvest, and he is reborn each year as the child conceived by his union with the Goddess.  The Triple Goddess reflects the threefold face of maiden-mother-crone, also reflected in the lunar cycles/phases.  The Goddess does not die each year as does the God, but instead shows these aspects in turn as part of the yearly cycle.  She is the maiden in spring, the mother after her union with the God going into the summer, and the crone in the waning months of autumn.   As he is reborn she is also renewed and they are young together once again in the new year.  These patterns are mythological expressions of the cycles of nature that we experience, and their popularity in Wicca is understandable given that they aid us in our attunement with them.

Knowledge of the divine is a goal of any religion.  Wicca may acknowledge deity as an immanent duality, but that cannot answer the question of what the experience of divinity is.  If my deity is immanent, is it a force outside of me or just a higher part of me?  Does calling on the divine entail reaching outside to the universe or within myself?  Are their gods/goddesses/angels/fairies/etc in the world or are they my projections?  I make no claim to have any answers to these questions as I am still seeking answers myself.  And I have a feeling that the answers I arrive at can be different from yours, and we can both be right.  To a certain extent it doesn’t really matter.  Whether the forces we work with in Wicca are inside us or out in the world, we have the ability to harness them for ours and other’s betterment.  In that sense the God and Goddess are most definitely “real” because we can see their effects every day.  I like to think of them as forces I may never comprehend, but that I can work with when in need and learn from at all times.  My Goddess is not above me in judgment, but I sit at her feet in deference as a student to a wise teacher who would seek to learn great wisdom.  May she grant me the understanding that I may prove a worthy pupil.

Journal for the Month of April:

I am gearing up for Beltane at the end this month, and the flowers are finally starting to bloom!  This is truly a beautiful time of the year (excepting my allergies), and I am really aiming to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  Even in hard times there is so much beauty in nature that we can enjoy for free.  Sometimes I find it even more important to see these things when things are tough, because it helps me to remember that there is a greater world out there and maybe my problems aren’t as long-lasting as they feel at the moment.

Anyways, I should have more to report next month, I have a vacation coming up in which I plan to cram as much reading and meditation as possible.  I think I’ll throw a little bit of gardening in there too; my herb stocks are quite low!  Here’s wishing a merry Beltane to all!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

*The Hedgewitch lives in the space between the Village and the Forest. Between the mundane and the magical. S/He lives with a foot in both worlds.
This column is dedicated to the Hedgewitches of the planet earth.

Hedge Economics Lesson

We are all, no doubt, aware of the economic situation in the United States, at this time, and keenly feel its impact on our own way of lives.
The media gives us cause for concern each time we switch on the set.
The situation for many is dire.
And while this gives most folks a real reason to be fearful, I suggest, perhaps, we Magical People have an opportunity to enjoy a blessing that only people of Faith can.

We pull together as families and communities and covens to meet the needs of those closest to us. Perhaps this is a time to make extra rice or noodles, and invite neighbors for a nourishing meal and heartfelt conversation.
There is much “belt-tightening”, and we clip coupons, find sales and cut back in order to make our budgets stretch further.

But I suggest there is more we can do. And it just so happens, it is the very thing we are the best at!
After much thought and consideration, I have concluded that we can eliminate the feeling of hoarding and lack through a change in our mindset.
We already believe in some form of the concept “as above, so below”.
We believe that we can visualize and manifest the material using our spiritual energy and personal ritual.
I believe that this is a time for using this belief and ability to its fullest potential.

We all know the physical sensations that accompany a wave of fear. The tightening chest, perhaps a bead of unbidden sweat rolling down your temple, pounding heart, accelerated respiration.
When we begin to allow the fears of the unknown (ie, how we will pay the Past Due electric bill, or manifest enough dinner out of the random and unrelated items in our pantries) we can start to feel the sensations of fear creeping in around the edges.
Once allowed to take root, the fear can grow and multiply, until we cannot sleep, or concentrate or even function, if left unchecked for long enough.
We become accustomed to feeling ‘stressed out’.

When this happens, we are feeding energy to the lack in our lives with every fiber of our being. More powerful than the most effective spell, this resident fear has the ability to manifest additional lack in our lives. The situation gets worse and our lives suffer for it.
This is no more phenomenal than the Law of Attraction at work.
What we perceive and give energy to is what manifests in our physical lives.
When we ponder lack and insufficiency, we manifest lack and spiraling despair.

With this understanding, we can utilize this same principle to manifest abundance and hope.
Being able to recognize the physical symptoms of stress, at their onset is key to the success of retraining the psyche to manifest wealth and abundance.
We can head the fear “off at the pass” and realign ourselves with the Divine.
Using nothing more high tech than the breath, we can stave off disaster in the present, in the form of stress and worry, and in the future, in the form of additional problems.
Spending time truly inside your own body, and knowing what it feels like at rest is crucial. Taking a few moments each day to be fully at rest, and breathing deeply and evenly gives us a window into what our body feels like when it is calm.
Then, when the easily-recognizable symptoms of stress and fear begin to happen, we can use this as a trigger to begin to return ourselves to a state of calm. Breathing deeply and evenly, and focusing on nothing but that.

We can grasp the sense that the Divine wants us to be happy, live in abundance and take care of one another. If we truly trust this process, we can calm our minds with the mantra “What is meant to be makes room for itself”.
When things happen that seem to be terrible, we can realize that this is a necessary situation to bring our lives into closer alignment with the authentic life we are meant to be enjoying.
Beginning and ending the day with a prayer, meditation or mantra of this sort can help to train our minds and spirits to react in a calm and trusting way.
When difficulties arise, we can draw from this pool of trust to ease our spirits back into a state of calm, and reaffirm our commitment to live our authentic life.
Changes must often be made in order to bring us into the place where we are ready to receive the blessings we have been clamoring for.
And while change in itself is stressful, and the unknown is so scary sometimes, we can trust that What is Meant To Be makes Room For Itself.

Further, a visual aid can sometimes help retrain the spirit to attract what we need. My personal favorite device is the 3×5 card. Post it Notes are also excellent, as you can affix them to many different types of surfaces.
Having reminders of our intention can be quite useful when we can consciously forget, and be swept away into fear.

* All my needs are met in abundance
* I have more than enough of everything I need
* My pantry (refrigerator/bank account/wallet/etc) is always full.
* Abundance lives here
* I live in harmony and calm.
* More and more I am changing into the person I want to be.
* My life reflects my desires.

Any affirmation can be used, so take these ideas and create some that really specifically suit your situation. Always use positive words for your affirmations, because what you say is what you get (ie, “My needs are always met“. NOT “I don’t want to be poor”. In the same way that children don’t respond to negative words like “don’t!”, the Universe can work more efficiently when we focus on our desire, not what we wish to avoid).

Placing these reminders in areas we are most likely to need them is essential to our success in overcoming our fear-based habits of worry and negative mindsets.
The car, the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the wall in front of the bed- all excellent locations for an affirmation reminder. The more we see them, and say them, the more likely we are to begin to incorporate them into our mindset and our subconscious well of resources.
Eventually, we begin to remind ourselves without them, in situations which call for it, and our conscious brain will hollar out the affirmations when we need them most.

Once we have retrained our spirit to draw to us what we want, rather than what we wish to avoid, our abundance comes to us easily. As if by magic, in fact. The obstacles to our happiness begin to crumble and our truest desires are made manifest.
This is not a fairy tale. This is a practical application of a Universal principle that benefits every aspect of our lives, both spiritually and materially.
Used with due diligence, it can change our lives.

Now, in the meantime, additional practical steps can be taken to help us live a magical life on the budget we currently have to work with.
The best tips I have to offer are as follows:

Ways to Save :
**When using candles (for non-divinatory purposes) keep wicks trimmed, and flames low. Freeze candles for 2 hours prior to burning to prolong their burn time.
Use tea lights for short rituals. They often come in multi-packs, burn for a couple to several hours (depending on type and quality), and are much less expensive for regular use.

**Buy teas in bulk. Almost all magical people drink and use teas. Buying loose teas allows us to buy what we need, without the added expense of having them pre-bagged. A strainer or cloth tea bags are re-usable, and this also allows us to be more ecologically friendly as there is nearly no packaging involved with bulk teas. Store your teas in glass (or plastic) jars with tight fitting lids, in a cool dark location for longest shelf life. Only buy what you think you will use in a month or 2 at the most.

**Form a Magical Co-Op. Many of us need the exact same items, and when we buy in bulk, and divide the product, we can save literally hundreds of dollars a year. For example. An ounce of bulk, dried lavender flowers runs, roughly, $1.75 an ounce, or around $20 a lb. If you can find 4 people to go in on a pound with, the cost is $5 each, and everyone gets 4 oz. each. Each of you have saved $2 on buying it by the ounce, and have 4 oz. to enjoy. Always try to buy in a large quantity, as this is where the discount is.

**Use items gifted by nature in your practice. There are a million and one things we can buy to use in our practices, but the items which are found, and are literally falling off trees, can be our most powerful magical tools. Take walks and begin to notice the amazing number of things which are just lying there, waiting for you. Leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, feathers, soils all manner of magical items are available to us in abundance, we just have to look for them.

**I know this is going to sound oversimplified, but remember the library. Books are an expense that many of us are not able to afford right now. The library, our old trusted friend from the pre-internet age, is still awaiting our arrival, with many wonderful secrets, stories and diversions to share. All for free! Also, in many libraries, there is free internet access, for those who don’t have their own internet service.

**Make your own! This goes for lotions, potions and foods. The library and internet are jammed with recipes for the most glorious and decadent bath products imaginable, many of which can be made from everyday kitchen items. The product is gorgeous and the benefit of having crafted it with your own hands, and your own specific intentions and empowerment is amazing. Returning to the kitchen to prepare nutritious meals not only saves money, and is better for us, but also gives us another opportunity to bless the utensils, food items and space for abundance to come and thrive.

**In that same vein, we can make our own convenience foods easily and with no more effort than microwaving a single plate. Prepare a large meal one day a week. Then place individual servings of it into microwavable storage containers and freeze them. When you come home late from witching, you are only 3 minutes away from a hot, healthy, home-cooked meal. The containers can be reused, and the process can continue. If you cook more than once a week, always make extra and save it away for another time. The frozen servings are also easy as pie to transport to work, remain mostly frozen until lunch time and save a fortune on take-away food. To say nothing of the health benefits. The same can be done with bagged snacks. We can buy the more economical large bag of chips, crackers or trail mix, and then simply place a serving into a seal-tight sandwich bag and pop it into purse or briefcase for a snack during the day without a trip to the vending machine.

**Clean out the closets and cupboards and make room for new blessings. ‘Tis the season for spring cleaning to begin to creep into our thoughts. Why not start a give-away bag? As you clean, begin to deposit items into the bag for donation. Each item that goes in represents a space you have created in your life for a blessing. There are lots of people who would love to have your gently loved items, and you now have room for something new and fantastic to come into your life.

**If you decide not to donate your items, have a garage sale and sell them. You make a little cash, and someone gets a lovely item they may not have been able to afford new. Make cake, brownies, cookies and/or punch and sell slices or cups at your garage sale, and make a few more bucks. If you have a craft or special talent for making an item, have some available for sale. There are a million tiny ways to generate income, and at this point, every little bit helps.

In a time where many are running around, filled to the brim with uncertainty, this is our time to shine. Be proactive about your situation. Remain hopeful, and cultivate hope in others. Make more than enough dinner and sit down and share it with someone who might not.
Be regularly mindful of what you do have, and shut out thoughts of lack. A little gratitude goes a long way.
I’m sorry for being so long-winded this month, but in these times, I felt compelled to share.
I pray abundance and prosperity comes to live in each one of your homes and lives.
Blessings of Optimism and Renewal

What is a Kitchen Witch?

A Kitchen Witch is a woman who has placed magick in every aspect of her home, her hearth. She  ensures it is safe, cleaned of negative energies and it is nurtured on all levels.  The kitchen is, after all, the heart and hearth of many households.

A Kitchen Witch acknowledges the magickal energies in her home.  She puts direct magickal focus into whatever meals she makes and the way she cleans house.

A Kitchen Witch attunes with the energies of Nature and incorporates as much of Nature’s energy as possible into and around her home.

When you take the time to put meals together from the basic ingredients, you have a magical opportunity at hand. You can add intent and will to every dish. Making a meal can be a ritual in itself. When you take time to prepare something with your own hands, you lend your own magick to it.

I make all my lotions and potions in my kitchen too, all my herbs for candle magick spells and charms start life in my kitchen.

To me, my kitchen is a magical place, and there are a number of things you can do to enhance the magical atmosphere in your kitchen.

Have a kitchen altar. The cooker is equivalent to the hearth, and it’s where most food preparation is done. Create a small altar, add a statue of a home or hearth goddess, a cauldron, or a candle.

I have a small green man shelf in my kitchen. On it I have a feather for air, a goldstone for fire, a shell for water and a pebble for earth.  In the centre I have a tiny glass vase that I put fresh flowers in, it’s very small, only big enough for one or two buds.

Have your herbs readily accessible.  I have mine on several shelves, try to keep them out of direct sunlight as they will lose their potency and flavour.  I also try and have a pot or two of fresh herbs on the window sill.  I only have a small garden but I have as many pots of herbs outside as I can, as well.

Keep the kitchen space clean and tidy.  Like all sacred space it should be clutter free, keeping your physical space clean means your spiritual space will be too.

If possible and budget allows, paint your kitchen with happy and bright colours.

Cookbooks and recipes should be as organised as possible, maybe even have a folder or file with magickal recipes in too.

Rituals and charms can also be used in and around the home when doing your daily chores and housework as well.

Try and buy or make ecologically friendly cleaning products, not only are they better for you and the planet, they are more cost effective and can have magickal properties and intent.

You can also incorporate magical practices into your cooking. When you are stirring a pot, stir in a deosil or widdershins direction, depending on the goal you wish to achieve.  To banish or expel something stir widdershins, to bring something to you stir deosil. If you are spreading something try spreading a sigil for your intent using the knife your are spreading with. Whatever you are making try add herbs or spices that correspond to your magical intent.

Grab your besom and sweep away dust, dirt and negative energies!

Take your wooden spoon and stir up a magickal dish!

Whip up some herbal lotions and potions!

Join me on a Kitchen Witch journey…

Tansy

x

No one person can teach all of the Craft.  No one person can learn all of the Craft.  The Craft is too big.  Every witch specializes in something, and acquires proficiency with three or four other things.  This is why the saying declares “You cannot be a witch alone.”  It is best to be in a coven, from six to twelve persons plus the high priestess.  But people move around the world and it is not always possible for covens to keep together.  The next best thing is to associate with one or two witches and keep in touch with others over the internet.  Witchcraft and Neopaganism could not survive in the world today without the internet.

No one can compile an exhaustive list of topics covered by the Craft, and everyone’s personal list will be prioritized differently, according to that witch’s practice.  For me the Craft includes herblore, traditional handicrafts, farming and hunting lore, divination, dreamwork, trancework, meditation, spellwork, study of ancient religions, study of indigenous religions, local study of nature, ritualwork, and covencraft, but I am proficient in only a few of these areas.  I am not proficient in herblore, and moreover I currently live in a country, Norway, where people do not enjoy herbal freedom.  It is very difficult to obtain certain herbs here, and people are not supposed to import them.  For my herbal knowledge I must rely on friends who live elsewhere in the world and who can advise me over the internet or by telephone or letter.  Sometimes these can be obtained in the woods.  Except in the cities, there are small stretches of forest throughout the lowlands.

Local study of nature can only be carried out locally.  If you have one or more partners in the Craft, you should acquire some guidebooks to local flora and fauna, geology and topography, and go out together in different seasons of the year for camping trips and hikes, to study the locale and familiarize yourself with the animals, plants and minerals of the area.  For this topic one must combine book-learning with personal familiarity.  I am aware of the animals and plants in my neighborhood, though I am not given to long hikes or to camping anymore.

Every witch will practice some physical discipline and engage in some form of work developing manual skill, in addition to more mental pursuits.  Every witch seeks balance, both within and with the environment, including inner and outer spirits.  Witches seek freedom in all its forms, and for this reason will not use addictive substances, and will either abstain from habit-forming substances altogether, or at most will use them rarely.

Witches follow the Sun-wheel in all their practices, seeking balance in their use of the powers of elemental Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  They align these practices with the directions of East, South, West and North, respectively.

Air contains the power to know.  Thought is breath.  Every process is begun by increasing knowledge.  Witches always seek to know rather than hide from knowledge.  A witch is nothing if not practical, and will always seek to make use  of knowledge in some way.  Knowledge that is purely negative will be buried by a witch, who can draw on its power without letting its negativity emerge.

Fire contains the power to will.  Will is inseparable from action.  Witches cultivate strings of actions which require regular effort.  They take oaths before the gods to fulfill these strings.  Some strings, such as learning a language, are ongoing and have no foreseeable end.  Strings are cultivated through two forms of action, practice and praxis.  A practice is engaged in at particular times and for particular intervals of time.  A praxis is engaged in at random moments, whenever one thinks of it.  Practice and praxis support each other, and every string involves both forms of action.  To establish a string requires some form of sacrifice, for space must be found in one’s life for the new activity.  The sacrificial fire was always built traditionally in the south, and it is the means of communication with gods, demigods and ancestors.  Witches begin by sacrificing very small things, such as minor habits, which generally tie up large amounts of energy.  The ancestors approve of such sacrifices and will send the witch a special form of vigor as a sign of their approval.

Water contains the power to dare.  Witches dare to go beyond their current limitations.  They examine their assumptions and question them, seeking to think outside the box, as the saying goes.  They explore other possibilities, of awareness, of living.  They change habits to experience living in other ways.  This can also take small forms, such as taking a different route to work on occasion.  But they also seek initiation, psychic death and rebirth, and, when it is the wise choice, they will follow their passions.

Earth contains the power to keep silence.  Silence is inner as well as outer, and involves physical stillness as well as control of speech and thought.  In order to be physically still one must exercise regularly and stay in shape.  A witch will practice some form of meditation in order to be inwardly still. Avoiding unnecessary talk is important not just to preserve discretion (very important during the Burning Times and still important today), but as a way of conserving energy.  A witch conserves energy and only uses it to accomplish a worthwhile purpose.  For this reason, witches are enjoined to overcome and suppress nervous habits.  Unnecessary talking, especially expressing negative emotions, qualifies as a nervous habit.

A witch has several names.  His or her innermost name is known only to the gods, and the witch uses it in silent prayer or when praying and offering to the gods alone.  If a witch is in a coven with a tier of initiations, he or she will have an inner court name, used only among fellow initiates.  Among non-initiates or non-coven fellow witches or pagans, he or she can use an outer court name.  My outer court name, which can be read above in the byline to this paper, is Quicksilver.  This means that one of my gods is Hermes or Mercury; it also means that I tend to spread myself thin in my interests and jump around a lot from one thing to another.  I celebrate this weakness light-heartedly and by naming it I keep it within bounds, thus converting it into a strength, or at least into an element of personal style in my practice of the Craft.  The inner court name, if one has one, and the innermost name should likewise be meaningful, with the innermost name in some way expressing where one is at in one’s current incarnation, and where one is going.  An innermost name can often be the name of an animal or bird.

Witchcraft is both serious and joyful, in this way resembling the play of children.  We witches believe in reincarnation, and also periods of rest and recuperation in the Summerland  (a pleasant place in the Underworld) between lives.  Thus, we are not in a hurry and can afford to enjoy ourselves.  At the same time, our play and restful recreations generally involve some form of learning or practice.  We are children of the gods practicing being grown up, with a view to eventually engaging in some form of work helpful to the demigods (daimones) and elementals, and through them to the greater gods and goddesses.  Laughter and light-hearted glee or zest is an important part of play.  Witches come together at Esbats (generally held at the full Moon) and Sabbats (eight per year).  ‘Esbat’ is from a Middle French word, esbattier, meaning to frolic.  ‘Sabbat’ means a rest.  This implies that the real work of the Craft is done between these occasions.

Witches regard all forms of life as equal and worthy of equal respect.  Humans are not regarded as higher than animals, and even stones are thought to be conscious in some way.  Personal evolution involves harmony within and without, and faculties shared with animals and other forms of life are considered just as important to cultivate as those that seem unique to human beings.

Progress in the Craft is not uniform in pace; it slows down and speeds up at intervals.  As with mountain-climbing or attending a university, there are certain levels to be attained, and reaching them requires a period of intensive preparation when one is getting close.  In the Craft there are three levels or degrees of initiation.  Upon attaining to a new level, the nature of learning in the Craft changes its form.  One emerges victorious with respect to old struggles but must now assume more mature responsibilities; this is described in the witch saying “First the victory, then the battle.”  Initiations are like promotions in school.  Eventually one graduates, and this graduation, lifetimes ahead, is sometimes referred to as the transmutation or transformation.  Thereafter, a witch need not incarnate but can stay on the Other Side, performing work useful to the daimones.  He or she acquires the ability to visit this surface Earth, at first as a sort of light; later on a material body can be projected temporarily for a particular purpose.  This is what the ka was believed able to do in ancient Egypt.  Transmutation generally takes place on the Other Side, though accounts from stregheria (Italian witchcraft) suggest that it can occur while in a material body on this side, in which case the experience is said to be excruciating.

Witches are not much concerned with transmutation.  It lies far ahead.  One goes to the Sun and receives a body of light.  If you’re interested you can read about it in the Prasna Upanishad.

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