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The Bad Witch’s Guide

November, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Shadow Work

 

(Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash)

 

For about the last two months I have spent a lot of time going within and working on my spirit. Some of it has been a choice, some has been circumstances. My health (physically) has been very poor since about July and while I am no longer bleeding nearly to death regularly I felt I needed to find my strength in body and spirit.

I have done a lot of yoga. A lot of meditation, usually every day, sometimes twice a day, and while drawing in the light around me my shadow would not be still. Darkness has a bad rap. It is often mistaken as evil. Rejected and defiled. Repressed and denied, this is the animal within. Animals are not generally evil. Neither is the shadow.

When I started looking at this place, the in-conscious (unconscious doesn’t give it enough credit), in my early 20’s I found it as the wolf. The singer of bones. The true wild. It is that gut animal instinct and for most of us it dwells within our shadow. If I gave it space and respect it spoke to me. It was wise and knowing with strong instincts that are annoying never wrong no matter how much I try and think around them! It kept me alive. Yet this was not some soft puppy. It was the desire to bite which hurt me. Run from the unknown and dig into things I didn’t want to know.

It was never about trying to control the wolf. The wolf is wild and that is how it should be. It was about listening to it, bringing it forward in my mind and analysing why I was feeling this way. The wolf brought me gifts I didn’t understand. Usually dead things from my past. A memory, good or bad. A feeling, usually something sad because I bury the shit out of those!

In slowly accepting my wild-self, that part of the shadow self, I began to go deeper still. Yet I was afraid. I was right to be. For deep in my darkness was a dragon. A dragon made of fire and destruction. A dragon that I could really feel writhe within my gut when riled. This is not a metaphor when that part of me was “woken” my guts would squirm as though something wriggling around in there. A dragon that terrified me. It was scary this beast ripping out of my being and me losing control. Uncontrolled violence and wrath. I locked it down, I repressed it hard. I refused to listen, I even hated it.

It took years of journey work. Years of looking trying to understand. I remember exactly when I met the dragon. I only went to a Dark Moon circle once and as I journeyed I joined a group of female dancers dressed all in red, whom danced covered in sharp blades and barbs. I joined the dance with them and I was cut a few times, we all were. Afterwards in a tent of red drape we compared scars as dancers do, laughing and smiling. Still I was to go deeper. Down, down. Deeper into the caves. At first the caves were cold and water dripped everywhere. Then they became warmer and dryer. There was no light. None at all. Yet I knew the way and there in the dark was a huge faintly glowing red dragon. It was asleep coiled up. Just breathing. It was beautiful. Like copper. I reached out my hand and it was warm and smooth. An eye fluttered open. The voice was like thunder, the deepest sound but gentle. This was new to me.

I asked “what are you?”

I am your pain.”

I began to weep. My fear melted and I realised this beast, this part of myself, had been consuming my pain all my life. That there had been so much especially as a child I didn’t understand I had created this to deal with all the things I was unequipped to understand. Now I understood. That the dragon was like my wolf. A teacher if I listen. A friend if I needed it.

Working in your shadow is a place within The Dreaming. It is both real and metaphor. You might not have wolves or dragons. You might have lions or “demons”. Yet the demons we make are no less real for us making them. They are often woven from our instincts, good and bad and our worst parts. The parts we reject from our Light.

They are our addictions, our vices. Our rages and pain. Our deep grief and sorrow. Yet if we come to them gently and listen they can bring such healing. That is not to say you allow them to indulge. You listen to when, to why, to the triggers. You understand, maybe even speak about it and let the urge go.

When both my parents died within six months of each other and I was cut out of the family by my sister I was devastated in a way I couldn’t comprehend. Being a witch and bi-sexual is just not okay with her. I remember sitting at the dinner table with the real and distinct urge to burn a path of destruction between myself and my sister. Not a metaphorical one. I mean kill and burn everything and everyone I met until I reached her and let fire take her too. It was odd and specific and I simply spoke about it and ate my dinner. A few month later I discovered it was a common tactic by a long dead ancestor (Grace O’Malley) to destroy traitors that way. I gave voice to my shadow, my pain but I did not give into it.

As Samhain comes and then the deeper dark of the year it is an excellent time to look within at the things moving around in our shadows. It is a daunting task, and one often sorely neglected by many magickal practitioners.

 

Simple Shadow Ritual

You will need:

A mirror

Patchouli oil

Candles/soft lighting

Bay laurel leaves

Yarrow (dried)

Frankincense resin

Heat proof container and charcoal to safely burn your herbs.

Notebook or journal.

Soft blankets (get comfy this might take a while).

 

Prepare your space as you would usually. Anoint your forehead and heart with the patchouli oil.

I humbly come to my Shadow’s Gate.

I come to learn not to hate.

I come to see, I come to hear.

Open the Gate as I draw near.

Touch the edge of the mirror with your dominant finger used to anoint yourself in a deosil direction. Keep the light to a minimum but use enough to be safe. Light your charcoal in your cauldron or censor. First adding the yarrow, then the bay, then the frankincense.

Cleanse your body in the smoke and prepare yourself to sit and stare with the mirror. Visualise your “gate” and begin to unlock it. This might take some time. There may be stairs or even just darkness. You may have to “jump”. Your darkness will not be the same as anyone else’s. When you are ready focus on your own face in the mirror. Say:

I see you. I am listening.

You may or may not “see” anything. You might. We spend a lot of time locking this energy away, it may take a long time to open it again. Write what you see in you notebook.

Re-anointing the mirror in a widdershins direction and drawing a banishing pentagram on the glass should you feel the need.

Humbly I came to my Shadow’s Gate.

I came to learn not to hate.

I came to see, I came to hear.

The Gate is Closed I leave you here.

Dissolve your sacred space as you would usually. If you wanted to evoke particular Deities during your opening rites please make sure to thank them appropriately afterwards.

Retha’s Crystal Reflections

June, 2018

A Beginners Guide to Choosing & Working with Crystal Shapes & Types

 

Crystals & stones come in so many varieties it can be quite overwhelming at first, this is an overview of how to choose the appropriate type for what you want to use your crystal for. Of course you can get creative and improvise, this is meant to help show you some of the options there are and what it all means. Most important when choosing a crystal to work with is how it makes you feel, touch it and get acquainted if you can. If buying online from a picture, spend a minute looking at the photo and observe how it makes you feel when tuning into it. Intuition can really help guide you to the perfect crystal tool for you. And experiment! That’s the fun of crystals! Your experience will be unique to you…there are no wrong choices. 

 

Spheres:

A sphere is a crystal or stone polished and carved into a sphere shape. They come in endless varieties & sizes. The main reason one would choose a sphere shape in particular, is because spheres radiate energy from all sides and in all directions. They are great for the home or on an altar to raise the energy of your space. If you wanted to bring love into your space, you would want a rose quartz or Rhodochrosite sphere for example. Spheres are also great to hold in your hands during meditation. 

 

Generators:

Generators are flat on the bottom and generally have six polished sides. They come to a point mostly but can have a  flat ridge on top too. They have many uses but my favorite use is in crystal gridding. They are perfect as the center point of the grid. You can use generators to direct energy in a certain direction as well, in the same way you would use a wand, as a generator is basically a wand with a flat bottom that can stand upright. Some like to collect generators and make a generator garden, which is simply a grouping of them. I personally have a big generator garden and I love it. Quartz generators in particular are ideal for use in gridding as quartz is the highest vibration crystal there is. 

 

Obelisks:

Obelisks are very similar to generators but instead of having six polished sides, they have four uniform sides. They resemble a tall pyramid. It has a flat square bottom. These are used for display, or used the same way as generators. 

 

Pyramids:

Exactly as it sounds, its a stone carved & polished into the shape of a pyramid and can be a four sided or three sided pyramid. They could be used in the center of a grid, used on an altar or in a space to bring in Egyptian energy, or simply enjoyed for their beauty. Pyramids are a sacred shape.

 

Tumbles:

A rock or crystal that’s been polished into a small to medium size, perfect for so many purposes. I like to carry tumbles in a medicine bag or pouch when I leave my house. Much less hard on the shoulders than traveling with palmstones or specimens! (Take my word on that lol)! Tumbles are also great for using in grids, wearing in your bra. They can be placed in bowls in your home, or can be placed in plants, or in a bag in your car, the sky’s the limit! I like to pick out a few tumbles each morning to travel with me throughout my day. I will hold them in my hand as needed. Its a great way to learn a stone a day if you’re new to crystals.

 

Palmstones/Pillows:

Palmstones are polished stones that are medium to large size that are made to fit into the palm of your hand and are usually an oblong shape. Many prefer to work with them in pairs, holding one in each hand during meditation or crystal healing sessions. Pillows are used the same as palmstones but are round shaped.

 

Worry stones/Thumb stones:

These are smaller polished stones that have a little thumb imprint or indentation in the middle, perfect for rubbing with your thumb when you are anxious or worried. These are excellent for children or people with anxiety. 

 

Hearts:

Stones carved into a heart shape, perfect for raising love vibrations. Many collect these, including myself.

 

Eggs:

Stones carved into egg shape. They are appropriate for representing new beginnings, fertility, the cycle of life, and are often seen at Imbolc on altars.

 

Faceted Meditation Stones:

These are carved and polished crystals with a flat bottom that are perfect for use in Crystal healing and meditations, placing it on the forehead or on chakra points along the body. Also rad for opening yourself up prior to readings or astral travel. 

 

Platonic Solids:

These six shapes are geometric symbols that are visual instruments that can bring our vibrations into harmony with the rhythms of nature. Working with crystals carved into these magical shapes are very powerful, especially when working with them all together. They sell sets of all the platonic solids that come in nice boxes. The platonic solids shapes include: tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, icosohedron,  and dodecahedron. 

 

Points:

Points are the natural, not polished pieces of quartz or other minerals that grow in terminations. They are broken off of clusters or a matrix. Some points have multiple points or terminations. If a point has two points its called a twin, three points a triplet. Points are perfect for gridding and its good to use one for each cardinal direction. Points function as mini wands. 

 

Clusters:

These are a bunch or group of points or terminations on a matrix. Clusters come in all different sizes and shapes. They are stunning display pieces. I like to use clusters for charging jewelry overnight or when I’m not wearing it. Just drape your jewelry on top. You can charge your jewelry with the properties of the cluster its placed on!

 

Pendulums:

Pendulums are used for divination. Some also wear their Pendulums as necklaces. Pendulums are a crystal that is carved with a downward pointing tip that is suspended from a chain. They come in never ending variations and are quite beautiful. Some collect Pendulums. You can use them to get answers to questions with the use of a pendulum mat or board or by learning how it communicates. They will go left to right, up and down or in a circular clockwise or counterclockwise motion. 

 

Carvings:

Crystals or stones can be carved into almost anything. Some common carvings include animals, deities, skulls, angels, chalices, offering bowls, mortar and pestles, boxes, etc. They are fun to collect. 

 

Polished Massage Wands:

These are stones or crystals that are polished into the shape of a wand to be used for either massage, in meditation or in crystal healing or energy work.

 

Single-Terminated Wands:

These are natural or cut and polished points/wands that are used in directing energy, in ritual or in crystal healing. They are often used to make homemade wands and glued to the tips of wood or clay wands for use as a ceremonial wand. 

 

Double-Terminated Wands:

These have a point or termination on both ends, and can be natural or cut and polished into this formation. These are required for use in activation of crystal grids. Also the ideal tool for opening ritual circle or a protective circle or bubbling around yourself or a space. 

 

Crystal Jewelry:

One of my favorite ways to work with the properties of crystals is by wearing them! When looking for crystal jewelry, I recommend getting settings that are open in the back, that allow the crystal to have contact with your skin at all times. This will maximize their effect. They also make little metal cage pendants that allow you to put small crystals or tumbles into it and you can change out the stone as often as you like. If on a budget you can try your hand at wire-wrapping your crystals as well. These can be very simple or quite elaborate depending on your personal preference. 

If you are wanting to bring in prosperity and abundance for example, you would look for jewelry in citrine, pyrite or jade. And I recommend wearing quartz every day, as it will both keep your personal vibration high and amplify the properties of any other crystals you are wearing or working with. You can also program clear quartz to act “as if” it was any other crystal. This is unique to clear quartz. Just remember to unprogram it when you are finished working with it. I wear clear quartz always and it’s my can’t live without crystal for sure. Its a great place to start if you are new to crystals and its very common, readily available and inexpensive. 

I hope this brief overview has helped you to understand the many many different ways you can work with crystals, and how consciously choosing which type or shape of crystal you work with can help to amplify your intentions. Not to mention all the shapes and varieties are beautiful and stunning in a collection or on display!  Have fun and give one of these a try! Follow your intuition and your heart and it will lead you where you are meant to go.

 

Crystal of the Month

Yellow Apatite – THE Manifestation Crystal!

 

When I am doing ANY type of manifestation work or my new moon intentions, I ALWAYS work with yellow or golden apatite. I will pair it with another crystal that is appropriate for the work I’m trying to do. If I’m working on alignment for example, I would pair yellow apatite with blue Kyanite!

Yellow apatite has a hardness of 5 on the MOHS hardness scale and is a calcium phosphate mineral. It’s nae is derived from “to deceive” in Greek, because of it’s ability to look like many other crystals, as it can be blue, green, yellow/gold, brown, or colorless. It comes from Brazil, Burma, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Greenland, Canada, and the USA, but the largest known deposit is in Kirovsk, Russia.

Yellow Apatite is a solar plexus chakra stone and is one of the purest crystals of the yellow ray. A stone of strength, mental clarity, and of learning, it enhances confidence and charisma, prosperity and manifestation, of course. It carries the energy of the fire element and is an action stone. Use this when you want to birth a new business venture or creative project.

Create, Manifest and Go Get It!!! This is a vital crystal in everyone’s Crystal Toolbox!

 

I’m so glad you stopped in to read my column and hope you’ll come back next month. Happy Crystal Hunting!

Crystal Blessings! XOXO Retha

 

Resources:

The Crystal Bible– A Definitive Guide to Crystals – by Judy Hall – 2003

The Book of Stones, Revised Edition: Who They Are and What They Teach – by Robert Simmons – 2007

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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 ofRetha’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