Tag Archives: Witchcraft

An Adult’s Guide to Social Skills, for Those Who Were Never Taught

This is the most important thing a person an learn in their lifetime, and if you were never taught, you can learn it. Mastering this will make your life much better – in every possible way. If you struggle financially, or with loneliness, this could be part of it.

“It’s a shame so few of us are taught the basics of how to interact constructively with each other. If you never were, we’re here to help.

Learning social skills can be difficult if you weren’t exposed to traditional group dynamics as a child, if you struggle with a mental illness like anxiety or depression, or even if you just didn’t have a lot of positive role models when you were growing up. Young people tend to learn how to manage their own emotions, recognize those of other people and manage them both effectively by socializing. If these weren’t skills you developed growing up, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Before we get to specific social situations, we should discuss the concept of emotional intelligence (or E.I.). Put very simply, E.I. is your ability to acknowledge your own emotions, recognize emotions in others and use that information to guide your behavior. This is a relatively new area of study in the field of psychology, and developing your own E.I. can help you understand and improve your social interactions.

There are several models of emotional intelligence, but for our purposes, we’ll look at the author Daniel Goleman. He outlines five general categories of E.I. that complement and support one another.

  • Self-awareness: This simply means being able to identify your own emotions and how they work. Are you anxious in loud environments? Do you get angry when people talk over you? If you know these things about yourself, then you’re practicing self-awareness. This can be more difficult than it sounds, but simply being aware of yourself is all it takes for this step.
  • Self-regulation: Taking it a step further, self-regulation deals with your ability not just to know your emotions, but manage them. Sometimes that might mean handling them as they come up. If you get angry, knowing how to calm yourself down is important. However, it can also deal with managing the emotions you will face. If you know that stalking your ex’s Facebook is just going to make you feel bad, self-regulation would help you go do something to better your own life instead.
  • Motivation: External factors like money, status, or pain are powerful motivators. But in Goleman’s model, internal motivation is a key component. This means that you know how to manage your own motivation and create or continue projects because you choose to, not because something outside yourself demands it.
  • Empathy: It’s just as important to be aware of the emotions of others. This might mean developing the skills to recognize how people are expressing themselves — can you tell the difference between someone who’s comfortable versus someone who’s anxious? — but it also means understanding how other people may respond to the circumstances they’re in.
  • Socialization: This area deals with your ability to steer your relationships and navigate social situations. It doesn’t mean controlling others, but understanding how to get where you want to be with other people. That might mean conveying your ideas to co-workers, managing a team, or dealing with a conflict in a relationship.

Every social situation is different and there isn’t always a “correct” way to handle any of them. However, when viewed through the lens of these core competencies, most social situations become a lot more manageable. We’ll go over some common scenarios even adults might struggle with, but keep in mind how these principles can apply in all situations.

Confronting someone when you have a problem with that person can be scary. If you’re the type to avoid conflict, you might rationalize it away by saying you want to keep the peace, or you don’t want to upset anyone. However, this can be a way of avoiding your own feelings. If there wasn’t something bothering you, there would be nothing to confront anyone about.

Dr. Ryan Howes, a clinical psychologist, explained to Psychology Today that it’s our own fears that keep us from confronting others. Our fear that we’ll lose something we have, that we’ll hurt someone we care about, or that it will hurt but accomplish nothing. One of the first steps to constructively confronting someone is to recognize that fear in yourself and identify the real issues that led to the conflict in the first place. If you’re annoyed that your partner forgot your birthday, for example, ignoring how you feel about it won’t resolve the conflict.

Once you’re ready, Gregg Walker, a professor at Oregon State University, recommends having the conversation when there’s time to discuss the issue, focusing on “I” statements like “I feel hurt that we didn’t do anything for my birthday,” and describing behavior and your reaction to it, rather than hurling accusations. Healthy confrontations require a fair amount of awareness of your own emotions, so this is a good time to practice that skill.

Whether it’s a meeting or a party, any time you get more than a couple of people together in a group, it can become difficult (if not impossible) to get a word in edgewise. While most tricks on how to combat this involve managing how you talk — pausing in the middle of a sentence rather than the end, or finishing your sentence even if someone tries to interrupt — an often overlooked issue is managing how you react to being talked over.

It would be great if everyone was polite and let you finish or paused to ask what you’re thinking. This doesn’t always happen. If someone interrupts you and you become annoyed, that can kill your motivation to speak up again. Or you might become visibly agitated and demand to be heard, which can be off putting and make people less likely to want to listen to what you have to say.

Instead, Chris Macleod, counselor and author of “The Social Skills Guidebook,” suggests accepting that group conversations are a “vortex of noise and chaos” and going with the flow. Don’t spend all your time trying to fit in that one thing you badly wanted to say. Instead, go with the flow of the conversation and look for new opportunities to jump in. When you do, speak loudly and with confidence. More practical tricks like keeping your stories short or framing a complaint as a story can smooth over the experience, but regulating your own frustration and annoyance is the foundation these tricks build on.

When you’re young, making friends can be relatively easy. School often means that there’s a group of people you’re required to hang out with who are your age. You may share some interests, and you’ll see one another almost every day. As an adult, it can be harder. Everyone’s busy, everyone’s tired, and time feels in short supply. Or so it seems. What really may be lacking is motivation.

As Vox explains, one of the most important keys to developing a new friendship is, well, showing up. You both say, “We should hang out sometime!” but for some reason you never do. Why? Sure, you have things going on, but you still managed to binge watch the latest “Stranger Things.” There’s nothing wrong with a little “me” time, but it’s also O.K. to spend some of it reaching out to someone new.

When making new friends, you have to start with some internal motivation. Decide for yourself that you’re going to make friends and then put yourself in situations where that can happen. Take a class, join a club, or just talk to people you know but aren’t friends with yet. More important, follow up. If you find someone you want to be friends with — and especially if there are indications that person wants to be friends with you, too — put it on the very top of your to-do list to follow up. You’ll be surprised how easy it is when you do it on purpose.

Talking to a stranger for the first time — whether it’s at a party, a work event, or just on the street — can be complicated. You never know less about someone than when you first meet them. That’s also something you can use to your advantage. People like to talk about themselves. So much so that, according to research from Harvard University, people will sometimes even give up money to be able to talk about themselves.

You might feel awkward or uncomfortable when you’re out on your own, but practicing a little empathy can reveal a powerful truth: So does everyone else. Research from the University of Chicago found that less than 47 percent of its participants believed a stranger would be willing to talk with them. In reality, every attempt was successful. Most of us are willing to have a conversation, we just don’t always want to be the one to make the first move.

However, not everyone is open to a conversation with strangers all the time. An easy way to check is to pay attention to what they’re doing at the time. Are they wearing headphones? Do they seem in a hurry? Are they at their job and only making conversation as part of their duties? If so, you might try again later (or with someone else). If they’re not busy, start by saying hello or opening with a compliment. From there you can keep the conversation going with the “insight and question” method. Simply offer an observation or insight, follow it up with a question, and let the conversation flow naturally.

These are far from the only social situations you might find yourself struggling with, but the principles that can be applied are nearly universal. Acknowledge your own emotional state and manage your needs and feelings in a constructive way. Take the initiative to pursue the social outcomes you want, and empathize with others who are dealing with the same struggles you are. With practice, the rest of the complex nuances of social interaction will flow a lot more naturally.

Picatrix

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 11.27.17 AM

Picatrix is the name used today, for a 400-page book of magic and astrology originally written in Arabic under the title غاية الحكيم Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, which most scholars assume was originally written in the middle of the 11th century,

Picatrix: an ancient manuscript that teaches how to obtain energy from the cosmos”

“Through this ancient manuscript…the reader could attract and channel the energy of the cosmos so that a certain event develops according to the will of the practitioner, zodiacal magic; which is said to help master and dominate with accuracy—through the force of the universe—nature and its surroundings.

The Picatrix is an ancient Arabian book of astrology and occult magic dating back to the 10th or 11th century, which has gained notoriety for the obscene natural of its magical recipes. The Picatrix, with its cryptic astrological descriptions and spells covering almost every conceivable wish or desire, has been translated and used by many cultures over the centuries, and continues to fascinate occult followers from around the world.

The Picatrix was originally written in Arabic, titled Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, which translates to “The Aim of the Sage” or “The Goal of the Wise.” Eventually, the Arabic writings were translated into Spanish, and eventually into Latin in 1256 for the Castilian king Alfonso the Wise. At this time it took on the Latin title Picatrix.

The Picatrix is divided into four books:

Book I – “Of the heavens and the effects they cause through images made under them”

Book II – “Of the figures of the heavens in general, and of the general motion of the sphere, and of their effects in this world”

Book III – “Of the properties of the planets and signs, and of their figures and forms made in their colors, and how one may speak with the spirits of the planets, and of many other magical workings”

Book IV – “Of the properties of spirits, and of those things that are necessary to observe in this most excellent art, and how they may be summoned with images, suffumigations and other things”

Here’s the full article

Lodge 49’s Vision of the Magical Life

RipleyScroll

A section from the English illustration known as the Ripley Scroll, based on a15th century original.

I just finished watching Season 2 of “Lodge 49” on AMC, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in bettering yourself or walking a spiritual path. It’s a great reflection on what a spiritual community or occult lodge can do for people. I am currently involved with two lodges, and I found this show to be a great representation of my experiences there!

Check out his article by Amy Hale and watch the series! It’s really great.

“Lodge 49 wins acclaim for its dreamily languid and unfolding plot and compelling characters, yet we never hear of it described as an occult themed show, which it most definitely is. This is most likely because of the emphasis of the weird over that of the showy and supernatural, but make no mistake, Lodge 49 captures the magical life beautifully. This is not the occult as wished for, this is the occult as it really is. In fact, I believe it is the most accurate occult show on television. This show is about people and relationships and finding the wonder that lies just beyond.

For several years now, we have been hearing about the meteoric rise of interest in the occult and witchcraft as people grasp to re-enchant a dark world. The rise in supernaturally themed media such as Strange Angel, Good Omens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch or American Gods both mirrors and supports this trend. In those shows, however, we see cosmic battles of good and evil being fought through fiery and dramatic magic.

Big personalities like Aleister Crowley or compelling underdogs like Sabrina manipulate their trials through spells, sorcery and sometimes inherited power, suggesting that magicians are, in fact, a breed apart. But anyone who has ever spent any time around committed occultists and witches knows that everyday magic looks nothing like that. Lodge 49 is quiet, eccentric, and deeply authentic. I know more than my fair share of people who belong to occult orders, and they all feel as though this show was written just for them. Obviously, that is a rather selective demographic, so the show’s success should tell us something about both the exquisite storytelling of the creators and cast of Lodge 49 and the eternal pull of the magical quest. When it comes to portraying the genuine occult experience and the cultivation of an enchanted life, Lodge 49 is the real deal.”

 

Number of Witches in U.S. may surpass 1.5 Million

sword-back.JHWilliamsIII

“Sword-back” By JH Williams III

That’s a LOT of witches! I’ve encountered a few different articles on this lately, and from my own research, it seems to be true. From an article in Quartz by Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz & Dan Kopf in October this year, “Although Trinity College hasn’t run a survey since 2008, the Pew Research Center picked up the baton in 2014. It found that 0.4% of Americans, or around 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Wicca or Pagan—which suggests continued robust growth for the communities.”

I often hear, “are there enough healers, witches, magicians and artists on the planet to heal our society? Well it appears the numbers are climbing, and hopefully healing will spread along with it. 🙂

Source: The US witch population has seen an astronomical rise

“Though the data is sparse, what we do know is that the practice of witchcraft has seen major growth in recent decades. As the witch aesthetic has risen, so has the number of people who identify as witches.
The best source of data on the number of witches in the US comes from assessments of the Wicca population. Not all people who practice witchcraft consider themselves Wicca, but the religion makes up a significant subset, as Alden Wicker noted for Quartz in 2016.

Wicca is a largely Western religious movement that dates back to the mid-20th century in the US and UK. According to the site wicca.com, it’s a belief system informed by “pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,” that promotes “free thought and will of the individual, and encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature.

From 1990 to 2008, Trinity College in Connecticut ran three large, detailed religion surveys. Those have shown that Wicca grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. They also estimated there were around 340,000 Pagans in 2008.

Here’s another article I found with good information.

Full Moon in Cancer

Full Moon in Cancer – exact Saturday morning at 9:50 am Pacific.

This full moon occurred at the first degree of Cancer, which is the most powerful degree of any sign.

Whatever the last two weeks have been about, their key lessons are becoming real the next seven days. Try to keep things light over the holidays 🙂

Ouroboros

The ancient symbol of a snake eating it’s tail touches every culture on our planet. Here’s a fun (but incomplete) journey into the history of this magical symbol by Ellie Crystal:

“The Ouroboros is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way.

Ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens

which, according to Ancient Alien Theory, was a spaceship or stargate.

Mythology: The Milky Way galaxy keeps a time cycle that ends in catastrophic change when the serpent eats its tail (at the end of the tale of this reality.) Suntelia Aion is the sun rising out of the mouth of the ouroboros, which allegedly occurs December 21, 2012 – representing the evolution of consciousness in the alchemy of time.



The Ouroboros and the Tree of Life


Origins of the Ouroboros

Egypt


Papyrus of Dama Heroub Egypt, 21st Dynasty

The serpent or dragon eating its own tail has survived from antiquity and can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, circa 1600 B.C.E. It is contained in the Egyptian Book of the Netherworld. The Ouroboros was popular after the Amarna period.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the self-begetting sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning, and the deceased wishes to turn into the shape of the snake Sato (“son of the earth”), the embodiment of Atum.

The famous Ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, “one is the all”. Its black and white halves represent the Gnostic duality of existence. As such, the Ouroboros could be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol. The Chrysopoeia Ouroboros of Cleopatra is one of the oldest images of the Ouroboros to be linked with the legendary opus of the Alchemists, the Philosopher’s Stone.


Greece

Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, mythologically constructed beast. The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him.

Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.

All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet. In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world.


Middle East

Because the Albigenses came from Armenia, where Zoroastrianism and Mithra worship were common, it may be that the symbol entered their iconography via the Zoroastrian Faravahar symbol, which in some versions clearly features an ouroboros at the waist instead of a vague disc-shape.

In Mithran mystery cults the figure of Mithra being reborn (one of the things he is famous for) is sometimes seen wrapped with an ouroboros, indicating his eternal and cyclic nature, and even references which do not mention the ouroboros refer to this circular shape as symbolizing the immortality of the soul or the cyclic nature of Karma, suggesting that the circle retains its meaning even when the details of the image are obscured.


The Double Triangle of Solomon


India

Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the 2nd century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, “The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body” (1.82). Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the Caduceus, the entwined serpents representing commerce in the west or, esoterically, human DNA.

The Kirtimukha myth of Hindu tradition has been compared by some authors to Ouroboros.

Ouroboros… the dragon circling the tortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world.


China

Chinese Ouroboros from Chou dynasty, 1200 BC.

The universe was early divided into Earth below and Heaven above. These, two as one, gave the idea of opposites but forming a unity. Each opposite was assumed to be powerful and so was their final unity. For creation of the universe they projected reproduction to conceive creation. Now reproduction results in the union of two opposites as male and female.

Correspondingly, the Chinese believed Light and Darkness, as the ideal opposites, when united, yielded creative energy. The two opposites were further conceived as matter and energy which became dual-natured but as one. The two opposites were yin-yang and their unity was called Chhi. Yin-Yang was treated separately in Chinese cosmology which consisted of five cosmic elements.

Since Chinese alchemy did reach Alexandria probably the symbol Yin-Yang, as dual-natured, responsible for creation, was transformed into a symbol called Ouroboros. It is a snake and as such as symbol of soul. Its head and anterior portion is red, being the color of blood as soul; its tail and posterior half is dark, representing body.

Ouroboros here is depicted white and black, as soul and body, the two as “one which is all.” It is cosmic soul, the source of all creation. Ouroboros is normally depicted with its anterior half as black but it should be the reverse as shown here. With the name Chemeia taken to Kim-Iya, the last word would take Ouroboros to Yin-Yang.


Mesoamerica

The serpent god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed biting his tail on Aztec and Toltec ruins. A looping Quetzalcoatl is carved into the base of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, at Xochicalco, Mexico, 700-900 AD.

Seven-segmented Aztec Ouroboros


Norse

In Norse mythology, it appears as the serpent Jormungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona patter, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindworm as a gift to his daughter Pora Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl’s bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Pora. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kraka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.


Rome

Earthly Ouroboros from Alciato‘s Emblems

Oceanic Ouroboros from Alciato’s Emblems

Janus 1608


Freemasonry

The ouroboros is displayed on numerous Masonic seals,
frontispieces and other imagery, especially during the 17th century.

 

 

 


Theosophical Society

The Ouroboros is featured in the seal of the Theosophical Society
along with other traditional symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tarot and Watermarks

The Ouroboros symbol appears in both 14th- and 15th-century Albigensian-printing watermarks and is also worked into the pip cards of many early (14th-15th century) playing cards and tarot cards. Watermarks similar to those used by the Albigensians appear in early printed playing cards, suggesting that the Albigenses might have had contact with the early authors of tarot decks.

A commonly used early symbol – an ace of cups circled by an ouroboros – frequently appears among Albigensian watermarks. It is conceivable that this is the source of some of the urban legends associating this symbol with secret societies, because the Albigenses were closely associated with the humanist movement and the inquisition it sparked.


Alchemy

Alchemically, the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph. Ouroboros was and is the name for the Great World Serpent, encircling the Earth.

The word Ouroboros is really a term that describes a similar symbol which has been cross-pollinated from many different cultures. Its symbolic connotation from this owes to the returning cyclical nature of the seasons; the oscillations of the night sky; self-fecundation; disintegration and re-integration; truth and cognition complete; the Androgyny; the primeval waters; the potential before the spark of creation; the undifferentiated; the Totality; primordial unity; self-sufficiency, and the idea of the beginning and the end as being a continuous unending principle.

Ouroboros represents the conflict of life as well in that life comes out of life and death. ‘My end is my beginning.’ In a sense life feeds off itself, thus there are good and bad connotations which can be drawn. It is a single image with the entire actions of a life cycle – it begets, weds, impregnates, and slays itself, but in a cyclical sense, rather than linear.

Thus, it fashions our lives to a totality more towards what it may really be – a series of movements which repeat. “As Above, So Below” – we are born from nature, and we mirror it, because it is what man wholly is a part of. It is this symbolic rendition of the eternal principles that are presented in the Emerald Tablets of Thoth.

The Ouroboros connects the Above and Below

Connection between Man and God


Carl Jung

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. It makes its way into our conscious mind time and time again in varying forms as the basic mandala of alchemy. Jung defined the relationship of the ouroboros to alchemy:

    • ‘The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. In the age-old image of the ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself.’

The ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which […] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious’. (Collected Works, Vol. 14 para.513)


Other References

The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

The 19th century German chemist named Kekule dreamed of a snake with its tail in its mouth one day after dosing off. He had been researching the molecular structure of benzene, and was at a stop point in his work until after waking up he interpreted the dream to mean that the structure was a closed carbon ring. This was the breakthrough he needed.

Organic chemist August Kekule claimed that a ring in the shape of Ouroboros that he saw in a dream inspired him in his discovery of the structure of the benzene ring.

… It seems that the Ouroboros is a powerful archetypal symbol, a part of our Spiritus Mundi, the collective unconscious which thrives within each soul.”


Crop Circles

Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/ouroboros.html

Reclaiming The Radical Legacy of The Witch

barneywitch

Article by 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about witches. Not just because top ten lists of hot tv witches and sexy Halloween selfies currently swamp my social media feeds, but because my tables and shelves are currently so laden with herbs, plants, berries, phials and bottles that if an inquisitor of old were to enter, I’d find myself quickly tied to the stake. And while this worry seems remote, it’s a plain fact that women in third world countries are still hunted down, tortured and set aflame for the crime of witchcraft.

Sure, the witch is emerging from the world of taboo and shadows onto the world stage. Sure, she’s being touted as a feminist icon  – a “powerful feminine model free from male influence or ownership”. But I’m not so sure. Because how can it be that the witch, once associated with everything transgressive and beyond the realm of normative society, is now so trendy and positively mainstream?  Is it really a feminist step forward that W magazine declared Fall 2016, the season of the witch, replete with pouting models in gothic dresses, chains and black lace underwear?

And while many believe the witch of the middle ages was a spectre created by the church, I believe she was real. Yes, many put to death were just ordinary women who practiced folk magic, herbalism and midwifery, but many were powerful spiritual leaders of the indigenous, animist faith traditions of the old world – and their magic was earned through a lifetime of spiritual discipline spent in communion with nature.

And I worry her make-over into nubile fashion siren not only obscures this history, but her true relevance as a role model to us today. One that if resurrected, would be just as subversive and dangerous to the powers that be. 

Today the witches tall black hat and burbling cauldron have become icons of Halloween kitsch, but they were once hallowed items of the holy women and priestesses, the healers and herbalists, the oracles and diviners of old Europe. Their conical hats and cauldrons date back to the 2nd Millennium BCE and were connected to the female shamans of the Indo-European peoples.

recently-updated246

Tarim Mummies, 1800 BCE

 

recently-updated247

Scythian Princess and her cauldron, 4th to 5th century BCE

 

Their cauldrons (as well as crystal balls and magical wands) were still being used thousands of years later by the “witte wieven” or wise women, the sibyls, seers, and female druids of Celtic, Anglo Saxon, and Norse traditions of the middle ages.

According to Max Dashu, author Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion,  these “dream-readers, sooth-sayers, and herb-chanters, fire-gazers in Switzerland, or water-gazers in France and Spain”, practiced “all the elements of shamanism: chants, prophecy, healing, weather-making powers, and shapeshifting”. Legends tell of their sacred cauldrons in which “they simmered mysterious herbs to produce a drink of immortality and resurrection.”

These women were the guardians of the earth, the protectors of the sacred groves, lakes and springs, from which they derived their magical power. And until the middle ages they were highly respected, sought out and consulted for healing and divination by common folk, nobility and clergy alike.

But according to Barbara G. Walker , it was during the 14th century that the Catholic Church, during its relentless expansion and appropriation of sacred land, began to distinguish between witchcraft, perpetrated by women, and sorcery, a legitimate pursuit of men.

witchwisewomen

While books on sorcery were condoned well into the enlightenment, female witches in contrast were said to “magically injure crops, domestic animals, and people, and in general “outrage the Divine Majesty”. And thus their religious practices (as described by Dashu) of “sitting-out” on the land “gazing, listening, gathering wisdom” were extinguished by a priesthood that sought to bring nature, magic, women (not to mention their land and property) under male control.

witchburn

These women did not go easily, or take usurpation of their holy sites and old ways lightly – it took the Church hundreds of years to hunt them down. And so it seems likely, at least to me,  that the stereotype of vengeful witch, casting curses and blighting crop, was real, at least for the church. She must have been the original eco-feminist, fighting the patriarchy with one of most powerful tools at her disposal, magic. And the Church took it pretty seriously indeed.”

Read More here: https://gathervictoria.com/2016/10/23/reclaiming-the-radical-legacy-of-the-witch/

Passion Muses: Vali Myers

The spectacular Vali Myers.

Passion School

The biggest inspiration to me is Vali Myers, a fiery demon angel who covered the world in her goldleaf and fine ink, gypsy dancing and hordes of animals; a fox in human form.

“She was an Amazon. An indomitable creature, a stoic and spartan nomad soul. A primeval, telluric, pagan spirit.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

She was born in the 30s in Australia, later working in factories to save money for dancing lessons. She left for Paris at 19 to pursue a dance career, ending up living on the streets of the Left Bank, a haze of opium and darkness, though she kept living through her drawings, eventually being exiled from France.

“We lived in the streets, in the cafes, like a pack of mongrel dogs. We had our very own codes. Students and people with jobs were kept out. As for the tourists who came around to gawk…

View original post 967 more words

February 2nd: Imbolc (Candlemas)

pagan_goddess__brigid_by_alter_eye-d5nthbr“Pagan Goddess Brigid” by Alter-Eye

Excellent article by David Salisbury

Brigid, meaning “exalted one”, is the daughter of the Dagda and a true survivor goddess. Throughout the many twists and turns of religion in the British Isles, Brigid has managed to stay within the heads and minds of the people. Whether in the form of a saint, a goddess, or the embodiment of the land, she is the keeper of tradition that stretches into antiquity. Witches and pagans who maintain a religious devotional practice often honor Brigid only on Imbolc. But as this next Imbolc approaches, I ask you to take that a step further and maintain a regular practice with her, if she calls to you.

Brigid is a poet, a smith, a healer, an artist, and the kindler of flames. For those familiar with the Norse runes, you might think of her power best described by Kenaz, the torch rune. She ignites the inner flame within us, allowing us to seek our own healing, our own power. She asks “What tools do you bring to this work? What do you need?” The following is a simple devotional you may perform on Imbolc or any time at all. If you wish to form a close bond with the Exalted One, regular devotionals, prayer, and deep listening will go a long way.

Early in the morning, just as the sun is rising, approach your altar space or some other space in the home where you can see the sun if possible. Begin by breathing slowly and deeply, until you enter a state of meditation suited for deep communion with the gods. With each breath, feel the first rays of the sun flowing into your body, as if on a stream of flowing water or the crisp sweetness of wine. Have three fresh candles before you. You may wish to dress them with oils and plants associated with Brigid such as angelica, myrrh, wisteria, heather, and basil.

Light the first candle and say:
Lady of the forge, I call to you. The fierce strike of the anvil resounds the call for transformation. I honor you.

Light the second candle and say:
Lady of the healing cloth, I call to you. Sunlit rays upon the dawn awaken the weary travelers. I honor you.

Light the third candle and say:
Lady of the sacred flame, I call to you. You who are eternal and forever unending. The holy spark. I honor you.

Take your time observing the light of the three candles and meditate for a bit on these powers that you have honored. Contemplate how transformation, the renewal of a new day, and the warmth of a flame in the winter make you feel. Brigid is the embodiment of these powers on their own and the feelings that stir as a result of them.

Before you is placed a bottle of wine or some other special drinking brew. There is also a bowl that will hold the offering. Breathing deeply, hold the vessel of the brew before you and say:
Lady of the deep well
Exalted one
Shepherd and keeper of humanity
Cosmic queen of the dawn
Keeper of the healing waters
I honor you!

Pour the brew into the bowl and raise it high before you. At this point I try to notice if I can actually feel her presence. I may also whisper personal words of honor, or even poetry. As a bardic goddess, I find that Brigid is often impressed when someone takes the time to speak original poetry in her name. Writing and releasing this devotional is one such offering.

When you’re done, you can leave the offering bowl on your altar for a bit or immediately take it outside and pour it (with reverence) onto the ground.
It is done.

Article: http://thefireflyhouse.org/brigiddevotional/

Recommended Reading:

Brigid: Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well by Morgan Daimler
Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess by Courtney Weber
Tending Brigid’s Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge by Lunaea Weatherstone
Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day by Carl F. Neal

 

And from Empowering Astrology:

“Happy Imbolc! We’re in the part of the zodiacal calendar when the Sun is halfway between the season. Here in the northern hemisphere we’re in mid-winter, the time when the Sun hits around 15 Aquarius.

The ancients celebrated these “cross quarter days” with different rituals and festivals. Halloween is another one of the four festivals along with Beltane/May Day (5/1) and Lammas Day (8/1). Here in the US, we celebrate Groundhog Day and predict the arrival of spring.

In other news the Moon is in Sagittarius today, turning our sights toward foreign lands, long distance travel, exploration, faith, and philosophy. Wherever the Moon is day-by-day reveals how we’re nourishing ourselves and the emotional tone of the day.”