Making and Using a Witch’s Mirror

by Hayley Arrington

scying mirrorOne of my favorite activities at Hallows is to perform divination for others and myself. The liminality (it is the Celtic New Year, after all) and the thin veil between the worlds, make Halloween an especially auspicious time for all manner of divinatory work. Scrying with a black mirror (popularly called a witches’ mirror) is also very witchy and fun. Scrying is a form of divination that involves staring at or into something to induce psychically perceived visual images. As far as we know, viewing images in a reflective pool is the oldest form of divination there is.

There is also a belief that spirits actually speak through the mirror to the one scrying. This hearkens back to fairy tales where the Wicked Queen entreats a spirit in a mirror for knowledge about her own beauty and about Snow White. Some say that black mirrors, as opposed to regular reflective ones, are best for speaking to spirits who can advise or inform you of things you wish to know. Either way, using a black mirror is a great way of focusing your mind and being open for visions to come.

Making your black scrying mirror:

Materials:
~Glass pane. Choose a piece of glass you would like to use. I found a really cheap round clock that, while plastic had a glass pane covering the face.
~Black acrylic paint and a brush
~Black felt
~Craft glue like Elmer’s Glue-All

1. Thoroughly clean your piece of glass with warm water and soap. Let it dry completely.
2. Using your black acrylic paint, make long broad strokes across the side of the glass that will be the back of the mirror.
3. Once it is completely covered, allow it to dry and reapply the paint until you can no longer see through it.
4. Cut the black felt around your mirror so that it is its exact size. You can use the glue to draw divinatory and magical symbols on the painted side of your mirror; they will not be visible when dry. Place the sized felt onto the glue side. The felt will keep the paint from chipping.
Storing your mirror:

Keep your mirror wrapped in soft black cloth somewhere safe. You can also keep it on a small wooden or plastic stand as a metal one may damage an edge of your mirror. I prefer to keep mine out of sunlight once it has been consecrated.

Consecrating and dedicating your mirror:

Like other magical tools, you may find it important to consecrate your witch mirror.  Here are several ways of doing this:

~ Simply visualize it as cleansed.

~ Cleanse by charging beneath a full or dark moon.

~Clean it with a mugwort infusion. Say, “Blessed be, my tool of divination,” or something similar, in order to bless it, as you wipe the infusion onto the glass.

~Consecrate it by the four elements: Say, “Blessed be, my tool of divination! I consecrate this witches’ mirror with the power of the four elements.” Bless and imbue your mirror with the attributes of each element as you pass it through, or above, that element: for instance, incense, candle flame or smoke, water, salt.

~Dedicate it to a Goddess: You may want to do any of the above before dedicating it to a Goddess, perhaps one associated with divination. Light a candle and/or sit in front of a statue or picture of your chosen Goddess. Say something like, “I dedicate this, my witch mirror, to you, Goddess of the Far-Seeing Eye!” (or whoever).
Using your black mirror:

~It is best to use your black mirror at twilight or at night, illuminated only by candle or moonlight.

~Some people like to gaze into their reflections, as this may aid in connecting with their higher selves, but this is not necessary for scrying. You may not like to see yourself; perhaps you like candle flame reflected back, perhaps not. Experiment to see what works best for you.

~Mugwort is a great psychic aid. Anoint your mirror with mugwort infusion before and after your scrying. Anoint your third eye with the same infusion or oil. Place dry or fresh mugwort on your altar, or wherever you will be scrying. Drink mugwort tea sweetened with honey to aid in prophecy. Burn mugwort, sandalwood, or wormwood incense.

~Talk to your mirror. Ask it to aid you in learning that which you wish to know.

“Queen of Faerie, Lady of the Sidhe
Open my eyes that I may see” (p. 93).

“Golden Lady, silver boughs
Sparkling crescent at Her brow
Lady Moon, Mother Sun
Tell me now what’s to be done” (p. 95).

~Invocations by Yasmine Galenorn from Embracing the Moon: A Witch’s Guide to Ritual Spellcraft and Shadow Work
Viewing Past-Lives

“Find a dark place where you only have enough light to make out your own reflection on the mirror’s surface. Close your eyes for a moment and allow your mind to relax. Concentrate on the past and focus on seeing what and who you were/are.

Close your eyes, and allow your mind to slow and detach itself from your everyday reality. Then begin softly chanting about your goal. As you do this, feel yourself slipping backwards through time with each rhythmic beat. Try one of the following couplets, or create your own:

Mirror’s face in dark of night,
open the past bringing dark to light.

Darkened misty hidden past,
open your secrets to me at last.

Across the veil of time and space
show me myself in another place.

When you feel sufficiently in the right frame of mind, open your eyes and gaze into the dark surface of the mirror. Do not try to force images—wait for them to come to you. Some people see only the face of who they once were; a few will see entire dramas from their past playing as if on a movie screen. Most experiences fall somewhere between these extremes. As with any occult endeavor, the more you practice, the better you become.”

Excerpted from Lady of the Night: A Handbook of Moon Magick & Rituals
by Edain McCoy

Witch mirrors are an interesting and very effective way of changing consciousness and diving.

Happy scrying and Happy Halloween!

Hayley Arrington earned her M.A. in women’s spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where she wrote her thesis on Celtic sun goddesses. Her interests include mythology and folklore as sacred text, writing essays, fiction and poetry, and discovering women’s myriad ways of knowing. Her writings have been included in the poetry collection Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads, The Oracle, SageWoman Magazine, and Eternal Haunted Summer. Initiated into the Twilight Wiccan tradition, she is very active in Twilight Spiral Coven. Hayley was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where she still lives with her husband, David and their son, Stephen.

Additional references:
Scrying the Secrets of the Future by Cassandra Eason

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My journey to an altar…

by Krystal Rains

20161106_090026For several years I have been attending the local Canoga Park Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in November. It is a lovely combination of Art show, Chalk Festival, and Car Show; that has grown and expanded over the years. My favorite part of the celebration is the Ofrenda tent of family altars.

Each year I go visit the tent and ask those by the altars, “who is this family member?” I listen as they tell me all about their father, mother, uncle, grandparent, auntie or other family member and often, what they meant to this person. The altars are similar from year to year, as these are local families. One year I mentioned who my boyfriend Richard’s parents are, as they were devoted members of the Catholic community in the SFV for 50 years and found that several knew of them. I was excited to share the memories of his parents from the community with Richard when I got home.

When the movie Book of Life, by Jorge Gutiérrez, came out, I was excited to learn more about the tradition of Dia de los Muertos. As I watched it the first time, I realized how my interaction with the family members is an active part of the tradition to ‘remember’ the person and bring them life on the other side of the veil.

In our home, we have an ‘altar’ by our door for Richard’s parents. I created it in 2009, after the death of his mother in early September. His father had passed away two years earlier. I had new bookshelves and had not populated them yet, so I used the top shelves to celebrate their lives. This original altar was relocated to a lit cabinet next to the front door and is kept up year-round.

In 2015, Richard and I were visiting the Ofrenda tent at the festival together and he obtained information about participating in the festival with a public altar for his family. Our first altar was created in 2016 at the 16th annual Canoga Park Dia de los Muertos festival. It celebrated his Mother and his Father, their lives and their dedication to their faith and community.

 

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All Hallows

By Jesper Toad

21909026_10155895424080116_2119218784_oThe festival of All Hallows marks the third harvest, following the harvest sabbats of Loaf Mass and Harvest Home. All Hallows witnesses the bringing in of the last of the fruits of the field: pale, fleshy turnips, potatoes, and bloody turnips dug from earthy beds, squashes stacked in barns as their vines wither in the field, and the last of the apples gleaned from the trees. In past centuries this was also the time when herds were culled. Animals not expected to breed back, that were nonproductive, low performing, or too fragile to last the winter were slaughtered, and the resulting meat dried, smoked, pickled, honeyed, and salted so that it might feed the people in the coming winter months.

The eve of the last day of October, called Samhain by Witches and Wiccans, and popularly known as Hallowe’en, falls midway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, and directly across the wheel of the year from the festival of Beltane. The tide of life energies that reversed direction at Midsummer, crossed the point of equilibrium at the equinox, has now descended into the darkness of the underworld. This energy of this season partakes of the tides which it intersects: the dry drift of the autumnal equinox, and the dark cold spate of the winter solstice. Even in Southern California, where our growing season extends through the winter, most biennials and perennials have slowed above ground growth, sending their energies downward into their roots to survive the dark and cold of the months to come. The last of the annuals—those plants that live only for the space of a year—are being harvested and processed, the seeds saved away to be planted when the light returns. The fields are full of yellow stubble, withered vines, and the rustling of dry, dusty corn stalks. Brown leaves stir in the sudden eddies of cold wind, and shadows haunt the corner of the eye. This is all part of a great annual pattern, and the descending energies of life. All Hallows is a liminal time, nearing the nadir of the dark, descending energy of the winter solstice, which will trigger the enantiodromia—the abounding toward an excess of force or quality of energy that invariable leads to a shift toward the opposite force—that initiates the ascent of the energetic tide toward the light.

For Contemporary Pagans, this greater sabbat, or cross-quarter day, marks the beginning of winter, and is considered the time when the veils between the worlds thin, allowing phantoms of all sorts, including the spirits of the ancestors, to cross over into the realm of the living, to be recollected and receive offerings of love and remembrance. This festival is a time to celebrate those who have preceded us in death, honor their memories, share with them the food and drink they loved in life, and stop a moment to commune. If we do not, these spirits may engage in mischief or vengeance upon those who refuse to remember. This is also the time when the dwellings of the good people, the gentry, are open. Visitors at your door at this time may not be only the spirits of the dead, but the fair folk themselves. Be your visitors fey or dead, it might be best to leave them an offering, and remember them with a kind word. Additionally, the thinness of the partition between the worlds and the coming and going of spirits is a perfect time for rituals concerning divination, in particular those concerned with the usual milestones of life: birth, marriage, and death.

The myths and legends Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans associate with the time of All Hallows involve the descent of a spirit of life—either feminine or masculine, depending upon the culture from which the myth is drawn, and possible the sex of the storyteller—into the underworld, where it encounters a dark entity, either a king or queen of the realm of the dead, in an attempt to discover the mystery of death and what lies beyond. This katabasis—from the Greek κατάβασις, meaning to “go down”—is a common pan-cultural mytheme of the descent into the underworld, and the seeking of the hidden knowledge of life and death. Examples of this mytheme that include a descent of the feminine are the legend of Inanna and Ereshkigal, the abduction of Persephone by Hades, and the Descent of the Goddess contained in the Gardnerian canon. Other iterations of this mytheme, with a descent of the masculine into the underworld, occur in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, wherein Gilgamesh travels into the underworld to obtain the secret of immortality, Orpheus braving the Greek underworld to retrieve his beloved Eurydice, and King Arthur’s excursion into Annwn in the Welsh Preiddeu Annwfn, to save the imprisoned Gwair and retrieve one of the cauldrons of the underworld.

The myth of the wild hunt is also prevalent during the dark season. The folklore of the wild hunt occurs throughout Europe and into the United States, and involves a supernatural hunting party made up of the fey, the dead, or witches, following a hunt master with underworld connections, that passes in savage pursuit, sometimes gathering hapless travelers into its retinue. Often the leader of the wild hunt is gathering the souls of those who have died over the course of the year and taking them down into the underworld. The wild hunt has become a popular motif among Wiccan and Witches, and the leader of the hunt is often identified as the horned spirit of the Witches, Cernunnos or Herne.

My gathering up and cobbling together of bits of folklore and legend yields what can only be one of the many mythic narratives for the time of All Hallow’s Eve. In my story, the masculine spiritus vitae, personified as the King of the Wildwood and the Life of the Fields, follows the tide of life as it turns at the Autumnal Equinox, and begins to flow downwards, out of the world of men, and into the underworld. He descends until, at All Hallows, he comes face to face with the Lady in White, the mistress of fate, initiation, transformation, and rebirth.

As syntheses of these mythic elements, I offer the following: a rewriting of Gerald Gardner’s invocation to the Lord of the Gates of Life and Death. Rather than an invocation, however, this verse describes the moment of the opening of the Gates from outside the underworld, in order that the King of the Wildwood may enter, descend, and encounter the Lady in White, the Pale Queen who is the keeper of the Cauldron of Rebirth, and the tender of the seeds that hold the life that will rise again in the spring.

Dread Lord of Shadows,

Spirit of Life,

The knowledge of you is

The knowledge of death.

Hunter and hunted,

Throw wide the gates

Through which all must pass!

Throw wide the gates

And descend into darkness!

Throw wide the gates

And behold her pallid face!

Throw wide the gates

And release the beloved spirits,

The ancestors,

those who walk before:

Let them return for this season

Of hospitality and remembrance.

And when our time comes, as it must,

Be our co-conspirator and confidant,

Our companion upon the crooked path

As we pass the Gates

Of Life and Death

Into that other place

To face the Pale Queen

And rest in her embrace,

Safe in the knowledge

That we shall be initiated into death,

To be transformed

In Cauldron of Rebirth.

Let us be born

In the same place

And the same time

As our beloved ones:

May we meet, and know, and remember

And love them again.

 

Jesper Toad is a Georgian and a Gardnerian initiate, and studied the Feri Tradition with T. Thorn Coyle for nearly three years. His personal practice of three decades blends elements of all these traditions, as well incorporating spiritualist, shamanic and depth psychological perspectives. These seasonal writings and images are excerpts from The Enchiridion Magistellus, A Visual Handbook of the Witches’ Art. Jesper can be contacted at jespertoad@gmail.com.

Autumnal Equinox: Rest and Repose

By Jesper Toad

21057794_10155821137930116_343506890_oThe theme of sacrifice continues on into the Autumnal Equinox, also referred to as Harvest Home or Mabon. The second of the three Pagan harvest festivals falls equidistant between Loaf Mass and All Hallows and occurs on at the time of the autumnal equinox, when the hours of day and night are experienced in equal measure. Up until the time of the autumnal, equinox the hours between dawn and dusk are greater, and at this point the darkness born at the summer solstice overtakes the light, and the dark rises.

Like the celebrations of May Day and the Summer Solstice, folkloric traditions overlap due to variations in climate, season, and culture. Mabon, the name in common name given to the autumnal equinox in usage with Contemporary Pagans, references the Welsh myth featuring the rescuing of Mabon ap Modron—Mabon, son of Modron, the mother—by the legendary King Arthur. Created by Aidan Kelly in the early 1970s, this myth does not appear directly connected to the phenomenological experience of the season. An in-depth study into the associations between the season and the myth are outside of the purview of this article. For me, the stronger connections are always embedded in the shift of the season as it manifests: the rising tide of darkness as the light declines; the gathering in of the harvest; the empty fields, haunted by a lone scarecrow silhouetted against a full, yellow harvest moon; and the celebration of the spirits of the field, the vineyards, and the orchards that have given of their life force.

If we view the cycle of the seasons in terms of the cycle of a human life, the Autumnal Equinox is a time of rest and repose following the work and toil of life, and preceding the season of death that is All Hallows. Although the harvest is not over, we rest a moment, celebrating the work we have created jointly with the spirits of the land. This is the abundance of Harvest Home.

Harvest Home—harvest from the Old English word haerfest, which means autumn—rejoices the ingathering of the crops from the fields, and occurs at the time of the Autumn Equinox. The lunation occurring nearest to the time of the equinox is referred to as the Harvest Moon. The two elements in common to all harvest celebrations are the time of rest away from the work of the fields and feasting, along with music and dance, against a backdrop of fruits, vegetables, and grains that have ripened at the time of this harvest.

The English harvest festival hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, written in 1844 by Henry Alford, expresses the excitement and celebration of Harvest Home. In this version the lyrics have been reworked to remove Christian reverence, and focus on the reciprocal relationship between the reaper and the field.

Come, you thankful people, come,
We have brought the harvest home!

We have brought the harvest in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
spirits of the land provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Raise your glass high and laugh some,
Raise a drink to harvest home!

Harvest Home, Oh, Harvest Home,
We have plough’d and we have sown,
We have reap’d and we have mow’d.

Bringing in the harvest home!

Scythe and sickle, rake and hoe

Through the ready fields we go
We have brought home every load,

Bringing in the harvest home!

We have brought the harvest home:

Bushel baskets filled with corn,

Shining golden in the sheaf;

Orange pumpkins, yellow squash,

Heads of cabbage, pale and green,

Rosy apples, berries bright,

Verdant grapes, and damson too.

We have brought the harvest home!

Raise a drink, remembering,

The ragged tattie bogle,

The old man of the ravens,

Flapping lonely in the field.

This spirit of the harvest—

Scare bird, hay man, mannequin—

Reigns over his stubble field,

Waiting his rest and repose.

Like the shift from light to dark that occurs at this equinox, the life force also changes direction, turning into the underworld, the otherworld, away from the physical and manifest reality, and into the invisible, un-manifest realm of being. Because of this shift into introspection, we need to foster an awareness of the psychological seeds we have harvested and are now being placed into the storage house of the psyche. Would we prefer that some of these weedy seeds not germinate in the spring and raise their invasive heads into the light of the next year? This is a time examine those unresolved issues—emotional or physical—and give them some of the attention they need before heading into the shadows of the year. If we attend to these issues, whether they are psychological seeds that will germinate into troublesome weeds in the next year, or just things that we need to keep in our awareness, we can manage them responsibly and keep them from running rampant in the gardens of our souls when the year turns round again. However, be mindful that this sort of reflection and action take both time and effort, and being able to identify our emotional responses to situations is both an indication of progress and a step toward wholeness.

Herbal Allies for Deep, Restorative Sleep

by Julie James, Green Wisdom School of Herbal Studies

http://www.GreenWisdomHerbalStudies.com

Among the most common questions I’m asked is “What herbs are good for sleep”. Not surprising, as sleep disturbance is an issue that affects a majority of people in our culture, with severity ranging from occasional sleep disturbances to chronic, debilitating insomnia, which is a serious medical condition. Sleep deprivation can cause or contribute to a host of illnesses in virtually every body system.

There are factors that come into play in all sleep situations, nutrients we all need, practices that help us all. You know the litany: avoid caffeine completely if you can, or limit to mornings only. Turn off the blue screens at 9 pm, lower the lights, draw the curtains, clear the space, clear the mind… all of which are critical. In this article, I want to focus on the use of a few plant medicines, and share how to differentiate between them to find the herb that is best suited to the individual experiencing the insomnia.

Before you jump into using specific Soporifics (herbs that bring on sleep), you’ll have much better results if you cover some foundations: nourish the body, and nourish the nervous system. Depletion or excess in those systems is a major factor in insomnia and is often the root of the problem.

Use herbs that are deeply Nourishing: Oatstraw, Alfalfa, Nettle, Horsetail, Red Clover—there are many to choose from. Use one or two as the base of your formula. For nervous system conditions like this, I particular like using oatstraw as the base, as it has an affinity for that system and is rich in calcium and magnesium (two nutrients in which deficiency is linked directly to insomnia).

Next, choose an herb that specifically restores and nourishes the nervous system, the primary system out of balance in this situation. We use Nervine Tonics or Trophorestoratives for this: Herbs like St. Johnswort, Skullcap, Milky Oats, and Reishi are among my favorites.

Finally, you now add in some Sedative herbs. These are plants that induce sleep, but they work in very different ways, and so looking at them in more detail is necessary.


Some of my favorites are:

-Passionflower. Passionflower is a mild anodyne (pain reliever), and is cooling and calming. Its particular gift as a sedative is that it is really fine in its ability to quiet down a chatty brain. When you’re lying in bed for hours with a body that is achy and tired, but a brain that JUST WON’T SHUT UP, Passionflower is an exceptional choice.

-California Poppy. Another Go-To sedative and anodyne, and it’s a pretty decent muscle relaxant, too. Cooling and bitter and very good for overheated and restless insomnia especially when accompanied by pain.

-Valerian. This is one of the first that folks generally think of when it comes to sleep issues. And for good reason, as valerian is a really exceptional muscle relaxant and analgesic, with a warming and moving energy significantly different from the cooling plants above. Valerian can have a paradoxical effect, causing stimulation rather than relaxation, in about 20% of the population. Best for those with a more cold constitution. Also, it stinks. REALLLY stinks. It’s kind of a cool stink if you’re an herbalist, but for the masses, they just think it stinks.


-Skullcap. A bit milder than some of the above plants, it is nonetheless very much loved, as it is both a nervine tonic and a sedative (fulfilling two of the above three requirements in a balanced herbal sleep blend). Skullcap is restorative to the nervous system while also calming brain function, relieving dull, achy headaches, and improving sleep. Very good for constricted muscles and tension, and sensitivity to light and noise.

-Mimosa Bark. Also known as The Tree of Happiness in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Mimosa is very helpful for insomnia linked with depression, sadness, or anger.

Loaf Mass: Sacrifice and Gratitude

by Jesper Toad

20314563_10155731053180116_1582301965_oThree Contemporary Pagan harvest festivals mark the Wheel of the Year as it turns from summer into autumn, the first of which is the cross-quarter day of Loaf Mass (the other two being the Autumnal Equinox and All Hallow’s Eve). The festival of Loaf Mass—also called Lammas, Lughnasadh, or August Eve—comes down to us from the celebrations of our forebears expressing gratitude for the harvest of grain, and the bread made from that grain. Bread is a ubiquitous human product, manifesting in all cultures dependent in some part on agriculture. Whether appearing as big chunks of crusty wheat bread, corn pone, tortillas, injera, middle eastern flatbreads, oatcakes, pancakes, cookies, or the host of the Catholic mass, bread is often regarded as the food of life.

 
Human beings, in common with all the other animal forms of life on this blue planet, lack the ability to engage in photosynthesis and fail completely to pull sustenance directly from heat or mineral sources. Consequently, to continue our existence, we must feed off other life, be it plant or animal life. Now, we can greedily gobble up our plant and animal relatives, smacking our greasy lips in satisfaction, which results in not living in any sort of balance with our environs, or we can realize that each life we consume is a sort of sacrifice: something has ended, and the energy of that life no longer serves that plant or animal being, but now serves the continuance of a human life. This is the underpinning of much of the contemporary Pagan Ritual surrounding the first harvest of Loaf Mass, with the divine masculine spirit of the corn (corn here referencing the wheat, barley, or other grain crop of that region and culture) giving freely of himself in a sacred sacrifice in order that our human lives may continue, and our children not starve in the dark months to come. The focus of these rituals in invariable one of the sacrifice of life force of the land, the thanks we give in return, and consequently the reciprocal relationship between a people, the land in which they dwell, including the invisible others that dwell within the land. There is an emphasis on the way that all are entwined and dependent upon one another.

However, how many of us take the scythe to the corn or the knife to the neck of the goat in our post-modern world of pre-packaged processed food? Our Contemporary Pagan rituals of sacrifice and thanks giving—based on the folkloric practices of time long past—become increasingly significant in our world where food appears plentiful and the processing of our meals is less time-consuming and intimate than in former times. Our striving for survival lead us to forge and sustain the reciprocal relationships between our ourselves, our communities, and the visible and invisible worlds; it seems to me that our relatively easy lives have lead us to be lax in the maintaining of all our relationships, and both distant and unaware of the sacrifices that are involved with the sustaining of our life.

Upon August Eve this festival will re-enact the harvesting of the first sheaf of wheat, engaging in metaphors of reaping, threshing, milling, and baking this grain into the bread of life. According to Sir James Frazier (whose work The Golden Bough serves as inspiration for countless rituals around the rim of the wheel as it blithely disregards the book’s raison d’etre) the last shock of grain to be harvested contains the vital essence of the field, and must be treated with caution. This last sheaf is twisted up to stand tall in the field of harvest stubble, and the harvesters take turns casting their sickles at the “neck” of the tussock of grain, until one of the blades severs the last of the golden stems. At this point a great ululation breaks forth from the harvesters, a cry of mourning for the spirit of the grain, the virtue of the field. The sheaf is then gathered up, often dressed in makeshift clothing creating a corn dolly, and hung over the hearth of the person whose sickle parted the sheaf from the field. For most Contemporary Pagans this festival includes eating of bread—the sacrificed body of the spirit—and an honoring of the life that this spirit has willing given to sustain our own.

The turn of the wheel at Loaf Mass is also a time for us to reflect on our personal sacrifices. Our lives are finite: the years, days, and hours of our being in the world are limited by the span of our incarnate, physical lives, from birth to grave. For what will we trade the precious hours of our lives? For most of us, we trade minutes for money by working for or with others. Our relationship with the spirits of money is strengthened. Many of us sacrifice our time to raising children for two decades, engaging the spirits of family. Our sacrifice may be on the altar of the academy, engaging our time in research and writing, or in the halls of artistic expression, engaging in poetry, dance, and painting. How do we include in this relationship the spirits of the land, or the ancestors, or those invisible others with whom we share the world? During this time of harvest, of the willingness to sacrifice and the gratitude for that sacrifice, give some time to examine your personal sacrifices: are the spirits you put the energy of your life toward giving back to you in a reciprocal manner? Do these relationships still serve you, or do they control you, sapping life of vitality and mirth, giving nothing in return? It may be time to cut away these dysfunctional relationships, and dedicate the time of your life to activities that offer sustenance, growth, happiness, or whatever it may be that you need.

 
In the end, it seems that the sacrifice is what we give and receive, and gratitude the corresponding response to sacrifice. It is one of the ways in which we, as keepers of a different way of being in the world, build the reciprocal relationships required for our continued existence in this space and time, this here and now.

 

Jesper Toad is a Georgian and a Gardnerian initiate, and studied the Feri Tradition with T. Thorn Coyle for nearly three years. His personal practice of three decades blends elements of all these traditions, as well incorporating spiritualist, shamanic and depth psychological perspectives.

 

Ho’oponopono and How It Changed My Life

by Jeanne McLaughlin

GratitudeHo’oponopono is the most amazing practice I’ve ever experienced.  *Anyone* can do it and will see results almost instantly.  Believe me, I’m no healing master, and I wasn’t trained in generations of magical peoples such as witches/pagans/shamans.  Yet the changes this wonderful practice have brought to my life are truly magical.

The practice is an ancient Hawaiian Huna healing, and if you want to see what a true master can achieve, check out the story of Dr. Hew Len, and how he healed the state mental hospital in Hawaii.  His story is easily found on YouTube; the gist of it is Dr. Len was there 4 years, *never* met with a patient in person, and when he left the place was darn near empty!

The words to the practice are:

“I’m so sorry!

Please forgive me!

Thank you!

I love you!”

The crucial element in Ho’oponopono is sincerity.  You have to really mean the apology and want to improve.  Now when do you use it, and who are you apologizing to?  You use it anytime and everytime that something bothers you, be it person, place or thing.  Anytime something or someone upsets you, ask yourself where this element is within *you*.  The idea is never about clearing or healing anyone else – it’s always about healing yourself and clearing out old data.

The benefits of Ho’oponopono are incredible.  Not only does it clear any spiritual wounds you may be suffering from, it clears the collective (society) and your ancestral line as well.

You can use it with something as simple as traffic; I’ve personally done it and seen people almost instantly get out of my way!  You can use it with the most traumatic events in your life. Big or small, Ho’oponopono will heal it!

Let me share with you what I accomplished in just the first few years of practicing Ho’oponopono:

Home:

Dec 2011:  I lived in my 11×8′ camper, parking mostly at Venice Beach or in campgrounds.  Every night I worried if someone would harrass me or worse. I never felt safe.

Dec 2015:  I moved into my “dream home”, the place I imagined to be the perfect environment for my dog and I.  I’d asked to live in a back house, with a big, pretty fenced yard for my dog. I have that, plus free cable and a hot tub. ❤

Income:

Dec 2011:  My only income was from General Relief, in the amount of $220/month, plus occasional sales of my artwork from the boardwalk.

Dec 2015:  I have many sources of income, and things are looking better all the time!  I have my Etsy shop, Amazon shop, my Shamanic counseling, etc.

March 2017:  Received my SSI Disability benefits, which doubled my income, plus there was substantial back pay.

Health:

Dec 2011:  My teeth were falling out faster than I could replace them.  I had frequent problems with Pancreatitis, Sciatica, Scolosis, and a bad knee.

March 2012:  My teeth had been replaced!

Dec 2015:  My other health problems are much less significant than before.

 

PantheaCon:

Feb 2012:  I went there as the guest of a friend, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go at all.  My friend paid for all of the hotel & gas expenses.

Feb 2016:  I presented two workshops, plus hosted a Hospitality Room.  I’ve been a presenter since 2014, and have had full rooms almost every time.  In addition, I Paid It Forward by covering the expenses for friends the last two years, and bringing them as guests.

Summer 2016:  I started getting asked  to come speak at Pagan festivals.

 

Serenity:

Dec 2011:  I was always scared, always worried about the future…. as well as the present.

Dec 2015:  I have a sense of confidence like never before.  I am able to face new situations without fear, to push myself and reach new levels.

 

Shamanic/Magical work:

Dec 2011:  I believed that many others were magical, but not myself.  I didn’t consider myself as psychic or magical in any way; certainly didn’t consider myself a Shaman or a healer.  I didn’t know how to talk to trees.

Dec 2015:  I’ve done healings on both humans and animals; have assisted both in transition.  I can easily journey in alternate dimensions; can “dream things awake” (manifest my desires) frequently.  And I can talk to trees.

 

In summary, I can tell you that my life has improved in every way I can think of, and the only major change I’ve made was to start practicing Ho’oponopono in the fall of 2011. The changes seemed to come about almost effortlessly.

If you’d like to learn more about this wonderful practice, please find some of the interviews with Dr. Hew Len on YouTube.  He is a master.  Or, if you want to talk about it with a local Shaman, come and see me at Pagan Pride Day on October 15th in Long Beach.  I’ll have a booth there and you’re welcome to stop by any time for a chat.

 

Pagan Pride Volunteers

Superhero volunteerThe theme for this month’s issue is “Sacrifice and Gratitude.”  Pagan Pride LA/OC is indeed grateful for the sacrifice that our Board and volunteers make each year.  Without our volunteers, Pagan Pride Day simply wouldn’t happen.  It takes a large crew of volunteers working shifts throughout the day to make Pagan Pride Day a reality, and we appreciate the hard work of our volunteers.  We also appreciate the sacrifices made by our Board members each year.  None of us on the Board receive money for what we do.  We donate our time and labor because we believe it’s both an obligation and a privilege to serve our local Pagan community.  If you haven’t yet signed up as a volunteer, it isn’t too late.  To show our appreciation of our volunteers, the Pagan Pride Board will host a special Volunteer Appreciation event on Sunday, August 20th 11-2pm at a location in Burbank. Food and drinks will be served and we have special activities planned. Sign up on our website www.paganpridela.org or contact Morgana@paganpridela.org for more information, or look for our event on Facebook.  We look forward to another wonderful Pagan Pride Day October 15th at the Rainbow Lagoon, Long Beach.  See you there!

Morgana RavenTree

Volunteer coordinator

My Experiences with Traditional Witchcraft

by Krystal Rains

My adventures in the Arte of Traditional Witchcraft began in a Pirate store. I managed a store in North Hollywood and with what I learned later was a bit of encouragement from several close friends, Griffin Ced came to visit one day in 2007. After a delightful conversation, we scheduled the first of three classes at the store. My introduction to the Arte was a class named “Cosmology of the Craft”. Listening to Griffin explain the framework of a magical universe in which I could have a direct personal influence was amazing. My first Traditional Witchcraft ritual shortly after the class was with Hecate, and I carry the key I received with me to this day, nearly 10 years later. After some different locations over a few years, the classes with Griffin took root at The Green Man store in North Hollywood on Lankershim Blvd and have grown and blossomed in the most magical of paths over the last 7 years.

Traditional Witchcraft in the manner taught by Griffin is an Airts tradition, working with the spirit of things rather than an elemental system. Set on a compass, rather than within a circle, it is a way to journey and cross hedges to evolve. Over the years of classes, I have learned that it is a wonderful toolbox that can be applied in many situations with many deities and cosmologies. One of the first times I consciously used the tools of the Craft on my own was to help memorialize a friend. In setting the space for the public memorial, Griffin suggested setting the space with ‘water’ in all directions. In the North I placed the spirit of water in the air, which seemed to me, to be clouds and rain. In the East I placed the spirit of water in fire, being steam and humidity. In the South, the spirit of water in the manifest world, as rivers, streams and oceans. In the West, the spirit of water in water…the mists of our loved ones and ancestors. Water is a medium of transition and when placed in all four directions, it provided the spirit of my friend an easy crossing to the other side of the veil. On a mundane note, I noted several people were quite uncomfortable with the humidity on a normally dry day, and I realized there was certainly an effect on the manifest world, when I set the intention of spirit in this manner, or as many say, “as within, so without.”

Through classes and rituals, using every opportunity to learn, grow and evolve…my life is certainly different than I could have ever imagined. I have been taught that any cosmology could be set on the compass in this manner and had an opportunity to put this into action when opportunity arose to do a rain/water ritual with the Q’ero Peruvian Shamanic archetypes and a Meso-American Rain God named Tlaloc. My normal practice when interacting with these deities is to start in the East and continue clockwise around the Mesa. In this ritual, I called quarters from North to South and then East to West. This is an alchemical connection of Spirit and Soul, then Fire and Water. My sense when centering the ritual, was of the spirits I called being slightly confused, but willing to do the work in this manner. I can’t claim to have changed the rainfall in California, as I know that I am not the only practitioner who put some efforts to our drought problem, but I won’t deny my intentions having some effect as well.

After the 101, 201 and Practical Magic series, the next step that Griffin took was to create a community group of student practitioners. The “Green Man Grove,” of which I am a participating member, provides that community a supportive opportunity to present rituals, both public and closed. Another expanding opportunity for students has been the “Awakening the Witchblood” series that has been presented for the last two falls. Each series was quite differently amazing and provoking in the expansion of my practice and understanding. If this has piqued your interest, you should not be surprised to hear me recommend a visit to The Green Man, to talk and take classes with Griffin.

Order of Celtic Witches

by Kimberly Berger and Doris Barnhart

The Order of Celtic Witches is an eclectic group whose foundation is based upon honoring the Celtic Deities, celebrating the traditional sabbats and full moon esbats.  Classes have been offered since 2010, which is when the coven was fully established.

Classes emphasize both traditional lore and ritual structure and performance. Herbalism, crystal work, spellcasting, and the history of the Celtic Deities are among the topics covered.  These classes provide a pathway to membership in the coven, and create a safe, accepting and supportive environment for learning and expression.