Witch on Fire: Witchcraft without Superstition

Lots of folks enter into Witchcraft through the door marked “spell work.” Need is both a universally human thing and a highly motivational thing. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and when you hold a dire need that seems impossible, average folks become willing to venture into the unknown for what they think of as supernatural assistance.

Just about anyone can “do a spell” and follow the directions in a technical manual to relative success. That tends to be the hook; you do the thing, it works crazy fast, JUST LIKE MAGIC, and suddenly you don’t think this Witchcraft thing sounds so farfetched anymore. Hello line, hello sinker.

Newcomers to the Craft may be approaching spell workings from a superstitious perspective; unfortunately, some folks never grow beyond that phase. They don’t yet know WHY these things are done, just “that’s just how granny always did it,” or “that’s what the spell book told me to do.” If they stop there and never pursue the academic understanding part, the occult lore behind the spell can be lost, and it is reduced to dogma.

Everyone works magick on some level when they make a wish and blow out the birthday candles, or pray for some change in their lives and it comes to pass. However, a magus knows WHY these techniques work; they have both the knowledge of what to do and a relationship with the ingredients. Magi can back up their magick to write their OWN technical manual, improve it, engineer an even more kick-ass Spell 2.0. They are artists who climb out of the traditional box, and enhance both their life and the Craft effectively.

Fantasmic Evil Queen Casting a spell

By HarshLight [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Superstition versus Empowerment

You should know, dear reader, I make no room in my witchcraft for superstition and I hope you won’t either. Either know why it works, what quality the ingredient can and should bring to the work, or don’t do it. Much of spell work is a kind of theater of poetry, but if you don’t know what the metaphors mean, you cannot enact them accurately. Not that we can’t hold some “faith” in what is currently ineffable, but the difference between “magick” and “superstition” is fear and ignorance, both binding of our power.  Consider this definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Superstition: noun
•    a belief or way of behaving that is based on fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck.
•    a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.
•    an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition.
•    a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary.

I know full well that there are whole systems of magick designed to draw on fear and utilize coercion of the “supernatural,” but this definition doesn’t describe my practice at all. I understand the causation at play, I am not afraid, I know things, and I hold no concept of  the Supernatural, because nothing can be outside of nature when you are a panentheist. Moreover, I have a lifetime of evidence in my support.

My magick might involve the unseen dimensions and a non-incarnate being or two, but these are places I’ve been, beings I know, and I have a damned good idea why it works.  If the spell I’m doing isn’t empowering me, and freeing me from fear, ignorance and an “irrational abject attitude,” why would I bother to do it? Mama Heron don’t mess about.

To continue reading this article at its home on Witch on Fire, click here!

 

Beltane Lovers – Once You Go Witch, You’ll Never Switch

When Beltane draws hot and bothered to the fore, we witches celebrate a Greater Sabbat that is certainly the most juicy and delicious of them all. This year the solar date of Beltane falls on May 5th, 2016. That is when we reach 15 degrees Taurus on our journey around the sun.

We call Beltane a “Greater” Sabbat because it is the apex of the spring season. This is high tide of the season of fertility, and everyone is twitterpated, bursting with lusty motivation, passion and burning desire to do…something or someone.  Most of the witches I know are ravenously plowing the fields of their gardens…others ravenously, well…you know.  <winks>

a wreath, chalice, and blade placed on the ground outside

Courtesy of Heron Michelle

This is our celebration of union, the sacred marriage of Goddess and God, and the heiros gamos that creates the Universe. Beltane is the wedding, and in my Wheel of the Year thealogy, I recognize how it rests in the balance across from Samhain, and is the happy, joyous moment that keeps the mournful dearth of the funeral in equal measure.

In my post: Samhain – The Poison and the Antidote, I wrote:

“Consider the Wheel of the Year as a system of teaching a balance between the polarities. Each Sabbat has aspects that are medicine to cure what ails us, and other aspects that can feel like the poisoned pill, so hard to swallow. Yet, the antidote to cure us at one sabbat can be distilled from the poison of the sabbat on the opposite side of the wheel. One Samhain/Beltane polarity can be described as reverence and mirth.”

 

Beltane is a Party…with Healthy Boundaries

They say there is a time and a place for everything, and the Wheel of the Year covers all the bases.  On the face of it, you could say that Beltane, like college, is the “party” of the sabbat cycle. Bring on the cavorting, flirtation, tipsy indulgence and scantily-clad dancing around the balefires. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a big fan of parties, which is a very good reason why I’ve set the clocks of my life to the rhythms celebrated through Wiccan-style rites.

In our sacred poetry, we are asked to: “Drink the good wine to the old gods, and sing and make love in their praise.” ¹ “…and you shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.” ²

Alrighty then! Give me some of that old time religion! Beltane is so much fun to me, but I also recognize that seeking balance is the key to both a healthy practice of witchcraft, and to a healthy life. Never forget the first and most important rule of witchcraft is Don’t burn the Witch.

While intoxication and sex are two of my favorite options from Gardner’s Eight Paths of Power, we all must make sure to be safe and responsible while we dance ’round those fires. Don’t forget to pack the prophylactics, arrange for a designated driver or crash space, eat a solid meal, take your B12 vitamins, and drink twice as much water as the poison…because we all know alcohol is basically a poison, and nothing else quite taints a pagan party like the 4 am barfing out of your tent flap. <cough>don’t ask me how I know<cough>

Click here to read the rest of this article at The Agora Blog on the Patheos Pagan Channel.

There’s A Safe Pot to Piss in at the End of the Rainbow

There is no room in my witchery for homophobia. Wait, check that; there is no room in my witchery for -phobia of any kind. Sadly, I realize this is not true of all witches, but I see the God/dess incarnate in every being, expressed through infinite diversity. We are all the Love of the Two Who Move As One; we are all equally precious and Divine; Love is my religion.

Fear is the Path to the Dark Side ¹

a sign reading "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" by edmund burke

Photo by Heron Michelle

Moreover, as a citizen, business owner, mother, and the priestess of a coven with many GLBTQ members, I have a moral conviction to work for the betterment of our society for all. I cannot blithely abide the legalized violation of civil rights to any citizen. To stand by and do nothing is to tacitly condone this harm, and I have this witchy little creed about that.  This is no time for “subtlety.”

Fear Leads to Anger

The point of my Witchcraft praxis is to purify me of my fears, work through my phobias, and awaken me from the illusion of separateness. I believe every single human on earth is sent here to enjoy their lives, love and learn from each other, present challenges and evolve through them. So, all phobias are there to instruct, and then be cured through my connection with Divine Love.  The heart of my witchery beats to the rhythm of personal sovereignty and the responsible pursuit of happiness.

“All began in love, all seeks to return in love. Love is the law, the teacher of wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries.” ~Starhawk, Spiral Dance

 

“An do what you will be the challenge,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By magick of old, be it done.”
~The Witch’s Creed, Doreen Valiente

a sign reading "the Earth is the Mother of all people and all people should have equal rights upon it" by Chief Joseph

Photo by Heron Michelle

Have I mentioned recently that I live in North Carolina?  Yup. We’ve had quite a month of controversy here. I live in a state now infamous for HB2, “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act,” better known as “the bathroom bill.”

This nightmare that was rushed through a special session by our GOP legislators is now state mandated discrimination of the most dastardly order. This is why we can’t have nice things, like work at high-tech jobs with Paypal, host championship games, or go to Bruce Springsteen concerts, and rightly so!  Bring on the boycotts and travel bans, America! With no fool a season spend, nor be counted as our friend.² If a bigot invited me to a party at their house, where I knew they were coercing some of their other guests into dangerous and humiliating situations, I wouldn’t attend, either.

Click HERE to continuing reading this article at the Patheos Pagan channel, on the Agora Blog.

Aphrodite’s Thealogy of Perfection

In Wiccan rites, in order to enter the sacred circle with other witches, you are challenged at the gates. HOW DO YOU ENTER? The two keys to gain entry were originally, “In Perfect love and Perfect trust.” In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate this concept as one of the most valuable that Wicca has to offer to Witchdom, as a whole.  Sadly, I’m finding that it is widely undervalued.

a series of hands, clasped to form a circle, from various ethnicities

As a new witchling, when I was struggling to understand what was meant by “perfect” and was taught that it meant “unconditional,” my teacher’s answers just brought up more questions within me. I really didn’t understand, and my early attempts to apply this idea in my life opened me up to more than a few broken hearts.

Several leaders whose rituals I attended suggested to me that if I didn’t feel comfortable pledging to love and trust these strangers at an open festival, I could just answer that I entered, “With an open heart and open mind,” instead. I’ve even repeated the same advice to new folks at my own circles over the years. I now believe that this was bad advice based on a crucial misunderstanding.

“Bide the Wiccan laws ye must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.”¹

As I taught these basic things, and new students asked the same questions, and raised the same red flags time and again, eventually I stopped avoiding the issue and spent time seeking a better answer. When the books and mentor’s answers failed me, I went directly to the source.

For my Great Work exploration of 2014, I devoted myself to discovering what the goddesses of love had to teach me about unconditional love and trust within a panentheist paradigm, such as I have. It was the hardest year of my witching life, thus far, and when I emerged I had an entirely different pair of “rose-colored glasses” with which to view this seminal piece of wisdom.

With the aid of Aphrodite, I developed what I now call the Thealogy of Perfection, and from there, a way to apply that thealogy practically as the Four Rules of Witchcraft for Personal Sovereignty.

fire-heart-961194_1280

Aphrodite’s Thealogy of Perfection

What do we mean by “perfection?”

If the world is a divine tapestry, woven of the love of the Goddess and God, “Love” begins to take on a different definition. If it is EVERYTHING, it is also “Whole” and “Complete” in that there are no parts missing or excluded, and that is healthy thing. Consider the word, “Wholesome.”

Hermetic Alchemy: 
V. Principle of Rhythm: States: “Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.” — The Kybalion.

Divine Love would have to be both sides of every polarity, every atom, all states of matter, all types of energy, all phases of the cycle, all types of life-forms, all expressions of gender, all sexual preferences, all social strata, all areas of consciousness, crests and troughs, good hair days and bad hair days, red votes and blue votes, sinners and saints, et cetera and so on. Think of a “Perfect” circle; it is all god/dess.

Click here to keep reading the original article on Patheos Pagan Channel, on the Agora blog, published March 21, 2016

Valentine’s Love Spell

Valentines Day is tomorrow, and I’ve heard the dismissive excuses a few times already: But isn’t that just a “hallmark” holiday? Hallmark makes Christmas cards, too, but I rarely hear folks bitchin’ about that as if a marketable product should put us off of our fun celebrations.

Or how about this one: I don’t “do” Valentine’s day because love should be celebrated everyday. I agree, but then again, death happens every day, too, yet I make a point of honoring death as a concept on Samhain.  The Wheel of the Year system gives sacred space for all parts of the cycle in due time, and seeks balance between them,  I think that after Imbolc tides shift just past 15 degrees Aquarius and begin to wane onward towards Ostara, it is a GREAT time to celebrate romance and love of all flavors.

a digital graphic of heartsIn the mythic poetry I enjoy at this time of year, we welcome back the Goddess, renewed again as the young maiden, rising from the slumber of the previous turning like the slender shoots of crocus flower, peeking through the snows. The God is welcomed back as the Lad, a wild young buck, or the tiny buds on the limbs. I envision them both like teenagers, full of innocence and daring, with the plucky stealing of kisses, and the hot flush of their cheeks; they are the thrill of promise.

I feel this connection to Their power whenever I do something romantic, or my sweetheart does something romantic for me.  That being said, romance is only one expression of love to enjoy.  “Singles Awareness Day” jabs are another way folks rain on my parade. PISH, I say!  Oh ye of little imagination! If you waste a good Valentine’s day whining about what you don’t have, rather than celebrating all that is possible, well…that’s not very effective Witchcraft.

Here is what I’ve learned about Divine Love so far: The only heart prepared to receive love is the heart already opened from the giving of love. Making the effort to openly give and receive love of all kinds, will set your vibes a’hummin’. If you want to be a “heart-throb,” you have to start with your own heart, Law of Attraction, and all that. May I suggest that rather than being a Grinch and grumping about this time of year, that you let your heart grow a few sizes and get into the spirit of the season with your friends and family?
To continue reading to my spell to find your ideal paramour, the full post is on my Witch on Fire column at Patheos.com.

Broom Closets and Bible Belts: 10 Tips for Your Coming Out Party

This article was originally posted on Patheos Pagan Channel on The Agora Blog on January 26th, 2016. The entire article can be found at this link.

I’d wager that many of you fine readers have struggled with the problem of being the odd-ball witch or pagan  struggling to find acceptance in a family of Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians. That is a thing that happens down here in the bible-belt with alarming frequency, especially for young adults just starting out, and can be really challenging.  For 15 years, I lied and hid who I really was from my mother, and most of our family, which was both miserable and pitiful. I regret how I handled things. Here are a few tips to consider, should you choose to come out of your broom closet, too.

Bonnybbx / Pixabay.com

I’ve written several articles about my mother, her death and funeral, and my journey to reconcile my upbringing with my newfound witchery. On my article about how she haunted me after she died,I received this comment with a very important question:

Heron – looking back, what would/could you have done differently while your mother was still alive? I find myself exhausted by life in the broom closet, but our mothers are much the same in their religious perspective and I’m not prepared to sacrifice my family yet.  ~CB

What would I do differently?

If I had a do-over, I would find a way to show her the respect of an honest adult relationship, and come completely out of my “broom closet” for her to see.  I’d brave the storm of condemnation it could cause in the beginning, and openly be the woman of conscience that I was called to be–just like she was. I would do so lovingly, respectfully, but firmly, regardless of her approval. She never gave a damn what people thought of her convictions. That is a pro-tip I learned from her.

I’d like to give her the chance to understand the fulfillment I’ve found through my unorthodox choices. I have no doubt that we would grow through adversity with each other, as she faced the fact that a beloved daughter became a priestess of a different Deity, and I faced the challenge of standing proudly on my sacred ground without flinching under her fire. I’d like to think that as that priestess of Aphrodite, I could set a high standard of unconditional, Divine Love, grace and beauty with my mother, and then allow her the chance to rise to that standard with me, until we found peace.

Easier said than done, I know. I go back to the commenters question and my eyes keep falling on the word sacrifice.  “Sacrifice my family…”

But how would I “come out” without sacrificing my family? That is the key to this question. The truth is, that when I began the tippy-toe steps out of the broom closet, one consequence was that my eleven year long marriage did eventually end, in no small part due to my religious convictions. So *I did* sacrifice one form of family that I valued very much. Though, I found other forms of family that were far better for us all, I can assure you that it was for the best.

I’ve thought on this question for a while and I must admit that I don’t have any sure-fire answer to what works, but through blundering experience I do have a story to tell, and I’m a story-teller, so I’ll start there: My mother and I had already gone down this road part-way, when I admitted under duress that my ex-husband and I weren’t Christians. Therefore, the odds of us taking our small children to church to learn about “the fear and admonition of the Lord” (no kidding, she used exactly those words) were pretty slim. Just for context, I was 32 at the time. It was also 9 months before her eventual death and she had no idea I’d just self-initiated to Witchcraft and helped form a coven.

To keep reading click here.

A Love Message for Women

A message I feel compelled to post, perhaps because one of you needs to hear it just now:

MoodyGreen

Moody Green: Painting by Heron Michelle

The wounded women of the world often bitch about how there are no good men left out there, or that all men are the same: philandering, heartless, mindless animals. For a while there I was one of them. Those are the wounds talking. We are projecting our fears in a broad stroke over 50% of humanity and that is assholery at it’s finest. Besides, if animals are what we expect to find in all men, then that is all we will find, regardless of who is standing before us. The blinders of our wounds will unfairly reinforce our suspicions. Humans will rise or fall to meet our expectations. Don’t burn the Witch.

Furthermore, there are just as many men suffering from the wounds inflicted by careless women of the world who abused the intimacy of their relationships, deeply scarring the men in their lives.  Women are equally guilty of being the “bad guy.”  Responsibility to be the sort of person you think everyone should be begins and ends with you, and there are no good excuses for harmful action.  Don’t be the Asshole.

Hurting people hurt people. What is the common denominator in every failed relationship you’ve ever had? YOU. The good news is that you have the power to change YOU, and the power to choose which relationships you feed. We are personally responsible for ending the cycle of woundings by attending to our own healing, breaking the chain of abuse, and being strong within the sphere of our own influence. Don’t be the Weak Link.

BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD. You are in charge of you. At the end of the day, no one else can be blamed for the choices you make, the relationships you are in, the way you speak to others, your actions, and your thoughts. You must be present to win.

“The only heart prepared to receive love is the one already opened from the giving of love.”
Namaste,

~Heron