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

Aphrodite’s Gift: A Year in Divine Love

I’ve had this blog in my “drafts” for almost 8 months now, kept fiddling with it as the loose ends came together, then I forgot it was there.  Alas, this is becoming a chronic condition for me. I recently rediscovered these writings, and for posterity I choose to post them now, even though they are 8 months out of order. Better late than never? ~Heron


Moody Rose By Heron Michelle

Moody Rose By Heron Michelle

I’ve thought long and hard about the Great Work of 2014 on “Unconditional Divine Love.”  I continue to wrap my head around all that I learned and I know that work never really ends, just continues to process into something more and more refined.

Here in the restful weeks following Yule, I look back over my previous year seeking the neatly crafted conclusion paragraph at the end of what was a confusing, heart-breaking, yet, ultimately rewarding story of my last year, so that I may look forward and discern what the upcoming dedication should entail.

So, here are a few rays of Yuletide lights to part the darkness…

Aphrodite:
After a year in the presence and service of Aphrodite, I will never think about the phrase “rose colored glasses” in the same way again. She gifted me with a way of seeing through all the posturing, vitriol, and vehemency; the lies, anxiety, and desperation; the assholery, and bitchocity; the control-freakery and the escape-goatery; the bullying and victimhood of the world around me, and pierce straight down to see the broken hearts of my fellow man.

We are a wounded people, and those wounds are still bleeding out all over the place. It’s a mess! She taught me that the more egregious the offenses a person is committing, the deeper the anguish that feeds it; the louder the hate-speech, the more clearly I now hear the cry for love. When I see destruction, I can now see clearly past all that to the suffering animal, merely lashing out to protect that part of itself that is weakened from a lack of love, and the fearfulness that engenders.

I became aware that this apocalypse we are living in is the field of destruction made by the dominant paradigm in this society, the battlefield paradigm of good vs. evil, brought to us by the dominant, patriarchal, Abrahamic religions. Anyone who has ever survived a war zone will tell you that no matter which side “wins” the war, everyone loses something profound and is left adrift in the rubble.

venus-541127_640The Mabon Day Revelations
The Mabon Day Revelations of the third and fourth “rules of Witchcraft”, and the tarot confirmations, continue to percolate through my thinking, finding application in all aspects of my everyday life, magickal life, relationships, governance, parenting, etc., I am struck by their integration.

1. Don’t burn the Witch
2. Don’t be the Asshole
3. Don’t be the Weak link
4. Must be Present to Win

These all flow from one into the other, and none can be plucked out separately, or the whole system falls apart. Not burning the witch is no help, if you refuse to be fully present to actually resolve conflicts. How can one possibly have the discretion over whether or not they are being the asshole, if they have no awareness of the fabric of existence within which we are all interlinked?

What good does it do to give lip service to “harm none” without an deep and abiding oath for “perfect love and perfect trust.” Hell, as far as I can tell, most folks out there in the Witching world don’t even know what that phrase is supposed to mean. Why? Because too many have had to rely solely on book training, and too often the only books they had access to were incomplete and written by those who did not yet understand.

Or, they were also forced to rely on those witches who can only regurgitate what their High Priestess once had regurgitated to her, and so on and so forth. I guess what I’m saying is that we will be stronger as a people if we consciously decide to BE PRESENT TO WIN, and continually check in our ideas and praxis with the Divine, DIRECTLY, and be willing to release what may have been traditional, for what promises to serve our evolution individually, and as a species.

All these “rules” require a great sense of purpose, a higher sense of self. All these require a sharp mind, a whole and opened heart, and an alignment of personal will with Highest Divine Will, which are extremely difficult to achieve, and may take years to even begin to understand. It also will, at some point, require vigorous good health to survive the strains of high-level energetic and magickal work. I know I have much work to do on my health and physical condition.

yoga-815288_640Have you looked around the average pagan gathering recently? If ever the humans there were again subjected to the evolutionary test of “survival of the fittest” you know as well as I do that most of our wheezing, broken, imbalanced, addicted, poisoned, morbidly obese numbers would be the first to fall, and a damned succulent feast we’d make for whatever force sought to devour us.

How can we hope to either serve the gods, or build a better world, if we don’t have the physical stamina to stand in sacred space, nor kneel at the altar? If reading that makes your cheeks flush with anger, indignation or embarrassment, then consider this mirror I’m holding up to be my loving gift to you. Maybe I’m the asshole for expecting great things of a great people, or maybe there are assholes among our number polluting themselves and then blaming every other thing for their problems.

“If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.” ~ The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente

There is a reason that the yogis and masters of the oldest mystery schools put such emphasis on the connection between body, mind, and spirit. That is why there are martial arts and yoga, tai chi, qi gong, special “ritually pure” religious diets, fasting and purification protocols. Living purely and consuming only what is in alignment with your core values can make a huge difference in your ability to spiritually level up; you are what you eat.

Have you ever read up on Pythagoras? He followed a very well defined and pure diet that he believed strengthened the vessel to channel the gods. Into what quality of vessel do you invite your gods? Think about it. If you offer the finest quality offerings on your altar, but you feed your own incarnate divine body poisons and junk, you are burning the witch; you are the asshole; you are the weak link; you are not present to win, you lose.

roses-66527_640The Initiatory Process:
We call the path of the Witch an initiatory process. There are transformations that must catalyze and refine all of our bodies: flesh, will, emotional, mental, spiritual. All of life is this process, all of spiritual evolution across *many* lives is this process, too. Every step upon the path of the Witch is both a death and a rebirth into our most Divine self. That is why I keep calling it the “Thorny path of the Witch” because this process can hurt like hell.

Being a Witch does not happen with a simple profession of faith, nor with “foolish wand-waving**,” nor even with a ritual wherein another human declares it to be so. Beneficial Witchcraft cannot exist in the darkness of ignorance, nor in the bindings of fear. The minute a Witch starts to think of themselves as an island, as “greater than,” or as “power over,” in terms of their pedigree and accolades, they become the weak link, and they lose.

Humility and Leadership Burn Out
If I’ve learned anything at all about Witching over the last 23 years it is this: there is a direct relationship between awareness and humility. The deeper in awareness you advance, the more humbly you accept the vastness of what you do not yet know. Those true servants of the Divine that I’ve met over the years may never disclose to you their most excellent pedigree. The truly wise person may never mention their well-earned 23rd degree, grand-pubah, all-high-muckitymuck status in well-regarded mystery schools, time spent at the knee of greatness, nor the 42 Great Things they accomplished before breakfast this morning.

Usually, they just smile, shake your hand and introduce themselves with their first name.  But when you take that hand, you feel it….that sense of warmness, calm, centered, balanced, compassionate, self-awareness. They are powerful, but they transmute that power into loving creation, strong and sovereign. Approve or disapprove as you will, they are beyond caring about such things.   They probably garden somewhere on the lunatic fringe, retired from the bullshit of the whiny, cantankerous freak-show that has become of certain segments of the neo-pagan movement.

This is our profound loss, my people. It is our loss that those of greatest attainment and at-one-ment, are so heartsore from the constant insane demanding, squabbling, complaining and general assholery within pagandom that they’ve retreated from community leadership altogether, with a “good riddance” and a backward-thrown middle finger. Into that breech, I’d like to bring the lessons of Divine Love and the Four Rules, and hopefully create a little change to bring peace enough to retain the best leaders before they burn out.

thorns-627759_640
In short, I asked to understand and practically apply the lessons of unconditional Divine Love–of perfect love and trust–to human relationships and I was first stripped bare, heart broken, and then shown through excruciating experience all the ways that I feel the FEAR OF THE LACK OF THE LOVE. It was a tour of how humans are horrible are to each other. Yet, once I recognized and acknowledged each lesson, the painful blows of that ass-kicking would stop. Now I know how to avoid being the Asshole!

I call those my eight Love Conditions:

  1. Acceptance: when my inner truth can be expressed outwardly without risk of rejection.
  2. Sovereignty: My absolute authority over myself are respected and I have FREE WILL as a being of dignity and worth within society.
  3. Resources: Access to sufficient resources to sustain my life in good health.
  4. Affection: Touch and nurturing; the healthy sensual intimacy I prefer.
  5. Expression: Expressing my needs and opinions as a sovereign being, with the respect of being heard, my contributions are valued.
  6. Security: My physical safety is not threatened and boundaries not trespassed; my spiritual, emotional and mental privacy are respected.
  7. Authenticity: I can trust that the outward appearance and declaration of my environment and any situation I encounter are the actual truth, without deception or trickery. I’m not being fooled or exploited. I am not the butt of the joke.
  8. Trustworthy: I can trust that the people and environment I’m in are worthy of my trust, care, and mutual respect.

Now that I know the love conditions so intimately well, I can spot them clearly when they are missing from any situation presented to me…. my new pair of “Rose Colored Glasses” helps me see 20/20 what wound from a fear of a lack of love is the source of these witch burnings and assholery, what weakens the links, and makes us absent for the win in our community. Its like a damned super-power now! HAIL APHRODITE!

IMG_9756The Gift:
Then, I was gifted an opportunity to be in relationship with a great man, a great partner, who had been on a parallel journey to my own, who knew too well the pain of a broken heart and was still hopefully seeking the answers to these very questions. Together, through gently helping each other correct our old fearful and wounded relationship habits, we’ve so far been able to build the healthiest love I have ever known. This love inspires me to be the best person I can be, not for him, per se, but for myself, so that I will have the longest time possible to be fully alive, strong and present in this life, to enjoy his company. This love makes me a better witch. Hail Aphrodite and THANK YOU!

A key lesson I learned this year: The only heart prepared to receive love is the heart already opened from the sharing of love.

“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

I conclude the Great Work of 2014 a healthier, more compassionate person than when I began, and I am grateful for the very practical framework for applying these lessons for a better life. I understand this to be the work I am meant to carry forward into the coming Great Work of 2015, so that I may widely share the lessons. I will soon welcome Hermes onto the altar and seek his aid in communication, travel and mediumship.

Into the breech once more!
With gratitude,
~Heron

**”foolish wand waving?” If you don’t get Harry Potter references, there isn’t much I can do to help you. Probably best if you just stop reading here, and go get you a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. Then all will become clear.

From Samhain Fires to Thanksgiving Feasts

IMG_8289The wheel of this year turns on, and I realize I haven’t properly blogged since the turning of Samhain-tides. Here we are a month past, as the seasons click forward to the American holiday of Thanksgiving. If you’ve been keeping up with this great work of mine, you will remember that this year I dedicated my spiritual pursuits to understanding better the meaning of “unconditional Divine love.”  What does “perfect love and trust” really mean? How do we practically apply that wisdom to human unions? I gave my service to Aphrodite/Venus and asked to be Her agent of love, beauty and grace in the world.

That is when everything went to shit.

To recap: I turned 40 and suddenly my health crapped out, as though the warranty suddenly ran out on this meat-suit, mostly concerning issues that challenged my sense of safety, beauty, sexiness, fertility–all the domains of Aphrodite were in an uproar. My hand-fasting was canceled and that relationships ended. For months I felt the thorns of what love is NOT, then as Litha turned, I was given the roses of what love SHOULD BE.

I’ve felt very strongly the loving presence of my maternal grandparents, Frances and Elmore, whose spirits visited me via a medium around Beltane, just as my former relationship was ending.  They were an amazing Pisces/Cancer couple, an inspiration to all who knew them. They were married as teenagers, and became a shining example of partnership until death they did part, over 50 years later. My grandma Frances only just crossed the veil to rejoin Elmore in May, and I couldn’t be happier for them now that they are reunited. I feel closer to them now more than ever!

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At Lammas, I participated in the Morrison Ritual, and finally remembered that “all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.” I was reminded that the point of life is to enjoy it and that is how we witches show devotion–how we worship–by making love to the world through our every word, thought and deed. I rededicated to life, and returned from mourning back into the land of the loving.

As Lammas turned to Mabon, in a mystical, magickal, synchronistic turn of fate, I reconnected with someone who, as it turns out, is the man of my dreams. And he was right here in my hometown THE WHOLE TIME. Go figure. This beautiful human being is a catalyst for a profound shift in my thinking, and my perspective on, well, everything. I’d known him as a distant acquaintance, and have been a fan of his music for years.   I have this *thing* for musicians <sigh.> We easily fell into time and step with each other, and so simply, so astonishingly, fell in love.  Despite everything, I will honestly say that I did not see that coming!  Yes, my dearies, it is true; I’ve enjoyed three life-changing months with the most nurturing, interesting, exciting, enlightening, inspiring, and encouraging man I’ve ever known–nay– that I’ve even dared to hope existed since my Grandad left this earth.  I am so proud of him I could just burst. 🙂 Did I mention that we, too, are a Pisces/Cancer couple, just like Frances and Elmore? Uh huh. Good stuff!

Moral of the story: when you dedicate your service to Aphrodite, when you ask to know what Divine Love it all about, she will deliver. First, she strips you bare of all detriment to Divine Love, then she shows you what is beneficial. Viva la difference!

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At Samhain, I released to the funeral fires many misconceptions I had about Love and some links to old relationships and old dreams, and a few old masks I’d allowed myself to wear but no longer served my highest good. I realized that I’d worn these masks crafted to cover the wounds of my previous heartbreaks, to shield fears of betrayal. There were masks I’d worn to appease others in hopes that they’d return my love and masks I’d worn to conform to societal norms, masks to obscure the horrors of my inner struggle from my children.

When I think about this “mask” metaphor, the images that come to mind are pretty amusing, like old fashioned theater masks. I have quite the collection, perhaps you have them, too, as they are all the rage this season: sarcastically happy face, sad but not beaten face, strong in the face of adversity face, still youthfully attractive despite her age face, got my shit together face, fearless business woman in denial about how she is clueless how to proceed face…not terrified about how to pay the bills face…proud to be out of the broom closet and not hurt by how people point and whisper in public face… OK with being single and alone in this life face. All of them obscure the squishy truth of who I truly am, and while masks are necessary to a certain degree, if I’m not aware of how I use these “tools” they begin to use me, and that is when I lose my power.

I was recently interviewed by a student for a religion class project and she asked me what was the ultimate point of my Witchcraft practice? I pulled out the canned “teacher” answer, “Salvation from the illusion of separateness from the Divine, to liberate me from fear, and equip me with the tools and skills to live beneficially, and with sovereignty, as a co-creator of my own experience.”

It was then that  I finally remembered that I’ve been neglecting those skills and tools, and that I could co-create, to don or not to don, the masks of my choosing, and many of them had to go. This blog I share with you, this story of my great work this year, is part of that stripping away, and choosing to reveal the inner truth–to shine brightly what is beneficial, rather than mask or obscure that light because it makes me feel vulnerable. Boy oh boy, do I feel vulnerable. So much so that after I first posted this thing yesterday, I became physically ill–root chakra kinds of ill. This morning, I began editing it, and I choose to reveal more, rather than obscure my meanings in poetry.

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Which brings me to this Thanksgiving, and my year to have my children at home for the long holiday.  I chose to make space for a “miracle.”  You see, being a divorced person with a custody agreement, these holidays alternate from year to year. What they say is true, time heals many wounds, and we are in our 6th year of amicable shared custody.  In recent years, my children’s immediate family expanded with their father’s re-marriage, and then with the birth of a new baby brother.

So I asked myself, what better expression of Divine love, beauty and grace than to share a meal around a Thanksgiving table, in triumphant victory over past heartbreak and selfishness? I needed to redefine a few traditions, to cook a meal for the people I love, to share what I have with family and friends, old and new. I can’t think of a better expression of gratitude, than by opening my home and heart to the people who share in the nurturing of my children.  I needed to completely FORGIVE, and live on.

What I’ve learned from the great work this year is that the only heart prepared to receive love, is the heart already opened from the sharing of love.

So, despite all previous odds, I invited my ex, his wife, their baby son, and my new boyfriend all over to dinner with us, and they accepted. Then, in a meaningful, magical twist, one of my oldest friends, a woman who’s known me since the dark days of my previous marriage, all the days of my divorce, and the rebuilding of our lives since then, who is, herself, currently living through the FIRST difficult Thanksgiving since her separation, accepted my invitation to join us with her two children. How perfect is that? I hope we were able to show that a glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel is possible.

10815612_1519641408286393_799907865_oIt was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. There was much feasting, laughing, bouncing of babies, and playing of music together that night (a handy benefit of my penchant for musicians. 🙂

As the wheel turns toward Yule, and I look back over the great work of this year to process and understand the lessons, to integrate what I’ve learned, I am struck by how I’ve arrived in a place vastly distant from where I thought I was going when I dedicated at Imbolc. Hell, I thought I was headed toward the hand-fasting altar in May, so that left turn at Albuquerque really got me lost for a while.

I’ve questioned my spiritual path, my sanity, my raison d’etre, even my desire to keep living.  But, I set my magickal intention, then allowed the flow of this life of love to move me, accepting that what was both leaving and entering my life were both in alignment with my Divine Will, because that was what I’d asked for, and I do have some say over what happens to me!  That is “grace” to me.  Grace allowed the relatively undramatic stripping away of what did not serve my life, and then grace delivered me back into love with myself, into a love of life. Through finding my way back to enjoying life again, I was able to rediscover what is beautiful, and it wasn’t the obvious things. The beautiful partnership I’m looking for is one where we can grow “ugly” together.  There is loveliness in the colors, smells and dimming light of the decays of autumn, as nature declines into the dearth and wisdom of winter. So to I feel that slow, steady pull into the dark night, and hibernation…to dream in the arms of the bear, and be healed of last season’s woundings.

Mysterious? Seek within yourselves, and ye shall find, my dearies. I do hope the road rises up to meet you the way it did for me. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rule #4: Must be Present to Win, Tarot Message

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…continued… This blog is the fifth part in a series that began with Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft, and continued with Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch. and Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole. Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link. If you’ve made it this far, thanks! You are a reader of great fortitude!

Recap: Rule #4: Must be Present to Win, Tarot Message

Speak up: To walk the path of the Witch, you have to seek it out, ask for it, keep persisting and insisting until the way is opened. This path is not for the feint of will, heart or mind.

Show Up: You want this wisdom? This power? It’s not available by mail order; there will be no remote down-load; no one else holds the keys to your gateway. Get yourself to the crossroads and DO THE WORK. Now do it again…and again, with every breath, in full-engagement in the dance. The minute you project the locus of your control onto anyone or anything outside of yourself, you might as well hand in your pointy hat, because you lose. “If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.”~Charge of the Goddess.

Wake up: Do not squander the gift of this exquisite moment. Be fully present in the joy and the pain, the abundance and the lack, the spanking and the kiss, all of it. Courageously approach everything that life has to offer because it all hones your wisdom and power to propel you forward in your evolution.

Take-up the magickal weapons to defend the boundaries. Be the warrior. Confront your fears and tackle them into submission. No matter what the issue, it can only be solved by being fully present, listening, observing, engaging compassionately with people in person, especially when there is a conflict to resolve or a need to be met.

With no fool a season spend, nor be counted as their friend: “Haters” of any stripe cannot simultaneously claim to be a Witch and be taken seriously. Defrock them. Warlock them (in the most traditional sense of term “warlock” being the banishment from the coven as an “oath-breaker” and a binding of their harm.)  If you know a magickal practitioner who is doing deliberate harm for ego-maniacal gain, a sociopath bent on baneful manipulation to serve their own ends, then they are not a Witch, they are a fool. The long version of the Wiccan Rede states: With no fool a season spend, nor be counted as their friend. If you do nothing to stop them, you are guilty by association.

Be proud: Do not hide behind lies, or facades. Witches of good conscience cannot continue to knuckle under to, nor ignore, the “witch burners” of our society who would seek to silence us, intimidate us, or do us harm. Nor can we blithely accept the divisive, abusive behavior of those claiming to be Witches among us.

lighthouse_westcott_bigBe the Lighthouse: Come out of the broom closet.  No parade is necessary, just the mere outer acknowledgement, where it is effective, while we unshutter our flames like lighthouses on the rocky shores of this society; not chasing the ships, just standing tall and sturdy, and shining brightly without shame.

WE ARE WITCHES.  If we cannot take up the power to be fully present and beneficial in this society, accurately known for our contributions, then who can be? We have to BE PRESENT TO WIN!

Tarot Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Must be Present to Win?”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to attend to our outer relationships within our community.

Card: 5 of Wands: Strife– In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about facing situations ans doing something about it. Not resigning, not becoming embittered, nor allowing unfulfilled desires or restrictions.

Card: 9 of Wands: Strength In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our passions, drive, WILL, to our inner strength, to banish the darkness of ignorance, let our latent powers be awakened and power found by unifying conscious and unconscious energies to find wholeness.

Card: 5 of Cups: Disappointment In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to ACCEPT that there will be unfulfilled expectations and sometimes a lost balance from problematic relationships. Learn from these situations, not hide from them. Where do we fool ourselves? Do not engage in emotional battles from expecting the same results without doing anymore work.

Card: 5 of Swords: Defeat In the realm of the physical, we are asked to RESONATE outward and draw forth from the void of potential an acknowledgement of our fears, understanding that fear is irrational in nature and does not reflect the truth of the situation. Control is an illusion. Release your fear of defeat, and you will be set free.

Card: III The Empress Highest Divine Guidance wants us to understand that by “being present to win” we will interact within our communities with sovereignty, as beings of beauty, love, and wisdom, in a process of evolving into our compassion and nurturing, filled with creative power. We will become the gateways between Spirit and Matter that serve with a place of Divine Love.

As I am dedicated to Aphrodite/Venus this turning, and this is Her card, I also felt a deep sense of Her presence and a confirmation that I am on the right track to apply Her lessons.

This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Must be Present to Win” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.