Crafting Sovereignty at the Grand Sabbat

May 10, 2016 This article was posted in it’s entirety at The Agora Blog on Patheos Pagan Channel.


A hearty HAIL and WELCOME to you all, my lovelies!  I’ve just returned exhausted, aching, filthy, sun-kissed and exhilarated from a weekend spent at the most sacred of crossroads. In a time out of time, we made a temple between the worlds, as our coven hosted a Witches’ Grand Sabbat of Beltane, over a 3-day camping celebration.

MayKing Jupiter, Lord of the Greenwood, looking out over our encampment as the wedding feast is prepared. Photo used with permission

MayKing Jupiter, Lord of the Greenwood, looking out over our encampment as the wedding feast is prepared. Photo used with permission

What can I say? I am really proud of what we all accomplished. The Sojourner Tribe came together in style and brought both the pomp and ceremony of High Witchcraft with the May Court, plus the nitty-gritty, bare feet, howling at the moon, fire dancing and drumming into the night, of old-fashioned, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping paganism.  This group does nothing by halves, and I can tell you that we rose to this occasion, rang the bell at the apex of Spring so loudly and proudly that there are Genus Loci all over eastern North Carolina still tingling with twitterpation, and looking for a smoke. Shazam, I tell you. SHAZAM!

Crafting New Traditions

 Our MayQueen Joy Leaf, and May King Jupiter as they sit at feast in their courtly hall with their attendants. Photo by Heron Michelle

Our MayQueen Joy Leaf, and May King Jupiter as they sit at feast in their courtly hall with their attendants. Photo by Heron Michelle

This is the first time we’ve gathered for a Sabbat camp-out on our own, rather than attending larger pagan festivals. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a pagan festival. They have a unique mission of bringing diverse people together for sharing and camaraderie, but a larger gathering of relative strangers comes with its own pros, cons and compromises.

For example, paganism is diverse in it’s approach to ritual etiquette, ethics and standards of behavior. From my point of view, what is sacrosanct and non-negotiable, is to never impose your own religious ethos onto people of other religions. I’m a Witch, but I can’t expect everyone at a pagan gathering to even be aware of the concept of Perfect Love and Trust, let alone promise at athame-point to uphold an ideal that is foreign to their practice. By the same token, I’m not enthusiastic about entering into a Witchcraft-style magickal circle with the unprepared, or anyone who would refuse to pledge reciprocity of loving intention and trustworthiness.

Understandably, a great many compromises are necessary so that all in attendance will find some common ground. Namely, don’t even try to foist witchcraft ceremonies onto non-witches. Inclusive pagan festivals can be a good thing for a great many people; however, the larger and more diverse the festival becomes, the more watered down and problematic it inevitably becomes as well.

During this 7th (crowning) year of our coven’s evolution, we’ve taken on an even deeper level of commitment to one another, and our Craft. The Great Work intention our group set for the year was to grow into our own Sovereignty, and to forge a new tradition of Witchcraft in service to building the community. This year, we felt it was the right time to create additional opportunities to celebrate the Sabbat as Witches here in Eastern NC, thus the Sojo Tribe Grand Witches Sabbat of Beltane was conceived.

 Crowns worn by the MayQueen (center) the Cauldronkeeper (right) and the Besomkeeper (left.) Our women's mysteries group, Sisters of the Cauldron, crafted these together. Photo by Heron Michelle

Crowns worn by the MayQueen (center) the Cauldronkeeper (right) and the Besomkeeper (left.) Our women’s mysteries group, Sisters of the Cauldron, crafted these together. Photo by Heron Michelle

For years I’ve dreamed of what we could create within a smaller, intensive gathering if held among those who DO SHARE a desire for Witchcraft-specific ceremony and DO SHARE a common vow of Perfect Love and Trust.  What could we create if we all take the responsibility to actively contribute, and build that event together?

Perhaps your group has considered kicking things up a notch and doing something similar? Here are a few of my favorite new things we tried and they worked for us. Plus, I’d like to share some of the beautifully and magickally made sacred objects that our talented members created for this inaugural event.

Re-vision, Re-organize, Re-Tool

 Antler crown (center) was created by our Fire Priest Coyote, of deer antlers, brass, tigers eye stone and sun stone. Crowns for the Staffbearer and Swordbearer were made by Phoenix Echelon. This altar was within the temple of the Sons of Herne, as they prepared the men for the Beltane rites. Photo by Phoenix Echelon, used with permission.

Antler crown (center) was created by our Fire Priest Coyote, of deer antlers, brass, tigers eye stone and sun stone. Crowns for the Staffbearer and Swordbearer were made by Phoenix Echelon. This altar was within the temple of the Sons of Herne, as they prepared the men for the Beltane rites. Photo by Phoenix Echelon, used with permission.

By striking off on our own, we were afforded the opportunity to radically rethink how we approached this sabbat, and even the concepts by which we communally gather.  We went “back to the drawing board,” and as a group, decided how our uniquely emerging style of witchcraft wanted to create sacred space and then enact the mysteries.

You’d think that with Mercury, Mars and Saturn all being retrograde at the moment that we were doomed for disaster. On the contrary, we’ve been presented with an opportunity for rethinking everything, starting with WHO we intend to become, and WHAT we stand for.  We’ve decided which battles we were no longer going to fight, and which fetters we’d outgrown and could now throw off.

For example, I own a witchcraft shop, and usually at the festivals, I’m working my ass off vending, and I miss out on the spiritual nature of the event. This time, it was important to me that there was no commerce in our temple. There was no competition among vendors, and no commercial sponsors. Just the freely traded divination, Reiki and artistry among family, and everyone contributing equally for our expenses.

A Vow Against “Chur-cle”

We wanted to perform the sorts of magick that are best manifested within a larger group, while modifying the Wiccan-style praxis that was always meant for 13 people or less. We vowed to never again endure the tedium of Chur-cle…you know, the “Church in a Circle” that sometimes happens when 200 people wait for each other to get through a challenge at the gate, or to pass the chalice and cakes.

Bottom line: if our witches are so far away from the altar that they can’t hear or see what is going on, or are bored to tears and aching from standing still too long in our ritual, we did it wrong.

A Temple between the Worlds

We also wanted for the entire campsite to be considered sacred space, and all that we did within that temple for the entire three days to be offerings; the preparations, the meals, the ceremonies, the laughing and goofing off, the children at play, the artistry, singing, dancing, the sleeping, the making of love, were ALL our offerings to the Gods.

So at our opening rites on Friday night, we consecrated and created a temple over the entire (large) site by first meeting at the central balefire that was our “Spirit” flame, kept burning all weekend. Here we agreed to the rules of engagement:

  1. Don’t burn the Witch: be careful, preserve your precious life and help to protect everyone else on site, too. Don’t drink yourself into oblivion. Love yourself and be kind to yourself and all others. Enter in Perfect love.
  2. Don’t be the Asshole: in all that you do, be the constructive solution, not the destructive problem. Do as you will, but harm none. Enter in Perfect trustworthiness.
  3. Don’t be the Weak link:  we are all in this together, there was no one there whose job it was to throw you a festival, nor to boss you around, so we all do the Work to create beauty and strength, honor and humility, reverence and mirth, power and compassion. Keep pure your highest ideal, strive ever towards it. (Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente)
  4. Must be present to Win: everyone on site was there to fully participate in our rituals, there would be no observers, no armchair critics, no mere visitors, no free-loaders. If you entered our temple you were there fully prepared to do the Work of Witchcraft of your own free will.

To begin, our Fire Priest, acting as summoner, brandishing our coven sword, challenged us all with the seriousness of what it means to enter between the worlds. HOW DO YOU ENTER? And we all answered in a big cheering shout, IN PERFECT LOVE AND PERFECT TRUST! After that point, anyone who broke the rules would be asked to leave the site. (And we did it, too.)


To continue reading this article, and see many more pictures, click on over to Witch on Fire, 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.

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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

You Can Lead a Witch to Circle, but you Can’t Make them Coven

This post was originally published on March 8, 2016 on the Agora blog on Patheos Pagan Channel. To read this article in its entirety, find it here…

I was recently reminded of how misunderstood the ideas of “perfect love and trust” are within our Witching communities. Perhaps if we all came to understand the power of this social contract, we wouldn’t have so much strife among us. <sigh>

In my own classroom and coven, “perfect love and trust” are words invoked so often, and with such depth of meaning and and breadth of application, that I’m sure they are THE reason that we’ve made it a whole six years, and counting. Today we have this thriving, healthy, balanced group of exceptional people doing the Great Work with such grace; I am bursting with love and pride for them all.

a young adult woman smiling and giving the thumbs-up hand sign

I was recently tickled pink when the priestess of a neighboring coven asked for permission to include my old “Heron’s Four Rules of Modern Witchcraft” blog in their own teaching materials, saying, “I think this [blog] says so much to clarify in plain English the nitty-gritty issues that are so important in being successful and happy not only as members of a Coven or Tribe, as students or teachers–but as participants in this wonderful life of Witchcraft.” Of course I was thrilled to have our hard-earned lessons be put to good use in a new teaching circle. In other news, next week I travel to Philadelphia to teach these very subjects to a group of witches there. These honors almost went to my head.

Hot on the heels of their flattering requests, I was reminded that not everyone who’s come through my program left as satisfied or as successful as others.  The Universe is like that, keeping me motivated, then making sure I remain humble. So, in that same in-box I also received nasty-grams full of personal insults about my failure as a teacher, leader, and friend.

a young adult woman with a look of dismay showing a thumbs-down hand sign

I’d like to tell you that this is the first nasty-gram I’ve ever received from a former friend and coven-mate. I’d like to say my heart no longer breaks when they arrive; that I don’t take these punches directly in the solar plexus and am sent into a tail-spin of self-scrutiny and the mourning over lost love. What can I say? I’m a Piscean, and I take these critiques very seriously.

Keep Reading…

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.

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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.

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.