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!

 

Witch on Fire: Lammas Corn Salsa over Cheesy Tomato Polenta

[Originally posted at my Patheos Blog, Witch on Fire]

Just for some fun witchin’ in the kitchen this Lammastide, here are a few of my favorite recipes that take great advantage of the summer garden abundance of tomatoes and peppers, and will thrill your coven-mates this Sabbat feast. It’s easy to make ahead of time, is even more delicious the second day, and is simple to transport for picnics and pot-lucks. YUMMO!

Salsa and Polenta Fixin's ~ Photo by Heron Michelle

Lammas Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free
Ingredients:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained. Or about two cups of fresh corn that has been roasted, then cut off of the cob.
1 large tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or sea salt to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix it all up and let it marinate for an hour or so. Taste it, and tweak the seasonings according to your own preferences. Sometimes I add more salt for a deeper base note, or more lemon for extra brightness. If it needs more richness, add olive oil. If you want some heat, add a smidge of cayenne or red pepper.

At this point you can serve at room temperature with tortilla corn chips. Or, you can keep going, and make some cheesy tomato polenta, and top with this salsa for a tasty vegetarian meal!

Lammas Salsa over Polenta ~ Photo by Heron Michelle

Click here to continue over to Witch on Fire for the Cheesy Tomato Polenta Recipe

Witch on Fire: Lammas Cocktails for High Summer

[This entire post can be found at my Patheos.com blog, Witch on Fire. I invite you to subscribe to my blog there and always be the first to receive the latest articles.]

Lammastides are flowing in, beloveds! The Sabbat of High Summer, the midpoint of the season of growth and fruition, comes in HOT, wet, and delicious here in North Carolina. That sounds like a party to me! We celebrate this peak of juicy, glorious summer when we reach 15 degrees of Leo on our lap around Papa Sun, which happens to fall on August 7th this year (2016.)

This week I’m heading out on vacation with my Sweetheart, as I journey to Colorado for hiking, camping and relaxing around that state’s wondrous hot springs. Which reminds me, Lammas is a great time to enjoy a cold refreshing cocktail with your loved ones! Bring a pitcher of these to the Sabbat picnic, and they’ll love you for it!

2 classes of Lammas Lovers Lemonade with twisty straws

Lammas Lemonade for Two!

Lammas Lemonade

Cocktails are basically “potions” if you awaken and charge them for an intent. This alcoholic beverage may look like a dirty mojito, but if you give it a job to do, besides get you drunk, its also a great chalice brew.

The peppermint and lemon are both prized for their benefits of purification and love, healing and friendship. Peppermint is traditionally associated with the powers of Air, and Lemon with the powers of water. I say call on BOTH elements to cool us off, while bringing us together. Plus, everyone knows that a good, Spiced Rum is the nectar of the gods, and a great choice for making offerings.

It’s summer time and “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.(1)” I don’t know about y’all, but I like my cocktails like I like my lovers: sweet, dirty, and strong. Boom chica wowow!

Click here for the recipe at Witch on Fire!

Shopkeeper Sagas: All That is Gold Does Not Glitter, part 2

This article was published originally at www.patheos.com/blogs/witchonfire.

Metaphysical shops offer treasures that go well beyond commerce, and the material provisions that are needed to practice our various pagan paths. There are many intangible benefits that are far more valuable to us as a community. They may not be as glittery, and there isn’t an obvious place to hang a price tag, but they are just as worthy of our financial support. Here are 8 “golden” benefits that are important to me:

Photo by Johnson Davis, used with permission

1. We are a Community Center

We are privileged to host celebrations and social events of all kinds.  Friends stop by to visit; impromptu gatherings happen; children come to play and we dance at our drum circles; love connections are made at “singles mixers”; Knit-witch crafting clubs have met here; we meditate and heal together; we belly laugh as much as we cry in the safety of each others company. We also vend at the pagan festivals where we camp out together, and throw parties like our Witches’ Costumed Ball and a tacky-sweater Yule Party. We once held summer camps for kids based on the magical world of Harry Potter. We’ve hosted everything from poetry readings and book signings, to private concerts with world renown musicians like Lipbone Redding.

I say that the whole damned point to all of this Witchery is to enjoy life; so we create various opportunities to come together to “drink the good wine to the Old Gods, and dance and make love in their praise. (1)”

2. We are the School House

We have a dedicated space in the back of the shop we call “The Vault” because this was once a jewelry store and it has no windows, just low light, dead quiet, with comfortable seating, an altar, and equipment for classes, rituals, divination and healing sessions. This room only seats 13, but we’ve taught meditation techniques, Reiki healing, incense making, spell-casting workshops, my whole “Year and A Day” training program in Modern Witchcraft, and countless more subjects. Many fine teachers rent that room and we found them eager students, who excel, and eventually start seeing their own clients in that room.

Candle, flowers and a vigil altar seeking peace for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub masacre.

Because the shop has the infrastructure of equipment and supplies needed, communication channels in place, and the man-power to organize things, our community can pool their resources and hold larger events, like festivals and conferences. We create partnerships with our brightest luminaries, writers, and teachers in paganism, so they have the venue through which to offer their talents and wisdom to those who need it, where they live.

BNPs (Big Name Pagans) like Christopher Penczak, Jason Mankey, Wendy Joy, Miles Batty, Grandmother Elspeth, Matthew Venus, and many others have taught here to enthusiastic and grateful crowds.

Click here to continue reading about 5 more intangible treasures, at Witch on Fire.

A Witch’s Battle with the Leviathans of Global Suffering

Published at Witch on Fire on July 16, 2016

These are troubled times on our spinning, blue earth-ship, my beloveds. This week, like so many weeks before, we’ve suffered a surge in violence and hatefulness throughout our world with countless acts of terrorism; in France, in Turkey, across the Middle East. In the United States where I live we have rampant police brutality against African Americans, rapists getting off with a slap on the wrist, government persecution of trans-people, the Orlando massacre, the deadly algae bloom choking Florida, and so many other acts of willful pollution that massacre ocean life. We are all interconnected; we are one body; what happens to a French child, or Turkish soldier, a Floridian manatee, happens to all of us.

We are witches, and we know these things; countless hideous acts of inhumanity, and their global repercussions, relentlessly break down our barriers, claw at our hearts, darken our Spirits, until decent people can’t help but be sucked down by all the suffering. That is what makes us decent people: we can discern right from wrong at a global scale, and we care. Fantastic. Now what?

Viktor M. Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Viktor M. Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Four Horsemen are Assholes

I’m now a witch, but I was raised in the “Hellfire and Brimstone” of the Southern Baptist Church, and damned if this doesn’t look like the Armageddon prophecies of the book of Revelations, come to pass. Except for a troubling omission: where is the second coming of Jesus, so that all these fundamentalists and evangelicals will be raptured right on out of here?

We’ve got the four horsemen of the apocalypse running roughshod over society lately under the banner of Abrahamic-Religion-based extremism. Hell, Donald Trump just announced his running mate as Mike Pence, the appalling Governor of Indiana who does his level-best to destroy his state with extremism against women and gay folks. I’m getting a sulfuric whiff of an Anti-Christ power-duo on the rise. Gods help us!

If we must suffer from war, famine, judgement and death, let’s go ahead and get on with this apocalypse already! Apocalypse doesn’t really mean that the world ends, you know. It means that the veils of illusion are pulled from our eyes so that we finally see the truth of things. These truths definitely feel like the end of a world!  Don’t get me wrong, I normally have an excellent relationship with J-man, but he’s late, and its really becoming a problem for the rest of us who hope to be left behind so we can clean up the mess these “true-believers” are making. <insert sarcastic eyeroll here>

But seriously, for those of us who are tapped into Universal Consciousness: witches, shamans, mystics, people with an uplink to aspects of Divinity that ask us to love, to heal, to restore the earth and her creations, to rise up like warriors against these mad-men who do harm, what are we to do? How do we deal with the horrors that our fear-bound neighbors are imposing? How do we go about our lives in an effective way, and resist succumbing to the madness, or despondency ourselves?

Goooood question.

Click here to keep reading about how I’ve learned to battle the leviathans of global suffering, click here

Shopkeeper Sagas: Not All Who Wander are Lost

Originally published July 11, 2016 on Witch on Fire, click here.


Shopkeeper Sagas: Not All Who Wander are Lost, Part 1

If you are any flavor of pagan, or even P-curious, I bet you began your spiritual odyssey at the local metaphysical shop. These magickal places are where you can find new age and occult books, tarot cards, herbs you’ve only ever heard about in Harry Potter, crystals, arcane tools, candles, statues of the old golds, and shining silver jewelry with sigils that will confound and concern the neighbors. But, the most important thing you find in a shop like this is a sympathetic ear, and the straight answers to the hardest questions you’ve ever asked. These shops are the safe port in the storm for those of us who are dancing to that rhythm most folks can’t even hear.  If you had such a shop in your hometown when you needed it most, consider yourself very lucky.

Since 2008, I’ve owned and operated just such a place. Keeping these doors open and accessible is my sacred mission as a witch. I believe that the Powers-that-Be called me to do this work as a means of organizing the Pagan community here in eastern North Carolina specifically. I came here in 1995 for my BS degree, and moved away twice to pursue my career in Interior Design, but inevitably was lured back. There is an inescapable gravity to this place.

[Edit: At first, I wrote that this was a “gods-forsaken place,” but through the writing out of this story, I see that clearly the old gods have taken a very keen interest in this region. Not just through my work, but through many dedicated pagans over the last 20-30 years.]

The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions: 414 Evans Street, Greenville, NC. Equipping the path less traveled since 2009

The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions: 414 Evans Street, Greenville, NC. Equipping the path less traveled since 2009

The Sojourner has a prime location in the hip Uptown area near East Carolina University. We keep open hours 7 days a week right out here in plain view of Jesus and all of his sheep. Boy, oh boy, is that a TRIP!  The stories I will tell… Within a few blocks our neighbors include ECU, large churches, the mosque, yoga studios, Minority Voice Radio, African American clothiers for church vestments, hats, wigs and fancy dresses, several art galleries, an organic farm-to-table restaurant, tattoo and piercing parlors, a “gay bar” with the best drag shows, a Headshop for glass smoking paraphernalia, aaaaand a teacher’s educational supply store, just to name a few. FUN TIMES!

Uptown is a bizarre slice of society, and we get along on this street quite well! However, the town of Greenville is dead-center of the country doldrums between the cosmopolitan Research Triangle of Raleigh/Chapel Hill/Durham, and the quaint, bustling tourism of the coast. East Carolina University imports many sophisticated, progressive and intellectual people <ahem<like myself> ahem> who are awesome. However, Greenville is an island surrounded by the conservative, bible-thumping, Trump-supporting, creationism-believing, queer-fearing, Klan-sympathizing bigots who cling to an antebellum view of the world. (1)

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Confessions of a Witch on Fire

Heron’s Rook Readers!

This article was originally published on my brand-new, very-own, Patheos Blogging home!  Introducing, Witch on Fire!

I would just loooooove it if while you are visiting Witch on Fire that you subscribe to receive them by email. The only way this sort of “professional” blog works out in the favor of the writer, is if a massive number of “page-views” happen every month, and I’d just hate it if you missed something because social media algorithm’s hid it from you. If you like what you read, know that regular visits to the page are a great form of support and I love you for it. Thanks!
~Heron


Confessions of a Witch on Fire

Blogs can become a form of “pulpit” for us pagans. Like sermons serve our neighbors in other religions, these articles can inform, inspire, and hopefully motivate us toward some beneficial change in our lives. On a good day, they may open the reader up to a deeper connection to the Divine in some way. I consider that to be important work, not to be taken for granted.

However, the difference between a boring sermon and a riveting one, is when folks tell their personal stories about their lives. They testify! I want to know about their practice, feelings and perceptions, and how that work is changing them. It’s honest and entertaining and I usually take away some nugget of applicable truth.

Knight of Disks. Tarot Cards from the Thoth Deck by Crowley, Photo by Heron

Art, Queen of Wands, Knight of Disks. Tarot Cards from the Thoth Deck by Crowley, Photo by Heron

Confessions or Comedy?

I’ve been teaching Modern Witchcraft classes now for over 6 years, and it is true what they say: you can’t completely understand something until you’ve taught it to someone else. It is a lot harder than you might think, especially when it comes to deep, esoteric concepts and how they play out here in the middle world. They have to be made real through examples. So, I’ve come to teach by telling my stories without shame. This scandalizes some folks. Other people think its refreshing. To each their own, but I’ve always found that the most instructive stories are more like a confession, where I own my own shit, admit what I learned the stupid way and how I got the cosmic smack-down until I corrected my mistakes–my life is kinda like a stand-up routine that way: That which does not kill me, makes great comedy.

Keep reading this article by clicking here!