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!

 

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.

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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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.

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.

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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.

Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link, Tarot Message

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…continued… This blog is the fourth 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. Next, you can browse over to Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Recap: Don’t be the Weak Link

Pithy, yes? But what does it mean to a Witch, practically? Beneficial and responsible behavior has to both begin and end with yourself, regardless of if anyone is watching, regardless of the poor behavior of those assholes who may be challenging you.  Choose to be a circle, a sphere of influence, of integrity and strong character.  The construct of the circle is paramount to the Witch. Anything we can dream of being is more effectively accomplished in the sacred circle, so choose to make your own body, your own life, a microcosm circle of protection, amplification, and focus for your will. It is here that we go to the crossroads, find our axis mundi, where all the worlds intersect.

rainbowchainI see the tapestry of the Universe, matter and spirit woven together, like a cloth of chainmaille, with each entity within it their own circle link, pliable enough to have free will, sovereign on their own, but woven together they can do so much more!  If all links remain strong within their own character, who begin and end every interaction as responsible members of society and in alignment with their principles, and as magicians they use their power, intellect, hearts, bodies and spirits to weave together a responsible life, then apply that energy cohesively with their neighbors, then together they create a society within which we can all coexist to ENORMOUS, reverberating benefit.

Do as you will, but Harm None: However, if one person, one link, weakens and behaves like a straight line pointing only to their own selfish, ego-driven needs as if there are no consequences to their actions; If they start to “burn” themselves through self-loathing, or project that self-loathing onto others as distrust, (Don’t burn the Witch;) who wields their own wound as a weapon to wound other people (Don’t be the Asshole); through this weakness of character, they betray the bonds of the surrounding links, betraying “perfect love and trust,” exploiting, disrupting their relationship to the Divine through each other.  That hole in the chainmaille grows, and ruins things exponentially throughout existence.

The three-fold law: If you exude beneficial energy in the world you receive benefit. If you exude destructive energy in the world, you are destroyed. If you work with unity, for unity, all of Divine creation flows with you. It only takes one weak link to ruin harmonious existence for everyone. So, don’t do it!  We are all counting on you, man!

Tarot Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Don’t Be the Weak Link”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to attend to our internal state of being through “perfect love and perfect trust.”

Card: X Fortune In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about the wholeness of the cycles of life, the cycle in constant motion, yet unchanging in its completeness. What miracles and possibilities are to be found in each moment? What self-realization and creativity comes from unexpected fortune? I would note also that this image is about the completeness of a circle, so just at face value, we are given confirmation of this metaphor of the “links.”

Card: XIII Death In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our Will, our passions, and drive, to a radical transformation and becoming free of anything that keeps us from moving forward in our personal evolution. We are now ready to make the necessary changes in our lives. This is the path between success and failure; there is no difference between them besides our attitudes about it. Release all that does not serve our growth and evolution.

Card: I The Magus In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to DARE to overcome all obstacles to create the world anew with clear communication and our brilliant capabilities. We have all the tools and skills we need to tear down the established order, to rise above any barrier, and create the world we desire.

Card: Knight of Swords In the realm of the physical, we are asked to HOLD THE SPACE, to BE SILENT and observant, paying attention to the harvest of our ambitions. It is our time for the harvest of a new way of thinking and being.  Our intellectual powers will bring deep emotional perceptions. This master of imagination can achieve all that he dreams.

Card: 10 of Disks, Wealth Highest Divine Guidance wants you to understand that you will attract to yourself everone and every situation in your life, and if your internal state of being resonates with overflowing riches from spiritual, emotional and intellectual levels, then you will be outwardly wealthy, but that wealth must be shared on all levels with others in order to remain valuable. Endless wealth can be yours, but the responsibility is also yours, only if you remain generous and grateful.

This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Don’t be the Weak” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.
Stay tuned for the tarot messages for:
Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole, Tarot Message

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…continued… This blog is the third part in a series that began with Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft, and continued with Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch. I will post the tarot spreads for each of the rules in subsequent blogs.
To recap: What I mean by “Don’t be the Asshole”

  1. If through your behavioral choices you cease to be a beneficial member of society, becoming a detriment, a harm, by violating any one of the necessary love-conditions in the world around you. These are:

Acceptance of who people truly are without threat to their emotional boundaries.

Acknowledging sovereignty of others, without threatening their free-will or liberty.

Adequate resources to preserve good health, without threatening survival.

Physical affection, including healthy sexual expression, without threatening sexual identity or access to nurturing.

A means of personal expression, and being heard as a being of dignity and worth, without threatening their sense of value within society.

Security and privacy, safety from physical harm.

Acting with authenticity, that you and your actions are exactly what you present them to be without ulterior motive or any attempt to exploit others.

Trust in your perception of your environment and those around you, as offering you the same consideration that you offer others. (You can see more about this subject on my Divine Love blog .)

  1. If you witness any violation of the above love conditions and through apathy, or neglect of your responsibility, you do nothing to stop someone from harming others or the world around them, then you are choosing to be part of the problem, not a benefit. Example: If you hear violence against your neighbor, call the police.

Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Don’t Be the Asshole”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to apply attention to our outer relationships in society.
Card: XV The Devil In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about our shadow sides, our wants and desires, our lusty, ego-centric needs, and find a healthy way to express and explore that side of ourselves. Why are we demonized? Begin to wonder how we can express our vitality while remaining practical and grounded.
Card: Knight of Cups In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our Will, our passions, and drive, to a harvest of emotional maturity, to Spiritual relationships in a community of like-minds, and to achieving higher emotional planes and mutual understanding.
Card: 9 of Swords, Cruelty In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to ACCEPT
the reality that when you are the asshole you are being cruel to yourself, heartless, and it is just a form of self-denigration. You are sabotaging yourself and must stop this behavior pattern. “Rule #1: Don’t burn the Witch,” including yourself.
Card: 8 of Wands, Swiftness In the realm of the physical, we are asked to HOLD THE SPACE, to BE SILENT and observant, paying attention to the subtle manifestations of our goals. Allow swift communication to overcome misunderstandings and hindrances. Nothing is in your way to attain your goals; move quickly. Adapt to change; define where you stand; your openness and self-confidence will open hearts.
Card: 10 of Disks, Wealth Highest Divine Guidance asks you to interact with your community knowing that you will attract to yourself everyone and every situation in your life–that you create your reality. The wealth of the Universe is in your hands and its yours to do with as you like, but the responsibility is yours. If you share this wealth openly with others you will be endlessly wealthy. Make your inner wealth visible and share that with others. This brings to mind the Hermetic Principle of Vibration. Like attracts like, dontcha know? Wealth consciousness begets wealth and generous interactions with others. Asshole consciousness begets selfishness and a parade of assholery and abuse by others.
This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Don’t be the Asshole” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.
Stay tuned for the tarot messages for:
Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link
Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft

[Heron’s note: following is the continuation of Aphrodite’s Thealogy of Perfection that developed into our “Four Rules.” This is the story of how the last two were revealed to me as a visionary message back on September 23rd, 2014.]

Allow me to take you back to a time not so long ago…It was a warm and shining Autumn Equinox day here in North Carolina, and we’d just returned from vending at the Pagan Pride Festival in Raleigh the previous day, so I was considerably exhausted.

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie ("And the Raven Still is Sitting ...") [CC BY 2.0] Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

By Lori Iverson, USFWS Mountain-Prairie (“And the Raven Still is Sitting …”) [CC BY 2.0] Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

We’d spent a lovely weekend in the company of 3000+ fine pagans . It was also a family reunion, as we got to see many from our Sojo Tribe who live in that area. I love my tribe; they are the most mature, civilized and responsible group of witches I’ve ever known. It is a rare thing to have a teaching coven last so long without strain from diva-drama.

The Mabon Day Revelations

That crisp afternoon, I was cruising Facebook and see a posting by Raven Grimassi lamenting how within the witching communities, many are quick to stoop to pitiful levels of back-stabbing each other in public forums.  He implored us to become the kind of people who seek out the best in each other, rather than constantly harping on the worst in each other.

I read this sad message just as I was laying down for a nap. As my three kitties snuggled in around me, I thought about all the times folks I’d trusted had betrayed me, and the “Rules” that developed as we tried to learn a better way to coven together. They started as a comedic way to illustrate thealogical concepts (3). Until this fateful Mabon day, we only had two: Don’t burn the Witch and Don’t be the Asshole. As I descended into sleep, I knew this is basically what Raven was asking of us.

"Burning at the stake. An illustration from an mid 19th century book" By mullica [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By mullica [CC BY 2.0] public domain via Wikimedia Commons

1.  Don’t burn the Witch.

The obvious: If you are going to work with the element of Fire, respect its potential, then avoid accidents.
 The less obvious: Be careful not to conjure up what you don’t know how to safely send back.

Heal thyself: All things vibrate, and like vibrations attract more of the same. (Hermetic Principle of Vibration, also called the Law of Attraction.) If you remain a pulsing magnet of self-loathing, no matter what intention your mouth speaks, you are doomed to repeat your past suffering. If you continue to harbor your wounds, you cannot evolve beyond “wounded consciousness” and all your magick will ever cause is a good ol’ fashioned witch burning of YOURSELF.

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

Empowerment starts with YOU. Wisdom starts with YOU. Healing starts with YOU. YOU ARE THE MAGICK, so make it effective, harmonious, kick-ass magick sourced by Divine Love. The FIRST step on the path of the Witch is to learn to recognize these wounds for what they are, release all lingering connection to them, and heal from the inside out. Love yourself first. THEN, and only then, can you begin to break the cycle of woundings and don the crown of personal sovereignty.

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust: In the name of all things holy, STOP burning your fellow Witches!  We have a hard enough time not being “burned” by the rest of society, if we can’t treat each other with respect, what are we playing at?

Solstices, Life and Death

cauldronfireLithaHappy Solstice! I hope that yours was as meaningful and relaxed as mine was here in North Carolina. Here, The Sojo Tribe and I celebrated Litha, the Summer Solstice, and the apex of the Sun and all that we’ve accomplished so far during the growing light phase of the year.  We lit a fire in my copper cauldron with the remains of our beeswax class candle (We prepare a candle and light it during our classes to create sacred space. This one has been in use since Imbolc.)  We then fed that fire with harvested Rosemary and Litha incense, and the rays of our accomplishments written on colorful paper. We applauded, and congratulated each other, then released our ego-attachment so that we could strive for even greater things in the future! And…then we went out to a local patio bar and shared some “summer solstice” beer and a meal. “All acts of love and pleasure are her rituals….”

As the copper cauldron heated up, a fantastical chemical reaction happened wherein the flames turned green! It was the witchiest thing we’ve had spontaneously happen in a long while and it was glorious in its simplicity.  This was an impromptu ritual because our dear Tribe member, who intended to host and lead our Litha ritual, lost his father earlier in the week.  Death is not only an ending, it is a beginning, just as Litha is both the triumph of the sun, and the beginning of decline into the dark half of the year.

We’ve had a lot of death visit us this midsummer with several people known and kin to folks in our group crossing the veil, which is a fitting reminder that death ALWAYS hangs in the balance with life. All the more reason to savor the joys and bounties when they come, for tomorrow we may die… This summer season, I am overjoyed to travel to see my family in my mother’s home town for the first time in many years. That is my celebration of life, as I honor the life of my maternal grandmother, who passed through the veil at Beltane.

Back at Beltane, My grandmother Frances came to visit me before they even laid her body to rest. As my daughter and I toured a historical church yard with cemetery in New Bern, NC, (because that’s what my 12 year old daughter likes to do for her birthday, Witchy much?) who should join us in that cemetery? Only the spirits of our maternal ancestors, and they spoke to us via a medium from New Jersey named Denise who was touring the same churchyard, and was kind enough to deliver their messages.

left to right, Frances, Elmore, me and Sondra Rouse, circa 1998.

left to right, Frances, Elmore, me and Sondra Rouse, circa 1998.

Yes, Frances and Elmore, my grandparents divided by the veil for almost 15 years, and Sondra, their daughter and my mother, gone these last 7 years, were with us once more. Their family is rejoined in Spirit at last and looking out for us. They came to tell me that they think I’m a great mom, that they they love us, are proud of us, and not to worry about them because they are just fine, the afterlife is better than they even expected.

Denise transmitted their side of the story of what was going on after my grandmother became so sick that she was mostly incoherent. Her family in Spirit became a kind of hospice care on the Spirit side, while my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins, were attending her on the living side. Her Spirit family helped her to relax, let go, and ease across the veil to rejoin them. Her father was even present there in the end, keeping watch over her. That tidbit gives me great comfort.

You see, they were all Christians, and the afterlife just isn’t what they were told it would be, but it is better, and they wanted me to know that they accept me fully for who I am–the Witch in the family.  I’d kept that last bit from all three of them while they were alive.  It was toe-curling awesome to be fully known by them at last.  My granddad told my daughter that he looks out for her especially, that “she’s his girl.” That thrilled her to no end, especially since he died several years before she was even born. If you are going to have an ancestral guardian, make it Granddad Stormy, former police officer!

I stand in awe and wonder of my magickal life. Gratitude.

For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who visited my blog last week, Merry Winter Solstice!  I wish you all the joys of the new light! As we head into the darkness, you are heading into the light. Isn’t that a beautiful balance? I love how the Wheel of the Year is so relative to where you live.

Blessed be.