Monday, 21 October 2019

The Pathless Witch.

Merry meet sisters and brothers.

I was on social media, browsing the posts in one of the groups I belong to, and somebody was asking for advice because they feel like they lack a sense of identity in the Craft; they do not have a specific path to follow, and because of this they feel like a fraud.  Now my first thought on this is that you do not need to follow a particular path at all, or that one may come to you when the time is right, even that you may change paths at any time if that is where your development leads you.  However I thought I'd share my experience because I know this is a common sentiment amongst many.

My Flamma Vesta, 2019
I finally acknowledged I was a witch back in 2001 after the breakdown of a long-term relationship.  As I tried to find my way, through books and intuition (the internet was still fairly new back then), I really struggled to figure out what gods and goddesses I should work with.  In fact, as a life-long atheist I struggled to believe in them at all.

All the introductory books had chapters on different styles of witchcraft, so I learnt about the bones of Gardnerian  and Alexandrian Wicca and knew they were not the paths for me.  I read about hereditary witches, of knowledge passed down from mother to daughter, and knew I did not qualify for that, but the simple title of Solitary witch suited me and my need to keep things uncomplicated.

But then there were so many pantheons of deities you seemed to need in order to work magick, and things got so much more complicated.  I've always intuitively felt that to even attempt to work with gods I had no familial connection with was fraudulent, I guess what we would now call cultural appropriation, but I had no obvious guidance.  If I had Welsh, Scottish, Irish, even Cornish ancestry, I might be able to connect with the Celtic gods, but I did not.  If I had grown up in an area covered by Danelaw I might have felt drawn to Norse gods, but I grew up in Surrey, an area once of farming and trading and outside of the rule of the Norse.  From a historical perspective that would mean my allegiance was with the Saxons, but they were Christian so early in the Dark Ages as to be irrelevant to me, or it was Buckland's work which created a witchcraft for them in the 1960s and 70s.  As a side note, in 2015 I even did a DNA test to see if that would give me answers, and funnily enough I came out as quite the mongrel (which you'd expect, being English) but I was more Scandinavian than anything else - just!  So I did do some research, but it all felt so alien I struggled to embrace their gods fully.  About a year or so later Ancestry gave me an update which took away all my Viking ancestry and made me 96% England, Wales and Northwest Europe (basically Saxon) and 4% Celtic, so it was back to the drawing board.

However back in 2007 I had something of a breakthrough while visiting the Roman baths at Bath - in fact I had a moment of such beautiful spiritual clarity, of a connection to those who had stood in the mud of a steaming portal to another world, that I cried.  A bit embarrassing when surrounded by tourists of all nations, but there you go.  Great, I'd found my pantheon!  Except for one small thing... I'm an atheist, and try as I might I just can't quite get to grips with worshiping anything.

So what is the point of all this, if I still don't have the answers?  Well for me, the solution is as simple as I thought it complicated: I don't worship anything.  However, what I do is I study the concept of a deity I wish to work with.  Let's take Vesta as an example.  She was the most important deity in Roman society; she was the only one to be worshipped at a state level as well as in every home, and the Vestal Virgins were the most revered and honoured of all those tending temples.  Vesta was the goddess of hearth and home, of safety, provision and all the emotional attachments associated with that.  If the Flamma Vesta (the eternal flame in the temple in Rome) went out, then Rome itself would fall.  And it did.  So I read up on this, I discovered there is a new community of people who honour Vesta as a way of bringing their spirituality away from churches, temples and clergy and back to the home, the family, and creating a sanctuary for yourself where tending to each other is at the core of your daily practices.  This I could get behind, so every home has had a place for a candle to be lit, a few words to be said, and my intention to create a sanctuary for all those within the walls, both residing and visiting, has been set.

A simple candle, California

My family altar, Maryland

It has taken me almost 20 years to get to this point, and it's just one goddess amongst millions, but that is ok.  Maybe my path will always be vague, maybe I will find other Roman or Romano-British deities that call out to me.  For a while my lack of label bothered me, but now I know it is ok for me to not have all the answers; part of the fun is the journey and not the destination.

Blessed be )0(

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

A Samhain Ritual for Contacting the Dead

Merry meet!

Well October is well and truly under way now, and in this blog post I would like to share a really powerful guided meditation with you all that is perfect for doing on Samhain, or Halloween.

The purpose of this pathworking is to reach out to those spirits on the Isle of the Dead, and as such it can be very emotional. Plan your ritual carefully beforehand.  Read it through several times so you are totally familiar with the journey you are about to take, or consider recording it as an MP3 track if that suits your way of working more.  Another alternative is to get someone to read it to you, but this takes a lot of skill so don't pick someone who is unfamiliar with guiding meditations.

As with any visualisation or pathworking, it is important to prepare fully before beginning to ensure you are both protected and grounded, and it is recommended rather than a simple cake and ale ritual at the end; eat something more substantial and make an effort to ground yourself in reality because you will be going deep into the Other Realms for this one.  I will assume you are practiced at protecting and grounding yourself but if not, the book from which this visualisation comes, The Wicca Bible by Ann-Marie Gallagher, has some very good information.  She also recommends having a familiar object close by that you can physically hold when you return from your inner journey to anchor you here.

One final word of warning.  This journey involves communicating with those on the Isle of the Dead, but we must not visit this isle.  While it won't kill you it can seriously mess with your psychic abilities and disturb your subconscious and dreams, particularly if you don't ground properly afterwards.  DO NOT CROSS TO THE ISLE!

Don't be scared; let's begin.

Close your eyes and centre yourself. If any intrusive thoughts sneak in, just let them go.  When you are ready, go into the space within yourself.

You become aware of the sound of breaking waves.  Allow this sound to become louder as you draw nearer to its source.  Open your inner senses - feel the drag of the breezes on your skin, the taste of salt, the sensation of dry sand under your feet.  Open your inner vision to see that you are on a seashore.  Take note of your surroundings.  What colour is the sand, the sky?  Walk to the water's edge until you find a craft.  Step into the boat and notice its colour, its details.  Is anybody else in the boat? Do they speak to you?  What do you notice as the boat moves out to sea? What do you hear?

When the boat lands, notice the details of its mooring place.  This is a small island, joined to a vaster shore by a bridge.  What does the bridge look like; what and who is on the other shore?  You may hear voices or sounds that are familiar and strange, see faces you know and faces of strangers. Those who wish to speak to you will approach the far end of the bridge.  You may face them from your side of the bridge, but you may not cross.  If anybody wishes to speak with you they will do so.  You may speak with the dead; you are contacting that deep part of yourself that is their memory.  When you have finished speaking, bid farewell and thank the guardian of the bridge for your time there.  You may ask the guardian who they are and what their purpose is.  Listen carefully to the answers; you may wish to remember and note them down on your return.

Rest on your island.  Think about your own life.  What is your earliest memory?  What have you learned during your lifetime so far?  Who taught you these lessons?  Are they alive or have they passed to the Summerlands?  What part of them remains with you?  When ready, return to the boat and sail back to the shore from whence you came.  How do you feel to leave that place?  Is the journey back more difficult than the journey outwards?  Who is with you on your journey?

As you disembark, thank whoever travels with you and concentrate on the feeling of firm ground beneath your feet.  Physically pick up the object you have chosen as your "anchor" and slowly return to you surroundings.  Make any notes you wish or, if you were working with others, compare notes, and close down as you normally would.

Blessed be )0(

Taken from "The Wicca Bible" by Ann-Marie Gallagher 

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

How To Become Invisible

Merry meet everyone!

This blog post is something of an unusual one maybe, but the act of being invisible is a highly skilled piece of magick that takes a lot of practice and I think it is an important part of a witch's tool kit.

The first thing I am going to say is life is not an episode of "Buffy" or like it is in "The Craft", so don't think that by saying a few magick words and having the right herbs and crystals you'll be able to run down the street naked and nobody will see you.  Nor do I have a cloak like Harry Potter's.  So how do I achieve invisibility?  Practice and a large dose of what is known in my household as headology (and thank you to Sir Terry Pratchett and Granny Weatherwax for that term).

The truth is, it is very easy to be invisible, but we as a species are programmed to stand out and get noticed; that's why it takes practice, but once you've mastered it it will come very naturally.

The first thing is to consider what I mean by invisibility.  Without a cloak or ring that can be worn, the skill of the invisible witch is to pass unnoticed through crowds, down streets and not be bothered.  Now you might be wondering why someone would want to do this?  Have you ever been on a tight schedule and bumped into people you know who want to chat?  You could have slipped past them unnoticed.  Maybe you live in an area where you don't fit in and want to avoid animosity, you don't want to risk bumping into your ex while shopping, you have a massive zit and feel rubbish, or you just feel introverted and want to be left alone.  Whatever is going on in your life, there will eventually come a time when you just don't want to be noticed, and this is the skill of invisibility.

Ok, so down to basics, how do we start?  Like any witchcraft, we start with the very practical basics of course!  If you want to avoid attention you have to dress the part.  Dark clothing or at least muted colours works best; what you want to avoid are bright colours and patterns, logos, sparkles, anything that might catch the eye.  Think about what you're wearing on your feet as well, and avoid anything with a heel or that creates noise, so trainers or flat ballet pumps work best for women, or if the weather is accommodating DMs or sneakers do the job as well, just make sure they are dark colours and they blend in.  It is also a sad indictment of our world but cover up as much as possible as well, particularly women.  Yes, my inner feminist is screaming at me right now, but the truth is if you have a short skirt on or cleavage showing it is much harder to go about unnoticed, so my outfit of choice for this exercise is a black t-shirt, black gypsy skirt or jeans, and black ballet pumps or hiking boots with a soft rubber heel so you don't get the give-away clip clop as you walk down the street.  Oh, and as long as it's not raining a pair of dark sunglasses work a treat to hide your eyes and avoid inadvertently making eye contact with someone.  Of course if the weather is cold a dark, nondescript coat works wonders.

So we've dressed the part, now we're ready for the second phase.  This is all about your body language and acting in such a way you don't get noticed.  Sounds easy, right?  The skill is that even if someone looks right at you they won't remember seeing you.  Body language is so important here.  Normally we are taught to walk upright, looking around us and often without realising it we emit a signal that says "look at me!".  In fact next time you're in a crowd, just stop and watch the people going by and see which ways they subconsciously ask for attention.  Look for the guy in the business suit walking confidently down the middle of the pavement, his whole body demanding you look at him, see how important he is and get out of his way.  Notice the group of teenagers, all dressed in bright colours and laughing loudly at each other trying to get noticed and validated by the opposite sex.  Now look at the mum with the screaming toddler; is she keeping her head down and hoping nobody notices or has she got her head up and shoulders back, defiantly looking around as if to dare anybody to complain?  Ok, now we've seen it in others, we can apply what we've learnt.

Keep your head lowered a little, not so you can't see where you're going but just so you're not standing tall, and when you look around you try to keep your gaze lowered so as to avoid eye contact.  Keep to the edges of the crowd where the people are fewer and where few people look, and try to preempt where people will walk so you can avoid them.  This isn't about making last minute changes to your direction, as that will draw attention, but instead making sure you were never in that spot in the first place.  Use your own body language to signal where you will be and most people will glide right past you without noticing.

Be very aware of your surroundings and consciously keep yourself small. This is the final step, manipulating your energy field.  We all have energy fields around us, our auras, and they extend from our bodies to various distances depending on our physical and emotional state, and the circumstances we are in.  The bigger the aura, the more noticeable you are, so try to visualise a bubble around you that contains your aura so it is less likely to brush up against someone else's, giving them that "someone walked on my grave" feeling.  That bubble can actually act like a cushion, gently moving people out of your way as you calmly and gently walk through the crowds, so it is definitely a skill worth practicing.

So there you have it, without Hollywood special effects you know now how a witch can make herself invisible.  It sounds all very easy and mundane, but any witch worth her salt knows sometimes the hardest magick is the magick you create without props and using just your intent.  Give it a try; some days will be more successful than others, but keep practicing, because one day it might just save your life.  Or at least your dignity!

Blessed be )0(