Monday, October 29, 2012

St. Expedite

Although I am not a christian or a practicioner who subscribes to any Judeo Christian beliefs, I do venerate and call upon some Saints, both Catholic and Folk.  One of the reasons is because these saints were people, just like you and me.  They are people who now reside in the spirit world and have had (in most cases) massive amounts of human attention and energy directed toward them through veneration and prayers.  This seems to have kept many of them interested and active in human affairs long past the time that most spirits seem to move on.

St. Expedite is not recognized by the Catholic church, in fact there have been campaigns by bishops to stop the 'cult' following of St. Expedite.  By most accounts he was a Roman Soldier who converted to Christianity and was martyred.  He is known for accomplishing what's needed quickly. 

Generally when calling upon St. Expedite I've used Starr Casas' method for petitioning him, which is wonderful.  I've added additional things, such as prayer beads from Turkey (rumored to be the place of St. Expedite's death), military medals, etc. that St. Expedite likes. 

I'm posting this in honor of the wonderful St. Expedite, and to encourage anyone who needs a good and quick solution to call on this amazing Saint!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Drums of War

I've been feeling a stirring in the ether for quite some time.  A preparation, an anxious expectation, a sharpening of senses in anticipation of what is coming.  I hear the faint drumbeat of war growing steadily louder as the ancestors of our land urge those of us with the power to affect change through our will and actions to do so. 

This has happened many times throughout recorded history and it seems that it must happen again now.  As the Sorceress Cagliastro said in Al Vostro Servizo Due:

"There is an issue to address. America is on its way to becoming a place where it is reasonable to hunt and persecute or kill (covering both private and public sector) those of us who do not prescribe to a Christian religion.  Observe the media.... Never before have I heard the term evangelicals and 'the Christian right' used so often in a presidential election. This is NOT a comment about who is running, it IS a comment about who is ELECTING.  What have you done openly today to state that you have your rights to believe or NOT believe anything you choose? It used to not matter - you could be silent and ignore the head shaking and side comments - but when I hear CNN (for example) talking heads spend time analyzing who will win by discussing who can and cannot court evangelicals.... I urge you to - WAKE UP."

I completely agree with her on this.  I don't like it, I am comfortable in the shadows, but I cannot ignore what I'm seeing happening in our society.  I see that humankind has raped the planet and penetrated the domain of the stars, but the masses are not satisfied and an old cancer is coming to a head again.  A fundamentalism that breeds contempt of everything that doesn't bow to their god and acquiesce to their codes of conduct.  I feel in my blood and bones that the land spirits who've gone feral from neglect are rising up to reclaim their domain.

What should we do?  What action should be taken?  I do not know the answers, I only have ideas, mostly gleaned from those with more knowledge than me.  Peter Gray and Alkistis Dimech have published books about this such as XVI and The Blood of The Earth.  I have The Blood of The Earth and John Michael Greer does some very knowledgable teaching of strategies to handle the crisis of the planet, but I admit that (rightly or wrongly) I'm more concerned with social changes.  I've been told that XVI focuses more on the social aspect but I've not purchased that book yet so I don't know, it's on my 'must have' list though. 

There have been some positive changes recently.  Quite small but positive nonetheless, which I think is good to focus on since the outlook of our humanity in America is otherwise quite gloomy.  The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell was progress, it's good that you can't get kicked out of the military for being gay now, but for fucks sake its still infuriating that this went on for so damn long.  The Christian right is still trying to restrict women's access to birth control in spite of the overpopulation of the planet and the massive number of children in foster care, but so far have failed to get legal grounds through our court system to exclude birth control from insurance plans of corporations with a religious affiliation. Another good thing.  

Some small things I'm doing that you can too - work your magic for the changes you wish to see.  When there's a vote coming up on a social issue you feel strongly about, print off a google map of that city, circle the voting locations, and in whatever way your tradition supports flood them with energy programmed to sway the voters.  Anything from hoodoo candle magic to an Uncle Chuckie radionic box can be used and everything in between, dont limit yourself.  The same methods can be used to bind or disband churches in the news that are doing ridiculous things like burning books and other nonsense.  Or raping children, which is an all too common problem among 'youth pastors' or 'music ministers' or whatever the hel they want to call themselves. 

I come from a long line of vigilantes, and I feel my ancestors calling me to meet the challenge with action, not endless philosophizing of how things got to be this way.  There may, or may not, be time for that later.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summoning and Blood Paint

I called a certain daemon that I've been working with on a project, and he seems to want me to share some things that I'd previously been keeping to myself - like the recipe for my blood paint.  Not that its some sooper-sekret special thing, but it's mine that I came up with myself and I'd intended to keep it that way.  But, I want to keep this relationship going strong, so I will do as he asked.

I make the paint by collecting menstrual blood first.  Fresh, and undiluted.  I then grind some myrrh to a fine powder and add it.  I make an opium tincture with Wild Lettuce (legal plant that contains small amounts of opium or something like that - not a scientist, I don't know the name of the chemical properties lol), and add a few droppers of the tincture to the mixture and let this sit for awhile.  Then add some vodka and red wine.  Once that's done, I wait for the poke berries to ripen and add poke berry juice.  Depending on what time of year this is started you may have to wait for quite some time (assuming you live in a part of the country where poke berries grow) but I feel its important to use wild ones, naturally harvested on your own.  The myrrh powder thickens this to a paint, or less can be put in to keep it at an ink consistancy. I don't measure any of these ingredients, I put in what feels right, and adjust the myrrh powder to get the consistancy I need, be it paint or ink.  For sigils such as below, I use a blackthorn to apply.  The lines are imprecise, but precision isn't the point.

Thats all I've got to say on that, it is done.  I've shared, as requested from the other side.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thoughts on Horseshoes

Horseshoes are one of the most well known good luck charms that exists in this age.  Most every culture considers them lucky.  In this post I wanted to share my thoughts on horseshoes, what I've been taught about them and why I hang them. Horse lore really cannot be seperated from horseshoe lore IMO, but I'm not going to go into horse lore in this post.

Who nailed the first shoe to the hoof of a domesticated horse is a piece of information lost in history, but most sources agree that it started sometime around 1000AD in Europe.  In Catholic tradition, St. Eligius is credited with performing a miracle related to getting a horse shod. For those of us whose ancestors were pioneers in America, horses were important to their survival in the culture and time they were born into.  The horse's ability to work and cover distances had to be protected at whatever cost.  Horseshoes protected the foundation of the horse, the horse provided the family with the ability to travel, grow more food (by pulling a plow), and hunt a larger area.  If the family's horses weren't properly shod, the survival of a pioneer family could be in jepardy.  The horseshoe protected the foundation of the horse, and in doing so protected the basis for the survival of the family.  This connection with protection and provision is the link that crosses over into sympathetic magic regarding 'good luck' in my opinion.

You may have heard elders say that the luckiest horseshoes are those that fall off on their own.  My understanding of this has always been that the shoe and hoof released each other, the horse having worn the shoe well and being in need of a new one, the shoe having completed it's purpose and accepting transition.  I've never saw any of my grandparents just throw away or toss aside horseshoes that were found in the fields after falling off the horses.  They were always picked up and hung up over a doorway or window.  At my Grandpa's place, the house has one horseshoe over each door and window.  The barns, smokehouse, henhouse, etc. all have a large number of shoes over each one, since worn out shoes are always hung.  Good luck in the barns = prosperity for the family.

My Grandpa always hung horseshoes over the door with the opening downward "to allow the luck to run out over the family when they enter the house".  My Grandma always attached a ribbon to them and hung them with the opening facing up "so we keep our luck and don't let it all run out".  I believe this is one of those instances where "whatever feels right" is the best method.  By all means if you've been taught a specific way to hang horseshoes then honor your tradition, but if not, go with whatever method feels most powerful. 

Over at catherine yronwode has written that there may be reason to believe that the crescent shape of the horshoe is related to symbolism for pagan moon Goddesses.  I like that idea and it figures in to the symbolism I personally see in my own horseshoes that are hanging in my home.  It's not something I gleaned from my elders when I was taught why we hang horseshoes, but it's one of those wonderful additions I've made due to our ability to share ideas on the 'net in this time.  Lore regarding horses and iron can also come into play, and add more levels to the magic surrounding the use of horseshoes as charms or talismans.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ritual Graveyard in the Poison Garden

My poison patch of castor beans is coming up beautifully.  There are around 40-50 castor plants in it and their leaves have already darkened to that dusky purple sheen.  I've begun using this patch as a graveyard for my ritual remains.  One of the most recent things to be buried there was the remains of a Sara Lee pound cake that had been given in offering to St. Expedite after he (with amazing effeciency) helped me out.

Other things that make their way there are wilted flowers that are removed from the ancestral altar, water offered to spirits that has been out for a day or two and needs to be replaced with fresh, and any other biodegradable ritual item that has fulfilled it's purpose and is ready to move on. 

Another thing I use my ritual graveyard for is burying items that need to spend some time entombed as a part of their consecration.  For some things I will bury them in an actual graveyard, where a close proximity to literal human death is needed for the work. But if the purpose for the entombment is just related to a period of darkness in a sacred space, my ritual graveyard works perfectly.  The buildup of energy created from giving back ritual remains to the earth can become quite potent.  This can be accessed through the plants that grow there, and also by taking a bit of the soil to add to workings.

The ritual graveyard is also an excellent place for monuments.  A statue dedicated to a nature or underworld spirit are appropriate here, because the graveyard is outdoors and the remains are being buried underground which brings in the underworld connections.  A tribute to moon goddess works also, and each night it's there soaking up the rays of the moon.  Statues or monuments dedicated to meeting of an entity that helped you on your path, or that you had a memorable meeting with also work well in the ritual graveyard.  The possibilities are endless. :)

There is a lot of lore about Witch Gardens, disposing of ritual remains, etc. in books and traditions around the world.  Nothing I do with this is new and my own invention, I'm sure I probably read of the idea several times before I started working with my version in the way I've described here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Lovely Castor (Ricinus Communis)

I first made the acquaintance of the castor plant a few years ago when an older couple I know showed me the castor's they'd planted near their garden.  They said the roots were poisonous so they'd planted them there to control moles.  Whether that works or not appears to be a matter of debate, but I barely heard that assertion anyway because I was so taken in with the beauty of the plants!  They were all over 5 feet tall with glossy dark leaves, and rubbery pink seed pods.  I immediately asked if I could have some seeds from the plants when they were ready, and they agreed.  The next year was my first year of castor gardening.

                                                        My first castor plant. 

First off, I need to say that castor beans are poisonous.  Not slightly poisonous either, deadly. Don't mess around with them uncautiously.  That being said, the plant is a beautiful specimen.  The variety I grow has dusky purple leaves with a rubbery texture.  The pink of the seed pods is a beautiful brilliant contrast with the darkness of the rest of the plant.  It's beauty is so sensual, it whispers of guarding the darkened untrod sections of Eden.

The deadliness of this plant makes it highly useful in baneful work of course, but I've also found it to be a plant with a very protective quality once a relationship is established with it.  I have a rather large patch of it growing at one of the borders of my property, and I keep it's seeds in protective ritual containers throughout my home.  I only use it's seeds that I've harvested from the castor plants I've grown, I don't buy them. This isn't something I practice with all plants, but it's part of my relationship with the castor. 

Interestingly, I was born a few weeks overdue and my mother's doctor had her drink castor oil to move me along.  I understand that this practice is no longer recommended in the medical community, but I do enjoy knowing that this plant that I now work with so well was connected to my birth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prosperity Blend

This is a work I devised to keep prosperity flowing in my home, and to honor the forces that bring it to me. 

Put these ingredients in your mortar (or bowl).  Amounts are open to your own interpretation. 

Yellow Dock
Allspice (whole, I used 4)
Cinnamon Stick (I used an inch)
Dogwood Petals
Brown Rice
1 dried Four Leaf Clover  (I find these all the time and press them to keep and use)

Grind this mixture with your pestle (or a rock or whatever) while meditating on the prosperity that's currently in your life and the additional prosperity you'd like to see.  When you're satisfied with it, put it in a plate or large pillar candle stand.  Start adding coins that you find when you're out to the plate, to represent prosperity that comes freely to you.  Dollar Bills could be put in the bottom of the plate under the spices if you like.  I don't usually use tea lights, as I prefer larger candles that can be carved, but for things like this I do use tea lights because they heat up the herbs and cause them to put off more of their lovely scent.  I put the tea light in the middle of the blend.  I also added a hagstone to my plate that I found in my front flower garden. 


A trip to the Graveyard

An old family cemetery is an amazing thing, and I'm grateful that my family has one.  It's located in the country, nothing but fields around it.  At least once per year I go with my Grandmas and Aunts to tend the graves.  We take new flowers for our beloved dead, and bring supplies to clean the stones.  The stones are gone over with a brush and the cleaning solution to prevent moss growth that would obscure the names and dates.  We have a lot of family there, so by the time we're done we're sweaty and pretty well covered with all manner of graveyard dirt.  This is something we've been doing ever since I can remember, and something that we've done since before I was born. 

For some families, visiting the graves of their loved ones on Memorial Day (in the US) is not all that uncommon.  Unfortunately it's getting to be less common.  What is unusual about my family (based on my observation of other families graveyard habits) is not that once per year we clean and care for the graves, but that we visit on a regular basis every time we get the chance.  All of us, and we are a very large family, stop by the graveyard to visit anytime we're near it and have a few minutes to spare.  There's an understanding that our dead know and hear when we speak to them, even among the fundamentalist-christian members of the family.  Of course, we don't have to go to the graveyard to speak to them, but that's a subject for another post.

There are some old graves that are not family members by blood (that we know of) and over the years we've adopted many of these into our care routine.  There is a Civil War soldier grave that I took on responibility for bringing flowers to and cleaning 18 years ago, and a few others.  They've become beloved dead as well.

It bothers me when people ignore death, or act as if it's something shameful to be avoided.  For me, my dead are as much recipients of love and respect as my living.  Seeing people recoil from touching a dead body is confusing to me.  I know that in our current culture people are not prepared to be comfortable with death in most cases, and the coldness of the flesh is shocking.  But still.. I find it confusing.  When one of my own go, I hold their hands as I say goodbye, or kiss their brow.  I feel that I would insult them if I were recoiling from their new state of being. 

So I'm just typing to say, remember your beloved dead.  If your family was the worst shit of the worst and you're glad they're gone then they're not beloved.  But beloved dead doesn't have to be 'family' in the most literal sense of the word.  Find your own beloved, don't be limited to your family tree.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Secrecy, Truth, and Hiding (or in pagan speak, the broom closet)

I believe in speaking the truth.  It's very very rare that I ever tell a lie, because something in me just jumps up and bitch slaps me if I even consider it.  I do also believe in knowing when to keep silent, because sometimes speaking the truth serves no purpose other than cruelty.  Knowing how to change the subject without the person whose request for truth you're avoiding realizing that you just avoided a topic can be a pretty magical skill.  It's also a skill that can consume a large amount of energy if you have to practice it on a constant basis.

I've been in the shadows for a long time.  Not so much on the internet, but in my face to face interactions.  Very few people actually know anything at all about my thoughts on spirituality, religion, magic, death, morality, etc.  And avoiding speaking my true thoughts about these things has been taking up more and more of my personal resources.  I live in the Bible Belt, there's some pretty serious fundamentalists here who don't hesitate to call DFS on "those Satan worshippers".  BTW, to some of these people, any non-christian is automatically a "Satan worshipper". *sigh*  There was a time, back before I had a child to think of, when I spent countless hours explaining the differences in Satanism, Luciferianism, Wicca, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and many more things to these types of fundamentalists, many who happen to be part of my family.  But then I got tired.  And then I had someone else's welfare to think about, my child's.  So I shut up.  I went into a deep secrecy.

It's been 6 years now.  The secrecy has accomplished what I wanted in regards to safety.  Most of those people assume that I "settled down", got over my "occult obsessions", and they hint now and then that I should come to church.  heh  Due to the fact that in the past I didn't hide so much, these people tend to ask me a lot of pointed questions about my thoughts on religion, and occult theory. Unfortunately, the energetic drain from  constant effort to speak truth but only the truth I wish to be known, has made me feel somewhat fractured.  This was made really apparent to me in a session of automatic drawing recently, because what came out was literally "Fractured Woman".  It took some more work to come to the conclusion of exactly what Fractured Woman was telling me.

I started thinking about just exactly why I am hiding quite so well.  Of course I want my child to be safe.  Every good parent wants their children to be safe.  But there is a big wide grey area between blood rites in the front yard for all the neighborhood to witness and hiding as deeply as I've been.  The only answer I can boil it down to regarding why I'm hiding so deeply is fear.  I fear that my child won't be safe if anything, ANYTHING, is known locally about what I actually do.  And... I don't like that.  I shouldn't have so much fear.  First off, I have common sense.  Even before I went into such deep hiding, I was never a 2 pound pentacle and black lipstick type (although I have nothing against 2 pound pentacles and I think black lipstick is kinda hawt).  Secondly, I know my magic works.  Why wouldn't I trust it a little more when it comes to the issue of keeping my child safe from mundane repercussions of gossip?  Again, I have common sense, so this shouldn't be that big of an issue.  Third, I have a supportive agnostic partner. So, what the hel.

The next thing I considered is - what would I currently do differently, if I wasn't in such deep hiding.  The first thing that came to mind was finding out what pagan events will be coming to my nearest city soon and attending one or two.  Meeting some magical friends face to face as opposed to strictly internet contact.  Not stressing that someone might see me at the local metaphysical book store.  Most of my practice consists of things that I just wouldn't do or talk about publicly for many reasons, and the things that I would do differently actually seem laughable in their simplicity and harmlessness when I list them out.

Whatever it is in me that can't abide blatantly lying is boiling to the surface over the way I've fractured myself with hiding so deeply, because I have hidden deep enough to be living a lie, a secret life.  I think this force is telling me that it's time to stop hurting myself this way, to trust myself more to keep my child safe without completely mutilating who I am with obsfucation and silence.

Forcing myself into silence about this also fostered a level of silence in me about other things that I strongly believe in. I used to speak out often for causes such as environmentalism, GLBT rights, feminism, etc. but I silenced myself on these issues too.  Again, out of fear of repercussions.  As a bisexual female earthlover, this silence was also particularly fracturing. 

I've come to the decision that at some point, I have to take the cross off my back, and quit sacrificing myself to safety.  I must teach my child what they need to know, put myself back together and pull off the veil.  Learn to show my magical face a little more while covering my magical ass, so to speak. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trees, Blood, Books, and Random Looks

Just a rambling post about stuff I've got going on because I feel like writing about it. :)

My dogwood trees have fat buds on them and if the weather stays in the 80's the way it has been, they'll be bloomed out in all their magically delicious beauty soon.  Dogwoods have so much to offer, their branches, flowers, and berries.  They've been reported for some time to be associated with wishes, protection, and secrets. This seems pretty accurate based on what I get from the dogwoods on my land.

I have three big sycamores in my backyard, that really seem to be coming alive in the last week.  Awhile back I got the message that I needed to do a blood feeding of my trees, and it happened to be during my monthly cycle.  So I gathered some menstrual blood, diluted it with water, and fed it to my trees.  The transformation in the sycamore's energy was amazing.  They seem much more awake, and more aware of me, than they did before.

I've posted this elsewhere, but here's my method of gathering menstrual blood since I don't use a diva cup - which appears to be most female witch's preferred way.  Buy a bottle of cheap wine in a clear glass bottle with a screw top. Open it and pour the wine down the drain (for the love of all that is holy NEVER drink wine that comes in a screw top bottle!!). Fill the bottle most of the way with water, and when you have a blood soaked tampon stick it in the bottle. You'll probably need to use something to push it down through the neck of the bottle. Be sure and hold on to the string. When you've got it past the neck of the bottle and submerged in the water, screw the lid on over the string to secure it. The blood will slowly seep out into the water, usually dropping down in a line (similar to the way incense smoke rises in a line) and is very pretty to watch for those of us who aren't weirded out by such things, very relaxing and meditative. After a day or two, most of the blood will have seeped into the water and you can take the lid off and pull the tampon out.  You now have a wine bottle of lovely dusky red moon blood water for whatever purposes you need to use it for. :)

I recently ordered 3 new books I'm eagerly anticipating.  Talismanic grimoires fascinate me.  I am not a grimoire purist, there's no way I could take someone else's path (whether current or ancient) and follow it exactly to the letter, but by experimenting with the practices outlined in the ones I choose to work from I can learn new things and evolve on my own path.  

On the subject of random looks - I'm not sure just what the hel's going on lately but everywhere I go people are staring at me like I have two heads! This is a sudden development, and as I just completed a rather dark magical work and haven't yet moved the remnants of it out of my home, I'm beginning to think I'm projecting something related to it that makes the local public quite uncomfortable.  I'm a "hidden in plain sight" witch, not going around dressed in goth (although I think goth is lovely) or sporting a pentacle.. and nothing about my dress or demeanor has changed that I'm aware of.  The remnants of the work will be moved on tonight and a cleansing of the space started, so I'm curious to see if this stops the "deer in the headlights" stares people are giving me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Romaticizing Ancestors

At times, in conversations with other witches I've noticed a tendency to romanticize ancestors who practiced any form of magic.  I've fallen into it myself more than once.  So this post isn't a "listen up magical newbs" thing, it's self reflection on a tendency that I think many have, and I most definitely do.  I'm not an expert in necromancy or ancestor communication, but certainly not new to either.  I'm sharing some thoughts for other non-experts interested in either practice (ancestor communication and necromancy are different, but occasionally overlap IMO).

Several of my ancestors, living and dead, practiced folk magic.  For this post I'm going to focus on two of them.  One female who was initiated into a form of trad craft who is now deceased, and one male who I have no clue where he picked up his practices and is still living.

The female ancestor I remember had what many in my family refer to as "the sight". She would hear death bells and tell us what direction death was coming in and how many souls it would take (and she was always accurate), make charms for people, etc.  She would walk to the crossroads at times and never tell anyone why she was going there. She used blood in her works, and there were curious stone circles on her land with bones in the center that weren't talked about.  She was also a Christian.  Much as I would like to think that she and I are alike and that she would have taught me her ways had she lived till I was older, I know that she most likely would have saw my bisexuality and Luciferian philosophies without having to be told of them, and would not have approved.  And as much as I respect and appreciate family traditions, I respect and appreciate myself more, so I would not have tried to be something I am not just to continue the line.  Based on what I knew of her, she might have considered me too much 'on the dark side'.

The male has good luck charms, bone crafts, and many other folk magic works around his home and land that he's made over the years.  He knows a lot of traditional lore that would be interesting to document. He has no truck with any type of religious philosophies on afterlife punishment (hell, karma, etc.) which is something we have in common.  But, he is an asshole.  He is racist and has shown extreme cruelty to children and animals more than once.  I would like to preserve the lore of my family, but I don't want it bad enough to go through him.  Based on what I know of him, he would consider me too 'soft' to handle the information anyway.

So here I am, more than one ancestor who practiced a form of magic, but none that I would feel comfortable actually asking them to teach me anything beyond what I picked up through observation.  Instead, I commune with ancestors whose magical practice or non-practice is unknown to me, but are people with a character that is open minded enough to get to know me and still want to interact with me.  I will also open communication with some who would not fully approve of me (like the female ancestor described above) if they're willing, but I don't get quite as intimate. 

The reason I am thinking of this today, is that lately I've talked to so many witches who want to start working with ancestors, but only ancestors who were witches or had a magical practice.  I would offer that there is so much information and experience that is useful to a witch that can be obtained from communication with any ancestor who's open to it and benevolent toward the one calling them, not just magical ones.  Just the communication itself, and not necessarily even the information gained, is experience that will help us grow.  And I think it's really important to keep in mind that just because someone practiced a form of magic (such as my male ancestor described above) doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be good to communicate with.  That's not to say we shouldn't attempt to contact them, but to go into it carefully and cautiously until we've made sure they're benevolent.  That goes for any ancestor, but I feel it needs saying more in regards to those where there's evidence of magic or witchery, since some of us have a tendency to think that those types will automatically be safer and benevolent toward us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Although in my mind there's no place like my beloved Ozarks, I recently got the opportunity to spend some months living on the coast.  It was the first time I'd ever lived more than 50 miles away from my birthplace and it was a fun experience. It was interesting to see how the energy of new land and a different culture (I was close to NOLA - whoot!!) changed my way of working magic during my time there.  Spending some time by the sea (more time than a vacation but not a permanent move) had always been a dream of mine, ever since my Grandpa gave me a tiny preserved seahorse when I was small and suddenly the real-ness of exotic sea creatures opened like a kaleidoscope in my brain. :)

I lived very close to the beach and went walking at the water's edge pretty much every day, and became completely enamored with seashells and their myriad of possibilities.  After realizing the first day there that many of the most desirable shells were inhabited by hermit crabs (and making a flying trip back to the water to release the live crabs that were freaking out in my stifling hot car) I made sure to check first whether they were empty or not when picking them up. lol 

                                                        ^Hermit crabs inside!^

In the area I was in, one of the most common types of shell along the beach (and in every yard) was oyster shells.  Most of these have a beautiful abalone-like sheen to the inside, and some have holes in them from predators or just the wearing of the tide.  They will be excellent for hanging on wind chimes to bring a bit of that ocean energy that I enjoyed so much back to my home.  I've read some intriguing information about mortar made with oyster shells (apparently many of the older tombs in St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans were made with oyster shell mortar), but the process appears to be quite extensive - too much for a simple home sculpting project.

I also picked up a ton of quahog shells on this trip (and still have a stock of them from previous beach vacations).  I would dearly love to learn to make wampum beads   but have so many other time consuming projects going on that at the moment my attention span is more suited to arranging the quahogs into lovely sea mandalas. 

Another type that was common was snail shells, although these were usually broken.  I found the broken ones quite useful for traveling through visualization or jumping.  When the outer edge is slightly broken away but the spiral still intact, the shell has a larger gateway where the darkness within can be seen, and the way leading to it visualized a little more clearly.  Spiraling up, spiraling down, or even spiraling within, these 'broken' shells overlooked by most beachcombers are a treasure.

Another beach treasure I picked up was a large red crab shell, but haven't decided yet how I'll be using it.  Crab shell powder has a good reputation in hoodoo for removing curses and jinxes, and reversing the 'evil eye' and sending it back to it's sender.   I may grind it to powder, or use him in a protection ward.

Throughout the time I spent there, I picked up several bags of empty shells to test my ideas and make some nice art pieces and spirit houses with.  Broken bits of shells are useful to me too, as some of them will be ground up and put into spirit bottles.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heretical Bible Reading

I grew up in a very conservative fundamentalist christian family.  I spent many hours per week in church, as my family believed in going to services at least 3-4 times per week.  This was so natural to me that it was several years before I began rebelling against being required to sit quiet and still on a wooden bench for so long.

Before I began to feel the need to vociferously rebel and protest, I had a method of whiling away those hours by reading the Bible.  I would block out the words of the preacher that were thundering over the loud speakers and just read.  I would read these stories in the same manner as I did the old dusty books with tales of Apollo and Zeus that were on the shelves of our home library.  Sometimes I'd start reading with whatever text the preacher chose for that day, and then let my imagination go from there.  Occasionally I'd hear the preacher speak of the same verse I just read and give his interpretation, and I'd look up in astonishment, wondering if we were really reading the same book because my mind had went such vastly different places with the imagery of the text.

After leaving home and no longer being required to spend those hours in contemplation and being preoccupied with esoteric endeavors and classic occult texts, I still occasionally turn to what some hoodoo practitioners refer to as that 'greatest book of conjure', for its exotic stories and legends.  In my beliefs, these stories are in no way literally true, and do not teach some unquestionable morality.  In fact, I find that the majority of the stories go very much against my personal morals, as the Bible contains a lot of conclusions that go against my personal moral code.  Because of it's prominence in my upbringing though, it does hold a certain fascination for me.  And due to the devotion of it's followers, I find there's centuries of power stored in those words that can be accessed and used in 'interesting' ways if one wishes to. heh

My favorite chapter during those young church days was always Genesis 3.  My thoughts while reading it and ignoring the preaching would go something like this.  (Note: These aren't especially original lol, they're just a sample of how I tend to read the Bible, and why I remain a first class heretic.)

3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Subtle indeed.  So subtle apparently that he could pass the gate and commune with the humans that this 'Lord God' had created for his amusement only.

 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

How rude that 'God' would create the humans and the garden, but leave a deadly tree in the midst of the fruit orchard for no identifiable reason.

 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 

Hmm, so the serpent might have knowledge of this 'God', more knowledge than the humans 'God' created and communes with daily.  And also he's mentioned the option that the humans might become as gods as well...

3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 

So they both ate, and they did not die.  Instead, their eyes were opened exactly as the serpent predicted.  Preachers postulate alot about the death of human innocence and the possibility that perhaps in the garden they were immortal, but the fact still remains that according to the text 'God' said 'ye shall surely die' and they did not immediately die upon consumption of the fruit.  Now the serpents words feel more trustworthy than 'God's...

3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

 This tells me that this 'God' made Adam and Eve afraid.  You'd think that Adam and Eve would have been seething to confront 'God' about his lie, to scathingly spit out "You said we'd die if we ate the fruit and we didn't! What's up with that fucker, and what else are you lying to us about?!?!"  But they didn't, they hid.  They disobeyed an order and upon discovering the futility of that order they appeared to be more worried about punishment for disobeying than finding out why the order was issued in the first place.  Looking at this as an adult, it reminds me of stories I've read regarding the mindset and psychological state of child soldiers, who are much more concerned about the reaction of their superior than the greater actual implications of their actions.

3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 

This was really puzzling to me as a child, and continues to be as an adult.  Why was he afraid because he was naked?  It's usually explained that it was the awareness of his nakedness that made him afraid, because he knew that 'God' would know that he was aware and would realize that he'd eaten of the tree.  But that's not actually what he says, he says he was afraid and hid himself "because he was naked".  Odd.

 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Cowards.  Sometimes as children, siblings will take the blame for each other out of love, in order to spare their brother/sister the punishment they know is coming.  Not so with these "first humans created in 'God's image"!!  Man blames woman, woman blames serpent, there appears to be no thought of frustration with 'God' over his apparent deceit that's been revealed regarding his pronouncement that they would "surely die" if they ate the fruit of the tree.  All the focus is on getting responsibility for their disobedience of the futile order shifted to someone other than themselves.

3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 

Harsh, but I'm not convinced this worked out so well.  Many cultures revere serpents, even the American Medical Association has the serpent in their symbol.  Interesting that 'God' tried to specifically put enmity between the serpent and the woman. 

3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

'God' seems to be having an epic hissy fit.  He's not given any explanation of why they did not immediately die upon eating the fruit, or why he was so dead set against them eating it, instead he's just cursed his creation in every way imaginable.  What a jackass.

3:20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 

Again with the anti-nudity, although it was all good before... Things that make you go hmm.

3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

WHAT!!!  'God' just confirmed the serpents statement as truth!  He also said "one of us", which reveals from his own words that there are others of his kind. And apparently there is another tree in the garden that the humans have not eaten of, and now he knows that they will not just blindly follow his command so:

3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Well isn't that just lovely.  He lied, was caught in the lie, didn't deny it, just cursed everyone for not blindly obeying, confirmed the serpents words as truth while demonizing it, and then drove his creation away from the the home he created for it and set armed guards at the entrance.

My reaction to this as a child: Revere and commune with snakes, they're trustworthy.  Ignore and run like hell from anyone who claims to speak as or for 'God'.  :)

What I Am/What I Do

It would be my preference to just say that I'm a witch without wrangling about definitions, cultural contexts and etymology.  But these days that begs more explanation because there are such vastly different practices being labeled as witchcraft, which is often correct in my view, but still different from 'my' witchcraft and not helpful in giving a perspective on what I do.  I don't care too much about those labels as I'm more interested in what a person's actually doing, but labels properly applied do help give an inkling to what a person does in their work so here goes.

I'm not Wiccan or wiccan, just to get that out of the way.  I'm not an initiate of a specific tradition, so many would not consider me a traditional witch either.  Due to some flubs and a particularly virulent infection of fundamentalism that ran rampant in my family for a few decades, I missed out on the initiation into the tradition of my ancestors and the last initiated member died without passing on her words and knowledge when I was a pre-teen.  This does make me sad and irritated if I dwell on it too much, but I truck on and know that there are others, I've managed to find a few. :)  As Chumbley and many others have said, "Nothing about the arte is ever truly lost."

Eclectic, in it's most literal definition, might be a proper term for my witchcraft, but I shy away from it because of the way I've seen it used.  In my search for the roots of my family's tradition, I've studied many texts and traditions and found a surprising number of similarities.  Experimenting with the methods of other traditions that have been made available to non-initiates and making contact with some of the forces they invoke has taught me a lot and furthered progress on my path.  (On a related note, I have to wonder if those who say you can't learn anything from books have ever read any.)  However, just because I have engaged some of the technique's of other traditions to further me in my personal work, doesn't mean that I go about calling myself a "Voudon/Palo/Santera/ONA/Feri/Bhuddist/Wiccan/N.A. Shaman/Satanist"! Certainly not, and having seen this quite a bit is why I cringe a little at the term eclectic.

What I do (that I talk about publicly): I venerate and commune with my ancestors.  I tend graves.  I engage the spirits of the land I was born and raised on, the genius loci, the haints, etc.  I use my native Ozark Mountain Magic (hoodoo style) for blessing and bane.  I wildcraft and grow herbs for crafting and food.  I create art for magical purposes that's infused with specific types of energy.  Much more could be said, but this pretty well sums it up. These are things I've done all my life, but with the specific "witchcraft" labeling and focus for the last 10 years.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Day I Decided to Die

*Note - This post is not about suicide or suicide attempts.  It's an allegorical reflection.*

I remember well the day I decided I had to die.  I had built myself up into something beautiful, carefully crafted to be aesthetically pleasing and pleasant to touch.  But as my environment had changed around me, I became useless.  In the unexpected position I found myself in on my life path, I was like a large and beautiful sculpture sitting in the midst of an industrial park.  Work was going on all around me and would soon crash into me and break me while laughing at the absurdity of my stillness if I was not moved out of the way or recreated into something that would be useful in my current location.  

A calling had sought me out, something that I'd never thought would be possible happened to me.  I'd thought that my place in life would forever be a solitary garden where the only people that wondered through were there to also enjoy the quiet peacefulness and would expect nothing more from me than for me to simply 'be', and they would admire the lines of my form and my purpose would be fulfilled.  But the garden had been transformed into a production center, no longer an oasis of tranquility.  Those hungry to be fed were working in the garden, stirring up the dirt in their quest for edible roots.  The delicate and exotic plants had to be moved to other locations that were still undisturbed by life that was pulsing and writhing instead of gliding in silence.  I had a choice to make, I could request to be moved from my location.  I could leave what had supported me and what I had stood on up to this point and seek a place that was dedicated to beauty and solitude and ignore the obligations to the creations of my soil. Or I could transform and join in the work.

The decision to die and be reborn into something useful in my current state was sudden, like a tornado with no warning sirens.  I pierced my flesh and tattooed a cross on my back, I sacrificially destroyed the creations symbolic of my solitude.  I endured the anger of the spirits I'd previously engaged for my tranquility and the watchful silence of my ancestors.  I vibrated like a person being electrocuted and I burned, then I died.

When I arose from death, I was disoriented and unformed.  All things I'd gained understanding of in tranquility and moved past were a mystery again and the understanding had to be regained, and it was the same and it was different as my life was now one of production rather than reflection.  I missed the solitude and I cried for it as it cried for me while I kept working and tending what I'd produced with no time for looking back.

Then one day, I saw my reflection in a vat of water as I cleaned tools in it.  I could still view and be viewed.  I could work with my hands while quieting my mind.  I could see as much sensual perfect beauty in nettle seeds as I did in the orchids of the previous days.  The realization that I could have both, tranquility and production, washed over me like a river bringing strength and calmness with its active water.  I realized that I'd always known that the balance was possible and even necessary for me, but I had to experience both exclusively to appreciate it. I learned to walk between the two, occasionally stepping to one side or the other, but always stepping back between and walking on with hands stretched out to both sides.  I laugh at my previous struggle, knowing that it was necessary for me while feeling amused at the simplicity.  This concept of balance is written in numerous texts new and old.  I had read it many times while thinking that it was obviously the only way to live, but not until I'd acknowledged my experiences in both sides and the death I required to leave one and enter the other did I understand the complexity that is bound into it due to the human processes that are required for my understanding. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jar of Sweetness

Folk magic is something I grew up with, although it wasn't labeled as such.  It wasn't until years later after I'd left home and was attempting to find magic through foreign constructs that my studies began to show me that the magic had been in and around me all my life.  The talismans, manifestations, and crafting that I'd taken for granted as something that we just do in my family were suddenly seen in a new light.

On that note, I have folk magic on my mind today.  Mainly because I realized that I accidentally left behind a honey jar in the house I spent some time in recently.  It was crafted on the fly when a situation came up that I needed to sweeten.  I took a small glass jar with a glass lid and filled it with sugar cubes because I had no honey available.  I wrote out my petition paper crossing it 9 times and then stuck it in the jar and added water to the cubes so that the sugar would melt and the petition would be literally saturated with sweetness.  I added some coins for a rich and sweet outcome and charged my jar.  Everything went nicely so the jar was finished, but I had not dismantled it yet and now I realize it was left sitting on a shelf in the closet... lol  I wonder who'll find it, if they'll know what it is or get curious about it.  The petition paper was unreadable before I put it in because the writing was crossed so many times, and now after sitting in the water for a few weeks I'm sure it's completely illegible.  The jar was pretty well deactivated, but still gave off a sweet/friendly vibe.  Makes me smile sitting here now to think of someone finding it. :)

Hillbilly Bohemian Heathen

I'll start this off by sharing a little about the title I chose for this blog.  The word hillbilly for most people appears to either draw up an image of Ellie Mae and Granny Clampett, country music stars retiring to Branson to live out their last years performing in the comfort of their own theater, or those kitschy gag gifts that almost every convenience store and gift shop in the Ozarks has that are all labeled as 'hillbilly' something.  A bag of pinto beans is labeled "Hillbilly Bubble Bath!" among other oh-so-clever products.  For me though, it just brings to mind living in the hills.  Growing up we lived on the ridge with the James River flowing through a nearby holler.  Early in the mornings, the fog would rise off the river and the sunrise would color it with brilliant shades until it looked like a magical cloud of fire, rising and dissipating between the hilltops.  We weren't the intentional 'modern homesteaders' you read about these days, growing organic health food on our land and butchering meat in order to get it hormone free (although these are excellent things to do), for my family it was just living.  We raised and butchered our own meat because it was cheaper than buying it at the store.  We grew a garden because seeds were much more affordable than the produce section.  We lived 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store anyway, so running to the store to pick up some last minute ingredient for supper just wasn't an option.  We lived in the hills because it is where our ancestors have lived for the last three centuries in America, and they lived in the hills of Scotland before that. So in my view, hillbilly isn't a slur, a joke, or some exalted label I choose to apply to myself, it's just a word that implies how I grew up.

Bohemian in its most proper sense refers to a native or inhabitant of Bohemia. In the more common vernacular it is a descriptive of a style of dress or decor, or a person who's rather unconventional, and usually artistic.  For me the word evokes images of antique tea-stained lace, velvet and silk patchwork, tea leaves being read, simple people in exotic places, and exotic people in simple places.  This image is something I relate to.

Heathen is an interesting word.  One of the central aspects of the majority of it's definitions appears to be the concept of being 'unconverted', primarily in relation to the Big Three, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  And this describes me perfectly.  I am unconverted by any of the dogma of accepted religious or spiritual thought, even outside of the big three.  The truths that I have taken to heart are few, and they are based on my life experience. Reading ancient texts on spiritualism and mythology is interesting to me and contains valid information, just as reading modern books where contemporary authors have recorded their experiences is helpful and can provide new insights. But for my way of living, none of those can ever be accepted on faith, or could ever take the place of experience. I remain an unconverted heathen when it comes to alignment with any organized religion.