Monday, December 3, 2012

Pretentious Pagans

There is, unfortunately, a lot of pretentiousness in the Pagan world.  Ugh.

I think that some of it is not deliberate.  Some people that might come off as pretentious are just quiet, shy, or socially inept.  I also think that some people act pretentious because they are insecure or feel vulnerable, and this is how they deal with these uncomfortable feelings, either by pretending to be so high and mighty that nothing can affect them, or as an attempt at shielding by distancing themselves from others or by sabotaging relationships and personal interactions.

However, there are some Pagans who are just plain pompous attention whores, which in a way is another type of social ineptness.  I'm not going to name any names, because I'm sure someone popped into your head already.  We all personally know or at least have heard of one high-profile pretentious Pagan, right?

So the question is, what do we do about these people, especially if their actions make all Pagans look bad?  Ideally we could just ignore them, but in some cases, it seems necessary to disassociate ourselves from such people.  I, for example, certainly don't want outsiders thinking that I believe I'm better than everyone else just because I'm Pagan.

Do you know a pretentious Pagan?  How do you deal with him/her?  What are your thoughts on this person's behavior?  How do their actions affect your life?  Feel free to share!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to us!

Pagans LOVE to party.  And since this Pagan chick just had her 35th birthday, plus her boyfriend's birthday is coming up next week, we decided to have a birthday party last Saturday!

We had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures during the party itself, so all I have are these "after" pictures.  Think we have enough liquor???!!!





...And here's the kitchen after I trashed it making food.

This also became quite the hot spot as the night went on.  Check out how full the ashtray is from all of us drunken chain-smokers!  Ha ha!


The funniest part is that a lot of our friends also brought liquor with them... so when I was cleaning up, I found 4 open bottles of Patron tequila, 1 unopened one, and one empty in the recycle bin. Guess I know what everyone likes!

Anyway, Happy 35th to me on the 1st, and happy 40th to my boyfriend on the 19th!  (Plus a belated happy birthday to my sister on Oct. 28th!  SCORPIOS RULE!)  And thanks to all our friends for a spectacular party!  We all had a great time!



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Common questions Pagans get asked.

*** In this post I'm going to give my answers to some questions that Pagans (including myself) commonly get asked.  And if I offend anyone, remember - these are just my opinions... ***

1.  What is the difference between Wiccan and Pagan?

"Wiccan" means a follower of Wicca, which is an actual, legal, officially recognized religion in the United States, UK, Australia, and other countries.  "Pagan" is an umbrella term used to describe just about anyone who does not follow an organized or "institutional" religion, especially one of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.)  In this context, I've heard Christians call Hindus "pagan" (note the lower case spelling of this usage.)  This is the reason why some Pagans prefer to be called "Neopagans," as the word "pagan" is often used to refer to people thought to be "without religion."  However, Pagans (Neopagans) are religious, they just follow Earth-centered and New Age religious traditions, some of which might have been practiced in ancient times, depending on which gods/goddesses are being worshiped.  All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan.

2.  What is a Witch?

While "Wiccan" and "Witch" are often used as synonyms, they are not the same thing. Witchcraft has become a way of life in its own right, which is why "Witch" is often capitalized.  However, a "witch" is simply someone who works magic.  This may take the form of spells (the most commonly associated form of magic) or may be more subtle, such as meditations, prayers, rituals, even lifestyle choices.  You can follow any religion and also be a witch (and almost every culture and world religion acknowledges that witches exist.)  A Witch (with a capital W) is usually not part of another religion, as Witchcraft is their religion, which may resemble Wicca, but is more personal, intuitive, and does not necessarily follow the same rules as Wicca.  Also, there is the prevailing belief that to become a Wiccan, you must be initiated by a coven or another initiated Wiccan, whereas to become a Witch (or witch), all you have to do is want/seek to be one.  Not everyone believes these things (as there are many self-proclaimed solitary Wiccans out there), but in general, Witchcraft works with nature and folklore, and may or may not include formalized or ceremonial ritual or deity worship. Wicca, on the other hand, is a more formalized, organized, often ceremonial and more officially religious form of Witchcraft.

3.  Do you worship Satan?

This question always amuses me and royally pisses me off at the same time.  I don't know whether to laugh or scream.  I'm astonished that it gets asked as often as it does, because of the sheer ignorance of it - because my answer is:

No, if I worshiped Satan, I'd be a Satanist.  Duh.

Having been a Christian once, however, I do know where this question comes from. Christianity, even in many of it's more tolerant forms, teaches its followers to view other religions based on verses like Matthew 12:30, where Jesus says "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with me scatters."  Most Christians are taught to believe that anyone who does not follow Jesus is automatically worshiping Satan, and most of them condescendingly believe that we're not doing it intentionally, we just don't know any better.  I've encountered this belief many, many times (ironically most often from non-practicing Christians!) and believed it about others when I was a Christian more times than I care to admit.  The best thing I can say about this whole situation is that you can say you don't worship Satan and explain that you simply follow another set of beliefs and hope for the best, and you will either be believed or you won't.  And if you are not, then don't waste your time arguing over it, because you won't be heard, much less even listened to.  The best revenge in this situation is to walk your talk.  It will take some time, but actions speak louder than words, and if you hold your head high and stick to your convictions while at the same time behaving in a moral and ethical way in your daily life (which most Pagans/Wiccans/Witches that I know do!) it will bother and confuse the shit out of anyone looking for evidence that you are evil and are going to Hell.

4.  How are Pagans "moral" or "ethical?"

Most Pagans believe on some level that "what goes around, comes around."  Pagans are therefore careful what they say and do because they believe that this intent will come back around to them eventually.  Along the same lines, some Pagans believe in reincarnation, and feel that they must be mindful of whatever they do in this lifetime because it will impact them in the next life; they will be reincarnated into a less desirable thing/being, they will have to redo the same situations until they stop making the same mistakes, or maybe they will be reincarnated in very trying or unpleasant circumstances in order to learn a lesson.  (Holding this view also explains the age-old question of why some are born with advantages and good fortune while others are not.) Some Pagans believe that it is their responsibility to be moral and ethical individuals in the same way that it is every individual's responsibility, and that the human race as a whole will not evolve or progress until everyone does their part.  Other Pagans make it more personal, believing that the reason we are here in this life and on this plane of existence is to learn and grow and become enlightened, so that we may transcend this existence and go on to something further, and that striving for what is right is part of this path to enlightenment.  No matter what their personal beliefs are, most Pagans agree that everything is energy: thoughts, actions, feelings, words, and even physical existences are nothing but energy. And energy never goes away, it just transforms into something else, and there is no way to know what else the energy has influenced on its path or will ultimately manifest into. Therefore, it is always best to try to put out positive energy into the universe, as we would all rather that be circulating than negative energy, because everything is interconnected and (even on an infinitesimal level) affected by everything else.

Wiccans go a step further and believe in what is called the Wiccan Rede, which states "an' ye harm none, do what ye will."  This is part of a longer poem that includes other instructions on how to be a Wiccan, such as "mind the threefold laws ye should, three times bad and three times good."  This illustrates a much more formalized idea of how to behave morally, in that Wiccans believe that as long as you are not actively seeking to cause harm and you think about the consequences of your actions before you act, you may go ahead and do whatever.  Wiccans also believe in what is called "the Threefold Law," which is where the other excerpt from the Rede comes in:  whatever energy you put out into the universe, whether bad or good, it will come back on you three times.  (Note:  not all Wiccans believe either the Rede or the Threefold Law, and many Witches do not, although some do.)  Also, both Pagans and Wiccans believe that we are each responsible for our own actions and pride ourselves on being able to THINK for ourselves.  Because we do not believe in Satan or another similar embodiment of pure evil, you won't ever hear a "the Devil made me do it" argument when one of us has done something wrong.  Everyone makes mistakes (even really, really big ones) but you should at least have the guts to own up to it, not blame it on someone or something else.

5.  What about spells?

I think as soon as someone figures out that you are a Wiccan/Pagan/Witch, the first thing they ask about after they get over the shock (if any) and decide not to condemn you for it is SPELLS.  People are always so fascinated by the subject of spells.  What are they?  Do you cast them?  Aren't they bad?  Can anyone do it?  Do they work?  Can you do them for other people?  Will you cast one for me? Can I have a spell for love/money/sex/power/wealth/revenge/blah blah blah...? etc.

LISTEN UP:
First of all, not every Wiccan/Pagan/Witch even casts spells.  Some of us take the idea seriously that we should do all we can to help ourselves with whatever we want in ordinary ways before we go around messing with the natural flow of energy around us.  And some of us do cast spells, but only on occasion or for emergencies and only after some some deep thought and/or soul searching, because we have the mentality that maybe things happen they way they do for good reasons.  I mean, spells can be like a kind of petition, where you are asking something or someone on a higher plane to help you out, but spells can also be strictly the manipulation of energy to achieve a particular end.  In this case, you better be sure you are not trying to thwart the will of the Gods or upset the balance of the universe in casting your spell.  Remember the idea that everything is interconnected and everything is affected by everything else?  That means that your spell, no matter how small or insignificant, will release energy that will ripple outward like a pebble thrown into a lake, and that whatever gets rocked by these waves might become unsettled, causing unwanted consequences.  In every thing we do in life, and I mean EVERYTHING, there are unseen effects and results.  Spell casting is no exception, because it is the deliberate act of working magic.

Which brings me to the subject of magic.  You have to believe in magic for a spell to work, even if you call that magic "the hand of God" and the spell a "prayer."  Many people believe that "spells" are bad because they believe that magic is bad.  While it is true that many organized religions preach against using magic, that does not make magic itself bad.  Magic is a force, like electricity is a force, that can be used for both good and bad, but that in existence is completely neutral.  Electricity is good when it powers machines and lights, and bad when it causes electrocutions or fires.  All forces of nature, like electricity, are neutral, and can only be good or bad depending on how they are used.  Magic is just another natural force, and it's one that "science" doesn't fully understand yet.  People used to think the sun rising and setting or the seasons changing were "magic" too, right?

As I mentioned above, you don't have to work a spell to cause magic to happen.  Magic is in prayer, magic is in meditation, magic is in positive thought and willpower and self-help and even just making a wish.  We are all working magic on a regular basis, whether we know it or not, and when viewed in this light, it seems silly to get hung up on it just because it is called a spell.  My warning against spell-casting above is not meant to frighten as much as to say "watch what you wish for, because you just might get it."  Because spells do actually work if you believe in them.  (It's arguable that the belief, just like the "power of positive thought," is what actually makes a "spell" work, but this is a whole other subject for another time.)

The Wiccan Rede is often used (by Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans alike) as a guide when contemplating working a spell, which is why most Wiccans believe it to be ethically wrong to cast a spell that interferes with someone else's free will, such as a love spell directed at a specific person or a malevolent spell, such as for revenge.  Interfering with free will is considered to fall outside the "harm none" clause, and many will not consider it.  Rather, they will cast a love spell to attract "whichever person is right for them" or attempt to shield or protect themselves from negativity caused by another instead of seeking revenge. However, some Witches don't follow the Rede at all, and believe that "a Witch who cannot hex cannot heal," which I guess means that they have no scruples about casting manipulative spells.  And then there are some who believe that there's nothing morally wrong about trying to manipulate another's free will, because free will is too strong and spells of this kind simply won't work and are a waste of time anyway.  I will admit that this whole topic is a huge gray area, and that almost everyone has a slightly different opinion.

6.  Why is "magic" spelled with a "k" ("magick")?

BEATS THE HELL OUT OF ME.

Ok, seriously though, the answer is supposedly so that people will distinguish "magic(k)," as in, "the art of using directed thought and will to cause change" from "magic," which is a show full of tricks done on stage for entertainment.

Oh, c'mon... people really confuse these two?

Yeah, right.

English is full of homonyms (look it up) and "magic" in this sense has become another one of them.  But unfortunately, there is a large segment of the Pagan population that believes that "magick" is the historically accurate way to spell it, or worse, doesn't care about accuracy but just wants to spell it differently because they want attention.  CUZ THEIR SO KEWL!!!1 ^_^

Whatever.  I don't see what is so cool about advertising your ignorance and inability to spell.

7.  Why do so many Pagans keep their religion a secret?

This is what we call being "in the broom closet."  The phrase started as a sort-of joke, comparing being Pagan with being LGBT, in that sometimes it can be extremely scary to "come out" as a Pagan, just like people have a hard time admitting to their family and friends that they are LGBT.  (I read somewhere that some people in the LGBT community resent this comparison, stating that we are not born Pagan, and can stop being that way or at least hide it without a lot of effort, but I've never personally met anyone who feels this way.) Pagans have the same fears as anyone else who feels "different;" we don't want to be shunned or rejected by our family and friends, and we don't want to be told that we are evil or wrong or going to Hell because of who we are.  In some cases, (small, tightly-knit communities, areas where fundamentalist religion is the norm) Pagans do not want to go public with their beliefs because they fear even worse repercussions, like being beat up or having their property vandalized, or losing their jobs or even custody of their kids.  I myself have reason to suspect that I might have been let go from a particular job because of my beliefs, which is one reason why I use a pen name when I publish and tend to be private about being Pagan.

However, there are some Pagans that argue that it's high time for all of us to "come out of the broom closet."  They say that unless we start being vocal no one is going to listen to us (which is quite literally true as much as being good advice) and that we will remain an often unheard religious minority.  These same people also say that others will be less suspicious of us if we stopped hiding things and that being open about our beliefs and practices inspires confidence that we're not bad people or that there is any reason to fear us or what we do. Openness also encourages curiosity, which in turn leads to healthy discussion, which might then lead to the dispelling of false information about Paganism.  This is all true, and all well and good, but not everyone feels the need to wear their heart on their sleeve.  Just like any other faith, some people are not comfortable advertising their religious convictions.  And some flat-out think it's nobody's business but their own.

*** The fact is, Paganism is a highly personal, extremely diverse and and very accepting way of life, with a rich variety of spiritual beliefs, traditions, and practices.  For this reason, I won't even go into who we worship or how we practice, because if you ask 100 Pagans the same questions, you will get 100 different answers.  (Also, this post got away from me and turned out way longer than I meant it to!)  Therefore, if you would like more information, do a general search or look for a specific question online or visit The Witches' Voice at http://www.witchvox.com/  where you can read all about Paganism from other Pagans in their own words. ***




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Californians: VOTE YES ON PROP 37

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE vote YES on Prop 37!!!  This is very important!

This is the measure that will force agribusiness to label food they produce that contains genetically engineered (GMO, for "genetically modified organism") ingredients. And BTW, studies show that almost all soy and soybean products, which are in EVERYTHING, are GMO. http://www.naturalnews.com/034812_GMO_corn_soy.html 

There are a TON of anti-Prop 37 ads on TV that urge the consumer to vote against Prop 37, saying that it will cost consumers "about $400 in grocery bills every year" and that dupe the consumer into thinking that the labeling is "deceptive." They say that it "makes no sense" and they repeatedly use the word "scheme" to make everyone believe that they are getting screwed. Another thing that opponents to Prop 37 like to harp on is how "complex" and "misleading" the exemptions would be. Taken from the Official Voter Information Guide:

"37 is full of absurd, politically motivated exemptions. It requires special labels on soy milk, but exempts cow's milk and dairy products. Fruit juice requires a label, but alcohol is exempt. Pet foods containing meat require labels, but meats for human consumption are exempt."

Let's take this argument apart, shall we?

Soy milk is required to be labeled because SOYBEAN PLANTS ARE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED.  Milk and other dairy products are foods that come from cows, and cows are NOT genetically engineered.  The labeling is NOT required if the cow ate genetically engineered grain or feed - which is ALSO why meat is not required to be labeled:  because the animal which the meat came from itself is NOT genetically engineered.  HOWEVER, this is why pet food would be labeled:  because it also contains genetically engineered plants, such as grains, NOT because it is made out of meat as the opponents to Prop 37 would have you believe.  The fact that the pet food has meat in it is completely beside the point - it would be labeled because it contains GMO crops.  This is also why fruit juice would be labeled, if it came from a GMO plant.  (Not sure why alcohol is exempt, except that it is exempt from a lot of other things as well.) Organic foods are automatically exempt from the labeling, because anything "organic" by definition is not allowed to contain GMOs.  Not too difficult to understand, is it?  And yet the big businesses (among them, Monsanto, one of the most insidious and evil corporations in the world) apparently think we are all so stupid that we can't figure it out.

As for the claim that food costs will go up an average of $400 a year for families:  they say this under the assumption that food producers will switch to costlier organic or non-GMO ingredients rather than change their labels.  What?  Seriously?  The only thing that Prop 37 does is force producers to inform the consumer through labeling whether or not the food was produced using GMO ingredients - it does NOT prevent GMOs from being used.  Therefore, GMO products will still be sold, and people will still be free to buy them.  And because some people only seem to care about getting their food at the lowest prices, many will still buy them.  But at least we will all have the choice to buy GMO food or avoid it by knowing what is actually in the food.

And one more thing to consider:  why is it that Monsanto and all these other biotech and agribusiness companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to keep Prop 37 from passing? If their GMO foods are (as they claim) exactly the same as non-GMO foods and are completely safe and their crops so much better and beneficial to humankind, why aren't they standing behind them?  Why are they so worried about people finding out exactly which foods contain their products?  THAT in itself makes me really think that there must be some truth to the idea that GMO foods and crops are not as safe as they would have everyone believe.  There are scientists who claim that GMO foods may be the cause of the rise in food allergies, autism, ADHD, sterility, organ damage, even gene mutations that may be linked to cancer, Alzheimers, brain damage, birth defects, and other degenerative disorders and diseases.  I won't even go into how environmentally harmful GMOs are (that's a rant for another time.)

FURTHERMORE:
Here is something really nasty.  Monsanto, the largest producer of GMOs in the world, is responsible for most of that GMO corn and soy that is hiding in your food (remember the article from my first paragraph?)  Those same GMO crops were genetically engineered to resist herbicides, such as Roundup, which they also produce.  Most people have seen what Roundup does to weeds - it completely obliterates them, because the shit is so toxic. Which is why Monsanto has developed Roundup resistant crops:  so that they can spray the entire field, and only the weeds will die, but not the crops themselves.  That means, essentially, that whenever you eat GMOs, you are eating Roundup.     EEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW.

In closing, all I want to say is:
FUCK MONSANTO.  VOTE YES ON PROP 37 - CALIFORNIANS HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS IN OUR FOOD.  http://www.carighttoknow.org/
And if you really want to be safe, healthy, and environmentally responsible, BUY ORGANIC.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Question For All the Pagans

Hello all,
Here is a question for all of my fellow Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, New Agers, and any other magical folk:  what do you think I should make for my Etsy store?

If you do a search on Etsy for "Wicca," "Pagan," or even "Druid," (a search for "Witch" is too broad, as a lot of it is Halloween stuff) most of what pops up is about what you would expect: candles, incense, oils, and jewelry galore.  There are also a lot of wands, crystals, garb, and various divining tools.  I'm trying to come up with new and inventive products for the magical community, so I'm wondering what kinds of handmade things all of you out there WISH you could find.  Anyone with any ideas?

I have been selling mostly jewelry through my store, which is not a bad thing.  However, I want to be selling a greater variety of magical items.  So I have posted a few things that I make that I have not seen elsewhere or that I see very rarely.  Examples are:

Original Collage/Artwork
Themed Travel Altar Kits
Beaded Mosaic Pentacle Plaques
Kids Interfaith "Best Friend" Necklaces

I realize that the last one still qualifies as "jewelry," but it combines two things that I also don't see a lot of on Etsy:  interfaith merchandise and things for Pagan/Wiccan kids and teens.  With so many Pagan families "out of the broom closet" and raising children, I would think that there would be a need for items in both of these categories.  But then again, maybe the market is not there yet and I'm just a little ahead of the times.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas for something that might sell well or fill a niche in the magical community, I would love to hear your thoughts!  Just leave me a comment if you want to weigh in on what you think would be a great handmade item.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Etsy Barter/Trade Updates

I promised months ago that I would keep a detailed account of who I had traded with on Etsy, since I could vouch for those stores if anyone else wanted to trade with them.  So rather than put out a new list every few months, I think I will just start this one and add to it as I go.  (If you want to know how to do Etsy trades, send me a message through Etsy, my blog, or my email and I will gladly explain it.)

1.  Liz and Jordan at Creepy Creations (flamethrowerluv13):  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Flamethrowerluv13  (NOTE:  recently Creepy Creations closed their Etsy store and moved it to Storenvy, here:  http://www.storenvy.com/Creepycreations)
2.  Tinker Toad at Notch Road Fairies:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/notchroadfairies
3.  Kat at Readings By Kat:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/ReadingsByKat
4.  Deborah at Alaska Laser Maid:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlaskaLaserMaid
5.  Jean at Leaves on the Wind:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeavesOnTheWind
6.  Cynthia at Moon Hunter Jewelry:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonHunterJewelry
7.  Cassie at Cassie Vision:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/CassieVision
(PLEASE NOTE:  I approached Cassie about a trade on 12/2/13, and she is currently not trading because Etsy is her only source of income.  I don't know if this will eventually change or not.)
8.  Jen at Unique Visions by Jen:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/uniquevisionsbyjen
9.  Eryn at Naturally Eccentric (faeriesndragons):  https://www.etsy.com/shop/faeriesndragons
10.  Myth at Myth's Magickal Market:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythsMagickalMarket
11.  Niina at FairyChamber:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/fairychamber

Everyone on this list is super friendly and very approachable in terms of trading, and all have been wonderful to work with - very communicative, generous, and great turnaround on shipping.  I've had nothing but good luck with each of these stores.  (Psst... if you don't have an Etsy store but you do have an Etsy account and think that you might have something to trade that would be attractive to someone, just send them a convo or email with a picture and description attached and offer to send more pics if necessary.  You never know!)


Monday, October 22, 2012

Astrology and natal charts.

Just a quick note/opinion:

I feel that those who don't understand or don't believe in astrology also probably don't get that it is so much more involved than just reading a horoscope in the paper.

The true nature (science?) of astrology involves a hell of a lot more than just a person's sign.  If you ever get the chance to have a natal chart prepared and interpreted for you, try it.  You will need your exact time, date, and location where you were born.

A natal chart can then be prepared for you that examines the specific and distinctive relationships between the planets in relation to you and where you were when you came into this world.  It is (in my opinion) an incredibly revealing and uncanny "blueprint" of sorts that outlines all of your personality traits and possible life decisions.  I say "possible" because I think that it only roughly estimates what you might be drawn to or do in your lifetime, not because I believe that it will predict your future.  This is one of the reasons that I love astrology; it can be so accurate in determining a person's strengths and weaknesses, attractions and aversions, even thoughts and probable decisions.  But a person still has free will, and can choose to change any of these at any time.  Knowledge about a personal natal chart can also make this easier.

At the very least, obtain your birth records and determine your sun sign, rising sign, and moon sign.  Even these three astrological facts will be extremely more informative than just knowing your sun sign alone.  (Also, try to get your exact time of birth... it can make a big difference in accuracy.)    There are some great places online where you can get a natal chart, such as this one here:  http://alabe.com/freechart/  Then, if you are interested in learning more about astrology, consider making an in-person appointment with an astrologer, who can explain in greater detail the finer points of your chart and who can also field any questions you might have.  If there are no astrologers in your area or you don't know how to find one, you can also get a chart made and interpreted for you through email.  Etsy has a number of people who provide this service, as does Llewellyn Worldwide.  Go to either site and search for "natal chart" or "birth chart."  Above all, have fun with it and try to keep an open mind!





Sunday, October 14, 2012

No wonder he was so helpful...

Funny story:

So the other day I went to the grocery store.  This store only has self-checkout, but the employees usually come help bag your groceries if they are not busy doing something else.  I had 3 reusable bags with me and started checking out all my stuff, sending it down the conveyor belt.  When there was a small pile starting to form, one of the men that worked there asked me if I would hand him my bags so he could start bagging my groceries.  So I did.

There were other people at the checkout who had various questions or issues, and he would stop and go help them, but then he was right back there helping me as soon as he was finished.  He also smiled at me a lot and seemed to be flirting a bit.  This guy was really short as men go, and since I am also extremely petite, I just figured he was attracted to me because I was one of the few women  who didn't tower over him.

I get home and start unloading my groceries in the kitchen.  In the bottom of the bag I notice something black and stretchy, and I think, "what is that?  Did one of us accidentally bag something that belongs to someone else?"  I pull the black thing out... and discover that it is a pair of my panties.  A lacy black thong, to be exact.  And then I remember the day that I had a change of clothes in that particular bag.

I immediately think of the guy that bagged my groceries.   At first I'm horrified, but then I remember him flirting with me, and it starts to become funny.  At least the panties were not one of my ratty pairs, or worse, NOT CLEAN.  I tell my boyfriend later, who thinks it's hilarious, and is sure that it gave that guy a cheap thrill.  I hope so, but then again, he might have told all of his co-workers at the store about the weird chick with the panties in her grocery bag.

I guess I'll just have to see if everyone smirks at me the next time I go shopping.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jack is kinky...

I saw this commercial aired just ONE TIME on TV about a year ago, and then never saw it again.  Guess the American public is just a little too "vanilla" for this one...  but check it out, it's hilarious!  Enjoy!




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Etsy new store items!

I wanted to post pics of some fun new stuff I just made, since I hardly ever write about my store!  (That's probably because I neglected it for the past few months, but shhhh... we don't need to go into that now, ha ha...)  See all the items, and my store by going here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/AutumnDamiana

Awesome 4-piece set!
1.  Here's an African/tribal/island jewelry set I just put together.  It's made from coconut beads, genuine aventurine, and these neeto silver beads that kinda remind me of zebras.

The set comes with a matching 24" necklace, 7" bracelet, and pair of earrings that hang about 2" from the ear.  The pendant itself is about 2 1/2" long, and I'm not sure what kind of stone it is.  If anyone does know, please feel free to share!

This just screams Samhain (or Halloween)


2.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this crescent moon necklace!  When I made this, I was thinking about the article I published in the 2013 Llewellyn's Magical Almanac called "Dark Moon Meditations."  (If you are interested in reading it, it is the very last one in the book!)  Anyway, The "pectoral" look of this necklace, as well as the bold silver crescents, iridescent beads, and black accents made me think of the paragraph in my article where I talk about dark Goddesses, namely Hecate.  I tried really hard to incorporate three moons into it, but the pieces just wouldn't cooperate and I ruined two of them trying to punch new holes and so finally gave up.  I ended up calling the necklace "Waxing and Waning" since that name seemed to fit it best.

Is hemp still cool?  Or am I stuck in the 90's?
I haven't made a hemp necklace in a very, VERY long time, but this pewter yin/yang pendant just seemed like it would work well with hemp... and I think it does!  If you look closely, you will also notice that it's not a traditional hemp necklace... the cords are much finer and more even.  That's because they are actually made out of linen!

There are black and clear beads and pewter spacers to match the pendant, which has black and clear rhinestones.  The back has a lobster claw clasp, also unlike a traditional hemp necklace, which was usually buttoned or tied on.  I think it turned out to be adorable, and I'm sure some hippie wannabe (like me) out there will love it as much as I do.  Besides, it's retro!

Sweet, simple, and timeless.
This is the last new piece I have for right now.  It's just some cute pewter charms (I guess I'm really into pewter right now...) strung on a pewter chain that I had.  And almost everyone loves celestial motifs!

The necklace is adjustable between 16" and 19", making it suitable for children or adults, and it can be worn as a choker or a longer necklace depending on the individual.  I think it would make a nice gift!

That's all... but new updates soon!  (I promise!)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My fav Pagan movies.

Here is a picture of me right before I went to see "The Raven" some months ago.  I'm a fan of John Cusack, and I'm a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe.  So what's not to like!  I also want to point out that I'm wearing the awesome Poe scrabble tile necklace that I traded for on Etsy.  You can read about that and my awesome "Poe brick" artifact in my past post here:  http://autumndamiana.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-etsy-goodness-and-my-story-about.html

However, in this post I want to talk about "Pagan" movies.  I realize that I probably won't cover every well-loved Pagan movie, but here are 10 that made my list (more or less in order):

10.  Mirror, Mirror (2012):
Ok, once I got over the initial shock of OMG, I HAVEN'T SEEN GIANT FURRY BLACK CATERPILLAR EYEBROWS LIKE THAT SINCE JENNIFER CONNELY IN LABYRINTH!!! (sooo distracting...)  I thought this was a pretty good film.  Not fantastic, but fun and imaginative.  It also proves a point that I think Pagans understand better than anyone else:  there's nothing new under the sun, but everyone likes a well-told story, including one that's been told over and over before, especially if it's been modernized or given a new spin.  Because this also pretty much sums up religion in general.

9.  The Skeleton Key (2005):
NOT that into Kate Hudson.  Still, I liked this movie enough to buy it, and my opinion of it is remains good even after watching it several times.  The portrayal of Hoodoo in the movie is the reason why it made this list.  And I know, there’s a lot of stupid
Hollywood mumbo-jumbo thrown in as well, but ask yourself: how many other mainstream movies have you seen about Hoodoo?  The fact that it factors heavily into a mainstream movie is itself pretty cool.

8.  Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2 (2000):
So, I'm sure you are starting to see that I'm one of those people that really like "bad" movies (you know, the MST3K variety?) and this one is no exception.  I think it's great, in it's horribly-campy-crappy-sequel kinda way.  Naturally I love the fact that the movie contains a Wiccan ("Erica"), who bandies about a few actual Wiccan ideas, such as "we embrace nature, not evil" and talking about "the first law of Wicca is harm none - because whatever you do comes back on you threefold, and karma's a bitch."  Now granted, that's about it for actual Wiccan content, unless you count her large and very obvious pentacle and her going around saying "Blessed Be" and doing tarot and chanting. The "may I have permission to take this leaf?  THANK YOU!" scene is priceless.  So is her talking about Witches being a "persecuted minority" and the rants that follow.  And the scene where she invokes Persephone... alright, maybe this movie is a bad example.  But you can still laugh at Erica and her PERFECT portrayal of a Fluffy Bunny and lame Witch stereotype.

7.  The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988):
I'm including this movie because it is loosely based on the true findings of ethnobotanist and anthropologist Wade Davis, who investigated the zombie phenomenon in Haitian Voodoo (Vodoun)   society in the early 80's.  He discovered that the rumors of zombies were real, finding scientific evidence of one man's supposed death, "resurrection," and subsequent slavery as a zombie.  By going to Haiti, learning firsthand about Voodoo, and eventually participating in some of the ceremonies, Davis was able to understand how religion, culture, "zombie powder" (a potent poison used to drug the victims), and psychological manipulation caused the people targeted to behave like the living dead.  Davis hated this horror-movie adaptation of his book, but it's worth a look for its entertainment value and introduction to the subject.

6.  Various Miyazaki movies (1984-current):
If you are looking for quality, kid-friendly movies that are not only entertaining but that also impart Pagan morals, check out some of Hayao Miyazaki's films, such as "My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," and "Kiki's Delivery Service" (among others.) Miyazaki is known for portraying strong female characters, pacifists, the interplay between good and evil, and the existence of the spirit world around us.  Most of his films also have a clear message of conservation and environmentalism.  Little Witches will really enjoy "Kiki's Delivery Service," about a young Witch growing up and finding herself.  It's really adorable, and one of my favorites.

5.  The Craft (1996):
You would think that Pagans would hate this movie for all of the crazy, special-effect "witchcraft" shenanigans that happen in the second half, but apparently I'm not the only Pagan who likes it.  Personally, I dig the ritual scenes from the first part, which look quite a bit like what we actually do in our covens.  This movie is also on my list because it is was the first mainstream movie to portray Wicca, and despite steering people the wrong way on a lot of things, it got people interested in learning more about it.  That in turn promotes reading and discussion, two things that I don't think you can ever have enough of.

4.  The Secret of Roan Inish (1994):
Another good family movie, this one is set in Ireland and weaves a tale of a selkie and her connection to a little girl named Fiona and her Irish family.  Selkies are seals that can come to land and shed their seal skins to become human, in some cases having romances with other humans and often even marrying or having children with them.  In this movie, Fiona discovers that her rumored selkie ancestor may be the reason for her little brother's disappearance.  This movie is chock-full of both nautical and Irish folklore, and should definitely be watched by anyone who has a strong love of the sea.

3.  All the Harry Potter movies (2001-2011):
I think these are awesome Pagan movies... and with Harry Potter, you either get it, or you don't (and if you don't, you probably don't like it.)  Harry Potter's world is fun and entertaining enough that it obviously falls under the "fantasy" and "make-believe" categories, but when you look a little deeper, it is amazing how much actual magical and metaphysical content there is in the books, and by extension, the movies.  Names, mythology, herb and gemstone correspondences, divination, even magical theory to some extent can all be found here. Both the movies and the books also teach some valuable moral lessons, in my opinion. And whether you like Harry Potter or not, as a modern fairy tale, it seems destined to become a classic, and it has had a huge impact on Paganism.  Read Starhawk's 2001 essay, "Why I like Harry Potter" here:  http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/harrypotter.html

2.  Avatar (2009):
I've heard "Avatar" being described as "Dances With Wolves - but in space."  I guess that description is not that far off, when you really think about it, except that the natives win at the end of "Avatar."  We all know, on the other hand, how things turned out for the Native Americans:  NOT SO GREAT.  But anyway, this movie is my #2 pick is for three simple reasons:
1.  The ecology and sustainability (this includes social sustainability) among the Na'vi.
2.  The worship of Eywa, a nature-based Mother Goddess of Pandora (perhaps the planet itself.)
3.  The reality of both of these portrayed as natural, concrete, definitive facts of life.
I mean, what Pagan doesn't envy the Na'vi to be able to plug in and access their Goddess and their ancestors like that, or to live in complete harmony with their people and their surroundings?  I realize that not everyone is like me and wants to go live in trees and scrounge around in the forest for all their needs, but I think that almost every Pagan who watches this movie wishes on some level, however small, that they too could visit Pandora or make Earth a little more like it.

1.  The Wicker Man:  (1973):
Yeah, yeah, I know... this is almost every Pagan's favorite movie.  But damn it, it's just so much fun, despite how dated it is.  Supposedly Alex Sanders even consulted on the movie, which is what gives it it's authentic feel where Paganism is concerned.  And even if you've never seen the movie, I'm sure you already know that the Pagans are the "bad guys," but that won't keep you from rooting for them anyway.  Seriously, if you have never seen this, check it out.  It should be mandatory viewing for anyone with a broom and/or a pointy hat.













Friday, September 28, 2012

Moldavite

What is Moldavite?  Most people consider it a gemstone, but it is actually a type of natural glass, much like obsidian.  Moldavite is a clear olive, moss, or forest green color due to it's high iron content.  However, the really cool part is that it is also from outer space.

This "space glass" is actually classified as a tektite, which is a type of meteorite.  About 15-20 million years ago, a huge meteor fell to Earth, partially burned up in the atmosphere, and crashed into what we now call the Moldau River valley, scattering vaporized debris into the air that cooled, solidified, and rained down moldavite all over the region.  All genuine moldavite comes from only four mines, each located in the Czech Republic, making moldavite considerably rare.

It is prized among those who believe in the metaphysical properties of gemstones.  People say that moldavite has a very high vibrational frequency, and report a phenomenon called the "moldavite flush" when handling it, where the face and neck sweat or turn red and the heart beats more quickly. Emotional healing often occurs with this reaction, in that the heart chakra is opened, and people experience a profound release - whether through laughter or tears depends upon the individual.

Moldavite is said to enhance one's spiritual progression, balance all of the chakras, deepen a person's intuition and psychic powers, and open a person to his or her spiritual guides.  Many other gemstones can claim these powers as well, but what sets moldavite apart is the fast pace and intensity of these occurrences when working with this stone.   Moldavite is also regarded as a sort of portal to other dimensions; being comprised of both the earth and the stars, moldavite is used for receiving information from the cosmos and for communing with extraterrestrial or otherworldly beings.

Some have a hard time working with moldavite because of its depth and force.  These people have to build up gradually or only work with moldavite at specific times.  Others, however, take to moldavite like a duck to water.  The theory is that these people really need moldavite on some level, whether it is because they have become embittered or cynical in life and need to rediscover a childlike appreciation of it, or because they are "star children" that are feeling lost in this incarnation on Earth.

My own personal experiences of moldavite are limited, but extremely marked.  I have a pentacle necklace that was given to me by my aunt that I used to wear when I went to coven meetings.  Between the combination of ritual and the moldavite, I almost always went home too high-strung to go to sleep... and this would sometimes last for hours.  It wasn't a bad feeling, like having too much caffeine, but more like the kind of excitement I felt as a kid going to sleep on Christmas Eve.

My moldavite pentacle necklace
I have also noticed that the times I have worn the necklace outside of the coven, I have felt very quick-minded.  It has helped in a number of situations where I was trying to write or be mentally quick on my feet.  On the down side, I have also felt spacey and air-headed in a few situations wearing the necklace.  And again, prolonged contact with the moldavite has almost always resulted in me taking a lot longer to calm down and relax.

I do want to note, however, that some of the information I read about moldavite says that it begins to change you whether you like it or not as soon as it comes into your life.  I would have to say that I agree with this opinion, since I myself began to rapidly change right after I received this necklace... yet, I'm pretty sure that I was already ripe for change, or the moldavite would not have worked on me this way.  Which means that, unfortunately, as much as you might like someone else you know to change, I don't think that simply giving them a moldavite is going to make that happen.  If, on the other hand, you think they just need a little push - well, I guess it wouldn't hurt!

I highly recommend moldavite just because it definitely helped me to get outside of myself.  It deepened the work I was already doing internally, but at the same time, it did make me more aware of others around me that I was compatible with, and it inspired me to pursue relationships with some of these people, who in turn became essential to my spiritual growth.  Just a little nudge in the right direction.... maybe that's what I got from the moldavite.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elemental Salt Blend

Lately I've been putting together some travel altar kits for my Etsy store.  And candles, incense, and even water are not always possible or accessible when doing magic on the go. Therefore, I've come up with this excellent salt and herb blend that incorporates all four elements, and can be used as a substitute for traditional elemental symbols and tools. (Note:  herbal correspondences have been taken from Scott Cunningham's "Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs." Llewellyn Publications; St. Paul, MN - Twenty-sixth Printing, 1999.) Because of the various correspondences, this is almost an all-purpose blend, and the concoction also has some nice (not necessarily magical) practical applications, too!

"Elemental Salt Blend," by Autumn Damiana

1 teaspoon dried lavender buds (air)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (fire)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon zest (water)* (see below)
4 teaspoons salt or salt crystals

This recipe makes 8 teaspoons, which weighs roughly 1 ounce.

A mortar and pestle is required to make this blend (although I suppose it could also be made in an herb grinder.)

Start with the lavender buds, grinding them down in the mortar and pestle.  Next, add the rosemary (if working with whole dried rosemary leaves, crush them into smaller pieces in a plastic bag first.)  When both are sufficiently ground, add the lemon zest and grind this into the other two herbs.  Lastly, add the salt, and simply mix.  (If using salt crystals, grind them down to granular sized pieces separately, and hold in a separate container until needed.  If you want chunky salt crystals in your blend, then add them as-is or mash them into the herb blend until they are the desired size.)

How to use your Elemental Salt Blend:

- Smell or taste the blend while meditating to connect with the elements.
- Sprinkle pinches around to cast the circle or dedicate sacred space.
- Use as an offering on an altar or at sacred sites (CAUTION:  concentrated amounts of salt can kill plants, insects, and small animals.  Dilute heavily with water or scatter sparingly.)
- Salt + all three herbs have strong purifying powers.  Infuse the mixture in water and spritz, sprinkle it, or use as a wash on items, surfaces, or around areas to banish negativity.
- Put in cheesecloth or a cloth tea bag and add to bathwater for energy-cleansing.
- Mix 25% to 50% blend with baking soda, and sprinkle on carpets.  Leave to sit for at least a few hours, and vacuum up.  This not only magically cleanses the house, but helps remove odors.
- The herbs are all associated with love, and salt has an extremely grounding, earthy effect.  Use the blend in love spells or potions where you want to use your head as well as follow your heart.
- Grind the blend into fine dust and combine with oil to make an elemental anointing oil.
- Use the blend in an oil diffuser (the kind with a bowl of oil + candle) to release the scent.

These are just a few of my ideas, but I'm sure there are many more uses for this awesome blend.  I will post more in the future as I discover them.  If you think of any yourself, leave me a comment!


*** How to make lemon zest ***
Lemon "zest" is nothing more than dried lemon peel.  The peel on most citrus fruits contains the concentrated oils of the fruit itself, and therefore tastes and smells like a stronger version of the actual fruit.  In many places, you can buy lemon zest in a jar, because it is often used in pastries.  However, because citrus loses its flavor rather quickly, it is WAY better to make the zest yourself.  This is easy to do as long as you can get a hold of 4-6 medium to large sized lemons.

When looking for lemons to zest, it is better to find lemons that have a thick peel.  Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush to get rid of dirt and any wax that may be added to commercially available lemons.  Then, grate the lemon peel on a zester or Microplane® if you have one.  If not, use the side on your cheese grater with the finest blades.  Make sure to ONLY grate the yellow part of the peel; the white "pith" underneath is very bitter, so try not to gouge it as you are grating.

When you have finished grating your zest, leave it out to dry on a plate where it will not be disturbed.  Cover it LOOSELY with a paper towel, paper plate, or a piece of crumpled foil if necessary.  It must be exposed to the air to dry properly!  Stir it at least once a day to ensure that it dries evenly.  It should take 2-4 days, depending on humidity.  Alternatively, you can dry the zest in a low-temp oven for a few hours.  When it looks orange-ish in color and feels crunchy, it is done!







Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Through the eyes of a child...

This is not Pagan-related, but I wanted to post some funny pics I took with the kids I worked with over the summer.  Working with children is not easy, but it can be a lot of fun.  They cracked me up with some of the goofy stuff they did!  We all had a good time.

And sorry about the crappy quality of the pics - I have a really old, janky phone.  Enjoy...


So, we learned that if you are going to use a towel instead of a potholder to pull things out of the oven, DO NOT let it touch the heating coil!!!


These are foam tiles with road tracks.  You put them together on the floor to make a mat and drive cars around on them.  Not that anyone ever used them for that...


Paint + rocks + hot glue gun + wiggly eyes = total cuteness!


Apparently, it's way more fun to throw toys down the slide than to go down yourself.  I had to monitor this VERY closely for obvious reasons.  Action truck shot!


I saw a lot of very, um, "creative" things done with playdough over the summer.  This was one of them.


This was another.  Two girls caught a fly on the window, encasing it in a bubble of playdough.  Then they went outside and watched the fly through the glass, wandering around and around and around in circles.  FOR AN HOUR.  Talk about easily amused!


All those empty cubbies... and all those backpacks on the floor... hmmmm...


Lego chicken man!  Or something.


This was supposed to be an "ocean scene" art project with fish, penguins, water, and snow.  But one girl had another, creepier idea...


...and decided to illustrate the morbid end result as well (love it!)


A shrine to the ostrich god?  The funny part is that this is a postcard that the boy who built this brought from home (what is it with these kids and birds??!)


IT'S A TRAP!!!  
(Craft idea from Bonnie Burton's The Star Wars Craft Book.)

This last one of a chalk drawing is actually from a previous job, but I had to include it.  The nine-year-old boy who drew it was oblivious to why we thought it was so funny.  It's supposed to be a public pool on one side and and a park on the other connected by a street or something like that.  Ha!  He couldn't figure out why the teachers couldn't stop laughing.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet"

I relate quotes from "The Prophet" quite a bit.  It's another one of those sources that I return back to often when I'm looking for a bit of non-denominational inspiration, as the writings of Kahlil Gibran seem to cross many cultural and religious barriers.  In fact, the interfaith nature of his work is one of the reasons that Khalil Gibran first became popular and still remains so today.  I too have enjoyed reading him immensely, both back when I was a Christian AND now that I am a Pagan.  I have also heard that he is equally cherished by those who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or even Buddhist.  How many authors can you think of that can command the love and respect of all of these faiths that are so often opposed to each other?

The fact is that Gibran writes very simple, beautiful, poignant, insightful, and timeless poetry and prose that can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of religious background, political views, ethnicity, etc.  A lot of what he writes can even be interpreted as both inspirational and instructional in the same way that Bible passages are said to be.  Gibran himself was in fact a Christian, but his philosophy and mysticism have their origins in many other world religions in addition to Christianity.  His work was especially popular in the 1960's during the beginning of the New Age movement, and this might be why I consider reading "The Prophet" as one of the events that eventually helped lead me to the Pagan path.

If you have never read any Kahlil Gibran yourself, it is well worth a look.  Here is one of the best online sources for information about him and his work that I have found.  His artwork is also quite impressive, as he studied in Paris with August Rodin.  Enjoy!  http://leb.net/gibran/







Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sale at my Etsy shop!

Kitchen Witch Mini Travel Altar Kit
Ok, so I've started my new job working in the Recreation Dept. for the City of Campbell.  It's been a bit challenging, but so far all is going well.

The problem is that now I can't collect unemployment anymore, since I have a paying job, but I'm not going to get a check until July 5th.  So I'm broke, broke, broke.

Mini Travel Dowsing Altar Kit
So I'm having a 20% off sale at my Etsy shop, AND I've also dropped prices on several items.  I'm hoping this will help me generate a little extra income until I get paid.

Use coupon code LADYBUG (that's my work nickname!) to get your 20% off, valid until July 5th.  Also, come check out my brand new mini altar kits!  I only have the two pictured here so far, but I am very excited about the ones I have in the works and hope to have some more for sale in my shop very soon. Here is the link to my shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AutumnDamiana


Wish me luck on my first sale!  Thanks for reading, and I hope you have an awesome day!



Sunday, June 10, 2012

A little about Kitchen Witchery

For starters, have you read my article in Circle Magazine?
(It's issue 111 from Spring 2012, and the issue itself is called "Kitchen Witchery.")

The article I wrote is called "A Crash-Course in Kitchen Witchery," and it's jam-packed full of tips, Sabbat correspondences, craft ideas, spells, and recipes for the kitchen witch.  Here is an excerpt just to give you a taste:

"... Here is a small collection of simple ideas on how to work some kitchen magic beyond the old stand-by of "stirring the pot clockwise to bring about increase."   Drawing on the 20 item pantry [which is a list of ingredients I explain earlier in the article], the equipment in your kitchen, a dash of creativity, and just a pinch of witchy know-how, you can easily try these ideas in your own home any time the moon is in the right phase and you have a little bit of time on your hands.

1.  Bring some wealth into your life by brewing up some tea.  Steep ginger or mint in boiling water for about five minutes, then remove it and stir in a tiny bit of cinnamon or vanilla extract for extra power.  Sweeten or add milk to taste, and visualize money and other financial blessings coming your way as you drink your wealth-drawing tea.

2.  Olive oil, which is excellent for your skin, can be used to make scented anointing oils.  This works really well with strong-smelling herbs and spices, such as ginger, lavender, rosemary, or sage.  Simply warm the herb or spice in the olive oil in a small pot over low heat for about half an hour.  You can then use the scented oil to on your pulse points as you would a perfume, or for anointing the forehead, hands, feet, chakras, etc.  The oil can also be used to dress candles, bless altar tools, or be included in sabbat rituals or celebrations, depending on the energies of the herb used in making the scented oil.

3.  Whip up a batch of love cookies using cane sugar, vanilla extract, and wheat flour using your favorite recipe.  Make sure to visualize new love coming into your life or already existing love being strengthened as you mix the dough, and cut the cookies into hearts or decorate them with other love symbols, such as pink or red sugar or frosting.  This is an excellent activity to do with any loved one, including significant others and spouses, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, and especially anyone you would like to become a friend..."

Sound interesting?  There's plenty more where that came from!  You can buy a paper or a digital copy from Circle Sanctuary's online store here:  http://www.circlesanctuary.org/store/
Keep in mind too that the WHOLE ISSUE is devoted to kitchen witchery so there are tons of other articles on the subject.
  



Some of what I use for kitchen workings.


My Kitchen Witchery, A Visual Guide:
I thought that to further illustrate what being somewhat of a kitchen/cottage witch means to me, I'd use a photo to help get my point across.  Because everyone loves pictures!
1.  Brown pitcher/utensils:  I LOVE ceramics.  They are literally made out of the earth, and kitchen witchery is very earthy.  So of course I love this piece.  Obviously it was meant to hold water or juice, but I like my spoons and utensils in it where I can see it every day!
2.  Wine (in) Glass:  The traditional offering on the altar or in circle.  Kitchen witches love their wine (beer, cider, liquor...), and I'm no exception.  Btw, the glass is meaningful to me, because it was hand-etched by me in an icicle pattern (which is hard to see here.)
3.  Bowl of Fruit + Lemon:  When I think about what separates a "kitchen" or "cottage" witch from any other kind of witch, this is what comes to mind.  No, not piles of citrus fruits, but  a lot of ordinary, cheap, easily obtained ingredients.  Making the sacred out of the mundane, conjuring magic in the everyday.  Tell me that's not alchemy!  (BTW, I got the bowl as a present from my Mom last weekend.  So that adds to the allure!)
4.  Candles:  Of course I have candles in the kitchen, but I totally understand why some don't.  There's enough fire in a kitchen to fulfill that needed element, anyway.  I just like having the candles there because I'm kinda accident-prone, so it's just a good idea to burn them there where there's a water source!  (Hey... look at the excellent candle holder in the pic!  This was made by my stepdad out of the wood from a wine barrel!)
5.  Mortar and Pestle:
If I could recommend one tool that every kitchen witch needs, it would be this one.  First of all, it is a very ancient tool, with a long magical history; second of all, it is the preferred witchy tool for grinding spices, herbs, homemade medicines, etc.; and lastly, it symbolizes both male and female in the same way as the chalice and the blade, and when used, also embodies the Great Rite.
6.  Broom:
This is a small altar broom I made years ago, out of a cinnamon stick, braided raffia, and some teal embroidery thread.  I think the broom is one of the most important kitchen witch symbols.  It physically AND psychically sweeps, but it's also a symbol of protection, fertility, and of course witchiness.
7.  Incense, Incense Burner:
This burner is a green cast-iron leaf.  Obviously symbolic of the air element, the leaf is also suggestive of earth.  I also like that cast-iron has an ancestral feel to it - the way a cast-iron pan or cauldron does.
8.  Knife:
I have an athame (a really nice one, in fact) that I've never quite bonded with.  I think it's the idea that an athame is not "supposed" to cut anything.  Somehow that clashes with the fact that a knife, by its very nature, is an extremely useful and necessary tool.  So when I use my mundane kitchen knives for anything magical, it doesn't seem like a conflict of interest to me.  My knives are sharp, well-made, perfectly balanced, and have a nice heft to them.  They were also NOT cheap, but I spent the money on them because they are good tools and I think they are well worth the investment.  Since they are the best I have, why wouldn't I want to use them in my magic?

A Few Kitchen Tips and Tricks:
Every witch has a few tricks up his/her sleeve, and I'm no exception.  I'm going to share my favorites with you, some of which you may have heard before... and some that I made up myself!

* Use a fresh herb sprig as an aspergillum (water sprinkler).  I prefer rosemary for this, although any sturdy and fragrant herb, flower, or branch could work, such as a single rose or a pine bough (depending on intent, of course.)

* What kind of water are you sprinkling?  Naturally, plain ol' water with a little salt dissolved in it is good for grounding or removing negativity.  However, you can also use specially blessed water that you keep just for this purpose, such as rainwater or water collected during the waning moon (for banishing and cleansing) or from a special lake, river, or other source.

* Not a fan of smoke?  Use an oil diffuser! (And I don't mean one of those icky plug-in or reed do-dads, either.)  AzureGreen has some really nice and inexpensive ones:  http://www.azuregreen.net/
However, a small pot of water simmering on the stove can accomplish the exact same thing:  simply put in some water, and float a small amount of essential oil on the surface.  As the water heats up, it will also heat up the oil, which will release the scent (this way you don't waste the oils, or worry about boiling the pot dry.)  This is great for those that like to work with essential oils or for people that prefer to use scent sparingly.

* Keep a box or jar of coarse salt around.  You can use it in all the same ways you would use ordinary salt:  to dissolve in water, to ring candles with, to scatter around the circle, to use in spells, etc.  But coarse salt also has the added benefit of actually looking like crystals, making it a great substitute for quartz or symbol of the element of earth.   It can even be used in place of sand for burning incense on, or crystals/tools can be buried in it to be energetically purified.  Salt crystals also make a nice altar offering, as salt was priceless in times past.  And because salt is perfectly at home in a kitchen, no one will be the wiser.

Moss Agate - It's a miracle in the garden!
* Many kitchen witches like to use a wooden spoon as a wand of sorts, but it's difficult to keep your mundane spoons separate from your sacred ones.  So how about using a blessed wooden honey dipper!  It can live in a drawer or utensil jar, but will never get used by anyone except you as long as you buy (or put) your honey in a squeezable container.

* If you are trying to grow herbs (or any other plant, really), put a small tumbled moss agate that has been charged with abundance and fertility energy into the soil next to the plant.  I don't know why this works, but it does - one year I grew tomato plants taller than I am!

That's all for now... thanks for reading, and have a lovely and blessed day!














Friday, May 18, 2012

Joy

Everyone experiences joy, but some experience it more than others.  The difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is contentment or a good feeling, whereas joy is more of a state of being, is felt deeply, and often not even by choice.  Joy is evoked by something powerful within yourself, is PART of yourself, whereas happiness can be temporary and easily affected by outside events or circumstances.  For example, hanging out with my sister or getting to see her makes me happy; my sister moving back to where I live after being on the other side of the country for 15 years brings me joy.

Joy is also measured by the depths of your sorrow.  I wouldn't feel joy at my sister's return had I not missed her living here so much.  As Kahlil Gibran explains it:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight..."

This helps to explain why it is that sometimes people who have gone through some really nasty shit in life are also some of the most joyful people we know.  The character of Maude, in the movie "Harold and Maude" comes to mind, as she was carefree, joyful, and spirited despite having endured World War II and being in a concentration camp.

So what is it that brings you joy?  And how, if at all, is your joyfulness connected to your spirituality or personal religious path?  One of my greatest joys is nature, which is of course deeply connected to my being Pagan.  Seeing the breathtaking acres of lavender and sunflowers in the South of France, looking up into the night sky and finding the constellation Scorpio, or picking a perfect, fragrant rose off of our bush fills me with joy.  Art also makes me joyful.  I'll never forget how I felt the first time I stood in front of an authentic Van Gogh painting or walked through a garden of bronze statues by Rodin.  Oh, and good food, of all kinds, definitely brings me joy.  Makes my world go 'round, more like.   And of course, like anyone, there are people who have been in my life or who are currently in it who bring me joy just by existing.

Once in awhile I will dream of something or someone I treasured that has been lost to me, and my heart leaps at seeing it/them again, only to sink when I awaken and realize that it is "not real." However, like Gibran pointed out, these kinds of experiences are probably what help me to feel greater joy in what IS real (at least right now), and I cherish them both. Memories, after all, can also bring joy.

Feel free to comment below on your own joys.  I would love to hear about them!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cheapo Tarot Update

From BN.com
In March I wrote a post about the nicely illustrated but kooky tarot cards I found at Dollar Tree.  You can read all about it here:  http://autumndamiana.blogspot.com/2012/03/cheapo-tarot.html

The gist of the post was that only the cards of the Major Arcana (trump cards) were complete and usable in this deck.  However, I found a great use for just these cards in one of my books the other day.

The book is "Exploring Spellcraft - How to Create and Cast Effective Spells" by Gerina Dunwich.  In chapter 4 of the book, called "Divination Before Incantation," she explains how many Witches do divination to determine the probable outcome of a spell before casting it, to make sure it's worth doing.  She then explains how to use just the Major Arcana to do this, and gives explanations for each of the cards based on their traditional meanings, but with the idea in mind that the question asked is about spellwork.  Both the upright and reversed meanings are addressed.

How cool is that?  Guess I know what I'll be using that crazy deck for now!