Tag Archives: Witches

There are Thousands of Good Reasons Why Magic Doesn’t Rule the World. They’re Called Witches and Wizards.

He knew us, didn’t he? He knew us because, whatever he may have or have not said, he was one of us.

We all need models. Granny Weatherwax has long been one of my chiefest models for how to be Witch. It was said of her that: Granny Weatherwax didn’t hold with looking at the future, but now she could feel the future looking at her. She didn’t like the expression at all.

And: Magrat peered around timidly. Here and there on the moor were huge standing stones, their origins lost in time, which were said to lead mobile and private lives of their own. She shivered. “What’s to be afraid of?” she managed.
“Us,” said Granny Weatherwax, smugly.

Most importantly: “[W]hat about this rule about not meddling?” said Magrat.
“Ah,” said Nanny. She took the girl’s arm. “The thing is,” she explained, “as you progress in the Craft, you’ll learn there is another rule. Esme’s obeyed it all her life.”
“And what’s that?”
“When you break rules, break ‘em good and hard.”

Terry Pratchett slipped between the veils today. As Byron says, Tower Time. May the Goddess guard him. May he find his way to the Summerlands. May his friends and family know peace.

OK, one more: Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger is one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard steam of wrath power the turbines of revenge.

May it be so for you.

And That Has Made All the Difference

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The best thing that ever happened to me was getting to be Son’s mother.

The second best thing that ever happened to me was when a Circle of mad, energy-crackling, bright, irreverent women pulled me — for no reason at all — into their midst. Like Frost heading off onto one fork of a path, that has made all the difference.

For a long time, for a big chunk of my life, I was a solitary Witch dreaming of the day when I might find a Circle. It didn’t occur to me then — it wouldn’t have stopped me, but it didn’t occur to me — just how deeply bound a Witch becomes to the other people in her Circle.

Tonight, I had a lovely reminder of just how deep the commitment is. I fall, almost every day, short of my own aspirations, but I will, on this plane and the next, and the next, and the next, always be tied, by my own love, if for no other reason, to these brilliant, dangerous, alive, beautiful, smart, funny, sexy, gorgeous, wise-ass dames.

The Elements. The Goddess. Fire. Connection. Intent.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

Monday Potpourri


* One of the things that I’ve noticed is that when you do magic at the home of an experienced Witch, especially if she has lived at her current address for a while, she’s quite likely to invoke her building — the physical structure of her home — often during Grounding, but sometimes when invoking Earth or one of the other Elements. It’s a bit of a step beyond just being in relationship with your landbase — more like being aware of the building’s presence on the astral plane, and its life and awareness here in the manifest world. Have you ever noticed this? Is your house a presence? Do you have a relationship to it?

* You probably don’t need me to say this, but, please, go vote on Tuesday, even if you do have to stand in line to do it. Our Beloved Dead went through a lot to make sure that we could vote. I’ve been very disappointed in President Obama and expect to be so again, should he win. But he’s demonstrably better for women, the planet, and America than Mitt Romney would be. If I lived in a safely blue state or in an irredeemably red state, I’d vote for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, or I’d write in Elizabeth Warren. But I live in Virginia, a swing state, so I’m going to pull up the already-almost-stretched-out elastic on my big girl panties and vote for Obama. And there are down ticket races and ballot initiates that need my vote, as well. I shan’t be gone long, you come too. Please tell me in comments on Tuesday that you voted!

* I’m listening to this over and over since reading about it in comments at The Wild Hunt:

* You should read this and you should look at the pictures.

* Joanna Colbert’s put together an intriguing Tarot spread for this time of year. Shall we try it together? I’ll show you mine tomorrow.

Picture found here.

The Art of Magic


I don’t know about you, but if we break the human population down into Visualizers and Verbalizers, I fall pretty far over on the Verbalizer end of the spectrum. My primary approach to the universe, INTJ that I am, is a verbal, analytical, logical approach. With Gemini ascendent, my default setting is what some traditions refer to as Talking Self.

Yet, effective magic depends upon an ability to activate Younger Self, that part of the self that responds to symbols, complex meanings, feelings. I suppose that’s one of the reasons that poetry is so important to me. Poetry uses a medium that feels familiar and safe to me — words — in a way designed to activate Younger Self. What good poetry does (and I’ll include here good musical lyrics) is to slip unnoticed past the sentry that guards Talking Self so that Younger Self can recognize a truth beyond the literal meaning of the words.

All of which is a long-winded (see?) way of explaining why it can be so important for Witches and other magic workers to spend as much time as possible with any and all of the visual arts (dance, sculpture, painting, garden design, etc.) One of the classes that really changed my life for the better was an Intro to Art History class that I took near the end of my high school career. It gave me a schemata that allowed me to do more than just look at the surface of a painting and say, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” which was fairly unsatisfying for an INTJ. And ever since that class, I’ve been pretty serious about bringing as much visual art into my life as I can. (I credit Andy Goldsworthy, Patrick Dougherty, and, most recently, Sally J. Smith for teaching me the precise extent to which landscape can also be real art.)

Luckily, I live in a city of free museums and incredible civic sculpture. And I live close enough to New York, Philadelphia, and, nowadays, I’d add, Baltimore to get to enjoy the art in those cities, as well. And, while I’d always prefer a live viewing, the internet has made it possible for all of us to experience art that we may never get to see in person. Having an internal library (or an emotional museum) of images can make it easier to do effective magic.

To that end, I was struck this week with an image posted by one of my favorite modern artists, Rima Staines. If you scroll almost 3/4 of the way down on the above link, you’ll see an illustration that Rima’s done for a new journal called Earthlines. I’m hard pressed to imagine a better visualization for home protection magic, although I will say that when I sat down to work with this image, another creature, not a bear, came to me. And that’s where being in touch with your landbase and having a visual library can alchemize into something truly magic.

Literata recently posted some images that can be helpful when visualizing magic for the planet. I use this web site to help me visualize political magic, as well as images such as this. This image, this one, and this one figure in each of my daily meditations.

Are you more visual or more verbal? How do you incorporate the alternative approach into your magic? What art do you incorporate into your magic?

Picture (by Christopher Vacher) found here.

What ARE Witches For?


I go on a lot about how Witches need to be in touch with their landbase, watershed, foodshed. I don’t think that’s “all” that Witchcraft is, but I do think that it’s a huge part of it. And I do think that it’s “what Witches are for.”

As we approach Arbor Day and Earth Day, both of which, IMHO, ought to be added to the 8 Sabbats to create a total of 10, I’ve been thinking more and more about what Witches and our magic “are for.”

Of course, I do all kinds of what I still think of as “hedge Witch” magic, although a lot of it is more urban than hedge in nature. I have good spells for getting parking spaces. I cast nets of protection around every fire engine, ambulance, and motorcade that I pass. I do a spell every morning (when the traffic report comes on the radio as I’m on my way to work) to protect Son, DiL, and G/Son. I cast a spell of protection on my office door whenever I leave it and I infuse the money that I give every morning to “my” homeless vet with a lot of Reiki and with the rune Fehu. That’s average, daily, urban Witch magic. And it matters. But it’s not all that I’m here for.

I’m here to priestess this planet through the cataclysmic changes that She’s going through. I’ve given birth and I’ve gone through a menopause (and both of them owe something in their rushed nature to Chani in Dune). And so I come in sympathy to the planet; I come, as a young girl who came quite early to menstruation, to the trees and birds giving birth much earlier than “normal,” now that the planet’s own feedback system has moved into hyperdrive. But I come, more than anything, as a Pisces who approaches w/o judgment. I’m here to help this planet with whatever She needs, and, IMHO, that changes as the stresses placed upon Her change.

It’s all real; it’s all metaphor. There’s always more.

What are you a Witch for? If the only answer is: I’m a Witch for my own personal development, well, that’s fine. It’s just not what I think is the only answer.

Picture found here.

What She Said

Because I know, in the center of my being where I know that I am a woman, that the body matters. There is a wisdom in the body that cannot be overwritten by any intellectual formulation. There is a meaning in the body that is the true meaning of my life. No man can know it, no man can explain it to me, no man has ever gotten it right, and it is a transgression when a man arrogates to himself the task of explaining to me what it means to be a woman.

Because my sisters matter. When I navigate the common divide by rejecting my sisterhood with other women to assume the mantle of manhood, I lose their company. I leave their conversation, their nurturance, the collegial sense of companionship which women of goodwill achieve so easily.

Because there are those among my sisters who cannot navigate the common divide by abandoning their bodies. They cannot bring themselves to sacrifice what the body knows and the company of other women in order to achieve in the world. So they give up — they never enter into the [magikal] lineage at all, or if they do, they content themselves with embodying the muse, the sexual vamp, the all-accepting whore, the love-without-limits mother, and they pursue accomplishments vicariously through the magical men in their lives.

Because I know, in the center of myself where I know the most important truth of my life, that I am not deformed or incomplete [because I am not a man], that I am not fitted only to be a helpmeet, that it is not my purpose in life to be someone else’s inspiration and servant. I know that I reason clearly, that I possess a soul, that I am both a material and a spiritual being. Thelemite that I am, I know that my will is my own and no one else’s.

I refuse to accept that I must abandon my body and my sisters, call the universe Lord, call myself he, center my magic in an organ that looks suspiciously like the male member, enact mystery plays about men’s lives in the world in order to be a magician. And I am incensed that I struggle every day of my magical life with this divide that no male magician has ever had to face, because his body and his gender and his way of knowing in the world is perfectly reflected in the lineage.

I challenge this.

~ Brandy Williams in The Woman Magician: Revisioning Western Metaphysics from a Woman’s Perspective and Experience

Picture found here.

Pagan Values: Darkness


When we write and talk about Pagan values, I think there’s a tendency to focus on those values that we think others who are not Pagan will understand. While they may not be at the top of other religions’ lists, values such as honor, hard work, open-mindedness, etc. are the sort of things that most people, religious or not, consider “good.” Lots of people honor their ancestors, even if doing so isn’t particularly a religious value for them and being devoted to a deity is, even if it’s not your deity, something that, again, we expect other religious groups to understand (although some religions are very wrapped up in proving that their deity is the one, true diety). I’d like to talk a little bit about a value that I consider to be, if not a generally Pagan value then, at least, a Wiccan one. I’d like to talk about darkness.

It’s the nature of Patriarchy to set up good/bad dualisms. Man/woman, soul/body, heaven/Earth, abstinence/sex, and, lightness/darkness. The darkness is mysterious, uncontrollable, messy, and, as a result, scary. So it’s not surprising that most religions value the light, use it as a metaphor for all things good, and shun the dark, considering it evil.

But Witches value the dark, just as they value mystery, women, bodies, Earth, and sex. Witches refuse to buy into Patriarchy’s dualism, at least beyond a certain level. It isn’t that Witches aren’t afraid of the dark; it’s that they’re not scared of being afraid. Witches are willing to tolerate that scary feeling that we’ve all experienced in the dark (and, of course, by “the dark,” I don’t only mean nightime) in order to gain wisdom, experience, power, strength. Witchcraft teaches techniques that can help a Witch face the dark (grounding and centering, being present, magics and spells for protection, etc.). But, in the end, Witches have to master, use, and be willing to experience their fear in order to learn from the dark.

Facing the dark includes, in my practice, facing my own shadow issues. In fact, it means seeking them out, deliberately, in dreamwork, meditation, journaling, discussions with other Witches, and, when needed, through therapy. When Witches (like other Pagans) say that they want to “Know Thyself” they mean “all of myself,” including those parts that hide in the darkness, both terrified of and desperate for revelation. If you want to view night-blooming flowers, you’ve got to go outside at night. If you want to meet and dance with your own shadows, you’ve got to be willing to walk into the dark.

And so I value the ugly old crone as I value the beautiful young mother. I value what goes on in my compost bin as I value the white daisies and Queen Anne’s lace growing in my cottage garden. I value the part of me that approaches challenges certain that my efforts won’t be rewarded as I value the part of me that goes ahead and takes on challenges.

What do you find to value in the darkness? Do you consider darkness as much a Pagan value as honor or connection?

Picture found here.