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Shawl Stories: Jess

The Temple’s Shawl Ministry offers gifts of comfort, healing, and love, and sometimes we hear back from those who have received them and they share their stories with us, and allow us to share them with you. This Shawl Story comes from Jess:

I am a practising Buddhist of diverse origins: my ancestors come from Iceland, Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Norway, and Moldova (among others). I grew up the great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter of immigrants from whom I learned about my family history. While in some cases they came to the US simply to seek a better life, many of my family came to escape persecution by the Ottoman Turks and rising Communist Party. The ones who came here were the lucky ones—when one of my great-great-grandfathers returned to Poland and Ukraine after World War II to look for his father and other relatives, not only did he learn that they had been victims of genocide, but that even the location of their graves had been obliterated, “plowed up”. Another great-grandfather lost most of his family to the Greek Genocide, and precious little survives about his family from their village in Turkey (they were Ottoman Greek). Yet another great-grandfather lost several relatives under Stalinist rule.

Despite this, my family has always embraced a positive, loving, and compassionate outlook. I was privileged to be able to know four of my great-grandparents growing up, as well as my grandparents. Most of my great-grandparents lived to be between 100-103 years old, and most of my grandparents survived well into their 90s. My last surviving grandfather passed away this January (2016). I had an especially strong connection to my Baba (passed away 2002, age 100); she sent me items that had belonged to some of my ancestors.

I had heard about the Temple of Witchcraft’s Shawl Ministry through various sources—as a knitter and crocheter myself, I am always so happy to see these skills used as a medium for transmitting healing and blessings to all those in need. I wanted to mark this passing of my last surviving grandparent with something special. I wanted to have something to wear in their memory when I lit candles to them in our local Orthodox Church. Although not Orthodox myself, I like to honour my ancestors who were in this way, as it gives me a powerful way to connect with them and honour that part of my heritage. In a way, the shawl would also serve as my way of remembering all of my ancestors and relatives who did not make it to the U.S., and for whom precious little information survives. I kept trying to make a shawl myself, but it just didn’t seem right—so many obstacles cropped up. I kept coming back to the Shawl Ministry. I was being guided in this direction, so I followed the guidance.

When the package containing the shawl arrived, with the card and candle, I cried with joy. The energy was so palpable—pure love and healing! I wrapped myself in it immediately! During my daily evening Tara practices, I lit the votive. Such warmth filled the room! I wish I could be more descriptive, but words fail! I found a card to colour to send to the ministry as a “thank you”. My recently departed grandfather had been an artist in this life, so I felt like, in a way, he was sharing his energy through my colouring the card.

I wear my shawl during the monthly Buddha days and four major Buddhist holy days, when doing puja at home or in the gompa; I will be wearing it again when my husband and I visit our local Orthodox church to light a candle for deceased family this week. Love transcends the boundaries we create, as does compassion, and the energy of loving kindness and compassion in the shawls made by the Shawl Ministry are a remarkable gift that can be shared with everyone. Just by wearing my shawl around others, I have seen their energies lift, and their mood become more positive. So wonderful!

I am glad, so glad, that I heeded that voice that encouraged me to write to the Shawl Ministry and request a shawl. Through this gift of kindness, I have been able to share healing with others, making this gift more meaningful than words can express. Thank you to the Cancer Ministry of the Temple of Witchcraft—may all your prayers and aspirations be achieved!

Have a story of the shawl ministry you would like to share with us and our community? Please email silver@templeofwitchcraft.org.

The Fiery Vessel of Craft

An Inner Temple Working

Many in our community are feeling a heavy combination of sadness, fear, and anger at this time, and it can be unclear what to do with those feelings, and easy to become trapped cycling between them. On the Qabbalistic Tree of Life, the sphere of Geburah is associated with both fire and judgment, with necessary separation of the worthy and unworthy. Like fire itself, our anger and grieving can consume, if allowed to rage out of control, or can be harnessed to do useful and magickal Work.

In the Temple of Witchcraft tradition, we each establish a place for ourselves on the inner planes we call the Inner Temple, a sanctuary for introspection and personal, visionary work. This working is intended to establish a new part of the Inner Temple for work related to transforming sadness, grief, and anger into something creative. If you are unfamiliar with the Inner Temple practice, you may wish to study and review it in Christopher Penczak’s book The Inner Temple of Witchcraft.

Enter your Inner Temple. Find, conjure, or otherwise call forth a place or vessel for containing fire. In my own Inner Temple, this is a forge, surrounded by brick- and metalwork, and complete with an anvil and tools. In your own Inner Temple, it might be a hearth, a crucible or kiln, a fire pit, or a great brazier. It should be something capable of containing a large and very hot fire. You may wish to adorn the vessel with sigils or other symbols significant to you. For example, my Inner Temple Forge bears a sigil made up of the glyph for my fire ally spirit, the elemental triangle of fire, and the glyph of Mars.

When the place is established, first call up any sadness, grief, fear, or similar heavy emotion you are feeling and pour it into the vessel to serve as fuel. You may perceive it as dark, heavy, and flowing like oil or chunky, dusty, and brittle, like coal. Allow it all to flow, knowing the vessel can contain as much of it as you have, until you feel you have poured all of it out.

Once that is done, call up your feelings of anger, from hurt betrayal to righteous rage, and pour it forth into the vessel as fire, the hottest, fiercest flames you can imagine. Know that the vessel is strong enough to contain this fire. Perceive it igniting the fuel within to produce a cleansing, transforming flame, like the pyre of the Phoenix. Pour out all of the anger, all of the rage, all of the fire into the vessel until there is no more to give and the flames are all contained within it, forming a fiery core of intense heat.

Say or affirm, “I ignite and consecrate this Fiery Vessel of Craft to be the forge, the cook-fire, the crucible, in which all dross shall burn away, all that is base shall be transformed, and from which I will bring forth wonders and change” (or words to that effect). Know that the vessel will bank and control the fire, keeping it both hot and contained until it is needed for your Work.

Use the Fiery Vessel of Craft in your inner workings to take that which needs to be transformed and make it anew: In vision, you may cook in a cauldron, fire in a kiln, heat and hammer at a forge, or boil away in a crucible whatever you are working with—or all of these things, as you are so moved. Periodically, you can pour out sadness and grief to fuel the fire, and anger to stoke it, as needed, making the Vessel a repository for those feeling to transform them and put them to use. You can even envision the flames of the Vessel as heating or powering an engine to provide you with energy or motivation to do other inner and outer world work, controlled and directed energy rather than wild and unfocused. My own forge connects to a steam engine, for example, elements working in concert: water and air heated by fire and contained by the metals of earth to be transformed into power.

May this vision and working serve you and the Great Work in Love, Will, and Wisdom.

Steve Kenson is a founder and Gemini lead minister of the Temple of Witchcraft.

Round About the Cauldron Go

A monthly musing of Kitchen Witchery

cauldron-and-gourds

Autumn blessings to all of you! (well, if you are on this side of the Equator). I wanted to start off by thanking all of you who attended our last ritual. The amount of food that was brought to our post-ritual potluck was impressive to say the least. This awesome spread led me to this month’s topic: Potluck Pointers. I also think it is an excellent time to post about this with the holiday season approaching. Most us will get invites to family and work gatherings, and these tips might be helpful.

Make what you like

If you are anything like me, you try to be as inclusive with your menu choices as possible when hosting a dinner party or attending a pot luck. It is good to be thoughtful, but it is just as important to make a dish that you would enjoy. There is a chance that some of it will be coming home with you. If you make a dish you love, you can use it for work lunches or as a side to your evening meal the next day.

Variety is the spice of life

Most of us lean towards veggie platters and dessert. They are easy and really yummy.  When attending a potluck, it is good to check in with the host, or in the Temple’s case, read over the potluck guide. We post a guide based on your last name in the ritual announcement. When you pop on to preregister, take a glance over it and see what category is recommended. When in doubt, a beverage is good. Also simplicity rules. Dressed greens,  a grain, or a veggie side are always winners.

No muss no fuss

Make serving and clean up as simple as possible. Think about how people will be eating your dish. If you made a soup, consider bringing bowls. If you made a roast or a large casserole, slicing it can help when it comes to serving time. The same goes for your famous oven-fresh bread. Cut it up and place in a bowl before the event. Your host will thank you. This will also make it easier when it comes to breakdown and clean-up. Remember to claim your leftovers and dish before heading out. We can occasionally get people to take remaining items with them, but it would help your hosts tremendously if you could take it with you or find it a home before you leave.

Carry in. Carry out.

If you are a camper, you are familiar with this saying. When planning your potluck contribution, think about the container and serving utensils. When possible, use a piece of tape or a tag with your name on it to make sure you are  able to track down your items. The host (or in this case, the Temple) doesn’t necessarily have the space to store serving vessels and utensils. We also are very conscious of the amount of waste we produce and would prefer not to throw out a number of disposable containers. When you do bring a reusable container, we do our best to return it to you clean, but no promises.

Location, location, location

Just like in the outside world, real estate is precious and most places you go will have limited electrical outlet and oven or refrigerator space.  I generally try and think of a dish that would be okay to be served at room temperature if needed. If you do decide to bring a crock pot, I recommend bringing a power strip as well. That way you can help your hosts extend their space. Remember to label it so you can get it back.

Fingers or fork?

Finger foods are great, but when making them, consider the amount of space they need for serving. Can they be stacked? Even though they are finger food, does their size or shape allow them to be picked up with spatula or tongs? When large groups of people are eating, it is a bit more sanitary to use a serving utensil even with finger foods.

Timing is everything

Potlucks seems like a very easy way to host a meal or gathering, but even potlucks have their logistical issues. Some of them we have mentioned above. Another is timing. Whenever possible, drop off  your dish in advance. Also wait until the designated time or announcement is made to start eating (yes, even the dish you brought). We know you worked hard and we thank you. We also know you are starving and the selection looks SOOO amazing, but it is considerate to wait until everyone is ready to eat. In our case, we usually give those who have led ritual a chance to recoup their energy and ground by getting a bite to eat first. We also know that you are going to want to thank them and chat about your experience. Allowing them to have full bellies and to return to a mundane mindset will allow them to be present.

Go Green

Since environmental sustainability is an important initiative for the Temple, we are trying to create as little waste as possible. By bringing a dish in a container that you will take home afterward, you are helping the Temple limit what ends up in our landfills. If you can go the extra step and bring your own eating dishes and cutlery, that’s even better!

Breathe easy

If you are like me, you have a few people in your close circle who have food allergies. The reality is that the number of people who have them is growing. Because of this, it is a good idea to label your dishes and list the ingredients. At our rituals, we have labels available for you if you forget. I personally also try to avoid the big ones like shellfish and nuts when I plan my dish.  Labeling also helps our friends who have removed items from their diets such as meat, soy,  gluten, or dairy for health, ethical, or other reasons.

Now don’t panic. I can tell you from personal experience that anyone who hosts a potluck is grateful for whatever your contribution is. Please don’t let this list cause you any stress or prevent you from bringing a dish to your next potluck. These are just some things to consider while planning for your next event.

Again thank you all so much for your contributions.

Samhain Blessings,
Ryan

corn

Ryan is an ordained Minister, Seminary Graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft & Deputy Minister of the Cancer Ministry. Ryan is passionate about Kitchen Witchery, the creatures of the Green World, working with Plant Spirits & making magick in daily life. Crafting herbal infusions, candles, and sacred tools, Ryan is co-creator of Drops of Three. You may visit his website at www.dropsofthree.storenvy.com.

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How Speaks the Wind

How Speaks the Wind?

by Christopher Crittenden

How speaks the wind through willow tree?
Like a beached fish gasping, in terror spent?
Its mind a ball of tangled string,
For fear and dread shall ne’er relent.
Or speaks it thus; an ancient knowing?
Like a stone upon a field of war,
Where men died, grain they now are sowing,
And banshee’s cry is heard no more.
Perhaps it whispers like a lover
To calm the soul with passion’s fire
Upon the skin, caress of clover
Aching dance of heart’s desire
For me, the wind a strange friend be
And I, too, stranger become
Full sails, slipping ‘pon the sea
Forever bound for home…

Christopher Crittenden has been a pagan and witch since 1983. He was initiated as a Priest into Seahold Sanctuary Coven in Waveland, MS, which manifested into the Covenant of the Labyrinth. Christopher is a member of The Temple of Witchcraft, the Ancient Order of Druids in America, Ar nDraoicht Fein and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.

A shamanic practitioner, his practice is based on his experience of Eclectic Wicca, Traditional British Isles Witchcraft, the Western Mystery Tradition, Chaos Magic, Shamanism and Druidry. As a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with an MA in Teaching Language, he speaks several languages and he has published an essay in the anthology To Fly By Night.

SMILE … and the world smiles with you …

As we reel in the aftermath and sorrow of the Orlando tragedy, we find ourselves standing dumbstruck at the senseless horror of it all. We try to wrap our minds around questions that are almost impossible to express! “Why would, how could, any human being, regardless of their religious or political views, massacre a room full of people?” While it is conceivable that we have the capacity for some quite shocking and violent thoughts – very few of us would ever really want to act on those impulses. So we wonder, “what disconnect or synapse – what malignancy – must occur in the mind and the heart for someone to formulate a plan, organize and acquire the weapon, and then enter a facility full of happy, celebrating human-beings, point the muzzle of a loaded weapon at flesh and bone, and pull the trigger?” It is unfathomable.

Yet, I wonder, for how many days will we feel the shock of this tragedy? Life is so busy. We work so hard and we are so pre-occupied with the business of life that we miss the bigger picture – we miss that “they” are “us” and that our world is in pain from the disease of apathy and division. The problem seems insurmountable. We hear of this rotting, oozing dis-ease on the news daily – so often I fear that we have become complacent – except for those few initial hours of aftermath while the news channels still deem it worthy of ratings. The problem, I think, stems from the fact that we no longer really know our neighbors. We no longer see anyone beyond our own small, tightly wound world.

Witches, we must do something about this. We are the tribe who CAN do something about this. Are we not the masters of setting intentions? Aligning and empowering them with our Will? This is not a suggestion of lighting a single candle or even coordinating the world’s largest master spell. That is too easy. Once and done is not enough. The Aquarius Ministry is proposing that we do something in the “everyday” of our lives. It is the ONLY way to stop this ruthless epidemic of divisiveness. We must each take responsibility for it ourselves as though we will single-handedly save the world. We must begin to connect with everyone around us. We must know our neighbors. We must care about our neighbors. We must LOVE our neighbors with perfect Love. Everyday.

The Temple’s Aquarius Ministry is launching a SMILE campaign. The plan is simple, almost naive, and yet that is its beauty – it costs nothing, takes virtually no effort other than to daily, consciously set an intention as you encounter people. SMILE is an acronym for:

See the heart and soul of your brother/sister – each one of us, whether rich or poor, black, white, brown, educated or uneducated, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Pagan, Straight or Gay, have heartbreak and trouble, happiness and joy. We each hold a perspective which, to us, is valid. Yet, we must begin to see what unites us rather than what divides us. We are all brothers and sisters of the human race.

Make a connection – when you come face to face with your brother or sister of humanity, whether it is at the drive through, on the highway, in the grocery store, on Facebook, or at your door, look into the eyes of that person and connect with them on a soul level. Recognize your same-ness.

Identify with them – what if you were in their shoes – but don’t assume you know. What seems obvious to you is often not true. We all deal with heartbreak on many levels – financial, medical, relationship, psychological, etc.

Love with Divine love – this is not the stuff of emotion. This is a love of action that sees beyond the petty differences. This is the love that says, “we are all in the same boat here on earth and we need to cooperate and work together. we need to have love for one another in spite of our differences.”

Evolve your world – By sharing this message and reaching out, one day at a time, one encounter at a time, we can influence the world around us. Like a single pebble dropped into the water, the ripples expand out to the far reaches. Can you imagine the changes and ripple effect if we all begin together?

I can hear you thinking, “… but how is this supposed to work?” It’s quite simple. Each of us must become fully commit to this effort. Each one of us must assume full ownership of this work. Will it be easy? Will it happen overnight? No. But change must start with a first step. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to the Facebook page and join
  • download the PDF for the leaflets
  • print out a few pages, cut them apart and place them in your purse or car so that you will have them as you go throughout your day.
  • As you begin your day, take time to create an affirmation which empowers your consciousness to be aware of each opportunity around you. Something such as, “I will truly see and connect with each person I encounter throughout my day for the highest good. I am in balance with myself, I am in balance with the Universe. So Mote It Be.”
  • SMILE at everyone (not just those like you), make photos of you and your new “friends.”
  • Post your beautiful stories and SMILE photos on Facebook.
  • Get one of our ribbons at Temple Fest and wear it!
  • Look for monthly SMILE challenges on the Facebook page
  • Change the world one SMILE at a time.

Will everyone respond? No. It doesn’t matter. Keep SMILING – even at those who scoff – everyday. Believe that most individuals are hurting and scared. Believe that most of our society is offended and outraged that incidents such as the Orlando tragedy occur. Believe that each person you encounter has burdens and needs your SMILE as much as you need theirs.

Then, whether it is the lady at the post office, the clerk at the convenience store, the grumbling co-worker, or the impatient woman at the drive-thru window, when you look at them, look into their soul. Use your gifts to “feel” and be aware of their humanity. And SMILE at them – literally and figuratively. Some of you are in a position to share this with a group of people in your local area – do it! The more people we can begin with, the better and faster it will impact our world.

That’s it! A simple five-point plan for changing the world one person at a time! NOW the challenge is yours, Witches! SMILE!

The Book of the Faerie Court

Since very early on, Templefest has been strongly associated with the Faerie Court of Queen Aroxana and King Aubrey, allies of the Temple and its community. A part of Templefest is to honor our faerie allies and they, in turn have offered blessings and insights to us. A part of the planning process for the festival each year is a journey in vision to the Faerie Court to commune and seek guidance on the themes for the year, embodied in the beautiful artwork Leo lead minister Mark Bilokur has created.

Over these past years, and Templefests, many different members of the Temple community have had their own experiences with the Faery Court, including two years ago when priestesses and priests of the Temple offered a Faery Quest ritual, allowing members of the community to visit and commune with representatives of the Court directly. Many of us have precious bits of personal experience and lore, and we would like to offer the opportunity to bring all of it together. Therefore the Temple is pleased to announce the creation of The Book of the Faerie Court, a collaborative community project, headed by our Priestess Dragon, who is a book-binder and has been working in cooperation with the Court for this work.

In essence, we will offer, at Templefest 2016, a collection of pages and various artistic tools, and allow community members who have had experience with the Faerie Court of Aroxana and Aubrey, either previously or at this year’s festival, to record their lore, through the written word (in prose or poetry), through art, or whatever combination they wish. As curator and keeper of the Book, Dragon will select and organize pages and bind them together. Our hope is that The Book of the Faerie Court will be an ongoing project at each Templefest gathering, adding more and more pages each year and expanding our shared collection of lore.

There are, of course, some guidelines:

  • First and foremost, this project is limited to experiences and lore involving the fae within the context of the Temple and its rituals, and specifically the Faery Court of Aroxana and Aubrey, not simply the fae as a general concept or outside of this context. If you’re in doubt, you’re welcome to contribute, but be aware that the Book is curated (see below).
  • Secondly, contributing to the book is a part of the Templefest experience and may only be done (and must be completed!) at Templefest—no sending things in from afar or taking them home to finish later. We regret that may require some lore to wait to find its way to us in person, but that is a requirement of our allies.
  • Dragon, advised by the Temple’s founders and council of ministers, shall be the curator of what pages are included in the Book, and offering pages and lore does not ensure their inclusion. Again, while we hope that all correct offerings made in the spirit of Love, Will, and Wisdom will see inclusion, this is a collaborative effort with the Court, and not everything will necessarily be accepted.

The Book of the Faerie Court will be held in trust for the community by the Temple and housed at the Temple’s home in Salem, New Hampshire, although it will be available for viewing and reading, both at Templefest and by appointment and prior arrangement with the Temple for members. We hope for the Book to be a powerful touchstone and symbol of the prosperous relationship between the Faerie Court and the Temple.

Apart from announcing our plans, the main purpose of this article is to allow time for interested parties to gather their thoughts, notes, and any materials for a possible contribution this year, and to have time and the opportunity to ask questions. Blank pages and writing and art materials will be provided at Templefest. Although you are welcome to bring your own materials, there is no assurance that we can accommodate every form of media. In particular, please do not bring finished pages with the intention of including them, as we need to provide the paper for pages, sized and prepared for the bookbinding process. “Scrapbook” style media for pasting onto pages is acceptable and may be included.

For questions, please email gemini@templeofwitchcraft.org and we will do our best to get back to you. Please inquire well before Templefest, as volunteers will be quite busy immediately before, during, and after the festival!

TempleFest 2016 Q&A with Christopher Penczak

July 29, 2016 begins The Temple of Witchcraft’s annual three-day gathering of the magickal community at TempleFest. To preview the Lammas-encompassing festival, Temple Co-Founder Christopher Penczak shares with us how TempleFest began, what we can expect this year, some of his fondest memories of TempleFests past and what he’s most looking forward to this year.

When and how did TempleFest begin? Tell us its “origin story.”

TempleFest began in 2010 as a one-day special event for the members of the Temple of Witchcraft, primarily folks in our Mystery School. Our first one was members only because we didn’t really know how to put on a festival, so we wanted to keep it small until we understood the structure and mechanics. We had it on a lovely farm in Derry, N.H., before moving to private land of a member living in South Hampton, N.H. We wanted to create a place for community to gather, to share, beyond our sabbat festivals, which can be short, even with a class in the afternoon. I’ve been honored to attend so many festivals around the world, ranging from 2-7 days and hosted by great Pagan communities. In speaking about it, the leaders of the Temple also agreed it would be something to help share and hold space for our community.

We have a lot of distance members, doing correspondence courses, so TempleFest is an annual chance for them to gather. Mentors get to meet students, and classmates across the years get to hang out and share. Social media is helpful, but it’s no substitute for good conversation and hanging out around the ritual fire.

Who is this festival for and why should they attend?

The primary focus for the festival is for members of the Temple of Witchcraft, family, friends and those open and curious to Witchcraft and Paganism in general, and those specifically interested in the tradition of the Temple. While there are many events rooted in a pan-pagan ethos and focusing a multitude of religious practices, our focus for our community is on Witchcraft, and while we have all sorts of events ranging from beginners to advanced, our effort is to promote the culture of the Witch, of occultism and metaphysics, and not necessarily dilute it for a broader public.

Those looking to experience ritual, classes and community are welcome. While there is a huge social component, and building of relationships and having friendships grow in the flesh, our framework for the Temple has always hinged around education and experience of the esoteric. You’re certainly welcome to come and just hang out, but there is lots to do and experience, and we encourage immersion into the full experience.

What was the attendance last year and what do you expect this year?

Last year 230 people attended TempleFest over the course of three days, many for the whole weekend and others just for a day or part of a day.  This year we are expecting more than 250 (our site is limited to 300 people at one time).

Besides yourself, who are some of the big names in Witchcraft that we can expect to see this year?

This year our guest speaker is the fabulous Judika Illes, author of many excellent books on magick and the Craft, and in particular the popular Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells and the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft.

I’ve known Judika since I began my writing career and enjoyed her many classes. From her formularies to her work with Spirits, I always learn something new. We don’t see each other as often with busy schedules, so TempleFest is often a way I can get teachers that I want to hear out to our community.

In years past, we have attracted fun guests and friends from the community to come as “part of the crowd” and not necessarily as speakers, including Raven and Stephanie Grimassi and Dorothy Morrison. They were former guests of honor at TempleFest and came back to attend for fun. We’ve also had Orion Foxwood and Ceisiwr Serith present at TempleFest.

This year, we will have some folks attending who will really add to the educational experience, including David Salisbury, Courtney Weber, Ivo Dominquez Jr., Devin Hunter and Storm Faerywolf.

What’s the lineup of events? (or, what events do you know of at this point?)

Since TempleFest is focused upon the community’s connection to the Faery Court, we have a special Friday evening ritual based on the myth of the Fallen Angels as the Faeries. Saturday will include a Harvest, or Lammas, ritual in the afternoon, followed by a keynote presentation by Judika, most likely on the intersection between the saints and the ancestors of the Witch. Saturday night, we’ll have a ritual entitled The Dance of the Alchemist.

What would you say is the must-attend event at the festival this year and why?

This year, we’re repeating the Teacher Panel. It was an emergency fill-in last year when something was cancelled unexpectedly, and people loved it so much, we are purposely repeating it. Not sure what the topic will be yet, but something juicy to get everyone excited and opinionated.

What are you most looking forward to this year? What’s your favorite thing about TempleFest in general?

I enjoy shopping and getting to visit with people quietly, one on one, as we shop. I enjoy the time between, at the fire, at the tents. I do like to take classes with the guest of honor, as well. This year, Judika will be doing two workshops. I also like teaching and running rituals for folks myself.

Can you describe the atmosphere of the festival overall?

A gathering of individuals coming together in community. It’s definitely got a Witchy feel to it! Many have commented to me they are surprised we use things in public that other pagan groups might shy away from. Yet, we also attract families with kids, folks in jeans, t-shirts and baseball hats, along with the robes, cloaks, loin cloths and brooms. We gather around the fire, and I think it evokes something primary and powerful from Witches in ages past and times in the future.

What’s your funniest TempleFest memory?

I think passing a glass of absinthe to someone who didn’t know what it was, when sitting around the fire. The look on their face. It was a bit too green and bitter, despite the sugar in it. They almost choked and yelled at me for not warning them. Who needs a warning about absinthe? It’s not like it was hemlock!

How about your favorite memory from TempleFests past?

One of my favorite moments was going on a weed walk with one of the local herbal teachers at the very first TempleFest. It was education, relaxed and exactly what I needed at the time. Small group of herbal adventurers.

Who else helps make TempleFest possible?

The amazing Team TempleFest. I really do very little to make TempleFest happen with everything else I’m responsible for in the Temple. We have amazing “Three Rays” team leaders, each with their area of expertise to organize. TempleFest is put on through our Aquarius Ministry, and has been the baby of Lead Minister Lisa over these many years. She is working so well with her coven sisters Nicole and Alix. Jocelyn, our treasurer, makes so much possible through the use of her farm. We have always had amazing support on site from longtime Team TempleFest members and TOW ministers.

Everybody really pitches in and helps in some way. I run the class programming and am indebted to the many wonderful presenters who offer their time to present and teach the community. The vendors and our vendor coordinator, Beth, has gotten us great crafters and artisans to offer their magickal goodies to us.  And we have a new generation of volunteers form the online school working, as they can, to help out.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for attendees? (practical and magickal – not that those are necessarily mutually exclusive)

Pace yourself. Don’t try to do everything, but make sure you do something! Take time to hang out and visit. Drink lots of water. Dance. Be okay having an experience that releases something. It’s a safe place for doing magickal work in a community setting.

What, above all else, do you hope people take away from this year’s festival?

An experience with the magick, with the otherworldly, is the most important thing to me … I think that is a reason to come to TempleFest.

Attend TempleFest 2016 

TempleFest, held at 96 Woodman Road in South Hampton, NH, begins Friday, July 29 at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday, July 31 at 4 p.m.

Register now or visit the website for more information.

flower 2

I feel like I should start by apologizing for the length of time between my posts. Maybe it was a winter retreat and I needed to hibernate, or maybe it was my laziness. Either way I am back and hope to develop a little more consistency. The potential of spring has me hopeful. All over my little hill, the Earth begins to awaken. The smell of thawing soil spreads through the air. The trees are budding and specks of green are spread across the ground.

In this post, I wanted to talk about something that might seem a bit more mundane, but for me, is tied to my magick: eating. More specifically, seasonal eating. For many Witches we celebrate the tidal movement of the Sabbats. We watch the changes in the world around us from the green promising growth of spring to the retreat and slumber of the winter. It seems natural for us to dance with this, but how many of us pay attention to that change in our diets?

If we look at the agricultural ties to the Sabbats, it is clear that what we eat changes in unison with each of these celebrations. It is most apparent in the later parts of the year when we celebrate the three major harvest festivals. The harvest of fruit, grain, and finally meat. As a result of this, our ancestors – who didn’t have grocery stores — ate diets that reflected that.

Now that spring is here, our diets potentially should shift towards many of the greens that are beginning to sprout or unfold. Many of these herbs are bitters. If any of you have tasted a black tea after the bag has soaked for a very long time, you know what I mean by a bitter. These herbs and plants help our bodies awaken our digestive track. Over the winter we eat diets of root veggies and preserved meats from the final harvest, much as our ancestors did. These young budded friends of ours have biological effects on our bodies. The bitter qualities promote the production of saliva and digestive fluids. They prime the pumps for what is to come as the growing season approaches.

Those of us that are Green Witches recognize this change. These synchronicities with the plant kingdom are a reflective of the magick in our World. Many of us are doing work this time of year that is about planting the seed or preparing for the growth and harvest to come. How are your practice and celebrations affected or influenced by seasonal foods?

I would also ask you how adapting or adopting these dietary practices helps with the sustainability of our planet’s resources. If some of us define our practice as an Earth-based religion, how would embracing locally grown produce, as well as sustainably and ethically raised meats impact our planet? How will it change our Inner Temples? These really are questions only you can answer. We can talk about the price of these choices, and they are real, or the practicality, but what I suggest is first working on our awareness.

So how can we take those baby steps?

  • Visit your local Farmer’s Markets.
  • Find recipes that utilize seasonally grown produce.
  • If possible purchase organically grown produce.
  • Limit the amount of meat you consume –  it is by far the biggest consumer of resources.
  • Say grace. WHAT? Okay, maybe not a traditional grace, but show appreciation for what you take in. As within, so without. Recognize that something had to die in order for you to live, plant or animal. Just to prove that eating this way can be delicious and powerful, I’m sharing a few recipes I appreciate this time of year.

Chickweed long

Chickweed Pesto

  • 2-3 cups fresh picked chickweed (Stellaria media or Stellaria pubera)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan (fresh grated preferable)
  • 1/3 of a cup walnuts or pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or enough to form a sauce)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Thoroughly blend ingredients. This beautiful pesto can be served over pasta or rice. It can also be slathered over chicken or polenta. It is wonderful over roasted veggies and can be served hot or cold.

Nettle Soup

Nettles (Urtica dioica), stinging nettles, or witches’ nettles are prolific in the spring, and they are an amazing additive to any dish, especially soup. Lots of people are concerned with the stinging aspect of them. The chemical that sits within the leaves of nettles degrades in boiling water.

You can literally take any soup recipe and add nettles to it to reap the benefits of this powerful mineral- and nutrient-rich plant.

Bitters

Not just for your gin anymore!

  • Orange peel
  • Gentian
  • Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Vodka or brandy (at least 80 proof)
  • Mason jar

Place herbs in mason jar and fill with vodka or brandy. Store out of direct light for 6-8 weeks. Shake 3-4 times per week. Strain and bottle when complete. Once you have completed these beautifully aromatic bitters, you can add them to your favorite cocktail or take a dropper-full in the morning or before meals.

All of these recipes are easy and vibrant. I hope you have a chance to try them out. At the very least, I hope I gave you a little food for thought regarding seasonal eating and how it can fit into our spiritual practice.

Ryan is an ordained Minister, Seminary Graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft & Deputy Minister of the Cancer Ministry. Ryan is passionate about Kitchen Witchery, the creatures of the Green World, working with Plant Spirits and making magick in daily life. Crafting herbal infusions, candles, and sacred tools, Ryan is co-creator of Drops of Three. You may visit his website at www.dropsofthree.storenvy.com.

American Altars and Perpetual Choirs

by Christopher Penczak

As an occultist, my primary way of interacting with the world, society, and myself is through magickal technique. Though I have a lot of strong personal opinions about things in the world, and discuss them with people in my personal life, I am hesitant to do so in larger public or social media settings. While the larger conversation is helpful for many, and the Sacred Work for some, for me it’s not. It is easy to get your point distorted, be pulled away from your own Sacred Work, or engage in conflict that doesn’t further understanding or the issue at hand. It can be helpful to have those experiences, and I have had them to my fill, so I leave that Work for others who feel called to place their energy there. [click to continue…]

Secretary Bird2“Change can only occur with the destruction of the old. The very nature of destruction is creation.”
– Scott Cunningham

I find the concept of creation and destruction so intriguing. A common mainstream view is that destruction is bad and creation is good but we witches know better. It just depends on the circumstances right? For example, destroying harmful habits can be good while creating debt can be bad. In fact, destruction and creation can both be beneficial when wielded to our advantage.

When it comes to artistic expression, many people tell me how they would love to be more artistic but that they are either wrought with anxiety, fear of failure or that they have no talent. Even an artist like myself has to constantly take care of my vulnerable inner child. In fact, every time I start a new sketch and see that blank page, a wave of anxiety overtakes me. Then I go about my ritual of destroying my anxiety by giving myself permission to fail. This gives my soul a chance to soar, if only for a little while. I find it fascinating that some of my best work was simply the result of getting out of my own way long enough for the magick to happen. Just a little healing can go such a long way!

Do you have harmful programs that you’d like to destroy in order to make room for your creative endeavors? If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas that I’ve found helpful for me.

There’s a great therapeutic product called “Wreck This Journal” widely available in bookstores. Not only is it absolutely freeing and liberating, it’s actually pretty hilarious! Each page includes an activity like dropping the journal from a great height, or Artsy witch photo 2scribbling outside the lines and even smearing what you had for dinner on the page! Oh yes, if you follow the activities you will absolutely wreck the journal in the most liberating of ways!

Oftentimes when working on an artistic project, that inner critic just will not shut up! Argh! Here are a couple of techniques I’ve found to teach my inner critic how to take a back seat during the creative process:

– Give your inner critic a name. I call mine “Crusher” because that’s what it does. It attempts to crush my confidence and my will to accomplish my goal. Talk to your critic. When you receive criticism ask for it to provide concrete evidence for the criticism. Next, find all the evidence you can to debunk your critic’s harmful opinions of you.

– When your inner critic just won’t shut up, ask it to take a back seat during the creative process. Then tell your inner critic that you will listen to what it has to say for five minutes afterward. Be sure to honor your critic and allow it a full five minutes to talk to you. I think you’ll be surprised at what happens.

– Create a spell during the waning moon phase to banish limiting thoughts and harmful programs that are holding you back. Christopher Penzcak’s book The Inner Temple of Witchcraft has some great exercises for this as well!

By destroying old harmful programs, room for artistic healing and expression is truly possible! Working with my own inner critic is a regular process for me and my healing journey is not over yet. I’m making progress though, and I hope that this article helps you on your own journey as well.

Next: Adult Coloring Books for Healing and Inspiration
Previously: Black Cat Rescue Candles

Christine Marie Ford is a professional visual artist and crafts person for over 12 years. She is a former professional actress and musical theatre performer with over twenty years of experience and continues to sing and play cajon. Christine is a first year apprentice of the Temple of Witchcraft mystery school and a 101 Wicca Student of BTW. She has been a solitary practitioner for three years and has studied Reiki and various divinatory arts for many years. You can visit Christine at www.christinemarieford.com or on Facebook.

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