Article

Perils on the Path

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Jill Burrow from Pexels

To live a magickal life is to walk a road of both joy and danger, for you are following the path deep into unknown territories. Author and teacher Raven Grimassi taught that we walked a well-worn path, which then came to a hidden path that would be well-worn for generations to come if enough of us take it. While there is beauty on the path, and love, there are also perils, and having an awareness of them, from those who have walked before, can help us avoid or — at the very least – better learn from our encounters with the perils.

Occultists like myself always look for patterns and correspondence, so I’ve organized some of the common perils through the well-known categories of fire, water, air, earth, and spirit. Of course this list is not complete, nor does everything apply to everyone’s path, as we are all on a unique journey with some similar landmarks.

Fire: Excessive Outside Validation

While everyone can benefit from praise, particularly from teachers, mentors or peers, there can develop an almost pathological need for approval, confirmation, or validation from others. Such confirmation often leads to a cycle of each new step needing an excessive amount of validation to feel secure. While so much spirituality tells us to kill the ego, we are really looking to identify with the part of us that is greater than the ego, so our ego doesn’t run the show. To transcend the ego as a step in the path, you must have an ego, and many people are so wounded that a sense of identity, let alone a healthy identity, never fully forms. Creating a healthy balanced ego is key, where one can listen to praise and critique but also navigate an internal sense of self at the same time, and then transcend it to make the ego one of many parts of our team. In this modern occulture—dominated as it is by social media—getting trapped in this cycle is even more likely to occur and even harder to avoid, particularly if you transition into a reader, healer, reviewer, or influencer too quickly, and that world and identity fuses with your personal practice.

Other fire perils can include burnout, hyper-sexuality, religious zeal, and over-enthusiasm when it blinds you to the reality of the situation.

Water: Victimhood

A huge part of the magickal path, whether called so or not, is healing. We gather lost parts, we reevaluate past actions and relationships, and we navigate new ways of relating to ourselves and others. At times we can build a sense of self based in victimhood. For some it’s a necessary phase. Our “fight” becomes “out there” and allows ourselves to turn our emotions into productive change, but some get caught up in the outer battle. The connection between inner and outer change is lost, and the focus on outer agencies alone, including the harm they do, negates the potential inner world change. Often those entrapped by this peril becomes the very thing they seek to destroy. Those raging against dogma becomes dogmatic in their rage. Those protesting lack of voice silence others in their protest. Those seeking equality for a specific group or identity will marginalize others, yet still hold the identity of victim even with greater external influence and power. When things become entirely external, one gets lost on the path.

Other water perils include not feeling worthy of love enough to receive and share in love, over-sentimentality, and having rose-colored glasses without a true understanding of the nature of the people around you, assuming all are altruistic.

Air: Distraction

Distraction is a seemingly harmless yet potentially devastating peril on the path, and due to the availability of more and more information in and out of the magickal path, more real than ever. When things get too tough in anything, including magick, we distract ourselves. When we are in pain, we distract ourselves from the pain. When we confront something difficult, we seek to look away. When we can justify the distraction as part of our magickal education, we think we can go around the next difficult step intellectually, and not face it. We can fool ourselves into thinking we have the experience because we have the knowledge. Teacher Stephanie Taylor and I often talk about the difference between knowledge and realization. I had a young student once, simultaneously enrolled in a master’s program in psychology, announce that he’d had “all” the spiritual experiences already, and without saying the word “enlightened,” was effectively enlightened. He got it. He was awake to spiritual reality. There was nothing more than to coast. As you can imagine, life on a magickal path disabused him of that notion fairly quickly when my heartfelt conversation could not. In less serious circumstances, we can distract ourselves with entertainment, information, and even some misunderstandings or misapplications of “self-care.”

Other air perils are all in a similar vein: the misuse of intellect or information towards ourselves and others, the need to be right in debate with others and equating that with spiritual evolution, difficulties listening to others and equating intellectual intelligence with emotional intelligence and maturity.

Earth: Impatience

The magickal path appears to promise the quick way—spells and talismans and workings of all kinds—but in truth it’s a very long way filled with many years of practice. Like any art or craft in which you seek mastery—music, dance, painting, sculpture, and yes, magick—many hours and many mistakes are needed to hone your craft. We think it took the Druids twenty years to complete their education. Pythagoras supposedly had to wait twenty years before being admitted into the Egyptian Temple tradition. His own students had to wait behind a curtain to listen to him lecture, neither seeing nor speaking to him until they reached a higher grade of initiation. Today many people want to rush to be a High Priest/ess in three years, or worse yet, a weekend. It’s easy to rush through because it’s hard to dedicate the time to the craft to gain a level of mastery. One must remember that achieving a black belt in martial arts means you have just started your journey, not ended it, reaching the minimum level of proficiently to really learn and do the work. Magick is similar with higher initiation really symbolizing a new beginning.

Other earth perils include difficulties with physical resources­­­­—especially money, home, and health—as we often emphasize the spiritual and do not take the next steps in the physical. Others have the inverse, focusing all their spiritual energies into manifesting physical things and losing sight of the inner initiatory process.

Spirit: The Full Cup

When you enter a new phase of training, particularly if you join a new group or study with a new mentor, you must approach things fresh. Many seek new trainings in order to validate what they already know, and can recoil from that which does not validate. It’s like the parable of the potential Zen student getting his cup filled by the master. He continued to tell the master all he knows and all he’s done until the tea overflows onto his hands, the master pointing out he is like the cup, too full for anything new to enter. One must find, regardless of expertise, a beginner’s mind when approaching new things. There will always be time for comparison, but if you mess with what you have done already, you miss what teaching is really before you.

Other spirit perils include excess pride, striving too much for your individuality without seeing the interdependence and interconnection of all things, and the inverse of being so focused on the collective that you lose sight of your individual true will and purpose within that collective, often to please others or conform to perceived expectations.

Recognize any of these from your journey? Even if you think you are past them, like many things, you’ll find yourself circling back time and again to refine your understanding and test your experience. Walk with courage, joy, knowledge, and patience, seeing each step as something fresh that can teach you to go deeper.

by Karin Ugander

On the 20th of September (21st in Sweden) we have a special full Moon in Pisces at the 28th degree. It is a full moon that can assist us in many ways. In numerology the number 28 is extra interesting and very powerful. So let´s begin by looking closer at that. 

Number 28 and initiation

In numerology the number 28 is of great importance. When we add the numbers together we get 2+8=10, 1+0= 1. In Numerology it is written like 28/10/1. The number 28 is about initiation. The creation of a sparkle that has the potential to grow into a fire. We could also say that “every great fire begins with a first sparkle”.  The number 28 is created by two building numbers. The number 2, is an emotional builder. It longs for relationships and it wants to make a connection. The number 8,  is a mental builder. It creates in the head. It makes plans on the mental plane so that they later can become manifested in the physical world. People with the number 8 are many times chiefs, architects or running big projects.

When we add them together 2+8, we get the number 10. The number 1 is a mental activator, the 0 is the energy of cosmos, everything and nothing. Whenever the number 28/10/1 shows up it is a signal of an initiation, something new starting with the potential to create something new. But for the new to be able to take place, we need to let go of the past. Therefore it also brings deep cleansing and purification.

The number 28 has an energetic connection to the Tarot card number 16, the Tower. Both speak of an initiation, a time of inner change. There is some difference though. The number 16 and the Tower is more like when lightning bolts strikes the tower. Full power from the Universe is directed and being grounded on the earth or into the body. Afterwards everyone is a bit chocked and perhaps wonders what has happened?

28/10/1 is the sparkle of fire building up and creating a heat and fire with the potential of a complete change. It moves from the inside and out. The 28 is the activation of the kundalini snake with the inbuilt intention of moving the whole way up the spine, reaching the crown chakra and moving even further touching the sky, and ultimately the heart of the universe. It has the potential of enlightenment, but begins with a sparkle on the inside and in the base chakra. People born with the number 28/10/1 naturally have a lot of fire in their bodies. Many times they have back problems caused by the kundalini being stuck. Another thing about 28/10/1 is that it indicates being a magickal person in previous lifetimes. 28/10/1 is connected to the Tarot card Two of Wands.

Full moon in Pisces

The full moon in Pisces happens when the sun is in the earth sign of Virgo. We have entered into the season of the fall. Pisces is about dreams, higher realms, fantasy and inner connections to outer worlds. If we get stuck in the shadow side of Pisces we are trapped in fantasy and illusions. The opposite of Pisces is Virgo with its down to earth energy. If we think about it it´s a bit what happens in the fall. The dreams we had during summer are perhaps over. Reality checks in with us and we must face our responsibilities. So the full moon in Pisces can help us to clear away the illusions, to see clear and true. With the help and balance of the sun in Virgo we can see what we have to deal with and how to reach our full potential. How can we make the best possible harvest?

The Sabian symbol for 28 deg. in Pisces: “A fertile garden under the full moon.”

Good time for reaching higher

Right now Mercury  (communication, friends)  in Libra (balance, justice) is making an exact trine to Jupiter (expansion, knowledge) in the sign of Aquarius (friends, contacts). This is great for communication and getting your ideas out. If you have your own business this is a good time for advertisement, getting your name known and sharing about yourself. This is also a good time for study and learning new things. Be attentive to books and sites that shows up for you. They can become important in the future. Because Jupiter is connected to higher learning this is a good time for working towards your highest potential. Can you do more? Can you do better? Can you fuel your inspiration even more?

Mercury trines Jupiter until the 10th of October.

Success and Ego check-in 

Right now we have the Sun (success, fulfilment) at the end of Virgo travelling together with Mars (energy, willpower) in the beginning of Libra. When these two planets are joined it is easier to know what we want, and have the power to use our will to get it. They also get extra power by a good aspect between Mars in Libra  and Saturn in the sign of Aquarius.

 If Saturn was in a challenging aspect he would be holding us back, but in this case he is backing us up. With this said it does not automatically say that what we want is according to our higher will, or has the best intentions for everyone involved.  It is good to have a deep and honest ego check-in and look at our intentions behind our actions. These aspects also makes teamwork (Aquarius) and the joint power of will (Sun and Mars) very powerful (Saturn) and long lasting. Great for Coven work and other kinds of magickal teamwork.

The Sun conjunct Mars until the 2nd of November, by that time they both have entered into the sign of Scorpio.

Mars trines Saturn until the 5th of October.

Choose your words with care

In the sky right now we have an aspect pattern called “The Thors Hammer”. The energies joint in that aspect pattern makes a powerful impact, but just like Thor the gods hammer Mjölner, it can also bounce back at us. This hammer is made of Mercury (communication, friends, siblings) in Libra (relationships) and Pluto (transformation, death) in Capricorn (time, old rule) pointing towards Lillith Black Moon ( a blind spot, things we cannot see) in Gemini (communication, friends, siblings). 

The wrong kind of comment, tweet or post on social media or otherwise can create a chaotic situation. If this happens to you the only way out is to say that you are sorry. Same thing applies with close relationships. If you try to cover it up in any way it can become very bad. The combination of Mercury and Pluto (Plutonium) is no joke. Together they create an energy much like a laser beam of power. Use it wisely. On the good side it can dismantle old power structures and corruption. A great aspect for investigating reporters,  a danger for politicians and public people. 

Mercury square Pluto until the 8th of October

Lillith Black Moon Sesquisquare Mercury ends at 22nd of September

Lillith Black Moon Sesquisquare Pluto continues until 25th of October.  

Challenges with love and money

We have Saturn (limitations) in Aquarius making a challenging aspect to Venus (love, money, beauty) in Scorpio. This can make it a little harder for love and romance.  Don´t miss out on date night and remember to connect and talk to your partner. If you don´t feel the romance, create the romance. If you don´t have time, take time. Avoid drama (Scorpio) and try to deal with it in a practical manner. If you are single this can be a reminder that if you want a partner, you need to start dating! (do the work). If you have had a long time with difficulties in your relationship this can be the point when you realise that couples therapy is a good idea. Once again – do the work. 

This aspect can also be limiting your finances or slow down the flow of business. If this happens try to see it like an opportunity to create change and search for new solutions. You may find even better deals or new products to work with. One thing that we can say for sure with Saturn is that even if he is harsh and can be experienced as limiting, he always rewards good work in the end.

Venus square Saturn from September 13th until September 22nd 

Summary

This full moon will happen at the 28 degree in Pisces, clearly indicating a potential initiation. A beginning of something big and transforming. But rather than striking down on us in full power, it begins from within. If you feel like you have little to work with, do not despair. Sometimes all it takes to change the world is a great idea. There is a lot of potential for success and growth but it is important to use our words with care and not forget to do the work where and when it is needed.

Blessings! / Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

Karin Ugander (Spirit Talker Turtle Red) is a spiritual channeler living in the south of Sweden. In Scandinavia she is known for the AstroNumerology and psychic readings she’s been doing for over 20 years. Together with her husband Niklas, she runs KaniSkolan, a school of astrology, numerology, tarot, StarCode Healing, and natural medicine. They are also the founders of Alven Inner Ring tradition, a Scandinavian mystery school with roots in shamanism and magick. Karin loves to create magickal oils, flower essences and sigils she combines in her “Karin Victoria” sigil candles and flower sprays. In her spare time she likes to travel, walk in the forest with her dog, and spend time by the ocean. Karin is an ordained high priestess and graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft’s seminary program. Her work can be found on Instagram @flowerpowerwitch and @karinuganderofficial and she can be reached at karin@kani.se.

Honoring Our Sacred Within

by Renee Bedard

We have traveled together over the last three weeks exploring the many different practices of self-care. We dove into our thoughts to discover what is needed in order to create beneficial boundaries and the importance to say no. We have been reflecting on what a healthy lifestyle looks like and what tools are needed to create it. By adding a variety of simple practices to our daily lives, we can really begin to nourish ourselves in body, mind, and spirit. Taking care of ourselves is not easy. It is an ongoing practice that will continue with us. It will also change and grow as we do, building upon the practices that we feel good about. In our search, there is one thing that always must be remembered. It is a fact will never change: we are deserving and worthy of the love and compassion that self-care provides for us. This is a simple, yet honest, truth. However, it may be one of the hardest lessons that we have to learn.

When you truly open up to yourself, what do you see? When you allow yourself to let your guard drop just a bit, exposing your vulnerable side, what are you calling out to receive? Do you realize that you have purpose and that you are here on this planet at this very moment to not only to share your life with others, but to love and to receive love? We can practice self-care daily and do all the things that we set out to do. But what happens if we do not feel like we are deserving of the self-care? Are we cutting off the natural and nurturing act we offer to ourselves? I believe so. Then what can we do as witches, healers, and magickal people to spark the love within us?

I think that one of the most radical acts we can do right now is to love and honor ourselves. I understand that it can be tricky and for many downright difficult to do. We often get swept up in the noise society creates. We can continue to give until there is nothing left within us. We can become ensnared in the expectations of putting everyone first and we become last. We are taught to give and give so we are not being selfish with our time and energy. Weakness is implied if we become overwhelmed. If we cannot meet these unrealistic goals, then we are not worthy of the riches of love and compassion from others, let alone ourselves. Finding ourselves caught up in this way of thinking or even embodying it, can easily leave us breathless, feeling worthless, and unable to truly engage in self-care and our daily needs and tasks.

There are some things that we can do to ease this way of thinking and living. Careful and honest thought that turns into action is how we flip the narrative inside our head. By embracing the intention of offering ourselves the love and compassion we are worthy of, we can purposely create the patterns to do so.

  • Learn to be patient with yourself. Although this can be difficult, it is one of the foundation stones that is needed to continue and foster healthy growth. Creating change takes time. There are days when you will not be at your best. That is to be expected. Instead of blaming or shaming yourself, take a breath instead. Reassess your situation. Gain insight from an objective point of view. Look at your growth through time. By understanding what is truly going on, you are allowing space for you to grow and time to nurture what you have learned, strengthening your foundation.
  • Offer yourself forgiveness. To forgive yourself is an act of love, compassion, and mercy. We sometimes keep so much bottled up inside it can hold us back, sabotage our progress, and even haunt us if we allow our mistakes and failures to cast their shadow over us. Holding onto our hurt, pain, and anger will feed the harmful voice inside our head, proving how we are ‘unworthy’. When we begin to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, we gently untie the binds that hold us back so we may be released from them. It will not correct the wrongs we created, but it opens the door to compassion for us. When we step through that doorway, we can recognize that we are more than what holds us back. The lessons we learn when we offer and accept forgiveness for ourselves, is the key to peace within our heart.
  • Begin to learn the art of letting go. We try so hard every day to do our best. In the fast-paced world, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up. Before we know it, one thing leads to another and we have what seems to be the whole world upon our plate and have no idea what to do with it. Well, after taking a deep breath, begin to ask yourself some questions – What do I have control over? Is there something else that needs my attention first? Is this something I really want to do? Am I ignoring my needs to satisfy someone or something else? The answers may be difficult, especially when loved ones or work is involved. However, it is important to remember that our needs also need to be met and we need to be advocated for as well. Letting go of what we do not have control over allows us to release the worries we do not need to hold on to. This begins to shift our perspective and turn our energies to what is important.
  • Do something that feeds your soul. When was the last time you had a full belly laugh? Do you give yourself the chance to play and explore your creative side? Do you give yourself a break at work? What is it that brings you joy? It is easy to get swept away with our ‘To Do’ list. Time flies by so quickly, we can sometimes run out of time for the things we enjoy doing. When we do not feed that joyous side of ourselves, we lose sight of what life is about. Sharing a meal and laughing with loved ones will feed our soul and brighten our light. Doing what we love to do brings hope, restores our energy, and grants us the freedom to explore so many possibilities. It is not wrong to have fun. It helps us to grow, love, create, and even laugh at our own mistakes.

So, how will you liberate yourself and spark the radical action of self-care? The options are endless. The results are limitless. You are worthy of such love and joy. You are deserving of the blessings of life around you. You work hard. The balance of work and play is in your hands. How will you decide? If permission is what you seek, offer yourself that. Grant yourself permission and free yourself from what keeps you from love and compassion for yourself. Remember that self-care is an ongoing and active practice. It is about how you take care of yourself. Breathe deeply. Relax your mind and body. Laugh and play to stir your creativity and wonder. Drink your water and nourish your body with healthy food. Meditate and journal to reflect on where you have been and all the progress that you have made. Connect with nature and the beauty all around you. You are an important part of the tapestry of life. You are deserving of the blessings around you. You are a part of the sacredness of life because you are sacred. Honor yourself and all that you are. You are more than what you think and you are have a light to shine. Breathe into yourself and tend to your beautiful flame!

Be well.

Renee Bedard is a psychic intuitive and a Reiki Master Teacher. She is currently a Witchcraft 3 student and a Virgo Ministry volunteer.

 

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

Witchcraft is the mystery of paradox, and one that we experience time and again is that “it’s all about you and it’s not about you at all.” People love the first part, but there is a growing danger of those devaluing any practice that does not immediately and continuously center on their specific experience and identity.

When you start, it is all about you—what you want, what you need, which leads to what is wounded and what you are called to heal. With Witchcraft’s spellcasting emphasis, some perceive it to be too selfish and leave it behind, seeking a more altruistic spirituality. I almost did. It’s easy to get selfish or power hungry here. Those who learn in a tradition with a priesthood, order, or a duty to keep the sacred have a better chance of reaching the next step. Those who learn only the technique of spells alone can lose the voice of wisdom to the voice of knowledge alone.

The mystery is in the realization of how the magick and psychism all work, how the manifesting and healing comes about through the interconnection and interdependence of all things. The individual and even human-centric focus gets shattered. Everything is in relationship with everything else. While you are important, you begin to understand that you are no more important than anyone or anything else in the greater scheme of things.

When it’s about us, we are at the center of the circle. But when it’s not about us, we are on the periphery, the edge, often leading us to be on the edge of society as a whole, openly or in secret.

Centering on ourselves and our experience is not only not always possible, it’s also not always desirable. You miss a lot when you don’t go to the edges and peek out further.

Someone was upset with me that Witchcraft had an emphasis on cycles of life. This anger rises often, be it ideas of maiden/mother/crone or heteronormative union in most animals and people and the fertilization of plants. This can upset people on the edges of society who are often looking for something in a Pagan religion that exclusively transcends that. Witchcraft can be a chance to reorient to the center, yet their journeys into almost-leaving Witchcraft for Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism are filled with sexuality, gender, battle, societal roles, and agricultural metaphors. Anything purely transcendent lacks “juice” to the art and practice for them. Perhaps Zen will catch their attention, but that calls to a different soul nature and doesn’t usually satisfy the soul of a magician or Witch. The search for something to fulfill the expectations becomes a major struggle, but it begins to reveal why there is a commonality to so many mythic themes from the human experience.

I get that. I really do. I struggled and looked Eastward too. I’m a queer man who isn’t having kids. Many of our elders of fairly traditional Witchcraft traditions were also not parents. Combining full-time priesthood and parenting is incredibly tough to do simultaneously. Those who do both well are amazing and uncommon, and many, when being deeply honest in the conversations I’ve had with such elders, will admit one or the other, Craft or kids, suffered. Because of that seeming disconnect from direct experience of biological fertility, our Witchcraft fertility is often emphasized as creative rather than personally biological, and there is some truth to that. It certainly can be, and can deepen with each turn of the wheel. Magickal people are often creative dynamos.

Yet if the seasons play into your Craft, if you engage in the turning with the Sun and Moon and Earth, a fairly big portion is not just light and temperature but animals and plants fucking and producing offspring of a sort—babies, eggs, seeds, fruit. Some are based in ancient animal mating times, lending themselves astrologically to the Zodiacal wheel of animals we used today, but they are now in the patterns of our esoteric traditions even when we are disconnected from rams, bulls, goats, and lions on a daily basis. There is the farm and forest. There is garden and granary, still to this modern day. Most of us have the supermarket as the intermediary between, the modern agora marketplace. And all of us are here through some previous union of sperm and egg. There is ingress, congress, and egress in the many senses of those words in these mysteries.

Having a priesthood less engaged directly leaves its members in the perfect position at the edge, turning with the cycles for the greater good of the community and the planet. I help facilitate and mediate, but it’s not centered around me. How can it be if I’m a facilitator of the process? Much like with healing work, I need to hold some space. A midwife is important, but the birthing process is not centered on the midwife. We all participate in the wheel, finding it corresponding and illuminating our lives, but the wheel is the process of life and death for the Earth, Moon, and Sun, the gods and goddesses. We are interdependent and interconnected, but we are of service to a larger process. Early on, it can seem all about us alone, but it’s not.

Being of the weird and the wyrd means we step out of the focus of many things in the larger story. While we might all be the heroes of our own story, the wise Witch or wizard, beloved, is often a facilitator in the greater story. When we surround ourselves with our fellows, as we often do via social media, it can be hard to realize that we are still on the edge of the greater body. At times the entire world we know can seem like a queer, geek, Pagan landscape, until it’s not. As they move closer at times to us, we keep moving outward, testing those bounds and expanding the possibilities. And when they chill back, we feel further out in a limb than ever before. I had a friend in the everyday world outside of most of my communities say, “You’re gay. You’re a Witch. And now you are polyamorous?!? With two husbands! Aren’t you ever going to be satisfied?”

No.

I can be happy, and I am, but by my divine discontent, I’m never satisfied until we are all satisfied, and even then… I don’t seek to be different to be contrary. In truth, I’m a pretty reserved queer polyamorous Witch, but it is my nature to examine all things within me and push my growth to the edges, even when uncomfortable.

For the evolution of the next age, we will rarely be at the center as we continue to press onward and explore. That is part of the nature of the Witch. And at the same time, the Witch is the keeper of tradition and systems, lore and stories. Innovation and tradition form another paradox for those of us seeking resolution in our hearts.

Other times the initiatory revelation is truly centered on me, my life, and perspective. In service, it returns again to me. The magick creates an existential change in my being, furthering the evolution of consciousness. I am all things and no thing and have moments of mystery and transcendence that then need to be reintegrated into my daily experience. The processes I help facilitate are reflected in total within me as the microcosm of the universe. My biological reality isn’t the only factor to the process. I don’t need to be in a heterosexual relationship with kids to experience the union as parts of myself—which are parts of the universe—come together and generate new life and light within me, which is also the universe. They are operating on a multitude of octaves.

Simultaneously there are parts within me that are the same, coming together, coming apart, experiencing all gender, no gender, movement, stillness, voice, silence, and all points between and beyond as they are happening in the universe. A Witch doesn’t have to be any gender or orientation biologically, sexually or of any specific mental predisposition to experience the multitudes of mystery, the first and most visible of which is playing out in the wheels turning all around us. Our own life experience, gender, orientation, age, culture, and language give us our own unique perspective on each mystery and revelation. No matter where you fall on expression, you will have times when you will be in the edge.

A relatively new straight male student is struggling that the experience of magickal training isn’t centered more in his identity and experience, and he is taking some offense (welcome to the world the rest of us live in). At the same time, his non-binary peers feel that same training centers too much on traditional roles. Perspective and the ability to be fluid and shift perspective are key to magick. Calcification in perspective makes a poor magician. Two people will see the same lesson differently from their differing perspectives and both will be challenged to shift and go deeper. While I believe the work of the Witch is vocational in many ways, and rituals bring us into that collective “trade” of priestcraft in many diverse forms (despite the appearances to the contrary in social media in an effort to gain and retain likes/friends/followers), Witchcraft is not a service industry. It is service, and depending on the moment, it is oriented towards individuals and groups in need, but its purpose is not placation.

Spells to get what you want are also great, but if you do this long enough, they become more of a method of fine tuning life and not the focus of your entire practice. The “all about me” part moves from the external control to the internal control, then processing, and even simply witnessing.

The practice becomes one of service but also in service: service to self, service to others, and service to all. The greater paradoxes of individuality and oneness, transcendence and immanence and time and eternity, all arise from the paradox of “all me” and “not me at all.” The concept of tat tvam asi—“Thou art that”—of Hinduism occurs at the same time as neti, neti— “not this, not that”—in understanding the essential self and true reality. Both are true. Neither is true. In the diverse and coalescing modern occult traditions, these Vedic phrases can be compared to “Thou art God/dess” with God and Goddess being immanent divinity as popularized in Paganism with the Church of All Worlds, who were in turn inspired by Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein and Austin Osman Spare’s Neither-Neither principle of his Zos Kia Cultus work.

This is the paradox that gives rise to the nature of all things and no-thing. And it begins with the realization that “it’s all about you and it’s not about you at all.”

Temple Astrolog: The Spirit of Truth

by Karin Ugander

We have been through intensive times with big changes, both on the inner and the outer planes. It is fully understandable to wish for stable ground and calmer times. But, this is not what the heavens look like. Instead we are asked to fully embrace change and allow it to take us where we need to go. Let´s take a look together and figure out a good strategy in our nearest future.

Dream versus Actual Truth

Right now we have the goddess asteroid Pallas Athena (strategy, clear thinking) right next to Neptune (dreams, illusions) together in the sign of Pisces (dreams, fantasy) Neptunes home sign. To say that they don´t agree with each other is an understatement. Neptune rules the world of fantasy and dreams. It is very romantic and otherworldly. Pallas Athena is the opposite. Where Neptune takes detours and avoids confrontation, Pallas Athena picks up her sword and directs it straight to the point. But Pallas Athena can also be tricky at times, depending on what side of the chess table that you are on. If she is manipulating you, she will do so by using logic and information as a weapon to steer you away from your heart and the truth in it.

When Neptune and Pallas Athena is this close to each other it is very difficult to separate the illusion from the truth. Added to it they are also in the watery dream world of Neptune. Sometimes both sides can be played out by the same person and this can be very confusing to say the least.

Let´s say that you meet your friend Sarah at the coffee shop. The first time you meet she is crying and telling you about her roommate who is aggressive (Pluto square Vesta) and has an addiction (Neptune) problem. She says that she can´t move away because she has no money. Could you possibly lend her some money, she asks?

Next week you meet again, then she shows up with an extremely expensive new handbag. She is all smiles and sunshine but you can see bruises on her arm. There’s no words about giving you your money back. A week after that a friend that you have in common shares his concerns about Sarah drinking too much and disturbing the neighbours at night.

So what is the truth here? Who has an addiction problem, is it in reality Sarah and not her roommate? Is she out of money, or did she just want the new bag?

Neptune is a master of deceit and a part of what makes it so hard to see through it, is that Neptune really believes in his lies and that is what makes him a master illusionist. Neptune is connected to artist, musicians, filmmaking, and the theatre. The difference between the lies from “Mercury the trickster” and Neptune, is that Mercury is always aware of the tricks that he is playing. Neptune gets lost in the part and really believes in his lies. He is the swindler who falls in love with his victim, the actor becoming his part.

Selling a Lie to Yourself

With this aspect we may try to sell a lie or two to ourselves. It does not necessarily have to come from the outside. There is a danger of weaving and dreaming something to avoid the truth in our hearts, making the dream a bad dream, difficult to get out of. On a collective plane it can be really hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. What is the truth? Perhaps both are right in some way, or perhaps they are all just trying to sell you something. So what can we do?

Balance in the Opposite Signs

When ever we get in trouble in one of the zodiac signs or houses, we can always find support in the opposite sign or house. The opposite sign of Pisces (ruled by Neptune) is the earth sign of Virgo. Here the sign of Virgo asks us to be practical, ask questions, have common sense, use discernment. Virgo is actually a very good detective and many mystery writers are born in that sign. Virgo rules the 6th sign connected to practical things and staying grounded in the world of the living. Check the facts, not just from one source but many.

Neptune and Pallas Athena are joined together until the 28th of September.

New Moon in Virgo a Helpful Ally

On the 6th of September (7th in Sweden) we have a new moon in Virgo that is directly opposite Neptune and Pallas Athena in Pisces. This energy can be most helpful in breaking illusions and helping the truth to be revealed. This is a good time to consult the Tarot Cards or to do a ceremony for truth and brining light to a situation.

Violence and Shady Activities

Right now we have Pluto (violence, death, transformation) in the sign of Capricorn. He is making a challenging aspect to Venus (feminine, love, relationships) and Vesta (protection, priest and priestess) in the sign of Libra (justice). A difficult side of this energy is that it can increase domestic violence, abusive behaviour and violation of women (Venus), also crimes against a certain group of people or worshippers. This can also increase all kinds of shady activities.

What makes this stronger is that they also make a “Thor’s hammer” together with Ceres, Lillith Black Moon and the north node in Gemini. The Thor’s hammer makes the energy bounce back at you stronger. If you make a good choice or action the good will bounce back at you. If you make a bad one… you get the picture. It is very strong to do ceremony under the influence of a “Thor´s hammer” in the sky.

Venus and Vesta joined together in Libra making a challenging aspect to Pluto in Capricorn. They are joined together until the 14th of September. This energy can be used for goddess work and healing of deep wounds.

Venus square Pluto is until the 11th of September

Vesta Square Pluto is until the 20th of September

Getting Caught in the Act

What is good in this constellation mentioned above is that Lillith Black Moon is right between the north node (directing forward) and Ceres in Gemini (talk, communication). This could help make the criminals get caught in the act. When we see so called “shocking news” in Media, scandals and big truths coming out, Lillith Black moon is usually making an important transit, like she is doing now. This is good for law enforcement and people working for truth to come out. Not so good for criminals and shady people. It can also make Crimes against human rights be known and brought to justice.

The Spirit of Truth

As healers, witches and magickal people we can do ceremonies, make prayers and do spells to support the “Spirit of Truth.” Personally I find that working with truth candles comes with many blessings. Many times clients return after using them saying things like “I did not realize how supported I am” or “I did not know how loved I am by my partner” Of course there can bee times when other more challenging things are being revealed, but even then the candles have been very appreciated. There is a strong connection between truth and protection and when we embrace the spirit of Truth in our hearts and try to live by it, many things clear up in our lives and we also become more protected.

Alven Truth Candle

  • Use a white candle, clean it with water, sage or Florida Water
  • Take a small bowl, fill it with some olive oil and add a pinch of salt. You can add a few drops of essential oils of lavender, camphor and sage if you have it at home. Stir the oil clockwise with your finger, bringing The Spirit of Truth into the blend.
  • Dress the candle with the oil. You don´t need much. If you want to you can sprinkle some silver glitter on the candle.
  • Take a few deep breaths to centre and ground yourself. Hold the candle between your hands.
  • Say the Alven blessing:

Azim Mekbah al Thoth! The truth will be revealed!”

Say it like you really mean it. Feel the powers of truth cleanse and clean, heal and bring blessings.

End with saying: “May it be what is to be, and may it be in beauty”

  • Place the candle in a candleholder and let it burn down. If you need to pause the candle, use a candle snuffer, do now blow on the candle. The spell is complete when the candle has burned down.

To summarize: We are in a passage where we can be fooled by others and be fooled by ourselves. It is extra difficult to navigate between wishful thinking, illusion and the truth. We are asked to keep balance between our hearts and our heads in all matters and use discernment. Yet there is hope right now for justice to be done, truth to be brought into the light and bringing protecting to those who need it the most.

Blessings! / Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

Karin Ugander (Spirit Talker Turtle Red) is a spiritual channeler living in the south of Sweden. In Scandinavia she is known for the AstroNumerology and psychic readings she’s been doing for over 20 years. Together with her husband Niklas, she runs KaniSkolan, a school of astrology, numerology, tarot, StarCode Healing, and natural medicine. They are also the founders of Alven Inner Ring tradition, a Scandinavian mystery school with roots in shamanism and magick. Karin loves to create magickal oils, flower essences and sigils she combines in her “Karin Victoria” sigil candles and flower sprays. In her spare time she likes to travel, walk in the forest with her dog, and spend time by the ocean. Karin is an ordained high priestess and graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft’s seminary program. Her work can be found on Instagram @flowerpowerwitch and @karinuganderofficial and she can be reached at karin@kani.se.

The Voice That Guides

by Renee Bedard

In the still, silent night, do you hear it? When your heart is full, can you feel it? When you long for silence, do you seek it? When you need to say no, do you speak it? There is a voice that calls to us from deep within. It is there to offer guidance and to help us understand what it is that we need. Sometimes it speaks through words, offering guidance. Other times we receive feelings and have an urge to ‘listen to our gut’. As we deepen our relationship with ourselves, we strengthen our partnership with that voice. The more we take the time to listen, we realize that we are connecting to our heart, mind, body, and soul, signaling what we need. But what happens if the voice we hear is critical or even harsh? What happens if this voice pushes us to go further than we can, never say no, causes us to feel drained or overextended? That too, is an inner voice. It can block us from interacting with our internal wisdom, leaving us feeling afraid, alone, unworthy, or angry. So, what can we do to ease the harmful or critical dialogue with ourselves and create a path towards our helpful, caring inner guidance?

Last week I wrote about breathing deeply into our bodies. It helps us to release tension, clear our minds, and to be present in the moment. It also helps us to open the way to recognize our own personal energy, thoughts, and feelings that we are experiencing in that moment. Taking the practice of self-care a step further, we can allow ourselves to open up and reflect on how we are talking to ourselves. Are you as patient with yourself as you can be with others? Are you willing to forgive yourself as you forgive others? Are your expectations for yourself realistic and what happens when you do not live up to them? Are you willing to give yourself another chance or do you automatically call yourself a failure and not worthy of success? I know for myself, there are times when I can be my own worst enemy. When I am not at my best, I can be a harsh critic of my thoughts and actions. If I am feeling stretched too thin, I can still have a hard time saying no to others. Through the years, I have learned that the harsh inner dialogue is not of my true inner voice, my Higher Self. The critical voice is my anger, frustration, fear, and the immense pressure that I place upon myself. My expectation to always be ‘doing’ something depletes my energy. Not being able to say the powerful word, no, also creates situations that cause great stress. The trigger stems from the hidden shadowy aspects in the subconscious. They bubble up from the depths, allowing the friction to block the healthy, beneficial relationship with myself and others. In the end, the noise in my head was drowning out the inner wisdom of my soul that is there to truly guide me. Remember, the inverse to this is also true. When we feel that we are always right, have a need for control or to be heard, that too is a clue from our subconscious. What are those needs telling us?

There are practices we can learn to incorporate to assist us on our journey of self-care. It is the action behind the intent of living a healthy and well-balanced life. These tools foster nurturing communication with ourselves while we strengthening our inner connections. Some of the practices include:

  • Journaling: A great way to ease the tension and quiet the noise in our mind is to journal. When we take some time to reflect upon our thoughts and the experiences of the day, we allow ourselves the space to gently release what weighs upon us. The more we journal, the more we can discover not only what upsets us, but why it does and what may trigger it. Understanding yourself in a real and honest way helps you to grow. It also gives you a space to be completely authentic. No one else will read what you are writing. If you are uneasy with writing out your true feelings, burn it after in a safe, fireproof container to release it to the universe or rip the paper into tiny pieces and throw them away. If it is an emotional topic, practice your deep breathing as you write or offer yourself some Reiki.
  • Learn the art of saying no. It is such a small word, but it is incredibly powerful. By saying no, we are recognizing the importance of what we are feeling as well as establishing healthy boundaries. Your thoughts and emotions are valid. If you are not feeling like you want to do something or if it goes against who you are, you have the right to say no. Those of us who are naturally service driven can feel obligated to others and push our own needs, dreams, health, and plans aside. This little word can be awfully hard to say for many of us. It is a very important part of self-care. Also remember, ‘No,’ is a full sentence even if your voice cracks as you speak it.
  • Meditation: A great way to silence the chatter in our head is to mediate. 15 – 20 minutes a day will do wonders! We can relax our mind, body, and spirit, allowing us to connect with that true voice within, our Higher Self. It is also a perfect state to work out troubling or complex issues. If silent meditation is difficult at that time, try a walking meditation, running, Tai Chi, yoga, or other forms of exercise. These activities allow you to let go, silence your mind, and be in the moment. Physical activity is a great way to release stress and unblock energy from our body. Sometimes we need to remove the blockages before we can meditate or formulate what we need to say in our journals.
  • Honor yourself: Our most sensitive, tender parts are talking to us all the time. What needs to be recognized, honored, or held? What needs to be said or done to make sure your needs are met? Explore what is going on in your heart. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. You are feeling them for a reason. The healthy way to explore them is to allow what is coming up from your depths without judgement. Listen to what is being said or experienced. Ask yourself what you need. Do you have control over the issue? If yes, what can you do? If not, how can you make the best of the situation and is there anyone who can help? Remind yourself that you are more than that emotion that you are feeling. It will pass if you allow it. Experiencing an emotion is important to help us understand what is going on. It just isn’t healthy to live in our guilt, anger, or fear. Learning to let go is also very important in honoring ourselves.

There is a voice inside us that is honest and true. When we doubt, deny, self-sabotage, we are blocking that voice, cutting off our inner guidance and even our limitless potential. It is the practice of loving yourself that will begin to heal and melt away insecurity, fear, anger, and mistrust. As we clean our wounds, we can rewrite those patterns and plant seeds of love, safety, and trust in ourselves. We allow ourselves the space to connect to our true inner voice, our Higher Self. No one can tell us exactly what we need. They can offer support or advice. However, it is up to us to decide how we will love ourselves, if we will love ourselves. Our subconscious, our shadow side, calls to us. It is the parts of us that are thirsty for love and compassion. They to want to be seen, heard, and recognized. By integrating all our parts, we are allowing ourselves to be healthy and well-balanced, deepening the connection to our valuable inner wisdom. Don’t you think that you are worthy of such beauty and love?

Offering A Sacred Breath

by Renee Bedard

Self-care. That is something we hear a lot about. It pops up on social media feeds, blogs, and memes. We are treated to snippets of pretty scenes of candles, beautiful locations, delicious treats, and even luxurious bubble baths. There are many ways to offer ourselves a break from the hustle and bustle of our busy schedule to have some ‘down time’ to rest and recuperate from our daily stress. While it is fun to explore and experience restful activities, self-care is so much more than a suggestion in a short bite. Self-care is an ongoing practice to create a healthy lifestyle in body, mind, and spirit. This sacred act gently allows us to balance our life between work and play while fostering healthy habits and beneficial boundaries.

Each Sunday during Virgo season, we will explore ways to create our own self-care rituals and practices. I believe that it is important to offer ourselves the love, comfort, and care we quickly offer others. When we do, we encourage ourselves to look deeper within, listen to our bodies, and understand what we need. We experience self-care by eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and breathing deeply. Self-care is also being mindful, asking for help when we need it, saying no when we must, and knowing what is beneficial and true for our daily life.

For our first Self-Care Sunday, I would like to ask you this: When was the last time you took a moment to pause and take in a deep breath? How does it feel when you fill yourself with the sacred breath of life? Do you grant yourself permission to pause and breathe deeply throughout your day? When breathing deeply, can you hear and feel the subtle messages your body is telling you? Are you drawn towards a particular chakra or body area when you sense a message? If so, what does it say to you?

The act of taking three deep breaths allows us to begin to shift our perspective, relax our bodies, and clear away tension. When we engage in this simple ritual in a difficult moment, we are not only giving ourselves the space to regroup and reset. We are recognizing that there is some aspect of ourselves that is out of balance. By breathing deeply, we give ourselves the time and space we need while welcoming the break to nurture our body and spirit. This act allows us to see our situation more clearly. This may seem like a simple ritual. However, do you catch yourself holding your breath in a stressful or uncomfortable situation? It is something that we all do as humans. By practicing our breathwork, we empower ourselves to be mindful of the moment, listen to what our bodies are communicating, and create healthy boundaries.

While breathwork aids us in difficult situations, it is incredibly helpful to incorporate it into our daily lives while in a relaxed state. When we practice deep breathing or belly breathing, we are tuning into what our body is naturally designed to do. However, some may find this kind of breathing strange or unnatural in the beginning. That is ok. The practice of breathwork is to help us tune into the physical body – the rising and falling of our ribcage and belly, the movement of our diaphragm lowering as we fill our lungs up with air to then move it back up with the exhalation, and the relaxation of our muscles allowing our shoulders to drop, jaw relax, and our head, neck, and back to rest comfortably. As a result, we are in harmony with our inner rhythms and our entire being moves into a relaxed state that can lower our blood pressure and heart rate and even help us to have a good night’s rest.

Some ways to add breathwork into your practice is to:

  • Breathe in through your nose slowly, filling your lungs and belly. Watch and feel your body expand. As you exhale through your mouth, release not only your breath but the tension you may feel in your body, heart, mind, and soul.
  • Rhythmic Breathing – Try breathing in for a count of three, hold your breath for three beats, exhale for three beats, and then pause for three beats before you begin again. When you can do this for a few minutes, try raising the count to four beats and then to five and six. Can you feel a difference between three and six beats? If so, how?
  • As you are breathing deeply, can you feel your heart beat and the power it holds? By placing your hands upon your heart as you breathe, can you feel your connection to your body? Can you feel your connection to the world around you, your connection to the Universe?
  • Adding a word or short sentence is a powerful experience. By breathing in certain words and then exhaling them, we are bringing their virtue into our physical body and breathing it into our energy field. Try these affirmations as you breathe: I am peace. I am serene. I am love. I am safe. I am worthy.

Try this for about ten minutes a day at first then move up to fifteen or twenty minutes. I really enjoy placing my hands on my heart as I work the exercises. For me, I can feel the love, care, and compassion that I am offering to myself. It also helps me to tune into my different bodies and listen to what they may need.

How does breathwork affect you? What are some of the ways your body talks to you through breathwork? If the answers are not clear, maybe some reflection or journaling can help you peer into your inner workings. Self-care begins when we choose to clear a space for ourselves in our daily life. By offering ourselves gentle love and grace, we are saying that we are important in our lives. What we feel and experience matters. Our health and wellbeing are crucial. It is our responsibility to give ourselves the space to breathe and to offer ourselves what we need to fill our cup with love, rejuvenation, and joy. What better time to open to yourself than now?

Generations in the Craft

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels

Just like there are generations in our society, with lovely titles and identities such as Boomer, Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennial based upon birth year (and astrological outer planets, but that is another post), there are occultist generations. Dependent more upon your entry point into the Craft rather than your chronological age, these points frame your reference as to what Witchcraft is, what you do, and how it looks. They shape our sense of esoteric history and our perception of exactly what community was, is, and should be.

Some learn to flow with the next generation, and some do not. At the very least, understanding the context helps us relate to others with different entry points.

This list is not comprehensive and academic, nor meant to paint any one group as the hero, villain, or victim, but simply a fun way to look at where we have been to relate to where we are going, examining some of our assumed biases along the way. There are of course regional differences, and occult generations span time and overlap with no hard beginnings and ends as the people from previous generations continue to practice their ways and make new hybrids. Your own experiences will vary. I obviously have an American perspective. As much of it predates my firsthand knowledge, I’m relying on books as well as the color of the times as presented by friends and elders in the Craft and our personal conversations. Special thanks to late night conversations specifically with Raven Grimassi and Donald Michael Kraig, tea with Laurie Cabot, and many other discussions with some old-school, less public Witch friends.

50s Occult Secret History Revival

While we can talk secret covens and family traditions or the British occult scene, here is where we have the first major entry point of what would be later called Traditional Wicca and the honored elders of Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner, and even more in the shadows, Robert Cochrane. Without them, would any of us be doing what we are doing now? I don’t think so, or at least not in the way we are doing it. I am sure Witchcraft would still find a way. Their works and the works of those around them brought living Witchcraft to popular consciousness and opened a door to seekers everywhere. Those who entered found a formal coven-based occultism of secrecy and formal initiation. The traditions were built on not only Witch folklore and grimoire traditions, but also the strands of ceremonial magick, Theosophy, masonry, and spiritualism. They were drawing inspiration from Dr. Margaret Murray, James George Frazer, and Robert Graves. Though he wouldn’t make himself known in occult circles until the 1960s, this is also the world of Alex Sanders, who often brought an even stronger ceremonial slant to his Craft. And we cannot forget the popular TV show Bewitched, as Samantha Stephens now has a statue in the Witchcraft mecca—Salem, Massachusetts. Those who enter in this paradigm often perceive the Witch Cult Mythos as a literal truth, as an ancient and unbroken line. They also have a serious and deep commitment to the priesthood of the Craft, with the secrecy and seeming authority conveying the true responsibility of the work. They can have a hard time seeing our elders’ clay feet on those high pedestals, but most have undergone a true initiatory transformation into keepers of the mysteries.

60s Peace and Love Utopia Paganism

The sixties had Gardnerian Wicca officially reach the shores of the United States through Raymond Buckland. Many Wiccans can trace their lineage to Buckland’s coven. While he established Seax Wicca in 1974, his museum began in the late 60s and a form of it, The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, is thriving in Cleveland, Ohio today (my first athame is displayed there.)

In England, we have the early rise of popularity and notoriety of Sanders, particularly through the books Witchcraft the Sixth Sense by Justine Glass and King of the Witches by June John. Many of the Witches of Gardner’s era now had a little more freedom to step out into their own light. Sybil Leek began writing her popular books, appearing on television and soon moving to the United States. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart started in the Church of All Worlds in the United States in the early sixties, eventually gaining nonprofit status as the first Earth Religion with recognition as a legal church. This began the public American Pagan movement, eventually intertwined with, but not wholly encompassed by either Witchcraft or Wicca.

While not technically Witchcraft, a lot of the surging of Eastern metaphysics, psychedelics, and indigenous traditions, real or imagined, such as the popular writings of Carlos Castaneda, created a potent mix. Less well-documented was the stirring of the first really occult supply shops on the cusp of the late 60s and the strange folk of a variety of occult organizations intermingling within them. In many of these overlapping subcultures, there was a sense that things were changing in the world. Due to the popularity of the musical Hair, people were waiting for the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in reality, not just on the stage. Politics and metaphysics overlapped in terms of protest and changing the world. The politics of the ancient Witch involved poison, or at least cursing. Ancient Priesthoods were nationalistic, an aspect that had previously appeared during the Magical Battle of Britain in World War II, with Dion Fortune and some British Witches organizing Operation Cone of Power, which may or may not have associations with Gardner and his elders, depending on the version of the tale. Otherwise most orders left politics at the door like a Masonic Lodge. Now the flower children were seeking Witches and shamans and potential young Witches were part of the hippie generation, and protests intersected more with spirituality, though they already had in the East with the Indian Independence Movement. Part of Gandhi’s inspriation came from The Bhagavad Gita, and his first exposure to this text was actually through the western occultists of the Olcott brothers, prominent members in the Theosophical Society. Those Witches entering through this point can now have a strong nostalgia for the past but also the optimism that ancient wisdom and magickal values will soon be a part of the overall secular world as humanity evolves. Some have become pessimistic as their hopes are not realized.

70s Sexual Liberation and Exploration of Alternative Religion

The stage of the late sixties set up what was coming, with both the flourishing of more and more groups as they branched out from what was established and created their own permutations of the work, and remarkably, the first ritual books with intended practices and traditions for solitary Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans. Alex Sanders continued to ride the media wave of the seventies with a brand of flash and substance that attracted people to the Craft, and Sybil Leek also continued her work in the media. With Laurie Cabot, we had a truly American teacher of Witchcraft in the media, opening her first shop, teaching her first classes of Witchcraft as a Science, and establishing Salem, Massachusetts, for good or ill as a gathering place for Witches to reclaim their identity in the shadow of the Salem Witchcraft Trial history. Less well known at the time, intriguing non-Wiccan traditions such as the Feri Tradition of Victor and Cora Anderson influenced what was going on. While people sought instruction and teachers, there was also the start of the “do it myself” exploration phase of Witchcraft. Even though Scott Cunningham often gets the credit or blame for the self/solitary initiation movement, it was Buckland’s The Tree that really started it.

While people sought instruction and teachers, there was also the start of the “do it myself” exploration phase of Witchcraft. While sexuality was always a part of many forms of Witchcraft, the often titillating exposés in media, both good and bad, brought it front and center with staged photos of semi-naked initiates. A larger emphasis on an idea that had always been present, polarity—expressed in the union of Goddess and God, of man and woman—became a strong force in the community, but also made possible other options and ideas as new books became available. Liberation ideas of the 70s intersected with growing civil rights, including women’s rights and queer rights, and the beginning of Witch Rights, legal protection for practicing the religion of Witchcraft and Paganism. Networking, often through the letter columns of magazines or through catalogs and newsletters, became more common, weaving together national scenes. The growing sense of legitimacy, legal recognition, incorporation, land ownership, and clear membership rules or requirements that followed the founding of the Church of All Worlds grew into a stronger movement with more organizations. Those entering through this gate have a strange mix of formality and tradition mixed with a liberal view of exploration and creativity up to a point. Some Americans were seeking to capture the British mystique they saw in the Craft while others were trying to do their own thing. Many are serious occultists often working solitary and in small groups, while others were more focused on community building and the smaller social experience of finding belonging and acceptance in community.

80s Feminist Matriarchal Utopia Vision, Social Protest, and New Age Metaphysics

Though published in 1979, Margot Adler’s work Drawing Down the Moon, which documented the Pagan groups in existence and the work of Starhawk and her Spiral Dance, brought forth ideas found in Anderson Feri with ecology, justice, and feminism, forming a foundation for the next wave. Stone Age ancestors such as the artists of the famous cave painting The Sorcerer had been linked to Witchcraft since before the 50s, but the idea of a matriarchal utopia as our literal history cemented in the collective leading to a stronger emphasis on indigenous and tribal traditions, structures, and aesthetics, or at least romantic notions of such, as people searched for new ways of being in community outside of some of the previous authoritarian structure of covens, lodges, and orders.

The view of ancient global esoteric traditions espoused in Theosophy became more and more the popular idea in the New Age community, which began the very slow process of embracing Witchcraft and Paganism, as it had with Native American traditions when indigenous teachers began sharing teachings with non-indigenous people. Shops catered to both, and many Pagans participated in the Harmonic Convergence. Social protests continued, particularly on environmental and economic grounds, and Laurie Cabot protested the defamation of Witches as found in The Witches of Eastwick movie, giving greater mainstream attention to the idea that Witches—as real people—lived among them as well as environment issues and the use of nuclear power.

Pagan culture continued to grow with more Pagan specific music, more festivals, and a wave of new publishing including the immensely popular books of Scott Cunningham, popularizing a simple heartfelt eclectic and solitary Wicca for anyone called to it. This was the permission many needed to bypass any form of in-person or correspondence training and establish new groups with no direct links to covens of the past. This development is heralded as one of the greatest moments in Paganism by many, and the worst by his critics, but it created a sense of freedom, excitement, and exploration that still reverberates here and now.

90s Eclectic Revolution of Everything

This was my entry point to Witchcraft, receiving personal mentorship from an elder of the 80s entry point who opened the door for me. Later came training through public classes with Laurie Cabot, just before the boom of Witchcraft in mainstream media with movies like The Craft and television shows like the first Sabrina and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the its character Willow. If I had gotten my initial training later, I probably would have been more enchanted with the shows, but I spent a lot of time, like many others, explaining how Witchcraft was similar and reminiscent, but not the same thing as portrayed in TV and movies. With the Internet, we had access to more, including direct community with The Witch’s Voice website, and occult publishing expanded. Chain bookstores began curating “New Age” or “Esoteric Studies” sections in every suburban town. Silver Ravenwolf continued the popular author line as Scott Cunningham passed. To fill this growing need, many new authors were given a voice through popular books, and a more varied popular craft, from the traditional to more experimental, grew. This peak is not unlike where we are today in 2021, yet without the same level of social media hype, a yet-to-be-invented phenomenon.

These were the days of AOL (American Online) chat rooms. Pagan Pride Days began to form, as did esoteric books clubs at those chain bookstores. You didn’t necessarily need a coven, though more and more of them were out there to find, from the formal to the eclectic, including a wide range of different practices that were called Wicca. Many in their experimental side had an oppositional streak. Tell someone to do something specific, they will do the opposite to just break with tradition and see if it worked, though many lacked the esoteric basis to evaluate success or failure critically. The scarier occult stores (which I miss terribly) were giving way to more popular metaphysical shops where Witchcraft was one of many things for sale, and new influences permeated Witchcraft because of it, creating an almost anything-goes ethos that built upon the solitary initiation lore. Seekers may study Witchcraft for a time, and then move onto to something else.

In my own experience I found a transition as the LGBT (not yet with the QIA)  began taking more prominence and space in practices that were often considered very heteronormative (to use today’s language). Along with a growing academic interest in accurately documenting the short history of the modern movement, the efforts to devalue and debunk the founders of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, efforts which had always been around, grew more popular with easier communication. Pagan traditions rooted in culturally specific historic reconstruction, divorced from occultism, with alchemical, Qabalistic, Gnostic and Islamic overlays (or Theosophical with Eastern ones) became a more viable option. Through this we see Heathenry and Norse Paganism in many forms, from their identification as a popular type of Paganism to their more political expression, come under the pan-Pagan banner, usually through Pagan Pride Days. Later they would seek to dissassociate themselves from occultist Paganism.

00s Tradition, Trad Craft, and Dark Fluff

While it had been around since the 50s at least, the aughts started the rumblings of popular Trad Craft and the deepening divide between Wicca and Witchcraft. While many differences existed among the majority of the community population, few got mad when Wiccan and Witch were used synonymously, and while traditionalists often chafed at newbie eclectics, there was not a high level of vitriol. The community was small enough that there was a general sense of sticking together when dealing with the outside world. Of course we had our inner community fights, our Witch Wars, but there was still solidarity.

Not so by the mid-2000s. The much photocopied Cochrane letters were bound and printed as a book, and others in that vein began printing more, mostly from the UK in likely response to the glut of popular Llewellyn books. Much of the popular literature with mainstream appeal was labeled “fluffy bunny” by many, a judgment that was sometimes right and sometimes simply oppositional. Medieval Occultism, Christian heresy, folklore, and Witchcraft trial transcriptions became the new foundation, and the Wiccan Rede and the Law of Three were tossed aside without deeper contemplation. A divide between Traditional Wicca and the eclectic and solitary forms became more pronounced, creating distance between the two, and a resurgence of interest in the formal Wicca traditions grew as people engaged in a quest for authenticity, validity, and approval through lineage. As mainstream Wicca hit some ridiculous points of “fluff,” this darker Craft eventually went to a similar albeit inverted place of “dark fluff,” competing to see who could present as the darkest and scariest of the Witches, forgetting light is at the heart of all these traditions.

Mid-00s to Mid-teens: Search for Authenticity, Academia and Change

Those not looking for power or authenticity through a darker folkloric or traditional bent sought it out in more academic pursuits by studying history, anthropology, myth, and society. Legitimacy wasn’t conferred by elders of initiation or secret tradition, but in knowledge of past and pattern, though many practicing occultists would argue academia missed big chunks of living wisdom, and academia often said such was unverifiable by academic standards.

We also had the first public pushes for a more regional Witchcraft rather than a universal, rooted in the biodiversity of a specific land and lore, though the complexity of indigenous myths rooted in the land intermingling with settler folklore created some issues later down the line for many. Rather than the Earth Mother, focus shifted to the local land goddess as expressed in the hills and fields, the rivers and lakes, the flora and fauna. Sharing of both research and opinion grew with the advent of blogs beyond the past webpages, and we had the rise of personal social media to express everything. While The Witch’s Voice was still present, the next generation looked to the journalism of our growing community in The Wild Hunt website. As community online grew, so too did things in the flesh with more festivals, shops, musicians, public sabbats, and public teachers. Authenticity also grew in new ways through Pagan organizations, with more religious nonprofits, more legal help for those discriminated against for being Pagan, more civil education and protection of rights such as the success of Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary, and more Pagan participation in things like the Parliament of World Religions. This is when the Temple of Witchcraft community formally organized as a nonprofit to embody the teachings and training outside of a coven hierarchy, with the goals of both preservation and growth beyond a single generation.

The Teens: Activism, Religion, and Social Media Community

In the last decade many entered into magickal community through activism or religion, sometimes both at once and often through the gate of social media rather than in-person meetings. In the quest for authenticity, there has been a growing movement to divorce the “woo woo” or occultism-magick from the religion, believing the magick is what prevents Paganism from being a major religious force on our community. (Personally I find this view abhorrent and feel this movement should be separated from all Paganism to be its own separate paradigm with a different name.) Psychic power and spells make us look crazy to others. Some seek a simple eco-paganism divorced from the old gods entirely, while others look to culturally specific Paganism with an emphasis on prayer, veneration, and offering as the daily religion, with some community specialists in magick, healing, and divination. Such societal power can be channeled into social change. Old-school occultists might consider their practice a religion legally, but in truth akin to the mystery cults of the ancient world or the theurgistic philosophers, but it is ultimately a religion of gnosis, of experience from technique, not shared belief or creed. We are not a prophetic religion. There is not the dogma of orthodoxy, though we might have clear group practices, much in the way Buddhists will say Buddhism, even the tantric cults steeped in esoteric art, are not a religion but a way of life.

Congruent but also at times separate from this new religious pattern is the work of equity and social justice as part and parcel of Paganism on issues of the environment, race, class, gender, orientation, indigenous land, economics, healthcare, and accessibility. Our philosophy is one of interdependence and interconnection, and all those things are interconnected. Much of the activity is limited to an online presence with mixed success, and many who enter at this point often emphasize their relationship to the issues as a priority, as a spiritual practice, over the techniques and experiences encoded in the traditions and rituals they study. With these conversations, the voices and leadership of people of color and a more diverse LGBTQIA community has grown.

The social media explosion has lent itself to another boom in Witchcraft—particularly in publishing, media, and merchandise—but has also had the unfortunate effect of many new practitioners immediately feeling they need to have a “presence” online and be “professional,” monetizing their Craft as readers, teachers, authors, retailers, and influencers, perhaps before they have really learned it. Becoming a big fish in a little pond over time has given way to the idea of immediately being a big fish in the big pond, without a lot of chances to try, fail, and grow protected from the judgment of a million eyes.

In a similar vein grew the concept of Witch as an identity not necessarily hinged to any practice of Witchcraft or occultism. “Witch” is not necessarily something you do, but something you are, which is somewhat strange to the older generations, where it is both but nonetheless precipitated upon the idea of actually practicing Witchcraft. Perhaps this isn’t a fair comparison, since we do see Christians not practicing any form of Christianity yet still claiming the identity and symbols while bending Christianity to fit their own current beliefs and practices. As for the blessings, a wider range of diverse voices with more resources than ever before had led to some really interesting new ideas, teachings, art, writing, “takes,” and collections of lore we have never seen before, giving the Craft an injection of vitality.

***

Which generation of Craft do you belong to? Was it your entry point, or have you shifted with what has come next, or pulled back to a previous era before your time? Think about friends, mentors, elders, students, and peers. Do you know or can you imagine their entry point? How are you weaving it all together for yourself? And what do you think is next?

Resources:

Jason Mankey has an excellent series of Time Capsule blogs depicting the culture of Witchcraft in the decades.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2014/08/the-margins-of-pagan-history/

Children Are Our Future

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Luise and Nic on Unsplash

“Children are our future!” “Enough about the ancestors, what about the children?” “What children’s programming do you offer?” These are all things that have been said to me in the course of my path as a Witchcraft teacher, and I struggle with them.

I am a thoroughly modern Witch steeped in past occultism and mystery. By that, I mean I seek the seemingly impossible squaring of the circle to create open and inclusive community with a voice in the world without sacrificing the mystery and magick in an effort to make it palatable to others. And on most days I feel our community does it well (with the expected bumps and bruises, of course).

I envision a place where children can be raised with Pagan values and understand the spirit of nature. While I don’t have kids myself, I’ve done quite a few child blessing/ Wiccaning ceremonies. I’ve done fewer coming of age rituals and even fewer trainings for those children I’ve blessed. It’s the nature of children to seek separation from parents and find their own path. I do disagree with the Pagan parents who refuse any religion to their children until they come of legal adulthood. I think there is cultural context to the passages of life that are diminished without it, but you can raise a child in a Pagan household without the threat of being cast out for exploring something else, as many of us raised in a Christian context felt growing up. But by its nature, Witchcraft is not for everyone, not even for all of your kids, no matter how many hereditary traditions and grandmother stories you’ve been told.

In an antique store with back issues of Life Magazine, the April 1980 issue jumped out at me. It featured an article entitled “Children of a Hare Krishna Commune,” and reading it, I wondered how many of those children were still Hare Krishna. I am willing to bet very few. And I think that is natural.

I know few children of famous and not-so-famous Witches who carry on the mantle. The spiritual descendants are those of initiation, not blood, those who choose to be there and do the work. Witchcraft in its various form is initiatory. There were traditional age limits not only for legal, but also for magickal purposes. Psychic processes catalyzing too early can be destabilizing for adults, let alone children, though some seem to weather it with grace.

There is a strange paradox in magick of welcome and exclusion simultaneously. We feel a sense of belonging and homecoming, yet not everyone can be in your coven. There are processes to vet people and requirements for educational schools and esoteric orders. Your entry or continuation can be denied. There is no guarantee, and there is no right to advancement deeper into the mysteries if you haven’t done the work or the group determines you incompatible with them. Doesn’t mean you can’t find it elsewhere, just not here.

Initiation can be like rebirth, and there is a recapitulation of childhood that occurs in the process. We undergo the “terrible twos” and a teenage rebellious phase, even when chronologically in midlife. Children are our future, but often the child is you, the rebirth of the androgynous child of light, of hope, of promise, within us all.Yes, support of our physical children is an important part of a growing magickal community expanding from coven-only structures and developing our own culture, but we shouldn’t have expectations of their participation in an initiatory order. Our path is not their path, as any parent soon discovers. I love what our own Temple of Witchcraft’s Children’s Ministry does to support children and parents, but due to the nature of kids growing up, it’s hard to maintain a stable group and program. I’ve loved seeing the Spiral Scouts in our area interweave with various Pagan groups, giving magickal children an option outside the mainstream binary of Girl and Boy Scouts.Often when we plan and have children’s programs, parents are focused on their own magickal experience for the festival and don’t bring children. Some events are not appropriate for children and, being Witchcraft, if the hosts are unsuspecting of that possibility, they might not make it clear in the invites and registration. I know some have a vision of family Wicca where children frolic in and out of the circle, all happiness and joy with no disruption to the Sabbat, but that hasn’t been my experience. I remember one very late night Samhain ritual embodying the descent of the Goddess, and when the Goddess priestess was scourged and dramatically yelled out in the hushed reverent silence that followed, a little girl said, “Mommy I’m scared” very loudly, much to everyone’s amusement, breaking the tension but altering the dramatic nature of the mystery. Perhaps it ultimately served, but I wonder how it affected the child, if the parents were ever able to give context, as I think they were general participants fairly new themselves. The hosts didn’t dream children would be brought to a late night ritual on the descent of the Goddess.

While we can provide a purposeful container for culture, traditions, and values by having events for and welcoming children, most of that will be in the home as parents openly model a magickal life. Sometimes it will be appropriate for children to join larger groups, and sometimes it will not. But we can’t pass awakening and initiation on as easily, nor should we. The contrarian Witch knows the magickal realization might better come from a tradition removed from the parents, as it was for so many of us. Ultimately we must walk the path that calls to us.

Do I Take Solace In My Spiritual Practice?

After my father died my mom and I had a rare conversation about religion that has stuck with me. She said that she wished she had the faith others had because she thought, in troubled times, you could take great solace in your spiritual connection. My thoughts turned to this conversation as I spoke with friends and my students this week. We were all reeling from the impact of grief, the after-effects of the pandemic, and some significant changes, and the one thing they said they had lost focus with was their spiritual practices. My immediate response was “That is all right, you are dealing with a lot, don’t worry, it will come back.” Then, as I drove home my mother’s words came back to me. It had me considering: Do I take solace and refuge in my spiritual practice when things are hard?

The simple answer is: yes, I do. As I examine and unpack it more I notice that my spiritual practice adapts to the holistic circumstances, both internal and external, of my life. I ask myself, “What do I need from my spiritual practice today, this month, this year?” Sometimes my answer is hard core practices when I need a spiritual kick in the tush, initiatory transformative experiences, or just a desire to dive deeper. As I unpack this, these extreme practices are not my go-to when I need solace or refuge. It all depends on whether diving deep into them brings the clarity and focus I need to get through what is going on. I find that strangely I get more “done” when I am in the flow of deeper practice. 

When the answer to my question of what I need is solace and refuge, I turn to the simple daily practices or practices that respond to my circumstances. My simplest practice is my altar devotion, which is just lighting my altar candle and saying an invocation of the infinite divine to protect and guide me in my thoughts, words, and deeds to my true will, deepest love, and greatest wisdom. It is the one constant practice for me and I take refuge in its simplicity. 

The practices that work with what I need shift with the circumstance. Need guidance, a divination; need peace or alignment, a short meditation; need healing, some reiki or charging water; need protection, anointing with protection potion; need a jolt of energy, make an elixir with my planetary spygerics; need to finish an assignment from a class, do that. In grief, I take a moment to talk out loud to the deceased and offer them some light or a glass of water. Sometimes the practice is just to get on with my day for that is what is needed. 

It is up to you to ask yourself these questions and find your own answers. If you need solace and refuge think about why that is? What will offer you the opportunity for that now? Be open to your answers and take action on them, even when the action is inaction.

Adam SartwellAdam Sartwell works as a certified Consulting Hypnotist with the National guild of Hypnotists and ICBCH, and professional Tarot reader. He is a co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft. Award-wining Author of Twenty-one days of Reiki and The Blessing Cord, he has been published in anthologies such as Green Lovers, Ancestors of the Craft, and Foundations of the Temple. For more information on his work as a hypnotist and online courses, go to hypnointuitive.com. To see more about his work as an author, psychic reader,  and teacher go to his website adamsartwell.com

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