Article

Gnosis and the Unknowable

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

A small blond-haired child in a red sweater, seen from behind, stands at the threshold of a dark passage through green hedge

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya via Pexels

Gnosis is one of the major points of a Mystery Tradition. One need not call themselves a gnostic—considering some of the dualistic baggage that term often implies—to seek this insight. Gnosis is the direct intuitive knowledge from experience of a different order of reality, in contrast to episteme, logical and reasoned knowing from experience of the empirical order of everyday reality.

Both knowledges use different criteria and context. Judging gnosis by the criteria of episteme makes it look like madness. Using nonrational techniques does not make one irrational. Judging episteme by the context of gnosis makes it look stunted. Both have their use and purpose, and for many of us, require one another. They can be considered an expression of the macrocosm and microcosm. One can evaluate how helpful or creative an idea originating in nonrational methods is by using reason for later examination, but reason should not be the sole criteria for evaluation. Likewise, nonrational information will not necessarily oppose—and can even expand—the rational worldview.

Magickal training in the mysteries should lead to moments of gnosis. I would argue even training in operative, results-driven sorcery should also result in forms of gnosis. I think some of my moments of greatest understanding have come from stirring potions under the full Moon.

The challenge of gnosis returning from a peak state of cosmic consciousness and being able to transmit what occurred back to the conscious mind and possibly to other humans. By its very nature, the insights of gnosis are nonlinear, interdependent, interconnected, and information rich. We often resort to art, music, and poetry to convey the experience. From the magician’s gnosis is born new maps of cosmology and different expressions of entities into the world.

Part of the path of attainment for an adept is to be able to add to the stream of “contacted” wisdom and art that then helps propel the next generation further. Often a teaching magician will introduce students to these cosmologies and entities, and new traditions are formed and old ones extended.

One troubling concept that has arisen in the magickal world—often stressed in Heathen communities, but later adopted by many hard polytheistic and reconstructionist groups—is of unverified personal gnosis, or UPG. In this, one’s gnosis must be corroborated, often by newly uncovered archeology or history or by another practitioner’s independent gnosis, to become part of a group’s rituals. Occultists find this ridiculous as the function of one person’s higher genius is not to confirm another. The corroboration of gnosis is that it is gnosis. You can’t apply epistemic criteria to gnostic transmission. If you always did, none of our treasured traditions would have occurred. As author Ivo Dominguez Jr. said in a workshop I attended, any real gnosis is personal and unverifiable by its very nature. I agree.

What one can do is introduce mystically inspired ideas—theology, art, technique, ritual, poetry—into a magickal current and the egregore of a community. Like planting seeds, some will sprout immediately. Some will grow and some will wither and die, depending on how they are attended to and what fruits and medicines they bear. If they are out of harmony with the basic ethos of the group, then the soil is not right and they never grow, though at times the whole community may amend the soil of consciousness, either intuitively or through conflict, to make it more receptive to these new and strange ideas. Just like a garden, the soil of consciousness in a community shifts over time with certain aspects depleting and others being drawn in and fixed, like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Some change, and others grow infertile due to poor tending. Managing the egregore of a community is a type of gardening. Some new teachings will speak to the soul of the community, and others will not. Some will go dormant and sprout years later. Some will grow fast and die out quickly and many will gather at the edges, like the wild weeds. To the orthodox, the weeds of folk practices and mysticism mar the regimented beauty of the garden. To the magician and Witch, what grows at the edge holds the most potent Magick and is often then purposely cultivated.

While not all practitioners will gain a gnosis to share with others, having direct and personal experience on some level of this cosmic consciousness is the goal. Indirect knowledge will not do. That is why the techniques of reaching these states are so important. I often say that the most important aspect of the Temple of Witchcraft is the shared pattern of techniques bringing us together. The mythic theological concepts of Paganism, the aesthetics of the Witch, and the ethos of the occultist all contribute to “set and setting” of our cosmic consciousness “trip” to relate our experience to previous maps, rather than be entirely out of any past human context. In the ancient mysteries there was great preparation, song, and play, inherent symbolism in the mystery school setting to give context, and there still is today.

Paradox is often the currency, the means of exchange, in such sublime settings. It is in paradox the mystery is revealed. Today we ask if it is a particle or a wave? What is the nature of reality? Yes. Both. Neither. It’s just a variation of the age-old questions. Are we separate or are we all one? Yes. Both. Neither. We are many things simultaneously. We can look at the surface and the depths. We can look at the macrocosm and the microcosm.

I’m reminded of the work of controversial Egyptologist R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, and his thoughts on Egyptian consciousness. He often writes of the Egyptian concepts of the intelligence of the heart, and how the true meaning of such a complex and esoteric society can only be found in other modes of cognition. When looked at from an outside perspective, such as today’s modern perspective, things can be nonsensical. The linear meaning might not be all that is being transmitted. Symbols contain the implications of their opposites and are designated with a base sound and meaning, but also evoke deeper levels of meaning, often by determinate characters that shift the contextual meaning. The meaning of anything is always in the greater context and only revealed when we engage with it on all levels. Otherwise we get only the literal, surface meaning of what is being depicted. Mystical contemplation, gnostic techniques, lead to that greater engagement and understanding.

While the entirety of the cosmos is in our grasp gnostically, it’s beyond us to express it by episteme, seemingly unknowable, yet each attempt to express its majesty simultaneously widens our consciousness and closes the gap of understanding between us and the divine source. This is true service in the name of the Great Work.

Special thanks to Gary Lachman and his book The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus for inspiration.

Mercury retrograde has just kicked in. The energy crisis is intense in Europe and inflation is a fact. What is there to do? Well, as magickal people and witches we know there is always something that can be done. Even a minor change of mood, a glimpse of hope or a boost of determination can make a big change in the end of how we get through a crisis. So let´s take a look at the stars and see how they may assist us in navigating this rough terrain.

The Sun in Virgo: Time to Get Practical

The Sun is now in the sign of Virgo, the second of the earth signs of the Zodiac. The Virgo person can be the tidy and neat co-worker, but they may also be the professor whose hair is a mess “a la Einstein” and seems to spend most of their time connected to another time and place. The connection is that both of them have their things in order, in some way. The messy professor has their inner world, their mind and calculations in order. The co-worker has their outer world, their clothes and belongings in order. It may also be someone having their crystals, their plants, or tarots decks in order.

One of the many talents of people born in Virgo is their ability to make things more efficient and workable. Stuck in the mud? Don´t know where to start? Call a Virgo and they will gladly help you sort things out. Another way of spotting a person born with their sun, rising sign, or moon in Virgo is the eyes. They usually have very clear eyes that seem to sparkle with light.

Practical Magick is a Magic of Necessity

Mercury is the ruling planet of Virgo. But Mercury also rules the astrological sign of Gemini and the 3rd house (learning, study, ideas and thoughts). Because of this double ruling, Mercury can teach us on how to move from the world of the mind (Gemini, 3rd house) to the world of practical action (Virgo, 6th house). This is one of the reasons why many Virgos are excellent in working with practical magick, taking clever thoughts and ideas and putting them into practical day to day action.

Practical magick is a magick often born out of necessity. It´s about how to make the food on your table able to feed everyone around it. It´s about making the money last longer. How to make a family function and also warm and safe, even in difficult times.

Virgos house, the 6th house is also called the house of service. The 6th house ruled by Virgo is about our everyday lives and how to make them work. Today for many people, services are provided by faceless people we don´t know and might not even see in person. But in old times and still in small towns it is the butcher, the baker, the hairdresser or carpenter down the street. Service (Mercury) is about connection and information (ruling the nervous system). Knowing someone who knows someone who might be able to help, or who is known for doing a good job. At first glance it may not seem important, but everyone who has renovated their home or has been in need of repairing their car know how important it is to get the job done in a good and affordable way.

Right now we have both the Sun (me, self) and Venus (relationships) in the sign of Virgo. Later on the Mercury retrograde will also go into Virgo. On a personal plane we get assistance with earth magick, manifesting the things that we need for ourselves and for our families and friends. It is also a perfect time to reach out and connect with others. Exchange information, talents, ideas, and skills. You may be good at calculating numbers, someone else is knitting sweaters and socks for the winter or teaching how to cook efficiently and save money. How can your unique experience and talents help others, and how can the people around you help you?

On a collective higher plane nations and governments need to find a way for the everyday lives of people to function. Affording food, warming their houses, and getting to their jobs. With the help of this Virgo energy they can be assisted in finding practical solutions for not only themselves but also for their neighbouring countries and allies.

Mercury Retrograde

About three times a year Mercury goes retrograde. From our viewpoint on Earth it looks like Mercury is going backwards. When a planet goes into retrograde, the energy or quality of the planet is going inward instead of going outward, like Mercury, ruling thoughts and the mind. When in retrograde the thoughts go more inward, making it a great time for deep thinking and going over decisions again. This is great for authors, writers, and editors who finally can sit alone with their thoughts, undisturbed by other people. But it can be chaotic for people involved in service, communication, computer service, and the like because it causes confusion and technical problems. For example, you are recommended not to sign any important documents, buy a house, or make any major investments during Mercury retrograde. Like a void of course Moon, but lasting longer. That is probably a good advice. I think of it like things happening during Mercury retrograde is never the final word or ending of something. You will probably have to do it again or edit it in some way, kind of a double work.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra and Virgo

This Mercury retrograde begins in the sign of Libra (balance, justice, relationships) on the 9th (Sweden 10th) of September. On the 23rd it meets up and joins the Sun at 0 degrees in Libra. This is very strong because it is also the time of the Autumnal Equinox. When day and night is equally long, the balance between light and dark. Things to meditate about:

  • How do I see the balance between light and dark within myself? Within society? In the world?
  • What do I need to make peace with?
  • Is there something that I could let go of, if I allowed myself to do so?
  • What would that feel like?

At this time (around September 23rd) Mercury is in opposition to both Neptune (dreams, hopes,) and Jupiter (expansions, higher visions). Chances are that things might feel a bit tight and boxed in. If there is something that you can let go of to make the load a little bit lighter, it´s a good time for that.

Now Mercury continues backwards into its own sign Virgo and there it meets up with Venus. On the 27th they are only one degree apart. Here we get a chance to look at our relationships. Specially connected to siblings and friends (ruled by Mercury and the 3rd house). We also get help from Pluto (transformation, deep work) making a good aspect. Things to meditate about:

  • Have there been any changes in my relationships with my siblings and friends?
  • Is there something about me or them that I have worked through, or let go of? Inferiority complex? Not feeling worthy? Being targeted by envy, jealousy?
  • What is my relationship to service?
  • In what way can I serve my community, or the world of spirits (Pisces being the opposite sign of Virgo)?

Mercury retrograde ends on the 3rd of October at 24 degrees in Virgo.

Want to Do and Must Do

Moving back to here and now, we have the asteroid Ceres (mother, nourishment) in the sign of Leo (luxury, pleasure, easy life). That is about wanting the good life, indulging in some luxury, wanting that extra dinner and a night out on the town, or even that special chocolate box. “Give it to me, I need it”.

In direct opposition we have Saturn (structure, discipline, saying no) and Vesta (service, duty, the high priest/ess) in the sign of Aquarius (community, a higher perspective). This all means we have a conflict between what we want to do and what we need or must do.

Parents, be prepared for many discussions at home. Witches, high priests/esses, meditation and coven leaders be prepared to drag yourself to the workshops and meetings. The sofa, TV, and the chocolate may be calling you, but you know what is the right thing to do.

Why me? A look at the shadow

When I assist clients in healing work, both their own and the work that they provide for others, I look at Chiron (healing, wounding) and Lilith Black Moon (shadow, hidden gifts) in their charts. Together they give a good picture on what´s going on, what they may not be able to see and the potential that may be under the surface. Right now Lilith Black Moon and Chiron have teamed up in a challenging aspect! This means intense healing work for everyone.

Lilith Black Moon is at 16 degrees in Cancer (emotions, family, home) and Chiron is at 15 degrees in Aries (self, me, ego). At the moment, we may all get a portion of self-pity and self-importance to deal with. To be frank, there is only one piece of advice I can give and that is: stop whining, deal with it, go to work, get to class, work through it. Or if you are a leader: hold that class, start that group, take on new clients, do what needs to be done. It may be hard work but you will be happy about it later. The deeper the challenge – the bigger the reward.

To summarize: Earth magick is very strong right now. We get help with manifesting what we need and finding clever solutions. There is power in joining forces with family, friends and neighbours. We are moving into a deep and transformative phase.

I love the idea that these transits and aspects can help us to see our roles in the world in a new light. The planets, helping us to take a step forward and bring our gifts more out in the world. Sometimes what needs to be done outranks what we feel like doing. But when we get on with it, we might enjoy it a lot. More than we ever expected. Being of service is special in that way.

Blessed Be!
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.

Rituals

By Renee Bedard

The solemn act of lighting candles in the silence of the night. The seductive lure of being wrapped in the heady scents of sacred smoke. The slow, steady breaths we purposefully take that leads us to our center once again. Circles are cast to celebrate the ever-turning wheel honoring the seasons and cycles and the partnership between the beings of spirit and beings of flesh. Body positions and deliberate, thoughtful movements help build energy in and around the body of the witch. It is the action that will allow a practitioner to break free from the chatter and chains of the day with intention to propel them into a state where they intend to seek solace or perhaps enlightenment. Each act is a ritual. Each movement made and word whispered is a sacred and meaningful act. They are beautiful and thoughtful expressions of the practitioner’s art and soul. As witches, we often partake in these hallowed rites when we are called to ceremony, meditation, and for our spiritual well-being. We work to develop a strong sense of ritual in our magickal life. How we create our rituals is a reflection of our inner and outer selves. However, the sacredness does not have to end as we release the circle. It does not expire as a candle flame burns out or our incense turns to ash. No. Every day our rituals touch every aspect of our lives whether we realize it or not. So, do you bring your magickal lens with you as you weave your way through the everyday landscape?

We all share personal and social rituals at home, at work, and in our various communities. It is how we move in this world. We are directed to act in specific ways at specific times. We are taught from a very early age about expectations, rules, and commitments. Growing into adulthood, this can be evident in our overly scheduled calendars and very long to do lists. This can leave us with very little time and energy to practice our craft. As a result, we can feel our lives split into two worlds: the magickal world and the mundane or everyday world. As this rift continues, we can begin to feel unbalanced in a spiritual way, losing pieces of ourselves in the process. Over time, this can create a divide where we may feel disconnected from our magickal selves and only feel that magick is to be held within a sacred circle. This does not have to be the choice we live with. For there is magick to see and experience in every moment of our lives. What is to be remembered, is that we have the power to choose to see the magick. Every day, magick can be woven into our daily societal rituals, just like our magickal rituals. As witches, we contain the power to create what we wish to see, but how do we do this?

In our daily life, we hold the power to see and express ourselves. We give ourselves titles or labels and act accordingly. As a result, the weight of their meaning is formed. It is what we knowingly or sometimes knowingly dress ourselves in every day. This too, is a ritual. We declare what we are, who we are, and where we stand in our societal circles. Whether we like our position or not, a judgement is placed upon us. However, we often forget that we are the ones placing the judgement upon ourselves. The words and titles we wear swirl around us, creating an energy of their own. These labels and words hold weight, meaning, and power. Day after day, year after year, thoughtforms are created and sustained. We can put a lot of energy and emotion into these declarations that feed the thoughtforms. Sometimes the labels or thoughtforms will help us. Other times, they can be harmful. For what we tell ourselves on the inside will always be reflected on the outside. The labels we give ourselves are spoken intentions. They are energies that we put out into the universe. As witches and magickal practitioners, we know that the universe will always respond. How do you talk with yourself? Do you take the time to evaluate how you are communicating with yourself and others? What kind of labels and thoughtforms have you been charging and creating?

It is easy to forget that there is beauty and magick all around us every day, especially when we get caught up in the chaotic currents that churn all around us. As humans, we are taught that everything has a time and place. We do what we need to do and when it is complete, we move onto the next task at hand. We are directed to gather in specific ways to preform specific tasks. However, as witches, we see the magick in every day life. Our magick does not end at our altar. No. We have the ability and responsibility to breathe the sacred into our lives. We communicate with the energies that flow all around us. We have the ability to weave our magick throughout the world. We have the power to ignite necessary change in our lives. While all of this is true, do we also take the time we require to be still, to listen to what our bodies are telling us, and to rest when we need to rest? There is a give and take in life and magick alike. Witches understand that and sometimes need the reminder that we cannot successfully send energy out when our energy is depleted. There is a delicate balance to our lives that must be attended to. Healing, restoration, breathwork, and dreaming are also important actions. Are you taking the time you need to refill yourself with healthy food, rest, reflection, laughter, study, and play? Do you take care of yourself as you would take care of a loved one? Are you in need of stronger, more defined boundaries in order to achieve your goals and peace of mind?

Each aspect of our lives contains sacred and magickal rituals. We no longer need to place our magick behind a locked door or upon a shelf. The magick is in us because we are the magick. It is who we are at our core. As witches and magickal practitioners, we move in our circles every day experiencing the highs and lows in the dance of life. It is how we live, love, learn, and grow. We see, feel, and experience connections in all things. It is the sun upon your skin. It is a smile from a stranger. It is the way we stand up for ourselves and others. It is the wind that kicks up in response to a question we have asked. The more we remember who we are as witches, we will be able to embrace the magick within us. This grants us the potential to breathe magick into every corner in our lives, whether we are walking inside or outside of our magick rooms. It is how we create a balance. It is how we create peace. It is how we create the bridge from our witch soul and into this life that we are living today. Through this powerful act of remembering, we allow ourselves the space for the healing, love, and comfort we deserve. Through these actions, may we lovingly birth new rituals into our daily lives where we willingly bring ourselves home, fortifying the beauty within us and the world around us. Every moment is a ritual and we, as witches, have the power to embrace and experience it.

Renee Bedard is a Witchcraft 4 student and a deputy minister for the Virgo Ministry. She also is a psychic intuitive and Reiki Master Teacher / Practitioner.

Values and Virtues

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

A great hall with a vaulted glass ceiling an and a staircase leading up to a seated statue.

photo by Josh Hild via Pexels

I’ve seen a lot of talk lately in our esoteric communities about our values. It always makes me wince a little. I remember the era, which never really left us, of family values meaning Christian values or traditional mainstream nuclear family values rooted in a naive vision of the 1950s. I remember the Parental Advisory Explicit Content warning labels of the music of my youth, a scheme by Tipper Gore and her ilk to let chain stores still be considered a store of family values when refusing to stock such music. I remember the imposition of one’s values upon another, and upon society. Sometimes I feel those I generally identify with more, like Pagans, are seeking to simply flip the narrative, so that their values are dominant. Language and behavior are adopted that would likewise impose their personal values on the masses of society, rather than shift the fundamental dynamic. And I think we are all guilty of it at one time or another. Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in a world of Witchcraft and Magick? Yes, but what about those who value something different?

Values really involve our thoughts and opinions about something we believe is principled. Values in their definition are linked to the notion of worth as well as principles, and often invoke a code not just for ourselves, but for others. While I think finding your own core values can be quite helpful—like finding your own true will—woe to those who feel they can impose their values—or will—on others, even with good intentions. It’s often those with good intentions that do the most harm. I often consider how we buy, sell, and trade things of value, and I think this monetary paradigm can influence the way we value something or someone, and not for the better.

As a Pagan and as a Witch, I look to the more magickal concept of virtue. Like value, virtue has been distorted. Many think virtue is a Christian concept, but its roots are in Paganism, particularly ancient Greek philosophy. Virtue winds its way through the Western occult tradition and Traditional Witchcraft. Virtue in its truest sense is a part of the Perennial Philosophy.

Virtue can also refer to a behavioral standard, though virtue is truly a state of being or consciousness. It has little to do with sexual purity to the Pagan, though there is a purity and sanctity to holding virtues and “carrying” virtue as a part of oneself into the world. Values are often externalized while virtues must be internalized.

The Christian angelic teaching where the Virtues are one of the nine choirs of angels gives us another hint to the nature of virtue—virtue is both a principle and an entity, a cosmic force beyond the opinions of humans about what is fundamental. The confusion can be in how humans interact with and interpret these forces. In medieval occultism back to Ancient Greece, the virtues were considered goddesses, with the four cardinal virtues of Prudence/Wisdom, Fortitude/Courage, Justice, and Temperance. They were personified, though one might debate if they were truly worshiped like the Olympians, but we have many fundamental forces recognized in Paganism that were not worshiped, such as Annanke, or Necessity, yet magicians I know today invoke Necessity.

Today we see them in our tarot cards, and they have obvious elemental associations. Prudence is assigned with earth and either Virgo and the Hermit, or the Moon and the High Priestess card, or discs in general, the 8 of Discs in particular. Justice is the Justice or Adjustment card, air, Libra, and the swords. Fortitude is Leo, fire, and the wands, with the 9 of Wands and obviously the Strength or Lust card. Temperance is the Temperance card assigned to Sagittarius, but usually given elemental water and the cups

Through the addition of the three Charities or Graces to these forces, then codified through the Biblical quote citing Faith, Hope and Charity specifically, we eventually have the seven holy virtues of Christianity. The four cardinal virtues are linked with the Quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, and the three theological virtues to the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. They are later matches in Christianity against versions of the seven deadly sins.

One of the eldest embodiments of virtue is in the form of the Egyptian goddess Ma’at, both cosmic force and deity. Ma’at is usually translated as “justice,” but she is really the balance of harmony. Everything in ancient Egyptian life revolves around maintaining Ma’at. “Think Ma’at. Speak Ma’at. Do Ma’at,” as the old wisdom tells us. Yet this work didn’t mean everything was perfect. It is a dynamic balance, and there are forces of chaos, Isfet. People often choose gereg, wrongdoing. Ra’s barge is continually assaulted by the forces of Apophis. Injustice can gain a foothold, and things can move in cycles of greater or lesser Ma’at. But the concept is not simply rooted in human concepts of right or wrong, but rather in the dynamic harmony that comes from participating with the consciousness of the cosmos and the interplay of all things. While we might describe Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance, and Justice as separate things, they are all interconnected, for the embodiment of one without the others is imbalance and disharmony.

Hermetic Qabalah teaches a series of correspondences for each level of consciousness upon the Tree of Life, including the virtue, vice, obligation, illusion, and vision. Those in harmony with the level embody the virtue, often through following the obligation that leads to the vision. Those who are not in harmony often embody the vice, coming under the illusion of the level, thinking they have attained the virtue, but falling woefully short. As you climb the tree, embodying each level, you focus on different virtues, and what is important to you at one level isn’t even in your consciousness at another. Core concepts can shift from the perspective of a new level, though in the end, all the virtues are part of the one tree, and found in every person.

Other ways that magickal and Pagan traditions look to virtue can include the Nine Noble Virtues found in Heathenry and the eight virtues found in The Charge of the Goddess. We see somewhat archaic expressions in Arthurian romance and poems such as The Faerie Queene. Diving back into Neoplatonism, I have a focus on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, though I also think of curiosity, gratitude, and doubt as my own virtues.

Virtue is food for the soul, the force that nourishes our evolution. Virtue is embodied and conscious and communicated within us and the cosmos.

Virtue is embodied qualities that might demand action, but not an action or behavior that is required. Your expression of virtue will be different from my expression of virtue, but like recognizes like. The true occultists cannot require a specific virtue or manifestation of virtue from another, only from themselves.

Like Ma’at, virtues can manifest as entities to be communed with, inspired by, and called upon to be present in your life. Then one can enact a virtue in the world, embody it in their consciousness or soul complex, and truly live the virtue, bearing it out into the world to make its presence known in every thought, word, and deed, just like your magick.

Invocation of the Goddess/Deity/Spirit of a Virtue

First focus on a word, traditional or modern, you associate with a state of virtue. Become clear on the name of your virtue.

However you may commune with spirits and gods, do that, but call upon the virtue you have named.

Speak to the Virtue as an entity. Perhaps light a candle, or offer some water or incense smoke. Commune with it in your Inner Temple. Perform shamanic journey to it or pathworking. But no matter what you do, have an exchange. The Virtue might give you instructions, or perform a magickal empowerment upon you.

Give thanks when done, and conclude in whatever manner is traditional for you.

Then notice how the exchange influences your thoughts, words, feelings, and deeds in the world.

Temple Astrolog: The Heat Is On

Dogs are barking, owls are calling in the night and everyone seems to be awake in the neighbourhood. The air is thick with magick and a restless energy. So what is going on and where is this energetic pressure coming from? Let’s take a look and see what we can find.

Venus and Family

Right now we have Venus (love, romance, passion) at the end of the sign of Cancer (feelings, romance). In this position Venus is both strong and vulnerable at the same time. It is strong because of the feeling nature of Cancer. Family and close bonds become extra important. It is vulnerable for the same reasons. When and if someone we care about does not have time for us or doesn’t live up to our expectations, we can take it very personally, even if it is not. Your partner or friend may need to work or just has many things going on in their lives. Even if you know and understand it in your head, the feeling of abandonment can creep in. This is an energy that soon will pass as Venus moves into Leo.

  • Venus entered Cancer on the 18th of July
  • Venus moves into the sign of Leo on the 11th of August.

I Used to Love You

Right now we have Pluto (transformation, death, deep process) in Capricorn and in direct opposition (challenging aspect) to Venus, and this takes things to a whole different and very deep, underworldly (Pluto) level. Old hurts, complicated relationships and situations may surface once again. A lot of old stuff that perhaps you thought you were finished with.

It is the people we love and are closest to and have a history with who can hurt us the most. When once close friends, siblings, and partners split up it can become very intense, complicated, and difficult. Just look at Gandalf and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. Or Charles Xavier and Magneto in X-Men. They used to be friends and later find themselves on opposite sides of a war. Or the married couple in the action movie “Mr and Mrs Smith” with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Hot romantic passion turns into a passionate war.

With this Venus/Pluto transit, old things may flare up again. But Pluto also makes a good aspect to another personal planet, namely Mars (passion, action). With this energy we can get help to move along and get on with our lives. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a relationship. But there’s also a moment when it’s time to let go and move on. We get assistance with this process from the good aspects the Asteroid Juno (relationships, endings, new start) in Pisces is making to both Venus and Mars.

Pluto, Venus & Magick

The Venus/Pluto opposition is something that not only effects humans, but animals and nature as well. Domestic animals may become restless and the forest becomes more magickal and alive. Magick, meditations, and spells becomes potent and strong. You may need to be aware of that this combination can make your magickal workings take unexpected turns. It is advisable to make extra preparations and to be awake, alert, and focused in what you do and how you use your power. Venus/Pluto can on one hand be passionate and dedicated, but it can also be violent and emotionally manipulative.

  • Venus opposition Pluto ends on the 14th of August. Keep in mind that many times the effect of a strong transits happens after the transit is over and the energy pressure is released.
  • Mars trigon is until the 25th of August

Kundalini Rising

Uranus (electricity) is joined with Mars (fire, passion, sex) in the sign of Taurus (body). This can make Kundalini, the life force in the body, move upwards seeking a higher awareness and enlightenment. When the fire in the body moves up in the body it can cause pain and disruptions. Back aches, nausea, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and many other physical discomforts. The fire seeks release and it is of course better to find healthy releases like sex, ceremony, and physical exercise rather than taking it out on others by being irritated and not fun to be around.

On a collective and higher plane, the Earth is also moving her energy to a higher octave, and like for us humans it can be both a wonderful and turbulent process. As witches, healers, and magickal people we can assist the earth by sending her healing, love, and balance.

Uranus/Mars is getting an extra push by being right next to the North node (where we are supposed to be heading to). On a collective plane this could help countries and governments to realize the urgency to make good changes for the planet. On a personal plane it can help you to make good decisions for helping you move forward in your life in a good way. It may come from a place of urgency, but still it helps you to realize what you need to do.

  • Mars conjunct Uranus is until the 13th of August
  • North node conjunct Uranus is until the 5th of February 2023

Wisdom from Others

The south node (where we come from, the past, karma) is right now in Scorpio (transformation, drama) and is making a good aspect to Black Moon Lillith. This means that there is hidden (Black Moon Lillith) help to receive from past experiences (south node). You may feel like you are the only one going through night after night without sleep because of a crying baby, or the only one ready to leave home because of terrible teenagers. Or that your coven is the only one having a really bad split and breakup. But I assure you, that you are not alone in having these experiences.

One of the challenges with the sign of Scorpio is that it is very secretive, afraid of being let down and even made fun of. That can make it extra difficult to reach out for help. There is support out there, just dare to talk to others and take part of their wisdom.

One of the many gifts of Black Moon Lillith is that she can help with the things that there are no words for. The kind of wisdom that sits in the body. Like just being around a cool mother or father of 5 children. If he or she says it´s going to be alright and that your kid is going to grow up, you believe them. Or like talking to an elder of a magickal tradition that assures you that there will be another coven, perhaps better fitting for you than the old one. You take their word for it, just by who they are and how they carry their life experience. That is the kind of wisdom that Black Moon Lillith can offer in times of need.

  • Black Moon Lillith is making this supportive aspect to the South Node until the 8th of October.

To summarise this we have a very magickal time ahead of us. A lot of the energetic pressure that we have been living with and under, will be released. It is very intense around the 11-14th of August. And we have the celebration of Hecate’s day (The goddess of Witches) on the 13th of August right in the middle of it.

This shift of energy can make things suddenly feel very real and very alive. We can expect many things that a moment ago was a just a thought or an idea to become a reality. Remember to breath and use your magick and power wisely. And don´t be afraid to reach out a hand weather you are the giver or the receiver. You got this, you magickal being! You will be alright.

Blessed Be!
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.

For Broom Closet Witches: My First Esbat

by Claire du Nord

More “Sneaky Business” in the Broom Closet: My First Esbat

It has been my experience that practicing Witchcraft in a Broom Closet can be exciting and full of adventure, near mishaps, close-calls, and great feats of perfect timing! Why would I have expected my first “official” Esbat to be any different? Welcome back, Broom Closet Witches, to our fourth article on Broom Closet Witchery! Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft tradition.

My first Full Moon Ritual or Esbat took place both outside and inside on a cold New England winter night. I had high hopes that my first Esbat would be a serene, “spiritual”, awe-inspiring, etc., etc. experience, under the glow of silvery moonbeams. . . But it was not to be. Well, glass half full – not entirely to be.

My place of residence at the time was one rented room in a house owned by my landlord (who occupied the rest of the house) while I was a student in Witchcraft I and working on my Master’s degree. My landlord didn’t know about my Witchcraft practice.

I was lucky to get to see the Moon at all for the few minutes that I did, thanks to the fact that my landlord went for one of his unpredictable “nightly” walks. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity. Well, I could have gone ahead with my Esbat plans regardless, but it would have meant that I would have had to explain to him why I was going outside in the cold and dark, why I was going to be standing in the front yard, staring up at the Moon, with a piece of paper in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and that I am a Witch. Uh, no. Not unless I had suddenly gotten the notion to uproot myself and find another place to live within 30 days.

He went out for his walk at about 8:15 pm. His walks usually took about an hour, so I figured I would have plenty of time. (A bit of foreshadowing here.) I waited until he had been gone about 10 minutes, and then I slipped outside. I had to wear my down parka with a hood (which just happened to be black), as it was so cold outside. When I got outside, I was disappointed to find that the Moon was nowhere to be seen! I could see stars, but no Moon! I looked all around, and then I saw it creeping up behind the row of trees on the hill in the distance behind the neighborhood. I was thrilled! My Esbat was not going to be a disaster after all! (A little bit more foreshadowing here.)

So as not to raise suspicions from the neighbors on either side or the neighbors whose house sat smack in front of ours, I stood in the driveway between my car and a big pine tree to the right of it. At that point, I could see the Moon in front of me. I had my flashlight in one hand and my printed copy of the script of the ritual that I had planned in the other. I was just about to turn on my flashlight to be able to read the script when I heard footsteps! It was my landlord! He had apparently made one “short circuit” around the neighborhood rather than his usual “long circuit”! I held my breath! Thankfully, he kept walking . . . past me, past the house, and then disappeared down the road without noticing me! Phew!

I went back to gazing at the Moon, and wow! By that point, a ring had appeared around it that was mesmerizingly bluish! I wanted to stay there forever, but I had only been standing there a few minutes when I “sensed” a warning and “intuited” that my landlord had cut his walk short, was about to return, and that I should go inside immediately so as not to “get caught”.

On my way back to the front porch steps, I “intuited” that I could cast a circle and gaze at my crystal ball (which I kept hidden in my room), as an alternative to completing the Esbat ritual outdoors. So, as I was walking up the steps, “Plan B” took shape in my mind. I got into my room about three minutes before I heard my landlord come through the door. He must have been very near the house as I was going up the front steps and inside.

So, after the sounds outside the door of my room told me that he had settled himself down after his walk, I silently cast a very much unplanned indoor circle and then sat down to gaze into my crystal ball, which was a small rose-colored glass one that I had purchased many years prior but had never really done anything with. I was expecting to see something in the crystal ball, but after a while, I realized that the crystal ball was just a substitute for the actual Moon, and that I was just supposed to gaze at it with the intention that I was gazing at the real Moon, since my outdoor Full Moon Ritual had been cut short so abruptly. After a while, it really felt as if I was gazing at the actual Moon, and I was very happy to have had two experiences in one and to have learned that there are always creative options, substitutions, and open-ended experiences when you are practicing Broom Closet Witchery!

I hope this article has been helpful, and until next time – Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet again!

Bright Blessings,
Claire du Nord

The Traditional and the Modern

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

A traditional house at Christmastime next to a modern apartment complex at night

“Traditional” Photo by cottonbro and “Modern” Photo by Aleksandar, both from Pexels

For a queer polyamorous Witch, some would consider me pretty traditional. And as a queer polyamorous Witch, most people would not. The truth isn’t somewhere in the middle. Both are true, and neither is true. That is my truth.

I’m traditional because I believe in roots. I believe in a fidelity to roots, to traditions and philosophies that embody timeless truths. I think the past helps us orient ourselves to the present and create a future. My family on both sides were immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. My Polish side of the family let go of more of their customs in an effort to be more American, and while more financially successful, they had a very hard time with the family dynamic. My Italian side of the family clung to Italian traditions, customs, and language, and that Old World influence was transmitted to me through their loving presence. I soon realized living in the suburbs that my sense of manners and honor was different from my friends and peers who didn’t have that immigrant influence. In many ways I’m an old romantic at heart and feel modern cynicism and selfishness are vices one cannot afford, much like the abuse of alcohol or tobacco. We might occasionally indulge, but it can’t be a lifestyle. While I don’t think one can be bound by traditions and history, ignoring them doesn’t serve. It’s like trying to ignore the ground you stand on because you wish to be miles away.

I am modern because I believe in embracing change. I believe in the right to break with traditions and customs that do not serve your greater good. If you have the impulse to create your own traditions and evolve new customs that address current situations and needs, then do so. I went into the arts professionally, foregoing the career path laid out by family and diverged even further by entering into Witchcraft as a profession. My queerness broke expectations of family, grandchildren, and what life is supposed to look like (not that queer people can’t have children, I simply didn’t want them), while expressing the essence of my traditional values in new ways for my new situation.

As a Witch I see the tension in our metaphysics, the divide between the traditionalist and the modern practitioner. We find it in Witchcraft and astrology particularly but also in other forms of Paganism and spirituality, such as the divides of hard polytheism to soft polytheism, humanism to metaphysics, and cultural reconstructionism to the occultism of the perennial philosophy. There is always a call to turn to past traditions and ways of being while simultaneously a call to explore something new and different. And this causes a tension, a strain, within both us and our communities.

Sometimes the tension can get vitriolic. I remember in my early years the tension between traditional initiatory Wicca and solitary-eclectic Wicca. Years later I came across a similar tension between modern astrologers and those harkening back to more traditional astrology, be it Renaissance Christian astrology or back to classic Greek astrology. There was tension between queer-accepting Pagan groups and queer-ostracizing groups.

We at the Temple hosted an event, and one of the speakers was a traditional Renaissance astrologer who was so disparaging of modern astrology in his presentation that I got complaints from the community and requests to never have him back. My own astrology teacher, Jan Brink, was a modern Western astrologer with a background as a psychology professor who also looked at the Vedic astrological principles, as she was a devotee of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. It was with her teachings that the application of astrology finally became both spiritual and practical for me. I can feel traditional astrologers reading that shudder, but when one looks at the history of astrology, including the traditional, you’ll find a rich synthesis of Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and Persian influences, some transmissions with India, and eventually a process of coming in alignment with occult Christianity in Europe. The next step into modern occultism, Wicca, and the New Age, with its modern outer planets, is simply one link of a much larger chain, not an aberration. For better or worse, it’s the astrology of our time. One of the benefits of the resurgence of traditional astrology means that modern astrologers who were not exposed to such ideas, or who thought them archaic or fatalistic, can see them in a new light, and perhaps a better dialogue between the modern and the traditional can occur now.

I’ve learned a lot from traditional and modern astrological teachings, and while I have my own preferences of helpful techniques for my life, magick, and clients, I think we are all entitled to our own presences and practices, including the synthesis of what’s next.

The same tension can be found in other areas, such as politics, media, religion, the home, and the workplace. It’s not just metaphysics. Seeing it everywhere reveals an underlying mechanic of the natural order unfolding, which is the basis for this seeming problem: everything is changing. Nothing stays at rest for too long. If it does, it dies. Everything grows. Most growth is healthy or at least functional. Some growth is pathological and cancerous.

As things unfold and expand, a process that science tells us is happening in the greater universe, things grow to fill the space and to occupy their “place” in time as time is unfolding and expanding.

We sometimes seek the assuredness of the past, the certainty of what was. We can confuse past manifestations as the purity of the original pattern, of how things are “supposed to be.” Sometimes returning to the original pattern of something can give us a reset when too much superfluous or unhealthy growth has happened, simplifying things. Anyone running any kind of organization knows how bureaucracy can build up, but in those early days without it, everyone has questions on how something works, and the lack of known and established procedures means it’s unfair to someone.

Magicians understand this well if they are doing the work. It is the dynamic balance of creation and destruction, weaving and unraveling, the anabolic and the catabolic, mercy and severity. Both are absolutely necessary for anything to occur.

It is only when we get trapped in polarity thinking that we unbalance the dynamic. It becomes us versus them when we identify too strongly with one side. Yet this is what humans tend to do. We root for our team as part of a great drama unfolding. We find our sense of fun, adventure, and pride in winning over another, as it’s a simple visible metric recognized by all. When you have little accomplishments on your own, the group’s “win” becomes even more vital in the development of self-identity.

Imagine the astrology we would have today if the Babylonians had had no outside contact or had not allowed the transmission of their ideas to Greece and Egypt. Imagine if they had seen their astrology as traditional and pure and were against these new foreign astrologers. Perhaps some were. If they had prevailed, we wouldn’t have astrology as we know it today to argue the merits of traditional versus modern systems. Astrology is arguably one of the best-known exports of ancient Babylon. Even if you don’t believe in it, the average person is much more likely to know the name of one of the twelve signs, most likely their own Sun sign, than be able to point to where Babylon was in a map today or name any other contribution we remember. As an ancient civilization, greater Mesopotamia contributed to our concepts of time keeping, law, medicine, writing, architecture, and urbanization, but few people can cite specific examples.

When things build up to a point where it’s difficult for new action, the restriction decreases vitality and health. Things become stagnant. Stagnation eventually leads to either calcification or decay. Calcification seeks to preserve and keeps things tidy while decay potentially releases, but can make quite a mess and smell rather badly. Yet decay is the path that can lead to regeneration. Calcification leads to brittleness and breaking with little hope of change. Regeneration leads to innovation and innovation leads to a richness of practices. Those practices that inspire, aid, and provide meaning establish new traditions. And when traditions lose their meaning and become about blind compliance to form without function, a type of legalism that seeks the letter of the “law” and not the meaning and spirit of it, we get back to stagnation and begin the cycle once again.

Those seeking to only go back to the past traditions essentially feel it’s “done” and can only be eternally maintained. Things are no longer unfolding. Their ideal view of time is not linear, or even cyclical, but eternal.

Those seeking to let go of the past entirely can lack the vital transmission from the past. When we look at a lot of modern and avant-garde art, I can understand it better. A major critique of such art is that it feels soulless. It can be intense, but lacks an organic quality. Defying sacred proportions of the past, and often lacking in any traditional technique, it emphasizes separation and chaos. While this can be a necessary stage in the decay-regeneration cycle, reflecting how we might feel, one cannot live there indefinitely. And it often feels like what modern society is attempting, to balance precariously between decay and regeneration, struggling with the twin urges to go forward and go back. But we then get stuck. This is nothing new. It happens all the time throughout history. We feel it being here, and we perceive it differently than our ancestors due to the media of our time, but television, the phone, the printing press, the traveling troubadour, and the town crier all had the challenges of their time.

In every area, including magick, some people seek to speed the decay-regeneration cycle to repeat it quickly and constantly, as that is where we can feel the most vital, the most full of excitement and possibility and even danger if it should it go wrong. Here we feel we are making great contributions. We matter. We can push through the other steps in the cycle too quickly before they have a chance to do what they do, to return to decay-regeneration. Sometimes we feel the previous decay-regeneration cycle was not as pervasive as it could have been. We need to burn it all down to start over, leaving no vestige, but that does unmoor us from our past in unhelpful ways as well. If we are establishing new traditions, to truly be a tradition it must be passed from one generation to the next, if not several times. It is through that passing we can really see how it works in the long term. Sometimes the solution is not burning it down, but providing new options.

This is just as true with Witchcraft. We often seek to burn down the legacy we have been passed in an effort to find something older, more authentic, more powerful, or more traditional, in essence, more “real” and miss what is before us.

Though we often think of Witchcraft as the “Old Religion” it is strangely contemporary, as it meets the needs of its people while embodying an eternal wisdom. Yet the expression of that wisdom is always incomplete and always will be incomplete, for the universe, life, is ever unfolding through growth and change. If it were to reach completion, so would everything else, and we would be done. The real magick is in the perception of continuity across time and space of the whole, the thread that stretches to us and beyond into the future, changing yet connected to all that was, is, and ever shall be.

Ask yourself, “In what ways am I traditional?”

Ask yourself, “In what ways am I modern?”

Where is your balance point? Repeat the process of questioning yourself again with the polarity of building up and breaking down. What are you creating a pattern for, an architecture? What are you building? What are you breaking down and dismantling? Where is your balance point? What is your current mission? Are you stuck in a past pattern? Has your identity wrapped too firmly in the building or dismantling that you can’t switch the balance when needed? Are you doing so needlessly? How does this work serve you? How does it serve the greater good?

Repeat this process regularly to make sure you are in better touch with these twin forces, and as a magickal being, can use them more clearly and deeply.

Temple Astrolog: The Power of the Goddess

Summer is here. The star are telling us many people are going through some deep and personal stuff, but there are also some amazing healing and consciousness-rising energies present. Let’s take a look on how to navigate these in the best way!

Family and Relationships

The Sun is now in the sign of Cancer. That brings relationships, family matters, and personal stuff into focus. Cancer is the first of the water signs (emotions, intuition) and it rules the 4th house, the house of family and home. We also have Black Moon Lilith at 9 degrees, Mercury at 12 degrees and the goddess asteroid Ceres at 24 degrees in Cancer.

Ceres is connected to nourishment and when she is in the sign of Cancer the need for love and feeling seen is strong. When Ceres is combined with Black Moon Lillith it can be hard to know exactly what we need. With Black Moon Lillith combined with Mercury it can be difficult to communicate it. And if we don’t know what we need and can’t express it, how are people around us going to know?

This may create tensions in relationships and a high dose of patience may be needed.

Both Soft and Hard

If we look at the crab, we find it has a hard shell and a soft inside. The sign of Cancer is very sensitive and takes in a lot of what’s going on in the world. To protect themselves they create a shell around them, warding off energies that are harmful. But if the shell grows too thick the ward can become a prison, disconnecting them from the very core of their being, which is a warm and loving heart. Without that heart connection, they may experience emotional pain, even if they don’t recognize it.

On a collective plane this is something we all struggle with from time to time. How do we keep our hearts open in a world that is sometimes frightening? With many placements in Cancer we work on finding the balance between security and openness. Sharing love and compassion with others and at the same time being able to detect and neutralize danger when needed.

Right now we have the asteroid Ceres at 24 degrees (motherhood, nourishment) in the sign of Cancer (parenthood, family) in opposition to Pluto (death, transformation, subconscious) at 27 degrees in the sign of Capricorn (protection). This activates the feeling that you need to protect yourself, your family, and the people you love.

But it also talks about the dangers of going too far and being too hard (Capricorn) on the people that we love and want to keep safe. So before you give your teenager a curfew for six months or seize their phone indefinitely, take a breath and think things through. If you frighten your child, your partner, or friend with your anger, even though it is rooted in concern, they may not tell you the next time they are in trouble.

Cancer and Capricorn are both protective signs. They go to great lengths to keep their loved ones safe and ready for the dangers in life, but that concern must not turn into control or lack of compassion or not being allowed to grow at your own pace.

On a magickal level the combination Cancer and Capricorn is excellent for working defensive magick.

Ceres is in the sign of Cancer until the 25th of July. Then she moves into the sign of Leo.

Ceres is in challenging aspect to Pluto until the 31st of July.

What Did You Say?

With Mercury (communication, friends, siblings) in the sign of Cancer (family, home) right next to Black Moon Lilith (things we cannot see) communication is tricky at the moment. It is even harder regarding the people close to us. With these transits we cannot be sure that we understand the people or situations around us correctly. It’s like talking on a very old telephone line with a lot of static. It is a bit like when Mercury is retrograde and it can also cause disturbances in deliveries, computers, and trading.

We also have the asteroid Lilith right between the Sun and Mercury, making the effect even stronger.

They make a challenging aspect to Chiron (the wounded healer) in the sign of Aries (ego, motivation, warrior). That brings lot of wounded feelings and old themes to the surface.

My advice is to not be afraid to stop for a moment and say: “What did you say? I’m a bit confused. Would you mind saying that again?” or “I’m not sure I got that right, can we talk about it some more?” It is also wise to not assume people’s reactions are about you or something you have said or done. Chiron brings up old wounds and when Chiron is in Aries it can jump out quite unfiltered.

Black Moon Lilith is in aspect to Mercury until the 13th of July.

The Sun is in challenging aspect to Chiron until the 15th of July.

Black Moon Lilith is in the sign of Cancer until the 9th of January 2023.

Goddess Support by the Sea

In this period of complicated and perhaps also exhausting relationships there are some points in the chart that can assist us. Ceres (goddess, mother, nourishment) is right next to the Sun in Cancer (water, family). Going to the beach, spending time by water, taking a long bath, can all be extra energizing, healing, and restoring right now. Just spending time with family (despite some confusion) can also be fulfilling.

Ceres rules food and cooking. Sharing a meal with family and friends, taking a Swedish Fika, connecting over some kind of food is extra strong and nourishing.

The Sun is in Cancer until the 23rd of July, Ceres until the 24th. They continue to travel together, now in the sign of Leo until the 7th of August.

Isis the Great Mother and Supporter

The goddess Isis has many names. She has been called the Goddess of 10,000 names. Today many work with Isis when struggling between being a parent and a priest or priestess at the same time. Isis is a Goddess, a priestess, and a magician, but she is also a devoted mother and wife. That makes her understanding and helpful when trying to make different parts of your life work harmoniously together.

Juggling work and your spiritual life is not an easy task. Even if you have your own spiritual store or are running a coven, it is not the same thing as having time for your personal spiritual connection and unfoldment. Add a family and raising children on top of that and your schedule is full and if you are not careful it can all feel like just a heavy load of expectations and obligations instead of supporting and fulfilling activities.

Right now the asteroid Isis at 26 degrees in Cancer, next to Ceres at 24 degrees and they will soon meet the Sun together in Cancer. The fixed star Sirius also known as the “Star of Isis” is at 14 degrees in Cancer with Mercury (communication) at 12 degrees right next to it. That is a lot of Goddess Isis energy. This is a perfect time for connecting with Isis, through ceremony, prayer, or just talking to her. Actually, it is a great time for talking to any kind of Goddess. Do it for yourself, your family and friends, for your coven, or for the world.

Always Alone, Never Alone

The Isis asteroid and Ceres are making a good aspect to Neptune (dreams, illusions) at 25 degrees in and Juno (relationships) at 20 degrees in Pisces (art, illusions, mediumship) Together they create a strong psychic connection with not just this world, but also the many worlds around us. This can make meditation and ceremonies extra loving and fulfilling.

The challenge with this aspect is that it is very ethereal and the connection (to ancestors, angels, faery, alven, etc.) can be there one moment and gone the next.

In terms of relationships you may feel loved and seen in one moment and feel lonely the next. This mix of feelings is a part of being a medium or having connection with the other world. In one way you know you are never alone, the spirit world is always with you. On the other hand, no one can share exactly the same experience. But, if we think about this for a moment, is that not the way it is with life as well? The only one you travel this worldly experience with 100% is yourself. You can’t even be sure that your taste of vanilla is the same taste for the person sitting next to you!

This energy mentioned above is great and it can open many psychic doors and make new connections in other worlds and dimensions. But if you get stuck in a “lonely me” mode, it is time to get grounded. Connect with the people around you and remember this is not a unique thing, it happens to all who travel between the worlds.

On the 19th of July the Sun is joined with the asteroid Isis at 26 degrees in Cancer, right next to them is Ceres at 28 degrees, and Mercury at 29 degrees. In opposition to Pluto in Capricorn at 27 degrees. Also making a big trine (good aspect) to the South node in Scorpio 20 degrees, Neptune 25 degrees, and Juno 21 degrees in Pisces. A super date for a strong ceremony!

To summarize: we have a period of a lot of energy and relationship navigation ahead of us. It is important to balance the need for security with common sense and an open heart and mind. Remember the good healing that can come from sharing a good meal together with friends and, even if traveling into other worlds in meditation is amazing, it is still very cool to have a physical body and be alive here.

Blessed Be!
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.

Living Traditions

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

flowers, fruit, and a candle laid out on a pink blanket on a grassy green hillside

Photo by Sunsetoned via Pexels

When I wrote “What Now? Putting A Practice Together: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3” I wasn’t expecting some of the responses I got, but I love anything that makes us think more deeply about our choices, practices, and traditions. The key point that got the strongest response was this: “How do you work different systems together? Can you? Should you? The answer is up to you.” Folks had some strong feelings for and against, with many thinking it’s not up to you, and I loved hearing about it.

The core issue was the issue to synthesize or not synthesize. This is the question. Those who are in favor of synthesis—and full disclosure, I’m one of those people—can’t really imagine an interior world divided. You are one being, learning many different things, and at some point, even if you intend to keep things separate, things collide in your experience. Worlds merge. Things cannot be unlearned.

It’s like mixing paint. You can’t un-mix several colors that have been brought together. You can only change the balance by adding more. You can abandon a practice and lean heavily into another, but there will always be a tint of what was past. You can reject a practice, tradition, or teacher, but even in the conscious rejection, that knowledge to omit becomes part of the synthesis. While you can attempt to hold two truths, I think for many, the natural inclination is to eventually resolve the discrepancies rather than compartmentalize.

Synthesizers are often of the occult tradition, seeking that glorious, unified theory of everything. Everything is consciousness. Everything corresponds. The quest is understanding how it all corresponds together. Our Renaissance Men, our Renaissance People, our true geniuses, are often polymaths because they don’t see the divisions that so many of us see between art, science, history, math, music, society, and religion. At one time, our ancestors saw them all connected too. Our growing understanding of places like ancient Egypt shows a holistic knowledge of life integrated in the surviving temple structures, encoding religion, metallurgy, farming, geometry, anatomy, and history in one framework. Study in one area can give leaps of understanding in others. Everything complements everything else in the science, art, and religion of the Witch.

For many, the dissonance between these views is the separation of art, science, and religion. If one of the three dominates your view of magickal spirituality, that view will be reflected in your views around tradition. Most who look at the science are seeking the underlying patterns behind it all, the answers to the cosmic questions of how and why. The cosmos becomes the matrix, and human consciousness is a part of it. Artists seek the most artistic expression, and are often the most personal in their weaving of many different ideas together. Self becomes the matrix, with the cosmos reflected in it.

Those who seek religion are more complex. If they seek the original impetus of religion—to link and bridge—they become the bridge between science and art as well. Those, however, who have not shed their past religious indoctrination from mainstream religions will apply those principles to Witchcraft and Paganism, perhaps erroneously, and will seek a static one “truth” for themselves, or worst yet, for all. Occultists realize the one truth is hidden and sublime, with many expressions. Each generation, each age, and ultimately, each individual will express the one thing uniquely. Tides of consciousness rise and fall and are expressed in movements of philosophy, art, and cultural trends. None are completely correct. When coming together in community, the tricky part is finding enough common ground to actually come together.

Those who are traditionalists voice the desire to stick with one tradition, arguing that people should keep faith or veracity with one way. They believe that many of our problems have come from mixing things. I understand the sentiment, but I think no tradition we have today started pure. Most things build upon other things, consciously or unconsciously, in the flow and lineage of human experience, be it science, art, literature, or magickal and spiritual traditions. Look at any culture, tradition, or religion, and you’ll find antecedents.

Some take vows to not initiate in another tradition once they initiate in said tradition. Generally the Catholic Church doesn’t want their Priests or Nuns to initiate in other faiths. They are not big on dual faith. It’s one or the other, and in that case, choice is framed as the choice of heaven or hell. But is magickal religion the same? I don’t think so, and certainly Witches today do not condemn others for choosing another tradition. And many practitioners do successfully carry dual faith practices. Some traditions require that you not study with anyone else during training periods, lest you confuse the teachings. And while I don’t have that policy myself, as I grow older, I totally understand those who do. Today people erratically go from thing to thing and think they have mastered something after one experience—or worse yet, after reading or watching a video—but they haven’t integrated the lesson before moving on to something else and trying to combine everything.

Some traditions have specific parameters about their vows. Another Witchcraft tradition might be forbidden, but a Reiki attunement or Buddhist empowerment would be okay, even though they are essentially a form of initiation.

Some people are puzzled about why this vow gets broken so often, but I think it’s basic human nature. Usually the motivations to seek outside of something that has been oathbound is the realization that the tradition doesn’t have all the answers, but only part of the answers for the student initiate. Suddenly that vow can feel oppressive. Is it? I guess it depends on the person and the tradition. Teachers of the tradition would say the answers they need are found in the practice of it, delving deeper, not further away, and they would be right too, for some people.

I tend to be a fan of Dion Fortune’s threefold-way approach, believing that no tradition has it all, and having three traditions and a deep practice of them can give you a greater perspective, but not all three traditions have to be initiatory. Certainly all three should not be Witchcraft. You are looking for divergent views, not slight variations on a theme. But the key to the threefold path is the taking of three deep dives, not three surface ones.

Many who take such vows too early, without knowing what else is out there, go through a rebellious phase in their spiritual development. Their metaphorical teen years come upon them, and any authority is bucked, like rebelling against a parent, particularly for traditions that have a family dynamic where the teachers or leaders are parental in attitude. Tell me I can’t do something, and I’m going to do it, because I’m a free and rebellious Witch not bowing down to authority. However, it’s not so much authority they’re resisting, but previous agreement, and there might be mature ways to navigate it beyond rebellion alone.

At some point on the path, one must embody their own genius, their own paradigm, and their own worldview. That is the work of the adept. The hope is that such insight can be welcomed and integrated into the collective, but when it does, it leads to change, to mutation. What is an individual gnosis, and what happens when individual gnosis is shared with others, and it works for others? For the synthesizer, it becomes part of the body of tradition as it grows. Even if not accepted by the whole, it might be passed to their individual students.

For those who seek to avoid change, it becomes an infection. It also gets into the matters of agency. Why is the creator of a tradition allowed to synthesize, but a student of it is not? They can, of course, but sometimes it requires them to leave the body of the tradition, as not all traditions are looking for synthesis from others or they have protocols and structures in place to add, or not add, to the body of the tradition. In every tradition where there is a vow, there is a process to be released from it and leave the group, organization, or tradition. It does get into the larger issues of what we agree to when we agree, what our understanding of the agreement is, the assumptions around it, and ultimately who owns or controls a tradition. The answers are different in each group.

I find it fascinating that in the modern Witchcraft world, there is often a strong voice for change, for individualism, and the dissolution of traditional structures coupled with a deep yearning for ancestral roots, lineage, a large body of lore, traditions, and legacy, often in the same individuals. There is a mystery here in this paradoxical desire as people seek things like Buddhism, African Traditional Religions, and Hinduism, filled with rich art, story, and song, or seek the reconstructionist method of ancient Pagan traditions, but often ignore or disregard what traditions got them here in the first place. We often fail to see our place in time, wanting the fullness of the flower now, not realizing we are tending to the early leaves.

One valid concern is how much and how fast a tradition should change. We live in a time of abrupt change, with an influx of information, but not necessarily the same influx of wisdom. If something traditional changes too quickly, without harmony to the pattern or with too much chaos, what does it become? When parts of the human body’s biology change rapidly from one generation to the next, it’s mutation. Some mutations are helpful in the evolutionary scheme of things. Some mutations are not, and are not passed on. Change alone is not automatically beneficial. Too much rapid growth and mutation in any one individual is cancer, and usually prematurely ends the life. Can traditions, even with good intentions, become sick and grow cancerous? Can traditions devour themselves?

Traditions that refuse to change, refuse to mutate, grow hard and calcify under the weight of the dogma that was once tradition. A famous quote from Gustav Mahler is often used by innovative magicians seeking the lifeblood of any tradition: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” I agree entirely, but we can’t all agree on what preserves the flame and what does not. Ash worshipers think there is a flame in there, and who are we to say there isn’t? We can only say there is no flame for us. A very good friend of mine and fellow magickal teacher and priest in our community, Chris Giroux, commented on this topic in his grad school thesis on religion: “A religion or spirituality, and its deities, that fails to change with the needs of the people who practice such a religion/spirituality and worship its deities, dies.” This brings the larger question of consciousness, sentience, agency, life, and evolution to our traditions. Can traditions themselves experience any of these things? Speaking as a magician, I guess it depends on how you are defining tradition.

Some traditions are simply collections of practices passed on. They are cultural collections. Some are philosophically, mythically, or symbolically cohesive, but many are not. And many of the most vibrant and living traditions have contradictions and dissonance in their cohesion, as most living things do. Some are initiatory bodies empowered by a collective form, an egregore. The egregore might be composed mostly of the energy of initiates contributing to it over time, but many egregores are cooperatives between human, gods, spirits, ancestors, and even the land spirits of a location or homeland, even when the tradition stretches far and wide.

Like a living organism, traditions divide and separate and create progeny. Secretive covens were once described in terms of counterculture “cells” with no centralized authority, each connected to the others, but autonomous unto itself. Coven cells, like human cells, undergo mitosis, with cells dividing and dividing again as new leaders are elevated and hive off. In these settings, cells of one single tradition often branch off, and after many generations of practitioners (not necessarily human generations as Modern Witchcraft is not yet that old), we might find the bones of the original pattern under something otherwise very distinctly different. Are they still of one tradition? Or something else? There can then be the urge to force conformity, often for very idealistic reasons, such as keeping the teachings from being distorted or key points being lost, but it most often ends not in reconciliation, but schism.

I think anything we classify as living has the potential for intelligence and communication. We are connected via the currents of initiation. As we grow and evolve, so too does the tradition, and new members are “tapped into” the collective wisdom and experience of a tradition, but also are tapped into the collective karma, wounding, and illness of a tradition. A tradition can have human and astral parasites and grow corrupt, or it can heal, transform, and evolve. Traditions and groups have life cycles, astrological transits, and their own collective initiation processes in harmony with, but not the same as, individual members’ initiation rites. In the same way that organizations, families, towns, and nations have a collective consciousness and unconsciousness–a group soul—so too do our magickal traditions.

Part of our work in being members of a tradition is working in partnership with not just the other members of the tradition and their processes, but with the tradition itself, and its consciousness, challenges, and growth. I have no answers, for myself or my community, but I think it’s important to give the core points deep thought and conversations before crisis arises and emotions run high. Anchored in the core ideals of any tradition, one can then give space for it to grow and change organically for its greatest good, and the greatest good of the people gathered with it.

A drawing of a door with water flowing out from underneath it

by Claire du Nord

Welcome back, Broom Closet Witches! Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft Tradition with our third article on Broom Closet Witchery in which we explore the possibility of creating sacred space … in a bathroom!

For some of us, the Broom Closet Witches, the bathroom may be the only place in the whole house/apartment/etc. where we can truly find some privacy to work our magick. It may also be the best place in the whole place for Witchcraft! After all, there isn’t a whole lot you can get into trouble for or get criticized for in a bathroom, right? Besides, while you’re in there, by yourself, it’s your own personal private time, right? Maybe not. If you leave water all over the counter or if you take too long, you might hear about it. But if you are neat and tidy, quick and quiet about creating Sacred Space and doing your practice and rituals, all should be fine. I say, “should be”. But what is “neat and tidy”? What is “quick”? What is “quiet”? All is relative, as again, your Broom Closet Witchery situation is unique. Or maybe I should say your “Water Closet Witchery” situation is unique! So, maybe the title of this column should morph into “For Water Closet Witches” instead of “For Broom Closet Witches”, and instead of “Broom Closet Witchery”, it should be called “Water Closet Witchery”! “Water Closet Witches”? Hmmm. . .

Anyhow, believe it or not, my best scrying happens in the bathroom. I just walk in, face the big mirror above the sink, and BOOM! For some reason, a big wall mirror in the bathroom, for me, is a must. Never had much luck with small mirrors or even large mirrors in other locations (for example, dresser mirrors). Maybe it’s just the enclosed space that is the crucial factor. Not sure. But what is for sure is that magick can happen in a bathroom!

When I was a little witch of 9 years of age, I would sneak into the bathroom in the middle of the night, sit cross-legged on the floor, and light a candle that I had placed in front of me. I could sense the magickal energy of the flame but didn’t understand it. How I got away with it, I will never know! The point is that magick and ritual can happen anywhere – even in a Water Closet! (And I think I will start calling myself a Water Closet Witch – it has a nice ring to it!)

When planning a witchy Water Closet practice or ritual, the following are worthwhile remembering:

  1. Ambiance
  2. Timing
  3. Silence
  4. Jar candles

I think jar candles should be number 1, as a matter of fact. You know – the ones with lids that can be put back on so that you can eliminate the “candle smoke” when you extinguish the flame. Just pop the lid back on without snuffing the flame out first. No nostalgic “birthday candle smoke,” no complaints. Plus, owing to their “bottom-heavy” nature, I feel they are safer than a pillar candle or a taper candle to have in a bathroom, which leaves the flame in a precarious position, teetering at the top, threatening to fall over. Also, please do keep your lighter/matches out of the reach of children, if there are any in your situation. (My own personal childhood candle meditation story above could have gone seriously awry at any point in time!)

What do I mean by “Ambiance”? Well, if your bathroom décor is already “witchy” (but not too witchy – however you define the term) there won’t be a whole lot of setting-up to do for your Water Closet Witchery practice/rituals. Whatever you can include to make your bathroom “witchy” is up to you. Do some “interior decorating”. Do a bathroom “makeover” and it won’t be so obvious when you do a ritual. The appropriate ambiance for your Water Closet Witchery will already be there.

What do I mean by “Timing”? Well, when do you have the most time for your mundane bathroom “rituals”? Just tack on some magickal ones and there you go! But, of course, this is ultimately up to you to figure out.

What do I mean by “Silence”? Well, if you usually sing in the shower, you could sing your incantations. While you won’t be silent in the true sense of the word, your usual concert will be just that – usual. Like the others, “Silence” will be up to you to interpret.

As far as what to use for your practice and rituals in the Water Closet, the closer you can get to “typical” bathroom “stuff”, the better. How about bath crayons and markers for creating sigils in the shower? (Just don’t forget to wash them off!) What about bath oils and scented lotions? Herbal bath “teas”? Potpourri? Even cleaning the water closet can be part of an “unwanted/harmful energy” cleansing ritual. These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you can think of more.

I hope this article has been helpful, and until next time – Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet again!

Bright Blessings,
Claire du Nord

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