I’m a Witch, So I’m Exempt

Yuletide Altar

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

The past winter holiday season I saw a lot of folkloric customs (that I love) passed around with a lot of dogmatic decrees.

“You must not take your tree down before Epiphany, January 6th.”

“You have to have all decorations down by Candlemas/Imbolc or suffer a year of bad luck.”

“You must have coins in your pocket for New Year’s Eve or you will be poor in the coming year.”

And I was surprised that Witches were saying these things to other Witches!

While we are the keepers of customs and old lore, agreements and courtesy with the old powers, we are in an unusual place, equally tending the flame of tradition while also being rebels, rule-breakers, and outliers of society.

There is nothing we “must” do or “must not” do other than what we determine for ourselves. While it’s a concept out of favor with the new generation, we “do as we will” and are guided like those healers old and new to do “no harm” to ourselves and others.

Easier said than done for both the doctor and the Witch, and we all have to abide by the consequences of our actions. There is little consequence, however, to breaking with a dogmatic custom, unless we invoke consequence upon ourselves by directing belief and energy into that consequence. The greater consequence by far is to become mindlessly and slavishly devoted to something you didn’t want to do in the first place.

On one level, the role of the Witch is an example of breaking with dominant dogma—shaking things up and challenging the rules—all while holding to the customs we feel are important. Even then, we reimagine those traditions, expressing them uniquely to each unique place and time. No two rituals are ever the same, for they stand in different moments, under different stars, no matter what some may want you to believe.

I think of the popular Pagan story from elder Oberon Zell called “We Are the Other People” in which he speaks to Christian proselytizers about original sin and how we Pagans (Witches, Wiccans, Heathens and the like, as well as Hindu, Buddhists, and all manner of indigenous people, all non-Jews, Christians, or Muslims) are exempt: “But none of that applies to us. We have no need for salvation because we don’t have original sin. We are the Other People.”

The Bible refers to us as other people, perhaps the people of Cain’s wife, Seth’s wife, or any other people not a part of Adam and Eve’s lineage. While this specifically refers to original sin and Biblical law, in a modern society so permeated with Christian dominance, our exemption aligns us in a lot of ways, particularly for Witches, who were still often on the outside of Pagan community.

Coming into the “Witch Cult” on any level, in recognition of your own Witch Self or Witch Soul, makes a break with mainstream overculture. We are in it, but apart. I can choose to participate to the level I want, but on my terms, exempt from dogma. I like secular New Year’s Eve, but my New Year begins on Samhain or Winter Solstice of even the Spring Equinox. I can do whatever I want for December 31st or January 1st. I can put up and take down decorations whenever I want. I weave my own fortune. I can align with these traditions to help my magickal weaving, but I’m bound only by my own decisions and the consequences of my actions.

Witchcraft today is often talked about as transgressive. Yes, but many Witches simply do what they want. I find the transgressions much like queer community. A fun social media slogan really born out of anti-fascism, anarchy, and activism is “Be gay! Do crime!” It’s not a call for violence or murder, but a statement from a people whose very existence was—and in some places still is—criminalized, not unlike the Witch. We challenge needless authority and break unjust laws, and even more so, needless and unjust societal norms and taboos. Things forbidden in ages past are legal norms now because of just dissent. Witches embody that spirit, while still remembering and tending to our roots. Activists must be well-versed in who came before, what they did and said, and upon whose shoulders they stand. Witches should do the same, and choosing to keep certain customs is a part of that.

I think of our spiritual ancestor and elder, Lady Circe, who, commenting upon moon signs and astrology, said:

“Witch Time is now….”

I think as a Witch, the proper time is when I feel deeply it is. It has taken me long to align to my rhythms and the rhythms of the earth and stars. The proper thing to do is what I feel called to do now. Likewise as a Witch, it took me a while to know myself better, a continual process.

And while one might think this selfishly applies only to those who consider themselves Witches or who are initiated into a tradition, I (for one) think of witchcraft as an orientation transcending culture and appearing among all peoples. And I also believe in the words of the controversial Florinda Donner: “All of us have a bit of Witch in us.”

I grew up in the northern parts of Sweden in a small town by the name of Örnsköldsvik (which translates as “eagle shield bay”). It’s known as part of the beautiful high coast of Sweden, with steep cliffs descending into the sea. Also for producing talented hockey players like Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, the Sedin brothers, and many others. If I take my birthplace and go directly to the west, I end up in Canada or Alaska. If I go to the east I end up somewhere in Russia. People from the northern parts of Sweden are considered laid-back people. They don’t talk if it’s not necessary, and if they say something, they usually mean it. Of course you can find talkative people here as well, but it’s not uncommon that you sit together silently, having a Swedish fika, saying nothing and just sharing the space together, and perhaps looking at the stunning view from a mountaintop or fishing by the lake.

If you do a shamanic journey with a group of people in these parts, you will most certainly meet the Spirit of the Bear. She, as I usually call her, has a strong presence here and you can also see that in people and how they live their lives. Here the name for Bear is Björn, also used as a male first name.

Mama Bear has a connection to all of the worlds by walking on four legs, being able to stand on two, and having the ability to swim and climb trees. It is my belief that Bears are not so different from humans, and if you look at the back foot of a bear, it creates a print not so different from a human footprint. Some of the oldest cave paintings in the world made by humans are around 40,000 years old. They show pictures of Bears, so she has been here for a long time and has gone through many changes and difficult times on the planet.

Finding a Center of Peace in Stressful Times

One of things the Spirit of Bear can teach us is how to retreat, go inside ourselves and later come out with power and strength. Each Fall the bear goes into a hibernating den and in the Springtime she emerges, having given birth to her cubs during the winter’s sleep. We too, can go into deep retreat, find answers about our lives, dream our way into the universe to discover wisdom and a new meaning of life.

We are now in a global situation when many are cut off from social activities. Some even find themselves in a quarantine. If you find it difficult to go into retreat, get restless, or feel cut off from other people or the universe, you can call on the Spirit of Bear and ask her for healing and assistance. The Spirit of Bear has a supportive and calming healing energy. It’s no coincidence that a stuffed animal in the shape of a bear is many children’s favorite friend while sleeping. She’s like a protective blanket helping you through the storm, in whatever shape it may come. Who knows, this collective retreat may bring some unexpected gifts, both on a personal and global level? Perhaps Earth will dream herself into a new being, and we can do the same?

Bear as Nature’s Herbalist

Bears eat anything from leaves, roots, and berries to insects, carrion, fresh meat, and fish, and have digestive systems and teeth adapted to such a diet. In a way Bear is mother nature’s herbalist or pharmacist. It is said that in old times people would watch what bears ate, and if it was good for them, then it probably was good for humans too. I hope the Spirit of Bear can inspire people to use food as medicine. So when they look at the lemons and honey they use in their tea and honor their gifts of health and calm. When you use herbs in making dinner, call upon the spirits of the plants, making the dinner full of good medicine and strength, the kind of strength that helps people and families through chaotic times.

The most common herbs we use for cooking have been used for hundreds of years, not only because they make things taste good, but also because they were the medicine available for people.

Finding Balance in the Medicine Wheel

Medicine wheels can look different depending on where you live and what tradition you belong to. In the Temple of Witchcraft tradition, we have Earth in the North and Air in the South. Water in the West and Fire in the East. (The same directions we have in the Alven Inner Ring Tradition.)

Lately we have had strong imbalances with fires in Australia, Sweden, the Amazon, and many more. Imbalance with water through heavy rain and flooding in many places. Fire and Water are on the east/west axis of (our) the medicine wheel. They are activators and they are intense. You feel the danger as you approach it. The fire burns you and the water drowns you. Imbalances here can start suddenly and stop quite suddenly as well, if you are lucky.

The corona virus is like a ghost. You can’t see it and, although it is not airborne, it feels as through it spreads invisibly like the Air. It effects our bodies, the Earth. Both Earth and Air are on the north/south axis. These element are stabilizers, so when we have an imbalance here, things get very unstable. The wind represents our mind and our thoughts. Imbalance in this element can create fear, resounding in our minds. Information (air) can bring stability, but it can also create thoughts that are hard to change later.

Instability in the earth element is very physical and tangible. You touch it, you feel it. There are physically no people in the streets and places. People are physically ill. Because the earth and air are stabilizers, things are shaky when they are out of balance, and because they have a longer time for processing changes it can take time to get things moving towards normal again after a crisis.

On the other hand, if the earth is going through a big change, creating something better for the future, the change can not only happen with our feelings (water) and what we want (fire), it must also create new mental structures and agreements (air) on how to live on the planet and put that into tangible action (earth). When the elements of air and earth decide to do something they have a tendency to stick to it. So if we want permanent changes in a good direction for the earth, these elements can help us a lot.

Personally, I’m a great believer of working with all the elements for balance, no matter what element is out of balance at the moment. In this same way I believe in creating healing for the whole person on all levels.

An Important Passage

Here are some astrological dates to look out for. The exact date can differ a day or so, depending on what part of the planet you live on. Today, on the 23rd of March, the planet Mars (will, ego, anger) meets up on exactly the same degree as Pluto (transformation, underworld, violence) in the sign of Capricorn (order, structure, government). This can help countries and leaders make decisions to act with strength and firmness. As of when I write this, we have not heard about any public violence because of the coronavirus, and we hope that it stays this way.

On a personal level, domestic violence can increase with this transit and we should all keep an eye open and our hearts ready to assist those in danger in their homes. This is also a transit that creates unpredictable events in traffic, so drive with extra care and caution.

Pluto can create a laser beam of the energy of the planet it meets up with. Pluto/Mercury a mental laser beam. Pluto/Venus a passionate erotic laser beam, and now with Pluto/Mars a laser beam of will and power. As magickal practitioners, this beam can be harness and used for the highest good.

Today on the 23rd, the Sun in Aries exactly squares the south and the north moon nodes. This is a high peak of the energies we have been dealing with lately. Breathe and centre yourself. This day will also pass.

On the 24th we have a new moon in Aries, with both the Sun and the Moon right next to Chiron (healing) and Lilith Black Moon (what we cannot see). This will be very strong in bringing the global healing crisis into focus. It is good to remember that here we also have the ability to tap into powerful healing forces.

The sun continues one degree each day, passing over and past Chiron and Lilith Black Moon until the 1st of April. Here we can expect very intense days, but as magickal people and healers we can use our abilities to do good and serve the world.

During the same time, the asteroid Pallas Athena will move in between Jupiter and Pluto in Capricorn and pass by them. Pallas Athena is intelligent, brave, rational, and can help to bring a clear head in these stressful times.

The Spirit of Bear Embodying Many Powers

I really love the Spirit of Bear. She was the first animal that I met on my first shamanic journey many years ago. Since then she has helped me and others through many retreats, healing sessions, and soul retrievals. I specially love how she helps lost soul parts, many times in the energetic form and shape of lost children returning back home to our adult selves. It is in my prayers that in this global crisis the Spirit of the Bear, together with other spirit helpers, will guide people through this process with their souls intact, and perhaps with this “global healing retreat,” help the earth to bring back lost soul parts for her as well. This is how the Spirit of Bear relates to the planets and asteroids to me.

  • The Moon – with Bear’s ability to be a good and strong mother.
  • Mercury – Bear’s intelligence and her way of adapting to new circumstances when her environment changes.
  • Venus – Bear’s strong connection to herbs and herbal healing.
  • Mars – her way of protecting her cubs, and the speed she can run with when needed.
  • Jupiter – Bear’s ability to expand consciousness.
  • Saturn – Bear’s ability to slow down time and go into hibernation.
  • Uranus – Bear’s ability to change the fire in her body and change body temperature.
  • Neptune – Bear going into sleep and dreamtime for many months and Bear as a totem for many dreamers and people working with dream healing.
  • Pluto – Bear’s power to symbolically die and be reborn again, going in and out of hibernation.
  • Chiron – Bear being a strong totem for many healers.
  • Ceres – Bear as a symbol for the great mother.
  • Juno – having strong relationships with other animals and being a key player where she lives. Bear is many times a totem animal for chefs and excellent bakers.
  • Vesta – Bear as a protector for witches, midwifes, völvor, priests, and priestesses.
  • Pallas Athena – being a protector for great warriors throughout time.
  • Lilith Black Moon – learning us to see in the dark and bring wisdom back out into the world
  • The Sun – helping us to dream through the gate of the sun, visiting other suns and worlds to return back home with medicine to our people and planet.

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 a high priestess and graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft’s seminary program.

You can find Karin Ugander at Instagram @flowerpowerwitch and @karinuganderofficial

Being a Calming Presence in Challenging Times

by Jason Nadeau

This is a time many in the world find challenging. Honestly, it is challenging.

What do we do as spiritual and magickal people?

We need to start with taking care of ourselves. Journal. Meditate. Eat healthy. Rest. Talk to friends, even if only at a distance or online and by phone. Take time to be alone. Do your art. Maintain whatever the healthy balance is for you physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Remember who we are and that we will get through this.

Of course, many of the people we meet are also in need of that same care, but they might not know how or even that they need it. After all, everyone else they meet is also in the same state. The fear and trauma are both palpable and contagious.

To be a calming presence for others there are a few key things we can do:

  1. Center and balance yourself before interacting with others.
  2. Look at others when you are talking with them.
  3. Remember that whatever they have going on is not about you. This is more difficult with people you really care about personally and that’s ok because it’s a different relationship
  4. See past their surface stuff, they are made physically and energetically of the same stuff you are, even if they don’t know it.
  5. Recognize that they have gotten through everything they have gotten through and somehow adapted to become who they are through all of that. That adaptive process is itself beautiful
  6. Listen to them with love and compassion.
  7. Remember it’s appropriate for you to set boundaries and that we can’t help everyone. Likewise, respect boundaries that others set for you.
  8. Give yourself clearance and balance after the interaction.

All of this can happen in under a minute or in interactions that span several hours. Recognize that this takes effort to do, so be gentle on yourself and take time for yourself if you are doing this. We can bring a little more light into the world by being a light for others in challenging times. In the process we can also make our own world a little brighter.

Jason is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Bodyworker in Rye, New Hampshire. He is also a Mystery School Student and Deputy Minister for the Taurus Ministry in the Temple of Witchcraft.

No Pressure

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

As I was congratulating a newly ordained minister and saying how I looked forward to all the great things he would do, he jokingly responded, “No pressure.” And while his response was sort of a joke, I understood the sentiment.

We have expectations of ourselves, expectations of each other, and expectations around other people’s expectations. It can feel like quite the pressure. Yet there is no expectation to the true magician; there is just will and the result of applied will.

While I do look forward to the great things that he—and many other community leaders, volunteers, and students—will do, I can’t have personal expectation around exactly what those things will be. Nor can I project any expectation onto another or accept such projections from others. Reasonable expectation can occur when you discuss plans and ask for support. I have expectations that a teacher who agrees to teach a class will teach that class as we schedule and take registration for it, and if that is not possible due to illness or conflicts, will reasonably inform me. I can have expectations for joint projects, shared resources, and agreed-upon plans, but I can’t have expectations for a ministry, path, or life of an individual. I can have excitement, wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm for another Witch, but no vision unless we make an agreement to that pattern and work together. Any pressure and expectation must be within the parameters of what has been expressed.

I remember dining with a group of very dedicated British Traditional Wiccans, including one of their founding elders. She asked a High Priestess about her thoughts regarding a student who has completed the third degree and was answered with “I hope he will go off and do the tradition proud by forming his own coven in our line.” She was gently turned around, being told that as an HPS, she had to have no expectations on what a newly initiated HP/S might do.

In that tradition, there are independent and autonomous ideals within the body of the collective priesthood. Likewise, we must have clarity of our own purpose, but not place our hopes and dreams on another. Unfortunately, we do that with children. We do it with friends and spouses, and we certainly do it with students. I deeply remember that particular teaching and have tried to both follow and instill the ethos in our collective cooperative community. It’s difficult. We are creatures of expectation, and we tell ourselves stories about ourselves and others all the time, even though such stories often have no basis in what has been expressed.

Choices and consequences run both ways. This is not a mandate of total freedom with no responsibility for the newly elevated. I can hold enthusiasm and excitement for someone without attachment to a specific manifestation; that doesn’t create a never-ending open-door policy. When someone graduates into peership, they must act, in their own way, as a peer or find other peer groups. When you earn the mantle of the minister, there is peership between those who do such work, the same as with authors, musicians, and any other deeply called vocation. If you don’t do that work on a similar level, you lose that peership.

Some wish to graduate these trainings in order to be in the “inner circle” (whatever that is), but when they get there, they soon realize it’s a tremendous amount of work. You can implement your own visions in cooperation with others, but it takes effort. You aren’t required to do anything, but you can’t expect to gain and maintain that level of peership when you do nothing. Many like the perception of power that comes from being in a leadership position, but are unwilling to do the actual work. They nonetheless expect a favored status in their community. In a tradition where the virtue is expressed by the actions you take, such an attitude never succeeds in the long run.

The student-teacher dynamic, which has different agreements than peer-to-peer relationships, creates its own complexities. As a teacher, I can’t spend a lot of time and energy on someone who holds no community responsibilities once they are no longer a student. If they don’t contribute to the greater good, then we don’t have a reciprocal relationship. I would end up drained. Sometimes graduates try to turn the student-teacher relationship into a friendship without actually changing anything. This is also not reciprocal. A teacher cannot be good friends with every student who graduates, so the process of peership cultivates those who can maintain a reciprocal relationship and distances those who can’t or won’t. Those slipping away—or worse yet, those who find clearer boundaries being expressed—can have hurt feelings, perceiving themselves as rejected personally. This is why newly minted HP/S cannot have expectations or place pressure on other leaders and peers for their relationship. One must simply do the work and let it unfold organically. Respect and peership will grow or diminish in the way you carry yourself, with your continued involvement, and with the dignity and service you manifest.

So truly, even when we feel pressure, there is no pressure. We are here to do our work in the world, not another’s. Sometimes our work can be karmic, of our initiatory lineage, but it’s work we have to accept on a soul level and choose to manifest on a personal level. We use the pressure and tension of our will in a dynamic and self-directed way while also realizing that the magick happens when we enter into a zone of effortless effort. We accept burden and carry virtue as a part of the calling of priesthood in the Craft, but we don’t accept the burden of expectation from anyone or anything that conflicts with our true will and soul’s purpose.

Reiki Share: Peace & Quiet

Deep within the still center of my being may I find peace
Silently within the quiet of the grove may I share peace
Gently and powerfully within the greater circle of humanity may I radiate peace
— Peace prayer from the order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

We are living in hard times. News flashes by and changes rapidly, especially in this time of social media and technology. Many people, myself included, long for the times where we were bored, things were quiet, and there was a sense of ease.

Growing up, my house was very loud. The one thing I could do to get away from the noise and pressure was to get on my bike and ride around the neighborhood. Through the course of my explorations, I found an abandoned lot behind a school. It was fenced-off but there was a hole in the fence. The lot was a giant hole in the ground covered with leaves, weeds, baby trees, and vines.  It was one of the greenest places that I could get to easily. In the spring Queen Anne’s lace and dandelions filled the hole. In the fall, around the outside of the hole the trees turned orange and red. There were no woods nearby and the one campsite that was near my house was next to a highway. This abandoned lot was away from the streets and it was quiet. It definitely had garbage in it (which I did try to pick up) but it also offered a quiet place where I could sit and be away from everyone and everything. I could just listen or sing or read without anything interrupting me. It was magick.

I long for the times where I could sit and read and think without obligation or worry. These days we cram so much into a day and some of us feel constantly “on”… It is harder and harder to find peace in day-to-day living.

I have found that if you do the work, the work changes you. Conjuring spells, sitting with people to do readings or to give people Reiki, talking to your spirits and guides – this is the work.  You are a light to so many people and you are a light to yourself. When you are feeling overwhelmed and disillusioned that is when it is time to step outside your house, put the screen away, and just walk or sit, even if it’s just your own backyard…or an abandoned lot. Taking some time out in nature, just noticing the leaves in the trees budding…it changes you. It stops you from looking at the world in obligation, stress and worry. It reminds you that living in the world can be awe-inspiring.

I ask you to take some time to notice the world outside of yourself. Breathe in the living air, breathe out the discomfort. Breathe in and kindle the fire within yourself. Breathe out and cleanse yourself of stress. Breathe in and feel your body. Breathe out and ground. Sit in the sunshine or the rain, the warmth or the cold and just feel it. You are here. You are living. You are love. You are magick.

And once you take care of yourself, you can take care of others. Call the people who are high risk or who you know have anxiety. Give them some of your time, some of your love (and some Reiki) and in this way we can ease the stress we feel today.

Dawn Marie Costorf is a Pisces deputy and leads the Reiki share at the Temple of Witchcraft once a month with Renee Bedard.  

Temple Astrolog: Venusian Adventures

…with a danger of overdoing it!

Venus the planet of love, romance, and money has entered into one of her own signs, Taurus. “Hurray!” say the witches, magicians, herbalists, artist, lovers…who doesn’t love when Venus is in Taurus, right? This is a great time for planting seeds, working in the garden, doing prosperity spells, writing epic stories, finding a new love, or bringing sparkles to an ongoing relationship. But in astrology, as in life in general, we may have to consider other things in our boiling pot of stars.

This time it is Uranus, you know, the rebellious guy stirring up anything from an adventure to a revolution or a lightning storm. He just doesn’t seem to know where the controls are—and that’s the problem.

The Thrill of Adventure

Right now Venus is right next to Uranus in the sign of Taurus. This brings an electric energy that can be used for many things. It can be channelled into creative projects, add extra fire to your sex life, make you break old routines and find new paths.

On the other hand, if you are sitting on a lot of old, stagnated energy, it can also bring restlessness, a feeling of being trapped, and not being able to breathe. If this is the case for you, it’s important to consciously release that energy in a way that doesn’t create havoc. Doing extra classes at the gym may be one way. Booking extra therapy sessions can be another.

We’ve all heard stories about people doing crazy things, like getting to drunk at the afterwork party and telling your boss what you really think about them. The socially-perfect neighbor found naked in the pool with the baby sitter. Well, if you have seen the “Hangover” movies with the actors Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and others, you have the idea of just how crazy things can get. This may not be the best way do deal with Venus and Uranus.

Uranus as Kundalini Activator

In the book Kundalini and Midlife Crisis, author Barbara Hand Clow writes about how Uranus works like an activating key for kundalini when it reaches Uranus opposition at midlife, usually somewhere between 39-42 years of age. I’ve been working with many clients and students through their Uranus opposition and I’ve found Barbara Hand Clow’s research not only true, but one of the most important keys of understanding the shift that happens during midlife.

When kundalini is triggered by Uranus, it starts to move up in the chakras until it reaches a stop, then it works on removing that block. The energy searches for expression and can be felt and seen in both the inner and the outer worlds. For example, if the energy stops at the navel chakra you may find yourself working for independence, if stopped in solar plexus you find yourself in power struggles, and so on. Many times men find themselves working intensively with the heart chakra during this transit. Working through the idea of being mortal, getting older, and less attractive. And women are many times working with the same insensitivity with the throat, finding their voice, being heard, and taken seriously in all parts of their lives.

The goal for the awakened kundalini is to reach all the way through the whole chakra system. This means no matter how evolved you are—or think you are—before the Uranus opposition, you still get an intense ride. No one gets away untouched by the Uranus opposition and, in fact, if I have a client who reports of not having felt the Uranus opposition at all, I get worried. Because that means that there is a lot of held back and repressed energy in the system that is searching for release in one way or another. When it is repressed like that, it usually takes darker and more dangerous expressions.

Uranus Made Me Do It

When Uranus is on the move, people have a tendency to behave like teenagers. That can be great. Falling in love in a moment, or deciding to immediately sell everything and move to Tibet to meditate. Change is fresh, and can be great, but Uranus does not think about consequences or how it affects others. That’s more boring Saturn’s job, right? So in this transit and in overall working with Uranus, you may want to balance the teenager excitement with some boring adult thinking. Perhaps you find yourself being the voice of reason to your friend or partner.

On the other hand we can not wave away Uranus with an excuse of being temporarily insane or not ourselves. There are some serious movements of energy going on and some serious things to deal with. Whatever Uranus is pushing up there’s something to it and in one way or another it’s going to need your attention.

Open Your Heart, Enjoy the Ride, and Stay Sober

When working with both or either of Venus and Uranus my best advice is to open your heart, let the winds of change enter. Enjoy the re-lightening of your energy system. Be open for love and new beginnings. But I also advice you to stay sober. Don’t get lost, and do not drown in the highly-charged waves.

Venus began traveling with Uranus around the 29th of February and is reaching its peak about the 9 and 10th of March. Notice also that on the 9th we have the full moon in Virgo and mercury retrograde beginning to go direct again! Venus and Uranus will be joined until about the 17th of March.

Venus will be in the sign of Taurus from around the 4th of March until the 5th of April.

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 a high priestess and graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft’s seminary program.

You can find Karin Ugander at Instagram @flowerpowerwitch and @karinuganderofficial

Recommended Reading

Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini: The Transformative Power of Saturn, Chiron, and Uranus by Barbara Hand Clow

Venus and Jupiter: Bringing the Ideal and the Real by Erin Sullivan

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

So many of our traditions speak of balance. And while I am a believer in balance, my vision of it is somewhat more dynamic than most, embracing the extremes to find overall balance and seeking the center amid the extremes. Winter and summer, light and darkness, are all parts of the balance.

A dynamic less discussed is that of the internal and external. One thing I am noticing more often, though perhaps it’s always been there, is practitioners falling almost totally on the side of the external or internal for their practice. However, like summer and winter, both must be embraced because each alone is imbalanced.

Those of the external-only path tend to look at spiritual phenomenon as totally independent and outside of themselves. Because of this perspective, there is a tendency towards fatalism with the possible hope of averting harm through intercession. Tradition and the continuation of tradition become overly important, superseding innovation and personal gnosis. Much of the spiritual practice tips into transactional spirituality—a continual exchange of offerings for results, but not a whole lot of inner evolution and personal responsibility. There is a greater orientation towards blaming others, be they people or spirits, as the authors of all ills thereby making one prone to conflict, drama, tribalism, gatekeeping, and orthodoxy and dogma. Secrecy and hierarchical structures can more easily develop and be abused.

The internal-only path lends itself to seeing spiritual and worldly phenomenon as a reflection of the internal process. Rather than simply mirroring, the internal becomes the sole source of causation. Because personal gnosis is highly valued, there can be little rooting in tradition. One assumes blame or praise as one is responsible for all. A phenomenon akin to the prosperity gospel of modern Christians arises where financial success or physical health is indicative of spiritual evolution or lack thereof. Narcissism and even sociopathy can easily develop as everyone is a reflection of self without individual agency. Nihilism is a big danger for even the most sincere seeker of this way, for as soon one gains the realization that nothing is real, all can be arbitrary and meaningless without a greater Mythos rooted in community.

The crooked path embodies both the internal and external, the traditional and personal paradigm, offerings to spirits and personal development. And most serious practitioners, despite their leanings, understand this. It is only in the current age where so much information is available without its necessary roots and context, without mentorship, that such extremes can develop. This accessibility is the great blessing and the great curse of our time in the Age of Aquarius. Remember the two waves in the glyph of the water bearer, one above and visible, external and one below, invisible and internal. Both are necessary for the mystery of our age. One is incomplete. Embody both as you walk your path.

Temple Astrolog: Releasing Energy

Mars has entered the sign of Capricorn and we have some very interesting weeks ahead of us. Mars is connected to the fiery god Ares and brings fire, excitement, energy, and sex to whatever it touches. He also brings challenging things like impatience, irritation, anger, and the potential for violence. Since Mars rules Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, there is also an immature side to him. Why wait on the things that you want? Why look for a second opinion? Who has time for that?

If we are stuck in the mud, meeting the fearless Mars and Aries can be a blessing. He can kick our butt and get things moving. On a collective plane, many of us have been stuck in the mud for some time. The many placements in Capricorn (south node, Pallas Athena, Jupiter, Pluto) have held things back. Now when Mars enters Capricorn, he will meet up with all of them and, like a red sports car, he will roar past them and release a lot of held back energy.

Ups and Downs

As Mars is releasing a lot of energy, we will most likely feel it on both a personal and collective plane. Some days it may feel refreshing and like a brand-new start or beginning. Other days it can cause a lot of frustration and irritation. It can be well worth it to work with balance in the changes. If we push to hard in the change, the aggressive and sometimes unpredictable Mars and Aries may cause turbulence and disorder. But, if we work too much on keeping “peace and order,” we may not be able to pull ourselves out of the mud.

Mars leaves the sign of Capricorn around the 30th of March.

Healing the Masculine

On his journey in Capricorn, Mars first meets up with the south node (karma). This means right now we can all meet up with karmic issues regarding male power and old power structures (Capricorn). Mars and the south node also make a challenging aspect to both Chiron (deep wounds, healing) and Lilith Black Moon in Aries. This makes the energy go deep and into unexpected or hidden places. With these energies, memories of abuse and sexual trauma may surface, but there is also a lot of healing available. If this happens to you, or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to look and ask for professional help.

Many things may happen for the men in your life right now. Your father, brother, son, partner, or friend. This is a good time for ceremonies and rituals for healing the masculine, both on a personal level and on a more global, planetary level. It may also bring up things related to your male relationships, past and present, that need to be healed.

Mars moves away from Chiron and Lilith Black Moon around the 3rd of March.

Violence Detox

Most of us consume violence through our media: TV, Netflix, movies, games, and books. It may seem innocent but if we look closer at many of our favorite shows (like Vikings, Game of Thrones, or just the regular police and detective stories) they contain violence in different degrees. I know, it’s entertainment, it’s exciting and it’s just for fun. But it is still violence being picked up and processed by our consciousness on different levels. With the transits mentioned above, we are more sensitive to violence right now, so this is a great time to have a “violence detox.” Take a break from consuming anything that contains or features violence for one week. It can be interesting to look at how your dreams and meditation changes during and following the detox. Many experience clearer dreams, meditations, and visions and their contact with spirit becomes stronger. This detox can also be a good practice to do together with your family and loved ones.

Recommended reading for working with healing the masculine includes:

  • Warrior, Magician, Lover, King by Rod Boothroyd
  • Sons of the Goddess by Christopher Penczak

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 a high priestess and graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft’s seminary program.

You can find Karin Ugander at Instagram @flowerpowerwitch and @karinuganderofficial

The Three Shadows

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

When you do the work of the Witch, you take certain things for granted. If something wasn’t spelled out for you, you often didn’t spell it out to those around you, including students and peers. Such understandings can come in the silent knowing. But as we grow as a community, we need to be more skillful in transmitting the mystery techniques. Some things need a little more vocabulary and context, to be specifically spelled out, to be effective.

For me, it was the realization that “shadow work”—facing the repressed and unconscious—never ends. That’s right. Once again for those in the back, shadow work never ends, at least not while you are in a body. You can find greater peace and deeper levels of understanding. You can even reside in a non-dual awareness most of the time, but every now and then, the shadow rears its head, particularly if you go on to do teaching and community work.

Then why do people think it’s over and done? Or even if they give lip service to unending shadow work, personally ignore it? I think shadow work comes in many rounds, with three big areas.

The first round is the personal—childhood, familial. If we enter Witchcraft with no previous therapy or healing, this is both a new and (for most) monumental task. When it’s done, we can feel so free that we think nothing will be that monumental again.

But the patterns, now conscious, don’t disappear. They just stop operating unconsciously. In many ways, the first round compacts multiple issues into “the shadow,” and a wise Witch will dissect the whole into all the smaller patterns and issues for closer examination. Most Witches, however, do not.

Beyond the work of coagulating, separating, and again reuniting the shadow parts in magickal relationship on that personal, adult level, we have more levels to consider. Modern psychology often divides these realms into the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal. The personal is the most obvious to us, but that doesn’t diminish the others. We can think of the personal as the underworld, often hidden from others; the interpersonal as the middle world, the day-to-day effects of the shadow; and the transpersonal as the larger picture from above that encompasses both the middle world and underworld and their respective shadow forces.

We have at least one round of interpersonal shadow work stemming from our more adult experiences. This can still have roots in the personal and childhood, but every experience since that time is a new layer of patterns. These are the dynamics created at work, in community, and in higher education, be it academic and/or metaphysical. This is a group dynamic, the collective shadow we contribute to in a group setting.

Here we have the shadow of community and coven, a difficult guardian for most of us. There are reasons why magickal communities, lodges, and covens implode over time. Many are working with these forces of shadow, but not through these forces of shadow. When you consciously or unconsciously think you are “done” and “fixed” or “enlightened” or “adept,” these attitudes can run rampant, magnifying the ego. Those who create community have to be able to be aware of the process, and hold the process well, while simultaneously doing their own personal work. No easy feat there. A good sign of those who are doing well, despite the difficulties, is the constant questioning: “how can I do better?”, “how can I serve?”, and “how can I be more skillful/compassionate/balanced in my response?” When you see someone in leadership blame, divide, gossip, deflect, and refuse to take responsibility, you have the shadow running amok in that leadership. While leaders in groups, workplaces, and community often have to take responsibility for things that they are not to blame for, the taking responsibility is the key to the leadership. As a friend says about much of this work, “While it’s not your fault it happened, it’s your responsibility now to address it.”

Lastly we have the transpersonal shadow which is somewhat of a misnomer as it’s still very personal. It partakes in what older occult traditions would call the folk souls, racial souls, national souls, and ultimately, the world soul. It deals in the collective shadow of the greater groups where you don’t know everyone personally, and there is a collective karmic history. You do not choose this shadow, but are instead born into the circumstances of your society and its shadow issues. They range from current events to the major issues of a people. The shadow work around issues such as racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, colonization, religious persecution, and ecocide is a part of the collective transpersonal shadow. While no one person can solve these problems, each individual has to face the consequences of these shadows. The true mystic faces these shadows directly and take both inner and outer world action.

Those working deeply on this level are still facing personal shadow work, but in this case, the work concerns how the personal shadow intersects with this collective. Those doing this work will often be involved in outer world activism or support, and they will be the dark mirror holding up these shadows to friends, family, and peers. If they are doing the personal work with it, they will hold that mirror impeccable and provide space for those to see. If they are confusing their outer world community work with their own personal work, they can become very reactive and therefore less skillful in holding that mirror, in getting the point across to others in a way that can create meaningful change.

So when walking the path and particularly when working in community, take stock on which of the three shadows you are working on and how that work is affecting you. If your answer is that you are completely unaffected, you probably shouldn’t be doing a lot of public work and should instead go deeper within to your own journey. Ritually you should repeat the shadow work practices, but consciously choose the focus of which level you are attending to, knowing each is still rooted in your personal behaviors and decisions.

Offering the Sacred to Ourselves

by Renee Bedard

As Reiki practitioners, part of our calling is to assist others to begin their healing. We provide comfort and sacred space. We offer support while a client is releasing fear, sorrow, guilt, and pain. We build a healing temple, fortified with love so others can feel safe to venture out of their shadows and feel their light once again. It is in that sacredness where a deep breath in offers rebirth and an exhale brings peace to one’s heart. Yet, how often do we offer this sacred experience to ourselves?

We try to be all that we can. We live our life and work to manifest our dreams. We are magickal people after all. It is what we do in our own way. However, how often do you take yourself to the well for rest, healing, and comfort? Do you get a chance to wrap your tired body and heavy heart in the care, love, and compassion you have for others? Do you know where your boundaries reside? Is listening to your own heart, mind, body, and soul part of your practice in order to hear what your parts need?

I cannot be all the things all the time. I was reminded of this not too long ago. As a result, I realized that I that I can sometimes send out too much energy too often and not fill myself up enough. With some reflection and changes to my daily practice, I began the journey back to the sacred well and I am grateful for it.

We are healing facilitators that travel a road of dark and light. We are human with thoughts, emotions, loves, joys, and traumas. I feel that it is important to recognize our triggers, our needs, and boundaries in order to advocate for what we need in life and our own healing. Yes, it is important work to help others heal and find their light. It is also important that we tend to our own inner light. How can we as healers assist to heal if we are struggling to feed our own light? Our flame burns brighter when we do so. I encourage you to take that necessary time to disconnect from the events of the day. Create your sacred space in the way your soul cries out for. Surrender all that does not serve you. Empty yourself to be that clear channel for the Reiki energy to flow. Drink it in. Allow it to be one with you. Replenish your being with what you need in that moment. For you are sacred and deserving of such sacredness and love.

Be well,
Renee Bedard

Renee Bedard is a Mystery School student and a Reiki Master Teacher and Practitioner. She co-leads the Reiki Shares at the Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, NH each month. If you would like to take part in the Reiki Share, please send an email to register at