Magickal Overload

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Do you think more magick is being done now than in any other time in history? While our modern society can be considered secular, the growth of the population as a whole and the availability of resources—including popular books and now the internet combined with many magickal techniques being reframed as self-help and personal transformation—could result in an increase in magick. Or perhaps I’m low-balling ancient populations steeped in daily folk magick or even the ubiquitousness of magick in more recent Christian times. I don’t honestly know. But I think about it a lot.

My family had divination and Italian Catholic folk magick, but their usage wasn’t an everyday thing. It was either for “fun” or in emergencies. My relatives had a divinely inspired worldview, one of God and saints being directly involved in life, but it wasn’t a particularly magickal one. Nothing was rooted in the land, or even the ancestors.

Perhaps there is an illusion on social media of more people doing magick when really there are simply more people talking about magick and posting pretty photos. Perhaps it’s all flash and very little bang.

But I do think there has been a huge upswing in magick from, say, the 1940s to now, at least in the US. I would normally think that is great—a sign of the Aquarian Age with each individual stepping into their power and creating their life, making magick accessible to all—but last night’s 3 a.m. deep thoughts had me wondering about that assessment. What is our collective psychic landscape looking like with all that magick flying around? What is it doing to the collective consciousness?

There’s more magick, yes, but less training. Combine that with a tendency to take off the ethical training wheels before learning the consequences of our actions and you get more magick, yes, but also more curses. And while some are for justice, many are for petty reasons cast in anger or jealousy. And while our collective landscape has always had anger, jealousy, malice, and injustice, magick ritual carries more voltage than the average person’s daily thoughts.

Perhaps there are also more collective prayer requests focused on specific actions and times; these are most often Christian, due to “prayer warriors” being coordinated online, but also include group healing via Reiki and the like, which operate on a similar framework. Are they not also a form of magick as they cause change? Are they of the same voltage as a small prayer circle gathered in a church with a prayer list? I don’t know. But they do contribute to the churning energies.

While I think magick comes from your enchanted worldview and how you live your life, and I believe in magick permeating the everyday, bigger acts of magick have a true voltage. It’s hard to carry. In times past, our insulation was temple living, oriented to the sacred technologies and supported by community, protected by the solitude of the forest hedge or mountain cave. When we don’t take breaks from big magick, we burn out, imbalance our endocrine system, and short-circuit our energy networks. We can literally go mad as our magickal wires fry and our vessel cracks.

I look to our collective world and wonder if the level of bigger and more globally connected magick—often created in haphazard and selfish ways unrooted in egregore, tradition, or the ancestors—is doing good or causing harm?

Collectively there is a lot of talk about self-care (for many reasons in our modern society), but self-care is also a key to healing from magickal overload and burnout. On a personal level, I wonder about the intense attention and energy directed at individuals via social media. I think a point of success and failure with many modern film, TV, and musical stars (as well as politicians) is the intense energy, both good and bad, directed at them. Love, adoration, obsession, jealousy, and anger have a real voltage, even from ordinary people. That mechanic is now repeated on multiple small scales via social media, both for influencers and ordinary people who unwittingly go “viral.”

Now we have a generation of magickal social media stars, the next crop of what was once referred to as the Big Name Pagans, or BNP. The difference today with all of us is the continual stream of daily and weekly status updates instead of the occasional event, interview, or new book release from the relatively small group of BNP. Couple that with a magickal community with access to more technique, often less training and ethics, and a greater willingness to curse for smaller reasons, and you have a dangerous mix. When I see many social-media-savvy influencers and big names post some accomplishments or a controversial opinion and then post how they are repeatedly sick, it’s easy to think there is some malefica going on against them, be it a conscious curse or unconscious lashing out. Previous generations of Witches would never announce they were sick or traveling publicly until they were better or had arrived. Keeping such information close was a commonsense magickal precaution. No wonder experienced magickal practitioners are often aghast to see the new generation announce everything and then seem bewildered by their obstacles. Their past “fights” were in the slow-print pagan publications, the letter columns, and the community responses. The constant personal content whips up people, including the magickally inclined audience, filling the ethers more than ever before. Newer public figures deal with more of a public energetic response, good and bad, than ever before. Some may make you stronger, but not always.

While my future hopeful vision is a secular Aquarian world with freedom and support for all spiritual paths, I see magick being a huge part of that, at least for me. I think whatever our collective path, for survival and/or self-development, we will be using magick. Perhaps a time of more chaotic and random magick being thrown around now is part of that future’s growing pains.

…and How to Survive Them

Relationships, they complicate our lives, and still we don’t want to be without them. We all go through periods in life when we have a good flow in the relationship department, and then there are other times when just about every relationship you have feels tense and complicated. First of all, I believe it is important not to take yourself out of the equation. The thing all of your relationships have in common, no matter how far away from each other socially they may be, is you.

Does meeting others make you feel itchy on the inside?

Are you constantly being irritated?

Is everyone else being stupid?

Are you not fun to be around?

If yes, then you probably need to take a good look at and figure out what’s going on? What are you processing at the moment? And are you doing it in a responsible and healthy way?

On the other hand, we also have collective influences and energies that hit everyone more or less. So if you have a lot on your plate, feel a constant pressure or fatigue, then chances are other people are feeling it as well. Then you are not alone in this and that can be comforting, but at the same time you may need to take in that others are having a tough time, too.

Juno, Manipulations, and Covens

In the astrological chart the asteroid Juno describes the ways we face issues of compatibility, trust, sharing, and how receptive we are. She also shows how we deal with things like possessiveness, jealousy, and power struggles.

Right now Juno is making some challenging aspects in the heavens. Juno herself is in the sign of Libra at 14 degrees. There she heightens our need for equality and balance in our relationships. At the moment we are now more sensitive than usual if we feel our partners—in love, friendship or other social communities—are treating us unfairly. (Juno is in the sign of Libra until Mabon and the Fall Equinox.)

Juno makes a challenging aspect to Mercury at 15 degrees (communication, friends, siblings, neighbors) in the sign of Cancer (family, home, close to the heart). This can create tension and irritation in relationships, families, and even covens. Perhaps you are thinking “Did she really say that?” or “What does he really mean by that!?” If you are in a magickal group-setting you may feel “No way that I’m going to be in the same coven with them!”

It could be your friend is just having a bad day of communication and Mercury is expressed in an unbalanced or unconscious way. But, it can also be that you are seeing and hearing very well and now have the opportunity to say no to a repeated pattern. Mercury/Juno can activate verbal abuse and make it seen. Same thing with power struggles and domination.

But until you are sure about what’s going on… take a breath and wait. I will tell you why in just one moment. (Juno’s aspect to Mercury has been going on for a while and will end around the 2nd of August.)

Juno and Power Struggles

Juno can easily get into power struggles and they can be subtle but also very strong. It can be the partner standing silently beside the husband or wife in the spotlight, pulling the threads and balancing the power in a way they see fit. Right now Juno is in opposition (challenging aspect) to Mars (will, power). Mars is also in his own sign of Aries at 16 degrees.

So when we get into the crossfire we can be pulled between Mars in Aires saying “You are bad and you are stupid, I want you away from here or I will kill you!” and the more apparently civilized Juno in Libra saying “That’s not civilised so I will drag you to court, tell everyone about who you really are and you will never, ever have a social life again!”

One of them (Mars) is openly aggressive and the other (Juno) is passive-aggressive. Astrologically the solution lies between them. Setting boundaries, but with no underlying or manipulating agenda. Easier said than done, but this is not an easy aspect right now.

Lilith Black Moon and Feeling Impotent

We also have another important player to consider. We have Lilith Black Moon at 20 degrees in Aries. There she can create some tricky illusions right now. I would not say that Lilith Black Moon in herself is manipulating. She creates a dark spot, a void where we cannot see with our usual senses. Wherever Lilith Black Moon is present, we are blind and can make the wrong assumptions.

Lilith Black Moon is starting to get close to Mars and there she makes it hard to see what we want, and don’t want. We may also feel impotent, in terms of not being able to manifest, make a difference or get things done. We are putting in the hours but the results doesn’t show. This can create a lot of frustration and if not handled in a good way could lead to aggression, violence, or depression. So what can we do?

Redirecting Energy

Pallas Athena is a helpful ally right now. Even if she is making a challenging aspect at 17 degrees in Capricorn to all of Juno, Mercury, Mars, and Lilith Black Moon, she has the power to redirect energy using strategy. Juno is many times stronger in the astrological charts of energy healers, perhaps due to her connection to Medusa and the snake.

If you usually get things done late in the evening but it has not worked well recently, try earlier in the day, or vice versa. If you usually work nonstop during the day, try and divide the day in two parts and have a siesta in between. Change the position of things. Try new setups, rearrange. If your tarot cards doesn’t speak anymore, try another time for your readings. Try another deck, change your altar. You may be surprised what happens. Another thing that could be helpful is to make lists of what you and your family have already done, so you don’t go around falsely (Lilith Black Moon) believing you are doing nothing (Mars).

Moving Energy Channels

As the powerlines are changing around us and up in the heavens, they have a big chance of changing in our bodies as well, especially if you are an Energy Healer or Spiritual Healer. You may have energy outbursts in your body manifesting as feeling hot or cold. You could also have lumbago or back-pain. It will probably not last for long but can still create some problems. (Mars in Aries square Pallas Athena and Jupiter in Capricorn.)

Back to the Coven and Your Partner

The reason to not be too fast to leave the Coven, or end a relationship is because there is so much going on right now, and it is hard to see what is what. Another way of describing it is that we are not at the finale yet, we are more like in the second act of three at the opera. Juno/Mars is saying. “I’ve had enough!” And Lilith Black Moon is saying, “But what if I’m wrong and there is something else going on?” The answer is, that we don’t know yet.

What we do know is that it is not a good idea to dance with your partner, when they are dancing in the shadows. If your friend, partner, or lover is clearly not “sober” in the sense of acting, behaving, or relating to others. Be the brave one, be the sober, adult one and tell your side of it, as I’m sure you would like your loved ones to do for you. But—and there is a big but in here—do it in a good and balanced way, making sure it is not your own unbalanced Mars or Juno dancing on the tables. This theme will intensify at the end of August and the beginning of September.

Power of the Owl and the Medicine of Laughter

The Owl is a close ally and symbol for both Lilith Black Moon and Pallas Athena, both asteroids very active right now. As a travel companion to Lilith Black Moon she helps us to travel and see in the dark, uncover hidden truths, and find lost treasures. As an ally to Pallas Athena she assists us in being wise, fair, and just. If it feels right for you to do so, you can work with the animal totem of Owl, asking for wisdom and discernment.

Another side of working with the energy of Owl is their good sense of humor. When things get messy in our lives and we fall off our broomsticks and land unexpectedly on our rumps (or “rumpa” as we say in Swedish), we must not forget to laugh! Laughing, singing, and not being afraid to make fools out of ourselves from time to time is a good remedy to keep sane in these crazy times.

Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

Recommended Reading

Asteroid Goddesses, The Mythology, Psychology and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine. Demetra George and Douglas Bloch. Ibis Press.

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

Choosing You

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

I’m all about the occult wisdom of memes these days. Well, not really. I’m all about an inner fire when I see well-meaning people perpetuate supposedly helpful ideas that are ultimately harmful, at least in the magickal community in which we both operate. The recent meme in question said:

“You disrespect yourself every time you say yes when you want to say no. You call it loyalty/love/friendship. Really you are just hoping someone will see how amazing you are and choose you. It shouldn’t work that way. Choose yourself. That’s how you teach them. By choosing you.”

It speaks to the evolving self-care culture which in itself isn’t inherently wrong. We must take care of ourselves, fill our cup before we can help others. And we shouldn’t be motivated by how we are perceived by others. The dominance of self-care and me-first messages is a symptom of a sick society, and while it might address an individual need in the moment, it does little to address the problem at hand and can encourage an isolated and egocentric experience, one which is already fueled by the dominance of the dark side of social media. As we approach the societal shifts that will come from potential environmental and economic collapse, we need to learn survival skills, which include not only wilderness crafts, home medicine, and growing our own food, but how to survive in small communities with empathy, reciprocity, and a sense of communal responsibility.

As a magician, witch, or magick worker of some stripe, we must ask which part of ourselves is saying yes and which part is saying no. We over-identify with the ego, the Middle Self, our personal identity. My personal self says no all the time. My personal self often wants to stay in bed, eat Doritos, and tell people who want me to do things to fuck off. My personal self wanted to say no to studying Witchcraft. I thought it was silly. My personal self certainly said no to being an author and teacher. And many days my personal self wants to say no to my day-to-day responsibilities that other people rely on me to do.

Likewise I’m sure there are people I rely on in community who want to say no to me sometimes. But we all say yes. Am I disrespecting myself? No, I don’t think so. Does the motivation of loyalty, love, or friendship motivate me? Sometimes. Do I know there are necessary mechanics to support the rest of the good stuff that is not always pleasant? Yes, and I think anyone in an adult life realizes that at some point. Does this spark joy? No. But to live in my home, I need to pay the rent, and while I like my home, I don’t get any joy from writing that check.

The current self-care paradigm requires that we cut out all toxic people. If they can’t support us, we should drop them. But what if they’re just going through a bad patch? What if I’m going through a bad patch? If we only want good-vibe people in our lives, then who will give us honest advice or tell us when they think we are making a mistake? All of this advice looks great in a tweet, but lacks the necessary nuance. It is easily embraced by those drowning in responsibilities and worries, who then alienate the people who could support them. Unfortunately, building stronger and more authentic relationships is hard to sum up in a pithy post or advertising slogan.

There are definitely times when both our Higher Soul and our personality are saying “no” and telling us to slow down, when that primal Lower Self is urging us to rest and replenish. And we should heed these messages. But they happen far more frequently today because of our lack of purposefulness around our true work, lack of appropriate boundaries, and lack of authentic support systems. A scented bath is nice, but true self care includes establishing these deeper supports in your life, not quick fixes.

Following the yes of the soul, the Higher Self, often requires a lot of little no’s from the personal self that requires transmutation. If you are consistently miserable, unhealthy, and out of alignment, then say no and make different choices. If you are saying yes out of low self-esteem, in a desire to be liked or to get someone to respond to you in a favorable way, start saying no and make some inner changes. But if you are doing some temporarily unpleasurable things in the name of friendship, love, and community, good job! Me too. Many of us are, and that creates the space held for people to enjoy life and feel supported.

As a Witch, I think about offerings, sacrifice, and reciprocity a lot. Few of us do old-style sacrifice, and most would object to it today, but I think of many of my actions that serve my higher will, my community, as offerings and sacrifices. In that light, it transforms them and makes them holy. They become something of love rather than a burden. They become a blessing, a realization that because I have such people and situations in my life, I can make these offerings and enjoy our lives together. So in the end, I try not to choose me, but we.

be Renee Bedard

As we practice Reiki, we understand that we are not healing the client that comes to see us. We are holding space to allow the Reiki to flow as it must. We are the vessel for the Reiki energy to flow through so it may enter the energy of the receiver. The client is open to receive the energy and in turn is choosing to walk through the doorway of healing. That is where their mysteries may be revealed. Reiki will show the receiver the beauty and love that they truly are. This of course, is the best-case scenario. What happens when we have a client enter into a healing crisis? What happens when we as practitioners enter our own healing crisis? Are we able to hold the sacred space for ourselves? A wise friend of mine recently talked about stories – the stories we hear, tell each other, and tell ourselves. This quickly opened a door in my mind and it flooded me with all of the memories and words I told myself in order to ‘get by’ so I could deal with ‘it’ at another time. That once hidden and locked door I had charged with guarding the painful shadows from sight is now open and brought into the light. Memories and stories can flood us all. So, what do we do with the bound and newly found darkened pieces of ourselves?

As witches and Reiki practitioners, we have the ability to walk along our Borderlands. We can open up the lines of healing and communication. We have the ability to breathe deeply, find our center, and walk the winding, spiraling staircase within ourselves. When we discover such places, we can acknowledge them, hold them, open ourselves up to these forgotten places that are ready to be held with compassion and love. That is how the healing process can begin. It is how we can begin to unbind ourselves from our painful experiences. By acknowledging what we have experienced, we are giving our wounds and trauma a voice and a space to be heard. Once we create the container, allow a space for love and compassion, we can continue our healing with Reiki. By offering the Divine Reiki Energy to ourselves, we can ease our pain. We can even open up the channel of time and ask the Reiki energy to embrace ourselves during a difficult time to help with our suffering. With continued work and healing, we can unravel the threads that held us back, freeing ourselves from what once was in order to create what can be.

Walking the path of a witch and Reiki practitioner, we have the ability to see things in a different light. We may also need to remember that healing can and will be messy at times. That is okay and part of the process. During times of great stress, try to reach out to someone. A trusted friend, family member or another Reiki practitioner that can offer support as you move through the cycle of healing. Just like all parts of nature, we are woven into the fabric of life. What you think and feel is important. Your growth, healing, and development is important. Holding space for ourselves and others is something that is necessary and vital in life. If we are not able to look within ourselves, we will have difficulty in doing so for others. Please, take the time for yourself and sit with your stories. Are they a collection of your own thoughts, experiences, and dreams or are they a shadowy amalgamation of you and others around you? You have the right to claim what is yours and unbind what is not. With the healing and graceful energy of Reiki, may you embrace yourself as you make your way along the winding road of the witch.

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

The Sun in Cancer is now traveling together with the asteroid Vesta. The Sun and Vesta together create a lot of passion, intensity, and devotion. Perhaps you feel more alive and passionate right now, even hunger for more love, sex, and intensive emotions? When this energy is used in a beneficial way, we have the possibility to dive deeper into our sexuality, passion, and what drives us in life. When not used in a good way, it can be turned towards our environment, accusing others for not giving us what we want. We become frustrated and easily irritated. The advice is simple: make love, not war. Keep the passion flowing, make time for your partner and romantic evenings and you will eliminate a lot of frustration and irritation. This is a good opportunity to make potions, incense, and oils for love, tantra, and passion. Because the union between the Sun and Vesta is in the sign of Cancer, there is also tenderness, caring, and romance in this hot and ecstatic energy. The Sun and Vesta are travelling together until around the 21st of July.

What Do You Want?

On a higher level Vesta also talks about our devotion, service, and higher purpose in life. Together with the Sun we can get really devoted and ready to serve. But what do you want to serve? In what way? To make things more complicated the Sun and Vesta are in a challenging aspect to Lilith Black Moon at 18 degrees in Aries. Lilith Black Moon creates a blind spot, something we cannot see or feel with our ordinary senses. So we have all of this intense energy we are ready to use in service, but right now we have no idea about how. We do not know what we want and the process to finding the answer cannot be intellectualised. It is something that you need to live through, finding the answers along the way.

First thing to realize is that you are not alone in this. No one knows this at the moment. Even the most successful artist, writer or business-person is living in uncertain times. Everything is changing everywhere. What is good with Lilith Black Moon is that she comes with unexpected gifts once the transit is over. She creates in darkness and we need to trust the process and be open to unusual turns of events.

Know Your Limitations and Boundaries

We can all get carried away by our passions and we can also be lured into things that are not good for us if we follow another’s passion without discernment. With the Sun and Vesta conjunction making a square to Lilith Black Moon, there is a danger of walking too far off into the less clear or more dangerous zones of life. Make sure to use your head and your heart before you wander off and get yourself into trouble! Mind and maintain your boundaries, including not stepping over them yourself.

This constellation can also trigger underlying issues and bring them to the surface. If you or someone close to you has recovered from depression or addiction it is important to take extra good care. Do the things that help you find balance and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

Vesta and Lilith Black Moon are in a challenging square until the beginning of August.

The Blessing of Friendship

Venus is now in the sign of Gemini (friends, siblings, small talk). This is a good placement for friendships. She is also making a good aspect to Mars in Aries. This could bring a sparkle to a new or old romantic relationship or friendship. Venus is also making a big trine to the asteroid Juno in the sign of Libra. This is good for collaborations and joint projects. Sometimes we need someone else to bring a project into reality and sometimes it’s just more creative and fun to work together with someone else. Don’t underestimate the power of joined energies and the blessings of friendship right now. This is also a good aspect to work magick for cooperation and group settings.

Venus and Mars work together until around the 26th of July. Venus moves further and into the sign of Cancer around the 7th of August.

Water Magick and the Return of Hope

Sweden is a country with long coastlines. We also have many rivers and lakes. The presence of water and water magick is strong and very close to us as a people. Perhaps a part of this is the legacy from the Vikings, people of the sea who travelled long distances by water. I’ve always lived by the ocean and I can not imagine living far away from the coast. One of the things the Spirit of Water has taught me is to work where it is open. If water finds the slightest opening, it finds a way in.

Right now it’s almost like the sky is locked-in with many heavy, difficult, and long-lasting transits. The doors appear closed and it may feel like there is no way out and that all hope is lost. But if we look at the faster-moving planets and the Moon, we find that there are small windows opening up now and then. They may not be long-lasting, but long enough for us to breathe in, use the magic, and create a beautiful day, a beautiful week, and some happy moments to balance all the tension and heavy energy surrounding us. Magick and goodness, like water, only needs a crack, a small opening to get inside, get strong and create, hopefully something beautiful.

Right now we have Neptune (spirituality, dreams, creativity) and the asteroid goddess Ceres (nurturing) in the water sign of Pisces (healing, compassion, intuition). There they can help us to fill up with both nurturing energies and compassion, not just for others but also for ourselves, which is needed if we are to find strength to be able to help others. Next week around the 20th of July we have a new moon, with both the Sun and the Moon joined in the water sign of Cancer. In the same sign we will have the asteroid Vesta (devotion, passion, protection) and Mercury (communication).

Water is flowing in, and as Magickal People, Witches, and Healers we can direct that Sacred Water towards more compassion, happiness, and perhaps most important, Hope. All we need is the smallest opening….

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

Magickal Recapitulation of Childhood

by Christopher Penczak

Magickal training can do some wonderful, wacky things to us. Experiences with the unseen help open us up, build confidence and self-esteem, and empower and heal. But there are side effects to the process that are not often talked about. In the three-soul model of consciousness, the lower soul is the bridge between the middle conscious personality and the higher soul, and it is often described as a child soul, animal soul, or vegetable soul. The truth those names point to is that the lower soul is primal and instinctive.

In the Temple of Witchcraft we call it the Shaper, for it takes what it is given and plays and shapes it like clay. Often the key to deepening magickal experiences is to get in touch with our inner Child of Promise through play. Children instinctively know the reality of magick, and many magickal exercises ask us to revisit the magick of our childhood—our favorite tree or place in nature, our imaginary friends, our first fears, and family folklore and legends. These things rekindle a magick within us. I often quote the wisdom of the beautiful High Priestess Lady Circe, whom I had never met in life before she passed, but whose work I know through her students. She was famous for saying, “If you would walk the witch’s way, observe with care the child at play.” There is deep magick in that poetic statement.

Practitioners of Witchcraft often create a parent-child relationship with the divine. We look at the primal goddess and god as mother and father; some enter into specific matron and patron relationships with specific deities. The deities of a coven or tradition might have a parental role. I think the essence of our childhood mystery and innocence can be found in the Orphic plate reading, “For I am a child of the Earth and Starry Heaven.” It is a guiding statement to the Greek afterlife, for we, as initiates of the mysteries, then recognize that our “race is of Heaven alone.” It is less about parentage than origin of consciousness, but it speaks to so many of us as children of the Earth Mother and Sky Father. Divine parentage can give us an opportunity to heal issues with our own genetic or adopted parents, to find the ideal that was lacking in all of our lives. No matter how great our parents were, they were not the gods. Yet that healing opportunity can bring about a lot of issues that are unforeseen and unexpected for your teacher of magick. I know I was unprepared for it and didn’t recognize the mechanics until an elder pointed it out to me.

The Teacher-Student Dynamic

All this childhood rekindling brings forth both the wonders and joy of magick and imagination, and the difficult wound and unresolved complexes of childhood, even with the best of childhoods. We often find ourselves unconsciously playing out roles we thought were resolved, but perhaps were not fully resolved. We find ourselves reverting to childish behaviors while living an adult life. In Eastern traditions, they understand this. A statement I heard from a Buddhist practitioner sums it up quite nicely. “The relationship one has with one’s guru is the most complex and difficult relationship in your lifetime.” There is recognition of both the personal and totally impersonal nature with a teacher, a guru. While it is always a struggle, Western practitioners of just about anything generally have a conscious or unconscious story about separation and blame. When we seek out magickal training, we are often looking for healing on a personal level, reassurance from a spiritual mentor or teacher. We lack the perspective of the impersonal nature. Ultimately it’s about the teachings—and the practice any individual puts into them—not the teacher. The teacher, while still being very human with their own feelings and story, is a place holder to transmit these teachings and hold space for these experiences. While personal relationships can and do form, that is a side effect, not the main point, of the process. That feels cold to the Westerner who in their spiritual quest confuses personal love with unconditional love, seeking to dissolve boundaries that are there for a good reason.

Invariably somewhere in the process, the student will enter into a period of projection, projecting ideals or blame upon the teacher, fellow students, and other members of the group. For those in a traditional coven setting, the High Priestess and High Priest can form a surrogate parental unit. In some covens, this is conscious and used as a part of the training. In many, it is not, and the less conscious of the mechanic the HPS and HP are, the more messy it can become. When it is held clearly, the coven is like the family, with people replaying (and hopefully working out) their bad childhood behaviors for the good, becoming elevated into spiritual adulthood with both the HPS and HP and ultimately with the gods themselves. Our adult parental relationships should be different than our childhood ones. Some stay forever in an infantile relationship with the divine, expecting the gods to fix everything instead of advising and working with them. Neither the Goddess nor your High Priestess is here to wipe your ass. You have to stand on your own at some point, just like with your parents and coming into adulthood.

I Wish That I Could Be Like the Cool Kids

In magickal schools—like the mystery schools that can be found in person or online, with long-term non-coven classes—rather than the family dynamic being replayed, it is the grammar-school-to-high-school dynamic that is recreated. We find roles of competition, issues with the popular and unpopular “kids,” fights, gossip, back-stabbing, and attention-seeking from the class, teacher, and community. It can be quite disconcerting to see people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s displaying adolescent behavior, but it happens more often than not. And they are often unconscious about it. It’s up to the teacher and the more-aware initiates to both hold a boundary and point out issues whenever possible.

When this process is done well, with the student recognizing the pattern and engaging consciously, it’s an opportunity to heal school traumas and reprogram awareness. When not, students simply recreate their past issues all over again and reinforce the story of their original wounding. People get stuck and become blame-oriented. Teachers can take it personally too, and I often ask teachers in a mystery tradition a question: does the high school teacher take the freshman’s anger personally? For a moment, sure, but in the big scheme of things, you realize the anger is not about you. During your career, you will have many freshman classes. Some you will have a great personal fondness for, others less so. Many won’t stick in your memory, but you strive to teach them all to the best of your ability and not remain personally attached to their own outcome. That is for them to decide and act upon, not you. It’s hard to do when that person is chronologically your peer or elder, but someone in the process of training is recapitulating childhood stuff. Treat everyone with respect, but keep that in mind. There are points of stabilization in the process, but active students are always going through stuff from the past as they heal.

When something happens that doesn’t cross a line of malice, harm, or deep ethical transgression, I have to choose to be amused by it as I would with a little kid vying for my attention or trying to outdo another student. If you’ve worked with kids at all, you’ll see this play out quite easily. My partner and fellow co-founder of the Temple Adam Sartwell points out the parts I miss, as he has a background in both psychology and working with children. Many child psychology strategies can be employed by a good magickal teacher. Extinguish bad behavior by giving it no energy or attention.

If someone confidentially shares something about another person with me in my role as their teacher or mentor, I ask them what their intention was in sharing that with me. Some want to vent. While I understand, a teacher is not the person you vent to about a peer. I don’t vent to my students; I vent my stuff to my family, friends, and perhaps fellow teachers. If they are asking me to do something about it, I need them to give me permission to discuss it, and for them to stand by what they say. Are they asking for mediation? Are they asking for resolution? Are they looking for me to take a side? Are they looking for magickal techniques to resolve the inner conflict? I need clarity, and my request for greater clarity stops most of these conversations. I encourage their peers who have difficulty with some sharing to do the same thing.

While we like to hold an egalitarian ideal that no one is higher or lower than another, that training is just a point of education, not anything of personal merit, we still have to hold appropriate boundaries. When you pay for a class, you get a class, not instant friendships. Those you have to work out on your own. Though many look down upon charging for education in esoteric study, I especially appreciate receiving my training that way when I observe my peers who did not.

Establishing Boundaries

My relationship with my teachers was clearly defined. I had no illusions about joining a family or tribe. The parameters of each experience were distinct and set. There were no blurry lines of unquestioning loyalty, no assumption of the conflicts of my new “family” externally or internally. Not everyone in a magickal order will personally love, personally like, or even get along with everyone else. But everyone active in a mystical order has to be able to put aside differences if we want to work together on a specific area.

Some students strangely believe that taking a class is an instant friendship ticket with the teacher of the class. It can be difficult to establish the boundary and say things like “we are not friends.” Even more complex in this day and age, you can have someone you had a prior relationship with as a student. They find themselves in your class, and you must determine which “hat” you are wearing “when” with them. I often announce it: “As your friend, I would say X, but as your teacher, I have to say Y.” People can have difficulty with the distinction. Many former students who graduate and go onward in community do become peers and eventually friends. It can be hard for a first-year student to see the difference between themselves and a fifth-degree graduate; it’s harder still to get into a situation where you have to point out the difference.

If you have an emotionally mature student who is struggling with their fellow classmates, you can share this metaphor of returning to grammar/high school and the recapitulation of childhood issues. Sometimes it helps them understand why adults are acting insane, but they will often fail to see how they are also participating in such behavior in their own, albeit different, way. I will see nods of agreement followed by an exhibition of sibling jealousy. I always try to throw in my own reflection process, especially the fact that we all can slip into immature behavior at times and must take responsibility for it.

Many will mistake their psychic and intuitive information as fact, and be totally wrong. Yes, Witches and empaths are often quite wrong while reading people they have a personal conflict with or who are in the midst of this unfolding childhood recapitulation with them. The responses are often like the raging of teenage hormones, but on a psychic level. I’ve had many students infer things they have “picked up on” from me that bore no reality to my inner thoughts or outer worlds. People have assumed that I have implied their status, good or bad, in the Temple and it was their hope or fear they were reading, nothing I was expressing.

When someone crosses a boundary, you often have to point it out and reset them. It can be done subtly or bluntly, depending on the person, but something usually needs to be said. Sometimes I err on the side of waiting until the person seeks to cross to the next area, as I’ve found people are not always ready to hear critical feedback in the moment, so I take it on a case-by-case basis. Some teachers assume being totally silent on an issue will help bring about conscious change, that the student will eventually ask, “What has changed? Why are things different?” While it can happen, it’s not super likely. Most students unconsciously working out issues will take silence as the mistaken assumption of approval and agreement. When something involves several people, I will sometimes make a general statement to them all, or to the entire class, to reiterate my point of view. People will still hear what they want to hear, good and bad, but such a statement sets a baseline to go back to if there is further disagreement or conflict.

Four Ways to Act for Teachers and Students

In the end, teachers and students can only strive to be their best. I look to the Four Treasures of the Witch, four points of agreement or contract with the elemental powers, to guide me in my work in community and in my life.

  • Fire—Follow Your Passion: Follow your passion as it will lead you to your true purpose. Never work against your nature, as it will lead to your destruction. Be open to change, as change is the nature of fire. If I have to ask myself if a situation is distracting me from following my passion, I should let it drop.
  • Air —Be Truthful: Be truthful in your thoughts, words, and deeds, for they are magick. Never give your word lightly, for there is magick in the witch’s word, and it will bind you to it. Breathe with intention, for where the breath goes, the mind goes. Am I expending too much mental energy on this or trying too hard to capture what was said to others? Then I should let it go.
  • Water—Always Choose Love: Always choose love, as it will heal you, others, and the world. Never close your heart, for it will harden you to the joys of life as well as the sorrows. Flow with the currents of life whenever possible. And realize that unconditional love does not mean unconditional relationships. The cup is the boundary, and we need to maintain our cups and be discerning in how and when we pour forth for our good and the good of others.
  • Earth—Be Responsible for Yourself: Be responsible for yourself, for only you can take charge of your own life. Never blame others for your circumstances, for that gives away your sovereignty. Be secure in yourself first and all other securities will manifest in your life. Am I taking too much or too little responsibility? Is it appropriate responsibility, or not really mine to take on? If so, I need to let it go.

We can only control how we react and respond to a situation and change our own behaviors and hopefully motivations. Community, coven, and school create a cauldron that holds the process to dissolve and reform, and we can hold those boundaries and offer those teachings with the highest consideration and ethics, but in the end, it is up to the individual what is done with those teachings. Much of the process, even of my students, is none of my business. Relationships between students is none of my business. I need to check in on the process, but I don’t need to micromanage or take responsibility for those relationships. Part of coming into spiritual adulthood is learning to manage your own relationships, conflicts, and problem solving without a lot of intervention from an authority figure. We each have our own journey and our lessons. We can continue to walk side by side, and we can continue to be reflections that ask us to stop and check ourselves and our own behaviors in the context of community, but we must put the teachings into action as we find our own way to spiritual adulthood.

It’s almost the beginning of July and the Sun has just moved into the sign of Cancer. The sign of Cancer relates a lot to home, family, feelings of security and safety. When a person born in that sign—or with a lot of planets there—feels safe, they are very loving and kind. When you are around them, it feels like you are swimming in tropical water, warm and absolutely lovely. But when they feel threatened, it can feel like you have received a bucket of coldwater over your head.

If you still don’t get the message and come even closer, they can and will pinch you with their claws, hard! They demand that you respect their private space and feelings. And after all they are the opposite sign of Capricorn, another sign known for knowing how to set boundaries. (In the beginning not all Capricorns or Cancers knows how to set healthy boundaries but throughout life they are put in situations where they have to learn how to do that.)

This ability also makes them good at working with protection. When the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn at Midwinter/Yule and Christmas it’s a great time to work on protection for the home. The same is true now around Midsummer and Litha when the Sun enters to the sign of Cancer.

Getting to the Bottom of Things

Now the Sun is not travelling alone in the world of watery Cancer. In its company we have Mercury (communication) and the asteroid Vesta (dedication, protection, shelter). As you have probably heard, Mercury is in its retrograde motion until the 12th of July. When Mercury is in retrograde things related to communication—deliveries, electronics, telephones—have a way of their own. Everything from computer crashes to packages delivered wrong can happen. But, when a planet goes retrograde it also has some advantages.

The planet’s energy is turned inward instead of outward and that can help us a lot with our own processes in life. With Mercury it’s a great opportunity to re-think, re -write and re-learn. Go deeper in research and get to the bottom of things.

In the sign of Cancer, that is related to our relationships as well. Have you missed something in a relationship? What was the wisdom or gift in that relationship? What did you learn or experience? How has that prepared you for being a better person, partner, or friend in your future relationships?

In this process Mercury is making a challenging square to both Juno in Libra and Chiron in Aries. That makes deep wounds related to communication and relationships surface. You can read more about that in my previous article “We Need to Talk”. This aspect with Mercury/Juno/Chiron lasts until the end of July but is intensified with the Mercury retrograde.

Meeting the Gods at Your Breakfast Table

Right now we have five planets in retrograde: Pluto (transformation, change), Jupiter (expansion, higher knowledge), Saturn (manifestation, limitation), Neptune (soul, spirituality, illusions), and Mercury (communication) They are all moving the energy inwards, making things personal. And they are also giving us a golden opportunity to go deep, dig for the truth and learn a lot about ourselves and the meaning of our lives and incarnation.

Energies that are usually too far away from us, unreachable if you would like, are now so close to us that we can almost touch them. Like having the Gods over for breakfast. The outer planets are usually too big to embody and a name for them is the “non-personal” or “trans-personal” planets. Working with magick, this special event with them so close, might give you some magically creative ideas. Energies that for some may seem daunting, can be an opportunity looking from another perspective and with your magickal glasses on. Retrograde energies are slowing things down, so this is a good time for making magickal oils, incense or the like for slowing things down.

My Home, My Temple

Everyone should feel safe and protected in their own home. It’s a basic right, but I know that’s not the reality for many people. As witches, healers, and magickal people, one of the greatest things to learn is making your body, your personal space, and your home feel protected and safe. Right now with so many things going on it may feel like the world is spinning out of control and even the sturdiest of homes can be a bit shaken.

Now with the Sun (protection, strength), Mercury, and the asteroid Vesta (protection, home, service) together in the sign of Cancer (home, family, protection) we have a great opportunity to shield and strengthen our homes. A person who feels protected and safe and has the possibility to recharge at home, has a way better chance to make good decisions in life, more so than a person constantly on-guard and feeling unsafe.

Mercury and Practical Magick

Many don’t consider Mercury a doer. But he is, really. Mercury rules the sign of Gemini and the 3rd house of communication, friendships, and learning. He also rules Virgo and the 6th house of service. Everyone who knows a Virgo knows they are most competent and efficient at doing things. If they think it’s worth it, of course! Practical, down-to-earth magick is one of their gifts.

Now is the time to shield that house or apartment of yours and make it the Temple of love, harmony, and magick it has the potential to be. And if you are thinking “Well, it already is!” then good for you, you have a good starting point and a solid foundation to build from. The thing is that magick, wards, and protection are like all other natural, living things, affected by time and whatever they are exposed to. In stormy times like we have now, protection wears down faster, and we have a lot to gain by being diligent in keeping our homes magickally strong and safe.

Fun Practical Magick for Your Home

There are lots of fun things you can do to give a magickal twist to the things that you are doing anyway. Here are some ideas:

  • When cleaning the windows you can use a magickal spray for protection, you can also draw protective sigils with blessed water on windows and doors.
  • When planting flowers for the house, balcony or the window sill, do some research on flowers and their magickal properties. Choose one or two flowers for protection, and some flowers for other things that you want as well. Common flowers good for protection are: Geranium, Petunias, Chamomile and Tagetes.
  • When planting the flowers you can draw protective sigils on either the outside or inside of the flower pot before putting the flowers in. You can also write affirmations and put inside the pot. “This home is safe and protected from all kinds of harm” or “This house is a temple and all who dwell inside are protected and safe.” Personally I love writing “Protected by Witchcraft!”
  • Many herbs used for cooking are great magickal helpers. Put them on your porch, balcony, or in the window and ask them protect your home. They will do it anyway, but if you ask them nice they, like all other living things, will do it with extra power and enthusiasm. Basil, rosemary, and thyme are great for protection and wonderful to use when cooking.
  • If you are repainting the house or parts of it, imagine scraping away the old as you remove the old paint. Bless the new paint and paint your house with love and protection.
  • Use your broom. Sweep out stagnant or unwanted energies from your home. I love our broom and it stands outside of the front door. It’s painted and decorated with charms. It gives good protection and sends a signal that there is magick in this household and “you better behave in a good way entering into this house!”

Energy Waves and Dates to Watch

There are many things happening in the sky right now, and it will continue to come in waves for some time ahead. Dates to look out for are the 5th of July when we have a Full Moon in Capricorn and a lunar Eclipse. On the 6th the Sun and the asteroid Vesta join Sirius at 14 degrees in Cancer. At the same time the asteroid Atlantis is opposite Saturn in Capricorn. (You can read more about that in the previous article “We Need to Talk”) Strong waves of energy will move over and through us all. I would be very surprised if someone claimed not feeling anything at all.

We can not do anything about this. The energy will come whether we like it or not. What we can do is to shield and secure our homes so that we feel safe. We can use our magickal training and ability to stay grounded and clear-headed, alert and focused so that we do not get carried away in the collective energies.

Right now Pluto and Jupiter are joined together in Capricorn. On the 6th of July they will be exactly on 23 degrees in Capricorn. Next to them we have Saturn at 29 degrees (and opposite the asteroid Atlantis) and they are all in retrograde motion. Old structures being removed, creating turbulence and a hard time to distinguish right from wrong, truth from false, and real from unreal (Neptune retrograde as well).

But, do you know who’s also there, in the middle of everything? Pallas Athena! The goddess of wisdom is right there in the middle of the male gods of Zeus (Jupiter), Kronos (Saturn), and Hades (Pluto) At 23 degrees in Capricorn she is an energy we can call upon when we feel like there is a need for more wisdom, knowledge, deep thought, and revealing of the truth.

— 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

Making sprays for windows and mirrors: The Witchs Mirror by Mickie Mueller.

Magickal flowers and gardening: Garden Witchery, Magick from the ground up, by Ellen Dugan.

Protective Magick: The Witch’s Shield: Protection Magick and Psychic Self-Defense by Christopher Penczak.

Creating your own sigils: Sigil Witchery, a Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols by Laura Tempest Zakroff.

Making protective wards around your house: Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions, a Collection of Meditations by Laurie Cabot.

I posted this on my Facebook page last weekend:

“Absolutely nothing exists in a vacuum.  Think about this…

Every decision that you ever made in your life was because of circumstances that you were in at that time. Which might have been due to circumstances that your parents were in, which educated you on your decision. Your parents decision was based on what they were educated in by their parents and so on and so on…

You don’t exist in a vacuum…You base your decisions off of circumstances that you were in at the time.”

This same principle applies to everyone living their daily lives.  This same principle applies to governments and their laws.

Some refer to this as a “Trauma Legacy” or “Ancestral Trauma” or “Transgenerational effects of trauma” (like the article from 2019 linked below).  This is a relatively new field of study and it was first documented in 1966 among Holocaust survivors.  The body and the mind take on the deep hurt and loss of community, of family and there is a painful longing of what used to be – and this can be passed down through the generations.  In Twenty-One Days of Reiki Adam Sartwell talks of this in the chapter titled “Healing Inheritance Patterns”.  He says “We are intrinsically linked to (our family) through both our blood and our education and through our family karma…the karma of our ancestors.  All of these patterns passed to us can be changed and improved.”  I would also say that the karma of our ancestors is not just our family but that of our community and our nation.

As healers, we are not in charge of saving the world.  We can’t heal something like this in one fell swoop.  If we could it would already be done.  We can only heal ourselves and sometimes that is only a little at a time.  By healing ourselves, we can not only heal the present self but we can heal the past self.  We can dig deep and meditate for when there was a time in our past that needed healing and send Reiki there through time through the Reiki symbols or creating a symbol of that healing and sending it there.  We can also help facilitate the healing of others by asking their higher self to engage, help us to heal what is needed, then follow up with real world action.  For example, I know people who experienced abuse as children.  Some of them decided to never have children and have broken that generation cycle.  Others have had children and have made sure that they do not perpetuate what happened to them to their own children – which also breaks the cycle and brings healing to the ancestral line.

I ask you today,  what do you need to heal on that ancestral level to bring healing to the world right now?  And I know that is an uncomfortable question.  I am a white, cis-gendered, straight woman.  I have benefitted from privilege my whole life and my country has made sure that not all their sins were part of my education.  I had to find these things out by listening to my Queer friends, by listening to Black voices.  Now that I know where to look, I have had my eyes opened and I am learning things I didn’t know before.  This knowledge can shock you and make you angry and sad.  Sometimes when this happens you listen and walk away knowing it will not affect you in the long run.  Sometimes when this happens you realize you can’t be quiet anymore and you have to take some kind of stand.  Sometimes when this happens you need to sit and digest it and find a new way forward.  All of this is a part of the healing that is needed so we can move forward together as a nation.

Life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We seek little victories and try to push forward towards equality and compassion for all.  We do what we can with what we have in our homes, our towns, and this translates to forward action in our countries and the world.

How can we change the “it’s always been this way” mindset?  The “change is scary” mindset?  It isn’t easy.  There must be acceptance and acknowledgement and then there must be active work to heal, to change and to grow.  Reiki works with us and can guide us in this healing.

May we all heal, change and grow so we can make a better tomorrow for every generation to come.

Blessed Be

Dawn Marie Costorf is a Mystery School student and a Pisces Deputy Minister.  She co-leads the Virgo Ministry Reiki Share at the Temple of Witchcraft once a month.  The Reiki share has moved online!  If you would like to be a part of the Reiki Share, please send an email to register at

For more information on Trauma Legacy

I’ll Know It When I See It 

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

“What exactly are you expecting?” a friend and colleague asked me. We were discussing my discomfort with a student going forward in our Witchcraft training program. Sadly, my response went back to the less-than-helpful-wisdom of “I’ll know it when I see it.”

Magickal training is such a unique process. You can provide similar information and experiences, and no two people will process it the same. And even in the range of honest-to-goodness real examples of doing the personal and interpersonal work of a mystery tradition, there will always be those who are consciously or unconsciously not doing the work, faking it on some level. One of the hardest problems—and one of the biggest reasons not to do this kind of esoteric work via mail correspondence back in the old days or online today—is that distance makes faking it much easier. You have to reply on self-reporting. I struggle with it still. You want to accept people at face value, but when words and actions don’t match, there is a problem.

Some people are self-delusional. They cannot self-assess easily. While difficult, I prefer the self-delusional because more often than not, there is always the hope of the breakthrough. I’ve seen it many times. While we assume self-delusion comes from grandeur, it can just as often result from doubt. I’ve witnessed many a pessimistic student do amazingly well and yet be unable see their own progress when self-assessing.

The flip side is those students who are not doing so great, but who think they are amazing, natural prodigies ahead of everyone else in their class. Perhaps they are, and I’m not spiritually evolved enough to see it, but I don’t think so. The people who are far along the path don’t have to spend a lot of time convincing others how great they are. Their demeanor and presence express that progress, and that is the essence of “I’ll know it when I see it.” People who continually express their greatness usually draw strong and unflattering responses from their peer group, mentors, and community.

Then there are those who are consciously aware they are not doing the work. They either think it’s beneath them, that they have already done it, or they know they can’t do it. And they consciously tell you what you want to hear, but it doesn’t ring true. Eventually you catch onto the deception, usually through their behavior and not their words. The lessons they report doing haven’t integrated. Perhaps they did do them on a surface level, as a way of avoiding the cognitive dissonance of lying. They believe they are being truthful, as they technically “did” the work, but they are not putting the lessons into action in any meaningful way. While learning can take time to integrate, there are always indicators, struggles and conversations that show good faith in the process. When those are absent or seem contrived, there is a problem.

And there are those who are out-and-out lying to get what they want, and they know it. But they think they have you fooled. These are the folks I have a much harder time with, and I have to admit, that while distance makes such deception easier, I’ve been fooled at times in person. Such challenges can be alleviated when the teachers are also deeply introspective and consistently ask self-interrogatory questions: “What am I not seeing?”; “How can I teach this person in a better way?”; and “Is this student triggering my personal stuff? Am I projecting?”

Sometimes undiagnosed mental illness can thicken the mix, making it even harder to understand what is occurring. I’ve mistaken undiagnosed personality disorder for obsessive-compulsive tendencies before, and only when it was pointed out to me by a mental health professional did the arc of the experience make more sense to me. Often, however, deception has no major psychological component and is simply selfishness and greed; there is little help in those situations.

So what am I expecting? I expect, over the course of time, to see an embodiment of the principles of the work. That is the mark of doing the work, not just the words. I expect changes in behavior and communication that indicate an evolution in awareness, a sincerity and heart that shines forward and illuminates their actions.

It’s not always a progressively upward curve. There are behavioral peaks and valleys in the initiatory process. Teachers can recognize the ego zones of students who feel they have grown too good, and either they have a humbling experience with you, a humbling experience without you, or leave for the brighter fields of ego delusion. In a successful process, there is a natural dissolution of hard boundaries between teacher and student for the softer boundaries of peers, and many students in those valleys of difficulty seek to dissolve those far before they reach that point, becoming too familiar too quickly.

When a student is doing the work, these are fairly short lived phases. If they remain stuck in one of these egotistical or destructive phases for too long, there is a problem. It usually indicates one who is not doing the work, who cannot navigate these hard places by integrating the lessons. Sometimes the student will go away, explore something else, and have a family or career shift, all of which can provide a needed sabbatical. And sometimes they return changed and integrated and ready for the next thing. But other times, the time away is only a distraction, conscious or unconscious, and the return is an effort to wipe away the past and return with a seemingly clean slate without having integrated anything at all.

Each lesson can trigger a deeper phase, and no one can do the personal work for you. Teachers can mentor. We can offer technique. We can share lore. But in the end, each student responds differently. Sometimes difficult lessons for you will be easy for peers, and then vice versa. Simply checking off the boxes as “complete” doesn’t do it. Even in an online school, where checking off the boxes provides a measure for completion, it also serves as a means for triggering processes and having conversations. We can then more easily go back to a problem, point to a previous lesson, and say, “Have you tried drawing upon that to help you?” Anyone can forget, as there is a lot of esoteric technique, but the one who has done the work will quickly pick up the tip, while the one who hasn’t will A) be bewildered and unfamiliar with the suggestion; B) give you lip service that they already tried that, but offer no details; or C) try to redirect the conversation away from their problem.

We most often have the rule of “firsthand accounts only” when having a problem in our community—no anonymous hearsay. If there is a complaint, the person with the complaint must bring it forward. And often those not doing the work will be the loudest in community, placing themselves at the center of swirling controversies in order to get attention or feel important. Even with our firsthand-accounts policy, if a number of people normally not involved in any drama bring us secondhand accounts of concern, all about the same person, it’s often time to ask some direct questions if we can, or at the very least, be mindful and observant. Community can be the container to work through issues and problems. I don’t think a problem or conflict is something to be avoided at all costs. Drama, yes, but conflict, no. We learn through conflict, even when it’s unpleasant, as long as we have guidelines for resolution and restoration. Conflict can be a part of the initiation formula, and we together hold the container of community for each other to have a place in which to experience those lessons in a magickal setting. I’m not a big believer in the idea of universal tests to pass, but I think an important aspect of life—and therefore magickal initiation—is struggle and confrontation, and how one handles such things is part of the magick.

Borrowing from a psychological model, I think esoteric magick, training, and initiation work in a fashion similar to modern models of psychological change. When we learn, we have peak experiences that draw us out of the ordinary. As we consistently practice and do the work, we start to move our baseline closer to those peaks and learn the life skills to navigate those new levels of consciousness. We create a plateau. With enough testing, challenge, and practice at the plateau, our consciousness stabilizes into a permanent new change. We are mutated in our consciousness, yet we have simply created a new base line for a new peak. We are never, ever done. Permanent is not permanent, but ever evolving. While I might not always favor the higher-equals-better metaphor, it shows the ease with which one can suddenly and violently fall from a peak or plateau. Our movement must be measured, guided, and reasoned if we seek to avoid a fall. Some small tumbles can be quite educational, with the group, tradition, and training preventing you from falling too far when you do slip, but we have to avoid those people who take down everyone else with them. Like mountaineers tethered together, a group can either save one member from great harm, or that one person can be the weight that takes them all down. It all depends on how you handle yourself and how they anchor themselves.

Everyone expresses this process differently, and beautifully. I do know it when I see it. I know it when I feel it. I know it when we talk together and share. I know it when it shines through in the actions of a student, peer, and friend. And you will too. Living it is the only way to embody it, and when you live it, there is no question, even among those who might disagree with your methods, personal choices, or aesthetics. Initiates of all traditions recognize each other (assuming they honestly assess) as it’s not about the specific ritual. Adepts of all traditions know one another, for in truth, they belong to the same meta-order. Masters of all stripes accept one another, even while on different paths. So look for your fellows. See the wisdom. Know it when you see it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love birthday parties. I love everything from the presents and the cake to the decorations and gathering of family and friends. But I do know that from the perspective of the one having the birthday, that particular day is often a strange one. We have four children and, as a family of six, we have experienced the chaos of birthdays many times. Everything should be great: party with your best friends, specially-made cake and gifts. What’s not to love? And still, a feeling of melancholy usually moves in. If the children are small that uneasy feeling can come out as crying, discomfort, tantrums, and not being at all in the right mood for party. Then the doorbell rings, the guests arrive, and everybody pretends to be happy and that all is well.

So, what’s going on? What energies are at work at your birthday?

The number is about what you have become

Many forget that the time up until your first birthday you do not “own” or carry the power of being one yet. If you have dedicated parents (usually parents with their first child) they celebrate you becoming 1 week, then 1 month, 6 months and then finally…tada! You are one year old. That means you have lived for one full year. To be direct, you have survived long enough to celebrate that first year. Now, as the years continue, people (me included) tend to forget that. We say: Happy 25th birthday, how does it feel to be twenty-five? And we think about them as starting their 25th year. But the truth is that, on that day, you begin your 26th trip around with the sun. Your 25th birthday is a marker that you have already made twenty-five rounds, and this is an important key to understanding the energies at play at your birthday. You are closing one circle or frequencies of energy to open up another. At your birthday you are literally in a place between the gates, between what has been, what is, and what shall be. This becomes extra important at big birthdays like becoming 30, 40, or 50, and so on. At your 30th birthday you are putting a sigil on your 30th trip around the sun. These ages are commonly celebrated a lot, but in the world of Numerology ages like 9, 18, 27, 36, and 54 (following the number 9) always indicate a big change. Birthdays are sacred and deserve attention and quite a bit of introspection as well, no matter what age we are becoming.

The Sun and the Hero

The sun is in one way the easiest planet to understand in the astrological chart, and in another way the most mysterious. When we say “I’m a Gemini” what we really mean is that the sun was in that sign when we were born. It says nothing about all the other planets, signs, and cool stuff in the chart. So why is that the one that we talk about the most?

It is said that the sun is telling what kind of Hero you are here to become. So, if you are born in the sign of Aries, you are here to be a brave, courageous, and direct Hero. You cannot and should not try to become something else. If you are born a Virgo you have come here to analyze, make things more effective, and use your sharp mind. What you can do, as an Aries, is to make use of your empathy, and as a Virgo make sure you are connected to your heart as well as your mind. But to say to a Virgo to stop thinking, a Leo to stop shining, and a Taurus to stop working for abundance, that’s just a waste of time and you are hindering them from becoming the Hero they are here to be.

When Things Hit Your Sun

When something “hits” your sun, when you have some other planets affecting the sun in your birth chart, it feels personal—and it is. When Saturn (limitations, structure) makes a challenging aspect to your Sun, you feel small, unworthy and like the world is on your shoulders. “Nobody loves me!” When Jupiter (expansion, luck) makes a nice aspect to your Sun you can take on the whole world, and you shine very bright. “Bring it on baby!” (Yes, you can be overconfident with this aspect). All aspects to your Sun affect how you see yourself, your self-worth, and your ability to shine in the world.

Around your birthday, the sun returns to the same place as when you were born, that’s called a solar return. (This can happen the day before your birthday, on your birthday, and the day after.) When this happens, your inner sun in the birth chart, is aligned to the cosmic sun. We can call that a double hit of solar energy. It’s a strong energy wave with a mix of personal (your inner Sun) and transpersonal energies (the cosmic Sun) beaming right into your heart. (The Sun rules the sign of Leo, which rules the heart in the body.) No wonder we may feel everything from overloaded to feeling strange and a bit sad as well.

Why Moms Are a Bit Strange at Birthdays

Most moms are a bit strange at their children’s birthdays. Even if we try not to show it and would not admit to it, we are different on that day. When you were born, your mother literally stood at the gate between the worlds and held a space for your incarnation. Anything can happen at birth. Giving birth and being born is a chance at its best and a trauma at its worst. It’s one of the most intense experiences that will happen during your life, both for mother and the child. That changes you, whether the birth is considered a normal delivery or a dramatic one. You are not the same afterwards. You have been touched by forces of another nature standing at the gates of life.

As the sun returns to the same place as when the baby was born, an echo or energy wave from that moment in time activates and resonates with the mother. It’s strong stuff and that’s one of the reasons why mothers keep on talking about the birth and everything that happened. They need to be allowed to do that. So the next time you see a mother with tears in her eyes at her child’s birthday party, remember that it may not all be the joy or sadness of the child getting older, there may be other forces at work as well. If you are adopted, a similar gate would have opened up the day that your parents “got you,” when you became their child. When one part of your life and theirs changed into something else. The day that you got each other is an important marker in time.

If giving birth to your child was difficult in some way a birthday is a good opportunity to work with healing that experience, no matter how much time that has passed. Since the gates between the worlds are so open at giving birth, it also affects how you perceive and what you experience during rituals and other times when the gates are wide open. If you had a difficult birth yourself, healing that is equally important for the same reasons, and others as well. What happens during our birth colors every new start or “birth” in our lives.

Back to the Birthday Part

Here we are, back at the birthday party. The child having his or her solar return, beamed right into the heart by solar powers, activating, creating, and stirring things around. One numerological cycle ends and another one is opening up. We also have the parents, remembering the time of the birth and re-living whatever happened then. We have the mother getting an echo from the worlds between the worlds. And in the midst of it all we are supposed to be happy, socialize, and be outgoing with others.

So what can you do?

You can still have a party, but what if you set aside the day before your birthday, the actual day, and the day after as sacred days? (If you want to be sure you could take two days before and 2 days after.) Days for you to contemplate, think, or just be? Making a good ending of the year that has been and giving yourself time to open up for the new year. If you have children, I can almost promise you they will be happier and at more peace with themselves after the days around their birthday. You can try this strategy for the big party if you like. Or not. But if you don’t, please remember that it’s okay to not be super-happy at your birthday, in fact it’s more than okay. And if your parents are crying, that’s probably not just about you.

Ceremonies for Your Birthday

Here are some suggestions for ceremonies at or on your birthday. You can make them as small or grand as you like and adopt them to your tradition. You can also do them with your children. Before you start, prepare the space by cleaning it and all the things you will use, in a way that feels right to you. End the ceremony with giving thanks to the spirits that have been present, depending on your tradition or belief system. Make sure that you clean up after you.

Water: Take a glass of water and tell it what you are ready to release. It can be about the year that has passed. It can also be something deeper. Release the water in the glass in running water or by the sea, river, stream, or the like. See how all the heavy energies leave your life and moves away with the water.

Fill another glass with something tasty and good. For this I like something with strawberry for love and luck. Tell it your wishes for a good year, make a toast, and drink it up. Imagine all the good tings coming into life and how you light up from the inside and out.

Fill the glass a second time and make a wish for the planet/the world, pour it out and say your thanks.

Air: Take some flour in your hand. Talk to it about the things that you want to let go of. When you are ready blow it out of your hand and see the heavy energies flying away.

Take some new flour, mix it with either some glitter or natural dye. Think about all the good things you want in your life, then sprinkle it around you, on you and in your hair. Se how you become shining and beautiful, attracting all good things and see how they manifest out of thin air, in your life.

Take some sparkling flour a second time. Make a prayer for the world, sprinkle it around and release the good winds to the world. Say your thanks.

Earth: Take a small stone or crystal in your hand. Tell it about what you are ready to let go of, then bury the stone, knowing deep inside that it will help you with that.

Take another stone or crystal, ask it to help you bring in good things in your life. See how the stone starts glowing with love, luck, and good things. Carry the stone in your pocket or put it beside your bed.

Take a second stone. Make a prayer for the world, bury it and see how it’s seeded in the world, say your thanks.

Fire: Take a small piece of paper and write down no more than three words about what you are ready to release. Then burn it up in a fireproof dish and see how the heavy energies transforms. Take another paper and write three words about what you want for the coming year. Burn that as well and see how it becomes an arrow of light, brining you good things.

Center: Put charcoal in a cauldron and an appropriate incense. Say out loud what you want to release and then jump over the cauldron, leaving the heavy energies behind.

Put on some new incense, say out loud what you want in your life instead and then jump over the cauldron and right into your bright future!

The third time you put incense in the cauldron, say a prayer for the world and give your thanks.

With this, I guess there’s just one more thing for me to say:

Happy Birthday!
— 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