Article

Living Traditions

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

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

Photo by Sunsetoned via Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Claire du Nord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bright Blessings,
Claire du Nord

by Karin Ugander

Right now the astrological weather is intense. It may feel like as soon as you have dealt with one wave of turbulence, the next one is coming right away. But like in sailing, most winds of energy can, with some clever thinking and a good weather report, be used to take you forward. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, because this report may need some attention from you as you ponder which way forward is best.

Nothing’s Happening – or is it?

Right now we have many placements in the earthly sign of Taurus. We have Venus, Uranus, Pallas Athene, the North node and Mercury. So just by looking at the chart we understand that something is going on. But Taurus is not known for sharing things with others easily. They digest things for a long time and many times nothing happens until right about the time when everyone else has almost forgotten about it. (Taureans don’t forget anything.) Then they share with others, many times in a profound way.

Uranus (sudden change) is right next to Pallas Athena (strategy, planning) both at 16 degrees in Taurus. Together they create a rebellious energy and a strong fighting spirit. Pallas Athena can, despite her strategic mind, also be surprising and create sudden changes. Now, because this is happening in the sign of Taurus, all of this rebellious energy may go underground and make a false appearance of all things being calm and quiet. The truth is, a lot of things are going on under the surface we cannot see yet.

If you have been working for change in a certain area it is important not to give up, even if it feels hopeless right now. The high frequency energy of Uranus and Pallas Athena is working deep and the storm is building in a place where it is not seen yet. Time will tell, but from my experience, Uranus and Pallas Athena cannot hide forever and when they surface, well, things happen that no one can ignore.

So even if there’s no visible change at the moment, good things may already be on the move and working for healing and a change for the better. Rhythm and repetition are important keys when doing magick, and they are very much like Taurus in their nature: not giving up, but keeping on going until a good result is manifested.

Change of Heart?

Venus (romance, partnership) at 10 degrees in Taurus, is also in this group together with Uranus and Pallas Athena. Venus rules the second house in astrology (resources, body, money) and the seventh (partnership, counselling). When Venus is in transit many things regarding how we see others and our relationships with them can change. But, Venus moves rather quickly and it is not unusual that the turbulence, feelings, and attractions she has created disappear as fast as they came.

Right now it is important not to take any of your relationships for granted. Make sure you secure your business deals. Show your appreciation, take care of your customers, make that extra call, and send that extra mail. The worst case scenario is that you lose an important client or business partner. The best case scenario is you bond closer and reaffirm your connection.

You could also be the one getting new clients and business partners. If you are and there is money involved, make sure all the papers are in order before you sign or ship anything. Venus is lovely and attractive, but she can not always be trusted to keep her interest, especially when teaming up with Uranus.

On a personal level distractions can come in unexpectedly into the relationship. Do not take your partner for granted. Work as a team, help each other out. Uranus, Pallas Athena, and Venus in Taurus can be very sexy and hot. Make time to live out that fire together with your partner. If the steam is not let out, it can create irritation and become arguments over small tings. When Uranus meets up with Venus you can become fixated with what is wrong instead of focusing on the good things. Basically, the advice is “make love, not war.”

On a global plane a lot of business deals between nations and organizations may change and take a different course. Import and export prices and fees can change quickly. Once again, if you have your own company, be alert and keep yourself updated.

Venus and Uranus are joined together until the 18th of June.

Pallas Athena and Uranus travels together until the 23rd of June.

The Importance of Regular Updates

This is a time when it is good to use tarot cards, Lenormand cards, and any other kind of trustworthy oracle. If you are already using them, you may want to use them more regularly. If you are a professional reader, remember to use them for yourself. Also check your astrological and numerological charts. Usually I recommend people to do a “full reading” once or twice a year. But right now I recommend everyone to have a deck of tarot cards in their handbag for, if not daily, then at least weekly updates.

Engage or Not?

The goddess asteroid Ceres (nourishment, parenthood) is travelling together with Black Moon Lilith (things we cannot see) in the sign of Cancer (parenthood, home). This brings out strong and intense emotions. It has an outdrawing energy that can put the finger on difficult relationships and situations. As difficult as this may feel, good healing may come from it. In this constellation there is a lot of feminine energy that moves inward. The challenge with this is that it is easy to carry the darkness and burdens from others in an unhealthy way. Questions that may arise: Should I engage in the situation? Ask for help on behalf of someone else? Call the authorities? What do I do with all this?

Mars (motivation, aggression) and Jupiter (expansion, power) in Aries (warrior, fearlessness) are making a challenging aspect to Ceres and Black Moon Lilith. This can actually be helpful because it brings courage and protection to the situation. But it also brings aggression and an unexpected energy. The combination of these energies makes it impossible in the long run to contain the energy that is on the way up. Whatever you decide to do, stay safe and do your research before you act.

On a collective plane we can expect more whistle-blowers. Countries and organizations making bold and blatant moves. People showing a lot of bravery.

Ceres and Black Moon Lilith travel together until the 18th of June. At that time Ceres is right next to the fixed star Sirius, also called the Star of Isis. A perfect time to work with the Goddess Isis and ask for protection and healing to the situations that may have risen and are in need of healing.

Summer Solstice and Ancient Goddess Power

Later on in the month things may begin to clear up a bit. Ceres and Black Moon Lilith are no longer close and Venus is moving on towards entering Gemini on the 23rd of June.

On the 21st of June we have the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. At that time the goddess asteroid Ceres is located at 15 degrees in Cancer where we also find Sirius (mentioned above).

Ceres is making a good aspect to the south node (karma, the past) in the sign of Scorpio (ancestors, psychic abilities) and to the goddess asteroid Juno (relationships, also called the Queen of heaven) in the sign of Pisces (spirit world, mediumship). Together they create a powerful trine of water that allows us to tap into ancient Goddess power and psychic abilities. This is also a very healing energy.

To make this even stronger we have both Venus (love, magick) and Pallas Athena (wisdom) in the sign of Taurus (body) making a good aspect to Pluto (transformation, underworld) in the sign of Capricorn (old times, manifestation). This aspect can help to embody and ground the strong healing and prophetic energies that are being present.

Together they all create powers of balance, prophecy, ancestor work, vision work, and magick. A Blessed Grail of Hope and Healing that the world needs right now.

Blessed Be!
Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

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

Show, Tell, Inspire

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

A feminine shadow behind a screen

Photo by Stacey Gabrielle Koenitz Rozells

I love how popular Witchcraft has become. We are everywhere. The world needs more magick, so this adds to the magickal potential for change and growth all over the world. And I love how much is available to Witches today. For those of us who remember days past—of going to the local small bookstore and finding ten to twenty books under the occult section in the way back, or having to go someplace often fairly bleak to find an old-world occult store that came with a little thrill of illicit danger as you were bound to encounter unusual people, objects, and materials—the level of access is tremendous. There are some drawbacks due to the fact the baseline community hasn’t all read the same twenty books. Whether we loved one or hated it, we had a baseline awareness. And we had the shared experience of seeking out the occult apothecary or looking for a group or open circle listing on its bulletin board.

The internet opened it up first, with pioneers such as Witchvox.com, the Witch’s Voice, allowing you to find more resources than ever before. That boom of the 90’s Witchcraft eventually dipped, and we fell out of fashion, but now we find ourselves in a new boom, and the mark of this boom is a lot of diverse experiences and not the same baseline. There are a ton of more wonderful, deep books and far more flavors and styles of introductory books. There are arcane hardcover special editions and profound blog posts, and taking it outside of the written word, video and audio in various forms of podcasts and broadcasts. It can be a full-time job just trying to take a portion of it all in and process it in the context of your own practice.

One of the drawbacks to it all—which I think has always been there but becomes magnified when everything is magnified—is the desire to be spoon fed, to idol worship, and to be told what to do. The great danger in the growing magickal community today is walking that fine line between inspiration and authority.

In any serious art or science, there are principles, techniques, histories, and a legacy passed, with the hope that the next generation takes it further. Sometimes a generation will build upon what came before, and other times, they will deconstruct and build again, but with the clarity of such a legacy.

When primarily framed in a social context, whether online or in-person, there is a tendency to lose the context of such instructions, and everything becomes a directive. We currently live in a world, particularly online, where everyone is telling everyone else what to think, say, and do often without any context.

Some people embrace it because they want to learn. Some embrace it because they want to emulate the public figure or teacher. If they admire or idolize someone, they will adopt their views wholeheartedly, without always considering other perspectives. When learning, you might have to adopt a paradigm to learn a technique, but once the training is over, you have to evaluate how that technique and paradigm are going to work for you in your own personal perspective of magick. Others embrace it because they want to be told what to do, even though if you said that to them, they would vehemently deny it. Many people leave a religion that has told them what to do, rejecting those tenets, and seek to replace it with a religion that will also tell them what to do, but which they can agree with. They are looking for the safety of the container, the guidance of the structure.

I’m sorry to say that we live in an age where all these social, familial, and religious containers are dissolving. The rules of what is “right” won’t be the container, and we’ll have to make hard choices in the context of our personal lives and ethics. We have to determine what is “right” for us, in the context of our communities. With this tendency comes the segment of community that seeks to bend occult magickal traditions to conform to their expectations, setting up established right-wrong dichotomies for the group to follow, inevitably leading to dogmatic and militant interpretations of what should be open-ended, esoteric truths.

Most rebel against it. Don’t tell me what to do, they say. I often fall under this category myself. Though one must be aware of the difference between “don’t tell me what to do” versus “now I am going to tell you what to do, what is right, what is correct.” It’s a natural response to being told what you can and cannot do, but it just reverses the same bad dynamic. We see the opposition vehemently in online spaces where people battle over the age-old questions about whether Witchcraft is or isn’t a religion; if curses are or are not acceptable; if gender in magick is essential or outdated; if cultures should be mixed or kept separate; who has the right to practice or prohibit a practice; and if operative magick is real or just psychology with props. Those same arguments have been making the rounds in past Pagan meet-ups, book clubs, bar moots, coffee shops, fire circles, and covensteads. Each generation tackles them, and no one comes to consensus! Thank the gods for that! For it is in the space between where we find our way. The angst of such arguments could be easily diffused if prefaced with the phrase “for me” or “in my experience,” but the earlier practitioner with a great need for validation from others or a need to be “right” will start with the default assumption of “for everyone.” The experienced practitioner doesn’t need to be right and might even challenge the idea of what is right.

Despite many people’s ire with both Thelema and Wicca, the concepts of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and “An it harm none do what ye will” were baseline concepts in the discussions and learning of personal agency and responsibility in times past. Yet both traditions have a lot of material to learn, with techniques, traditions, and customs that might seem restrictive. So in that seeming paradox, there is the balance between structure and exploration, tradition and innovation.

Sometimes we mistake observation with experience. While I do believe in the mystical quantum model that the observer affects the outcome of really all things, passive observation can be great for learning certain things, but if it prohibits the actual doing of something, you should break free, or at the very least supplement your practice. Watching someone pull daily cards for “everyone” is not the same as pulling your own cards. Use videos and articles about draws to help learn the cards and how to read them, but also pull your own and apply it to your life. The same with astrological posts. They are like reading your horoscope in the newspaper in days past, fun prompts to keep in mind, but don’t mistake it for being an astrologer. I do a lot of rituals and classes online these days, something I was never sure I would do, but the key for me has been in having people participate, not just observe. Watch to learn, but fully engage whenever possible, and use it to inspire, to be a springboard for your own work. Don’t wait for the “expert” to do it, because in the doing of it, you learn how to be your own authority, at least of your own experience.

Occult leadership is somewhat of an oxymoron, with the nature of occultism as the unseen empowerment, and I say that as the ostensible leader of an occult organization. The point is to embody principles, lead by example, provide a container and teachings, but not tell people what to think, say, or do. We had the start of a recent community discussion about how we are not a values-led community, as other organizations and churches might describe themselves. We embrace the magickal teachings of the virtues (for despite some people’s beliefs, Christian ideas of virtue are really rooted in ancient Pagan philosophies), but each system of virtue is a lens for understanding and evaluating your own behavior, not a command for individuals or communities. We look at virtues in the occult system of the elements, the planets, the mysteries of the Wheel of the Year, the sephiroth of the Tree of Life, the zodiac, and the virtues embodied in The Charge of the Goddess. Different virtues “unlock” as you progress upon the path, their mystery deepening as you expand your own consciousness. You cannot mandate their embodiment in an individual; you can only give the space for someone to consciously embody it. What virtue is the focus at one point on the path changes at another.

Occult traditions, particularly Witchcraft, embody the concept of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things. We teach from that perspective, not only the biological and environmental, but all the way to the patterns of consciousness in the Divine Mind, in the roots of Pagan Hermetic and Neoplatonic philosophies. Likewise, Witchcraft and occultism embody the concepts of the individual, our uniqueness, our will and personal liberty. The mystery is in the squaring of the circle between these two concepts. This is really the crux of the challenge of the new aeon, the Age of Aquarius. Aquarius is ruled by the old ruler of Saturn, boundaries, and the new ruler of Uranus, freedom. They are the orthodox and unorthodox of our planetary powers.

The mystery is in how you resolve that paradox, over and over and over again. Teachers, leaders, and community can help you in that process, but beware anyone who gives you the directive of how you should resolve it, of how you should act, think, or speak outside of a specific context, such as a class or public ritual. Beware anyone who feels confident enough in their wisdom to guide you wholeheartedly in these aspects of life rather than provide support for you to figure it out.

The intention is that when you find your will, you will make the best decision with the wisdom of your soul guiding you, as we each have a part of play in the outer worlds, and my role is not your role, nor is your role mine. That is one of the reasons why while magickal people may support causes, they don’t tell you who to vote for in elections or how to support a cause. If you are aligned with your own will, that should be clear to you. A magickal leader shouldn’t be the one to prioritize action for you or even curate information if there is no expertise on the topic. A leader can share what they are doing, or what is important to them, and let it inspire others, but they cannot demand or require anything of others, regardless of how frustrating one might feel when you think someone is making the “wrong” choice. That is part of the process too. The beliefs that inform my actions today required a lot of my own process and mistakes to get here. While I might guide others, I can’t prevent their mistakes by guiding them on the course of my path and line of reasoning. They must come to it through the virtue of their own work and process. If they ask me, that is great, but if they don’t, then it’s not up to me to convince. Zen Buddhists teach the dharma that must be defended is not the true dharma, the true teaching. When caught up in something important for you, it can be easy to feel that everyone else around you should drop everything to join you, but that is not realistic, not as an occultist or in any aspect of life.

There is a little bit of the parental model in forms of magickal society, even though we try to emphasize the sister-brother-otherhood of it all. Like a parent with more experiences, a teacher has to let a student or initiate go through a learning process, often to the dismay of the teacher, and simply hold the space for it all to unfold and trust in the process. If either party on each side of this dynamic is advocating violence, oppression, or harm, that enters into a very different dynamic than disagreement on a specific action or policy. New boundaries might be drawn in the relationship, just as they could in a more traditional family dynamic. In these times, the upswell of violence, suppression, and oppression can make such situations harder to navigate, and it can be both easy to ignore dangers or to erroneously assume that all who disagree with you are dangerous and violent.

And this is not to say magick and politics don’t mix, as there is a rich history of like-minded magicians and Witches gathering to seek justice and offer protection. Politics is ultimately of the people, much like magick. To coerce or proselytize to our cause—or if a group is open and public, to make it a requirement—defeats the point and reduces the effectiveness of such magick. It must be the will of those gathered to do the work.

The quest, individually and collectively, is part of the process. We are told about the quests and the myths by those who have come before us, who are the keepers of traditions and teachings. We are shown the process by example in the lives of those same keepers, in the moments of formal education or in the living moments of ritual and ceremony. And we must be inspired by them, experience them, and integrate them, so we in turn can be keepers of the traditions and teachings and pass them onward. Yet the process never ends. Witchcraft, magick, and mystery are alchemical processes that never end.

by Karin Ugander

The month of May has just begun and perhaps you are already feeling the intensity that the time ahead will offer us. We have a Mercury retrograde coming up, a Lunar eclipse in the intense sign of Scorpio, and the always intense and surprising Black Moon Lilith will make her voice heard as she is about to team up with Ceres. But, as always, a lot of energy in motion also means great opportunities for higher awareness and healing. So let’s take a look among the stars and see how we can navigate forward in a wise way.

What’s going on inside the House?

Black Moon Lilith has just entered the sign of Cancer. In the horoscope, the sign of Cancer rules the 4th house and our most private life. This is who we are when we close the door to the outer, more public, world. A person with a Saggitarius 4th house may walk around at home naked amongst exotic plants surrounded by souvenirs from faraway places. Someone with 4th house in Capricorn may live in a mansion, castle, or another kind of public house, always ready for visitors and guests and therefore never really being private in their own home. Someone with a 4th house in Gemini may not be home much at all and live in what others might consider chaos, always on the move, ready for the next adventure with their friends.

And then we have the sign of Cancer ruling the 4th house, the most private of all the signs. With this placement it may be difficult to have strangers coming into the house for renovations, people showing up unannounced. Even mail and deliveries can feel like an intrusion. It may take a long time before a person with the fourth house in Cancer invites you into their home, but once you become their guests they offer friendship, a sanctuary, and a home filled with love, loyalty, and trust.

Now we have Black Moon Lilith (what is hidden) moving into the sign of Cancer. There she will reveal the private secrets no one thought ever would reach the public eye. Opposite the 4th house we have the 10th house, connected to Capricorn that rules the public, also our official face and persona. People who are known in public usually have strong placements in the 10th house.

We can expect the homes of celebrities, royalties, politicians, and the like to be revealed to the public. Private details, secret affairs, and personal likes and dislikes. This may also apply to companies and organizations. Basically, what has been going on behind closed doors may become public.

Do I really want to know?

On the good side of this transit is that what we may call bad or harmful things may be revealed. Wrongdoers being caught in the act so justice can be done. On the other side of this transit we need to ask ourselves if there are secrets perhaps are best left alone, for the sake of people’s right to privacy?

On a personal level this can be things like: Do I really want to know intimate details of my parents’ sex life? Is it important for me to know if my boss or favourite artist is a happy nudist at home? And does it really matter? With Black Moon Lilith we are wise to be careful when consuming news and information. What kind of journalism and social platforms do I support? How and when do I engage in gossip and am I aware when it happens? Do I respect my own and other peoples boundaries and rights to a private sphere? But also, how do I deal with the information about crimes and harmful things taking place behind closed doors?

Both the sign of Cancer and its opposite sign of Capricorn are connected to security, protection, and safety. On a collective plane, Black Moon Lilith’s movement into the sign of Cancer makes weaknesses and blind spots show themselves regarding those things.

What feeds my Soul and what do I feed it with?

Black Moon Lilith in Cancer is a very emotionally hungry placement. The Moon in Cancer has an emotional hunger and with Black Moon Lilith it is deeper, darker, and even more intense. To make sense of this we must stop for a moment and ask ourselves the question: What feeds my soul and what do I feed it with? When we have found out what it is that can satisfy the hunger in our souls, we have a responsibility to become self-sufficient.

As children we are totally dependent upon our parents to nourish us, to give us food, protection, and safety. As we grow up, we learn (hopefully) to nourish our own needs and become independent and functional adults. With Black Moon Lilith going even deeper we enter into the realm of the soul, how do we expect the world, religion, organizations, or our spiritual teachers to feed our souls? What do you do when your soul hungers for more energy, connection, and meaning? Do you binge-watch a whole season of something on Netflix? Spend a whole evening on TikTok? Call your ex after a night out on the town? And is this really working out for you? My guess is no, not in the long run.

What if you instead were to meditate deeper? Do a more advanced ceremony? Make the effort to learn more about yourself and the world around you?

This transit with Black Moon Lilith in Cancer can be draining for parents, spiritual teachers, healers, and people involved in community and social work. When Black Moon Lilith is only working in her shadow side she can be like a dark hole consuming everything, in this case emotions. But when she is balanced she also reveals insights, hidden gifts, soul treasures, and deep healing.

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

Ceres Joining In

The goddess asteroid Ceres (parenthood, nurturing, support) is joining Black Moon Lilith in Cancer. This makes the theme of nourishment stronger, but at the same time Ceres can make things more understandable and compassionate. She can help us to see what is hidden (Black Moon Lilith) and find ways to deal with them. What habits do I need to let go of? How can I find healthy support and nourishment for myself and my family (Cancer). What relationships are draining me and how can I change that?

Ceres and Black Moon Lilith travels together until the 18th of June. At that time, Ceres is at 14 degrees in Cancer directly at the fixed star Sirius, also called the Star of Isis or the Dog Star.

The Lunar Eclipse

On the 16th of May things can get intense. We have a Full Moon with a lot of energy at 25 degrees in the sign of Scorpio. The Sun, opposite the Moon, is at 25 degrees in Taurus. That degree in Taurus is connected to earth-based religions and native tribes all over the world.

The sign of Scorpio is known for being dramatic and transformative. At this full moon we also have a total lunar eclipse, making things even more intense. On top of that, the asteroid Hekate, sometimes called the Queen of Witches, is right next to the Sun at 28 degrees in Taurus. The 28th degree is connected to initiation, intensive fire, and transformation. If you are in some way connected to the Goddess Hekate and her energy, this event may be extra strong for you.

Unexpected Help and Structure

Saturn, known as the guardian, blocker, and forces that limits things, can be of unexpected help in this turmoil of energy. Saturn at 24 degrees in Aquarius is right next to Vesta (fire, protection, priest/ess) at 27 degrees in Aquarius. Together they make a good aspect to both Ceres and Black Moon Lilith (mentioned above). With this aspect they can assist in limiting the emotional hunger. They may also help to transform the need for something greater into usable energy in ceremony, reaching perhaps both higher and deeper.

It should be said though, that doing ceremony during an eclipse is traditionally not recommended because the energy is considered wild and unpredictable. If one should engage in such an activity despite the warnings, Vesta and Saturn could help to ground the energy being transmitted and make it less unpredictable, although there are no guarantees.

Giving the Goddess a Voice

At the full Moon, Venus is at 15 degrees (goddess, magick, female) traveling together with Chiron at 14 degrees (healing, transformation, wisdom) in the sign of Aries (bravery, power, ability). When Venus and Chiron join together, healing the Sacred Feminine is a theme. In the sign of Aries they can make the voices of women and the Goddess heard and messages reach out far and wide. At that time they are not making aspects to any other traditional planets which can help them to work undisturbed and with more clarity. On a personal level this period is good for healing wounds connected to the Mother, the Goddess and all feminine things.

Venus and Chiron are travelling together until the 22nd of May.

Other things to consider:

  • Mercury retrograde begins on the 10th of May and ends on the 3rd of June. During this time be careful with signing contracts and be prepared for delays and problems with communication and technical things.
  • On the 10th of May, Jupiter moves into the fiery sign of Aries and can cause hubris. Being joined by Mars in the same sign on the 24th, that intensifies.
  • The Sun enters Gemini on the 20th of May

To summarize, we have an interesting period ahead of us. A lot of feminine and magickal energies on all levels of life. Remember your training and remember to breath, center, and ground yourself. Most people are wise when taking the time to connect with what is really important in life.

Blessed Be!
Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

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

The Ills of the Age

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

pill capsules filled with golden and pink glitter

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

If the occultists perceive patterns of consciousness beneath all manifestations in our life, what do we think is happening when everything becomes chaos? What is the pattern? Why can’t we easily fix it with our magickal intentions, spells, and meditations? Why can’t we create our reality as so many teachings tell us we do? The answer is understanding the occult mechanisms behind the current ills of our age and how they work on individuals and groups.

I say current ills because they seem so exacerbated now, but they pervade all times and places in various proportions. What we face is nothing new, but it manifests in new ways in our own time. Rather than looking at it as an external force to manage and control, we must look at it as corresponding with our internal experience, a healing journey that we are in both as individuals and as a people, nation, and world.

If we want to be effective magicians and healers, we need to understand some of the dynamics at play underlying the visible manifestations we experience in the world. We first have to correct the balance of these mechanisms in ourselves by becoming conscious of them. Only then will we have greater effect in the outer world, but I fear it’s a slow process because on some level, everyone must do the same. Here are some ideas to frame the ills of our age at this time.

Autoimmune Inflammation—While many are suffering from physical autoimmune disorders (which can be related), I’m particularly talking about the spiritual immune system being in overdrive because of overstimulation. Many are having a trauma response psychologically, and our energy systems react in a similar manner. Even without obvious trauma, the constant barrage of conflicting information, rapid emotional responses to diverse stimuli, and a persistent flow of everyone telling everyone what they should do, say, or think puts the energy system on the defensive and it overreacts to things, making large problems out of smaller situations. We respond as if they are life or death, with the fight or flight (and now the additional understanding of freeze and fawn) response. It becomes difficult to override these mechanisms to respond consciously, and even when we do, overreaction simmers under the surface awaiting a time to burst forth.

Thought Viruses—“Thoughts are things” is the old occult adage. Our thoughts carry force, perhaps not the same force as our actions, but they are operating profoundly on more subtle levels. Thoughtforms are purposely created by magicians to do specific work. Thoughtforms are also unconsciously created and can run rampant in individuals and groups. Thought can become contagious. Sometimes that is good. Cheer and humor can be infectious, but most often it is anger, fear, prejudice, jealousy and hate that become infectious. Thoughts can become like a virus, infecting and spreading. We see it overtly in our mentality, but also subtly in social dynamics, groups, and cliques that develop in groups. Today we have a lot of viral narratives that are proposed by seeming experts, but which lack context, nuance, or history. They can appeal to our ego, however, or our previously held beliefs, so we accept them as fact, not realizing they are viral. We see it overtly in social media, hoping a post or meme becomes viral and increases the power of an influencer. Take a moment to reflect on those words and that process. It’s pathological, but we have bought into that construction of how the new media works and how we must all navigate it. We use the same word for malicious programs on our computer: a virus. Think of your social media, despite the fun and connection we can have, as a psychic biohazard risk. It parallels the physical pandemic environment, but we think that when we are alone on our phone, we are safe from infection, but we are open to another form of infection. We always have been, physically and psychically; that is not new. The mechanism of delivery is more subtle now, but we have to find ways to navigate our psychic and electronic environments as we do our physical.

Inverted Energy Dynamics—The pandemic has upended our normal social energy dynamics, and regardless of our specific location’s recovery process, things are still topsy-turvy. Some unhealthy but expected patterns have been distrusted, and many healthy patterns of connection have been disrupted. There are those who are aided by online contact versus in-person who are thriving and those who are debilitated by the same mechanism. The energy exchanges for introverts and extroverts are upended. And those who are renewed by places, culture, and land have been challenged with travel restrictions. Lack of facial expressions with masks has diminished the normal human energy exchange through a reassuring smile. (I’m not advocating against masks in areas where the pandemic danger is higher, just noting the energetic dynamic.) When we don’t know where and how we are renewing our psychic and social energy, we enter into a scarcity mentality. It becomes the mindset of an energy famine. We do and say strange things to provoke responses that we think will feed our energy dynamic, but often they are unhelpful or unpleasant for the others engaged in the process, and we don’t even know we are doing it, as we have never learned about such psychic starvation.

Unconscious Invocations—Magickal people consciously evoke powerful psychic forces in our lives through ritual. But we also unconsciously evoke forces by other means. Everyone does. We do it through the things we overtly identify with: professions, sports teams, fandoms, group membership, astrological signs, minority statuses, nationalities, and more. I identify with being a Witch first, but then a comic book nerd, Star Wars fan, Taurus, queer man, polyamorous, High Priest in the Cabot Tradition and the Temple of Witchcraft, the Italian side of my heritage, and a writer. All of those have archetypes with a lot of potential patterns I may or may not also identify with. Within the context of a magickal practice, the magician’s every action outside of the formal rituals soon becomes an act of Magick, and seemingly mundane things like how we dress and speak evoke psychic forces beyond the voltage of an average person. Conflicts in the magickal world seem so intense, often over things that seem trivial to those in the non-magickal communities, because of these forces. We can’t stop this process and shouldn’t try as it would hinder other spiritual processes, but we must be aware of it.

Astrological Weather—I joked with a friend that since I’ve started studying astrology in the mid-1990s, I don’t think I’ve heard an astrologer say that the astrological weather is great/easy/fun/prosperous for the next month since maybe 1998. We tend to go to astrologers for the warning of what to look for so that we can be prepared, not to affirm what is going great. Yet the astrological weather over the last years and coming years has been intense. We can look to the past patterns to see how it might manifest, but in the longer cycles, the world is in a very different place, so we might not always see specifics. Looking to see your sensitive points, global sensitive points, and the patterns and themes within both can help you make better decisions.

I remember being part of a small informal Pagan Leadership gathering to focus on a set of problems we thought we could help with by putting together the resources of our organizations. I remember mentioning the astrology of the situation and factoring that into our process. It was an obvious bit of wisdom to me for a group of Witches to use. There was a faction of the group that was appalled at my suggestion. They were uncomfortable using any magickal or divinatory information for social decisions. I was stunned, but soon realized we were operating from very different places in that paradigm, and I soon withdrew, as I felt my authentic presence wasn’t helpful. I did find out that the group soon disbanded without moving forward on any goals. If energy, patterns of consciousness, underlie all phenomena, I’ll use all tools available to help me best navigate it. Even a simple phone app that tells you your daily transits can be an invaluable aid to being aware of sensitive days. Awareness doesn’t mean you can change it, but it can help you process and frame it, deepening what it means to you. Recently I had a major upset, and I realized it was within two days of Pluto opposing my ascendant, on the full Moon that was nearly conjunct with my ascendant, and during Mercury retrograde. So that information helped me look at issues of self-identity, emotional sensitivity, partnerships, transformation towards my higher will, and how to clearly respond.

Understanding these occult patterns are occurring can help us navigate them. For a practice to help better engage with them, try this or something similar.

Tools
Candle
Horseshoe

Light a candle dedicated to balance and well-being, or simply use your altar spirit candle.

Repeatedly “tap” your thymus, the part of your chest between the lower sternum but beneath the throat. Say:

“I balance my immune system on all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

Take a horseshoe, ideally, or another piece of metal. I started with a small iron rod, but found I preferred the horseshoe. Before doing this the first time, take a magnet and simply stroke the magnet down the arc of the horseshoe in the manner some learn to consecrate their athame or an inner wire for their wand. Or you could use an actual horseshoe magnet. Charge the metal to draw forth and magnetize all viruses. Pass the metal around your body and say:

“I draw forth all viruses from all my bodies—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

Pass the metal through the candle flame three times to dissipate the viral energy.

Next connect to an energy that is helpful and good for you to exchange. A simple method is to connect to the ground beneath you, draw up energy through your body to the heavens, and then draw the heavens down through your body into the Earth, creating a natural reciprocal flow. For others, the exchange might be with a god or spirit. Whatever works best for your energy, then say:

“I balance the flow of my energy in all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

To balance all the invocation of identity, focus on the higher, wider soul. For those who might make a practice of some variation of the Bornless Rite invocation as a daily prayer, use that. For those unfamiliar with that ritual, these words work well:

“I invoke my highest, deepest, wisest self to be present in my every thought, word, and deed.”

And lastly harmonize with the current conditions, whatever they may be. Realize the psychic environment is a part of you and something you can manage, like the four points above. You simply need to flow with the process, but be aware of the process. Say:

“I am in harmony with the world within me and the world all around me. Blessed be.”

Take this awareness out into your day as you seek to heal the imbalances we all carry and the ills of our age.

Altar Tools for Broom Closet Witches

by Claire du Nord

Welcome back, Broom Closet Witches! Merry Meet and Blessed Be! Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft Tradition, with the second article in our series about Broom Closet Witchery. In this article we will explore some options for more specific Altar Tools that might not be thought of as such, but that, with a bit of imagination, might just work!

In Article #1, “An Altar in a Broom Closet”, we looked at different situations in which one might be practicing Broom Closet Witchery and some ways to make it work for you. We also explored some ideas for Altars and representations of the Four Elements – Earth, Air, Fire and Water, as well as the Goddess and God.

In this, Article #2, the focus will be on how to fit an Altar and Altar Tools in a Broom Closet! This requires imagination, planning, thought, etc., etc., and so forth. How to keep all your “Incognito” Altar items accessible but not in such a way that they “give you away” will be a task that only you can accomplish, as your situation is unique, even though it may be similar to those described in Article #1.


Altar Tools for Broom Closet Witches

The four main Altar Tools – the Peyton, the Athame, the Wand and the Chalice correspond to the Elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water, respectively. But what is a Broom Closet Witch to do if those particular items just wouldn’t “fly” in the situation they are practicing in? This is where some magickally mundane, or would that be mundanely magickal ideas for Altar Tools are called for. The question to consider is, “What could I use instead of a Peyton, an Athame, a Wand and a Chalice?” As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”, so …

Instead of a Peyton for Earth (Green), how about one of these?

Instead of an Athame for Air (Yellow), how about one of these?

Instead of a Wand for Fire (Red), how about one of these?

Instead of a Chalice for Water (Blue), how about one of these?

Any guess as to why there might be Incense for both Air and Fire? And would it work for Earth too? Why or why not, in your opinion?

Can you find the Peyton, the Athame, the Wand and the Chalice in this photo?

I hope this article has been helpful, and until the next one, Bright Blessings, and Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet again!

Please note: The basic concepts pertaining to Altars in Witchcraft discussed in this article are those that I learned in the Temple of Witchcraft Mystery School classes (Witchcraft 1-5) and I therefore claim no credit for them.

— Claire du Nord

Temple Astrolog: The End of an Era

by Karin Ugander

Have you been tired lately? Had strong and vivid dreams? Has the line between dreaming and wakefulness blurred from time to time? Do you feel a strong desire to assist people and the world around you, but are unsure of how to help in the best way? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Let’s take a walk together with the stars and see what we can learn.

The Jupiter and Neptune Conjunction

On the 12th of April, Jupiter (expansion) and Neptune (creativity, intuition, art) are meeting up in the sign of Pisces (spirituality, art, dreams) at 23 degrees. They will only conjunct one time on the 12th of April, but we will feel it before it happens and for a long time after. This is a very strong event and the last time Jupiter and Neptune met in Pisces was in 1856. The next time it will happen is in the year 2188, so this is a once in a lifetime event!

Jupiter and Neptune do conjunct each other in a cycle of 13 years. Because of that it can be good to look at what happened in your life at that time:

  • In 2009 they met in Aquarius on May 27th , July 10th, and December 12th
  • In 1997 they met in Capricorn, Jan 9th
  • In 1984, they also met in Capricorn Jan 19th

Neptune is the modern ruler of Pisces and Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces from a time when only seven of the planets were used in astrology. This means that there is a lot of water energy with all of its gifts and challenges.

Possible positive things with this event:

  • The beginning of a new 13-year cycle
  • Opening of psychic abilities
  • An outburst of creativity
  • Deeper spiritual connection
  • Finding a higher meaning to one’s life

Possible challenging things with this event:

The end of the previous 13 year cycle

  • Feeling unsure about the future.
  • Lack of grounding and feeling “spaced out.”
  • The feeling of walking in a dream, hard to know if you are dreaming or awake.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by information and the world around you.
  • The feeling of being at the wrong place doing the wrong things in your life.

Jupiter and Neptune travels together until the 22nd of May. By then Jupiter has moved into the sign of Aries.

A Shift Also Means Change

When we go through a shift of awareness it also means that things in our life change. It kind of goes hand in hand. When I work with clients, we also look at what took place within 9–13 months after an important astrological transit or numerological shift. Around that time the energy and the consequences of the transit have started to manifest. Another manifestation cycle that is important is the 2-year cycle related to the mental energy field and that is the time it usually takes us to mentally process change. So when you trace the years and dates of the previous conjunctions of Jupiter and Neptune you might want to take that into consideration as well.

Brilliant Ideas, But Don’t Be Too Slow

The Sun at 21 degrees in Aries is travelling together with the asteroid Pallas Athena (intelligence, strategy) at 22 degrees in the sign of Aries. Together they can create brilliant ideas and bring positive changes. This is even stronger with the asteroid Urania right next to them at 27 degrees. Urania is one of the Muses and she can spark creativity and create fantastic solutions. She also gives inspiration to things like astronomy and astrology.

What might slow things down though is that Mercury (information, thinking) is also right next-door at 1 degree in Taurus, and Taurus like to think things through, which is good, but the process can take so long that your window of opportunity closes. This is extra strong with Mercury in Taurus making a challenging square to Pluto in Capricorn, slowing things down further. The good side of this Mercury/Pluto combination is it hinders you from making mistakes. My advice is this, take good care of the inventions, ideas, and opportunities that arrive on your doorstep or in your mind. Do your research, make reservations if you need to, make the calls. Then, before you make the final decision, think things through and ask for advice from a professional if you need to. But once again, if you are too slow, good fortune may go to someone else who was faster to take action.

The Sun and Pallas Athena travel together until the 27th of April.

Mercury squares Pluto until the 13th of April, and travels in the sign of Taurus until the 30th of April.

The End of an Era

The Asteroid Juno in transit often signals change in relationships, groups, and phases of our lives. For example, she is often very active in the chart when someone has their period for the first time, the first time having sex, meeting a life partner, becoming the owner of a pet or having a child. She is usually there when our lives change, an old era of our lives end, and a new one begins.

Sometimes this is by our choice, at other times it can be someone else breaking up with us or something happening to us. How we deal with strong Juno transits has a lot to do with how good we are with separations and endings. If we have separation anxiety we may very well unconsciously create difficult situations for the people involved, where it eventually becomes all right for us to leave the situation or relationship. But if we have worked through the idea and process of separations and endings as a natural way of life, we can do it more in beauty and respect for ourselves and everyone involved.

One example of a “bad” separation might be that we are so afraid of separation that we become passive-aggressive towards our partner. Then when our partner finally has had enough and expresses anger towards us, demanding to know what is really going on? We play innocent and say, “You are impossible to live with. Just look at how angry you are. I’m leaving you.” The partner ends up with all the blame, when in fact we are just as much responsible, or even the catalyst starting it all.

Right now Juno (endings, new cycles) is travelling at 26 degrees in Aquarius right between Saturn (limitations, karma, blocks) at 22 degrees, and on the other side Mars (aggression, drive, conflict) at 27 degrees. With this we can expect things to end and new things to start. With the transit taking place in Aquarius we can also expect it to be about organisations, friendships, and the safety net we have around us.

On a personal level this can be anything from changing the electric company you’ve had for ages, to no longer going to the wine lottery with your friends, leaving your coven, or breaking up with a partner or a friend. Change is coming, the question is how are you going to deal with it?

On the other side, there may also be new alliances forming and creating a new sense of belonging and feeling supported and protected. This becomes a stronger influence with the planet Venus (love) right next to Mars and just entering the loving sign of Pisces. On a collective plane, countries, companies, and defense alliances are being changed and reformed.

Juno and Saturn travel together until the 23rd of April, Mars and Juno until the 28th of April.

Changes in Your Magick

Hekate is known to many as the Queen of Witches. As an asteroid, she is strong in the charts of not only Witches but also herbalists, midwives, doctors, therapists, psychic mediums, and animal lovers. In transit in our astrological chart she often signals a change in our healing and magick.

Right now the asteroid Hekate is at 16 degrees in Taurus (earth, magick, manifestation) right next to the rebel Uranus (sudden changes, the unexpected) at 13 degrees in Taurus. Together they are making a challenging aspect to the asteroid Vesta (priest, priestess) at 14 degrees in Aquarius. This can create unexpected events and situations, some even chaotic. But, the result might be that you take the next step in unfolding your magick, healing skills and leadership. Anyone involved in magick can expect the unexpected!

Hekate and Uranus travels together until around the 18th of April.

To Summarize: This is the end of an era on a personal and collective plane, and a new one is beginning. Let’s hope that it is a good one, and may we all use our dreams, magick, visions, and powers to help make it so.

To anchor the strong healing energies of the Neptune/Jupiter conjunction you may take a deep breath and connect to all the good things that you know in this world and beyond. Let them fill your heart and allow them to spread out goodness in your own life. Allow them to radiate further to the past, into the future, and out to all living things.

Blessed Be!
Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

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

Covens and Congregations

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Barnabas Davoti from Pexels

At the end of my current year in our online class, we had an interesting short discussion about religious institutions, fundraising, and essentially, proselytizing. Most of us come from a religious background where there is the wholehearted belief that their way is the “right way” and for many, helping others come to the right way is a moral duty. I have heard from some true believers that proselytizing is the same as pulling your burning body out of a fire to save you, only the burning building is the fires of hell. And she believed it, but it’s not the same thing. You only think it is because of your beliefs.

The conversation came up after we announced our annual online conference, TempleHearth, and more detailed plans for our community center, including the architectural sketches, vision drawings, and site plans. Estimates are around $1.7 million, so we have a long road ahead, though I know we can do it, little by little, with the help of some magick. Community is a lifelong project, not a quick flash. One student appreciated that at the end of Witchcraft One, we start the conversation about if you should or shouldn’t perform the solitary initiation ritual at the end of the course. There is no assumption or expectation you will, and it is only required if you want to go onto level two in the program. We encourage people to really reflect on it, take time and be sure. There are no hard oaths, nor any requirements, and you can still be a general member of the community and not initiate. It’s not for everyone. We have a segment of people who take the class, learn about magick and psychic ability, meditation and energy, and then go on to other things. Some initiate, and some don’t.

This consent-based approach was praised, and then the hope that it wouldn’t change as we faced our challenges to build the community center, as other religious organizations, in an effort to meet financial goals, will often push membership drives to meet such goals.

Generally Witchcraft and Paganism are non-proselytizing by their nature. It’s one of the hard-wired things I took from my early studies, though some don’t place the emphasis on it today in the growing polytheistic world. We’ve had members and even leaders want to focus on growing families in the Craft or enticing new demographics to grow the community as a traditional church does (see Children Are Our Future). Yet Witchcraft is an initiatory tradition. One must seek to go through the door of mystery, but with a more public organization like ours, we try to make the door more visible and the requirements more clear. We don’t proselytize to any specific demographic or seek to improve our “numbers” with any segment of society. Those who are called to come are welcome to enter, but we don’t entice. We do have our challenges with modernity and being online, yet keeping to the essence of what is important will always be foremost in our minds. Ideally I’d love in-person access for anyone who wants it, but until then, we face the challenges, and blessings, of being online as well as in-person.

The tougher part, the antithesis of this financial concern, is we often discourage people from going on too quickly, and encourage people to take their time, integrate, and learn other complementary things, within the Temple or outside of it, to be properly prepared for deeper work. We discourage rushing through the process, though we live in an age where people wish to complete things quickly. We often turn down applicants at all levels (sometimes based on previous work, sometimes based on the application itself) if there are concerns that the student is not ready and the teachings might be damaging or simply not have a hope of taking root at this time. Waiting to proceed can feel like rejection, and it’s hard to parse out rejection from a specific course at a specific time and teacher from rejection of selfhood. We explore this more in The Subtle Process, Part 2: Facing Rejection and Who Guards the Gate. We work with all sincere seekers, but as each level progresses, the classes become purposely smaller.

We do accept donations as a nonprofit church, which is quite helpful, and have generous contributors, quite a few of whom are not even initiates of the tradition, just those who appreciate what we do and what we stand for in greater Paganism. Our goal is to create land-based resources that will be passed from one generation to the next and which will continue to grow to serve many different locations, eventually. I struggle with the nonprofit church part, as I question if what we do is really “a church.” The answer is yes and no. To answer that, we have to get into the divide between prophetic religions and mystical religions, and how there is more than one definition of a religious organization, even if it’s something unfamiliar to us because of upbringing and background. And sometimes there are more similarities than we would like. But if other religions are going to get societally recognized breaks for themselves and their members, why shouldn’t we partake in the same benefits? It’s quite helpful to a young organization such as ours as we work to establish long-time resources, allowing us to better focus on what is important, such as helping each other through magickal evolution and helping train ministers to serve our community and beyond in the world.

Sadly a lot of Pagan community is still much like the Protestant preacher model. Communities form around a charismatic leader, teacher, or healer. That is how I got here. I fully admit it, though I didn’t know enough about it at the time when the process began. I went from a word-of-mouth teacher working in people’s homes to working in bookstores, centers, festivals, and conventions. Then a group of past students wanted to build community and put the teachings into deeper practice. Some Witchcraft traditions, however, are based on a Catholic or Orthodox sense of apostolic succession. The sense of authority is passed down from founders to specific branches, such as High Priestess to coveners, usually closed to the public. To deny these things in relationship to other religions wouldn’t serve us, despite many of us naturally wishing to disassociate from anything to do with a church, but as we enter an Aquarian Age, these similarities can illustrate how we take those strands and look to new models. The Temple of Witchcraft is one such way, focusing upon a school and providing a wide variety of ministries for a Witchcraft priesthood to serve, learn, and experience outside of a coven context. The intention is to provide container, support, and continuity for the training of the magickal priesthood.

Unlike many other congregational religions, we in the Temple are more like the cunning folk of old, being service-based. There are specific costs for classes, events, or specific work beyond pastoral care. Some would critique that one cannot charge for mystical training, and I’ve struggled with that as well, though I was charged for my initial training and appreciate the clarity of the relationship and the clearly marked rights and requirements between both parties. There was a distinct sense of beginning, middle, and end to all agreements, and what options were next. In other models, what you “owe” is not always clearly spelled out. I was speaking to a friend in several initiatory groups who jokes that “you always pay, one way or another.” I think there is some truth to that. Sometimes we get mired in oaths of loyalty we feel obligated to follow, even when we believe our teacher to be wrong. And I think of all the amazing spiritual things that I have also paid for in terms of art, music, literature, and lessons to practice art, music, and writing myself. Were they any less meaningful than my magick? No. They are framed differently, but still deeply magickal and spiritual on my life path.

We offer pastoral care to students in the mystery school, and there is a supportive community body of members, students, initiates, and ministers to aid. You can volunteer and share in experiences, find some work study programs, apply for scholarships, or attend quite a few free events and partake in free resources. If you want specific expertise or private counsel, healing, or divination, you might book a session with a professional who can offer those services to you. Unlike a congregation where weekly tithing is often the order, you only pay for the professional services you receive.

There are no yearly dues, and one does not lose membership from lack of attendance of events or classes. We have members of the tradition who show up to things sporadically as time allows, going back to the 1990s as their time of initiation. We have many wonderful community members whose initiatory path is elsewhere for a personal focus, but we enjoy our time together for kinship, community events, and magickal projects. And I’m sure we will keep that ethos, even when facing the projects of community center funding, just one of our multi-generational dreams for our community.

While church implies congregation—and perhaps in the eye of the government giving us nonprofit status, we have a congregation—as a Witch, I see us as a mystical order with many different options of participation, where everyone can come together in community, but is also free to come and go as they please in the pursuit of their own mystical attainment. It’s not a coven. It’s not a congregation. It’s a secret society with an open secret and public listings. It’s a magickal order that clearly marks where the entrance and exit is. And I don’t think I would have it any other way.

Bad Advice

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

We have had a backlash against some metaphysical self-help paradigms that have swung too far in one direction, calling out things under the terminology of toxic positivity or spiritual bypassing, but I think we haven’t yet found an equilibrium rooted in wisdom. As I scroll through this next generation of self-help memes and tweets, I feel we are moving in almost the opposite direction, that societally we are in an autoimmune response of inflammation, except in the collective mental-emotional bodies instead of the physical. Like an autoimmune disease, there is an attacking of the collective self by the collective self’s immune response. As someone who has worked with people in healing modalities for twenty years, I see a lot of terrible advice by people in the midst of their own healing crisis getting a long reach because of social media, perpetuating the inflammation, not bringing true healing. While letting things reach a healing crisis can be part of the healing formula, you can’t stay in crisis indefinitely.

I see advice that enshrines your opinion or intuition as infallible, urging you to leave or disconnect when someone disagrees with you or challenges you or is in any other way “low vibe.” This is nothing but shallow and immediate self-care wrapped in consumerism, a temporary bandage, as true care requires a longer education and commitment to health. Online advice is filled with pop culture and psychological jargon without definition, confidently offering diagnosis of complex life situations through a meme. There is a lot of preaching and directives in our “hot takes.”  

Everything you disagree with is problematic. Everyone in opposition to you is toxic. Anyone with a different perception is gaslighting you. In reality, one person can actually have a problem with another and resolve it, or even without resolving it, find other areas of support and agreement. Or believe it or not, we can simply leave each other alone. One can behave badly in one instance and not be harmful 24/7. One can have a different perspective on a situation and not be trying to manipulate you. Not every opposition or confrontation is violence, abuse, or trauma, and to overuse those words does a disservice when there is actual violence, abuse, and trauma. While there is a mental health crisis in the world, not everyone you have conflict with has narcissistic personality disorder or is a sociopath. Those are specific behaviors and conditions. And you can label something as a problem, abuse, or toxic behavior and be wrong. Judgment calls are not always clear, and you can be wrong yourself. You could also be correct, and they could be problematic, toxic, gaslighting, or have an untreated mental health problem, but rushing to label things starkly and completely in black and white terms so that we can enforce our sense of being “right” isn’t the way life works.

Not everything you recognize from another culture is culture appropriation, particularly if you are uneducated or misinformed in how a particular practice entered into another tradition or community. There is a lot of living community memory not set in writing and inaccessible to much of the online world, particularly for those who joined an overall movement in the last two, five, or even ten years and who primarily engage with others online. You can disagree with a particular cultural usage, but if you are not also making the distinctions between appropriation, misappropriation, cultural exchange, inspiration, diffusion, blending, syncretism, and the much more prevalent problems of misinformation, misrepresentation, discrimination, and denied access, you are being intellectually dishonest in an effort to create a binary right/wrong with you being right. Without this subtle understanding, most of our modern food, language, music, and art would be considered misappropriated, and under such wisdom, should therefore be abandoned. Likewise most traditions we know have experienced vast cultural transfusions from other sources, and often those times and exchanges were framed in periods of empire and invasion. 

There is no problem with seeking an accommodation for yourself for particular groups and rituals, but it’s unreasonable to ask the majority to cease doing something integral to their rituals to suit your needs and preferences. You can also decide that the practice, event, group, or community is not a fit for you at this time, but that is a far cry from the declaration that the practice, group, or community is unfit for all people. Not all things are for all people, in Witchcraft and beyond.

A lot of this discourse is framed in terms of justice, but has little restorative or harmonizing intent. I see social movements that are looking for everyone to agree, with some using that agreement as a weapon in “pile on” comment threads whether people find comfort in being in the majority espousing superiority. Not everything fits everyone, and a teacher coming from a wisdom teaching will recognize that. Different things are emphasized at different levels of teaching, and a meme, unlike a living teacher, cannot discern where you are spiritually with your understanding. Beware of mob mentality self-help and scapegoating of others who are different through disagreement. While social media can be quick and sharp and fun, when making critical decisions, seek help from those who can place things in context and speak with nuance. Simplicity is useful, but it can also confirm all your poor behaviors and neglect your greater potential. Real social change can require support beyond the immediate posts of the social media sphere.

I think in three, five, or ten years, we’ll be critiquing this current moment that many have embraced today as flawed, much as we are doing so now upon the past paradigms. My only hope is that in the future, we will not repeat a new phase of this cycle with another psychic inflammation response and will have reached a place of stability, perspective, and wisdom, and that not too many people will have internalized the bad advice of today as new wisdom. Not to say there are not helpful things out there today—there are—but they seem to get less traction than the quick catchy hot takes. With a need to hustle and commoditize everything to survive in this harsh society, many who haven’t yet found a way that works are suddenly “experts” in things. And while they might have some intellectual book knowledge, their lack of life experience results in advice that sounds good because it flatters the ego and justifies our feelings and behaviors, but which isn’t rooted in anything wise at all. The desire for a platform comes first, while the intent and message are secondary, and for some, inconsequential….as long as it “looks” good. It’s hard to get “likes” on a post when challenging people, unless people simply agree and assume you are challenging someone else. When we say something goes viral, there is also the aspect of a social or psychic virus, not just spreading popularity. I wonder how much of our viral terminology is at play on multiple levels in our collective psyche. There is a sickness occurring on many levels, and we forget the psychic is one of those levels. Thought viruses are real.

The constant stream of information—fun, serious, helpful, sad, toxic, inspiring, and healing—is overwhelming. We go from birthday photos to a magickal meme to an announcement someone is in the hospital dying. Even a newspaper article gives us more time to process the facts or focus on a clear narrative than the media stream we continually scroll through. This creates a lot of stress on our body, brain chemistry, hormones, and consciousness. We have been conditioned to consume and react quickly with no psychic digestion. We have FOMO, a “fear of missing out,” so we don’t take enough breaks. We want to belong and participate by sharing posts and mimicking posts that get the approval of others. We want to participate, to be liked, successful, and seen. None of these desires alone is bad, but collectively, they can create unconscious harmful behaviors. These behaviors are often in opposition to the time-honored practices of those who would seek magickal attainment, or at the very least, greater self-awareness.

Influence is now the goal rather than experience. Bite-size pieces packaged to be easily consumable can distort whatever root wisdom is there. Quotes fit well in memes, but what is the greater context? Much of the content is not grounded in any philosophy, but masquerades as wisdom and experience with key buzz words. People cheer or argue for the sake of cheering or arguing, with little thought. It becomes a tribal dynamic, like rooting for a sports team. Observation of an external process feels like actual participation in something greater. 

While I’m a magickal practitioner first and foremost, I find that if you are looking for simple foundational wisdoms, a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and a Buddhism primer go a long way for some basic understanding of consciousness and behavior. They are certainly framed in their context and history, but their essence is timeless. In times past, teachers and practitioners in our communities could grow and make our mistakes on a tiny local scene. Now everyone’s reach is magnified, but not always in proportion to their experience and success in helping others.

Their advice is often given in absolutes, but outside of the context of sacred relationship. For example, the idea that you must “do witchcraft” for five years before you approach any gods might be true in a specific tradition, or in an individual’s experience, but it’s not good advice for most new Witches. For many, it’s the call of the deities that open the way, and theirs is a path of devotion.

Statements like, “You do not need to make an ancestor altar. You are the altar to your own ancestry” can be a problem in the magickal world, true on one level, but truly unhelpful on another. You don’t have to do anything at all, really; it all depends on the type of experience you desire. If you want direct communication, advice, aid, and magick from your ancestors, you can partake in the time-honored spiritual technology of the altar to facilitate clear and direct contact…or not. You can have successful contact outside of ritualized formats, but it’s often hard to untangle from your own ego, fears, and projections, and when strong, easy to confuse for psychosis. Much of my work over the years has been helping people through psychic experiences that appear to be mental health crises, and mental health crises that appear to be psychic experiences. The altar is an aid to connect and clear the connection; feeding the link with offerings strengthens it. The initial externalization helps create boundaries, and then you find the process internalizes more with the practice. If it didn’t work so well, it wouldn’t be found in numerous traditions and passed down so often. Good advice might come from the perspective and experience of knowing the benefits and drawbacks of both having and not having ancestor altars. Poetic declarations are beautiful, but if you are instructing someone metaphysically, you need to go through the whole process and its steps.

I knew one particular teacher who advised students not to read books, as books would be confusing, and encouraged students to get all their answers from said teacher. Now that bad advice has moved in the opposite direction, with today’s  recommendation being to buy and read all the books, but no encouragement to engage with and then digest the contents of the books before having an opinion or posting about them. One wants to be the first to share, to set the trends, but if you haven’t really integrated anything from the book through experience, how valuable is your opinion?  

Beware those who lead with their wounds so much so that you immediately identify with them when you are in crisis because you are so alike, as that might be a clue that they are stuck in the same place you are, but have found a way to glamorize and even monetize it. Leading with your wounds is a natural part of the progression of healing, but it can’t be the goal, and those in this stage probably should not be at the forefront teaching and leading others until they recover more. No one needs to be perfect to aid others, but those with open and reopened wounds should take care of that issue before running out to offer others aid. Those with the skills, teachings, and wisdom to help you through crisis should probably be modeling something that will make you reflect, question, and think and feel deeply, not validate exactly what you are already doing and thinking.

We struggle with the Aquarian paradox, a sign ruled by Uranus and Saturn, a continuous cycle of breaking and then restoring limits and boundaries. The occult becomes revealed and no longer hidden, producing an “occulture.” The techniques and information are more widely and freely available, rather than concealed by oath and secrecy. The more widely available, the more people who will benefit, right? Yes and no, because as more people have access to life-changing paradigms to create life-changing experiences, we have another operation in effect: widely available access often generates a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, confusion, and distortion, particularly when dominated with consumerism as the key tenet rather than education and growth. The mysteries become occulted again, even in an occulture, but this time by a layer of bullshit covering them on the surface. One must pan the muck to find nuggets of gold, or leave in frustration. It’s the two waves of Aquarius, a surface wave and a deeper layer still hidden below. Twenty years ago I thought this availability was wholly great, that its benefits outweighed the drawbacks, but I’m not sure of that today as I see so much bad occult, social, psychological, and healing advice. I do love a growing occult culture alongside more dominant mainstream culture, but it also has some of the same drawbacks of any mainstream culture.

We are all works in progress, and I would like to believe that in all but the worst circumstances, those dedicating their work to helping others, sharing, and creating are all, in the words of Ram Dass, “just walking each other home.” We can do that, walk side by side in the journey. Our roads are all different. But the quiet contemplative moments as we walk together are just as important, if not more so, than the more dramatic ones. For it is in these tranquil moments that we experience each other’s pure presence.

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