Article

For Broom Closet Witches #7

by Claire du Nord

Imbolc – Watching for Signs

Welcome back, Broom Closet Witches! I hope you all had a wonderful Yule and are once again ready to turn the Wheel! Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft tradition, with the seventh article in our “For Broom Closet Witches” series. As Winter turns to Spring, we watch for signs from Nature that it is time to celebrate the next Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year – Imbolc!

In our last article, a tray of holiday cookies led to the topic of researching one’s ancestry for the purposes of creating an ancestral altar and choosing a pantheon along ancestral lines. My own research into my family origins presented me with a bit of a conundrum. With so many varied homelands, how was I to choose which ancestry to focus on in my Witchcraft practice? And was it necessary to make a choice? Could I incorporate more than one, (or all of them), and “make it work”?

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for my questions to be answered. One day after a shower, I had set my white towel on the laundry hamper in the bathroom. As I was brushing my hair, a strand of hair fell onto the towel, (which in and of itself wouldn’t have been so unusual), but much to my surprise, when I chanced to look down at the towel, I saw that the hair had fallen onto the towel in the shape of a Triquetra!

I was so amazed that I had to take a picture of it! At that moment, I understood it to mean that I should focus on my Celtic ancestry for inspiration in my practice, which subsequently set in motion a brainstorm about what might be included in such a practice. Should I learn the languages of my Celtic ancestors? Should I learn to cook the foods my ancestors would have eaten? And on and on it went.

After my shower, I went to the kitchen to prepare something to eat. I can’t remember what it was that I was going to prepare, but it is my habit to use a rubber band to seal any bag of food that doesn’t have a built-in closure. I took the bag of “whatever it was” out of the fridge and untied the rubber band, letting the rubber band fall onto the counter in the process. To my complete surprise and amazement, like the strand of my hair, the rubber band also landed in a Triquetra shape!

“What in the world? Another one ?!”

That really was just way too much for one day! For the second time, I got out my camera and took a picture. By then, I was a bit “shaken up”, to say the least! I couldn’t understand how that could have happened twice in a row! Apparently, I needed more convincing and double confirmation to be completely convinced of the meaning of the “sign” . . . It was then that I zoomed in on the symbol itself – what it stood for. And another brainstorm began.

In retrospect, I suppose it was exactly what I needed to ensure that I will always remember to “look again” – at myself and at my Witchcraft practice – to always do a “double take”, even when I might be sure I have understood something. One thing is for sure – I will never forget this experience! As a matter of fact, to ensure that I never do, I found a silver pendant necklace online that has two Triquetras – a smaller one nestled inside a larger one – to remind me of the day that the two Triquetras appeared and to remind me that there can always be another perspective, another meaning – meanings within meanings – something that might not be entirely clear at first, even though it seems that all possibilities for understanding have been considered.

Thinking of them also reminds me that, for me, the takeaway lesson from Imbolc is to always be on the lookout for subtle, (and not so subtle), signs on the path of the Witch, as they can show up anywhere and everywhere. And as with Imbolc and the first signs of Spring, the signs could “pop up” in the most unlikely places – like flowers through the snow!

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

Imbolc Blessings,
Claire du Nord

The Good Works of the Witch

A pair of legs in rubber boots are visible along with the end of a hoe turning over fresh earth.

Photo by Greta Hoffman via Pexels

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

In my previous article “Creeds, Beliefs and Faith” we explored declarations of faith and belief in the context of occult tradition and Witchcraft and how such ideas perhaps don’t apply to us as they do in many other religious paradigms. The flip side to faith or belief is work.

Of course we are framing things against a Christian theology, but that is the root of most who come to Witchcraft. I hate the comparisons myself, but I’ve found avoiding them can lead to further confusion because people make a lot of assumptions based on their past religious experiences and ideas. Sometimes the best way to inoculate our communities against harmful theologies and paradigms is to face them head on.

Faith and works are complex topics, taken in the Christian context of salvation. Witches don’t seek salvation, do we? I used to say in my younger Pagan days that Witches have no saviors, but I was actually wrong about that. We have saviors in the Greek gods such as Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Dionysus, Aesculapius, Athena, Artemis, Persephone, and Hecate. Soteira is a Greek epitaph used for many goddesses, as soter is for gods, denoting savior. They did not save you from Christian hell or offer heavenly salvation, but were called upon to cleanse and protect from evil and confer safety. Soter was used as an epitaph for Jesus of Nazareth as his worship spread to the Greek-speaking world.

But this is deliverance from harm, misfortune, or impurity, intercession in our life on our behalf. Is this the same as the Christian concept of grace? Not really. Not having eternal damnation or original sin, we are not seeking escape to heaven’s eternal bliss as the alternative to eternal suffering. Pagan salvation is not necessarily about the afterlife, at least not exclusively. Our mystery traditions teach us how to navigate the afterlife by providing a topography of the underworld, not by requiring us to rely on faith or intersession. Christian doctrine on salvation usually requires both faith and good works, though some only require faith or see good actions as the byproduct of faith. Behavior alone is not enough to get you into heaven, but bad behavior can keep you out of heaven.

So do Witches do good works?

It depends on the Witch.

And this is exactly as it should be, for no Witch should tell another what their will is, what they should and should not be doing.

Many Witches do good works. They see their true magickal will in service to the gods and the community. They focus on the interconnection and interrelated nature of all things and operate from a place of aiding others to create a harmonious world, or at least a more harmonious corner of it. Good works can be for people, for the environment, for animals, or for justice. I remember Laurie Cabot telling a story of encountering someone who didn’t believe Witchcraft was truly a religion because if it were, we would be funding hospitals like the Christians. “Where are our hospitals?” he asked. They could be coming, though we are still working on permanent physical gathering spaces that can outlast a single generation. I’d particularly like to see birthing centers and hospices run by Witches, finding new expressions of the magickal midwife and the keeper of the death vigil, in a way where we as practitioners could have support in offering holistic service and people in need could find us. This is true work of the priesthood of the Witch.

Some good works are paid work. Healing, readings, teaching, counseling, and ritualizing are all professions, and getting paid does not negate the good work for a Witch any more than a surgeon getting paid negates the life saved. The Witch has placed a boundary on the service they do. Some Witches take vows to never do this, and if you’ve taken a vow, then honor it, but if you haven’t, you are not bound by someone else’s vows. And many realize the vow is against initiation into a coven for money, not readings, healings, or general teaching.

Other Witches don’t believe in any form of public service, charity, or good works. It’s about them, their will, and their attainment. Believe it or not, despite the Western misconceptions, many Buddhists are just like this.

Those of the Bodhisattva school of thought believe in foregoing nirvana until all sentient creatures can also attain it. Some vow to save everyone as a regular practice. Despite having a bit of a savior complex for others, they don’t have an expectation that another Buddhist will save them. They are responsible for themselves. Other sects of Buddhism think the greatest service you can do for the world is achieve nirvana yourself, ending the cycle of rebirth. Good works for others will slow you down, distract you, and entangle you in karma, even with the best of intentions. Interestingly enough, while faith in one being is not emphasized by most Buddhists, as there are many buddhas, the idea of escaping the world through transcendence is a theme for both Buddhists and Christians, be it heaven or nirvana. Mystics of both might point out the error of such thinking as it is all one in non-dual consciousness. Sects of Zen Buddhism might embody this best with the idea that there is nothing to do, nothing to learn, only the realization that nirvana is samsara and samsara is nirvana, and while the realization helps, it doesn’t essentially change anything. Everything is as it should be, unfolding.

Many, despite an essentially good aim, have bad underlying intentions and ruin things because they are selfishly motivated by attainment for the self while professing compassion for others as the sole motivation. You can enthusiastically do both, but don’t lie to yourself.

Some project the need for change in their internal world into the outer world, demanding others conform to the beliefs and behaviors they feel are just, good, or right. It happens to Witches by outer society but also by other Witches and Pagans. We all must be in guard for the simple mechanisms of projection. Example and conversation make true change, not decree or force.

I love the refreshing honesty from Rosaleen Norton:

“I do not wish to propagate any cult, even the Witch Cult, change society, or establish a better world for others — These things leave me entirely indifferent. I have what I prefer to describe as “a function”. The function is that of Focus and Catalyst. And this function is best served by my performing my own personal Will, and not caring a damn about the effect good or bad on other people.”

So much I agree with and so much I personally disagree with, for me, at least at this time in my life. She’s not wrong at all. She is 100% right, for her and many others I know. Yet many Witches who do good work are appalled when hearing that quote. Remember she is not you. You are not her. She’s dead now anyway, so she won’t even argue with you and most likely wouldn’t have argued in life because she was too busy making art, exploring sexuality, communing with Lucifer and Pan, and being her Witchy self. That’s the whole point of the quote. She is a great example of how to live your own true will. She is a horrible example of you trying to live her true will and not your own. Yet she gets something deeply true about “a function” and it’s in the realization we might all have different functions. I think many Witches are a “Focus and Catalyst.”

Today many will tell you what you should do, how you should be, what you should be passionate about and how best to act upon it in the world. They will have codes for your behavior and standards to live. In short, they will seek to impose what they think is their will, and what they think should be everyone’s will, upon you. Often those most unclear about their own work and will are the most confident in telling others what to do as a means to compensate for their uncertainty rather than be honest about it. Projection. Others can’t confirm your own true will by doing it with you or for you. These measures come from all sides, including other Witches and Pagans, and even some of the most heinous ones are well intentioned, although distorted. If you agree with such advice or direction, then do it. If your authentic will takes you elsewhere, go there. Follow your own crooked path and determine what is right for your will in the world.

Just because it’s not your focus now doesn’t mean they might not have food for thought or good ideas, but beware the demands for your attention and requirements for your behavior beyond simple safety for everyone. You can’t do all things all the time for everyone. You shouldn’t try. Listen to others and observe yourself, your shadowy unconscious points, but in the end, you bear the final choice and ultimate responsibility.

Our good work is our true will. It won’t look like anyone else’s will. We each have a thing to do. We each have many things to do. Really those things are just learning how to be. We find our being-ness in our creativity, our play, and our passions. Doing can help us be. Being can lead to doing. We each go about it in our way. Some wills intersect and form group work. Many wills of the Witch are solitary. Some are seemingly ambitious. Some are seemingly lazy, funny, or don’t look like work at all. It’s easy to judge others and be completely wrong. Fulfilling our will in every thought, word, and deed as much as we can at any given time is the best work we can do in the world. One could argue it is the only work we can really do. That is the only good work we should ever need.

Your challenge: What is your will to the best of your knowledge in this moment? Go do that work … if you want to. Your decision to do it, how to do it, and even not do it is as much of the process as anything else.

January and 2023 are here! Many of us are ready to get going and might have even started to warm ourselves up like Formula 1 race cars. But I´m sorry to say that the season hasn’t started yet. Part of that is due to both Mars (energy, drive, will) and Mercury (communication) still being in retrograde. So if you have felt a mix of frustration and restlessness you are not alone. Let´s take a look at the stars together and see what keys we can find so that we are ready when the race begins.

Hanging Out with Friends

When Mars (energy, movement) is in retrograde our energy is somewhat blocked. This can lead to frustration and a feeling of being stuck.

Good news is that Mars is in Gemini (communication) and in a good aspect to both Venus (love, relationships) in Aquarius and Ceres (nourishment) in Libra. This creates a big trine (good aspect) of air. This opens up for hanging out with friends, socialising, and having a good time. It might even feel that finally someone has opened a window and you are able to breathe again. So if invitations come your way and you are healthy, say yes and take it for what it is – a wonderful chance to take a break and meet some friends.

Mars retrograde ends 12th of January

Venus trines Ceres until the 12th of January

Mars trines Venus until 14th of January

Mercury retrograde ends 18th of January

Mars trines Ceres until the 11th of February

Do You Have Energy and Resources for That?

On one hand things seem to open up, on the other hand we do have an energy problem or situation to consider both practically with high gas, oil, and electricity prices and metaphorically speaking with nourishment being an issue.

The goddess asteroid Ceres (nourishment, food, grounding) is in Libra. When she is there we can easily get involved in other people’s lives, their situations and relationships. This is amplified with Ceres making an opposition to Juno (relationships) in the final degrees of Pisces (bottomless depths). With this you can get a lot more than what you bargained for. Not only that, Ceres is also in opposition to Chiron (healing) and Jupiter (expansion). Together they have a theme of a lot of intense healing that can create a snowball effect.

Example: You go to the cat shelter to save one cat, and you arrive home with three. That is lovely and admirable, but you also have to take into consideration that they need food and perhaps veterinary care which may cost you a considerable amount of money. And the lovely cats also need time, love, healing and so on.

Or you volunteer to help out with the local theatre group and suddenly you end up sewing costumes for the whole ensemble and the premiere is only a few months ahead.

So, before you enthusiastically jump into a project take a breath and think it over. Do you have the time and resources to do this in a balanced way? Can you share the responsibility with others? Are others, like your family and friends, supporting you in this? And finally … are you the one best suited for the project? If the answer is yes then go ahead into the adventure. But if the answer is no, then perhaps your role is to connect the ones in need to someone more suited for the job.

This also applies for more serious situations, for example when someone is leaving an abusive relationship or are dealing with depression or filing for divorce. Think about your role in the situation. Are you the friend or the professional therapist or lawyer? Playing both the role of the professional and the relative is known for being a bad idea.

As I mentioned above, Juno in Pisces can become bottomless and you can be in danger of sinking deeper into something that you did not expect. Jupiter right next to Juno expands everything. Having healthy boundaries and knowing your role is not being without compassion or love, it´s about taking responsibility. Helping someone in an emergency situation can many times be like saving someone who is about to drown. Using a life-preserver, creating a safe space between the two of you, is the best way to go, for everyone’s safety.

Juno is in Pisces until the 14th of January.

Ceres and Juno is in exact opposition on the 26th of January when they meet up at 6 degrees. At that time Jupiter is right next to Juno at 5 degrees in Aries. The opposition ends on the 8th of February.

Health and Balance

Ceres, the goddess of grain, harvest, and nourishment, is very much active when it comes to health, food and the proper functioning of the body. She is often strong in the astrological charts of cooks, gardeners, farmers, bakers, health instructors, and hygiene inspectors to mention a few of her fields of interest.

A stressed Ceres can show up as allergies to certain foods or ingredients. I smiled a bit yesterday when I had just followed up Ceres transits and saw how active she is and later the same day I heard on the news that they were calling back eggs from some egg companies because of a salmonella outbreak. That is so typical Ceres.

Ceres can also trigger complexes like mother complex, food and body complexes. Right now Ceres is in Libra, the symbol for Libra is the scales. The good side of that symbol and energy is seeking balance. The dark side of it is when we become obsessed with perfection. Social media will probably be flooded more than usual with health and diet posts, some more extreme than others. If you or someone close to you has a history with food or body complexes take extra care, be aware, talk about it, and seek professional help if needed.

Ceres is the earth mother and she comes in all shapes and forms, all beautiful in their own way. Connecting with that grounded earthly understanding will be most helpful when Ceres is in Libra. To help people to seek balance instead of the illusion of artificial perfection.

Ceres will be in Libra until the 19th of March, then she is in retrograde and will continue to move backwards into Virgo to return back into Libra again on Midsummer, the 21st of June. She will then stay in Libra until the 16th of September 2023.

Is It All About Banishing?

When it comes to dealing with allergies, health issues, and even life situations, I detect a trend in recent years. A belief that it is all about eliminating things and people from your life. Ceres’s symbol is the sickle, and with her so active it can become even more popular to go into a “removal mode.”

As someone working with health supplements and flower essences for many years, my experience is that many times it can be helpful to add things. When you add good bacteria to the intestinal flora you get some “good tummy warriors” inside. They kill fungus and you become less interested in sugar and your health improves. Or when you add the right kind of flower essence your energetic field strengthens and you become more resilient and people who would like to take advantage of you lose interest.

Of course there are times for removing things as well. Personally I am fond of cleaning and clearing myself and my space and it is a daily routine I can’t manage without. But as I have said to some of my students and clients, you cannot clean or clear yourself away from a healing process.

I believe there are some gifts to be found if we at times change removal thinking into thinking about adding things instead. On a spiritual level it can be about adding more meditation, visualisation, and ceremony into your daily life. When more power and strength become a part of your energetic body many not-so-healthy things fall away from you naturally, like bugs and parasites unhappy with a healthy environment. It takes energy to heal and sometimes that energy needs to be added.

Summary: We move into a period of intensive healing on many levels. Healing takes time and patience. In the same way that we can´t shout angrily at a plant or a tree to grow faster, can we shout to someone else or to ourselves to heal faster? Healing is a process and it has its own time. However, as Witches and Healers we know there´s always something we can do. There is, and has always been, good magick in a warm cup of tea and a listening heart and ear.

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.

Creeds, Beliefs, and Faith of a Witch

An androgynous figure in Greek robes wanders through the ruins of an ancient Greek temple in a black and white photo

Photo by Giovanni Calia from Pexels

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

There’s an old saying, “Witches don’t believe. We know.” Like so many other statements, it’s a double-edged blade that can help or harm us.

The first interpretation is that we are not a creedal religion. We are experiential. In the modern age, most of the mainstream world equate creeds, statements of belief or faith, with religion. Sincere belief is a core part of the US Supreme Court’s interpretation of religion. Yet in most religions, while they had some sort of baseline belief, such as belief in intangible gods and spirits, there was not a codified statement of beliefs separating one sect from another. Differences were in practices and philosophies which could shift over time. Religion was a way of life. Nothing was secular. Ancient Egyptians didn’t really have a word for religion as we know the term today, despite being a deeply religious society by our understanding.

In the ancient world, religion operated—and can still operate today—on many levels. You often had a national religion with a unifying paradigm, such as those focused on a leader like a Pharaoh, Caesar, or other high king or chieftain. There were regional gods and regional festivals that made up part of the national landscape. Each region might celebrate something different and host a variety of visitors. To this day certain churches celebrate larger events of the feast of their name saint and do not massively celebrate other saint days. All might celebrate the major holidays of the religion. That was the same with regional gods, their local temples, and the festivities appropriate to the area. Households had household religion and the veneration of gods big and small within the home as well as house spirits and family ancestors. Individuals had their personal practice, prayers, and magick with the gods, often done in private, or private moments within the larger landscapes of the home, region, and nation. Individuals might have a distinct relationship with one or more gods. And you had initiates of the mystery cults and philosophy schools. One didn’t have to necessarily proclaim one belief over another, though mystery cults might require vows of secrecy or the study of particular ideas or practices.

There was theology, myth, metaphysics, and ritual as the ideas and arts that help one interface with the divine, but no statement of absolute belief was required to join or be excluded from anything. Witches today embrace these Pagan patterns, and everything is a potential idea to help us experience or understand the divine beyond the simple statement of belief.

Witchcraft—and occultism in general—is a science to many. Belief can get in the way of the search to learn and know. The theories and philosophies formed during our metaphysical quest then inform the art of the Witch and the religion of the Witch. Beliefs, like opinions, can change. Over time our philosophical paradigms can change and grow, but as a culture, it does take time.

When I began my journey in the 90s, few Witches talked about the triple soul despite Starhawk introducing it in the very popular and now classic Spiral Dance in the 1980s. And while I did read it, it wasn’t until the three souls were reintroduced to me through New Age Huna that the concept stuck with me. Soon we saw the growing popularity of the Anderson Feri traditions, Starhawk’s source of the teaching, as well as other faery traditions and comparisons of the idea in Voudou, Siberian Shamanism, and modern psychology. The basic ideas were found in New Thought, Hermetic Qabalah, Egyptian and Greek philosophy, and alchemy, but until we reached a critical mass, there was still an emphasis in the popular dualistic body and single soul paradigm. Now many consider it a basic default teaching for beginners, but there was a time you had to work up to it because it conflicted with previously learned beliefs and paradigms.

The second interpretation is arrogance. What do Witches know? We have ideas and experiences and draw conclusions from them, but in the highly subjective world of spirituality, we can’t say we know objective truth. What we know is our personal truth, and it’s open for reexamination, just as it is for any seeker on a path, Witch or not. A wise one of any tradition realizes it’s a mystery. For even though in life there is never absolute knowing, there is an aspect of the unknowable to the divine. To think otherwise is hubris and leads to the calcification of beliefs into dogma. Yet a mystic might say absolute reality and ordinary reality are one, not divided, and we experience the absolute in everyday moments. I agree, but even that is a belief, not something that can be quantifiably proven to one who does not agree. Logic won’t get us there any more than blind faith.

The difference is that some focus on the belief and seek experiences to confirm it, while others focus on the experience and then come up with beliefs that explain it. Most seekers are a mix of the two. We often start with some baseline assumptions or potential assumptions to begin. I started as a skeptic, but I had to be open to the theories, the possibilities, to have any success with the technique. If I logically answered and linearly challenged everything at every step of the process, I would never have achieved the trance states to have a direct experience. I had to temporarily suspend disbelief to bridge the gap and then analyze later.

Others are seeking to replace one faith with another when they come to Paganism and Witchcraft. They are not looking for metaphysics, philosophy, or occultism. They are often not even looking for disciplined practice or nuanced theology. Instead, they are seeking the basics of religion in the form of statements they can believe in. I find this very dangerous for magickal religions because it can easily bring all the problems of monotheistic religions into Paganism and Polytheism. Not being raised in a true Pagan worldview, it is easier to swap one set of beliefs for another but keep the same behaviors and prejudices of your past orthodoxies. Otherwise you would have to radically alter your worldview and approach to life. Declaring faith in old gods doesn’t do that. It’s more fundamental than that, and often such practitioners simply make the change of outer behavior and outer culture, and not the inner, even though they are convinced they have, because they renounced Jesus and swore an oath to Odin, Zeus, or the Dagda. The key to understanding Paganism/Polytheism is in the poly, the many, not the mono, the one way of doing, thinking, or believing.

Witches have the Witch’s Creed, a beautiful piece of poetry by Doreen Valiente, but it is not a universal doctrine of belief for all Witches. It is not the Nicene Creed of the Christians, the required statement of belief of many denominations, frequently repeated like an oath. The Nicene Creed sets a standard of theological thought against which others are judged as heresies if they do not agree. In Witchcraft, we may disagree, but we have no concept of heresy for we have no absolute doctrine applying to all Witches, let alone all people.

If Witchcraft is something numinous, then our ritual poetry sets a tone and establishes the flavor of a tradition. Ritual writing inspires feelings and can transmit ideas of the culture, but does not draw the same lines as the Christian creeds. It helps transmit a quality shared between groups and practitioners that can unite them in spirit, yet leaves so much to the personal journey.

The Witch’s Creed

Hear now the words of the Witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light.

Mysterious water and fire,
The Earth and the wide-ranging air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.

© Copyright The Doreen Valiente Foundation

(for the full text of “The Witches Creed”)

Doreen’s work has a beautiful spirit that many are connected to, but many others are not. They might find inspiration in Andrew Chumbley or Silver Ravenwolf. Between those ends, there are many other possibilities. They might seek older works like the Orphic Hymns or the Prose Edda. What inspires you? It might not be verbal, but visual art or sculpture.

Our holy works are not the words of the gods or the statements of absolute truth, but interesting ideas that guide the way. Like the Buddhist teaching of the fingers pointing at the Moon, we can’t mistake the guide for the true experience. You can’t mistake the fingers for the Moon. The fingers only help us find the Moon. We can’t become focused on the fingers, or otherwise we won’t experience the Moon. While they point, the fingers don’t explain the Moon or teach you anything, other than where to see the Moon. The Moon must be experienced for itself. Believing in the Moon—or worst yet, believing in the fingers—doesn’t help you actually experience the Moon. Beliefs can be helpful tools, but do not mistake the statement of beliefs for the reality of the Moon, your life, or the divine.

Our scripture is the holy book of nature, spanning from the depths of the Earth to the furthest stars and all things in between. The poetry, books, symbols, and rituals point to the holy. They can open a door to the holy. Some are even expressions of the holy given form by humanity, but they shouldn’t be elevated above the experience of the holy. We must each seek and find the holy. Only then do we know and not just believe.

Broom Closet Witches #6

by Claire du Nord

Building an Ancestral Altar – One Holiday Cookie at a Time

When you catch the nisser on your altar doing random happy dances, you know that Yule is right around the corner! Nisser is the plural of nisse, (gnome), in Norwegian. Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft tradition, with the sixth article in our “For Broom Closet Witches” series.

With the previous article, the Wheel of the Year Sabbat holiday, Samhain, (or Halloween), was in season. Now, we turn to the next Sabbat on the Wheel – Yule!

God Jul! (Good Yule!)

As a child, I never questioned my mother or my grandmothers about the types of Holiday cookies and breads that we baked at this time of year – year after year after year. I didn’t even think to ask. But as I grew older, I began to wonder about family traditions. I reasoned that if people repeatedly do things a certain way, they become traditions. And traditions have a way of being unique to the regions of the world where they arose. And why does that matter? Well…

My mother’s father was a first generation Norwegian American. So, it wasn’t so surprising to me that we would be baking Norwegian Sandbakkels/Sandbakelse, (cardamom-spiced cookies with the texture of “sand tarts”, baked in mini pie tins), every year without fail. We also baked Swedish Spritz, (buttery-sweet cookies made into various shapes with a hand-held cookie-press). Both of my grandmothers were first generation German Americans, and my mother’s mother would always bake German Stollen, a special holiday bread with candied fruit inside and frosting on the outside.

What got me wondering if there was more to my ancestry was that there were other cookies that we made that didn’t seem to be Norwegian, Swedish or German (or Scottish, Welsh, or Irish from my paternal grandfather’s side), as they either didn’t have Scandinavian, German, or Celtic names or they contained ingredients that are not naturally available in those regions, such as the dates in the “Date-filled cookies” my paternal grandmother made. And when I asked my mother why we always baked “Russian Tea Cakes” and drank “Russian Tea” for the holidays, her very generic answer was, “They are good. We like them.” “Hmmm”, I thought to myself, “Maybe she doesn’t know why…”

When I was in my last year of high school, my World History teacher gave us an assignment to put together a family tree, and so began my lifelong interest in genealogy. And, with the advent of genetic testing, the opportunity to find out the deeper, and more accurate, story behind my family’s origins presented itself. As the saying goes, “DNA doesn’t lie.”

Sadly, my mother passed away before I could do my DNA testing, and so I inherited her hand-made cookbook, her Sandbakkel tins and her Spritz press.
My DNA testing did indeed reveal that our family tree has many more branches than I had previously known about, and, as I had suspected would be the case, those other types of cookies and their mysterious names and ingredients aren’t so mysterious anymore!

What’s more, thanks to DNA testing, in addition to the candles, the flowers, the photographs of some of my ancestors, the nisser (gnomes), a dragon, a tartan ribbon, a leprechaun, a mermaid and two little hand-painted plates from Bavaria, my altar is now also home to a Saami/Sami flag, a Romani flag, a little plate from Paris with the Eiffel tower on it, a dreidel, a feather attached to a small jar with blue cornmeal in it, a Nazaar (amulet against the “Evil Eye”), a “Khamsa/Hamsa/Hand of Fatimah”, and a Matryoshka doll. My Ancestral Altar continues to grow, as I find a way to honor each piece of my family heritage – each piece of “me” – with a small representation of that part of my ancestry.

What does all this have to do with Witchcraft, especially Broom Closet Witchery, you may be wondering? Well, my long answer would be – “just about everything” – that is, if you wish to choose a pantheon along ancestral lines. If this is the case, it helps to know where your ancestors came from – really came from. In my case, what seemed like a clear-cut “We come from X, Y, and Z” turned out to be much more complicated. Now that I’m a grownup, I know that many factors can come into play to shift individuals and groups of people around the globe, far away from their original homelands, such as a nomadic lifestyle, diaspora, etc. I also know now that it is entirely possible that just a generation or two further down the immigration/assimilation line, a person might know little or nothing about their family’s origin(s), language(s), culture(s), etc.

My short answer would be that knowing one’s family origins and carrying on family traditions can give one a sense of grounding, of belonging and a base from which to build self-knowledge.

My in-between answer would be that if you are wondering what type of altar to build, you might choose an Ancestral Altar, which doesn’t necessarily need to scream “Witchcraft”, and this can be especially important for us Broom Closet Witches! As described above, you might like to have photographs of your ancestors, candles and flowers, miniature flags and characteristic representations of the places your ancestors came from, their cultures, traditions, art, etc.

But as always, please use your own best judgement when setting up an altar, as only you know what is best for your situation. Every Broom Closet Witch’s situation is unique and only you know what is appropriate for you.

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

Yule Blessings to all,
Claire du Nord

Temple Astrolog: December & the Holidays 2022

2022 has been quite a year in terms of transformation, change, and unexpected events. As we enter into December and the holiday season, the stars still have some adventures for us until the New Year of 2023. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and let´s take a walk together among the stars and see what we find.

Tell It Like It Is

There is a lot of frustration in the air at the moment. Pluto (transformation) at 26 degrees in the sign of Capricorn (old ways, work, career) is in a challenging aspect (opposition) to both Pallas Athena and Lilith Black Moon at 26 degrees in the sign of Cancer (home, family). This can create a tension between work life and family life, or in both of them. Perhaps you feel your boss isn’t appreciating all that you do. Or perhaps the money you earn isn’t covering your expenses and that can make you worried at home. As always with oppositions in the astrology chart, it is important not to choose or take sides. Both sides need to be seen and heard.

In this example tell it like it is, both at work and at home. Tell your boss about your financial situation, or if you have your own business, perhaps talk to your suppliers and see what they can do to ease things a bit? Similarly it can be wise to talk to your family about your financial situation (one most of us share with the rest of the world at the moment) that way, they can help and assist or at least show some understanding. This can be very important because Pluto as the ruler of the underworld has a tendency to cover things up. He draws thoughts, feelings, and actions down into the underworld and there they can mutate into secrets, creating a lot of anxiety that can lead to depression, and we don´t want that, do we? So being honest and upfront is the best medicine.

Goddesses and Owl Assistance

On the other side of Pluto in the opposition, both Pallas Athena and Lilith Black Moon can help and assist us. Pallas Athena is a master of strategy. Her symbol almost looks like a key, and many times she unlocks situations and finds unexpected solutions. Right next to her we have Lilith Black Moon. Where we have Lilith Black Moon, we cannot see clearly. It is like driving in a snow storm. So what can we learn from this? First of all, there are things we do not know. We may speculate, but that is not the same as knowing. And just like a Lilith Black Moon transit is like driving in a snow storm, it is important to keep on driving, even if it is very slow. Stopping is not an option if you don´t want to get stuck. When these goddesses work their best together, they have the power to open the road ahead for us, even if it is snowy and dark. Another interesting thing is both Pallas Athena and Lilith Black Moon are associated with the Owl. Working with the energy and the totem of Owl in meditation and magick can be most helpful at this time.

Making Frustration into a Usable Tool

Another challenge with the aspects mentioned above is the transformation (Pluto) from the old way of doing things (Capricorn) into the new way of doing and dealing with things in the family and in close relationships (Cancer). It may be that your parents or grandparents suddenly fall back into old patterns and beliefs and don’t hesitate to project that onto the people around them. And you may think “Well that´s how much all the therapy and talks are worth”. Or you may find yourself repeating old, unhealthy patterns. But please don´t lose hope! Pluto is at the last degrees of Capricorn and this opposition with Pallas Athena and Lilith Black Moon is helping to release a lot of debris from the Pluto transits in the recent years. If you are lucky, this seeming “draw back” may be the final touch of working with a situation or relationship. Frustration can be a usable tool to keep on moving forward to better things. Just remember to do it wisely and, if the pressure is too much, take a run or take a break from the situation to get a better overview on what´s going on under the surface (Pluto, Capricorn) This is the kind of transit you cannot sleep your way through! Healthy boundaries and some perspective are recommended.

Unlocking Potential

In the sky we have a Mystic Rectangle with Pluto in Capricorn making a trine to Ceres in Virgo, who in turn is making a sextile to Lilith Black Moon and Ceres in Cancer, making a trine to Jupiter in Pisces, making a sextile back to Pluto. It creates a Rectangle shape with blue (good) aspects. But if we look closer there is an opposition (challenging) between Ceres and Jupiter, just like between Pluto and Pallas Athena/Lilith Black Moon.

A Mystic Rectangle is filled with potential, but it is not a guarantee that potential will be unlocked and used well. When it occurs in a client’s chart it is easy to believe they must have lived a very interesting and fulfilling life. But this may not be the case. One example was a super-talented doctor and surgeon who gave up her career to take care of the family; nothing wrong with that but she never came back to the work she loved and over time she became resentful towards her family. Another client was a talented singer who gave it up because her boyfriend was so jealous. So with a Mystic Rectangle we may be given gifts and talents that others may not have, but we still have to fight for them and not take them for granted to be able to flourish on all levels.

Right now you may become aware of your unique gifts and talents, but you may still need to stand up and for them and act on them to be a part of your life. If opportunities arise, don´t be afraid to take them!

The “Spirit of New Direction”

Right now Venus (beauty, relationships) and Mercury (communication, friends) in the sign of Sagittarius (vision, opportunities) may be able to help us unlock that potential mentioned above. As some of you may know, I make spiritual candles. One of the spirit energies I love to work with that continues to surprise me is the “spirit of new direction”. Many times we get stuck because we limit our view or our options. One client wanted a partner in her life, but had very strict ideas about age difference. Dating did not go well for her. After working with “new direction” she opened her mind and soon she found her perfect match, who was ten years younger. Another client was house-hunting and had very strict ideas on what area the house should be in. After working with the “spirit of new direction” he found the right house in a village he didn’t even know about. Right now we have a lot to win by looking in new directions and being open to new ideas. Don´t hesitate to communicate (Mercury) to your relationships (Venus) what you wish for — and be open to what comes.

Making a “New Direction Candle”

  • Take a yellow candle and cleanse it with incense or Florida Water.
  • Use a nail or knife to carve the symbols of Sagittarius, the Sun, and Jupiter on the candle. You may also write “New Direction” on it, together with your own name.
  • Anoint the candle with a few drops of Orange (the sun, fire, good fortune) essential oil, or with some of the juice from a freshly squeezed Orange. Don´t take too much.
  • Put the candle on a fireproof plate or in a candleholder. Add some Rosemary (Sun, Mercury, new thinking) herb around the candle together with some orange peel and cinnamon (Sun, Jupiter, abundance, speed)
  • Ground yourself, take some deep breaths.
  • Light the candle and visualize a clear yellow light around you and the candle. See and feel the yellow light expand in all directions. Say: “May it be what is to be, and let it be in Beauty!”
  • Ground yourself
  • Let the candle burn down and don´t think about it afterwards. Let it do its magick.

A word of caution: If you are in a happy romantic relationship and are happy where the relationship is going, I would not burn a “New Direction” candle specifically for your relationship. But if you burn the candle for an overall purpose your relationship will be just fine.

Midwinter and Winter Solstice

At midwinter we have some beautiful energies to work with apart from the event itself being magickal as it is. We have Venus and Mercury now in Capricorn making a trine to both Uranus and the north node in Taurus. This energy can “move earth” and can be directed towards your goals, especially connected to abundance, safety, career and health (earth signs).

We also have Neptune (vision, creativity, psychic) right next to Juno in the sign of Pisces (harmony, vision, psychic) they make a sextile (good aspect) to Mercury (communication) this can create strong visions and good healing in the Midwinter ceremonies. This healing quality is amplified with Neptune and Juno making a good aspect to Lilith Black Moon and Pallas Athena in Cancer (mentioned in the beginning).

Strong New Moon and Christmas

On the 23rd of December we have a very strong new moon in Capricorn. This is also the date when Chiron (healing, wounds) is stationary and is just about to go direct again. This, together with the new moon in Capricorn and Pallas Athena/Lilith Black Moon in Cancer (emotions, shadow work), will release a lot of emotional energies. If you are holding a meditation or ceremony at that time, it can be good to be prepared for intensive healing work and release. This energy work continues collectively over the Christmas weekend.

Summary and New Year’s Eve

When we reach New Year’s Eve a lot of energy has already passed through us. You may get the feeling of being on the other side of something. Lilith Black Moon has left Pallas Athena and is now making an opposition (challenge) to Mercury (communication), Venus (love and romance) and Pluto (transformation) are in the sign of Capricorn, making relationships somewhat confusing, but now getting help from Ceres in Libra. Chiron is now direct and calming down as time passes. By this time, hopefully the December and Christmas drama is now over for the most part.

We do have Mercury going retrograde from the 29th of December until the 18th of January, and Mars still going retrograde until 12th of January. But, that’s for next year. For now, let’s just enjoy the moment for a while and Celebrate the New Year of 2023.

Thank you all for reading the Astrology Blog in 2022. I hope to see you next year!

God Jul och Gott Nytt År!
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.

Devolving and Evolving Culture

Slice of a spiral nautilus shell.

Photo by Printexstar via Pexels

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Witchcraft has a culture. In fact, these days Witchcraft is many cultures in a process of either trying to convince themselves they are all the same or desperately differentiate themselves from each other. But neither perspective is quite true. Like many things in nature, Witchcraft builds up form and structure and separation only to decompose, mix, mingle, and create fertile grounds for new things to grow. Some things last like an annual. Others are perennials. Some are bushes and others long-lived trees. This is the nature of things.

Once upon a time when I began on the path, there was a clear culture of occultism in Witchcraft, and it was just learning to come out of the shadows more. My first mentor had her altar in a sliding door closet away from prying eyes of visitors and family. Though I had known her since I was 7, she didn’t reveal she was a Witch to me until I was a legal adult at 18. She felt there was danger in exposure, that in the eyes of the community, she could be seen as corrupting minors. There were few Witch families, and those that existed were pretty discreet about it unless living in Salem, MA. Most of us today have a level of default freedom that her generation didn’t have, as she still has her altar in the closet. She existed in a network of Witches, mostly through local shops and psychic fairs, and if you were a guest at someone’s circle—which was fairly frequent as that was the main way to participate in community—there would be variations of traditions and regions, but there was a baseline of culture that meant you knew what to expect, how to behave, and what to do. I stood on the threshold of that culture as something new began to rise. I saw it gathered at my earliest festivals and events. Though they certainly had their problems and conflicts too, being such a small subculture created a camaraderie that is often lacking now

With new freedom to be public, many of the traditions were loosened and those who didn’t learn in such environments didn’t have that culture to pass on, or broke from it purposely. As people sought to be welcoming, accommodating, and freeing, many of the containers of said traditions dissolved. Roles and structure became fluid. The casualness of all things has led to many traditions falling out of fashion. Yet new traditions didn’t become cohesive or broadly catch on beyond the structure of little structure.

As things blur, the philosophies and theologies become less understood. Core concepts are muddled. Other things rise and replace. The break with past orthodoxies from your birth religion that occurs when entering into Witchcraft is often lost, sometimes resulting in the worst elements of your birth religion getting incorporated into your Witchcraft worldview, and those common points of your birth religion to the Perennial Tradition, common with Witchcraft, are misunderstood or ignored.

Previously you had to really examine how this new system was different from your old beliefs. Do I have to let go of any old beliefs to truly practice this? Am I unconsciously carrying any guilt and fears into my Witchcraft? Without cohesion, many practices continued without the participants understanding any deeper meaning than simply feeling good about participating, which I think is a great first step, but not the only step.

Identity and belonging become more paramount than tradition, so aesthetic becomes more dominant than practice, experience, and understanding. Sharing art and fashion becomes identity. Theology grows from “I am a Witch so anything I believe is Witchcraft” rather than deeply learning the past of the Craft and letting the new ideas flow with the past currents. In certain circles, this opinion of belief carries as much weight as the educated opinion. While sometimes it can provide innovation, this is one way expertise is lost. New ideas regenerate the old, but sometimes a Witch carries things that are not Witchcraft, usually unconsciously and without examined context. Those that follow incorporate these biases into their vision of the Craft.

Specific aesthetic identities grow that have less to really do with the Craft other than being a comfortable way to express oneself and often limit learning: Crystal Witch, Cosmic Witch, Shadow Witch, Faery Witch, Cottage Witch, Divination Witch, Thunder Witch, Fire Witch. None alone are inherently a problem and can have historic roots, but often set up the idea of specialization before you have even tested the waters of everything else based on preference, ease, and a desire to belong to something specific. Witchcraft ideally challenges you to grow. Imagine an Easter Christian, Apartment Christian, Graveyard Christian, or Rosary Christian. Some exist. One would think most of these missed the larger points of Christ’s teachings, for like Witchcraft, Christianity is in the living of it. There is nothing wrong with a Christian who loves the rosary, but it should lead to a deeper relationship with the Christ principle.

I suggested a plant medicine to a self-identified “Stone Witch” asking for help and was told she couldn’t use that because she was a Stone Witch. I asked her how she knew that, if she had ever tried any magick with plants before, and she told me she just likes crystals, so she was a Stone Witch. It was obvious. She had the attitude that I was somehow the crazy one for suggesting plants again after being told she was a Stone Witch. Plants would obviously not work for her. She is a Stone Witch.

When the foundational ideas are not cohesive, serious people will start to assume none of this works and often leave modern Witchcraft and Wicca to seek magickal groups and communities with much more stringent traditions because they are more cohesive and are held in better community containers. We once were too, but in the encouragement of allowance and welcoming, many have lost a lot of our ways—the very things that make us cohesive—without deeper reflection. This has led to the thinking that nothing matters in Wicca and Witchcraft, and anything is Witchcraft if you call it as such. Yet some groups are the trees deeply rooted and reaching higher.

Reconstructionism and Hard Polytheism seek cultural roots and ancestral connection, but for many of us, they don’t reflect the reality we live in, or at least the reality I live in coming from a more cosmopolitan worldview and being of mixed genetic lineage in a mixed country. I am an occultist at heart. My reconstructionism would be the Library of Alexandria. But the requirements for culturally appropriate offerings, dress, and even language to express the culture in these traditions are deeply respected. I really love participating as a guest, even though it’s not my practice or paradigm. The rituals are beautiful and meaningful, even if they mean something slightly different to me.

Occultism played a role in the regeneration of all Pagan traditions. Some consider philosopher Giordano Bruno the first true Neopagan. The Romantic Era poets certainly contributed to the renewed interest artistically, but so did the revived traditions of the Hermetic occultists, Neoplatonic philosophers, alchemists, astrologers, Spiritualists, and Theosophists. While there is a growing movement to replace occultism and magick or even theism in Paganism, to me that is ridiculous, for a magickal worldview is at the heart of these traditions and kept alive until now through occultism and grimoires, even with their Christian overlays. Christian folk traditions kept Pagan traditions alive in our consciousness to be reclaimed with an emphasis on the old gods. Like Hard Polytheism, folk traditions can be pretty strict in their customs.

Others seek African Traditional Religions, indigenous traditions, and folk magick traditions for their deep roots, long lineages and histories, and a sense of identity and cohesion with deep folklore and cohesive mythologies. They too command a different level of respect. When the Hoodoo teacher says go to the crossroads at midnight with dimes, you go to the crossroads at midnight with dimes, not to the crossroads at 8 pm because you have to work early the next day or bring pennies because you couldn’t get any dimes. Some things can and have been adapted, but the crucial factor in deciding to do so shouldn’t be whether or not you want to expend the effort. I know when I’m a guest at a Voodou ceremony and I am told to wear all white and a head cover, I do, much like in the days of the Witch’s circle when you were required to wear all black and wouldn’t be admitted if you did not adhere to it. If I’m asked to bring rum I bring rum, not vodka or soda or grape juice. A new initiate in African Traditional Religions takes quite seriously the new initiates’ requirement to wear only white and their sacred jewelry for three months and withdraw from any obligation one cannot get excused from to complete the initiatory work, while I know many Witches who forego their pentacle in public places for fear of upsetting others or having to have an awkward conversation. I’ve had students working both in Witchcraft and African traditions simultaneously forgo their Witchcraft education obligations in favor of their African because they feel they are nonnegotiable while it didn’t matter for their Craft.

These traditions have been held in more defined ways, but also face some of the same dangers as occult Witchcraft does in the age of social media. I spoke to a Voodoo priestess getting critiqued on TikTok, being scolded with the exact opposite definitions of Hoodoo and Voodou by people younger than the number of years she has been practicing, citing an internet meme as the source, rather than listening to someone’s lived experience serving the community. Thankfully many traditional religions are passed in cohesive and dynamic communities meeting face to face. This is diminishing in Witchcraft as the number of seekers who have never gone to a formal in-person gathering outstrips those who do.

I am a big believer in experimentation and a big believer in innovation and evolution, but I also believe in learning the “rules” or patterns before breaking them and then breaking them with purpose and intention.

I love the art, aesthetic, and culture of Witchcraft in so many forms, and want to see it develop and evolve. There is so much self-expression, creativity, and a mixture of what has been established in occultism with our own unique interest and background, but I also want to see it evolve with depth, heart, and meaning, rather than randomness.

I teach many things I no longer do personally, not because they are wrong, but because my practice has gone in a different direction. They still provide a solid foundation, and I teach them to students to gain that same basic foundation. Some consider them archaic and perhaps they are, but no more archaic than a musician learning all of the scales and chords, not just the easy ones.

Here are some traditions and ideas I think have value and have been lost to casualness and accommodation:

  • Wearing Ritual Attire, robes, cloaks, or all black when attending a formal rite. It lends to trance induction and group consciousness, as well as a link to our ancestral past. At my first esbat, I was loaned a “guest robe” and it was very magickal despite the initial strangeness.
  • Respect to the host or hosting group, particularly if it’s a private event rather than a paid public event. Ask if food can be brought, bring a simple gift of respect (wine, flowers, incense), and ask what you can do to help prepare or clean up afterwards.
  • If medically possible for you, fasting and refraining from salt on Sabbat days until the feast after.
  • Rituals at specific times and days to reflect the astrological energies. Some rituals are done at sunset, midnight, or sunrise for magickal reasons, or when a star or planet is rising, overhead, making an aspect, or has entered a new sign.
  • Putting as much effort in closing and devocation as you do with opening, evocation, and spell work.
  • Cohesive ritual movements—each group or tradition may be different, but when participating in the group, going with the flow of the group. If everyone faces north and raises their left hand, even if you learned the right hand, if you are joining them, use your left hand. If everyone is saying “So mote it be” and you learned “It is so,” join with them for now. If you are leading a ritual outside of the group, then you can introduce them to your traditions and they should follow your lead or a discussion can lead to a new cohesion between different traditions. Otherwise it can be a dissonant note in an otherwise harmonious ritual. This is not to say we all don’t make mistakes or get turned around, and those missteps are lovingly accepted, but it’s the general intention. Witchcraft is rebellious by nature, but sometimes we are rebellious towards each other so much we are at cross purposes, and while seemingly offering our help, we actually create disruption. There are times when we dance together and have a partner in a complementary step, times when we have a synchronized line dance, and times when it’s a freeform dance party. All are beautiful and appropriate, but we have to know which is which and where each occurs at what point in our rituals.
  • Maintaining the atmosphere set by the ritual, be it joyful, humorous, somber, or serious. Changing the tone of the rite, making yourself the center of attention, or otherwise distracting from the purpose and experience is disrespectful to those running it and to those participating with you.
  • Attempting a recipe as best you can before altering and adapting it. Substitutions should be congruent with the energy of what you are replacing: for example, salt is not a substitute for pepper just as willow is not a substitute for nettles.
  • Snuffing candles rather than blowing them out. While in vogue to think of it as a silly superstition, the breath carries life energy and can imbalance a working, which is at the root of the idea of “angering an elemental” who will backfire your spell. It’s a tradition of respect and efficiency often disregarded by those who will then adopt other systems with just as arbitrary prohibitions, disrespecting the occult roots where they first learned in favor of something seemingly more exotic.
  • Learning complementary skills to enhance magickal work and aid the community. In past times covens would often have people trained in in-depth astrology, herbalism, music, sewing, woodworking, and in a few cases, metal working. Now I see weavers, trained chefs, and martial artists. Craft extends beyond magick, and learning a traditional art or craft lends to the deepening of magickal Craft as there are many parallels. The best magicians I know were often formally trained in music, dance, or art, or apprenticed in a hands-on trade in alignment with their values. One of my mentors was a hair stylist in honor of the Goddess, aligning vocation with divine virtue. In a time when everyone wants to be an online professional influencer, hands-on skills are a powerful and necessary component of training. This can lead to the identities of Stone Witch or Green Witch, but should be based on deep experience, not just identity. Most are encouraged to learn multiple areas in their training, and there is no need to only fixate on just one.

Tradition is passed in quiet moments as well as big lessons, from watching and participating in repeated cycles. In our online school, we faced these challenges by including much of this information as “wisdom lectures,” short and long bits of culture and philosophy. We have mentorship programs to cycle again and see old teachings in new ways. Ideas can be both preserved and still evolve in the context of the tradition and community. Questions can be answered. Ancestral knowledge and elder teachings are passed on and added.

If we identify strongly with Witchcraft, then there should be a desire to seek out what has been as we craft what will be new. As a young musician into late 80’s metal, I sought out my own influences, studying early rock and roll, blues, classical, and folk music. While I didn’t practice those things, learning them deepened my own music and art. I had the context of what came before. I had a sense of roots.

In all things a balance can be struck. While things can naturally break down and provide a fertile bed for new growth, it disheartens me to see devolution, the regression of consciousness and philosophy. A balance of our natural rebellion, curious innovation, and loyalty to tradition can keep us growing and evolving. Some practices, groups, and traditions won’t last more than a season. Others return year after year. Some spread by root and seed. Some grow strong and old. Some gardeners make the mistake of unknowingly giving all the attention to that which doesn’t serve. Water and weed what you wish to grow and starve that which destroys your garden.

Temple Astrolog: Mars in Trouble

Are you feeling more irritated lately? Somewhat restless? Doubting your ability to make a difference and not knowing what you really want? Are you afraid your sex appeal may be about to disappear? Have no fear my friend, it is Mars going retrograde and messing things up more than usual. This time he is messing with our minds and that could be tricky. But, as always, there are some treasures to find for those ready to do some digging. Let´s take a look and see what we can find.

Mars: A Big Boy with a Big Attitude

Mars is the ruler of the sign of Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac. He steps out in life saying “Here I am”. To him it is natural that all he sees belongs to him, or at least he believes it should. For him it is no question that everyone loves and adores him, simply because he exists. That is a young child’s way of viewing the world. Seeing and understanding that childish attitude is a key to understanding the sign of Aries. But, just as the child has an innocent and unaware side that can be charming, so does Aries. What you see in Aires is what you get, plain and simple. If you try to change that, you will have a problem.

One example of this Mars/Aries energy may be the handsome, exotic, very masculine lover that sweeps you off your feet. He clearly states that he loves the hunt, the sex and the pleasure. If that´s what you want, he is all yours (for the moment). If you fall in love with him, and try to change him into something else he will say: “Well, that’s your problem. I am what I am.”

A deeper meaning of that is that we can´t domesticate the energy of Mars. He is raw power, desire, will, and passion.

How We Set Out for Getting What We Want

In the horoscope, Mars shows how people go after what they want, what strategy they use both in life and when they are hunting for a partner. If you are attracted to men, Mars in the horoscope can also show what kind of man turns you on.

Mars gets activated when we really want something. In the examples below we have when dating and trying to pick someone up. We also have the “cookie game” — when we really want that last cookie on the plate.

Mars in Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) shows how incredibly sexy and independent he is. Here Mars steps out from the crowd and demands attention. He makes an entrance that everyone notices, scans the room with sexy and fiery eyes. Mars in a fiery sign is not ashamed of what he wants and he shows it.

If someone asks “Who want´s the last cookie?” He will immediately say “I do!” and grab it before anyone else. Why wouldn’t he?

Mars in Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) works with emotions, making the person he is after feel safe and cared for. Placing himself close, ready to make a move when the feeling is right. He will be the gentleman who asks if you are freezing and give you his coat. Will casually stroke your shoulder or hand and signal that he is emotionally available (for now.)

If there is only one cookie left on the plate, he would stay close to it and with teared eyes let everyone see and feel how much he wants that cookie. And make them feel very bad, even ashamed, for not giving it to him.

Mars in Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) will show you how clever and intelligent he is. Starting conversations saying things that: “Did you know that…” Or “I have read that…” He will also try to make you laugh, teasing you and stimulating your intellect.

When it comes to the cookie, Mars in Air starts a debate about the cookie and who deserves it most. (him of course). If the others don´t agree it must at least be divided into pieces to be fair.

Mars in Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) will try to impress you with what he has and owns. An expensive watch that he flashes. Picking you up in a nice car. Showing off his well-trained body and trying to be close, signalling to everyone around that, this is my date!

In the cookie game he will position himself very, very close to the cookie. Perhaps touching it so that it becomes his. Or even eating it and saying: “What? I did not know that there was a discussion about the cookies? I thought it was mine so I ate it up!”

Mars in Retrograde

Right now Mars has started to go retrograde. That means from our perspective the planet looks like it is going backward. When a planet goes into retrograde the energy from the planet becomes introverted. This is complex for Mars who in himself is such an outgoing extrovert energy. In the examples above we looked at how Mars expresses himself naturally in the elements when we want something, but also how we feel potent and ready to take on life. In the retrograde period we can feel that our natural “Mars superpower” doesn’t really work anymore. That can make us feel anything from weakened to a bit depressed. It can therefore be a good idea to look up your natal Mars and see what element it is placed in.

Mars in fiery signs, doesn’t feel sexy anymore and people do not seem to give him any attention. Mars in water isn’t comfortable with being close to the people he loves, or they irritate him for some reason. He may also feel forgotten by his loved ones and become sulky. Mars in air gets into arguments over small things and feels stupid, and Mars in earth feels sick, poor and old.

As you may have discovered, a healthy well-working Mars gives us confidence, power, and a sexiness in the world. When he is unwell or blocked we are in danger of getting stuck in victim mentality.

The Greater Danger of Feeling Impotent

As I mentioned above a Mars that is blocked, like during the retrograde, can make us feel impotent and weak. The danger of that is it can lead to overcompensation. “I´m going to show them that I am not weak” and that can lead to cruelty towards others and even violence. Or, “I’m going to show them that I’m not poor” can lead to overspending and risking your economy. There is also a risk that more domestic violence may occur, that we find out about more shootings and accidents.

On a personal level we can also be more sensitive, easily irritated, and upset. Things and people can from our perspective “be in our way” and it may feel like there are a lot of blockages and hindrances popping up everywhere. Working with spirits and energies for themes like “Peace”, “Road opening”, “Home blessing” and “Loving Communication” can be great. The opposite sign where Aries can find balance is Libra, ruled by Venus.

Mars begun his retrograde phase 30th of October 2022 and will go direct again 12th of January 2023

Mars in Gemini

Mars usually stays in a sign for about two months. Now, with this retrograde period included Mars will be in the sign of Gemini for about seven months. Mars in Gemini likes to debate. On the bright side he is curious and likes a good mental battle and solving a mystery, especially if there’s a price involved. On the darker side he can become argumentative and mentally restless. The energy can create mind games (Gemini) that are harmful and potentially dangerous (Mars). On a collective plane it is good to look out for harmful games and plays on the internet and social media. The tone on the world arena will be harder and conflicts may become more intense. But, we do good to remember that Gemini is more about talks and scary debates than actual physical actions. It is good to be mentally kind to oneself and others.

Mars is in the sign of Gemini from 20th of August 2022 until 25th of March 2023

Mars, Phobias and Depression

Mars has two moons, named after two of his sons. Phobos (fear, panic) and Deimos (dread, terror). A transiting Mars can trigger phobias or make us deal with the things we fear. Mars can also trigger things that have been lurking in the deep for a long time. Now when Mars is going retrograde it can be old fears showing up again. If this happens, be kind to yourself and know this doesn’t mean that it will be the same way as before. It can mean you are dealing with it on a new level. Mars has a clearing energy to it taking things out in the open so they can be dealt with and removed. Mars (will, power, movement) is in a sense serving the Sun (me, I), helping us become more authentic and able to shine. If you or someone close to you has a history of dealing with phobias or depression, don´t hesitate to ask for help if needed.

Other Things Going On:

On the 8th of November we have a strong Total Lunar Eclipse. Venus, the Sun, Mercury and the South Node in Scorpio is making an opposition to the North Node, the Moon, and Uranus in Taurus, squaring Saturn in Aquarius. This will be a strong and very physical (Taurus) full moon with a lot of tension and possibility for transformation (Scorpio).

I am happy we also have a lot of water present during the full moon. Venus, the Sun, Mercury in Scorpio is in a big trine (good aspect) to Pallas Athena (wisdom) and Lilith Black Moon in Cancer (motherhood, family) and Neptune (kindness) and Jupiter (expansion, hope) in Pisces (spirit, hope).

This is perfect for meditating and doing ceremony with water. Bringing in and pouring onto the earth healing waters of Kindness, Hope, Healing, Forgiveness, Peace, and Awareness.

Summary:

There is a tough passage coming with Mars retrograde in the sign of Gemini, especially because it happens during the holidays as well. Many people will have a difficult time trying to be kind. It will be extra important to take a moment to breathe before taking action. To keep up spiritual hygiene practices and to clear and clean oneself, the home, and other spaces, since it is easy to pick up heavy and angry energy. Being dedicated in doing your meditations and remembering your magickal training will help you a lot and radiate good energy to others. As magickal people and healers there’s always something we can do by anchoring healing, kindness, and common sense in a chaotic world. This too shall eventually pass and by then perhaps we will all more appreciate our own Mars superpowers.

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.

Ancestors for the Outcast

by Debbie Stellhorn, edited by Lore Mistedwood

Samhain season is important to Witches for many reasons; it’s the end of the harvest, it marks the beginning of the new year, and the veil is thin, making it easy to feel the presence of spirits. Many choose this time of year specifically to honor and work with deceased family members and their ancestors. This is a lovely part of our tradition, but for some of us who might be estranged from blood family for various reasons, it can make you feel like an outcast even in our Magickal communities.

My name is Debbie Stellhorn and I’m a new board member for the Temple of Witchcraft. I learned at a young age to simply not share about coming from an abusive family to avoid the many different responses that equated to, “I don’t understand.” Although years later, I haven’t found those typical responses in the Temple of Witchcraft or the Magickal communities I’ve visited, it can be difficult to be around Samhain celebrations with so much emphasis on honoring the dead when you don’t want to be reminded of family lines. Much of the work that is done with the dead at Samhain involves working with ancestors of blood. This brings up family of origin issues, as not everyone comes from a family that was healthy. Many of us come from families that were abusive.

Healing Verses Honor

With Witchcraft being so easy to access on social media these days, it is not hard to find reminders of Samhain being a time to focus on honoring your ancestors and deceased family members. If you do a quick internet search, you will find ideas about sending messages of love, looking at photos to remember the past, and calling forth your family line to speak to you at ritual, private or public. Working to heal your family line can be different from honoring individual deceased members, but sometimes these two things get lumped together. If you are working to heal your family line, it does not have to include going through a ritual where you are energetically interacting with family who were abusive to you.

Don’t Talk About the Abuse (even when the abuser is gone)

For the most part, it is easy to get through this time by simply not sharing information about your family or not participating in rituals where you would call your abusive deceased ancestors to attend in spirit. On the other hand, it brings up another problem. Not talking about it strengthens the “don’t tell anyone about the abuse” message so many of us encountered as children, which is another form of denying that the abuse occurred.

Families where abuse takes place do not tend to support those admitting to being a victim of childhood abuse, as many times this would force them to acknowledge that they too were or are victims, with deep pain and trauma within themselves that needs to be healed. Some of this denial is based on society still not being able to accept that such horrific things are done to children, especially if people did not have that experience.

Can’t You Find One Family Member to Honor?

There is also an option to work with ancestors further back in your line. This is a wonderful alternative for those who are ready. Then again, when you come from a family with a deep-seated pattern of intergenerational abuse, honoring the abusers who created your abuser doesn’t feel so great.

I was taught in therapy and by working in the social work/psychology field that sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do is to separate from an abusive family, even if it is your family of origin. So, what about family members who are deceased? I, personally, think that’s okay too. While I do believe that as Witches, we may not have created the problems that we are called to resolve, I think it’s okay to give yourself a break and to do things on your own terms. That includes deciding not to honor perpetrators of abuse.

You don’t have to honor someone’s memory to heal a family line. Part of what might need to be done is an energetic acknowledgement of the abuse for all those in the family who were victimized, never recognized, and passed without the opportunity for someone to validate their experience. Ignoring abuse to go with the flow and honor an abuser never bought to justice while alive might not be doing much good for the family line. Perhaps your abuser was abused too, and the entire cycle of abuse needs to be acknowledged by validating those who experienced abuse at the point in time where it occurred.

Maybe you’re not ready for that yet, and that’s okay. It’s difficult to help others, living or deceased, when you ignore your own wounds. Therapy can be a great asset and as Witches, we know that healing ourselves contributes to healing the family line.

As Witches, We Have Options

Even if you are going to forgo the open invitation Dumb Supper, graveyard visits, and reciting all deceased family members’ names, there are plenty of things you can do to honor yourself and the dead at Samhain and throughout the year:

  • Honor deceased friends and chosen family, those who took on parental roles for you.
  • Honor the unknown and forgotten dead, mourn for those who were never mourned.
  • Honor those murdered in Witch persecutions and trials.
  • Honor our Witch ancestors who have passed.
  • Honor those who were victimized within the family, known and unknown to you.
  • Do a ritual to honor yourself, perhaps the first of your line to break the cycle of abuse.

Taking control of how you want to handle coming from an abusive family is an individual decision and you must decide what is best for you. Part of a being a Witch is being sovereign and that includes departing from the mainstream even in Witchcraft itself.

Mouth to Ear, Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart

A black and white photo of a woman wearing a broad brimmed hat that covers and shades her eyes

Photo by soheil pourebrahimi via Pexels

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Magick is said to be best passed from mouth to ear, in the presence of a teacher or group. In ritual we are often hand to hand, but more importantly, heart to heart, not in a solely sentimental circle, but in a transmission of the core of the mystery, through breath and blood, voice and gaze. The Witch in me sees, feels, and knows the Witch in you. There are subtle transmissions that occur in physical presence. It’s difficult to replicate out of such intimate settings. And I say this as a teacher of Magick in both in-person and online formats.

Even more importantly, there is a transmission between us and the older powers, whatever we call them. Something happens under the light of the Moon. We gather a strength from walking in the woods. Secrets are spoken in an unwritten language when we sit to listen to the bubbling of a spring. Healing happens when we walk, dance, and sing in the rain. Gazing into a fire kindled before us opens a gate.

With the rising popularity of Witchcraft online, we can question the basis of looking at it as Earth-based or nature-based, for it seems very technological. People are connecting and learning through their phones and computers.

I would argue that it’s always been about the Earth and the starry heavens, terrestrial nature and the cosmos, the material and transcendent. But don’t lose touch with the world around you. Don’t get lost in the digital representation of things over the actual.

We cannot mistake the means of transmission with the essence. Each age, each generation, has its own means and methods. But the essence is the heart of things, and there is an eternal core to the heart of the Witch and their mysteries.

There are tides and seasons, ebb and flow in popularity, in all areas of esoterica. Witchcraft comes in waves with different flavors to each wave highlighting specific cultures or deities. If you stick around long enough, you’ll see a pattern. Social media has certainly sped the cycle, and it might be hard to see when we are in a peak. Those who join during a peak never expect it to ebb. I know I didn’t. Then something else rises, and the cycle renews. During the peaks there is the most fervor and potential conflict between the old and the new, but the heart stays true.

From truly secret societies and hidden groups to open secrets granting interviews, Witches change. Change has led to subtle books of life story giving way to full instruction manuals and the mysteries hidden in plain sight. Books, websites, audio, video, and social media are all a means of transmission, but they do not indicate the Craft is now focused on the electronic in lieu of nature any more than using a car to get to your coven, rather than hike, indicates a shift in focus to automobiles. Buddhists have made similar transitions with media, but the essence is still mindfulness, compassion, and non-attachment. Modern media can simply help transmit the teaching and open the door. But one must take that information and practice it. Reading, listening, and watching Witchcraft does not make the Witch. Doing, practicing, and living it does. That may look different to each of us, but it is more than media consumption. Media can provide a safeguard. Those more interested in the look of something aesthetically or in wanting to be perceived in embodying the look get distracted, and in that distraction can become relatively harmless to themselves and distracting to others. While all can find the art of our Craft and revel in some aesthetics of our culture, as I love a beautiful altar or outfit, it’s only part of the process.

Do the changing methods of transmission shape the teachings? Certainly. And certain magickal practices rise and fall with the trends and tides, but the ocean, the core practices, remain. Some things are lost in the transitions of different methods of learning, but they can be found again by diligent diggers and new things are revealed, the gift of the current generation to both the past generation and the future.

There is a strange tension with social media transmission between participating in the overculture’s trends and conforming to them as an expression of “individuality” and the impetus of much of Witchcraft seeking to disconnect from the overculture and not be swayed by expectation and aesthetics of the mainstream. It’s strange to see large groups of Witches online all posting their stacks of aesthetically arranged books or jumping onto a video trend. Framing pithy quotes or simple inspirational advice with a beautiful picture to promote the image of influencer in an effort to gain more followers can often be detrimental to Magickal attainment if the motivations behind such actions are unconscious, blurry, egotistical, or driven by an unaddressed wound. Social media can invite comparisons to others in detrimental ways—body image, looks, clothes, lifestyle, popularity, status, income—rather than encouraging a desire to find your own unique purpose, comparing yourself to only your past self as the measure of progress.

Often the Witches are rebellious in their relationship to overculture, though the tension can become a story between the technically savvy young and an older generation not as versed in media. The cross tension is also between the new occult generation and the old. One seeks to break with the mainstream and embrace the Witch self, essentially joining the Witchcraft subculture, but many newly joining will simultaneously seek to break from the common points of the subculture’s traditions and norms, seeking to redefine it. While it can be disturbing to traditionalists, we see the same thing in queer culture, goth culture, hippie culture, and various other musical and cultural movements.

The new regenerates the old so it doesn’t calcify, and the old deepens the new, providing the matrix for the roots so new heights are reached.

But if you talk with lots of practitioners from many generations, at some point you will hit a wall. The consumption of information won’t have the answer, be it books or social media. The next step will often be transmitted between the lines, from mouth to ear with living wisdom, or from the subtle spaces of the old powers. It will be found between heartbeats. Community, mentorship, and guidance will light a way out, if not the only way out. And someday, if you remain in this world despite the ebb and flow, you’ll most likely offer that same subtle aid to another who comes to you. Perhaps it will be through some medium not yet dreamed of, but you’ll still be passing on something true to the heart of the Craft to the heart of another.

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