Article

What Now? Putting A Practice Together: Part 3

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Christopher Penczak

The practice of magick—or of any spirituality really—is often described as a path. We walk the path. There are many paths up a mountain. Witches walk the crooked path. There is a well-worn path and a hidden path. There is a road less traveled.

These are all ways of describing movement, often but not always progress, and change. How things look at one point on a path can be radically different when you hike further along. The path can have peaks and valleys, the equivalent of high and low points for us. Sometimes it’s easy to walk. Other times the terrain is quite rough on our spiritual feet, causing pain or stress to us and requiring more effort.

We each have an individual path, but that path may coincide with that of a tradition. The techniques of a tradition are the tools and skills to better help navigate that path. Someone has gone up ahead and left information for you to help you traverse it better. As more people go in the same general direction, the path becomes more obvious, though Witches often seek the adventure of stepping off the path and into the wilds, it’s nice to be able to find your way back to common cause. And sometimes your adventures weave onto other paths, and you take those skills, symbols, and ideas back to your crooked path of the Witch.

In the process of creating an individual practice, something I’ve noticed among the practitioners whom I admire and respect the most is the transition. Their path changes, grows, and evolves. It keeps its roots. It’s not flitting from one thing to another, disconnected, but there is a continual synthesis.

As a path, I often describe it following a trail of breadcrumbs. In 2019 I wrote about it specifically here. It’s a key to understanding how to really craft your own practice. There is a belief that once you make communion, or union, with your Holy Guardian Angel—your Higher Self, Bornless One, or Watcher—you do not need any other teacher, that the HGA will teach you. Yes and no. When your connection is clear and direct, your HGA will certainly be a primary source, but often its role is to guide you to the next piece. You might not easily hear linear information from it, though you might. But what I have consistently found is that the HGA will guide you to the next step in the spiritual path, be it direct instructions, connections to other spirits and gods, the right book or course or other physical teacher who will help you in the process. While your HGA becomes the primary tour director of your personal path of evolution, you don’t have to do it all alone or create it out of nothing. Everything you experience nudges you to the next experience, the next bit of information, insight, relationship, healing, or challenge. All are part of the path, not just what you read about or do at the altar. Yet the altar is a visible manifestation of the process.

For me, the personal altar is key to my own unique path. Today many keep shrines to a multitude of deities, which is wonderful. Home spirit shrines, ancestral shrines, patron deity shrines, faery shrines, guardian shrines, elemental altars, prosperity altars, romance altars, healing altars…. our homes become fully functional temples, and I highly encourage it. There is a lot to learn and do at all those altars. Yet the most important is the personal altar, the working altar of the Witch, often, in days past, the only altar, where all these other altars would partake in a piece of the main altar, if at all. The working altar is the microcosm of the Witch’s world, their life, and the most subtle and powerful form of magick is the placing of something on the altar to bring it into your world, and the taking of something off the altar, to remove it from your world.

While we might keep a specific altar to a tradition we are dedicated in and working in, at some point, we have to bring together our own vision of our own world, on our own altar. We might dedicate a second altar to that specific tradition, but the primary altar is where the deep work on the path is made manifest.

Those magickal practitioners I most admire have their altars change, not often, but often enough. Of course there are the seasonal changes of the Witch’s altar. You might move things around and decorate for the eight sabbats or highlight a particular seasonal full or new Moon. But there are the broader changes that reflect your current work. As you practice a new pattern or work with a new tool, or a new spirit or deity relationship manifests, this should be reflected in your altar.

For a time, I was deeply invested in planetary magick, and my altar had a seven-candle brass holder, with tapers for each of the seven planets used in my work. I went through a long process of deepening my relationship with the seven wandering star gods, and then when that was complete, my altar changed. In a period of deep plant spirit healing and education, my mortar and pestle became centered on my altar, with many bottles of oils and tinctures of the plants I was working with at the time. My HGA brought me through a guide series of working on the “Crown of Witches” using imagery of both the north star and the zodiac, and the center pentacle of my altar was ringed with twelve stones for the zodiac. I would turn the ring for each visionary ritual, placing the stone of that sign, that point of the crown, in the center before me for the rite. In doing deeper elemental work, I would have various cards of the tarot out from the appropriate elemental suit, and have the court cards prominently displayed, asking the court to be inner world teachers. For a time I was building a better relationship with a familiar god of my youth, Ganesha, and had my Ganesha statue centered on my altar. Currently I’m completing work with seven goddesses who are in some way aligned with Venus’ powers, and have seven goddess statues upon my green cloth at the “top shelf” of my altar, along with copper, emerald, rose quartz, and various Venusian oils, incenses, and talismans.

The basics of my altar always remain, as they are fundamental to my worldview. The four elemental hallows are there; the black and white pillar candles for Goddess and God are there, as well as my cauldron, my pentacle, my scrying bowl, my stones, tarot cards, my incense burner and ash pot and offering bowl. But the change indicates an addition to my practice, a particular focus at this time, a request to the universe about what I want to experience or learn or the direction in which I have chosen to grow. And the universe—and those powers embodied by the altar—respond. When the work is mutually agreed to be complete, the altar is reset—sometimes to a ‘neutral’ position of just the basics, sometimes to a new direction—with many of the same fundamental elements.

Gifts from other practitioners can often be a sign from your HGA as to what is next. Several gifts of the same theme are a cosmic 2 x 4 to get your attention. A gift of a set of mala beads from one and a mantra book from another within a week of each other began for me a now lifelong fascination with mantra practice, and eventually a friendship and travels with someone who was deeply trained to be a mantra teacher, having great insight beyond the books to share with me. I have had significant gifts come to me from elders in the community, including a key and my first amber and jet necklace, unknowingly confirming a period of significant magickal work I had been doing.  

Readings from other practitioners when questioning your life can open a new door. I had an astrology reading that mentioned alchemy, and it opened the door to a whole exploration of something I was fascinated with in my younger years, now with the context to understand it better and put it to use.

I was always a Witch, even when working with foreign gods or the grimoire techniques. I considered broadly what I was doing as my Witchcraft, and as I gained experience, much of what I learned was folded into my daily understanding, worldview, and way of doing things. While I encourage people to fully engage in the trainings that are before them when studying in a school, tradition, or with a teacher, there is that point of adepthood where you have to synthesize all those pieces yourself, with your HGA, but it’s up to you, no one else outside of you.

Get your foundation. Learn a way deeply so you don’t flounder and fail to recognize what actually works and what does not, but then it is up to you. This is the key to the mature practitioner. In Part 1, we asked ourselves questions about setting up our practice. In Part 2, we looked at all the pieces we had and how they do or do not work together. And at this third step, we progress forward in our own unique way.

Open Heart, Open Head, and Open Hand

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

Not too long ago we received a question, or possible concern, about the frequency in the Temple of Witchcraft’s offerings of the name “Lucifer” and asked if this was always a part of the Temple’s teachings or a new direction towards which we were all heading. In a class on one of the beloved dead taught by a High Priestess and teacher in our school, Karen Ainsworth, the fallen star of Lucifer’s emerald in an Arthurian myth was used as a symbol in comparing the loss of a bright personality, in the form of Freddie Mercury. While it might seem strange for a bunch of Witches to honor the singer of the rock band Queen, I can tell you with great certainty that since the late 1990s, Freddie Mercury has been one of the pop culture figures to show up repeatedly in people’s meditations as a guide or teacher. I’ve lost track of how many people have said something like, “This is going to sound strange, but my spirit guide was Freddie Mercury from Queen!” 

We had another concern from the public when our Aquarius Lead Minister, J.T. Mouradian, offered a class on Jesus of Nazareth. Aquarius is our ministry of rebellion and public service, and will often offer things that surprise some. Similar concerns popped up in 2018 when I did a class on the Morning Star principle, and later, through a year of what I affectionately referred to as my “Heretical Sabbat” series of classes and meditations. We explored the Christian folklore and holidays near the popular and familiar Neopagan sabbats in an effort to claim some deeper mysticism, looking at what was originally borrowed by the Christians from the Pagans, and what was distorted in folklore as being demonic or evil.

Often the question is, “Are you secretly Satanic?” Or sometimes, “Are you secretly Christian?” The answer to both is no. We are occultists at heart. We are open to all kinds of wisdom. We look to see where all wisdoms intersect and draw from that point of light. 

If the question was, “Are you secretly Luciferian?” I would have to ask the questioner what they mean by that word, but depending on my mood, I might say yes, and not so secretly, but also probably not in the way you think. We don’t have rituals that venerate or worship Lucifer, but we have no rules against it either. Sometimes, to get around the obvious implications that some hold with the word, I might answer with “We are very Promethean” which will often force the questioner to have to follow up and ask what “Promethean” means, and that can start a fruitful conversation. 

The Temple of Witchcraft has always been about the light bearer in its ethos. In our first-degree mysteries, we learn the magick of psychic light, sending and receiving light as energy for healing and manifestation and information for divination and answers. Light is at the heart of our magickal correspondences, the power of visualization to manifest our intentions, and to experience true vision and prophetic sight. Even when we think we are not visualizing something, we are still receiving the vibrations of the unseen light of the astral. 

We are also devoted to the light bearer in terms of illuminating gnosis, of bearing information, knowledge, wisdom, healing, and hope into the darkness, as many of our most sacred images are of light bearers and torch wielders acting as guides and guardians. But collectively, we are not devoted to any one entity or moving in any one religious direction as a community.

We are devoted to Witchcraft, but have a pretty wide definition of Witchcraft as a science, art, and religion, as I learned first from Laurie Cabot. We are devoted to the Witch Soul, and through that, what is known as the Anima Mundi, the World Soul or Cosmic Soul which often, but not always, manifests as a Goddess in our history and folklore. When we collectively honor Hecate as Queen of Witches, we are seeking her in this form of the Soul of the World, connecting us all. 

We are a tradition of technique, and the techniques lead to experiences that often have a common foundation. We have no statement of belief, but when we teach the metaphysical foundations of the Temple, those techniques in whole, through a five-degree process experienced over seven-plus years, often lead students to what is considered to be a Hermetic, panentheistic, “soft” polytheistic, mystical view of Witchcraft. Yet no one is required to describe themselves as such, and most members have their own words and statements for their worldview and beliefs. We simply encourage those beliefs to be based on experiences, and when experiences change, being open to shifting paradigms and widening “reality tunnels” as Robert Anton Wilson wrote about. 

Our community mythos is likewise open-ended. We share common structures, terms, and poetry throughout the training, along with spirits specific to the tradition that are not directly found in folklore or history. We look to the great goddess as the function of fate, and the image of the Weaver and the Web. We look to the great god as the function of the logos, and the image of the Singer and the Song. Our occult history speaks of a pan-cultural global flood myth, the Sea People and Water City, the spark of light in matter, and the weaving of light that is also the basis of magick. These common points link greater public rituals and our initiations, but no belief or private use is required outside of the initial training. Being founded in technique, each member has the freedom to explore whatever relationships and pantheons they wish. Seek who calls to your heart and work with who shows up. Much like life, who you think you want and who wants you is different. Often who you need and who needs you is different than your first assumptions, so we don’t encourage people to pick a pantheon and stick to it only, but in this global world, to follow the unfolding strands, the trail of breadcrumbs, and see what unfolds for you. 

Teachers, ministers, and members are encouraged to share what they feel called to share. Just as currents will arise in the solitary practitioner, currents will arise in the community group, and the larger community. Ever notice how there are trends, even in our Witchcraft? For a few years, a particular goddess—or a particular technique or culture—will ascend in popularity, and then ebb a bit as a new tide comes in. When I began, everything was focused upon Isis as the great mother, and then that trend receded. Likewise we have currents in the Temple of Witchcraft, but they don’t embody the direction of the community and do not reflect changes in the Mystery School specifically, as we are based in technique. Even in my own recent classes—moving from this heretical sabbatic lore to now a more Egyptian-influenced metaphysics—does not demonstrate a shift to Egypt for the whole Temple, despite my being a co-founder. Instead, it’s just something I wish to share because the techniques are helpful to me. 

Look at the patterns that repeat, but with different nuances in different times and places to find your wisdom as a Witch. At first, many of us reject all things Christian because of past upbringing, and this is a good and necessary phase to make the break; otherwise we might still be practicing Christianity and calling it Pagan Witchcraft. But once you break away and heal, you start to realize there is a world wisdom, a perennial tradition beneath the mysticism, not dogma, of all traditions, points common to the human experience here on planet Earth, and that is where the heart and soul of wisdom can be found. We simply must struggle to find its expression in our own hearts, in our community, and in the context of our greater time and place. As occultists, look by function and force, as well as form. Look for patterns. Look at themes. Keep an open mind, but more importantly, keep an open heart and a willingness to reach out to other wisdom keepers, and in turn, accept the hand being offered to you.

by Karin Ugander

Welcome to 2022 and the Astrologyblog! We begin by looking at the north node moving into the sign of Taurus. The change of signs for the north node is always of importance, but this is extra important for all working with people, transformation, healing and of course magick! So let´s take a closer look and see what we may expect in the future. 

Change of nodes 

The lunar nodes change sign about every 18 months. In astrology it is said that the north node shows you the best way forward in life and the south node shows where you come from and what lessons that you have hopefully learned. In Karmic astrology the south node in your birth chart may show your past lives, or one very important past life that influences this incarnation. The north node shows then what you should aim for doing or learning in this lifetime. Understanding these points in your natal chart is often very important keys to unlocking blockages and finding a higher meaning with your life. Other names for the nodes are, the Dragon´s head for the north node, and the Dragon´s tail for the south node.  Very fitting names as you may be whipped by the tail of the dragon and you need your eyes to look forward and see where you are going. Even when you learn about your personal lunar nodes it usually takes some time to figure them out as they are many times multi layered. 

North node in Taurus, 

On the collective plane the south node shows us what challenges from the past that we are collectively working through. What challenges in the past that we hopefully have learned something from. The north node shows the path forward. With the north node now entering into the sign of Taurus we need to be practical, down to earth, be realistic and be ready, because there is work to be done! Get a shovel and start to dig! This is literally shouting out: “Be the change that you want to see”. If you want more earth friendly food, then you need to buy that kind of food, cook it, talk to your friends about it and even grow your own garden. The positive side of this is that people will be ready to make the change and will also have access to the energy and power for it to happen. 

South node in Scorpio

What we need to remember and learn from Scorpio is the power of transformation but also the spirit of transformation and its darker side. That is when we want the change so bad that we lose our sound judgment, and lack discernment. Times when we follow the lust for being able to touch something beyond, in a way that we no longer see the people and the world around us. 

When we talk about addiction in astrology we usually talk about Neptune, water and wanting to escape this harsh world for a better dreamworld through for example drugs. In Scorpio, (also a water sign) the motives are more personal and we are longing for a higher experience while still being in a body. This longing for fusion with something greater, may also lead us to addictions if we are not careful. You can become addicted to spiritual “kicks” and want the feeling of “never ending transformation” in the same way that you can become addicted to other things. We can also become addicted to violence (TV, movies) drama and emotional abuse. 

When this axis between the north node in Taurus and the south node in Scorpio is in balance, we can use the transformative energies from Scorpio in the past and ground it with Taurus, and turn it into tangible, physical results.  Then the ecstatic energy from Scorpio helps us towards a better health, sound life choices, a grounded and balanced life in harmony. Then the fusion with something greater or bigger no longer becomes an escape but a tool for unlocking your full potential.

The Taurus – Scorpio axis of the Shaman and the Witch

If you have read this far, you will not be surprised by me saying that the Taurus – Scorpio axis is often very strong and active in the astrological charts of Shamans, Witches and other magickal people. Taurus connected to nature, plants, the elements, Venus and the embodiment of love, beauty and magick. Scorpio connected to transformation, sex, change, the true nature of things, Pluto and the ancestors. Powerful stuff, which is one of the reasons why it is such an important balance point. Do we seek transformation so intense that we stop having a decent life? (too much Scorpio) Do we resist change so hard that we become stagnant living an empty and meaningless life? (too much Taurus) 

Changes in the Dream landscape

The axis between Taurus and Scorpio is well travelled by dreamers, shamans, psychics and mediums. When the nodes enters into these signs it will increase the power and activity of dreams, visions and trance states. Perhaps you will find that you dream landscape has changed. It can also be that it is easier to get spirit contact and move into a trance state. One of the challenges is that it may take some time until the new paths of dreaming and the new abilities finds balance and understanding.

Sex, Money and the Attract and Repel game

Sex and money consistently rank as the top two reasons why couples fight. These two themes are connected to the Taurus / Scorpio balance and themes. 

Taurus rules the second house in the horoscope. There we find our resources, money and physical stability. Our body is also one of the resources that we have. It should always belong to us and no one should ever be forced to sell themselves or not have the right to their own body. People who has lacked a feeling of physical safety or comfort while growing up many times has a challenging second house. 

Scorpio rules the eight house in the horoscope. There we find sex, secrets, inheritance from family, danger and hidden passions. But also the beauty of transformation and mysteries. People who has a lot of transformation to do, either for personal reasons or for healing and balancing the ancestral tree usually have a challenging eight house. 

The attract and repel game has a lot to do with releasing and withholding. 

Example: When I like you and when you act and behave like I want you to do, I give you things, money and access to my body (Taurus). I also give you attention, love and a deep emotional connection (Scorpio). 

When you behave bad, and not the way I want you to do, I withdraw my love, affection and sense of connection (Scorpio). I also withhold resources, money, access to my body and other things that can make you feel safe (Taurus).

This is a very painful game to play in a relationship as an adult. But for a child it is even more so. You learn that to be able to feel safe, loved and protected you have to behave in a certain way. You have to earn love and a sense of safety and protection. This can also lead you to the same manipulation game of attract and repel in your relationships with friends and lovers.

This is not an easy programming to break away from. But here are some things that may be helpful

  • It is alright to show my partner love and affection while still resolving a conflict or working on an issue. And the other way around, just because we are still having sex doesn’t mean that we have no problems to solve. 
  • Do I want my children to learn how to “do the right thing” just for the gratification of playing the game right and get the rewards (having access to the computer, games and TV)? 

 Or do I want my children to understand in their hearts what is the right thing to do and act?

  • Sharing is a way of showing trust and that includes sharing your feelings, what is important for you and what is going on. To stop talking to someone and stop touching someone is also withholding.
  • When you fight, It is never about the car, the house or how many times you have sex. It is always about something else. 

If you feel like it is easy for you to shutdown emotionally, physically or otherwise when feeling stressed or in a conflict, using crystals and flower essences might help. They can assist you with having an open heart while resolving the conflict. Same thing if you are on the receiving side of the shutdown. Using these tools can protect you and help you to still feel nourished and safe. 

The astrological connection

For the next 18 months these themes will become very important. In our personal lives and relationships we will be working with transformation versus stagnation. Attract and repel, sharing and holding back. Power and control struggles within and without will come in focus, divorces and breakups can become very ugly. Taurus is fixed earth and Scorpio is fixed water and that makes them very stubborn in normal circumstances, when feeling pressed they can change a conflict into a warzone.

On the collective plane we will see companies, countries and big organisations using the same methods  in economy and as a military strategy. Behave good and we will help you and you can play among the others. Behave bad and we will withdraw resources and safety. 

The last visit in Taurus

The last two times the north node was in Taurus and the south node was in Scorpio was between

12th of September 1984 until 6th of April 1986

15th  of April 2003 until 26th of December 2004 

It can be a good idea to go back in time and look at what happened in your life then? What changes did you and your family go through? If you are a magickal practitioner of some kind, look at what changed in your craft and work? What important new people and places  entered into your life? What did you leave behind?

The north node will be in Taurus and the south node in Scorpio from 19th of January 2022 until 18th of July 2023. Note: The nodes moves in the opposite way in the astrological chart. They begin at the 29th degree of the sign moving “backwards” ending at 0 degrees before moving into the next sign, once again at 29 degrees. 

I wish you a great journey together with the nodes in Taurus and Scorpio. May it be filled with transformation and healing and most of all, may it be in Beauty!

Blessings! / 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.

2022 New Year Message

While the Witches’ new year is Samhain, I’ve always felt the time between Samhain and Yule is a time between, a time before the new solar year for resting, reflecting, dreaming, and planning before the solar and secular New Year.

Now we enter into the new and we want to share with you some plans for the year. Our plans to celebrate Yule in-person here in New Hampshire were cancelled by bad weather and looming concerns about the omicron variant. Temple leadership continues to keep a close eye on recommendations and best-practices to keep everyone in our community safe. We have continued our online Sabbats for those not near any local Temple of Witchcraft community and plan to move forward offering sabbat rituals both online and (eventually) in-person. You can find more about our sabbats and other events here.

We are nearing the time of our second annual online gathering of TempleHearth, with an online Imbolc ritual included. Registration is still open to enjoy our many presenters, specifically from our community. Our hope is TempleFest will be in-person again this coming August.

We obtained bids for the approved plans to build our Community Center and will be unrolling our ambitious multi-year fundraising efforts for it, as the price of modern town-approved structures is estimated as 1.7 million dollars, but this fulfills our mandate to create accessible community resources that will last for generations of Witches and Pagans. Those who want to make a direct donation here can do so and mark the donation “community center” in the note. A video presentation at TempleHearth will unveil some of the designs for the Community Center.

Plans continue with our development of the land, trails, and future ritual and healing sites on the property and we have Dominique Susani and Karen Crowley-Susani coming out to New Hampshire in April to educate us more on the sacred geometry and energetic forces of the land. Workshop is open to the public and can be found here.

And for those interested in starting or continuing their education in the Temple online, we continue to offer courses and classes, such as the upcoming Path of the Moon year-long course. The current session of the Temple Mystery School ends in March, with registration opening for the September 2022 session soon thereafter, in the Spring of this year. The Temple of Witchcraft series of books continues to be updated with 20th Anniversary Editions, including a forthcoming The Outer Temple of Witchcraft, and I know the Mystery School staff and I look forward to entering a new era of our education with you all.

Looking forward to an exciting new year with everyone as we move into 2022! 2022 is a six year (2+0+2+2=6) and in the Tree of Life six is the number of the Sun. Together let’s invoke a year of health, happiness, harmony, and prosperity for all.

Blessed be,

Christopher Penczak
Co-Founder of the Temple of Witchcraft

Audacity: Friend or Foe?

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

To Dare! One point in the Witch’s Pyramid. One must be daring to be a Witch, to even claim the identity of Witch, at least on some level. How could I not? It is what I am. Many people are things they cannot verbalize or accept, so this daring is an act of magick. In this sense, we can and should embrace our daring, our boldness, if we seek a magickal life. Bravery is required to step into the dark and commune with unknown gods. Bravery is required to set your will and take action, spellcraft and otherwise, to make it happen. Being a Witch is not everyone’s cup of tea. So be audacious!

Yet there is the audacity that forgets the other points of the pyramid that balance this wisdom—to know and to keep silent. To will, the last corner of our pyramid, partners well initially with daring, but audacity that is not partnered with knowledge and awareness of both self and others—especially the recognition of when to speak and act and when not to—leads to the type of audacity that is rudeness, impertinence, and impudence.

While we have our own codes that are not understood by all of the outer world, a Witch’s honor is akin to that of a chivalrous knight or samurai. It may be written uniquely on the stars or upon sacred bark or in the scarred flesh of our own hearts, but we live by a code of honor. My code is not necessarily your code, but like Witchcraft itself, we recognize the heart of this honor in another Witch.

Sometimes we think we are honoring that code, being daring and brave, when in reality we are embracing rudeness.

A friend just shared with me that at a Pagan gathering, another Witch, considered somewhat an authority as a presenter at said event, told him that something he shared from the tradition he was trained in was “wrong” and that he and they needed to stop doing it immediately or otherwise they were being harmful to everyone in the community. Spoiler alert: what they were doing was not harmful, nor was it controversial in 95% of Pagan, Witchcraft, and magickal spaces.

She did so under the veil of great kindness, generously offering “needed” aid by taking him aside, but her act was filled with a level of assumption and presumption, having never experienced their ritual directly, being ignorant of the deeper theology and meaning behind why they did the practice, and without an understanding of what the members of the tradition experienced when doing the ritual. It simply did not conform to what she personally felt was appropriate for her, but instead of asking further questions—or even permission—before offering authoritative, unrequested advice, she told him it had to stop.

In short, she had the audacity to not only believe she knew what was best for a group of Witches she didn’t even know, but also to voice that opinion, presuming a level of authority or responsibility under the aegis of making the world better, i.e. outwardly conforming to her virtues, assuming that her directive should and would be followed. But this wasn’t her class. He hadn’t asked a question. She was nothing more than a new acquaintance of his at social time during an event where people were informally sharing on a particular topic after hours. No one else voiced concern about the supposed “harm” he was doing.

When I first heard about his story—and that at the time, he wasn’t in a place to either engage more deeply or tell her to fuck off, since he wanted to keep this after-hours social hangout pleasant—I got mad. I personally know everyone involved and was just stunned at the audacity. I get deeply concerned when speakers, leaders, and teachers in Witchcraft act this way. I am concerned when anyone does it, but particularly when the strong voices in our magickal community do it.

While today it appears the thing for public figures to do is offer their opinion freely as what others should do, in the metaphysical world, good leaders and teachers generally eschew forcing their beliefs on others. If someone is acting illegally or causing actual direct harm, we take direct action, but in matters of metaphysical or theological opinion, it’s not our place to dominate; otherwise occultism/Paganism/Witchcraft becomes another tradition where authority figures tell you how to think, act, and be. Ours is a mystical tradition of personal unfolding on the path. We can guide those with whom we are in a sacred student-teacher relationship or those who have come to a workshop, but even then, though we can presume they have come to listen to our view, we nonetheless can’t presume or force our view on others. Right for one is not right for all, and our traditions are of multiplicity. There are many things that I disagree with in many magickal groups, but thankfully, I am not part of those groups The caveat is that those things are wrong “for me” or “for the people I work with at this time,” but everyone has the freedom to seek in their own way on their own.

It reminds me of the popular internet graphic originally from A Small Fiction by author James Mark Miller, and often erroneously attributed to the author Terry Pratchett:

“Why do the townsfolk fear you?” she said.

“Because I can do things they can’t,” the witch said.

“Like?”

“Mind my own business, for one.”

Likewise, on the other side, I recall an episode of the HBO show True Blood where Holly, a Witch, gives the shapeshifting bartender Sam a bag of herbs to ease his rage. His response, “You got anything that works for nosiness and bad boundaries?”

Those are the two sides of this. Knowing when to dare is as important as the daring itself. Am I called to take action here? Who is calling? Is it my soul, my gods, or my ego? Can I be divinely audacious and live that magickal life, doing what is necessary? Or will I confuse Divine Necessity, the weaving goddess of fate, with my own self-importance and desire to be in charge?

Most good Witches I know have been on both sides of it, myself included, because you need to experience both and become conscious of it to choose your divine audacity. Most of us go through it. It’s a natural stage of our growth, but hopefully we outgrow it before we are in a position where we could abuse any perceived authority. The trick is not getting stuck here. Choose wisely.

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Torch photo by by Kelly L from Pexels | Wine Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels | Weaving Photo Nickolas Nikolic on Unsplash

Traditions evolve through the living practice of them. They adapt with the people who love them, in groups or alone, and those who fail to change will also fail to meet the needs of their people and will either calcify into dogma or wither and fade. Some traditions are recorded and revived by others at a later date, but many just disappear when the group or practitioner no longer holds to them.

Traditions are not opinions. Opinions can be rooted in traditions, but they can also be untethered from actual experience. Academic opinions carry one kind of weight. Life experience with a magickal mystery carries another. The two combined can be really helpful. If they are separated, I tend to favor the voice of wisdom and experience over the voice of knowledge alone.

There are many opinions, especially those offered from the safety of online spaces, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, say, name, or believe. People will be quick to say “this is true or right” and forget the caveat “for me” or “true and right for me and the group with whom I practice.” Things also might not be true for you. If you are offering to show another idea or perspective—or perhaps like me, you want to know all the folklore and techniques even though you know you can’t know it all, as the true knowing is in the doing and living—you’ll never turn down a bit of lore or wisdom, adding it to your own stew to see if it congeals with something you already know and do. Different points of view can bring insight.

Traditions are living things and travel from one person to another. There is a legacy passed nor just of technique or poetry, but of paradigm, orientation, and mystery. You receive an inheritance from teachers and traditions. I learned from some elders that it is a mystery of the torch and cup. You pass the light which must be tended as a living thing. It illuminates and inspires. By its light you can see and understand what is being added or changed. The oft-quoted Gustav Mahler taught, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” Don’t mistake one for the other.

The cup is a body of knowledge we must be careful not to spill because we must pass at least some of what we were given by our teachers to the next generation; ideally the cup will get a little fuller with each pass. Some drink of the cup and do not refill it before passing it, either holding knowledge to be “better” than those who come after or keeping it as a secret. This results in each generation being more uneducated than the previous, at least to specific teachings and the quest to fill the void with other things. A true teacher should wish that their students surpass them and therefore shares generously. At times we might hold back if prerequisite knowledge or experience is not yet there, but we do so out of a sense of their safety or to encourage their ability to seek, but not to be a miser hoarding information.

Things will change. Some will be conscious decisions. Others will organically evolve. New traditions will be seeded from the past. In many ways we are not handed a torch or a cup, but a thread. Each teacher and mentor passes a thread, and we weave our own to perhaps pass to another. Ideally the thin threads re-spun from the occult and Neopagan revivals are being fortified with more academic knowledge, but they must be lived. It’s easy with new academic knowledge to want to wipe it clean, tear it down, and start fresh—and some will—but I’ve found life to be a bit too messy for that, and that’s good, as life in a “nature” religion should get down in the dirt and be messy. Today many will claim that no thread, torch, or cup was passed to them, but often there will be key books and now even online presences that do much the same today through in-person groups, teachers, and mentors.

Things of the modern era gain a momentum in the living, for even though they are recent traditions, they came about to speak to the needs of the people. Discarding them without deeper reflection disrespects our teachers of the recent past, without whom many of us would not have access to what we do today in the same way.

I think of the annual controversies of the Sabbat names, with 2021 having fierce online drama about Mabon vs. the Autumnal Equinox. We have it also around Ostara/Vernal Equinox, and Litha/Summer Solstice. It’s true the name Mabon was started by the American practitioner and author Aidan Kelly in 1974. Yet the first strands of tradition I was passed, by my first few mentors and teachers, always used Mabon for the Autumnal Equinox. I get it. Our cobbled-together Wheel of the Year has some inelegancies woven in the beauty of it, like so much organic folklore: four Gaelic names for fire festivals, though one is often traded for the Saxon Lammas; a Midsummer, but the Midwinter is more often called Yule as astronomical seasons don’t match these folkloric mid-points but start the seasons; and equinoxes that are more academic Latin than British folkloric in the words “vernal” and “autumnal.” There is an urge to make it flow better, and as a living tradition, different approaches were taken, and some grew popular. Drawing from mismatched myth, modern Witches and Neopagans crafted a meta-narrative about the wheel as a whole and illustrated it with classic mythic examples. The Goddess of Light and Spring is expressed by Bridget at Imbolc, but most versions of the Wheel don’t have Bridget specifically throughout the whole wheel. The Goddess changes faces as does the God. Modern traditions, like the Temple of Witchcraft, are redefining it in the context of new godforms and myths rooted in the old.

The name Mabon disliked by so many as having nothing to historically do with the equinoxes actually casts a powerful bit of magick upon us all who contemplate it. Mabon opens the gate to mystery, for Mabon himself is a mystery. A whole myth cycle—the Mabinogi or Latinized as The Mabinogion—is named for him, yet none of the four branches are really about him. One story exists, but the themes of that story show up throughout the Mabinogi—mothers and children; the Otherworld; being lost, hidden, or imprisoned; and growing older. In fact those themes are cross-cultural and directly speak to the greater meta-narrative of the whole wheel’s regenerative mystery. Where names of the summer solstice are often accepted as they are—the name Litha generates little other than a nod perhaps to megalithic structures believed to align with the solstices—Mabon, when seriously contemplated and studied, opens a whole world for us, even if our desire is not Welsh, or even Celtic. Complaints and ire against those who phonetically say May-bon rather than the more traditional and “correct” Ma-bin must also be apoplectic over changes in the names of figures such as Odin, Othin, Wotan, Woden, Wodan, Wuodan, Wuotan, Wōđanaz, and of course Mr. Wednesday over the span of years and regions. Or one can realize things change, and we are witnessing a living current of tradition adapting to region, dialect, and accent. The American tradition of Mabon has been imported back into the British Isles.

The birthplace for modern Neopaganism in the English-speaking world comes to us from the British Isles, with its fabulous mix of mystery of the Neolithic mound and megalithic builders, all of the British Isle Celts linking back across Europe to the Indus Valley, the Romans, and their ties to the Greeks and the Saxons, and their ties to all of the Teutonic, and modern England’s connections with Spiritualism and Theosophy even though both were founded in the United States, and their modern connections to—with all their issues of colonization—Egypt, India, and Asia. From here the currents passed to the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, mainland Europe, Africa, and further abroad now, with practitioners of Wicca, the mystery tradition we associated with Western Occultism, in India, China, and Southeast Asia. People all over the world, with a general surface understanding of Irish Samhain and Beltane traditions, have inherited a modern Samhain thread, and are crafting their own traditions rooted in their own land and language, many through the lens of American Halloween. It’s not unlike my own celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in a simple way, with my overall historic understanding of more traditional festivals. It shares the sentiment to celebrate the spirit of the elephant-headed god whom I love, but takes place outside of a traditional Vedic context. And Ganesh doesn’t seem to mind. I like to think he appreciates and accepts all offerings.

As these traditions are practiced, who knows how they will grow with the people in ten, fifty, and one hundred years? What we inherited in the rich and fertile proto-mix of the Paganism of the 50s, 60s, and 70s allows us to have these conversations. Are they perfect? No. Today, with access to everything, we keep expecting a perfect and congruent tradition where all the parts fit and have an internal timelessness to them. I know that speaking for myself, that was the eternal quest with each of my teachers and traditions. There must be more! The mystery must go deeper! And there is, and it did, but it was messy. I never found the perfect fit, and all that I’ve created has been wonderful, challenging, and messy to my sense of order. One need only to look at any religion or myth and find it’s messy. The Bible? A mess of stories that were not necessarily made to go together, obviously drawing upon other Mesopotamian myths now in the monotheistic context. The Egyptians? Different tales in different temples. Who created the world? Depends on when and where you are. The Greeks? Their written records, assumed to be drawn from oral traditions, all disagree in details and philosophy. Is there a difference between the outer forms of the temples and cults and the inner forms of the mystery schools? Probably. It’s easy to dismiss things as muddled or simplistic because we live outside of their original setting, life experience, and cultural context. There might be an underlying universal wisdom, and I wholeheartedly agree with that, but in manifestations, it is all about the regional influences that shift in time and space. Ideas migrate with their people, and like people, change over time. Some settle down and some keep traveling. And some just disappear. It’s hard for us to see it today, as we are in the mix of these processes now, and we’d like to look at them from the lens of a far-off time when things have settled, not when they are morphing and mutating all around us. Most won’t endure. Look to what has longevity already, even if it’s not your cup of tea.

If we take these myths as literal truth, then the mythic differences bring us into madness and dogma, something as magickal people we should seek to avoid through our ability to hold two truths, the mythic and the academic. Tibetan Buddhists can have the theology-mythology that Tibet has always been a Buddhist nation founded from antiquity by Pha Trelgen Changchup Sempa, who was the earlier incarnation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, giving rise to the idea that Tibet has always been guided by the bodhisattva of the Buddhist tradition. Historical research reveals that Buddhism as a coherent philosophy made it to Tibet in the 6th Century. Prior to that it was the indigenous Tibetan spiritual and magical practices as found in Bon, which has been adopted into later forms of Buddhism, but still has its own individual practices. Which view of history is right? It depends on what you are seeking. All of our traditions have mythic truth and academic truth. The Dali Lama can acknowledge both and have no dissonance in understanding these two different levels of truth simultaneously. Neopagans struggle with it. There is a teaching to the mythic ideas of an ancient lineage and pedigree, to the medieval Witch and the Burning Times, that confers a connection and plays a role in the magickal initiation process. But there is also the need for academic research to correct erroneous facts while not dismissing entirely the evolution of folklore and mythos. We must work to hold the two truths individually and as part of a community that can hold them as well, weaving them together when necessary and holding them separate as needed.

If we seek any form of a greater “big tent” Pagan community for support and shared resources—and honestly, simply for fellowship with like-minded, but not same minded—we must be okay with our shared histories and webs of practice. There is a time to see the shared collective and a time to express what is specific to our practice and to be accepting of differences in those times, to see what is right “for us” and not for everyone while also not denying the collective. There are times and places where people gather from all over, and those core themes carry, and there are times for the regional variations, where you might recognize similarity, but also huge differences. Today it’s hard to see those differences as regional due to the ease of travel by car and plane. It’s not so much the differences between the counties next to you, but between groups around the world, and now, due to the internet, there are connections in every area, with particular paradigms not rooted in a regional history in the same way. The world is wide open. It’s a blessing and a curse.

There will be times when we pass a torch to a small group of people in our inner circles, and other times when we hold the light aloft to share with all. There will be times when we pass the cup at a closed circle, and other times when we pour freely for our fellows. And there are times when we are weaving for ourselves, weaving for our people, and weaving for the entire world. All are needed. All our necessary. One does not invalidate the other.

Temple Astrolog: Snowstorms and Crazy Love

by Karin Ugander

The Sky is loaded with intensity, and I believe that we will all need to stop and breath occasionally in the upcoming weeks. These strong aspects will influence us both on a personal and collective plane. “December will be a month to remember!”

A love that goes deep

Right now, we have the planet Venus (love, romance) in the sign of Capricorn. Venus in Capricorn takes love and relationships quite seriously. Stability and safety are important, and it is not easy for Venus in Capricorn to fall in love, but when it has happened Venus in Capricorn loves deep and intensively.

Now when Venus is moving next to Pluto (transformation, the underworld) in Capricorn things will get intense to say the least. Venus together with Pluto can be consumed with love and passion and expects their partner to feel the same. They can become disappointed when others don´t have the same ability to fly high and explore the depths in life. Venus in combination with Pluto can also create jealousy and envy. Because this partnership is happening in the sign of Capricorn the ability to communicate emotions is limited. Capricorns are not the best to talk about relationships and things connected to the heart. But when they do, they may surprise you by how deeply they feel.

Seduced in different directions

On a personal level this intense passion and drive will seek its release in different places and situations depending on where in your horoscope it takes place. You may suddenly become very engaged in politics, while your partner gets into the mysteries of life. Or you get deeply involved with sorting out old family drama the same time as your partner becomes passionate about increasing the family income. If you are not aware, there is a potential danger that you and your partner get seduced in different directions, which can lead to misunderstandings and feeling lonely. This is a very seductive energy. Channelled and directed wisely it can bring new passion into many areas, your love life included! The key is to flow with the energy and then direct it towards a good goal. On the darker side this is an energy that can twist and become a “stalker” energy that can go very wrong. On the bright side this is an energy that can be used for making potions for long lasting love and strong relationships.

Venus together with Pluto wants change so it is extra important to check in with your partner during this transit.

Ancestral Power and Magick

Pluto is connected to the underworld and deep transformation. Capricorn is connected to time and the bones. Venus is connected to love and magick. Combined, this is a perfect time for working with the ancestors, to deepen your love and get in contact the deep magick that is “in the bones”.

On the challenging side, this transit can make us unintentionally walk in the path of the ancestors in an unhealthy way. This can be picking up a bad habit, picking up aggression or the like. Be aware if you suddenly start behaving like your parents or older generations in a way that is not good. Pluto likes to drag things to the underworld and work in silence and use manipulation to get his way. Silence makes it possible for abuse, addictions, and bad things to continue. By talking openly about difficulties and bringing the true version of the family history into the light healing is possible. Pluto rules the 8th house in astrology. This is the house of family inheritance, death, transformation, and mystery. The things that we inherent from the ancestors, both the good and the bad. Magickal people often have strong placements in the 8th house or a strong connection to Pluto and Scorpio.

On a collective plane this could mean that it becomes even more obvious what we have inherited from the generations before us, and what we are leaving to the next generations. On a collective plane we will hopefully see more “truths” come out in the open.

Venus conjunct (right next to) Pluto begun 24th of November and will last until the 8th of January 2022. Venus will meet up again with Pluto from February 19th until the 11th of Mars. So, we will have more than one chance to get this right and the things that we get in motion the first time may manifest the second time.

Venus goes retrograde 19th of December and direct again 30th of January 2022.

Hunger for Love and Knowledge

The Sun in Sagittarius (adventure, passion) is right next to Vesta (fire, devotion) and Mercury (knowledge, information) making a challenging aspect (opposition) to Lillith Black Moon in Gemini. This can create a hunger for more and deeper experiences. It can play out in your love Life (Vesta/Sun) or it can play out in your search for knowledge and power.

In this situation you need to be aware that everything accessible is not good for you. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should. You may not be prepared for the energy released, or the transformation that follows. On a more practical level it can be a hasty decision to change jobs, move to another part of the country or the like. This constellation is also linked to the hunger for attention and being seen (Vesta, Sun, Sagittarius) Because of this you should be careful not be dramatic just for the attention. Be aware on social media, what you post and for what reason. Don´t challenge the people you love just because you want their attention. Try to speak from your heart instead.

One of the reasons that this aspect comes with a warning is the connection to Lillith Black Moon. When ever she is around there is something that we cannot see, a blind spot and we do well to be careful in dealing with things.

On the bright positive side this energy can make you break out of old limitations and move to the next phase of growth. But even so, expect bumps on the road.

The sun and Vesta travels together until 15th of December

The sun is opposition Lillith Black Moon until the 16th of December

The Vesta opposition Lillith Black Moon until the 1st of January 2022

Lillith Black Moon and Snowstorms

Lillith Black Moon is very active right now, and it is probably felt extra by magical people, healers, and energy workers. As mentioned above, where we find Lillith Black moon there is a hidden view for us, and we are practically blind in that area for the moment. It is much like driving in a snowstorm. You need to stay on the road and drive slowly ahead.

Lillith Black Moon is now making a challenging aspect to the Sun, (difficult to see, including ourselves.) A challenging aspect to Mercury (problems with communication and decoding things) And challenging aspect to Neptune (strange intuition), Vesta (confusing magick, problems with protection) and Pallas Athena (hard to find the right strategy ahead)

Take your time evaluating situations, people, and energy. In the Alven Tradition we have a saying: “Långsamt går fort” / “Slowly goes fast”. If you try to push things too fast you will lose both time and energy. But if you take it slow and be present in the moment you will gain both time and energy.

Lillith Black Moon squares Pallas Athena until the 7th of February 2022

Lillith Black Moon squares Neptune until the 3rd of April 2022

The Uranus and Saturn square at Christmas

We have now reached the moment when Uranus and Saturn squares for the 3rd time this year. The first time was February 17th, the second time June 14th and now for the third time on December 23rd.

Uranus wants change and revolution. He is in the earth sign of Taurus and there he is not comfortable at all. When Uranus energy is connected to Taurus the change is more permanent than in many other signs. It is tangible (earth). Saturn, the lord of time does not like change, he likes the old times and how things always has been. Now he is in the sign of visionary Aquarius, and he is not comfortable either. This creates a conflict between the new and the old, between change and stability.

It is easy to see how this plays out in the big world. The conflict between how things has been and the global changes that we need to make to survive on this planet. The year of 2021 have been an eye opener for many people, politicians, and countries. We also have the difficult situation of handling the Pandemic all over the world.

On a more personal level we are also perhaps been torn between what we want to do and what we need to do. Most of us have had do make difficult choices and changes in our lives lately. Now as the third square is happening it is asking us: “What have you learned from the previous two hits?” “Have you grown wiser?” “What will you bring with you into the future?”

This transit last until the 5th of February 2022

Surviving the Energy Storm at Christmas

Between Christmas on the 24th of December until New years many tense constellations reach their peak. Venus and Pluto exactly on the same degree, the Saturn and Uranus exactly square. (Mentioned above)

Added to the mix Jupiter (expansion) in Aquarius is in an exact square (challenging aspect) to the south node (karma) in Scorpio (drama) and the north in Taurus right next to Ceres (danger of being exhausted). This creates a need for freedom and the need to be authentic to oneself and the world. This is Mom cancelling the Holidays, or your teenager running away from home to be with her boyfriend. Yup, you may need that extra cup of Mulled wine.

Summary: Many things are happening at the same time. We can expect drama and intensive movements of energy. My advice is to make a simple plan on how to “survive” the Holidays and be happy with that. Skip the advanced stuff, make it manageable and stay grounded. Don´t force unwilling participants (teenagers) to be in the same room for too long.

Spiritually and energetically speaking we are heading towards a big storm of energies that has the potential for drama and chaos. Another way of looking at things is that You can make a difference by becoming an anchor of common sense, magick and clear thinking. You my dear Witch and Magickal Friend are most needed!

GOD JUL!

And thank you for Reading the Astrology blog this year.

The next will be 10th of January 2022.

/ 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.

What Now? Putting A Practice Together: Part 2

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Christopher Penczak

Once you have figured out a regular practice after some milestone in training — completing a degree, system, or course by drawing upon the components from that training — the challenge can be how to also acknowledge any previous training. How do you work different systems together? Can you? Should you?

The answer is up to you.

The success or failure of such work—as well as its complexity—depends on the systems you are drawing from and how integrated they are in your own psyche.

The first—and more simple method—is to keep all things separate. In some systems, this is a requirement, and you take vows, more or less, to keep the traditions as you learned them. One or more altar or working space is required for each. If you are still learning a new tradition and are holding different traditions simultaneously, rather than putting the older one on hold, such separation can be necessary to prevent confusion. Learn the traditions “as is” at first. While cumbersome, this method can be self-explanatory and quite effective.

The second method—really more a deep yearning than a method—is synthesis. The practitioner embodies many different practices and world views and paradigms. Do you see them in the context of the greater pattern? Many deeply adept practitioners don’t find the answers they seek in just one place. Questing into other teachings helps gain perspective. The three-fold way of Dion Fortune asks us to eventually study, deeply, three ways to gain a greater perspective on the divine. She had Esoteric Christianity, Hermetic Qabalah, and the land-based traditions of Arthurian Myth. I have many strands of Witchcraft, the Vedic and Sikh yoga teachings of a powerful mentor, and a mix of Hermetic Qabalah and New Age Theosophy.

Many of us feel strong past-life connection and true memories, either as strengths taken in this life or questions for working out now to resolve our attachments to the past. Many are rooted in the cultural traditions of antiquity found in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome; the Northern traditions of the Norse and Celts; and the traditions of the East, the Americas, and Africa. The access to information today helps us explore those memories and put things into some form of modern practice. So our studies may not be limited to one lifetime.

How does one synthesize? Here are some ideas:

Hoard—I remember Maxine Sanders speaking about how the Craft is a scavenger religion. We find things and gather them up. We save them and put them to use. We can be like magpies collecting shiny objects or crows mixing beautiful and functional objects, but soon we have a treasure trove and can just pull the right object out for the right moment, or use the right technique or teaching for the right moment in our lives. It’s intuitive. It lives mostly in memory, and at times it can be effective and other times jumbled.

Mosaic—we can take the parts we have gathered, and while still separate, arrange them in a beautiful pattern. We use them to create something bigger, with each part contributing to the whole.

Alloy—we can melt down our treasure, refine out its impurities, and then select the ones that will mix well into a new stronger or prettier alloy, combining properties of both. Like making bronze, pewter, sterling silver, or even steel, our practice will have some of the best qualities of the things we have combined, but it might have some unforeseen characteristics too, that will take a while to discover. It might not work, requiring us to go back to the drawing board and change the percentages of each source ingredient.

Compost and Garden—you can take all your source material and let it decompose within you, until the hard edges between the different practices naturally fall away. The resulting mix is fertile, and you plant your own seeds within it, letting the fertile soil feed your new idea. You aren’t inventing the wheel, so there will obviously be similar characteristics to ideas past, but in this process, these qualities become part of the natural growing and evolving structure of your practice and paradigm. The implication of growth means you don’t have to design something that is set, but will instead grow with you, and you can add more matter to the fertile matrix as you go. You don’t have to uproot your own garden.

Obviously this is all poetic. I can’t give you explicit instructions as I don’t know what you’ve got. Even if I did, it’s not my job. The whole point is that the work of synthesis is yours to do. I have my own to do. But can you see how these different approaches might inform you? They give you a guide for approaching what is really a lifelong practice, one where you may change your approach many times.

With some synthesis, go back and ask yourself the question from Part 1 again. See how they can change, and how your new ideas can be put into practice.

What Now? Putting A Practice Together: Part 1

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Christopher Penczak

“Do this five minutes a day, and you will be free from cancer.”

“Perform 108 repetitions daily, and you will never have heart disease.”

“Recite this mantra daily to be in tune with the universal powers.”

“Repeat this stretch twenty-one times daily to keep your spine flexible.”

These were instructions I received from one of my yoga instructors, passing on wisdom from their instructor. Did you know I almost became a yoga teacher just as I was beginning my esoteric professional career? I started in Hatha/Kripalu Yoga and made my way to Kundalini Yoga, and while I found the practice deeply transformative, the community was wrapped in dogma and dominant personalities, resulting in me going my own way and flirting with Vinyasana in my own practice of yoga today, though nothing quite matched the magick of Kundalini.

The teachings were filled with instructions of what you were supposed to do daily to prevent harm or generate benefit. If you added them all up, it was quite a list, and this was on top of the daily kriya, or yoga set, a teacher in training was supposed to do, usually close to forty minutes of yoga followed by fifteen to thirty minutes of chanting. I challenged my local instructor and said unless you lived in the ashram, how could you keep your daily life and all these practices? She replied that you can’t. And that began a discussion on how one must build their own practice together after learning initial trainings. Her words of wisdom guided me not only in yoga, but in Witchcraft and really all of life.

In talking to my Witchcraft mentors and teachers later in life, this was something that was inherent in occult teachings. Rarely is it spoken about unless a student asks a question, but the struggle of figuring it out was considered part of the training.

If you study a robust tradition with many practices, you’ll go through a series of rituals, meditations, alignments, and exercises as a part of your training. Some are peak experiences that you might not repeat until you help facilitate them for another new student. But most of them are meant to be repeated, to become integrated as a part of your practice. But how can you do them all?

You can’t. Everything that I tell my own students is a daily practice during the course of five-plus years of training cannot be done daily all together. Some are meant to work together, and some do not work well together. The graduate, at any level, must determine for themselves how to put it all together, crafting their own practice from the parts they feel most benefit them at the time, and most of us change our practice over time. Some change it daily, others weekly, seasonally, or yearly. Some are spontaneous and free with it, following daily intuition. Others are rigid and disciplined, with planned transitions. And most are somewhere between the two.

There is the danger you’ll pick only things that are easy or flattering, and either become egotistical, thinking you have done it all, or bored, and lose interest in practice at all. There is also the danger you’ll be heroic and pick the most involved and grueling practices, and then become discouraged or grow to hate the Craft. There can be a balance, and that is part of the teaching. The choice — and the responsibility — is up to you.

Magick is an art as well as a metaphysical science and a spiritual, religious practice. The artist must create and cannot grow stagnant, but there is an idea in the deeper arts training — be it writing, music, or magick — that you must learn all the rules perfectly before you break them.  Art can take many years to gain expertise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice or innovate until you have that expertise. On the contrary, you must create! That is part of the process.

We train to learn the structures, the foundations, and our history, and from that place, we can go further and develop what is next, grown from our own regular practice and the inspiration that comes from it. Those who teach and write unique things are ideally drawing from their own practice of it, but beware in all such crafts the attitude of “one and done” and really examine your motivations for studying and practicing. Have they changed since you began? For most of us, they do, as our understanding expands.

A very good friend who is trained as a Shakespearean actor, a lawyer, and a black-belt marital artist compared the three in a conversation with me, saying that essentially they are all the same in practice and pattern. If you haven’t been doing something diligently for 50 years, don’t dare to think you’ve mastered it and are done. The layers of subtle knowing and experience open in the sincere and open-hearted practice. As someone who has been doing her primary craft, law, for close to twenty years, she realizes that she understands enough to fully realize how much more she really needs to learn. While law might seem black and white to most of us, she describes the art in the crafting of contracts and the interpretation of law. She says the same goes for acting and for martial arts. And we both would agree the same can be said about magick. A thorough grounding in the technique and context gives rise to the truly inspired art. There is a union of the flash of the numinous from beyond into the matrix of the art, whatever it is.

People’s motivations are not always clear, even to them. Some learn to find community and belonging, and don’t care much for the art beyond the cool aesthetic. Some join because their peer group joins, and they fear being left behind. Many think it’s glamorous and enjoy imagining how others perceive them. For some it is a contest against others, not of the self. Many attain a level of outer accomplishment, be it black belt or initiation, and then drift away, believing they have accomplished “it.” Some seek the easy “A” rather than the desire to learn it all. I remember being flabbergasted by a student complaint that I was too “hard” and had too many expectations of my students, that other teachers, even in our tradition, were “easier” and expected less. It wasn’t fair, the student decided. I saw his situation as an opportunity to study with the teacher who literally designed the program and had the most experience teaching it, providing graduates with a deep and wide range of experiences because of my own. However, many students — having realized the work required for deep art in the context of a tradition — make such complaints as a way to ferment dissent and manufacture crisis and drama; this provides an escape hatch for themselves, allowing them to feel good about leaving rather than face the fact they don’t want to do something. But not doing something you don’t want to do is perfectly fine. Not all arts, and not all programs, are for everyone. We see it in theater groups, dojos, and yes, even Witchcraft groups and schools.

For many, the highest motivation is service. Like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, we are servants “of the Secret Fire…” with the sentiment shared in the Dion Fortune lineage embodied by the Servants of the Light — “I want to know in order to serve” — and in Gardnerian High Priestess Patricia Crowther’s autobiography High Priestess, where she espouses the mystery: “I wish to learn in order to serve.” Knowledge and training are put towards the service of “light,” of “humanity,” and one learns to becomes the light in order to serve. It’s not about servitude, but transformation, and the realizations that come with such transformation.

Whether you are done with a specific training entirely or are pausing at a completed level, you then have to ask yourself “What now?” Now that I have the knowledge, how do I put it into practice? How do I adapt it for my life? What do I use? What do I put aside? What are my needs? What is the time and energy I have to do this? The only taskmaster now watching your progress is yourself. Can you honestly assess and use what you have to craft something that is right for you? Can you determine when it will need to change and adapt? Probably not at first, and that is okay. It takes time. It takes making mistakes. It takes being overly ambitious and falling on your face, or under ambitious and growing stagnant. It takes recognition of your own health and your commitments to job and family.

Tips for crafting your own practice:

  • Determine how much time you can reasonably commit.
  • Determine how much time you want to commit, making sure you have free time other than your spiritual practice as it’s still a form of work, albeit hopefully enjoyable work and play.
  • When will your practice usually happen?
  • Do you have a clear space prepared for it?
  • Ask yourself why you are keeping a regular practice. What is your motivation? If you know why, you’ll have more motivation when things are tough.
  • What are the core practices of your tradition?
  • What of these core practices are daily (perhaps forms of cleansing, meditation, and devotional work), weekly (deeper journey work), monthly (moon rituals), and yearly (seasonal sabbats)?
  • What is done in community? What is done in small groups? And what is done in solitary?
  • Do you have a main working altar? Multiple shrines? Is there one place where your work is consolidated?
  • Is divination a part of your practice? How often?
  • What do you feel called to do now? Why? Is it a comfort or a challenge? Can you balance the two aspects of practice?
  • Is there a set length of time to such a practice? Perhaps set a schedule of a week or a month and then reevaluate that practice.
  • Is there a progressive pattern to your practice? Working through a pattern, such as provided by the tarot, can give you focus and break monotony. Perhaps an elemental, planetary, or zodiacal pattern will aid your practice.

These questions can help you establish where you are and what you want to do next.

Your craft is your own. Your magick is your own. Contrary to the opinions of some, I don’t care what you do in your personal practice. While I care about people and want everyone who chooses to live a magical life with love and harmony, I don’t know how that looks for you. I don’t have attachment to its form. I can only give you a range of philosophies, techniques, myth, art, culture, and the support in the training to integrate it. What you do with it, and how connected you are to the community where it came from, is up to you.

by Karin Ugander

Revolution is in the Air at the moment, new ideas are being born and perhaps there are many tings that you want to accomplish. At the same time  these new waves of energy are being blocked causing disturbance, frustration and irritation. But all hope is not lost. With some clever navigation and a portion of patience what first seems to be a bad thing, might even turn out to be a blessing. Let´s take a closer look at the Stars and see how we can use this information in the best way.

Rebellion

Right now the sun in Scorpio (drama)  is opposite Uranus (rebellion, sudden change) in the sign of Taurus. This creates a need for freedom, adventure and change. If you feel like suddenly quitting your job or tell your boss, friend or co-worker what you really think about them, well you shouldn’t. Same thing if you get hit by intense passion over a person or a project. Stop, breath and think before you act. This is a quick and turbulent energy that can blow over fast. There is a danger of picking up collective frustration and passion and believing that what you feel is personal instead of collective.

This transit ends around the 14th of November

Intense communication

Mercury (communication, friends) is travelling together with Mars (power, will). This creates a strong communication that has the power to hit it´s mark very deep. What makes this even stronger is that they are in the sign of Scorpio (sex, passion, secrets). This can create both intense and deep conversations about life and death, sex and taboos that can be very healing. There is a danger though of saying too much, or revealing secrets that you or the other part did not intend to give away. This is a very nice energy for anyone working with mediumship, oracles or fortune telling.

Frustration and the sacred masculine

Mars and Mercury are also making a challenging aspect to Saturn (karma, restriction) in the sign of Aquarius (freedom, community). Saturn is many times seen as a troublemaker making things more frustrating and difficult. But he can also be the Old mature guy saying. Hold on a minute! What is going on?!

Saturn is not afraid of dealing with difficult situations. When he is turning up in an astrological transit, he brings them up. This transit with Mars (men, will)  and Mercury (communication, friends)  in Scorpio (secrets, death, sex) could help to bring up situations regarding the sacred masculine and about how we treat our boys and young men in society.

We have recently received reports in the news  about how young elite sportsmen in Ice hockey and Football have been abused by their leaders and humiliated by their teammenbers. I believe that we will see more men stepping forward telling their truth and that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a great time to do healing for the Sacred Masculine. What kind of men do we want in our world and in our society? How can we as humans, healers, witches and magickal people assist in creating that world? What do we want to communicate to our young men?

Plan your talks and meetings

Right now on a personal level, our will to communicate will probably be stronger than our ability. But to help us we have the great asteroid Pallas Athena. She is a master of communication and she is making a good aspect to both Mars and Mercury. Pallas Athena is also great at strategy and protection. In this case she can help us communicate in a good way despite the challenges mentioned above.  Especially if there is something very important and perhaps difficult thing that we need to talk about.

The only thing Pallas Athena is asking us to do is to make a good plan and stick to it. This can be about everything from the family meeting to the big talk with the boss. Make a plan, write some notes and stick to it. If it does not work out like you wanted to, you can always ask for a new meeting. Pallas Athena is in Pieces (emotions, illusions) and if you get carried away by your feelings it might not end well (in challenging aspect to Lillith Black Moon). If you want to succeed – Make plans, have a clear strategy and do not wander away from it.

Mercury is in challenging aspect to Saturn until the 14th of November

Mars travels together with Mercury until the 18th of November

Mars is in challenging aspect to Saturn until 19th of November

Pallas Athena is in good aspect to Mercury until 15th of November

Pallas Athena is in good aspect to Mars until 22nd of November

Deepening you Magickal Practice

The Sun is meeting up with the asteroid Vesta (devotion, priest, priestess) in the sign of Scorpio (deep connection). This can help to deepen your Magickal Practice. Vesta also makes an aspect to both the south node (karma, where we come from) and the north node (where we should be heading). This could help us pick up healing and information not just from this life, but also from past incarnations.

Busy days for the Witch and extra coven meetings

Towards the end of the month around the 24th of November, Vesta will be keeping us rather busy. She will get right next to the Sun (Me, I) Mercury (communication, learning, friends) the South Node (karma) in the sign of Saggitarius (the teacher). Vesta also makes a trine (good aspect) to Chiron (healing) and a challenging aspect to both Pallas Athena (wisdom, strategy) and Ceres (nurturing, goddess energy, health).

When Vesta is activated like this it usually means busy days for Witches, Healers and other magickal people. People, situations and spirits can knock on your door and be in need of assistance in various ways. This is a time when you may need to step up your game. This is amplified by that around this time the asteroid Hekate (magick, healing, witchcraft)  is at 12 degrees in Aries making a square (challenging aspect) to Venus (love, magick)  at 16 deg in Capricorn. If you are active in a magickal or healing community it could be wise to schedule for an extra coven meeting at the end of the month. Chances are that there will be things that you need to attend to.

On a personal level you may feel that you need to stand up for and protect what is important to you. You may feel that your power is challenged, but you may also experience how strong you are (Saturn trine Ceres).

Summary: Men and masculinity will probably be discussed this month. There is a lot of both rebellion and frustration in the air, communication is not easy but we can succeed well if we have a plan and stick to it. If you are a magickal practitioner or work with helping people you can expect an intense period that may also help you deepen your magick.

The best advice I can give this period is by quoting Adam Sartwell, one of the founders of Temple of Witchcraft: “Are you thinking like a Witch?”

Blessings! / Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

The next Astrologyblog will be the 6th of December

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.

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