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Altar Tools for Broom Closet Witches

by Claire du Nord

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

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

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


Altar Tools for Broom Closet Witches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Claire du Nord

Temple Astrolog: The End of an Era

by Karin Ugander

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

The Jupiter and Neptune Conjunction

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

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

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

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

Possible positive things with this event:

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

Possible challenging things with this event:

The end of the previous 13 year cycle

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

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

A Shift Also Means Change

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

Brilliant Ideas, But Don’t Be Too Slow

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

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

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

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

The End of an Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes in Your Magick

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!
Karin Spirit Talker Turtle Red

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

Covens and Congregations

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Barnabas Davoti from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Advice

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Karin Ugander

We live in historic times and the world around us has changed, once again. We have just survived what was hopefully the peak of the COVID-19 virus and now the war in Ukraine is shaking the stability in the world. How do things like that make sense? And how do you continue with your life when the world around you is uncertain and feels unsafe? Let´s take a walk around the heavens and see if we can find some points of hope and strength.

Pluto – the slow brewer

Pluto is connected to the Greek god Hades, ruler of the Underworld. It takes Pluto about 248 years to orbit the sun. That´s a long time. Just like the in the Underworld, Pluto has its own sense of time. During a personal Pluto transit it can be really hard to access what kind of process is going on without plunging deep into the subconscious. This is where therapy, shamanic work, and magick come in. They can give us keys to enter into the underworld (our subconscious) and create a change and transformation that is more in beauty.

So why is this important right now?

First of all the planet Pluto (yes, in astrology we still consider it a planet) is a key player at the moment. It is right now at 27 degrees in Capricorn (rules, governments). Second, we really need to take in that the conflicts, problems, and anxieties happening now have been going on for a long time. Pluto is a slow brewer and whatever that is surfacing right now has been stirring around in the underworld for a long time. Fears, anxieties, jealousy, hidden desires and hidden motives. But also the longing for transformation, freedom, and unfolding of the Soul. All of that deep stuff we all have a tendency to push down into the subconscious.

Sometimes we get a signal that everything is not as it should be, but we say:  Nah, that can´t be right. That´s just my mind playing tricks with me. All is fine. And so we continue with our lives. Until….along comes Mars.

Along comes Mars

There´s a special connection between Mars and Pluto. Both are connected to aggression, war, and intense emotions. In old times Mars ruled the sign of Scorpio (transformation) now ruled by Pluto. If and when we experience a deep and strong Pluto transit it usually takes time. It wears us down. It is like being in the grinder without any hope of getting out. Then when Mars makes a transit (orbit time 687 days) over the transiting Pluto and passes by the position of Pluto, we suddenly get a chance to break free and make our move. It can appear as a sudden explosion, an unexpected event. But in truth it is Mars that is releasing the bigger energy and transformation created by Pluto that has been brewing for a long time. The same thing can happen when other personal planets pass over and by a Pluto transit, but usually not as strong and direct.

Example: A woman was having a Pluto transit during in which she understood that she was living in an abusive marriage. In the beginning of the marriage there was physical abuse but as the time went by it changed into mental abuse and she convinced herself that she was fine, even though she lived everyday walking on eggshells. Every step she took towards a separation was met with resistance and threats. The whole situation escalated slowly. On the outside, the family conditions looked fine and social helpers, family, and friends had a hard time understanding just how dangerous situation she was in. And then along came the planet Mars. When Mars made a transition over her Pluto transit, all hell broke loose for all the world to see. The husband showed his true face in public. Suddenly, there were no more secrets and she got the help she needed to make the divorce complete. Mars gave the final push. (She is now fine and very happy and can´t really understand why it took her so long.)

Another example:  A man was living in what he at the moment believed was the right relationship for him.  He was happily married and they had children together. Then at work he met a woman he just connected to in every way. To him it felt like this woman woke him up from a spiritual slumber. During  the Pluto transit he was torn between the love for the family he had and the connection he felt for this new woman. He had not expected this to happen and in the eyes of everyone else he had everything in this marriage. Should he gamble with the happiness everyone believed he had? Should he follow his instinct and throw everything up in the air and see how things would fall down? Above all, he did not want to lose the contact and relationship with his children.

When Mars arrived at the scene, passing in transit over the transiting Pluto in his natal chart, he walked out the door. He decided  to follow his heart and the deep connection with the new woman. What then surfaced was that his wife was having a relationship with his friend and neighbour. A whole lot more than he had realized was going on under the surface.

The time that followed was chaotic and shocking for the network of family and friends. They went through with the divorce with new eyes and new insights. (Everyone involved is now fine and they have all been living in happily in their new family constellations for over a decade.)

Right now both Mars and Venus have just passed over and by Pluto in the sign of Capricorn. On the 3rd of March they all met up at 27 degrees. On Sunday the 6th both Venus and Mars entered into the sign of Aquarius, releasing a lot of energy and perhaps making us seeing with new eyes as well.

Questions to ask: Am I listening to the signals from my subconscious? Is there a big change going on that I am desperately trying to avoid? Do I feel free or limited? If I had the power to change my situation, what would I do? What do I secretly desire?

Pluto entered into Capricorn the 26th of January 2008 and will leave the sign in the 21st of  January 2024.

Vesta and Powerful Altars

The goddess asteroid Vesta is at 28 degrees (initiating number) in Capricorn, right next to Pluto at 27 degrees with both Mars and Venus. She is making a good aspect to the north node (the future) in Taurus. Vesta has a very protective energy and is connected to holy places and sanctuaries. This energy can be used to make extra powerful altars for love, protection, and sanctuary for those in need. Making an altar can be just as easy as lightening a white candle standing on a clean surface and asking for protection and peace. Whatever your altar looks like, simple or more sophisticated, making it will be extra powerful right now.

Aquarius –  a sign of cooperation and joint forces

Right now Venus (love, romance, harmony) and Mars (power, will, passion) are joined together in the sign of Aquarius. That is a sign connected to big organizations, international work, and joined forces. On a global plane this helps nations and organizations to work better together. On a personal plane it helps us to communicate with those around us. This is a good time to do work together with others, communicate, and share information and resources.

Mars and Venus are also making a good aspect to the goddess asteroid Ceres (nourishment) in the sign of Gemini. That tells us about how important it is for us now with communication. That talking to friends and being part of a larger community (Gemini) can really be supportive and nourishing (Ceres). Remember that things that are easy for you to do might be someone else’s big challenge and the other way around. Maybe you are excellent at baking but find it difficult to write a flyer. So, swap with someone else in the community. By sharing gifts and talents everyone becomes richer.

Mars and Venus are joined together until the 5th of April.

Venus is in the sign of Aquarius until the 6th of April

Venus is making a good aspect to Ceres until the 24th of March

Mars is in the sign of Aquarius until the 15th of April

Mars is making a good aspect to Ceres until the 1st of April

Hope and Compassion

Jupiter (hope, expansion) is now joined together with the Sun (light, hope) and Neptune (spiritual power) in the sign of Pisces (compassion, union). This has the power to create a beacon of light, compassion, and hope. This is a well-needed energy with the power to balance some of the deep transformations going on with Pluto in Capricorn.

People born with Neptune / Sun aspects are many times accused of being too optimistic, light-hearted, dreaming, and too far away from the realities of this world. But this creative, positive energy also has the power to strengthen our wings, allow us to believe in miracles and that everything is possible. Perhaps this is exactly what we need right now? A sprinkling of optimistic fairy dust on our wings, to make us powerful and able to shine in the dark.

The Sun and Jupiter are joined together until the 16th of March.

The Sun and Neptune are jointed until the 22nd of March.

Jupiter and Neptune are joined until the 22nd of May.

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.

Weaving the Roots of the Witch Soul

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

“What is a Witch?” is a question that I often joke has more answers than there have ever been Witches, as we each might change our minds more than once, and more definitions arise as more Witches come into knowledge of themselves. It’s beautiful, but can make things confusing for both non-Witches and Witches alike. Yet the questioning of identity, motive, relationship, actions, and consequences are part and parcel of the process of Witch. Yes, I sometimes define Witch as a verb, as one of my own many definitions for Witch is a process that never ends. Witch is the essence of transformation.

When conflict arises around the definition of Witch—be it among academics, seekers, or Witches themselves—it stems from what root that particular person is drawing their own definition from and whether or not they can acknowledge the other roots under the umbrella of Witch.

People get proprietary and think other Witches are describing different things, as there are different types of occultists, magicians, and priests. But they are not Witches. What is Witch can be hard to put a finger on, however, which is part of the elusive nature of the Witch. If you think you have completely defined it, you have lost it.

One of my key concepts of the Witch is the Witch Soul, the unified enlightened consciousness of our sanctified ancestors. Existing outside of space and time, it includes, eventually, all of us. All Witches partake of this oversoul consciousness, the uniting force in an otherwise disparate tradition. While we might not all agree what a Witch is, we recognize our own.

In my understanding of the soul, I view the human soul as multifaceted, an idea found in many traditions, but particularly popular in Egyptian traditions of nine souls. The most basic form is three souls: the higher, middle, and lower. Three souls, like three worlds, are often described like a tree with roots, trunk, and branches. I find it helpful to look to the roots of our Witch Soul to see where we are and where we might be growing, individually and collectively.

The most common roots are those looking to the ancient Pagan past for their Witchcraft. These primal roots speak to our lower soul. Many look to the ancient priestesses and priests of the Temple traditions of the gods, those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and beyond, plus their German and Celtic equivalents. While these people were not known as Witches themselves, we see the holy archetype of magickal priesthood and see ourselves. We look to the mystery cults and their teachers. The cults of Demeter and Persephone, of Isis and Osiris, and of Artemis speak to us of Witchcraft. They were later vilified by the Christian traditions. Here we have the roots of the Witch in occultism and the Western Mystery Tradition.

Others are dismayed by this idea. To them, the Witches were those of the illicit religions, of the crossroads and farm, not of the Temples. Pagan Witches were often still mistrusted, with a focus on necromancy, plants, and poisons, and if priestesses, not in the Temples. Circe and Medea are the archetypes, and while possibly vilified by the patriarchy of their time, they are wild and free. These are the true Witches of antiquity still haunting around the edges of civilized society.

Others still see those who came before this divide, our Stone Age ancestors, in our common shamanic roots of hunter/gatherer civilization. While a debated word today, what has become known as shamanism depicts a similar cosmology and system of techniques for interfacing with spirits and nature found in many places across the world. Only with the coming of agriculture did these traditions and roles divide into urban temples and wild places. Before that, the village and the wilds were the places of magick. This was the true source of Witches.

Entwined in the soul complex is the shadow, that which is repressed in us. One might argue the most vocal new contingent of Witchcrafts aligned with the shadow are those focused on post-Christian Medieval Witches and Cunning folk. Most did not identify as Witches and probably were not. Some were self-identified as “white witches,” meaning doing good not evil in their time period. And buried in trial transcripts and confession is some intriguing Witchcraft more useful for us today. We also have the folkloric Halloween-style Witch rather than the beautiful priestess. A resurgence of Traditional Craft has come emphasizing these symbols and figures as true Witchcraft, often in response to Wicca’s popularity and growing neo-tribal practices. And this root is just as valid as all the others, but not necessarily more valid.

Those who claim today’s Witches must exclusively be of one of these roots would also have to embrace a range of things rather unpleasant and not conducive to modern life and relationships. Medieval-rooted Witches would have to live on the edge of society and be generally shunned and held with suspicion. While many of us can feel that way, few of us truly live that way. Illicit Pagan Witches would be fairly solitary in life as well and go around literally poisoning people as well as being considered fairly unkempt and dirty by today’s standards. Pagan priests would dedicate themselves full time to a temple often with no career prospects outside. While coven leaders may feel that way at times, that’s not quite true either. The modern Witch is, well, modern and does not conform to any one of these things because we draw from all, but have made our own way in our own age.

In our middle soul, the expression of the Craft in our life occurs in three major forms. For some it is the older traditions of occult orders, those seeking the secrets of the mystery traditions and the school of the soul. These are the covens, lodges, and formal groups. Others see the Craft as social, therapeutic, and expressive, as found in looser circles and tribal festivals where dancing, singing, and art are emphasized. We have those who are deeply devoted to the gods and the old ways, seeking reconstruction and tradition through service to gods and community. They are living a religious culture of Paganism and Witchcraft.

And in our higher soul, we see our Witchcraft triple flowering again in science, art, and religion. All are mystical at this level, but it’s the seeking of the philosopher learning cosmology and wisdom. There is the artist expressing the voice and form of the divine. And there is the minister, seeing the divine not only in the gods, but in the people serving them and the word. They experience the interconnection of all things through service.

All together, three souls with three expressions and a shadow give us the ways of looking at the Witch. In each level, we see some common thread. Ancient priesthoods of the lower soul give rise to the occultists of the Western Mysteries in the middle and the philosopher mystics of the higher soul. Illicit ancients of the lower soul give rise to the looser circles of expression who in turn rise to the artist of the divine in the higher soul. Shamanic ancestors of the lower soul and its shadow of the Medieval Witch and Cunning folk give rise to those deeply devoted to the old ways and spirit traditions of the middle soul, who in turn rise to ministers living in service to the greater good. Or at least that is one set of combinations for me. For you, perhaps there is a different understanding.

To prevent yourself from getting too comfortable in any one view, any one definition of Witch and its roots in the Witch Soul, I suggest a crafting contemplation. This is particularly helpful if you feel fundamentally in conflict with others or disconnected from the greater community, as we all do at one time or another.

Start with three threads of yarn for the lower, middle, and higher souls, in whatever colors feel appropriate, with black, red, and white being the most traditional. Anoint the lower soul thread with something deep, such as myrrh, patchouli, or cypress oil. Think of the roots of the Witch soul in the ancient world all the way through to the shadow of the Medieval sabbatic Witch.

Anoint the middle soul thread with something like cedar, pine, or benzoin, and contemplate Witchcraft community and Paganism today.

Anoint the higher soul thread with something heavenly, such as frankincense, sandalwood, or amber. As you do, think of the mystical side of our craft, where our magick eventually leads us in the contemplation of the bigger questions of life and the mysteries.

Then braid together the three scented strands. When ready, tie them around either your left wrist or left ankle. Whenever you become aware of the bracelet/anklet on your skin, think about all the different kinds of Witches out there, and how all are part of the greater Witch Soul. Despite any disagreements or conflict, we have a deep connection.

Continue this until the threads naturally break down and fall away. You’ll find over this extended period a greater appreciation and understanding of your fellows in the Craft, however you, or they, define it. 

Opening and Closing Doors

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Dawid Łabno on Unsplash

The world of magick is completely natural, a part of our birthright and the essence of being human on Gaea, and yet we can feel completely separate from it until we open the door to it. We are conditioned to be separate from it, so the process of training is learning to open the door. And one door leads to another and then another.

Many realize over the years that those who do not open the door live in a world slightly askew, but parallel to ours. Those who primarily operate in what core shamanism teachers call ordinary consciousness—the state most valued by our mainstream society—seek and often find ordinary solutions to their problems. Those who operate more in non-ordinary consciousness, a magickal state of awareness, often have to partner the commonsense ordinary solutions with the extraordinary, for the process must involve a shift in consciousness as well as mechanics. Sorcerous problems require sorcerous solutions, be they health, conflict at work, family relationships, or vocational choices in life. We work with the forces behind the forms.

Those who don’t open the door remain a bit blissfully ignorant They might get deeper through self-help and psychology, or through reflection in their religious paradigm, but most are not opening to their responsibilities to the spirit worlds and multiple realms of consciousness operating simultaneously. Even if they have an intellectual understanding, if they don’t open the door, they won’t have a direct experience of the reality of it.

So why would we open the door at all? Sounds like a lot of work and not a whole lot of benefit, right? No. We open the door because we have to. Something deep within us needs to open the door—divine discontent, magickal curiosity, a call from our ancestors or allies, an unexplained psychic phenomenon, something triggers us to open the door. And sometimes we let something into our life, and sometimes we step through and discover door after door.

I’m writing both metaphorically of the sublime experience of the magickal worldview, and the acts that literally open magickal portals of consciousness to new experiences and spirit relationships. Doing particular rituals can open doors in our life to new paths, and the process can introduce you to the right people, places, and experiences both in the world of space and time and also in the non-ordinary worlds.

Rituals of Opening

Following rituals and meditation threads from books by those who have actually gone there before us and heeding messages in dreams and intuitions can invite new, beneficial, but sometimes demanding powers into our life. The rituals light you up in the spirit world, get attention, or magnetize a certain force to you. The work might open a door inside you, awakening an ancestral memory or family connection to knowledge and power.

Can’t find other teachers, Witches, or a coven? Do a spell for it. Want to eventually be a Witch? A High Prest/ess? A healer or reader? Do a ritual for it. Want to make a connection to Hecate? To Odin? To Anubis? Yemaja? Make an offering. Build a shrine. Sometimes when you are not even sure it will work, it causes a change and gets things moving.

The intentions you ritualize open a magick door. I have a friend who felt in her bones she was a Witch (and she was right) but had no one else like her, and this was in the days of much fewer resources and books. She called the Witch shop in the closest big city, hours away, and the curt owner said do a spell to find other Witches. She didn’t know how, but the owner simply said, “Light a candle. If you are a Witch, you’ll figure it out.” She did and soon found her first coven and teacher. Today, she owns a Witch shop herself, helping people figure it out.

I have another friend who was deeply connected to feminist goddess traditions but drawn to African traditions, despite being white, as he was living in a majority Black neighborhood. He followed a few of the simple offering rituals from a Luisa Teish book, Jambalaya, and soon found himself having dreams of the Orisha, leading to people who invited him to meet a group, and many years later, eventual initiation into an African Traditional Religion. Those simple rituals out of a popular book opened a door to him, though closed some others. You can’t walk through all doors at the same time. You can’t be all things all the time, so every door opened that you choose to walk through can both broaden and limit your experience, so choose wisely.

Stepping through the door can quicken your magickal pace. I felt like I “found” my path much earlier than I could have (or even should have), so a lot of intensity happened in my early magickal education that was difficult, but it prepared me. I probably would have handled it better emotionally if I had been older, but I walked fully through the door and said I wanted this Witchcraft. So I got it, fully. To walk through a door consciously rather unconsciously wandering on your path can quicken your karmic resolution, but that often means a quickening of your actual karma. Difficult things manifest with rapidity, giving you an opportunity to take responsibility in a new way that you might not have done in the past, and heal and resolve a pattern.

Sometimes we feel we see the path, or the door, and can’t get through it. The door is locked. The path is blocked. We have to ask if there is a higher purpose to why we are being obstructed. Is the answer “Not now”? Or is it “No, never”?

Spells of Unblocking

African Traditional Religions and American folk traditions have spellwork referred to as road opening, and these spells can be helpful to open the way. Traditionally to be a “true” road opening, the spell should involve the herb Abre Camino (Eupatorium villosum), but since that is not necessarily in my herbal repertoire, like most Witches, I’ve made do with other opening and clearing herbs quite successfully for myself and my clients.

A simple spell from my book The Lighting of Candles is an Open the Way candle. Take a yellow candle on the waning moon and carve your name into the candle, along with the words OPEN THE WAY three times upon it. Anoint with this oil:

Open the Way Oil No. 2

  • 3 Drops of Lemongrass Oil
  • 3 Drops of Cedar Oil
  • 2 Drops of Palmarosa Oil
  • 1 Drop of Citronella Oil
  • 1 Drop of Camphor Oil
  • 1/8 Oz of Base Oil
  • Pinch of Rue
  • Pinch of Cinquefoil
  • Pinch of Sulfur

When you light the candle say, “I open the way to health, happiness, good fortune, and success on all levels. So mote it be!” If there is something specific you are blocked from, make that a part of your declaration. Let the candle burn and when it is done, the way shall be open and blocks removed!

In modern Witchcraft, these rites are adapted using messenger and traveling deities as allies, such as Hermes or Mercury, or guides that open and close doors, such as Hecate in her role as key bearer and guardian of the gate. Janus, the two-faced Roman god, is also the god of thresholds and doorways. In the Hindu tradition, Ganehsa, the elephant-headed god, is called to remove impediments and open the way, and I have found him quite amiable to anyone who approaches with respect. I credit Ganesha’s aid in purchasing my first home. You can call upon them in spellcraft or make offerings to petition their aid:

In the name of the Three in One and One in Three

In the name of the Two-Faced Lord of Past and Future

I ask for your aid.

Hecate. Janus. Gods of the Gates.

Use your keys. Open the way. Hold open the gate. Allow me safe passage along the path of life.

Make the road easy.

Bring me to safety, success, and comfort.

And then make an offering to Hecate at a three-way crossroads and to Janus at the threshold of gate to somewhere in your town or city, particularly to a public square or governmental building. A simple effective offering is roasted barley for these two deities.

Magick of the Threshold

We also have traditions of decorating our front door to bless the door, particularly in British Folk traditions where the doorstep is “chalked” as it is during Epiphany, after the Yuletide celebrations. Epiphany marks—on January 6th, in the month of Janus—use the initials of the Three Wise Men, the Magi: CMB for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The year digits are divided with the first two, then the three initials, then the last two, to invoke the blessing, riches, and wisdom of the three wise kings upon your doorstep. For example, 2022 would be 20*C*M*B*22. You can also use other door marks using symbols of protection and blessing in chalk. I’ve used Celtic knot designs and astrological symbols.

In our household, we often change the wreath on the front door to invite auspicious energies into our life, changing it for each sabbat season on the Wheel of the Year. Seasonal decorations in general are ways to protect, consecrate, and invite blessing into the home.

An effective magickal programing is to use literal doorways in your life for a specific intention. Say you wish for more prosperity. You can tell yourself, “Every time I enter through the doorway…” and touch it with your left hand “…I open the door to greater and greater financial prosperity, for my highest good.” Repeat this in your home many times, and then, as it becomes ingrained, when you pass through any door, just reach out with your left hand in the same general place That way you can change your intention with a different door and a different position of height on the door frame. The original practice of this comes from the work of Carlos Castaneda’s dream teachings. Every time you pass through a door in the waking world, remind yourself you will “awaken” in any dream. When you dream of passing through a doorway, you will then become lucid in the dream. The technique can program you for any intention.

One of the most powerful doorway guardians blocking the path is what has become known in Theosophy and the Western Mystery Traditions as the Dweller on the Threshold. It is akin to what many today call a shadow guardian in the context of shadow work. It can be the part of you, the part of a tradition, or the part of the collective that challenges you before going forward, challenging you with your fears, angers, and unconscious motives, requiring you to becomes more conscious before progressing further spiritually on the path of initiation. Those who pass become open to new realms of consciousness through the threshold door. Those who fail can be stuck until they figure out what is required to pass. The process can be ritualized, occur in dreams, or manifest as a part of life, in the natural trials and challenges that occur on the path of life, as seen through the sorcerous lens.

Gifts Given

Sometimes the very presence of another magical practitioner can catalyze a process and unlock a new level, or the practitioner gives you a gift that does the catalyzing. And as a magickal practitioner, you yourself might give a gift that likewise triggers changes in others.

A friend of a friend, an athlete open to the mystical side of things, talked about his love of the big cats, and I had recently been gifted some cougar bones that I had no idea what to do with, if anything, but Witches get given all sorts of odd things for our magick. I offered to make him a cougar talisman with them, and it opened a door to some shamanic journey work.

Sometimes it’s not even gifts but simply connection, being involved in a ritual, that “introduces” you to powers, even if you don’t know it. A friend who was not involved in Witchcraft, but who asked for a healing ritual when he was ill, ended up with an inadvertent connection to Hermes. In the simple ritual I silently called upon Hermes as a part of the work of healing connections. The recipient of the healing said he heard someone whispering to him who said his name was Hermes, even though I never said the name Hermes out loud. While some might have opened the door, he got freaked out by the experience, and after one semipublic ritual decided Witchcraft was not something he should pursue, and he ended contact with me soon after that, as my world grew too strange for him.

You Can’t Go Back

Sometimes we try to go back through a past door and return to where we were. Though that might work in the physical world, it doesn’t quite work in the metaphysical. The only way is forward. You cannot return to a former state of innocence once you know what you know; you can only “make haste slowly,” step by step.

Sometimes we seek to break connections with people, teachers, and groups, but again, even though the way is forward, by closing a portal door behind us, we can sever the connections in most cases. Sometimes we inadvertently close a door by unknowingly, or knowingly, breaking an oath or vow, and the consciousness of the collective ejects us from the space, not necessarily forward, but sometimes adjacent. We might even feel as if we are forced back, required to take responsibility for our transgression so that we can find another way, another door. Life can become catastrophic for some who break vows. Sometimes we break unjust vows that are really bindings, however, and get propelled forward when we release that stored tension.

Opening the Doors on the Path

If you find you want to open the door to what is next for you, or to find what gateway is possible for you, try this simple spell.

At a transition point in the astrological “weather” when tides are shifting, such as the full or new Moon, gather the following:

  • Skeleton Key
  • Bowl of Soil from your Local Area
  • Three White Candles
  • Water
  • Offering of Grain or Cornmeal

In your sacred space, have your bowl centered, flat, and packed down with dirt perhaps 3/4ths full, not up to the rim of the bowl. Behind it have your three candles in a row. Light them from left to right for the past, present, and future with these words:

By the Ladies of Fate

Show me the way.

I know where I have been.

I know where I am.

I seek to know where I shall be.

Show me the way.

Take your key and quickly pass it through the flame of each candle, again left to right. Say:

Guardians of the Gate

Keepers of the Threshold

Unlock the door

And open the way.

I seek the next turn in the crooked path

On this sacred land.

So mote it be!

Place the key into the dirt, as if the dirt were a door lock. Turn the key and “open” the gate. Do so with intent and meaning, and then pull the key out and with your bare hands, “open” the dirt starting at the keyhole. Make an indention in the dirt.

Hold the water vessel. Blow upon the water three times to bless it. Pour the water into the bowl, and let the muddy water settle as you scry into it, like a dark mirror, letting the candlelight reflect in it for any messages or intuition for the next step on the path, the next portal to enter.

When done, thank the powers of the ladies and the guardians. Snuff the candles. You can return to light them again and let them burn out full. Take the bowl of water and mud back to where you gathered the dirt, along with your offering. Return the dirt and thank the land spirits and powers called with your offering.

Follow your scrying guidance and the path forward.

I’m Melting

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Dissolve and coagulate! These are the mysteries of the ancient alchemists, and as the oldest and wisest of the alchemists is Mother Nature herself, continually transmuting herself, it is the wisdom of the Witch as well. But what does it mean?

Many quote the words as an important teaching, but fail to apply them. They are two processes, overtly chemical but also operating on emotional, mental, and psychological levels, and by psychological, I harken back to the psyche as part of our soul complex and not a modern concept easily dismissed by many practitioners. These processes occur internally in our relationships, and seemingly externally in our communities and societies.

To dissolve means to break down by a solvent. That which is distinct and solid is broken down in a liquid, becoming undifferentiated. Salt in water is dissolution. Esoterically water embodies our emotions, so often our emotions are the solvent, the acid, with our distillation of unconditional love, Perfect Love, as the universal solvent. That which will not dissolve needs further purification through either a different preparatory process or a stronger solvent; otherwise it must be discarded.

To coagulate means to bring together to a solid or semi-solid state from a liquid. In alchemy it refers to the virtues of being between, having flexible traits of both the solid and the liquid in a purer and more rarified form. Coagulation is a state of union, a return from dissolution.

Our path as Witches is one of continually unmaking and undoing with simultaneous remaking. Things are built up, and things are broken down. We wax and we wither to wax once again. While it might appear as simple repetition of a pattern, there is a richness that grows over time, like a musician who becomes a virtuoso through repeated practice. Through a seemingly prescribed pattern, great artistic expression is found.

Many of us come to Magick and find empowerment, building up our identity. Many of us find that identity by shedding an older one. It’s a process. For some, the shedding of a previous religion is freeing, and the first exclamation of “I am a Witch” is a spiritual medicine to the soul.

I had the opposite. Shedding my Catholicism for a nebulous agnosticism for the sake of explaining myself, I was hesitant to claim the title of Witch. I didn’t want to be limited by something else. Yet paradoxically, without those parameters I would not have had access to the teaching and experiences that were so freeing.

I had a coming out process to myself as a Witch. Like many of my generation in the queer community, there was an initial hesitancy to say, “I’m gay.” There was the phase of not wanting to limit or define my sexuality by any parameters, to not be “locked in” by any expectations or agreement, to float nebulously between the lines. And while some do that because it’s truly their viewpoint, there was a foundation of fear for me. It was only when I entered into queer community and released that fear that I found the emotional and social support and the role models necessary to progress towards greater happiness and health. And I was later able to offer that in return.

Then there comes a time when you hold too tight to an identity or a specific manifestation of it. Through it, we unwittingly cast a binding spell of comfort and certainty upon ourselves, on a path that is meant to have times of discomfort and uncertainty. That binding prevents growth and change, so we struggle and rage against our self-created bond, consciously or not. Consciously we then have the crisis or ordeal, which allows us to choose. Unconsciously we will see the stagnation or change in others and act out, creating unnecessary drama to give ourselves the illusion we are not bound, but vital.

Today we have very specific identities. In the effort to capture more nuance and subtlety, we sometimes do a disservice by placing too fine a set of limitations on ourselves. We don’t give ourselves permission to broaden; instead, we become even more specific. We see it socially, in terms of gender and sexuality, but also culturally, medically, psychologically, and in terms in our hobbies and interests. Much of our social media has us leading with these labels, and it can be initially quite helpful to have the words, and people, who relate to us and our experiences. But once we not only identify with something, but represent it to others in person and online, we can create a bit of a trap for ourselves. It becomes entwined with our ego, but we couch it in the idea that we are being of service as educators, being open, transparent, and modeling healthy vulnerability. But are we?

And we see it in the Witchcraft world.

Witches often deeply identify with their tradition, so much so that they might block learning a perspective or teaching not overtly found in their tradition, dismissing it as unnecessary and not even realizing they are doing it. No one tradition has all the answers, and learning new perspectives can inspire new truths.

Likewise Witches will also run from their root traditions in an effort to seem wider, deeper, darker, or more important without giving respect to where they have been and who and what opened those first doors to them. How many of the anti-Wiccans out there would be a Witch without those public Wiccan authors and teachers they disdain? Just because something is not a part of your practice doesn’t make it worthy of contempt.

Today Witches will often overly identify with their favorite, or easiest, form of Magick, encouraged by online memes with little depth: “What kind of Witch are you? Crystal Witch? Astro Witch? Faery Witch? Dark Witch?” I was speaking to a seeker asking for help for a specific problem, via messenger, and I suggested a fairly simple herbal candle spell as an effective solution, and was told, “No, I can’t do that. I’m a Crystal Witch. I only work with crystals. That wouldn’t work for me.” I then asked, “How do you know it won’t work? How do you know you are only a Crystal Witch? Couldn’t you be a Crystal Witch and a Candle Witch? What does this even mean?” I got a very upset response rooted in the fear I was challenging her identity and right to be a Crystal Witch, because once she found who she is via an online questionnaire, no one was going to take that away from her.

The path is one of challenge and questioning. We face the guardians of the mysteries continuously, and they often wear the faces of friends, mentors, coven mates, teachers, social media connections, and particularly those you specifically ask for advice with your craft. If a question can take it away from you, it was not really yours to begin with, and you might be better off letting it go. That’s not to say some Witches are not deeply connected specifically to crystals or plants or the cycles of the Moon, but we are all vastly complex and multifaceted beings and can’t close down to other possibilities and ideas for the false certainty of a two-word label.

I know on my own journey, I feared that I was leaving the identity of Witch behind as I explored deeper healing techniques than those I learned originally in the Craft. I got into the Theosophy of the light workers, reiki, herbalism and holistic healing. That led me deeper into both shamanism and ceremonial magick, which brought me full circle back to Witchcraft. I had to be willing to let it go to find it again and really embody it on a new level.

Even today, while firmly identifying as a Witch, I often find myself having more in common with mystical Christians, Yogis, and Sufis than many of my fellow Witches, but it’s the fellowship of experience and the ability to see and live the universal while simultaneously living a specific tradition and lineage. There is the common bond between us. You have to consciously go through a few cycles of dissolution and coagulation to get that perspective.  

I think of the Wicked Witch of the West and the cause of her untimely end in The Wizard of Oz: water. “I’m melting, melting!” she cries. The end, and Dorothy makes her way home. The Witch melted, dissolved in our collective consciousness to return again, coagulated and redefined as the hero Elphaba in Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked and the musical of the same name. When one identity is released, something greater can rise out from the process.

Make holy water for purification, be it for your altar or a lustral bath, and when you do, remember that you are repeatedly called to dissolve and later coagulate. Sprinkle the salt into the water and consecrate it for purity and blessings:

Spirit of salt I call upon as a creature of earth.

Spirit of water I call upon you as a creature of the seas.

Together may you both bring purification and blessedness, and may we remember we continually rise and return to the primordial waters of the deep.

Blessed be.

Give some thought to what identities you might be called to sacrifice as time goes on. How does that make you feel? What thoughts does it generate? Explore the possibility now, so in the future, it will not be a shock.

We must dissolve and coagulate, fluctuating between the universal and specific, to turn the cycle and grow richer in experience. The path demands sacrifice, which doesn’t mean to kill, but to make sacred by release, by giving it away to the divine. A good magician goes through many deaths and rebirths when following the cycles and seasons. The path offers continual opportunities to unmake, unwind, and undo ourselves and all we have been holding onto, and to then remake, reinvent, and grow ourselves anew.

Dissolve and coagulate. If we hold too tightly to any one identity and can’t find the universal in it, we stagnate.

For Broom Closet Witches

by Claire du Nord

So, you are drawn to the Craft of the Wise, but even though in theory you have the right to study and practice Witchcraft, in practice your Practice presents certain challenges and you are therefore not completely free to do so, for whatever reason. If this is the case for you, you may just be a Broom Closet Witch, like me. Claire du Nord here, a High Priestess in the Temple of Witchcraft tradition and a Broom Closet Witch for as long as I can remember.  Merry Meet, and welcome to “For Broom Closet Witches,” a column for us, the Broom Closet Witches!

As Broom Closet Witches, our challenges mean that we find ourselves having to be extra “crafty” in our Craft and having to think and rethink just how far open (or shut) our Broom Closet doors should be with respect to everyone we know, everyone who knows us, and just about everything we do as Witches – for the good of all, harming none, of course.

The need to be discreet in all manner of witchy things is different for each of us, for sure. Naturally, when it comes to practicing Witchcraft with any number of challenges, everyone’s situation is different. While I certainly don’t have all the answers or all the good ideas, I hope that some of my suggestions help make your “Broom Closet Witchery” practice a little bit more doable and a lot less challenging.


An Altar in a Broom Closet

This first article focuses on how to fit an altar in a Broom Closet (the altar itself and the “bare minimum” of objects possibly found there). Suggestions for more specific altar tools will be reserved for the next article.

For Broom Closet Witchery, as far as I have found, the “Magick Words” for success in setting up an Altar are:

  • Mundane
  • Ordinary
  • Commonplace
  • Subtle
  • Discreet
  • Inconspicuous
  • (And, of course, Miniature!)

For Witches, an Altar is, at its simplest, a flat surface with a central candle:

In terms of flat surfaces, some ideas for the physical structure of Broom Closet Altars that may just fit are as follows:

  1. For those Broom Closet Witches who have quite a bit of privacy but just don’t share their practice with long-distance relatives and/or acquaintances, any type of table will do.
  2. For those who must integrate their Altar into the general décor of the house, a “Lazy Susan” – a round, spinnable addition to a dining room table that holds salt and pepper shakers (representatives of the Goddess and the God, respectively), and a candle positioned between the salt and pepper shakers, (and maybe ketchup for Fire, mustard for Air, etc.), becomes a simple Altar!
  3. For those of us who want something that can be quickly removed to another room at a moment’s notice, a “Tea Tray” set on any flat surface can be “whisked away” and returned when “the coast is clear”:
  4. For situations in which the items on the Altar must completely “disappear”, a “Junk Drawer” which contains a variety of items, some or all of which are your “Altar Tools”, may work.  These items can be set up when needed and put back in the drawer when a ritual is finished.
  5. For drastic situations, time in the bathroom may be all the time you have to yourself for your practice and enough privacy to do rituals.  A few scented candles (for “freshening up the ambiance” of the bathroom) will hopefully not draw too much attention.  A later article will deal with the subject of how to perform rituals when you only have a few minutes to yourself in the “privy”.  (Sacred Space in a Bathroom?)

Here are some ideas for representing basic Altar concepts:

Sewing thread bobbins and a birthday candle.

Sewing thread bobbins and a birthday candle.

Birthday candles in tiny cork-stopper bottles.

Birthday candles in tiny cork-stopper bottles.

Colored pencils.

Colored pencils.

Colored water (food coloring) in tiny cork-stopper bottles with quartz crystals.

Organza bags with Salt (Earth/North/Green), Birthday candles (Fire/East/Red), Spices (Air/South/Yellow), Seashells (Water/West/Blue), and a White organza bag in the center with a Smokey Quartz Crystal for the Goddess and a Clear Quartz Crystal for the God.

Individual tiny plastic baggies with representatives of each of the directions/elements, with a Smokey Quartz Crystal for the Goddess, a Clear Quartz Crystal for the God, and a central candle for the Great Spirit, all on a dessert plate.

Individual tiny plastic baggies with representatives of each of the directions/elements, with a Smokey Quartz Crystal for the Goddess, a Clear Quartz Crystal for the God, and a central candle for the Great Spirit, all on a dessert plate.

To keep all the miniature items safe and secure, a drawstring bag may be just the thing:

A full drawstring bag sitting on a plate.

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

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

— Claire du Nord

Temple Astrolog: Truths come to the surface

by Karin Ugander

Right now several planets and asteroids team up with each other. That can be fun. Much like in school when you have working groups trying to solve things together using each other’s talents and gifts. However, if you don´t understand each other or cannot agree, there may be tension and turbulence in that little group. So let´s take a look and see who is playing with whom and see how we can use that energy in a good way in our lives at the moment. 

Overwhelmed by others 

The Sun (me, talent ) is teaming up with Saturn (restriction, blockages) in the sign of Aquarius (collective, social media). When Saturn and the Sun meet each other self-criticism can be very intense. It is difficult to see your own talent and how you may contribute to anything.  When this happens in Aquarius you can be overwhelmed on social media by what everyone else is doing and how great they seem to be. You may also find it difficult to find your role, or question your role within a group or organization. The Sun/Saturn is also making a challenging aspect to Uranus (turbulence) in the sign of Taurus (body). This can make the anxiety or low self-confidence be felt very physical. It can also make you super critical about your own body and there is a danger of self-harming behavior. 

Being aggressive towards others

People who are insecure about themselves, what they are doing and who they are may have a need to tell everyone about their greatness. They can be loud and very fast at pointing fingers towards other people’s practices, belief systems and way of life. But that is actually a way of convincing themselves that they are good enough.

Someone who knows who they are and what they can do, does not need that confirmation from others. The Magick speaks for itself. Their sense of balance and belonging needs not to be questioned. They walk with integrity and power. This is one of the gifts of the Sun/Saturn conjunction when it is transformed to a higher vibration. 

My advice in this transit is to do your thing!  Let go of what others are doing, and focus on yourself instead. If you or someone close to you is sensitive, why not take a break from social media for a few days? Be creative, write, paint, read. This energy can be used for manifesting art and unique (Uranus) things. If you have sensitive, and especially young people around you, they may need extra support through this transit. 

The Sun and Saturn travels together from the 25th of January until the 14th of February

Uranus and the Sun let go of each other on the 6th of Feb. 

The Saturn /Uranus square ended on the 5th of February. 

Tell the truth with compassion

Right now we have Mercury (communication, friends, siblings) right next to Pluto (death, transformation, the underworld) in the sign of Capricorn (strict, rigorous). When Mercury joins with Pluto it creates a laser beam mind, a sharp intellect that can tell the truth like no one else. A wonderful combination to have for a scientist, researcher and investigator. The challenge is that if one is not aware, the words and truths can create harm, even if not intended. Like Sheldon in the TV-series “The Big Bang Theory”. He is right about many things when looking at them from a logical perspective. But when it comes to human relationships and how to say these truths, well that´s just not his talent!

With this transit we get a chance to “cut through” many layers and see things from a different, more clear perspective. It can be truths that are very old (Capricorn) that we now can update to where we are today. When we do this, it can be a good idea to think before we speak, digest our ideas before we deliver them and perhaps be sensitive to the timing of when and where we deliver our new insights. When we have done so, we also need to give the recipients some time to digest the information.

Coming home to your parents family dinner saying: “Mom, I just had the weirdest dream. I dreamt that Grandma had an affair with another man before you were born. You don´t happen to know anything about that?” May not be the best idea. 

Perhaps you are absolutely right, perhaps you are not. You Mother may know or she doesn’t. She could even have another father than she knows of. The thing is, that if your mother in this example becomes frightened and shocked she may shut down emotionally and that will be the end of the discussion. But if you are gentle and respectful she may be brave enough to start investigating herself!

Pluto and Mercury makes a good aspect to Ceres (mother, nurturing) and the north node in Taurus. If we are gentle and don´t rush things (taurus needs time, they process slowly) a whole new path may open up (north node) for us and others involved. Relationships may unfold in a way of beauty and the feeling of support.

If you make a discovery at work about shady things going on, take it easy before you rush into your boss office with what you have found. Set an appointment, have a planned meeting. 

Be clever(Mercury/Pluto).

If you suspect that your adult child is having problems, perhaps thinking about a separation, bring it up in private. Make the time and prepare the space. 

 Another way of saying this is: If you have a truth or insight to deliver or share, be respectful and don´t make people lose face. 

Mercury and Pluto is together until the 19th of February.

Ceres is in good aspect to Mercury until the 23rd of February.

Ceres is in good aspect to Pluto until the 28th of February.

Hidden secrets brought up into the light

Lillith Black Moon has a way of bringing dark and hidden things into the light. Sometimes these things are hidden talents and gifts that we do not know or understand that we have. Other times it is the things that we wished would be kept hidden. Now we have Lillith Black Moon in Gemini (communication, networks of friends). 

The police breaking the “EncroChat” encoded network used by criminal networks all over Europe, leading to hundreds of arrests, is a sign of Lillith Black Moon in Gemini. Working for justice she pushes things to the surface. Now we have Lillith Black moon in a challenging aspect Neptune in Pisces. This makes me believe that we will see even more and deeper (Pisces) secrets surface. 

Pisces rules the 12th house. This is traditionally the house of hidden enemies, jails, hospitals. This is the place where you lock someone or something in and throw away the key. And now along comes Lillith Black Moon talking (Gemini) in a way that no one thought they would dare to. This could mean that no one is safe, even if you are a President, Minister, a member of a Royal Family or the like. The truth is on its way!

Lillith Black Moon begun her journey in Gemini at the end of July 2021 and will move on into the sign of Cancer at the end of April 2022.

Lillith Black Moon is in aspect to Neptune until the beginning of April.

You can´t avoid change

Uranus (change, revolution, need for freedom) is making many aspects right now. To Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Vesta. He is a busy guy! 

Pluto (death, transformation, change) is also very busy at the moment. He is making good aspects to Pallas Athena, Juno, Ceres and the Nodes. The winds of change are blowing whether we like it or not. Putting your heels down and pretending that things are not happening is not a good strategy at the moment. My advice is to deal with things when they come. Take one day at a time, but don´t be afraid to make the decisions that you need to keep moving forward. This is a passage when you don´t want to fall behind. 

Summary: When I do a numerology and astrology reading for a client I can read what I call the “Weather Report”. I can predict if it will rain or not. But I cannot tell if my client is going to cry in the rain because he or she is getting wet? Or, if my client is going to get some buckets from the shelter and collect rainwater for his/her tomatoes later in the summer?

We are in a position when things are changing, secrets are being revealed both on a personal and a global plane. The world and the people are not in the same position today as they were only a moment ago and we have no idea exactly what tomorrow is going to look like.

I don´t know what kind of plans you have, but I´m going to get some buckets and collect some water. 

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.

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