Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Publishing Pagan Books, Please Read.

Dear Pagan Publishers, especially you larger ones with your Capitalistic model of publishing..
The world is changing, and along with it how people and Pagan purchase books is also changing.  Now why do i think this, well let me explain.

A few years ago i was researching my masters, which was on books, specifically Modern Pagan books from 1954 to the present day.  It is called a Witches library, and being that i didn’t write  it as per university requirements I am still i guess you could say researching and seeing if some of my conclusions are coming to fruition, which i believe they are.  *ponders this*  If you want to listen to a series of talks i gave on the topic you can do so by googling “pauline lind witches library”  it is 4 recordings all about 45 minutes long or so,  however i will give you a brief overview here.

There are 4 waves or styles of books staring with Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today published in 1954. Now this book and the few that followed afterwards, are what i call First Wave, and the identifying character of these books was that they were written for a coven based audience, or somebody who was soon to be involved with a coven or group, thus they do not have overt instructions, and it is expected that 1 you will read between the lines, and that 2, your coven will teach you the details of such things, like grounding and centring, raising energy etc etc.  Most of these books were published in England, with a smattering from America, although America had quite a few more books written by plucky reporters who had discovered covens of witches.*insert dramatic music here*  The other important First Wave book and the beginning of what i call bridge books is   Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows which  introduced ritual scripts, which were a copy of the oath bound Gardnerian Book of Shadows, apart from the Flame Wars that this books caused, it also had a basic framework of rites and rituals which enabled new traditions to go forth and blossom, predominately   in America.   

The Second Wave, was strongly influenced by the books coming out of the Goddess Movement, such as Starhawk, and Z Buddapst, which I placed in the first wave but as a bridge, this was because while their focus was still on a coven based audience, there was room and allowances made if you were practising alone, and they introduced the explicit instruction but still contained enough theology and history to keep them in the first wave. So by the end of the first wave books were staring to be published that had rituals scripts and explicit instructions such as grounding and centering, breathing, drawing energy etc etc. 

Second wave books as you may have guessed where aimed at an individual based audience. This is the defining thing that separates second wave from first.    These second wave books also are mostly published in America, from around the late 70s petering of around the late 90s and early 00’s.  Having said that, there are several types of second wave books that are still being published today, mostly the introductory type of second wave, but it is lessening.  The other characteristic which is important for the Pagan publishers to note, is that these books simplified the theology and history.  It could be said that these books to a degree watered down the theology and history that could be found by reading between the lines of the British first wave books.  This was and is both good and bad, the second wave produced some good introductory books, which was lacking, however it at times simplified things a little to much, and to be honest, not much depth.  And many of these second wave books became dated very quickly.. Almost faddish, publishing houses beginning to cash in on the growing Pagan community. .. Also important note is that many of these later 90’s second wave books where written at the behest of the publisher,  again cashing in on the Pagan community and the growing public’s interest in all things magic.  This mean that a lot of what might of been good Pagan authors had to go the not so good rout in writing and researching to get their book out within the given time frame.. this in my opinion was where Pagan publishing began to lose the plot. 

Now we come to an interesting point, as it is during the end-ish of the second wave that the 3rd wave came about, larger publishing companies began noticing the success of Pagan books, Llewellyn publishers went from being a now medium sized publishing house to one that was worldwide,  and Buffy showed up on our TV screens, with a character called Willow, and a magic shop called the magic box, oh how i envied that shop, but i digress.  What Buffy did was to fuel what i call the witch hungry public, and large publishing houses jumped on the Pagan publishing bandwagon, and a slew of spell books came out.  What characterises these books from the second wave and first wave is pretty much the amount of spells and the glossiness of the paper.  Plus many of these books where set out like women’s magazines, with little or no history or theology, hell mostly they just had spells like cooking recipes.   They are however how many  young and not so young Pagans during the late 90’s and early 2000’s  got their introduction to Modern Pagan thought.  If you look at the census stats you will see a spike in the rising Pagan religious numbers.. well it is in NZ.. which coined the continual phrase in the media, “Paganism the fastest growing religion and or spirituality in the world today.”  

Now while this was happening something a little different was happening with in the Mature Pagan community itself, Pagans where asking for more, more depth, more history, more food for though and less obvious instructions and rituals scripts.  However what they were getting was the tail end second wave or what is also known as Wicca 101, and spell books.  

Now when the Buffy Series, and its off-shoot Angle finished, these Third Wave books where resigned to the $1 bargain table,  and these large publishing houses figured out they were flogging a dead horse, it was noticed that Pagans where still calling out for ‘advanced’ books

Some, less than scrupulous publishers became aware of this wanting for more ‘Advanced” Text, but what was published was far from what the Pagan community wanted.  Just because a book has Advanced in the Title didn’t actually mean that is was actually advanced. This is when Pagans began to feel stung, and for some used.  Some of the better known publishing houses lost a lot of respect and trust from the Pagan community in general during this time  Which leads us into the fourth wave.  (also, i am generalising.. i figure its a blog post, and not a book mmk)

Pagan Publishing has now come full circle with fourth wave books.  Once the’ not so scrupulous publishers’ realised that it was difficult  to pull the wool over Pagan eyes, they began looking at publishing actual ‘advanced’ Pagan books, but at the same time they had lost the trust of many from the Pagan community,  what started happening is that smaller specialists, or boutique publishing houses starting showing up, these are small independently  own publishers, who  are focused on specifically Pagan and magical type books, that are beyond that of the Wicca 101, books that are have in depth, theology, history, discussion, and specialists types of topics. No longer telling the reader what to think and how to perform certain rituals, but more about encouraging the reader to think about what is behind what they are doing.  These publishing houses are somewhat fluid, and have a tendency to come and go, but there are a few earning a good reputation. 

i have also noticed that the ‘normal’ capitalistic model of printing and selling fast doesn’t work for Pagan books, and the reason for this is pretty clear.   If you look back to where i discussed a little, the story of the early ‘advanced’ books, and the plethora of 101’s just with different titles, making so many Pagans feel like they had been fleece, dooped, at the mercy of greedy publishers, you will see why. Pagans did not like purchasing a new book on the promise that it was advanced or different from the ones they already had on their bookshelves, and they did not like feeling that the publishers were just out to make as much money as possible, at the detriment not just to them as readers, but also to the Pagan authors.   

Pagans have for the most part always been a somewhat of a word of mouth community, they took to the internet like ducks to water, and then went to Pagan gatherings and festivals, and talked to one another, discussed magic, other festivals, magic and many discussed books, what books they had read and what books where good and what books had the good stuff.  I would guess that there was even on occasion discussion on various experiences from the various rituals, meditations and practices within the books that they were reading.  This would of course lead to recommendations, and because you knew or had met this other Pagan, you would be happy with the recommendations.  in short Pagans have become discerning in their choice of books.  Also Pagans are becoming a lot more conscientiousness of where their money ends up, in the hands of the author, or the publisher?

What does this mean for you Pagan publishers.. Well it means that your books that you have published and your authors whom are writing the books, need to be of a high value, written with integrity, heart, spirit, and references, with sources cited..(Even if it is my guide said, or in my experience, because this will let the discerning Pagan decided for themselves if they believe what your guide said, or if your experience is what they also experience.)  Your authors also need to have a truck load of integrity and be honest with what they have or have not experienced.  it is easy for most Pagans to tell a book written from the heart, & spirit and one that is written just to make a buck.   

Also your wonderfully written book will not sell out within the traditional time frame of publishing books, especially if you are a first time author being published.  It is going to take some time for your book to earn its reputation and it will take time for your first time author to gain the respect of the Pagan readers.  (of course it will help it the author already has a blog, or podcast *nods*) .  It will take more than the ‘traditional’ review on Amazon or on your publisher’s website.  It takes time to read and digest a good Pagan book; it takes time for the stuff to be understood, for the rituals and practices to be tried.  Thus  it will take some time before it shows up on respected Pagan book review sites such as Pagan Book Review and Pagan Bookworm, and before it has shown up there it will of probably been reviewed on various Pagan bloggs, and journals, and then spoken about at festivals, and coffee meets, as well as coven meets. Also i suspect that reviews that are written by experienced Pagans will hold much more authority than those written by one books wonders, (Pagans who have only read one book and know it all)  or those ‘employed’ by the publishers themselves.  All of this will take time, and i am not talking a matter of weeks or months, more like a year or at the very very least six months, but i would bank on a year.   which for the way the current publishing model works, is a disaster because currently publishing and economy just dosn’t work that way.  (i believe it is changing though) however this  also means that you will need to start looking at a new economic model with which to sell these books.  The idea that books will languish on someones shop self for a year before it sells can give many people nightmares, but you know what, its going to happen with Pagan books, thus a new economic model is needed, one i suspect that is not about squeezing as much profit from the Pagan community as possible but more one that is about providing the Pagan with a service, sure make a living but do not get greedy.. *coughoppsrantingcough*

Oh and other thing that might help, the Modern Pagan community is constantly evolving, and changing, some books from the second wave are now considered dated this is because the Pagan community has grown past them.  How we view the our Pagan and magical history is a good current example.  Our perceptions of some magical practice and understand has deepened and much of our practice has evolved as well, but then Paganism and magic is a living tradition thus prone to evolving and change.   Sometimes, however a Pagan author will write a book that is a Little ahead of its time, and sometimes it can take a couple of years for the rest of us to catch up.  Also at the other end of that scale, Pagan authors will sometimes write a book that dates faster than yesterdays fish’n’chips wrapper, but that is generally an author who writes with too much ego and to many $$ in their eyes, and little understanding.  Having said that,  there are some Pagan classics, that have withstood the test of time.  These are the ones that are still recommended today and were published over 20 years ago.  And no i am not talking about Bucky’s big blue or Silvers broomstick, both which was good for their time, but is now in my opinion quite dated.  Scott Cunninghams solitary practitioner, is commonly recommended around these parts, with the caveat that it was written in the 80’s and bits are dated.. but it is still a good book.  (Do you see what i am getting at?)

So if you are going to publish Pagan books, and  there is defiantly a market out there, it is just a very cautious one.  Remember these few things:

o   It takes quite a bit of time for an author to build a reputation, a solid one, so many times the first book is excellent but the second just becomes are hash of the first with added bonus bits or it just falls short of the mark. It helps if your Pagan author has a blog or journal that they regularly post to, it give potential readers a chance to learn a bit about said author.  Remember even some of the better respected authors still find that their books sell slowly.  And the reason as i see it Pagan books will sell slowly because the Pagans themselves have become what i like to call discerning about what they purchase. 

o   Pagan Books and its economic model of selling is quite different from that of the ‘classic capitalistic publishing model.  You are going to need to come up with a new one and one that is not based in Greed, mmk.
o   It is much harder to pull the wool over the eyes of most Pagans so don’t think that just because the title is different that we won’t notice the contents is the same as all the others. 
o   Smarty Pants Pagans are where we are at, and trust is earned.  Something you will have to earn. (Smarty Pants Pagans said by Juni and Bren of Standing Stone and Garden Gate podcast first)

(As an aside, you have a very untapped market over here in little old New Zealand, we are in many ways starving for books of the advanced variety, but alas like so many things it becomes quite price prohibitive to get them here, and or any of the authors.. *sigh*.. but i digress sort of.  

Also Pagans are not always very good at saying what it is that they want, then know that they want a more in depth book, one that contains food for thought, and one that is well references and sources cited.. However when further asked about what topics, generality here will be some silence, maybe a cough or two and staring.  This is when you need to ask more focused questions about what they want.  would you be interested in a more in depth book on the subject of virtue, (actually there is a wonderful author who wrote about that Brendan Myers) *grins* would you like a more in depth book on Pagan community and it dynamics, for those who are looking at stepping out and facilitating their local Pagan community in a face to face way.. ?    (i might be projecting *grins*) You will kind of have to give the Pagans you are questioning, permission to go wild, to imagine, to get the topics they are interested in at a deeper level.  

right.. any questions? Further clarifications, Job offers?  (I’d make a great Pagan Publishing Advocate)  *nods*

*ponders things*       

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Balls Inspector!

or what i made today.

today was all about balls, namely making incense balls similar to that of the Egyptian incense, and i am sure a few other cultures made them in a similar way but can't quite remember.  anyhoo i made five different varieties, see the picture below
there are five different sorts? flavours? smells? i even have names for and they are, Yemaya, Sea Witch incense balls, (those are the ones on the tray that are oblong shaped) the bowl behind that is the Mamma Watta Bath Salts, they are similar and go together.  the round ones on the tray are called "Earth Goddess"  the dark ones on the plate next to the bowl are the counter Part to the Earth Goddess, i guess they could be called, The Green Man, ??  (as opposed to Gods sticky Balls, teheh )   the ones on the plate next are called Furious Rose (the title of a Lisa Lobe song, cause the lady who suggested the excellent combination of rose, cardamon and ambergris reminds me a little of Lisa Lobe) and then the balls on the plate at the front of the picture are ones i made two weeks ago, and they are sweet temple incense.  yay..

so i spent the day grinding, burning and smelling as with Fire Fly series playing in the background.  most enjoyable.  below are extrema close ups of the various balls..  for your viewing pleasure.  these should be showing up on the etsy store in i would say 5 weeks or so.. as they take some time to harden.

incense balls are pretty easy to make, it takes herbs, flowers, resin, type ingredients which have been ground into a powder.  thankfully i have a coffee grinder which i use to do some of the harder herbs like storax bark, and moroccan rose resin, and star ansie, the rest i used the more traditional mortar and pestle which is fun to and your arms get a good work out. once you have ground your herbs you add the honey, which i heated in a little glass bowl in the sink which had hot water in it, as it makes it much more runny.  i was using manuka honey thus it is a little more viscous than clear runny honey.. anyhoo.. you mix in the honey until it becomes like dough, sorta. then you kneed it,, actually i just passed it from one hand to the other and squeezed it cause i made about a good sized handful of each.. once i figured that all of the ingredients had been combined enough i used a tiny 1/4 teaspoon and made little balls, or pallets, and ta'dar,, balls, sticky balls.. but fun all the same. 

not so difficult but you do get sticky incense stuff under you nails so i suggest that you cut them before hand.. *nods*.

Sweet Temple
Furious Rose
Yemayas, Sea Witch

Earth Goddess
The Green God

anyway our house smells of the following Ambergris, amber, honey, ginger, Storax, Damar, Patchouli and a whole slew of other exotic scents.. kinda nice really.. *beams*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is Pathworking and why is there a goose

So we, and by we I mean me understand daily practice, and what that means to me. And I recently furthered that understanding when I watched a youtube video with Laurie Cabot, where she said

“We get up the morning and we balanced our energies with the cosmos, the moon, the starts and the ground we walk on, so it is consciousness that is a way of life”

Currently I am having difficult getting my head around “Pathworking”. I believe that I understand what path means or “My Path” it is a term that is freely bandied about in the pagan community and people seem to have an innate understanding of it. The students in my class the other night all nodded their heads when I asked them. However “Pathworking” I'm at a loss to explain. While on the one hand that intuitive hand I understand, on the other hand I can’t seem to quite find into suitable words...

My path is easy, well I know what it is and the understanding of it is deepening everyday. ok it was not really as easy as all that but now that i have settled into it, i am walking it.. finding it however not so easy. Now for me my path is where spirit leads me, what the Divine has revealed and helped me to understand about myself, my places in this world and what it is that fulfils me. I am a Witch, Priestess, and Teacher. It is my path to introduce others, to help others find their path, what ever path that may be, Eclectic Witch, Wiccan, traditionalist, ceremonial magical, pagan priestess, Christian, Rabbi, what ever really.. It took me a while to recognise that I was doing this and this was something that I had kinda been doing all along but hey, I am much more confident now, and through this path of teaching and helping people find their own paths I am learning so much more. But still not sure if I really understand this concept of Pathworking.

Pathwork, I presume is the work that you do once you have found or are finding your path right? So would that not mean that Pathworking is the way you go about finding you path? That also makes sense.. But still I feel like something is missing. one of my students commented that it sounded not that dissimilar to that of finding out what you wanted to be when you grew up, although his words where much more eloquent than mine. Given that in that job type aspect I still have no idea about what I want to be or do as a job, is it any wonder that I am having trouble with figuring out Pathworking.

So let’s look at this from a different angle.. So if pathworking is how you go about finding your path, and I know where my path is, how did I get there? Gosh that takes me back. Let’s see, well umm, *ponders* That's a lot harder than first thought. At 17ish I knew that I was looking for something but had no idea about what that was, I can remember being very drawn by the word Witch, going so far as to trichem (fabric pain in pen-ish form) the picture of a witch on a broomstick flying through the moon on the back of a white demin jacket, it was awsome and I wore that jacket to death. however i did not have any clue beyond being drawn to this word Witch.

Then fast forward a few years, a few very difficult lessons, i am 25 and I had a flatmate who was a witch. When I first meet her she took one look at me and said ‘so you are a Witch then!’ boy did that ring bells especially after she gave me Cunningham’s solitary practitioner and said "you should read this" after that I became an avid reader, and not only was I reading but I spent a lot of time discussing things magic, as well as giving it a bash, <---- kiwism, and gosh did giving it a bash get some results, there was the blessing candle, that nearly burnt down the wall of the house. Thats a well blessed baby said my flatmate. The cursing with a twist and an understanding that not everybody was nice. The centering and grounding and the energies of the earth that sang, caressed and spoke volumes. The voices, some might call them the Divine, me i thought people that heard voices where nuts. The guide, and the acceptance that the voices did not mean i was going to be the old crazy lady to with many guides. The Divine, and how it felt to be in the presence of. It all became integrated into my life in a seemly effortless way, natural some might say. the acknowedgement of sometimes just knowing stuff, of heart knowedge, someone sat me down oneday and said to me “I have never meet anyone who is so intouch with their heart knowedge”

Eventually moved to Wellington long term after having a few false starts in other cities, started university as a mature student and settled into a degree with honours in religious studies. I found the internet, message boards, websites, witchvox, and had any conversations with many different pagans all over the English speaking west.. Ok mostly American but hey there were some Australians and Canadians to. l learned the difference between northern hemisphere and southern, i part took in an online healing ritual that was quite global, with interweaving energies going both clockwise, and anticlockwise. i learn the importance of grounding after said ritual. I meet up with others, started a coffee evening, found a strong dislike for being considered a guru, so ran away. It could be said when I look back that this was about the time that I spent doing this elusive pathworking. while I did not approach it in a orderly manner and at times I might of be blatantly ignoring, and got slap up side the head quite often by the powers that be aka the Divine, I certainly did a lot of thinking, of pondering and a lot of finding out information, reading, talking with people, in some ways who ever would listen. I gave two conference papers, one on my honour paper, and one on my thesis topic. i learnt about community and history and romanticised mythological history. I guess you could say I was gathering the pieces of a puzzle, a puzzle that was my path and where I was meant to be going on this path.

after a while I left university, (read ran screaming for the hills after 10 years) and started on a new path, you see all through university I believed that I was going to be an academic, one who studied Modern Paganism, one who had something different to offer as I was from New Zealand and New Zealand had a somewhat different pagan culture to that of Australia, Canada, American and Britain. However I was to find out that this was not my path. when push came to shove, the belief of becoming an academic dropped of, but still the draw, nay need to teach, to share to help people discover their won paths, was becoming stronger and stronger. I learned about institutionalising and tall poppies.

I started going to the Woolshed, a pagan place and retreat run by Pamela Meekings-Stuart, the voices and urge became stronger, Pamela was also encouraging and vocal.. *laughs*. Then I joined in with the occasional open women’s only full moon group, where i learned about and went through initiation, and self dedication. I went to a lughnasadh camp with the druids and then did so again the following year, as well as a few magick earth festivals. It was around this time and with the encouragement and support from people at the woolshed that I dedicated myself to the divine and my path, of Witch, Priestess and Teacher, and as a Witch Priestess and Teacher I was dedicating myself to the Pagan Community in Wellington, my community. not longer after i the witnessed self dedication i started teching my first set of classes, i learned about learning more, facilitating and gain a new tribe member and new friends.

Of course there are a few things missing from the above, the experience with the goose and the lesson that it brought, and the times spent at Kiwiburn with my tribe and chosen family. in a round about not so obvious way I for most of the last 15 years Plus, I have been Pathworking, not what I would call on a conscious level, but certainly Pathworking. it has all the hall marks right, self development, learning, discovering, shadow work (that would be the aforementioned goose) finding my courage, inner strength, and heart knowledge, as well as acknowledging that yes I had a job to do and yes I was an instrument of the divine, somewhat reluctant at first but i got there and am still getting there. at one of the first festivals i attended i ended up being referred to as the irreverent Witch because i called a Willendorf Goddess statue a booby doll, i still have that statue and still call it my booby doll More recently I have been learning that I do not need to do everything by myself, there are others out there who can help and want to help. Am I sharing too much about myself... maybe but then again maybe not?

So that is pathworking.. But still I wonder if I am not missing something, *ponders this* Perhaps what i am missing is how to teach pathworking to others. Is there a ritual? A way of pathworking, a specific thing, way, something that I am missing? Anybody have any suggestions? Or can point me to a website, book or blog that is on this topic? See look, I’m asking for help.. *grins*

Maybe pathworking is the physical act of walking your path and seeing where it takes you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Practice Practice Practice Daily or Regularly

Lately I keep hearing and reading about this thing called Daily Practice, *cue dramatic music here* and it has taken me a while to get that to sit well in my head, and how that sits within my own practice. To start with I had read that daily practice was important, however the reason behind such practice was missing or I was missing it, as I do at times, I often became confused because one source would say that daily practice was communing with your gods, and others would say that it was grounding and centring. Others still would prescribe that one should do at least 20 minutes of deep meditation communing with your Gods morning and night, while another would say that you can do a daily practice is a few short moments something as simple as lighting incense on your altar. These various writes at times made it sound so easy, however when I sat down to figure out how to work this into my own personal practice, it became quite difficult. First I could not figure out why a specified daily practice was needed in order to commune with the Divine, when this was something that I did every day, and being as i am not a formal type of witch, did it really matter how I did this? Also what was the purpose of this daily practice, and how important was this daily time schedule? And if this daily time schedule is important what happens when you miss a day? Do the gods punish you?

Because in reality in this world we live in doing daily practice is not as easy as it sounds, even with the simple stuff it can be rather difficult to find the time in our busy schedules to it in. And then when we don’t manage to do daily practice as prescribed by our favourite authors or floggers we start to beat ourselves up, start to self punish, to feel bad, feel guilty because we have not managed it,. and this is what we are supposed be doing. And because of feeling bad because of not successfully dong your daily practice you beginning to associate it with a feeling of guilt and bad thus less likely to want to do a daily practice. This daily practice is sounding less and less appealing

Why again do we need to do a daily practice and what should we be doing? without answers to these aspects of daily practice, daily practice seemed like something that was pretty much out of my reach and even when i did have time, why, to what purpose should I be doing this daily practice? Lighting a candle is all very well but why am i doing this. in some ways the feeling felt related to circle casting, because so many times when reading a pagan book about such things the purpose of casting the circle for me seems to be missing, thus i end up standing around thinking what is the purpose of doing this? and being someone who is practically minded, purpose is an important component for me.

All of this did not entice me to want to start a daily practice or work one into my day nor did my understanding increase any, thus the standing around being confused bit. And to add to that confusion I was still drawn to this thing called Daily Practice. *insert echoy voice over here Daily Practice* You know that thing that is at times unexplainable but you know that you should be doing it anyway, like the hand of the divine is pushing you in that direction. yeah that was happening.

Now me i am kinda stubborn about these things and until i have figured it out, understand and made peace with whatever the practice is, in this case daily practice, i generally will not be doing it.. no matter how much pushing is involved. (yes i have an interesting relationship with the divine, but then it suites me so its, and i suspect not that different from others?)

Then i happened to be listening to several podcasts on that very same subject, and a couple of phrases struck out as being the key. One was regular practice, not daily but regular. This is in many ways psychological, as regular practice sounds so much easier than daily practice, right? well i thought so, and it is something that i tell my students. this encourages them to actually go out there and give the prescribed homework a try. because I have not said 'thou must practice this daily without fail or you will go to hell' *cue echo* 'hell, hell, hell' and quite frankly i don't like going to places i don't believe in. but I digress. instead i instruct my students, or is that suggest to my students that regular practice is key, and that when they do something or regular practice to reward themselves for it, because then this practice becomes associated with good things and not self punishment, making you more enthusiastic about doing it in the first place.. pavlovian much?

let me take you on a small digression. i had a dog a whiles ago Onyx was his name, and i like many dog owners made a very obvious first dog owner mistake with young Onyx. that mistake was that when he had been bad over there *points into the distance* i called him back and told him off.. 'bad dog don't do that growl growl* which was teaching him bad associations with being called back. i know now that what i should of done was to reward him for coming back when called because despite the retraining he was never very reliable at recalling. for me this relates to regular practice and rewarding yourself when you do practice.. *nods*..

so regular practice sounded much more achievable, much more like me, but when sat down to think about working regular practice into my day to day life I discovered that I was already doing regular practice, especially communing with the divine, and with my environment, because this was something that I did pretty much every day, when I walked down to the train station in the mornings I often spoke with the divine, could see and feel the divine in the coming day, actually whenever I was walking around the city I was doing regular practice. But still something was missing. It was all too simple, there must be something more. It certainly felt like I was missing something further.

Then today while i was listening to an interview with Rae Beth, on Druidcast, one of my favourite Podcasts, there was mention of a spiritual and psychic discipline. which of course made my ears prick, in that way, you know that way that tells you there is something important being said here. That was when the penny dropped.

Regular practice is not just communing with the divine, or your sense of deity, it is so much more than that, it is also how to build a spiritual and psychic, although i prefer the word magic, how to build a spiritual and magical discipline. Regular practice is about leaning a new magical skill, such as grounding and centring, shielding, journeying, meditation, visitation, raising energy, connecting with the universe and receiving messages from the divine. Regular practice is about creating your own discipline and expanding your own skills, and furthering your relationship and understanding of the divine, the world around you and with yourself. well it was for me your mileage may vary

Do any of you remember learning to drive? When you first started out it took practice and much thinking about driving when you were not behind the wheel, you learned not only to drive but also to see the world in a whole new way. You learned through driving were the one-way streets where in your city, the best parking, and about when pedestrians were more likely to leap out across the road or not. To get around the city it was no longer about hopping on number 3 bus and riding along, but more about knowing what streets you would be driving because instead of just riding along you were now making your own choices, you where diving yourself. Does this sound familiar? Is it ringing any bells yet?

Learning a new magical skill is similar to the experience of learning to drive. First you need to know what it is that you wish to learn. Let’s say you want to learn to journey deeper, because you are hedge witch, or in my case a urban witch, and you want to learn about riding the trax, or hedge crossing. You already know the basics of journeying and how to achieve a trance state.. But what is it going to take to get that step further? yes thats right regular practice, regular intervals of journeying and crossing that boundary of riding the hedge, of the trax, what ever visualisation you go with. To learn to cross the trax or to ride the train, there will be experimenting with a variety of techniques until you hit upon the one that works for you. for some it will be physical, wearing out the physical body so that the mind and spirit is free to to its work, for others it will be about the process, memorising words to a poem, setting the candle in the right place, invoking the gods, and for others it will be a more simple practice of sitting comfortably and meditating. again everyone will be different.. and there may even be a process of finding the right technique, the right trigger. and that is much of what regular practice is about. that experimenting with different ways and practicing them untill driving through your city or any city is a skill that you have now achieved.

now i would like to point out one final thing here. if you regular practice becomes automatic, and you find yourself going through the motions but with no real affect, i would say that you no longer engaged with the practice that you are doing, you are no longer present. this is the time to take stock of what your regular practice is and change it so that you are once again present and engaged with what you are doing. it is the other thing that bloggers and authors talk about when discussing daily practice, that you have a variety of practices which need to be changed so that you are once again focused, present and engaged. something i am planning on writing about in a future post.. *gasp!* yup planning posts.. anyhoo..

so to summarise

Think about regular practice not daily, so as not to set yourself up on a punishment based cycle but a reward one

use regular practice to lean new magical skills, be it learning you tarot cards one card at at time, or crossing the trax, journeying, contacting the divine, meditating etc etc.

and when you find your regular practice becoming mindless and automatic, it will be time to change it or work another aspect into it.

make sense? anybody want to add anything? anybody gots a different point of view?



Thursday, July 1, 2010

open for business

so i listed 6 items in my etsy store Urban Witchery which is a start. curently i have elemental oils and an altar cloth up for sale. this evening i am hoping to get up my incenses as they are quite popular with my friends. they are loose leaf type incense that needs a charcoal to burn them on, which i will also be selling.

of course there will be spelling mistakes but they to will also be creative.. *laughs*

its all very exciting and a but nerve racking as i wait to see if anybody wants anything that i have made so far. over the next few months i will be making salt and sugar scrubs, and bath melts as i really enjoy using these myself so figure that others might like to as well.

gosh its a whole new adventure really..


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Potions with Polly..

gosh, *waves to the followers old and new*.. gosh.. *grins*..

anyhoo i beavered away in the kitchen today and made the following...

i bottled the elemental oils that i have had sitting brewing on my window sil cill errr for the last month, as well as the witchery anointing oil and blessing oils. ohh..

so basically these oils are for anointing your tools and workspace that you are working in, especially the witchery oils, the elemental oils do not have much of a smell but they are good and well charged. the blessing oil, does have a smell and is something that i have been making and using for a long time.

the elemental oils are for calling upon the energy of the four sacred elements, earth, air, fire, and water, depending on what you are working with and why. for example, say you are doing a ritual that has a strong emotional type focus, then you could use water elemental oil, you could put it on yourself, on your tools, candles, hey you could used the elemental oils to anoint your quarter candles, or around your working space.. see easy!!

the blessing oil, i generally use for rituals, to bless myself and anyone who wants some. it is quite poplar up at the woolshed. it can also be used to bless and anoint candles, altars, working tools or just for a nice pick me up.

don't they look pretty. i will sell them individually as well as a package deal, (the 4 elements plus the blessing oils) these ones are in 15 ml bottles with dropper caps, and the blessing oil will be is in 10ml bottles.

next i made some salves.. now these do smell nice and are a little like lip balm, very similar recipe.. oil and beeswax.. not to difficult.. anyhoo so far i have made Witchery salve and blessing salve.. does a similar job to the oils with a similar name, its just in solid form. .. i even sterilised the jars.. with hot water and cooked them in the oven. (just like Nan did when she was making jams. and yes orange jam is actually marmalade.. which i do not like.!!)1 you can used them as lip-balm if you wish.. i did test this theory.. it was odd tasting but kinda nice.. *grins*

anyways here is what they looked like when i poured them in their jars. not lables as yet.. but i will make them next week. i also made blessing salve.. and its very nice!! nom nom

don't they look pretty to.. i used a combination of the soaked oils and coconut oil for the witchery salve.

Witchery Salve, smells of patchouli, lavender and cedarwood.. mmm..kinda down to earth really..
blessing Salve smells of lavender, sage, and basil, which is very refreshing and zingy..

umm.. yeah.. tomorrow, more salve.. and more oils.. seer oil and seer salve.. should be fun yes?

so i should have a nice stock for my etsy shop Urban Witchery when i open at the end of the month.. hooray!

1Nan tried to get me to like marmalade by telling me it was orange jam.. to which i said O.o *laughs*

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City Liminal Places

and spaces, well actually Train Stations.

its something i have been looking into of late.. the liminal places of a city.. of which there are quite a few, not alwasy on the outskirts of the city. sometimes, actually many times these 'liminal' places can be found in the middle of the city, or in one area of the city where 'liminal' type people hang out. Liminal, according to one definition i found is a "state of being on the "threshold" of or between two different existential planes" liminal is also a space that is outside mainstream community, set in contrast to mainstream community, it is Victor Turner calls liminal communitas, which has always fascinated me i guess as i am a pagan and have studied modern paganism i can understand that this "community" while constructed somewhat differently from a physical community, is also a community that is Liminal Communitias, it is in opposition to that of mainstream. but that is a different topic for a different day.. *grins* so City Liminal Places..

Lets look at Train Stations, i can remember recently posting on a list about train stations and its liminal status, like that of a hedge, where instead of crossing the hedge you are crossing the Trax, or perhaps travelling in-between stations. I may of not been very eloquent about the concept that i was trying to get across, which was one of Urban Witchery, verses Hedge Witchery, as you see i live in a city, the capital of New Zealand and while Wellington has a fantastic green policy and there are huge green belts all over the city, it is still a city. I was also drawn to hedg witchery, but not at the same time, something was missing, something was not quite fitting, and what was missing was the city aspect. You see in my head there is a disconnect with Hedge Witchery and cities, mostly because there are not many hedges in the city itself, and i associated Hedge Witchery with meandering country pathways that are lined by hedges not concrete and tall buildings. then yesterday i checked my google reader and New World Witchery had a post about City Spirits and low there was a picture of a train station as well as mentions of train stations a liminal places, so i started to post a reply but it turned itself into a blogg post.

so to Train Stations: in some cities train stations can be found in the middle of the city, and sometimes they are found on the outskirts, it depends i am guessing, on whether how much the trains are used as a medium on transport for the inhabitants of the city. which will also i figure, change the energy of said train station. also public train stations that have commuter trains as opposed to freight train yards, will, while generally close to one another will also have somewhat different energy.

Wellington Train station is however quite a liminal place. i know that here in Wellington the trains are one of the more important modes of transport in and out of the city, they are also have a strong connection with the sea and ships that bring stuff to our port not just from other countries but also from the south island. So in many ways major railway stations that contain junctions can be similar to that of ley lines in that sense of connecting the station with everywhere else in the world. Like Cory said from New Word Witchery, similar to hoodoo in that crossroads sense, if that crossroads are the initial connect to the universe and world.. *ponders this*

Like the people who use the trains travel to and fro, from work, the energy at the train station itself ebbs and flows, like the tide on the seashore or rivers close to the ocean. The energy is different during the week than it is during the weekend. During the week there are distinct steams of traffic that head out towards the city to the various places where people work. If you panted the bottom of the peoples feet, i know in Wellington the resulting image would look like a delta that is sometimes found at the beginning of rivers, crossing and weaving flowing into and out of the city, similar to the tidal flows. The energy flow during the week is different from that of the weekend. there is more traffic and a determination about which is spiced with despair and tiredness nearer the end of the week as people come to realise the drudgery of not liking the job that they are in, which worsens over winter as they trudge to work and from work in the dark. The money is good but the work, not so much, the energy flows and ebbs following the seasons and the peoples work lives.

During the weekend, the energy has lost that intense focus of determined going to work, stress and general tiredness, and has become more about enjoyment, going into town to have breakfast or brunch with friends, meeting up with others, shopping relaxing and just enjoying the city itself. There is still that determined work type energy as people do work in the weekend. But as a general rule the work is different, less office orientated and more people orientated.. thus a slight difference in undertones to that energy. In the evening the energy changes again as a slugish beligeriance of achole takes over, drunken stumbling to get home on the midnight trains, secutiy guards everywhere. disafected teens hanging out, as the night falls the energy shifts to a feeling of mistrust and danger tinged with the sadness and a slugshniess with a dirty air.

I suspect that you can use that energy, as well as the phycisal trains themselves to release things into the universe, to encourage good will and good energy to return, and also to send energy and or something to someone or to break/send away energy.. you could use different days and times of day depending on what type of energy you are needing to do your working or spell, have you ever spend the night of the full moon hanging around the train station?

i have in my head this image of a fetish spell, found objects, a leather glove, to represent a strangers helping hand, (a stranger being a city deity, the energy of strangers helping strangers) a found key to help unlock esoteric secrets of the city, maybe to unlock a locked situation or energy and a newspaper to represent local and national knowledge, or to connect you with a different city, or your spell with a different city or to even connect you with you local city divine, These objects are gathered together and tied wrapped however you see fit, energies given intent, and then left on an outbound train, be it to one of the blurbs, or to another city. It is not difficult to get onto a train going to another city as a general rule, leaving the fetish where someone will fine it or where someone won't, again depending on what the purpose of said fetish is. then getting of the train and leaving the fetish to do its work, the energy to take the form of the intent that you have given it and be boosted by the energy of the train station itself.

I see leaving things inside a train as a working to gain something or positive, and if you leave something on the tracks, to banish or break away from./
So many possibility's.. liminal spaces in a city..hmmm..

Saturday, May 15, 2010


In the northern hemisphere to go sunwise is to walk in a clockwise direction, whereas in the southern hemisphere it is anticlockwise, that is the sunwise direction. Its not hard to figure this out as the sun is quite prominently in the north, and when it rises in the east as it does everywhere in the world, it heads north to where the equator is. Well it does do for us southerners. Now why am I posting about this, well you see being that I live in the southern hemisphere, and being that I am a Witch, I cast my circle and sacred space in a sunwise direction, and I use the word sunwise, however many of the books I read are written in the northern hemisphere, thus, their circle casting is in the other direction, which more often than not is referred to as clockwise. which makes me grind my teeth a little cause sunwise is not clockwise everywhere in the world…. And given that clocks were invented in the northern hemisphear, it is not a supprise that they turn in a sunwise direction for where they were invented. But then the adventures came south, passed the equator and low and behold the sun went in a different direction…. But that is a whole nother story. Well actually its not.. here in the southern hemisphear pagans of what every variety cast their circles starting in the east and then go north, then west then south and then finishing at east completing the circle. I did spend quite a bit of time contemplating this, and trying to figure out if this was an arbitrary thing or if it really had any merit this sunwise thing.

Then I got to wondering why it is that we cast in a sunwise direction, and uncast or banish in a widdershins direction.. why is that? How does that work.. and an answer arrived, which happens when you think about things. *grins* You see the sun rises in the east, no matter where you are in the world the sun will always rise in the somewhere in the east. However depening on where you live in the world can change which way is sunwise, left or right of east. The sun is also what powers our planet and in many ways it is representative of the element of fire, being a large fiery ball in the sky. First thing in the morning just as the sun peeks over the horizon, it does not have much heat energy, but as it rises, and heads towards its zenith, which is north for us southerners, and south for you northerners, (say that ten times fast) its power grows, its heat grows as to the light grows, bringing with it clarity, shedding its light if you will, as well as heat and a fast moving energy that is associated with things when they heat up. Once it has reached it zenith, things start to slow down, perhaps they start to temper, like tempering after the blacksmith has finished shaping his metal, once the sun dips behind the horizon in the east, the light fades away, and night is upon us reaching its zenith at midnight, south for us southerners and north for the northerners, (now that is easer to say ten times fast) with the darkest hours just before dawn, and the rising once again of the sun in the east.

So when casting you are repeating the same kind of cycle, with the exception that insead of lessening energy you are continuing to build energy as you call the various elements from the cardinal directions, following the building path of the sun and increasing the energy as you by pass each of the stations, dawn, midday, dusk, midnight, and back to dawn, so that the energy is contained, the energy is balanced, and ready for you to give it its intention and send it out to the world in that ‘change the world’ like way.

Gosh, that made sense to me, and what’s more I could picture it happening, almost feeling the energy of the elements combine with that of the sun and universe to create a circle as I moved in a sunwise direction.. excellent. ! did it make sense to you? *ponders this*

Just one more thing tho, you budding authors out there and you veteran ones, we don’t have many books that are written from down here, thus we do spend quite a bit of time reading ones written in the northern hemisphere, so if you would be ever so helpful and remember that down here south of the equator, our sun goes from east to north, not clockwise, and our season are about six months different from yours.. so when you are celebrating Beltane however you want to spell it, we are celebrating Samhane, however that is spelt. And for you others playing along at home.. the above is also a reminder that you must practice your magic in the land you live in and with the direction that your sun goes in as well as the season that your land has for the land you live, that is where much of you magic comes from.. mmk…

*skips about*

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Witch, Priestess, Teacher, Bard, Ovate, Druid,

I have been having some interesting conversations of late with various Witches and pagans in wellington, some from here and some from not here. One that struck me as being quite interesting was one about what the various levels of witchcraft, although levels is not quite the right word, and the different aspects of Druidry, namely OBOD Duridry, and not surprisingly these aspects and levels come in threes. Perhaps within witchcraft and Wicca there should be more emphasis on aspects as opposed to levels as to me that just smacks of elitism with judgemental pants and hierarchy, where as aspects is more about following where your own heart and skills take you. Anywhoo i have not heard the various levels and aspects explained this way, and it struck a chord, thus i thought i would share some of my ponderings, which start like this.. if i was ever to create a ‘tradition’ what would this aspect of it look like?

I think for me there would be three aspects, as well in a way three levels, but without the overt of nasty hierarchy of your doing it wrong.. gosh that sounds difficult.. lets see.. to start at the beginning..

The first level would be Witch, when a person first starts out, when they are finding their feet and learning about magic, witchcraft, and the basics, so to speak. The grounding framework of this type of path. This would not necessarily take a year and a day, for some it might be longer and for others it might take less. I believe this obsession with things taking a year and a day is for some quite unrealistic. Sure its fine if you like formulaic styles, “and by the word of the god and goddess this first phase will take a year and a day as they have decreed.. blar blar blar”. Not really me, i am much more of a person who is comfortable to go with what feels right, and for me, this initial stage of being a witch was well over a year. Before i learnt anything or perhaps it is more accurate to say that before i stepped? Found? Was pushed *cough* onto this path, i was a seeker. I knew that there was something out there calling, but could not find it, however i was defiantly looking. From the ages of about 16ish to the age of around 24 i was seeking, i went to the theosophical society, various talks on various spiritualities, talked long hours with a naturopath, and homeopathy, and various other ‘alternative’ healers and thinkers. It was not until i was 24 and a friend gave me a deck of cards that my feet start to find this path of the Witch. My years as a beginner where fruitful and full of the wonder of discovery, reading, experimenting, talking, formulating ideas and then reformulating them as i learnt more and then having that all change as i experienced things that are difficult to put into words.

The second step if you will, is a more conscious one and for me, although i did not think of it as such until recently, is that of the priestess or priest if you are a boy. As i said this step is a more conscious one, as opposed to the sometimes foundering around that i did in the first step, i did not and have not lost the Witch aspect, as it is very defiantly who i am and how i live my life, but i am also priestess, and this came about during an odd spontaneous dedication ritual, where i made myself known to the divine, and that i was open to the divine will, but at the time i perhaps didn’t see it in those exact words, but then on one level i am currently wondering if i did.. *ponders this*. Anyway, i can remember the dedication, me standing in front of my altar, with my naked self, just me and the divine, stating firmly that i was purposely stepping on to this path, i was making a very conscious choice to continue on this path that felt so much like home.

The third step? Aspect? Is that of teacher, or what i am calling teacher because this is how my path has formed. Just over a year ago i did a self witnessed dedication, some might call it an initiation, but as i do not belong to any tradition as such, i have come to see it has a dedication, where i once again dedicated myself to the divine, and my community as Witch and Priestess, this was a couple of months before is started to ‘offically’ teach others in small classes, to impart knowledge and what i knew and also encourage others to figure out what and where their path lies. I have come to realise that it dosn’t matter what style, tradition, formal or informal path you chose to walk on, if it is not speaking to you, if it doesn’t raise your spirit, move you, then it is not for you, and i am happy to help those who are looking to find what path that they are crying out for, no matter if that is pagan of whatever flavour, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever.. just so long as it speaks.

Now the thing about these levels is that they are also aspects to, because i have not forgotten or forgone what came first, i am still a Witch, a Priestess, and now a Teacher, and while i have and am experiencing all three, i also can see that each is important in its own right, none is more or better than the other, they are aspects as opposed to levels. Which neatly brings me to the second three aspects of my imaginary tradition. These three are much stronger aspects and not so much level as they are quite important in their own right. Now Ali from Meadowsweet and Myrrh sums up these three aspects quite beautifully, so instead of me bumbling along you should go along there and read what she says. *nods*..

Druidry i have been told recently is not so much about the levels in a hierarchal sense but more in teh sense of giving a space and framework for people to try out all manor of things that they may or may not have any talent in or draw to. And that this is so that they may find that aspect, that talent and that calling which is home and become a mastercrafts person, so to speak.

Right back now, ok so when you mix both of the threes together, i find that this path becomes less about who is grand poohbar and who has reached the highest level, nor is it about the race to the top to see who can get there the fastest because to do or believe any of the afore mentioned i believe means that the message of this path has been lost. However for me the mixing of these three aspects, these three learning stages, these levels if you will is more about understanding and learning where your or in my case my talents lie. For me it was about teaching and ministry but not in the sense of healing, or counselling but more in the way of helping light up someone else’s way, or as i was to learn helping them light up their own way, these things are and have been much more important to me than being at the top or having teh official initiations of “insert tradition here” tradition. But having said that, if that is your path, and is what speaks to you, being and or finding a tradition to belong to or to initiate into, then i am more than happy to help you find that, more than happy to help you understand what that means to you, because that is my path as Witch, Priestess, and Teacher.

Of course i wonder if there is further steps, and if i really did have a tradition how that would work in with other things that i believe traditions have or need.. hmm.. *ponders*..

What would you tradition look like if you equated your journey so far to one?

*contemplates navel*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

are you pagan enough? you are pagan enough

I have been reading around the internet on various message boards and other places of pagan focus, of late and what i keep coming across is the attitude of ‘your doing it wrong’ or you shouldn’t be doing this, or you can’t do it that way, or you can only do it this way and you know what, this bugs me a lot. It makes me roll my eyes and wonder why and how some people can be so closed minded that they are unable to put themselves in others shoes, or unable to conceive that the actually may be a different way of doing it, and that that different way while not working for them may well work for another. The other reason this makes me roll my eyes and bash my head against the wall is the fact that with in Modern Paganism there is no central authority or liturgy or governance or papal authority to tell us how it is, it doesn’t exist.. zip narda nothing, thus those that are stating that you should or shouldn’t are actually going about it all wrong or in the word of so many other pagans out there.. ‘YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG’

Of course with no central authority, liturgy, governance or papal authority there is no doing it wrong, instead there is doing what feels right. Now if you join up with a group, grove or coven of a particular tradition there will be rules and indeed a central type authority even a coven book of shadows which will need to be adhered to, of course you will have permitted to adhere to these rules and authority by the initial step of joining said group, grove, or coven. However if you are a solitary or no longer wish to belong to or take part in that group, grove or coven, the rules etc of that group, grove or coven no longer apply. Paganism in its many forms is after all a religion of assent. That is you assent to be a part of that religion or spirituality or group and for as long as you associated with that religion, spirituality or group you identify yourself that way. I.e. I am a ‘insert tradition here’ wiccan, because i am a member of this ‘insert tradition here’ wiccan group. Whereas if you stop associating with that group or grove or coven, you are no longer that you no longer identify with whatever religion or spirituality it was. Ie, i used to be a Wiccan of ‘insert tradition here’ but i left and now i am a Buddhist. In the example the person is no longer assenting to be Wiccan of whatever tradition but instead assenting to be Buddhist. Ostensibly with communities of assent a person chooses to belong or not to belong.

So back to the should and should nots, one of the other ways of defining what something actually means, cause you know the hugest flameings happen around terminologies and authority, *this is me once again rolling eyes* is majority consensus, that is that most of the people agree with this statement or this interpretation of x.. For example.. Wiccan Witch Wicca Witchcraft. As far as i can tell there is a group of people out there getting their panties in a bunch over these terms and how they are to be used and not be used, and there are a bunch of people out there who use these terms interchangeably and there are some people in-between.. a sliding scale if you will.

Language like many things in this world is quite fluid, and living, English is a living language thus prone to change, and change of meaning, for example, arse, now about 8 years ago, when hanging out with a group of friends, when the comment arse! was said, it meant that an error had accoutred.. someone had forgotten to bring their wallet, or someone had dropped their phone, it was said when misfortune occurred, however when a new friend was introduced into the group she had a new meaning for the word. How she used it was that whenever anyone said arse, it meant that they had spotted a tight perky look worthy specimen of arse and that we should all look at it. Quite a different meaning from the original one of misfortune. As you may be able to guess the transition of arse from one of denoting misfortune to one of site to behold, was a very quick one, and one that expanded out beyond the core group of friends to that of associates and acquaintances and occasionally hangers on. It is also interesting to note that this new usage, while continued for a couple of years did eventually fall into disuse, actually the word arse itself also pretty much fell into disuse.. arr younglings so fickle.

Right then back to Wiccan Witch Wicca Witchcraft. When a person is first starting out or discovering this path of magic and paganism, they are bombarded with a variety of words, which at first glance denote the same thing.. namely wicca and witchcraft, but sometimes pagan and paganism, druid, etc etc, these seem at first glance to be the same, especially wicca and witchcraft, in fact some of the literature and books is quite misleading, i mean to say that guy Gardner who wrote the first book used both and it seemed that he was using them to denote the same thing, and now there are a whole bunch of these other books using the word wicca and witchcraft, and when i surf onto the internet and go onto pagan message boards, or text achieves, often the wiccan and witchcraft stuff is on the same page. (Go use the Google oracle and find out) And given that my friends do not react with such disbelief when i say wiccan, as to when i say witch so i am going to be using the word wicca Are you getting a picture here.. you should be.. in fact i bet many of you older pagans out there have memories of similar instances, where they used the word interchangeably partly because you didn’t know any better and partly because you were still figuring it out, and partly because it was the most common word in use of the day...

See now i believe that the main reason that i always referred to myself as a witch, was because way back when i first started out, i very quickly became unimpressed with those that referred to themselves as wiccan, and many of the books that were available in New Zealand were lacking something and because i felt this magical path as being something much more serious than those oddly dressed, bawdy uninformed non thinking wiccans over there i would be a Witch thank you very much, and that would be Witch with a capital.. recently i have attached priestess to that title but that is a whole nother story

But after a while i did settle on the title of witch and have never really changed it.. eventually i came to the understanding that wiccans were part of a tradition of some sort, and witch’s where solitary , along the way i can remember understanding it wiccan as a religion and witchcraft as a practice, also that Wicca was the religion that all Witches practiced..a lower case w referred to historical witches, and a Capital W referred to Modern.. and several variation on those ideas, understandings and terms.. all very complicated, and it did take some years to understand, to feel the difference and to be comfortable in how i labelled myself.

Now there really is the curx of it all, labelling yourself because not only is Modern Paganism a religion and spirituality of assent, it is also one of self labelling. And given that there is no central authority, liturgy, governance or papal throne, you can pretty much label yourself anything you want moonbeam starflower. *cough* As an aside to this the understanding of the labels have also changed over the last 60 years or so. This was pointed out to me by a good friend Grail For at first you called yourself a witch and then went and joined a coven, and studied hard, (i guess you could add here became wiccan) now days you did not call yourself a witch or wiccan until you have joined your coven or studied for at least several years.. it is reversed, people scoff at others who have deemed themselves wiccan or witches but are only just starting out and i wonder if its cause is because of the turn away from groups and the emphasis on the individual.. but alas that is also whole nother story.

Back to this self labelling.. often the label that you start of with changes and grown as your understanding of your magical path also grows, deepens, and changes. Some may start of as referring themselves as wiccan, and then a few years down the track they opt for pagan, as they are no longer practicing as much or no longer feel the calling they once did. Others change and add titles and labels priest, priestess, high priestess,
Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Traditional Wiccan, hedgewitch, urbanwitch, traditionalisy, cabalists.. gosh they are quite endless as well as the many woven paths that are available to a magic worker or spiritual explorer.. or plan old pagan. Some even come to the conclusion that it is not the label that is important but how one lives one s life. Although a label can help in finding information, books and heading in the direction that you are called to head in.

In practical terms, and what this post is all about, when a newby arrived on your blog or message board, and uses the word wiccan, and you have decided that to you a wiccan is a tradition and that you must be initiated etc etc or however you use the word.. do not jump down their throat about it, can come across with the almightily authority on high, cause it is your way and only your way is correct, because as mentioned before “YOUR DOING IT WRONG” and you end up doing a couple of things, 1. Looking like a completely close-minded egotistical bigoted idiotic prat.. CEBIT.. and 2. You will end up not just sending the original enquirer fleeing for the hills, but a bunch of other people like me who have been around for a while, know what they know and are happy for the most part to share that, and also know that what they know might not be knowing for others. And frankly having someone else shove their interpretation of what every word down your throat is really off putting. There are better ways of dealing with this.

So ask yourself, is the original enquirer asking a honest question, but have used terminology that you do not agree with? So perhaps they have come up said the dredded i’m a solitary wiccan, and i wanted to know if i can include roman pantheon in my daily devotions? Quite often these questions are short and lacking on context but still there is no reason to flay them alive, instead it would be more useful to engage them in further discussion with the added bonus of non judgemental information about the roman pantheon, not to tromp over this persons beliefs with your big cauldron of goo.. the phrase, ‘how i see it’ or in my opinion, or variations on that would be much more likely to be read, by your original poster, and others who also come along and who knows it might even spark an interesting tread about the original topic that has now morphed into a deeper discussion or into a completely different discussion.

So remember folks There is no central authority, liturgy, governance, or papal authority within Modern Paganism, this means that everyone has the right to believe whatever it is that they believe even if we do not believe it. And starting out a conversation with “YOUR DOING IT WRONG” or shouldn’t and should, will get you nowhere and just make you look stupid.

And finally, if it speaks to you, if what you are doing, what you believe and what you practice speaks to you in the centre of your heart, and makes it sing, you are so doing it right, no matter what anyone else says.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

it was a busy day today and all with the making magic, interspersed with visits from [info]fallaras and The Aunt *grins* who dropped off some wooden rounds from when i was up at mums place last weekend..

it was a lovely day so i set up outside.

Incense making step one

so while [info]tatjna sewed i burnt Stuff to make sure that it smelled 1/ smelt nice, one in that.. ewie ewie get that stench away from me, and 2/ that it smelled like the element i was working with. please not the cups of tea.. always important for the tea fuelled witch when making magic. *grins*

Insense making step 2

i quiet like that there is a bubble in the middle of my teacup.. (not that you can see it.. *ponders why) but there is a cup of tea in this picture and the one above.. you might just have to take my word for it..teheh

so first up was Fire Elemental Incense.. which was just as well at it turned out that Tommy reacted to one of the ingredients, it could of been the juniper,, or umm..Frankincense.. but hey, i always put what is in said incenses just in case people have these types of reactions..

Fire elemental Incense

this one contains, bay, juniper, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, frankincense and red ceder (all the way from canadia via this nice lady the Forest Witch) nom nom..

Second Up Air Elemental Incense
Air Elemental Incense

this one contains Lavender, Lemon Grass, Star Anise, Dammar (and lucky find at the health food store, i might have to go and purchase the rest that they have) and Benzoin..

third to be pounded into submision err made with the duitiful respect required... Earth Elemental Incense

Earth Elemental Incense

now this one contains some hard to get ingredents, if you live in New Zealand.. and they are patchouli leaves, (and they smell divine nom nom, i am such a hippy) manuka leaves, Vervain, and the last of the Amber that i got in Brisbane.. eek not to worry i have some other amber honey amber, but alas not very much.

then next was Water Elemental Incense,

Water Elemental Incense

this one contains myrrh, thyme, rose, sandlewood, and hyssop

see Water Elemental incense was quite challenging, cause really i can see fire, earth, and air, but water.. not so much, however when you change your thought pattern, as aim it at the fact that the aim of this incense is to call in the energetic energies of water...(not sure if energetic is the right word.) then it becomes much easier.. of course then you have to run back and smell the other incense's that you have made just to make sure that they have the same signature.. so to speak... quite complicated in a way but also instinctual in others...hmmm.. but still much fun and astheically pleasing.. look how pretty the different mixes came out.. yay...

and finally Wisdom Bath Salts (i got the idea for these from Ms Sarah Lawless of the Forest Grove.. and will be making other bath salts, maybe tomorrow, i hope that she doesn't mind. *beams*)

Wisdom Bath Salts

so this contains salt, of three different types.. epsom, sea, and Himalayan as well as culinary sage, white sage (another difficult plant to get here in NZ) and rose buds. i thought that i had muslin to make little bags to go with this but alas,, the weave is to large.. opps...

so there you go.. all with the crafting and witching.. yay..

jars in a row

also that last jar, the big one contains smudge incense, something i have been making for years.. the recipe came from one of my first teachers, Morgan, way back in the day.. i have added to it, but it is essentially culinary sage, lavender, basil, and rose petals, and i do not have a picture of that in my mortar as i made it on thrusday nite, and didn't think to take one.. doh...

and soon these lovely incense and other stuff will end up on my etsy store, but i still have to figure out postage, and packaging.. oh and prices.. and to start with they will only be avaiable with in New Zealand, however if it happens that i get quite a bit of overseas interest we can always make changes.. but still sending loose herbs overseas.. could be a customs issues.. *ponders this*..

right now to figure out what to wear out this eve.. *ponders this to*

*Twirls around*..

(cross posed to my LJ)

Friday, April 9, 2010

crafting, burning, creating, sewing and cups of tea

this weekend, i plan on creating some incense recipes, some non combustible incenses, as well as sewing up some tarot cloths, altar cloths and little muslin bags for the bath salts i will also be creating. it is going to be a weekend of crafting and drinking tea.

you see i have this plan, here in Wellington there is a possibility of night markets opening up next spring which will be some six months away, and i plan on having a stall at these markets to sell witch's crafts. Urban Witchery is the name these crafts will be going by, because not only do i want to make various magical products i also have an urge to explore this concept of Urban Witchery. Urban Witchery in a similar sense of Hedgewitching & Hedgecrossing, however i am an urban Witch who lives in a large, by New Zealand standards city, the capital in fact.

so to start the ball rolling, so to speak i am going to be spending the weekend creating incense mixes, herbal bath salts, bath bombs, (i'm a huge bath fan) and bath milk powder. as well as sewing up a storm of altar cloths, tarot wraps, rune bags and the like. of course hopefully by the end of the weekend there will be pictures of what i have created. sounds like fun yeah?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Podcasts, the new black..

Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podcast Review.

Well i am currently yup to episode 4, and i have to say that it is going to be one of those podcasts that i recommend to my students, friends, and anyone who will listen. Why because it is one of those food for thought type podcasts. And yes it is a pagan podcast, but it is for the thinking pagan, good for those who are beyond pagan 101 of any flavour, there is theology, thinking, philosophy, more thinking, hedge witchery thinking, bardic songs and poems, and thinking.. did I mention the thinking and great food for thought!

Standing Stone and Garden Gate, hosted by Brendon Myers and Juniper, both Canadian with the cutest accents, and lovely to listen to which is always important when listening to podcasts.

The podcast has several sections all of which i was pleasantly surprised by. To start with there is a short introduction that includes what incense they are using that day what it is made from and how it is used. There is usually a discussion on what they are drinking, which so far has been wine, and mead, although I am confident that they will be drinking tea at some soon enough. During this there is also random discussion which is feels very welcoming, as though you are sitting there with them enjoying a nice cuppa tea and listening in. (although I have found myself joining in the conversation once or twice, to the amusement of my office mates)

There is also a bardic section, a section on philosophy called Standing Stone that is reminiscent of Deo’s Shadow podcast, philosophical sections and just lovely, I may of have mentioned before great food for thought.

I have to admit when i listen to the first episode i was concerned about the Rants Raves and Reviews, section as i was dreading that it was going to be more bitching about those disliked in the pagan community, however i was pleasantly surprised because this section was again more food for thought, and the first rant was about gossip. Juniper and Brendon instead of spreading gossip or bitching about the pagans, instead there was a thoughtful discussion about the harm and help that gossip can cause. With the second rant about pagan elders and pagan leaders, again excellent food for thought.

Juniper has a section called garden gate, where she looks at the more practical aspects of witching, and magic. I really enjoyed episode one with the discussion on house blessing, she gave a really interesting view on house energy, cleansing and blessing.. do I need to say it again.. really good food for thought..

There is also a fourm which I have not yet explored but will be doing so momentarily. Whee!

I am very excited about listening to the remaining episodes that I have down loaded and might be impatiently waiting for the next one to be produced. This podcast i recommend, and give it a 5 tea cup rating our of five tea cups.. *nods* it will defiantly be going on my list of recommended podcasts, Excellent Job Brendan, and Juniper *skips about*

And if you wanted to know below is my list of recommended good food for thought podcasts,

Druidcast (http://www.druidcast.libsyn.com/)

Elemental castings


Standing Stone and Garden Gate

The unnamed path,

Deo’s shadow (no longer in production)

Hedgefolk tails

All of these can be found on itunes, and all have their own website. Also it has been suggested by one podcaster, thorn from elemental castings, that it would be respectful if everyone paid $1 for each podcast that they downloaded. Even though these are free to down load, the podcasters themselves still have to pay costs for hosting, and their websites, not to mention recording equipment. and a$1 per episode is quite the bargin, cause many of them will for me become a part of my library*nods*..