Witch

When you think of the word “witch” what is your first thought?

Is it of the ugly old woman with the tall black hat flying on a broomstick with black cat?

Is it of the green faced villain from the Wizard of Oz?

Is it of a boiling cauldron and the three hags dropping strange ingredients into it?

If you said “yes” to any of these, then you have been influenced by the popular stereotypes that have been perpetuated for the last 500 years or so. Those tall black hats, black cats, cauldrons and brooms were all once used by female beer makers but were used against them when men wanted to take over the brewing of beer. The church took those icons and turned them into images of “witchcraft” which in turned were used to kill millions of innocent people all over Europe and North America.

Today, most people think that witches and witchcraft are just metaphysical hocus pocus practiced by new agers. That’s fine, most people can think that all they want, I actually would prefer it if they did. Those of us who call ourselves witches and practice witchcraft, know there’s more to it then that.

I am a witch. I practice witchcraft. I don’t have a black hat but I do have a black cat, cauldron, and a broom. No, I don’t “fly” on my broom but I do use it to clean my sacred space. My cauldron is used to “brew” my magic.

But back to the question, what is a witch?

Simply put, a witch is a practitioner of witchcraft. A witch can be male, female, or somewhere in between. They can dress however they want, use whatever tools they want, work any kind of magic they want.

Witches are still considered to be on the fringes of society. What they do is still not fully understood by society. They are fear and revered in societies across the world. The age of the internet has been good for witches as they can get more business for their talents from anywhere in the world.

Check out this video about witches in Romania:

Are Witches Pagan?

Some are but you don’t have to be. You can be Christian, Muslim, or Atheist, and still be a witch. There are all sorts of different ways to practice witchcraft and you can use any belief system to do it. The only thing you need is an intention and understanding of sympathetic magic.

Witchcraft

The most delicious part about being a witch, is your ability to create spells to manifest your desires. There’s all sorts of ways to create spells, rituals, potions, charms, and other objects of power. Anything you want, you can create, you need only put in the effort. Keep in mind, that magic is a tricky thing and if you are not clear in your mind about what you want, the magic might bring you something you weren’t exactly expecting.

There’s a warning with witchcraft though, whatever you decided to manifest, will come back to you. In Wicca, they call this the threefold law, which states that any action you take in the name of witchcraft will come back to you threefold. This is a good way for witches to think about what they do before they do it.

I can admit that there have been times when I have either wanted to use magic as a way to get vengeance and then there are the times in which I have. You see, I don’t get mad, I get even and using magic as a means to do this is not healthy and kind of detrimental to your good health. Not only will you eventually feel bad for what you have done but you may inadvertently create similar harm to yourself.

I once had a friend who was wildly out of control. She was lying, stealing, and cheating and causing all sorts of mayhem in her path. I created a binding spell to help prevent her from doing any further to herself or others. It worked but it managed to destroy our friendship. She never knew that I did this to her but I did and that was enough. I was young and didn’t understand mental illness or how it works on the brain and thus, I didn’t know that really all she needed was to talk with someone and get the right medication to help her. This is a spell that I deeply regret as I have seen the cascading effects of the spell. There’s no way for me to undo it either without stacking the effects, believe me, I have tried.

The moral of this story is, think before you cast. Speak with your deities, converse with trusted members of your coven, or talk with non-practising friends and family about practical non-magical options. I would advise that anyone who practices witchcraft and calls themselves a witch to always seek the non-magical methods of problem solving first. If you must add magic, use supportive magic on yourself and not others unless asked to do so. Never perform magical on a non-consenting individual, including pets. As much as you may want to hex Trump right now, hold off, you have no idea what you might bring about in the process.

Normally, I would never discuss my past uses of magic but in the spirit of education, I will share some of my stories on this blog. I keep most of my spell work recorded in my Book of Secrets. I will share a little how-to on keeping a Book of Secrets, or otherwise known as a Book of Shadows or a Grimoire, in a follow up post.

If you have any topics that you would like me to share, please comment and let me know.

Blessed be,

Priestess Spiritsong

My Take on the Wheel of the Year

I love the wheel of the year. I think it is the most profound connection I have to our planet. I have been researching it for years from not only a spiritual level but also a historical one. The Wheel of the Year follows closely with the older farming traditions of our ancestors. The way we would plan our year would fall dependant on the seasonal changes. Even in this age of climate change, it’s important to keep these seasonal changes in mind when making any plans for our crops. These crops might be physical ones or fiscal ones, either way, it’s important to keep track of what needs to be done.

As for the spiritual side of the Wheel of the Year, it’s important to feel the connection to the difference seasonal changes and how they relate to the season of your life. The year falls similar to your own life span, from the youth of spring, to the maturity of summer, to the golden years of autumn, and the final years in the winter of your life. We can celebrate the birth, life, and death of the year by following the Wheel of the Year.

The Wheel of the year is broken up into two sections of four, making eight in total. The solstices & equinoxes are Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon. The cross quarters are Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.

Yule – December 21-22

For me, I start the year off at Yule, or the Winter Solstice. Mostly because that’s the start of when the sun begins its return and longer days ahead. I think of it as a time of rebirth and renewal.

The six weeks that follow are a time to begin preparing for the following year’s growing cycle. So this growth can either be spiritual or developmental. In ancient times, this would be the time of the year when farmers would start getting their plans for the crops in order. They would decide what foods they would want to cultivate and which fields would be tended to.

Since we are not a completely agrarian society anymore, we don’t really have need of this kind of planning. So, instead, we need to prepare for a self cultivation cycle. This is the best time of the year to take on a new project and start planning on what you will do to make it grow. This can be anything from writing a novel to making plans to become more healthy. This is why many people take on a new year’s resolution.

I celebrate Yule with a mix of Christmas traditions and also welcoming the Sun’s return to the Earth. I cannot fully escape Christmas in my country so I would rather work with it, then against it. After all, they celebrate the birth of a “sun” king too! However, I also bring Sol and Skadi into my practice. Sol for the sun and Skadi for the blessings of winter. I actually love winter and snow. I like to decorate my home with images of stars, trees, deer, and the colors of red, gold, silver, and green. I burn candles all winter to help with bringing coziness to my home.

Imbolc – February 1

Imbolc has always been a challenging time of the year for me. It’s that time of the year where winter is still very much here but you can feel spring hanging at the edges. This year, our Imbolc was very much on the winter side of the year. It took a long time for the signs of spring to start showing up. Normally by February first, the snow is gone. This year, the snow didn’t leave until just before the Equinox.

Typically, I would celebrate with lighting candles and inviting warmth to return to my life. Imbolc marks the time of the year when the lambs are dropping and beginning to nurse. In a sense, this would be the time of the year when you would finish up your planning and start the work for the year. Farmers would begin setting aside the seeds they want to ready for spring and caring for the newborns in the barn.

For my rituals, I tend to bring honor to the Gods as they prepare the way for spring to come. I like to do magic that involve rekindling inspiration and creativity. It’s also a good time to burn away anything that no longer serves you.

Ostara – March 21-22

That brings us to Ostara and the Spring equinox. This is the one of the two points in the year where the light and darkness are in perfect balance. This time of the year marks the point when daylight starts becoming longer than night time. This would be the point in the year when farmers would start clearing the fields and start some seeds that will eventually be transplanted into their fields or gardens. This is when the livestock would be let out of the barns to start feeding on the new grass growing.

For my practice, this is the time of year when I seek balance with myself. Having come out of the darkness of winter, I am ready to start being outside again. This is when I start cleaning up my yard from winter. It’s also the time of the year when I access my work and plans for the year. It’s a time in which I clear away the debris from the previous year and start anew.

To celebrate, I normally like to praise the Gods for their new life and work divination magic. THis is a good time to find out what advise the Gods have for you are your projects start picking up speed.

Beltane – May 1

Beltane marks a time for fertility. This is when farmers would begin planting their seeds in the Earth. This also marks the start of summer and the warmest time of the year. It’s also a time of year when lovers start marking their feelings more apparent. In my case, it’s the make or break time of year. It’s when I decided if my partner will be the father of my children. So far, I have not found someone who would fit that case for me. All of my major break ups in my life have taken place between May and June. I don’t think it’s any surprise that my latest break up also took place during this time.

Speaking of fertility, I have been researching the male fertility cycle. This cycle is yearly rather than monthly like the female’s cycle is. In the times between April and June, men’s testosterone cycle is at it’s lowest point. This is the time of the year when their hormones are more devoted to wooing a partner and securing them. This is why love seems to be in the air during late spring and early summer. The fall is the peak of the male cycle, which is why you start to see male driven ads for trucks and sports cars during the fall. It’s also the start of major male sports like Football and Hockey start at the beginning of the fall and end in May.

There’s a ton of creative energy that comes with Beltane. If you were working on a project that you started at Yule, this would be a time of year to start making a real dent in those projects. Or this is a good time to make your dedications of love and romance to your partner. If you were going to propose, this is an excellent time to do it.

The ritual work I like to do at this time depends on if I have a partner or not. If I do, then I like to bring together the sexual union of the Goddess and God as they bring fertility back to the Earth. If I do not have a partner or one who is not pagan, then I will do a symbolic fertility union involving the actual earth and planting seeds.

A fun spell to do during this time is to burn away any old dead leaves, grass, twigs and use their ashes to bring life back to the earth. You can also take objects that are safe to burn such as paper and write down your wishes that you would like to see brought to life.

 

Litha – June 21-22

The Summer Solstice, or Litha, is the point in time when the sun is at its peak. This is the longest day of the year and it marks the return of darkness to the world. The days from this point start being shorter and the nights longer. It’s also marks the start to the hottest time of the year for the Northern hemisphere. This is the halfway point of our year of cultivation. This is when we would be working hard in the fields to keep them free of pests and weeds. We also need to make sure that our gardens and fields get the water that they need. In our life, this is the time of the year when the real work is getting done.

I tend to celebrate the solstice by having a fire and barbeque. This is a great time of the year to feast and celebrate all of your accomplishments so far. It’s also a great time to put forth your energy to the second half of the year.

I like to use Litha as a time to rededicate myself to my practice. I spend time with the Gods in meditation and celebration round the fire. I will do concentration of my tools during this time. I like to use the energy of the sun to fuel my passions so that I can continue to work on them until Yule.

Lughnasadh – August 1

Lughnasadh is also known as Lammas, the bread harvest. This is the very first of the three major harvest festivals in the Wheel of the year. This is when you should start to see the fruits of your labour being brought forth. In ancient times, this is when the wheat and other grains would be harvested from the fields and stored away for winter.

I like to celebrate this time of the year with eating vegetables from the garden and celebrating the hard work that has been done so far. Typically, I will serve bread that I have baked along with the bounty from the garden. If I did not have a good harvest, I will source out the produce from my local farmer’s market instead.

This isn’t a time to rest though, there’s still more harvest to come and winter to prepare for. The days are shorter now and there’s a sense that there’s not enough time to prepare. If you have been working on a project, think of this time as a point on reflecting on your sacrifices so far and what you will still need to do to complete your work.

Mabon – September 21-22

This is the second of the three harvest festivals. This is when the apples and other tree fruits and nuts are ready for harvest. It’s also when the grapes come off the vines and the crush begins for the following year’s wine.

If you have been working on a project, you should be able to see the ending of it coming into sight now. There is still more work to be done but you will start to get the feeling that you are almost done.

This is also the second of the two equinoxes. This time, the days become shorter and shorter. The darkness has returned and the leaves will start to fall from the trees. This signals the beginning of the death of world before winter settles in.

I celebrate this time of the year with a feast of the bounty of the season. There’s lots of apples, nuts, and squashes. I will have a feast of either my own food or food from the local markets. To me, Mabon is my favorite of the Sabbats. The Okanagan valley is perfect for apples and grapes and we have orchards and wineries abound. So I will also serve wine and apples with my Sabbat feasts to celebrate my local spirits.

The magic I work at this time of the year is all about storing away energy for winter. For bringing protection to family, friends, and pets so that their winter is sustainable.

Samhain – Oct 31- Nov 1

This end of the year and the third and final harvest festival. Samhain is also known as the blood harvest because this is the time of the year when the livestock that won’t survive the winter is killed and saved for winter. This is also when all the other crops of the year should be saved and stowed away. All of your summer canning should be put away for use in the winter and your wine racked off and bottled.

This is also the time of the year when you reconnect with your lost loved ones by cleaning their graves or taking some time to remember them. They have lessons to teach you about their lives and they need to be celebrated and remembered.

If you have been working on a project, this is the time of the year when you would be finishing up. You can start enjoying the fruits of your labours now. I like to celebrate this time of the year with a feast of all the bounty from the fall harvest. I also like to make soups and grill up root vegetables. I tend to relax this time of the year and enjoy walks in the crisp fall air and hearing the crunch of leaves as I sip on my pumpkin spice latte.

This is also the time of the year when many other cultures celebrate their ancestors and their dead. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is likely the biggest celebration of the year. It’s common to have a giant feast for the dead and take time to visit the graves to let them know that you honor and remember them. I have often gone to my local grave yard on Samhain to help clean up grave sites and give gifts of incense.

This bring us back to Yule and the start of a new year!

I would love to hear what you do to celebrate your Wheel of the Year or if you have other traditions that you celebrate.

Blessed Be!

Priestess Spiritsong

Invoking vs Evoking

A question came up on a previous article I posted asking, “Why do you invoke the gods?”. This is somewhat a double sided question. On one hand, the question is asking what the purpose in invoking the gods and on the other hand, the question is asking why would someone want to invoke the gods.

To answer the first question on why do you invoke the gods in ritual. Simply put, you invoke the gods to gain greater insight and understanding for your practice. By invoking the gods, you are allowing them to be pulled down into your being and have them to speak through you. This is not to be confused with evoking the gods, which is to call upon them and asking for their support and guidance.

The ritual format I described in the previous article about Beginner Rituals, was the order of events and didn’t really give a good description as why the acts are done and how you can do them. The purpose of that article was to get you thinking about ritual structure and ways that you can make up your own. If you are new to pagan ritual practice, I do not recommend that you invoke the gods to start with, instead, I recommend that evoke them. This will bring their attention to you without having them come down into you. The longer your practice with your chosen gods, the better your relationship will be with them. Once you feel ready to invoke your gods, then ask them for their permission.

I have updated my previous article in order to give a better idea on how to go about these two different styles of ritual. For further reference on invoking, I recommend that you check out the Drawing Down the Moon ritual.

For the second question as to why you would choose to invoke a god into you, that would actually be up to you to decide. I highly recommend that you have a purpose for it. If you are in a coven, you may have one or two members of the coven invoke gods to ask them questions, seek direct guidance, learn new stories, or spells to proceed with. I sometimes invoke my matron Goddesses or patron Gods to just sit with them within me and ask them if there is any work they would have me do and allow them to work within me until their task is completed.

I will say that it has taken me almost twenty years of practice to gain this much understanding with them. I don’t tend to invoke beings that I have not worked with, I find their energy is hard to understand and they cannot stay within me long. In which case, I will choose to evoke them instead. In which case, I call upon their guidance to help me move my own energy into the ritual.

Building a relationship with a deity or spiritual being is time consuming and requires dedication. I have spent the recent full moon cycle working with my matron goddesses in order to build a stronger relationship with them. I hope to upload a version of this practice that you can purchase to use in your own practice. Keep an eye out for a post about this soon!

Blessed Be!

Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver

Beginner Rituals

Rituals provide a template to guide our emotions and actions according to situations. Thereby, they bring a sense of familiarity and order in our life. The purpose of a pagan ritual is to bring our focus to effect personal and environmental change, particularly changes in consciousness.

Ritual: a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.

Rituals provide a template to guide our emotions and actions according to situations. Thereby, they bring a sense of familiarity and order in our life. The purpose of a pagan ritual is to bring our focus to effect personal and environmental change, particularly changes in consciousness.

Wiccan rituals have one of the simplest ritual formats you will find. Each step is clearly marked out and has a purpose. My former teacher used to describe holding ritual like throwing a fancy party for some distinguished guests.

First, you clean your house:

Clear the space of negative energy
Cleanse the ritual tools

Then you decorate:

Create a sacred circle
Set up the altar

Make sure you have security for your guests:

Summon the elemental protectors

Be sure to send out the invitations to your guests:

Evoke the Gods if you want to have their support for your ritual. If you want to draw the Gods into you, then you Invoke them. For for information read my post about Invoking vs Evoking.

Oh, your guests are hungry when they arrive, better thank them for coming and feed them:

Give thanks to the Gods
Give offerings

Now, time for the entertainment:

Perform magic or other work

Party is over, better say goodbye to your guests:

Say farewell to the Gods

Pay the security team and thank them for their help:

Give offerings to and release the elemental guardians

Lock up the house till next time:

Open the circle and release the energy

Once you have the basic format of a ritual, you can improvise and alter it as much as you like.

If you have any ritual formats that you would like to share or have a blog post about yours, I would love to read them. Please post them in the comments.

~Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver

Witchcraft & Magic

Witchcraft is the practice of working magic in your life. Whether you are working internal magic to effect external change or external magic to effect internal change.

Now, this is not your Harry Potter kind of magic, although, it would be cool if it worked like that. The kind of magic we work in witchcraft is sympathetic magic also known as imitative magi. It is a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence. It is ritual using objects or actions resembling or symbolically associated with the event or person over which influence is sought.

I want to make one thing very clear, not all those who practice witchcraft are pagan and not all pagans practice witchcraft. In fact, you can go your entire pagan life, never once casting a single circle or weaving a spell.

Spellcraft and ritual magic are very much the passion of some pagans and non-pagans alike. I have been more on the side of the lifestyle pagan most of my life but I have learned the ways of witchcraft and I do practice. To me, witchcraft is more of the act of using tools to help me focus my energy so that I can make changes in my life and the world around me. I have made some of the most significant changes in my life with the use of ritual and witchcraft.

Yes, I do call myself a Witch along with the title of Priestess and they are not mutually exclusive. The High Priestess in a Wiccan coven is often the most experienced witch in the group. I don’t use the title “High Priestess” because in my coven’s tradition, we don’t have ranks. Each member of the coven is a Priestess or Priest in their own right as they embody the spirit of what it means to be priestly. Each of us is able to call circle, invoke the elements, and summon the gods. Sometimes, that is all one needs to do in a ritual and if they want, they can use that time in circle when the energies are raised, do a little witchcraft and work little magic.

Here’s an example of a little magic you can work in your life at anytime, I call my “Sparkler Spell”.

Sparkler Spell

You will need the following item:

1 – Dollar Store pack of Sparklers
1 – Lighter or match

To perform this spell, take one of the Sparklers and hold it in your hand. Imagine all the negative thoughts, feelings, or aspects of your life that want to get rid of. Imagine them infusing into the shaft of the magnesium on the Sparkler.

Then light the Sparkler and say, “May all my negativity be burned away and replaced with light!”

Repeat as necessary, or just light more for fun!

Blessed Be!

~ Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver

What is a pagan?

There seems to be this idea out there that people who live a pagan lifestyle have to be wizards and witches in funny hats and fly around on brooms and dance around the fire in the moonlight. Okay, yes, for some pagans, that is exactly what they do. For me and others of a more quiet pagan path, we try to live it everyday in some form or another.

In some Wiccan traditions, you would only practice your craft during full moons and the solars festivals but you don’t have to wait. Pagans aren’t set to a dogma that makes them attend church one day a week or pray every morning at sunrise and sunset. Pagans actually have there freedom to follow their own path. There’s no big secret to taking your pagan practice into an everyday life, it’s really up to you and how you want to practice.

There is only one rules to pagan practice and it’s that there are no rules. So then, what do I mean when I say pagan practice if there is no rules to it? To practice your pagan path is to make a conscious acknowledgement that you want to have a deeper connection with nature and the world around you. The word “pagan” comes from the Latin word “paganus”, meaning from the countryside or of the land. It was brought back into use around the renaissance age to describe a people who do not follow Christ. In a sense it became the common term to describe people who work with the land and spirits of the earth in their daily life. In our more open minded and modern age, we use it to label people have returned to following the ways of our ancient ancestors in regards to nature worship.

What exactly does a modern pagan do? Quite simply, we follow the changes of the seasons or the phases of the moon and seek guidance from the spirits who preside over those changes to help us in our journey. For some, they seek changes using witchcraft means and others use shamanic techniques to seek guidance. Others simply following the solar festivals to help guide them through life by using the lessons of the changing seasons. I, of course, am making it overly simple but I will go into more details about these at a later date, this is really just an intro for new people on the pagan path.

There are a great number of different pagan paths you can walk with their own set traditions, some of the more popular are: Druid, Wiccan, and Heathen. These are all European in origin and for those of us living most of our lives in North America, it’s hard to understand how these paths even relate to us. However, if you start to follow the Wheel of the Year and you live in an area with the four seasons, then you can see how they can work in North America. However, if you live in an area that is basically warm all year, it makes it harder. I do not have this experience since I live in a four seasons area of Canada. The Okanagan has a similar climate to many places in Europe and as such, I am able to follow the Wheel of the Year.

I am not part of any single pagan path, I have a mixture of pagan practices. In my coven, we pull from Wiccan, Druid, and Heathen for our influences. I would call us eclectic pagans and we practice a form of hedgewitchery.

If you are looking to start walking a pagan path, my very first suggestion for you would be to pick up a notebook and start recording your thoughts, feelings, and observations about nature. Some pagans call their notebooks their Book of Shadows or their Grimoire. This is the place where they keep all their spell work, their dream records, and any of their experiences with their pagan path. I have had many different Books of Shadows since I started my pagan path 19 years ago. The one I currently use is one that I made myself and it’s very me. I will do a future post about my Book of Shadows so that you can see it and how I work with it.

There is a certain amount of personal study involved in being pagan as it’s a very self exploration path as well as observational about your natural world.

Blessed Be~

Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver