Dropping Pennies on the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice has passed and as I edit this blog post, it is almost New Years Eve.  I have spent the last several days cleaning my house and baking.  You see this year for the Summer Solstice I had several magical realisations, several penning dropping moments.  I have spent these liminal days between Christmas and New Years quietly thinking about this new understanding while also cleaning my house, and Baking.  Today it is Ginger Gake.. but I digress, sort of.

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These magical realisation and or breakthrough moments generally happen over a period of time.  Sometimes it is several days and sometimes it is several months, it can in some cases even take years.    I like to think of these moments as series of puzzle pieces, of related things that I have flagged as important and to take note of.  I have over the years become much better at spotting when they happen.  Sometimes water just wet.. but other times water is a magical puzzle piece, and learning to tell the difference can be a bit trial and error when you first start out.

This time the puzzle pieces came in the form of, a Tarot orientated blog, which in an of its self is unusual for me, two podcasts, a Tarot documentary and an episode of Librarians.  The galvanising and linking  of these magical puzzle pieces where helped along with some liberal applications of Sarah Lawless‘s Sabbat, and Mandrake Ointment and cups of tea with a good friend

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This galvanising and linking was both magical and psychological and also not.  Magic and psychology are so intertwined and also vastly separate, that it can be very difficult to put into words, let alone figure out which is, which.   Some Modern Pagan and Magical practices and traditions come from a occult magic foundation, and others come from magic is  psychosocial  foundation.  For me the magical work that I do now comes from a more magical foundation and this in turn facilitates? the psychological bits.

It has not always been this way for me, I stared my magical path and journey reading predominantly Goddess and Feminist Books as that was what was available and it was when it was common to understand magic as a psychological phenomenon.. rather than an occult magical phenomenon. But the deeper you go down the rabbit hole the more the magic is real and both separate but intertwined with the psychological.  I suspect it is different for everyone, as to my mind. it depends on how your world view is wired.  But I digress somewhat.

Did I mention that I have been cleaning my home and baking in that liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s.   And with a magical realisation, I have found is always followed by much work, but before that work can take place there needs to be a period of time to let the dust settle so to speak, which for me this year has been about baking and cleaning.

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The practice of magic, I believe should not just be in your head, or reading many wonderful books, it should also be about doing and about practice.  Preforming, and practicing those things that you have read about while also refining those practices that you have been reading about so that they have more meaning and connection for you.  Doing this adds a more and a very personal understanding the magic that you are doing and in turn can facilitate more magical realisations.  Kinda spirally really.

Let me put it another way.  You can read the recipe for the World’s Best Banana Cake however if you have not baked and/or eaten it you only have half the story and none of the experience, so your understanding of it will be lacking.  There are some very important things that you lean when you actually physically bake the World’s Best Banana Cake.  And sometimes these things are not written in the recipe.      Just as there are realisations when baking and eating the World’s best Banana cake,  so to  are there realisation when you are practicing your magic, which as I mentioned before so often looks nothing like what you have read about in magical books.  Your experience should and will be different from that of the person who has written the book.  Besides maybe you might not like banana cakes.   Instead, for you the World’s Best Banana Cake might be a Ginger one?

This comes with a warning however.  It can be all too easy to use the practice of magic to hide the fact that you are not actually doing anything, rather you are hiding from yourself.   This is both magical and the psychological work that goes hand in hand with magic and magical belief.   Too often we can hide in the obsession, with the next new book or the technical workings of the next Sabbat ritual or somebody who is wrong on the internet.  so we don’t actually do anything, or we get so caught up in preforming the ritual correctly that our focus is in the wrong place.  We do not open ourselves up to the possibilities of growth and change that comes with these revelations.

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For me this is where discernment and paying attention becomes key.  Many years ago when I was studying at University a professor called me into his office to discuss an essay I had written on Modern Pagan rituals that are now considered Christian rituals.  He happily gave me an A, but that A came with some of the best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to information and study.  Two questions he said are the best way to learn.  How can this be wrong, and how can this be right?  This took me from being a first year student who was all ‘Information is Amazing and Awsome” to a second year student who gained the ability to look further, question, discern, and gain deeper understanding about the subject that I was studying.

So for New Years I am going to leave you with a some excellent recommended reading, listening and watching.

Podcasts, Blogs, Documentaries and Librarians

Aidan Watcher Talismanic Jeweller and his blog 

Camelia Elias’ Taroflexions  

Podcast Rune Soup Podcast Gordon White Interviews Sarah Lawless

Podcast Being Boss with Carolyne Elliott

website with  good articles and insight. Carolyne and Camelias website.

The Librarians Season Two Episode Nine, which is not to difficult to find on line.

 

Squirrels are Real

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This last year when I travelled back to Canada to attend Kaleidoscope Gathering a Pagan festival near Ottawa, I got to spend some time hanging out with my friend Pamela and got to see more of the wild country.  It HUGE!! And awesome and I love it, bit I digress.   We spent a bit of time driving down country roads around many wonderful lakes and eating custard filled donuts at Timmies.  It was during this time that I got to see Deer eating apples in somebodies front yard, on our way to a Wolf Sanctuary, or it might have been the sight of Turkey Vultures circling above as we got out of the car, that I had the sudden realisation, that squirrels are real, along with a whole slew of other animals that are native to Canada like crows, toads, eagles, groundhogs, chipmunks, vultures and of course squirrels.  I have learnt about all of these animals via wildlife documentaries, books and wonderful teachers such as David Attenborough, and Jane Goodall as well as the various magical books where I have learnt about there more magical spiritual meanings.  

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But the realisation and understanding that these animals where real, and something more than pictures on cards or what I had watched on tv, was quite an interesting revelation.    These animals were real and whole and you could actually see them in the physical form going about their lives, in the wild and to a degree in the cities to.  Up until that moment I had believed that they were somehow not quite real, that they were something that was far away, almost fae like in a sense.  For me growing up I had only seen them as cheery picked scenes in a variety of nature programs, or they were animals behind bars who were captive breed rather than wild, and of course I had seen them beautifully illustrated pictures on cards or in natural science book but that had left be with a sense that they were somehow not real. 

Needless to say my mind was blown.  Along with this realisation that squirrels were indeed real, was a new understanding and realisation that Pagans in Canada have a very different relationship with the spirit and magic of the animals that lived amongst them. And the realisation that many of these animals are the ones that you read so often about in traditional witchcraft and magical books.  Crows, Hares, Eagles, Wolves, Toad (OMG I love Toads so wonderful *coughs*) the list goes one.  This in turn meant that omens, spirit and the magic of these animals, where proudly different in Canada from what I had experienced in New Zealand.  For one there was more of a chance of actually running into the physical animal, send by that animal spirit that you work with, rather than just seeing a picture or statue. 

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In New Zealand that kind of interaction with traditionally through of magical animals is difficult, and our relationships traditional magical animals, such as wolves, eagles and indeed Squirrels, becomes a lot more symbolic, and to a large degree a lot more distant.  We are less likely to run into any of them in physical form, in that sending you a message kind of way that I have read so much about in books and on internet forums. 

From my experience I have run into magical animal spirits, in the form of dreams, but more often than not via the trusty medium of TV programs, movies, pictures, the internet and statues.  This can make it difficult to decipher if these are messages you are reciving or just pictures, or the whim of the program director at the particular channel, which you happen to be watching.   It is not impossible, and it does work after a fashion.. But nothing like what I was experiencing driving down those country roads in Canada, on something call the mother rock. (Igneous rock covers a large part of countryside where my friend Pamela lived.)  

I was prepared for how different the land and its energy would feel, and to a degree for the change in the direction in sunwise as well as how the moon is upside down, but I was totally taken by surprise by the realisation that squirrels are real in Canada and not some ethereal idea or image, that in comparison feels removed.  

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What does this all mean I ask myself, a common question in my musings?   The experience I had with these Canada mammals and birds, was familiar but at the same time it was not.  It was a lot more intense, when they had messages I was a little in aww, and even when they didn`t I was still in aww and staring, maybe squeezing, much to the amusement of my Canadian friends.    And while on the one hand it was no more difficult to discern which messages were and which were not, it was more difficult, as I spent so much time being all excited that these wonderful animals were just running about,  or as with a chipmunk, trying to get on my lap.  All of it felt a little bit surreal. I was just as excited to see them as I was when I was getting a message from the spirit sense of them, which did I have to say make it a little more difficult at times, albeit pleasantly so. 

It is different now that I am back in New Zealand with the lack of traditional magical mammals physically running about as they do in Canada.  The realisation that Squirrels are very real along with wolves, otters, ospreys and toads is an important one, and one that has reshaped how I see the world.  

But how will that translate that now that I am back in little old New Zealand with its prominence of birds?  While we do not have eagles, wolves and those very real squirrels, we do have a complex system of birds.  David Attenborough noted in his series The Life of Birds that many of our birds have taken on the rolls that mammals would have in other countries..  Where in a folkloric type of way squirrels can be considered cheeky arseholes delivering gossip and messages in equal measure, here in New Zealand the Fantail fills a similar roll.  Although it is also different, as it would not be ok to just copy past meanings to Birds who take on a mammal type roll, after all a fantail is not a squirrel.  

But rather than relying on the animals that are traditionally written about in magical books, it is more about working and exploring with what we have locally.  And now that I am more familiar with the feelings and sensations from spending time in Canada with the traditionally magical animals, I can use that to be more aware of when it happens in here in New Zealand. 

Messages will still be received from those traditional mammals, such as squirrels, hares and ravens, as it is my heritage, but rather than in physical form they will be delivered in dreams and images, or indeed parcels that are received in the mail

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I now have a deeper understanding and experience so that I may with a bit more ease, translate the magicality? For the native flora and fauna here in New Zealand.   It will be a matter of experimenting, walking in the bush, and around my city, reading a lot about the habits of our native birds as well as revisiting the mythology and legends of Aotearoa.  Something I am quite looking forward to.   

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Bone Collecting

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Bone Collecting, so much nicer that saying I like dead things, sometimes without their skin.   but I digress a little.. Of late I have started to look at my wee bone collection and realise that I am a little bit of a bone collector, amongst all of the other things I do, like sewing modern tapestries of Ancient Gods and Magical Doorways.  It a Witch thing I am sure of it.  Samhain has just past here in New Zealand, so I figured that Bone collecting would be topical.  And it is time for me to begin awakening the newest bones to my collection, Albert the boar skull.

A few years back I obtained two English Leicester sheep skulls, from a friend who used to look after a flock of sheep for several months a year here in Wellington.  The woman who owned the flock was a spinner who grew her own sheep, and as happens on occasion some of the flock grown old or get sick and die.  There was a place in a small copse of pine trees where the bodies were left to return to the earth.  (Basically rot away)  My friend used to look after these sheep and knew where to find the good skulls and bones.

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Mrs Lester, the larger of the two skulls, was found with a very large and very scary bush spider in one of her eye sockets.  Luckily I have excellent hearing and could hear spider calling over that persistent squealing. .. … that might have been me.   *shudders* I might work with Grandmother Spider but I am not so fond of large scary looking bush spiders..

After carefully and politely thanking the spider for showing me which one, which involved quickly stepping away as she scuttled into the forest.. and then asked my friend who is less spider averse if she had gone yet.. Witchcraft not always as glamorous as you want it to be *coughs*

This was the beginning of my conscious bone collecting and learning of how you honour the spirit that once inhabited the skull and how you prepare it for a new spirit, entity energy, depending on what you are going to be doing with your new skull or bone.

I now have a growing collection of bones, skulls and animal skins that I have gotten to know and work with.  After Mrs Lester was taken to a Samhain ritual some years back she became the matriarch of my little bone tribe.  Lester junior was recently gifted to a fellow Witch to begin her bone collection.  And now it is time to start working on Albert the Boar skull I was given some years back by a fellow witch.

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Albert will become a part of my growing bone collection and a sacred housing for the spirit of Boar and all he brings with him.  For me personally it will begin a new understanding and insight of myself and where my path is leading.  He will be cleaned, scrubbed and painted with magical symbols to create a guide who will guide me into and through the spirit world, and other magical  places  And maybe he will be a mascot, a magical focal point, so to speak, as I take this next step with my art and turn it towards making a living.

But how did I come to this conclusion, and understanding? What is it that makes this skull an important part of my spiritual path and learning?  How do I know that it is not just a skull of a long dead pig?

Several things have led me to this understanding and they are difficult to explain and pinpoint.  I have read up on the spiritual and magical meaning of Bore’s via several books and card sets that I have.  I have used divination to ask questions about this skull and its meaning or path direction.  I have meditated and communed, and the biggest sign if will, is that it feels right, and that feeling of rignness  in regards to your spiritual work and path is impossible to feel.. but you know when you do.

Now as it is edging past the season of Samhain, we are well into the season of the dead.  Albert is languishing in a tub of water to soften the last remaining flesh that is still clung to the skull and hopefully near the winter solstice I will be able to remove the rest of it and he can degrease over the last of the winter.  And while this is happening I will also be working on the energy and magic of crafting him into a bone tribe member.  Like most things I have learnt with magic, oft times it is a long process and that process is just as important as the finished bit.

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According to the druid animal oracle Boar stands for warrior, leadership and direction which now that I am reading about it makes some strong sense.  As the seasons of autumn turns more fully into the winter, here in New Zealand, the ancestors are honoured and themes of introspection are becoming more prominent, I will be working with the energy and spirit of the boar.

I will put into action what I have learnt and hunker down to create and work on my art and business so that come this July after the winter solstice my exhibition will be and roaring success.

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The Autumnal Equinox

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The first of the winter storms

The Autumnal equinox is just around the corner  for us in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is the mid harvest festival on the Pagan seasonal wheel and this year for me, it is about Foundations. For I am starting a new business, one that I hope will grow into a strong creative path and living, but for that to happen I need to create strong foundations, both magically and physically and find the balanced between both.

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The Equinoxes are about Balance, but as I have learnt, it is not so much a static balance but more like fluidity of finding your balance.  Like the tilting and balancing of a tightrope walker when they cross from one side to the other. Summer here in the southern hemisphere is well over and we are now heading into the cold dark winter.  But before that can happen we must make preparations to store the things we have begun to harvest, if you will, so that we will survive the long winter.

For me the busy equinox energy as brought with it influx of creativity, that has been difficult to keep up with.  At first I wondered if it was spring fever, given that the energy was very busy and chaotic like.  And I have had two Lughnasadh’s in the last year, one in Canada at Kaleidoscope Gathering, and then one in New Zealand this past February. But as I began to create my new business, I realised that this was more of a foundational building energy rather than rising sap energy.  I have been designing and making fabric wall hangings, tapestries and banners for several years now and I have made a little bit of name for myself, but it was disjointed, and spread across several different social media sites under several different names.  So I have made plans to consolidate the various web sites and social media sites, which I have, to create a unified front, under one name.

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This is a time of high energy which is similar to that of the spring, except the spring symbolism is about planting seeds, whereas the autumn symbolism is about gathering up the new seeds and storing them for the winter.  In modern terms this is a time when we find ourselves very busy laying the groundwork for the coming winter and winter projects. Sales are about and food is brought, and plans made for those long winter nights.

Here in New Zealand it is tax season, which can add whole new dimension to the energy of the season, a bit of chaos and a bit of stress, as businesses take stock of their financial year and plan for the next.  This can be a good thing if you are stocking up as many businesses will be having stock taking sales.  However if we are not careful at this time of year, the busy chaotic energy can be quite overwhelming, and more so if you are setting up a new business.  So I am being careful not to get carried away on the chaotic energy.    Instead I have a plan in place to launch everything in July with an exhibition opening which will coincide with the coming of spring.

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Soon I will be welcoming back the Cailleach, she who brings the winter, and all of that busy chaotic energy will die away, as the season turns from harvest to death.  And hopefully I have built strong enough foundations and laid away enough for the coming winter.

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Lughnasadh Rituals

Its Lughnasadh here in New Zealand, the year is slowing turning from high summer to the beginnings of the autumnal season, and its raining.  The rain is a good thing as it has been a hot and dry summer, one of those summers where fires have been caused by idiots throwing their cigarette buts out the car window as they drive by, which while Lughnasadh is a ‘fire’ festival cigarette but fires are not really what it is about, but I digress..

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A Bank of Orange Autumn flowers growing wild near by where live

This year once again I am on the hunt for a new job as my fixed term contracted job has come to an end.  At the same time I am looking at expanding my business Urban Witchery,  and launch my new label Hang It All NZ, which if all going to plan, will be in six months.  So this means that while I am hunting for new work I will also be building my stock up, (read as doing a ton of designing and sewing)  so that I have a bunch of Wall Hangings ready to sell and a Bunch of New Zealand Themed Tapestries for Hang It All NZ as  I am hoping to have an exhibition in the middle of the year, as a part of launching that lable.   I might even get a few more blog posts written and posted about the place. Things are indeed very busy, not to dissimilar to harvesting, so aptly right for the season.

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Wall Hangings by Urban Witchery, a Stags head, Mr and Mrs Wednesday and a Boar

My Lughnasadh rituals this year involved physically cleaning and organising my fabric and studio (also my lounge) and cleansing my house.  As this was being done I was also setting the energy for the next few months, not sowing seeds as such, but more clearing away the chaff and removing a few of the overgrown weeds, so that I can use the last of the summer energy to bring bounty and blessiings into my house and home.  As I sorted out my various Wall Hanging designs, I made plans for the coming months.  As I tidied and folded my fabrics, I re-organised my days so that I could achieve balance, between looking for work, creating works of art from fabric and a little bit of time off.    As I removed the unusable fabric scraps, and rubbish from the corners, I also girdled my loins, as job hunting is difficult in these times and I know that it is easy to lose heart. As I burnt frankincense I set the intention of what type of job I was looking for, and the life I intended to make, and finally as I vacuumed, I sent this collected energy and intent out to the places that it needed to be. And you thought I was a Hedgewitch.. *winks*

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My Morning Walk

And lastly I enjoyed the company of some old friends, where Mead, Tea and the most excellent Peanut butter cookies was had.

I am tentatively looking forward to the coming months to see how it all unfolds.  I have set some strong foundations, made some excellent plans, and sorted out the dreck from the corners of my house, so that  the energy and magic continues to move and flow in the direction that I wish,  rather than growing weedy or stagnant.  I have blessed, planned, sorted and created intent. And sent that intent out to where it will help bring in the Autumn Harvest, so to speak.

So how did you spend your Lughnasadh or Brigid (Imbolc) for those of you in the northern hemisphere?

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Heart Hex Sigil Banner, by Urban Witchery

 

 

Making Offerings To The Gods

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One of the things that I have added to my practice over the last several years is to give offerings to the spirits, the Ancestors, and the Gods who inhabit my world and who I work with .Before I left for Kaleidoscope gathering in Canada this year, I ‘put my working altar to bed’. I tidied and dusted it, put the skulls away and requested that the spirits rest but be watchful while I was away and in turn promised to bring them back gifts if they would do so.  I did not want my house sitter to feel uncomfortable while she was staying but I also wanted my house to be protected.  Apparently I was so successful at this that my cat, who it could be said, is also a spirit, also spend the entire month in the hall cupboard and only came out when my lovely house sitter was asleep or out of the house.. but I digress

Offerings to spirits, ancestors and gods is not a common practice in New Zealand, and to be honest the first time I came across it in any real form was when I first travelled to Kaleidoscope Gathering, in Canada, in 2011.  At the opening ritual I watched MA and Auz poor mead, honey, milk and offer an apple onto the pile of stones as offerings to the spirits, ancestors and gods.   I was overcome, not just by the weird direction of the casting but also by a strong feeling of rightness. This was a way to honour and in essences feed those spirits, gods and ancestors who have been invoked.  This was also a way to create a relationship with the spirits and god that you work with.  It was about reciprocity, and interacting with the Gods and spirits in a very physical way.

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It was one of those moments where a thing happens, and you know that you must pay attention because there is something here but that something is not realised until later. That realisation did not happen until I was back in New Zealand attending a local Sabbat ritual.  The directional spirits had been invited and had candles lit, the Ancestors had been honoured vocally, and the Gods had been invoked, but nothing had been given in return. No mead, no milk, no honey or wine had been poured onto the ground or left in offering to the land, or the spirits, or the gods or ancestors. And this felt wrong.  It felt like something had been left out.

I know that giving offerings to the spirits was something that I felt compelled to do after attending Kaleidoscope Gathering.  The action itself creates a more conscious relationship between me and the spirits that I work with.  It creates a relationship of give and take, respect and acknowledgement and it deepens the connection I have with the land that I live in and ultimately deepens my spirituality and path.

As we are Witches, Druids, Wiccans and Pagans it would follow that we believe in something bigger than ourselves that is in essences sentient.  Therefore it would be important to create a relationship with these beings, we are after all magical workers, and like I read somewhere, would you ask a stranger to hold you bag while you used a public restroom, or would you ask a friend?  So it would follow that you will get better results in your magic work if you have a relationship with the spirits and gods that you work with.  And to help create this relationship why not give offerings in thanks?

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If you invite one or many spirits, or ancestors or gods to attend you during your ceremony, rite and or ritual that you would in turn honour them, give them thanks by giving them something in kind, to create a reciprocity, one kind act following with a returning kind act, Right?   And that honouring can come in the form of something physical, such as mead, and not a drip of mead, but a good helping, maybe even a bottle because these are sacred beings after all right?

So, I have asked myself,  how much is ok to offer to the spirits, or ancestors and Gods, do the amounts vary, what do we offer them, can we then share or eat what has been offered or is that now allowed. Does it always have an alcohol component, because from what I have observed alcohol is one of the most common things used in offering. So many questions and in and of itself a seemly simple idea can be quite complex.

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At KG this year while Grey a fellow hedgewitch and I were wondering down the path towards the spiral to have a talk with the Horned Lord, the subject of offerings was discussed amongst the other things we were talking about. I was at the time wondering to myself What do you offer if you don’t really drink, as the traditional offerings at KG have been wine mead and beer, something alcoholic in nature, because actually neither of us where huge drinkers. As I was thinking this, Grey commented that she buys alcohol, not so much so consume but instead to offer to the spirits and gods that she works with.  A mind reader that Grey.  But it dosn’t have to be alcohol , with a bit of forethought and research, what is appropriate, and how much would be pretty easy to discern.  For me it depends on what type of relationship I want to create, and what I am honouring the spirits and gods for.

It was also during this year’s Kaleidoscope Gathering that I came to the conclusion that offerings are in many cases a form of sacrifice. Offerings are something that is not causal, not the worst, but something that is the best, or something that you have specifically chosen to offer, or in this case made room for in your budget to buy the required item, in essence a form of sacrifice.

To my mind an offering should be a conscious effort rather than just a passing thought, or something that has no value, as such. Neither should an offering be something that is unachievable, nor something that goes against who you are.  But it should be a something that is worthy of who you are offering it to.  For instance at the Horned Lord Ritual, the participants gave the best wine, Mead that they had made, wonderful flowers and pounamu that had been carried from the other side of the world.  These gifts where mighty and given with intention to honour The Horned Lord, as he is the Witches God and it was a witches ritual

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For me since getting back from KG I have made a conscious effort to make sure that my house spirits are given offerings, of fresh water and the occasional Cider. The cider offering usually happens on a Saturday night when I get fish and chips from the local fish and ship shop, and then I stop and buy a bottle of cider, which I in turn share with my house spirits. I fill the earthen wear goblet that I found for them and the rest I drink. I has become a bit of a family affair as I now have a saucer that lives under the couch, that I use to give my cat little bits of fish with, as she is one of those odd cats who will only eat food that is in her bow, or in this case saucer. In a sense, I am also honouring with the bits of fish I give her as she is a bit of a house spirit to, as it turns out

So do you give offerings to the spirits and gods you work with? And if so what do you give?

Beyond the Seasons

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Seasonal celebration themes are such a strong focus within the magical and pagans worldview that it can be difficult to see beyond them. I don’t mean to ignore the seasons instead what I am asking is, what is beyond the celebration seasonal cycle?  The Seasons are an excellent place to start when you first begin your magical study but having started there it is important to remember that they are not the bee all and end of magical practice.

This year I have found it very odd that it is currently spring here in New Zealand, I am in a bit of a confused state.  This I believe, is because I spend a month in Canada at the end of July and beginning of August.  While I was in Canada I felt that moment when the season turned from summer to autumn and so I have been a bit discombobulated so to speak. This in turn has caused me to wonder when it comes to magic and magical work, what is beyond the seasons? How do we deepen out understanding of this magic that we work with?   I don’t believe that it is possible to work without the seasons because we do live in this world, in this place. But what is beyond the general understanding of the seasons

Having live my life in New Zealand and the last 15 years in Wellington I believe I understand quite deeply how the seasons interact and move with this landscape that l live in.  I have also explored and understood the societal seasons, which are similar but also not the same.  For example tax year ending and starting, the election cycle, and various other stimuli that will affect the spirit of a city such as Wellington.  There is also the obvious combinations such as the build-up to Christmas, which is for us,  during the summer, followed by easter which is during our autumn.  And our winter which I have taken to calling the long dark, not so much because there is less daylight but more so because during the hard winter months there is no public holidays to look forward to. From the beginning of June until the end of October there are no public holidays.. Near enough to 5 months of the winter season, our coldest darkest time, with nothing in the way of public holidays or celebrations to look forward to.

And I have spend much time playing with and in a sense coming to peace with the northern hemisphere seasonal holidays that have been imported wholesale to New Zealand without seasonal considerations. Oddly enough, they work or can work for the plucky observant witch or magical worker.  For instance,  it is Beltane here in New Zealand, that time between spring and summer.  And over the years Halloween has been introduced from North American along with a fair amount of expat Americans and Canadians, who like to celebrate that touch of home.  Halloween as I have learnt is the beginning of what is called in Northern America the holiday season.  Samhain and Beltane are at both ends of the spectrum of life for me, and I have found that the veil that everyone talks about, is thin during both seasons.  But for Beltane it is about bringing things forward, or birthing from the spirit world, where as Samhain is about Ancestors who essentially inhabit the spirit world. or that is how I have felt and worked with it without going into more explanation because really it is difficult to explain. And Halloween, that is about dressing up in costumes, having fun and learning to face that which scares you.

Beyond the seasonal correspondences, themes and thoughts is a tide of magical underpinning that can be very subtle, and very difficult to put into words.  But for me it is about movement, and moving, the ebb and flow, or if you like growth and deepening of your understanding and connections with the world of spirit, and divine.  And the harder  it is, this understanding of the magical beyond the season, the harder can be to put into words, so instead I create art.

I create doorways in the forms of fabric wall hangings that depict magical things, such as Gods and Goddesses, from which you can invite that magical underpinning and magic through, which can then fit your own framework and understanding of how the magic works.

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It is said that if you open the doorway, the invited come through and if you don’t then the wall hangings will remain inert but also sacred art.  It makes sense that the ones who have gods and goddesses sewn into them will invite those gods and goddesses. I should not have to say be careful here right?

So how do you reach beyond the seasons and into the tides and magic in the spirit worlds?

Spinster, Matron, Matriarch, Priestess, Witch

258682_10151252456204245_142247743_oPhoto By Catherine Wards-Davey

When I turned 40 I was told that 40 is the new 30.  But you know what, I don’t want to be 30 again, I am happy to be 43 and this idea that ageing, getting older is somehow wrong when everyone gets older, is actually shit.  With age, with getting older comes life experience and for some of us wisdom, wisdom that I was missing during my 30s.  So yes I am happy to be turning 44 this year.  However I while I am not a mother I am not yet a Crone.

I am a spinster, a Matron, and a Matron Spinster, a Matriarch, as well as a priestess and Witch.  But there is no Matriarch in the iconic triple goddess of Modern Paganism.   Maiden, Mother and Crone are shown as sacred, as the holy tritiy if you will, but I find myself asking: what about that period that falls between that of Mother and Crone?  I am not old enough to be a crone and I am too old to be a mother, as such.  And while I didn’t have any children of my own I certainly spend time looking after and indeed mothering people around me. Even though it has taken me a while to admit that it is in my nature to take care of people around me. But I digress.. a little.  I am not old enough nor wise enough to take on the mantle of Crone, there for I am Matriarch, Matron and Spinster, right?

Now let me explain, because sometimes the words matriarch, and spinster are words that have some hot button issues surrounding them.

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Photo by Kylee Bowater

Matriarch as I see and for the purpose of this blog post is that age that falls between mother and crone.  This understanding came about for me via several books. * Matriarch is for those who have had their children and these children are now adult or nearing adulthood, and are more independent.

Spinsters as I am claiming it is for those of us who have never had children, whether we choose not to have them, couldn’t have them or like me, never had them, and are older than expected childbearing age, if that makes sense.

This Matriarch/Spinster age, as I understand it, is that time when we become more assured of who we are and how to get what we want out of life.  We have now enough life experience to gain mastery. We understand the good and the bad, dark and light, right and wrong,  and realise that both has value, both will teach us important things, both are need to be in balance in order to live a full life, so to speak.    I was talking with a friend and fellow Witch not so long ago about that time of Matriarch, mastery and mid life crises, and that perhaps a midlife crises arises when mastery is not realised or understood? And upon thinking about this I am beginning to get a sense that Matriarch and Mastery are quite connected in that sense.  It is as though in a magical life if you do not reach some sort of Mastery then the time of Matriarch is not realised? And your crone time will become quite different.  Who knows, but time will tell, eh.

I am now a confirmed and happy Spinster but not just Spinster but also Matriarch, and to some degree Matron.  I am also being to understand my own mastery, not just in the things that I can do but also in how I live my life, and how to work through what life throws at me, if you will.   I am not sure what this next period in my life will bring with it, but I do know that for the most part what it does throw at me I have already experienced in one way or another.  I will be able to work through my life’s trials and joys with the silks I already have and at the same time learn new ones and with that, my wisdom will grow.  I will continue to grow and learn and gain new understanding and insights because that for me is the roll of the Matriarch and Spinster.

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Photo by Tawny Alma

* The Womens Wheel of life by Elizabeth Davis and Carol Lenard

 

 

The Common Sense Spell Book. A Book Review

Common Sense tea

The Common Sense Spell Book

By Debbie Dawson

140 Pages, Avalible in Paper and Ebook

Bookdepostory Amazon Xlibris Publishing

This book was written by a fellow Kiwi Witch, who lives in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, you know the place there was a couple few large earthquakes a couple few years back.  Anways, I have never meet Debbie in person for any length of time, I think we ran into one another at a festival maybe, but we have however spoken online and argued on line to, as to you.

Now the reason I mention that Debbie is a Kiwi Witch is because the book is very distinctly Kiwi Witchcraft in character and Kiwi Witchcraft in understanding of magic in general, and this was quite a surprise for me, because I had no idea that it was a thing, well I did, I am one after all, but I had not had it pointed out in such a way.  You know how when you are in the thick of it you often can’t see, a bit like how we can’t hear our accent.  So there is such a thing as Kiwi Witchcraft, and Paganism, and I suspect there will be a post on that at some stage. But for today this is a review of Debbie, a Kiwi Witch’s book.

Kiwis for the most part are very practical people, and it would follow that Kiwi Witches are also this way, on the whole.  And I can say that this book is very strongly Kiwi because the beliefs practices and understanding of how spells and magic works is very close to my beliefs and understandings.  But then given we are both of a similar age and both had access to the same source material, that was available in New Zealand, it is not that surprising.

Debbie writes in a very practical way with some no nonsense practical advice.  The book I believe is aimed at a person who has already read several introductory books and has a handle on seasons and what they mean and are now interested in some spell work to further their understanding.  Or for someone who has already had an unsuccessful bash at spell casting and is left wondering where it all went wrong, or why it didn’t work at all.

This book will help you to understand the sometimes complexities and other time simpleness of spells along with how, why and why not something worked or didn’t work, as well as some excellent penny dropping moments.

For those who are experienced in spell work, I would say that you probably know more of what this book contains, however as a reference book, to go over as you decided on what type of spell work will be suitable, or indeed if you really need to be doing spell work, this book would be an excellent resource.

If you are looking for a book full of spells, and or exotic kiwi spells then move along because this book is more about creating your own rather than following somebody else’s recipe.

My only disagreement with this book, and it’s not really a disagreement but more something that I would of emphasised more if I had written a book like this, I would of emphasised not to manifest in negatives.  I’m not talking about cursing, Debbie does a excellent job of covering that but more about how you phrase things.  Often words like don’t, won’t have or will not, actually draw what it is that you don’t want towards you, because you are naming it.   Once when I was teaching about shielding, I forgot to emphasis this well enough, and my students ended up with nightmares.  When I inquired they had all been using negative type phrasing, eg I will not have nightmares tonight, or similar, which in turn brought on the nightmares, as they had named them, which in turn draws that which you name towards to, or so the story goes.

Common Sense

Overall this book is something I would have devoured 20 years ago when I was first starting out, especially as I began looking for something that would take me that step further down the magical track.   I did enjoy reading it, and did get useful information and food for thought.  It reminded me of how much of a Kiwi Witch I really am, and has me thinking about what it is about Kiwi Witchcraft that makes it, Kiwi Witchcraft. It will also be a interesting insight for those who are interested into the Kiwi Witches mind, so to speak. .  It will be a book that I will use as a resource when I am considering any spell work as it has all the types and styles and why-fors, and it is often good to delve into a book like this when considering any kind of spell work, helps to get the creativeness of spell work going.   It is also going to be a book that I recommended to fellow Kiwi Pagans who are looking to take that step further.  There are not very many books written by Kiwi Pagans, and this I believe is the first written by a Kiwi Witch, and it’s a good one.. yay!

So I give this book, 4 cups of tea out of 5 and a healthy doses of practical Kiwiana.

Omens, Signs, Messages and Symbols

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Over the last couple of days I have been pondering my path, and my place in it, as you do at the beginning of any year, be it the winter or summer, as it is here in New Zealand.  Despite most cultures having celebrated or marked in some what their new year in or around the middle of winter, when the settlers came to New Zealand they did not transpose their holidays religious or secular to the relevant season, so this means we often celebrate a traditional winter celebration during summer, so obviously the energy is different, but also the same, or has my Hungarian work colleague says same same but different.  But I digress.

At this time of the year, is hard not to feel the anticipation that reverberates throughout the most of the world as the New Year approaches, both Europe and Chinese and begins.  And for us here in New Zealand it is summer, so the seasonal energy is bright and energetic.  Very fortuitous for a new set of lessons that deepen how I understand myself and how I understand my path to show themselves.

These lessons are usually heralded by a series of symbols that have made themselves obvious to me.  However these symbols or messages often come in the form of the seemly ordinary, rather than an obviously occult or magical flavour.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

How does someone tell that these everyday happenings or ordinary symbols, omens or signs of note rather than just everyday things?

Black bird

For me it was a gradual process, of learning to understand and luckily being given the symbol several times with each time being a bit more obvious than others.  The first time that I consciously remember this happening, was about 10 or so years ago.  I was obviously on my way home from where the bus had dropped me of, and walking over a grassy area, when a black bird jumped into my path and spoke.  I heard it twitter then it look me directly in the eye, like it was telling me off for disturbing his worm hunting, and he very well may have been.  But I was not really paying attention, it was that time of year when there are a lot of black birds about the place all furiously hunting for insects to feed their demanding young.   I remember apologising and then making my way home.

The following morning as I was leaving my house, a blackbird landed near my head on the washing line and once again he spoke.  This time I took more notice.  How strange I thought this is the second time this strange occurrence has happened.  I duly greet him with a friendly good morning, and didn’t give it  much thought as I made my way to work, until I got to work.  I worked on the 5th floor of a building in town, and there waiting for me, on the railing outside the window next to my desk.  Black bird was looking at me, he was speaking.  It was then that I realised I had to use my other senses in order to here was black bird was saying.   The Blackbird was the herald for the next lot of intense learning both magical and mundane, and part of what I learned was that there is for some of us no read delineation between the mundane and magical, after all you are the universe and the universe is you, which is one of my base understanding s of how it all works.

This year the message and messenger has been a different one, as is the way of these things.  For a start there have been several messages, and messengers, like a tricky puzzle that I am expected to put together.

This year the symbol was found with in some street art, only it was a word and a word that I wrote myself.

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A wall had been painted with chalk paint  stating “ For 2014 I Wish” and chalk left so that passerbys could draw, write their wishes for 2014.  I could feel the potential, the energy that was building up as people broke through their conditioning of ignoring the weird and unusual, to stepped forward write their wishes for 2014.  A very powerful piece of urban magic indeed, the energy surrounding the wall was palpable.   Without much thought, or room for doubts I allowed the energy to guide me and I picked up a piece of chalk and wrote Love, which is to say, For 2014 I Wish Love.   I am a little perplexed by this word, did it mean a romantic love, because truth be told I am not looking for such things, not am I saying I am not looking in the hopes of finding anyway.. I really am a spinster and loving it.. I wonder what this wish for love all about?  It will be something for me to ponder as the year progresses.

So how do you tell the difference?  Sure that was some wall art that one of the local cafe/shops there had painted, probably to draw in customers, but also to let people be their own artist.  What is it about it that makes it a symbol, or a sign?  For me it ‘feels’ different, there is a magic in the air that you can run your fingers through, it can be powerful enough to make you hair stand on end, or subtle like candy floss floating on the wind, but it is there, and there is a sameness to how it feels every time, even though each time it is a different symbol, omen, message and lesson.

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It was pointed out by a fellow Witch I was having lunch with on Saturday that often these types of messages can start out subtle, so much so that you often miss the first one, re the Blackbird as I stepped of a bus, but then over a shortish period of time they can become more obvious, especially when you are willfully ignoring them which we have a tendency to do when it the message is about the sorting out of the self.  This can cause a large slap if you are not careful, so it is important to pay attention, even when you don’t want to.  But they if you wanted to obliviously carry on in the world, you would not of become a Witch right?

It is and can be difficult to tell the difference, between what is a an important message and what is a just a black bird going about his everyday business of feeding his chick.  And because of this it can sometimes lead to becoming a little bit obsessed and a person can often end up thinking that everything is an good or bad omen, but will at little patents, and some practical thinking, you will get the hang of it.    Omens and messages do not show up everyday all the time, as it would be a little overwhelming don’t you think, and if you have stepped onto the path of service, what good is a priestess  or priest going to be if they are constantly obsessed with finding the omen in everything.  like the saying says sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This being said you can often receive a series of messages, a bit like puzzle pieces.  This year I received several symbols and messages over a short period of time, and to help understand what they were about I used drew an oracle card from the druid plant oracle and it was primrose.  This card, along with the other messages and symbols was about becoming more active in creating the environment that I want to be in, so it is with that end in mind, that I will be holding discussion afternoons at my house once a month.  And the very first topic up for discussion, you guessed it, Omens, signs messages, and symbols.

primrose