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.

 

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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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?

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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.

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Shadow, Deep and Community

 

Usually I try and find a story of sorts to begin these posts, but alas this time there isn’t one.  This idea, or revelation came to over the last couple of weeks and it is about the 3 types of magical work that I do, or that I perceive I do.

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Shadow Work:

This is where magic is used to work on yourself, inner work if you will.  Work to understand, heal and grow in a psychological personal sense.  It is about working with the darker aspects, as well as the lighter aspects, of yourself that come into view as you live a magical life.  It has always been my belief that if you are not working on this as a part of your magical life, then are you really living a magical life?  But having said that, living a magical life is not and should not be entirely focused on the self, hens these two other type of work which are a part of my practice and magical life.

For example this year I have been making a concerted effort to write more because all through my schooling I was told I was lazy and stupid, and then when it was discovered that I was dyslexic, as an adult, I had to overcome the common understanding that dyslexic people while not stupid could not write.  Hence the magical blogging and writing on a fairly regular basis.

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Deep Work:

This is not always overtly magical as so often reading and study is not seen as a magical act, but that I suspect depends on how your framework looks.  Deep work is about deepening your understanding through reading study and practice of your path, your magic and your connection with the Divine and the Spirit world.  As Kris Hughs from the Anglesee Druid Order said, it is when your eyes are Black with the magic of the ovate.  This can happen when you are deepening your understanding of the above be that reading, study, practice or ritual.

For example this year I learnt about trance-meditation, connected and unconnected magic, which I have then put into practice and now have a much strong connection with Spirit, the Divine and a clearer connection with a Spirit Teacher who I have been working with for years.  I also leaped into the abyss with gay abandon but that is not something will be sharing here.

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Community Work:

This for me has a strong connection with Surrendering to service.  it is the service you provide, not just to you magical or pagan communities but also you wider community.  It is talking to the little old lady at the bus stop with an empty cat carrier and offering her an ear, and sympathy because she has just had her very old cat put to sleep.  It is about helping a new pagan discover what their path and spirituality is.  It can be about organising or talking part in a beach clean-up, or helping friends move house.

For me part of my community work is helping others find their magical and spiritual paths, and talking to people at bus stops..

Of course there is crossover.  Deep work can bring up Shadow work that needs to be done and Community work that could be an aspect of your Deep work as you find yourself offering your services in the name your God or Goddess.  You get the picture right?

So there you go, three types of magical work that are key to living a magical life, or at least how i am living my magical life!

 

 

Talking to Myself

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Today here in New Zealand it is Lughnasadh, the first of the harvest festivals, first fruits, and I attended a ritual and lunch at a couple of my magical friend’s house.  During the ritual a passage from a book was read out, and one thing struck me as quite profound.

If you talked to your friends the way that you talk to your self would they still want to be friends?  So often we are harsher on ourselves that we actually need to be.  This gave me pause, as currently I am going through a bit of a crisis of faith, if you will, trying to redefine my path, my magic and with it the direction that I am going in.  I mentioned to a friend the other day that the deeper you go down this path of spirituality, whatever flavour it is ,  the harder your crisis’s of faith are, because I am quite sure that everyone has these crisis’s of faiths…

So now I am wondering, what advice I would give myself.  If I I came up to myself and asked for advice, asked why be a witch? What does it all mean? Why is that important? and how do I find where I am going?

My first instinct would be to turn the questions around, why do you want to be a Witch? What does it mean to you? What would make it Important to you, and Where do you want to go.  Which would probably have me arguing with myself, cause those are very difficult questions to answer, but they are however questions that need answering.

So this evening of Lughnasadh I will be contemplating more about what I would tell myself.  Given that I know myself pretty well.. I am guessing a conversation would ensue which would consist of many cups of tea.  So this evening I am going to go on a journey, and have cups of tea with myself.

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Surrendering to Service

Surrendering to Service has taken me quite some time to come to terms with, to be comfortable enough with to actually see what surrendering to service looks like versus what I thought it looked like.  It is as though, like Perceval, I started out on my journey thinking and believing it was one thing but realising that it was, while something similar, actually quite different to what I originally thought and believed.   This all of course, was one of the things that came about during the workshop on the Grail Quest I did several weeks ago, which I have posted about previously.

So what is Surrendering to Service and for that matter what is this Service, and whom is it service to?  These are quite complex questions to answer, never mind that I had to understand that Service was not servitude.  It was an entirely different view and understanding that I was being encouraged?  asked? to surrender to.

I can remember a friend of mine back when I knew not that much, talking to me about surrendering to the will of the Gods, to which I pulled a funny face at that thought, ‘No Gods are going to be telling me what to do?’  I suspect now that this was a reaction, to a now outdated framework that I had learned from my various accidental interactions with Christianity.   You see I had attended Sunday school as a young child.  At the end of the street where my Nana lived was a Catholic church, and one of the nuns who taught at the school there, which I didn’t go to, was called Sister Pauline, and given that was my name, I thought she was very cool, thus I invariably turned up on Sunday mornings for her Sunday school classes, even though I was not enrolled or Catholic.. but there you go Sister Pauline was pretty awesome.

I also went to an Anglican boarding School during my High School years, while only being nominally Anglican. My family only ever went to church for funerals and as Kiwis were not particularly religious anyway.  I certainly was never christened, and this was brought up by the Father of said Anglican boarding school several times, but I always refused. In many ways the Anglican faith is a lot more ridged than the Catholic faith, sort of *wiggles hand* However the point here is, that while spending time in these strong Christian institutions I apparently learned that surrendering to God was in essence Servitude to God. After all, Nuns had to give up everything, sex, money, possessions, personality, (although Sister Pauline had a truck load of personality from what I remember).  Nuns gave up everything to marry God. Thus surrendering to God, and indeed service to God, in my mind was servitude, in that kneel in front of and tell him how unworthy you are kind of way.

But as it turns out I’m such a Heathen, oh wait, no that’s not right, I’m a Witch *coughs*.   I never had to recite any lords prayers backwards, or have sex in a graveyard, although there was that Convent fire- escape once . . . left funny bruises, and I still grin when I think about it,  *coughs* but that is besides’ the point to.

The point we are talking about here is surrendering to service and how it is nothing like the image I had in my head of Nuns surrendering up themselves to servitude just so they could marry God.  Surrendering to service for a Witch, well for me is nothing like that.  But having said that this Surrender is certainly not easy, nor is it simple or everyone would be doing it.

Also why on earth would the Gods want a simpering subservient submissive sleeping bumpkin when they have spent a lot of time putting things in my path that has caused me to do some very deep personal psychological and magical work on myself which has meant that I have become a very strong, confident and outspoken women who can swear like a pirate when sewing, and stare down the most uptight business man until they yell uncle…  *coughs*..  Actually to put that in a less egotistical seeming nut shell, why would the Gods expect you to be somebody you are not in order to surrender service? This is not to say that being submissive doesn’t have its own power, but that is a whole other kettle of fish, and today the fish is Spiritual Service.

This all brings another thought to mind.  For years I have been telling various people who I have helped in a spiritual sense, be that house cleansing, card reading, or just passing on those messages you sometimes get, that its “part of the job description” or more to the point  “it’s all part of the service” could it be that I have already being unconsciously serving?  And perhaps this time it is about serving more consciously.   About stepping with conscious thought into service, or choosing to Surrender to Service.