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

 

 

Humanity with your Witchcraft anybody?

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Did you know that I don’t have a regular spiritual practice, some devotional thing or exercise that I do every day?  Does that make me feel wrong? Like I am not a witch? Does it make me feel bad, well. .. .it kinda did for a little while but not so much anymore as I do not particularly want one.  I tried to have a regular practice, a morning devotional prayer with the lighting of a candle and one of my favourite prayers, but it all seemed so hollow and artificial.  And to tell the truth it frustrated the hell out of me for most of this year and some of last year, as I struggled to understand it

So why do I not feel bad or indeed want a regular ‘practice’ of some devotional thing now?  What has changed?  For one I stopped struggling with trying to fit this square peg into a ground hole, and figure that it was not something for me, so to speak.  It was not until after this that I began to understand, why.  Sometimes I am like that..

Over the last couple of days I have read two similar, or similar to my mind, bloggers blog posts,  which for me spoke to the understanding of why I don’t have a regular practice, as such.  Both posts spoke of humanity, of human, if you will.   I read Teo Bishops post “On Leaving” which was about why he felt he had to leave ADF Druidry.  I’ve been doing ADF drag” he says in his post, and I this is how I felt when I was trying to do a morning devotional, it was empty, morning devotional drag.   Teo spoke of being human, and I quote

And I think my biggest challenge in being a part of ADF was that I didn’t feel like there was anyone really speaking to the challenges of being human. In a devotional religion, the emphasis is placed over there, not in here.’

I do recommend that you read the whole post though because it is worth it.. and it gives better context to some things that I have been feeling that is currently difficult to put into words. It was this ‘speaking to the challenges of being human’, and how in most ‘practice’ as it is described and practiced by many, that humanity is placed over there, somehow outside of the spirituality that we are practicing, with the divine or devotional being the more important aspect.  And often when pagans practice, whether that is Sabbat rituals or morning devotionals, as such they are reading from a script, be it memorised or not, and for me there is something about that, which becomes artificial, it is prescribed, something that does not make any connections for me but rather leaves me feeling left out, other.. doing, in Teos’ words drag.

It is I believe a romantic assumption that is actually quite indicative of our current societal structure.  You know, how for the majority of the world it feels like the Govt has stopped putting the best interest of the people, of humanity first. So it would follow that this extraction of humanity as also happened throughout Modern Paganism.  It is after all a spirituality of its times, and thus is influenced by said times.  It is also I believe a part of the fake it until you make it school of psychology, and the self-help industry as well.  Of course you are broken and can’t possibly be happy without purchasing this book or paying to go on this seminar or workshop.  It is all artificial, sure we are all a bit broken in various ways, but this does not mean that we can’t be humans, or that we are not a part of humanity. And to put it frankly, that fake it until you make it just flat out doesn’t work in magic, or spiritualty, whatever flavour you practice, because you have to mean what you are saying.. you have to reach beyond the scripted words into the actual magic with everything that you are, at that time.. The good the bad the human that is you.

Weirdly I am reminded of a spam comment left on my blog the other day, which said ‘remember You are a spirit having a human experience not a human having a spiritual experience!’ to which my instant thought was actually no, I am a human having a spiritual experience because I live on this earth and in this place thank you very much, and then sent said spam reply of to the bin.. (oh if that was an actual reply from someone who follows my blog.. umm.. sorry, 🙂 )

Anyway there was that concept? idea again humanity, on being human, I am a human having a spiritual experience, and do not at this stage, feel in any way like a spirit having a human experience.. your millage may vary.

This all got me thinking about how romantic Modern Paganism, in its various forms, can be.  In many ways this romanticism is what attracts us, and it is not just one type of romance that is portrayed in Modern Paganism either, there are several types of romantic, going on here.  There is the romance of belonging to a group of magical people who practice magic and become for you your family, who stick together.  I can remember reading about it years ago, in Emma Restall Orrs first book, Spirits Of The Sacred Grove.  I read about a group of people who made up her grove and had turned up to her house before the Sabbat.  In the book it described a group of people who obviously knew each other pretty well, and were pretty much horsing around in the kitchen, catching up with each other’s lives and generally enjoying eachothers company on that magical night.   As I was reading this the first time I became very taken with the romanticism of this being an everyday or at least every week occurrence.  A bunch of interesting magical people arrive before the Sabbat and that these people are really connected, in a way that ‘other’ people are not and that it has been that way for years.  Oh how wonderful would that be, to be a part of that.  Then there is the romantic story we tell ourselves when we are solitary, of the old woman who lived just beyond the village and was such an integral magical part of the village, the woman who everyone went to for healing, cunning, and hexes.  Respected, feared and loved by all… I am quite sure that there are other romanticisms from other styles such as heathenry where we like to romanticize about being a Viking living way back when and everyone understood who Thor and Odin was and the sagas that were told of an evening.. etc etc.. You get the picture right?

So a couple of days ago I happened on Star Foresters Blog, another interesting pagan/not pagan, also stepped away from the labelling, this time the more label of Pagan.  The post of hers I was reading was entitled Spiritual Evolution, Doreen’s People.. 

And from her post I once again got this sense of human, humanity, or the lack of humanity as Modern Paganism in its various forms is practiced? Adhered to? Done.. so to speak.   I am starting to get an understanding, to be able to put into words what has been difficult for me to understand.

This time the human aspect of Star’s post was in the form of evolution, because we as humans do change, we change our views, our understandings and our beliefs as we grow older, and gain experience.  Where we once believed in Santa and the Tooth fairy we next believed in the fae.  And then it was belief the Elemental spirits, sometimes called fae, which evolved into the understanding that they were spirit of the land, or something similar. Our thinking, understanding and beliefs evolved as we understood more, interacted more with, and saw things in a different way.  As we grow and experience this thing called life, some of our beliefs and understandings no longer hold true for us, and new ones will take their place.  However when this doesn’t happen things become stagnant, we become entrenched in what we believe as though that is the only right thing to believe, and if someone else believes something different, more often than not, whether or not we say it out loud, we believe that, this other person is wrong.  Entrenching like this in our spiritual beliefs, can often mean that we stop questioning, exploring, and experiencing our own spirituality and we come to a standstill on our chosen spiritual paths.  It also means that we stop questioning where the human is in our practice.  It could indeed become more about liturgy and saying the right words at the right time.   Where are we as human in our practice and spiritual belief?  Is it possible to not become entrenched in the romanticism, of liturgical practice and devotionals, and focus instead on our own humanity, with in the realms of spiritual belief?

For me the answer of course is yes, while I do not have a regular practice of devotional prayer or exercise, I now understand that it Is not what makes me a Witch.  For me this happens regularly when I am with friends having cups of tea, walking to work, and noticing the changes in the sun position, when I trip, kettle up and end up on my arse, I realise the that I am present in that moment. Those moments for me are my regular practice, they remind me that I am human and live in this place, on this earth and for me, and those moments are very spiritual.

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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!

 

 

What is Magic again?

Magic is not always what you think it is, neither is practice.   Oft times it is that inclining of something, and flash of understanding followed by shifting of understanding, and growth has begun.  This can happen while your boss is telling you about the next task you are to do at work, it can happened during your commute to work, or it can happen when you spend an afternoon at a friend’s house and another friend asks you how you have been and genuinely wants an answer.

It happens when you don’t want to face a thing, but have been in many ways forced to, and that brings you to tears stilling alone in your room typing up your next blog post or at least trying to.  It can happened in a blink of an eye and leave you floored for days, days which start off difficult but get easier as the understanding, comprehension, shifting, healing and growth happen.

None of which looks even remotely magical, ceremonial, spells, rituals, occult or otherwise.  It looks like normal everyday life, which is often chaoitic, messy, hard, rewarding, shitty, fun, devastating, and fun all in one day and sometimes all in one moment.

The magic is their when it happens, when the inkling starts, it is their as understanding grows, magic is often action, and not so often reaction, and it is their when you enter into a dance with it… it is the dance and it is there when the dance is done

And oft times Magic is something that is not seen as Magic, instead it is seen as life’s dramas playing out.

Magic doesn’t always look like what you think it will…

 

Dare to Dissagree

This is a most excellent Ted Talk by Margaret Heffernan about Disagreeing as thinking, which as certainly made me think along.  It is my belief that we have to often ignored what is right in front of us because it makes us uncomfortable to think about it, or even to think about how it could be different.  A lot like the Elephant in the room syndrome no?

Not only that but Miss Margaret Heffernan is wonderfully spoken.

Dare to Dissagree

Much to contemplate!

 

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.

The Samhain Gate

The Samhain Gate

Its Samhain here in New Zealand and I celebrated over the weekend at the Woolshed, a place here in Wellington where Pagans of all varieties come together to celebrate the seasons.  For Samhain this year the circle space was set up in the second lounge down stairs, with the Samhain gate facing North, other times the gate has been set up in the North West, which if you are using the southern hemisphere Sabbat calendar wheel is actually the Lughnasadh gate, which in some ways can be a very odd place to have the Samhain gate.  The Samhain gate is  that place where the ancestors and those that have died recently enter the circle.  And for the longest time it bugged the hell out of me, that at the woolshed it was place in the North West because it just felt wrong. But this year the gate was North, and for some weird reason this felt much better, which as usual got me to thinking about pagan cosmology and how it is shaped.

Traditionally the Southern hemisphere Seasonal Wheel  goes in a counter clock wise direction, (Sun Wise) starting with the Spring in the East, then Beltane  – North East,  Summer Solstice – North Lughnasadh, North West, Autumn Equinox – West, Samhain – South East and finally Winter Solstice in the south.

Which if you follow the logic through and use the same points from the Seasonal Wheel for your circle casting, it would mean that the Samhain gate would be in the South West, however, given that when casting a circle I teach that pretty much any element can be called from any direction because  it is important to practice magic in the place you live, it would also follow that the Samhain Gate doesn’t have to be in the South West, any more than that the element of air has to be in the east.  But it still bugged me.    I will say however that when it comes to group rituals, it is good to have everybody calling the same element from the one direction. But that is not what this post is about.. *coughdigressioncough*..

So why did having the Samhain Gate in the North feel better this year, than previous years when it has been in the North West?  Well there could be several reason.. first given that for most New Zealanders their ancestors come from Europe, which is North from here, it would make sense that if you are inviting your ancestors to come and join you in your circle, to do it from a Northerly direction.

The Samhain Gate
With Offerings of Salt, Honey and Bread

Secondly here in New Zealand as a part of the Maori believe,  spirits of the dead travel to the tip of the North Island,  where the entrance of the underworld is, guided by a Ruru owl, and once there, they travel down to the underworld where they are meet by Hine-nui-te-pō who then guides them on to Hawaiki, so again that would point to the idea that the spirits of the dead come from the North, and not the South.

Now this is all well and good and make pretty good sense.. but I have an idea that it was something more, than just the ancestors in the North and Hine-nui-te-po, that made this years gate feel right.  And I realised what it was when I went back down after to the ritual was over to see the French doors open.  It was the door, during the ritual we had opened the Samhain gate by opening the French doors.  The fact that these doors faced North fit in with the ritual, but I suspect that It was not the main reason as to why it felt right so to speak.  This door opened to the outside,  and it is a clear indication  when inviting someone in your house to open the door.    Doorways have always been considered magical places in myth and folklore.  They are liminal, whether you are entering or exiting, they are a place of magic where the energy flows inwards and outwards.    I can remember seeing pennies concreted into the doorway of the family’s holiday batch, put there by my grandfather, to encourage wealth.    It was a tradition that he carried with him from England where he was born.   Doorways are often gateways to other places, and in this case it was a gateway into the otherworld’s, to where the ancestors and recently departed stood waiting to be invited in.

So it all comes back to that practicing in the place where you live.  I have heard that the traditional correspondences of cardinal direction to elements originated in Greece, where their prevailing wind, the wind that brings the weather comes from the East, thus East became air.  Here in Wellington the prevailing wind comes not from the howling winter southerlies but the Westerlies, which would follow that air, should be in the east.  And when it comes to the seasonal wheel this to should be practiced in the place you live, which can take some figuring out so some contemplating of how the cosmos is created in your area.  So it makes sense to invite the ancestors from the north, and through a physical door, although I do wonder as to what happens if the physical door is in a different direction and if that would work?

So here in new Zealand our magical cosmos is on where the ancestors and the dead hail from the North, not from the South west as the  southern seasonal wheel would dictate nor from the North West as has been practiced before but from the North, a time of midsummers, the traditional element of fire.  Those crazy Southern Pagans.. *grins*

Samhain Crown made from a New Zealand sea bird whos name escapes me currently but died due to an oil leak from a container ship here.

A Murmur of Starlings

They gather on the tops of buildings in the cities, on aerials and wires, just as the sun falls behind the hills and the sky lights up with dusky pink tones.  They herald the between times, when the sun has set but the sky is not yet night.  It is the first night of the full moon and magic hangs heavy in the air, spirits are gathering for the veil is thin, and Samhain is not far off.  The Starlings are heralding in the night time as the black birds herald the dawn.  Starlings’ keepers of the gates between the worlds.

For me this evening the Starlings that were gathering on the roof tops around wellington all making their way to the trees in the city where they roost for a moment before they all take of in a murmuration, spoke of the coming season, of the coming Samhain, the beginning of Winter, here in New Zealand.

one of my favourite videos, I love the expression of the girls faces at the end of the video!

Witches abroad, or in this case House Sitting another Witches Houses

View from my Balcony

Currently I am languishing in an inner city pad in one of my favourite areas of Wellington.  I have often said this is where the freaks, geeks and weirdoes hangout, my type of people really. And given that this inner city pad is owned by a fellow Witch, I figure a post about Spirits that inhabit this house would be appropriate for this week’s post, namely House Spirits.  This inner city apartment has them, I can feel them quite strongly and yesterday was about getting used to each other.  It helps that I have set up an oil burner, as I suspect that incense may well set of the fire alarms off, so instead I am using the afore mentioned oil burner. I have brought with me lavender, sage, basil and Frankincense, essential oils to use, and luckily for me the house spirits have been enjoying this.  I figured a good way of making friends with other witches house spirits would be to give them an offering of some sort, not that I realised this to begin with.

The Teapot of Awsome

When I first arrived and after making a nice cup of tea in the awesome teapot of awesome, I set up my laptop and duly put in the password to connect to the network but alas, not working,pages did not want to come up, you are connected to the internet it said but no pages for you.  EEEEK!  For this Urban Witch having no internet is like a Hedgewitch without her Hedge, so to speak.  But after a bit of fiddling, resetting and imploring that the internet work, it was up and running.. *phew* There may have been a few cups of tea and some chocolate to recover.  So internet done, time to set up the sewing machine.. oh wait why is the light not working.. *frowns*  I have a Janome sewing machine and I have noticed the light on it often stops working after it has travelled from one place to another, well bugger.  Again after imploring that the light magically turned itself on, it did.  It was about then that I noticed the presents of the House Spirits that abided here.  And what’s more these house sprits were helping.

At my house where I usually live there are also house spirits, and given that the flat I am staying in is a was build last year, most of the house spirits that now inhabit this flat came with me, and given that I flat and don’t own the house I live in they pretty much move with me from place to place.  But having said that, they are not something that I always notice because they have been around for what seems like forever.  In other places where I have flatted there have already been some resident house spirits, and given that I was now moving in,  I have always made a point to lay down the rules, ‘My house My rules’ they are pretty basic rules that I would and do expect, not just house spirits to follow but also my friends.  Don’t be a dick or you will be asked to leave.  It has been this way for at least as long as I have been a Witch.  Let’s leave out the current bit where I have hawthorn berries drying in my room cause that would just invite the fey.. *coughstoolateoopscoughs* but that is a different spirit.  Here we are talking about House spirits.

This is the first time I have been house sitting and in a fellow Witches house, so the rules are somewhat different.  It is not my house thus not my rules.  But there are rules and these rules need to be followed, so I spent yesterday making friends with these house spirits.  Given that this is not my house and not my rules, it would do me no good to come in like an elephant on roller skates and roll over all the current rules, in fact it would be downright rude of me to state my house, my rules as it is where I usually lived.  So instead, after getting my computer connected to the internet, with the help of the House Spirits, and setting up my sewing machine, with the help of the House Spirits, and once I had figured out that they were helping, I set about creating an offering.

I set up my Oil burner on a window sill with a coaster, and offered these house spirits the scent and magic of Frankincense and some of my personal energy with the intent to get to know each other, to make friends, rather than make rules.   This has worked well, and my computer and sewing machine is working nicely and it feels very welcoming.  Today we had sage basil and lavender which was ok, but not as accepted as the Frankincense. But hey, dems the breaks.

House spirits in my experience are generally a combination of energy left over from previous tenants and people who used to inhabit the building as well as your own personal energy.  In a way that I don’t as yet understand this energy combines and creates what I call House Spirits.  I generally find these spirits to be helpful, as they are in this inner city apartment, and am figuring out that they need regular attendance, offerings, if you will, which for this inner city pad comes in the form of regular cleaning and tidying.

This inner city pad was built about 10-15 years ago in a building that is well over 100 years old, which is quite old for New Zealand.   These House Spirits are a mixture of the buildings spirits that have been created over the last 100 years ,  a certain amount of spirit of place and several of my fellow witch’s ancestors from her blood family as family is very important as well as I suspect a personal spirit or two . Keeping an eye on the placed.  It is a curious but I suspect somewhat common mix.

For me House Spirits are often the combination of emotional energy, and an action with a dash of spirit of place, as in the land that the building is built on.   You know when you go into a room where two people have been arguing, you can feel the energy in room quite strongly.  You could cut the air with a knife, that is and can create spirit forms, especially if an action and emotion is something that is repeated.  I can remember seeing a glimpse of a woman walking through a gate that was no longer there carrying a basket and dressed in clothing from the early 1900’s while visiting at a friend’s house, I found out that where I had seen that woman had walk was where the original gate was.  It looked like she was carrying the days shopping home in a basket. I suspect that women who have lived in that house have carried shopping home through that gate quite a few times, thus an energy or house spirit has been created.  I have no idea what the mechanics of such a thing is I just know that is how it is created.

It will certainly make me pay closer attention to the house spirits when I go back home in two weeks.  I suspect that my cat will tell me off quiet loudly, but I am also wondering if I will look differently at my usual house spirits, that I have lived with for so long, perhaps I am now taking them for granted.  I will have to make a point of paying them more attention, it is only fair.!

Of course I could just be making this all up with a truck load of wishful thinking.. but I do not believe so.

Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere

Hawthorn Berries that were used in today’s Autumnal Equinox Ritual

Here in New Zealand it is currently autumn heading towards winter, I have just celebrated the Autumnal Equinox, with a bunch of local pagans up at The Woolshed, a local pagan place where the Sabbats are generally held.  The next Sabbat will be Samhain, which is at the end April beginning of May.  The southern hemisphere wheel has turned to the dark side of the year where the nights are longer than the days.  In the northern hemisphere they have just celebrated the Vernal Equinox, spring is Spruning and their wheel has turned towards the light half of the year where the days are longer than the nights.  Do you get where I am going here?  In essences our seasons are in reverse of the seasons in the northern hemisphere.

It seems simple enough to transpose the dates of the Pagan seasonal Calendar, which was cobbled together in England, six months and hey presto you have a southern hemisphere sabbatical calendar.   All good right?   Right?   Well actually no.  There are a few other things to take into account when living in a country where the original seasonal calendar did not originate, and more so when it is in a different hemisphere, Not only are the seasons reversed here in the southern hemisphere, so too is the direction of how we cast our circles, which here in the New Zealand is anti-clockwise.  Our sun rises in the east as it does all over the world, but tracks north in the sky and sets in the west, rather than tracking south as it does in the northern hemispheres. And as a point of interest, if you happen to live near the equator, you will find that the sun tracks both north and south, depending on the time of the year.  It is that squiggly line you sometimes see around globes, the path of the sun.  However here in the southern hemisphere the fact the sun tracks north,  also means the ‘traditional’ correspondences for north and south are also reversed, with northing being fire, and south being earth.  But that is a topic for another post, this post is about seasons.

These Sabbats that were cobbled together by Gerald Gardner and Ross Nicolas while hanging about sans clothes at Five acres Nudist club, in England, where made for English Witches who lived in England.  These where not necessarily put together with other countries in mind, so to speak.  Sure here in New Zealand we have4 distinct seasons, however we are further away from the South Pole than England is from the North. There is a variation between the ‘traditional’ seasonal correspondents that if often found in Pagan books and what is actually happening on the ground here in New Zealand.  There is also quite an interesting variation of seasonal growth and temperatures from one end of the country to the other, and I presume that this is the same for England, however my point here is that your seasonal wheel should be something more than just transposing the dates by six months, it should be shaped to the seasonal norms for the land you are living.

Now this is all very good and well but here in New Zealand the British Settlers did not alter their various British traditions such as Christmas, New Years and Easter to the reversed seasons of New Zealand, and recently Halloween has become a thing in New Zealand, but itis celebrated at the end of October rather than the more seasonally appropriate end of May.  So this causes some interesting conundrums for Pagans and Witches here. What this means is that while the rest of New Zealand is gearing up for Easter, a spring themed celebration, as it currently is the Kiwi Pagans are celebrating the Autumnal Equinox.  As I mentioned in my first post I have found this to be quite difficult to consolidate in my head and something that I am constantly working on? With? Hm.   I can remember when I was a small child communing with the Christmas Tree, which was a pine tree my uncles had gotten, with its lights and shiny decorations, it was one of the first magical experiences that I can remember.  However I have had difficult over the years consolidating the distinct winterness of Christmas decorations and trimmings, with the fact that here in New Zealand it is the summer solstice.  Not however midsummers, as the Summer Solstice marks the beginning of summer here and not the middle.  Our hottest times of the year or what I would consider mid summers is generally January and February.  The duality of mainstream celebrating new life, and the season turning towards harvest and the end of life makes for some very interesting contemplation.  Maybe this year I will make Easter eggs with skulls on them and try to get past the disgruntled feeling I get when the mainstream is celebrating the wrong thing in the wrong season.

The other interesting thing about seasonal Sabats here in New Zealand is that while on the one hand we have four distinguishable seasons, they are not quite the same as in Britain, where they originated.   As I mentioned above Britain is closer to the north pole that we are to the south pole.  This means that we have in relation quite a temperate climate.  Here in Wellington it does not often fall below zero degrees, during the winter and we only have snow in very small quantities in the city every bazillion years or so.  Actually we had snow last year.  And during the summer it does not often get above 30 degrees

But then to my mind celebrating and honouring a Pagan seasonal calendar not just about the dates and their ascribed meaning, but also about celebrating seasonally in the land you live, which will often deviate from the prescribed description found in books.  This also means that your seasonal celebrations and times may differ from year to year.

After spending a year gardening for other people I became a lot more observant about my environment around me.  I paid more attention to plants and trees and have come to rely on them to tell me what the seasons are doing.

Actually this year I felt the death of summer in quite distinctly in early March as I mentioned in previous post.  Also I have noticed as mentioned above the prescribed seasonal Sabbat dates, for the southern hemisphere  more mark the beginning of any given season rather than the middle, and that the cross quarters Samhane, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Brigid are more fluid than the equinoxes and solstices which mark the passage of the sun

Luckily on 1995 updated and re-released in 2005, Juliet Batten wrote one of New Zealand’s only Pagan books, Celebrating the Southern Seasons, which is an excellent guide on New Zealand seasons and the various customs and suggestions on how to celebrate season here in New Zealand  It is a book that I have found myself going back to again and again as my understanding of the cyclic year deepens, something Juliet wrote I agree with and other things I don’t but I always find things of interest.



So for those of you who are interested here are the Southern Season Sabbat Dates starting from the current one

Autumnal Equinox             March 20-23rd

Samhane                  April 31st – May 1st

Winter Solstice                   June 20-23rd

Brigid                                   August 2nd

Vernal Equinox           September 20-23rd

Beltane                       Oct 31st – Nov 1st

Summer Solstice         December 20-23rd

Lughnasadh                    February 2nd

Todays colourful Sunset