Monday, January 13, 2020

2020 New Year Ritual

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

Every year I take a slightly different approach to releasing the previous year and welcoming the new one. Unlike years in the past, however, I decided not to make resolutions this year. Blasphemy, I know. I'm just tired of it and the work I feel that comes with it. Don't get me wrong, I have long-term goals and things I want to accomplish during my short life here on Earth, but I don't want to make resolutions any longer. I do, however, want to get a glimpse into what 2020 holds for me and make plans accordingly. That is where tarot comes in, with a bit of hedge riding thrown in for clarification.

To begin this ritual I took a nice warm shower. Showers are a really great way to quickly wash away negativity, the past, or whatever else you are trying to release. Unlike baths, showers move the energy away from your quickly instead of having you marinate in it. I'm sure that's exactly how you want to view your cleansing baths. Haha! During my shower, I visualized and reflected upon 2019. There were a lot of really great and a lot of terrible things that happened in 2019. Most of the bad happened right at the end of the year too, making it a little more difficult to remember all the great things that occurred. However, it's really important to remember the good over the bad and be grateful for those wonderful things. As I reflected on the good and bad, I let the stress of the bad and all the anxiety they caused wash down the drain. I didn't let the memories of those events go, however. Each anxiety-inducing, tear-jerking, scream-at-the-world moment is a moment to be learned from. You don't want to wash them away, never to think of them again. It's those moments that make us stronger.

After my shower, I added some items to my altar, laid out some candles and roses, and drew a salt circle on my bedroom floor. My altar was still adorned for Yule, but to it I added a dragonfly to aid in spiritual communication, amethyst to increase my psychic abilities, and howlite to bring clarity and insight. I also added a cup for juice and a slice of bread as an offering to the spirits helping guide me during this ritual.

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch, altar

In my circle of salt, for protection, I added 12 tea light candles, one for each month. In between each candle, I placed a rose for protection. While most people associate roses only with love and happiness, they are also potent and fierce protectors (think thorns). Once my circle was drawn and set up, I added my tarot deck of choice and an incense burner filled with mugwort incense to induce visions and increase psychic awareness and asked the spirits to join me in my ritual to provide guidance for the upcoming year. When ready, I sat down in the circle facing north and lit the first candle.

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

As the first candle burned, representing January, I began shuffling my deck until my intuition told me it was enough. I then spread the cards, hovering my hand over each until I felt compelled to draw a card representing January. Once the card was drawn, I began writing in my journal everything that came to mind while looking at the card. I stared into the candle flame, asking for guidance and clarification, and finally closed my eyes and entered into a moderate trance where I could receive any other messages the spirits needed to give me. I'm not so great at reading flames and smoke, but I am really good at receiving messages while in a trance. I wrote down everything and anything that came to mind, no matter how outlandish or simple it seemed. When reading, I moved to the next candle, repeating the same process until all the candles were lit, 12 cards were drawn, and my notes were taken.

When this initial reading process was finished, I picked up the guide book that comes with this tarot and began adding to the meanings I had associated with each card. For the most part, my previous notes were spot on and I'll have you know this is the very first time I have worked with this unconventional deck. However, the guide offered some questions that prompted me to look deeper into the messages, instead of just what was on the surface. When I felt I had divined all possible messages, I thanked the spirits for their help and invited them to partake in the juice and bread.

This was a very long ritual; I think it lasted almost 2 hours. Needless to say, I was super tired at the end of it and went outside to ground myself and feel the cool air on my face. I drank a glass of water and ate some food to help ground me as well and provide some much-needed energy.

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

Overall it was a fantastic and informative experience. I am still working out some of the details, but for the most part, I have a wonderful foundation to work with. Each month, I am drawing the card I originally pulled during this ritual and placing it on my altar, so you will likely see theses in my sabbat altars. By doing this, I get to see the card every day so it can remind me of my focus for that month. I was originally going to put together a little book or piece of artwork reflecting my entire year, but after thinking on it for the past 2 weeks, I decided the best way for me to be reminded of my path was to place the cards on my altar so they are the first and last thing I see each day.

So what does the year have in store for me? This is just a brief synopsis that I have put together and is by no means complete.

January: Integrity- stay true to myself and my beliefs; speak with conviction; I will be challenged this month and much decide if I should continue certain relationships (this is already happening and I am struggling to make a choice...that's the Libra in me)
February: Self- focus on self-love and self-care; its okay to be alone; chase dreams; break free from labels and chains; be wary of being too selfish
March: 6 of Earth- lead by example; give more than I take; take care of business now; have the strength and courage to persevere

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

April: Abundance- hard work pays off; windfall; new beginnings; give back to the community and to others
May: 2 of Fire- two heads are better than one; work together to accomplish big things; change is coming but with that change comes growth; there will likely be a power struggle this month; someone will come to help me overcome obstacles likely in the form of a spirit
June: Destiny- changes are in full force and it's going to get rough; time to break the chains and remember my dreams; ancestral healing; remember that no matter what life throws at me, I can handle it

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

July: 2 of Earth- balance (finally!); new beginnings; joy; compromise; remember to ask for help when needed; someone from beyond wishes to help me
August: Emotions- change is difficult; heed the message behind the emotions I am feeling and address them; remember this too shall pass; remember to laugh
September: Love- learn to love myself and others more fully but do not let love break you or control you; remain realistic, but open; pursue passions; ask "is this love or is this infatuation?"
October: 2 of Air- remember to keep learning; lessons repeat themselves until we learn them; possible loss; visit from a spirit

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

November: King of Earth- passion and richness; pay it forward; don't be lazy or misuse power; life is meant to be enjoyed
December: Healing- to be human is to be wounded; do not allow my pain to hurt others; shift attention and do not dwell on the past any longer; forgive (chord cutting ritual); possible illness

The resounding message is loud and clear: 2020 is going to bring about significant changes in my life and I have a feeling I know what they are related to. I know that I need to make a choice, or rather, several choices, that will define my future happiness and success. These choices and changes are going to be difficult, but worth it. They pertain to things I have been thinking about a lot lately, and I need to stop thinking about them and just do them.

ritual, witchcraft, new year, tarot, spell, hedgewitch

At the end of each month, I plan to go back and reflect on the card I drew and how it corresponded with that month and see if there are any additional messages I ignored or failed to act upon. I want to use these cards to grow and live my best life. That's not always going to be easy, but I know its worth all the work.

What did you do this year for your New Year Ritual? Did you gain any insights into what this year holds for you? Are you excited? Anxious? Ambivalent? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

January Wolf Moon Worksheet

full moon, magic, witchcraft, wolf moon, moon magic

January's Full Moon is often referred to as the Wolf Moon or Cold Moon, depending on the culture. The Native Americans commonly referred to it as the Wolf Moon because the wolf howls picked up during this time as it is the beginning of mating season. Furthermore, the wolves often moved closer to human encampments while looking for food, making their howls louder and easier to hear. As for the name Cold Moon, it was so named for it being winter and freaking cold, at least in the Nothern Hemisphere. This moon is commonly associated with spiritual and physical release and decluttering, and self-reflection. Being those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are often stuck indoors during this time it is a great time to grow spiritually through reading, practice, and meditation.

This month's Full Moon worksheet contains the usuals of my past Full Moon worksheets, including a to release and cleanse section, a box for your intuition, and a tarot spread. Unlike past worksheets, however, this one can be used every January, as it is based on the correspondences of the moon itself and not other astrological events. The 5-card tarot spread for the January Wolf Moon is designed with release and self-reflection in mind. What is holding you back? How can you overcome it and heal? What should you nurture now so you may be successful later?

full moon, magic, witchcraft, wolf moon, moon magic


Looking for more free worksheets? Why not get your free copy of my spell/ritual worksheet to write your best spells and rituals yet?

Monday, January 6, 2020

To the Isolated Witch, I See You

My original post for Monday can wait until Tuesday. I was going to design a Full Moon worksheet that could be used every year instead of just in 2020, but before I got started on its creation I sat down to read some of the survey results. If you haven't taken the survey I would love for you to do so. I am going to keep it open a bit longer to get a better idea of what you guys want, but there was a response at the end that really punched me in the gut.

The final question in my survey asks, "Is there anything else you would like me to know?" Many of the responses were thanking me for my work, which I greatly appreciate. You have no idea how much it means to me that my blog is enjoyed and appreciated, especially on a day like today when I was contemplating quitting. It costs me a lot of time and money to run this blog and as a teacher, I don't make a lot of money nor do I have a lot of time. But hearing the appreciation makes it all worth it. There was one response, however, that stuck out from the rest. It read, "I feel very isolated, surrounded by loved ones who don't get it or who actively dislike my beliefs."

I see you.

I hear you.

You are not alone.

Please reach out to me. Please send me an email or a private message on Facebook. I want to be your friend. I want to talk to you and support you and give you the love you deserve. No one, and I mean NO ONE, should ever feel isolated and alone because of their beliefs.

The witch community can be a fickle one for sure and often times a power struggle. I know and because of it I have distanced myself from it without actually leaving it. I definitely live that hedgewitch life, preferring to reside on the edge of things, still part of the community, but far enough away to be alone. But I am not a fickle friend. I show up, and I want to show up for you.

So to the isolated witches of the world, I see you practicing alone in the dark. I see you scrambling to hide crystals and candles so that friends and family won't judge you. I see you sitting quietly or standing boldly as someone you love and cherish criticizes your beliefs. I see you crying in the bathroom, wondering if it's worth it. I see you contemplating faking it to appease others. You. Are. Not. Alone.

Stand tall, even when you feel like crumbling.

Connect with others online and find friends. I want to be your friend.

When it doubt, read mythology and folklore and scientific books on herbs and crystals because no one can dispute your learning history, cultural traditions, and science.

I see you, even if others don't.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Book Review: The Magick of Food- Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven

kitchen witchcraft, witchcraft, witch, food magick, magic, rituals

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Yeah, I know. Two book reviews in a row. Probably not exactly what you wanted, but I promised myself and publishers that I would have these books reviews done before the end of the year. Nothing quite like procrastination right? However, I am especially thankful I have been given the opportunity to read and review these amazing books before they hit the shelves. To all my kitchen witches out there, this is a book for you.

The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven is a new and interesting approach to kitchen witchery. Unlike other kitchen witch books, this one focuses on the food itself and the act of preparing it. This is not your regular introduction to kitchen witchcraft and Wicca and lacks a lot of that beginner fluff so many of us are tired of reading about. Authors and publishers, please stop with the cookie-cutter introductory book already. But I digress once again. Raven covers a variety of food topics in this book, from the history of food to how you can use food in your modern magical practice. Scattered throughout are little nuggets (pun intended) of wisdom from a variety of authors, chefs, witches, and more and some fabulous recipes. I haven't cooked any of them yet, but reading them made my mouth water.

On top of it all, there are wonderful magical rituals included involving food. I don't know about you, but I love food; I purposely plan entire vacations around food! Raven speaks from this same place; this place of absolute love of food and the amazing things that come with it. His passion for food and the magic it contains is evident in his writing and his sense of humor. I really enjoyed reading about his personal stories that centered around food and it got me thinking about how the biggest events in my life had food at the center, how those smells and tastes bring me back to those moments and that there is amazing magic in that. Furthermore, Raven encourages healthy relationships with food, although he doesn't specifically say this is what he is doing. His exercises around mindfulness and listening to our bodies, even if they want that donut, encourages healthy eating habits by refocusing our attention on the act of eating and enjoying food, instead of just mindlessly eating because we have to or because we are bored.

While some of the historical interpretations, although seemingly well researched, seemed a little farfetched or speculative at times, the foundation the book is built upon is solid. However, there was some little attacks on GMOs at one point which science doesn't support, but otherwise Raven was understanding and mindful of food deserts and food insecurity and refuses to pass judgment on people eating what they need or have to in order to survive. If you are looking for a new book on kitchen witchery, the magic of food, or just looking to practice magic more often, I encourage you to pick up this book. Many witches I talk to complain about not being able to practice magic everyday and how it makes them feel less witchy for whatever reason. Raven offers practical, everyday solutions to practice magic daily through food because we all have to eat, right? That's what separates us from the dead. So prepare to put on your apron or head out to a restaurant and enjoy the magic of food.

The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven is currently available for preorder and will be released January 8, 2020. What a great start to the New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Review: Outside the Charmed Circle-Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene

Outside the Charmed Circle, book review, witch, witchcraft, gender studies, sexuality, pagan

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've read a lot of really great books this year on witchcraft, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, choosing to focus less on introductory books and more on specialized fields within magic. This book is no exception, and it is probably one of the most important books I will ever read. Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene may not be the book we wanted, but its the book we need, as a community, right now. And honestly, it's not just witches and pagans that need to read this; it's for everyone: witch, Christian, young, old, cis, trans, queer, and straight alike.

Outside the Charmed Circle is an in-depth, academic look at gender and sexuality in the magical community, as the title suggests, but it's so much more than that. Don't let the academic side of the book deter you from picking this one up. Furthermore, stop being afraid of discussing gender and sexuality. It's an uncomfortable subject to be sure, but one that absolutely must be addressed here and now in order for our world to become a safer, more inclusive place. But I digress. Misha, who is a nonbinary witch of 30ish years with a degree in gender studies, speaks with authority, compassion, and even a bit of humor throughout the book. They share their personal stories, some of which are funny and some of which are saddening, but those stories help the reader connect deeply with the subject matter.

The book dives deeply into what gender and sexuality are and what that means within magical practices and society as a whole. Misha covers everything from queer gods and goddesses (I can tell you I learned a lot here!) to sex magic to consent to forming your own magical praxis. I have to say, the chapters discussing consent and the queer gods and goddesses were my two favorite sections. As a victim of sexual assault, I appreciated the thought and consideration that went into the chapters on consent, and that it wasn't just about consent between two humans, but between humans and spirits and deities as well. They were beautifully written, empowering, and so refreshing. There have been a lot of talks lately about consent, sexual assault and homophobic, transphobic, and racist rhetoric and actions by pagan leaders (and those outside our community as well). Many of these "whistleblowers" have been attacked, marginalized, threatened, and forced into hiding because they had the audacity to challenge the idea that maybe some of the things we have been doing need to change. Like many of us, Misha grappled with these issues, even leaving paganism because they couldn't reconcile their beliefs with the atrocities happening within our community. I'm so glad Misha came back and came back with an amazingly brilliant book addressing many of these issues.

But Misha doesn't just tell the reader what is wrong with our community, they ask that we confront our own biases and work through them. There are a dozen or so exercises built into the chapters. Some are as simple as freewriting, while others are more in-depth rituals. I actually worked through every. single. exercise in this book. This is something I have never done before. I usually skip around and say I'll get back to it later, but not with this book. I was in Asheville, sitting alone in the bathroom writing while my SO slept or enjoying an orange in my kitchen in complete silence (apart from my cat Jane who also wanted to partake in said orange). The exercises Misha includes force us to confront our fears, misconceptions, and actions and to really evaluate why we feel the way we feel and why we do the things we do. It was utterly eye-opening to stare at my self naked in front of a mirror for an hour. I didn't want to do it, but I did. I wept a lot during that exercise (and I'm crying again now thinking about it), but I did it and have a newfound respect for what is mine.

The book ends with a call to action, that we have a long way to go and that this book and its exercises are not a one-and-done experience. I have strived to be inclusive, but this book let me know that I still have some changing to do; that I can do even more. So to my fellow queer witches, I'm scooting over on the bench and making some for you at our table.

Before I go, however, I had one issue with the book: the use of the term black magic. Misha probably uses it twice within the book, maybe three times. I found it interesting that a book on being inclusive would use a term rooted in racism. However, I feel this wasn't intended to be disrespectful, but instead, because we do not, as a community, have a word to describe the "darker" side of witchcraft that is universally accepted and understood. Furthermore, it is likely due to his background in the Feri tradition, which uses that term regularly as well as many other Wiccan traditions. But that's for another time.

Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene is currently available for pre-order and will be available on January 8, 2020. I encourage you to pick up a copy, share it with friends, and widen your spiritual practice and worldview just a little.