life

Who You Are in the Dark.

With everything that’s happened lately, I can’t really bring myself to post another update of the recent non-events of my life.

The most galling part is that it’s probably not that likely that police-on-civilian murder is actually on the rise — it’s just seen. With police forces allowed to self-regulate for so long with virtually no accountability, it really seems like the only reason that the Minneapolis police department responded by actually firing the officers involved and charging one with the murder of George Floyd is because the public’s eyes were on them, and irrefutable proof was spread far and wide.
Just look at all of the cops who get put on “administrative leave” instead.
Look at all of the “good cops” that look the other way when the “bad cops” go rabid.

Or, for a related example, look at the Glynn County Police Department’s complete non-response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It was only when the video went viral that anything was done. Look at the cops macing literal children.

I’m torn about providing links here.
On one hand, if you don’t know these specific cases, a link would be helpful. On the other, it’s all searchable, and I feel profoundly weird about possibly directing people to images of the victims’ suffering. Not because they’re disturbing (they should be disturbing) but I have feelings about dignity in death and it should be enough to know it happened without seeing it. I don’t know. I’m rambling. Google at your own risk.

Property is replaceable. People aren’t. None of the victims did things that were punishable by death, and I support any community that protests in response. It’s obvious that waiting for the people in charge to do the right thing achieves nothing. Nonviolence is a very specific protest strategy — when it doesn’t work, it’s time to abandon it.

Who you are in the dark, where no one can see your good or bad deeds, is who you are. Choosing to do the right thing because there are witnesses, or a viral video, or you might get fired or jailed, or you fear some kind of eternal damnation or other divine retribution, doesn’t make you a good person. It makes you an amoral coward.

I don’t really know what else to say. If you’re in a position to help, there’s a GoFundMe set up to benefit George Floyd’s family and cover his funeral expenses, another to cover legal aid for Minnesota protesters, and a list of local bail funds to help protesters in your city or state. If you are planning to attend a protest, please do so safely and responsibly, learn how to help in a medical situation, and keep an eye out for shit-stirrers. Even if you can’t donate or protest in person, there’s a list of anti-racism resources with other things everyone can do for a more just world.

Believe people when they tell you they’re suffering.

Burning incense.
life, Witchcraft

Rosemary for Remembrance

My family has a long history of military service stretching back on both sides — all the way back to the soldiers in Acadia and beyond. I don’t know the names of my ancestors who died in war, though I’m sure there must have been some. Monday was Memorial Day, so I thought I’d do a Witchcraft Wednesday post on a ritual for memorializing the departed. Even if your Memorial Day plans don’t include rituals or spellwork, or you usually perform your remembrance work around Samhain (when the veil between worlds is thinnest), this is a good, simple working for this time of year.

All you’ll need are:

  • A white (or natural beeswax) candle
  • Rosemary oil (optional)
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • A piece of string or ribbon
  • The names, photos, or even just visualizations of your departed ancestors
  • Other herbs or woods associated with remembering or honoring the dead, like marigold. Oak is symbolic of strength, vitality, and victory, and is often a motif on military headstones.

Begin by anointing the candle with rosemary oil, if you wish. Next, fashion the rosemary into a wreath and tying it with the string or ribbon. If it is large enough, place it around the base of the candle. If not, place it before it. Inhale the sweet green aroma, as rosemary is the herb of remembrance. Let whatever memories or images it conjures up for you flow.

Fresh herbs.

If you have photos or belongings from the deceased, or even just other herbs, leaves, or flowers, arrange them how you wish. There is no right or wrong way.

You can say a few words acknowledging your lost ancestors’ bravery or sacrifice, if you wish. This is a complicated time for many people, and that’s okay. Many people choose military service as a way for them or their families to escape poverty, which is a terrible choice to have to make. Even if you are a pacifist, or are against the wars that they fought, you may wish to acknowledge the courage it took to go into the battle that claimed their lives.

Light the candle.

Say,

“The ones you left behind mourn you, but you are beyond pain and fear. You did not return home, but you are alive in our hearts and minds. Be at peace.”

If your belief system includes reincarnation, now is a good time to visualize your ancestor as they might have been reborn — free and happy, in a healthy, uninjured body. You can add some words to that effect, if you wish.

Allow the candle to burn. Dispose of the ritual remains in a manner appropriate to your tradition.

Though Memorial Day is for honoring the fallen, there are those still living who have sacrificed their well-being. The Wounded Warrior Project has a variety of veteran programs designed to help them move forward with mental and physical wellness, career and VA counseling, and more. If you can, please consider donating.

divination, life

A road-opening reading from Justincasetarot

Note: This post contains affiliate links to the person who read for me. Thank you for supporting tarot readers and this site!

It’s said you should never read cards for yourself, and, for the most part, I agree — especially with long, complex readings. The more information you have to grapple with, the more likely you are to insert your own interpretations that may be a little off the mark. In a reading where the interpretation of one card can be dependent on the interpretation of others around it, injecting too much of your own hopes and desires can make things confusing and inaccurate.

That’s why I occasionally like to have someone else read for me, especially if I want a lot of information. This time, I chose Justincasetarot’s Ganesha spread.

My own pantheon is a bit limited — I have a very few deities that I work with. While Ganesha isn’t one of them, he is one of my favorite Hindu deities. Even though I don’t make requests of him, I still sometimes leave offerings for him during Ganesh Chaturthi — especially puffed rice, bananas, and incense.

(I actually do this for a lot of deities that I don’t really have a relationship with. I feel like looking up their taboos and leaving offerings they might like is the spiritual equivalent of telling a stranger on the bus “Happy birthday,” you know? It’s just polite. If they don’t want it, they can ignore it.)

According to the listing, this spread answers six specific questions:

  1. Why is your way blocked?
  2. What energy is needed as the first step to unblocking your way?
  3. What energy do you already have that will aid you?
  4. What do you need to rid yourself of on the way?
  5. What is Lord Ganesha’s lesson here?
  6. What will be the results of your way being opened?

I sent the reader the information they needed, and received a very detailed reply the next day.

In short, my way is blocked by miscommunications and money matters, which wasn’t a surprise. I need balance, guidance, and unorthodox action to take the first step to removing this block. Fortunately, I’m already pretty gutsy — if there’s one thing I’ll say for myself, I can act with bravery — and this will help me. Along the way, I’ll need to carefully consider where I get my information from, and refuse to waver from my position.

Lord Ganesha’s lesson here was primarily to stay positive, and be patient. The feeling of being trapped by obstacles will start to go away. I often get the message to wait, even from my own readings for myself. It’s possibly the most frustrating part!

Lastly, the results of unblocking the way will be that my talents begin to shine. Creative partnerships flourish, and I will realize that I don’t need to actively seek validation in order to feel validated.

All told, this reading was very helpful and detailed. It matched a lot of information I’ve received before (though not all of it was something I wanted to hear, admittedly). I was especially impressed by Justincasetarot’s response time — like I said, I sent in the request one day, and had a PDF of the reading in my inbox the next!

If you’re feeling stuck or blocked in life right now, I highly recommend this reading. It’s reasonably priced, very detailed, and answers a lot of key questions.

Neodruidry, life, Witchcraft, divination

The Accidental Journey

When I was little, I loved to sleep. I still do, to be honest.

At least, the adults around me thought it was sleep. I wasn’t really sure what it was. While hypersomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, sleeping was never really just a means to an end.

I didn’t really have any privacy growing up, I didn’t have my own bedroom until I moved out — if I didn’t have to share it with my brother, I had to share it with my mother. You couldn’t even get five minutes in the bathroom without someone either banging on the door or just barging in. But the time and space behind my eyelids was mine.

When I was little, I learned the patterns my brain followed when it started its spiral into sleep. As soon as my thoughts turned into free-association nonsense, I learned to tweak them just enough to influence my dreams. If I timed it just right, I could dream lucidly, or, if nothing else, have dreams that were vividly beautiful and meaningful to me.

Sometimes, I wouldn’t be tired enough to descend into sleep. I experimented with ways to make myself dream — slowing my breathing, blinking my eyes in certain patterns, listening to certain songs, repeating phrases or disembodied snippets of poetry under my breath.

The first “awake dream” I had shocked and confused me as much as it delighted me. It was brighter and more vivid than the most memorable lucid dream I had, and I still retained a sense of the “real” world around me — I had a sense of awareness in two places at once, and gently ignored the walls around me for the impossibly lush, green gateway ahead. Unlike a dream, I could control my body. Unlike a fantasy, I couldn’t control anything else.

I didn’t know hedge riding, shamanism, or path-walking was a thing yet, I was only eight or nine years old. I kept it to myself, knowing that my experiences would either be dismissed as childish make-believe or decried as somehow demonic.

It was a long time before I learned what it was, and how lucky I’d been. I learned that doing this could be useful for more than just me. I’d spent a lot of time journeying as a scared, angry kid, and was fortunate to find things that (for the most part) were helpful at soothing my hurts and teaching me to avoid the destructive patterns I was being taught. It was because I was able to accidentally find my way there that I was able to find my way into a better life.

I know I was extraordinarily lucky, and things could have gone very wrong if I hadn’t been. Waking, sleeping, or journeying, I’m grateful every day for the way they turned out.

Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.
life, Neodruidry, Witchcraft

Walking the Talk

I had a dream the other night. It was about someone I haven’t seen in years, and virtually never dream about. We were close at one point, but time and circumstance eventually decided otherwise.

In this dream, I was faced with a decision: I wanted to try to take on some of a soul debt that they’d incurred, to make things right again. I kept being told that I couldn’t. It wasn’t mine to take, and nothing I did was actually going to “fix” things.

It’s a bad habit I have. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to manage people’s moods, to keep mommy from getting screamy, or my younger siblings from getting in trouble. I’ve always been sensitive to noises as it is, especially a raised voice or the sound of a slap. Even now, as an adult, the thought drives nails into my brain and twists my stomach into hard, acidic snarls. Like Kiko, who immediately searches for the source of the sound any time she hears a video of a kitten meowing, I tie myself in knots to make all of the bad things stop. While “trying to fix things” seems to be helpful on its face, it’s not a good habit to have. The ability to sit with discomfort and know when not to interfere is a skill worth cultivating.

This is all some very roundabout exposition to justify asking one question: Why do we do what we do?

The person in my dream once called themselves a shaman. There’s a lot of stuff tied up in that one word, many even hesitate to use it because it often comes with a heaping side of appropriated cultural practices. It’s one of those words, like “tattoo,” that is a loan word for a widespread thing. In some cultures shamanism was just called “journeying” or “hedge riding” (much as tattooing was called “pricking” or even “embroidering”) so using a distinct loan word from another culture had appeal. For most people curious about communicating with spirits through altered states of consciousness, it isn’t necessary to turn to appropriated cultural teachings. Your elders know the ways.

This person called themselves a shaman in a tradition where they were an outsider. But why?

Was it the appeal of gaining secret knowledge?
Was it an attempt to adopt something new and “exotic,” like a hermit crab coiling into a painted shell?
Or was it a genuine desire to use these skills to help their community?

Unfortunately, it didn’t end well. They lost friends and loved ones. They were pushed away. In the end, they weren’t any better off than when they started, and neither was their community. Whatever it was that they had sought, they didn’t obtain it.

I know another person who called themselves a green Druid witch. They were a powerful witch, too. But working within the framework they chose came with rules, so they found sly ways to work around them. So why adhere to a tradition to begin with?

Was it to position themselves as an expert?
Was it out of genuine belief and respect?
Was it because they thought it would fill a personal need?

In the end, that didn’t work out so well either.

I’ve also known doctors who seemed to practice more “eminence-based medicine” than anything else, so this isn’t restricted to people in the metaphysical/religious/esoteric community. There is no shortage of people with ulterior motives, even if they don’t realize it themselves.

In the pursuit of any knowledge, self-interrogation is important. Do we seek titles? Recognition? The uncovering of hidden talents? A broader set of skills for interacting with the world? Why do you do what you do?

Know yourself. Know your motivation. Self-deception always leads to loss.

 

divination, life, Witchcraft

And then she said my partner used to be my grandma.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. These let me earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting independent sellers and this site!

A couple of months ago, I came across an Etsy listing that piqued my curiosity: Couple Past Life Reading.

“Welp,” I thought, “This is going to go some interesting places.”

I don’t usually do past life-type stuff. It isn’t that I don’t think past lives are possible, it’s just not really relevant to how I live my life right now. I have also noticed a — shall we say — type that tends to be kind of way too into the idea. (For some reason, this kind of person also was, without fail, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, or Morgan le Fay in a past life. You’d be amazed at how much dead royalty’s walking around.) Still, for less than a twenty, I was down to find out what my partner and I were up to a lifetime or so ago.

underwater-1216244_640
This picture came up when I was looking for royalty-free pictures related to past lives. I’m not sure what’s up with these fish, but enjoy.

Now that COVID-19’s made it much tougher for a lot of people to earn a living, I figured it was also a good time to promote an inexpensive way to help someone keep a roof over their head, while getting some entertainment and insight and not having to worry about shipping.

So I sent a few pictures of my partner and myself to Rossana, and sat back to wait. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before she delivered. The report she gave was long and detailed, so I’m just going to hit the high notes:

We lived in the 18th century. He was my mother’s mother, and was afflicted with blindness after sustaining an injury while saving her son from a fall off of a horse. I read books to her and acted as her eyes — which was particularly interesting to me, since my partner drives and does other things I can’t do because of my vision loss.

He, as my grandmother, worked helping runaway teenagers, unwed mothers, and political dissidents. I never married, but I had two daughters and worked as a folk healer using herbs and the laying on of hands. I was also part of a secret society that helped women escape domestic abuse and gave them new lives and identities. My daughters’ father didn’t feature prominently in my life — he fled to Spain and eventually died. I lived a long time, and died at an old age.

Neat stuff, huh? I laughed when I found out that my partner was my grandma — no star-crossed romantic entanglement there! I did like that we were ordinary people, it made things much more interesting than finding out we were Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I also didn’t tell Rossana anything about our relationship, so finding out that I was his “eyes” in a past life (much as he is mine in this one) was pretty cool.

Did this change my perception of past life work? Not really, though it did stir up some curiosity in me. Rossana has a wide variety of other reasonably-priced readings available (including pendulum, runes, and Lenormand cards) so I’m definitely going to return to her in the future.

 

 

 

 

divination, life, Plants and Herbs

The Rowan and the Heather

This week, I wanted to dive back into Ogham divination. I’ve been practicing working with a pendulum made of a fallen cypress root, and the set I have is probably the most conducive to using it.

When I first learned pendulum divination as a preteen, I did it a simple way: hanging a ring or pendant from a piece of string into an empty glass, and asking it to show me “yes” and “no.” Usually, an even number of taps on the glass was a “yes,” while an odd one was a “no.” I’ve always enjoyed using pendulums, and I’ve been having a really interesting time devising ways to mix different types of divination together. Driftwood Ogham fews and a wood pendulum seemed a natural match!

I didn’t ask a specific question this time. So far, this set seems pretty good at telling me what I need to know. It isn’t much like tarot or Lenormand, in this respect. It’s less about answering questions than providing a different, more nebulous kind of insight. If Lenormand describes actions and situations, and tarot describes the energies and emotions surrounding those situations, Ogham is another layer entirely.

The pendulum was still over every oval of driftwood, except for two that made it swing in swift, ever-widening circles: Rowan and Heather.

Heather came up for me last week, when I asked specifically about working through some old patterns. These are things that are going to take more than a week to get past, so I’m not surprised to see this friend appear again.

Rowan is Luis. In Ogham divination, it represents protection from every kind of danger — physical, emotional, and spiritual. It’s defense, precaution, and care. Bind two rowan twigs into an equal-armed cross with red thread, and you have a protective charm. This points to either having protection, or needing it. In either case, it’s time to look to the things that make us feel safe.

rowan-berries-in-tetons-4054016_640

Honestly, it reassures me. If Heather points to needing to metaphorically “burn down” old protective patterns so new growth can emerge, Rowan tells me that they aren’t necessary. I am protected, I am safe. I don’t need them. There are healthy behaviors and mechanisms there, better ways to protect myself that don’t involve self-sabotage.

I can keep doing the work without fear, and I’ll be better for it.