Saturday, August 25, 2012

Q - Quicksilver #paganblogproject

Quicksilver is more commonly called mercury these days, in honor of the Roman God of the same name. It's Latin (scientific) name is Argentum vivum, meaning living silver. 

Oh, how interesting, dear readers! I'm not going to go into details about who did this work and when ('cause it's their work, and I don't need the back-lash), but my sweetie and I have some UPG (unverified personal gnosis) about quicksilver being used in the creation of a very powerful egregore.

An egregore, for those unfamiliar with the concept, is a thoughtform, and as such, it can be created by a magician and then fed power/spirit until it becomes a Spirit itself. If enough people work with a thought/spirit, it exists. This is, by one way of thinking, how Gods are made.

So, say you were making an egregor from quicksilver. What would YOU breathe into that being?

There's a watery-ness to this liquid metal already.

It is heavy and dense -- the heaviest of all the natural liquids on Earth.

It is related to Mercury (and Hermes, Thoth, etc.) -- so communication, travel, technology, computers, writing, magic, alchemy ...

It is as reflective as a mirror.

It is both a poison and a medicine.

Check out this interesting article for lots of cool facts about the strange physical properties of this liquid metal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of In Her Service (first edition of Aphrodit'e Priestess) by Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Several years ago, this lovely review was made of the first iteration of Aphrodite's Priestess, my very first book and one of premier English-speaking works on the modern worship of Aphrodite. (Because it WAS several years ago, some bibliographic  details have changed -- like the book's title, my last name, the publishing house. You know, little things.)

Aphrodite's Priestess
Laurelei Black
Asteria Books, 2009

All you need is Aphrodite by Eva Yaa Asatewaa

Some months ago, Laurelei Dabrielle--High Priestess of Dragon's Eye Coven--sent me an invitation to review her book, In Her Service: Reflections from a Priestess of Aphrodite (Magic Woods Publishing, 2007). I was in the middle of one of the busiest times in both my personal and professional life. It was sent in the form of an e-book, which usually makes me leery--quality being a gamble there. I took a look at the stack of pages emerging from my printer, took a quick flip through ("Chapter 1: Priestess or Prostitute?") and thought, "Right...I'll get around to this someday..."

Someday--coincidentally?--turned out to be July 22, which is the Great Lady Mary Magdalene's day and, as I learned from Dabrielle's text, deep into Hekatombaion, the first month of the Athenian calendar, during which fell the bathing feast known as Aphrodisia. I also discovered that there was much to admire and enjoy in Dabrielle's well-written account of this little-publicized aspect of pagan practice.

Raised a Baptist in the Midwest, Dabrielle began to explore neopagan paths through the Internet and some covens and eventually felt most called to service of the One she calls "the violet-crowned Kyprian" and many other expressive honorifics. She interprets and honors Aphrodite in a way that makes sense to her, and she's not out to convert anyone to her particular approach. She is, by her own admission, a "hodge-podge," and I can certainly identify with her eclecticism and avoidance of dogma. She does not take herself too seriously, and her voice, throughout the book, is conversational even when authoritative.

If you have never considered Aphrodite (a.k.a. Venus) a serious goddess, then read this book, and the scales will fall from your eyes. I remember once hearing someone opine that the reason so many ancient statues of Aphrodite are armless is because they were deliberately ordered de-armed by the testosterone-fueled, but highly threatened, powers that be. I can't say if that's historically accurate, but Dabrielle underscores the formidable power of Aphrodite as more than a beneficent, even lightweight and easily-trivialized, goddess of romance and sensuality. The Lady should be understood as a Great Goddess archetype--Mother Creator, Majestic Harlot and Fierce Avenger. In Her Service relates the interwoven myths that show Aphrodite in all of these powerful roles.

Okay, so what about the nervous-making "prostitution" angle? Dabrielle includes an extensive discussion of the historical practice of "temple prostitution" or "sacred sex" and its problem for modern sensibilities and United States law but argues that "sex is only one aspect of Her service" and, indeed, an aspect that can be omitted if does not suit you. Priestesses did then and do now invoke, contact and often embody the Goddess, enabling supplicants to benefit from Her energy, whether it be through simple, compassionate acts of warmth and kindness or through actual ritual copulation as in the neopagan Great Rite (physically uniting the embodied Goddess and God). While Dabrielle notes the many ways in which Aphrodite worship may be expressed, she has her personal limits and counsels readers to decide what's best for them and respect their own boundaries, too.

"At its essence," she writes, "the force at work is that of Love," and goes on to speak about the priestess (and Goddess) as healer in a way that reminds me of the wonderful role Ann Margaret played in the movie Grumpy Old Men! Really! Rent that very funny movie, and you'll see what I mean!

Besides the personal and historical material, Dabrielle offers examples of ritual procedure, a mytho-history of the Venusian idea, some lovely description of the Three Graces (considered by some to be daughters of Aphrodite and ideal models for us) and the Oreads, mountain nymphs (who gift Aphrodite with unpolished gems and wildflowers, appealing to Her wilder side). She previews a book she's working on which should please potential lesbian and bisexual fans of The Goddess who might otherwise wonder what all of this has to do with them.

Dabrielle also lists and translates numerous names for Aphrodite, breathtaking in their diversity. Some of them are:
  • Eurynome: Creatress who rose from Chaos and danced all creation into being
  • Moira: Fate
  • Ambologera: Postponer of Old Age
  • Chrysheie: Radiant Like Gold
  • Euploios: Fair Voyage
  • Praxis: Action
  • Epitymbria: She of The Tombs
  • Callipygos: Beautiful Buttocks
and the inevitable
  • Porne: Goddess of Lust and Patroness of Prostitutes
The message of Aphrodite meditations and rituals seem always to be thus: Find beauty within oneself and love it fiercely. I certainly can't argue with that!

(c)2008, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Monday, August 20, 2012

Q - Qayin (Kain, Cain) #paganblogproject

All Gods are not one God. The Ancients didn't see it that way, and I am  not trying to put forth that claim, either. And yet, there are Gods -- great, ancient spirits (daemons ... δαίμων) who are so closely related in myth and religion that we can't mistake their relation. Just as a Red Thread connects us to the Witchfather who brought the Cunning Fire to humanity, so too does the Red Thread connect many of the beings from whom mankind has sought wisdom.

This is my and Natalie's experience with Azazel (who is called a demon -- literally, a "spirit"-- and an angel -- "messenger"), Qayin/Cain and Tubal Cain, as we've expressed at our American Folkloric Witchcraft blog. Very directly, in our communications with the Witchfather, he uses these names of himself almost interchangeably, and we have come to use them the same way.

There are other sources of information, though, that inform our understanding of Qayin-Azazel, and we'd like to share them.

Melek Taus

"Melek" means "king" or "angel" and "taus" means "peacock." The peacock angel is the central figure, the benevolent and creative demiurge, of the Yezidis. He is seen as repentant after the fall from God's grace, his tears quenching the fires of hell.

Though the Yezidis would disagree, others in the Arabic world (particularly those practicing Islam), equate melek Taus with Lucifer or Satan. Kabbalistically, Yahweh rules in the heavenly/spiritual kingdom of Kether, and Melek Taus (Lucifer/Azazel) rules in the earthly kingdom of Malkuth.

Within the sacred text of the Yezidis, the Black Book, specific reference is made to Azazel, equating the Peacock Angel with Azazel. There are several versions of this book extent from the Middle Ages, copies transcribed online.

Alchemical Symbol for Antimony
Azazel and Alchemy

We have touched on Azazel before, but there are some specific and noteworthy things to share about Azazel's connection to alchemical lore.

Enoch reveals to us that Azazel shares with humanity "all the metals and the art of working them...and the use of antimony." As it turns out, antimony (or stibium), was critical to the alchemical process of creating the Philosopher's Stone. This same element was called kuhl (or kohl) by the ancient Arabs. (You might also recall references to women decorating their eyes with this substance, and that art also being taught by Azazel. This may, in fact, have been a veiled reference to the alchemical process and not to cosmetics at all.)

Sir Roger Bacon tells us that when antimony is processed with vitriol, it is reduced to a "noble red oil" with all of the lesser sulfur having been purified out of it in the process. Red, then, is Azazel's color.

It is doubly his color when we consider that man is made from red clay, according to Middle Eastern tradition, and that Azazel is master of the material world from which man is made.


Oh my Holy Goat, there is so much that needs to be said about Lucifer in relation to the Witchfather. There is so much dross to sift through, so much misinformation that has been propogated about this one figure over the millenia, to reach the golden kernels of wisdom.

For now, let's keep it very simple, shall we?

Lucifer is the "light-bearer." He is Qayin in the East, the Morning Star. He is the torch-bearer of wisdom, inspiration, the Divine Spark, the Cunning Fire.

He is "Prometheus" (literally, "fore-sight"), who rebelled against God (the Gods) to give Fire (the Cunning Fire) to mankind and fell from Divine Grace.


The Nephilim, the "Fallen Angels" or spirits who descended into the material realm to interact with and guide mankind, were first seen as the "Shining Ones" or Gods of Sumerian lore. We've mentioned them before, and we'll write more about them in future posts, but for now, I'd just like to make the connection between Utu/Shamash and Azazel.

It's not a new connection. We're not the first to have made it, by any stretch. You can read this account, for starters. (There's lots of information there about goetic daemons and their counterparts in other lore.)

Utu is the Sumerian name, while Shamash is the Babylonian name for the Sun God of justice,law and salvation. He is linked in a triad with the Nannar-Sin (the Mood God) and Ishtar (the fertility-Earth Goddess, who incidentally is represented by the planet Venus, the Morning and Evening Star).

Ishtar and Shamash are divine twins.

*** This entry is re-posted from an entry I made to the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog. Interested in Qayin? Read more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marketplace Policy and New Blade & Broom blog

I've cooled off a fraction of a degree since my post on patriarchy and policy last week. That tiny bit is enough to re-direct my wrath not so much at the marketplace who hosts my shop (Etsy), but at its proper source, the FDA. The policy changes are top-down mandates from the federal government, and Etsy just happens to be a little over-zealous in their enforcement.

As Moma Sarah of Conjured Cardea has re-iterated, though, you really shouldn't "shit where you eat." Etsy is trying to cover its own rather large tookus, and they are interpreting the FDA's regulations on medical drug claims more stringently than most venues. Okay. I still need a place to sell my goods, and Etsy still seems to be working out well for me in that respect. They (Etsy) don't want trouble with the feds, and I don't want trouble with Etsy.

However, I still have an issue with the feds, and I think the laws are becoming too strict. If my issue is with a higher authority, I need to take it to them.

Is the FDA trying to protect us? Sure. Are they being ridiculous about it? Have you paid attention?

That mighty hand of Justice that moves within me simply doesn't allow me to sit back and let my government make bad choices for me and my neighbors. I paid attention in Civics class. First they come for a stranger; then they come your neighbor; then they come for you.

So, I have an Action Plan:

1. I have already revised all of my listings at Etsy. (I actually did that on day 1, as I didn't want my shop to be closed before I ever figured out what was going on.) The words "health" and "healing" have been removed from all my listings except in the context of "spiritual healing" -- which isn't a medical claim at all. Words like "insomnia" and "migraine" are gone. I've left terms like "wellness" and "relaxation" -- general states of being. In these listings, we've only included the metaphysical/magical properties.

2. I've created a blog specifically for Blade and Broom Botanica. I know some other Witchy, conjure, Pagan retailers combine their personal blogs with their business efforts, but Natalie and I both feel odd about that. Neither of us wants to feel like we are trying to sell our readers flying ointment and wands when you've signed on to read about our magical experience. We're happy to talk about our products, though, as we are uber-proud of them, and they ARE a huge part of our magical experience. At the Blade & Broom blog, we'll give complete product descriptions -- including both physical and metaphysical properties of herbs, gems, etc -- and talk about the crafting/Crafting process. In the event that we have products that completely unavailable at Etsy, we will also have descriptions and purchase information at the blog.

3. I'll be educating myself about the bills before Congress regarding herbalism, "fortune-telling," and anything else that affects the free practice of my religion. Witches have traditionally not just done this work for themselves, but have done it for a living and I find no shame or anything unethical in providing herbal, ritual, divinatory, or other Craft services for my clients. I'd rather not have our society revert to the 1500's, though, where I an my fellows must practice and work in secret, always fearing reprisals from a government that is too heavily infused with conservative religion.

4. The point above means that I'll probably be making a damned nuisance of myself to my elected representatives at the state and national levels. My writing talents will get used in new and interesting ways, yes indeed. (Not that I have already written to elected officials, mind you.) I'll probably end up on some watch list of Militant Hippy Witches, if I'm not already. C'est la vie!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Aw! I'm so schmoopy, giggly, and sparkly right now that I feel like a glitter-bomb just exploded in my lap. Thank you, Elle Hull of Avalon Blessings for nominating me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Per the award, as I understand it, I'm proudly displaying this award, sharing 7 (perhaps unknown) tidbits about myself, and nominating another 15 very inspiring bloggers to receive love and admiration on their hard work.

Seven Fun Facts About Laurelei Black

1. I have two children who are currently aged 12 and 9. I sometimes refer to them as Harmonia and Eros -- and have since they were each infants. That's based more on their personalities and proclivities than my relationship with Aphrodite. My daughter is a sensitive and artistic Piscean peacemaker, while my son is sensual little Tauran who shows an early and clear preference for leggy blonds. They are both snuggling, sweet love-bugs -- both smart and beautiful, both creative and happy.

2. My Sun is in Libra, Moon is in Gemini, Ascendent is in Capricorn. Concepts of justice and equality, beauty and harmony, are the order of the day for me. I am very orderly and organized, even within what sometimes seems like chaotic clutter. (It's always a lovely sort of chaos -- very artistic!)

3. I have two partners -- Natalie Black and Joe Black. Natalie and Joe were together for 5 years before I entered the relationship. We have all been together for 4 years now. (Our anniversary is in just a couple of weeks, actually.)

4. None of us are legally named Black. =) I have the closest claim to the name, as my father's biological father was named Black. So, if my dad had been raised by that man, my maiden name would have been Black. However, Dad was adopted, so neither of us ever carried that name.

5. Laurelei is a nickname I got at the age of four. I lived in Germany at the time, where my dad was stationed in the Army. My parents had a friend who called me Laurelei as a play on my given name (Laura) and the spirit of the Rhein (Rhine) River. Later, my college roommate called me Laurelei in honor of Marilyn Monroe's character Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was after I took the name for a belly dance stage name that my father said he had wanted to name me Laurelei/Lorelei, but my mother had insisted on Laura (like my grandmother). Practically all my friends call me Laurelei at this point, especially within the Pagan community, and it is an official AKA for me at this point. =)

6. I've named every car I've ever owned. The first one was named Bubbles. My favorite car ever was named Sydney -- after Sydney Biddle Barrows, the Mayflower Madam. (I'm not revealing the current vehicle's true name. Too much power for some folks! *wink*) While one car was named for an actual prostitute, I'm now realizing they ALL sort of sound like hooker names. =) I like that!

7. I'll be 37 years old in a little over a month, and I am happy to say that I live with my parents! My father, (step)mother, both partners, kids and I share a communal, multi-generational home in a bedroom community to the southwest of Indianapolis. We have a total of 4 cats (2 are theirs, 2 are ours), 2 rabbits, and 3 wee fish. We have a garden, a pond, an orchard, and we have plans for chickens and bees. If Natalie and I had our way, there would also be goats, but I don't think anyone else is buying into this plan. We all support each other as best we can, and ours is a family built on Love and Will.

Now, my nominations for 15 Very Inspiring Bloggers!

Natalie Black -- Glaux's Nest -- Total, unabashed bias here. And love. AND she absolutely deserves it because my baby is amazing and inspires me all the time. She is a phenomenal Witch and she is starting on some art that is going to knock everyone socks off!

Vera Melata -- Crocosmia -- I can't say enough beautiful things about this blog or the woman who writes it. She is my soul's sister. She is our coven sister. I may be biased, but like Natalie, she is 100% deserving of nomination because she is a source of inspiration for me every single day. Musician, writer, poet, baker, free spirit! She is my Artemis, and I adore her!

Sarah Lawless -- The Witch of Forest Grove -- I can't say enough about Sarah's talent as a Cunning Woman, artist, writer, poisoner, woodworker, and more. I've been following her work since before I knew it was *her* work. Her path and work is so startling similar to my own (in some respects) that I find myself pushing (myself) to differentiate so that I don't seem like a drooling, copycat fangurl.

Robin Artisson -- Tracks in the Witchwood -- Love him or loathe him, Robin is nothing if not inspirational to the people of Blogland. To be clear, I adore him. Do I agree with every syllable he's every written? Um ... no. The same can be said for anybody on this list. I argue with Natalie all the time. I disagree with Sarah sometimes, but I don't feel the need to attack. People do love to attack the Robin. I have my theories on that -- worthy of their own blog entry, which they will get. My point? Inspiring! (And he makes me giggle.)

Sannion -- The House of Vines -- Sannion's writing was some of the first I read when I was first exploring Hellenismos. He's another somewhat controversial author among certain factions of Hellenic Polytheists (because of strange political and syncretic things that non-Hellenic Recons don't even know exist), but take a wild guess at how much I care? Yep, about that much. He is both reverent and irreverent -- just as you'd expect of a devotee of Dionysos. The maenad in me loves this man!

Cory and Laine -- New World Witchery -- I love this blog. Oh, boy! So much good info about Witchcraft and Magic in the Americas. Because Natalie and I have called our Tradition "American Folkloric Witchcraft," you might have noticed that we have an interest in such things. Cory and Laine do a great job on focusing on what magic and Craft looks like in this hemisphere, and I for one am quite inspired by that!

Jhenah Telyndru -- Seeking the Holy Isle -- Jhenah is an amazing woman. She and the Sisterhood of Avalon were my first introduction to the world of Goddess Spirituality, and I am so, so grateful and honored for the mentorship I found during my time within the SoA. Jhenah's writing is beautiful, compassionate and strong. I hope to lure her to our Women's Goddess Retreat someday very soon.

Daphne -- Lykeion of Apollon -- Daphne is a brilliant artist and devotee of Apollon. Inspirational blogs? The Greek God of art, music, light, and prophecy ... the ring-leader of the Muses, as it were ... lends his very name to this page, and oh, how his hand is upon Daphne! Brilliant -- in every sense!

Ruadhan McElroy -- Of Thespiae -- Rhuadhan is a worshipper of Eros who blogs pretty regularly about Eros, the Erotes, Thespian and Boietian worship, and his own personal relationship all of the aforesaid. I love his personal approach to his practice -- which I find perfectly fitting for those of us drawn to the Gods and Goddesses of Love. =) Of COURSE we're going to get personal with it!! He's a love, and he's done valuable research about non-Athenian Hellenic worship.

Jessica Reynolds -- Shuffling Fate -- Jess is a friend of mine and Nat's locally -- well, "locally" when we lived a little further south. She's a wonderful, witchy, FOXY lady with an open heart and a flowing magical spirit. Her eyes and voice simply sparkle, and I think that translates in her blog on Tarot.

Shannon  -- Blue Bird Grove -- Shannon is one of the most talented local artisans I know. She's so crafty and earthy. Her vision and skills are truly inspirational to me. This blog of hers is dedicated to the kitchen craft aspect of her world, which is as fascinating to me as it is foreign. I am many things, but a Kitchen Witch isn't one of them. Kudos to Shannon for embracing it with grace and style!

Moma Sarah -- Conjured Cardea -- I loves me some Hoodoo, mmhmm. And Miss Conjured Cardea, or Moma Sarah, she shore has one of the best shops and blogs related to conjure, rootwork and hoodoo around. I am inspired by her success and proud of the niche that she has carved out for herself.

Mojo -- Treading the Crooked Path -- Such a wonderful blend of Cunning Craft and old school western occultism. I want to seduce Mojo into presenting at Babalon Rising (and I *KNOW* they would be a great fit) and then do amazing Witchcraft rituals in the woods. Nothing less!

Veles -- Adventures in Witchery -- I really enjoy this Traditional Craft blog. I do, I do. And I love that Veles describes himself as a baker, awesomely bearded, and a Texan, in addition to being a Witch. I. myself, am a Baker (well, by genealogy, not by trade), a Texan (originally -- but ask any Texan, and they'll tell you that your citizenship is good for a lifetime), and a Witch. I'm not awesomely bearded, but I like that it's in his description. It pleases me.

Shivian Balaris Morgan -- Shivian -- Shivian's blog is visually stunning, poetic, edgy, and so full of magic that it tells its own tales of American Craft in Chicagoland. I love it. I love what Shiv does -- both as a visual/graphic artist and as a professional Witch!

Okay. Whew! Those are the 15 I picked. No small task. I could have chosen more, for certain. So many talented and inspiring people in my little world -- some who know I'm watching and some who don't. Thanks to you all for showing me why I work, why I make my own contribution. Thanks for giving me the gift of your art, your passion, your magic.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

P - Pickingill, Old George #paganblogproject

George Pickingill ("Old George" as he was often called) is probably the most infamous Cunning Man of the 19th Century. He lived and worked in Canewdon is Essex (the southeastern part of England, for those of us not brushed up on our British geography). The town of Canewdon has a long association with witchcraft and the paranormal, dating back to the 1500's and a spinster named Rose Pye, followed shortly by another woman named Cicely Makin. In fact, local folklore holds that there will always be at least six cunning folk in Canewdon -- three of cotton (working class) and three of silk (upper class).

Old George was a laborer and is credited with being the founder of 9 covens in the counties of Essex, Hampshire, Hertforshire, Norfolk, and Sussex.

Most of the tales associated with him are incredible -- too incredible to fully believe in a great many cases. The book The Pickingill Papers is the compiled source of most of these stories. You can also read a great deal about Old George, and the book, at

One of the most important things to remember, as you sift through tales of this notable Cunning Man's life, is that he cultivated an air of mystery and magic about himself -- that same air that so many great magicians and sorcerers, priestesses and witches have cultivated. Marie Laveau, Aleister Crowley, and Old George all knew and used a powerful tool in their work -- something many have called Grey Magic.

Paul Huson, in his book Mastering Witchcraft, discusses using half-truths and manufactured secrecy in order to inspire within your target a susceptibility to the magic you are performing. THIS is Grey Magic, for certain -- or one aspect of it -- and it is at the heart of Old George's works.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not in any way disputing the man's magic, for I believe him to have been quite the shapeshifter, charmer, blaster, healer, and so on. I just ALSO believe him to be a master of image and branding, to put it in today's jargon. He was a talented publicist, Old George was!

Friday, August 10, 2012

P - Patriarchy, Policy, and Pissing off Witches #paganblogproject

I'm going to be ranting about Patriarchy (witch a capital Penis), but I want to make it very clear before I start that I absolutely love and adore men. The men in my life -- my father, partner, ex-husband, son, friends -- are all questioning, egalitarian, wonderful men. They are part of what is right in our culture -- striving towards (and achieving) true partnership with women, each one enacting his/her Will, manifesting the Star within.

It is perhaps my beautiful view of the very real men in my life that makes me so perplexed and enraged when I encounter vestiges of Patriarchy, chauvinism, and male dominance in the world around me. I don't understand it. It is outside of my experience, and it feels like a betrayal -- a regression from the principals and work of my mothers and fathers over the last few generations.

Yesterday, I received notification that the major selling venue through which we have hosted all of Blade & Broom's wares has changed their product policy regarding anything that makes a "medical drug claim." In short, no seller is allowed to make any claims that "link a product to the cure or treatment of a health condition or disease. Medical drug claims are prohibited."

Okay, fine. It's a restriction for everyone's protection. We just need to throw in some CYA-language, right? Nope. They go on to say:

"Please note that this includes any historical references to medical drug uses for a given item, even if such claims are no longer widely believed. Furthermore, the presence of a disclaimer that the item is not FDA approved, will not make a medical drug claim meet our criteria."

How do I sell a tea without saying what it does? How do I list an herb without saying how and why it is used? The same questions can be asked about gemstones for healing, or poppets, talismans, candles, or other blessed items.

I'm angry with this listing service. I really am. This feels like Western medicine dominating and regulating herbalism and alternative healing. We've been here before, my friends. Midwives were restricted from their practice, and then punished, and then persecuted ... and then killed for heresy and witchcraft.

Am I over-reacting? Maybe not. It's been brought home to me recently thought I lost my teaching career because I published under my legal name while teaching in a conservative state. I'll never teach in a public school again because I'm a Witch -- at least not in Indiana. My partner, Natalie, lost her librarian post because we're openly gay. (She took bereavement leave for my grandmother's funeral last month, and they fired her for "excessive absenteeism." It was the first time she's taken off in 8 months.) There's a price for being loud and proud, and Natalie and I have already been paying it. I don't feel like I'm crying "Wolf!" on this new policy change.

Fortune teller laws still keep psychics and Witchy businesses on the outskirts of town in many places. How archaic is that? We have to label what we do "for entertainment" despite the fact that it comes from faith or belief. Tell the Baptists to write "for entertainment purposes only" at the bottom of their church signs, if you're going to make us do it! Your prayer is only as valid as my magic!

I'm a raging, Libran Witch, my friends, with a sword in one hand and scales in the other. I think I'm about to get active.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

O - Oaths #paganblogproject

Oaths can be very ticklish business within Witchcraft covens and magical societies. They are not idle words, and their interpretations can be quite complicated for all involved.

I learned years ago not to take an oath lightly. The first magical oaths I made were to my first coven and Tradition, and they were made in blood. *gasp* I know. Some of my readers will be shocked and appalled that any oaths would be made in blood, while others would expect nothing less. The philosophy behind the blood oath is that every bit of your life force, your magic, your Will, is encapsulated in one single drop of blood. To give it willing is to express  a willingness to die rather than betray the oath -- to put every ounce of Will and Life and Magic into the oath.

I have no objection to blood magic or to blood oaths, but my first Trad demanded this level of commitment for students at too new a place of study -- Witches who were too young in their magic and too green on the Path. If there had been no problems, or only a few problems, with those who took these oaths, I wouldn't be complaining. But ...


One of the bigger issues that I saw was not in coveners breaking their oaths. No. It was in the way a HPS would interpret the oath so that a covener might be labeled "oath-breaker" if they did something with which the HPS disagreed. More accurately, if they did something with of which she disapproved and then had the audacity NOT to apologize or take their meted out punishment. All the Fiends forfend  that a Witch should Know and Dare to do her own Will!

Oh? Do I sound bitter? Probably, yes. This is a serpent coiled beneath the rose that hath indeed struck deep into my heart.

Yes, yours truly was tarred and feathered as an oath-breaker. Unjustly. Painfully. And at a time when I needed the familial support of my coven, Tradition and HPS. No need for the bloody details. But the warning is this:

My HPS believed she removed me from the Tradition. (I was initiated as a 3rd Degree HPS, by the way. Even as a 1* Initiate, "removal" from that family wouldn't have been possible -- not according to the oaths we made to each other.) That was four years ago, almost. Where do we stand now? I'm as close with my former coven sisters as I ever was. One is my coven sister again, in my current coven and Trad. My HPS and I? Are our bonds cut? I know they are not. I dream accurately of her, just as I have for a decade. I have the rage of a dis-owned daughter, but I know we are still family. I love her, and I'm hurt and angry. Our oaths to each other, though, will forever keep us connected.

Beware your oaths. You can't un-make them. A bell cannot be un-rung.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

O - Ouija and Witch Boards #paganblogproject

I love the Ouija board. I really do. Natalie (Glaux) and I offer several forms of psychic or intuitive readings in the shop, but this is by far my favorite form of spirit communication and otherworldly guidance.

Divination and oracle by means of pre-printed letters, words and symbols which are then pointed to by a spirit have been known since the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Automatic writing, the pre-cursor of the board -- has been in use since ancient China. The Ouija (TM) board was named, trade-marked and mass-produced relatively recently, but the concept of the talking board is literally ancient.

Ouija gets a bad reputation from folks who don't know how to properly protect themselves while using it. Natalie and I ALWAYS work within a circle with their OUIJA (the favorite board for both them and the spirits of the several boards in their home). Our circle (compass and caim) is actually   triple-cast, making it an extremely safe space within which to call up spirits. Furthermore, when we're calling on a spirit whose motivations and personality are known to be dubious, we create a triangle around the board. The magician's triangle is a time-honored method of confining a spirit to a specific place.

We've designed our board, based on the circle and triangle, but it isn't ready to be produced for sale yet. We have one proto-type which is still under construction.

I've also received a board as a gift from a Blade & Broom client. The make of the board was very pleased with the reading she received from me (a combo of Dark Mirror and Ouija), and she made the board as a custom tool for me.

N -- Nuit (pictures) #paganblogproject

by Jason Augustus Newcomb

by William-Adolphe Bouguereau