Do you like any of these pics?

My upcoming project—a two volume Book of Shadows—shares my journey as a witch, including a few photos of me from my scrapbook.

It’s hard to choose pics. I can’t be objective.

My community helped choose from photos I already posted, which was really useful. Thank you again!

These are 1997 pics of me in ritual garb. Susanne Kaspar—a professional photographer—took the pics. Should I include any in the books? If so, which ones?

I’m not asking your opinion about other people’s possible reactions. I want to know which you personally like, if any.

Each pic has a number above it, so you can tell me by number which you like.

They’ll be crisper and clearer in the book.

Thanks again so much!

(Yup, these pics were taken the same day as the photo on Be a Goddess!‘s back cover.)

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Lammas Ritual 2016

TeaPartyOBPlease join me for the Third Road Lammas celebration, Tuesday August 2, noon to 1:00 EST.

The Faerie Queen and King want to join us. We’ll do a visualization during which Oberon has promised to lead us in a forest frolic. And She has offered to bless us with Fey sparkles and advice about abundance and good cheer.

The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill). No experience needed.

To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#.

Dial three to five minutes before noon; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.

On the off chance technical difficulties keep you from getting through to the conference line, or the access code there does not work, email me. I’ll fire you back a workaround.

This ritual is going to be fun and deep magic!
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Which photos for my book?

My upcoming book shares my journey as a witch, so I’m including a handful of photos of me at different ages. Here are pics from today. I thought photos of me when I’m close to finishing the book would make nice memories for me.

Would you like any of them in the book? Which (Witch?) ones? Would love your input.

I’m not asking your opinion about other people’s possible reactions. I actually want to know which you’d personally enjoy in the book.

At age 66, it’s interesting looking at photos of myself that I’ll release publicly. My young, dewy beauty long gone, all that is left in the photographs is who I am inside, for all to see. And for me to face and embrace.

Examining these pics, I am content. I see in myself an elder shaman, a wild wanderer traveling between atoms, and a loving, mystic fool who still enjoys life. Whew!

Each pic has a number above it, so you can tell me by number which you like.

I think they’ll be crisper and clearer in the book.

Thanks so much for your support!

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Upcoming Class: The Spiritual Warrior

The Spiritual Warrior:
A seven-week teleseminar (group class by telephone)

The Spiritual Warrior class empowers the part of you that fights for survival, family, ideals, dreams, human rights, and Gaia.

I have not taught this class in over four years, so grab the chance.

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

This post includes some of my personal philosophy, on which the class is based.

People use the terms “spiritual warrior” and “pacifist” in various ways. Here’s how I use the terms:

* Pacifists will not engage in physical violence even if their life is on the line. Though I’ve enormous respect for pacifists, and they can legitimately be viewed as amazing spiritual warriors, that’s not what this class is about. I am not a pacifist.

* Spiritual warriors are not unduly aggressive. Nevertheless, they’ll go into combat when needed. If battle’s the only choice, they engage with their whole heart and soul.

Ceremonial and practical lessons will include:
* why effective warriors often go with the flow instead of fighting it
* the gentle uses of war
* how to shove back when push comes to shove, without losing the high moral ground
* the importance of down ‘n’ dirty fighting in business, community leadership, and inner growth
* strategizing with an ethical military mind
* standing up for yourself with no self-recrimination

The lessons also help you honor healthy aggression. Not all aggression is expressed by childish, irresponsible, hurtful rage. You’ll learn how to handle your aggressive power so that you express it healthily—you control it; it doesn’t control you.

We’ll celebrate the aggression without which we can lose our lust for life, because the two energies are so intertwined. You’ll find new passion for living because you’ll suppress your energy less.

I’ll also teach methods for self-healing after the battles of childhood and adulthood. This class helps you regain a carefree, gentle attitude.

My warrior self protects the fragile child within me, providing the safety she needs to express love, delight in fairies, and be creative. I’ll help you be a champion who shields your child self.

This class is for:
* the seasoned fighter who wants additional strengths, strategies, and self-control
* a person combatting a life-threatening challenge such as cancer
* someone needing to fight for a life that has dignity and pleasure
* and anyone else interested.

Novices to witchcraft are welcome; yet adepts will find appropriate challenges.

As I said, the above expresses my warrior philosophy as it underpins the class. The post also outlines parts of the curriculum. I hope you’ve enjoyed the material.

But warriors don’t settle for words. Join me for the work—and celebration!—needed to embody everything written here. Let’s live our lives fully.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven consecutive Thursdays, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm EST, starting Thursday July 21.
* Reserve Sept 8, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price.
* Enroll securely using PayPal. Sign up for “Special Event” at http://www.outlawbunny.com/special-events-registration/
* Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved, and event phone #, etc., emailed to you. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call me at 814-337-2490. No refunds.

The Spiritual Warrior is part of Third Road’s oral tradition and satisfies one of the two electives needed before Third Road’s advanced training.

Fight for yourself and for what is important to you.

Traditional Shamanic Culture and Business

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Did you know ancient Celts had a goddess of marketing? Or that their shamans charged for many of their services, as did ancient Native American shamans? Did you know ancient Mesoamerican merchants traveled to find sacred goods?

Shamanic culture once brought the sacred into commerce, in a way we desperately need today for two reasons:

1) It will allow us fulfilling, loving, profitable work.

2) It can help stop the immense, worldwide suffering caused by callous business practices.

The division of sacred and profane in the marketplace strikes at the core of human rights, Faerie witchery, and happiness.

As a witch, I’m part of a long heritage of magic used as a tool to free people from oppression. As long as the marketplace is driven by profit to the point of callousness, instead of by an ethical focus on being of service, results will remain tragic.

So I developed innovative theories and methodologies that provide a missing piece of witchery—a shamanic approach to the marketplace. I teach it in my new book:

A Sacred Marketplace:
Sell without Selling Out or Burning Out.
Mysticism + Marketing = Sales.

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The book is two pronged in its benefits:

1) Many ethical, loving people have special gifts they want to bring into the marketplace but are stymied because they can’t figure out how to maneuver the insanity of our current business world.

These folks include artists, psychics, coaches, and others in alternative fields. Also included are people whose heartfelt dreams are less obviously special—e.g., you can make cosmetics in a loving way.

A Sacred Marketplace shows good people ethical ways to thrive in business. The book teaches

* easy, powerful, ethical marketing

* my personal philosophy of life, which is shamanic and spells out why it is moral to earn a living doing what we love and how doing so is vital to the well being of all Gaia’s children

* shamanic exercises to help you actually live that philosophy and develop personal traits for career success

2) The other benefit: if these good folks were in business, their sheer presence would help shift our business world into one where people matter more than profit. These loving practitioners would not have to do anything other than be present in the marketplace.

More talented good-hearted people in the world of commerce will—without these individuals even trying to do so—automatically transform the dominant business paradigm for society as a whole, from corporate, uncaring greed to loving concern for the individual.

I’m delighted I was able to create this book’s material. I am proud of my work in a way this society tries to squelch. Be proud of yours. Enter the marketplace with your special gifts and be prosperous. In the process, you’ll make a better life for everyone.

I care about you, so I beg you: do not wait. Great endeavors start when someone says, “I’ll do what I can.” If all you can manage is reading two minutes once a week, and you have no time to analyze what you read or to apply it, that’s a legitimate start. The book is Third Road shamanism, which means you absorb on a gut level, just by reading. Do it. Click here for A Sacred Marketplace: http://www.outlawbunny.com/2015/10/15/a-sacred-marketplace/

Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

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Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see “an indisputable fact” ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These “truths” cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier.

So, a story:

Way back when, most American Pagans insisted traditional craft was nonexistent. People became downright nasty in their disdainful insistence there is no traditional witchcraft. Nowadays, many Pagans discuss traditional craft, what it is, how to do it, and where to learn it.

The party line back then was that anyone who claimed a traditional craft lineage was a liar. The person in question might be completely discredited.

To the best of my understanding back then: a big name Pagan dishonestly validated the material he taught by saying he’d gotten it from his grandmother, a traditional witch, but he lied about her being a witch.

People just decided, if he was lying, everybody else must be. Good grief!

Ok, let me continue this tale by adding how it affected me personally:

I was raised in a longstanding European-based shamanic family tradition. This was hardly a secret to some of the Pagans I knew. But, in case it’s useful context for the rest of my story, I didn’t have a best selling book yet, so the number of people who knew anything about me were far far fewer than later became the case.

You can imagine, amidst all the vitriol and possibility of being totally discredited, I was thoughtful about when to mention my traditional witchery to a Pagan. I wanted to avoid the near certainty of being branded liar in the larger Pagan community.

Close friends knew my family background, and I’d tell others when it was important. In fact, when the bestseller did come out, its back cover mentioned my mom was a Sicilian witch. To do otherwise would’ve insulted her and all my witch ancestors. But I also used discretion. For example, skirting my family history in casual conversation.

What I’m saying is: navigating the dangerous seas of trending “absolute truths” was challenging—for one thing, it can be frightening to buck popular opinion—but I found ways to maintain integrity while also guarding my emotional equilibrium. We can keeps our spirits whole. Here are two navigation skills that worked for me:

One is knowing it is vital to trust your own beliefs and respect the value of your own experiences, despite people who try to hit you over the head with trends to make you feel ignorant or otherwise not as “authentic” a Pagan as they are.

The second navigation skill is discretion. I want to practice discretion about whether to say something.

Nowadays, most people use the word discretion to mean holding silence. But discretion can also mean wisely considering the best course of action, judging each situation according to its specific circumstances. I’m using the latter definition here. So, in terms of our topic, discretion might lead one to speak—to good purpose—or to remain appropriately mum.

It’s vital to speak up for your beliefs when there’s good reason. Losing self-respect does not constitute successful navigation of treacherous waters.

As to choosing silence, let’s start with the example of avoiding arguments with people who aren’t going to listen.

Back when mentioning a family tradition might completely discredit you with many people, I was at a dinner party where someone who was constantly on power trips declared, in a high and mighty tone, that as a scholar she was devoted to naysaying the possibility of a family tradition. She did not know I came from one. I didn’t tell her. (A friend in the know did surreptitiously wink at me. That was lovely support.)

Most people who jump on trending absolutes will neither listen nor engage in a courteous, informative exchange of ideas, because they’ll rush to prop up wobbly egos with pseudo-knowledge. They’ll just try to browbeat you into feeling you’re wrong, though that may not be their conscious motivation, bless them. Wasting your time in a verbal entanglement amounts to letting someone’s pseudo-truth get the better of you. Your time is sacred.

Yet if she had been honestly interested, and merely misinformed about whether traditional witchcraft existed, I might have discussed my family.

Important aside: Though I avoided an argument at the dinner party, I admit my record’s not perfect with that sort of thing. Luckily, seeing how it depleted and upset me helps me not repeat the mistake any more. A hard won lesson, but one that frees me from other people’s opinionated insistences.

This blog is long but the following feels vital. Another example of discretion and silence:

(Please note, I’m going to use traditional witchery as an example in this essay again. That’s a coincidence. The examples have no relation. So don’t think you need to connect the dots between examples.)

More than once, a segment of the Pagan community inflated their position to one of dominance by stating “superior” pseudo-truths, and I could have deflated their posturing by disclosing a bit of traditional witchcraft’s sacred lore.

I stayed mute about the lore. I was blessed to have received it, so would not disclose it merely to prove a point to people who would not have viewed it as precious information but who would have pawed it.

They’d have greedily grabbed at it as mere words—exploited it as verbal fodder they could parrot to appear in-the-know and first string. (Heh, at least I got to feel smug about keeping my mouth shut. … Ok, I admit, feeling superior wasn’t good for me.)

Had I said anything authentic, nobody would have cared. The agenda on their table was to show how important and “wise” you were. That was not an agenda I wanted to be part of, even though telling them traditional material would’ve moved me to the top of the food chain. But climbing up would have actually, as the old expression goes, dragged me down to their level. … Goddess, I was tempted anyway. … Maybe smugness about my silence was my solace.

My story about being silent is relevant to discretion stopping fake truths from derailing your personal hard-won beliefs, in the following ways:

Opening my mouth would have been my ego reacting to theirs, as well as meeting their attempt to move up in a hierarchy with a similar attempt of my own. Both of those would have betrayed my personal belief in not living in ego or falling prey to power struggles.

It also would have wasted my time and life force, instead of me going about my merry business, living happily according to my own ecstatic truths.

Responding to someone’s power play with one of our own can be incredibly tempting, but also incredibly damaging to ourselves. Ego-driven magic and power-hungry grabs put someone on the slippery slope of chasing chimera more and more, less and less living joyously in the beautiful world the Goddess created for us.

Had I shared the lore for the purposes of my ego, I also would have debased that material. Reduced to mere words in order to feed my ego, the power of that beautiful material would’ve been lost to me, crumbled into dust like Faerie gold.

There’s one more way someone’s pseudo-truth would’ve gotten the better of me if I’d blabbed sacred knowledge for the sake of ego and dominance. I would’ve betrayed my following personal truth: I hold my religion sacred by only using it for honorable purposes. To do otherwise, I would truly have failed navigating the rocky seas of community-enforced pseudo-truths and sunk to the depths.

When magic and spirituality become tools to create unhealthy hierarchy—aka dominate others—they go sour. So does the spirit of the practitioner in question. His soiled shamanic path is handed down to his students, its very essence feeding their worst aspects, perhaps subtly but thoroughly. A nightmare for the community.

When magic and spirituality remain tools to serve, in respect for our differences, those tools become more powerful and capable. So do our spirits. Free of contentious opinions and excess verbiage, our innate magic fills each day, often silently. We become blessed by—and a blessing for—community.

I hope some of my above opinions are useful to you.

I teach traditional craft. My Gods bless me with wise students: They are wise in so many ways, but one is that we all respect each other. Honoring our differing views as assets allows each of us to uniquely contribute to the group’s magic and well-being. This in turn allows each of us to benefit from all the participants’ strengths.

If you’d like to join us, I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Have a magical day.

Faerie Beltane Ritual 2016

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Please join me for a May Day celebration, Tues, May 3, from 3:00 to 4:00 EST.

We’ll meet in a circle of love to enjoy Spring’s return and heal Mother Earth. I’ll also lead you through a spellcasting for one of your wishes to come true.

The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill). No experience needed.

To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#. Dial three to five minutes before 3:00; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.

Mayday celebration!

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Sign up for my free newsletter—ideas, events, and other offerings: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

FDG2016TphatCurrently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition.

I never argue with anybody’s experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I’d never want to invalidate anyone’s experience, including my own. I’ll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

Note I say “my cells,” not “my brain.” It took my entire childhood and adolescence to imbibe the tradition’s basics, because cellular lessons take time.

The understandings of the tradition were so deeply imbedded in our home life that much of the family tradition was taken for granted, not out and out spoken, but more implied and lived. This includes the theist or moral aspects.

In fact, calling it an understanding in the above paragraph is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not so much an understanding as a way of being.

In any case, a lifestyle with many of its important aspects being subtle or unspoken seems an earmark of many traditional witches I have met.

When I got older, I saw that this subtlety sometimes causes people who were viewing the family tradition from the outside to not see the tradition’s deep religious and ethical roots, only the more overt—and perhaps less core—trappings. When I participated in family traditions in Europe, I usually found deep religious and ethical roots in them.

Observers are not engaged in the family culture. They are standing outside it, watching. Only by being part of a shamanic family culture over a long period of time can one can really understand the culture. The notion that to watch something is to fully understand it is a fairly current concept of scholarship. As I said above, learning the traditional witchcraft of my family required an experiential, long term lesson.

It has become almost de rigeur to insist traditional craft never had sacred or principled aspects. This makes it important to me to write this post about my family tradition, because I feel I’m speaking up for my Gods, for my witch ancestors, and for others who feel as I do.

I do not like it when a theory ceases to be a theory and becomes a mandated belief—in other words, when someone is mouthing somebody else’s words to, consciously or not, invalidate other seekers. Unfortunately, the concept that traditional witchcraft had neither ethical nor theological base has become yet another Pagan rote declaration, usually said—or written—in an intimidating tone of I-know-better-than-you-so-whatever-you-think-is-stupid.

I can admire people who authentically believe other than I do. An informed and friendly exchange of ideas about traditional craft, spirituality, and ethics could be a lovely thing. Healthy debate is a wonderfully educational process for everyone involved. A supportive, respectful, and thoughtful exchange of ideas can do wonders.

But debate is not the same as trying to legitimize and define one’s path by invalidating someone else’s. That hurtfully invalidates a lot of newbies who already feel insecure about their belief system. This can crush a newcomer’s spirit.

Coming to our community, hoping to finally find fellowship, but instead encountering someone just as invalidating as mainstream society, can be doubly heartbreaking, because they thought they had finally entered a safe space. So they often never participate in our community again, and end up without support in their Pagan explorations.

People who need to squash others in order to validate their own power have less power than they think, and more mere bluster than they realize.

Thus, I felt impelled to write this post to support invalidated Pagans.

A last thought on traditional witches and ethics: perhaps in some cases, a lack of morality had less to do with any tradition and more to do with human nature. Some people just take anything, even that which is moral and sacred to begin with, strip it of those roots, and use it for their own selfish—or even evil—goals.

I hope this post is a useful contribution to Pagan dialogue about traditional craft.

If you want experiential lessons in traditional craft, I teach The Third Road, a tradition I channel, informed by the magic of my ancestors and my mom. (Channeling teachings is part of traditional craft.) I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Here’s the link to subscribe to my newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Bless you.

Equinox 2016

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Ostara Ritual 2016

Please join me for a Spring Equinox celebration, Friday, March 18, from noon to 1:00 EST.

The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill). No experience needed.

To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#. Dial three to five minutes before noon; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.

I look forward to our shared ritual renewal and joy with Spring’s beginning.