Ancestor Magic: Mothers

Honoring Our Human Mother

By blaming all problems on the mother, an oppressive society deprives many individuals of immense power to create an amazing world for themselves and for All Our Relations.

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Our repressive society has fostered an attitude of blaming the mother for everything. Constantly portraying moms as monsters who cause any and all psychological damage and blocks to success we suffer is an effective way to hide many a woman’s goodness and power. If we honor our mothers—by seeing their full power and goodness—we acquire abilities to create an amazing world for ourselves and All Our Relations.

Such capacity for freedom is threatening to oppressors, which motivates them to make it hard for a person to see their mother’s goodness.

This post paints a picture that may not be relevant to everyone, but please keep reading because it might be more relevant to you than it appears thus far and empower you greatly.

Honoring moms is not solely a matter of rituals that honor them, though ancestor rites can add a vitally important aspect. And, though Mother’s Day is a wonderful chance to love your mom, that annual event and ancestor rites can be just lip service unless the core of honoring is present.

The core is seeing their full power and goodness.

Truly honoring one’s mom can be difficult. In my case, I had to break through resentments, societal conditioning, and other blocks to see my mom in all her glory, beauty, and humanness—more special and less at fault than society would have me believe. That respectful, compassionate viewpoint honors her.

And an amazing thing unfolded from it. The more fully I see my mom’s powers and goodness, the more my magic and other powers reach a new level, and this happens automatically without any effort on my part to increase them.

Let me give a more specific example. I’ve felt a hollowness—a loneliness—inside that was once constant and then became occasional. It returned horribly one night, after reading my mother’s diary.

I called upon her spirit, asking her to heal me by giving me the love and presence that I felt she’d never given me.
ToniDiary

I received a surprising message: she in fact had loved me dearly and had been there for me, but because she had been married to a batterer, she was fighting for her sanity—and, I suspect, for her life—so could be there for me only to the extent she had.

Once I was able to say to her spirit, “We were there together, we were together, females together,” I could see that our sweetness as women had been somewhat stifled. Sweetness is the perfect word for it. And, just prior to this occurrence, several people had said that sweetness is one of my powers.

I kept saying those words, “We were there together, we were together, females together,” and felt my mother’s love in its fullness, healing a pivotal aspect of my hollow loneliness. My sweetness as a woman blossomed more than ever.

My sweetness as a woman is an example of one of my powers automatically becoming more full when I see my mother’s goodness.

When women display sweetness, oppressors call it bitter, trying to confuse us. Or they depict sweetness as vapid, syrupy, minor, and silly. Or as being a doormat. Or as being a repressed caretaker. They do not want us to see the immense power of sweetness.

Later, I really started seeing, more than ever before, how brave and strong my mother had been to keep doing everything she did despite the nightmares she was living through. She’d continued to nurture me any way she could, brought physical and spiritual beauty into our home, retained a wondrous belief in magic that filled my childhood and fills my soul still, and so on.

Seeing and reveling in her bravery, I was able to affirm my own. Oppressors don’t want you to see your mother’s power, so disguise it by blaming everything on the mother. They don’t want us to have models of people who triumph despite all.

Nor do they want you to have full access to your mother’s love. Love is the greatest power of all.

Going through a box of mom’s documents recently, I noticed the box smelled of old paper. Not moldy or bad, just old. The papers were also faintly sweet, remnants of mom’s perfumes. The exquisite *sweet* scent of mom’s papers was subtle. Much that is old can be revisited and found sweet and kind, instead of bitter and harsh. When I look past the fraud—loud broad strokes painted by an oppressive society—sweet subtleties emerge to enchant me and my life.

BYABar4

The Figa

The Figa
Reclaiming Women’s Power and an Italian Amulet

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A figa is an amulet in the shape of a closed hand. Often, the tip of the thumb peeks out between the middle and index finger. The figa represents a woman’s genitals and is a charm for protection and good luck. It is also a talisman for fertility.

Even as a youth, I was drawn to the figa, not only as a talisman but as an archetype. It held tantalizing mysteries, and its antiquity and exotic roots were a delicious contrast to the American 50s bland norm.

I acquired a new figa recently, and shot the above photo, so you could see it. Isn’t it beautiful? I absolutely love it!

I purchased my new amulet here; the shop has more, each one different: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ErikasCollectibles

I’d already had a figa for … hm, I don’t know how long. It could be 30 or 40 years, or far less. I don’t remember how I acquired it. I was raised in an Italian, shamanic family-tradition. Otherworldly sensibilities were so typically present in our home, a part of daily life. A figa could slip into my life seamlessly back then, the entry not as noteworthy as it could be for people who aren’t constantly surrounded by that sort of thing.

Yet, despite my familiarity with Italian folk culture and my intense draw to this charm, I rarely saw one that I thought beautiful. I was never fond of my old figa, had wanted a new one forever, but couldn’t find one that pleased me till now.

My finally liking one is significant to me as a woman. Read on to learn why.

Seeing my new figa, which is very feminine, sweet, and elegant, I realized by comparison why I’d rarely liked a figa in the past. For one thing, they’re usually quite macho. An object that is supposed to embody female sexuality should … embody female sexuality.

Plus, figa figures are often crude. The crudeness repelled me, though on a subconscious level until I saw my new sweet, elegant figa. The crudeness—again, I experienced this subconsciously—was like being slapped in the face, shamed for being female.

Instead, I adore my new charm. Its sweet, feminine elegance is powerful magic and significant healing.

I was blown away by the shop’s photograph of this piece. And I did my best when I took the photos for this post, but it’s even better to see it in person; its exquisite artistry almost took my breath away. The careful sculpting of an elegant, feminine hand, enhanced by the marbling of its resin, makes it a true treasure.

It triggered a train of thought. The charm must not only be an Italian folk symbol for female sexuality per se, but also imply lot more. The figa must have originally symbolized everything—everything—a woman can be if she is unbound; her full being realized and expressed. The amulet must have once represented this totalness of being and potency in all parts of life. Otherwise, I do not believe the charm would have become so incredibly popular. It is worn not only by Pagans but by many Italians, including Christians.
FigaPic1SmBe clear, when I write, “Everything a woman can be,” I’m implying everything a human can be. I am positioning a woman’s sexuality as potency, the same way a man’s sexuality is often viewed as potency in his business and all other parts of his life.

I love folk art, folk magic, and the place where the two intersect. I also believe one might better understand a piece of folk art if one knows the cultural norms prevalent when the piece was made. That includes pop culture. Enter Kenneth Lane. The figa I bought is a vintage Kenneth Lane.

What was occurring around jewelry designer Kenneth Lane when he had the urge to create a figa that would be neither vulgar nor shaming? What in the political climate impelled him? Or did something solely personal to him serve as motivation? (The political always impacts us personally, but you know what I mean.) Whatever it was, we owe him a debt.

I mean, “figa” is Italian for the demeaning term “pussy.” The styling of most figa figures reinforces that nastiness. I do not object to a figa shaped roughly in a spirit of exuberance, or if a limited skill set did not allow finely honed lines. What I oppose is the consistent vulgar representation and the overall gestalt it feeds, a deeply hurtful cultural norm.

By the way, I see nothing wrong with a masculine figa per se, but there’s something wrong with a feminine symbol generally being masculine.

In any case, Kenneth’s jewelry was popular with Hollywood stars. Although many Pagans wear a figa, the pendant is also popular with non-Pagans. So people can knock pop-culture all they want, but I bet Kenneth’s pendants made women of all kinds proud of being women.

Kenneth’s styling was powerful. It wasn’t until I saw it that I could understand by contrast how demeaning most figas are and reclaim another part of my power. His rendering of the figa was able to heal me from a cultural norm so deeply ingrained and horrible that it still hurt my soul despite my fierce pride in my female nature and witchy wildness. I have a new piece of my magic as a woman and a new piece of my womanly pride.

What had been a sacred image in ancient Rome lowered in value until it became used as a rude gesture. A symbol that once must have honored women came to denigrate them. I believe Kenneth helped change that. I hope my thoughts here help a bit, too.

The profound power that exists in every human is diminished when we reduce anyone’s power through shaming depictions.

But when we shine a light on the wonderfulness of those around us, our own powers shine.

… Now the only problem I have is how to stop myself from buying all the figas in the shop. There’s a gorgeous variety, each piece quite different. I’ve already bought a second one. Here it is on my altar:
FigaPic3SmI will treasure these figas always. Here’s where to acquire an outstanding charm: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ErikasCollectibles

Rabbit Magic: an Easy Prosperity Spell

BnyCrmoTlsmnThis morning, I intuitively chose a talisman to wear, without knowing why it was the right one for the day ahead. A while back, I’d made the talisman out of Angora fibers (otherwise known as rabbit fur), Cormo, which is one of the softest wools in existence, some other fibers, and two glass beads. (In case it’s hard to see in the photo: the three center beads are ones I made out of fibers, and on each side of them is a glass bead. If memory serves, I spun the cord entirely out of bunny fur.)

Later today, while on my physical therapy walk through the woods, I meditated on what the talisman had for me today. The first thing that came to me was the gentleness of rabbits.

The second thing that came was a new chant Rabbit sent me. I really enjoyed using it, but apparently it was meant just for the moment because, when I arrived home from the forest, I couldn’t remember the exact chant. What I did manage to hear from Rabbit, once I had my iPad to type on, was another, really solid version to use henceforth.

Like the original, this version is silly, fun, and singsong. I believe these traits feed magic.

Instructions: recite the chant while you’re walking. Or if you’re in a wheelchair, roll along. If you’re laid up in bed, perhaps you can move a finger or some part of your body a little bit in rhythm to the chant. If not, no problem, your spirit will automatically move to the rhythm of the chant.

Don’t rush the words or shout them. Just say them in a natural, easy-going manner, at a natural pace, enjoying the fun of singsong.

If it feels comfortable and unaffected, you might want to slow down the three lines that repeat at the end, but if so, probably slow down just the tiniest bit. And for those lines, don’t suddenly get loud, majestic, ceremonial, or the like. Still just have natural fun.

The ritual consists of saying the chant once or saying it three times (the repetitions happening right then and there, as opposed to spacing them out over time).

After you’ve finished the recitation, you can consider the rite finished or repeat the rite once a day for a week, whichever feels right. Then return to it again later if you need another prosperity boost.

You don’t need to add any special magical techniques for this chant to work, just the simple instructions above. However, if you personally feel the need to add certain techniques, do so. The same goes for protection: if you feel like this rite should be done in a magically protected space, do so. Myself, I set up a spell that always has me in protection, wherever I go. Someone else might not need that.

The chant mentions the World Tree. “The World Tree” means the Divine as it manifests in everything in existence. Well, it means a lot more than that. However, to do the chant, the simple definition here is sufficient. I should tell you, though, the definition I provide here is not one everyone uses. The World Tree is a deeply esoteric reality, which means definitions widely vary.

Rabbit Magic: an Easy Prosperity Spell

Hippity hoppety, hippity hop,
abundance comes and never stops
coming to me.
La la lee,
money and goodness flow to me.

Hippity hop, it’s easy to leap
over road blocks to what I need.
Hippity hippity hippity hop,
gently gently as I walk,
all I need will roll in now.
The World Tree holds me in its boughs.

Hippity hippity lala lee.
As I will so mote it be.
As I will so mote it be.
As I will so mote it be.

One nice thing about this rite is that, after I did it once a day for a week, little snippets of its words—or just its cadence without its words—would occasionally sing in my head. That was lovely because it cheered me up and made me feel optimistic about getting what I needed. For one thing, it helped me feel the Tree of Life (Tree of Life is another term for World Tree) was taking care of me—that I was part of the magic I believe pervades the entire universe. That doesn’t need to happen to you for the spell to work, but if it does, it’s a wonderful experience and a good sign.

BtmNewsltr

Witchy Ways to Put Love in Your Life

Heart6Love takes many forms. Romance, platonic relationships, love from your Gods, and self-love are some ways love manifests. Perhaps the most important love is the love we give.

There are many reasons someone might not experience the love they want. They might, for example, feel they’re not good enough for anyone to truly care about, so they start isolating.

Here are five witchy ways to put love in your life, with help from the Old Gods.

1) Affirm “I am a child of Gods. This makes me sacred, worthy of love.” Using this affirmation opens you to love of any kind.

2) If you ever want to do something for someone, but you feel whatever you have in mind is not good enough to offer, you might be wrong. This can be another excellent time to remember you’re a child of Gods, and Their divine spark and love are in you.

In other words, just being yourself and doing what you are able can be more valuable to people than you realize.

Yes, this tip is about giving. But when we give love freely, the Universe’s love fills us, so we receive love too—bunches of it.

3) Realize you are a child of Pagan Gods. They enjoy themselves and want the same joy for you. They’re not dour deities frowning on you. Remind yourself now and then that your deities actually want you to feel loved.

4) Be open to signs of unconditional love from the Gods. Also open to experiencing it. If you notice and feel nothing or only the tiniest bit, it’s a start. Keep trying. It’ll pan out.

5) I channeled the following prayer for a client, to say once a day, for five days over one week’s time, then whenever she wanted thereafter. It helped her love and be loved:

Divine Mother and Father,
my very cells are made of You.
Help me love me.
Help me see my immense worth and endless beauty.
Help me offer myself to You in beauty,
for I am a worthy gift.
Thank You for making me the way I am.
Help me offer myself to the world in beauty,
for I am a worthy gift.
Help me know I am worthy of
Your love, my love, and the love of All My Relations.
So mote it be.

BYABar4

You’re a Blessing

You’re a Blessing, Just as You Are

Meditating in preparation for a Faerie shamanism class I was going to teach in a few minutes, I affirmed three things I’d like to share with you. They’re useful in all areas of life, not just when teaching. For context, I’ll show how they relate to teaching first, then discuss how they affect everything else.
BlessingsSm1) Instead of thinking I should hide my oh-too-human faults, it is so important just to be myself when I teach. if I pretend to be someone not riddled with faults, then the foremost lesson I’m delivering is the pretense of perfection. That is a destructive lesson, indeed!

2) Though I’m known for creating innovative shamanic modalities that radically change people’s lives for the better, what has just as much value to my students is me being comfortable in my own skin. The nature of our presence conveys as much as any of our words or methodologies will. Feeling at home in myself conveys the vital messages of self-acceptance and self-love. Those messages are core to inner transformation, happiness, and success. The three reminders in this post focus on us not trying to be “someone else” in order to be “worthwhile.”

3) In that vein, I need to trust my light. You see, even when people think their lights have been dimmed, I still see them shining brightly. I assume the same must be true of me. So, when teaching, I try to relax and trust that my light shines whether I notice it or not. One of my responsibilities as a shamanic teacher is to affirm the light in all of us. I can only do that job if I’m trusting my own light.

Whatever lesson I have planned, it is driven home if I’m at home in my own skin, trust that my light is shining, and do not hide my faults.

And so it goes in the rest of life: when one forsakes pretenses of perfection, trusts that one’s light is shining, and is at home in oneself, one bestows more blessings than all the words and ceremonies ever could. So mote it be!

BtmNewsltr

What Sort of Witch Are You?

For some individuals, witchcraft is a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy.

This post was on Witches and Pagan in 2016, at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html

Have you seen the popular lists of different types of witches—e.g., traditional witch, Gardnerian witch, Faerie witch, eclectic witch, hedge witch—with precise definitions for each category? These charts help some beginners. Learning you fit a certain style can be validating and reassuring. It also makes some newcomers feel they belong.

But this post is for beginners who find the categories make things really difficult. Everyone else, I’m not naysaying what works for you; this entire post is simply ideas and methods that work for me, in case they’re useful to someone. I don’t want the charts thrown out. They’re great for some people. And with that:

There are individuals whose witchcraft entails a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy. Being new to Pagan community and being told there are specific witch types, each with very specific definitions, can box these folks in, lead them to think they won’t fit anywhere in the Pagan community, and ill-legitimize personal self-discoveries that transcend the categories.

What if you come from a traditional witch family, talk to fairies, and enjoy practicing Gardnerian magic occasionally? Sure, that might classify you as an “eclectic witch,” but that term is redundant historically speaking; it was once a given that witches were eclectic, because witches understand the connectivity of all things. To me, the term “eclectic witch” robs me of my heritage. My witchy heritage fuels spells, making them powerful.

As to connectivity, the Old Gods unite me with the enchantment that flows through the entire universe. That current carries me, its sweep making me joyful, as it bears me toward even more joy. But “eclectic witch” implies magic is not in everything around me and thus denies what’s inherent to many folks’ witchcraft.

In the same vein, I see witches as wild creatures, transcending every limit. I’m a child of the Gods. Their infinite powers are mine. Mind you, I’m not suggesting I can successfully cast every spell anyone else can cast. I believe witches can have specialties.

In any case, categorizing keeps some people from developing specialties. These are folks whose process demands they look not at definitions but into their own selves and, despite how scary it might be, journey into seeming formlessness until it becomes recognizable as their special gift—their specialty.
WildCreaturesI love—and use—the different terms for types of witches. They’re great jumping off points, e.g., for connecting with like-minded individuals.

They also can be pointers. But I use the terms the old way: to evoke—lyric speaking to our wild witch hearts and whispering of the undefinable and unlimited—rather than as part of quantitative charts, mapping magic out so exactly as to be … boringly limited for some folks.

I love magic so much it makes me sad to realize charts might crush certain people’s magic.

Also, poor scholarship defines witch types incorrectly. For example, it’s sadly a current given that Gardnerian Wicca bears little resemblance to traditional witchcraft. I lived in a Gardnerian household in England with one of Gerald Gardner’s students and, as a traditional witch, I can tell you people living in that house practiced old-fashioned witchery. Furthermore, I met members of the family tradition that greatly influenced Gerald.

Lack of scholarship also portrays traditional witchcraft as consistently the same. It varied, village to village and family to family.

And many a scholar will say “eclectic witch” makes no historical sense. Global travel is not a modern occurrence. Various ancient cultures shared their rituals constantly.

Are you dismayed by witch categories because they make you feel the magical Art has been divided up like slices of a pie … and you feel like the whole pie? Be the whole enchanted pie.

If you’re a fledging witch who resonates with what I’ve written, I support you not by giving you categories to validate you, but by validating who you already are. Like most of us when we come into Pagan community, you’ve always had Paganism in your heart and life, perhaps without having named it as such. So trust what you already know and build on it. You have the intelligence and insightfulness needed to do so.

Enjoy the names for all the different types of witches, or use none of them. But claim your path as valid.

By “valid,” I’m not saying everything you do currently as a witch is always safe and effective. No one is perfect. Also, some spellcrafting requires substantial training. Get a teacher if you want. But don’t worry about what “type” of witch a prospective teacher is. Choose someone whose spirit calls you and who honors your spirit in turn, whether or not you know how to describe your path. Witches used to work together in all their differences and likenesses, getting along just fine, learning just fine.

I teach. Classes are mostly via group phone calls (aka telesminars): you don’t need a computer or any special technology to attend; just dial the phone. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which gives details about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

What sort of witch are you? You’re you! So mote it be.

Ancestor Work

Ancestor Work:
Mom’s Holiday China

HlidyPttrnThe above plate is in the pattern with which my mom set holiday tables during my childhood. I forget our day-to-day pattern, but this one stuck in my mind.

As a child, I thought the dish pattern was tacky, but it remained a nice memory. Mom acquired complete settings for at least 10 people, obtaining the pieces one at a time by going to the movies. I love that Toni went to such lengths to add beauty to our home, not letting lack of income thwart her.

One of my brothers got the dish set when Toni died. I would not have used it.

But recently, I searched online until I found one dish in the pattern—just one in her memory and in reminiscence of her passion, amazing kitchen skills, and elegance—elegance I now see in this plate to some degree, and that showed immensely elsewhere.

Rest in peace, Toni. You were a model of exuberance, devotion, otherworldly flight, and competence both culinary and professional. You were also a true lady, in every positive way I use the word lady, including how the Goddess infused your spirit and your magic. Thank you for being a living example for all parts of my day, including my kitchen witchery.

… Later: The more I use the plate, the more beauty, elegance, and grace I find in it. I don’t know if that is objective. E.g., perhaps the grace I notice is a projection of my mother’s gracious maneuvering amidst the immense challenges of her life. She found reason to laugh and give, no matter what.

In any case, to snap the above photo, I had to wash the dish, since I’d eaten lunch from it. Handling the dish with soapy hands, I experienced more of its elegance, this time on a tactile level; the china felt so nicely made despite being a movie giveaway. I wonder if my mother loved handling it.

BYABar4

The Goddess … in Congee

Congee1After I made a topping for tonight’s congee, the topping struck me as so pretty. That got me thinking:

When I’m in the moment, I find the Goddess’ beauty.

When I’m in the moment, I find my own beauty reflected back to me.

I might run from the moment, especially when crisis hits. But, when I can return to allowing the painful, awful moments my full attention, I eventually find beauty again.

To be free, releasing my wild soul, I have to allow both the beauty and the pain.

Beautiful congee topping.Congee2BYABar4

A Beautiful Goddess and a Dirty Spoon

Remains

A Beautiful Goddess and a Dirty Spoon:
Kitchen Magic

Even the remains of breakfast—egg shells, tangerine peels, a dirty dish and spoon—are blessings on me.

A blessing: the remains of this meal flooded by sunlight pleases my eyes.

A blessing: to eat today and nourish my body is beautiful—such a gift!

For me, to be a kitchen witch means to acknowledge and appreciate the immensity of the harvests given me by my beautiful Goddess and to gift others in kind.

Today I will make a donation to feed a hungry child.

A blessing: to have some money to help someone in one of the most important ways—food.

To be able to give is such a gift. Were I to instead view giving as magnanimous on my part, it would imply that I was bending down from on high to help someone less worthy. I’d be denying who they are by turning them into a character in a story I’d written to pump up my ego. Instead, we are all in this together. Farming communities have long understood that it is by having each others’ backs that we all survive and thrive. It is a lie perpetuated by the American upper class that the best way to “make it” is on our own, climbing over the backs of others.

Getting to give is a gift. It is part of the cycle of life, a gate into the sacred circle, a consecration of the four directions, and one of the great mysteries. Giving is a chance to be a human being—such a gift! Giving is a chance to be with another human being (even if you never meet them because you’re donating to an organization that serves them)—such a gift!

BYABar4

 

How to Enchant Your Cup of Tea

Add Magical Healing to Medicinal Herbs

SaffronTea Herbs have physical properties that heal and strengthen one’s body. Herbs also have psychic properties that heal and strengthen one’s spirit and physical being, if given a chance. Here’s how to access that magical healing:

When your cup of tea is ready to drink, simply say, “May this tea Mother Earth has given me in Her wisdom and generosity heal and strengthen my body and spirit.”

Then just drink your tea!

It’s that simple! Saying the words I suggested gives the magical attributes of the herb—or herbs—in your cup a chance to emerge. And the words’ grateful acknowledgment of Mother Earth’s gift opened you to receiving the herb’s magical healing and empowerment. You don’t have to get fancy about it by adding visualization or any other technique. Just say the words.

(If you want to add magical techniques, though, go ahead. I love magical techniques and am committed to teaching them. But the point of this post is a quick enchantment anyone can easily fit into their day. Even advanced practitioners can add more magic to their lives if they embrace some simple spells. In fact, I’m committed to teaching both easy and advanced magic. They both have their place.)

Never use magic in place of proper medical care by a trained, professional physician. Magic is a powerful addition, not a replacement.

And remember, when it comes to herbs’ physical properties: just because herbs are natural doesn’t mean they’re all harmless. And what’s a good medicinal herb for one person can be really harmful for another. Know your herbs—research an herb using several sources. There are many medical conditions and other circumstances—and even many herbs—that require you consult with a professional herbalist instead of just deciding what herbs to use yourself.

Enjoy the spell! This magic in a teacup is simple kitchen magic anyone can use, whether a witch or not.

BYABa3