Urban Hedge Witch

Urban Hedge Witch: City Magic, Parking Lots as Mystic Thresholds, & Rose Mysteries

Urban Hedge Witch

City Magic, Parking Lots as Mystic Thresholds, & Rose Mysteries

Before I share what’s been going on lately, a few introductory thoughts:

What is a Hedge Witch?

In Britain, hedges between properties are considered liminal spaces—potent realms suited to magic spells. A Hedge Witch is a magical practitioner who takes advantage of such powerful spaces to do rites.

You can think of hedges not only as as thresholds between properties but also as thresholds between the mundane and mystic planes.

A Hedge Witch is a shaman who often walks between the worlds regardless of whether a physical hedge is nearby.

Liminal spaces also provide thresholds through which we can enter into a new life, such as a transition from poverty into financial well-being or from lack of self-esteem into self-confidence.

I Love and Hate the Term Hedge Witch

When I first heard the term Hedge Witch, I was delighted. It evokes magical green depths, mysterious going-ons, and fantastical activities. However, I hate the way the term is often used nowadays aka I am a Hedge Witch. I am not like other Witches. I’m better than other Witches.

When we define ourselves by our differences, ignoring our commonalities, we strangle ourselves with categories. Definitions like Hedge Witch, Fairy Witch, and Green Witch can be wonderful when they help us find and affirm who we are magically. But they tend currently to be used divisively and arrogantly, neither of which helps magic work well.

And—I’m only talking for myself—the divisions don’t make complete sense for me because I’m a Hedge Witch, Fairy Witch, Green Witch, Shamanic Witch, and other types of Witches. They are all part and parcel of Witchcraft as I know it. I cannot be one type without being the other types. In fact, in my case, shamanism and Witchcraft are synonymous, as they were traditionally in Europe.

Again, only speaking for my Witchcraft: I need phrases like Kitchen Witch, Hedge Witch, or Solitary Witch because they each invoke a special magic that I want. They are lyric—not definitive—terms. Were I to use them as strict categories, they become cages that trap my spirit and my magic.

What is an Urban Hedge Witch?

Urban Hedge Witch is a term I made up. In the spirit of what I’ve said above, I don’t want to give Urban Hedge Witch a definitive meaning. Rather than provide a glib category, I prefer to let you read this post.

End of introductory thoughts.

A Happiness and Prosperity Ritual Using Rose Petals

I am having the best time! A friend sent me boxes of fresh rose petals.

We were on the phone, and I told her I wanted to strewn petals throughout my new apartment and, still on the phone with her, I looked up how to buy fresh rose petals online. I was stunned by the cost. My friend generously offered to buy the petals.

I’m becoming an urban shaman again after almost two decades of living in the woods. The rose petals became part and parcel of my return to city magic.

The petals strewn all over the floor are just a third of what my friend sent!


That same third is swept up against the door, waiting to be used again in the ritual:

I decided not to dump all the petals on the floor. I loved the amount that I dumped.

I’ve been walking through it, sweeping it up as a ritual for happiness and prosperity. Later, I re-scattered the petals I swept up, strewn them all over the floor again, to finish the ritual. (I’m not giving complete details of the ritual I channeled because I want to move on with the post, but here’s lots of Rose Magic info: https://stardrenched.com/2020/11/24/rose-magic/.)

And then there’s a great big container that I dumped the rest of the petals in. I put my phone next to it for scale. So many petals!

The rose petals were part of returning to urban shamanism not only because I used them in a housewarming rite but also because they were a gift from a friend. Generosity is pure magic.

The Right to Love Life and Live My Dreams

I’ve been running my fingers through the container’s rose petals, loving the licentiousness of so many petals against my skin and how it gives me permission to love life and go for broke. I also crush them in my hands for the sheer visceral pleasure of organic matter in my palms when I’m no longer in the country but in the middle of the gray dusty city.

Ritual Is as Inherent to Living as Breathing Is

My new apartment is tiny. After I moved in, it was wall-to-wall boxes. It kind of still was after only a week and a half here, though it was much better already.

I almost asked my friend to wait, not send me petals until a lot of my boxes were unpacked. I thought gobs of strewn vegetation might be a big mess, what with the crowded space.

Then I realized I should relish the roses whenever they came, and if they arrived soon, they would be a beautiful tool to bless my unpacking and other nesting.

I try to practice what I preach, and I teach to not wait until the “right” time to do a ritual, for example not wait until you are focused, or until you know what you want to get out of the ritual. Ritual is part of life, as inherent to living as is breathing, it was as much a part of the first humans’ life as was hunting.

Thresholds Can Appear Any Time, Any Place

The time when I’m not fully unpacked is betwixt and between; it is a threshold, which makes it a liminal space, a realm in which all possibilities can come forward for my choosing.

This is a perfect opportunity for rose magic. Rose is a symbol of the deepest Mysteries. Sometimes, they are more easily touched when circumstances are new or uncertain.

Plus Mysteries transcend time and space, so are always available to us, whether we’re in the country, the city, the suburbs …

Thresholds can open anytime, anywhere. I can be a hedge Witch anywhere, anytime. Someday, perhaps I’ll open the wardrobe that peeks into Narnia. That door can appear if I watch for it, continue to believe in magic, and ever-acknowledge that life’s problems are constant opportunities for spiritual growth—thresholds, for example, from self-obsession to self-care, from fear-induced stagnation to self-expression, or from resentments to emotional freedom.

To play with rose petals when there was unpacking I might have been doing was gloriously foolish and magically potent.

For one thing, it distracted me from the studio being filled with boxes, and from my being knee-deep in the chaos of constantly figuring out this new dwelling’s basics—where is the light switch I need right now, how do I buzz the person in who is trying to deliver a package, oops there’s no longer a door to my right, a wall is there now. My focus instead shifted to the eternal, the joyful, the potential for all I want to be manifested.

I’m an urban shaman again, using the magic that’s here, and the rose petal ritual was part of my reentry into that.

Urban shamanism was crucial to me till I moved to the country 17 years ago. My book, Be a Goddess!, originally had a passage about city magic. It was taken out, right before the book went to press. We needed to cut page count, and the section wasn’t pivotal to the lessons in the book. But I hated to delete that section. Remembering how crucial it was is important because it affirms my connection to the song I hear from sidewalks.

Urban Hedge Witch at Goddess Diana’s TriVia—Three Roads

In the city, I tend to rent places on the margins between two parts of town. It happens without my trying. I simply find an apartment I like, and it’s betwixt and between.

Now I’m living on the exact border between Duboce Triangle and the Mission District. I am the urban equivalent of a Hedge Witch, a shaman dwelling in liminal city spaces, living at a threshold.

There are actually three realities that my building borders because the Castro is so near that, as soon as I go out, I’m walking alongside members of the LGBTQ+ community.

I am at my Goddess Diana’s archetypal trivia—three roads. (See Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia by C.M.C. Green for more information. Or click here: https://stardrenched.com/2020/03/25/dianas-crossroads-during-the-pandemic/ )

The junction of three roads in the wilderness, another liminal space.

All of San Francisco Is Betwixt and Between

The geological features beneath San Francisco are, for me, congruent with the definition of liminal spaces. The earth under the sidewalks enlivens them until they speak to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of serpentine stone—California’s State Rock—hides below this city. Serpentine, unassuming, yet rich with secrets.

When I first returned to San Francisco, I stayed at a friend’s place for a few months in a posh area—Nob Hill.

I opened my friend’s front door one day, prepared to walk down the steps to go on an errand. But two fellows sat on the front stoop, clearly setting up for a “transaction.” When they saw me, they immediately stood but instead of walking off as I expected, they ambled only a few feet away. Then one of these shady-looking fellows leaned against a car, while his companion relaxed nonchalantly against a tree. There, they continued to prepare for commerce.

This was not an unusual occurrence. All of San Francisco is liminal, betwixt and between.

Greed’s Heartless Threshold between Wealth and Poverty

San Francisco has a merciless border—a thin transparent line between wealth and a poverty reminiscent of my worst nightmares, ones that woke me up in terror and left a foreboding I could not blithely shake.

There’s no San Francisco street where you will not see someone unsheltered. It terrifies me: the American attitude of “I want it all so will ensure very little is left for anyone else” is starkly revealed in San Francisco, and that American greedy norm could easily catapult me into poverty, as it could anyone, even someone wealthy.

I am also petrified by the fact that, were I to take a financial spill, the threshold through which one might travel from poverty to financial well-being is often impermeable. So I try not to morbidly focus on it.

Instead, I strive to acknowledge the possibility of deprivation as an ongoing fact of life, and I choose to participate in life. I must view my enormous fear and the possibility of destitution as thresholds for spiritual growth. I must face this fear yet leave it behind me. None of this is easy for someone who has known deprivation. But I have no choice. Fear will destroy the song in my soul.

I must also remember magic removes barriers (though my fear would tell me otherwise and can be hard to shake off) and take life’s ever-present possibility of pauperization as a threshold in which magic abounds—enchantment that I can embrace as a tool to, among other things, manifest prosperity.

Magic is miracle, so I can let go of the self-defeating belief “The deck is stacked. Success is impossible” and replace it with “All goodness is possible. All thresholds into plenty are possible to traverse.”

My Home in the Hedges

All San Francisco residents are liminal dwellers, but this current apartment stands at so many crossroads and borders, more than I’ve already mentioned. For example, the range of incomes demonstrated by the homes on my one block is remarkably wide. And then there’s the large parking lot by my building.

The lot accommodates a few businesses—a Fed Ex, a pet supply store, and a law office. The lot is a beehive of wildly disparate activity all day, ranging from elderly individuals carrying packages (usually well-off elders, or so their vehicles would imply), to truck drivers who I suspect are long-haulers taking a break, to drug dealers, to teenagers whose cars blare loud tunes, to elegant young gay couples with their dogs.

Unsheltered individuals go to and from the parking lot, as they do throughout San Francisco, though the proprietor of one of the stores makes sure no one sets up camp there.

One day, I looked out to see a homeless man whack back all the overgrowth that had come through the lot’s back fence. I don’t know why he did that. Did the owner of the parking lot hire him? A huge pile of cut-down brush is there now, weeks later. I don’t think it’s all from that one incident. I’m surprised no one’s taken it to build shelter.

Another day, I looked out and, in the corner of the parking lot right below my kitchen window, a homeless man performed obsessive and compulsive movement patterns for about ten minutes. … Well, I’m not sure he did it the whole 10 minutes since I walked away from the window and returned only briefly to peek surreptitiously.

Last week, I happened to notice a woman in the same spot below my kitchen window. As I said, it is not only homeless people who come to that parking lot but San Francisco residents of all kinds, constantly. Beautifully dressed and sharply focused, she was exiting her car. Then she placed a small rug on the ground. After removing her shoes, she stepped on the rug and knelt for, perhaps, Islamic prayer. I backed away from the window, not wanting to disturb her worship. I returned to the window moments later to see her put her shoes back on, pick up her rug, get in her car, and drive away.

This week, a man appeared in the same spot, with his own car, prayer rug, and fulfillment of sacred obligations. Like the woman who had been praying, he appeared to be well-off.

That spot below my window is the parking lot’s most recessed corner, so has become a haven for city dwellers.

How could a parking lot not be a mystic threshold, with the constant comings and goings and potential for anything to occur?

My Home Is in My Heart

I think the Old Gods sent me to this apartment to grow spiritually, become more prosperous than ever, indulge in glorious Mysteries, hone my urban shamanism, and dwell in my full power during my elderly years (I turn 73 this fall).

I may not remain in this apartment for more than a year. It might be a transition. Yet another liminal space.

But my home is in my soul and in care from my Gods, including Gaia and Mother California.

I do not feel rooted into this apartment. I feel rooted into the land beneath it. This plot of earth loves me. As did stony Nob Hill when I briefly lived there.

My roots extend deep. My roots extend wide throughout the West Coast. Uprooting myself to move to Pennsylvania was awful and unsuccessful. I felt like my legs had been cut off, my roots still here. In my 18 years in Pennsylvania, there wasn’t a day I didn’t miss being here.

Children Understand Magic and Liminal Spaces

I grab a huge bunch of rose petals. It is a small amount compared to the exuberant quantity in the container. I drop the bunch back in, I repeat this—grab and drop, over and over, the feel of the petals in my hand, then I squeeze the red velvet as it heals my weary eyes, squeeze, drop, squeeze, drop, then press my face hard against the vegetative red.

One of my favorite childhood memories appears—my father clipped the hedges (oh my, hedges, I never made that connection until right this second) then put the clippings into a huge barrel, after which I found a long something, stick he had chopped from the hedge? Shovel? and I used it to stir the clippings, stir the leaves, pretending to be a Witch, one of my favorite childhood memories, my young heart delighted by the fancy.

The delight made child-me as big as a fairy tale.

All my rose play now and the memory remind my belly and soul that anything is possible; I have all the power I need to achieve what I want.

Taming the Wild? I won’t Let That Happen!

My father, who was a terrible man, burnt down my mother’s rosebushes. (Roses! Everything is connecting. Mom’s beautiful womanly magic in the backyard.)

When he cut the hedges, he must have been trying to tame them, sculpting them into typical bourgeois rectangles. I suspect my child self felt, deep down unbeknownst to herself, that she was rescuing that liminal space, freeing it to be wild again.

I have all the power I need to achieve what I want.

So mote it be! Thank you, thank you, my Gods, my California, and my friend who sent me rose petals!

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Pagans, Publishing, Morals, and More

Francesca De Grandis and Anne Newkirk Niven discuss Pagan publishing, spirituality that gets you through hard times, building Pagan community, and ethics.

Anne Newkirk Niven is the editor and publisher of Witches&Pagans magazine and SageWoman magazine. She has been a Pagan publisher since 1988, and lives with her family in Forest Grove, OR.

Francesca De Grandis, bestselling author of Be a Goddess!, is a fairy witch. She offers long-distance classes, shamanic counseling, and healings. Her Goddess spirituality embraces practical magic spells.

Francesca De Grandis: Anne has maintained high ethical and professional standards over the decades I’ve known her. That, along with her devotion to community service, make her a precious spiritual force. So I felt impelled to interview her. Anne, how have your goals as a priestess-publisher evolved over the years? 

Anne Newkirk Niven: My goals as a priestess-publisher remain the same over 30+ years in this profession, but how I implement them has changed over the years.

Those goals are (in order of importance): foster and promote Pagan-centric community; provide information of use to Pagans, witches, Wiccans, polytheists and Goddess-centric folks; not go broke (personally) in the process.

What’s changed is an original emphasis on ink-on-paper magazine publishing, then a 5 year stint with an emphasis on social media, and now, a return to magazine publishing. Social media was a bit of a sugar high: lots of fast, short term growth, but no long-term satisfaction for me as a publisher.

Francesca De Grandis (FDG): Please tell me something in your specific, personal Pagan spirituality that gets you through hard times.

Anne Newkirk Niven (ANN): My personal Pagan spirituality is very eclectic, but nourishing. The one ritual that gets me through is saying grace with my family once a day (some days that’s brunch, other days it is dinner, depending on schedules) before meals. Our grace is idiosyncratic, was created by me, then added to be our oldest son when he was about seven, then amended again by adding a Japanese phrase taught to us by an exchange student from Japan. It roots our days in each other, as well as in gratitude for what we are given.

FDG: I’ve known you a long time and have seen you continue to strive toward a high moral standard. What helps you keep working toward your ideals? 

ANN: Honestly, that’s a hard question. What else would I do? I guess that I really don’t think I’m doing anything extraordinary. I was raised Christian, but in a liberal church (the type that’s almost extinct these days, sadly) and I internalized the concept of self-sacrifice, honor, and compassion. That didn’t change when I became Pagan. So, it’s pretty much key to my self-image to do my best to uphold these ideals. If I did otherwise, I wouldn’t recognize myself.

FDG: Is there a Deity who has substantially supported you in your community work or personal life? If so, can you explain Their particular powers and how those powers have helped you?

ANN: I seem to be something of a serial monotheist: a series of gods (only one, actually) and goddesses have influenced my life, but seemingly for specific purposes. Usually a deity speaks to me, asks me to do something, and then when I’ve accomplished that goal, bids me farewell. First was Jesus (who I call “J.C.”) who I was very devoted to as a tween and in my teens; then a large number of goddesses in my twenties and thirties, and then a slow parade since then. I’ve had relationships with, including Mary, Kuan Yin, Oshun, and Frigga, among others. Although I have felt upheld by each of them, I wouldn’t say I relate to their powers or attributes, more to their personalities. Lately I think I’ve been called by Sigyn, but I haven’t quite figured out that relationship yet.

FDG: Is there anything else on your mind you want to share?

ANN: I’d like to share the idea of being kind to one another. I’m acutely aware that, as an interlocking set of communities, we Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Polytheists, and Heathens (and more and allies) are a fractious bunch. But I would like to ask us all to elevate the virtues of compassion, kind-heartedness, steadfastness, and empathy. This is a very challenging time to be alive, but the gods and goddesses called us to be here, and I believe it was to share their love with the whole world, not through evangelism or bringing people to a specific path, but through living as if we gave a care about others. That’s my guiding light.

FDG: I love the beauty and honesty of your answers and cherish your closing remark. You are my spiritual sister, Anne. Thanks so much for talking to my website visitors.

ANN: I love you right back, sister!

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Maytime Portals to Faerie

Dangerous Faerie Realms in the Month of May

Reject Forbidden Portals and Still Frolic with the Fey Folk


ByPass Most May Portals, for Better Ways to Meet the Fey

Getting to know and interact with fairies is a joyful part of our human heritage from our ancestors. However, not all interactions are desirable. Some can be nasty and unsafe.

In the early days of May, portals can appear.

You might stumble across such an opening on Mayday, an ancient Pagan holiday also known as Beltane, or on other early May days.

Don’t go through it. This time of year, it is extremely likely to open to realms humans rarely survive, physically or spiritually.

Even highly skilled shamans (witches, druids, whatever) cannot endure what occurs beyond such gates.

What happens there is not necessarily evil, though it can be. It’s simply beyond human endurance.

Even Fey there who are good-willed will not treat a human with the kindness that other Fey might extend on this side of those gates or in other Fey realms.

The Fey folk of the particular realms I am warning against are oblivious of human needs, so there will be neither food nor drink suitable for humans.

These Fey, oblivious not only to human needs but also to human fragilities, will unwittingly kill a human by dragging them along on Fey escapades that either go at a speed lethal to a human or are otherwise impossible for a human to survive.

And those are only the dangers from kindly Fey there!

What I’ve said above about May gates and the worlds beyond them is traditional lore. Forgive me for not attributing source. I know I learned from a person, not from a book, but I can’t remember who. I do know the lore corroborates experience from past lives and my current one.

You Can Have Blessings, Joy, and Happiness from the Fey Folk

Despite my above cautions, we can meet the Fey folk and have amazingly beautiful, wild, thoroughly fulfilling encounters. Not all that is Fey is forbidden to humans. Quite the opposite. Many Fey love us and are safe. They will even protect us from nasty Faeries.

The Fairy Queen and King love humanity and want to bless all humans.

Who are the Fairy Queen and King?

All over the world, in culture after culture, lore tells of the Faerie Queene and King, by different names. In the lore—though sometimes you have to go far back to find it—these Old Fairy Gods are also known as the Great Mother of All and Her Cocreator, our Father. These two deities are our Divine Parents.

(If you noticed I spell fairy different ways in this blog, I’m basically using them all to mean the same thing, though that is an uncommon practice. Ditto related words—fae, fey, fay. I love all the variations. For more about that: https://stardrenched.com/2020/09/08/fairy-faerie-faery-fey-fay/)

How to Meet a Fairy and Be Blessed by the Old Fairy Gods

Easy ways to draw fairies are in my post about rose magic:

The post shows eight simple ways to use roses to attract fairies and other blessings.

The post also has a ritual for the Great Mother of All and Her Cocreator our Father to welcome you into Their care, protection, wild Mysteries, and more.

Here’s the Rose Magic post: https://stardrenched.com/2020/11/24/rose-magic/

Rooster Magic

Rooster Magic, Symbolism, and Meanings

What Is Rooster Magic? What does Rooster Symbolize?

Rooster is a symbol of joy, vitality, inner fire, passion for life, healthy pride in your accomplishments, and fun.

Thus, rooster magic creates all those blessings, and I’ll show you how to do rooster magic in a sec, yay!

What Is the Meaning of Rooster?

If a rooster appears in your dream, or rooster pics are showing up an inordinate amount in your online newsfeed, here are ways you might interpret that symbolism.

1) It could mean that you need to find more joy, healthy cockiness (heh, accidental pun there— cockiness), self-respect, or any of the other things I mentioned roosters symbolizing.

2) On the other hand, it could be the universe affirming your lust for life, fire, or other rooster-like traits, so that you know you’re on the right track.

3) Or both messages could be present: a confirmation of your fabulous rooster self, with an urging to strengthen those traits.

With three options to choose from, it can be confusing. Go with your gut. But then confirm with a friend who is a straight-talker, so you don’t fool yourself.

How to Do Rooster Magic

Try any or all of these:

* Place a picture or statue of a rooster in your home and/or workplace. This totem—or call it a fetish—attracts rooster powers into a space.

* Contemplate a picture or statue of a rooster for five minutes. You needn’t study the totem with a sharp focus or intellectually analyze it. Rest your attention on the rooster the way your head rests on a pillow at night. Try for relaxed attention and gently note what you experience, whether an idea, feeling of empowerment, peace, or anything else. There’s no right or wrong here. If you experience nothing, it doesn’t mean you’re not receiving rooster power. You may not notice it yet. If you have a tiny positive experience, that could be the tip of the iceberg, the rest of the improvement occurring during the contemplation or after it.

* Crow like a rooster when you wake in the morning. Sounds silly, but it plugs you into rooster energy and helps it flow through you, empowering you for the day ahead.

* Strut around like a rooster. If the silliness of it makes you laugh, that’s great. Laughter is medicine that heals and uplifts the spirit. And fairies, drawn to the merriment, will add to your power.

* Wear jewelry with a rooster picture on it. The jewelry functions as an amulet.

* Let’s not forget actually raising a rooster and hens as an option. In a world where the abstract or symbolic are often considered more powerful than the actual items being symbolized or discussed, it’s important to remember having a real rooster in your yard would be powerful rooster medicine.

* If a deity in your pantheon likes roosters, put a photo or sculpture of a rooster on your altar and tell your God it’s for them. Three Gods partial to roosters:

I Learn Rooster Magic

I didn’t pay attention to rooster magic until fairly recently. Then I saw a beautiful stone pendant carved as a rooster. I just had to have it, even though till then I’d usually found the plethora of rooster decor annoying.

When I received the carving, I knew Exu would love it.

African God Exu and Roosters

Exu is one of the African Pagan Gods. He embodies enormous vitality, fire, confidence, and love of life. He bestows those traits on those devoted to Him.

He is a major figure in my pantheon and takes good care of me.

I had to laugh when I was putting the finishing touches on this essay and happened to see the following Yule 2020 photographs. They show me wearing fascinators (tiny hats) I designed and made.

Usually you wear only one fascinator, but I wore three. They don’t look like hats but like flowers and hornlike flora growing from my head, and the three work well together.

Anyway, I laughed with delight and happiness—not self-denigrating mockery—because, in the photos, I might as well have been strutting around a barnyard! I look so pleased with myself and happy, full of life at age 70, proud of my wild whimsical designs, and relishing the abundance of hair ornamentation that adorned my crown for the Yule ceremony that was about to happen, and Exu fosters all these traits.

In other words, I laughed to stumble across photographs that show me an utter and happy rooster-like example of my above remark that Exu bestows certain traits:

I’d never seen any lore about Exu and roosters, but He told me He’d like to wear my new pendant. I draped it over a statue of Him. In the process, I sensed that rooster holds some of Exu’s powers, which is how I learned and became enamored by the magics of rooster. … In retrospect, they’re self-evident.

When I researched Exu and roosters, still nothing. But I believed He loves them nonetheless. My belief was corroborated when I happened to learn the God Mercury likes roosters. 

Roman God Mercury and Roosters

Mercury is one of the Roman Pagan Gods. His affection for roosters makes sense to me. Exu and Mercury have so many similarities that they’re beyond the confines of this post. But both Deities have a sense of humor, lust for life, fire, and out-of-bounds exuberance. I know either of them would exclaim, “Cock-a-doo·dle-doo” with great gusto, luscious pride, and yummy silliness.

An exception to my ignoring rooster magic before my experience with Exu and the pendant:

Goddess Athena and Roosters

Athena is one of the Greek Pagan Gods. I love this Goddess Warrior Mother Who protects and upholds me. I saw a wee portrait of Her online that I purchased:

The wee gold-tone spheres around Her portrait are not part of the piece I purchased. I beaded a setting from gold-colored seed beads, to hang the portrait from a cord around my neck.

Who wouldn’t want a portrait of Athena with a rooster on Her head, LOL!? So I did some online research to discover She likes roosters. Then I forgot that Athena pendant and the related research, until after I had the rooster experience with Exu, made up ways to do rooster magic, and created a jointed paper rooster doll as one of those ways:

Jointed Paper Doll of a Rooster

I love making jointed paper dolls and channeling sacred art. Combining the two is the best experience for me. Making a jointed, paper-doll rooster was a way to learn more about rooster power and drink it into my cells. A video of the rooster doll I made:

If I spoke too softly at the end of the video, here’s what I said: “Magic is in everything. The magic rooster, my magic hands, your magic nose, my magic toes.” Hahahahaha.

Have a Rooster Totem in Your Home

An exclusive for my newsletter subscribers: in an upcoming newsletter, I’ll gift subscribers a PDF painting of the doll’s parts. You can print and cut out the parts, to assemble your own jointed, paper doll rooster. Click the banner below to subscribe.

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Vasilisa’s Doll

Vasilisa the Beautiful’s Doll:
A Magic Charm to Fix Problems

A necklace with a doll as the pendant

What is Vasilisa’s Doll?

In the Russian fairytale, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vasilisa’s Mother is dying. On her deathbed, she gives a wooden doll to Vasilisa, explaining that when Vasilisa needs help, she is to feed the doll and ask for help, and her wish will be granted.

An Amulet for a Hero

Vasilisa’s story, which is one of overcoming trials, implies her doll is a talisman for heroes—individuals taking up a challenge. My gut concurs. By hero and challenge, I simply mean people who take responsibility for their life. Life’s journey is often a heroic quest.

If I take steps toward my goals, try to find steps, or seek the willingness to take them, Vasilisa’s doll will add her efforts to mine.

By contrast, asking the doll to do that which I can do for myself would be a waste of spell crafting. It doesn’t work. It would also amount to not taking responsibility for my life.

Ancestors, the Goddess, and Poppet Magic

I adore magic dolls. Whether you call them spirit dolls, poppets, totem dolls, totems, or guardian angel dolls, I find them tremendously charming, in both the magical and whimsical sense.

I believe many entities help wishes made to Vasilisa’s doll come true. Thus the doll offers powerful enchantments:

1. Given that Vasilisa’s Mother, on her deathbed, gave Vasilisa a doll to help overcome life’s challenges, I think the doll stands in for the mother. Requests to the doll reach the mother and other female ancestors.

2. I think the doll is a gatekeeper who carries wishes to the Magna Mater, Great Mother of all, and to all the wisher’s ancestors.

3. I intuit the doll is a magical being unto herself who grants wishes.

How to take Care of a Poppet

Wood dollA friend spoke to me about how seriously she takes being a poppet’s caretaker. She believes you don’t just tuck it in a drawer and forget about it. I have similar feelings: occasionally, poppets need company, as well as a tablespoon each of food and beverage.

It’s a nice idea to keep your dolls together, if you have more than one, so they can keep each other company.

I keep a few of my dolls in my bed. For one thing, it’s an easy way for them to have company since they’re hanging out with me while I’m sleeping. Sometimes I spend a minute with them before falling asleep.

A tablespoon of food and a tablespoon of beverage is probably plenty for all your poppets combined, a few times a year.

Having said all that, I admit to having neglected my totem dolls for long periods. They forgive me and continue to help me.

… Ooh, just had an idea. I tend to make offerings to my Gods, ancestors, and other spirit friends all at once, by putting out a wee bit of food and drink for them. I can include my poppet spirits in that group. That’s a way I can easily take care of them more often.

Making a Vasilisa doll

When a friend said she wanted a Vasilisa doll, I became obsessed with the idea and, after a lot of fun brainstorming, made two Vasilisa dolls. The photos in this post show the dolls.

I woodburned the design for the dolls. The pyrography (woodburning) goes all the way around the doll, so here are videos that show all sides.

The necklace with the doll as a pendant is for me:

The other doll—which can be a wall hanging—is for a friend:

The dolls are made from the wood of wild roses, which I harvested from my property in 2018, late summer or early fall. Then I let it cure for a year or two.

This is the wood after I harvested and cured it:

A lot of the wood was not usable. My experience is that when I cure wood, the ends tend to split so have to be cut away. The same might go for other portions of the wood. So, from those pieces, I managed to get only two small sticks:

The Hero’s Sacrifices

I consider cast away parts of the wood to be sacrifices to the Gods. That makes those two remaining sticks precious magic—the parts Gods have deemed suitable for me to craft.

In crafting, much might get tossed aside, all of it sacrifice in the name of the Muse, Who for me is the great Mother Goddess, Creator of All. Sometimes, I have a huge gorgeous stick that I have to throw out after curing it, none of it usable.

Vasilisa’s story is one of a hero overcoming challenges. Sacrifices are always made on the hero’s journey.

I love these dolls. The one that is a wall hanging was my first pyrography after a year away, and the lines are not as well executed and smooth as I would’ve liked. It was also the first time executing the design I’d created; the arms don’t quite match. While burning one arm, I couldn’t see the arm on the other side to check it. I thought about sanding the arms off and starting all over again, but their particular positions meant sanding would likely ruin the piece.

Ends up the arms of my friend who wants the doll are very different lengths. Wow. … Regardless, I reduced the wall hanging’s price because of the doll’s flaws. … I love her for her flaws. I love these dolls for many reasons, among them their spiritual beauty, winsomeness, huge spirits, and pretty ways. I’m delighted by my new friends.

Working on the first doll got me up to speed with my pyrography skills again and showed me how to refine my doll template. I’d spent weeks designing a template I can adapt for each doll. I corrected the template so it was easier to make the arms match next time. The time spent creating the original template and then spent changing it was not waste but sacrifice.

I restrung this wall hanging five times because I didn’t like the way it hung. I changed the beads a few times, finally ending up with no beads at all and a simple wax cotton cord, instead of woven cording. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to see simplicity is the best design.

I rewove my necklace after finishing it, coming up with a second—completely new—design.

Repeated efforts until I find the right way are not wasted but are sacrifices that empower the hero’s journey. My dolls appreciate my effort and are all the more magical for it.

The videos of the dolls show them before they were restrung.

More about the Vasilisa’s Dolls I Made

It was wonderfully startling when, before I even finished sanding, I saw faces in the wood—spirits who were either in the wood or wanted to inhabit it. The faces were not appearing on the material plan, e.g., delineated by the grain of the wood. I’m thrilled by these dolls.

My necklace has a round Yew wood bead. It symbolizes the sacrifices along the journey. Sacrifices don’t have to be miserable. They can simply, for example, be part of the exploratory aspect of the creative process.

There is also a mother of pearl leaf, which I added as a symbol of the forests that house many a fairytale I love. The long bead, if memory serves, is bone. Bone represents eternal truths. There’s also a disc that is likely horn, to honor the wild, horned Goddess and God of the forest.

I wanted to add a bead from my mom’s jewelry, but it didn’t work out.

As always, I did lengthy ritual to bless these poppets with huge power.

A Surprise with the Vasilisa’s Dolls

After making both dolls, I told them, “Thank you for coming to me. I’m grateful one of you is my doll, to whom I can make a wish when I have a problem, and you will get me whatever I wish for. I’m grateful the other doll can do the same for someone else.”

They answered, without the confidence I’d expected, “Well, we’ll try.”

Surprised, I said to them, “Thank you. But you don’t sound very confident.”

They explained, “Francesca, we’re just sticks.”

I laughed, then said, “All the powers of the universe reside in every object in the universe. You have all power.”

They said, “Oh, yes! We’d forgotten. Thanks for reminding us.”

A few days later, they reminded me that I too have all power within. That doesn’t mean I should try to do everything on my own. One of the powers of the universe is the power of co-creation.

I should add that my wishes are not always granted, nor should they be. Sometimes the Gods have better plans for me.

Do You Want a Vasilisa’s Doll?

Wood dollIf you’d like me to make a Vasilisa’s doll for you or a loved one, I currently have the right size wood. At the time of this post, these are your costs:

A doll wall hanging is usually $98. There are some considerations, e.g., a larger doll might cost more. A necklace is usually $130. Shipping is additional and is $9 to a U.S. address.

Each doll is one of a kind—I channel woodburning details, then select beads that enhance it, magically and aesthetically, though there might not be beads on the wall hanging.

Email me or comment below if you’re interested. If you request a doll and then don’t like what I’ve made, no obligation to buy. I’m sure I can sell it elsewhere. The doll will go to their right home.

Rose Magic

Fairy Flower Magic: Rose Enchantments

Decorative frame of roses painted by Francesca De Grandis, around the words “Fairy Flower Magic: Rose Enchantments.”

Children, Magic, and Gardens

Children are wise in their innocence. They hear flowers sing, see garden fairies, and trust that magic is real. Children sing to the flowers, pile fallen petals and leaves to make wee beds for the Fae Folk, and leave cookies in the garden in case an otherworldly friend is hungry.

When I embrace this attitude, life is magical, and magic is in everything.

As our childhood is left behind, it can become harder to connect with magic. However, the magic of flowers is obvious to a lot of people, even after they reach adulthood. Gardens, potted plants, and cut flowers, for many a witch, have an easy-to-notice otherworldly energy.

The magic of roses, in particular, has been easily recognized worldwide for centuries. No surprise many mystical groups use a rose as one of their main symbols, if not their main one.

Roses, Italian Witchcraft, and Goddess Diana

Roses are important in many witchcraft traditions. Let’s look at one: la Vecchia Religione—the ancient shamanic witchcraft of Italy.

To explain rose’s relationship to the Strega (practitioner of ancient Italian witchcraft) as well as some of the powers of roses, I need to provide context.

La Vecchia Religione fosters joyful living, unlike religions that insist people be dour and view their existence as an uninterrupted burden.

In the old Italian religion, the Magna Mater—Great Mother Goddess, Creator of All—was known as Diana. Italian lore reveals Diana to also be the Queen of Fairies.

I call Her consort and Cocreator My Good Father, because He is true goodness, not the pretend goodness of another God many of us know too well. Nope, My Good Father is not a bully but instead protects me from those who are.

The Magic Powers in Roses

The rose is a symbol of:
* joy
* the ebullient joy we might take in loving the Magna Mater and My Good Father
* the ebullient joy They take in loving us and in using all Their powers to see that we become whole and happy.

The rose more than symbolizes everything in the above list. Rose also embodies it all.

In other words, a rose is not merely a symbol; its wee self is the living presence of any and all joys. Power in every petal! That living presence draws joy to us.

Roses also:
* attract the Fairy folk
* are sacred to the Magna Mater and hence to My Good Father
* draw Their blessings and protection
* add power to spells

Eight Simple Rose Magic Spells

These eight simple methods attract any or all the blessings in the above two lists:

* Strewn rose petals on an altar or all over the floor.

* Add rose petals to cookies, place one on the kitchen counter as an offering to the Fey, and eat one yourself. If you want to eat more because you enjoy cookies, no problem!

* Burn rose incense.

* Grow a rose bush.

* Carry a rose petal in your pocket.

* Put a rose on your altar.

* Put a picture of a rose on your altar or in your wallet. A rose or even rose petal is a powerful amulet. I find a depiction of a rose can have the same power.

* Wear a rose boutonniere.

Being Creative about Magic

If you want to be creative about how you bring rose energy into your life, here are some ways I bring it into mine, in hopes they inspire you to make up your own.

I spin yarn on a stick from a wild rose bush. (I tend to spin on a stick instead of a spindle.) This adds rose blessings to the yarn.

I harvested the sticks from my property in an environmentally sound manner. They are from invasive rose bushes that kill plants in their proximity. So my harvesting is blessed by the Faerie Queen.

Oh, I just had another idea: give someone a rose as a way to bring rose magic into my life. When we give something away, we gain the gift ourselves.

Rose Amulet Jewelry

I also like to make and wear rose-shaped pendants as amulets.

Elaborate or simple rose amulet jewelry—it’s all good.

I like both.

You could just put a string through a tiny picture of a rose and wear it around your neck. The Fey Folk will get the message. So will the rose’s magic, which will do its thing for you. Magic is alive and cognizant.

As to more elaborate approaches, the rose amulet necklace I just finished designing and making is an example. (I make ones more elaborate than this, too.)

The complexity I often enjoy when constructing a magical charm came into play with this necklace:

* My braiding is not simple. (The necklaces are not macramé, but I’m delighted some folks think my braiding looks like macramé.) It took a lot of time to work out the techniques needed for the look I wanted and then practice them until I could get them right.

* Dragon that I am, I’ve spent decades collecting pretties to make charms. My bead collection alone is mammoth. Now, when I make a necklace, the exact pieces I want are at hand to weave my magic. I mean, look at the wee bell-shaped flower beads braided in the necklace. Searching until I find that sort of thing, let alone in the color, glaze, and what not I want, takes a lot of time but is worth it for me.

If you’d like to buy this necklace, here’s more info:

* I don’t know what stone the carved stone rose is, but it might be stone from Russia and, given the quality of the carving, I suspect it would’ve been much pricier than my dragon collection skills allowed me to pay.

* The back of the stone is lovely. It is carved. There’s also a vulva-like fissure there, adding secret feminine mojo. No one will see it when you wear the necklace, but you’ll know it’s there. … I think it’s a fissure, not a crack. But if the pendant breaks anytime soon despite reasonable care, I’ll refund.

* If interested in purchase details, comment below or email me, and I’ll send you info. Once the necklace has been sold, I’ll update this post to say so.

* I titled the necklace Gentle Magic Is Powerful. When I design an amulet, I give it a name. The name describes at least part of the charm’s magic and, I believe, adds magic. The above necklace has all the rose enchantments I’ve mentioned, but I also wove in another magic, noted in the amulet’s name. When worn, the charm supports your gentle, powerful rites and also honors/supports your gentle powerful magical beingness.

* I’ve done a great deal of magic on the necklace. If you purchase it, no need to bless it further, unless you feel otherwise.

Blessing an Amulet to Give It Power

Blessing a rose amulet is optional. Roses are magic, end of sentence. However, if you want to add power, that’s great.

There are both simple and elaborate methods.

I performed elaborate blessing ceremonies on the above necklace. Those rites are beyond the confines of this post.

However, simple blessings work great. There is power in simplicity.

Simple Amulet Blessings

Here is a simple way to bless any talisman—not just a rose amulet: leave it outside overnight during a full moon and then, if you want, leave it in sunlight for a day. If you can’t leave the charm outside, put it on a windowsill.

Another simple method that is natural and organic: I think the many hours I spend finding perfect beads adds power to them, automatically. That mojo is incorporated into any talisman I make with them.

More about Roses and the Old Fairy Gods

Below are excerpts from a 2007 piece of writing, telling a story so personal that I barely shared it with anyone for a while.

I don’t know why I’m sharing it here but get a strong sense doing so is important. Perhaps, the story’s acutely personal nature provides a bit of insight into the Old Fairy Gods’ immense power—and how that links to roses—better than any abstract exposition might.

If memory serves, these excerpts are from a journal entry. I shared some of them in a newsletter years back. I tweaked them for clarity’s sake and the like:

“When I talk about shunning greatness, I’m referring to a very specific dilemma. I need to push everything far past what I’ve ever done. There is no escape anymore, except fully into Her will all the time and into the pleasure of Her embrace, not as escapism but as a simultaneous retreat from the world and utter integration with humankind’s plebeian existence. To fully find my Fey self in a new way. I run from that constantly. Makes me miserable. . . .

“Even though I resist, I bit by bit surrender. Or at least I hope that is the progression I am in. . . .

“ . . . As part of a book signing at a Border’s Books, I led a rite. . . . The moment I ended the ritual, the room filled with the scent of roses.

“A moment before, I had peripherally sensed, to my left, a female—wearing a rose scent—walking past me with a male. Then I realized they had not been on this plane—they were the Lord and Lady. I flipped out!

“I’m not, mind you, afraid of phenomena. I flipped because I felt like I’d been caught in my spiritual underwear. I was visible in the bookstore as a shaman, mystic, and guru (in the real sense of guru: not someone who is mindlessly obeyed, but someone who is plugged in and helps others get plugged in). I didn’t want that visibility. I thought people would start coming to my classes not for the message but for the bells and whistles. Or call me a fake who had put rose oil in the ventilation system. And look at what they did to Christ! I was upset!

“Here Goddess had given a gift, and I was flipped. (We are all such jerks!) . . .

“If the scent had happened in my living room or some obscure little metaphysical shop, I would have felt okay. But Borders is so mainstream I felt utterly exposed.

“Finally I accepted the gift.

“ . . . When someone moves toward my classes because they want a “piece of a celebrity,” they cannot help me create the scent of roses. They are looking for the wrong power, so see none, acquire none.

“ . . . Faeries are almost always invisible. So I guess it is okay. I adore the few individuals who see me. (I need to better accept that the rest parse me according to a bean-counting standard that reduces mystics and greatness to ashes, neuroses, and petty motives. Until I am accepting of these folks, my soul is soured by my haughty judgment of them, and I remain trashed by my false ego.)

“ . . . After my first bestseller, a marketing expert told me that few bestselling authors teach wee classes like I do, and that I should go on the circuit. But I’m just a shaman = small classes = big connection with a small number of people.

“… I’m just a Faerie. . . . I hide from the Faerie Queen’s love then, running toward Her, move through the mind-gate into Faerie. Then become confused, rejecting the stars in the heaven because I love my humanity as much as I adore my Fey blood. The stars. They always call. But so do the humans and plants and animals.

“. . . It’s my job to serve them. I am also drawn to them because I am human, and because I need every human, plant, and animal on this planet probably more than any one of them needs me.

“All of this happens together, in my home, where I am housebound with MS. Two examples: I teach beautiful people long distance. I travel the stars with my otherworldly wings.”

The Old Gods Welcome You: a Mystic Rose Ceremony

In this rite, Mother and Father, Who are the most loving Beings, welcome you into Their care, bestowing Their love, power, and protection, as well as fostering your magical power, otherworldly perception, and wisdom. The ritual can be done just once, or whenever you feel the need.

Place before you a rose of any color, a photograph of a rose, or a drawing of one, done by yourself or someone else. It does not matter if you draw “poorly.”

Then recite the following liturgy, which is called Divine Welcoming:

The Old Gods speak:

We welcome you, Our child.

With Us, there is safety.
With Us, you can take pride in yourself
and have honor.

With Us, pleasure is divorced from shame and hate.

Here, there is love.
Here, there is joy.
Here, there is safety.

We serve you, Our child,
and welcome you into Our Mysteries.

We welcome you into their beauty.
We welcome you into their joy.

Relax here with Us,
for you are safe, loved, and honored in Our care.

Additional Information

I initially channeled a more complex version of the above ritual, for my course, La Vecchia Religione. I streamlined that rite for this post so someone without any training could do it. It can be a lovely, important step for beginners.

Many adepts will find this simple version works well for them because the Gods are powerful.

To be apprised the next time I teach the La Vecchia Religione course, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the banner below.

Newsletter subscribers also often get first dibs on my talismanic jewelry.

Faerie Newsletter: Coming Events, Freebies, and Stardust

The Fairytale Witch, Greed, & Joy

The Fairytale Witch, Greed, & Joy

Why Are Old Women in Fairy Tales usually Evil Mean Witches?

Many traditional fairytales portrayed elderly women as monstrous witches. Descriptions included despicable eating habits. These witches were gluttons who scarfed down absurdly massive quantities of food in a single sitting, as I’ve seen in paintings of Baba Yaga. Worse, they ate children.

I’ve been thinking the root of such lies was likely greed, at its worst. I imagine selfish people begrudged an old lady her food—her right to life—and, in the same vein, coveted her land, the source of food. They wanted all resources for themselves, leaving nothing for anyone else, not caring that it could be a death sentence.

These skinny ladies in old tales usually stayed bone thin despite dining on children and disgustingly extravagant banquets. Perhaps she represented elderly women actually struggling without much to eat, the mischaracterization meant to provide the justification to rob them regardless. In other words, if an elderly woman was resented for eating any amount of food, then misrepresenting her reasonable or insufficient meals as gluttony provided an excuse to “righteously” rob her—greedy witch! She did not deserve food and its source—land and livestock.

Logic plays no part in justifying wrongdoing. A person gorging themself yet maintaining a thin frame makes absolutely no sense. However, reasons to steal and oppress don’t need to be reasonable; any excuse will do. Spread nonsensical slander about an aged woman, and her neighbors who are greedy like the slanderers will cheer about their thievery. The slanderers have given those neighbors permission to follow suit with other vulnerable elders.

I can easily imagine greedy envy turning into disgust about an elderly woman’s meals. A person’s selfishness often disguises itself, even to that person. Disgust is an effective disguise, distracting everyone from the real greed by projecting it on to an innocent elder.

When they call an old lady a dragon or witch, I take it as a compliment because I am a real dragon and witch. Many dragons and witches are kind and generous with food, magic, and other treasures. They also protect people from oppressors.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Land

Land, food, and greed are tied together. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was originally Life, liberty, and the pursuit of land. For whatever reason the phrase was changed, the original version outlines the basis for a classless society. Land is wealth at its most fundamental level. The right to pursue happiness is vague enough to establish the pretense of forgoing classism. In some ways, classism is simply systemic greed: one group taking too much for themselves so that another group does without, whether the classes are delineated by gender, race, or any other excuse to oppress.

Eating an Entire Pizza Topped with Anchovies and Joy

I was visiting my friend, Jenn Campus. As usual, we touched on one of our favorite topics: food.

I mentioned that I’d made a pizza from scratch and was delighted because I was going to get to eat the whole thing. I live alone, so that pizza constituted two or three meals (with perhaps a salad added). Yum, a couple of pizza meals!

I also told Jenn some of my realizations mentioned in this essay.

Then Jenn’s husband and foodie companion Roberto joined us. I again shared my delight about eating the whole pizza. I added that I’d been wondering how much of a pizza each member of their family got in a meal. Given their large family, I imagined they had to divide a pizza up, and perhaps no one ate more than a slice. Roberto, who’s Italian born, responded that eating the whole pizza is “very Italian of you.” He added that each family member always got their own pizza, except maybe the children split one.

Roberto’s comment was wonderfully affirming, even though I hadn’t told him my thoughts about old ladies and food. My Goddess spoke through him. Though the following were not Roberto’s words, She was saying, “Let old ladies eat the whole pizza!”

Jenn, when I’d mentioned greedy people begrudging an elderly woman her food, suggested that they possibly begrudged her the pleasure in food. Good point. Especially for me. Joy is one of my life’s keywords.

Have You Ever Been Attacked for Being Happy?

The right to pursue happiness—joy—includes the right to land or a comparable means to material well-being, such as a reasonable wage instead of employers earning far more than is even decent while employees can’t make ends meet.

Oppressive religious bodies often portray joy solely as non-material pleasure, as if it’s sinful to care about worldly things. This pseudo-spiritual propaganda fools many people; they become unwittingly complicit in their own oppression (internalize their oppression), by thinking they’ve no right to a proper income.

I’m not implying joy relies entirely on material well-being. Depending solely on the material for happiness creates greed. However, it is appropriate and healthy to pursue both material and spiritual well-being and find a balance between the two, instead of seeking only one or the other.

Your happiness is sacred. Convincing you to abdicate rights by shaming you as if you’re selfish and uncouth to care about worldly things is an attack on your life and your happiness. If you internalize those attacks—internalize your oppression—you might shame or otherwise hurt yourself when you desire joy, start to feel joyful, or have even the smallest joyful experience.

I’ve always feared I’d be punished for my joy. I thought I’d conquered that fear but am revisiting it to overcome it at a new level.

Internalized Oppression Can Damage Physical Health

I have a lot of joy in my day. That doesn’t mean I’m free of problems around it.

It is easy to internalize oppression so extensively that deep-seated, self-destructive beliefs or emotions can affect one’s physical health.

For twenty years, I’ve had serious physical problems caused by extreme swelling that is unrelenting, throughout my body, and visible. (E.g., one of my eyes became swollen shut for days. The doctor asked if something had struck my eye. The swelling was so huge that I looked like someone had socked me.)

Years of exercise, food choices, herbal remedies, and shifts in lifestyle and attitudes reduced the swelling bunches, and with it the number of serious symptoms it had caused. There are far fewer. But a great deal of swelling—and hence serious unremitting symptoms—remains.

The swelling throughout my body is demonstrated in my eyelids most days. It often looks like a blister—white cell buildup under the skin. What is my body fighting?

In desperation, earlier this year, I decided to go grain-free. The swelling abated radically within days. If the improvement had continued at the rate it was going, my need for a wheelchair would’ve been gone, or near gone, within a year.

However, I suspected that I do not have a grain allergy, but that a deep-seated, subtle anorexia was compelling me to deny myself my “daily bread,” as if I don’t deserve food.

I also wondered if I have a deeply-hidden inability to stand on the ground of my truths. Stand, instead of using a wheelchair. I’m pretty good at standing for my truths, but there’s always another layer of growth. Internalized oppression can be subtle and deep.

(These two things I wondered about are related in ways I don’t fully understand yet. The understanding I do have is beyond the confines of this essay.)

I decided to eat grains again. That might seem ridiculous, given that serious symptoms were abating so readily. But I don’t want to deprive myself of my “daily bread“ longterm only to find that I ignored the spiritual solution that would’ve been the longterm fix. Ignoring the source of the problem will simply make it manifest in another way, sooner or later.

Plus life-threatening allergies already seriously limit the foods I eat. If the decision to be grain-free is subtle anorexia, elimination of foods from my kitchen might escalate until I allow myself to eat only a few types of food—not enough to maintain health. (I’m not implying that being grain-free is anorexic per se.)

Psychological states can cause serious medical problems. I do not mean those problems are in one’s head. They are quantitative symptoms, measurable by Western medicine. I need to overcome my fear of being attacked and stand up.

Overcoming Internalized Oppression and Claiming My Rights

I wrote a large portion of this essay before the pandemic and the economic severities it has caused many people. For months, I put the piece aside, to focus on blogs that seemed more related to current affairs. My mind kept returning to this piece, and I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, I realized it is utterly relevant right now. Perhaps it’s even more important than it was before the pandemic. Elderly people are spoken of as disposable. Greed is rampant, as are illogical excuses for it. People worldwide are struggling and scapegoating, divided instead of standing strong and successful together. … There’s that word standing again.

Hm, elder abuse and the other problems described in the above paragraph are not new. Well, my real point is that I realized the article’s relevance. And that my not seeing the relevance was internalized oppression; I turn 70 this year so am at risk of being scapegoated—viewed as disposable in a society often structured by greed.

There’s another reason the article is relevant. Our current worldwide trauma can deepen longstanding internalized oppression, perhaps reopening healed wounds. That can result in horrible demoralization and other devastating states that stop us from doing what’s needed to take care of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

Nevertheless, it can be an opportunity to see inner oppression and overcome it. In my case, this has included revisiting my fear I’d be punished/attacked for my joy.

That fear is reasonable. If repeatedly attacked for your joy, whether by family, friends, or societal beliefs that joy deserves rebuke and infliction of shame, you might come to expect and fear attack. However, I refuse to live in fear.

Simple Magic Spell to Claim My Right to Food, Life, and Joy

Simplicity has magic: to do the spell, just recite the liturgy below once or, if it feels right, repeatedly. You don’t have to do anything fancy, “right,” or grimly serious like the Great Master Wizard of the Universe. (No, the Great Master Wizard of the Universe isn’t a real thing. I made that up.) I found myself laughing as I wrote and then said the liturgy, and if anything’s right for this chant, laughter is. I intentionally made the chant silly.

When you speak the chant, include the title in your recitation.

Pizza, Prosperity, and Joy Chant

I get to eat the whole pizza.
I can pay for the whole pizza.

To add extra magic to the spell, eat a good meal immediately after the recitation. Kitchen magic!

Preparation before reciting the liturgy is not necessary. You can jump right in and do the spell. If you feel preparation would be helpful, here are suggestions:
* If you prefer to set up magical protections before you do any ritual, do so.
* Take three to fifteen deep breaths. Nothing fancy, just natural deep breaths.
* Examine yourself for internalized oppression regarding your right to food, life, prosperity, and joy. Then try to feel that inner negativity, then start the chant.

As I said, I wrote much of this essay before lockdown, before revisiting my fear of punishment. The revisit makes me doubly happy for the lighthearted chant, which was in the original draft of the article and balances its seriousness. I want my heart light. I want to continue to find fun and beauty no matter what. When in my most difficult times, I see more than ever the vital importance of trying to find joy, even if it’s small.

Those two silly lines hold power for me. Perhaps they’ll also work for you. A simple, silly spell can have great power. (The spell’s strength is not always obvious until you use the spell.) The chant, beneath its silliness—and supported by its silliness—is a ritual to overcome my internalized oppression and claim my right to food as a woman, human, and elder. Since food is central to life, I’m claiming my very right to exist, which shouldn’t even be in question, but the greed of the world challenges our right to live. The liturgy also claims my right to joy.

You needn’t be elderly for this liturgy to be relevant to you.

Self-Awareness, Self-Defeat, Self-Absorption

I like my head in the clouds and feet on the ground. Magic is not enough. I’m doing additional things to decrease swelling, while eating grain. In other words, I suspect not standing sufficiently in my power, truths, and being, coupled with the internalized oppressions of fearing attack, are causing the swelling and, once lessened, will no longer do that. So I’m trying to overcome these inner blocks.

Here is one way I’m trying to do that, in case it suggests action(s) you might take to overcome internalized oppression and/or medical problems caused by it.

I have a daily spiritual practice of watching myself for certain faults to which I am prone. Now, I’m trying to enlarge that practice (temporarily, until it becomes no longer necessary), by becoming more aware of when I’m:
* afraid of being attacked for my joy
* not allowing myself joy
* not noticing or letting myself feel my fear of attack
* not standing fully in my being and truths
* not being sufficiently self-aware and thereby unable to stand fully in my being and truths

About the last item in the list: I’m trying to, more than ever, be aware of my cellular levels, be present to the moment, and forsake numbing, that I might more than ever know deep levels of myself and of what I’m feeling and being. When I have that degree of self-awareness, I trust in magic. I become my child-self who believes in greatness. I stand on the ground of my being and truths at deeper levels than ever. If I hit that level, often enough, we’ll see if I need the wheelchair anymore.

I should add: the self-awareness I’m describing is a far cry from self-absorption. For example, I am of service when I stand for who I am and what I believe in because, in that state, I work more effectively.

Goddess Sehkmet, Please Replace My Fear with Power

I’ve been asking Goddess Sehkmet to remove my fear of attack and replace it with power. I’m praying to Her because I sense She’s especially good at empowering people to be proactive. I want to step up to the plate more than ever by 1) claiming my right to food, life, joy, and prosperity, 2) standing in my being, and 3) doing whatever else is needed to gain maximum abundance and joy and be of maximum service to my community.

Though I’ve read no lore corroborating the ability I’ve above attributed to Sekhmet, one of my students did teach me that Sekhmet protects Ra and carries out His business. (I’m not attributing the student by name because they prefer anonymity.) That reinforces my sense of Her. I’ve seen Goddess Sekhmet referred to as a “protector of truth,” which also seems to make Her the perfect help for the concerns I am discussing here.

Drawing on my above thoughts, I wrote a prayer to Her:

Goddess Sehkmet, Please Replace My Fear with Power

Sehkmet, remove my fear
that I may step up, step up, step up.
Goddess Sekhmet, protector of truth,
help me stand stand stand
in my being and truths.
Sehkmet, grant me the power to
claim my rights, my rights,
my rights to food, life, joy, and prosperity.
You Who protects Ra and carries out His business,
please protect me and grant me the power to protect myself.
Help me carry out my business of
good food, long life, abundance, joy, and service.
So mote it be!

If concerted spiritual efforts do not diminish swelling significantly after 6 to 12 months, I’ll get rid of grain.

Food is life. Food is liberty. Food is land—abundance, property, the earth on which we stand as free people. So mote it be!

Kitchen Magic

One of my pizzas, ready for the oven:

Here’s a rough recipe for it: no measurements, complete list of ingredients, etc., because I tend to wing it and eyeball it in the kitchen. But I put the recipe here in case it gives you ideas.

The crust is my adaptation of a gluten-free pizza dough recipe that was at https://www.mashupmom.com but is now gone. It was the first gluten-free pizza dough recipe that suited both my palate and allergies.

If memory serves, the recipe uses brown rice flour and garlic (among other things), with eggs and flaxseed meal to hold the dough together.

To make a more flavorful, high-protein dough, I added sunflower seed meal, almond meal, garbanzo flour, and enough garlic to curl my toes.

I wanted pizza but didn’t think I had the makings for tomato sauce. Then I remembered tomatoes I’d dried and frozen. I reconstituted them quickly by putting them and a bit of water in a pan and simmering the mixture down a bit. Topped the pizza with goat cheese. Yum.

When I cook or talk about food, the power of kitchen magic visits me. (The little pizza chant is kitchen magic, at least for me, because it focuses on food.) Sharing the pizza recipe brings to mind another reason the crone was hated for her kitchen activities. Hearth magic is power available to oppressed groups, thereby threatening oppressors. Elders will have had many years to hone their power, which makes them all the more threatening.

A kitchen is often the heart of a revolution. People quietly talk at the table, where food, beverage, and camaraderie build the strength needed for the fight to live free. So mote it be!

More Kitchen Magic

Add magical healing to medicinal herbs. How to Enchant Your Cup of Tea: https://stardrenched.com/2017/03/29/how-to-enchant-your-cup-of-tea/

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Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

Photo of my beautiful young parents

Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

Honoring ancestors has many aspects for me as a witch, and just as many for me as a human and individual. I want to touch on a few, before talking about my dad.

Ancestors Who Were Oppressors

Human nature being what it is, we all have ancestors who were horrible people, and some who were outright oppressors.

When I teach how to contact ancestors, do ritual with them, and live in alignment with the old ways of our forebearers, someone inevitably asks, “What should I do about awful ancestors? I don’t want any contact with them, let alone honor them.”

Whether the student deems those ancestors oppressors or terrible in other ways, the question is important.

The answer can’t be one-fits-all. Nor can I personally hang the problem all on one hook; I’ve had to approach it from a lot of different angles, including the following:

I myself have had to make peace with awful ancestors. For one thing, I don’t want hate in my heart. I can no longer bear the damage it does me.

For another, making peace helps me regain wisdom lost over the ages—herbal medicine, witchcraft, and other empowering choices suppressed by oppressors.

My very first ancestors at the beginning of human time (well, I believe the line from which I descended started long before that, but I won’t get into that here) started threads of wisdom and power that have spun forward in time. Every one of my ancestors has held and holds a piece of that thread. I don’t want my resentments to break the thread any further than has already happened. Even if an ancestor contributed to that breakage, I want to repair it.

Making peace doesn’t mean I ignore injustices ancestors have perpetrated, any more than I’d bury my head in the sand about living family members who are complete racists or otherwise awful.

But I find some peace in my heart, and that is how I honor ancestors whom I otherwise want nothing to do with, and thus repair threads that might’ve been damaged by them and my own hate. This is what I’ve learned through my own trial and error and what works for me.

What Is Ancestral trauma?

Ancestral trauma—or ancestral wound—is the suffering of a family member or members that then passes down to the next generation and the next, until it is healed. Though it’s passed down through behaviors and internalized oppression, as a shaman I also sense a maimed energy that each generation picks up. That energy also transforms the familial DNA. The behaviors and internalized oppression help create and maintain the energy. And vice versa.

Finding peace about awful people in my familial line is part of how I’ve healed the ancestral wound they passed down to me from the trauma they themselves caused to my other ancestors and that they themselves might have suffered. Carrying hate in my heart continues the legacy of hate and holds trauma securely in my DNA. Feeling hate is one thing. Holding onto that hate is another.

Ancestors if You’re Adopted

Another common question is how to deal with ancestors if you’re adopted. There are so many questions when it comes to that, including one relevant to this post: making peace with an abusive adoptive parent who has passed on, or with their ancestors.

A family member of any kind carries (or breaks) the thread of ancestral wisdom, power, and information. My theory is that, should that family member have adopted you, they hold a piece of the thread not only in their own bloodline, but surprisingly enough, hold a piece of the thread in your own bloodline. There’s not space here to go into that theory. But, if you’re like me, making peace with adoptive parents who’ve died could be important.

Awful ancestors are no small concern. There can be huge challenges, including endless questions. It takes time to deal with it all.

For example, it’s taken years to make peace with my father who has passed on. And I still experience some hate for him. I will continue to work on it.

Learning to align with my ancestors that I might live in the magic, beauty, wisdom, and power known by my forebearers has been an ongoing process. There’s been no single step then, voila, all done. But I take one step at a time, and that yields big results.

I’ve repeatedly needed to take different types of action.

For example. I’ve had to channel a lot of ritual to do this work. But now I have a body of rituals I can continue to use and also teach in my classes, and draw on for one-on-one shamanic counseling sessions. (Links to information about classes and counseling are below this essay.)

My first ancestors spun threads of wisdom and magic. Generation upon generation added more threads, until now thick ropes connect me back into the past, to my very first ancestors.

The answers that help me might not be the right ones for you. My experiences are not your experiences. But sharing our experiences can be healing. The following story about my father represents a bit of my journey making peace with him.

May 12, 2020:

Honoring the Ancestors: William Stafford

Dad, looking worn My father was always on the outside looking in. And he loved music beyond all reason.

He was a small-minded, violent man, who suffered a hard life.

I found his name in the census, which shows that, at seven years old, he disappeared from his mother’s household.

I found someone by his name in another household, that of a farming family. I suspect Bill had been sent out to work and live on a farm because there were too many mouths to feed in his own home. This is possibly corroborated by information one of my relatives has provided. In the census, Bill appears back with his mother a few years later.

Around the time he disappeared from home, his mom remarried. Did Bill’s stepfather not want him? Was this one of the first times Bill was on the outside looking in, face pressed up against the glass?

After a stint in the military during World War II, he returned from overseas and disappeared again. As a child, I was told that, during that period, he was in the south, “living with hillbillies, and ended up on a Georgia chain gang.”

My young father in uniform

Decades later, I asked him about it. All he’d tell me is that it wasn’t a chain gang. It was prison or jail, I can’t remember which, and he wouldn’t tell me why he was arrested.

After his time in the south, Dad came back to Boston—where we lived—and continued to be on the outside looking in.

He would pretend to be Irish, in a town that adored the Irish.

He would pretend to be a cop. In 1964, I was 14, and the Beatles were playing in Boston. The arena was a madhouse. When the concert was over, the crowd poured out into the lobby, and there was my dad, come to drive me home.

“How did you get in, Dad? Why did they let you in?”

He had convinced the security guards that he was a cop. Perhaps he’d flashed them a fake badge; I can no longer remember.

There was a police radio in his work room in the basement. My dad, the not-cop.

He chased fire engines. One time, he pursued one of those howling trucks, only to see it turn onto our street. He kept following. The truck stopped at our house.

Always on the outside looking in. A spectator to his own house on fire.

The man was as right wing, racist, sexist, -ist, -ist, -ist, as you can get. But when I was sixteen, I met a guitar-carrying hippie who didn’t have a place to stay. I brought him home. In retrospect, I don’t know why. Dad hated hippies.

But dad didn’t throw the kid out, didn’t care that he was a peace-loving hippy with long hair. The guy was carrying a guitar, and that’s all that mattered.

Or, maybe, Dad knew what it was like to not have a place to stay. Perhaps that’s what happened.

Bill loved folk music as much as he hated liberals. In those days, folk music was paired with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and revolution. Dad didn’t care.

I wonder if his appreciation of folk music came from his hillbilly friends.

Bill loved show tunes. This macho man raised me in a home where vinyl recordings of Broadway musicals constantly played in the background. I still know a lot of those lyrics by heart, and still happily belt them out to entertain myself.

Dad looking worn but happyWhen I was 14, I asked him and Mom if I could start going to folk music clubs. These were clubs for adults, and were not in my neighborhood. They were in downtown Boston and Cambridge.

Mom and Dad went to a club with me and decided I could go to them on my own.

Their attending the club with me was bizarre because they usually had very little to do with me. I was a feral kid who’d raised herself.

But there was Dad’s love of music again (and Mom’s huge-hearted ability to foster my wild dreams and artistic escapades).

Within months, I was playing some of those clubs myself as a musician.

When Bill died, I felt like someone hit me in the head with a 2 x 4. But only days later, I needed to be in the music studio. Before recording my album, there’d been 10 years of starts and stops. Recording were finally underway, due to circumstances that were temporary, the deadlines were incredibly tight, and I didn’t know how much longer Bruce Smith—my coproducer—would be available. It was now or never for this, my first, album.

It just so happened we were scheduled to record a song I’d written about Dad years back. When I arrived at the studio, I told Bruce that I’d probably break into tears at some point, and to give me five minutes to cry, and that then I’d be as professional as always. I also told him to not pull any punches when we were critiquing the mix; I didn’t want him being sensitive to my feelings; I wanted the best possible recording.

When recording the song, I thought of how Dad’s face was always pressed up against the glass, an outsider looking in. He would’ve loved to have been in that studio with me that day when I was recording a song about him, would’ve loved to have been on the same side of the recording booth’s glass walls.

The album was a bestseller. Dad would’ve loved that.

Mark Chimsky, who’s edited some of my books, asked me for a blurb today. I don’t usually give blurbs. The whole blurb thing is often just one big dishonest elitist scam, with people in power giving blurbs only to other people in power, and excluding most everyone else. But Mark is one of the most ethical, dear individuals I’ve ever met. He would’ve opened the window if he’d seen Dad’s nose pressed against the glass.

Later that day, I saw my blurb along with 19 others. The top blurb was from Johnny Cash. There was my name right below Johnny’s. I wanted to cry. The two names together would’ve meant a lot to Bill.

It doesn’t matter whose name is where. It’s all ego and illusion. Bill’s lack of self-worth drove him to construct a false ego, which he kept inflated by pretending to be Irish in the Boston of my youth, where Irish was a big deal—and an Irish cop at that, which was an even bigger deal—and by bragging about his teenage kid who played guitar.

He kept his false sense of self inflated by hating everyone who wasn’t … him. America was better than the rest of the world. Massachusetts was better than the rest of the country. Our neighborhood was better than all the other neighborhoods. Our family was better than all other families. And he was better than everyone else in the family.

He’d disappeared from the census, disappeared into prison, and disappeared into the recesses of his own self-doubt. So he bragged and hated.

I’m not saying his choice to brag and hate is the inevitable result of being made invisible and being shoved to the other side of the glass.

I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been made accountable for his hatred. I’m saying his choice is understandable.

I didn’t like Bill. He was an awful man, in ways there’s no point in giving details about here. A few years ago, when I found out that he wasn’t my biological father, it was a relief to know that we didn’t share DNA.

But I’ve come to understand that he was an intelligent, passionate, inventive fellow, and that he was shoved around and denied, denied, denied. (For one thing, he was a self-taught electronics engineer and resented that lack of college education kept his earnings low, despite many years in the electronics field.) I’ve come to compassion for this guy who helped make my childhood miserable.

No, I didn’t like Bill. But I’ve come to appreciate him.

… I guess in that sense I’ve come to like him. I appreciate his wandering restless spirit that led him to the south after he’d already been in Europe, long from home.

I appreciate his intelligence, vehemence, passion, and determination.

I’ve often wondered if he was one of the young boys who hopped trains during the depression, thrown out of the house because there wasn’t enough food. If so, that was a hard time, and he was a vagrant, wandering. I appreciate that he wandered away from his own soul, and the closest he could get to chasing after it was running after fire engines.

Wherever he thought the fire engines would bring him was an illusion, even when a fire truck brought him home to our house. And somehow, I’ve come to even like Bill for that.

I imagine somewhere, on the other side of the veil, Bill is wandering. I can’t imagine he’s been laid to rest. I can almost see him with my otherworldly eyes, see him waiting for reincarnation, needing another chance.

Dad looking worn but happyThough it’s geared to inflate his false ego, I’m happy today to tell his spirit, wherever he is, “Dad, look, look where my name is. Next to Johnny Cash’s.” And, “Dad, I never mentioned it before. My album with the song about you on it? It was a bestseller. And that book I told you I was writing, right before you died? Bestseller and dedicated to you.”

It doesn’t matter whose name is where. The prestige of a best seller doesn’t matter either. It’s all ego and illusion. But I’m happy to tell Dad where my name went today and to tell him the album and book gained recognition. Because illusions can be all someone has. Blessed be, William.

Additional Material

Honoring mothers: https://stardrenched.com/2017/09/18/ancestor-magic-mothers/

Mentioned above, the best editor ever: https://markchimskyeditorial.com

Newsletters to stay abreast of upcoming classes: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

Spiritual counseling for ancestral trauma and other concerns: https://outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

Magic Cats: Goddess Bast, Fairy Kitties, and Feline Familiars

Painting of a magical cat by Francesca De Grandis

Magic Cats: Goddess Bast, Fairy Kitties, and Feline Familiars

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”—Robert A. Heinlein

Superstitions about Cats Being Evil Aren’t True

We all know the superstitions. A black cat crossing your path is bad luck. Cats will jump into your infant’s crib and steal their breath. Bah humbug.

I wouldn’t allow a cat into a crib, in case it accidentally smothers the baby. But a cat has no demonic agenda of stealing breath. Cats are God’s creatures.

They are held dear in culture after culture.

Most people know they were worshiped as deities by ancient Egyptians, but respect for felines is worldwide.

For example, there is an Italian myth, found in the book, Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, about a fairy cat who helped the Goddess Diana play a trick on Her brother. This resulted in all of creation coming into being, showing that kitty was one pretty special feline.

There’s also the ubiquitous Japanese sculpture of a cat with one paw raised. You’ve probably seen it in restaurants. That statue brings good luck.

Who Is the Goddess Bast?

Bast is an ancient Egyptian Goddess.

Often portrayed as having a human body and Lioness head, She was considered a fierce protector. Later, images of Her tended to be a house cat, with perhaps a sistrum (a rattle used in ritual) by Her side. The shift of Bast’s image from lion to domesticated feline accompanied Her becoming the patron Deity of women, children, and domestic cats.

In the ‘80s, I saw so many images of the house cat version of Bast having a gold, hoop earring piercing one of Her ears, that I assumed it was traditional. Then, I researched to see if the gold hoop is a modern addition, but couldn’t find the answer.

Bast loves perfume. This delights me since beautiful scents are part of my magic. Next time I use scent in a spell, maybe I’ll wear my Bast amulet and ask Her to bless the spell. I think perfumes would be a lovely offering to Her, too.

I personally do not believe She became any less fierce or effective a protector when She became domesticated. Humans no longer live wild in caves, but we remain fiercely protective as parents. And One of Her aspects is a loving parent.

Bast as a Fierce Protector Goddess

Bast has a ferocious side, which I turn to for protection.

While making three Bast amulets—photographs of them are throughout the remainder of this post —I was super aware of how well She protects me. Bast sometimes looks like a cute little kitty, but She’s fierce.

a magic cat amulet necklace

One of the many blessings from the entire feline kingdom is protection. Princess Beast, the cat who lives with me, looks like the sweetest, gentlest little ball of fluff, but she once reared up and attacked the postal carrier with such viciousness that the person scrambled out the door in fear.

When writing this post, I used voice recognition software. It translated my spoken words the feline kingdom as “God the lion kingdom.” That wild change cracked me up because my trickster Goddess sometimes guides me through incredibly funny voice recognition mishaps. I feel the particular synchronistic rewrite about cats affirms that in every cat resides mighty lion Deities, both male and female, lending us Their immense power, ferocity, and protection. And that Bast’s power is unquestionable, no matter how She is represented.

Bast Also Has a Gentle, Loving, Nurturing Aspect

In my experience (as opposed to any lore I’ve read), sometimes Bast turns into a cutie, an adorable kitten curled up around me with gentleness and love. Except that, being a God, the gentleness and love with which She surrounds me is immense beyond measure.

Words can’t convey what I experience when I visualize the universe being run by a Deity Who is as sweet, gentle, and softly furry as a kitten. All fear of any God or of a hostile universe leaves me. It is as if Princess Beast, who curls up on my lap, purring, affectionately licking my hand, has a larger version—an immense version that is God, curled up around me, and governing all things so lovingly that my material and spiritual needs are well taken care of.

That visualization is not the only time I’ve turned to Bast for help when I forgot that my Gods are loving, kind, and sweet, instead of judgmental, uncaring, and disdainful. Here’s another time:

I try to not chastise myself for my oh-so-human feelings of anger, but one day, I was actually hating the part of me that feels anger. I don’t want self-hate; it serves no good purpose. Hate for myself is not healing. In fact, self-hate hinders change.

After making the Bast talismans, which invoke Her into your life, She showed love for the part of me that’s angry. Her love transformed both my hate and anger. A God condemning me for my anger would not have helped me.

Another time, I was hot with anger at someone who’d seriously messed with me. Bast not only wrapped Herself tenderly and lovingly around me, so that I did not hate myself for my anger, She also told me I needn’t be pulled down by fear of my anger or of the person messing with me. That message helped me face my anger, be empowered by it, and release it, all of which in turn allowed me to take appropriate steps, on both the magical and mundane planes, to protect myself.

She also made it clear She would show Her other side should that person try to mess with me again. Picture a guest walking in my door, and Princess Beast instantaneously going from cuddling with me to leaping off my lap in order to prepare to slash out fiercely at the guest, should they be dangerous.

Witches and Cat Familiars

Witches keep cats or other animals as familiars (magical helpers).

My familiar, Princess Beast, hangs out with a poppet. (I made it probably in the ‘80s.)

I am such a cliche witch: I adore cats. Whether it’s the Goddess Bast, the fairy kitty in the aforementioned creation myth, or the black and white feline who’s been meowing at my door recently, then scrambling off as soon as I appear, I cannot resist a cat.

I find all cats to be Fey, and haven’t been without a cat familiar by my side for decades.

Familiars Are All So Different

Every cat has their own personality, magic, and lessons to give us. Every one of my familiars has come to me right when I needed its particular powers.

Teenie, my familiar of 17 years, may she rest in peace, was peaceful, loving, and noble. She tried to teach me these virtues. Ganesh, a high energy fellow who lived with us for a few years, embodied and taught me lessons in joyful chaos. Princess Beast is a comedienne, an utter Holy Fool who helps me be lighthearted and enjoy life more.

Teenie, 2013

Princess Beast as a silly kitten

Princess Beast constantly offers photo-ops, whereas Teenie usually hated having her picture taken. She tended to immediately change whatever darling, gorgeous, or otherwise noteworthy position she was in, if I grabbed the camera to capture the moment. She taught me to be in the moment instead of losing an experience by trying to document it.

Even as a kitten, Princess Beast loved surprising me with photo ops. Here she portrays a cat Goddess bigger than Gaia. Gaia statue by Oberon Zell-Ravenhearr

Bast Talismans / Kitty Faerie Charms

I made three talismans that invoke blessings from the Cat Goddess Bast and Faerie cats.

I make charms my own way. So I’m not suggesting you need to make them the way I describe below. I just like sharing my magical process.

I imbued the talismans with the feline magical energies described in this post, as well as the power to grant blessings you personally might expect from the sacred feline realms.

Two of the charms are necklaces. One is for me. (Mine is the one with the paler cord.) A friend will probably be buying the other one.

Two magic cat amulet necklaces

Here is what I strung on both necklaces:

I am 90% sure each pendant is carved from a single piece of ribbon jasper. Ditto the cat in the wall hanging, later in this post. I love how different colors emerge in a ribbon jasper carving, especially when a skilled artisan takes advantage of it.

I find ribbon jasper exudes happiness and contentment. This was not taught to me by a human but directly by the stone itself. Ditto its happy, grounded energy that helps keep my feet on the ground when I’m walking between the stars.

The carvings remind me of a Victorian cameo. I’m an old hippie who loves Victoriana, so it is inevitable some of my designs end up BoHo meets Queen Victoria.

Immediately above each pendant are three large beads. The smaller two are moss agate, a stone I find wondrously Fey; a stone that appears so mosslike seems a magical marvel to me. That Fey energy is a good match for these talismans. Could anything more Fey than a cat? They run into the room when you’re doing a ritual because they want to join in. They stalk invisible beings. And many a strega (traditional Italian witch) honors the fairy cat who figures prominently in the aforementioned creation myth.

Detail of a magic cat amulet necklaceThe largest of the three beads is a focal lampwork bead. I go to great lengths to acquire items that help make each of my talismans shines with both its own unique beauty and singular magic. I buy beads carefully, taking my time. The lampwork beads in these two talismans are two of 18 unique beads I commissioned from Jill at https://www.wyomingsilvers.net. (I’m not suggesting Jill is Pagan. I’ve no idea. I found her shop because I love lamp work glass.) I’ve acquired a number of pieces by this talented artisan.

Woven up each side of both necklaces are designer seed beads. They have a mottled appearance that goes perfectly with all the natural stone in the necklaces.

Woven with the seed beads are three larger, round beads on each side. They were destash so I don’t know what they are. I suspect they’re serpentine because their surface has the “waxiness” of that stone. I’m not a gem-identification expert.

Serpentine is one of my favorite stones.

Or perhaps the round beads are not serpentine but the same stone as the cat cameos: I carefully sorted through a few hundred of those round stones—I love fastidiously creating talismans—to find ones that best match the carving, and I was able to match some well enough that it made me wonder if they were the same stone.

Regardless, these beads have a lovely, smooth ancient energy—gentle and peaceful.

I’m really happy my friend and I will have sister necklaces.

I make one of a kind charms. Sometimes, when creating one to sell or gift, I make a somewhat similar one for myself while I’m at it. I don’t make them identical, mindlessly going about the work. Quite the opposite. For example, I sorted through my moss agate and lampwork beads to find the ones best suited to each pendant.

Sometimes my Gods make it quite clear I’m not to create the similar piece for myself: e.g., I won’t be able to make the one for me work aesthetically, or its cord gets hopelessly tangled.

The Third Bast / Fairy Cat Talisman Is a Wall Hanging

a magic cat amulet wall hanging

It is strung on waxed cotton cords. The large orangey barrel-shaped bead is copal. I seem to remember amber being sacred in ancient Egypt. I didn’t have any, and copal seemed a perfect substitute. The large, long faceted piece is probably bone. Bone represents the eternal. The idea of a cat’s nine lives represents the same thing to me.

Here’s a close-up of the two wee designer beads I selected to put right above the kitty. Tiny bits of loveliness hold magic:
Detail of a magic cat amulet wall hanging

When knotting the cords in this amulet, I tied in blessings. When adding beads, I added blessings.

Crafting amulets is an important part of my magic and witch spirituality. To read a bit more about my talisman-making journey, check this out: https://stardrenched.com/2018/08/31/making-talismans/

I don’t get a chance to create talismans to sell very often right now. When I do, my newsletter subscribers often will get first shot at purchasing them. Click below to subscribe.

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Fairy, Faerie, Faery, Fey, Fay, …

Fairy God, Francesca De Grandis, 2010. Painting of a foliate face with deer horns.

Different Spellings: Fairy, Faerie, Faery, Fey, Fay, Fae…

1) Does the Spelling—e.g., Fairy vs Faerie—Change the Meaning?

Some people use the various spellings to convey different meanings. The distinctions made shift from wee group to wee group, and continue to change from month to month, and thus might cause more confusion than they alleviate when voiced in a large public forum.

The main differentiation made is between the fairies who populate Victorian literature—darling, wee, cute, winged creatures—and the Faeries of ancient lore. (I’ll define the latter in a moment.) Individuals who voice this distinction often insist the Victorian darlings are inauthentic and a corruption of the “real” thing. I disagree.

The Fey Folk (Fae Folk, Fair Folk) take on many guises, and many a child, before losing their otherworldly site, has seen the Victorian version. I will not trample on a child’s vision.

Several of those children, grown, have told me how they suffered when they came to the Pagan community, hoping this’d be a place they’d finally be understood, only to have their visions invalidated, once more. How awful!

The boastful disdain, subtle or overt, for the Victorian fairy and people drawn to them makes me sad. It seems the naysayers want to garner attention, by showing they know an old spelling: Faerie. As if that made them superior to people who don’t use that spelling. These naysayers are authenticating and inflating themselves, by saying they are not someone else, as if the someone else is less than them.

The longer I live, the more I know most Fey Folk don’t give a hoot about your spelling. They do get annoyed by people who are snobby.

So I say: spell as you will. If you want to explain your view of the Fey, rock on! A specific spelling might not be the best way to explain. As I said, meanings of the various spellings constantly shift. Honor your own concept, share it if you feel like it, and walk away from anyone who turns down their nose at it. (Here’s a little humor about snobby magicians: https://stardrenched.com/2012/10/04/fluffy-bunny-pagan/)

2) Who are the Fey/Fae/Faerie/… of ancient lore?

Opinions vary. I believe they’re part of the Old Religion—shamanic culture that predates Christianity—and that there are at least the following four categories of Faeries (how I spell the word here doesn’t matter to me):

* ancient Fey Gods

* an ancient African tribe on the Dahomey coast, people with a tiny stature who migrated throughout the world, teaching their enchantments. That makes sense to me. Almost every culture has lore of a small, dark, magical people. And Africa has been the origin of so much of the world’s culture that it likely could also be an initial source of much magical culture. 

* descendants of human women who mated with beings from the sky. The latter are considered Gods, angels, or aliens.

* any otherworldly creature, as opposed to just humanoid beings. All magical entities—e.g., dragons—are traditionally called Fey/Fae/Faerie/….

3) The Fairy Queen Honors Varying Visions of Her Kind

And She doesn’t care if you refer to Her as Faerie Queene, Faerie Queen, or Faery Queen.

A relationship with the Fair Folk is a human heritage. It does not belong to an exclusive elite who insists there’s only one type of relationship, or one way to view the Fae. That supposed elite tends to be obnoxious about the spelling. It’s a subtle way to tear down anyone else’s involvement with the Fey.

The older I get, the more I want to honor everyone’s relationship to the Fair Folk, whatever form it takes, as long as it is ethical, and with ethical Faeries. (This article Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers talks about ethical and unethical Fairies: https://stardrenched.com/2012/05/30/ethical-and-unethical-fey-teachers/).

I’ve vowed lifetime after lifetime to continue to part the veil between the mundane and Faerie realms. I cannot do that work unless I honor the various relationships with—and mental pictures of—the Fair Folk. In that spirit, I celebrate folks’ preferred spelling(s).

Honoring everyone’s ideas of the Fey doesn’t imply that my particular relationship with them is milquetoast. My Fey life is amazing. It’s precious and special and crazy powerful and deep. I suspect many a person feels their particular version is amazing, precious, special, crazy powerful, and deep. That’s wonderful! Beautiful!

We can all have different amazing versions, and cleave to them without invalidating anyone else’s. Mine is so strongly a part of me that I feel secure enough to support those whose experiences are wildly divergent from mine. When we embrace our own experiences, we’re free to support other experiences without feeling they denigrates our own. When we honor other folks’ experiences, we are more able to embrace our own.
Nordic Faerie I met in the ‘90s. She is over 5’ tall, and was my webmaster for a while.  Francesca De Grandis painting of blonde woman with wings and modern garb.

4) Lore, Linguistics, and Anthropology Have Special Magic

Language and anthropology fascinate me. The history, lore, and linguistics surrounding each spelling are important and beautiful. (I’m not going to get into them in this post, because they’re not core to the main thrust of this essay. Besides, many other writers could do much better jobs of explaining the cultural backgrounds of the various spellings than I could.)

If an individual finds freedom, joy, and magic in a spelling because of the meaning its cultural background suggests, that’s beautiful. I enjoy doing that myself. But it’s only one of the options I draw on (and not a main one). Were I to insist it is the only approach, and therefore you must cleave to it, my haughtiness would not be true freedom.

As a poet and mystic, I cannot let my use of language be restricted to cultural backgrounds of words.

5) Faerie Secrets Are Alive and Demand Freedom

Right now, using all the spellings works for me. I don’t want jargon that restricts me. I want words to free me. A dogmatic use of language obscures the paths to fairy secrets. Words cannot contain Faerie secrets, anyway. I want to use language to point me toward the Fey mysteries. To do so, I personally need all the spellings.

They each evoke a distinct Fae reality for me—or several—providing various powerful opportunities, various portals.

Additional portals appear because a spelling might evoke something different from one context to the next. So I won’t decide that one spelling shall always mean one specific thing, and another spelling shall always mean another specific thing, no matter how much the history of the words might denote otherwise. Otherworldly mysteries transcend logic or fixed definitions; there’s an ever shifting poetry to all this that I need to honor, the ever-changing poetry of life as it manifests moment to precious, unique moment. That which is alive is not fixed. I am not saying you must honor the poetry of this. I’m talking about what currently works for me.

Each spelling also has its own poetry and a melody. The poetry and song may shift from context to context because, as I said, mysteries are alive, and as such ever-shifting.

An abundance of spellings is an abundance of Fey opportunities. I won’t let any mortal bar me from Fey realms, for even a minute, by insisting something is legitimate and correct only if stifled in a constricted language box.

Call it Fae, fairy, or fantabulosis, capitalize the words or not, but Fey experiences and the fairies themselves run from those who try to confine them.

Painted this picture of one of my ancestors in 2012. Francesca De Grandis painting of an African woman with pointed ears like an elf’s.

An example of how different spellings provide different portals:

In my 30s, I started using Faerie instead of Fairy because the former evoked the idea of mystery and majesty to me in a way the latter hadn’t. The language shift was affirming and freeing.

Eventually, restricting myself to that spelling felt less affirming and more naysaying, less freeing and more restricting. In fact, it felt like mystery and majesty were diminished by restricting myself to that spelling.

I continue to use Faerie. It invokes my past lives and other things I treasure. No spelling is ruled out.

Often, I’m using the various spellings as synonymous. If I labor over spelling decisions all the time, I’d make myself crazy, because, in my own way, I’d be trying to trap Faerie secrets in verbal boxes.

I need to choose my spelling carefully when it feels important, and the rest of the time just go with the flow, perhaps using my intuition as part of that.

I’m having a ball with all the spellings. So much magic is invoked. I love being a wordsmith, bard, and poet. I love how lore, culture, and my personal history impact meanings.

Another example of spellings as portals:

6) Faerie Tale or Fairytale?

The more typical spelling evokes a turning point in my life, and all the power thereof.

When I was in grade school, my teacher told a fairy tale about a generous little girl who kindly gave water to someone who was thirsty. As a reward for the child’s generosity, her water-ladle flew up into the sky and became the Big or Little Dipper, I can’t remember which.

I ran home to excitedly ask my mother if the story was true. Goddess bless Mom for answering, with a completely straight face, “Yes.” Mom was a Strega, and her reply nurtured my innocent trust in fairy tales and magic. This put joy in my heart, when I was desperately hoping for an alternative to the bleak view of life that reigned in my neighborhood.

Today, there’s no doubt in my mind that magic is real, as real as a kiss. There’s no doubt in my mind that Fey matters are real, including a-good-Faerie-appears-to-grant-your-wishes-with-a wave-of-their-wand. No doubt in my mind the universe is constantly doing a powerful spell for us to have love, abundance, etc.—our hearts’ desires. There is magic surrounding us and taking care of us.

The day I ran home to ask my mother about the reality of fairytales was a turning point. My life would’ve been horrifically lacking had Mom laughed at the joyful hope in my young heart—hope of magic and possibility. Instead, Mom’s response was an important contribution to my certainty of magic.

So I won’t give up the spellings fairytale, fairy tale, fairy tales, fairytales. They—not Faerie tales—call forth a specific certainty of magic. Faerie tales calls forth in me another type of certainty about magic. but what’s important to say here is:

Today, Fairy tales, Fairytales, etc., invoke the childlike wonder I felt at my mom’s remark, and a child’s utter belief in magic. The part of me that understands the very realness of magic as a fanciful reality, as opposed to, for example, magical realities being mere metaphors for psychological states, comes forward.

When that part of me awakens, opportunities abound:

My spells are powerful. I get to enjoy visits to the other world, where I am blessed with joy, peace, bliss, and power. The enchantment that fills the universe and surrounds me blesses me and carries me to my ideal situations, whether worldly or otherworldly. So mote it be!

Fairy witch, Francesca De Grandis, is the bestselling author of “Be a Goddess!” and Goddess Initiation. A teacher, guide, and healer, she offers long distance classes, rituals, private counseling, and healings. Her Goddess spirituality embraces practical magic spells. Raised in a European-based shamanic family tradition that includes both Italian sorcery and Celtic shamanism, Francesca’s witchcraft is a multicultural Faerie shamanism.

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