“Thunderstorm” Energy, Overt Power, Gentle Magic, and Subtle Magic

Huge positive changes can happen stat when you combine overtly huge powers, “thunderstorm” energy, gentle rites, and subtle magic.

As a young witch, I studied with a guy who’d acquired extremely powerful rituals, which he taught indiscriminately, to whoever attended his classes.

By and large, the energy of the rituals slammed into and through his students, frying their circuits, and opening pathways to demons.

A few of the rites were okay per se, but they didn’t suit the energetic structure of all his students. Such rites were an energetic torrent the unsuited body/psyche could not withstand. For them, it was like being shelterless and hit by a thunderstorm.

The collection of rituals as a whole was also disastrous. Along with the aforementioned problems, the body of rites, as well as the cosmology on which they were based, bit by bit instilled a subtle grandiosity and an, equally subtle, lack of moral accountability in the individuals who did this training. They started hurting people around them, badly.

The grandiosity was partially caused by students acquiring a specific ego structure that can be a temporary means to get through a certain part of a shamanic training. In the case of the aforementioned teacher’s students, that ego structure became a permanent fixture, turning into grandiosity—e.g., self-importance, overestimation of one’s psychic perceptions, and sense of entitlement. This further fueled the students harming people, often completely unaware they were doing so.

Furthermore, that specific ego structure that I mentioned as helpful is suitable only to certain individuals, temporarily. Even the brief period those individuals experience this ego-state is risky.

Most of the errant teacher’s students didn’t realize their immense problems stemmed from the lessons. The power coursing through them was exhilarating, seemingly proving they had found something that really worked. Plus, they saw immediate positive results in their lives. But these improvements were short term and part of a process more destructive than beneficial. The “buzz” felt during the rites became a drug, keeping improvements in their lives and in their psyches at bay, instead of creating forward momentum.

While studying with the teacher and in the years after, I witnessed his students fall prey to drug addiction, suicide, and more.

Here’s another reason most of the students didn’t spot what was happening: society as a whole portrays brute force as the most effective—and actually only real—means to an end. E.g., many individuals consider the acquisition of wealth and resources through both warfare and ruthless business practices to be norms humans must resort to, if they want success in life. This portrayal becomes internalized by some magic seekers, making them believe being buffeted by life and by their magic is the basic state needed to move ahead.

Not realizing the source of their new problems, the students figured they were at fault, and just needed to work harder at the lessons. After all, the teacher boasted about his lessons’ power—his demeanor, tone of voice, and words exuding, “Ooh, look how dark and mysterious and dangerous we all are. We are real witches, not like those pretend witches.”

Later on, I became the go-to person, when one of that teacher’s students fell apart. For example, I was at a Pagan festival, and someone came into my tent and said, “Francesca, so-and-so did a blah-blah-blah ritual with their teacher last week, and now is completely falling apart. She’s a mess, can barely speak. Can you help?” I took care of her. I even had to do an exorcism on one of his students.

I was raised in a shamanic family tradition. I was already teaching witchcraft and working professionally as a psychic, when I went to study with this deluded teacher. So I had a different perspective from his other students, as well as the ability to psychically see the damage caused.

Surprisingly, the harm he caused was a good lesson for me. Though I could manage the energy he was teaching, I came to see that managing it and wanting it as a lifestyle were two different things. I knew the energy wouldn’t be healthy for me long term (aside from a few bits here and there).

Seeing how this energy adversely affected those around me also affirmed that witchcraft is not one-size-fits-all. I committed all the more to my approach as a shaman:

You see, I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning that energy could fry a person’s circuits, or that some seemingly benign energies can open pathways to demons. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning a rite needing to suit the energetic structure of the person doing the rite. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning rites, and the cosmology on which they were based, subtlety instilling grandiosity and lack of morals. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning a specific ego structure as a means to get through a certain part of shamanic training. And so on. I developed all these theories myself and, with no one else mentioning them, it would’ve been easy to have mistrusted myself. But the problems caused by that errant teacher’s lessons proved my theories to be sound. And, as I said, I committed all the more to my approach as a shaman:

Many lessons I teach, and spells I do for my community members, are gentle yet effective. Their immense power is often subtle. My students/clients report miraculous improvement in their lives. The changes are long term. When appropriate, I teach and perform rites that run overtly powerful energy, or energy I liken to thunder; the two types of energy are sometimes one and the same, but not always. (The thunderlike energies taught by the aforementioned teacher were, by and large, not healthy for anyone. But there are wondrously beneficent thunderlike energies.)

I am gentle with myself energetically. Yes, dynamic power like thunder is great. Yes, power is everybody’s birthright. But there are many forms of “thundering” power and not all suit everyone. And some are tied to demons. (I don’t risk hanging out with anyone who thinks they can safely play with demons.) I run only the thundering powers that suit me. I teach only the ones that suit the specific individuals attending my classes. When needed, I meet with those students one-on-one, to teach them additional powerful rituals tailored to their particular energetic makeup.

Gentle is a big power and just as dynamic as “thunderstorm” magic. Gentle powers are among the strongest. Subtle powers are also among the strongest.

So, though I can run more overtly huge powers, ditto “thunderstorm” magic, and both are a large part of my practice, I need to use gentle and subtle powers just as often.

The proof is in the pudding: my students’ success in their professional and personal lives demonstrates what happens when gentle and subtle magics combine with more overtly powerful and “thunderstorm” ones.

Sometimes I feel like the spells I am doing to improve a given area of my life are getting nowhere. Then I try to remember that, often, change takes time and happens in incremental steps. When I do this, big change can arrive all the faster, perhaps quite soon. This is a smarter course than spells that slam energy at me.

Small progress adds up to big progress.

Big changes can be happening, even when I don’t see them.

A therapist once told me you might not notice a big change in yourself till a year after it has happened. Wow!

Big external changes can be well underway, but I won’t notice.

And, as my students and I can attest, huge positive changes can happen immediately when you combine overtly huge powers, “thunderstorm” energy, gentle rites, and subtle magic.

So mote it be! Goddess, thank you.
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Pagan Authors and America’s Class System

Pagan Authors and America’s Class System
Money and Hierarchy in Today’s Paganism

Warning: I am standing on a soapbox.

Recently, someone with whom I’d been conversing on Google+ for a few weeks was surprised to realize I was an author and she owned one of my books.

It might seem odd that her surprise surprised me. I asked why she was surprised. I don’t know if my question seemed ingenuous and pretentious. She kindly responded that she does not run into authors. Ah, of course! I understand.

The thing is: I get out of touch with stupid consensus realities, so forgot it is unusual for a best selling author to be available, acting just like a community member. That’s why I didn’t initially understand her surprise.

But as long as big name Pagan authors are hard to be in contact with, they help create a class system in our community.

Before going into that, here are examples of how our American class system plays out in Paganism, for context.

There are a lot of people with money in Paganism. Nothing wrong with money, but I’ve encountered many wealthy Pagans who refused to say hi to me, let alone speak with me. They blatantly snubbed me.

Check this out: some of them, including big name authors, snubbed me until they found out I had major media access—e.g., scripted a segment for a Barbara Walters show—then acted like I was their best friend. One of them even gave me family tradition material! Ugh! What a fake!

Another example: I met someone at a Pagan conference who later became my student. She eventually told me I’d been the only one at the conference who’d said hello to her. This happened at a “spiritual” conference? What a joke!

There are many reasons people get ignored at spiritual conferences. But class is often one of them. Some people’s excuse is they are too busy. At the conference where no one said hello to the woman who became my student, I was scheduled to give two presentations, one concert, etc etc. “Too busy,” in the case of some moneyed people, translates into “too busy focusing on my own selfish needs and those of my elite group.”

One last example: I don’t expect conference staff to always stop to talk. They may have so many responsibilities that they need to move at a lightening pace, zooming past people in order to get to the next responsibility. But I was stunned that the staff at a major Pagan conference couldn’t even smile at participants as they ran past them. That seemed less busy and more self-important.

So I tried an experiment to see if I was right or if perhaps they were just a very shy group or something: I let it “slip” that I had just done a televised ritual for a quarter of a million people. Suddenly all the self-important people had smiles for me. They became utterly gracious. Not good!

Okay, back to author accessibility. Discussing it necessitates highlighting some of media’s dark aspects, so I want it clear that I’m very grateful to be in the media. Not many people get that chance, especially women raised without money like me. But I need to talk about the darker sides to give a whole picture.

The world of corporate media promises hopefuls that success in publishing, acting, etc makes one part of an elite that enjoys money, prestige, and a pedestal all of your own to climb on. As a women who grew up without much money, I hoped for more than I had as a kid, but I refuse to get it by joining in a class system. I’ve paid dearly for that decision—slandered by colleagues, constantly plagiarized, and worse. It seems if you won’t join in being an oppressor, they’re going to do everything they can to oppress you, lest you blow the lid off things and reveal their true nature.

One of my editors was shocked I put my phone number in my books. A marketing consultant told me that international authors do not teach small groups like I do. But I believe spiritual teachers should be accessible.

There’s a game you’re supposed to play. The game’s a trap. It eventually stifles your creativity and innovation, until your work becomes a pale imitation of your earlier creations. Stifled innovation allows a class system to thrive; otherwise, authentic dialogue and inspiring art might nurture social change.

I’m grateful for media access, and I hope I use it wisely. I have tremendous admiration for people in the media who stick to their guns in terms of the content they produce. I know how hard it is for them to do it. Being in the media is not the bed of roses portrayed by the powers-that-be.

The upper echelons want you to think media life is inevitably easy. They hope this lie will make you jealous of your blue-collar friend who worked their butt off to get a foot in the door of an upper class scene. Why? So you will not have your friend’s back when push comes to shove.

The powers-that-be have another reason to convince you life in the media is innately easy. They’re trying to cover up the actual facts: if you’re in the media and refuse to play the elite class game, it’s beyond rough going. As I said, you get slandered and otherwise trashed—sometimes to point of financial destitution and psychological devastation.

Is it worth it? I can only answer for myself. I get tremendous satisfaction from expressing myself. Also, I chose to become a public figure because the Goddess asked me to. It’s always worth doing what my Gods ask, whether I see how it pans out for me at the time or not.

There is money to be made. There’s nothing wrong with that. Legitimate, caring shamans, whether Native American or Celtic, charged for their services in ancient times. But if money is made through supporting our class system, Paganism oppresses us like the huge religious and spiritual groups that many Pagans left to be free of oppression.

Oddly enough, being accessible makes people suspicious of me sometimes. For example, when slander about me was making the rounds about 13 years ago, someone I was mildly acquainted with asked me what the true story was. I didn’t want to get into “He said,” … “She said,” because that seemed like going around in circles.

So I responded, “Come on over the house, hang out with me. Do ritual with me. Then decide for yourself what you think about me.”

LOL, the woman thought I invited her in hopes of stealing magical secrets from her—secrets that I was actually the author of myself, although she did not know it!

Good grief!

I’m not suggesting public figures be without boundaries. You cannot survive the public arena without them.

For example, a lot of people try to use me as a scapegoat. They think I have media access because I’m “one of them,”—e.g., someone not as deep as them or who has not faced as many challenges as they have. After all, how could I have accomplished all I have, if I’d faced tremendous challenges? Poppycock! Yes, challenges can defeat us, but too many assumptions are made about people in media. Whatever shadow projection someone wants to use as a punching bag, it can do terrible things when projected onto someone. That someone, after all, is a real live human being, with all the vulnerabilities of a human.

Another example: Between death threats, nut cases, and the sheer quantity of well-intended but intrusive readers, I’m protective of my home address.

Sometimes people who love my work almost force themselves on me as a best friend, not realizing they’re being discourteous, pushy, and perhaps outright scary. So home address aside, I have to make boundaries.

I also have to take care because my work is controversial; I’ve been picketed by so-called Christians, and I can tell you, it is terrifying to sit in a wheelchair, physically defenseless, while a bunch of people led by a man dragging a 10 foot cross think you’re evil.

When my dad died, I learned the importance of a private phone number, instead of using my private phone for business.

At his passing, I felt like I’d been hit in the head by a two-by-four. I could barely speak and needed support from friends. But I couldn’t pick up the phone when it rang, because if the person on the other end was a stranger asking about my shamanic services, I was so emotionally overwhelmed by dad’s death that I couldn’t even explain I wasn’t in good enough shape to discuss work.

Yet I needed to answer the phone, in case friends called, because they might not have left any messages—it’s daunting to leave messages when somebody’s died. This was before Caller ID, so I had no way of knowing who called unless I answered the phone. So I was isolated when I was in great need.

But none of these are reasons to be completely unavailable.

Ok, I will get down off my soapbox now.

I first posted this essay in 2016 on http://witchesandpagans.com/

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Notre Dame Is Burning

As devastated as I feel about the fire, I also have feelings at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

I didn’t know about the cathedral fire, until I received an email that happened to mention it. The friend writing the email was grief stricken and hoping the stained glass would not be destroyed. I checked online for more info. Good Gods!

I felt terrible grief and started to express that in response to the email, when the phone rang. It was one of my shamanic students. Before discussing my upcoming class in Faerie Druidry, she mentioned her sadness about the beautiful art in the church being ruined, specifically the same window that was mentioned in the email.

I have the same feelings about the art. Plus I have a special memory of visiting that church years back. Very special.

Despite being devastated by the destruction of Notre Dame’s beauty and by losing a piece of my own personal history, I have other feelings that are at the opposite end of the spectrum. The following information is from https://www.eutouring.com/facts_notre_dame_cathedral.html: “The Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is often affectionately referred to as The Forest because of the many wooden beams that have been used in its construction, and each of the beams came from a different tree, many of which were around 300 to 400 years old.  In fact this building is made up from 1,300 oak trees that represents approximately 21 hectares of forest.”

That cathedral required acres of trees being wiped out to support so much stone masonry.

During the phone call, I was hit with a past life memory. They chopped down my sacred groves, to build yet another church on a sacred Pagan site. They killed ancient living beings to create a monument solely to their own egos, for no God would have exacted praise that cost those oaks. 

So, even greater than my immense grief is the jubilant cry in my heart “Let it burn!”

How an Empath Can Protect Themselves from Group Discord

If you’re an empath being hurt by a group’s emotional distress, the following liturgy can help safeguard you. The liturgy is also a good idea when you see a group’s emotional uproar on the horizon.

The group could be a family, nation, all nations as a whole, colleagues at your workplace, or other group.

The liturgy also helps provide defense against troubling emotions that an individual in the empath’s vicinity has.

Background:
* An empath is a person who picks up and actually experiences other peoples’ emotions. This experience can be distressing and overwhelming, especially when someone near the empath is having immense rage, terror, or comparable distress.
* An empath can use psychic safeguards to keep those disturbing feelings at bay.
* I believe an empath might pick up terrible national or international ambience—feelings of terror or other anguish. Such a huge group’s uproar can slam into the empath. Safeguards are needed.

I also believe the blows suffered from national or international distress are likely to hit the empath’s subconscious mind. The empath suffers without knowing the source of their pain.

If the liturgy discusses issues that feel irrelevant, I suggest you use it anyway, unchanged, as an experiment. Some things don’t seem useful until you use them. For one thing, the liturgy’s ideas and magics are geared less to how your mind reacts to them, and more to how your gut instincts respond.

Also, I boiled down some of my theories into this liturgy, so this brief poesy covers a great deal of ground, both by implying it and through outright statements. In addition, the best means for conveying my theories was through lyric, to provide experiential learning of the liturgy’s overt and implied ideas.

To use the liturgy, simply recite it, silently or aloud, very slowly, perhaps pausing after each line. The liturgy has two parts, both of which have a title. Those titles, as well as the title of the piece as a whole, are part of the liturgy’s magic, so include all the titles in the recitation.

Empath Protection Liturgy

Part One:
I Repudiate, Reject, and Repel
Invaders and Presumptions:

I am not a dark hole you have a right to fill or to feel.
I am and own the dark emptiness
that is the source of all creativity,
from which springs projects and progeny
I myself—not you—initiate.
My life and soul
—my empty darkness—
are filled and felt by me;
they—not you—are my source.

Part Two:
I Claim My Life; I Live My Life;
I Love My Life; I Myself Fill My Life:

I am and own the dark emptiness,
the originator of all creation and creativity,
the original creation and creativity,
the source of all creativity.
I am the source of projects and progeny I initiate.
My life and soul—my empty darkness—are filled and felt by me;
they are my source.
They are the source of all goodness.

So mote it be!

An aside, which is a theory of mine: one reason a patriarchal culture deprives women of control over their own bodies is it’s an effective way to make women view themselves as mere receptacles for other people to use/fill however they want. Once that idea is instilled, it affects all parts of a woman’s life; she is supposedly an emptiness someone else has the right to fill for childbearing, sex, negative shadow projections, and more. Even when a woman knows better, such a belief can operate powerfully in her on a subconscious level, causing major problems. The feminine void is the original power, but oppressors, not wanting women to know that, try to reduce a woman’s emptiness to a commodity that she has no right to, but that greedy people have the right to use/control. End of aside.
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Peaceful Prosperity Now! So Mote It Be!

For me, prospering financially, emotionally, and spiritually requires fully engaging in life, not backing off from whatever’s occurring. Being human, I readily forsake the moment, but if I move into the now on a somewhat consistent basis, abundance comes, accompanied by serenity. One of my blocks to being in the moment is finding glory in self-pity. I try to avoid it, even when things are at their worst, because self-pity makes my defeat more likely. For example, when we thought I had only months to live, trying to avoid self-pity and instead committing to the moment and being of service to it allowed triumph; now I have another 20 years in me.

I want to feel my life is of epic proportion. However, I don’t want to create that feeling by constantly dwelling on my problems, making them grow in my mind, so that I view myself to be an abandoned, struggling hero.

Mind you, my problems are constant. Some are dire. And, as is the case with many individuals, there are ways I am an abandoned, struggling hero, who should be widely admired and is, instead, viewed as complaining about nothing. (Has this happened to you?) Stories of my heroic achievements despite great odds have been stolen to be portrayed as someone else’s, usually one of the very people who tried to block my goals. (Has this happened to you?) I don’t want to ignore any of that.

I do not want to dwell on any of it, though, with the gorgeous self-pity in which I, too readily and too often, indulge. Goddess, please help me not use atrocities perpetrated on me as an excuse to indulge in self-pity. Compassion for myself is not the same as the glory of self-pity.

I want a life that feels huge from the joy I experience, my awareness of my accomplishments, a commitment to live in reality good or bad, and the attempt to be fully who my Gods made me. I’m grateful my Gods give me the ability to constantly do the things cited in this paragraph. I want to do them more. More! Living myth is an ancient magic, one of the most powerful spells I know. It has not prevented all my misfortunes. Tragedy is part of life. However, living myth has made enough differences that my existence has been filled with beauty and abundance, instead of being a tragedy as a whole.

I imagine many people, like me, feel huge one moment because they’re living fully, kindly, and gracefully, and the next moment feel huge from having mesmerized themselves with a self-pitying tale that, even if true, is self-damaging when recited over and over to oneself. (There are times when repeatedly telling the same story of a problem is part of a healing process. That’s not the sort of repetition I’m referring to here. … If you view existence panoramically, a constantly repeated, self-pitying tale is part of a healing process, but the panorama might have to provide such a widely sweeping view that we’re looking at that self-immolation in the context of a healing process that happens over several incarnations. Or, if looking at a single lifetime, every detour from healing and empowerment is part of moving toward that healing and empowerment because every step along the way to health is needed. But I want to avoid as many detours as possible, which means being honest with myself about how self-pity derails me, damages me, and makes me feel powerless so that I am deterred from taking action to stop other people from hurting me.)

I want a life that feels huge and abundant because I face problems as if I have a sword in one hand and a tea cup in the other. I’ll deal with the problems with sword or tea cup, depending on which is most suited to the problem meeting me. If I only use the sword, I’ll hack away 24/7 until my life is shredded to ribbons. Sometimes, I can best solve a problem by sitting down and savoring a cup of tea.

I want to be a mythic, mystic, enchanted servant—to the Gods, the Tree of Life, all its inhabitants, and my oh-so-flawed-yet-perfect-and-beautiful self.

I will have peaceful prosperity now! So mote it be!

Note: if you don’t see how my above thoughts are related to having peaceful prosperity or having it now, trying to figure that out is a shamanic ritual. Even spending two minutes trying to figure it out will move you toward peaceful prosperity, whether you can find your answer or not. I’d love to hear from you about how that goes. If you already see the relationship between this essay and peaceful prosperity now, and apply it in your life, please tell me the results.

An Empowering Definition of Karma

A misrepresentation of karma serves those who want others powerless and desire an immoral society.

It’s no surprise many people reject the idea of karma. An oversimplified understanding of it is disempowering—e.g., shaming people visited by unfortunate circumstances. Let’s look at a definition of karma that is empowering and joyful.

Karma is usually defined as “If you do good, good comes back at you. If you do bad, bad comes back to you.” While I believe that is an important truth, it is also so oversimplified as to be dangerous. Psychic physics aren’t that simplistic. Instead, it seems to me karma is the unfolding of the specific repercussions of whatever you do. Example:

If you cut down a tree, you end up with wood. That’s one possible repercussion. That’s one possible repercussion. But, when the tree falls down, it might hit you on the head, which adds an additional repercussion. Or the tree might hit someone else, and then their son kills you in revenge.

Or you use the wood to build beautiful furniture, which you sell, and its buyers are happy, and you have money for groceries, which helps support the local grocer.

We’re all aware of the threats posed when too many trees are killed. Those threats, too, are possible repercussions. And, if cutting on a smaller scale, a space you clear can be a bane—or a boon—to the forest’s animals. If some of them leave as a result, each refuge will have its own impact on its new home. E.g., a possum who takes up residence in your yard could eat a lot of ticks, which might lower your chance of contracting Lyme disease.

Karma, as defined in this post, has three large benefits. It helps us
1) Understand that reality is an unfolding series of events that we affect.
2) Take responsibility for how much our actions impact the rest of existence (All Our Relations!).
3) Claim the beauty, power, and magic of such an intensely intricate weave.

Replacement of those three enormous strengths with “The bad you do comes back at you, as does the good” can rob us of power as well as the chance to be morally accountable for the chain reactions caused by our actions. There are also enormously positive chain reactions, in which we can take healthy pride. Misrepresentation of karma serves those who want others powerless and desire an immoral society.

Embracing karma’s full ramifications might seem grandiose but is actually humble. Humility is knowing one’s strengths as well as one’s weaknesses.

Humility is also knowing one’s place in the universe, but not in the way it’s meant when someone tries to make you feel worthless by saying, “You better learn your place instead of being uppity!” When we understand karma, we can see our place in life’s weave in terms of our immense power to do good or wrong. Again, humility is acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses.

Another way understanding karma can help us see our place: we might start to actually experience the incredibly vast and complex weave of life. That can be simultaneously self-enlarging and humbling.

Self-larging because we can see ourselves both as part of something magnificent and as a magnificent element of the larger magnificence.

Humbling because, for one thing, the grandeur of the cosmos provides perspective that can remove any over-inflation of self. For example, we might start to sense there are millions of factors influencing the outcome of any situation; we can see how powerless we are by comparison to all those factors. (I cannot use that as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for consequences of my own actions.)

The humility gained by acknowledging the consequences of my actions and inactions, and by acting accordingly, improves my life. For example, when I make reparations for wrongs done, I more fully engage in life, which frees me from any unhealthy preoccupation with self that has trapped me; I get swept up in the World Tree—the larger picture, the Gods’ plans. Being caught up like this is humbling on some level. But it is also empowering and even ecstatic.

The idea of “Your good acts generate good acts coming back at you, and your hurtful acts generate hurtful acts coming back at you” remains important. But reducing Karma to only that ends up blaming and shaming good people for the unfortunate events they suffer. Life is more complex than that. The World Tree—life—is a sophisticated organism. It consists of many parts: branches, trunk, leaves, roots, bark, sap, etc. Those many parts are made up of innumerable cells. All this weaves together in a complicated synthesis. Our own actions are only a part of that tapestry.

Spell to See One’s Karma
and Enjoy Life’s Weave

There are constant contradictions that, in fact, are not contradictory. Each one, when riddled entirely by the intellect, seems unable to abide as a reality. But, if entered into as an experience, the supposed contradiction has the chance to be understood, because we get to experience it as a living, breathing fact.

Later, that reality may seem impossible again. That is because, when we retire too fully from action into intellect, we might lose touch with reality again. Our minds are wonderful tools to use constantly, but they get in our way when we think the only way to discover whether something is a truth is to keep it spinning in the mind instead of applying it as an experiment.

So it goes with understanding karma: sole intellectual analysis of it will not work. But when I try to live according to it, it makes sense experientially. That is one of a witch’s powers: to know something is true because you feel it with your gut and in your soul. Witches use their fine minds without being trapped by their limits; instead, we use the whole being—mind, spirit, and body. The following spell helps us do that.

Optional: after putting a purple candle in a candle holder, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of lavender by the holder’s base. If you prefer, use the candle and no herb.

Recite the following. To what extent you can manage, say it from the bottom of your heart.

May I honor and celebrate
my place in the weave of all existence.
May my Pagan heart thrill
to the beauty and magic
of the intricate, powerful weave that is life.
May I see the ripples from all I do.
May I take responsibility
for my place in the weave,
so that I act with good intention
and make reparation for wrongs I’ve done.
May I understand that these words I say echo through the World Tree, as do all words and deeds.

Now say, “So mote it be” (while lighting the candle, if you’re using one).

Let the candle burn down. Or extinguish it after a few minutes to relight again, should you want to repeat the recitation some time soon. If leaving the building or going to sleep, extinguish the candle and relight it when you have a chance. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Claiming My Power as a Trauma Survivor

I can act effectively in crisis only if I’m doing shamanic practices on a regular basis.

There are times survival takes every single ounce of one’s time. And it’s vital to do everything one can on the mundane plane to take care of a crisis. But, when crisis looms, I have the self-destructive knee-jerk response of automatically focusing solely on survival. I’ve learned that usually does not turn out well, not for me.

So I choose to instead focus on staying balanced, serene, and connected to my Gods in order to receive Their power and guidance. To accomplish all that, I need a lot of time for my shamanic practices and have to use a crisis as an opportunity for spiritual and shamanic growth.

If I, instead, frantically chase after money, security, a resolution of crisis, etc., then the money, resolution, security, etc., don’t manifest anyway. If I stay on my shamanic journey, then money, resolution, security etc., come.

When crisis hits, I need shamanism more than ever.

Historically speaking, shamanism as a means for healing from trauma—and keeping a disaster from damaging one’s psyche—has been a cultural norm. It has surely been a means for my survival and wholeness in rough times.

Shamans have also, since ancient times, used their traumas—even the worst traumas—as irreplaceable chances to manifest great magical and mundane power. This was surely my own experience.

After 9/11 traumatized U.S. citizens, and our government used that tragedy as an excuse to further traumatize us, enrollment in the shamanic classes I teach dropped for a while. When crisis hits, or appears as a possibility, some people believe they can’t afford the time or money for their shamanic training. They don’t understand that continuing their training can be pivotal to overcoming crisis. I provide scholarships, yet few people requested one in the year after 9/11.

One power of being a trauma survivor, for me, is that overcoming disasters left me with shamanic tools I can apply during this brutal administration. Another power is that I’ve learned the need for complete focus on survival is often a mirage. Mind you, I know it’s not always a mirage. But when it has been an illusion, living in that lie almost destroyed me. I’m lucky to be alive, considering what a lifestyle of overwork and worry did to my health.

“Long-term trauma” (LTT) is a worse diagnosis than post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Examples of an ordeal that causes LTT: being kidnapped and held hostage for years; and being married to a batterer for years. Quite a while ago, I suffered LTT. Not to worry, I took the necessary steps to be on the other side of that now, happy and whole. It’s all behind me. I bring up the diagnosis only to point out:

As someone who used Fey-touched tools to survive longterm horrors and come out the other side whole in spirit, I learned that serenity is possible during a horrific situation. Not always, for sure, but tranquility is not constant even in the best of circumstances. Though peace is often impossible when first in a terrible crisis, knowing that peace can develop—albeit sometimes only painstakingly in minuscule increments—is a power I’ve gained from being a trauma survivor.

When I create a calm place inside myself, I find strength and wisdom there to change a situation.

My familiar hangs out with a poppet. I made it probably in the ‘80s.

Like many survivors, I’ve been triggered by recent national events. Like many individuals, I started having trauma symptoms in response to national events. But now, screw Trump, screw his ilk. I decided I don’t have time to let fascists’ behavior traumatize me anymore. I’m doing everything in my power to keep their behavior from getting to me mentally anymore.

I affirm: They no longer will have space in my head. Heck, I’ve known all along that what’s going on in America right now is nothing new. That’s an advantage I have from being a trauma survivor. The horrific injustices currently widespread in our country are what I observed as a child in the ‘50s and throughout my whole life. I suffered terribly from some of these things My point is that what’s going on has been happening since humans first congregated, so I don’t have to lose my mind over it, but can carry on the same way I did the day before Trump got elected—fighting against such atrocities and living my life with joy.

I affirm: I can feel my indignation, rage, and even terror, but not sit in them. I can simply feel them, and then move on to feel my joy and love.

I affirm: Living in terror and rage would keep me from maximum effectiveness as an agent of change in the world. I want to help individuals upon whom horrors are being perpetrated, so I feel my indignation and rage, but do not reside in them.

In this post, I speak only for myself and of my experiences. I want every trauma survivor to find what works for them. So I support those who say a constant rage helps them fight oppression, even though that wouldn’t work for me. I used to walk around angry all day. That hurt my health and made me miserable.

Though I didn’t take my anger out on other people, furious thoughts consumed my mind, time, and energy, distracting me from doing what was needed to be as happy and productive as I became when I let go of constant angriness. Now, with less anger, I’m more likely to take positive action, more effective when I do so, and experience life’s joys more.

Wee shaman

Back to the idea that what’s going on in America is nothing new. I’ve physically, emotionally, and spiritually survived grueling ordeals that started in childhood. Some of these situations were next to impossible to survive, let alone survive spiritually whole. But I did it. For various reasons, I’m a person at risk in Trump’s America. Yet, because of the traumas I’ve gotten through in the past, I know how to find joy, peace, and beauty in my day now.

A few weeks ago, the current events in our country stopped triggering and traumatizing me anywhere near as much because I started taking advantage of being a trauma survivor in the ways I’ve described above.

In other words, I remembered that I’ve been through all this before, that I survived it, and that the horrors reported on the news every day have consistently been part of human society. I reminded myself that I learned tools to overcome crisis, shamanic tools that can keep me whole so I can enjoy my life and keep fighting oppression. I affirmed my commitment to devote as much time possible every day to shamanic practices and to spiritual and shamanic growth.

My shamanism centered me again, moving me miles toward inner wholeness. I intend to keep that movement going till I feel back to normal and then maintain that state through an ongoing abundance of shamanic practices.

I don’t bury my head in the sand about what’s going on in the world or what risks I am in. However, constantly thinking about the terrible state of humanity, or what bad things are happening to me, or that might happen to me, or the very real fact that I may not survive this current administration, will help ensure I don’t survive because unceasing worry would hurt my body badly. For one thing, the stress of nonstop worry exacerbates Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.

I will think about terrible things only to the degree needed, e.g., to minimize my risk, to change bad situations for myself and others, to discuss with my students the problems they face. Today, I signed up to be a phone volunteer for the upcoming elections. That felt great.

Nightmare monsters hide under my bed. They’re close by, threatening, trying to freak me out. I refuse to dwell on them. I prefer to use my time and the spaces in my head to celebrate existence and see its beauty.

If I focus on my shamanic practices and inner growth, I have the strength and bravery to not take the bait—in other words, to not freak out when monsters taunt me with cruel words—and to instead enjoy life.

I’m getting into top form for battling monsters. Staying serene and joyful and in pursuit of beauty help me achieve—and remain in—top form. Vehemently, passionately serene. Joyfully, loudly seeking beauty. So mote it be!

The Most Important Magical Tree

The Most Important Magical Tree
Are artists and shamans faithless, committed to the moment and nothing else?
Sept 21, 2018 (Fall Equinox)

I fall in love with every bit of wood that I craft into a talisman.

As I’m sanding, doing pyrography, and otherwise working with a piece of wood, I start to realize how special it is.

A lot of the time, mind you, I see how marvelous it is to begin with but, oh, when I work in depth with it, I become enamored. When I strip off a layer of bark, nuances emerge. As I sand, the grain shows more and more. When I tenderly apply a beeswax finish, the wood’s mystical powers electrify my fingertips so I come to know both those powers and my skin.

It is through such thorough interactions that I understand wood, other people, the Gods, the emptiness from which of all creativity springs.

Often, the process of crafting a morsel of wood sends it and me into another world, where we rebuild Faerie.

Here’s that piece of wood when I first started working with it:

The sort of pyrography I tend to do is challenging to execute on some woods I use. Perhaps that’s because, unlike birch and basswood, which are the pyrographer’s staples, many woods that visit me tend to be ornery about pyrography. The wood-burning I usually see folks do on these woods is minimal and straight-lined—e.g., a solo rune or pentacle—whereas I attempt designs that are, by comparison, complex and detailed, and that include spirals, twists, and swirling flourishes.

Each difficult wood I pyrograph might have its own way of being ornery. Once I’ve figured out what will work on that type, it won’t necessarily work on another. I have to start figuring out a new way all over again. But determining how to pyrograph whatever wood is in my hand is giving me an understanding of the tree the wood is from, how different it is from all other trees. The realization that it would be too difficult to pyrograph more than a simple ogham or the like on some woods would be equally informative about the nature of the tree the wood is from.

From the toil that arises from committing to work with the wood as it is, from such thorough interactions, I can better understand that wood and do a better job serving it. When acting as a shamanic guide, the toil that arises from committing to work with a client as they are, such thorough interactions, allows me to better understand that individual, and thus do a better job for them. Such thorough interactions foster relationship. I fall in love with my clients.

My analogies between woods and clients do not extend to the orneriness of some woods. My clients aren’t ornery. I must have the easiest clients in the world. I wonder why the Goddess sends me ornery woods and easy students.

When I see what pyrographed design the wood in question will allow, that is part of my falling in love. The more I work with a piece, the more I adore it.

I am eternally fickle, wholeheartedly deeming each piece of wood my new favorite. Each one shows me how the tree from which it came is the most beautiful, important, and magical in all the planet. Each piece of wood is my new friend, gifting me its secrets. It has exactly what I need to make my life the way I want it.

It doesn’t matter how many pieces of oak (or elder or willow or other tree) have found their way into my hands, each oaken (elder, willow, or other tree bit) is the new and only path to power and ecstasy.

Within days, another piece of wood catches my fancy.

Whenever I work with a client, I am in love with that individual, eternally fickle, wholeheartedly deeming each client my favorite, the teacher’s pet. Each is the most beautiful, important, and magical being on all the planet. Each is my new friend, gifting me their presence. Serving that client is exactly what I need to transform my spirit into how I want to be.

I am eternally faithful: regardless of how many clients I work with in a given day, or how many folks are in a class, or how many times I’ve worked with a given client before, each time I work with a client, I understand how irreplaceable and essential they are to the universe and to me. (I usually keep class enrollment small, to have time for thorough interactions.)

Do I seduce wood, do I coax it to cooperate with my desire for it to be the most important piece of wood so I can be in union with it? Do artists and shamanic guides practice serial monogamy, devoted to each art piece or student, but only until it’s time to turn their attention to the next art project or client?

Artists and shamans are faithless, committed to the moment and nothing else. No, that’s not true. They’re also committed to crafting the next moment, so that it will be beautiful, so that it will best serve the client. The job of artists and shamans is to craft the next moment. … They are faithful to that job. … It is a prevalent lie that they are faithless. They serve. They serve. They belong completely and unceasingly to their students and the Muse.

I revel in the void of outer space, from which all creation comes. There, I constantly feed the stars. There, I am faithful to the needs of wood, clients, Gods, and self.

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Making Talismans

I’ve always loved making altars. My house is full of them … or, rather, is one big altar.

Using altars, in all the ways I did before illness descended in 2001, is no longer an option, long story short. Making talismans has picked up the slack. Many are ones I can wear. My body is an altar, and I adorn my body with magic.

Every talismanic pendant, necklace, hair adornment, or scarf I make for myself is magic for my altar. You’ll often see me wearing two or three magic pendants. I almost always wear the same enchanted earrings and rings every day, and did this long before the illness came, but these magical staples are accompanied by ever-changing Fey-touched adornments.

In the evening, choosing which talismanic pendants, necklaces, hair adornments, or other pieces to wear the next day is a meditation, part of a spell.

Making talismans for myself, both to wear and to place in my environment, is an important part of my magic and spirituality. I constantly make new items. Crafting and using them have become vital stepping stones. Each one—both the making of it and its use—paves my shaman path, furthering my journey. Each piece calls me, in a different way: calls me back to myself, calls me by one of my true names, calls me to my ancestors.

Others call my heart’s desires to me, invoking prosperity, protection, wisdom in a specific area of my life, success with a specific project, or whatever else I might long for.

In 2001, illness came as a permanent guest. By 2004, I only had months to live. However, now, I’ve another 20 years in me. Talismans are one of the things that made all the difference. In fact, I get healthier every year.

When I was first sick, a physician told me that most people in my situation never get back out of bed and can accomplish nothing for the rest of their lives. I am up and about and doing all sorts of things! Some day, I might completely recover and bid farewell to my longtime guest, a teacher I will no longer need. Talismans are helping pave the way. Though almost 70, I don’t feel old, just ill, and the illness decreases constantly. Eventually, old age will catch up with me. But, ha, it hasn’t caught up with me yet, and I’m 68.

I make talismans for every purpose possible, and might make several talismans to the same purpose.

I make so many talismans, but it works out beautifully. After they have served me—and many of them continue to serve me for years—I might combine several of them into one necklace or wall-hanging, one grand spell. Or, when a charm tells me to do so, I will pass it on to someone else or to the earth. Some charms I will probably always keep, they continue to hold me up. Some charms I will asked to be buried with.

When I have time, I make talismans for other people. … Well, I’m constantly making digital talismans for my students, but I don’t usually have much time to make many non-virtual amulets except for myself.

I make talismans out of wood, stones, beads, bones, and feathers. Or I spin cord from silk, wool, and bamboo. I dye silk cloth and paint it. I calligraph words and symbols on paper or tree bark. Spoons and forks and anything else at hand might become a talisman. Magic is in everything, so anything can be used to make a talisman. Or can be used as a talisman without being crafted into one.

The cast-iron skillet in which I fry my breakfast eggs is a talisman. After all, a pentacle is an amulet, and what better pentacle than a heavy cast-iron piece in which the four elements combine: the heat from the stove, the fruits of the earth, the moisture in foods, and the scents filling the air.

Perhaps a pentacle and frying pan would be better named ritual tools. Or altars. But words can limit magic. Everything is an amulet, altar, magical tool. Unlimited by definitions, imagination is allowed to bring us in mystical directions we might not notice otherwise.

As distracting as words can be, they are equally useful, wondrous, and enchanting. If I frame a shoe as an “amulet,” that might show me its magic and how to use it. The next day, if I frame the shoe as an “altar,” other valuable ideas might emerge. Ditto framed as “magical tool.”

Dividing a shoe into amulet, altar, or magical tool as strict categories is beside the point and self-defeating. These words—amulet, altar, and tool–can evoke significant perceptions, and the perceptions evoked by one word might overlap with perceptions evoked by another word. That’s not a problem; the point is to find power; I refuse to forsake power by restricting myself through the mental rigmarole of categorizing everything into little boxes.

Magic is in everything.
I am its altar.
I am the magical tool on which I draw the most.
I am a talisman.

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