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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I Dreamt Donald Trump Is My Roomate

I could no longer stand the hate I felt for people who hate.

The night of July 5, 2018, I had the strangest dream. Instead of living in my sweet house, I was living in a large apartment, and Donald Trump was my flatmate. We weren’t lovers, we were buddies. The degree to which I have loathed the 45th and everything he stands for makes the dream quite strange, given that he and I got along quite well in the dream.

In the dream, we were talking, and then I accidentally bumped up against him, and it seemed like his little penis was hard, but he didn’t even blink. Of course, Trump would not blink because he is a sly, awful man. He‘d leave me in that oh-so-awful-and-prevalent feminine quandary of endlessly debating with oneself, wondering things like “Am I just imagining things …?” But I brushed his behavior off because neither his slyness nor anything else about him was bothering me. Remarkable dream for me!

Then I had to go take a shower (not because I’d bumped against him, but just because it was time to take a shower) and, when I got out of the shower, he had left. I think he might’ve been going to the White House, but I can’t remember that part of the dream clearly.

An hour or two later he died.

I told someone that Trump and I were roommates and that I’d seen him right before his death. The man to whom I was speaking said that he really wanted to interview me on his radio show. I agreed.

In the dream, I did not have the media savvy that I actually have. To show the contrast between that dreamtime self and what I’m actually like in “real life:” in my waking hours, I‘ve hosted a show on ABC radio in San Francisco and scripted a TV segment that Barbara Walters produced. Nevertheless, in dreamtime, I didn’t realize that mentioning living with Trump and seeing him shortly before his death would result in nationwide media exposure. Not that, in the dream, I was afraid of being accused of his death. I just was unaware that stating my experiences with Trump would garner major media interest.

I showed up for the radio show. The man who’d asked to interview me was not there. Instead, his female assistant was present. She was new at radio interviews, but she was doing okay getting set up for one. I didn’t know if the show was just for a little local radio station or was syndicated. Then, before the interview started, the dream ended, or I woke up, or I simply don’t remember the rest of the dream.

Recently, I’d come to a point in my life where I just couldn’t stand the hate I felt for people who hate. That anger was hurting me badly. Long story short, it was not anger that I took out on anybody else; it just hurt me inside.

I deep down believe love is the answer and felt I need to embody that at a new level.

Mind you, when I say love is the answer, I’m not a pacifist, doormat, or person who buries her head in the sand about oppression. I‘m convinced, for example, it is possible to stop someone who is robbing others of their rights, and still attempt to have an attitude of love for that awful person.

Letting go of unhealthy anger has been a long journey for me. I’ve worked hard at it. And I know anger is a healthy emotion. But I don’t want my angers to become resentments, be constant, or otherwise restrict or hurt me. An imperfect being, I will never completely let go of unhealthy anger. Luckily, anger is nowhere near the problem it was for me 30 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even a year ago, or even the problem it was shortly before the dream.

I think the dream was a sign that, to a substantial degree, my recent attempts to let go of the hateful anger for haters had succeeded. Goddess, thank you for helping me change.

Snce childhood, I’ve been aware of the concept of “the other,” not that I had a term for it when I was a child. But I suffered as the other. For example, as a dark little girl in an Irish neighborhood, I was repeatedly told I was ugly. And, once, a blonde little girl hurt me, but I was the one who got blamed for wrongdoing and punished. From childhood on, I have been the other over and over. So over the years, I have written a lot of material about the other, often from a shamanic perspective.

Until we get rid of the idea of the other, there is not going to be permanent social change. For example, revolutionaries who overthrow oppressors but then view the oppressors as the hateful, awful other become the oppressors of the old oppressors. Another example: as long as there is the other, the balance of national power will just rock back-and-forth between two small elite groups, instead of everyone being free.

Despite my realization of how much the idea of the other had hurt me, I was still holding on to it in various ways, ways I’ve bit by bit let go of. More recently, people like the 45th were still the other in my eyes. And that was allowing me a rage that kept reappearing and was going to destroy me. Again, the destruction was solely about my internal landscape, as well as the way that impacts my physical health.

I feel the dream showed that I am truly letting go of that sense of other, and hence anger toward people like the 45th. Trying to let go of the concept of the other and the accompanying anger the concept allows, I‘ve been telling myself the past few years that we are all in this together and, there I was, embodying that in the dream, by living my day alongside Trump.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the man and his cronies are so evil that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one reason they kidnapped immigrant children was to sell those children into the sex trade. I think Trump and his ilk are such heinous beings that, just to make money, they’d sell children who are only months old to be sexually used and therefore die, since such wee ones would not physically survive such assaults.

So when I say some anger is leaving, I’m not suggesting that I am losing my moral judgment. My sense of what is right and wrong, as well as my sense of responsibility to fix what is wrong, remains.

I find it interesting that, in the dream, I made peace with him, and he died. Not that I think someone should kill him. The cause of his death in the dream was nonspecific, and the energy around it and in myself about it was very peaceful. I think the death symbolized that 1) resolution in myself has come, the idea of the other is dying in me and giving way to peace and 2) resolution with people like him is also possible. I’m not implying that, if I reason in a loving manner with him, he’s going to change his heart and behavior. Just because I’m feeling love doesn’t mean he will. He’d just as soon kill me as look at me. He will only change when forced to. But feeling rage over and over will not help me force that change. The ways to compel it, at least for me, are things like voting, campaigning for candidates, signing petitions, civil disobedience and, as my stepfather did in World War II, signing up for the military.

Anger can contract me and close me off from the flow of life. I think the radio part of the dream represented life opening up for me at a new level—even though I’ve done a huge amount of radio, remember that in the dream I’d never done radio—my shamanic and other efforts flowing into the world more productively than ever because I’d let go of unhealthy anger more than ever. So mote it be.

For an article about love as powerful magic instead of groups polarized against each other, click here: https://stardrenched.com/2018/07/07/magic-is-god-herself/

Magic is God Herself

Patriarchal theology establishes hate as the basis of physics, of the natural world, and of life choices, disguising the actual innate core of physics, of Gaia’s realm, and of healthy decisions: love and magic. And thus are people disempowered.

Note: God in this blog refers to my Goddess. When I refer to Her, assume I’m also referring to my God because He always stands next to Her. I’ll also use God to refer to the Biblical God a few times; such times will be obvious.FDG2018ProudLove is magic. Magic is love. God is love. Magic is God. Those four sentences are not just pretty words or metaphors to me.

Acts of love create miracles. An atom is made up of particles of love. The spaces between particles are love. God is manifest in all things—every particle, bit of energy, empty space—and thus is magic God incarnate.

Through its theology that establishes hate as the basis of physics, the natural world, and life choices, patriarchy disempowers people. The theology of hate disguises love and magic as innately the core of physics, Gaia’s realm, and healthy decisions, and thereby robs people of their power.

Example: an angry punishing God throws people into the eternal torture of hell. God’s subjecting countless people to everlasting torment surely is surely His being against them. His followers follow His example and polarize against others. Their mindset becomes either/or—“It’s me or them,” so a model of scarcity prevails, with its dog-eat-dog hateful greed. And it’s “Me against nature—evil wild nature. I’ll tame and maim nature to take what I want from it; it’s against me, so I must fight it to get my needs met.” The hell myth, by building a foundation of hate that snowballs into an entire societal norm, obscures that love is the essence of God and of atoms, and is the innate foundation of our lives.

Patriarchal religious myths are an intricately woven fabric of lies that seem tailored to hide God’s loving magic.

Another example is the biblical God outside of nature, standing far apart from us, harshly frowning as He judges our every act. I have no use for a God Who lives far away, withholding love. My God is in nature, in its greenery, luscious food, nurturing peace, uplifting beauty, and joyful sensuality. My God is in nature, and magic permeates nature. It is the biblical God, not magic, that is supernatural—outside what is of natural. Magic is in nature.

My God is incarnate in love and magic.

My belief that love is everything does not mean I’m a pacifist, doormat, or person who buries her head in the sand about oppression. I believe, for example, it is possible to stop someone who is robbing others of their rights, and still try to have an attitude of love for that person. (I do not expect to be anywhere near perfectly free of anger in this lifetime. I’m a human being.)

My belief that love is everything does not mean I can forsake my moral sense of right and wrong, or my responsibility to stop what is wrong.

My belief that love is everything does not mean that, if I reason in a loving manner with a Nazi long enough, he’s inevitably going to change his heart and behavior. Just because I’m feeling love doesn’t mean he will. He might only change when forced to. But my hate will not help me force that change. The ways to force it, at least for me, are things like voting, campaigning for candidates, signing petitions, civil disobedience and, as my stepfather did in World War II, signing up for the military—these can all be acts of love.

And a belief that magic is everything cannot be an excuse to forsake concrete acts of love, such as civil disobedience.

Love is magic. Magic is love. God is love. Magic is God.
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Emptiness Is Alive: Releasing the Self

emptyliveBoSNwsltrSmI needn’t fear becoming empty that God may reside within me. God Herself is empty.

The Bible lied about Her emptiness, portraying Her as a mere absence that a patriarchal Deity breathed life into in order to create the cosmos. That myth would keep me from my emptiness: I’d revolt against it or, thinking I strived toward it, pursue a loss of wholeness.

I prefer this myth: She is the vast eternal living void, the Tao, the first source; from Her virgin womb came all that is.

In releasing self, I am not making space for a bullying God who’ll eradicate me. I do not need Him to bring me to life. In my emptiness resides all life and all power and all love. So mote it be!

Trapped by Lore

Guardian111WTTraditional lore can inform, gently point to mysteries, and outright open gateways. But, nowadays, in the Pagan community, rigid interpretation of lore often becomes a stranglehold on magical and spiritual practices.

I’ve spent years learning lore, meditating on it so it can inform shamanic lessons I give, and creating ritual based in lore. So I’d be the first to insist that, sometimes, lore provides definitive, irrefutable facts. However, common sense is needed.

My mother taught me to think for myself. It was one of the greatest gifts a parent can give.

Furthermore, growing up in a shamanic family tradition (specifically, Italian witchcraft), I got a sense from how mom lived her life that traditional shamanism is far more fluid than usually represented. Yet I see many magical practitioners trapped by lore, which is one way their personal paths and viewpoints are squelched.

An example: one of my students was utterly devoted to Hecate. He was told by another of his teachers that he was incorrect to honor Hecate as Mother Goddess since She is the Crone of the underworld. My student felt crushed. He knew from personal interaction with Hecate that She is an utterly loving mother, and he loved Her dearly as such. Yet a teacher whom he respected was telling him his whole relationship with a deity was wrong.

That teacher probably had the best intentions but nonetheless was unwittingly trapped by lore and unintentionally trying to do the same to the student. Had the teacher actually spoken to Hecate, She would’ve revealed Her motherly traits. But the teacher let lore take precedence over the student’s personal revelation.

Furthermore, had she known more lore, she would have realized that, though one culture’s lore of Hecate says She is the Crone Goddess of the underworld, another culture’s lore shows Her as the Mother. If memory serves me correctly, Hecate was known in Thrace as Mother, but then She traveled to a place where people did not have actual sleeves on their clothing. The sleeves on Hecate’s image were considered bizarre. Hence, it was decided She Herself was bizarre and, as such, must be an underworld goddess. (Please correct me if my history is wrong here.)

The sort of invalidation my student met squelches people’s spiritual explorations and hurts their hearts. The teacher used lore to invalidate someone’s belief system and actual interaction with a deity—a deeply beautiful, meaningful, and pivotal personal revelation. How awful!

Lore is often simply one person’s experience or the experience in one group/culture. A single experience should not be taken as a rigid overview of the matter at hand, a definitive sense of all that ever was and ever will be, of all that is possible for anyone anywhere. The traditional Italian magic I grew up with is not the same as that of some other Italian shamanic family traditions.

Another example: there is Italian lore about threatening the Gods, telling Them that, if They don’t give you such and such, you will revenge yourself upon Them. I can assure you: when you try to bully a God, there’s no telling what the backlash is going to be. I learned this from personal experience, in my younger days as a priestess, and all it took was one such incident to realize I should never threaten a deity again. I told my Gods that, if They wanted me to continue to priestess for Them, They had better give me such and such.

They gave me what I asked for, and They gave it to me in a way that devastated my life. It took years to recover. The false sense of something being okay to do just because it’s lore is too prevalent. I got trapped by lore! When viewing lore, I try to use common sense, look to my own experiences, and think things through. But instead, feeling desperate about needing change in my life, I let myself get trapped.

Lore is filled with starlight, sunlight, moonlight, illuminating the mystical path. I want to dance along that road joyfully, not turn my back on it by using lore to create dogma. So mote it be.

What to Do after a Major Otherworldly Vision

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What to Do after a Major Otherworldly Vision
Alternative title:
A Powerful Calling from the Gods:
Priesthood Means Service

A major, otherworldly, life-changing vision—or a forceful calling from the Gods—that lacks the follow-through of acts of service corrupts one’s spirit eventually.

Without a follow-through of service, the calling or vision ends up feeding the false ego. (… Wow, voice-recognition software turned “feeding the ego” into “cheating the eagle.” Oh, my Gods!)

The false ego then curtails connection with the Divine and creates a mirage of connectivity that gives erroneous information. This misleading guidance leads one into wrongdoing.

The whole process I described of going astray after a major vision or Divine call can occur unwittingly.

NesltrSqTPeople who call themselves a priestess or priest, but the only thing they serve is their own ego—even if they do it unknowingly—get corrupted. Yes, even if they have the best intentions, corruption sets in unknowingly.

I am by no means suggesting the follow-through must be perfect, fearless, or immediate. All human undertakings are far from perfect. And it can take someone a long time to figure out what their follow-through should be.

And often, we might know the most immediate way we can be of service but not know our longterm plan of service yet. That’s to be expected.

For myself, I’ve been in an ongoing process; my ability to serve and the ways I serve both continue to grow, and they need to continue to grow because I cannot rest on my laurels; to whatever degree I am not of service is the exact degree to which my spirit is not whole and the exact degree to which I will not be happy.

I’m not suggesting self-neglect; service includes taking care of myself, knowing my limits, and having boundaries.

A priest or priestess is a servant. That can take many forms. It might mean you give Tarot readings to the general public. Or perhaps your work is hidden because you serve the Gods through constant offerings to Them, rituals to heal Gaia, and tending the property on which you live.

Perhaps your wonderful work would invalidated by misled priests and priestesses who deem your service too humble to be called priesthood, e.g., cooking healthy nutritious meals for your family and otherwise taking care of them on the physical plane.

A Divine call or major vision, without a follow-through of service, not only eventually corrupts the spirit, it also can destroy one’s spiritual peace and material well-being.

If my definition of priesthood— that a priest is a servant—is true, then humility must be an ever present goal.

Achieving humility is a topic unto itself and no easy trait to acquire. Nor is it an asset that, once acquired, is permanent. Finding humility is a lifelong journey. But here are a few suggestions.

1) Find a teacher who does a lot of service and ask them for instruction.

2) Pray for humility.

3) Think of someone whose arrogance really bothers you. Good chance it’s because they’re mirroring your own arrogance. Yes, you may have other good reasons for being bothered by their conceited attitude, such as it hurting those with whom the pompous person comes in contact. But put that aside for a moment and try to determine what in yourself they might be reflecting. You may have to get creative here, because large or subtle differences between their arrogance and yours can make you not see your own. In these instances, I get in touch with the sort of feeling that person’s arrogance gives off, as opposed to any specific haughty actions of theirs that bother me. I then check inside myself to see if that same feeling is in me.

Be assured none of this essay is empty words. Life has taught me a road to happiness, and what I’m saying in this essay describes part of that road.

As a shamanic teacher, I don’t suggest anything I wouldn’t do myself. While I’ve been writing this essay, I’ve also been examining myself for ways I need to apply it to my own life right now. (It doesn’t matter that I’ve applied this essay’s thoughts before; if I’m writing about them, I need to apply them again.) So know you’re not alone in your journey as a visionary or as someone whom the Gods have called; we are in this together, growing and learning, even if we never meet in person or online.

Serve well! You will be whole and happy.

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Kitchen Moon

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If you can’t see the graphic at the top of this post, here’s its text and photo:

You Needn’t Leave Yourself to Find Magic
Diana Magna Mater Is Everpresent

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After glancing down into my sink, I was thrilled by what I saw there, snapped the above photo of it, and wrote the following:

Quarter moon tide does not arrive pounding at my winter door, but sneaks into my kitchen sink, as clever as steam.

Moon tides are everywhere—dark moon tides, whole moon tides, quarter moon tides. That is my safety, solace, and soul: moon tides are everywhere.

You need not leave yourself to find magic. To walk into Fey lands, walk into yourself, just as you are; live there; you can then recognize the entry to Faerie.

Ask a Strega to Teach You a Spell and …

Strega2018Ask for a spell from a witch raised in a family tradition of Italian magic that reaches back centuries, and the witch might change the topic so smoothly that only hours later do you realize your question was avoided.

Ask that same person how their aunt Teresa is doing, and you’ll hear an hourlong story about Teresa’s new boyfriend, during which tale you’re also taught the exact rite you requested … though you may have to watch carefully for it.

A few days later, you drop by the witch’s house to ask a vital question about your magical path but, when you show up at the door, the witch greets you with, “Hiya, I need to run out for a minute to pick up some groceries.”

If you choose to tag along, your question is answered … though you may have to watch carefully for that reply. Or the witch might give it to you outright: perhaps, at the grocery store, while examining cabbages, looking for the best one, the witch uses clear, precise words to express her or his thoughts about your magical journey. But, just as likely, while shopping, the witch does something that, on the surface, seems unrelated to your concerns, but that thoroughly resolves them.

Or perhaps, walking down the grocery aisle, the answer you need pops into your head.

During the grocery trip, something else might happen: a door opens to a world your heart has always longed for, a world you’d so hoped the witch would show you. You have been taken to the heart of the mysteries … if you were paying attention.

In fact, this breakthrough was the real reason you’d shown up at the witch’s door that day, though you may or may not have realized it until she opened that other door for you, a portal that appeared in a supermarket and opened to Faerie.

However, none of the above scenarios might come into play. You could ask the very same witch to teach you a ritual, and she or he might immediately give it to you, undisguised, in clear-cut, straightahead language, and answer questions you have about the spell just as quickly and clearly. In fact, you might get taught in that manner on a regular basis, so you easily learn a lot of spells and charms, and receive a great deal of valuable input about your overall witchcraft journey. You are the exact same person, and the witch is the exact same witch, so why might there be different scenarios?

Other scenarios could occur.

A multitude of them might all happen between you and the witch, so you learn not just in a single manner but through various modalities.

The above post is an excerpt from one of my online courses on Italian magic. To receive announcements of upcoming classes, subscribe to my free newsletter here: http://www.outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

Ancestor Magic: Mothers

Honoring Our Human Mother

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

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

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

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

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

The core is seeing their full power and goodness.

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

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

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

I called upon her spirit, asking her to heal me by giving me the love and presence that I felt she’d never given me.
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I received a surprising message: she in fact had loved me dearly and had been there for me, but because she had been married to a batterer, she was fighting for her sanity—and, I suspect, for her life—so could be there for me only to the extent she had.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Figa

The Figa
Reclaiming Women’s Power and an Italian Amulet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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