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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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.

Calligraphy to Ornament a Book of Shadows Page

Below is a stop motion vid of calligraphy I did for my upcoming online class in Italian magic. I’ll use the calligraphy in a Book of Shadow page for the course (unless something unexpected stands in the way. And I might keep tweaking it, I never know because I am very fussy, but so far I am happy with it).

If you want to see the vid again after it’s played, click the arrow that’s kind of circular or refresh the page.

I attempted to calligraph the word “Strega” in a way that conveyed the power of traditional Italian witchcraft.

Art is magic!

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Rabbit Magic: an Easy Prosperity Spell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbit Magic: an Easy Prosperity Spell

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

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

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

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

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Baba Yaga’s Apprentice

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice:
A Faerie Tale Ritual

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If ever we needed ways to stay focused and whole, and experience some gentleness, this is the time.

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice is my gentle enchantment that creates focus and wholeness. I believe this magic is all the more powerful and effective for its gentleness.

This storybook is for grown-ups . . . but the sort of adults who remain, or want to remain, childlike at heart.

This book’s format: PDF.
List price: $25
Price: $19.99

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The tale is my revisioning of Baba Yaga folklore.

As the book’s story proceeds, a ritual simultaneously unfolds for the reader.

Here’s one of the illustrations:SampleILLstrtn

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice is fun, easy reading.

Along with being a Faerie tale and a gentle ritual, this book is also a work of art for you. Trying to evoke the embellishments in old Faerie tale books and add a layer of enchantment to the magical foundation I’d spun with the text, I ornamented every page with my original full color art. Most of the art is my spin on Poland’s folk art.

I have felt immense mojo on the project; I wanted this spell to happen so much.

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From the preface:

“The spell is very easy to do. You don’t even have to “do” it. The sheer reading of the Faerie tale to oneself, just for fun, even silently, and enjoying my paintings, is all it takes for the spell to work.”

“The storybook’s magical current helps you:
* Focus on what’s important to you.
* Follow through on it.
* Stay centered in your power and your love.
* Protect your dear heart from being hurt or blocked.
* Feed your witchy soul.

“The ritual also supports you if you are introverted, empathic, exceptionally magical, or sensitive psychically.

“And when you are fearful or nervous, this is a good tale for you.”

The book is 7000 words and 46 pages.

Here’s another sample, a text frame I painted:
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This volume was created with my sincerest hope that the gentle love and hope with which the Muse infused the pages will sustain and empower you … over and over.

Available only from the author.

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Join the Faerie Circus

feycircusI take my work as a shaman seriously, hold myself to a high standard, and do everything in my power to reach that standard. That doesn’t require pompousness. Fun is important. It adds lightheartedness to the shamanic journey. I teach ecstatic shamanic witchcraft—we have fun in our process. The end is the means.

Writing the ditty below to promote my newsletter was fun. So was making the little painting above, to accompany the ditty. The newsletter helps people, so spreading word about it is a service, and service can be fun.

Come one, come all,
join the Faerie Circus!
This is no movie, no metaphor.
This is the real deal,
this is going somewhere—
get my newsletters:
click here.

The sky’s my big tent,
a star’s my trapeze.
Come swirl through the air with me:
click here now for magic,
confidence, too,
the self love you need,
and other awesome breakthroughs.

Your witchcraft will thrive
more than ever before.
Check out my mailings;
they open the door.

Plus you’ll get freebies
that only go to
my newsletter readers.
Click here—that’s your cue!

Spirit Doll

SpiritDoll1Sometimes our friends/clients don’t need “help,” even if we have skills capable of creating positive change for those we serve. Sometimes we serve a person best by investing our skill set in honoring them—and their circumstances—exactly as they are.

Here’s an example. I know someone who’s suffered extraordinary difficulties for years. I foolishly wanted to meddle—”save” her. I wanted to give her spiritual healings. I wanted to teach her shamanic exercises to become stronger. I wanted to show her abilities she doesn’t know she has. I wanted to make a protective amulet to ward off negative energy around her. I wanted to, I wanted, I wanted. None of it was what she wanted … or needed.

Mind you, everything I longed to do for her is perfect for many of my clients. And could be perfect for her at another time.

But the following is what I did. I made her a totem. As I chose objects for it, I let go of what I thought was “right” for her. Instead, I selected items to honor and celebrate who she already is.

The totem’s sole purpose (oh my, voice-recognition translated that as “soul purpose”) was to represent how wonderful she is. I completely let go of all other agendas. That included releasing the thought that her experience of my celebration might empower her to make changes I felt could help her with her struggles. She knows best, not me.

So there’s a long bone bead with stars in it, because if anybody has stars in her bones, it’s this woman. The wood is European Elder—sambucus nigra—and is a piece so young that it’s mostly soft, spongy pulp—fragile, as are we all. Its youth also gives it a wondrous sensitivity like my friend’s, and a gentle, subtle, yet dynamic magic that my friend has. The ladybug portrays another aspect of that.

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Three luminescent cobalt beads represent the mysteries she lovingly serves. A bead that is probably tiger’s eye and one that is probably goat horn represent how down-to-earth she is; she modestly infuses sacredness into her daily mundane responsibilities, though they are immense and humble.

A purple bead symbolizes the beauty of her spirit and the beauty she gifts people around her. A leaf indicates her care of Gaia’s children. I made the wool bead on top because … well, she’ll know why. And I had to add something sparkly because she is Fey.

At some point in its creation, this wall-hanging chose to be a doll. (Heh, a wall-doll.) So I spun yarn (which I felted a bit to help it set, since its winding wouldn’t be held tight by a weaving or the like) to shape the body.

Is “totem doll” an actual term? … This totem doll represents her spirit. … The term “spirit doll” is popular nowadays. … I could call it a “poppet,” because that’s a term for a doll used in magic. Not that I expect my friend to do spells with this, unless she wants to, but this doll was used magically in that I blessed it. And to play with words, “poppet” is a traditional term of endearment; making this artifact was an expression of love.

SpiritDoll3Creating the poppet was an unexpected gift to myself: I no longer need to fret about someone I hold dear. Affirming some of this woman’s wonderful attributes reminded me she has many other amazing powers, so needs no rescuer; she has every resource she needs within her, including the ability to ask for help when she requires it.

In case someone reads this post as an either/or proposition: I do not usually choose between helping friends/clients create positive change and honoring them exactly as they are. Most of the time, serving them both ways is beneficial.

Facilitating shifts they want in themselves and in their lives is a more respectful process if I also mirror back to them, in word, visual art, or ritual, their beauty and power—including that which is hidden to most eyes and that which they do not even see themselves.

It feels important to mention this sort of mirroring and affirming of those around us can require as much skill, thoughtfulness, and magic as does helping them make changes. For example, I have the psychic ability to see the beauty and power in people, even if they cannot.

Why is it important to mention the skills involved? Because people with lots of skills for creating change can feel frustrated when they can’t use those abilities for someone they care about. But you can apply your gifts another way—to honoring someone just as they are—and accomplish something vitally important. People need to be respected for who they already are. People need to be fully met right where they are.

Sometimes trying to “help” someone robs them of dignity. If instead, we honor them as they follow whatever path they choose, achieve victories that are important to them (as opposed to victories you think they need to gain), make the mistakes they need to make, and explore the parts of themselves they think vital to explore, we give an invaluable respect. That respect is also known as “love.” So mote it be.

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Fey Witch

This is excerpted from the two-volume Third Road Book of Shadows, available here: https://stardrenched.com/2016/10/01/book-of-shadows/

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ScrollBarHI am a fey witch. Magic is my heritage and my salvation. I will not be deprived of it. I will remain ever immersed in the magic that flows through the entire cosmos.

This subtle current dances about me all day, even in my sleeping hours, empowering me and making me whole. It heals me, delights me, and celebrates me. It relieves me of my pains, doubts, and flaws. It removes obstacles.

Oppressors deny magic, lest we use its ever available power to live wild and free, with direct access to Deity and the gifts Deity bestows, independent of dour religious institutions and oppressive societal hierarchies.

But magic is real and a Goddess-given right. I would go further to say magic is a living aspect of my Goddess. No one will rob me of my Goddess and Her power. I live in magic.

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In the two-volume Third Road Book of Shadows set, the above prose-poem is ornamented with more detailed art than I could post here if I wanted this webpage to load in less than a decade.

But the graphic at the top of this post is part of the art in question. And I made the little graphic at the side especially for this post, because I love ya!

Did you enjoy the post? Get the book set here, available only from the author: https://stardrenched.com/2016/10/01/book-of-shadows/