Vasilisa’s Doll

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

A necklace with a doll as the pendant

What is Vasilisa’s Doll?

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

An Amulet for a Hero

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

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

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

Ancestors, the Goddess, and Poppet Magic

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

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

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

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

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

How to take Care of a Poppet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making a Vasilisa doll

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

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

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

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

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

This is the wood after I harvested and cured it:

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

The Hero’s Sacrifices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about the Vasilisa’s Dolls I Made

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

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

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

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

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

A Surprise with the Vasilisa’s Dolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Want a Vasilisa’s Doll?

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

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

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

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

Fairy Magic Daylong Retreats

Once-a-Month Retreats in the Fairy Realm

Run away with me.
Honor your wild heart, child of the old Gods.
Their primordial gentle enchantments
empower us to reach our life goals
and fulfill our dreams.

Each upcoming retreat is in the Fairy Realm. Its magic frees you from inner and outer restrictions, while enchanting your life to provide exactly what you need.

We’ll enter the Mysteries to receive Divine guidance about our challenges and life path.

Fairy Secrets will lovingly surround you, centering you in your magical, miraculous, Fey, grinning self. When day ends, you’ll more easily get in touch with that part of you on a regular basis.

For decades, I’ve channeled rites. I’ll draw on this massive body of work that gives us strength, centers us, and renews our spirits.

To meet the moment, I’ll also channel material during our gatherings, ensuring the work is relevant to your needs.

It can be hard to take care of yourself. Spend a day being taken care of. Then afterwards you feel more balanced, and the most powerful, serene you is in control, to achieve your daily and long-term goals.

To attend a retreat, just dial the phone. We meet via teleconference (group phone call).

Here are January through March, 2021 retreats and each one’s specific magical approach:

Three Sacred Trees and Their Oghams
Saturday January 23

The trees oak, ash, and thorn are a triad historically known as sacred to witches. Druids consider these trees holy, too.

We’ll spend the day visiting with these three beautiful spirits of nature. They are our magical allies who will empower, guide, and restore us.

The Ogham alphabet is an ancient alphabet of 20 letters, each corresponding to a tree Druids held sacred. I’ll email you an image of the letters that correspond to oak, ash, and thorn. As part of our tree magic, you’ll learn how to use these Oghams to bless and deepen your shamanic experience of our day.

This retreat will be like a mini-festival held in a grove. We are old souls, children of Gods. They’ll attend our festivities, bless our Fairy magic, and spin enchantments that take care of you.

Avalon and Its Sacred Apples
Sunday February 28

This is based on my revisioning of Arthurian legends.

On the ancient Isle of Avalon, priestesses and priests of Celtic Gods dwelt in loving Mysteries and found power in the Old Religion.

Spend the day in this safe haven where the Gods’ unconditional love for us will spark our confidence in the magic that is within and around us every day.

A visit to Apple Isle—getting to spend the day there in all its magic, myth, and Mystery! We’ll do that! It’s one of my favorite places. I can hardly wait. My happy witch heart!

We will eat from the Tree of Life, gaining the wisdoms and abilities needed to meet our life goals.

My ancestors told me the Tree of Life is held safe and nurtured in Avalon. They also told me that there’s not one secret apple tree but an entire grove. This felt like a vital alternative to an angry deity who threw Adam and Eve out of the garden. A dog-eat-dog society is modeled on that wrathful, selfish, jealous deity. However, an orchard of magical apples symbolizes bounty for everyone because loving generous Gods always welcome us in Their garden. So mote it be!

Dragon Magic
Saturday March 20

Identify with dragons or drawn to them? This is a day for you. We’ll visit a magical draconian realm with more substance and depth than I’ve ever seen depicted (aside from in my visions).

Dragons are a symbol of the Great Mother Goddess—the Magna Mater—Who created all existence and showed me dragon magic helps us manifest our hearts’ desires no matter what’s going on around us.

She also taught me dragon magic helps us remain whole, despite all.

In visions, She revealed oceans in Faerie from which all creation springs. She showed me dragons swimming in those depths. We will dive deep into those sacred waters of wholeness and freedom.

The retreat rituals are given us right from the dragon’s hearts—the Magna Mater’s and mine.

Flying with fellow dragons and folks who love dragons is one of my favorite things. I look forward to this so much.

Faeries and Other Ancestors
Sunday April 18

Ancestors, both Fey and not, help us claim power and rights, find joy, and reach life goals.

My ancestors are the Old Gods. I believe in greatness. I believe all ancestral abilities reside within me; I can create as I will. I believe all this is true for you, too.

We will call on ancestors—your familial line, Fairy Gods, the stars in the sky, the first cell ever created, or whatever ancestors feel right for you—to join us in ancestral rituals.

If some people in your familial lineage were awful, no need to invite them. We’ll invoke good energy only, to affirm our beauty, glory, and strength.

I’ll lead rituals in which ancestors can guide us to our fullest power and the fulfillment of our dreams. We’ll get to play in Fey magic’s quiet, subtle, robust powers with our ancestral visitors.

Each retreat combines four shamanic approaches:

1) Rituals. On a retreat day, we meet, eastern standard time:
11:15 AM to 12:15
1:15 pm to 1:45
2:45 to 3:45
5:30 to 6:30
8:00 to 8:30
Possibly 9:00 to 10:00: if I’m unexpectedly unavailable for one of our rituals that day, e.g., my phone line goes out, we’ll meet in the 9 PM slot.

Rituals at each retreat will range from restful to ecstatic to transformative to ol’ fashioned witchy to solemn to silly.

I’ll use advanced shamanic techniques to create major healing and empowerment ceremonies safe for beginners and substantive enough for adepts.

Enrollment for a retreat is limited to 16 people, so we can perform ceremonies that can only occur in a small group, and so each participant can receive individualized attention if and when they want that support.

You’ll see, in the schedule below, breaks between the day’s meetings, so you’re not overwhelmed.

Please note: You’ll need about three minutes after each session to do a special grounding I’ll teach.

2) During one of the day’s meetings, you receive a psychic reading about your life path, in a ritual that helps you follow through on the guidance you’re given. So you can actually apply it to improve your life.

Whatever is going on in your life, it is likely I can intuitively address it.

My work tends to draw individuals who show up for life big-time. My intuitive readings are part of how I help them achieve big and keep at it, because I’m capable of reading about their specific concerns, no matter how sophisticated or unusual those concerns are.

3) Direct spiritual transmissions during the rituals.

What is a spiritual transmission?

I can only define my particular transmissions: I was born generating a beneficial field of energy. During our meetings, it adapts to your needs, e.g., personal growth, peace, a soul healing, physical health, joy for your wild heart, safety on the mundane and etheric planes, the strength to get back up after life’s knocked you down. The transmissions do not focus on one benefit only but bless you as a whole being. They also add luck to anything you do to improve your life.

4) I’m available for one-on-one support by phone, for up to one hour, should you want to privately discuss a problem related to the retreat material or have a concern about the retreat that’d take too long to discuss during a group ceremony.

You can divide the hour into two half-hour conversations. Our talks must occur within a month after the event.

All these elements—rituals, transmissions, psychic reading, and private one-on-one support if desired—weave together to make a major enchantment, which will probably snowball long after our retreat ends, helping us continue to be serene, powerful, happy, and of maximum service.

Total fee for a retreat’s rituals, transmissions, psychic reading, and one-on-one support: $225. Your carrier might charge you for the calls.

Save $50 when you enroll in three retreats in the same purchase.

Save $100 when you enroll in all four at once.

Prices in drop-down menu reflect any discounts.

To enroll, select the option you want in the dropdown menu and click the Pay Now button to enroll securely through PayPal.

To keep the drop-down menu from being so long that it’s unwieldy, there’s a “two retreats” option and a “three retreats” option. If you purchase either of them, tell me in a comment below or by email which retreats you are choosing. Thanks!


Faerie Retreat Options




Upon receipt of payment, your seat is reserved. You receive event phone number, etc., by email. Refunds unavailable. Call me if you want more information or to discuss payment plan, trade, or scholarship.

Retreat Dates and Enrollment Deadlines

Three Sacred Trees and Their Oghams
Saturday, January 23
Enrollment ends January 20 or sooner if limited spaces fill.

Avalon and Its Sacred Apples
Sunday, February 28
Enrollment ends February 24 or sooner if spaces fill.

Dragon Magic
Saturday March 20
Enrollment ends March 17 or sooner if spaces fill.

Faeries and Other Ancestors
Sunday April 18
Enrollment ends April 14 or sooner if spaces fill.

Gentle magic is powerful:

Retreats are in a Faerie sanctuary where gentle magics abound. It is a place of peace, music, fun, transformation, and guidance from Fairy Gods.

Gentleness is not the same as milquetoast. We’ll have richly enchanted experiences, not despite their gentleness but because of it. Fairy secrets are not phrases boasted like passwords. Fairy secrets are the lightest touch of the Goddess’ breath on my forehead, followed by Her kiss there, utterly transforming me and my life. Faerie secrets are living Mysteries, experiences that gentleness can help happen, allowing ritual to bring us deep deep in, within a few minutes, so these virtual daylong retreats will be remarkably effective.

With nice big breaks, we can do four whole hours of ritual in a day yet have an easy, gentle pace, so we don’t become overwhelmed, tired, or physically stiff from sitting on the phone too long.

During breaks, we can rest, stretch, eat, work out, run errands, or do whatever else we need to accomplish that day.

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to each retreat’s megadose of magic, Spirit, and camaraderie.

Feedback

Stephanie Elizabeth Briggs: I am very new to Francesca’s world, but have already been deeply touched and inspired. 
I recently attended her November Faery Magic retreat day on a whim, and I am SO glad I did!

It was very nourishing to spend that time being held in Francesca’s field. I loved the intimacy of the group, getting to play, pray, sing, and share with kindred spirits, and there were some profound moments for me.

Francesca’s care and pacing was magnificent too. She took the time to help me feel at ease, and throughout our time together she made sure not to leave anyone behind. I also appreciated having plenty of breaks and integration time built in to the schedule of the day.

Francesca facilitates with a light and gentle touch but her magic has deep roots and power in the subtle realm. … In short, the retreat was a special experience.

Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

Photo of my beautiful young parents

Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

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

Ancestors Who Were Oppressors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Ancestral trauma?

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

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

Ancestors if You’re Adopted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12, 2020:

Honoring the Ancestors: William Stafford

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

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

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

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

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

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

My young father in uniform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Material

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

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

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

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

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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Upcoming Seven-Week Ritual

Witch Power, Ancestors, and Past Lives:
A Seven-Week Faerie Ceremony to Strengthen Our Magic and Our Hearts
This group will meet by teleseminar aka a group meeting by phone.

Our DNA is made of stardust, so magic fills every cell of our bodies. In our veins, ancestors’ blood flows, coursing back to the fiery explosion that created all existence. That dynamic creative power to manifest anything is within us. It is the Old Magic.

MyWebmaster2012SmIn this ritual, we will:

* Heal ancestors and be aligned with them, making our witchcraft and mundane acts powerful. (If you have reasons to avoid ancestors in your specific lineage, there are still ways to do this part of the rite.)

* Heal from centuries of stardust DNA being refuted and suppressed.

* Claim our stardust DNA, casting off confused doubt about our fey essence and gaining confident clarity about being innately magical.

* Heal trauma from past lives.

* Regain the enchanted power and beauty of past lives.

MomTeacupSm

The above photo is of my mom, may she rest in peace. Her witch blood flows in me, telling me I’m a Goddess. We’re each a God, descendant of the Faerie race. This ritual helps us access our Divine power. The Old Ways can be fully embraced.

This ritual empowers both novices and adepts.

This event is a Faerie Druid rite and a prerequisite for advanced Third Road Druidic training.

Nuts and Bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven consecutive Thursdays, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm EST, starting Thursday September 15.
* Reserve Nov 3, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Enroll securely using PayPal. Sign up for “Special Event” at http://www.outlawbunny.com/special-events-registration/
* Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved, and event phone #, etc., emailed to you. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call me at 814-337-2490. No refunds.

ScrollBarHThe Old Gods promise freedom:
we have the right to
an enchanted, fulfilling life,
ease in our steps,
wildness in our hearts,
health in our bodies,
and trust of our beautiful fey souls.
This is a witch’s freedom.
Find it,
celebrate it,
live it: click here to attend the Witch Power ceremony.

Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

FdgFlatHat2
Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see “an indisputable fact” ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These “truths” cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier.

So, a story:

Way back when, most American Pagans insisted traditional craft was nonexistent. People became downright nasty in their disdainful insistence there is no traditional witchcraft. Nowadays, many Pagans discuss traditional craft, what it is, how to do it, and where to learn it.

The party line back then was that anyone who claimed a traditional craft lineage was a liar. The person in question might be completely discredited.

To the best of my understanding back then: a big name Pagan dishonestly validated the material he taught by saying he’d gotten it from his grandmother, a traditional witch, but he lied about her being a witch.

People just decided, if he was lying, everybody else must be. Good grief!

Ok, let me continue this tale by adding how it affected me personally:

I was raised in a longstanding European-based shamanic family tradition. This was hardly a secret to some of the Pagans I knew. But, in case it’s useful context for the rest of my story, I didn’t have a best selling book yet, so the number of people who knew anything about me were far far fewer than later became the case.

You can imagine, amidst all the vitriol and possibility of being totally discredited, I was thoughtful about when to mention my traditional witchery to a Pagan. I wanted to avoid the near certainty of being branded liar in the larger Pagan community.

Close friends knew my family background, and I’d tell others when it was important. In fact, when the bestseller did come out, its back cover mentioned my mom was a Sicilian witch. To do otherwise would’ve insulted her and all my witch ancestors. But I also used discretion. For example, skirting my family history in casual conversation.

What I’m saying is: navigating the dangerous seas of trending “absolute truths” was challenging—for one thing, it can be frightening to buck popular opinion—but I found ways to maintain integrity while also guarding my emotional equilibrium. We can keeps our spirits whole. Here are two navigation skills that worked for me:

One is knowing it is vital to trust your own beliefs and respect the value of your own experiences, despite people who try to hit you over the head with trends to make you feel ignorant or otherwise not as “authentic” a Pagan as they are.

The second navigation skill is discretion. I want to practice discretion about whether to say something.

Nowadays, most people use the word discretion to mean holding silence. But discretion can also mean wisely considering the best course of action, judging each situation according to its specific circumstances. I’m using the latter definition here. So, in terms of our topic, discretion might lead one to speak—to good purpose—or to remain appropriately mum.

It’s vital to speak up for your beliefs when there’s good reason. Losing self-respect does not constitute successful navigation of treacherous waters.

As to choosing silence, let’s start with the example of avoiding arguments with people who aren’t going to listen.

Back when mentioning a family tradition might completely discredit you with many people, I was at a dinner party where someone who was constantly on power trips declared, in a high and mighty tone, that as a scholar she was devoted to naysaying the possibility of a family tradition. She did not know I came from one. I didn’t tell her. (A friend in the know did surreptitiously wink at me. That was lovely support.)

Most people who jump on trending absolutes will neither listen nor engage in a courteous, informative exchange of ideas, because they’ll rush to prop up wobbly egos with pseudo-knowledge. They’ll just try to browbeat you into feeling you’re wrong, though that may not be their conscious motivation, bless them. Wasting your time in a verbal entanglement amounts to letting someone’s pseudo-truth get the better of you. Your time is sacred.

Yet if she had been honestly interested, and merely misinformed about whether traditional witchcraft existed, I might have discussed my family.

Important aside: Though I avoided an argument at the dinner party, I admit my record’s not perfect with that sort of thing. Luckily, seeing how it depleted and upset me helps me not repeat the mistake any more. A hard won lesson, but one that frees me from other people’s opinionated insistences.

This blog is long but the following feels vital. Another example of discretion and silence:

(Please note, I’m going to use traditional witchery as an example in this essay again. That’s a coincidence. The examples have no relation. So don’t think you need to connect the dots between examples.)

More than once, a segment of the Pagan community inflated their position to one of dominance by stating “superior” pseudo-truths, and I could have deflated their posturing by disclosing a bit of traditional witchcraft’s sacred lore.

I stayed mute about the lore. I was blessed to have received it, so would not disclose it merely to prove a point to people who would not have viewed it as precious information but who would have pawed it.

They’d have greedily grabbed at it as mere words—exploited it as verbal fodder they could parrot to appear in-the-know and first string. (Heh, at least I got to feel smug about keeping my mouth shut. … Ok, I admit, feeling superior wasn’t good for me.)

Had I said anything authentic, nobody would have cared. The agenda on their table was to show how important and “wise” you were. That was not an agenda I wanted to be part of, even though telling them traditional material would’ve moved me to the top of the food chain. But climbing up would have actually, as the old expression goes, dragged me down to their level. … Goddess, I was tempted anyway. … Maybe smugness about my silence was my solace.

My story about being silent is relevant to discretion stopping fake truths from derailing your personal hard-won beliefs, in the following ways:

Opening my mouth would have been my ego reacting to theirs, as well as meeting their attempt to move up in a hierarchy with a similar attempt of my own. Both of those would have betrayed my personal belief in not living in ego or falling prey to power struggles.

It also would have wasted my time and life force, instead of me going about my merry business, living happily according to my own ecstatic truths.

Responding to someone’s power play with one of our own can be incredibly tempting, but also incredibly damaging to ourselves. Ego-driven magic and power-hungry grabs put someone on the slippery slope of chasing chimera more and more, less and less living joyously in the beautiful world the Goddess created for us.

Had I shared the lore for the purposes of my ego, I also would have debased that material. Reduced to mere words in order to feed my ego, the power of that beautiful material would’ve been lost to me, crumbled into dust like Faerie gold.

There’s one more way someone’s pseudo-truth would’ve gotten the better of me if I’d blabbed sacred knowledge for the sake of ego and dominance. I would’ve betrayed my following personal truth: I hold my religion sacred by only using it for honorable purposes. To do otherwise, I would truly have failed navigating the rocky seas of community-enforced pseudo-truths and sunk to the depths.

When magic and spirituality become tools to create unhealthy hierarchy—aka dominate others—they go sour. So does the spirit of the practitioner in question. His soiled shamanic path is handed down to his students, its very essence feeding their worst aspects, perhaps subtly but thoroughly. A nightmare for the community.

When magic and spirituality remain tools to serve, in respect for our differences, those tools become more powerful and capable. So do our spirits. Free of contentious opinions and excess verbiage, our innate magic fills each day, often silently. We become blessed by—and a blessing for—community.

I hope some of my above opinions are useful to you.

I teach traditional craft. My Gods bless me with wise students: They are wise in so many ways, but one is that we all respect each other. Honoring our differing views as assets allows each of us to uniquely contribute to the group’s magic and well-being. This in turn allows each of us to benefit from all the participants’ strengths.

If you’d like to join us, I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

Have a magical day.

Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

FDG2016TphatCurrently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition.

I never argue with anybody’s experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I’d never want to invalidate anyone’s experience, including my own. I’ll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

Note I say “my cells,” not “my brain.” It took my entire childhood and adolescence to imbibe the tradition’s basics, because cellular lessons take time.

The understandings of the tradition were so deeply imbedded in our home life that much of the family tradition was taken for granted, not out and out spoken, but more implied and lived. This includes the theist or moral aspects.

In fact, calling it an understanding in the above paragraph is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not so much an understanding as a way of being.

In any case, a lifestyle with many of its important aspects being subtle or unspoken seems an earmark of many traditional witches I have met.

When I got older, I saw that this subtlety sometimes causes people who were viewing the family tradition from the outside to not see the tradition’s deep religious and ethical roots, only the more overt—and perhaps less core—trappings. When I participated in family traditions in Europe, I usually found deep religious and ethical roots in them.

Observers are not engaged in the family culture. They are standing outside it, watching. Only by being part of a shamanic family culture over a long period of time can one can really understand the culture. The notion that to watch something is to fully understand it is a fairly current concept of scholarship. As I said above, learning the traditional witchcraft of my family required an experiential, long term lesson.

It has become almost de rigeur to insist traditional craft never had sacred or principled aspects. This makes it important to me to write this post about my family tradition, because I feel I’m speaking up for my Gods, for my witch ancestors, and for others who feel as I do.

I do not like it when a theory ceases to be a theory and becomes a mandated belief—in other words, when someone is mouthing somebody else’s words to, consciously or not, invalidate other seekers. Unfortunately, the concept that traditional witchcraft had neither ethical nor theological base has become yet another Pagan rote declaration, usually said—or written—in an intimidating tone of I-know-better-than-you-so-whatever-you-think-is-stupid.

I can admire people who authentically believe other than I do. An informed and friendly exchange of ideas about traditional craft, spirituality, and ethics could be a lovely thing. Healthy debate is a wonderfully educational process for everyone involved. A supportive, respectful, and thoughtful exchange of ideas can do wonders.

But debate is not the same as trying to legitimize and define one’s path by invalidating someone else’s. That hurtfully invalidates a lot of newbies who already feel insecure about their belief system. This can crush a newcomer’s spirit.

Coming to our community, hoping to finally find fellowship, but instead encountering someone just as invalidating as mainstream society, can be doubly heartbreaking, because they thought they had finally entered a safe space. So they often never participate in our community again, and end up without support in their Pagan explorations.

People who need to squash others in order to validate their own power have less power than they think, and more mere bluster than they realize.

Thus, I felt impelled to write this post to support invalidated Pagans.

A last thought on traditional witches and ethics: perhaps in some cases, a lack of morality had less to do with any tradition and more to do with human nature. Some people just take anything, even that which is moral and sacred to begin with, strip it of those roots, and use it for their own selfish—or even evil—goals.

I hope this post is a useful contribution to Pagan dialogue about traditional craft.

If you want experiential lessons in traditional craft, I teach The Third Road, a tradition I channel, informed by the magic of my ancestors and my mom. (Channeling teachings is part of traditional craft.) I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Here’s the link to subscribe to my newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

Bless you.

Wakening Yourself and the Earth

Wakening Yourself and the Earth
Winter blahs? Or just need a boost any time of year? Let’s use every means possible to be awake and to wake the earth, so we can dance together and with Her, in celebration of our collective wild, honorable beauty.

MyGodsAreArtists1SmMy following 2007 article was originally published in Faerie Nation Mag.

Where I live, many people become depressed around February and March. There’s not a lot of light here in the winter, and the cold and snow keep folks indoors with cabin fever. Moreover, local economic problems that prevail all year round exacerbate any seasonal difficulties.

To combat our February/March ickiness, my friends and I decided to go out together. While we weren’t sure what we’d do, it didn’t matter. The important thing was that getting out of our houses would break the monotony.

MyGodsAreArtists2TinyWhen deciding what our outing would consist of, I also happened to be pondering the local population. A good number of exceptions aside, there seems to be a collective lack of self-worth, accompanied by a general sense that there’s no point in being a dreamer who strives for a better life.

Though economic hardship accounts for some of this, it seemed to me that there must be a hidden additional explanation. The area is filled with natural beauty and power that should be uplifting and motivating people. Why wasn’t it? Or, if it was, why wasn’t it doing so enough? Perhaps, in a town where Christian fundamentalism is the norm, an energy field had been created that squelched the earth’s joy? What if the spiritual power of the land was being repressed?

Mind you, I understand that many Christians feel a spiritual connection to the earth. I’m not implying they don’t. Just about everyone here gardens, which makes them appreciate nature and its gifts. I could add lots more about a real appreciation of the land here, felt by most residents. To some extent, folks are uplifted by the land here. So what I’m addressing here is fundamentalism. It is so stifling and uber-controlling that maybe it doesn’t just affect people’s spirits but also the spirit of the earth here, so that it can’t give everything it wants to give us.

Okay, maybe my words seem like crazy talk, but I decided that doing a ceremony to free the land here from its mystical chains was not only a great idea, it would also be a fun way to shake my friends and me out of our winter doldrums.

I started to write the ceremony below, to wake the land from any lethargy, stupor, and even oblivion that might have been forced on it. Before doing so, I happened to mention my idea to Faerie Nation Mag staff member Ade, and joked, “I’m writing a ritual to wake up the power spot here so that it can overthrow local patriarchy.” We laughed, but then it seemed I had accidentally summed up one of the logical outcomes of my ritual.

Here’s the rite I wrote, shared with you in the hope that if enough people use it, the hopelessness that comes from repressive mentalities everywhere can be better combated. Not that this ritual alone is sufficient. The problem must be attacked from many fronts. However, we who are mystics bring a very specific gift to the mix. In addition, the land is alive with abilities beyond muggle imaginings. Let’s draw on that potential.

In serving the earth, we wake ourselves up from any negativity that we’ve fallen prey to.

If you lead a friend or friends in the ritual, please read them the whole article for context, because it empowers—and is a chalice for—the rite. Also please attribute the article and ritual creation to me. Attribution heals Gaia and ancestors. Lack of attribution makes bad mojo. Blessed be.

PastelSqStep 1. Find the (or a) major power spot in your immediate area. My friend, Kush, suggested finding out what the first building here was, that it was likely put on a power spot. So I called the town’s Visitor’s Bureau and asked what the first building was. I also asked what the first church was, since they are often on native sacred sites. A local historical society might also be a good place to call—that’s who the Visitor’s Bureau referred me to.

If you can’t find a “major power spot,” go to a place that resonates for you. Or just find a square foot of dirt somewhere and go stand on it for the rite. Or sit in your own living room! The earth is all one piece, and it is alive and aware. Wherever you do the ritual, the area you live in will, as a whole, hear you. We did the rite inside a local church.

Step 2. Once in your spot, say out loud or silently,

Wake up
wake up!
Spirit of the earth
we call to you
It is time. You can rise now,
break through the mind-numbing
earth-crushing
desolation,
rise up, wake up,
bring your joy and power up
to the surface of Gaia
and into the company of the earth’s other children—
we humans and other beings who live here.

No longer can brick and board and cement
laid heavily against your urges
suppress you.
NesltrSqTLet this prayer give you the power
to be free again.
Let this prayer give you the power
to be free again.
Let this prayer give you the power
to be free again.

And help us, who live here, have
the power to live free ourselves,
the power to honor your needs,
the power to take care of you,
so that you and we live
in a cycle of keeping each other whole and happy,
back and forth, ‘round and ‘round, again and again.

Wake up,
wake up,
We sing to you.
We sing to you
in love
and fellowship,
in hope
and lunacy,
in gratitude
and freedom.
So be it, So be it, So be it. So be it.

Step 3. Leave two offerings: one of joy and pleasure, the other of food and drink. In other words, the first offering should be fun or beautiful—a handful of dried rose petals strewn on the ground, or a few flowers placed there. Or a sprig of sweet-smelling herbs, a pretty feather, rock, or bead, or whatever else is uplifting. We hung a strand of beads on a tree.

As for food and drink, leave at least one tablespoon of each, any edible and beverage that you feel is appropriate. If you can’t think of anything that seems right, choose randomly so that you at least leave something. This offering can be placed directly on the ground, or in a cup or other container.

Step 4. (Optional) Do something to wake up your own spirit. The first three steps should accomplish this on their own, but you may want to add more. It needn’t be large. Spritz yourself with perfume. Or hug someone. Even a cup of tea can kindle warmth in your soul. It’s wonderful to do big things, but if that’s not possible, better something than nothing.

You needn’t do this ceremony in winter, but instead just when you want to give yourself and the earth a renewal of the spirit. Please try the rite out. It might change you, your town, our world. Many acts are needed to free the human race of its terrible dilemmas and to save Gaia. Let’s use every means possible to be awake and to wake the earth, so that we can dance together and with Her, in celebration of our collective wild, honorable beauty.

By the way, just the act of creating the rite really helped my mood. Then actually doing the ritual with my friends made me feel even better. And we had a ball on our outing.

NwsltrOrTr

DNA and Ancestral Ritual

DNA Science and magic meet. I won’t choose between mysticism and science. They can feed each other.

My ancestors are spiritually important to me. So I’m combining science and spirit in a deeply personal way: I ordered an AncestryDNA test kit.

A mystic, I travel through the blood in my veins, back through time, to discover the ancient ways my family once practiced. Today, the logical rational side of me does the same by spitting into a vial. This test tube becomes a chalice that arrived by mail, enclosed in plastic. Two supposedly disparate halves of me come together to feed my spirit.

I mailed my saliva, part of my sacred body, to scientists, who will analyze it to reveal my ethnic background. They’ll go back through many generations, the same way my meditations have. Their work will expand my otherworldly travels.

The lab analysis will determine where my ancestors hail from, based on a science my layperson’s mind can’t understand, no matter how much experts explain it.

Many scientists would be equally puzzled by my ability to uncover historical information by meditating on my blood. I have my expertise, they have theirs. I get to draw on both.

A relationship with my ancestors, in ritual and daily life, is pivotal to me. They lovingly support me. And I tend them. Trance journeys give me a strong intuitive sense of my ancestors. The DNA results can help me know whether my intuitions are correct.

It would be fine to trust my intuition without the DNA results. (Check out my blog about that: Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship.) But corroboration is useful.

Science can support my spirituality in other ways, too.

For one, I come from a European shamanic family tradition. Some of my family history has been lost. I’m hoping DNA will fill in gaps.

For example, I might see how major societal events impacted my family’s past generations to shape the family’s spirituality. That familial story could provide context to better understand my own path.

Luck allowed me to gather a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence about my ancestors. Information from relatives, and from strangers I don’t know but who have my last name, and from other sources, provided enormously convincing material, when looked at as a whole. I believe anecdotal evidence is part of folk culture and one source of the old wise ways. This fecund anecdotal evidence can be augmented with DNA science.

For example, the DNA test might help me gather more anecdotal evidence, if it leads to relatives I hadn’t learned about previously. They might know family history I don’t.

DNA results could also be a jumping off point for more ancestral rituals. I love the wisdom of ancient cultures, and appreciate reenactment whether based in textbooks’ history or intuited history. I revere native and ancestral spiritual practices. These leanings feed my desire for DNA info about my ancestral roots.

I can best explain another reason for wanting a test by telling you a personal story.

A friend of mine was part of a DNA study. Before continuing the story, let me be clear: I’m not part of any study. My test kit is from AncestryDNA. They’re not experimenting on me, and their tests results do not show an ancestral timeline such as you’ll read about in my friend’s tale. I checked out some companies, and AncestryDNA seems to give the most comprehensive results. If you’re interested, their kit is also easy to use.

Back to my story:

My friend phoned me one day, and exclaimed rapturously, “I got the DNA results. My family originated in Egypt!”

Then she added, “My later ancestors migrated to Greece. Guess where else my ancestors migrated to?”

I responded, “Mongolia?”

There was a long pause. Then she said, in a stunned voice, “That’s right! How did you know?”

“It was obvious. Your immense love for Egyptian religions motivated you to become an Egyptian scholar, devoted to reviving ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, which became part of your personal devotions. Later, you seriously worked with Greek Gods. Then, you channeled material that had no geographical basis, as far you knew, but later found out that the material resonated with documented Mongolian traditions.”

I continued, “Your family only told you about your Caucasian Irish lineage. But your earlier ancestors influenced your mystical life. Your spiritual quest this lifetime follows the migration of your ancestors, step by step!”

The point of my story: I want to know if my DNA matches my various spiritual leanings.

There can be valid reasons we’re drawn spiritually to cultures we were not raised in. Our DNA might be one of those reasons. I don’t hold with the idea that you should only use the spiritual tools of your obvious ancestors.

Mind you, I am not okaying co-option. I’m saying legitimate cross cultural shamanism exists.

That legitimacy is hard to come by. It would take a whole book to explain how to pull it off ethically and otherwise, so I won’t get into it here, except to say:

By “cross-cultural shamanism,” I don’t mean “core shamanism,” AKA the idea that shamanism is primarily the same in all cultures. I disagree with the modern standardization of shamanism.

My experience is that shamans individualize according to cultural differences, and way past that, individualizing family by family and person by person.

My personal definition of legitimate cross-cultural shamanism is an ethical, thoughtful blend of earth based mysticism as it manifests in various cultures.

Moving on:

I am a little worried. With adventure, comes fear of the unknown: am I going to like the DNA test results?

But mostly I’m excited about the DNA adventure I am embarking on.

And I feel gratitude for science and magic.

When the DNA results arrive, I’ll post them here, and share how it impacts my mystical journey.
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Note: I first posted this blog May 2015 at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html and post it again here for those of you who tend to read me here.
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Faerie Lammas Ritual 2015

Lms2015

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Please join me for a Third Road harvest celebration, Thursday July 30 at noon to 1:00 EST.

Let’s celebrate our harvests and manifest additional bounty.

Let’s honor ancestors, Gaia, and other Gods.

The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill.) No experience needed.

To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#. Dial three to five minutes before noon; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.

If you want to experience oral tradition, this ritual is an opportunity.

Mark your calendar.

Goddess Bless, Francesca De Grandis