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/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small progress adds up to big progress.

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

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

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

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

So mote it be! Goddess, thank you.
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Upcoming Class: The Spiritual Warrior

The Spiritual Warrior:
A seven-week teleseminar (group class by telephone)

The Spiritual Warrior class empowers the part of you that fights for survival, family, ideals, dreams, human rights, and Gaia.

I have not taught this class in two years, and it was over four years before that, so grab the chance.

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

This post includes some of my personal philosophy, on which the class is based.

People use the terms “spiritual warrior” and “pacifist” in various ways. Here’s how I use the terms:

* Pacifists will not engage in physical violence even if their life is on the line. Though I’ve enormous respect for pacifists, and they can legitimately be viewed as amazing spiritual warriors, that’s not what this class is about. I am not a pacifist.

* Spiritual warriors are not unduly aggressive. Nevertheless, they’ll go into combat when needed. If battle’s the only choice, they engage with their whole heart and soul.

Ceremonial and practical lessons will include:
* why effective warriors often go with the flow instead of fighting it
* the gentle uses of war
* how to shove back when push comes to shove, without losing the high moral ground
* the importance of down ‘n’ dirty fighting in business, community leadership, and inner growth
* strategizing with an ethical military mind
* standing up for yourself with no self-recrimination

The lessons also help you honor healthy aggression. Not all aggression is expressed by childish, irresponsible, hurtful rage. You’ll learn how to handle your aggressive power so that you express it healthily—you control it; it doesn’t control you.

We’ll celebrate the aggression without which we can lose our lust for life, because the two energies are so intertwined. You’ll find new passion for living because you’ll suppress your energy less.

I’ll also teach methods for self-healing after the battles of childhood and adulthood. This class helps you regain a carefree, gentle attitude.

My warrior self protects the fragile child within me, providing the safety she needs to express love, delight in fairies, and be creative. I’ll help you be a champion who shields your child self.

This class is for:
* the seasoned fighter who wants additional strengths, strategies, and self-control
* a person combatting a life-threatening challenge such as cancer
* someone needing to fight for a life that has dignity and pleasure
* and anyone else interested.

Novices to witchcraft are welcome; yet adepts will find appropriate challenges.

As I said, the above expresses my warrior philosophy as it underpins the class. The post also outlines parts of the curriculum. I hope you’ve enjoyed the material.

But warriors don’t settle for words. Join me for the work—and celebration!—needed to embody everything written here. Let’s live our lives fully.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven consecutive Tuesdays, from noon to 1:00 EST, starting Tuesday July 17.
* Reserve Sept 4, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. Your phone carrier might charge you for the call. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price.
* 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.

The Spiritual Warrior is part of Third Road’s oral tradition and satisfies one of the two electives needed before Third Road’s advanced training.

Fight for yourself and for what is important to you.

La Vecchia Religione

LVROnline Course:
La Vecchia Religione—
An Inside View of Traditional Italian Witchcraft

“La Vecchia Religione” is Italian for “The Old Religion” and refers to the traditional practices of a strega. “Strega” translates into “witch.”

I was born into a Italian shamanic family tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Our family has many magics. This online course focuses on one of the most pivotal. Traditional magic is taught contextually, so lessons also provide a mystical overview of La Vecchia Religione.

The Strega practice we’ll focus on is considered the most advanced magic possible, can magnificently improve every aspect of life, yet is accessible to a magical beginner.

stregamoonThis course has five powerful aspects:

One) Weekly lessons received by email. Each lesson is a digital Book of Shadows entry (PDF).

Storytelling relays a great deal of the course’s information, making lessons easy and fun for you. I’ll share my personal tales of being in an Italian shamanic family tradition.

stregaroseI’ll add other relevant chronicles, too, as well as additional material needed to understand the aforementioned pivotal strega practice and traditional Italian witchcraft as a whole.

La Vecchia Religione is a shamanic path. Some shamans invoke magic simply through their personal, quite human stories. If you want strega magic, it’s in such stories.

Your reading this course’s stories, with no more effort on your part than when you read a fantasy novel, magically transforms every part of your life—large improvements everywhere. After the course, a special enchantment remains available forever to continue creating numerous, marvelous changes for you.

Benefits of merely reading the stories:

* You automatically start becoming a new you, with greater wholeness of being and peace. You notice your power growing magically and in other parts of your life, so you have better access to all the inner resources needed to reach your life goals.

* Your circumstances automatically start improving. Your most cherished goals become more viable and attainable.

* The stories transport you to a Fey-touched realm. And this course’s stories are true-life Faerie tales with real magic that helps you live in your own special Faerie tale: dreams can come true.

Our lessons will bring us into the presence of Diana Magna Mater (Great Mother Goddess). She gave humankind magic so we can live free and prosperously, overcoming challenges, including liberating ourselves from oppression. She will protect and guide us in our journey.

Lessons also provide easy shamanic exercises that reinforce the tales’ enchantments and deepen your relationship to them.

stregamoonTwo) My full-color art ornaments the PDF Book of Shadows pages, including new paintings created especially for this course. I joyfully painted for ages to create fifty new page ornamentations specifically for these lessons! I wanted imagery to convey the enchantment of Italian sorcery.

Three) Nine audio files recorded expressly for this course. The spoken word is a way you and I can be in sacred space together. So I recite excerpts of the PDFs.

stregamoonFour) Two fun, easy crafts projects. I’m thrilled about my Pagan-style craft ideas because they’re sooo magical: they help you experience the power of Italian witchery, deepen the magical journey, and increase its benefits. I’ve never seen anything like these projects, and I’m not going to say here what they are, heh. They’re special, and I’m saving them for you.

I painted art specially for these projects, making your part easy: you receive full-color digital files of my Pagan art, so you only need to print the artwork and follow a few simple instructions. I can barely wait for you to have the art! Heck, I’m chomping at the bit, waiting for you to have the rest of the course, too.

stregamoonFive) One-on-one support. I’m available by phone for up to 45 minutes. If you have questions about the material, need help because your commitment to doing the lessons falters, want to further explore a particularly tantalizing part of the curriculum, or have other concerns, feel free to phone.

You can divide the 45 minutes into two or three conversations. Conversations must occur during the span of the course or within a month after.

stregarose2I love integrating my art into my writing. Ditto creating audio portions and being available by phone. The five parts of the course (text, art, audio, etc.,) weave together to take you on a mystical journey into the heart of Italian witchery. During it, along with the benefits already listed:

* You gain confidence in your own journey—its spiritual, magical, and mundane aspects.

* You find confidence in yourself, just as you are, right now.

* Important insights come to you—wisdom needed to get the maximum out of life.

* You claim your birthright—your heritage of magic and wildness as a Fey-touched child of the Old Gods.

In addition to being transformative, this journey is core to understanding Italian witchcraft as a whole. In other words, along with improving your life, the journey is also an experiential lesson that conveys a mystical overview of: traditional Italian witchcraft as a magical culture, its otherworldly sensibilities, and its history.

stregarose3Though they impart an overview and history, lessons are easy, not like reading a textbook. This is not dry history, not dry material, not a dreary recitation of facts, charts, and lists that you have to memorize, plod your way through, or otherwise labor over. You experience La Vecchia Religione in your spirit.

This look into my family’s magic is traditional Italian shamanism no one else teaches. A lot of this is material I’ve never taught until now.

stregastarThe course starts April 30, with your first lesson. You receive one lesson a week by email for 11 weeks.

If an unexpected event makes me unable to send one week’s planned material, I’ll extend the course an extra week.

Tuition is $250. Scroll down to pay securely with PayPal:




No experience needed. But even advanced practitioners will enjoy this. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. No refunds. My online courses aren’t transcriptions of oral tradition lessons. (I teach oral tradition by phone.) The online courses are special unto themselves—magic tailored to be spectacularly effective, relevant, exciting, and safe when learned online.

Trapped by Lore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Ask a Strega to Teach You a Spell and …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other scenarios could occur.

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

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

Upcoming Event

Gentle Heart, Palm Up: A Seven-Week Class, 2019

Learn shamanic tools to overcome life’s challenges, whether an “everyday problem” or traumatizing devastation. These very same tools also build magical strength you can draw on to manifest whatever you choose in any area of your life.

The last thing any of us need is a class that’s going to be hard.

This witchcraft is gentle, peaceful, and powerful.

Gentle rituals can be more effective than obviously strong rites. Sometimes, only gentleness can access our wildness and help us live free. Learn a witchy fluidity that makes you unstoppable.

Click here to enroll.

Lessons are core Faerie shamanism. Overcoming your current challenges, great or small, mundane or spiritual, is actually the traditional path to gaining shamanic power.

We’ll walk this path together. You’ll experience how the process of gaining mystic power to conquer your immediate problems creates the magical strengths, methods, and exact mental shifts needed to overcome all of life’s difficulties and fulfill all your other desires.

This material healed me and my life from the trauma of becoming crippled overnight in 2001 and the traumas—e.g., financial problems—that can domino from major illness. I was so depleted that, when channeling these lessons, I was too ill to type or even hand-write them. I dictated them to someone. Because of these lessons, I rose like the phoenix. At age 68, I’m healthier than I was in 2001, my finances recovered, and my spirit is whole.

You can’t find these lessons elsewhere. I’m utterly grateful the Goddess whispered them to me.

This teleseminar is multi-leveled, suitable to beginners and adepts, and provides easy access to power at whatever level your spirit and magic require.

Self-Portrait, Francesca De Grandis, 2012

Classes are group meetings by phone: just dial the phone to participate.

We meet seven consecutive Sundays, 3:00 to 4:00 pm EST, starting July 21. Reserve Sunday September 8 same time, for a makeup session, in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned meetings.

Tuition is $250. If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price. Your particular carrier may charge you for the calls.

To enroll, go here or click the butterfly below.

Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved. You receive event phone #, etc., by email. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. No refunds.

Gentle Heart Palm Up is a prerequisite for Third Road advanced shamanic training.

This training saves you time. You’ll move through roadblocks faster and serenely, instead of wandering around stymied and anxious.

Conquer your own life peacefully.

Enroll now.

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What Sort of Witch Are You?

For some individuals, witchcraft is a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy.

This post was on Witches and Pagan in 2016, at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html

Have you seen the popular lists of different types of witches—e.g., traditional witch, Gardnerian witch, Faerie witch, eclectic witch, hedge witch—with precise definitions for each category? These charts help some beginners. Learning you fit a certain style can be validating and reassuring. It also makes some newcomers feel they belong.

But this post is for beginners who find the categories make things really difficult. Everyone else, I’m not naysaying what works for you; this entire post is simply ideas and methods that work for me, in case they’re useful to someone. I don’t want the charts thrown out. They’re great for some people. And with that:

There are individuals whose witchcraft entails a journey of finding one’s unique style of magic, own cosmology, and personal philosophy. Being new to Pagan community and being told there are specific witch types, each with very specific definitions, can box these folks in, lead them to think they won’t fit anywhere in the Pagan community, and ill-legitimize personal self-discoveries that transcend the categories.

What if you come from a traditional witch family, talk to fairies, and enjoy practicing Gardnerian magic occasionally? Sure, that might classify you as an “eclectic witch,” but that term is redundant historically speaking; it was once a given that witches were eclectic, because witches understand the connectivity of all things. To me, the term “eclectic witch” robs me of my heritage. My witchy heritage fuels spells, making them powerful.

As to connectivity, the Old Gods unite me with the enchantment that flows through the entire universe. That current carries me, its sweep making me joyful, as it bears me toward even more joy. But “eclectic witch” implies magic is not in everything around me and thus denies what’s inherent to many folks’ witchcraft.

In the same vein, I see witches as wild creatures, transcending every limit. I’m a child of the Gods. Their infinite powers are mine. Mind you, I’m not suggesting I can successfully cast every spell anyone else can cast. I believe witches can have specialties.

In any case, categorizing keeps some people from developing specialties. These are folks whose process demands they look not at definitions but into their own selves and, despite how scary it might be, journey into seeming formlessness until it becomes recognizable as their special gift—their specialty.
WildCreaturesI love—and use—the different terms for types of witches. They’re great jumping off points, e.g., for connecting with like-minded individuals.

They also can be pointers. But I use the terms the old way: to evoke—lyric speaking to our wild witch hearts and whispering of the undefinable and unlimited—rather than as part of quantitative charts, mapping magic out so exactly as to be … boringly limited for some folks.

I love magic so much it makes me sad to realize charts might crush certain people’s magic.

Also, poor scholarship defines witch types incorrectly. For example, it’s sadly a current given that Gardnerian Wicca bears little resemblance to traditional witchcraft. I lived in a Gardnerian household in England with one of Gerald Gardner’s students and, as a traditional witch, I can tell you people living in that house practiced old-fashioned witchery. Furthermore, I met members of the family tradition that greatly influenced Gerald.

Lack of scholarship also portrays traditional witchcraft as consistently the same. It varied, village to village and family to family.

And many a scholar will say “eclectic witch” makes no historical sense. Global travel is not a modern occurrence. Various ancient cultures shared their rituals constantly.

Are you dismayed by witch categories because they make you feel the magical Art has been divided up like slices of a pie … and you feel like the whole pie? Be the whole enchanted pie.

If you’re a fledging witch who resonates with what I’ve written, I support you not by giving you categories to validate you, but by validating who you already are. Like most of us when we come into Pagan community, you’ve always had Paganism in your heart and life, perhaps without having named it as such. So trust what you already know and build on it. You have the intelligence and insightfulness needed to do so.

Enjoy the names for all the different types of witches, or use none of them. But claim your path as valid.

By “valid,” I’m not saying everything you do currently as a witch is always safe and effective. No one is perfect. Also, some spellcrafting requires substantial training. Get a teacher if you want. But don’t worry about what “type” of witch a prospective teacher is. Choose someone whose spirit calls you and who honors your spirit in turn, whether or not you know how to describe your path. Witches used to work together in all their differences and likenesses, getting along just fine, learning just fine.

I teach. Classes are mostly via group phone calls (aka telesminars): you don’t need a computer or any special technology to attend; just dial the phone. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which gives details about upcoming classes: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

What sort of witch are you? You’re you! So mote it be.

Be a Goddess Master Class

A Six-Week Shamanic Training:
Acquire magical and mundane abilities to match any challenge or opportunity.
Open to all
Enchantress2012-03

Feeling powerless? This class will change that.

Already have plenty of power? Rock on! And if you’re not achieving everything you want, take the next step.

You only need one of the following prerequisites:
* completion of the first 12 lessons in my book Be a Goddess!
* completion of first 8 lessons in my book Goddess Initiation
* one of the entry-level classes in the Mystic Rose branch of Third Road

Students need both books on hand during class, for reference purposes. You only need to have read what was required to fulfill one of the above prerequisites.

Been a long time since you’ve read the book you used? That doesn’t matter.

Click here to enroll in the Be a Goddess Master Class.

FaerieRlmWetWPnk99Many readers say Be a Goddess! and/or Goddess Initiation empower them still, even after decades. I’m humbled by their words.

You may be working on different things now, internally and externally, than when you first used one or both of those books. And you’re a different person now.

And my work is tried and true. Build on your past achievements with it to meet your current needs. Here’s how we’ll do that in the Be a Goddess Master Class:

PastelSqThe books’ magic has unpublished facets that are more advanced. They can meet who you are now, in whatever circumstances you’re in now. I’ll teach you that material. The tools you know will acquire a deeper layer of power, which you can apply to your current situations.

You also learn new techniques. Having one of the prerequisites gives you a shamanic foundation, so we can immediately dive into ultra-focused lessons between the worlds. The benefits? Sky’s the limit! I’ll show you how to apply tools from the books—as well as the new tools I teach you!—for whatever you need: prosperity, creativity, or anything else.

Traditional shamanic lessons include individualized attention, which tailors the training to you. Both beginners and adepts love this class. Make real headway in your goals.

Every meeting includes direct spiritual transmissions that increase your magical and mundane abilities to take control of your life.

Also, you receive the following benefits. And, if you’ve accomplished them already, this Master Class helps you do it more so:
* Strengthen your inner guide.
* Honor the deity within.
* Experience profound soul-healing.
* Serve all our relations.
* Ignite the fey-touched joy that makes life worth living.

BaGMCGreenManDon’t spin your wheels with run-of-the-mill material. Be a Goddess Master Class is a circle of power. Expect twice the progress in a fraction of the time you’d spend elsewhere.

Offered once a year at most, this Faerie shamanism training is core Third Road (Third Road is the tradition I teach), and is a prerequisite for Third Road advanced training.

Nuts and bolts:
* Lessons are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone. Long-distance charges may apply. If so, charges appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Class meets six consecutive Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:00 pm EST, starting Wednesday May 17.
* Reserve Weds June 28, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Click here to enroll.
* If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price.
* Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved. You’ll receive event phone #, etc., by email. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. No refunds.

Life is extraordinarily beautiful and extraordinarily awful. We don’t have to bury our heads in the sand. We can use shamanism to face difficulties, conquer them, and create beautiful lives. Click here to enroll.