T is for Tools

I’m working on ‘things’. Planning, plotting, gathering.

Mostly I’m trying to figure out how the knots will work for that one over there, how to carve so that delicate lines will be maintained in relief for that thing there, and how to rejig the altar space because it’s big and yet too small. I miss my three tiered altar. I miss it’s beautiful dark stained wood and oodles of space in which I could separate the sections of my work.

This one is about tools. When most people start out they’re they’re stuck with the basic books and the basic list of tools – athame, wand, chalice, uhm, pentacle for earth? Salt? A rock? Ok, so the fact that I don’t actually know what the element of earth is represented by in generic beginner witchcraft/paganism probably says a great deal about the basic tool list and I.

I want to talk about the tool that isn’t on the basic list: The Key.

Cle De L’os – RhetoricHaystack

The key is easily the most invaluable tool I think anyone can have. It opens doors and doors show up a lot in practice right? Maybe not literally, but the key doesn’t have to be literal either. A key can work by association or by trigger or by magical working. It can open doors to mind places, to paths, to worlds, to a door in a city that doesn’t exist which leads to a warm bed where you’re safe for the time being.

They’re easy to come by, I started out using old and antique keys and skeleton keys. They’re easy to create, an item or a few linked together worked with magic to connect them to a specific door behind which lies whatever it is you want and then used repeatedly till the association takes the work out of reaching the place you’re headed. They’re easy to use, turn the key and step through the door to the place.

I’ve linked them to mind places and ‘astral’/spirit place. Here is the key for where I enter the underworld, here is the key to The City’s gates, here is the key to the house right at the end, and here is the one to the clearing on The Woods.

Anywhere I need a key to I can create one.

Keys can be bartered for many things if you have them made up right and the connections that want that sort of thing.

Unfortunately they can also be stolen. Worth keeping that in mind. They can be stolen and used to find you. Always have a way to disconnect them from the place and from you. Alway build in a failsafe. Always.

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S is for Sex

Sex is magic, magic is sex…

I’m pretty sure I got that from Hellblazer. I could be wrong though.

I’m really not going into some massive in depth discussion on sex magic here. I haven’t read widely on the subject and most of what I know is from experimentation and experience.

What I want to point out is that, despite my own love of the combination of sex and magic, it’s not a fucking given that everyone who does magic does sex. Amongst magical practitioners are the asexual, celibate and traumatised. People who for one reason or another just don’t do sex and that we put such a huge emphasis on sex and sexuality in the West is off putting to many.

Hell, it’s off putting to me. I do sex magic with my long term partner, The Wolf. No one else. It’s an intimate and private practice. My sex and sexuality is not for public consumption and the assumption that it is is far too often made. There are many who choose to display their sex, sexuality… sensuality publically and often and that’s great.

But this whole goddess in touch with her suaxual energies and yoni and menstrual magic and yadda yadda yadda…

Not everyone’s cup of tea.

Now don’t even get me started on how fucking heterosexual most people sex is when it comes to magic either. Don’t even.

Q is for Question Everything

Seriously question fucking EVERYTHING!!!!

Question the status quo, because it’s not ‘just how it’s done’, because the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every time but you need to understand what you’re doing before you can change it..

Question authors, relentlessly, because their bias isn’t the be all and end all thought they’ll certainly paint it that way, look up their sources, demand their sources if they don’t offer them and burn their books if they’re trash because you deserve better on your shelves.

Question the gods, before you agree make sure you know what you’re getting into, before you decide to worship them make sure you know what they want from you.

Question the spirits, they will lie to you without second thought, they will omit anything they can from information and send you stumbling down the wrong track, they will bind you into agreements that will fuck you over if you’re not careful.

Question yourself, poke at your brain and you beliefs and your innermost workings over and over and over till you know what makes you tick, till you’ve distilled that vague belief into something concrete in your mind.

Question everything, it keeps you out of trouble and gets you into trouble.

It’s the only way to grow.

Question, and then think critically about the answers.

LEARN!

 

P is for Privacy

Get you some!

And no, I don’t mean a spot of your own where no one interrupts you and you can do your naked thing… I mean, yes, if that appeals and you can get it go for it, but it’s not the kind of privacy I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of privacy that doesn’t see you blabbing all your practice out to the entire world. The one where you’re not a necromancer and demon summoner who has 30 kids to Loki on the astral plane, you’re just a witch or Pagan that does your thing.

There’s this horrible tendency to over share these days, especially within online communities like tumblr and facebook groups. To overshare and then get horribly butthurt when someone looks at you askew.

It’s self defeating.

Witchcraft is, at it’s core, a private kind of thing.

It’s not because there’s anything wrong with necromancy, demon summoning, or have 30 odd children to Loki (although seriously that boy is getting round…) although there will always be someone who has a fucking issue with it, but rather that it’s not anyone’s business but yours. When you start sharing this shit online you’re asking for feedback and what you get may not be what’s good for you.

On the one hand you may well be chewed into oblivion by people who think you’re insane and that can be pretty harsh to the self esteem regardless of whether what you’re putting up is insane or not (Mileage may vary, I champion my right to be a judgemental bitch, and the rights of others to do so as well. Making judgement calls is a good thing).

The other problem however is that you can get sucked into a feedback loop. You do A, those people do A as well, and you all pat each other on the back for it… and you keep doing that thing over and over. Have you ever tried to change when you’re surrounded by people who expect you to keep doing the same? It’s not easy, it holds you back and drags you down, making it impossible to learn and experience new things. It can also blind you to new incoming messages and guide you towards doing things that are not in your best interest magically…

Basically it’s a rather insidious and toxic form of peer pressure.

Developing a sense of privacy about what you do is good for you. It’s good for your practice and your growth.

Not to say you shouldn’t converse or share online. I blog for fucksake, and have… eh, more social media accounts than I care to admit really. Be particular with whom you share what however. Trust your nearest and dearest with the details if you want to, but learn to talk a bit more vaguely about the things outside of that. You can discuss techniques and beliefs without ever going in depth with your own practice – I actually highly recommend this as you can get a lot more out of a conversation where you’re not emotionally invested in defending your actual practice, but rather discussing more nebulous techniques and beliefs.

And, finally, make sure you do a check back. I’ve seen in depth details on relationships with named entities that… Would you say that about your partner in public space and expect them to not blow their shit? I’ve seen in depth takes on sexual encounters with entities written up for the world to see. Really? REALLY!?! Did you at any point stop and check in with your entity of choice to make sure it was ok to share these things? Any things actually.

Nothing gets shared on this blog without a check back. It’s either something I’ve finished working on or something I’ve been given clearance to share. The altar in the last post – totally checked in. When I talk about entities from The City – totally checked in.

Not doing so would be a huge insult to any entity I work with. I can’t even imagine an entity that wouldn’t be pissed off by some of the in depth detail people expose online. It’s not just about YOU, you are also exposing THEM. Especially if you’re naming them. Which isn’t to say that all entities will say no. Some enjoy the attention… but do be aware that others will say yes just to watch the fireworks.

Ok, so end rant. Privacy is a thing y’all.

O is for Open

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Learn to be open.

Actually open, not ‘OMG this feather is a sign from the gods that I am an angel priestess and bird queen in a former life.’ type of open.

Say hello, say I’m here and I’d like to talk to you. Light the candles, spill the honey and milk upon the earth…

And then be open.

The spirits speak when you shut up and pay attention.

(And on that note I think the locals and I are going to get along just fine.)

M is for Magic

The magic isn’t in the paraphernalia. The candles can go unreplaced, herbs uncut. Sigils need not be wrought and ropes may be left unwoven. To hell with the belts and jewels, the robes and paints.

The magic is not there.

The beat slapped into chest, the beat thumped into earth by feet. The rhythm held by hips and hands. Melody by lips. Screams to the sky, whispers to the earth. Conversation held with those between in poets tongue.

Lost better waking and sleep, in trance and dream, there lies the magic.

J is for Juxtaposition

Take their hands, for example, and study them.

His are soft, ink stained, barely calloused by anything heavier than pencil or tool.

His are hard and boney, scarred and calloused from gun grips and blade handles.

Or their eyes.

His liquid like, and so dark as to be black. They smoulder sometimes, and harden others but mostly the dance with laughter. They are warm.

His the colour of storm clouds, shades of grey that fracture and shift. They soften sometimes, and harden others, but mostly they are neutral, unreadable. They are not cold, but implacable.

We could juxtapose their domains.

His magic written in ink on flesh. Delicate hands make pricise works of art that represent, heal, strengthen, protect… He answers no prayers but will see you well cared for, for a price.

His magic is in the bullet and the knife if occassion must demand. His eye sees true, his breath steady and he vanishes quietly amongst the shadows. He is what answers when the sniper exhales and pulls the trigger – see my shot straight. He is what answers when the loved one prays come home safe.

Juxtapose these two, both small and slightly built. One short haired and the other long, one raven locked and the other silver though they are of age with each other.

G is for Gods

Some of us do Them and some of us don’t. And that’s ok.

“Most witches don’t believe in gods. The know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.”

Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad.

The above is easily my favorite quote on deity and sums up the approach of quite a few witches I know. It’s not that They’re not huge, or often awe inspiring. It’s just that I don’t need to believe in Them. I know They are there.

And I choose to ignore Their existence in favor of doing my own thing.

If you work with Them daily and love Them, good on you.
If you don’t think They exist, good on you.
If you live in my space of They are over there and I am here, good on you.

There is not a right or wrong approach to deity within a witches practice*. A witch is no less or more capable for the presence of Deity in their life. So fucking stop trying to shove your shining mother goddess down my throat, k thanks. I’ll do my thing, you do yours, and we will all be happy with our own thing… unless you’re not then I suggest you change it until you are.

*Note: There is, however, certainly a wrong way to approach a deity. Be respectful and do your damned homework. They, like spirits, can totally fuck your shit up if you piss them off so don’t treat them like fluffy collectible kitties.

F is for Fuck Off!

No, seriously, it is.

Someone telling you your practice is invalid because it doesn’t fit some arbitrary criteria?

Answer: Fuck off. 

Spirits in your house causing mischief?

Answer: Fuck off. 

People in your community being made of creepy and inappropriate?

Answer: Fuck off. 

Magic being directed at you from out there and you don’t want to play ball?

Answer: Fuck off. 

 

Fuck off can be flip, and teasing and light and laughing, but it can also be venom and rage and anger. It can be turned into a two word spell able to be thrown out on an instant’s notice. Throw your voice behind, growl it, snarl it, let anger reach it and fill it and direct it’s venom straight at the recipient. Flip it off, make it snide, dismissive, snarky and let it fob the recipient off as unworthy of your time and attention.

Magic doesn’t have to be complicated or tool laden, it doesn’t have to have spirit’s and deities intercepting on your behalf. You’ve got plenty enough power alone. You can cast with a word or a gesture on a heartbeats notice, or you should be able to. You won’t always have the luxury of time or privacy. A snarled word, a hand gesture or an ice cube pushed about with the tip of a finger should be enough at a press.

And for the love of all that is merciful fuck being nice about it. To HELL with this harm none love and light shit. If you’re threatened fight, and if your loved ones a threatened fight harder again. Don’t live in a bubble of light and fail to protect yourself and your people. Don’t be a damned victim because someone said asserting yourself and fighting for yourself and others were only things bad people do.

E if for Effort

2014-06-21 19.22.43

 

It’s the smallest and simplest of altars. A candle, honey and mead for the spirits on the longest night. No great feast, no over hauled three level altar, no lantern or fruit in the garden. A candle, honey and mead.

Sometimes we get blindsided. I was not meant to be home tonight, and I could have made good on responsibilities at the mid-winter gathering, but my head continues to throb and my body ache so I am here instead. This is not my home with the altar so I make do. I made promises, and I put in the effort to keep them…

Even if it means a simple altar in the middle of my Wolf’s kitchen table while he is out.

I think it is easy to forget that a little effort can go a long way, and that a promise kept holds power of it’s own even if all you have is the supplies in the kitchen cupboard.

Now the question remains, can I convince him to see in the dawn with me after this longest of nights?