Tree City Witch: Irma & Rebirth of a Witch

I apologize for my absence. I had, and still have, a wicked deadline, and then Hurricane Irma happened. And happened. And happened.

First there was the week of panic and preparation. Prepare for tropical storm winds. Prepare for hurricane strength winds (not normal for my inland college town). Prepare for tornadoes. Have a safe room ready. Prepare for at least two weeks without power. Stop the presses and get busy. After all, you could die.

Photo from U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain, via WikiMedia.
Photo from U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain, via WikiMedia.

Well-meaning friends had good and bad advice, and my landlord told me to head for a shelter. I told him, and others, to stop putting their anxiety on me. He hung up the phone.

I swear I was relaxed. At first. I told a friend in an email that the storm could “blow me.” I was that blase. “Leave me alone I got deadlines! I got shit to do!”

And, furthermore, I had drawn good cards. I’m a Tarot Reader. GOOD CARDS, including the Empress and the Ten of Pentacles for me and my house for storm outcome. The storm was on the way though, and the tidal wave of town emotion took me along with it. Not that I blame them. We were all preparing for a handful of possible worst case scenarios and what if’s.

The fearful collective energy of the town, fearful with good reason, was itself a tornado. But I wouldn’t go to a shelter. Nobody asked us to. Inland. We got this.

So first there was panic and preparation. Then there was the night of the storm. Then there was the aftermath: power outages, cleaning up, damage assessment, and a tree fell on my house the morning after. Luckily, the roof, and myself, remained safe although I’ll never forget the sound of the bark breaking and splitting in half. I only mentioned three parts though. There is a part four. Emotional recovery. The exhale. Assessment of trauma and whether the heart has stopped beating so damn fast. Not being afraid of the rain. Not being afraid of the wind. Not being afraid of buying cream because what if the power goes out and doesn’t come back on for over a week.

Now it’s a week later. Now is the time to get back to business and normal life, including my column here. I want to tell you a story about that night, the night of the storm.

Dear reader it was terrifying. The most terrifying thing was the sound. Nonstop rain all day, I wondered if my house (elevated, not flush on the ground) would kiss the inches of rapidly rising water. And then, once things really got going, there was the wind and waving branches outside my bedroom window, branches from a live oak, which, my landlord said is so strong they don’t fall — and yet I heard stories of live oaks falling from Hurricane Irma, full heavy branches swung loose on the heads of houses.

The most terrifying sounds were the booms – sometimes transformers (causing houses to lose power) but also the crack and snap of trees falling nearby and the slam of my backyard’s locked gate. At the time I didn’t know what that particular sound was, but its boom woke me up. Oh yes I did sleep at least an hour that night because after the first part of the storm, the tropical storm winds part, there was a lull. I thought it was over.

But then the lull ended just as the weathermen on the news radio station predicted. The worst was yet to come for my area, in the wee hours, when it would be close to sunrise, and once those roaring winds started up, I went to my safe room, my narrow walk-in closet where I had stored the crank radio, water, cat food, flashlight, batteries, food. I forget what else. Everything needed for a semi-long stay.

"Among the Waves" by Ivan Aivazovsky.  From WikiMedia.
“Among the Waves” by Ivan Aivazovsky. From WikiMedia.

But the reason I’m telling you this story is for the witch story.

I was scared. The whole night felt like an out of body experience. Although my house is one-story I felt like I was on the second floor (no clue why). Terror of what would happen next. Would the house survive the night? Would we survive the night? Would anything be left the next day. It was me and Goldy alone in the world. We had the radio until the power went out at 3 am. Other people, alone in the storm, were calling in. There was one woman in her car (her car!) with her dog and two pet skunks. I’ll never forget it.

So I rolled around inside this scared feeling for easily a good hour or so, in a panic, regretting my decision to spend the storm alone, until some part of me, deep inside of me, got angry.

This part of me said: STOP! ALIZA, YOU ARE A WITCH. If you cannot control (yes, control) THE ELEMENTS, the wind and the rain then what kind of fakakta witch are you anyway? YOU CAN DO THIS. You can keep your house safe. You can keep yourself and Goldy safe and you can protect your house and push any damaging winds and rain away. Push them away. And that was exactly what I did.

Dear Reader, this is a true story, coming from true belief and true experience and not magical thinking, but MAGICKAL thinking. My witchcraft has never been based on theory or books, but on real life experience, actual spellwork. Natural magick. And what happened happened spontaneously. In the middle of my fear, I had a job to do. To act instead of be acted upon. To push back and protect.

I also conjured the face of my worried landlord (or perhaps he showed up on his own), his wool-like hair, and that his spirit was guarding this house, which is far more his than mine. I am merely a temporary caretaker and tenant.

Everything changed after that. I gathered my anger and my power and I kept our little world safe. Even the next day when the tree fell on the house, we were safe.

Irish-American Witchcraft: Honoring the Álfar on the Equinox

“It appears even that to these black elves in particular, i.e., mountain spirits, who in various ways came into contact with man, a distinct reverence was paid, a species of worship, traces of which lasted down to recent times. The clearest evidence of this is found in the Kormakssaga p. 216-8. The hill of the elves, like the altar of a god, is to be reddened with the blood of a slaughtered bull, and of the animal’s flesh a feast prepared for the elves….An actual âlfabôt. With this I connect the superstitious custom of cooking food for angels, and setting it for them. So there is a table covered and a pot of food placed for home-smiths and kobolds; meat and drink for domina Abundia; money or bread deposited in the caves of subterraneans, in going past”
– Grimm, Teutonic Mythology

"Dancing Fairies" by August Malmström.  From WikiMedia.
“Dancing Fairies” by August Malmström. From WikiMedia.

The Autumnal equinox means different things to different people and is celebrated in many ways depending on a person’s spirituality. For me it is a time to honor and offer to the Alfar, the elves. This can seem like an odd concept to some people who think of religious celebrations as things that center on and celebrate the Gods but while the Gods certainly do play a part in my spirituality the foundation of it all for me is the Good People by many names and that includes both the Daoine Uaisle and the Alfar.

There is a long and reasonably well documented history of offering to the elves which can be described as a more formal religious ritual or sacrifice. In the 11th century Austrfararvísur there is a passage which recounts the story of a Christian traveler who is turned away from a Swedish home because the family is celebrating an álfablót and fears to offend the Gods by allowing the unbeliever in (Hall, 2007). The widow who turned him away specifically cited a fear of ‘Odin’s wrath’ which may indicate a link between the Alfar and Odin, something which is reinforced by Odin’s connections to the Wild Hunt (Gundarsson, 2007).

Evidence suggests that the Swedish álfablót took place in late autumn; additionally in the quote mentioned above by Grimm the reference from Kormak’s Saga involved an injured man who was offering a bull sacrifice to the elves in hope of healing (Gundarsson, 2007). There is also an account from Norway from 1909 of a man whose family sacrificed a cow to ‘the mound dwellers’ when his father died (Gundarsson, 2007). This indicates that álfablóts were possibly both seasonal and done when need dictated.

As part of the religious aspect of my spirituality focused on the Hiddenfolk I do celebrate álfablóts [sacrifices to elves], although I am not in a position to sacrifice cattle. I generally offer butter and milk or cream, as these are two things that folklore across many cultures says that the hidden folk value. I have a boulder in my yard, and for all intents and purposes I consider it an álfur steinn, or elf-stone. Elf-stones, called elf-stenar in Swedish, are boulders with cup like indentations, or that are strongly associated as being the homes of the Alfar, and are believed to have healing powers (Lockey, 1882; Towrie, 2016).

"Plucked from the Fairy Circle" (1880) from WikiMedia.
“Plucked from the Fairy Circle” (1880) from WikiMedia.

These boulders were places that people would go to make vows, and to leave offerings which ranged from lard and butter to copper coins, flowers, and ribbons (Lockey, 1882). The acknowledgment of the one in my yard is obviously personal gnosis on my part but I have my reasons for believing this is what it is – I can say for example that the spring after I started this acknowledgment my entire backyard was inexplicably taken over by raspberry canes, something I consider a great gift and the only fruit that grows wild in my area. And in any direction the stone serves this purpose for me certainly. It is at this elf-stone that I leave my offerings for the Alfar and where I celebrate my rituals to them.

I celebrate my álfablóts twice a year on the equinoxes, as well as at any point that I feel one is needed. Some years that may not be any, some years that may be often. My connection to the Alfar is an organic thing that is always in motion and depends a lot on my respecting them, knowing what I should and should not do, and listening when I need to listen. I do a lot of listening.

I like honoring the Alfar on the equinoxes. To me the equinoxes are a good time symbolically to honor the Álfar because they represent a time of balance, a time which is naturally liminal, but I also like this because to me the Álfar are tied into the fertility of the earth and the harvest. Honoring them on the vernal equinox when the earth in my area is just beginning to ready itself for a new year of growth and planting as well as at the autumnal equinox during the harvest seems very appropriate.

There is also a nice balance in the twice yearly offering specifically to the elves at such a time, or the spirits that we may call elves in English. At Yule I honor my house spirits, and at Yule and and Walpurgisnacht (Bealtiane) I honor the Wild Hunt. At Midsummer I honor the Good Neighbors more generally, as I also do at Samhain and Bealtaine. So I like the idea of having those two equinoxes to honor the Alfar, the elves, to remember them and offer to them.

As day and night hang in balance I will go out and offer butter and cream and remember to be grateful for the blessings in my life.

References
Hall, A., (2007). Elves in Anglo-Saxon England
Grimm, J., (1883) Teutonic Mythology
Lockey, N., (1882) Nature, vol. 26

Towrie, S., (2016). Orkney’s Standing Stones
Gundarsson, K., (2007) Elves, Wights, and Trolls

Hearth of Hellenism: Is Jim Carrey Studying Esotericism?

Jim Carrey received attention for his eccentric interview on the E! Network at a New York Fashion Week party. In the interview Carry described the event as “meaningless.” Catt Sadler, the interviewer, responded by saying that the event celebrated icons, which Carry responded by saying “I don’t believe in icons” and “I don’t believe in personalities. I believe that peace lies beyond personalities, beyond invention and disguise, beyond the red ‘S’ you wear on your chest, that makes bullets bounce off.” He also added in that the world is not ours and “we don’t matter.” – I think his comments were a commentary on the trivial nature of nonsensical events, how we focus on things like fashion parties instead of deeper matters. Carrey is woke AF in my opinion.

Picture of Jim Carrey by Ian Smith, via WikiMedia.  CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.
Picture of Jim Carrey by Ian Smith, via WikiMedia. CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.

To make things sound even weirder to an already strange interview, Carry also threw out “and there are clusters of tetrahedrons moving around together.” This sentence caught my attention. Carry is not spouting out random crap or speaking crazy talk. His rant sounded somewhat Buddhist in nature, but the mentioning of tetrahedrons is based on the philosophy of Plato and the Pythagoreans before him. A tetrahedron (also known as a triangular pyramid) is one of the Platonic Solids.

In the Timaeus, we learn of five regular solids know as Platonic Solids. The tetrahedron is one of these five solids which are cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, and dodecahedron. Four of the five are associated with the four classical elements. Cube with Earth, icosahedron with Water, tetrahedron with Fire, and octahedron with Air. I am not an expert on details of the Platonic Solids, there is a lot of interesting information about the Platonic Solids online for you to research, check out Secrets of the Platonic Solids Revealed.

What I can say on the subject is that they are part of esoteric studies. Platonic Solids are linked with sacred geometry and offer insights into the nature of the cosmos. Carrey mentioned tetrahedron and what is associated with Fire. Fire is the element which creates change and is linked to the soul. Carrey’s words are a bit more meaningful when you put together everything. By saying “clusters of tetrahedrons moving around together” he could be alluding to an esoteric view of the structure of the cosmos, that we are built of tetrahedrons. He could also be using tetrahedrons as a stand in for souls, stripping away the “icons” and “personalities.” Carrey has clearly been reading material that is philosophical and or possibly esoteric.

The Cartomancer: 5 Ways of Boosting Your Mojo Through Patience

Old postcard in my private collection.

In my work with psychoanalysis I have come across this: Eager person equals loss of energy.

In my work with cartomancy I have come across this: Eager person equals loss of energy.

In my university teaching, I have come across this: Eager person equals loss of energy.

In all three, counselling and teaching capacities, I have also experienced this:

When eagerness is coupled with entitlement, it becomes hysteria.

Hence the question: What causes this extreme manifestation of drive, drive that we normally tend to think of as positive?

Lack of patience.

When you’re not patient you invest a lot of energy in anticipation.

But what is anticipation if not an exercise in futility, in projecting expectations that may or may not manifest?

Anticipation is thus informed by a whole lot of loss. Loss of energy.

When we eagerly anticipate something, we tend to think that the very act of anticipating is a good thing. Think again.

What eager or impatient anticipation creates are several types of danger:

  • While waiting for things to happen you throw yourself into projects that run parallel to what you anticipate and that may have nothing to do with the anticipated.
  • While waiting for an event, you project an outcome.
  • Stemming from the projection of an outcome, you tend to evaluate the event, even before it has taken place.
  • You think form is everything, and forget that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. You’re ready to embody a desired identity that you think has solid form. But even without ever having heard of the Heart Sutra, where the line: ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’ comes from, you could still intuit the truth of the non-substantiality of all things, if you gave yourself time, which you don’t when you’re impatient.

There are other dangers as well, but I see these as the most troublesome since they lead to massive loss of energy.

Massive loss of energy simply means complete loss of mojo, personal power, and the capacity to be in the present where you can distinguish between what you need and what you don’t need.

Anticipating that you need something (for the future, rather than right now), or that you don’t need something (also for the future, rather than right now) is what causes anxiety, because a true assessment of what you need can only be done in the now.

If you’re engaged in waiting for something, it’s thus much better to simply wait and see what happens, rather than decree in advance, either that what you’re waiting for has value or that it doesn’t.

It goes without saying that since the experience of what you anticipate is not here now, there’s no way in hell you can have any opinions about it, and nor can you make any educated guesses.

This is a common sense observation.

Boost your mojo

So here’s a short list of what you can do to become more aware of the extent to which you let your ego run the show, either through being too eager, or what’s worse, through being eager and entitled.

The idea is to see what function the ego has, acknowledge it, and then get on with the program, the program of putting your ego to your service, not vice versa.

For each of the five axioms, I offer a question. You can either reflect on it in quiet time, or you can use the cards for inspiration.

1. Patience is key to success.

Says old wisdom. If you think a little you’ll see why.

Being patient doesn’t mean settling with your major and minor desperation. Being patient directly tests your spine, the place where tenacity sits. Can you stand the distance?

Ask yourself:

‘In anything that I do, how much energy goes into tenacity, and how much into eagerness?’ If there’s no balance, change your attitude.

If you sit and wait quietly, chances are that you get to experience what’s happening right under your nose; and be aware of it. When you’re aware of it, you have clarity. You have mojo. Your energy is conserved.

If you charge ahead too eagerly, you jump at conclusions before you even get to the point where you can see what the project that you yourself have devised, or decided to participate in, entails of value.

2. Patience is audacious hope.

I say. Why audacious hope? Think. Often there’s a problem with hope, as hope lacks immediate manifestation. Things are not here yet, but you hope that they will be.

So the art is to know how to hope.

Ask yourself:

‘Is my hope informed by courage?’

You want to know this because courage is what anchors your hope, so hope won’t just float in the air, where it becomes something else than the expression of patience, where it becomes pink fluff devoid of devotion.

Courage lends your hope the strength of your spine, the strength of your resilience.

You have great mojo when you’re not invested in getting answers now, finding solutions to all things now.

All this takes a lot of energy and effort, and it often leads to disappointment.

Quick solutions turn out to merely replace one system with another, giving you another problem.

Hoping to embody a desired identity does not always lead to solving your current identity problem. Hoping to be able to control a new horse does not always lead to solving the problem with the old horse. Replacing small with big does not always solve the problem with small.

The art of hoping when it’s informed by courage goes beyond replacements instated as proclamations.

Your mojo is vastly boosted when you refrain altogether from language and its quick labeling solutions.

That’s what hoping in courage means: You have patience for seeing what is to be seen. Launching into quick verbal repartees is a sign of solid wit, but it has its place. If you can’t see this place, then you end up losing energy, and your wit will make no impact.

3. Patience overcomes obstacles.

Says Taoist wisdom: Be like water. Water, the softest element, has been observed to be the more efficient of the two in its encounter with the hardest rock. Water simply goes around it, flowing down the hill, following the natural law of gravity, thus overcoming everything that stands in its way.

Ask yourself:

‘What is my attitude in the face of obstacles?’

Do you launch into hysterical hopelessness, or are you accepting of whatever is in your way, blocking you?

Being like water is actually having the greatest mojo, simply because being like water means being beyond any concern.

You don’t even ask the question of what’s impossible. You just flow without losing any time with questions of what’s needed and what’s not. Energy is conserved at the maximum.

When you are like water, kicking your patience into a higher degree of acceptance, you realize that concepts such as overcoming pain for the sake of being in a state of pleasure don’t even exist.

The concern with pain and pleasure is not an issue.

The concern with what is necessary and what isn’t is not an issue.

The concern with what is urgent and what is significant is not an issue.

When you are patient, there’s no resistance. There’s no concern.

4. Patience elicits clarity.

I say. The vehicle for this is readiness and a form of surrendering to faith; the faith that all things come to you as they do, as a matter of course and by default.

You don’t force your way towards enlightenment. Enlightenment comes to you. It knocks on your door and says: ‘Hello, you actually know me, as I’ve been here all along’.

You don’t waste energy with making an effort to understand what IS already. You just stand in readiness. You say, ‘welcome’.

There is great mojo in acknowledging that standing in readiness is not even a question of your needing to do so, through proper preparation or other conceptual thinking about it.

When you have patience and faith that all things to come to you, as they do already, when you see that they have arrived, you just nod.

5. ‘A Pandora, in the higher sense, Patience.’

Said Goethe, in his collection of maxims and reflections, thinking about how faith, love, and hope, when working together, create this image, of Pandora’s box that everyone wants to open.

Ask yourself:

‘What drives my eagerness?’

Is this a desire to establish your work as relevant? I hope you’re not too eager about it.

I’ve seen many impatient people working way too hard towards establishing the relevance of their work as compensation for their sense of self-loathing.

Establishing relevance for your work should be the manifestation of passion, not dramatic intent.

What you need to remember is that you don’t have to establish any relevance for your existence.

Give yourself time, and time will teach you what you are, beyond form, beyond masks, beyond appearances, beyond fear and anxiety, beyond entitlement, and beyond opinion.

Give yourself time, and keep going.

I teach people to read cards like the Devil.

Stay tuned for courses and other cartomantic activities.

The Hearth of Hellenism: : The Virtues of Hephaistos

“September, beginning in the sign of Libra, celebration of the Autumn Equinox and honors to the heroes of the battle of Marathon. During this month God Hephaistos dominates and the virtues of Creativity (Ευμηχανία- Evmichanía) and Diligence (Φιλοπονία – Philoponia) are cultivated.” (Translated from Greek, Y.S.E.E Theology & Practice)

In September, the Supreme Council of the Ethnic Hellenes commemorates the battle of Marathon of 490 B.C.E during the first Persian invasion of Greece. The Greeks confronted the Persian army of King Darius, defeating them with fewer soldiers compared to the larger Persian force. The victory would be regarded as one of the greatest moments in Greek history at that time. For those who fought in the battle and lived, it was regarded as their greatest accomplishment. On the gravestone of Aeschylus, the father of tragedy, it made no reference to his literary accomplishments, instead what was important for him was to memorialize his participation in the battle of Marathon.

"Vulcan Forging the Thunderbolts of Zeus" by Peter Paul Rubens.  From WikiMedia.
“Vulcan Forging the Thunderbolts of Zeus” by Peter Paul Rubens. From WikiMedia.

   Beneath this stone lies Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, the Athenian,
who perished in the wheat-bearing land of Gela;
of his noble prowess the grove of Marathon can speak, and the long-haired Persian knows it well.
-Inscription on Aeschylus’s gravestone

Focusing on spiritual observance, September is ruled by the god Hephaistos. In honor of Hephaistos, we recite and reflect on his Hymn:

   Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaistos famed for inventions. With bright-eyed Athena, he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world, —men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaistos the famed worker, easily they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round. Be gracious, Hephaistos, and grant me success and prosperity!

During this month, the virtues of Creativity (Ευμηχανία- Evmichanía) and Diligence (Φιλοπονία- Philoponía) are cultivated. I want to start with “Philoponía”, which means love for labor and activity. Opposite to it is “Fyponia”, that is, avoidance of labor, laziness, sluggishness, inactivity. As a virtue, Philoponia is defined as a permanent labor, which, through the diligence, zeal and stability of the subject, seeks to achieve high goals without material interest (laboring for intrinsic value).

Philoponía was one of the four virtues which shaped teenagers into social and political members of the polis. Philoponía strengthens self-respect, as well as respect for the labor of fellow people. What is understood is that whoever offers nothing but, worse yet, does not respect the efforts of others, is a parasitic being that is nourished by the energy of others or exploits the effort of others.

Evmichanía produces intelligence and inventiveness. Evmichanía guides us in perfecting our work, while avoiding perfectionism. Focusing on the important and the feasible is the path of Evmichanía. Perfectionism is a pursuit of the impossible. Evmichanía takes us duality, and opens us to other options, alternatives to what we think are the only possible ways doing or achieve something. Evmichanía reveals to us your success is not “this or that” but “this, that, or the other”.

Understanding these virtues, we can apply them to our lives by being aware of our efforts and intentions in our creative endeavors. Hephaistos is an inventor, a craftsman. For this month, to honor Hephaestus, focus on your skills, crafts, hobbies and or any creative projects you wish to initiate. It is also important to be aware of your role in society, at work, in your family and or in personal relationships. Ask yourself, “What do I provide?” “Do I take more than I give?” or “Do I give more than I take?”

Evmichanía and Philoponia go together in that Philoponia aids and complements Evmichanía. Our diligence and attention contributes to creativity and production. As a tarot reader, I cannot help but to make a connection between these virtues and the 8 of Pentacles. The 8 of Pentacles, the Lord of Prudence is a card of diligence in our craft/productive efforts. Prudence, in the Greek root, relates to practical knowledge. This practical knowledge relates back to Evmichanía’s guidance in doing what is feasible.

Being diligent to activate our creativity requires us to keep our mind focused in the present and demands that we be patient and attentive to our tasks, projects, and general work overall. Ultimately, practicing these virtues cultivates the happiness and satisfaction that comes from being a creator, a maker. Practicing the virtues of Hephaistos can be as mundane as completing tasks in an orderly fashion, and getting things done. Hephaistos calls upon us to contribute to contribute to the community for the benefit of others along with ourselves, and not for ourselves alone.

Reflecting on his myth, Hephaistos is crippled from birth. Hesiod tells us his mother, Hera, tossed him from Olympus at the sight of his deformity. Another myth has Zeus tossing him off Olympus. In this version, the fall is what cripples him. Why is he crippled? I ask this, not in the literal sense, that he is literally crippled. But why did the Greeks think of this God as crippled? His malformation may be a literal representation of the risks associated with the occupation. The God thus represents a spectrum of the occupation. The ability to create wonderful things, but also the risk of injury. Eros’ arrows and the armor that Achilles wore in the Trojan war are two examples of his creative powers.

"The Forge of Vulcan" by Francois Boucher.  From WikiMedia.
“The Forge of Vulcan” by Francois Boucher. From WikiMedia.

Hephaistos is married to Aphrodite, this tells us that what Hephaistos produces is beauty/beautiful and he labors for the love of the work and end result. It reveals to us that Love is a fundamental force of creation. Greek philosophy teaches us that it is Eros (love) which brings the elements together. Eros is the son of Aphrodite and not Hephaistos. However, through association, these three are connected. There exists a relationship between artisanship/artistry and beauty/love.

Finishing my reflection on Hephaistos, I admire Hephaistos because despite being lamed, he still is powerful and able to produce and create. Hephaistos shows us mortals that despite our own disabilities or limitations, whatever they may be, it does not separate us from the divine in any way. We have the capacity to do great things if we practice the virtues Philoponía and Evmichanía.

Repeat after me:
   Be gracious, Hēphaistos, and grant me success and prosperity!

This is a first of a series which are dedicated to the festivals of the official calendar of the Hellenic Religion as observed by the Supreme Council of the Ethnic Hellenes. Each month there is a festival, a god which dominates the month, and virtues which are cultivated in honor of the deity.

Sources on the virtues are attributed to the following:
Vlassis G. Rassia,Areti, The Value System of the Greeks”, vol. 2, “Open City”, Athens 2016, ISBN 978-960-7748-53-9

The Other Side of the Hedge: The Witchhack

If you’re like me, you probably have more than a few store-bought magical tools lying around. We all do, despite the fact that there is, embedded deep in the Western esoteric consciousness, the idea that our magical tools should be handmade. In our guts, we believe that there’s something impure about the mass-produced article.

This idea is a relatively new one. After all, by definition it can’t be any older than factories. I suspect that it is founded on, or grows from the same Romantic roots as, the Marxist notion of the alienation of labor. Marx’s theory of alienation rests on idea that the value of an object comes not on its market value, nor solely on its pragmatic use, but on its relationship to person who made it. Thus, for Marx, the factory-made item is always of less “value” than that made by hand.

"Venus visiting Vulcan’s Forge " by David Teniers the Elder, From WikiMedia.
“Venus visiting Vulcan’s Forge ” by David Teniers the Elder, From WikiMedia.

That being the case, Pagans in particular seem to be attached to this idea of the “impure” coming off the factory line. The reasoning behind this belief is complex, with aspects that are both mundane and spiritual in nature. It is an idea worthy of some attention; it’s a practice that is both illuminating and revealing.

    A #WitchHack is a practical application of esoteric ideals. From blending your herbals to balancing your checkbook,from ascending the sephirot to climbing a mountain, the #WitchHack team is here with practical advice on impractical challenges. Follow the #WitchHack team!

The Pagan DIY Ethic

We live in a time of immense wealth and diversity. It’s entirely possible to go online and have pretty much whatever magical tool you want delivered to your door.

At least around my neighborhood, we need it. Where I live, we’re more likely to be functionaries than artisans, more often programmers than blacksmiths. Maybe your neighborhood is different, but I’d bet not.

So why don’t we want to just go out and buy tools willy-nilly? The rational aspect of this is that, whatever craziness we’re living through now, Western magical practices are meant to be hidden. Let’s face it, it’s hard to hide your magical practices if you head down to ye olde magic shoppe to pick up your weekly supplies. Buy a grimoire with a credit card, and you’re forever in the records, somewhere.

Yet there’s more to this DIY Pagan tradition than simple social pragmatics. In a world where everything can be cheaply made in factories that supply global needs and desires, things that are handmade, or better yet self-made, take on greater meaning and power.

With the wealth and diversity of the modern era, it’s possible to live in places where we can, as the saying goes, “let our freak flags fly.” Here in the Bay Area, no one cares what I buy or what I believe. Nonetheless, there’s still a value put on either making our own gear, or hiring someone who is a skilled artisan to do so.

We’re willing to pay extra for a handmade, well-constructed item. Personally, I’ll pay even more if I know that the maker is also a practitioner. When it comes to the values of magic and money, the profligate Crowley suggests that one should “buy the egg of a perfectly black hen without haggling” — only settle for perfection, and not worry about the price.

Wayland the Smith on "Franks Casket", from The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1911) via WikiMedia.
Wayland the Smith on “Franks Casket”, from The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1911) via WikiMedia.

As Without, So Within

As Pagans, we will often find a need to invest in things that don’t seem to hold much value for the average Westerner. On the other hands, that doesn’t mean we should be spendthrift fools.

On the surface, the DIY ethic of Western Paganism is a rejection of the out-of-control materialism of our culture. But if we scratch the surface, the same ethic is a metaphor for our paganism.

It can be deeply satisfying to make something with your own hands. Maybe it’s instinct, and maybe it’s just the way we spend our lives enjoying the fruits of others’ labors. Who knows?

Whatever it is, things that we make have something to them that store-bought things do not.

In that same way, when we build our tools to touch the mysteries of the universe, we forge those same connections within ourselves. Crafting, and charging, a chalice dedicated to the Lady not only builds that connection between the cup and that god. It also draws you into a closer relationship as well.

Ritual Tools from a 17th Century copy of "The Key of Solomon."  You think all of these were handmade?  From WikiMedia.
Ritual Tools from a 17th Century copy of “The Key of Solomon.” You think all of these were handmade? From WikiMedia.

Crafting from Blanks

If you ever spend time on crafting websites, or stop by one of the big craft chains, you’ll see plenty of opportunities to find “blanks” – items that are built and complete, but not finished. They’re just waiting for us to put our personal touches on them. Sometimes, those are useful for making magical tools. Personally, I really like the one-inch wooden disks for making talismans.

But there is another kind of blank to talk about. Any magical tools that you buy, unless they’re second-hand, are essentially spiritual blanks. You might buy, for example, a perfectly stained and complete athame designed exactly as required by your working group. But until you awaken that item, it’s no more (or less) magical than a stone you’d find in a river.

You can find, in most beginner books, rituals for charging tools. But for long-term practice, that isn’t something you’ll want to do just once. Reaffirm that connection again and again, and you will find tools that turn from tchotchkes into allies as the years pass.

ProTip: If you buy, inherit, or find a second-hand tool, you might want to be a little careful. If the practitioner knew enough (and was dogged enough) to really awaken your new pentacle, knife, or whatever, you might have just inherited something more akin to a former pet gone feral than a tool. If that’s the case, you’ll want to befriend it and build trust.

There are also cases where you’ll want to simply clean whatever residue is on the item, and possibly even situations where you’ll find it incompatible with your practices and need to get rid of it. I’ve even had items that I simply wasn’t ready for, which sat on a shelf for ten years until they told me it was time.

Irish-American Witchcraft: Losing Yourself & Finding Yourself Again

There’s a term we often see thrown around in modern paganism the ‘dark night of the soul’ which as I understand it is a period where someone has a crisis of faith. What we don’t see discussed very often but something I see happening and have experienced myself – is more prosaic and personal. It happens when a person’s faith remains constant but what they lose touch with is their inner sense of self, that internal identity that anchors a person in who and what they are.

It happens for a variety of reasons and it can be a slow creeping uncertainty or a sudden crisis of identity. Sometimes it comes from a desire for acceptance and an inner feeling that the you need to change who you are to earn that. Sometimes it comes from something Paganism suffers from all too frequently, the cult of personality; you fall into following a well-known or charismatic person and start tailoring yourself to fit what you think that person expects. It may be rooted in a desire to earn praise or to avoid criticism but it expresses itself the same way: in a slow change of personal preferences.

Photo by the author.
Photo by the author.

Maybe you always loved vanilla and amber oil perfume until people in a group criticized that as being ‘basic’. Maybe you always loved wearing pink until you heard a group of people mocking someone wearing that color for being a poser. Maybe you hated wearing big jewelry until you got the idea that all witches needed to. The reasons and expressions vary but it always seems to be rooted in conformity one way or another.

You’re going along living your life without being aware that you have been transformed, changed into a shadow of yourself, and then one day you suddenly look around and realize that you don’t know yourself anymore. You aren’t your Self anymore. You’ve become the external expression of what you think other people expected you to be, but it isn’t you. It’s a mask, and not a comfortable one.

Maybe fear holds you in place. Maybe you decide to stay in that costume because you think it gets you what you’ve been looking for, whether that’s friends, or community, or respect. Maybe you simply don’t know how to find your true self anymore because you’ve lost that self somewhere along the way in a forest of dark trees and grasping hands.

Or maybe not.

Maybe you look in the mirror and you see a stranger standing there but in that stranger’s eyes you can still glimpse your Self. Maybe you see a spark, a hint of who you used to be. Maybe you catch a whiff of vanilla and amber and remember how happy it makes you, how much you love it. Maybe you start buying pink again. Maybe bit by bit you stop caring who judges you or what they think – or maybe you stop caring all at once as if you were throwing a concealing cloak to the ground. It doesn’t matter. Whether it’s fast or slow, just like it doesn’t matter whether the moth coming out of the cocoon bursts out or takes it’s time as long as it gets out healthy and alive.

"Shadow" by Rene Romero Schuler. CC 3.0 License.  Image via WikiMedia.
“Shadow” by Rene Romero Schuler. CC 3.0 License. Image via WikiMedia.

We all lose ourselves at different points along the way. We forget who we are, we allow other people to shape us, to decide who we are for us. But it’s in our hands to change that. We can choose to find ourselves again and to step back into our selves. We can stand up and embrace what we like and do and be what we want. Yes we will be judged for it, but as Eleanor Roosevelt famously said “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

It’s not always easy getting your true self back, and I don’t mean to make it sound like it is. Once you’ve lost that sense of self sometimes it’s like rebuilding from the foundation up and you have to remind yourself of every aspect. Sometimes stepping into your true self means realizing that the person you were is gone and the person you are isn’t real, and you have to find your self all over again from scratch. It means getting to know yourself and trusting your own preferences over other people’s opinions. And that can be very difficult.

Here’s a funny thing though that’s worth remembering: true personal power only comes to us when we are standing in our true selves.
Find your true self.
And when you do, you’ll find your power.

Hearth of Hellenism: Why Greeks are Leaving Christianity

In Greece, a country of almost eleven million people, 98% of which are Orthodox Christians, there is a re-Hellenization movement with growing momentum. Within Greece, and outside her borders across the diaspora Greeks are returning to their ethnic ancestral traditions. Why are Greeks doing this? The modern Greek identity is tied tightly with Orthodoxy, the dominant faith of Greeks. For those with the curiosity and mind to question the status quo, have come to a striking truth. Orthodoxy is irreconcilable with Hellenism.

It is argued that a Greek (Hellene) cannot be a Christian, the two are opposites and have been historically at odds with one another. Going back to late antiquity, with the rise of Christianity, the clash between the new religion and the established cultural force of the time, Hellenism, was clear. In the study of ancient Greek history, religion was a cornerstone of understanding their culture. Hellene eventually became a designated term to describe a pagan in the later Christianized Roman Empire.

"The Pleiades" (1885) by  Elihu Vedder.  From WikiMedia.
“The Pleiades” (1885) by Elihu Vedder. From WikiMedia.

The “church fathers” wrote that the Greek religion was a deplorable religion, where the Gods of the Greeks are actually evil demons. The church fathers despised Hellenism as is evident in Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel (313 CE), which attempts to show the superiority of Christianity over Hellenism. With regards to identity, in the Preparation for the Gospel, Eusebius reveals a new identity for Christians by asking “Are we [Christians] Greeks or Barbarians?” Eusebius reflects the aptitudes of the time, and the questioning of identity. Being that these early Christians spoke Greek, they may have asked themselves “are we still considered Greek?” A later Patriarch of Constantinople would say that while he may speak Greek, he is not a Greek, he is an Orthodox Christian. Orthodoxy became the common way people identified themselves.
We see from these examples that by becoming Christian, you no longer could be considered a Hellene (Greek).

Why did the shift to Christianity kill Hellenic identity? By rejecting the ancestral gods and accepting the Christian religion, there was a cultural exchange which took place, which changed their group identity. One function of religion is to transmit a group’s history, ethics, beliefs and whole worldview (ethos). When they became a Christian people, the worldview (ethos) of the Hellenes fundamentally changed. They rejected their native history, myths, and practices in exchange for the Christian alternative.

Christianity was birthed out from Judaism. By embracing Christianity, they also embrace elements of Judaism. The Torah is preserved as the Old Testament in Christianity. The history of the Jews within the Old Testament became the adopted history for Christian converts. Their native ethnic history and identity was erased and replaced with a Jewish narrative. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey was at the core of a Greek education (paedeia). With the conversion to Christianity, the prominence of Homer is lost over time. The Bible replaced Homer, Jesus replaced the Olympians. The Greek identity effectively died out in public life, going underground, with occasional resurgences throughout history, which the Church would respond by anathematizing those who taught heretical (pagan) ideas.

What Christianity did to Greek identity on the spiritual level, Rome did on the political level. When Rome eventually conquered Greece and the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Greeks slowly saw their identity change dramatically. No longer did they have their kingdoms, and political independence. After becoming part of the Roman structure, the autonomous identity of the Greeks ceased to be; they became Romanized.

Moving along in history, when the Empire split between the Latin West and Greek East, the western half declined, but the eastern portion of the Empire flourished. The capital of the Empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople in 330 CE by Emperor Constantine. Later scholars would rename the eastern Roman Empire the Byzantine Empire, due to its Greek character. However, the people themselves who lived in the Byzantine Empire did not identify themselves as Hellenes but rather as “Romaioi,” that is, Romans. (Kaldellis 42). Their political identity was fully Roman at this time.

The Roman identity persisted for centuries. Constantinople would fall to the Ottomans in 1453 CE, ending the Byzantium Empire. The Ottomans recognized and grouped their subjects into millets. The Rum millet or “Roman nation” was the designated name for the Orthodox Christian community in the Ottoman Empire. There was no Greek millet. Greek identity would not return until the rise of an intendent Greek state. However Roman identity persisted as late as the early twentieth century. Peter Charanis (1908 -1985) professor of Byzantine History at Rutgers University tells us that in 1912, as a child on the island of Lemnos, the island became occupied by the Greek navy. Peter, along with other children went to see the Greek soldiers, these “Hellenes”. One solider asks the children ‘‘What are you looking at?’’ ‘‘At Hellenes,’’ they replied. ‘‘Are you not Hellenes yourselves?’’ the solider responded. The children answered, ‘‘No, we are Romans’’ (2).

Greeks today are heirs of the Roman/Byzantine world and Orthodox Christianity, rather than anything of anything from antiquity. This has created today, for a growing number of Greek persons, a false sense of ethnic identity and an existential crisis. They ask themselves: What does it mean to be Greek? How is Orthodox Christianity to be reconciled with Hellenism? Can the two really be united in a Greek identity?

Many Greeks in Greece and within the diaspora, have come to the conclusion that Orthodoxy is hostile and incompatible with Hellenism. If tradition preserves the unity of a people and secures their identity (as suggested by Rev. Dr. Demetrios J. Constantelos (4)), one can make a case that the Greeks lost their identity centuries ago, first to Rome (political identity) and then to Christianity (religious identity).

In the minds of many Greeks today, to truly be Greek, a Hellene, there must be a rejection of foreign Orthodox tradition and a full embracing of Hellenism, the ethnic and native religious tradition of ancient Greece—the Greece that existed before Christianity and before Rome. It is impossible to fully embrace Hellenism as a worldview (encompassing religion, education, and philosophy) while remaining an Orthodox Christian because the worldviews are opposed to each other.

"Somehow King Midas Chooses Apollo Over Pan" by Jacob Jordaens (1637).  From WikiMedia.
“Somehow King Midas Chooses Apollo Over Pan” by Jacob Jordaens (1637). From WikiMedia.

In Greece, there are efforts being made by some people to re-Hellenize themselves and they have even organized themselves into official organizations. One such organization, The Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes (Ypato Symboulio Ellinon Ethnikon – YSEE) was founded in 1997. Their goal is to protect and restore the polytheistic, ethnic Hellenic religion, tradition and way of life. (5) I interviewed several members of the community based in New York on what motivated them to be a part of this movement to re-Hellenize themselves. Through compiling the stories of these members, who are active in either leadership or consistent attendance, a pattern was identified.

Curiosity: Between childhood and early adulthood, many of the people I spoke with shared that they had a curiosity about religion and or history in general. This curiosity grows and develops into questions about Christianity, their birth religion.

Investigation/research: The questions they have lead them to research and investigate matters of history and religion. They might have read the bible themselves, and then compare it with Greek history. They uncover history which was never taught to them, which is contradictory to established knowledge that was taught to them from their parents, school, and or Church. From their research, they conclude that Christianity and Hellenism are juxtaposed.

Identity Crisis: What comes about from the revelation that Christianity and Hellenism are incompatible is an identity crisis. What is an authentic Greek identity? Is it Christian as they were raised to believe, or is it Hellenism?

Identity Change: The conclusion these individuals come to is that Christianity is not a valid option as a Greek, the individual returns to Hellenism to resolve the identity crisis.

What are these people uncovering through their research that causes the crisis of identity?

I will provide only one example here for the purposes of this post (though I may do subsequent posts on this). In the fourteenth century, we can see an example of the hostility between Christianity and Hellenism through an attempt to bring Plato back to public consciousness. Demetrios Kydones (1323-1397), the mentor of the future Byzantine Emperor Manuel Palaiologos (1350-1425), wrote to Manuel telling him that Plato must be brought back to life, and that there was a desire for Plato’s voice once more. Kydones requested from Manuel that a manuscript of Plato which was held by the monks of Athos be given to him.

To the monks, Plato was considered a corpse; there was nothing living about the philosopher or his teachings. When Kydones received the manuscript, it was in horrible condition; it was soaked, torn, and stained. (6) The monks did not put much effort into preserving the manuscript. The monks had little love for Plato. He was seen occasionally by the monks as the ‘Greek Satan’, whose name was enough to make them spit on the ground and recite prayers. (7)

The episode raises questions of cultural identity, in that the monks, who would be seen as Greeks today, viewed Plato, a Greek from the classical past, as a Satanic figure. In the modern Greek ethos, there is some level of reverence for ancient culture, but reverence for Christianity ultimately supersedes it. Upon learning that there is no continuity in a natural progression from one form to another, that instead there is hostility, the individual faces a crisis.

It is clear that for many Greeks, when they investigate their religion and history, they come to the conclusion that what they have been taught by their community does not stand up to the facts. By uncovering the hostile history between Christianity and Hellenism along with the foreignness of the Christian religion, they are led opt for an ethnic tradition, one native to their land and people.

Citations

1. The Tertullian Project. “Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for TheGospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) — Book 1.” The Tertullian Project, www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_pe_01_book1.htm.
2. Kaldellis, Anthony. Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformations of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition. Cambridge UP, 2011, page 42.
3. Ibid.
4. Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey. “Orthodoxy and Hellenism.” www.nj.goarch.org/resources/orthhellenism.htm.
5. Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes. “Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes.” About YSEE, www.ysee.gr/index-eng.php?type=english&f=about.
6. Siniossoglou, Niketas, Radical Platonism in Byzantine, Cambridge Univerisity Press, 2016. page 1-2
7. Siniossoglou, Niketas, Radical Platonism in Byzantine, Cambridge University Press, 2016. page 1

The Cartomancer: Intention and Implementation

Marseille Tarot, Lequart Pochoir, 1890 (my own facsimile)
Marseille Tarot, Lequart Pochoir, 1890 (my own facsimile)

Much of our work with the cards is about implementing power: the power to act, the power to execute, and ultimately, the power to empower.

But before we get to the power of power, there’s description of the situation. How accurate is it?

Description has its own power, as it goes hand in hand with what I like to call the elastic of sharp vision and insight.

You may know how to stretch it, what you imagine, but do you also know how far?

Many feel good about the idea that their imagination is unlimited. This is not so. Your imagination stretches exactly as far as your linguistic competence goes. Your imagination is bound to what you can conjure to your mind through words.

Knowing what is within your limit is actually more exciting than the belief that you’re unlimited in your mind.

The only thing that is unlimited is the fact that you don’t know. Paradoxically enough, it’s actually this ‘not-knowing’ that gives you access to the unlimited, or the absolute.

Zen, Dzogchen, and advaita vedanta ‘practitioners’ of nonduality use not-knowing as a vehicle to the absolute, but that’s for the advanced – advanced in the sense of having relinquished consciously all clinging to whatever we imagine power is.

Most people get the power through intention. What we imagine we can plan and then implement is thus completely contingent on how strong the intention is.

In the magical community you hear it all the time: ‘Set your intentions,’ when the new moon is here.

But how often do you hear the ones urging us to set our intentions talk about the condition for our intention as it relates to the resilience of our motivation?

Strong intention is not a given, and it’s not just the thing of the imagination and projection. A strong intention requires resilience, as resilience operates with the power to control emotions through awareness.

Motivation comes before intention, and the intensity of your intention is directly proportional with your resilience, not your imagination.

The Emperor and the Lovers

Think of the cards in the tarot of the Emperor in contrast with the Lovers.

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot, 1650, reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot, 1650, reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Esoteric tarot will place the Lovers in the context of emotion and the Emperor in the context of pragmatic ruling over material issues.

A bit of nonsense.

Fortunetelling comes closer to what we find described in the academic communities, where we distinguish clearly between ‘anemic intentions’ (Sarah Stroud) and strong motivations precisely as they relate to our capacity to control emotions through labelling.

The Emperor is associated with performing the function of control and dominance, but only insofar as he is able to regulate his emotional context.

His power to implement and execute a plan is thus the result of being able to put a label on what he feels before he acts.

Consequently, this capacity does not render him an insensitive tyrant – a notion tagged to the Emperor we often find described in esoteric tarot, or the approach prioritizing symbol over function – but rather shows him as someone able to understand the limits of his imagination.

Take the Lovers card in contrast.

This one is often described in terms of doing what you love, and when anemia occurs as a result of too much imagination about what having sex with multiple people might be like, it is seen as a virtue. Imagine fainting for love. Good, no? Actually it’s bad.

The Lovers is associated with anemia (see Colette Silvestre) because he has the weakest intention in the whole tarot pack.

Caught between opinions and desires, he stretches his elastic of what he imagines beyond the point of where implementation is possible.

It always comes down to Cupid to do the job that the Lover in the Lovers card finds himself unable to perform.

The point of this talk today is to suggest that we see the cards of the tarot in terms of how they exhibit strong and weak intentions, as such intentions relate to the scale of awareness:

With this in mind, as an exercise, ask these questions next time you read your cards:

  • How sincere is your question?
  • How clear is your intention?
  • How much awareness do you have around your strategy of naming your emotions? Do you even have such names for what you feel? Or is what you feel your greatest virtue, a sublime impression, or a manifestation of your ‘unlimited’ imagination?
  • Do you accept what IS, what the cards suggest is the case right now?
  • If you feel you a need to cope, or deal with it, what is the premise for your coping, and how much regulated emotion goes into your intention?
  • How often do you say, ‘I don’t have a clue’ and use that as a strong platform for action, for the motivation to ‘just do it,’ and hence for the intention to ‘keep going’?

This essay is a transcript of my YouTube video, Intention and Implementation. Check it out if you’d like to see my talking head.

Stay tuned for cartomantic activities.

Tree City Witch: Virgo Season & Postcards To The Dead

There are dead people I’d like to see again, and you may wonder why I think Virgo Season can help me with this, but I am here to tell you that Virgo Season can help me, and you, with this.

The Sun is now in the sign of Virgo. Mercury is also in Virgo, but retrograde. During Mercury retrograde we are supposed to RE: review, redo, revisit, relive, renew.

I know what you’re thinking. Wait for Samhain. Wait for Halloween. Wait, for God’s sake, for October! Scorpio Season, THE Season of the Dead. The veils thin, the walls crumble, the distance between us and them dissolves.

"The Drowned Man's Ghost . . ." by Thorvald Niss.  From WikiMedia.
“The Drowned Man’s Ghost . . .” by Thorvald Niss. From WikiMedia.

I say no. I say Virgo is THE season — not for raising the dead, but for finding them. Find them where they gather and fidget. Find them where they make their plans for the immediate future and lists of things to do. Yes there are tables and chairs in “heaven” and I’m using that word “heaven” because the dead are in a PLACE and Summerland isn’t quite right either. For many things in this life there are no words.

And this: Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury. Mercury rules communication and words. This is what to do for Virgo Season. Talk to your dead. Listen to them.

LITTLE VIRGOS

There is this tree outside my window. I don’t know what the hell it is. I don’t know trees. But it’s outside my window with little purple berries and they are so small. They remind me of Virgo.

What is Virgo? Virgo is also small. Virgo is a miniature painting. Virgo is one note of music, not the whole song. Virgo is associated with small animals, with grammar, with your daily routines and habits. Daily life. The little things. Tea.

Virgo isn’t big like Leo is big. Leo is fire and associated with pride and courage and drama. Big emotions! Grand gestures! Tiaras!

The sign right before Leo is Cancer, also big emotions because Cancer rules mothers and motherhood and food and memory and being vulnerable and who doesn’t have feelings about all that?

Cancer cries. Leo laughs. And Virgo? Virgo is the still small voice. Virgo is the librarian whispering in your ear. Virgo is practice and practical and longs for perfection, purity.

Virgo is the saint and Virgo works tirelessly until the job is done and then some. Long after everyone else has gone home, you can find Virgo toiling after hours or in the early morning and these are small jobs. Sewing buttons on a shoe. Dipping pen into ink and onto the parchment paper of a holy book. Virgo is the scribe.

MY ADVICE

So I recommend you go small with this. Write your dead a letter. Write your dead many letters in small handwriting. Write your dead letters from leaves and berries. One leaf. One berry. A postcard. A post-it. You can write them every day if you want. It wouldn’t be Virgo of you to engage in some dramatic ceremonial magickal gesture or ritual. Let your altar be neat and unfussy. Put the good silver in the cupboard. It needs polishing anyway. Instead, write. Instead, speak. Instead, invite them for tea and a cookie. You’ll be surprised how effective this is (and Virgo loves to be effective!).

I TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE

This afternoon I was on the phone with a client with a mega Leo chart. I’ve never seen a chart with this much Leo before, including Sun and Moon and Mercury and Rising Sign. She asked me if I talked to dead people.

I paused because I have Virgo Rising, Vesta in Virgo, South Node in Virgo and Moon conjunct Pluto in Virgo and I’m precise. Do I? Do I actually “talk” to dead people? Hmm.

No one had ever asked me that question point blank before and I wasn’t sure what to say. I mean, I talk to the dead ALL THE TIME. Both my parents died a long time ago. Of course I talk to them. And to my two beloved cats that I still miss. It’s such a normal thing for me, part of my Virgoan daily life, that it’s hard to separate so I paused and thought and tried to analyze as Virgos tend to do.

Talking to the dead is my favorite thing of all when it comes to doing readings although I’ve never pursued it on purpose. It would just happen. Everyone, almost everyone, has lost someone. And some more than most. It’s the most extraordinary feeling of warmth when the dead show up and information starts to flow: how they were, how they are.

I remember talking to someone two years ago who had lost her child to suicide and I saw him dancing around her so joyously. Karaoke of the spirit.

"The Ghost of Clytemnestra Awakening the Furies" by John Downman.  From WikiMedia.
“The Ghost of Clytemnestra Awakening the Furies” by John Downman. From WikiMedia.

NEW MOON IN VIRGO

The New Moon in Virgo isn’t until late September and the Full Moon in Pisces a couple weeks before that. I recommend you keep track of the Virgo Season lunations so you can schedule your magick.

New Moons and Full Moons are potent in different ways but both are excellent conduits. Imagine a curtain being parted. New Moon for beginning. Full Moon for ending. Are you afraid they won’t want to talk to you? They will. Are you afraid they’re in pain? They’re not. That warmth I feel? It’s bliss.

I remember when I was missing my kitty Cleo so badly in the first few months after her passing. I literally stood at that veil, curtain, wall, trying to punch my way through, break it down. Anything to feel her more. Reach through it and pull her towards me. Bring her back. I stood right there, right against it. Made my demands.

A wise woman gave me some good advice at the time, some very Virgo advice, to make myself smaller, less intense, less aggressive in my pursuit through the underworld and then I would feel Cleo more. Not that Cleo wasn’t around either way but my own desperation needed to give way to certainty. She was right there all along. Our loved ones never leave us.

Happy Virgo Season, my friends.

_________

Do you feel blocked creatively? No time, energy, desire? Have you thought about making your own Tarot deck? Are you curious about the Tarot? Do you want to get in touch with your creativity? Get it churning again? I can help! I’m collaborating with the Sequential Artists Workshop to bring you Every Picture Tells A Story, six weeks of guided creative assignments and Tarot Talk with yours truly! There will be weekly videos and drawing/writing exercises, a private Facebook discussion group, and reading material for reflection. Click on the link for more information or just email me at moonpluto@gmail.com.

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