Monday, January 8, 2018

The Witch, A Book Review

I finally finished reading The Witch, and let me tell you, it has enhanced my perspective of the craft. 😺

First, the nitty gritty out of the way, this is an academic book, not a "how to be a cool teen witch in the new millennium, by purchasing lots of crystals and praying to the fairies" book.  As such, the author; Professor Ronald Hutton, assumes that you have some type of knowledge on the history of witchcraft, not the actual practice, but more in terms of anthropological information.  He is British and for me, as someone who speaks American English, it took a while to get used to his writing pattern.  However, if you've ever seen him in a documentary, and have his voice in your head, which is a leisurely and steady manner of speaking, then you can read it with more ease.

Secondly, with that out of the way, I have come away with the following:

That all cultures have some form or another of Witchcraft.  It seems to be the one thing that unifies all of humanity! 💪

Now, in this world of academia, the definition of a witch will probably piss off the fluffy 🐰 Wiccans and I'm not sorry.  A witch is a person who uses magic to cause harm to someone else.  Point blank.  "An' it harm none" simply does not pertain to professors in this subject.

Here are some select tidbits I picked up that I really didn't know:

Catholic priests would perform the workings in ceremonial magick books until the wave of witch hunts began.

We have the Jews to thank for demons and 😈 and all that nonsense.  They invented them, it wasn't the Christians.

The ancient Greeks, although famous for their curse tablets, didn't like what they called magicians who had various names based on technique used. They didn't even have a word for witchcraft.  Instead they had the words agurtes, goēs, epoidos, mantis, magos, pharmakeis and rhizotomoi.  Magic and pharmacy are still used today.

Ceremonial magick is a mix of Egyptian and Jewish practices.  While the deities summoned are of the Hebrew variety, the rituals are very much Egyptian (who loved a lot of pomp and circumstance).

Regardless of how much a population feared witchcraft, they still sought out the magicians, or witches for whatever workings they needed done.

Shamanism is a Siberian construct.  One always thinks of Native Americans being Shamans and they aren't.

The pentagram is still confusing historians.  There is no conclusive evidence that it was ever used strictly as protection or for magick.  They have found it everywhere, however, it could have just been a decoration as it's been used so often without any explanation in various cultures.

Of course there is so much more to this book than the above random facts.  Hutton traces Witchcraft across the continents and through time forming a cohesive and definitive image of the witch.  He discusses the differences across cultures as well as the similarities.  Even the words we use today for 'witch' have an origin, like strix in Rome and how it evolved into today's strega.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely.  I feel that if you're a serious student of Witchcraft that you really should delve into the history books, not just the "how to cast a circle" books.  Putting your beliefs and practices into a historical context with a timeline and learning about the actual origins of it all can really solidify everything for you.

Personally, I want to know where what I believe comes from.  How our ancestors worked magick, what was being used or said.  The Egyptians left a vast amount of texts and anecdotes from their day to day lives.  We have this information at our disposal.  Soon medieval manuscripts will be digitized for us courtesy of author Dan Brown.

Witchcraft wasn't and still isn't a mystery to be kept hidden, this was how our ancestors got through their day to day lives.  Whether a wife's husband couldn't get his dick up or got another woman pregnant and she wanted to end it to spite him or her cousin had a simple toothache.  Witchcraft helped all of those things.

We're human, we do bad things.  There cannot be good in the word without bad.  Empathetic people invented morals, we now have laws against "bad" things, but if you've studied the Bible, then you know, humans are some fucked up primates.

For every bad spell that was cast on a person, there was always a spell to counteract it.


Just go read this book.  Trust me.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

In Defense of Picture Magick

A parchment Shadow wrote on with words of intent and symbols.

Lately, many people have been asking about spells, in particular love spells, which I will probably discuss is a separate post.

I would say that a good number of the members of the Google+ Pagan communities are teenagers and young adults and that is the number one reason why I always offer up picture magick as a way to cast spells.

Picture magick has been used since ancient times (I know I say a lot of shit has been used since ancient times, but I don't study Hellenism for shits and giggles 😎).  It probably has a proper name but I've just always called it this.  For me, it encompasses sigils, symbols, glyphs and of course simple pictures.  The word hieroglyph is infact a Greek word roughly translating to sacred writing.  So, think of picture magick as your sacred writing, or drawing if you will.

The beauty of this type of spell is in its simplicity.  One doesn't need colored candles, incense, oils, correspondences to zodiac and moon phases or whether or not your girlfriend is menstruating after the quarter moon (why is everyone so obsessed with blood magick? 😒).  You just draw your intent on a small piece of paper.  You can make it as complex as you want, but why would you?

Magick is intent.  My intent for, let's say more money (it's always more money isn't it? 💲💲💲), can clearly be written down thusly:
Green beeswax crayon on scrap paper for simple money spell.

That's it.

The most basic, easiest form of spell casting.  As you're drawing or writing, meditate on it, and when you're done you can meditate on it further, but as with all spells, set it and forget it!  Fold it up and put it in a drawer, in-between the pages of your Book of Shadows, and if you're like me and use a Moleskine with that oh so handy pocket in the back, slip it in there.

Your spell has been cast and now you can go about your day.  Further more, if you are a teen, your parents won't catch you in the act of spell casting with circle, burning candles and pungent incense wafting through their house.  The way I see it as a mom and a former teen is that it's a win win situation.

As for efficacy, some people have said: "no way can that work, it's too easy".  And in that you're wrong.  It has worked for Shadow and I many a time.  He has gotten a job and later bigger checks, and has also done favorably in his court hearing for the accident.  I stated before that magick is intent, one must work with this belief that it will work, other wise what's the point in practicing witchcraft at all?  Don't second guess yourself.  However if you want to bring in all the paraphernalia, then you're allowed to do that.  It's your choice.  I am presenting an easy to follow, no frills way to work magick.

That's it.

Now, you must excuse me for I have a book to read.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Day of 2017

The last page of my 2017 Moleskine weekly pocket planner.

We're alive, and our children are healthy.

Another year has gone by, and it was rough, but things got better, as I hope that they will continue to do.

I'm not a big New Year's Eve person.  I've only stayed up a handful of times.  Mostly I like to sleep right through.  Come to think of it, I've never even had a midnight kiss.  I'm a weirdo like that, I prefer my peace and quiet.

Right now it's brutally cold outside.  People keep asking me if I go to Times Square.  No.  Real New Yorkers know better than to stand out there in the freezing cold.  My health and safety is worth more than that.  There are too many drunk idiots, tourists, and pick pockets out there.

I also get asked what my New Years resolution is.  Last year I promised to live with less and not have a stash of yarn like I used to, and also to utilize the library instead of purchasing books.  Well, I did very well at all those things.

Here are the numbers:

I read 37 books this year all borrowed from the library and some I received free from the Bryant Park Reading Room program.

I knit 34 objects.  And currently have no yarn left.

I am currently reading Ronald Hutton's The Witch (this book warrants an entire post all by itself), and will finish knitting a sweater for myself.  Both of which I had hoped to finish by the end of this year, but I'll just finish in the next week or so.

So as for 2018's resolution, I will continue to do what I've done all year because it was easy, saved me money and is absolutely no problem continuing.  To that I will add reading more serious texts on witchcraft and continuing to get healthy.  I've been unwell for almost three years and quite frankly, I've had enough.  Therefore, I'll continue to be wheat and dairy free and try and add more herbal supplements to my daily regimen of turmeric, devil's claw, multi vitamin and 50K of vitamin D a week.

Ultimately I hope to expand on my Magickal and holistic path and see where that takes me.  There are so many things I haven't explored and it's high time I delve into all that.  I would like to read up on Kabbalah and Traditional British Witchcraft.  I want to explore Ceremonial Magick or High Magick and how it relates to Masonry and The Order of the Golden Dawn.  This may take reading some of the original texts from the 1200's and on, but I'm game.  Finally it's about damn time I take Aleister Crowley by the hand and read his books, possibly even his novels.

In the past I've only ever skimmed or glanced at these topics.  Most of my background is in Wicca and Hellenism.  But thanks to questions from seekers on Google+, I feel I need to be better equipped to answer these.  I am the Mother, but to these teens, I am the Crone.

Now for Shadow, I'm writing this for him:

Shadow has been unwell after his accident, and of course wants to get better too.  That is a given, however his main resolution for this year is his self image.  He wants to look like the person he wants to be, dress nicer and style his hair.

Having to wear sneakers and walk with his walker gives off this image of a defeated man, and that's just not who he is.  Yes, he used to be the gruff muscular construction worker, but he can't do that job anymore.  Often people joke and say he looks more like he belongs on Game of Thrones than walking down the streets of Manhattan. He actually owns a wolf head cane, so on his better days he can use that.  I've considered getting him a wooden staff or an authentic shillelagh.  He certainly has that old Irish look about him.

Shadow also wants to start on his jewelry making again since he has been getting so many questions about it.  He hasn't been able to make anything in over a year so that will be good for him.

And... that's about it.

Out with the old, in with the new!

We both wish our readers the absolute Brightest of Blessings for your new year!

Blessed Be!

💖 Shadow and Spiral

Friday, December 22, 2017

Yule 2017

Ana's face in this picture... 😒

The Sun 🌞 reigns again as the days grow ever strong.

This year's Yule is more subdued, our family still divided, so how does a Pagan family celebrate a holiday like this?  This year especially we do little things all week.  In NYC, it's easy to do since there are so many things to see.

This was our first time taking our daughter to Macy's to see Santa.  The jolly man is red is as Pagan as they come, so we keep him in our family tradition.  Dino said he was too old to go, so we went on a school day, it would have been nice to get a picture of our entire family in hindsight, so I just should have brought them last Saturday, but he's at that age now. 😢

City Paganism is in itself Magickal, we don't need to retreat to the country to get our dose of nature.  We have parks and major corporations bring the Christmas trees 🌲 to us.  Ana enjoyed the one at Rockefeller Center, and all the major window displays as well.  Saks has a special setup and light show for the Snow White anniversary if you enjoy Disney (I don't.). At Lord and Taylor there were cute baby animal animatronics.  A two year old stares in wonder while a ten year old would probably yawn and complain "been there, done that." 😑

This year there was no family Yule ritual or feast either.  Ana and I took a brisk walk outside to send out a package (Tom Bihn bag repair).  With a few dollars I managed to make gift bags for three kids and scored really good fun Japanese character toys at Dollar Tree whose original price was probably between 10 and 15 bucks.  So total score for me!  The kids will open their little bags next Tuesday when Dino is home for the week.  I usually do their stockings but those are still in storage.  I've written before about living with less and I'm continuing to do that as well as pass that knowledge to my children.

Going all out for Yule usually looks like this, a massive feast, like all day feast, candles everywhere, decorating the altar, doing a spell for prosperity in our home.  We do a huge prime rib roast or leg of lamb and tons of appetizers, while we watch a movie or play music.

Shadow is the master of the appetizer, like seriously no joke, he makes stuffed porta bella mushrooms, artichoke dip, we have a cheese, salami and olive plate paired with fresh crusty bread, and whatever else he decides to make.  I will constantly lament not being able to wake up to his cooking.

We had none of that this year, and it makes me a sad.  The holidays I've created and celebrated as an adult have been so much more meaningful than the ones I had as a child.  We've accomplished this by only surrounding ourselves with people we love and keeping it simple.

Yule yesterday involved taking extra vitamin D (everyone should do this in winter, trust me) and wishing I had a huge chunk of greasy meat to devour. Holidays really are bittersweet when your family can't be together.

I suppose the main thing I'd like everyone to take from this is, you don't really need to go all out, it's lovely, but it isn't necessary.  I think the most important thing you can do for Yule is go outside and enjoy the sun even if it's cold and cloudy outside.  His rays and energies still reach you through the clouds, so just stand outside for a few minutes, or take a walk and soak it up.  The return of longer days was so vital to our ancestors and in today's high tech world of constant indoor lighting, we forget that.

Blessed Yule!

P.S. Lately people have been saying that Shadow looks like he belongs in Game of Thrones.  Isn't he so handsome and rugged?  I'm smitten! 😍

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

There Might Be More

Having a chronic illness is a bitch, but twenty years or more of having a disease can lead to more questions than answers.

Autoimmune diseases, like I have (psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis), unfortunately travel in packs.  Which means, sucks to be me, I may have more than one, like Lupus, and other more awful things than what I think I already have.

However, a new diagnosis, would in fact, explain alot.  See, I've been on most of the biologics available on the market and none have worked.  Some have made be feel better for a few months, but after that I am in pain again and my skin gets worse.  I'm having that problem now with biologic number five; Cosentyx.  Cyndi Lauper takes it.  She's old, and it works for her, but her Queen's accented ass can still get up on stage and do what she has always done.  I had to give up my musical career due to my illness, I'm 32 and need a cane.

Cosentyx was supposed to be the answer to all my prayers (they clearly don't know what I pray for), my swelling was supposed to disappear, my skin was supposed to completely clear up, I was supposed to drop down fifty pounds and still maintain my 38K's (not really, but you get the picture).  Problem is, my skin is getting worse and I'm in fucking pain, and I lie about how much pain I'm actually in.  OTC's don't work, and Percocet just puts me to sleep, so I'm assed out.  My leg bones are grinding together.  It's the most unpleasant feeling in the world.  I'd rather be in labor and giving birth because at least I know it will end and I get a baby out of it.

I was promised a miracle with every single drug I've ever been on.  So what if this whole time, I've just been on the wrong meds for the wrong disease? There is no doubt that I have psoriasis.  But what if on top of my arthritis, there is something else? Something that would explain the severe pain and muscle weakness as well as all the other symptoms I have?

Luckily I may get that answer in two weeks.  My Dr. took eight large vials of blood to send to the specialist laboratory.  She's testing me for everything, from Lupus to Fibromyalgia, Cancer and Lyme's.  I even asked her to test for Familial Mediterranean Fever just cause I'm Greek and many of the symptoms fit (it's just the drugs for that are literally deadly).

I'll know in two weeks what the verdict is.  If nothing else is there, then I switch to Remicade which is a dangerous drug that treats cancer as well as causing it.  For that drug I must go to a special office to be monitored for three hours after the infusion because the side effects can kill me.  Such fun.😒

Part of me hopes there is something else there so I can finally have an answer and see if other drugs will work, the other part is scared and wants to be held and cry because it's all not fair.

In the meantime, my Dr. advised that I go gluten free again, this time for good (pasta is so delicious, but I must remain strong).  Then it's a wait and see game.  I'm just so tired of being tired and sick.

It also sucks that in the what I know helped me in the past I can no longer afford.  Acupuncture and herbs helped tremendously.  But it's expensive.  Cosentyx costs Medicaid 10K per injection, I don't pay a dime, but it's still way more expensive than if I were on holistic care.  I'm also interested in CBD oil.  In NYC, I more than qualify, but, it's 100 bucks a week, plus the cost for the card and doctor's appointment that Medicaid doesn't cover.  I wish they covered the more natural approach, but I'm grateful that I don't have to pay for anything, other wise I'd be a withered lump in bed unable to even walk.

So, I bid you all goodnight.  And wish me luck.  For those of you who are ill, don't ever give up, fight for your well being, especially the cost involved.  And also fight to legalize marijuana and other plants that can be made into meds.  We need more sustainable options that won't kill us.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Five Years On

My Dearest Shadow,

Today is five years.  Five years since we first fell in love. Five years, since that fateful day at The Met.  To this day, no matter how many times we try, we can never find that Egyptian statue where energy surged and the desire to be in your arms over took every fiber of my being with the unbridled need to kiss you.

Five years later, and I still feel that spark, that electrical charge when I'm near you.  Five years, and I love you ever more.

We've been through hell and back together, I could have lost you when you fell.  I'm so glad I didn't.  We've been through more sickness than health and more poor than wealth, but through thick and thin, I've always had you.

You're the first person not to truly care about my illness, to take my invisible disability seriously, and still love me for the person I am.

I know things haven't been easy, and I am often disheartened, but it's you who has always told me that everything would be ok in the end.  And I believe you, even though I don't show it.

It's taken me so long to get used to our new normal.  When I wrote you those notes for court about all the things we were able to do as a couple, I cried.  I miss taking walks with you, having picnics in the park and trying to sneak artisanal beer into the water bottle.  I miss how we used to be, able to walk up the mile long path to The Cloisters, or having the stamina to galavant across the city at midnight, relishing in it's nocturnal virility.  Seeming to thrive on and be fueled by its effervescence.

Now, things are slow, languishing almost.  Days spent inside, watching various documentaries, or discovering new shows.  You'd cook the most amazing breakfasts for us, and I always made the Nescafe in matching 8oz cups.

Our new normal is also the small human we made together and prayed together for.  I couldn't have asked for a better father for our daughter.  I know that she's the most important person in your life and I love watching you dote on her, amazed at how fast she grows and learns, finally able to say "I love you" to her daddy.

It's been one rocky road my dear, but I would never turn around to take the paved one.  This road is our road, and we laid it brick by brick.  I used to tease you and say that everyday I grew more fond of you.  Such an odd thing to say in the 21st century, but I stand by my choice of words.  I do grow more fond of your each day, I love you, forever and always.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

How To Hide Your Witchy Ways From Your Parents

That's right kiddies, keep those toads hidden away!

Parents, they suck am I right?😝  I'm a mom to two kids, and my oldest knows he doesn't have to hide anything from his mama. When I was growing up however, it was a different story.  My mom didn't want to hear about Witchcraft or Wicca and my father would have blown a gasket.

Currently, I live with them again due to my disability, which means most of my heavily heathen ways must be kept under lock and key (it's still all in storage).

What I do have out is inconspicuous and does not overtly scream to them that I'm a Witch (old hag maybe, but not witch.😉)

Yes it's terrible that you can't be free, your true self and out of the broom closet so to speak, but this is for your parents sanity and more importantly, your safety.

Here are some tips I'd like to share:

Don't dress Goth.
👿 This screams devil worship and what not.  Wear a black t-shirt or paint your nails, but don't over do it if your parents hate it.  If your parents don't care, well then, more black lipstick and piercings for you!

Don't set up an altar.
🎎 I have a few crystals out, and my calendar.  For some strange reason they don't notice my Llewellyn's Witch's Calendar.  Keep things simple and don't put up a statue of the Horned God if they're going to yell at you or worse.  I would love to set up all my stuff as you see it on the background of this site, but they'd throw a fit of toddler proportions.

Keep your room clean.
🚯 This serves several purposes.  (I know, I'm such a mom!). First, this gives your parents less of a reason to enter your room and look around, second a neat room will be able to hide a few more witchy items on a night stand or bookshelf, especially if the floor is spotless and the books are aligned.  Third, magick can't be done in a cluttered space, trust me. Fourth, it'll be the only way you can properly put up wards to guard yourself and your room.

Don't purchase expensive tools.
🔪 I know it's really tempting to drop 100 bucks of your birthday money on that crystal wand or hand carved athame, but you don't need these things for an effective practice.  Let's say your parents raid your room and throw it all out, that's tools and money lost.  So save these purchases for when you're on your own. The stuff on my altar table above has been obtained slowly over the course of many years since I was 18, with money I earned.

Keep a nonchalant Book of Shadows.
📒 A simple three or five subject spiral notebook or even a binder where you can move pages is perfect for this.  Don't decorate the outside of it, hell, label it math or something.  Inside, go to town.  Trust me, no parent is going through their kids math notebook.  This is going to be the bulk of your magical training, worship and practice.  For right now, don't keep separate notebooks.  Do spells, dreams, tarot, tools, herbs, everything in here.  Draw your dream altar, list tools and prices for later on.  Work your magick in here too.  Keep track of what books you've read and which titles you want to. This notebook is your current life as a witch.

Keep what you do have hidden.
📦 As a teen I did have a few things I saved up for, like tarot cards and a few other trinkets.  So I made myself a trinket box.  Keep all your stuff neatly tucked away in a box under the bed or on a shelf.  Right now I have some things in a simple plastic box from Dollar Tree.  It serves it's purpose well, high on a shelf where the baby can't get it and it's so mundane that no one thinks twice.  Currently it has the parchment we wrote our Beltaine wishes on.

Those are my major tips out of the way.  Now on to something a little different.

Let's say your mom and dad are ok with you exploring a different religion and want more info from you because you know us parents are terrible at internetting.  Most of you guys are coming from Christianity (I have yet to meet a Jew turned Witch, please comment if you are, I gots questions!).  So here is the deal, we all know the Jesus horn tooters really took Pagan practices and changed some names and dates, it's like bootleg Versace.  When they ask you about it, don't enlighten them, instead bring up Christian Wicca.  Now, I don't follow this myself but I can give you the jist of it.  Basically, what you're going to lie about (or not if you choose to follow Christ, he's cool in his natural Jewish form) is that you are still engaging in a relationship with Jesus, but you are choosing to worship him in a different way, through nature, not church.  Got it?  You LOVE Jesus, he's your man, wine and bread and all that jazz, but there are other ways to commune with him.  For example.  Why do you need a priest to light candles and incense if you can do that all by yourself and talk to the Lord?  Hmm?!  Don't mention circles and cones of power.  Keep it plebeian (that's such a great joke! 😂).  See what other fibs and creative lies you can come up with, there are so many parallels besides my example.

As for those of you who are flat out allowed to do and worship whoever and whatever you want; awesome.  You have excellent open minded parents.  Be that person to your kids too, and keep passing it on.  There are too many stigmatized humans on this planet.

Anything else you want covered?  Specific answers to your particular dilemma?  Comment below or in the communities.  Mama Spiral is here to help.

Blessed Be!

😂 Plebeians! Seriously look that up.  So funny.