Back to the Basics

My practice has always been eclectic. I’ve taken what has resonated with me from various traditions and wove them into a spiritual framework that was uniquely mine. I was never drawn to a specific spiritual tradition in its entirety. Nothing seemed to click for me.

About a year ago, I read a book with a mention to a specific tradition that sparked an interest. Being a mystery tradition, I wasn’t able to get my hands on much information, so I let it go. A few months later, I read another book with mention to this tradition again. This book gave me a few specific beliefs and practices, but it still wasn’t enough. I finally found a book that outlined some basic practices of the tradition and purchased it.

I didn’t read it immediately, because I knew this was an initiatory line and I didn’t know how I would go about finding a teacher. Through a random conversation with a friend late last week, I found that he knew a teacher that came highly recommended. I was also able to get my hands on some foundational training material. So, I began reading the book I purchased last year and reading through the training.

Most of it is very basic magickal training. Several pages are spent explaining how to meditate and ground. Being an experienced witch, I skipped this. Why would I start with something so basic?

The next grouping of information asked me to set up a traditional altar. While I had all the tools required to create the altar setup used in the tradition, I pushed back. Why would I put a wand and athame on my altar, when I seldom use these tools? Why would I replace my white altar candles with a black one? It didn’t make sense to me.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we discussed my studies. I told her how much the liturgy of the tradition spoke to me. I told her how I loved the fact that there wasn’t such an emphasis on fertility and male-female duality that I found in other branches of witchcraft. I also told her that I was disappointed that I had to change my practice.

“Why are you being so stubborn? Just do it” she said. When I hesitated, she continued.

“Maybe there’s a reason why you should approach things differently. Maybe these practices will prepare you for the “real” work. If you want to test-drive this tradition, you need to take it seriously and do it their way. If you can’t maybe this tradition isn’t for you.”

I thought it about this for the rest of the day. Although I was (and still am) adamant that I don’t need to make these changes to practice within the tradition, I decided that returning to the basics will help me approach any new ritual practices with fresh eyes.

So, today I tore down my altar and set it up based on a picture in a book, including my wand and athame in the mix. I also am writing this after spending 20 minutes practicing grounding and centering. I think that by approaching my new studies as a brand-new student of magick will help open the way for me.

17 Witchy Questions

A Youtuber named Raven Flower shared a #17WitchyQuestionsTag video. I like these types of thing because it gives me a focus for writing and because it becomes a community discussion. Several people have responded with YouTube videos and, although I plan to post videos at some points, I prefer the written word. So, below are my answers to the 17 Witchy Questions for 2017.

 

  1. When times get tough, do you fight? Or take flight?
    1. I typically take flight. I, admittedly, am a very sensitive person, which makes me prone to being hurt or offended more times that I’d like to admit. In the past, I’ve reacted to these issues by fighting. Not necessarily the physical kind, but I’ve had my fair share of verbal altercations. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of my own reactions, so I try to remove myself from negative situations and think through solutions before I act. If fighting is the best option, watch out! I’m going to come through with guns blazing. Usually though, removing yourself from toxic places is often the best solution.
  1. Is there a certain color you connect with?
    1. When I became serious about my practice, I noticed that the color blue began showing up in strange ways. When I visualize my personal energy, it’s blue. When I visualize my astral body, it’s covered in blue armor. When I astral project or do journey work, the world has a blue tint to it.
  2. What is your Sun, Moon, Rising sign?
    1. I was originally told that I was triple fire (Leo, Aries, Sagittarius, respectively) by an astrologer, but I decided to do my own research. I’m a Leo sun (typical Leo, honestly), Virgo moon, and Scorpio rising. I’m not sure what this means, but it just means I have something else to research!
  3. Something you would change if you could.
    1. My brother killed himself several years back. At the time, he and I were estranged due to some bad decisions that he made. I felt that it was in my best interest to put some distance between us. About a month before he passed, he tried to call me. I sent the call to voicemail and never returned the call. If I could change anything, I would go back and answer the call.
  4. Are you passing down your knowledge to the next generation? If so, in what way?
    1. Sort of. I’m currently running a pagan study group and several of the members have children. So, in a way, I’m helping parents to form a religion background that they may pass on to their children. This blog is another way I’m passing on my traditions to the next generation. I also plan to hold workshops at local pagan shops geared specifically to LGBT youth.
  1. Ancestor connections? Who’s coming through?
    1. Tons! Along with the other four traditional elements, I add light, blood, and shadow. Blood represents my connection to those who come before me. So, ancestors play a huge role in my practice and get evoked before any other practice. The ancestor that comes through the most is my grandpa Joe. He has a very calming and protective effect on me.
  1. Do you prefer to do magick with others or by yourself?
    1. By myself. I tend to practice “on-the-fly” or instant magick. Basically, I have a need, I throw together some magick based on what I have on hand and where I am led. This approach doesn’t typically work with a group. With that being said, I would like to begin practicing magick and ritual with my study group.
  2. Do you feel there is only one type of meditation?
    1. Not at all. I’m not one for the silent type of meditation where you sit and count your breaths. I’m too restless for that. Instead, I prefer guided meditations or journey work. I also have experienced the same benefits of meditation while painting and dancing. I’ve even experience a light meditation when editing documents at work or playing board games with friends. My biggest tip for those new to meditation is to do what works for you.
  3. What is your favorite flower? Why?
    1. Lavender flowers – I love the way they smell and I use a lot of lavender in my ritual work. It’s just always been a staple in my home and my garden. I plant it next to the doors to attract love and to offer protection.
  4. Have you tried a new form of divination this year?
    1. Actually, yes. I have a few entries posted in the past few weeks about my new shiny crystal ball. There will also be more to come, as I have been working with her a lot. I’ve also spent a little bit of time with tea leaf readings. Maybe I’ll post a little on that too.
  5. What is your favorite what to connect to the elements?
    1. Ritually, I like to focus on the parts of the elements that are parts of myself. My breath in air, my bones are earth, my body heat is fire, and my blood is water. Mundanely, I like to connect to the elements by being out in nature, particularly in my garden. I also like to find new ways to view the elements. For example, the internet is an amazing symbol of the communicative powers of air. Electricity is pretty much the same as fire. The paint I use in art is both water and earth. Pretty much everything we do can have elemental associations if you look close enough.
  1. Tea or coffee?
    1. Seriously though, I love coffee. Specifically, iced coffee with a little coconut milk.
  2. Do you come a witchy family? Do you feel that bloodline is important or does it matter?
    1. I would say that I come from a magickal family. I don’t feel that blood is important though. Family is much more than that to me. I feel like once you find your tribe, any magickal associations or gifts that might be passed down genetically can be passed own energetically as well. Simply put, witches are made, not born.
  3. List 3 of your favorite YouTube channels.
    1. Joanna DeVoe, Kelly-Ann Maddox, and Molly Roberts. You can find links to their channels in the Resources section in the sidebar.
  4. What is your favorite witchy book?
    1. Fiction would be The Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice. I love this book series and even made it a point to visit the house it was based around during my trip to New Orleans. Nonfiction would have to be the Temple of Witchcraft series by Christopher Penczak. It’s a great self-study course in the art and science of Witchcraft.
  1. An herb you haven’t worked with yet.
    1. It’s poisonous, but in small doses, it can help one to astral project. You can buy products with a smidge of belladonna in them, I’m just a big wuss.
  2. What are your goals for the next year?
    1. To find out what I want to be when I grow up. I just finished my MBA and have a decent job, but, like a spoiled kid, I. Want. More. I’d like to work in a field where I get to help people. I’d like to travel the world again, as well. I’d also like to see my study group grow. I want to bring in more people including newbies and advanced practitioners. I’d like to offer virtual and onsite classes and workshops, create YouTube videos, and grow my Tarot client base. I’d like Caffeine-Fueled Magick to be more than a blog, I want it to become a full offering of magickal education and self-development support.

Top 5 Witchy Moments in Pop Culture

If you’ve read more than a handful of posts in this blog, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a bit eclectic. I know that’s a bad word in the witchy community, but there isn’t a better term to categorize my practice. Chaos magick comes close, especially in conjunction with this blog.

I love all things Witch related, especially novels, TV shows, and movie targeted towards young adult audiences. When I read Pop Culture Magick by Taylor Elwood, I knew I would add pop culture to my magickal pursuits. Looking at the shows and movies I loved as a kid through this new lens, I realized that I could adapt the magick used to create real magick in my own life. With that being said, this post will be a list of my top 5 favorite witch moments in TV and film and how I’ve adopted the magick used in my own life with video clips as I can find them.

  1. Willow’s Tabula Rasa Spell in Buffy the Vampire Slayer S6E8

 

In this episode, Willow casts a spell to make Buffy forget about the afterlife she experienced after she died…Buffy always seems to die in this show. However, the spell makes the entire Scooby Gang forget who they are. To cast the spell, she uses a quartz crystal and a fancy herb. She says the spell below, the crystal turns black, and all memories are erased.

 

Personally, I use this spell to release negative thoughts or memories, as I tend to overthink/overcomplicate things. I use the same spell, but I use sage instead of the herb she used. I light the sage, place it in a dish with a quartz crystal and say “For me, this I char. Let sage do its chore. Purge my minds of memories grim, of pains from recent slights and sins. When the fire goes out, the crystal turns black, the spell will be cast. Tabula Rasa, Tabula Rasa, Tabula Rasa.” Then, I go outside and throw the quartz crystal as far into the woods behind my house as I can.

 

  1. Past Life Spell from Charmed S2E14

 

In the episode, Phoebe is harassed by an entity connected to her past life. She casts the spell to return to her past life to confront the issues that are causing her issues now.

 

 

For me, when I want to do past life work, I will settle down in front of my altar, light some incense and a black candle, then use this spell to set the intention for my journey work.

 

  1. Willow Protection Prayer Against Gnarl Demon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer S7E3

 

Another Buffy reference! In this episode, Willow returns to Sunnydale, but is in an alternate dimension from the others. In the climax of the episode, she is faced with defending herself against the gnarl demon. Since she is still struggling using magick after she went on a rampage in the previous season, she prays for protection.

 

This prayer stood out to me because before I saw this, I didn’t think of my conversations with deity as prayer. Not only did this revamp (pun intended!) my practice, but I’ve said this prayer to myself while walking to my car late at night.

 

Protect me Goddess. In thy name, I supplicate myself. Take the power from my enemy and lay him lower than the lowest field.”

 

  1. Vivienne Explains the Goddess in Mists of Avalon

 

I couldn’t embed the video, but you can see the clip here. In the scene, Vivienne explains who the Goddess is. It’s a beautiful explanation. She says “The Goddess is everything in nature and everything in nature is sacred.” She goes on to say “She is in everything that is beautiful and everything that is harrowing as well.”

 

If you go back to a very early post about Drawing Down the Moon, I include very similar words in my own invocation. Even though I say these words a lot, I still get goosebumps when I hear them.

 

  1. Esther links her children together in The Vampire Diaries S3E14

 

 

Esther is the original witch who created the original vampires – pretty sweet. Since she sees vampires as a corruption of nature, she decides to link them together magickally and kill one to kill them all.

 

Now, I was fascinated by visuals of the blood spreading out over the page, so that’s the part of adapted to my own needs. As a form of divination, I will pour red wine or sometimes spiced rum on my altar. While I am pouring, I will ask the gods or my ancestors to show me what I need to see and then decipher the images left in the liquid. It’s a mess to clean up, but very fun and enlightening.

The Magick of Pendulums

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I first encountered pendulums at Jupiter’s Door, a metaphysical shop in Norwalk, Ohio. My friend Liz and I walked in to the shop and saw the display of pendulums on the counter. We asked what they were and Judy, the owner of the shop, gave us a demonstration. I, of course, immediately purchased one.

Most pendulums available at occult bookstores are made of a piece of polished stone attached to a chain. However, I’ve seen some witches use a charm necklace with remarkable success. Pretty much any object that can dangle from a string can be used as a pendulum. To use a pendulum, you simply hold the chain in your dominant hand and observe the way the stone swings.

Here are some ways I have used my pendulum in my practice:

  1. Simple divination

To start, I hold the chain in my dominant hand and place my non-dominant hand underneath the stone. I ask the stone to show me “yes” and note the way the pendulum swings. I then ask the pendulum to stop and ask it to show me “no,” again noting how it swings. Then, I simply ask a yes or no question and record the answer.

 

  1. Spirit Communication

One method of spirit communication with the pendulum is to repeat the steps for simple divination, but ask the spirit to move the pendulum.

 

Another method is to create a spirit board with the alphabet listed on it. Then move the pendulum slowly over the board until it reacts. The reaction might be a circle around the letter or you may feel the pendulum be pulled to a certain letter. Record what it spells out and you’ll have the answer to your question.

 

  1. Finding lost objects

I quickly create a makeshift map of the area I am searching (usually my house). Then I slowly move the pendulum over the map and note any reaction from the stone. Usually, the area of the reaction is where the object is.

 

  1. Checking Chakra Energy

I meditate and open my chakras. Then, one my one, I move the pendulum to the area of a chakra and note how the stone moves. For me, if there is energy flowing through a chakra, the pendulum will spin in a circle. The faster the circle, the more energy that is flowing. If the circle is wonky (a technical term) that tells me that there is something blocking the flow of energy.

I’m sure there are more uses for pendulums, but these are the practices I tend to get most traction with. Simply put, pendulums are fun! So, how do you use pendulums?

Conversations with Clara – Part 2

My room is lit by a single black candle on the altar. Dizzied by mugwort tea, I lay on the floor. Clara glowed eerily in the candlelight.

I feel like I almost had a breakthrough tonight” I began. “For a moment, I saw your edges began to blur, Clara! I started to get some insight! I just think I got too excited.”

No, you didn’t see anything. You’re just high off mugwort” Clara replied. It’s as if I could actually see her blow a smoke ring from her Virginia Slim.

“No, I’m pretty sure I saw the glow of a fire. That’s when I lost focus” I countered, still laying on the floor.

“Oh, you saw the glow of the fire!? You mean…like this fucking candle next to me” Clara spat.

“What do you know? You’re just a hunk of fucking quartz” I fired back as I sat up.

“First of all, I’m a polished hunk of quartz, little boy. Secondly, I’m not going to take you seriously since you are the one arguing with a ‘fucking hunk of quartz.’”

Oh.

Spring Reiving

I first learned about the concept of reiving, or the process of ritually cleaning, clearing, and preparing your magickal work space in the book Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly de Angeles. What started as practice of clearing my ritual space before a hefty ritual, slowly evolved to involve my home and surrounding property.

The first step in the process is extremely mundane. In fact, it involves the stuff that normal spring cleaning entails. I wash the walls, clean the baseboards, vacuum the floor. You name it, I do it. I even move the fridge so I can clean behind it. This is also my annual closet clean out. I take out everything that I haven’t worn in a while and set it aside for donation.

At this point, I’m usually a sweaty, dusty mess. I lay out some clean clothes and take a shower with intent. I ritually purify myself with sea salt and lavender oil. I then move to the center of my home.

On the coffee table, I place a dish of incense. It’s made of equal part sage, clove, and copal. Also on the makeshift altar is a dish of burning charcoal, a dish of sea salt, a chalice of water, a glass of red wine, a single white candle, and my athame.

I light the candle and ground myself. I cast a circle with my athame around my altar. Once the circle is cast, I visualize it expanding around my entire house. Once this thought it solidified in my mind’s eye, I push the circle out to cover my entire property.

Next, I place the tip of the athame in the salt to bless it. After I add three pinches of salt to the chalice of water, I sprinkle the water around my house working clockwise. I then move outside to sprinkle salt around the perimeter of my house. Side note – I typically do this late at night to avoid my nosey neighbors. Once I move back in the house, I toss some incense on the coals and repeat the process of smudging my house and the outer perimeter of my property.

When I return to the altar, I place the censer back in its place. I ground, once again, before picking up the glass of wine and sitting on my couch. Once, I’ve finished the wine, I head to bed, letting the circle dissipate, forming a natural ring of protection around my home.

My Magical Saturday

Today was the best Saturday I have had in ages! It was absolutely perfect, magical even. I’m exhausted, but somehow refreshed at the same time. When I try to sum my day up, only one word comes to mind – glamourbomb.

A glamourbomb is a magickal act that is meant to enchant a place to help create a sense of magick and wonder for people who pass the “detonation point” of the bomb. To be fair, I don’t actually think that I encountered a glamourbomb, but I do think my day has been absolutely magickal and incredible.

This afternoon, I visited the Chadwick Arboretum today with two friends. Not only does the arboretum feature amazing plants and flowers, but it’s home to a beautiful labyrinth.

Walking the labyrinth was a great experience for me. As I began walking, I wanted to focus on myth of the Descent of the Goddess, but I was quickly distracted by little pieces of trash I was passing. A bottle cap here, a rubber band there, and tons of cigarette butts. I picked them up as I walked and was distracted the entire time. When I got to the center, I paused and realized the metaphor the Universe gifted to me. At so many points in my life I have cleaned up the messes of other people. I put their needs before my own. I let everyone else’s needs, opinions, and drama distract from what I needed at the time. Once I connected to this message, I closed my eyes, put the trash in my pocket, and simply finished the walk. When I exited from the labyrinth, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulder and that I had literally walked through a veil.

Each of us took time apart from the group to gather our thought and just enjoy nature. While walking around the arboretum, I found a beautiful tree that just seemed to beg me to meditate beneath it. When I took my friend Jamie to see the tree, we heard a noise. We looked up to find a deer about 20 feet away from us. The deer let us take a few pictures before it wandered off. It just felt like she sensed the connectedness we both had established during the walk.

After lunch, the three of us headed to a local pagan shop. I bought a few stones and went to look at the more expensive items in a case near the register. I have recently been in the market for a crystal ball after getting a crystal ball reading from Kelly-Ann Maddox. When I bent down to look at the selection, it felt like I was at the pound looking for a new puppy. There were beautiful crystal balls made of crystal clear quartz, blue-black onyx, bright purple amethyst, and shimmering citrine. They all seemed to beg to come home with me. That’s when I noticed a quartz crystal near the back. It was clear quartz, but was filled with faults and inclusions. The others seemed to sing to me, but this one dared me to buy her. She, yes she, seemed old, wise, and had no time for anyone’s shit. I loved this. When the clerk put her in my hand, I knew this crystal was mine. I can’t wait to learn more about this crystal ball and begin working with her. I’m sure I’ll post more on this topic as I progress.

After a short break, I met up with Jamie at our favorite craft cocktail bar. We shared stories as we drank our delicious drinks and shenanigans seemed to break out around us. First, a table of frat boys sat next to us and started a conversation with us. Although it was completely a random and not necessarily the most intellectual conversation, I have not laughed like this in months. Then, we noticed several people walk by in onesie pajamas. Apparently, there was a pajama-themed bar crawl going on. Again, completely random, but amazingly silly and a great ending to a wonderful evening.

Tonight was just what I needed. It made me remember how awesome my life is and made me remember just how magical the city of Columbus can be.