W is for Wheel of the Year

When I began working with my first coven, there was a heavy emphasis on marking every Sabbat. Regardless of what day the holiday fell on, we would rearrange our schedule, sometimes even skipping other important events in order to gather and celebrate. Even so, I always felt connected to the Earth and always looked forward to gathering with my spiritual family inside a Circle to mark the turning of the wheel.

When I became more focused on my career, I made the choice to leave my coven. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue with them, but I felt like I wasn’t carrying my weight. Covens rely on the commitment of all its members to be successful and honestly, I was holding them back. In the years that followed, I let holidays go by without a second thought. However, recently, I’ve began to make marking the turning of the wheel in some fashion a priority. What follows is what the Sabbats mean to me and ways I have commemorated them.

Yule, or the Winter Solstice occurs around December 21st. Yule marks the longest night of the year and for marks a time of renewal. Since it coincides with Christmas, I also tend to exchange gifts with my friends and family to express gratitude and appreciation for them. Because of the themes of renewal, I tend to work magick to clear the path for the coming year. Often times, any ritual or magick work take place in the early hours of the morning the day after the solstice. This way, I can end my ritual at sunrise and welcoming the strengthening Sun.

Imbolc falls on the first few days of February and like Yule, honors the returning Sun. However, Imbolc focuses on the coming of spring and the magick of the Goddess. I tend to celebrate by metaphysically planting the seeds of what I want to manifest by Ostara. As a holiday that celebrates the transformative power of fire, I tend to celebrate by lighting candles. If there is still snow on the ground, and since I live in Ohio there usually is, I melt a bowl of snow and keep the bottled water to use in transformative magick.

Ostara or the Spring Equinox falls around March 21st marks the first day of spring. For me, this is a time of purification and fertility. As such, I do a round of spring cleaning. Afterwards, I smudge my home and recharge my magickal tools. This also marks the time that I begin to plant my garden. Also, with the warm weather I also tend to find a nice patio on which to enjoy a few cocktails with friends.

Beltane is celebrated on May 1st and marks the transition from spring to summer. It also is a celebration of life, love, lust, and magick. To be honest, due to these themes, I have a habit of becoming seasonally slutty during this time if I am single. More seriously, I mark this time by enjoying the warm weather with friends and practicing magick to bring love and happiness into my life, as well as giving the first crop from my garden to friends and family.

Litha falls on the Summer Solstice on or around June 20th. This falls opposite on the wheel from Yule, and marks the longest day of the year. After today, the days will grow shorter as the sun wanes. I tend to spend time outside with my friends and family on this day and reflect that, like summer, nothing lasts forever. It’s a reminder to enjoy what we have in the moment.

Lammas falls on August 1 and the themes revolve around reaping what summer has given us. Mundanely, I use this as time to reap the last of my garden before it is destroyed by the August heat. I also use this time to reflect on the magick I have put into the Universe so far this year in order to evaluate my next steps or to work magick to amplify or nullify what I have worked for previously.

Mabon falls on the Autumnal Equinox around September 21st. Mabon’s themes parallel that of Thanksgiving. For me, it’s a time of gratitude and reminding ourselves what truly matters. This also marks when I begin baking bread and making stews due to the cooler temperatures. Instead of working magick, I tend to hold a small ritual of gratitude where I thank the God and Goddess for the life they have given me.

Samhain falls on October 31st. It marks the passing of the old year and is a time to remember those who have gone before us. I create an altar to my beloved dead and leave offerings for them. I visit gravesites of those close by and leave flowers. On Samhain, I cast a circle and call forth my beloved dead to come back and visit with me. Keeping with Halloween tradition, I also tend to dress up and celebrate life with my friends to remind myself that someday I won’t be here.

The idea here is that there is no wrong way to celebrate the Sabbats. What’s important is that, as Witches, we are setting aside time to commune with the Earth and celebrate the turning of the wheel. Imbolc is coming up on Tuesday. It’s unseasonably warm here in Ohio, so my friends and I are taking the day off to have a few cocktails on a patio. At some point, I’m sure we’ll cheers to the coming spring and say farewell to the cold of winter.

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V is for Vanilla Bean

I haven’t written for a while. Working full time at a new job and being a full time student has taken a lot of my free time, but I at least want to finish my alphabet posts before I reconsider what to do with this space.

I’ve always been a kitchen witch at heart. There is something magical about cooking. When I cook for my friends and family, it gives me a moment to show gratitude. Gratitude for my life, gratitude for the job that gives me the means to provide for myself and my family, gratitude for the farmers that worked hard to provide me with my food. I always put a little love into my food and sometimes opt for using ingredients that serve a magical and culinary purpose.

I recently started a new job and have loved every moment on it. However, my coworkers and I have recently not been seeing eye to eye. I’ve been placed into a position when my effectiveness has been called into question due to obstacles they have put in my way. Now, I don’t think they have done so purposely, but when I started a conversation about my concerns, they became extremely defensive. Rather than belabor the point, I decided to use some kitchen magic to sweeten their disposition.

Vanilla beans are often associated with passion and lust. I also see them as promoting loving, peaceful energy. I often bake for coworkers around special occasions (I make a mean chocolate mint cookie). Prior to beginning baking, I place a few vanilla beans into the sugar I am using for the recipe. I then use the sugar in the recipe as usual. While preparing the cookies, I visualized myself and my coworkers working together in harmony. Once I deliver the cookies, we will share them and we will internalize the energy.

I challenge everyone to find a magical use of their cooking and share their ideas.

V is for Vocal Techniques for Magick

Recently, I was invited to a small full moon ritual hosted by a solitary I’ve known for years. I have never practiced with her or any of her other Pagan friends, but I was excited to attend. We gathered around the altar she set in her living room and one of her friends cast the circle. The woman casting the circle wrote an incredible circle casting chant, yet she delivered it in a monotone voice. It completely nullified the beauty of her words. This was only the beginning. The people asked to call the elements read the invocations from index cards in a similar monotone voice. Finally, the Charge of the Goddess was read by my hostess from a spiral bound notebook in, you guessed it, a monotone voice. It was hard to get into a spiritual mindset when everything felt forced.

This experience made me think back to one of the last Real Witches Balls I attended in Columbus. Raymond Buckland presented a workshop during which he spoke about the use of voice in magick and ritual. Like candles, gems, and herbs, the voice is a magickal tool and it can be used to enhance magick and ritual.

For example, when casting the circle, I like to use a commanding voice when possible. This voice is loud and confident. It commands respect and intention. This signals to myself and those I might be practicing with that the ritual has begun. I also use this voice in magick for protection and banishing.

When calling to the elements or Deity, I use what I call a compelling voice. It’s confident, such as the commanding voice, but is calm and respectful (since, you should not command primal energies). I also use this voice for spellwork involving love and friendship.

Finally, I use whisper when working magick for retribution, as whispering allows me to keep any anger-based energy bubbling just below the surface until I am ready to release it. I also use a whisper when calling a spirit guide or a thoughtform back to me.

How do you use your voice in ritual?

V is for Vodou Shopping List

I recently celebrated my birthday by spending a weekend in New Orleans with some friends. While I was there, I was able to visit a lot of Vodou shops and bought some interesting things.

1. Red Brick Dust – for protection, consecration, and money magick

2. A Marie Laveau pendant – a gift for my mother

3. A Harlequin Vodou doll – to bring balance

4. The cutest Vodou doll I have ever seen – for overcoming obstacles (see him below)

5. A Seven African Powers necklace – for invoking the seven primary Loas of Vodou spirit guides from African tribes into your life (edited for accuracy after a little more research. Check those sources kids 🙂 )

Once I get through the alphabet with these posts, I plan on doing a few posts about my interests in Vodou.

vodou doll

The cutest Vodou doll in the world!

Books I’ve Read in 2015

I love to read, but I seldom have time for it. To make it a priority, I have gotten myself into the habit of downloading audio books onto my phone and listening to books whenever I am driving. To support my efforts, I wanted to keep track of the books I have finished this year. My goal is to finish 50 (it was 20, but that seemed like a weak goal) books by the end of the year.

  1. Shibumi by Trevanian
  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  4. Yes Please by Amy Pohler
  5. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
  6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  7. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  8. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

U is for Unconscious Magic

    When many magical practitioners think of magic, typically their thoughts include elaborate rituals. Even those who practice folk magic will have thoughts on using candles, gemstones, or herbs in their magical practice. However, when you become adept at magic, you will experience what many call “unconscious magic.”

Unconscious magic occurs when your intention is fueled my energy outside of any formal magic practice. For example, my first interaction with unconscious magic happened when I got a tattoo. At this time in my life, I have dozens of people I considered friends. We hung out all the time, got drinks, went shopping, went to concerts, among many other activities enjoyed by careless youths. To commemorate my friendships, I decided that I wanted a tattoo of a sparrow with the words “Amicus verus est rara avis” which is Latin for “A true friend is a rare bird.” During the session, I thought about my friends and about my personal definition of friendship. The pain I felt as the tattoo needle repeatedly pierced my skin was enough energy to fuel my (unconscious) intention. As a result, while the tattoo was healing, several of my “friends” suddenly stopped calling me. Others moved away. My tattoo was ultimately a charm to remove the wrong friends from my life and to attract my true friends.

In the Gardnerian Book of Shadows it (loosely) says that power increases with knowledge and that thoughts wax more powerfully on the astral plane. With this in mind, it is important for witches to exercise caution with their thoughts, especially during emotional times. Without this caution, energetic intentions could turn into unconscious magic.

U is for the Unknown

    This past Tuesday marked my last day at a company that spent over seven years. I didn’t want to leave, but my other option was to apply and get a lower paying job within the company as a result of my previous position being eliminated. Instead, I chose to send resumes out to any open position for which I was remotely qualified. After several weeks of interviewing and waiting, I finally was offered a dream job with another company. While this was exciting, I am in no way, shape, or form qualified for the position. I have a bachelor’s degree in human resources and over six years of training and development experience, but my role involves sales. The closest to sales experience I have is the two weeks I spent as a telemarketer when I was nineteen. I’m beginning to feel that pursing another career might be a mistake.

    I was an expert in my previous role and now I’m starting new with another company. I’m not sure if I will be successful. I shared these feelings with my sister. She didn’t say much, but what she said was profound. She said, “When Da Vinci painted the Last Supper, do you think he ever thought about painting it over the Mona Lisa?”

    I created all the success I could with my previous employer. While I’m proud of that success, there is no way I could experience that again without starting from the beginning again. Instead, I am going to continue my career path with a new company. It will be an adventure and I’m going to kill it.