Conversations with Clara – Part 1

Meet Clara,

Clara

I mentioned in a few posts ago that I recently bought a crystal ball. I saw her (yes, her) at a shop and fell instantly in love with her. The other balls were clear and pristine, but this crystal was full of inclusions and clouds that gave her personality. She wasn’t as big as I wanted, but she still felt right. From first glance, I knew she was full of wisdom. When I held her, I knew she was capable of giving me profound insight, but that she would demand respect and would make me work hard to learn how to scry. I loved this.

The night after I bought her, I held her in my hand and knew I had to give her a name. I haven’t named many of my ritual tools, but this crystal had personality. I wanted something witchy, so I held her and named her Medea. Instantly, I knew this was wrong. So, I tried Circe. Still, not quite right. I felt that she needed a classic name. So, I did a quick Google search and  went down the list.

“Electra?”

“Nope,” she said.

Goldie?

Try again.”

Mildred?

“Are you even trying?”

Oh! Florence?

“Goodnight.”

I was about to give up, when she rolled right out of my hand. She hit the keyboard hard and when I looked up, the name Clara was front and center on the screen. Apparently she named herself.

After looking up the name, I realized the beautiful sentiment of this name. Clara means clear and bright. Even though my crystal ball is cloudy and full of inclusions, she holds the power to give me clear insight.

I anointed Clara with some lavender oil and placed her back on my altar. I can’t wait to see the magick we make together.

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.

 

Activating Your Chakras

A member of my study group commented on the fact that I have mentioned chakras during different conversations, but never really explained chakras. So, here we go. For those new to the topic, chakras refer to the Hindu concept of energy centers located throughout the body. These centers collect and direct life energy. Though there are several of these points in our body, there are seven primary chakras. Keeping them aligned and balanced can help increase magickal abilities, since energy flows more freely, and can keep you healthy.

The root chakra is located at the base of the spine and glows bright red. This chakra literally roots us to the world. The root chakra rules over our survival instinct. Not only does our fight or flight instinct reside in this chakra, but our connection to money, food, and independence reside in this center. When Witches ground and center before ritual or magick, this is the chakra we are using. Clove and cedar scents can open and activate this chakra. If you prefer using stones,  hematite, red jasper, and smoky quartz can help you to activate this chakra.

Moving upward, we move to the sacral chakra, located just below the naval. This chakra is orange and is your emotional center. The sacral chakra also rules over sexuality and creativity. To activate this chakra, use orange calcite crystals or jasmine.

Just above the naval is the solar plexus chakra. This center is visualized as a yellow sphere of light and controls how we view and value ourselves. This is where our confidence and our sense of strength lives. This is the well we pull our personal power from when using magick. Rosemary and sandalwood oil or incense to open this chakra. Stones such as  tiger’s eye, citrine, and amber also work well with this chakra.

The heart chakra is located in the center of our chest and glows green. This chakra influences our ability to give and experience love. It controls our ability to find inner peace. When you’re around someone you love and your heart flutters, this is your heart chakra at work. When you’re heartbroken, that hole in your chest is your heart chakra as well. Rose and lavender work to open and heal this chakra, as do the emerald, jade, peridot, and rose quartz stones.

In the center of our throat is the blue throat chakra. Communication, self-expression, and personal truth are ruled by this chakra. When we speak words of power, chant, recite mantra, or practice affirmations, the throat chakra is at work. Getting “choked” up when trying to speak is a outward expression of the throat chakra. Use stones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, and sodalite or scents like ylang-ylang and neroli to open the throat chakra.

At the center of your forehead is the third eye chakra. It glows a deep indigo color and controls wisdom, imagination, and psychic ability. When we practice divination or any kind of psychic practice, we are “seeing” through the third eye. Amethyst, angelite, and celestite are the stones that activate this chakra. Vetiver and frankincense open this chakra as well.

At the top of our head is the crown chakra. Its color is brilliant purple and it serves as our direct connection with the Divine. When we pray and aspect divinity, we are using our crown chakra. Lavender and rosewood work to open this chakra. If using stones, selenite, moonstone, or diamond work well with this chakra.

To activate an individual chakra, hold a stone or use a scent associated with that chakra. Close your eyes and visualize the chakra glowing and spinning. If you have trouble, it’s possible that this means that the chakra is damaged. Contemplate what could have caused this damage and make changes to improve this area of your life. Support your actions with continued meditation and working with the chakra.

Over time, you will be able to open all of your chakras during meditation. In fact, I do this each morning and visualize their energy forming a shield around me. With practice, you can learn to open and close chakras at will. I tend to do this by visualizing what could only be described as opening and closing a zipper.

Being aware of chakra energy and knowing how to work with them can make a significant different in your magick. If nothing else, it’s a great tool to add to your magickal arsenal.

The Magick of Tattoos

One of the members of my study group got her first tattoo today. She decided on a pentacle with a crescent moon at its center with a sky scene behind it. It is absolutely beautiful and served a reminder for the tattoos I have gotten.

For me, tattoos are an amazing way to express yourself and what you find meaningful. As a Witch, tattoos serve as powerful forms of magick. The intention of choosing an image, the pain of getting it done, and the permanence of the tattoo makes the process a powerful work of magick. I’ve gotten several magickal tattoos in my life and wanted to share what they mean to me and the magickal intent behind them.

 

My first tattoo had to be extremely witchy. I, naturally, wanted to get a pentagram, but I had to choose something a little more flashy. I finally found what I wanted, a pentacle surround by fire, on the cover of the boo Wiccan Warrior by Kerr Cuhulain. I also wanted to add some gay pride, so I placed a pink triangle around it. When I got the tattoo, it was just that, a tattoo. However, over time, I charged it to be a protection sigil and I often focus on it when I feel like I need a little extra protection.

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Years later, I got a Leo symbol tattooed on my forearm. It was terrible. Not long after, I had  experienced several hardships in my life that contributed to a major bout of depression,  self-harm, and substance abuse. After I got treatment and felt more stable, I got the Leo symbol covered up by a phoenix. It was magickally charged to remind me that I can overcome anything that tries to deter me.

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As part of my recovery from the breakdown mentioned above, I had to clear out my group of friends. Several of them were bad influences and, honestly, just bad people. From this experience, I realized that I have the propensity to be too trusting of people. This leads me to be taken advantage of and not really having people in my corner when I need them. So, I chose another magickal tattoo. This time, a beautiful swallow with the phrase “A true friend is a rare bird” written in Latin below it. Like *ahem* magick, all of these bad friends simply fell to the wayside. It’s still a struggle, but this tattoo helps me discern who belongs in my tribe. And, like magick, when I determine that someone is not worth my time, they pretty much disappear.

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I was once, (brace yourself) very whitsey-lightsey. Everything in my spiritual practice was about love and happiness. It was a façade. I was trying to hide the darker aspects of who I am. After some shadow work, I was able to fully embrace my inner monster. To commemorate this,  I got the alchemical symbol for sulfur tattooed on the nape of my neck. In alchemy, sulfur is a symbol of the Devil (my shadow self) and represents the soul. My tattoo is charged to be a mental focus on shadow work, as well as astral work.

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Finally, when I began working with Ganesh, I asked him to be my guide and to open the door to happiness for me. I got his image tattooed on my right wrist as a symbol of his guiding hand.

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I’m sure I’ll get several more tattoos in my life. I’d eventually like to get excerpts from my Book of Shadows tattooed on me. This way, my skin will be a record of my magickal journey.

Easy(ish) Steps to Lucid Dreaming

(Note – I think I’ve written about lucid dreaming in the past, but I can’t find the post. This is a topic that I have discussed with a few friends recently and wanted to take a deeper dive into how you can increase the possibilities of having a lucid dream. My apologies upfront for any repetition.)

A lucid dream is a dream in which you become aware that you are dreaming. This gives you the ability to control what is happening during your dream. “Why would this be important to a witch” you ask? Well, for one, dreams are an avenue for our subconscious mind to relay information to conscious mind. The ability to exert control over the dream can help a witch more effectively tune in to what your subconscious mind is trying to tell you. Secondly, while dreaming, our brain is experiencing similar activity to when we are practicing magick. This means that we can practice magick and divination, commune with deity or guides, and travel the astral realm in a space without the distractions that are present while awake. And finally, who lucid dreaming is fun.

What follows are some easy steps to help you begin to lucid dream.

 

  1. Keep a dream journal

 

We all have several dreams each night, but remembering a dream in full detail is near impossible. I think we’ve all had the experience of waking up from a dream and almost immediately having difficulty remembering it. By keeping a dream journal near our beds, we can write down the information we remember before it fades away. A dream journal will also help us seem recurring themes in our dreams that we can later use to help us recognize when we are experiencing a dream.

 

  1. Reality checks

 

Simply put, a reality check is periodically confirming that you are not dreaming throughout the day. Reality checks are simple to do. The primary reality check I use is looking at my hands throughout the day, especially in situations that I often dream about. For some reason, our hands look a little fucked up in our dreams. So let’s say that I look at my dream journal and I notice that I keep having dreams about work. While I’m at work, I will periodically look at my hands to see if they look normal. After some time, when I dream about work, I will probably look at my hands in my dream and notice that they seem a bit off. This will make me realize that I am dreaming. Other reality checks include plugging your nose and trying to breathe or consciously trying to make something impossible happen (like turn off a light with your mind).

 

  1. Affirmations and meditation

 

Although these practices can be used independently, I present them together since that’s how I use them. Feel free to do what feels most comfortable for you.  Prior going to sleep, especially on nights that I want to induce a lucid dream, I will sit at my altar and meditate. Through meditation, we can reach the delta brain wave state, which is the same state we experience while dreaming. Once I have gotten to this state, which for me is categorized by deep breathing, relaxation, and what I can only describe as the physical “click” of connectedness, I begin using affirmations. I’ll tell myself “Tonight, you will recognize you are dreaming and will at once, be in total control.” This helps me put myself in the right frame of mind for dream work.

 

  1. Spellcraft

 

Lucid dreaming can also be supported by magick. Some witches charge crystals for lucid dreaming. I have a piece of scolecite that I keep in my nightstand until I need it for lucid dreaming. Labradorite and agate work well for lucid dreaming as well.

 

Other witches use herbs to put them in the right frame of mind for lucid dreaming. I sometimes use mugwort tea if my goal is to astral project during a lucid dream[1].

 

You can also create and charge a sigil for help with lucid dreaming. A witch I know has a sigil she created for this purpose and will draw it on her hand when she wants to lucid dream.

 

  1. Technology

 

There are several apps out there that can help you lucid dream. The one I am most familiar with is called Awoken. The Awoken app pretty much takes care of several of the steps I listed above. First, it has a built in dream journal and will remind you to record your dreams. It also will prompt you to do reality checks throughout the day. My favorite feature is the totem sound. The totem sound is a sound that you program to go off any time the reality check reminder is activated. Then, while you are asleep, the application will periodically play the sound at a lower volume. The idea is that if you hear the sound in your dream, you will be conditioned to perform a reality check and voila, lucid dream!

 

I’ve had several amazing experiences while lucid dreaming. I’ve performed rituals at my personal astral temple, I’ve met spirit guides, spoken to my patron deities, and spoken to the dream versions of people I’ve been in conflict that has helped to heal our relationship in the “real” world. It takes practice, but this is a great practice to add to your witchy toolbox.

[1] I’m not a doctor, so I am not recommending you use mugwort. It can cause miscarriage if you are pregnant and some people may be allergic to the herb. Please consult your doctor before using any herb for any reason. In other words, do your research don’t just trust some guy on the internet.

My (Tiny) Problem with the Witches Pyramid

The Witches Pyramid is a tool used to describe the steps of spellwork. The pyramid equates the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and (sometimes) Spirit, with the respective steps of To Know, To Will, To Dare, To be Silent, and again sometimes, To Go. At its most basic explanation, this simply means that to perform effective magick, a witch much know exactly what it is they want to manifest, to empower this intent with their will, and to dare to invest their emotions into their magick, and to hold silence to allow the magick to manifest. The adage “to go” is often equated to remind the witch to stay balanced in their four elements and to live in harmony with your magick, or speaks to the actual act of releasing energy to do its work.  If you want to learn more, a quick Google search will definitely yield a lot of results.

The pyramid is a great tool to teach and understand magick, but my issue lies in the widely accepted definition of “to hold silence.” Most witches interpret this to be a caution of speaking about your magick. Those in this camp say that telling others about their magick can open up seeds of doubt from non-magickal practitioners. Others say that this steps instead warns witches about dwelling on their magickal efforts in fear or negating their magick with their own skepticism. While I see the wisdom in these interpretations of holding silence, I disagree.

For me, to be silent is better interpreted to mean, “to hold space” or “to act in accord.” Since the element of Earth corresponds to this lesson on the pyramid, I think it is important to remember that the element of Earth embodies the physical world we live in. This is why I place these statements in place of “to hold silence,” rather than at “to go.” Allow me to explain.

Magick seldom manifests our desires out of thin air. Instead, magick simply tips the scales in our favor. For example, author Dorothy Morrison taught a workshop on money magick and told a story of her High Priest who was searching for a job. When she asked how the job search was going and he simply pointed to a green candle burning. Dorothy later explained that magick is nothing unless we are willing to follow through in the mundane world. We have to do the legwork after we cast our magick.

For example, if you are looking for a new love, we can cast the most powerful love spell ever. Aphrodite herself can appear to us and write down a list of everything we’re asking for in our next lover, but we don’t leave our house, how will we ever meet our soulmate? There are several ways we can mundanely hold space for love to enter our lives. First, we can clear our busy schedule and spend time out on the town. We can let our friends now we’re back in the dating pool. Hell, we can even create a Tinder profile.

In another example, a friend of mine once cast a spell for protection since she routinely returned from work late at night. After the spell was cast, she was mugged at gun point. It’s not that I think her spell didn’t work, she just had no mundane follow through. She walked alone in downtown Chicago late at night, wearing expensive jewelry, and stopped by an ATM. Instead of acting in accord, her actions blatantly undermined her magick.

Recently, I cast a spell to help me achieve balance in my busy life. I tend to have very little free time because I don’t have boundaries between work, school, and social time. The three often bleed into each other and since I can’t say no, my sleep schedule is often wrecked. Once I casted the spell, I started acting in accord. I set an alarm for the entire week and I force myself to get up at the same time every day. I set my work schedule and once I am off work, I stop checking email or answering my phone. If I have to stay late one night, I arrange with my coworkers to come in late the next morning to make up for my time. With school, I schedule time through the week to complete assignments and have spoken with my friends about my need to schedule time with them in advance. As a result, my magick doesn’t have to influence the outside environment; it simply has to influence my perspective and my commitment.

By acting in accord and holding space for my magick to manifest, I have experienced a greater success rate. Sure, some people might call it coincidence or the placebo effect, but I say magick is whatever works.