23 October 2014

9 Day Santa Muerte Hex Breaking

I'm normally a very calm, collected person.  Years of shadow work and mediation have given me an incredibly even keel.  Thus, as you might imagine, it takes rather a lot to get me worked up about something.  There's a bit of an unseen consequence to just how difficult it is to make me angry - once I am angry, really and truly angry, I am implacable.  I become the unstoppable force and woe to anyone who gets in my way.  So when someone had the gall to hex someone I care about (it was bad enough that I actually felt the effects) and decided to take drastic measures.

The following hex breaking ritual isn't exactly white magick, so if you're uncomfortable with doing harm it is just not for you. 

9 Day Santa Muerte Hex Breaking

Each day for nine days (ending on the new moon) light a black candle and copal incense.  Draw a drop of your own blood onto a piece of paper.  Burn the paper and say:

Bendita Santa Muerte,
Fortaleza contra mis enemigos conocida o desconocida.
Hoy te pido que alejes de mi toda maldad.
Que todos los deseos negativos de los que me rodean ser neutralizado y terminado.

Más alta santa muerte,
Rompe todas las maldiciones que se han puesto sobre mí o mis intereses.
Por el poder de tu guadaña santo, me libre de los lazos de mis enemigos y destruir a todos sea grande o pequeño.
Que sus huesos se convirtieron en polvo y dejar sus restos esparcidos sobre los cuatro vientos que ni ellos, ni sus aliados ni descendientes serán nunca más levantarse contra mí o mio.

Bendita Santa Muerte,
Fortaleza contra mis enemigos,
En tus manos me encomiendo.  
Mi agradecimiento dama oscura.
Por tu voluntad así debe ser.

Let the candle burn for at least an hour (no more than three).

* I should note that during the course of this hex breaking I suffered a higher than normal amount of bad luck.  Between hellish commutes, some utter nonsense at work, an unusual bout of depression, and some really weird behavior from my house I'm pretty sure that the power of the curse I was lifting was fighting back.  Only use this if you really need to because drawing out a hex breaking just isn't a great idea.

Also, when I finished reciting the incantation on the last day I was...instructed (commanded?) by Santa Muerte to not speak for the rest of the day as a further price for her intervention.  It's a bit odd, but not an unheard of price.

19 October 2014

Shadow Magick and the Ooky Spooky

I love October.  I love Halloween.  I love Samhain.  I love Dia de los Muertos.  I love autumn and all its glorious accoutrement.  But you know what I don’t love?  I don’t love when people come up to me and say, “Oh, you do shadow magick?  I’m not really into all the spooky stuff.”  That’s when I facepalm so hard that my hand goes through my forehead and comes out the back of my brain stem.  *sigh*  So let me tell you a little bit about shadow magick and the “spooky stuff.”

Yes, I personally like the spooky stuff.  No, that has nothing whatsoever to do with my shadow magick.  In fact, my shadow working are probably the least “ooky spooky” of any workings I do.  Shadow magick, in its many forms, is about the process of magickally integrating the shadow or using that integrated shadow as a mechanism in other magickal workings.  It is serious work either way.  If a particular practitioner happens to like using spooky regalia in their shadow magick that’s their business, but it’s just not the way I do things.  

So let me be very clear about this: shadow magick does not equal gothcraft.  Gothcraft is just regular witchcraft with skull covered drapes done while listening to dark music. (There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I rather enjoy it.)  Shadow magick is magick specifically involving the psychological shadow - the aspects of our personality that aren’t considered viable for public presentation.  They are totally different things.

Also, shadow magick is not evil or unethical.  A lot of people hear the word “shadow” and immediately associated it with “the darkness,” “evil,” or other things they consider unsavory.  The shadow is not evil.  Yes, our shadow contains bits of ourselves that we don’t like very much and yes those bits can be dangerous, but that doesn’t make them evil.  A huge part of shadow work is learning how to look at those oh so unsavory parts of ourselves and not see them as “evil” or “bad.”  The shadow is not evil, it’s just different and a little intimidating.  

Shadow magick is a discipline like any other, it can be wielded ethically or unethically by its practitioners as they see fit.  However, by its very nature it is more difficult to use shadow magick balefully than other forms of magick for two reasons.  One, you have to be extremely proficient in order to use shadow magick for anything other than the integration of the shadow (never really a bad thing).  Two, once you’ve reached the level of proficiency where you could use shadow magick to do harm you’ll be so integrated and balanced that you will rarely want to.  Shadow work makes people healthier psychologically and generally more stable and self-aware, this does not generally incline people to violence or harm towards others.  I’d be much more concerned about the holier than thou types than shadow workers any day.

Further, shadow magick does not equal the left hand path.  I don’t happen to practice the left hand path so I can’t really say much about it.  As I understand it, the left hand path is the practice of magick with a more personal approach to morality and ethics, often less strict than other forms of magick, and with greater emphasis on serving the self rather than the community at large.  While this is a rather interesting path, it really has nothing to do with shadow magick.  As I said earlier, shadow magick is a tool that can be wielded by practitioners of any path, it is not a path in and of itself.  

So yeah, shadow magick is not “ooky spooky.”  Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep and unabated love for the ooky spooky going back to my embarrassing teenage goth years.  It’s just that the ooky spooky has absolutely nothing to do with shadow magick.  So please, for the sake of my poor head, when someone makes a flippant comment about shadow magick being evil, set that person straight.  

27 September 2014

What is Shadowkrafting?

In exactly one week I will be launching Shadowkrafting.com, the website for my online correspondence courses in magickal defense and shadow magick.  This sort of begs the question: what is Shadowkrafting?

First off, Shadowkrafting is not a tradition.  I believe that magickal practice is deeply personal and thus should be different for each practitioner.  What works for one person may or may not work for someone else, so there really is no one "right way" to practice magick.  I believe that it's my job as a teacher to help my students find what works for them rather than asking them to slavishly do everything exactly as I do it regardless of how effective or comfortable it is for them. 

Though not a tradition per se, Shadowkrafting is essentially my magickal philosophy.  There's no disputing that there is darkness in the world that comes from both within and without.  There are three ways of dealing with this darkness: pretend it doesn't exist and hope for the best, run away from it and hide, or put on your big kid pants and face it.  Shadowkrafting is the art of facing the darkness magickally. I teach defensive magick, which is about facing the darkness that comes from the outside world, and shadow magick, which is about facing the darkness that comes from within.  It's about facing your fears, whatever they may be, and turning them into strengths.  It's about being truly empowered.  The ultimate goal of Shadowkrafting is living an empowered and authentic life while maximizing magickal potential.  It sounds a bit lofty for a simple series of courses, but I tend to have a "reach for the stars and you'll climb mountains" view of this sort of thing.

In the pursuit of these lofty goals you'll find certain values to be inherent in my lessons.  My number one value is personal responsibility - the idea that you are responsible for making your own choices wisely and then dealing with their consequences.  This is the main reason that I don't like giving explicit homework.  I prefer students to choose just how much effort they're going to put into a course.  I like to give a series of optional exercises and it's up to the student to choose to do them or not.  I only require certain work in a class if I believe it is absolutely critical to understand the subject or to do something safely.

Shadowkrafting is also about being flexible and responsive to whatever situation you find yourself in.  The real world is unpredictable and ever-changing, so to be truly useful your magick needs to be adaptable and responsive.  I try to make sure the techniques I teach can be adapted on the fly to changing scenarios.  Need to do a house cleansing in a pinch but you don't have your florida water on hand?  No problem, try smudging.  No smudge, how about about asperging with salt water.  No salt water...well...what have you got?  Olive oil, a q-tip, and a stalk of rosemary from the neighbor's bush.  Ok, I can work with that.

The bottom line for any magickal practice is that it has to work.  Magick is about manifesting our will in the world - be it in the world around us or within ourselves.  If a technique doesn't actually do that for you it's not worth the bother no matter how how impressive its lineage or who taught it to you. Magick is only useful if it is effective, so I only teach techniques that I know actually work.

Shadowkrafting is also about holistic magick.  It is my goal to teach my students information and techniques that will change their lives.  Effective magickal practice is a way of life.  Once you know how to effectively use magick it becomes a part of who and what you are as a person.  That makes it important to really understand how and why magick works, the full spectrum of its effects, and to choose the practices that fit with both who you are and who you want to be.  I want my students to think deeply about the practices I teach and really understand them, only embracing the things that fit holistically in their existing practices and their lives.

Ultimately, Shadowkrafting is my term for the type of magick I do.  It's what I know and what I teach.  Shadowkrafting consists of eclectic magickal techniques that effectively empower students to both affect change in the world and further their own spiritual growth.

12 September 2014

Why I Teach

As I prepare to launch my correspondence courses (shadowkrafting.com coming soon!), I've been reflecting a lot on my own personal philosophies and the reasons why I teach magick.  So I'm going to tell you the story of my very first ever Pagan ritual and why I teach magick the way I do.

Emily at Wellesley
Me my first year at Wellesley
It all began back in the fall of 1999 during my first semester at Wellesley. I'd been interested in magick for a little while at that point, but had only read a few books and tried a few things on my own.  Then one day I saw a friend of mine draped out in a flowing black cape and I asked where she was going.  She explained that she was on her way to the Pagan Students Group (PSG) Samhain ritual.  I asked if I could tag along, she allowed it, and we made our way to the ritual.

I wasn't exactly prepared for what I experienced.  I'd read about the Sabbats and rituals, but I had zero experience.  I hadn't really started my formal practice and only knew the bare minimum of how things were "supposed" to go.  So I just followed along what everyone else was doing and followed the HP's instructions...for the most part. 

Oh yes, my very first ritual and I was already doing my own thing (not exactly a genius move in hindsight).  We did a meditation to go to your astral temple and do something I can't recall.  Well, I didn't really have an astral temple per se, but I did have a spot that I would go to that would later become my astral temple.  While the HP led the group in whatever astral activity we were supposed to be doing, I went off on my own down a path into a dark forest.  As I said, I knew almost nothing and had no idea how dangerous that could be.  Luckily enough, when I got to the end of the path I found myself in a clearing surrounded by what I can only describe as my true family.  There were perhaps a dozen people there, all magickal folk, all welcoming me home.  It felt like being bear hugged by a star.  I felt my entire being shake and shift in that moment and I knew without a doubt that I had finally found my path.  To this day it is one of the most profoundly sublime moments of my life.

As the ritual ended I was excited and vaguely terrified (but in a good way) by what I had experienced.  I pulled my friend aside and explained what I experienced.  She was rather baffled by it and we went to the HP to ask her opinion of what had happened and to see if she could advise me.  I'm not sure what I expected from her, but what I got was: "Well that wasn't what you were supposed to do."  No understanding.  No advice.  No help whatsoever.  I had just had the most profound magickal experience of my life and she was totally uninterested.  Needless to say I was less than impressed by her leadership.

From that day forth I made it my mission to make myself available to anyone who found themselves in my former position to give them the help I wish I had gotten.  So I did what I do best and I obsessed with every fiber of my being until I was an expert.  I've now been teaching for almost a decade and have seen many students grow into powerful practitioners.  It's been a long and difficult journey, but a rewarding one. 

Me by my Junior year - President of PSG

That is why I teach - because when I needed a teacher the most there wasn't one to be found.  That is why I will answer just about any question people will put to me. I teach defensive magick because the things I experienced at Wellesley freaked me out and there was no one to advise me.  I try to make sure my courses are easy to understand and as practical as possible.  The most boundless knowledge is nothing if it can't be understood.  All the theory in the world is useless if it can't be put into practice.  I put exercises in my lessons so my students can get real practice so they can be prepared when they need to be.  I'm happy to talk to students about the issues they face in their lives because I would have given up favored body parts to have had that back when I was new.  I teach in the hopes of helping people to not be the frightened newbie that I was.