27 September 2011

Haunted Seattle - Spirits of Seattle Ghost Tour

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of going on the Spirits of Seattle Ghost Tour with some good friends of mine.  Unlike a lot of the other ghost tours in town, this tour was done by van rather than on foot.  On the plus side van tours can cover a lot of ground and are climate controlled; on the minus side a tour in a vehicle doesn’t have the same visceral feel of a walking tour where you get to hear the stories while being immersed in the energy of a place (although there were a few stops on the tour where we could get out and really get a feel for things).  The tour was about 2 ½ hours long and ranged all over town, going from Lake Union, through downtown, up to Capitol Hill, and then back downtown again.

The van picked us up at the South end of Lake Union, near the new park, and the tour began with a bit of local history as we drove towards downtown.  Our guide, Jake, was really knew her history and told a decent story.  We were shown several haunted buildings, such as an old public hall turned bar turned recital hall, and told of the various activity reported there.  I must admit, that these were mostly such common haunts that they weren’t particularly engrossing (the activities were the typical shadowy figures, cold spots, odd noises, and residuals of any haunt).  I was much more interested in the activity we’d hear about up on Capitol Hill, as I knew less about that area.  I was not disappointed.’

The first stop of the tour was at a former church up on 16th and E John (now home to a marketing firm).  We got out of the van and heard how the main church area is haunted by the spirit of a former minster, while the top floors of the rectory are haunted by the spirit of his wife.  We got to walk around the building and enjoy the beautiful stone construction and stained glass.  For anyone with energetic sense, this building was a trip!  You could actually feel the presence of spirits from outside the building.  It was obvious that the former minister was not happy that his beautiful church had been desecrated and turned into something else.  I could also feel the presence of his wife looking out at us from the top floor of the former rectory, but she felt very sad rather than angry.

From there we moved on to Volunteer Park, one of my favorite places on the Hill.  I had known that what is now Lake View Cemetery had been moved from the park over to the lot next door but I hadn’t realized that it was specifically the land that is now the reservoir.  You learn something every day.

The real surprise of the tour was seeing the GAR Cemetery that’s just on the other side of Lake View.  How had I not known that existed?  There’s a whole extra cemetery just North of Lakeview that is the home to the Civil War veterans that settled here in Seattle.  It’s a pretty little cemetery that was alive with energy on the night of the Equinox.  It’s not as big or as impressive as Lake View, but I think this little plot has a lot more ghostly activity, perhaps because everyone buried there was a man of action.

Then we drove back down the hill to downtown.  We passed the Moore Theater and the adjoining building The Josephnian.  Having been there a time or two, I knew the Moore had some ooky energy, but I hadn’t realized that it was haunted (though I should have, as just about all theaters are). 

From there we went past the old Butterworth’s Mortuary (now Kells and a few vacant floors).  I’ve discussed Kells pretty thoroughly in a previous entry so I won’t now.

Overall it was good fun.  This tour covered a lot of ground that I hadn’t known much about and the guide was very knowledgeable and fun.  I must admit that it wasn’t the spookiest tour I’ve been on, being a bit heavier on facts and phenomena than personal accounts and storytelling.  It didn’t help that the other group of friends on the tour with us was a gaggle of giggling drunk girls that pretty much destroyed any hint of atmosphere Jake managed to create.  The company the runs this also does a true crime tour that I definitely want to go on – without the drunk girls in the back.

21 September 2011


This year Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox, occurs on Friday the 23rd, but like many Pagans I celebrate Mabon on a convenient day between the 20th-23rd.  I will be doing most of my celebrations this evening by meditating, and doing divination.

Mabon is a celebration of the harvest and marks the changing of the seasons as the official start of Autumn.  Here in Seattle we’re enjoying our last days of warmth and sunshine before the inevitable beginning of the rainy season.  Soon having warm, dry toes will be but memory.  Even though it’s still warm out, the shift towards Autumn is quite obvious if you look for the signs – trees are beginning to lose their leaves, the mornings are chill, and (most tellingly) it’s dark when I leave for work.

For some Autumn is a time of sadness as children trudge back to school and we say farewell to the easy summer weather – not for me.  I love Autumn.  When I feel that cool, crisp wind coming down from the North I feel excited and invigorated.  I love watching the sun rise in a clouded sky.  I love hearing leaves crunch under my feet.  I love the smell of mulling apples.  I even love the first Autumn rains.  But the most important things about the change from summer to fall, for me at least, is that it’s the time when my magick comes alive.  As a shadow worker most of what I do stays pretty dormant over the summer and it’s not until we shift from the light half of the year to the dark that I feel compelled to do magick.  I can feel the shift in the air.  I can feel dark magicks waking up and tapping on my windows.  I love it!

So yes, I celebrate the harvest on Mabon, but that’s not all.  For me Mabon is a celebration of re-awakening and growing power.  It’s the time when I get to go out and dance in friendly energies at midnight – my reward for waiting patiently and being good since the Spring.  I’ll spend tonight meditating on my plans for the next few months and doing divination to guide me along my path.  I don't do any major rituals or spells on Mabon - those wait for Samhain.  Instead I like to spend this holiday quietly, just enjoying the energy and letting my hair down.  The time for my major works is coming all too soon, so I like to enjoy the last of my lazy days.

On Friday I’m taking the Spirits of Seattle ghost tour, so look for a report on that next Monday.

19 September 2011

Thank-You PPD!

A huge thanks to everyone who came out to Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride Day yesterday.  We had a blast talking to everyone, meeting new friends and seeing familiar faces. 

Here you see Rae du Soleil standing at the Grey School booth where I was stationed all day.  A huge thanks to Prof. Roue, Kelmar, and Prof. SilvaLuna for joining us throughout the day, answering questions, and generally making the day that much more fun.

A huge thank-you to everyone who attended my workshop on Defense Against the Dark.  There's nothing I like better than getting to interact with folks face to face and share what I know.  It's the reason I do what I do. 

15 September 2011

Pagan Pride and Religious Freedom

Yes, this is going to be about politics.  I promise I'll keep it short.

I'm a Pagan and damned proud of it.  Where I live the topic of religious freedom is rarely an issue.  The Seattle area is very multicultural and has people of just about every creed living together in relative harmony.  Unfortunately, not all areas are so kind to minority religions.  There are places in this country where identifying as a Pagan or, god forbid, a Witch can lose you a job or get you harassed or even attacked by the small minded who feel threatened by anything they don't understand.

It's Pagan Pride Day season at the moment, so if you are Pagan, curious, or just want to support your Pagan friends and neighbors, I encourage you to seek out your local Pagan Pride Day events and stop in.  Even if all you do is walk in the door you are making a powerful statement that you support tolerance and religious freedom.  The magickal and Pagan communities are small and rather insular.  In the past we kept to ourselves out of fear of hatemongers.  Today we have to stand up for ourselves and let it be known that we will not be maligned or harassed anymore.  Come together with your fellows and know that you are not alone.  Let those people who are in areas that don't have PPD, areas where coming out as a practitioner can get you firebombed, that they are not alone.  We need to stand up for each other because no one else is going to.

I'll be at the Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride Day event this Saturday the 18th, 11-6pm. At 2pm I'll be teaching a workshop on defensive magick and common creatures of the night.

12 September 2011

Mt. Rainier

As this last weekend was likely to be the last truly beautiful summer weekend of the year, I decided to spend Saturday hiking on Mt. Rainier with a good friend.  For those of you who aren't from the Pacific Northwest and don't already know, Mt. Rainier is one of the tallest, most beautiful mountains in the world.  This is the mountain that you see from Seattle on a clear day, the one that takes up a huge vista hundreds of miles away.  I really cannot describe how majestic she is.  The natives of the area called her Tahoma and she features as a sacred place in many legends.  On of my favorite legends is the story of Komo Kulshan and his two wives.  For anyone who venerates the earth there is no more sacred way to spend a day.

The hike we did was about 5 miles long and had about 1000ft of elevation.  Apart from a few steepish/icy bits it was a fairly easy hike.

We started by hiking the Sourdough Ridge Trail towards Frozen Lake.
From there we went up and around Burroughs.
Where we found snow.
From there we found ourselves on top of the most astonishing alpine meadow with a jaw dropping vista.
Apart from a minor low blood sugar incident, it was a spectacular day.

08 September 2011

You Know You're a Shadow Worker When...

You get The Tower in a tarot reading and you're really happy about it.

This reading was in answer to my question: what will tomorrow bring?  Of course, I get the feeling the cards took me at more than my intent and answered to a longer term definition of "tomorrow" than I had intended but I'm ok with it.

This reading is The Tower, the Knight of Cups, and the Ten of cups up in the right corner.  I take this to mean that a severe swat from the cosmic frying pan is going to smack me out of my current stagnation and release a lot of pent up energy and emotion.  It will probably suck in the short term, but ultimately I'll be really happy about it.  Gods this is such a typical reading for me.

06 September 2011

Book Reviews – Facing Violence and The Gift of Fear

Last week I was a reading fiend.  I finished two books, one I had just found on amazon and another that I’d been meaning to read for quite some time.  The books were Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected by Rory Miller and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  Now, these books aren’t the type of magickal books I normally review in this blog but I feel they have a place here.  Both of these books are about keeping yourself safe in the mundane world against the kinds of dangers that we all face every day.  I feel that it is vital to compliment magickal defense with plain, no nonsense, physical defense.  All the magick in the world won’t stop a bullet speeding towards your heart at greater than the speed of sound.  It might help you avoid being shot at in the first place, but you’d have to be a greater wizard than I to deflect a shot at point blank.

The first book I read was Facing Violence by Rory Miller.  This book is about learning how to deal with real world violence.  Most people aren’t programmed to deal effectively with violence.  We’re taught to be nice, polite, don’t stare, don’t be suspicious.  Well guess what, if someone it coming at you with a raised fist or worse the time for politeness is over.  This book teaches the reader how to read a potentially violent situation, how to diffuse it before it gets to violence, and how to act (and not get sued or arrested) if violence should happen to you.  Anyone who’s ever been in a real balls to the walls brawl knows the feeling of frozen white noise rushing through your head when you really begin to panic.  This book gives you the tools to get out of that headspace as quickly as possible so you can do more then get your ass handed to you.  It’s a very well written book, with lots of real world scenarios to make the concepts easy to understand and relevant to anyone.  I will probably be re-reading this sometime in the very near future.

The second book I read was The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  This is a book that had been on my wish list for a very long time.  This book is all about learning how to trust your own safety instincts.  Everyone observes things that they don’t really think about.  Your subconscious mind uses those billions of observations to form you instincts, your gut reactions.  Most of the time we’re taught to ignore those instincts because acting on them doesn’t fit into a smooth civil demeanor.  This book shows the reader how to look more deeply into their gut feelings and figure out what observations caused them, making it much easier to determine what really needs to be acted on.  It shows us how to listen to our fears to keep ourselves safe.  Beyond that, it teaches something even more important – how to distinguish between worry and actual fear.  Too many people are paralyzed by worries that don’t have any basis in fact (or at least not the facts they believed them to be based in) and this book explains why and what to do about it.  It’s well written, thorough, and actually quite comforting.  I might just make this mandatory reading for my students.