31 December 2012

Why I'm a Witch

The holidays are interesting.  Being with my family is always a double-edged sword.  I love them dearly, but it makes me sad that I can't be open with them about my religion.  My parents and sister know (though they're not terribly comfortable with it), and my in-laws know (they're super cool that way), but my extended family do not because I'm afraid they'd either disown me or try to convert me all day.  No fun.  All the bother reminds me of just why I do this in the first place.

Way back in my very first post to this blog I told the story of how I came to Witchcraft.  When I reach one of those rough points where it's hard to blend my magickal and mundane lives I like to think back to that first real experience of owning my spirituality.  However, that was an awfully long time ago.  I've had some profound spiritual experiences since then (particularly back when I was an undergrad), but only a few points really stand out as moments when everything fit so perfectly.

Oddly enough, all of my most profound spiritual experiences have been either when I was alone or when I've been in a group and buggered off to do my own thing.  Perhaps that's just the nature of personal gnosis - it's yours and yours alone; or maybe it's just because my deity doesn't play very well with others ;) 

I'm reminded of my first trip to Pantheacon in 2010.  I went to a lot of amazing workshops and attended several rituals.  Most of the rituals were...well..fine.  There was a lot of pomp and circumstance and very little actual energy being moved.  It's hard to do a public ritual where everyone is really involved (I know because I've tried - even succeeded a few times), but a lot of them could have been better. 

Then I had the great fortune of actually making it in the door to T. Thorn Coyle's big Morrighan ritual.  Now that was a ritual!  I've been to plenty of rituals where someone "drew down" a deity and approximately zilch actually happened.  But in this ritual, when that gal called down the Morrighan she was there with us, palpably so.  You could actually feel the room swell in an effort to contain her.  It was an ecstatic experience that I would be hard pressed to describe.  Of course, for me the most profound moment was when I stepped back from the circle and the Morrighan actually spoke to me directly.  At that moment I was both part of the ritual and outside it.  I was physically there participating, but my spirit was totally engaged in this amazing one on one experience just adjacent the ritual.  I know that the ritual facilitated the experience; it got the Morrighan's attention and opened me to where I could listen to her properly.  I've had that kind of experience several times as a solitary, but only rarely before in a group and never in something public.

It's moments like that one than remind me of why I do this.  Being a witch is hard, particularly a shadow practitioner - anyone who says otherwise is doing it wrong, but the rewards are great.  Being able to have profound personal experiences with deity is a reward without peer.  If you've never stood in the full sight of your god then you cannot understand just how powerful it is.  That is why I do this.  It's something anyone can do.  You don't need fancy robes or tools, you don't need a big coven or a renowned teacher.  All you need is the willingness to open yourself to deity and to do your best to align yourself to it, to make yourself beautiful in it's sight - however that works for your deity.  It's not an easy path, but it's worth it. 

17 December 2012

Spell for Guiding Change

In times like these change is in the air. We're not always sure if change is for good or bad, or idea what things are going to look like when the dust settles. Here's a little spell for guiding the changes in your life to be as positive as possible.

"Change is in the air,
Things are shifting, moving, evolving,
Change is here,
Things are growing, stretching, shedding old skins,
May I grow easily,
May I learn my lessons swiftly,
May I shed that which no longer serves painlessly,
May I evolve smoothly,
Into something more,
Something higher,
Something greater,
Change serves me,
Change is my ally,
I stretch, I learn, I grow,
I am change and change is me,
I am ready,
So more it be."

Headed to Pantheacon Again

A few days ago Pantheacon announced the official schedule and I'm pleased to announce that I'll be presenting again this year.  It will be a little different for me this year because I'm not presenting on magickal defense (one of my favorite topics).  Instead, I'm presenting a workshop on conflict resolution.

If you've been to Pantheacon over the last few years you've probably picked up on the increased tension.  The issues of gender, exclusion, and incorrect assumptions have been fairly divisive of late.  I figured it was time for me to put on my attorney-mediator hat and lend my expertise to the community.  I hope to see some of you there!


Conflict Resolution for Magickal Communities
Friday 1:30pm
Silicon Valley Room 

Incredible diversity is one of the greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses of magickal communities.  Our myriad strong opinions inevitably leads to conflict.  In this workshop we will learn the basics of successfully mediating conflict in magickal communities.  This workshop is appropriate for anyone who wants to have more productive conversations with others.
  The room is fairly small, so be sure to be on time to get a seat.

10 December 2012

Yule Shadow Magick

It's that time of year again, Yule is fast approaching.  This year the moment of the Winter Solstice will be at 3:12am pst on Friday December 21st.  If I were a slightly more fastidious (or anal) Pagan I'd do my darndest to stay up and do ritual right at the moment of the Solstice.  However, I'm not, and I have to work on Friday.  So, instead I will do a bit of ritual at Sunset on the 20th (4:20pm) and a bit at Sunrise on the 21st (7:55am).

Yule is about rebirth.  It's about surviving and thriving during the darkest night and rekindling the fires of life and ushering in new light.  Given that shadow magick as whole deals with those themes, it is an ideal time to do a major working.  Yule is an excellent time to set major goals for the next year and imbue them with energy and intention.  Of course, to fully embrace the natural shadow of winter it's best to set your goal for a major change of habit or something that will force you to deal with things you've been avoiding.  If you want to succeed at shadow magick you can't be afraid to face unpleasantness.

My big goal for the coming year is to achieve more balance in my life.  I tend to do everything in the extreme.  I'll study a subject 12 hours a day for a month and then drop it forever; I'll go from sitting on my couch to trying to run an hour a day and injure myself; I'll do ritual three times a day for a few weeks and then barely light a candle for months.  I tend to be very "all or nothing" in the things I do, which isn't the healthiest of mindsets.  It just leads me to overdo things, overextend myself, and then end up physically and mentally burned out. 

I used to think this meant I was just a hard worker, but really it's a weird kind of obsession.  It's almost as if I'm hoping that each new obsession will be the magic bullet for my general malaise - that one thing that will make everything else fall into place and give me a lasting sense of purpose and fulfillment.  It's not actually a terribly healthy way to go about things and it's very difficult for me to admit that.  Shadow work is all about giving up false ego and embracing the truth.  It's very, very hard.  If it's not hard you're either doing it wrong or you're a bodhisattva.

At sunset on the 20th I'm going call on the Crone for help and light a black candle for banishment.  I'm going to write down a thorough description of my utter lack of balance and all the harm it does me.  I'm also going to write down the things that I used to think it brought me that it really doesn't.  Then I shall burn the paper and say, "My obsessive tendencies and lack of balance have failed me.  I have failed to be the person I want to be because of them.  As the light dies on this darkest night I release my grip on them.  I let go of attachments that do not serve me and let them fade with the dying sun.  I release my false ideas and open myself to something better.  May I find a better way of coping."

Then, at sunrise the next day I'll take a little "coffee break" at work.  I'll take a small cookie or candy and hold it in my hands and mentally say, "As  the light returns to the world I shall find my balance.  I shall find the path of moderation that will allow me to be whom I want to be and do what I want to do.  As the days lengthen I shall walk this new path of balance.  I shall be my best self, whole and complete, accepting and accepted, shadow and light entwined."  Then I'll eat my little, moderate treat and go about my day.

07 December 2012

Not my week for technology

In the last seven days I have both had a tire blowout on the freeway and dropped my iphone in a sink full of water.  Technology and I are usually such good friends, but not this week.  Perhaps the universe is telling me I need to stay in and do something manual this weekend.  Maybe read a *gasp* physical book - one made of paper!

Look for a ritual to protect your car and a spell to protect electronics coming fairly soon ;)

03 December 2012

Book Review: The Little Book of Curses and Maledictions

I was browsing through amazon.com a few days ago and came across   The Little Book of Curses and Maledictions for Everyday Use by Dawn Rae Downton.  The kindle version was only a dollar so I figured I'd check it out. 

Although I rarely work curses, I do find them fascinating.  It's always interesting to see what actions other people think are curse worthy and how they try to go about laying them.  The tricky thing with curses, particularly those you haven't written yourself, is that they have a tendency to rebound back on the caster.  They usually end up just creating a really strong link between the caster and the target, often making both parties truly miserable.

I would never cast a curse because someone was gossiping about me, cut in line for the bus, or generally annoyed me.  I just don't think that sort of behavior rises to the level of curse-worthy.  If I'm going to forge a semi-permanent link between me and someone I detest they would need to have done something really, really bad.  I'm talking physically harming someone I care about, emotionally eviscerating a friend, that sort of thing.  But that's just me.  There are lots of practitioners out there that have no problem hexing someone for whatever reason.  It's up to you to determine your own curse ethics.

In this book there are three kinds of curses: the revenge curse, the warning curse, and the binding curse.

The revenge curses are probably what we all think of when we think of hexes, and curses.  This is the "make my ex miserable," "get my boss fired," "punish that thief," kind of curses that get popular media all hot and bothered.  Most of these are variations on traditional hexes and curses with a few twists to make them appropriate for contemporary casters.  They're all pretty easy to cast and if you know how to focus your energy and put it into a spell they they should work.  Of course, if you don't actually know what you're doing these spells probably won't do more than give you a small sense of satisfaction.

The warning curses are spells designed to prevent or end bad situations.  I wouldn't actually call these curses, since they don't actually visit harm on another.  I think these spells are only called curses in this book because they use the same types of techniques and ingredients as the more traditional revenge curses.  However, this section does have my favorite spell from the book, "The Eastwood."  It's basically a ward against douchbaggery.  You create a special pouch that you can wear when you want to prevent rudeness.  I would think that this sort of spell would loose it's potency rather quickly, so it would have to be done repeatedly.

The binding curses, unsurprisingly, bind the target to do, or refrain from doing, a particular thing.  Honestly, these are the kinds of curses I am least comfortable with.  The idea of infringing on someone else's free will does not sit well with me, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

Overall, this book is decent for what it is.  It gives the curious an interesting overview of what kinds of things curses and maledictions can do and gives inspiration to those actually wanting to cast a curse.  Would I do any of the spells in here as written? No, because a spell is always best when personalized and for something that requires as much commitment as a true curse you should be willing to make it your own.  That being said, if you did the spells as written in the proper frame of mind they'd probably work.  I just wouldn't recommend anyone trying it if they're not already accustomed to magick.

Overall I'd give this a 3 1/2 out of five for content, but for $1 that's just fine.


30 November 2012

Fiction Meets Reality

As you may have guessed by now, I'm a big reader.  I'm one of those freaks who likes to read about five books at once (I get it from my dad).  I read everything: sci-fi, mysteries, history, instructionals, everything.  Of all genres, fantasy is by far my favorite.  There's nothing I like better than being swept away by a magical tale - what witch wouldn't?  But in the best fantasy writing, there's something more than good storytelling going on.

You see, I have a theory about our best authors.  They're more than wordsmiths.  I think they're a very special kind of seer.  Reality is a large and rather incomprehensible thing.  There are more worlds than we can ever know, more universes and versions of reality than the human mind could ever comprehend.  All of those worlds, those parallel and crosswise realities, create ripples in the energy of reality and - just like a radio tuner can pick up certain frequencies and bring them to our ears - some people can pick them up in their minds.  Maybe it comes to them in dreams, in bursts of sudden inspiration, or a slow growing knowledge, but somehow these folks pick up bits and pieces of what's happening in other realities, other times.  The best of these folks then spin those truths into a cohesive story. Totally out there right?  I admit it, this theory is a bit nutty, but it's what I think. 

Have you ever stood right next to a huge bell or drum when it's been hit?  You get that weird resonance that flows right through you and makes the world seem to shake?  That's what happens to me when I come across TRUTH.  That's the feeling I got when I went to my first ritual, the feeling I got the first time I was truly in the presence of my God, the feeling I got when I first saw the energy of the earth.  It's the feeling I use as a litmus test  to figure out whether something I think or read is true.  I get that feeling when I'm reading certain versions of mythology that hit on something important. 

I get that feeling when I read certain parts of certain books.  Does that mean that I think the exact storyline I'm reading has actually happened exactly as written off in some far flung version of reality...not exactly.  That feeling tells me that there's something in what I'm reading that is important.  It can be a bit of storyline, a bit of cosmology, philosophy, or morality.  Sometimes it's the existence of an entire world. 

Why does that matter?  Because when something hits that resonance it seems to be my God's method of telling me I need to pay attention to it.  It has something important to teach or a warning to give.  I feel that that mean it's real, but honestly it doesn't much matter.  The important thing is to pay attention to that feeling and find out what needs to be learned.  Do you ever get that feeling when you're reading something that's just supposed to be a bit of fun?  What lessons have your Gods been trying to tell you?

19 November 2012

Why Ghosts of Children are the Worst

It's no secret that I'm not exactly the motherly type.  I don't like children.  I really don't like children.  One of the few things I like less than living children are the ghosts of children.  Oh, but aren't they sad little darlings who need love and acceptance to be shown into the light you ask?  Not so much, at least not in my experience.

Almost by definition, all ghosts of children died untimely deaths.  The death of any child is a terrible tragedy; an unthinkable crime against the natural order of things.  However, the incredible bereavement of a family is not what creates a ghost. Children can become intelligent ghosts (as opposed to mere residuals) for lots of reasons, but the grand majority of them were children who were murdered or mistreated in some horrible way.  This does not necessarily create the most sane and stable spirits.

Children do not have a fully developed sense of morality.  The younger they are the less likely they are to understand the difference between right and wrong, the difference between innocent play and a horror show.  Anyone who's watched a five year old pull the legs off a spider one by one knows this.  Children who have been mistreated their whole lives are even less likely to understand good behavior verses bad behavior.  Do you think this gets better when they die?  Nope.  So now, rather than having a mistreated and slightly feral child, you have a mistreated and slightly feral ghost who no longer has the constraints of a physical body nor the slightest fear of punishment for any action.  Darling little angels my ass.

The ghosts of children are much, much more likely to engage in poltergeist activity and to scare the living daylights out of you; largely because they think it's fun and have no idea that they shouldn't.  The ghosts of children will move objects, follow you down hallways, pinch, kick, push, and generally make your life hell.  Sometimes it's because they desperately want attention and acknowledgment, but sometimes it's just because they think it's funny.  The spirit of an adult can be reasoned with, placated, threatened, or cajoled; not so much with children.  The ghosts of children either quiet down when they get a little tlc or they run amok until their banished.  I really, really don't like dealing with them.

Another huge problem with the ghosts of children is that just because something says it's the ghost of a little child doesn't mean it actually is one.  There are lots of very bad things out there that will pretend to be the ghost of a child because people usually won't put up protections against what they think is an innocent.  What are you more likely to let into your life, something claiming to be a five year old that lost its mother or something claiming to be a non-human that wants to eat your life force? Hmmmm?  How do you know the difference?  Honestly, if you can't feel energies are aren't psychically looking for masks I don't know. 

If you think you're in the presence of a ghostly child you need to put up all the protections you would for any other unknown metaphysical being.  Unless you're an expert you really don't know what you're dealing with, and even if you are you still probably don't know for certain.

I really, really hate dealing with dead kids.

09 November 2012

Ritual for Cutting Ties

A few months ago a very good friend of mine had a really bad break-up.  The relationship had been fairly toxic and she had really cared about the douchebag in question.  It was one of those relationships that creates a really strong bond between the people in it, the kind of bond that isn't easily broken.  Even after a month or two my friend was still in pretty bad shape, to the point where the baggage from the old relationship was affecting any new ones she was trying to cultivate.

She asked for my help in creating a ritual to help her really cut ties with her ex so that she could move on and I was only too happy to help.  The trick, of course, would be doing something strong enough to cut the bond and cauterize the wound without actually harming him.  It's very difficult to do magick regarding someone you're angry with without "accidentally" cursing them.  There are few things more effective at making me angry than hurting my friends, so I was pretty damned pissed at this guy and my friend was pretty irate.  Here's what I came up with:

Ritual for Cutting Ties
A ritual for cutting ties with someone that is no longer a part of your life.  If you really, truly mean to stop giving energy to someone (including in hate form), then this will help you to do so.  Your behavior must support the intent of this spell.  Once you've done it there shall be no more online stalking, driving by the person's house, or musing on what the person is doing right now. You have to mean it!

As with any banishing, this is best done during the waning or new moon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 plain poppet, mostly sewn but unstuffed (basically a rag doll, should be colored in a way that reminds you of the person)
  • small items representing the relationship (such as ticket stubs, printed emails, etc.  If you don't have much you can write all of your feelings about the relationship on a piece of paper and then rip it into strips)
  • slip of paper with the person's name on it
  • a photo of the person (if you have it)
  • dried herbs for stuffing (rue, nettle, anything thorny and unpleasant - but not toxic when burnt)
  • twine/yarn (at least three feet)
  • a pair of scissors
  • a safe place to burn the poppet and matches


Spend a good week or so gathering the ingredients for this spell.  Think of this phase as bringing all the last scraps of the relationship into one place.

Sew together your poppet and fill it with the items that represent the relationship and the dried herbs, along with the photo and person's name.  If you're into embroiders you can embroider the person's name on the poppet.

On the night of the ritual case a circle, call the elements, and any appropriate dieties.  We called on the crone, as the mistress of all things "cauterizing."

State the purpose of the ritual.  You should do this aloud and in your own words.  You need to state why you want to cut all ties and show that you mean it.  The powers you have called on will judge your sincerity and give or withhold aid based on how they find you.

Now bind yourself with the string to the poppet.  (We looped the yarn several times around the poppet and then several times around my friend, with a little extra back and forth for good measure.)  Then say, "I now cut and cauterize all my ties with [X]," while cutting the yarn with the scissors.

Unravel yourself and the poppet, thank any powers you've called on, and dismiss your circle.

Now, burn the poppet.  If you don't have a good place to do so you can unpick all the stitches of the poppet and then bury the components.




24 October 2012

Being Ethical is Hard

This is a rant.  There will be no redeeming value in what follows.  Just go with it.

More often than not I enjoy my job.  It's stimulating enough to keep me from getting bored and I like the satisfaction of actually accomplishing something everyday.  However, there is one HUGE problem with my office - our communication culture is utter crap.  I'm part of the IT department at my firm.  I work on case management sysyem.  I don't really deal with the day to day support that the rest of the team deals with.  This gives me a rather unique perspective: not fully IT, not fully attorney. 

We have a gal in our office who submits a lot of help tickets to IT.  Really a lot.  Like 8-10 a day.  Often repeating what she asked about in a previous ticket.  Her tickets are almost always in all caps, with multiple exclamation marks.  Not once have I read a ticket from her that actually contained enough information for us to actually help her.  She raises all of our blood pressure.  We do not like her. 

Despite her inherent obnoxiousness we still have to help her.  The things she needs are actually important for the proper functioning of our business. A few weeks ago she submitted a ticket to us for something that was not actually an IT issue and we couldn't have helped her.  Did anyone actually tell her this?  No.  The ticket languished unclaimed in the system until one of my co-workers decided to just close it.  Without actually telling her that it wasn't an IT issue would she please go talk to the folks who are actually responsible for that.  Yes, she is obnoxious but if we don't tell her to change her behavior then we are partially responsible for it.  If someone (the particular person who first noticed this) had just taken the time to respond to the damned ticket when she saw it we wouldn't have gotten yelled at.  Our behavior turned something that wasn't actually our problem and made it our problem. 

Take the 30 seconds to communicate before it becomes a problem.  Why is that so fricken difficult for some people?  My urge to hex everyone involved is large.  As much as I would love to see some just desserts it would just make things more difficult.  I'm going to have to create some kind of mini-altar to communication on my desk instead.  Probably better in the long run but not nearly as satisfying. *sigh*

22 October 2012

On Demons and Demonology

This weekend I read a book called Encounter with Hell by Alexis McQuinllan.  It's a supposedly true account of a woman with some psychic ability and her encounter with a demon.  It's a very quick and rather thought-provoking read, though I'm not entirely sure if I liked it or not.  The basic gist of it is that Alexis moves to a smallish town and immediately becomes obsessed with a haunted house.  She goes there and ignores a bunch of metaphysical red flags that would have had me out of there in a heartbeat.  She goes blundering about and eventually really pisses off the demon that happened to be living in the basement.  She then fails to get proper help in dealing with the situation she's created for herself and her life becomes a living hell for a while - as it would.  This book is a worthwhile read as a cautionary tale of what never to do.  The author seems to realize this and repeatedly points out the mistakes she made, which I respect.  I certainly didn't do everything (or if I'm honest even most things) right the first time I came up against a demon, but at least I had a better idea of what I was dealing with.  If you're interested in how demons tend to actually behave this is a worthwhile read, just do not emulate the author.  If you think you've encountered a demon get help, serious help, wherever you can find it.

Reading this book really got me thinking about demons and demonology. What most people think of as demonology is based in Ceremonial Magick (see The Lesser Key of Solomon and other Goetic grimoires for more info) and Ceremonial Magick is based on Abrahamic lore.  There are lots of books and websites (like Demonicpedia) that list out all of the Goetic demons, their descriptions, habits, dominions, and places in hell.  That's all well and good if you believe in the Abrahamic cosmology - heave, hell, purgatory, and all that.  However, I don't.  Therefore, the classical view of demonology just doesn't work for me.  Yes, yes, I know that all of these cosmologies are just frameworks through which people learn to relate to things we don't understand rather than how things actually are; and yes this framework is so pervasive that it's gotten enough energy put into it to make it "real" even if things weren't that way originally.  However, I just can't work with this.  Further, it just doesn't fit with my experiences.  

I've had the misfortune of dealing with a couple of demons in my time (and I sincerely hope that I won't again).  In my experience demons are essentially distilled malevolence with independent thought and a lot of power.  Now, that picture probably has a lot to do with how I experience energy; I feel it intuitively and sometimes "see" it.  I didn't learn about energy from within an existing framework with ideas of how things should be, so I didn't immediately label particular energies (e.g. oh that energy is a pixy, that energy is an imp, that energy is Amon the seventh lord of hell).  Rather, I'd feel the energy and look at the behavior it exhibited and try to fit it with the best label I could find (this is the method behind all the identifications in my book Defense Against the Dark).  Using this method of feeling out what things are, nothing I've encountered and labelled as a demon makes me think they were any of the Goetic demons. 

In my experience demons seem to evaluate people as either prey or a threat.  If you have the misfortune of being identified as prey, well you're going to have a very bad day.  Demons are insidious bastards and will do everything they can to sour every good thing in your life without you realizing what's happening until it's too late.  They threaten, cajole, and generally manipulate the shit out of you.  If you are identified as a threat you are probably going to be attacked - hardcore.  I'm talking scratching, biting, pushing, screaming, nightmares, visions, and anything else it can think of to get you to run far, far away and never come back.  They are horrible miasmas of malevolence.  There is nothing good about them and they need to be banished back to wherever they came from or completely dispelled.  There are no other ethical options in my opinion.

Goetic demons are an entirely different thing.  They seem to be intelligent, non-human, amoral entities that can be worked with as long as the practitioner understands their natures and is cautious.  I personally believe that Goetic demons are just thought forms and that calling them demons at all is a misnomer, which is why a lot of practitioners call them daemons (after the greek intermediaries) rather than demons - totally different connotation.  

It's for this reason that I don't think traditional demonology is terribly useful in defensive situations, except psychologically.  If you encounter something horrible and decide it's a particular Goetic demon then you have a psychological advantage.  Something with a name that other people have dealt with is a lot less scary than dealing with an unnamed, unseen malevolence (think of the difference between scary movies that show you the monster verses the ones that just suggest it and leave your imagination to fill in the blanks).  In the human mind if you can name something you can have power over it.  So, using traditional demonology as a tool can be helpful, but it's just not quite accurate. 

The entities I call demons are not the same as Goetic demons and require a very different method of approach.  In my encounters with demons the best defense you can possibly have is a strong sense of self, extreme confidence, and either massive shields or a totally uncracked aura (easier said than done).  Demons can taste weakness and will exploit it to the Nth degree.  All the circles, incense, and prayer in the world won't help unless you KNOW that they will keep you safe.  All it takes is one seed of doubt for your fortifications to crack and let it in.  Demons are not to be messed with by the inexperienced - they are scary, scary bastards and can take down even the most skilled and experienced if they get caught on the wrong day. 

If you think you might encounter a demon one day be diligent in your shadow work and heal those cracks in your aura.  Every internal demon you vanquish is one less thing for an external one to prey on.  And, for the love of all that is good, get help IMMEDIATELY!

18 October 2012

Apropos of Nothing

This is my little Halloween kitty.  Cordelia will turn one year old on the 31st. 
I just love the fur between her toes!




10 October 2012

Eastwood Cemetary

A few weeks ago a friend and I were traveling through Medford, Oregon and decided to spend our evening exploring their old settlers cemetery, Eastwood Cemetery

Entrance to Eastwood Cemetery
It was just an hour or so before sunset when we arrived, the side light giving the place quite an other worldly atmosphere.  Near the entrance is a little outbuilding with information on notable people you'll find in the cemetery.  We noted that there were more than an couple notorious people, so we figured we were in for an interesting time.  We weren't wrong.

One of the oddest things we experienced was the presence of a white cat.  Yes, yes I can hear you thinking, "What on earth is so odd about a cat?" Well, you kinda had to be there.  This was a pure white cat with gold eyes that sat calmly be the entrance of the cemetery, then led me off to a corner of the graveyard where it promptly sat under a tree and just stared at me.  It didn't hiss, meow, or run away when approached.  It just sat there calmly looking through you. It set of all my spidey sense and if I had to guess I'd say it was actually a Fay taking the shape of a cat.  It's hard to describe the energy this "cat" emitted, but as someone with three cats I can safely say it wasn't normal.
An interesting feline.
It even went back to the entrance as we left to see us off.

Another odd experience happened in the back of the cemetery, a little off to the Northwest. I was wandering around, and suddenly smelled smoke.  The ground was incredibly dry, so I worried that something might have caught fire.  I looked around and didn't see anything so my next thought was that maybe I was smelling someone's grill (as this part of the cemetery was very near some houses).  I wandered around a bit trying to find the source of the smell and came to the odd realization that I only smelled the smoke when I stood directly in front of a particular tombstone.  I had my friend Rae come over and check if it was just me, but she had the same experience.  Makes me wonder if this person was a firefighter or perhaps died in a fire (or maybe was just a big pyro).  Who knows?  Gotta love phantom smells.
When I stood directly in front of this tombstone I smelled smoke.

However, undoubtedly the most disquieting experience I had started just as the sun finally sank behind the hills.
Sunset




I was moving through the back of the cemetery when I began to get the distinct impression that I was unwelcome.  I heard the voice of a little girl saying, "No, no, no.  He's a bad man! A bad, bad man!"  Not the most comforting thing to hear I must say. I could feel the spirit of the little girl leave and something much darker take her place.  It felt heavy and wild.  The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up and then I felt a sharp pain on the back of my hand.  It was the first time I had ever been physically scratched by the unseen.  Now, I was not going to take any of that nonsense so I quite firmly stated that if whatever it was felt the need to do that again I would smack it into the next world.  It didn't touch me again, but I could feel that it was angry and did not like my being there. I'm not sure if it was a ghost or something darker.  I get the feeling it saw itself as some kind of guardian, so perhaps it had a good reason for wanting me out of there.
 

I decided it was time to head out and leave the shadows in peace.  We walked out under the mistletoe infected oaks and bid farewell to the not quite cat. 

Mistletoe growing on an oak tree.

Quite the kitty.

08 October 2012

Post PPD

A big thanks to everyone who came out and visited me last Saturday.  PPD was fantastic and I had a great time.  I got to say hello to some old friends and made a new one or two and that always makes my day.

Alas, after meeting up with so many people I seem to have caught the inevitable cold.  I've been fighting a bug for a week or two now and my weekend seems to have pushed me over the edge.  I shall now have a bowl of soup and go back to bed.

My chicken soup:
2 chicken breasts
half an onion
1 green pepper, veins and seeds removed, flesh finely minced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 small zucchini, cut into small chunks
about 2 quarts chicken stock
about 2 tbs minced garlic
pinch herbs de provence

Put everything but the zucchini in a big pot and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil cover and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 20-30 minutes, when the chicken is fully cooked.  Once cooked remove the chicken breasts and shred.  Put the shredded chicken back in the pot and remove the half onion.  Add the zucchini to the pot and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.

I eat about a gallon of this stuff each time I catch cold.



 

05 October 2012

Pagan Pride Tomorrow!

Just a reminder folks, I'll be at the Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride celebration tomorrow at the Grey School booth.

The event is free for all and there's free parking!  So no excuses, come on down and say hello.  (Please do bring a donation of canned/shelf stable food for our local food banks!)

2501 E. D Street
Tacoma, Wa
11am-6pm


http://www.cpsppd.com/

I'll be presenting a workshop on Magickal Intent at 5pm.

Me at Eastwood Cemetery in Medford, Or last weekend.

25 September 2012

Book Review - Restless in Peace

I've just finished a fun little book called Restless in Peace: A Psychic Mortician's Encounters with Those who Refuse to Rest.  It's essentially a book of ghost stories, but it's unlike any other I've encountered.

The book is about the ghostly encounters of the author Mariah de la Croix during her time working in funeral homes.  The author tells stories of ghosts who stop by as their bodies are visited by their families, spirits who decide to linger after their bodies are buried, ghost of folks who worked or died on the properties, etc.  She even has a chapter on shadow people.  They're great stories: some a bit creepy, others heartwarming, others downright scary.

What I like most about this book is the matter of fact tone of the author.  These are all things that she experienced, from the slightly odd to the truly bizzare.  She doesn't sensationalize the stories or play up the creep factor.  She simply tells how she felt about things when they were happening and then reflects on them a little.  She shows tremendous respect for the spirits; which anyone who has really worked with them can appreciate.

Oftentimes personal accounts of ghost encounters can be overly dramatized.  The littlest thing is "an evil spirit" or a "demon."  That's not the case with this book.  I believe the author because most of the spirits the she encountered acted just like normal people would.  Sure, she ran in to a few dark entities, by they were few and far between - just like they actually are.  She doesn't over dramatize her own actions either.  She doesn't talk about gibbering in fear or blodly facing a demon with nothing but a stick.  Here's her reaction to a shadowy mass approaching her:

I backed up and banged into the door, which abruptly slammed, barring my way out of the room. At that point, I could scream loudly, slip to the floor and whimper, or I could stand there and behave as if I’d done this a hundred times before; in other words, fake it. Brilliant me decided to stand my ground and bluff it away. I had no idea what I was doing.
Oh yeah, I sooooo know how that feels.  This is a woman I can seriously relate to.

If you want to read about what ghosts are actually like read this book.  This is how they actually behave.  If you want a good read with a little spookiness and a lot of reality pick this one up.  I highly enjoyed it.

21 September 2012

Mabon and the Spooky Symposium

Tomorrow is Mabon! It's finally here! I cannot tell you how happy I am to greet the Autumn.  Summer's great for hiking and camping, but there's nothing like October country to stir my blood.  I love the way the air turns crisp and the trees shake in the wind.  I love watching swirling orange and red leaves float through the air.  I love seeing fresh apple cider in the grocery store and even love the pumpkin spice candles that start popping up everywhere.  I truly love Autumn.

It also doesn't hurt that Mabon heralds my very favorite time of year - Halloween season!  Yes, I know that Halloween is really Samhain - I am a Pagan you know.  I love Samhain, it's my favorite of all the wheel of the year holidays, but I also love Halloween - silly, creepy, over-commercialized, sugar glorifying, horror movie marathon inducing Halloween.  I'm a dark person by nature (a shock to all my regular readers I know), so few things thrill me as much as seeing normal everyday people enjoying the things that I like everyday.  I love the abundance of spookiness, from ghost tours to haunted houses, that's available this time of year.  I love a good safe scare. 

Mabon itself isn't all that creepy on the surface.  It's a time of balance and harvest - think Pagan Thanksgiving.  But below the surface we see the waning of the year, the turn towards darkness.  From Mabon until the following Ostara the night holds sway and daylight hours are short (particularly here in the PNW).  On Mabon itself the veil thins; the liminality of the day allowing for easy access to other realms.  That means that if you're looking to communicate with "other" beings, Mabon is a very good day to do so.

And that brings us to the Spooky Symposium.  You see, last weekend a friend of mine asked me to provide her with a genuinely scary experience.  She's wanted to see ghosts forever, but hasn't quite gotten the knack of energy sensing, so she can't under normal circumstances.  I rather cockily said I could make scary circumstances.  I figured I'd take her someplace haunted and just pump energy into the room until things could manifest more solidly.  Then I started thinking about where to go.  My thought process was along the lines of: "Oh, I could take her to...no, that would be trespassing.  Hmm, maybe I could go to...no, that place is rather dangerous at night.  Well, maybe I could...no, those ghosts aren't there all that often."  I think you get the picture.  There are plenty of haunted places in Seattle but they either private property or the potential for mugging is too high for a small group of women after dark.  So I came up with a better idea.

Instead of going somewhere dangerously haunted, we'll spend the evening talking about paranormal experiences, different spooky entities, and end the evening with a seance - a Spooky Symposium if you will.  Yes, we shall pretend that we're proper Edwardian ladies and discuss spooks over tea and cakes and then invite the spooks to join us.  Normally I do not recommend seances.  They tend to open doors and not shut them - this leads to people having to call me to rescue them.  Of course, being the witch I am I will do it right (*knock on wood*).  I know enough to ward us from malicious entities and have the ability to banish anything pesky that comes through.   If all goes well we'll get some spooky fun, maybe help a spirit or two, and then go back to the mundane.  If all goes poorly, well, then my friend will get a little bigger scare than she bargained for.  It should be very interesting none the less.  I'll let you know how it goes ;)

17 September 2012

A Great Weekend Past and a Look Towards Mabon

Last weekend was the Seattle Esoteric Book Conference which I visited with some good friends from the Grey School.  The conference itself was a bit expensive for my wallet so I decided to save my hard-earned for the vendor room, rather than going to the workshops.  I have never seen so many small press occult publishers in one room before.  It was really neat to see so many wonderful rare and antique editions, some of familiar works (1st edition Drawing Down the Moon!) and some bizarre things that I've never heard of.

A fun bit of public art down at the Seattle Center, next to the Experience Music Project.

 There were a lot of amazing books there, but I must admit it wasn't really my crowd.  I'm a witch and the majority of what I do is intuitive.  Old grimoires and esoteric theory are wonderful bits of color and enrichment, but they don't really inform my practice.  Historical research into how particular magicians did things a hundred years ago is interesting in an anthropological way, but I'll stick to listening to my Gods for figuring out how I'm supposed to best honor them.  Now, my alchemist friend just about lost her biscuit  with all the amazing hard to find alchemical titles they had and I imagine any ceremonial magician would have felt like they'd entered candyland.  I think this conference is a wonderful thing and I'll definitely be back, but probably just for a turn about the room.

After the conference my friends and I went on a ghost tour with the always lovely Jake of Private Eye Tours.  We did the Spirits of Seattle tour, which I've been on before and enjoyed immensely.  Our group was most of the van and pretty much commandeered things.  We were joined by two lovely ladies who didn't seem to mind our outspoken and matter of fact magickal talk and may even pop by the Grey School some time - which would be fab :)

Jake telling us about the spirit of a minister haunting his former church.


All in all it was a wonderful and witchy weekend.  I came home with some interesting grimoires and will eventually have some interesting book reviews for y'all.

Now, Mabon is coming up this week; Sept 22nd at 7:49am pst to be precise. Here in Seattle we're enjoying an odd Indian Summer, with temps in the high 70s to low 80s all week.  I've never welcomed autumn in shorts before and I can only imagine it will be a weird experience.  However, you can tell the seasons are shifting because I'm arriving at work when the stars are still out and I need a coat in the morning.  I think perhaps I'll welcome autumn by making a special batch of applesauce or maybe some nice beeswax candles on Thursday.  I'll have to think about it. 

13 September 2012

Setbacks in Shadow Work

I've spent a lot of the past few months consumed by my shadow.  For me the shadow tends to  manifest as procrastination, over-indulgence, and self-recrimination.  This means I haven't gotten a whole lot done of late and pretty much feel like crap about it.  I've let way too many things that are important to me slide by the wayside and I mean to remedy that.  So today I'm going to talk a little about setbacks in shadow work - appropriate no?

The thing about shadow work is - it's hard.  If it's not hard you're not doing it right.  Shadow work is soul searing, gut churning, bone shakingly difficult.  Reaching into your own abyss, pulling things out, and turning them into strengths is a lot like re-breaking an improperly set bone so that it can grow straight and healthy again - absolutely necessary and worthwhile but hurts like hell.  The more it scares you and the more you try to avoid it the more important it is to face it.  Remember the movie Labyrinth?  There's a scene in the movie when the main character is trying to navigate underground tunnels and huge rock faces start shouting at her to turn around and that she's on the path to her own doom.  Then her companion tells her that the stone faces are actually "false alarms" and that the more of them there are and the louder they get the more likely they are to actually be going the right way.  Shadow work is a lot like that, the harder it is the closer you're probably getting to something important.

Setbacks in shadow work are inevitable.  Anything as difficult as proper shadow work is going to be mentally, emotionally, and magickally exhausting.  It's absolutely necessary to take a rest every once in a while or you'll burn out and probably experience some major mental backlash (I know I do when I take things too far too fast).  Every few weeks take a rest from shadow work.  Go do something that doesn't take a lot of mental prowess and that is emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.  Go for a hike, paint a picture, play some games, throw a party.  Do a ritual of thanksgiving to celebrate the bits of you that aren't covered in psychic muck of your own making.  It's easy to go myopic doing shadow work and forget that your shadow is just a small part of who you are.  You are not your shadow. 

The whole point of shadow work is to make you stronger and more whole so that your shadow becomes your ally instead of your enemy.  The shadow is not bad; it's just unacknowledged and unfulfilled and occasionally acts out like a bored child.  Sometimes it doesn't feel like it's making you stronger, but just the opposite.  As you sit in meditation, shaking with stress and fighting back tears that make no sense to your logical brain you feel anything but strong.  But here's the thing, would you rather breakdown in the safety and privacy of your circle or wait until something in the world triggers your shadow in public where who knows where the fallout will land?  And, once you've faced a particular aspect of your shadow, once you've had your shootout at high noon moment, it's never quite as bad again.  The next time it will be a little less fierce, and even less fierce the time after that, until eventually you'll wonder what the big deal was.  Of course, you'll probably have exposed more deeply buried scary bits in the mean time and have other things to worry about. 

Shadow work really does make things better.  The more you integrate your shadow the more whole you become and the strong your center becomes.  As we all know, our center is the seat of our magickal power and the stronger it is the better able we are to do just about anything and the less vulnerable we are to any kind of outside attack.  If you specialize in defensive magicks like me, strengthening the center is absolutely critical.  Shadow work seals the cracks and fissures in the aura and makes shielding little more than childsplay.  Yeah, shadow work is hard and can really suck ass some times but it's worth it.

03 September 2012

Dragon's Blood

I’ve been doing a fair amount of herb work lately - making balms, oils, herbal waters, etc.  Most of what I make is protective because, well, I’m rather paranoid and I like the vibration of a good homemade protective concoction.  I use a lot of different herbs, oils, resins, and spices in my various protective recipes but if I had to choose just one as my favorite it would definitely be dragon’s blood.

No, dragon’s blood isn’t real blood nor is it colored ink.  Real dragon’s blood is a resin that comes from particular trees that grow in Southeast Asia. The resin can come from several different species of rattan, though it most commonly comes from Daemomorops Draco.  You can find dragon’s blood resin in any occult/metaphysical shop sold as incense and can find its essential oil in the better shops and online.  Some shops will sell the vastly inferior perfume oil, which I used before I knew any better, but it’s so unlike the real thing as to be laughable.  Real dragon’s blood smells like the sap it is - smelling rather like a slightly spicy pine.  It should be a dark, rusty red color in resinous form and the pure oil is often red-brownish.  

Dragon’s blood is highly protective and aids in the potency of any protective or banishing spell.  I like to add chunks of the resin to mojo bags and often use the oil to anoint/bless objects.  I’ve also been known to wear the essential oil as a perfume when I’ve needed a little extra shielding.  I most commonly combine dragon’s blood with frankincense, myrrh, and a little sea salt to make fiery wall of protection powder or oil (depending on if I’m working with the resins or the oils).  Though the high quality oils can be a bit spendy their potency is more than worth it, particularly because you only need use a drop or two at a time.  The powdered version of fiery wall of protection is handy because you can always keep a vial or two on hand and sprinkle it around you when you need a little extra protection.  It’s also great when working with clients requesting protection because it’s both incredibly potent and “looks suitable magickal” for a muggle to think you’re actually doing as much as you say you’re doing (I’ll go into working with non-magick folks another time).

I like to get my dragon’s blood at The Vajra, a wonderful shop here in Seattle that has some of the highest qualities oils I’ve found.  You can also find good quality dragon’s blood online if  you go to reputable sources.  One of my favorites is Mountain Rose Herbs.

Resources
Scott Cunningham. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.
Paul Beyerl. The Master Book of Herbs.
“Dragon’s Blood.” A Modern Herbal.  http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dragon20.html
“Dragon’s Blood.” http://dherbs.com/articles/dragons-blood-394.html

28 August 2012

I Hate Politics

Yes, I know.  Everyone hates politics these days and for good reason.  As someone who has studied things like logic, rhetoric, and persuasion I find the entire American political process pretty disgusting - and no side is better than any other.  When someone I disagree with uses some horrendous fallacy to make an argument I shake my head and pity the fools that believe it.  Then of course I see someone I do agree with using the same twisted illogic and realize that "my side" is no better.

In reality we're all just people trying to live our lives as best we can.  I'm a firm misanthrope but even I don't hate people enough to buy into the viscous rhetoric that's being thrown around these days.  I don't even hate the people that hate me enough to wish upon them what they wish upon me - and I really hate people most of the time.  I generally think people are stupid, petty, and easily led but that doesn't mean I want to outlaw their way of life and see them strung up by their ears - perhaps publicly flogged for idiocy, but not destroyed.

As a shadow worker I spend a lot of time looking at the cracks and fissures in my own psyche so I have a fair amount of empathy for the gaping holes most people have in their souls.  The other day I was driving back home from a trip to Portland and on the drive up there's this awful billboard.  This billboard has been there for years and it is always covered with the most hate filled hogwash.  It makes me queasy every time I see what new message of ignorance and intolerance is on it, so much so that I actually avert my eyes to avoid reading it.  I seriously have to go to my happy place to shield myself.  It used to make me so angry but now it just makes me sad.  What kind of awful terror filled life would make someone think that essentially shouting hate at every car driving up I-5 was the right thing to do?  How sad and insecure must you be to find the happiness of others offensive and threatening?

I hate politics.  It clearly shows America's shadow self at its very worst: fearful, vengeful, spiteful, rigid, and intolerant.  Wake up America, your shadow is showing.

Check out a recent article from the Wild Hunt talking about fear and intolerance in politics: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2012/08/the-problem-with-mount-carmel-moments.html

25 August 2012

Tarot at Crescent Moon Gifts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow from 1-4pm I'll be doing tarot at Crescent Moon Gifts in Tacoma as part of the PPD fundraiser. Stop in and see me! There will also be other readers and a bake sale. Should be a lot of fun.

30 July 2012

Do Ghosts Eat?

I've seen ghosts for as long as I can remember.  When I was little they scared the hell out of me.  I was brought up to think that anything metaphysical was evil, and therefore ghosts must be out to get me.  As I got older my experience taught me differently, that ghosts were definitely something "else," but that they weren't generally all that bad.  As I got over the bone-breaking terror I started actually listening to the ghosts instead of covering my head with a pillow and hoping they would go away.  I learned that ghosts are actually pretty interesting and a lot of them are very nice, if a little morose - but hey, I'm a little morose so no harm there.  I've been actively working with ghosts for about fifteen years now and have had a lot of chances to observe and study them. 

One of the great mysteries of metaphysics is why ghosts do what they do.  Some ghosts hang out in the places where they lived, others follow people, yet others drift from place to place, etc.  One of the things I've noticed over the years is that certainly places are a lot more likely to have ghosts than others.  Any place that sees regular intense emotion is more likely to have a ghost in it than a place that doesn't often see people emoting.  Ever notice how places like schools, clubs, arenas, and parks are incredibly eerie when they're deserted?  It's not just that they're so different without people, it's that the energy of thousands of screaming people is soaked into the concrete, literally bouncing off the walls and flying through the air.  That amount of energy is quite palpable to anyone bothering to pay attention and it acts like a beacon to the metaphysical.

Places like that seem to swarm with metaphysical entities, particularly ghosts.  Why should that be?  I've noticed that a lot of the ghosts in places like that don't really seem to belong there.  Yeah, someone murdered right after going to a club might haunt the place, but what about ghosts flitting around an elementary school?  My theory is that places that are that flooded with energy are essentially a free buffet for spirits. 

Ghosts are made of energy.  They are, essentially, big blobs of a finite amount of energy vibrating at a particular frequency.  Just like the living, everything ghosts do expends energy (appearing, speaking, moving objects, etc.).  When people spend enough of their energy they eat food and turn that food into more energy.  Ghosts don't eat they way they we do, but they must replace the energy they spend somehow.  When ghosts are around it's quite common for people to experience a sudden drop in the temperature of the room, feel a bout of vertigo, etc., and it's theorized that this is the ghost feeding on the energy around them in order to manifest in some way.  Feeding on ambient energy in that way is a lot like gleaning for berries in the woods - it takes a fair amount of work to get enough to make a meal.  Places like sports arenas have so much extra energy just hanging around it's a lot more like sitting in a chair while your grandmother heaps your plate with more food than you could ever possibly consume - it's a hell of a lot less work.  If I was a ghost I'd probably make an occasional stop at the local energy smorgasbord when I was getting peckish. 

I think places that have been filled with intense emotions tend to be equally filled with ghosts because it's easy for ghosts to exist there with so much free energy floating around.  Why work for your meal if you don't have to?

17 July 2012

It is wrong...

that I really enjoy blowing peoples expectations?

On the Radio Tonight!

Hey folks, tune in to the Grand Dark Conspiracy tonight at 10pm edt/7pm pdt to hear me talk about shadow work, things that go bump in the night, and the meaning of evil.  I had a fabulous time the last time I was on this show and am really looking forward to it.  I hope you'll join me :)

04 July 2012

Shadow in Nature

There was a wonderful article written a month or so back on the prevalence of Pagans of various flavors to idealize nature as being benign, pure, and good (I cannot find it for the life of me, so if you can please put a link in the comments).  In reality, nature - I'm talking real nature, not your local park - is glorious but brutal.  Nature is not a wholesome sanctuary where we can retreat from our hectic lives to find peace and safety.  Nature is a place of harsh extremes, survival of the fittest, and literally awesome vistas.  There is no better place to explore the balance of light and shadow than in nature.



I spent today steeped in the extremes that nature offers us.  I went to Mount Saint Helens and hiked the South Coldwater Trail to Coldwater Saddle.  For those of you not familiar with this mountain, it blew up rather spectacularly in 1980.  The picture above was taken this afternoon and you can see the acres of trees that are still blasted to this day.  In a place like that you can see both unparalleled beauty and incredible harshness.













To have both the stunning views of Coldwater Lake and its surroundings and views of the twisted metal of construction equipment caught in the blast, Mt. St. Helens is a reminder that nature is not a happy shiny place where people can frolic in edenic bliss.  Nature is awesome and terrible.  She deserves our reverence and respect because she will give until it hurts and then, when we think we've got it all figured out, she'll whollup us but good.

26 June 2012

Shadow Magick in Llewellyn's Magical Almanac

No, I have not fallen off a cliff.  I'm still here and still writing when I can.  I've spent the last few months (and will be spending a few more) stuck up to my eyeballs in a huge project at work and it's pretty much sucking my will to do anything that requires more mental effort than looking at trees and going "Oooo, pretty."  So, unfortunately you won't be getting proper regular blog posts for a while.  Sorry about that, but I gotta pay the bills.

In much happier news, yesterday my contributor copies of the 2013 Llewellyn's Magical Almanac arrived!  I've got an article in this year's edition on basic Shadow Magick.


If you're a regular reader, then you'll be fairly familiar with the content of the essay, but it does encapsulate the important points of the basic practice all in one place.  I hope you pick up a copy when it hits the shelves later this season :)

(My article starts on page 298)


06 June 2012

Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of driving down to Ashland, OR to visit the magnificent Oregon Shakespeare Festival.   On our way south we decided to finally visit the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery.

I'd been hearing about this place for years and had always been intrigued.  It's one of those places that has a house full of insane angles that creates insane optical illusions.  This place also claims to be host to an energy vortex that warps perception and mass.  I came expecting to enjoy the optical illusions and be sarcastic about the energy claims.  I was quite surprised to find out that there actually is an incredibly strong permanent energy vortex centered in the House of Mystery.   

We arrived shortly after noon, on the only sunny day all weekend, just in time for a tour (which took about an hour).  Our guide began by going into the history of the place which has accounts of odd phenomena going back to the Native Americans.  There are old stories of mammals not liking the area, so you don't see many squirrels or rodents in the Vortex - the area is famous for spooking horses.  People tend to feel odd there as well, experiencing vertigo, headaches, pressure, etc.  I found that as we neared the center of the vortex I could feel a palpable shift in the ambient energy; akin to moving from still water into a flowing river.  As someone who can channel energy quite well I just opened myself to let the energy flow in the way it wanted to and didn't feel any negative effects.

The House of Mystery itself is an old assayers office that fell down a slope during a storm and landed all akimbo up against a tree. If you let yourself be guided by the warped visual cues it gives you, you will feel the worst vertigo of your life.  Everything feels like it's going sideways.  (photo from http://news.opb.org/article/oregon-vortex-offers-spooky-mystery-all/)


It's in the house that things really get interesting because the center of that vortex is right inside it.  According to the guide, they were recently visited by a Celtic Shaman who said that the vortex was home to a portal of some kind.  Before the guide told us where it was I went right to a spot on the floor and pointed at it, saying "It's right there." The guide confirmed that it was the same spot the Shaman had identified (confirmation that my energy senses are on track is always nice).  I don't know where that portal goes but it's definitely there.   I didn't sense anything negative about it so I felt totally comfortable playing with all the fun ambient energies.

If you're every travelling on I-5 through Southern Oregon I highly recommend taking an hour and visiting the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery.


09 May 2012

People Suck

Ok, I need to vent.  Yesterday I lost my wedding rings.  This pisses me off to an extent I find difficult to describe.  I went to the gym yesterday and forgot my rings in the locker I was using.  This morning I called the gym and they were neither in the lost and found nor the locker I used yesterday.  This means either the person I talked to was blind and didn't see them in the locker or someone made of with my wedding rings.  I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt and hope that they were accidentally knocked into someone's bag and they'll find them later and turn them in.  I have very little hope of that.  I feel extremely stupid for leaving them in the first place and deeply disappointed in humanity for someone having taken them.  

As a shadow worker I spend a lot of time with my negative emotions and I know how angry and bitter I can be.  Hell, I'm the kind of witch that will sling a hex with no qualms, so I expected to be a lot angrier than I am now.  I just can't help wondering what kind of circumstances someone would have to live in to think that stealing someone else's wedding rings was their best bet in a situation.  They're wedding rings - these are objects that always have immense emotional significance to people.  What sort of unhappiness would someone need to dwell in to not have empathy for that?  My shadow looms large in my life and I would never, ever do something like that.  What must theirs be like?  Honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who's life is so awful and empty that their sense of decency would be so deadened.  So to whomever has my rings - you're a pathetic dick and I feel sorry for you.

Then again, maybe it really was an accident and they'll get turned in sometime over the next week.  I'm not holding my breath but it sure would be a better world if that were the case.

01 May 2012

Book Review - Feeding Your Demons

I just finished a fabulously shadowy book called Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione that I heartily recommend to anyone interested in shadow work at any level.  The book is about the psychological technique of looking at our “demons” and nourishing and satisfying them rather than battling or repressing them.  In essence, it’s shadow work in a psychological rather than magickal framework.  

Allione bases her techniques in the Chod practice of Tibbetan Buddhism.  She outlines a five step process of identifying and visualizing your demon, asking in questions and trying to get to the root of it, and then feeding it.  I like the fact that she clearly distinguishes between hearing what the demon says it wants and identifying what it actually needs in order to progress - something that is a huge part of shadow work.  So often we think that what we want is what we actually need, when it can be just the opposite.  Looking at our problems as demons is an interesting and quite effective way of separating ourselves from those problems and allows us to look at things from a fresh perspective.  The approach of feeding, rather than battling, those demons is essentially the same as integrating our shadows.

Allione looks in depth at many different kinds of “demons” that can afflict people.  She looks at just about every ill in life as a potential demon and something that can be dealt with using her five step process - everything from disease and depression to addiction and abuse.  Her examples are very interesting, but I must admit I skimmed through the sections on demons that I didn’t think applied to me because reading about people doing the same thing in different circumstances gets a tad old.  That being said, I think all the examples are very necessary and that everyone will be able to find something that really resonates in there.  

The only other minor issue I had was the book’s distinctively Buddhist slant - and that’s only because I’m not Buddhist.  I completely respect the Buddhist view that attachment to the good things in life can be as destructive as attachment to the bad, but it’s not something I embrace.  Perhaps I haven’t reached the stage in my life where I’m ready to see through that particular lens; maybe I never will.  Just because I don’t embrace that view doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable and I think that all shadow workers would do well to at least explore those arguments.  

Overall, I loved this book and found it to be incredibly valuable.  I fully intend to explore Allione’s techniques and look forward to giving them my own witchy spin.