19 December 2011

Winter Solstice

It’s finally here! The Winter Solstice is this week and I am so glad.  This year the Solstice is happening on the 21st at 9:30pm pst.  This works out beautifully for me.  So often the actual moment of the solstice it at a far less convenient time (like the middle of the night or while I’m at work), it’s nice to have it at a time when I’m normally awake and not busy.  Now I just have to decide how I’m going to mark the occasion.

Over time my practice has evolved away from formal rituals and towards more simple, intuitive practices.  While in the past I have done formal rituals (calling quarters, formal workings, offerings, etc.) to celebrate the Solstice, it just doesn’t seem quite right anymore.  I think I’ll spend this solstice in meditation – I’ve got some internal quibbles I need to look at and I can’t think of a better time. Oh yes, this will be a shadow worker's solstice.

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, which makes it an ideal time to work on themes of self-examination, exploration of blocks and negative emotions, banishing, and old wounds.  I think I’ll spend this Solstice thinking about all the things that have held me back over the last year, things that have kept me from achieving my goals, and things that have left me unsatisfied.  So many metaphysical practices focus on always looking at the light, being thankful for what you have, examining the steps to making things better that they forget that it’s impossible to move forward until you’ve fully addressed the hurts of the present. 

I’m going to take the longest night and honour my wounds - my shadows.  Yes, I’ve had some amazing triumphs this year and I’ve given my thanks for them, but I’ve also had to deal with an astonishing amount of pain and stupidity.  The bad times are as much a part of our lives and are as necessary, if not more necessary, for our growth as the good times.  I’m going to think about and honour the challenges I’ve faced.  I’m going to look at the lingering hurts and self-doubts that they’ve created.  I’m going to acknowledge them, figure out what put them there, and honour them.  Those dumb insecurities are there for a reason and if I don’t accept that reason then I’m never going to get rid of them.  If I don’t look at why things hurt me I’ll never learn how to address them (as opposed to just avoiding them).  I’m going to look at my own weaknesses and appreciate what they can teach me about myself.

I’ll do all this sitting in the dark before the moment of the Solstice and then, just after the moment has passed (when the sun is as farthest from us) I will light a candle and appreciate what sitting alone in the dark has taught me.  And then I’ll get up, turn on the lights and figure out how to move forward.  Not the world’s most exciting Solstice, but a meaningful one.

15 December 2011

Rock on!

I made The Magickal Buffet's list of Favorite Things 2011!  How cool is that :)

The author says:

"There are a lot of books out there about protecting yourself from demons, curses, dark magics, etc. But this year saw the release of my new favorite in the field, “Defense Against the Dark” by Emily Carlin. Carlin is the Dean of Dark Arts for the Grey School of Wizardy but her book is accessible to magical practitioner and average joe. It leaves no stone unturned, no question unanswered. I’ve been recommending it to anyone who will listen, and now that includes you."

13 December 2011

City Protection Spell

I've been working on a project for the last two weeks - a special city protection spell.  I love my home.  I think the Puget Sound area is the the most beautiful place in the world and I wouldn't live anywhere else.  I grew up here, my family is here, I play here.  This is my home and I want to do everything I can to keep it safe.  To do this I hatched a rather ambitious plan that begins with graveyard dirt.

If you're not familiar with working with graveyard dirt, it's used to add the energy of the person whose grave it came from to a spell.  It's important that you know something about the person who's been laid to rest before you use dirt from their grave in any spell.  If you don't know who the person is (personally, historically, etc.) then you'd better have good psychic senses that will tell you on the spot.  Before taking the dirt it's important to explain to the deceased what you want to use the dirt for and get their permission - you can take it without permission but that's just rude and can have unintended consequences. 

Lakeview Cemetery, up on Capitol Hill, is the final resting place of Seattle's founders and first citizens.  A keen student of local history, I know that the Seattle founders vested their lives and livelihoods into this city.  Their passions and foibles shaped what this city was to become and their legacy is everywhere and they've got a vested interest in preserving what they created.  I decided to gather graveyard dirt from as many of the city's founders as I could to add the force of their spirits to my spell.  I got Yestler, Renton, Denny, Phinney, Mercer and more.  I also added in a dash of Princess Angeline (chief Sealth's daughter - and a ghost I've seen several times) to touch the legacy of the local natives and a bit of Bruce Lee for skill.  They all agreed to help me ward my home from harm.  For each of them I left an offering of thanks.

I gathered all the dirt in a tin and waited for the full moon to quicken the spell.  I wrote my intent on a piece of paper, sealed the spell with my blood on a coffin nail and placed it in with the dirt.  I sealed the tin and intend to wrap in duct tape and bury it.  I won't share the exact wording of the spell, but I specified what area the spell was to cover, and that it was to protect the area from all disaster both natural and man-made, to strengthen the city and it's people, to make them wise, and to keep us all safe, sane, and sound.  I've always felt that magick is that last thing you have to do when you say "I've done all I can."  Now I think I can really say that I've done everything I can.

28 November 2011

Haunted Seattle – Harvard Exit Theatre

On Saturday a friend and I went up to the Harvard Exit Theatre to see Melancholia (good film, weird, but good).  The theatre is legendarily haunted so I was quite curious to see how it felt to me.  We made our way up to Capitol Hill and managed to find free parking only a block away, so I knew things were starting off on the right foot.  I’d been pass the theatre many times (the Hill being one of my favorite places), but had never actually seen anything there.

The building was originally built as the Women’s Century Club back in the 1920s.  It’s a pretty brick building covered in ivy that sits tucked around a corner from Broadway, giving it a cozy feeling.  You come in to a pleasant old-fashioned lobby with old couches, an antique movie projector, and a beautiful stone fireplace.  Right away I could feel that there was something more than ordinary going on.  When I’m in a place with strong metaphysical energies I tend to feel a charge, rather like static electricity.  It feels like there’s something coiled up and ready to release, waiting for some kind of trigger. 

The feeling was the same in the theatre room – a sort of expectant feeling.  The theatre is comfortable and rather pretty; a nice change from the sterile megaplexes I normally go to.  I didn’t experience any haunting phenomena while at the theatre, but the energy was such that it wouldn’t surprise me if things did go bump in the night.  In the theatre I could feel a lot of potent emotional energy just wafting around.  That much energy just there for the taking would make it fairly easy for ghosts and other entities to manifest and get our attention.  There’s something about the intensity of energy and emotion that theatres bring out of people that lingers long after the show is over that makes hauntings common.  I could feel that there were things waiting in the wings for the audience to go home so that they could come out and play.  I’d love to get in there some time after closing and see what I can find.

22 November 2011

Pantheacon Schedule Announced!

It looks like the schedule for Pantheacon has been announced and I can officially say that I will be presenting again this year!

On Monday the 20th I will be presenting a workshop on magickal self-defense called Magickal Munitions.  I'll post more information as we get closer to the date.  I hope to see many of you there :)

From the official announcement:
"The 18th Annual PantheaCon will be held Feb. 17 – 20, 2012 (President’s Day Weekend) at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, CA"

Thoughts on House Cleansings

A very special thanks to WSPIR for having me at their last meeting.  My presentation on Psychic Protection for Paranormal Investigators went over very well.  There’s nothing like presenting to an intelligent and engaged audience to really put the cherry on a good weekend.  Before my presentation I had the pleasure of attending their general meeting where several ongoing and recent investigations were discussed.  One of the issues that came up was house blessings/cleansings for clients and it got me thinking.

House blessings and cleansings are one of things I am asked about most frequently and one of the things most people have misconceptions about.  A house cleansing is not like having the kind of exorcism that you see in the movies or on tv, even the ones you see on “reality” tv being performed by “experts.” 

First and foremost, if you are experiencing a haunting of some kind a house blessing may or may not actually get rid of whatever’s causing the problem.  A house blessing/cleansing cleans out negative energies that are present in your house.  It does not necessarily address any of the underlying causes that brought that energy into your house in the first place and it may or may not ward against those energies coming back.  As Darren of WSPIR so aptly pointed out, doing a house cleansing is a lot like vacuuming; you can’t do it just once and expect to never have to do it again.  Energy flows; it changes all the time.  Sweeping out negative energy can stop the effects of a haunting, remove negative entities, and even positively affect your mental health for a time.  However, just like dust, energy moves around and negative energies can come back if you don’t do something about them on a regular basis.  I recommend that everyone, whether you think you’ve got a problem with negative energy or not, perform a house cleansing at least once a month (I prefer to do it on the new moon) to keep your home’s energy flowing healthily. 

As I mentioned, a house cleansing may or may not deal with whatever brought negative energy into your home in the first place.  Negative energy and entities can enter a home in a number of ways: it might have been there before you, it might be attracted to a psychic sensitive in the household, it might be attracted to negative energy given off by the household, it might drift in from a troubled neighbor, etc.  One of the things brought up at the meeting was the fact that many people who experience hauntings are actually psychic sensitives or empaths who simply do not understand what they’re experiencing and don’t know how to take control of the situation.  A sensitive could do a full house cleansing every day and still experience phenomena he found unsettling if he didn’t learn about his abilities and take control of them.  A person who constantly effervesced negative energy would probably attract negative entities regardless of how often she smudged.  A house cleansing will almost never make a situation worse, so please when in doubt perform a cleansing – just don’t expect it to be a cure all if that’s all you do.  

Sometimes what’s needed in a situation isn’t a house cleansing at all, but a cleansing of the person involved.  Sometimes it’s not the place that’s being haunted but the person.  Sometimes this is the result of attachment, though more often it’s the result of the person involved being shiny (certain people have energy that just attracts the paranormal – I call these people shiny because their energy is highly visible on the other planes).  In such cases a personal cleansing (often in the form of a mild hex-breaking) will help clear away energies and entities that have attached to that person, although it won’t keep them from coming back unless the person learns how to control their own energies (and that’s a whole different post).  And sometimes, if you’re really unlucky, you come across that terrible combination of mental illness and attachment.  Unfortunately, people whose personal energies are compromised by mental illness are both more likely to think there’s something pestering them if there’s not and are more likely to actually be afflicted by the paranormal.  Their mental imbalance actually makes them more vulnerable to the paranormal and there are many unsavoury entities that find them particularly tasty.  In such cases all you can do is work with their therapist to try and address both problems simultaneously.  A therapist alone can help heal the mental imbalance but won’t necessarily get rid of the attachments, while getting rid of the attachments without addressing the imbalance is only a temporary solution.  I generally stay away from these situations for fear of becoming liable if something goes wrong. 

House cleansings are both incredibly useful and important for maintaining a healthy environment, but they are not a magic bullet.  A one-time cleansing will make things better for a little while, but not forever – don’t expect it to.

16 November 2011

Seattle Area Event 11/20!

This Sunday, 11-20, I will be presenting a workshop on Psychic Self-Defense for Paranormal Investigators!

I'll be doing an hour long presentation at the monthly meeting of WSPIR at the Issaquah Library.  The meeting is open to the general public and has no fee and runs from 1-4:45pm.  I'm not sure at what point in the meeting I'll be doing my presentation. 

I'll probably be hanging around for a little while after the meeting, so bring your questions.  If there's enough interest I might just have a dinner round-table discussion on all thing magickal afterwards.

14 November 2011

Possession and Oppression

First a disclaimer – I am not a mental health professional.  I am not giving mental health advice.  I’m a witch relating personal thoughts and experiences.  Take what I say as nothing more than that.

Over the last few months I’ve had several people come to me with concerns that someone they cared about might be possessed.  At first I assumed these people were...well...overly concerned.  After all, possession is absurdly rare.  It’s far more likely that someone’s mood swings or changing personality are due to a mid-life crisis or simple growth than some kind of malevolent outside force.  Consequently, when I investigated further I was surprised to find that these folks seemed to be dealing with honest to gods actually cases of possession.  That’s what I get for scoffing.  I will admit right up front that cases of possession or oppression scare me.  More than any other magickal malady, possession and oppression cases have the potential to go very, very badly. 

Possession and Oppression occur when an intelligent malevolent entity decides it’s going to make someone’s life hell.  The entity will single out a particular person and systematically harass him until he can no longer function normally.  At that point the person is Oppressed.  Now, just because someone is experiencing paranormal phenomena that he or she finds upsetting does not mean that person is Oppressed.  The big difference between a malevolent haunting and Oppression is the focus.  Hauntings generally affect anyone who comes within the sphere of the haunting.  Oppression is specifically focused on one individual.  If several people are feeling the effects, then you are not dealing with Oppression.  In a haunting everyone (or at least everyone with sensitivity to the paranormal) will feel the cold chill, hear the disembodied voices, etc.  In a case of Oppression only the target will feel the chill or hear the voices.  Therein lies the primary difficulty – if only one person is affected how do you know that the person is genuinely suffering from Oppression or if they’re just hallucinating?

In my experience the only way to tell if someone is Oppressed verses dealing with a mental issue is to have that person examined by someone who can see psychic energies.  To someone with the sight, an Oppressed person will appear draped in foreign energy and that foreign energy will look awful (dark, splotchy, cracked, etc.) – and it will feel even worse.  That foreign energy will appear very distinct from the person’s native energies, and the native energies will probably appear pale and weak.  Even then, there are some mental illnesses (particularly schizophrenia) that can give someone very similar energies.  An experienced practitioner should be able to feel the difference in the energies by their intensities and the level of malevolence present.  However, even the most experienced practitioner can misdiagnose this.  It is for this reason that I always recommend that anyone who thinks they might be Oppressed seek professional mental care.  Even if your root problem is that a demon is trying to eat you, a good psychologist can probably do you some good (just be careful what you say – we wouldn’t want anyone getting committed unnecessarily), and in the more likely event that you’ve got a chemical imbalance it will do you a lot of good. 

Oppression can sometimes lead to Possession.  In my opinion Possession is just about the most unsettling thing that can happen to a person – and I can personally attest that it is highly disturbing to witness.  Possession is when a foreign entity actually takes over someone’s body and controls his or her actions.  I’ve seen someone whose demeanour, speech patterns, aura, and even eye color changed during Possession.  Sometimes Possession occurs after a long period of Oppression that wears down the natural defences; other times it happens seemingly out of the blue.    In all the episodes of Possession that I’ve seen, some kind of traumatic event that severely compromised someone’s sense of self and all his mental defences precipitated the Possession.  I’ve never seen someone with a normal, healthy mind and aura become Possessed (at least not involuntarily – voluntary possession by deity is a whole different issue).  I’ve also never seen someone become Possessed as a result of dabbling in the occult.   

Like Oppression, Possession can look a lot like mental illness.  Illnesses such as multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia look damned similar to Possession.  People can have radical mood swings, fugue states, personality changes, etc., while suffering from Possession and the similar mental illnesses.  As with Oppression, those who think they might be Possessed should seek out a mental health professional, and for the same reasons.  Like with Oppression, the only way I’ve found to tell the difference between Possession and mental illness is viewing/feeling the energies involved and that isn’t foolproof. 

All that being said - what do you do if you think you or someone you love is Oppressed or Possessed?  As I’ve mentioned, the first thing you do is seek the aid of a mental health professional.  If someone is genuinely ill and they are left untreated or their delusions fed it can cause serious problems.  If someone is genuinely suffering from Oppression or Possession they are probably being severely traumatized and could greatly benefit from counselling - I’ve seen a case of Oppression lead the target to a serious anxiety disorder.  Magickally, Possession and Oppression are nothing to mess around with.  Best case scenario you are dealing with a malevolent entity and deep seated emotional trauma.  Worst case scenario you are dealing with a malevolent entity powerful enough to destroy someone’s mind.  Only experts in energy work and dealing with malevolent entities should attempt to deal with serious Possession.

For most cases of mild Oppression or the very first seeds of Possession, a thorough and powerful cleansing should rid a person of the negative outside influence.  However, it will not address the crack in that person’s energies that allowed the negative entity to take hold in the first place.  That requires a full mental/emotional magickal healing – something I really can’t help you with.  (I seriously can’t do healing work of any kind, it all goes pear shaped.)  If personal cleansings are insufficient, then it’s time to move up to a hex-breaking ritual.  Hex breakings (such as those I outline in my book) are designed to sever ties between the target and outside energies, rebuild the person’s own energies, and ward against future intrusions.  In my experience Hex breakings are quite effective against most forms of Oppression and mild Possession.   

What if it’s not mild Possession?  What if you’re dealing with something powerful, insidious, and long standing?  Well, that’s when all amateurs leave the building and call in a professional.  The only way to deal with serious Possession is to flat out battle the entity doing the possessing.  If you’re religious you call in the appropriate clergy person, if not find yourself a local witch of good repute and let her work.  If you’re me then you suit up, grab your kit, and gird yourself.  On the one occasion I have personally gone to bat against serious Possession I gathered up my strongest friends, we all called in our patron deities, we all called in every outstanding metaphysical favour we were owed, we gathered every iota of banishing energy we could lay our auras on until we were bursting with it, threw everything we had at the entity and wounded it enough to make it leave our friend alone.  It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

If you think you or someone you care about it Possessed or Oppressed start with a thorough cleansing, then move to a strong hex breaking.  If that doesn’t work, get help.