Witch Cords: By Knot and Feather or Whatever

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Witch’s ladder found in England in 1878

Other than candle magick, Witch cords are my favorite type of sympathetic magick to use. Cord magick also known as knot magick, or a Witch’s ladder is a very old form of folk magick. Traditionally the ladder is made from knotted cord or hair, natural items and charms are knotted or braided with a specific magickal intention in mind. The number of knots and types of woven items can vary as well as the color and number of cords.

The first recorded evidence of a witch ladder was found in an old house in Somerset, England in 1878. A “rope” with feathers and other items woven into it was found in the attic space. However, this is not the only account of such cords used for magickal intentions. The Gospel of The Witches Author, Charles Godfrey Leland discovered that the Witches in Italy used a similar form of the Witch’s ladder, called a “Witches garland”; Which was made of a cord, and contained black hen feathers. It was said that a spell was uttered as each knot was tied and that the cord was placed under the victim’s bed, to cause the ill fortune. Another was mentioned in an article found In Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould’s “Curgenven”; published in 1893. In his account the ladder was made of wool, and white and brown thread, and at every two inches was tied cock’s feathers. It’s maker then would weave into it; ill intentions intended for the victim. The ladder was then thrown to the bottom of a pond.

This type of folk-magick can also be found in its simplest form, also known as “knot magick”. Knot magick was traditionally been used by sailors to bind winds and then untying the knot to stir up a wind. The “Old-wives tale” of using a square knot on a bandage would make a wound heal faster.

marksamcord.jpgDespite it being overlooked by modern Witches, cord magick is very effective and can be done anywhere, at any time, and with any items you have on hand. I often recommend it for those who live and work in non-accepting places. They can be simple or lavish in design, all depends on the Witch. One of the more attractive cords I carry on my online store, The Hierophant, was created by “The Staten Island Witch” Mark Eadicicco for Samhain. Whereas my cords tend to be more traditional in style. Whether of “knot” you choose to cast a more traditional one or a modern one, it’s all about the intention weaved within.

Typically, the more modern “traditional” knot spells use nine knots. While constructing the cord; concentrate and focus your energy on your intent and repeated for each knot that you tie. Thus, your magick will continue to work as long as the knots are tied. Once your goal has manifested or is no longer needed, depending on the intent you should untie, cut and/or dispose of the cord. Tied with in the knots can vary depending on your intent, as would the color of the cords.

To make a basic modern Witch’s ladder, you will need yarn, ribbon, or cord in a color that matches your intent. Some Witches like to use three different colors, one or two for intent (i. e.: money and success), one to represent the knotter (or two in cases of love), and a third to bind (usually red) and nine items that are similar in correspondence (beads, shells, bones, buttons, feathers, stones or whatever you have on hand).

Cut the yarn in a workable length. Tie the ends of the three pieces of yarn together into your first knot. Begin braiding the yarn together, tying and knotting the feathers or beads into the yarn, while adding your energy and envisioning your intent. If you wish, you can say this variation of the traditionally used chant as the items are tied into the knots (not sure where the traditional one evolved from, but this is the one I have used in the past):

By knot of one, this has spell’s begun.
By knot of two, the magick comes true.
By knot of three, so it shall be.
By knot of four, my power is stored.
By knot of five, my will shall it drive.
By knot of six, this spell I fix.
By knot of seven, the future I leaven.
By knot of eight, my will be fate.
By knot of nine, what is done is mine.

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A Day of Thanks and Giving: Understanding the Truth About Thanksgiving and Celebrating it as a Pagan

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Since Samhain I have not had to time to even think about the upcoming holidays. With the opening of the online portion of my store, The Hierophant, setting up my 2019 Salem area tour (yes, I did say Salem, Woohoo!, and finishing up my 2018 classes I have been so consumed. So, I thought I take a moment to talk about what I have come to rename “A day of thanks and giving”. Let’s start with what is commonly taught about Thanksgiving, then what we know as the truth and why I have renamed it and a way we as Witches and Pagans can celebrate it with respect to others who you may be sharing a table with.

Thanksgiving as We Commonly Know It

Thanksgiving is a national American holiday, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Originally celebrated as a harvest type festival. Since 1789, Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally but did not become a federal holiday until 1863.

What Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World. It was a feast that had lasted for three days and was reported that it was attended by 90 Native Americans (Wampanoag) and 53 Pilgrims. Another reason for this feast was that it was a symbolic gesture of peace and thanks between the settlers and “Indians”, after an English-speaking chief named Squanto, taught the settlers how to survive. At this feast it was said to contain food that had been grown by the Pilgrims by means of “Indian” knowledge. Turkey, goose, duck, corn, squashes were all to have been placed on this recounted table of “gratitude”.

The Thanksgiving Story as We Should Know It

The real story began in 1614 when European explorers returned to Europe with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. In their efforts to capture new slaves from untouched lands, they had left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped capture. When the Pilgrims arrived in the “new world” they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto (who’s real name was Tisquantum) who had survived slavery and knew their language. He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation which was short-lived.

Word had spread in England about the Eden to be found in the “new world” which caused others to arrive by the boat load. They seized land by any means possible, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. However, the Pequot Nation had not agreed to Squanto’s peace treaty and fought back. Making the lesser known Pequot War one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

pequot_warThen In 1637 the body of a white man was discovered dead in a boat. Blaming the Pequot tribe who had gathered possibly for their annual Green Corn ceremonies. In the early morning, while the tribe slept, armed settlers invaded and surrounded their camp . Upon ordering them to come outside, those who did were shot or beaten to death and those who remained inside were burned alive. The victory was celebrated with feast as a thank you to their God for winning over the savages and for the newly acquired land.

While many Indigenous people and historians, still debate over what exactly happened to what directly led to the creation of “Thanksgiving Day.”, the truth is it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, hell it wasn’t even turkey and buttered corn.

National Day of Mourning

The National Day of Mourning is an annual protest organized since 1970 by Indigenous Americans of New England (although, others have joined in) on the fourth Thursday of November, the same day as Thanksgiving. Participants in the National Day of Mourning honor their ancestors and the struggles to survive today. It is also to educate Americans about the history of Thanksgiving. In an interview, Cedric Cromwell, the chairman and president of the tribal council of the Mashpee Wampanoag, said, “…it was a holocaust, and that holocaust must be shared and communicated so that we ensure that mankind doesn’t do that to each other again”. I found it interesting that he still sits down with his family on the day, but for him it’s meaning is about history and truth rather than the myths we have been feed.

A Day of Thanks and Giving

Although, I grew up under Native influence, we still celebrated Thanksgiving (for my grandfather it was always Turkey Day). For us it wasn’t so much about the “American history” it was more of a way for all of our family to get together, and for football. Not that anyone in family really was a die-hard football fan. It was just the American thing to do, I guess. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I learned the horrible history of Thanksgiving. For me this began the drop of calling it Thanksgiving Day, moving on to what my Grandfather called it “Turkey Day”. I’m still not sure to this day if he used this title because of its history or if that’s how he referred to it.  It wasn’t until years later that I used A Day of Thanks and Giving to denote Thanksgiving Day. For me, it means a day to give thanks to the earth and its bounty and to the people in my life by giving the means of food and good cheer. It also has a denotation of respect and honor to many of my ancestors.

father_knows_best_thanksgiving_1954Now that I am hours away from my parents, we do not spend this holiday together. However, I do spend it with my cousin, who was is the daughter of my first teacher. Although, she was raised within a Wiccan household, she is primary Christian based. Which means we say a prayer before we eat. There have been times when this has fallen on me to deliver. With respect to all those present I tend to keep the focus on the Harvest and family aspects of the Holiday. After the prayer we always share a round of things we are thankful for. The following is the prayer that I have used, and of course you can always tweak it to your family and situations.

Day of Thanks and Giving Prayer

We are thankful to Mother Earth for the bounty before us,

We are thankful to our Father who shines above us,

We ask for blessings be bestowed upon our friends and family seated here today

And to those that are not with us but are in spirit

We share this meal in love and respect.

So, it is, so shall be

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Familiars vs. Magickal Pets

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With the arrival of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series on Netflix I am pretty sure that we will see a surge in the black cat and “familiar” craze. Known as Salem, in the original 90’s show Sabrina’s cat companion was a chatty campy fellow who became a fan favorite. This new series based on the comic books of the same name finds Salem’s role to be more feline and in-line with the Witches “familiar”, at least from what I have seen so far. I can honestly say I was not a fan of the original series, but I did give this one a try. I haven’t finished the season yet so my opinions may change and not because how Witches or anything else are portrayed like I’ve seen argued. WHO CARES! IT’S ENTERTAINMENT, WITCHES! Even If you haven’t watched the first season yet, you must have come across the teaser introducing Sabrina’s kitty friend which starts out as a spirit that she called upon. Which is a lot closer to the idea of a “familiar” than a talking cat who wants to take over the world.

Whenever the word “familiar” comes up I always end up cringing at its uses. I find that most people in the community tend to use the word for any household animal and pet. This is not to say that some of these animals couldn’t be considered a familiar. It seems to me that the whole idea has gotten misrepresented and/or misinformed over the years. There is so many meanings to the use of the title of “familiar” that it was hard to track down information. Especially in terms of what has become accepted and adapted within the Pagan and Witch community verses the traditional ideas on the subject. There is so much information I have come across that relates to the Christian theories of the middle ages and the days of the Witch trials. Whereas, “familiars” were “demons” or “Evil” spirits said to be given to Witches by the devil. These spirits took on various animal shapes (in some cases they were described just as non-human forms) that could be sent out to do a Witch’s bidding both magickally and mundanely.

The History in Witchcraft

Familiars, from the Latin “familiaris”, meaning a household servant, were mentioned even in the Bible, depending on which version you read. In the book of Leviticus (20:27) there are referres to the familiar and guardian spirits associated with various spiritual and magickal practitioners: “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them”. With this punishment, there is no wonder why there was hysteria around Witchcraft.

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During the Witch hysteria of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the fascination with a Witch and familiars was mostly found in England and Scotland. Being mentioned in several trial records, especially those related to “The Witch-Finder General” Matthew Hopkins. The Witchcraft Act of 1604 made it a felony to “consult, convene with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any evil and wicked spirit to or for any intent or purpose.” The Malleus Maleficarum, the main Witch inquisitor’s handbook of the time offered no instructions concerning familiars in the interrogation and trial of Witches. The book does acknowledge that an animal familiar “always works with the Witch in everything.” In the confession of Elizabeth Demdike during the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 , it was said that her familiar’s name was Tibb. Tibb was a spirit who could take the shape of almost any animal he pleased, and in one piece of her confession he had taken the shape of a black cat. This familiar spirit wanted to aid Elizabeth in the cursing of three local individuals, but when she opposed, he knocked her into a ditch.

In the Salem Trials in 1692, accused John Bradsheet was charged for “inciting a dog to afflict.” The dog was tried and hanged as a Witch. Although there were not as many mentions of familiars in the American Witch trails we can see that over the centuries familiars have taken many forms depending on what was seen as “evil” at the time. These were the cat, mouse/rat, ferret, hare, bat, snake, frog/toad, dog or bird. As time went on and we stepped into the more modern views of the familiar we find that the well-known “King of the Witches”, Alex Sanders, was reported to boast of the creation of a “spiritual baby”, who became one of his familiars.

Modern Views

In modern Witchcraft, wicca, and other Pagan traditions the “familiar” is viewed in an altogether different light. Whereas, a familiar can be any animal with which the individual feels an affinity toward. While these animals are no longer considered demons or even spirits anymore, They are treated with the same respect. Sadly, the consensus seems to also show they have even lost being a partner in one’s practice of magick. Many have adapted the term to mean an actual, living animal companion that they consider a “familiar”. Professing they have an emotional and psychic bond with a particular cat, dog, or whatever pet that have taken into their home. This is all well and good but denotes the traditional concept of the familiar and its potential and might be better suited to be called magickal or spiritual pets.

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Another common thought along the “familiar” thread is that they are connected to the indigenous practice of animal spirits, known to many modern practitioners as the cringe-worthy use of the term Totem (read my previous post on this topic). Although, I see the similarities these concepts are completely different. The concept behind “Totem” animals is that they are an animal spirit that has chosen to guard a specific tribe or family and “usually” do not do any type of spiritual bidding for any particular human. Then there is the idea of animal spirit guides that have been chosen or given through ceremony. They can also come to you in a dream or in real life with a message or to teach you a valuable lesson. Shamans and medicine men of various tribal traditions have long honored the spirits of animals for their wisdom and assistance in magickal workings and the mundane. Whereas with the Witch’s familiar, the animal is just the vessel for a spirit and will stay with the Witch for a certain time in order to help him or her magickally, to do his/her bidding, and then they may or may not leave. They can also be called upon or summoned into a Witch’s life just as we see in the Chilling adventures of Sabrina.

Finding and Working with Familiars

One of the best books on the subject I have come across is Raven Grimassi’s “The Witch’s Familiar”. Where he discusses the history and methods on obtaining and working with familiars in a more traditional fashion. He utilizes the concepts of meditation, journeying, and ritual to achieve this goal. He explores the ideas of three different types of familiars: physical, astral, and spiritual in a way that no matter what your take is on the subject, he covers it intelligently.

Whether or not you follow the ways Grimassi points out or your own, the bottom line is that familiars are magick users’ helpers who exist in both the spirit and the mundane. Depending on the Witch’s work, familiars can serve as gatekeeper, messenger and guide. There are many ways for a familiar and a Witch to work together. A Witch may send a familiar to complete a task or serve as guard during magickal work to protect and alert to the presence of spirits that may be harmful. The ways are endless.

Also know that not everyone has, needs, or even wants a familiar. I myself have found no use for them at this time, I just find the whole subject intriguing. If you have an animal companion that you consider a familiar but doesn’t fit the traditional ideas, many suggest working on strengthening your psychic connection with that animal.

If an animal has appeared in your life unexpectedly, such as a stray cat that sticks around, it may have been drawn to you psychically. However, be sure to rule out mundane reasons it has arrived. Do you leave food for them to eat? Is it that time of year? many animals tend to scavenge during the spring and fall. I truly believe that the best way to gain a familiar is through summoning one into your life. Also note that this is completely different from summoning and binding spirits for workings that can be found in many other Witchcraft traditions. Familiars are about connecting with animals that are used as vessels by spirits that are connected to you by other means. Those means are only privy between Witch and familiar and if you are lucky maybe it will be just as campy as the original Salem, and want to take over the world.

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Children and Samhain

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The Halloween season for children and adults alike is a very sensory time of year. With costume parades, haunted hay rides, the thrill of wearing big comfy sweat shirts, the scuffing of feet on the way to school or work, the smell of autumn fires and my favorite the pumpkin spice coffee and treats popping up everywhere: all these things mean autumn and activate our senses in amazing ways. This time of year not only activates our muggle senses but our spiritual ones as well. We all know that this time of the year the veil becomes thinner, and it seems to be thinning earlier and earlier every year. I really believe this is due to ourselves, the Witch and non Witch collectively putting out it into the universe. With the department stores putting out decorations and supplies as early as Labor Day and with more and more emphasis on parties, costumes, and decorations growing each year we are bringing the underworld ever more closer. If you haven’t noticed, this holiday has become enormously popular, and even other related holidays, such as Mexico’s Dios de la Muerte (“The Day of the Dead”) are receiving more notice too. Television networks are showing horror films and Halloween sitcoms all month-long. All this unintentional intent is being put out in to the universe causing us to open the gates earlier for our beloved dead and wandering spirits to cross. If we are as adults experiencing this hyper-activity of spirits and spiritual occurrences, than children are definitely as well.

Since Samhain is the time when our ancestors may find it easiest to visit us, you can have your children ask for dreams about people they know who have passed on. If you think this will frighten your child, by all means don’t do it. But if your child has fond memories of a grandparent or other relative who has died, you can have them ask to be visited in their dreams. Tell them that their relative loves them very much and would like to see them and maybe give them advice. Suggest that they can tell their relative about any accomplishments or big events that have happened recently. As they lie in bed to fall asleep, help them say aloud that they would like to dream about a certain person. Have them focus on their memories of that person as they fall asleep.

If this is something that you or your child is uncomfortable with, there are many ways to celebrate the season. Remember that children often will not fully understand how you view this time of year especially when there is so much going on around them. I have found it best to separate the concepts of Halloween and Samhain. Although they are tied together in history and practice for children Halloween is Halloween; let them dress up and trick-or-treat. However, after they’ve collected all their candy, be sure that they leave a few pieces for the ancestors, as an offering.

Holding a family ritual is another great way for children to understand the spiritual aspects of the holiday. Keep it simple by doing the prep work ahead of time. You might want to create rituals about whatever you and your children might want to lett go of, be that a loved one, warm days, or a beloved summer shirt.

If your family doesn’t have an altar for Samhain, set one up before you begin. Better yet, let the kids help you put things on it. Feel free to raid your Halloween decorations for ghosts, Witches, skulls, and bats. Have fun with it.

One thing I have done in the past for a family Samhain ritual was to create a strand of dried apple slices to decorate an altar. We included a slice for all of our family or friends who have past. This became a great opportunity to talk about offerings.

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Other seasonal activities that can provide “teachable moments:

Make a besom, or Witch’s broom.

Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of paper and bury them. This is similar to New Year’s resolutions; as for many Samhain is seen as the Witches New Year.

Have a family dinner setting a chair and meal for the dead, a less complex dumb supper.

Pumpkin carving is a traditional good activity to do on Samhain with children, as carved gourds originated with our Celtic ancestors.

Samhain is a great time to spend time with our loved ones who are still alive, too. Visiting your elderly relatives is an especially good way to celebrate, as they can probably tell you all sorts of fun stories about their childhood and what their parents and grandparents were like. If you don’t have any family close by, consider visiting a nursing home, perhaps in costume. Most nursing home residents love seeing children, and would probably get a kick out of seeing their Halloween costumes.

Make a Witches’ cord as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.

Introduce different forms of divination. Samhain is seen as the beginning of the Pagan year; divination was usually done to see the future of the coming year. One practice that was always done in my family was to give the gift of tarot. I received my first deck on Samhain 30 years ago.

The point is don’t just create seasonal memories but lay the foundation for spiritual growth as well.  Happy Samhain!!

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A Witch at Home: Awaking the Ancestors of the Land Pt 1

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As we step into the darker months of the year, I thought it would be fitting to write something relevant to the season. Although, it bothers me to no end how most modern Pagans and Witches only tend to focus on their ancestors and the dead during the Samhain season, I still thought it was a perfect time, especially after some recent events that unfolded at my home.

Since humans have walked this earth we have always had a sacred relationship with our dead. Whether it is because of our belief, fear, or need in the continued existence of the soul or the knowledge that they can and do influence our lives. Despite working with them or not our ancestors are our strongest allies, teachers, and guides. They are our link to the mysteries of the underworld, the land, and even sometimes the gods. Through ceremony, devotion and offerings, we call them back to being part of our lives and brings us back to our true nature. Unfortunately, modern society has put our ancestors on the back burner of tradition. Our dead are pushed aside for our own satisfaction. You die, your disposed of, and then left to a memory. We do this because of the selfish healing thought of out of sight, out of mind. Sadly, this way of thinking can even be found in the modern magickal traditions. Whereas, the only time the dead are honored are during the Samhain season. Although, over the last few years I have seen a larger focus of the dead in new writings and books this once a year reverence of dead is still very common. I wonder how many keep it as a part of their regular practice. With the exception of Hoodoo, Vodou, Santeria, Palo, and other indigenous and cultural traditions where the practice remains strong and the ancestors are regularly honored and called upon throughout the year. One other thing that I often see among modern practices is that the only ancestors given respect are the ones of blood. The ones found in your family tree are not the only ones we should be honoring and working with. The benefits of looking past our selfish lives are immeasurable.

Upon moving into my new house, I not only called to my blood ancestors to be reawakened to the house, but I also called and honored to dead of the land. Asking for protection and acceptance and in return I would honor them and honor their land. I wanted to let them know that they have not been forgotten and that we can coexist on the same land without harm or disrespect. Living in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania would mean that the majority of spirits and ancestors of the land are primarily of the indigenous American tribe of the Leni-Lenape. Now, because I have not traveled far from my first landing in Pennsylvania, I already was accustomed to their culture and ways and understand their needs. In fact, I have been working with these tribal spirits for years. However, it is more about honoring those spirits who reside on the property itself rather than the area of residence. When honoring and petitioning those ancestors of another culture and/or tradition, it is best practice to do so in ways they are accustomed to. You would not want to leave an offering of your family’s recipe for baked ziti, especially at first. Take the time to learn and understand their way of life. This act also shows respect.

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On the night of the most recent dark moon I set out to not only honor and awaken Hekate to the land, but more importantly the ancestors of the land. I started by collecting all the necessary items I needed for the ceremony, including offerings of tobacco and corn. With everything in hand, I proceeded outside and of course it started to rain once again. However, I wasn’t going to let that stop what needed to be done, despite what rain can do to my rattle and drum. As I walked around beating the drum I could feel them awaking with signs of curiosity. It wasn’t until I gave my offerings that I felt them ease off. After I was done, I sat down to ground and compose myself after the ceremony. This is when I began to see the spirits in full glory walking the property. A sign that I did well with my goal. Fast forward a few days later, I had a housewarming/birthday party planned, which by the end of the night had turned into a spirit fest. Although, this is nothing new when I get together with my spiritual family. However, this time it had tuned into more than just doing some spiritual work with friends. Due to the circumstances and people involved I will not discuss what transpired that night. One thing that I will tell you is about a dream I had after everyone had left. Before falling asleep, I started thinking of one of the gifts my friend had given me and how perfectly it fit into my plans for my bedroom. I was given a carved bear head for my wall. Which coincided with my idea to represent each directional animal on all four walls. At some point I fell asleep thinking of the north wall and having a buffalo skull there. In my dream the skull kept changing to a deer skull. Moving onto the next morning I woke up feeling like I was hit by a spiritual truck and had no plans to do any kind of magickal workings. However, the ancestors had other plans for me. As I was trying to relax, in walked my roommate’s son and asked me why there was a deer skull in the yard. What the hell was he talking about? So, I got up to entertain his antics and low and behold, there was not only a deer skull but its lower jaws as well. It was in the middle of the yard where we had been removing an old fence and had just mowed for the party. We would have seen this; how did it get there? First logical thought was someone from last night placed it there for fun. Upon inspection, I could see that it wasn’t just sitting there, it was partially embedded in the ground. I knew that it had something to do with what had happened the night before, but just didn’t know what. Was it a gift or a warning? I will be honest with you, I did panic a little bit. Even after all the weird and unbelievable things that I’ve seen and experienced over the years, I am still sometimes amazed and taken back. After freaking out and discussing the findings with a person who was involved with the nights previous events, I set out to connect to find the answers. Turns out it was a gift from the ancestors of the land. What a better gift to give a Witch on his birthday, than a skull. I also knew that this was not just an act of kindness from the spirits, but an acknowledgement of my working with them.

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The results of working with the ancestors are not always what is expected, but something you can always count on is that as long as you honor them regularly they will be present in your life. It brings a type of wholeness and balance to everyday life that may not be present without that extra guiding hand. Working with them is like working with your own personal army. If you enter a regular practice you can always count on that army for protection, love, and the occasional odd happenings that can blow your mind. As my close friend would say “You can’t make this shit up”.

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Teenagers and Witchcraft: Exploring a Magickal Path On Their Own

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I was recently asked to contribute to a project for Denofgeek.com relating to teenagers and teaching them in the magickal arts. As an educator in both the mundane and the spiritual, this topic has been something I have written and talked about for years. I just never really touched it on my blog, however I thought it would make a perfect follow up to my last post and all the hype over the Sephora bullshit.

One of the concerns that a few had with this “Witch Kit” was that it was easily accessible to teens and that it wasn’t teaching them anything. Despite, how much I could write on that whole topic, the kit is a dead issue.

When I was about eleven years old I began my training in the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca and at thirteen years old I found myself standing naked among my coven mates being initiated. Although, this experience was uncomfortable as a teenager, it allowed me to understand its meaning of birthing into a new way of life. Although, I have walked on from my initial Wiccan teachings, I am grateful of their beginnings and having the privilege of being raised in a magickal environment. However, many children and teenagers do not have this same luxury. Even the ones that do, many of their teachers are their parents or a family member, who only follow one tradition. This was the case with me as well. It was my Aunt who had helped me begin my magickal journey. Unfortunately, I was forced to learn only her tradition and was given no room to explore in fear of being removed from the coven. It was this experience that later resulted in writing “The Little Witch’s Curriculum” (Hopefully to be released in 2019). Although, the book is mainly geared toward the parents of young children, the concepts would also work for teenagers. This is all fine and dandy for those already in a magickal household. But, what about those who are not, where do they go to learn, who do they turn to?

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To the surprise of many there is no “Hogwarts” or “Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies”. So, where is a budding teenage Witch go to learn? The truth is “NO WHERE!” well not in the sense of a traditional school or place of learning, Sadly, many teens have to turn to books, and dare I say it …the Internet. Many of the Witchcraft and magickal traditions only offer courses and training that is geared toward adults and in some cases young adults, leaving teens to the hopes that there is a local metaphysical store or center in their neighborhood that they can sneak too now and then. These learners are left with no real hands-on experiences with other like minded Witches and mentors. They have to explore and dabble on their own. Not that that is all bad, many have us had to do it that way. But, that doesn’t mean it’s right and fair. This vital spiritual exploratory age is left out. I feel that one reason that this is, is because this can be an area that many teachers and organizations are afraid of the backlash of consent. Teenagers are still minors, where many of them have to hide their interest from their parents and will have to forgo the idea of a commitment to a curriculum. Then there are also funds, many places that offer spiritual education charge a fee, which leave these magickal explorers on their own. Having to save up birthday money to secretly purchase Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch or Ellen Dugan’s Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens on the families next outing to the mall’s bookstore. Although, these are great books they are missing the element of hands-on learning when not in the presence of a real teacher or group setting.

The only ones who have this opportunity are the children who are being raised in a magickal or open-minded household. Where they are able to participate in home or group rituals and gatherings. However, even in these circumstances, I have found that the children are only taught what the parent knows and follows. They are often not given the means to explore on their own. It’s at no fault of the parent, they can only teach in their own state of knowledge. I have discussed before, here and in my classes, the importance of allowing children to explore their own path of spirituality rather than dictating to them one’s beliefs and paths. Which is why in my “Little Witch” classes I give parents the means to give children opportunities to explore spirituality on their own, while laying down general Pagan and Witchcraft foundations. This of course this has nothing to do with one’s family cultural and traditional “ways of knowning” or belief structure, in these cases I feel it is important to extend that knowledge and linage to child’s education.

So, to any of the well-known schools of magick I employ you to rethink your courses to include teenagers, young adults and even the “Little Witches”. FYI, I have a great curriculum already written. LOL.

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Many children who find themselves in Pagan settings often are not given the opportunity to choose their spiritual upbringing. Just like in many Christian homes, they are predestined to receive a Wiccaning and other rites of tradition. In many cases, these seem to be more for the parents rather than the child and might do more harm than good for one’s personal path of exploration. This is one reason I myself will never perform such rites. I will, however, gladly perform a child blessing or an introduction to the elements and universal energies. These initial ceremonies help the child’s own spirit or higher-self open up to the various energies found in spirituality. They also allow the child to choose their own path of spirituality in the future. In many traditions, earth-based and not, what tends to follow next is certain rites of passage and then later, a type of initiation into the parent’s coven or group. Usually, by then these children have already made up their mind if they are going to follow their parents’ tradition or not. They just don’t voice their choice against their parents’ wishes.

Going back to our teenagers of non-magickal households, these children are left to only self-initiate into a tradition out of a book, seemly one written for adults. The only options out there are for those who have been “fortunate” enough to be born into a Pagan spirituality or are able to get their hands on a book to follow, despite the prying eyes and ears of a concerned parent. We as a community need to be a little more willing to extend ourselves in teaching to those who are exploring a spirituality or magickal tradition. Who are we to question whether or not a teenager’s gateway opened up from watching a movie or a beauty store, we should accept with open arms that no matter how they got there, that it was the universe that has placed these children on their current path.

A Witch at Home: Floor Washes

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I normally do not post or give away any of my personal magickal secrets. However, so many people have asked me what I did upon moving into my new home for cleansing and purification, other than using sage and your typical products. So, I decided to talk about floor washes and for the first time ever post a recipe from my book of shadows.

The use of floor washes is what I would call the tried and true traditional Witchcraft. They are a common part of spiritual cleansing and are usually found in many old-world magick and Conjure traditions. Spiritual floor washes are especially found within the Hispanic and Latin American spiritual cultures, and in Hoodoo/Rootwork and folk magick of the Afro-American cultures. Whereas, the practice of washing an area with a specially prepared herbal mixture will bring out the magickal properties of the herbs and add to the desired intention. They are often used for such things as to attract love, luck, and money but can also be used for banishing and protection.

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How are washes used?

There are more ways to use floor washes then there are the traditions that use them. Typically, they are used after all mundane cleaning has been done. Floor washes are not just used on the floors of your home. They can be and should be used to wash windows, walls, and doors. The direction or start of the wash depends on the intention of the floor wash. In the case of cleansing and banishing, one would start at the back and top of the home and end at the front door. Many traditional practitioners feel the front door should also be washed from top to bottom and in some cases the porch and sidewalk. Cleaning everything along the way in a counter-clockwise direction. Some traditions ask that certain candles, oils, and prayers be used after the work is done. After everything has been cleaned the left-over water is disposed of toward the east or at specific places, such as a four-way crossroads.

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How are washes made?

Most Traditional or original floor washes were made with only three ingredients. Due to modern homes having multiple types of surfaces more ingredients and have been added. Others have been added over the years due to personal choice and tradition. The earliest floor washes were made by mixing salt with some form of cleaning agent such as ammonia or lye, and a variety of herbs. Some older recipes required the mixing in of urine. These items were/are all added in a magickal fashion to a bucket of water.

 

General formula for making a floor wash

  • Boil all of the ingredients for 20 minutes in 1 quart of water.
  • Allow the liquid mixture to cool.
  • Add 1 cup of ammonia to the liquid mixture.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Spiritual Water such as Florida water.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a glass storage bottle until ready to use.

Recipe for banishing old or harmful energies in a home

Although, the basics of this recipe was given to me many years ago by an old friend’s mother, I have altered it over the years to fit my personal tastes or rather my personal smells.

2 cups water

4 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 cup rosemary

1 cup Sea salt or Epson salt (not as harsh on floors than other salts)

1 cup Pine Needles

1 cup White Sage

1/2 cup Clove

1/2 cup Basil

1/2 cup Bay Laurel

10 Cinnamon Sticks

1 cup vinegar or ammonia

Go away evil oil (or any bansihing oil) added to bottom of the storage jar

Add all herbs to the water and boil for 10 min, allow to seep for 2 hours. Solid ingredients may be strained out before or during first use. Add to bottle with oil on the bottom. allow to cool. Add vinegar or ammonia. Close the jar and store before use.

Note: Floor Washes can also be used as sprays if you have carpet. Your floors should be physically cleaned before being spiritually cleansed.

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