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.

The Art of Living a Magickal Life

(c) The New Art Gallery Walsall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Recently, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at Iron Garden. For those who don’t know who or what the Iron Garden is, it is an eclectic night-kind community found in NJ. I highly recommend checking out their website. This blog post is based of the speech I wrote for their event.

At first, I was a little reluctant about being a keynote speaker, not because of the atmosphere that Iron Garden employs, but because I had no idea what I was going to talk about. Of course, talking about the typical Witchcraft and Magickal topics would have been easy, but after looking at Iron Garden’s past events, I knew It had to be something special and different. it turned out that the very thing that brought me to this point, would also bring me to my topic. I like to consider myself a Witch, and an Artist by choice and intention, and an Author by divine persuasion and to my own astonishment. I’ve studied and worked hard in becoming a Witch and an Artist because this was the path I chose to follow. it’s what I wanted to do. Of course, I have had my teachers and guidance along the way, but It was all due to my intention.

Ten years ago, I never would have thought I would be or even wanted to be an author, let alone being asked to be a keynote speaker. The idea of writing books was never a life goal for me, it was my guides who thought otherwise. I truly thought they were out of their Divine minds, me, writing books. I was an artist not an author. Fast forward 3 years later, I have written three books, magazine articles, and maintain a blog. All while still creating art, although that has also taking a surprising spiritual turn as well.

I have a very busy and magickal life. There is not a second that goes by that doesn’t have a magickal component to my life. Even in my classroom when I am wiping snotty noses, I am connected to the magick of the universe. Maintaining this magickal life has become an art all its own. I can attribute everything I am and do to being aware and listening to my intuition, my deities, my ancestors, and who and whatever else decides to throw their mystical two cents in.

What does it mean to live a magickal life?

Living a magickal life means being constantly in tune with the spiritual world around you, it’s about listening and being open to your intuition and to the messages from your spiritual guides. It happens twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Does this mean you need to run around shouting “Love and Light to all” of course not, that’s crazy. So instead I talk to the dead and spirits of animals.

The image most people have of those living a magical life is often of a robed priest or priestess, dancing around a bonfire, under the full moon, or mixing exotic herbs in a mortar and pestle. While this can seem very exciting and theatrical, alas we are not Laurie Cabot.

Actually, most of the time life can seem pretty daunting and un-magickal, between caring for our families, going to work, going to school, cleaning the house, running around stubbing our toe on that box we have meaning to put away since January. However, all it takes is a shift in perspective to see how the mundane can become magickal. Magick can be incorporated into your daily life simply just by being mindful and putting a little extra effort into your everyday life. You don’t have to perform an elaborate ritual every day to be connected. It’s about being aware of the simple things around you.

One way is by paying attention to the natural world, the seasons, the phases of the moon and how the world around you affect the way you feel or how it may correspond to aspects of your life. By doing this you are actually tuning in to the energies of the universe, which can give insight to how life will be during those times.

Secondly, Take the time to get in touch with nature and the land you live on. Even if you live in a big city, there is nature all around you. Just take a second and connect with that weed growing in a crack of the sidewalk. He may feel just as lonely as you do or he may have advice on how to deal with that loneliness.

Another way is to listen to your gut, your intuition. This takes a little practice but once you understand the feelings, life changes for the better. In most cases your intuition is your first thought or feeling, the first thing that pops into your mind and trust me it’s usually not the most logical of thoughts.

Lastly, when you are doing something mundane, think about how you can use it in a magickal application. For example, when you’re baking cookies, consider what sort of magickal working you can incorporate into the recipe. There is nothing wrong with adding a little passion magick to a meal you make for a lover.

Another way I found that helps is to keep a sort of magickal schedule and routine. It’s about dedicating yourself to doing one magickal act every day of the week. I believe so much in this practice that I created an entire curriculum around its use. In my second book, A Modern Witch’s curriculum, which will be released in June that is based on a weekly schedule, whereas each day, week, and month has a theme.

Of course, as with anything, this schedule can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it and not only will it keep you connected but can open the doors to learning about your path and yourself as well.

There are also a few other practices that you can incorporate into your daily magickal life, such as regularly openly communicating with your deities and spiritual guides. Through daily meditation and devotions with your deities and guides you keep the lines of communication open. This is by far is more complex of the methods of spiritual guidance there is. It doesn’t happen overnight.

One practice that I find the most rewarding is working with your ancestors. By building a relationship with your ancestors you can inherit valuable information about almost anything. Who better to get advice from then someone who has lived through it.

There are many ways we can reconnect with our ancestors, some of which you probably already do.

Some of the most common ways to connect with them is with use of:

Relics: these are personal belongings of the deceased, photos, written items by that person, even the cremated remains of loved ones.

Altars and shrines: Altars are a place to hold your collection of relics and to give offerings and whereas shrines are usually dedicated to one person and temporary at the time of death until they are moved to your altar. However, both are a place to honor and communicate with them.

Offerings: are how we feed the dead, we are not physically feeding them, we are feeding the link between us and the physical world and the spirit world.

Communication: conversations are a form of offering. At first this may seem a little strange, but once you do it after a few times it becomes easier. When starting out openly speaking to the dead I recommend you do this just before bed. You may find that you may receive answers to your conversations in your dreams

By connecting or reconnecting with our ancestors we bring the past and present together and bridge the gap between generations. They are and will become a foundation to your magickal life.

One of the most asked about of my practices is with working with animal spirits. Of course, this could be an entire blog post on its on as there is so much information. But what I will say is, if an animal spirit has something to say it will show up over and over again until it is heard. One rule of thumb that I follow is, if it shows up three times consecutively it has something to say.

Another question I am often asked is, how do you know if it’s a message or if it’s your imagination? There is two ways to answer this question.

1. Ask for validation. It’s ok to ask the spirits to validate your thoughts and questionings.

2. Be aware of possible causes. If you are constantly seeing a deer on your way home from work, is it because it’s in the evening when they come down out of the mountains to graze, or maybe it is hunting season when deer seem to be running amok?

I know of an acquaintance that swore up and down, backwards and sideways that her spirit animal was the red tail hawk and that they follow her everywhere and even circle her home. Ok, yes, she lives off a mountain where red tails frequent, however, they do not regularly circle, especially in multiples. Although, I had a feeling I knew what these birds were, I just left it alone. Until, one day we were together at an event, and she pointed out “her” hawks. I looked up and what do you think I saw circling above…. Yep, turkey vultures! Nope not a sign, just normal animal behavior.

Whether you are working with deities, the dead or animal spirits, the simplest way to connect to them is sending out your intentions to make contact.

And Although, these practices can take a little more work than the previous, they can be very helpful in making your life magickal.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try. If you open yourself up to the endless possibilities, the possibilities for yourself could be endless.

Living a magickal life really is an art, it’s about being able to balance the mundane and the magickal. it’s living consciously and subconsciously, in harmony with the worlds around us and to the best of your ability. It’s about acquiring knowledge, not only about magickal practices, but about yourself and your own life.

 

 

The Modern Witch’s Curriculum will be available for pre-order in late May.

Nominate Author, E. Massey for a Witch Way Magazine Award

 

 

 

 

Dear Fellow Pagans and Witches, Do you love your Guns, Gods, and Community?

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Nope, this is not a political post, well not in the sense of taking a particular side of recent tragic events. Kudos to those who caught the play on the title. Anyway, after a night of spending what should have been three-hours in a car, no thanks to a snow storm, I planned to use the day to catch up on writing and to relax. As I sat down to type a blog post that I had yet to finish, the previous day’s discussions had surfaced to the forefront of my mind.

At yesterday’s book signing, I spent much of my day talking with the customers and owner of The Cauldrons Flame in Connecticut. Although, the day was exciting and lucrative, it was also eye-opening.

As I drove the three hours to Connecticut my ears were flooded with news and commentaries on the Parkland shooting from the radio. Between this and Facebook I was tired of hearing about who and what was to blame. It’s not that I am insensitive to the event, I am just disgusted with how people chose to react. So, I chose to drive in silence instead. As I came upon just crossing the state line, I passed the exit for Sandy Hook, thinking to myself was this going to be the under tone of the day.

The bulk of the day was filled with normal conversations about my book and the usual Pagan topics. It wasn’t until the end of the event that I had gotten into an interesting conversation. Its topic brought me back to passing the Sandy Hook exit. What had started as just a chat about one’s son had turned into a discussion of the current state of the world we live in. Sadly, and repulsed I had learned that even after Sandy Hook, the state of Connecticut does nothing to help children who are struggling emotionally. This person’s son, who had been dealing with depression and anxiety due to constant bullying since elementary school had been pushed aside. Over the years, many things had happened and nothing was done for him or his family. The local school system and officials ignored and pushed aside every attempt to help this child. Luckily, he had a family that stood beside him along the way to keep him from going over the edge. The most shocking part of the whole story was that even after what had happened a few years before in Connecticut, nothing is still being done to help children and families who are in need of support. I learned that there is a lack of psychologists and therapists for children in the state due to the fear of liability that stemmed from Sandy Hook. I found it disturbing that even the school system would rather sweep things under the rug than have to deal with the fact that the children in their care may not be safe from social pressures and harm. I fear that this may be the norm across the county, in hindsight of the recent events. One question I have among many others is, where is the community involvement? It is very easy for the armchair activists (on both sides) to sit there complaining and posting their views and agendas. But what are we really doing in our community to make things better.

Anyone can post and say that they are “praying or sending love and light to the victims and families of this tragedy” But in all honesty, have they? And what, may I ask are you asking for from your Gods? Is it about your personal ideals on guns and government, and the awakening of the opposing party to these ideals or are you asking for a path to be shown on how you can make a difference in a troubling world, and the ways to get off your armchair and help someone who might be in need. We as Witches and Pagans should be a pillar in our community and not a pillow in front of a computer. As an early childhood educator, I see far too many children that are more in need of an honest, good hug than last year’s hot toy at Christmas time. My work doesn’t end when I walk out the school doors at the end of the day, nor will it end when I finish my teaching career. Many of the children I had when I first began teaching are now entering High School and I still talk to them and their families. Although it’s not directly, I am still a part of their life. I also check in with parents of certain children who I know are having a rough time, or they call me when they need help or just want that escape. This is the path I have chosen through the guidance of my own gods and goddesses.

One of the last conversations I had before I left for a five-hour drive was with Heidi, the owner of The Cauldrons Flame. We were casually discussing what she does for her community and how the store fits into it. She views her store not only as a place of business and resource for a local community, but a center of wellness and comfort for anyone seeking acceptance and knowledge. When she opens her doors daily she also opens her heart to a community in need. Heidi knows firsthand the hidden troubles in her community and she takes charge by providing a safe environment for not only Pagan and Witches but those who just may need a place to escape the outside world.

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This post was not meant to rant or finger point to any one side, but to get us thinking a little more about ourselves and our community in a such a crazy messed up world. When all is said and done with our current world, community maybe be our only resource for survival.

You Want a Time Out! Meditation and Children

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 A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a social-emotional program designed for early education. Its main focus was to help children to be mindful of their own and others emotions through teacher guided activities and meditation. The children were encouraged to practice meditations of body awareness, patience, and relaxation. As teachers, we ourselves were taught not only how to meditate (I was one up on the others there) but also how to encourage children to want to meditate. By using modeling instead of actual lessons, the children were not forced into learning meditation techniques all at once. This method of “teaching” through example provides a stress free and positive outcome for the child and laid the groundwork for later incorporating actual meditation techniques into the classroom.

There are many benefits from meditation for children, not only in the magickal world, but in everyday living as well. Meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, and aggression. It improves concentration, memory, and creativity. Children who meditate show a better sense of awareness, relaxation, and an overall healthier mind and body. It’s also been thought to strengthen the immune system and can lower the risk of future health problems. As an early childhood educator, I have seen these benefits manifest first hand.

When given the opportunity to observe the meditative practices of an adult, children will most likely want to sit alongside you and imitate what you are doing. By giving your little Witch this opportunity to sit with you during your own meditation practices, they will begin to learn themselves. If you do not have a regular meditation practice, this is a great way to grow and experience mindfulness together.

Below is a technique that I have used in the classroom and in my Little Witches workshops.

A Basic Relaxation Technique for Children

I recommend beginning on your own in a quiet setting, choose a time before a meal or before bed, soon after your child will follow. For older children you can explain to them why you are sitting in silence.

Begin by asking your child if they would like to play a relaxing game with you. Continue only if they show interest. If they show no interest one day they may the following day. I recommend doing the technique yourself, the child will become interested after some time.

Sitting in a chair, ask your child to sit with his or her feet flat on the floor and hands on his/her knees. Using a gentle, slow voice, saying or something similar:

“Look for a spot on the wall that you would like to look at.”

This can be any spot the child chooses. Explain to your child to keep their feet flat on the floor and their hands on your knees.

“Breathe in nice and slow and let it out nice and slow. When you feel your body wants to get wiggly, just say in your head, it’s okay that you’re feeling wiggly.”

“Try to keep your eyes on the spot as long as you can.”

Do this for only a minute or two the first time, and expand by one to two minutes each session. A good practice to maintain is to not exceed your child’s age in the number of minutes you spend in a session.

FYI: Having a good meditation practice can help encourage children with self-awareness, to be themselves, and have a greater belief in their own potential.

News: “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum”, New Book by E. Massey Coming This Spring..Cover Sneak Peak

E. Massey’s newest book, “The Modern Witch’s Curriculum” is set to be released mid-spring. For those who are awaiting his first full length book, you will be able to pre-order it starting in April.

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“A Modern Witch’s Curriculum” combines history, science, and hands-on magickal and spiritual activities and experiences in an easy to follow calendar format. Although, it is written with the advanced Witch in mind, this curriculum is relevant to anyone of any magickal tradition or spiritual background, and those who want to learn more about their own traditions and themselves.

Birds, Snakes, and Airplanes. PT 1 – When Your spiritual path takes a new direction.

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When re-inventing this blog, I had no idea what direction I wanted for my first posting. There were so many topics I could write about. At the time, I had just returned from my local groups Beltane celebration, where they had conducted two rituals, one for adults and one for children. I thought this might be something I wanted to discuss and expand on, especially because this is where my expertise lies. What a better way to help promote my forthcoming book and classes. But alas, It just didn’t feel right. So I decided to dye my hair instead. I thought maybe the time away from my computer would have helped, but again I had no direction. Then it hit me like an airplane. Direction! A topic I myself and many around me have been experiencing. “What direction has my path led me? ” or more so “what direction am I supposed to go on my path? ” Continue reading

Guided Meditation: Journey to the Spirit World

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A few years ago, I and members of the Moonlit grove, my local group got together around the full moon and held guided meditations sessions. I somehow ended up being the one that organized and supplied the meditations for the night. After running out of options every month, I began to write my own. Since then, they have been sitting in my external hard drive collecting virtual dust. Now that I started this blog, I have a use for them again. Although, they have been updated and reworked from their original development they still hold significance. I remember this guided meditation had been originally written around Samhain. It sends you on a journey to the spirit world, enabling you to communicate and connect with the spirits of the underworld. This may be done at your ancestral altar or somewhere that is comfortable and where you can relax. Choose soft music to play during your mediation to help set the mood. Continue reading