Listen to the beat of the Heart of the Witch
Are you celebrating Lughnasadh/Lammas this year?
As a F(a)eri (e) Priest living waaaay on the edge of the village, so to speak, I don’t attach to any formal celebration of the Wheel of the Year.
But I’m delighted when Mystery sparks a spontaneous creative celebration – and in this case Lugh has been shining His light on me, with Brighid looking on, banking her fires for February . (I’m in the Northern hemisphere. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere please reverse these dates!)
The story of Lugh the Many-Talented has been a thread in many of the readings I’ve been doing for folks lately. How can we recognise and combine our personal talents – and as my friend Kate has reminded me, ‘talent’ is also a word for ‘coin’, an ancient currency – mediating them in a conscious way? [I will add that the rune Gifu/Gebo shines bright in many readings I’ve been giving too, the ‘solar cross’ where our personal gifts – our talents – are given and bring a wealth of gifts to and from others. When we know our talents and give them freely, the world is transformed.]
When the Gods say they want something reasonable, I say ‘yes’.
So I am pleased to present:
7 Talents Tarot Spread in Honour of Lugh and Brighid**
On reading reverses: If you do it, do it. So reversed cards or ogham would likely bring into meaning, the ways that a talent is not being/cannot be expressed (currently) – this could be a person, or a quality that needs to be recognised and activated.
Position 1: East (Right side of Centre)
Dawning Talent – on the cusp of coming to light. May be an idea or ideal or system that ‘lights up’ your life somehow. Element of Air. May be a quality that is needed so that all your talents can begin to rise.
Position 2: South (Just below Centre)
Shining Talent – the noon sun, a talent brightly illuminated on every side, no shadows are showing (yet). The moment of glory, passion for the talent. ‘This!’ Element of Fire. May be a quality that is needed so that you can connect to your will and passion. May be that burning feeling in your gut – what’s missing?
Position 3: West (Left hand of Centre)
Maturing Talent – a time of transformation, the evening star, the gentle quench of sunset over the sea. What emotive, intuitive messages are we receiving through our talent? Do we need to bring them out from the womb, into the light of the world? Element of Water. Do we need rest, renewal, cleansing before the push to manifestation? Or do we need the surrender that comes before dissolution?
Position 4: North (Above Centre)
Manifesting Talent – a platform for talent, midnight, the body, health, manifestation, prosperity, the unbreakable laws of life and death, fulfilling our ancestors’ dreams, bringing our talent fully into the world. Element of Earth. The project is finished; the sad post-talent period of loss and dissolution as well as the celebration of work that has been accomplished.
Position 5: The Great Above (Above North)
Expanding Talent – What is expanding? Is it a quality, a desire, a business? This is the place of inspiration as well as growth: the stars are speaking to you, flowing through you. What talent do they bring? No Element, but the position of Above. How do you shine in ways you’re not even aware of?
Position 6: The Great Below (Below South)
Hidden Talent – What talents have been hiding, waiting to come forward? What talents do you not want to acknowledge? What kind of resistance/despair/apathy is keeping the deep fires of Below from emerging and being expressed? No Element, but the position of Below. In the next 6 to 12 months, what talent will be emerging? What must be burnt away?
Position 7: Centre of the spread
Mediating Talent – How do you balance these talents? What do you have/what is needed? Where are you right now, in terms of your awareness/acceptance/enjoyment of your Talents, known and unknown? How, like Lugh, do you stand up for your many disparate talents forming a unique whole?
Centre and Circumference are the same. So how do you contain every talent, as well as generating every talent, at work in your Life?
Revisiting the spread at Brighid:
(Again, I am being Northern Hemispheric. Please lovely antipodeans, reverse this…)
Revisiting the 7 Talents Tarot Spread six months after your initial reading – for example at Brighid, 2 February by the calendar, when preparation for new growth (of talents!) is just occurring – should be a good way to connect with what is on Her forge!
I feel the Centre of the spread is where this Forge is – how you will, in the coming Winter months, use your tools to actively purify your talents and ‘bring them to the table.’
PLEASE NOTE that the beautiful image here is one of the cards from The Wild Wood Tarot: Wherein Wisdom Resides by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington. Full information at their website thewildwoodtarot.com
**This spread is also suited for runes, ogham, and non-traditional divination packs (Osho, Angel Cards, Medicine Cards, Faerie Oracle, etc.) and I invite you to adapt it to your preferred form of divination.
This could just as easily have been titled “Why I LOVE Lon Milo DuQuette”.
His latest book, Homemade Magick: The musings & mischief of a do-it-yourself Magus (Llewellyn 2014), typifies what I so enjoy about his writing:
(1) Humour. Humour. Humour.
(2) Honesty, authenticity, and anecdotes illustrating that no Magickus – even one as influential as LMD – is above being a human. Great example: A chapter in which he describes how his lifestyle led to his top weight of 310 lbs (when I saw him in Amsterdam in 2005 or so, he did look like Humpty Dumpty). And how a ‘demon blogger’ confronted him with his own words – The only thing I can change with magick is myself – and asked why he didn’t use his magick to invoke the spirits of diet and exercise. (He lost 150 lbs. See how our demons can help us?)
(3) Magickal knowledge and practice that is profound, practical, and transformational. Like the trance (or the excerpt of it) that follows.
A Self-Initiation Trance Ideal for Samhain
Actually what I’ve wanted to convey with this blog is the wonderful trance/homemade self-initiation LMD presents in Chapter 4 of Homemade Magick. It seems to me to be particularly appropriate for Samhain, but I’ve just used it – with credit to Himself, of course – as part of a yoga retreat. Nothing like lying in Corpse Pose and coming to grips with your own mortality/immortality at the same time!
Here’s an excerpt:
Voice: Visualise the toes of your right foot.
Focus your attention on the toes of your right foot and visualise them clearly.
Voice: Are you the toes of your right foot?
You think this is a pretty silly question. Of course you are not the toes of your right foot, and you tell the Voice that.
You: No I am not.
Voice: Visualise the toes of your right foot disappearing.
You visualise the toes of your right foot painlessly dissolving away.
Voice: If those toes were missing, would you still be you?
Another silly question. Of course you would still be you if you were missing a few toes.
You: Yes. I am that which remains.
Of course this process goes through the entire body – toes and feet and legs, fingers and hands and arms, sex and guts and lungs and spine and heart, physical senses and brain. Point being, according to LMD, “Knowing you are you when you no longer have a physical body is the greatest magical power one can possess and the secret to overcoming death.”
Consumed by Sekhmet (and not by fear)
This trance really resonated for me as I’d had a spontaneous, parallel experience some years ago while listening to some shamanic drumming: I met Sekhmet in a flaming-hot desert. She devoured me – tenderly. As she consumed my body with loving ferocity, I felt no pain and no fear… and when she was finished, I realised that the ‘I’ that is really I, was still there.
The peace of that vision stayed with me for a while. But as a Being wearing the Meat Suit the needs of the ‘meat’, and its fears and joys and struggles, obscured the eternal truth. In the past months the fact of dissolution and death has felt heavy and confrontational. LMD’s beautiful, concrete, ‘Homemade Ritual of Self-Initation’ (from which the above is excerpted) was a reminder of the timeless perspective we need as magical people. Life everlasting will not be scientifically proven by Hillbilly Ghost Hunters. It rests here, in the truth of the heart and the loving wisdom of Godsoul (the ‘I’ in all of our incarnations).
Here’s how the ritual ends: a blessing.
I am a light shining in the darkness.
I am the pure thought of the Divine.
I am the deathless centre of all life.
When all else is gone, I am that which remains.
Have a beautiful Mabon, with bloody-red leaves that trail into Samhain.
Posted by Fortuna.
In the past 12 hours, the Peacock – that symbol of pride and beauty and self-love , that God of integration – has insinuated Himself, in all his unsubtle glory, into my life.
Sometimes it’s difficult, or we’re not willing, to look at life’s synchronic ‘little events’ as meaningful. The word that your eye picks out of an advertisement, the name you think you hear being called when the neighbour’s cat squalls, the Tarot card that ‘accidentally’ falls to the floor…next time it happens, slow down for a moment and listen. Often it’s confirmation that something you’ve been wondering about needs your attention, or your action.
Now, back to the Peacock. Not just a bird of such astonishing beauty that my little Sticky One wants to do a dance when I see an image of Him, but a God – one of many names, Melek Taus for those of the Anderson Feri Tradition – who shows us the divinity of loving ourselves radically. Unconditionally. With passion.
He has come to me in three quite un-mystical ways, which is how I know I REALLY have to pay attention: Last night on the phone with a non-magickal friend who counseled me, “Think about peacocks and let yourself be like them, really beautiful and proud and just spread your feathers!” Twice this morning: once, reading our very non-magickal newspaper. Suddenly a local village has an influx of peacocks. A small tribe of six peacocks. Unexpectedly. That’s a lot for Oud-Beijerland! Then I started reading my emails, and found one from a dear and again, quite unmagickal friend in the States. Subject line:’ Not very subtle!’ The image of the peacock wedding dress posted here was the message.
I'm going to do something with this synchronicity. Today, I’m going to love – no, adore – myself. Flaws and all. It’s what makes me whole. I will rise like the Peacock in glory, tempered by the hand of Love. I will remember what another dear friend, of Persian descent, told me: ‘In Farsi we say “The peacock has ugly feet”’. And maybe in recognition of all this, I will get a pedicure. With peacock-blue polish.
What are the signs and symbols in your life? Anything recurring? Could it be your Gods and your Guidance trying – not very subtly – to tell you something?
by the way, I've tried finding the proper credits for this gown. apparently it was created at a peacock farm in Linyi, China, the result of 2 months' work and more than 3000 peacock feathers gathered from more than 200 male peacocks.
My mother-in-law has been in a closed psychiatric facility for the past 10 days.
This blog isn’t about her. Like the rest of my husband’s family, I have my opinions and hopes and fears about her condition, which may be psychosis (hearing voices, paranoia) or a symptom of Lewy Body dementia.
This blog is about soul alignment, and it carries a question to those readers who work within the world of counseling/psychiatry/mental health: Do you think that some mental illness may be caused by lack of alignment of the Triple Souls?
What is soul alignment?
Soul alignment is fundamental in a variety of (pagan and magical) religious traditions, the practice of bringing the Fetch/Younger Self/Etheric body PLUS the Shining Body/Talker/Aura PLUS the Godsoul/Higher Self into congruence. (If you aren’t familiar with this practice, I urge you to read or watch some of the great material about Soul Alignment that is available, notably from Thorn Coyle (http://www.thorncoyle.com/evolutionary-witchcraft-excerpt/) or Gede Parma (http://www.gedeparma.com/?p=288). While the practice as they describe it derives from Anderson Feri Tradition, the psychological aspects of a Triple Soul are most certainly part of the work of Jung and Freud).
When souls aren’t aligned
In visiting the psych ward, what was noticeable in my mother-in-law and in the other patients was the lack of integration – the literal disintegration – of the Three Souls and the body, the physical vehicle of these souls.
One could energetically feel that the Three Souls had drifted apart, ‘doing their own thing’ in their own realms as it were.
My mother-in-law’s roommate doesn’t speak; huddled under her blanket all day, smiling blankly when addressed, one feels her Fetch, her little Animal Soul, is so wounded it has taken over her existence. There’s another woman who has lost her voice, clearly intelligent and delighted in the visits of her grandchildren but unable to answer their questions or remark on the drawings they bring her. One feels her Talker is so angry that it is saying ‘f—k you’ and just won’t come to the party.
Noises that sound more animal than human occasionally escape the locked doors at the far end of the hall. A pregnant woman who seems to have no energetic field at all drifts into the group sitting area on her way to the ‘game room’: she has to ask the nurse to light her cigarette.
Other members of the ward are refusing their connection to the body – one young woman, now in a state of foot-shuffling overmedication, will not eat without being ‘encouraged’ to do so. She is in Stage 3 access: she can only leave the locked ward if an orderly accompanies her. My mother-in-law is Stage 2: she can leave the ward, and even the building, for a few hours each day if accompanied by family. ‘You get to go outside?’ the skeletal young woman asks her. ‘Oh, that is what I want. How come you get to do that?’
It’s been ten years since I left the US where, sadly, a lot of people deemed ‘mentally ill’ are living on the streets. And in remembering their affect, this kind of non-alignment, this lack of defined energetic body, this lack of connection to the body (except sometimes through the miserable addiction to alcohol or substance) comes to the fore.
And it occurs to me that we quite literally call the mis-aligned ‘lost souls’.
Three Souls, One Body: On Target
With this blog, I am not proposing that those suffering from dementia or chemical imbalance are responsible for their lack of alignment. There are concrete physical, historical and individual aspects to mental illness, and unlike some of you reading this now, I don’t have the education or framework to understand the subtle gradation of health to illness in this area.
I am, however, wondering if – like a lifetime practice of moderate exercise and sound eating – a daily practice of aligning the triple souls might enable those ‘on the edge’ to remain firmly on THIS side of the mental health continuum.
I remember that in one of Thorn Coyle’s workshops, she shared that if we could view our energetic bodies from the top, in alignment they would look like a bulls-eye: our physical bodies surrounded by the ‘glove’ of our etheric/’animal’ body, the shining aura of our mental/communicative self, and the God Soul which connects us to All and may be seen as a globe of energy at our crown.
As humans we can keep those Bodies communicating with each other through our practice. When They are not in communication, our effectiveness and joy and power are diluted. Aligned, open to the guidance of our Godsoul/Higher Self and practicing kala and prayer, we accumulate energy to a clean centre and become a pillar of power.
So, once again I’m asking: Mental health professionals – Reiki masters – counselors - those who work in a healing modality – do you think alignment can prevent or ameliorate mental illness?
At this time of Brighid, I’ve been working on another blog entirely. Well, to be honest I went back to a blog I started last year at this time entitled ‘Healing with the Gods’ Help,’ because that is what happened for me back in 1996/97, when I was led to heal from cancer and simultaneously found my faith. And then I have another blog on the go, which has something to do with Brighid. Maybe I’ll hammer it out by next year, we’ll see.
In the past weeks, there has been a noticeable shift in attention for me: friends, colleagues, family have been asking for prayers for their own or their dear ones’ healing. At the same time, with compatriots in an online course focused on Brighid, there has been a lot of sharing about what needs healing in our lives – physical healing, spiritual healing, emotional and mental healing.
So every day since committing to prayer for my colleague G’s cat, I have been lighting the Brighid candle on my altar, and praying to She and Isis for the healing of all who have asked. More every day, it seems.
Healed from complacency
Noticing even the seemingly ‘random’ stuff that pops up endlessly on Facebook, I shared this quote last week:
‘We want healing from illness, but it’s through illness that we grow and are healed of our complacency.’ – Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom
Healed from our complacency. Healed from our assumption that today is just like yesterday, that if we keep looking at our mobile phones we’ll be saved from the train wreck, that if we just keep moving forward without the awareness of the sharp edges all around us we won’t be cut. That quote made me reflect upon my own time ‘fighting’ cancer – mostly fighting with doctors who wanted to cut out body parts that weren’t meant to be cut out – and also made me confront the truth: We are dying, at this very moment. We are living, at this very moment. How to stay aware and awake at the point of contact between these Sacred Twins, the most foundational in our lives? How do I/we stay connected to the preciousness of this moment, to the fact that this moment is the moment to offer up our wealth and health and life to improve that of other beings’?
Circe Santaniello, High Priestess
This post is really about Circe Santaniello, a great friend, a great Witch, a huge personality, a great teacher, and the High Priestess of my first training coven, which I was part of in Seattle back in 2001-2002. Circe’s creativity and her grounding in psychology as well as witchcraft served our coven well. (I was a complete sceptic about ‘witchcraft’ if not about magic. My friend Dragonfly craftily persuaded me to go to ‘a women’s group’ and that first Dark Moon meeting, Circe led a trance in which I met Isis. It was undeniable, and real, and I never looked back.)
This is what Circe posted on Facebook this week.
“Home Sweet Home
Quite simply put, I am no longer looking for a counseling job, nor any other kind of work. For those of you who do not know why I was in the hospital last week for two whole weeks, it is because I have been diagnosed with Stage 4 bone cancer…
...Interestingly the depression I had been experiencing due to lack of employment, among other situational events simply evaporated! Hey, situation gone, depression gone. This has been a welcome surprise.
Most of my life has been about following my spiritual path and meaning. To find myself attempting to crawl on to the mainstream grid of 9 - 5 due to financial circumstances this late in life was simply exhausting to begin with let alone in this job market. Don't get me wrong, I loved achieving all I did in the past 7 years and am quite proud of myself, but I would rather be herding goats, leading ritual, snorkeling or writing. So two degrees, an LPC license, and over a year and a half of seeking a counseling job was a bit wearing on me.
I had recently re-assessed my goals also. Psychodrama, working out, shamanic ritual work and continuing to be creative by writing and working artistically in my 3D virtual world were the things that fed me. Looking at my medical history, age and situation, I realized those were the endeavors I wanted to concentrate upon. Now I will spend my time doing several of those things all the while knowing just how amazingly successful I was working towards those other goals that had been thrust upon me. No job needed. It is time for rest and spiritual work.
Very dear friends have flown to me from all around the country to help me carrying their love and various types of healing skills. I am so very grateful for this outpouring of love and support in person, letters and phone calls. I just wanted to finally tell anyone else who wanted/needed to know what was up with me. It has been a bit tiring telling the tale over and over, so here it is.
Time to go home.”
This was the most eloquent, generous, honest, and beautiful expression of someone on the finest edge between the wrestling twins of Life and Death. And for me, the most eloquent expression of healing.
Thank you Circe. Thank you. Thank you for the magic you started in this embodied life, my embodied life, a magic I hope I can pass on to others.
At this time of Brighid, I see what we Witches do for each other and the world: we hold magic and the space for healing – that space where Life and Death go from wrestling to making love - and pass this wisdom on to others.
Candle to candle,
Flame to flame
Holding the Edges,
Chanting Her Name
Drawing from Centre,
Wise beyond Time
We make healing and wholeness
Between living and dying.
– Fortuna, Imbolc 2014
The time before the return of the Light on Winter Solstice has always been celebrated by old customs: we light candles on the weekends in Advent, bring evergreen branches into the house and put offerings for the little winged beeings outside. And every day we open a new door of our Advent calendars. This year little Tarot treasures are waiting there for you:
I'm sharing my knowledge and experience of the Tarot, which is a true a loyal friend in my every day life and on my spiritual path: as oracle, guide and inspiration.
For me it is essential to find a very personal way of interpreting and working with the cards. Therefore you'll find very different exercises, practices, experiments and insights of and into the deep world of Tarot, giving you opportunity to decide on your own which way works for you.
The Tarot Advent calendar is a free offering - though offered only in German.
Have fun & Tarot!
There are many books written on self-love, probably more than are written on selfishness, though we could likely debate that.
I’m not here to debate that. I am here to enjoin us toward the love of self that enables us to better love each other. I’m here to ask us all: are we not part of God Herself? Are we not an integral part of creation and the unfolding of the patterns of life? Really. Why are we here? We are here to find and follow our destiny. We are here to listen to desire. Even if the call is faint, let us pray. Every time we show up to another friendship, we are seeking to follow the path of desire. Every time we go to another workshop, ritual, art gallery, concert, forest, or beach, we are seeking desire. To seek desire, is to follow desire. What connects us? What draws us forward? What brings us back to relationship, again and again? Desire.
Desire is the fire beneath us, that keeps us moving forward. Desire is the fire at sex and heart, that illuminates our lives. Desire is the sparking of the mind, that spurs our thoughts toward creation. Desire flames in the cauldron of our belly, giving us the will to carry on. The people I love most in life are guided by desire. They listen to their God Souls and this tugging force of destiny and fire. They light up themselves and the world around them, in ways that might seem simple, basic, but are driven by deep choice. And some of my friends? They set the world on fire.
What is your way? Are you still dousing the fires of desire with self-loathing or indecision? Are you sinking in and training, in order to live a life that feels bold? Are you listening to the great silences, and coming forth renewed? Are you speaking to the wind, and to the rain? Desire draws all things together, and draws still others, on their way. Each peptide in our body forms itself to do its work. What is your work?
These things that help us know, and will, and dare, these things that rise from stillness… all of these, too, are part of the flowing of desire. Let yourself feel it. Let yourself taste it. Let yourself live.
The journey is ever moving onward. The process is never someday but always now.
Recently I had an experience with my horse riding teacher that left me kind of devastated. She made a remark about my looks that was a) very hurtful (it brought back all kinds of youth trauma) and b) very inappropriate. After the initial sadness and the anger that followed, there was the sudden realization that this is something that unfortunately happens a lot when someone is in the 'teacher position'.
As a teacher myself, not of horse riding, but of the craft, the way this woman not only treated me, but also my fellow students is so against all the ethics I hold when teaching.
What kind of ethics are important when teaching? And I mean any kind of teaching here, not just the craft.
Using power to empower
The first thing a teacher should always be aware of is that the teacher-student relationship creates a certain power issue. Students usually come to a teacher because they want to learn things from someobe who is a senior in that particular field. This creates a certain hierarchy, the teacher knows more about the material presented than the student. So you could say that the teacher in this field holds more power than the student. In my opinion a good teacher will empower his students to try and fail and try again within the safe container of the classroom, gym, riding school etc. Because that is how we humans learn! A good teacher will be aware of the responsibilities that come with this power and will teach with authority, not act as a dictator and will certainly not belittle the students. My own experience is that while teaching I can still learn a great deal from my students. I have been teaching kids and their wisdom never ceases to amaze me.
Staying grounded in the glamour
Then, there is the glamour that comes with teaching. I see that within the Reclaiming tradition I am a teacher of. Even though Reclaiming is a tradition that is very averse to hierarchy and power-over issues the position of a Reclaiming Witch Camp teacher is quite idealized and many campers long to be one when they grow up. I can start rambling about how unglamorous the job of being a witch camp teacher is and how much hard work it is, but that goes beyond the topic of this blog.
Fact remains that the glamour is there and of course it does something with our egos. Students do look up to their teachers, and as a teacher you do get a great deal of attention. All very flattering and if you forget to ground and are not surrounded by people who keep you sane this could easily go to your head, resulting in feeling better than the rest and behaving accordingly.
A teacher shouldn't behave like a diva.
The importance of trust
Trust is of utmost importance when being in a teacher-student relationship. This goes both ways. As a teacher one should be able to create an atmosphere in which students feel safe enough to put their trust in the teacher. Students must have the feeling that they are taken seriously, that their questions will not result in joking about them and that their personal stuff is not shared with others without their permission. Also, they have to trust that you indeed know what you are teaching them and where you are in that process. As an example: I wanted to join a challenging activity at my gym last week, one I never took any classes for. I asked one of my instructors whether he thought I could finish that activity at all, and he said he was sure I could. Well, I trust this instructor, he knows my routine and knows what I am capable of. I took the class and ended up in the fastest half of the class!
On the other hand, as a teacher you have to trust your students. Trust that they will learn the things they need to learn from you. And as a teacher you have to trust in Magic, if that is what you are teaching (and even not) – it is amazing what can come through you that is directed towards your students' needs.
Teaching is service
As a teacher you are being of service to your students, and your community. And a community can be anything, a school, a gym, a camp. The show is never about the teacher, it is all about the students and creating the best learning possibilities you can for and with them.
And the last thing I want to highlight: once you have become a teacher that does not mean you never have to be a student again! As human beings we are never done with learning, and for teachers remaining a student is mandatory. To study new things expands our capacities even more, makes us aware of our blind spots. What areas can we make even better? How can we keep coming up with new and challenging exercises or deepening practices? What helps to motivate me when I am studying and how can I use that information when trying to motivate my students?
Know your work
I have been lucky, I have come across a great many fantastic teachers. In the craft I had and still have fabulous teachers, and at my local gym I train under the supervision of instructors who have really gotten the points mentioned above. All these teachers are models to me: they motivate, make me explore my boundaries, they don't provide an easy ride, but they always remain respectful to me and my fellow students and enthusiastic about what they are teaching. I deeply honor them and am grateful for their impact on my life and all they have taught me.
One more thought
Oh, and very important: they know what they are doing! This is THE ground rule when teaching: know your stuff! There is nothing that will damage trust more than a teacher who doesn't know what she is talking about, or who doesn't know routines, movements etc etc. That doesn't mean a teacher can never make mistakes, after all, teachers are human too.
Make sure you show up to the job on time and well prepared. And don't let your mood swings (yes, teachers have those as well) influence the job you were hired for! Your moody remarks may have more impact than you are even aware of!