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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
So You Want to Be a Witch?

So, you want to be a witch, do you?

Well, here's what you do.

Friday night, go up to the old Indian graveyard up top the ridge.

Take off every stitch of clothing and dance, dance for the Devil.

Then get dressed and go back home.

The next Friday, do the same, and the one after that. Nine weeks running, you do this.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Heart of Darkness

On the night of the Winter Solstice, the sun set at 4:37 pm.

                It had risen at 7:24 that morning, making for just over nine hours of daylight.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Life's Patience Training

 

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An Imbolc Mystery: Brigid and the Making of Vows

In the velvet darkness between the worlds, a welcoming light shines bright and steady. Here Brigid tends Her holy well and sacred flame, offering up their life-transforming magic that grants the gifts of healing, inspiration and wisdom for those who seek Her guidance. She does not call us to Her side, for She knows that we will find Her when the time is ripe. 

As Nature shifts from the dark dormancy of Winter to the life-inducing powers of the strengthening sun that herald the approach of Spring, our desire for the spring of new possibilities and the end of the long winter of our soul drives us to Brigid’s doorstep. Our mind turns to the seeds of our beauty and wounding, sourced from our Deep Self and life story, that hold the next pieces of our pathwork, and our soul turns to Brigid’s loving, gracious presence and Her tremendous powers that can make our life anew.

Trust these powerful hungers and impulses stirring within you. Trust that life-transforming change is possible, and that Brigid can help you in this essential soul work. Trust that your shining inner light is kin to Her shining light, and in the spirit of this kinship you will find your way to Her realm between the worlds.

When you reach the threshold of Brigid’s realm, you’ll discover a thick oak door with an ancient key, greened by age and the elements – the key of conscious choice. Your soul desire has led you to Brigid, now you must consciously choose to turn the key, knowing that to stand before this mighty, generous Goddess is to commit yourself to Her healing ways. And once you have made this commitment, it is not easily unmade; when you open the door that connects you to Brigid, it can never truly be shut again.

As you step over the threshold, Brigid welcomes you with a warm, captivating smile, Her cheeks flushed slightly with the heat of Her forge. She is breathtaking to behold, with long, fiery red tresses, creamy white skin, and a tall, slender form draped in a dark green mantle. Though Her beauty is as bright as the flames She tends, it is the palpable presence of Her love and kindness that is your strongest impression of Her.

Both the flames and Brigid’s radiance seep through your flesh, swiftly thawing the frozen places in your heart. When you look into Her startling green eyes, you see the life you are longing for reflected in their soulful depth, and Her desire to help make your dreams come true. You do not need to speak these things to Brigid, She already knows you, inside and out, deep and true. 

“Let us see what hidden knowledge and healing visions await you at this time of Imbolc,” She says.

With Her long, expressive fingers, Brigid beckons you to a shallow, black stone bowl filled with the waters of Her holy well. She directs your gaze to its still, flat surface, illuminated by the flickering lights of Her sacred flame.

Images arise in a swift procession from the close-up and intimate of your life to the wide-scope of the greater world. Brigid’s scrying waters do not spare you from the ugly and the painful. You are shown the hurt places inside of you and their symbiotic expression in your outer existence, and then, broader still, to the same patterns that exist in human society. 

“These images tell the one story of the seed of your wounding,” Brigid says, “What is inside is outside, and what is outside is inside; your inner world reveals itself in your outer existence, and your personal life is both trapped within the strictures of collective reality and you help re-create this reality with your day-to-day choices and actions.”

Brigid passes Her hands over the basin’s surface and new images appear, this time offering a mélange of the beautiful and inspiring, again drawing both on your personal life and the greater world.  Some of the images you recognize from your current existence and others feel achingly familiar, like a longed-for possibility that has yet to take form.
   
“These images tell the one story of the seed of your beauty,” Brigid says, “Just as with your wounding, what is inside and outside both inform and infuse the other. By the beauty and goodness of individuals, the beauty and goodness of human society emerges.”

With a swirling motion of her fingertips, Brigid activates Her holy water’s visionary magic one last time. The previous images blend and merge, entwining the stories of your beauty and wounding, both in their personal and collective manifestations. And you see, from the depth of your being, that your beauty and wounding are mirrors of the same thing; there is really only one story, the story of your life, woven from all that you are, and all that you’ve ever experienced, defined and constrained within the matrix of collective reality. 

Together you step away from the scrying bowl. Brigid turns to face you and says, “Everything has a place and purpose, even the most painful and challenging of these images. Life, with its joys and sorrows, is the crucible of your spiritual healing and evolution. You would not be who you are now, standing here with me on the cusp of your greater becoming, within having gone through these trials and experiences. Great beauty and power are forged from great wounding and suffering, tempered by a wisdom, love and compassion that a life fully embraced, in its light and shadow, can grant you.

“My scrying bowl has revealed to you the seeds and stories that are the makings of the new beginning ready to emerge from within you. They are the raw materials that will drive the healing pathwork that is before you now.

“You must tend these seeds in preparation for your springtime of new growth. Your life is their soil, your love their water, and your conscious awareness their sunshine. With proper care, they will show you the way of your healing and transformation, and your path forward to the life of soul you are longing for.

“Are you ready to take this next crucial step on your journey of soul? Will you commit yourself to the sacred task of tending your seeds of beauty and wounding, and letting them guide you in your pathwork?”

Think hard before you answer Brigid, for this is a special, powerful kind of commitment — a vow spoken before Her sacred forge, where the old is made anew. She will hold you to this commitment, and your life will be forever changed.

With a simple “yes”, you bind yourself to Brigid.

“So it is chosen, so it will be,” She says.

Three times Her hammer strikes Her anvil, hard steel against hard steel, ringing your vow outward into the listening Universe.

Then Brigid kisses your brow and presses Her palm against your solar plexus. A warm, swirling energy passes between you, and you sense the visions of Her scrying waters now alive and brewing in your belly center. She smiles one last smile, filling the space and your heart with Her radiance, and then She is gone.

Yet Her kiss remains, a token that She will never leave your side. The visioning magic of this Imbolc eve will bring you the healing, inspiration and wisdom you need to tend your seeds of beauty and wounding.  As you tend your seeds, discovering and embracing their place and purpose on your journey of soul, Brigid tends them with you, coaxing out their healing and creative impulses. And as you shift and grow, bringing positive change to your life and the greater world, Her joy shines down on you, filling you up with the bright flame of Her nourishing love.

Photo Credit: Christian Holzinger on Unsplash

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Releasing Steam: Scorpio Moon Vibes Jan. 26-29

Mama Moon enters the Fixed, Water sign of Scorpio on Jan. 26 at 11:31 pm Pacific Time until Jan. 29. Look for this waning Harvest Moon as she rises at midnight and sets at noon.

This is not an adventurous or outgoing Moon-Time, but instead a caring, sympathetic vibe takes the reigns. Time to get organized, help a loved one in need (or yourself) and release some steam because tensions may run high.

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Everyday Elements Part 1: Cooking & Cleaning

Even in the busiest, most crowded, modern, neon-lit metropolitan areas, we come into close contact with the elements countless times a day. Even – or, especially – with all our technology we truly cannot live without them!

I’m often reminded of a line from one of my favorite songs by Lady Isadora, a witch, priestess and talented singer/songwriter who pioneered the Pagan musical genre in the early 1980s. It is from her song “Witch” – “I call myself a witch because I’m not afraid to tell that the magic is in life itself, not just in some ancient book or secret spell”.

Indeed it is! Magic is everywhere at all times and it is manifested through the elements in more ways than we sometimes realize. Even the most devoted Pagan or witch can struggle to maintain their ideal practice in this demanding, fast-paced age. However, much comes down to perspective and a slight shift in our approach to “mundane” tasks can go a long way toward helping us maintain a wonderful connection to nature and to enhance our magic.

There are four things that, for the most part, we all do on a regular basis, and they each correspond nicely to the four elements: cooking, cleaning, healing and learning – fire, water, earth and air, respectively. Simple awareness and gratitude for the elements and all they allow us to accomplish in our daily lives can help create all manner of easy yet effective rituals, grounding states of mind and to raise our vibrations.


Cooking – Fire

Even if you don’t manage anything more complex than microwaving a Stouffer’s entrée or brewing a pot of coffee, not much cooking can be accomplished without fire in some form or another. A pot of boiling water on a ceramic cooktop can easily conjure images and the energy of an old bubbling cauldron suspended over an open flame in a hearth, and be just as magical.

Obviously real cooking – that is, from scratch or close to it, and going through steps to peel, chop, sauté, flambé, marinate and macerate different fresh ingredients – is not only always more likely to be much more healthy, but it is a wonderful way to connect to ancestors and can be very meditative and easily ritualized.

There are so many wonderful books about kitchen witchery that teach about spells that can be incorporated into cooking, include magical and unique recipes specifically designed for sabbats, and give ideas for turning your whole kitchen into a shrine/altar to nourishment, magic and, of course, fire!

One of my favorite such books, at least that I actually own, is “The Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook” by Patricia Telesco. While I am not Wiccan, I find Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca in the Kitchen” to be a wonderful reference for the general energies and associations of most herbs, fruits, vegetables and several other ingredients. I feel it could have easily (and perhaps more accurately) been entitled simply “Witchcraft in the Kitchen”, but that’s just my opinion based on the content of the book which doesn’t seem to reflect the specificity of just Wicca.

Another favorite is “A Sorcerer’s Cookbook”, by Brigitte Bulard-Cordeau. It is not exactly geared toward the kind of magic and ritual that specifically pagan kitchen witchery books are, but it is visually stunning, filled with very unique and interesting recipes and still has lots of fun and enlightening information about folklore, history and magical uses associated with the ingredients and recipes.

Fire is the great transformer of the elements, and its use in cooking and preparing the food that we ingest can also transform us, our health and energy. No matter what we make or how, it all begins with fire.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
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[Today, we sit down for a quick interview with Hollow Ryan. The author of the Prideful Magick Collection, Ryan discusses her spiritual path, her books, and her future projects.]
 
BookMusings: How do you define your personal spiritual path? Are you part of a tradition, or more eclectic?
 
Hollow Ryan: I would definitely say my path is super eclectic. I’m a quarter Mohawk, so growing up I had a lot of Native American spirituality injected into my life and it has stayed with me. But I’ve also got Scottish and German ancestry that has led to quite the fascination with Celtic practices and Norse mythology. When you take the time to learn yourself as who you are rather than who you’d like to be, it definitely gives you a sense of what works for you in the moment, and what will definitely help you to become the person you want to be. So that’s the kind of path I’m on. A kind of: Make no apologies for who you are, but make no excuses, either.
 
BookMusings: You recently published the fifth book in the Prideful Magick series. Congratulations! First, what is the significance of that title, and why is each book named for a particular plant?
 
HR: This is a difficult one to answer because this entire series felt more like a spiritual journey than work. I’m not sure if I got to make half of the decisions when writing this. The series title might have been one of the few that I was allowed. The Prideful Magick Collection (PMC for short) was named in part because I didn’t want to call it ’series’ or ’saga’ or anything too normal. I used Magick specifically so people would know by looking at it that this was a story of witches. Since our ‘mini culture’ started adding the ‘k’ to ‘magic’ it was this nice little signal to potential readers that, "Yes, I am one of you.” Prideful, of course, is descriptive of the main character. There is no better word for her.
 
As far as the title names for each book, I didn’t get much of a choice on that one. I barely knew about every plant before; I just knew that was the title. I chose Ivy because I love climbing ivy plants. Yet, as I began plotting each of the next books, the plants came to me almost immediately and they all feature significantly in every book.
 
BookMusings: Alexandria Ryder, the witch at the center of the Prideful Magick series, experiences a lot of growth and change over the five books. Without spoiling too much, is there any one event in the book which you feel is particularly telling in regards to her character, and how she matures?
 
HR: The Prideful Magick Collection is all about Lex’s growth and maturity, especially in the face of the kind of adversity she experiences. To me, there’s a moment in all of them that challenges her more than any other. They are sink or swim moments. They are what force her to choose which step to take next, fully aware of what the outcomes could be. In the fifth book, Avens, it is harder to pin-point that exact moment, and it’s even harder to describe without spoilers. Without giving too much away,  I would say the highest mark of her maturity is when she is no longer afraid to share her responsibilities or magick with others.
 
BookMusings: Where can curious readers find your Prideful Magick series?
 
HR: All of my books are available through Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format. However, any local bookstore should be able to order them, if you wish to support a local business. Also, libraries know how to get their hands on them, too.
 
BookMusings: What other projects are you working on?
 
HR: My next projects will be works of complete fantasy. I have created a world called Vassel (which greatly influenced my own spiritual path) and the books I will be working on in the near future all take place in that world. As of now, I do not have any plans to write stories similar to the PMC, but my plans are more like guidelines instead of rules. So we shall see.
 
Thank you so much for this interview! It was so fun to write, and the questions were very insightful.
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