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Getting Through the Long Winter: Spirit, Spells & Sharing

Winters are often tough, but this one has really been a challenge for many of us. Much of the US has dealt with long stretches of bitter cold and winter storms bringing snow and ice as far south as Texas. On the far western side of the country, there are droughts and winds instead. Outside the United States, the weather has also been extreme, although not always cold. It’s the beginning of March, and I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like this winter is Never Going to End.

Of course, there are plenty of practical things that can help you keep going: exercise, rest, and of course, lots of chocolate. But if those aren’t working for you this year, I’ve got a few ideas for how to cope, using spirit, spells, and sharing—hopefully one or more of these approaches help you make it through until the spring comes.

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Crystals with Water in them or Enhydro Crystals

Here's another awesome question from my friend Karen, this time, about Enhydro crystals. She asks:

Enhydros (sp?) Crystal? Have you come across any of these? Can you share more of what they do? I have learned they balance the Divine Masculine/Feminine. Is this correct? Thanks!

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_enhydrowwwbeautiful-mineralsDOTtumblrDOTcom.jpgOh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Enhydro crystals. For those that don't know, they are crystals with water (fluid) inside them. The only way to know if you have an Enhydro (if there is water or fluid present) is if they have something IN the water (usually an air bubble, sometimes sediment of some kind, but most usually air)... or if the fluid is colored as in the photo to the left. Most Enhydro crystals present as clear crystals with clear water, so to see them you turn the crystal and the air bubble (or sediment) moves. If it is sediment it will move down because it is heavier than the water, and if an air bubble, it will move up because it is lighter than the water (imagine the bubble in a carpenter's level). In the photo above, the fluid in the cavity is golden colored. It is very striking to see such a crystal because you are able to easily see where the fluid is. As in the photograph below, in a clear crystal with clear water, you are only able to "see" the water when the bubble moves.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    How cool. I have a magic wand with gel that moves inside it. I love to play with it. How much more wonderful the real thing must b
  • Genn John
    Genn John says #
    Hey carol! I used to have a pen with a little boat in it that moved when you tilted it, it seemed I could play with that for days.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Once & Future People

Žemė, “Earth.” Pendant: amber (with vegetal inclusions), 2¾' x 1¾'. George Romulis, 2012

George Romulis, at 93, has been working amber for more than 70 years. He is an emeritus member of the Riga Amber-Workers Guild and one of the living treasures of Latvia.

This stunning pendant, titled Žemė, “Earth”, fits neatly into the palm of the hand, but its clean lines and boldness of form give it a striking monumentality; it feels larger than it actually is. It is also profoundly female. We all know these lines; we've seen them many times before: in the bodies of the women around us, as in what our coven kid Robin used to call the “clay ladies” of ancient Europe and the Middle East, here elegantly stylized but readily recognizable nonetheless.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The last few months have been very full -- full of activism around women's reproductive rights here in Texas and nationwide, full of disappointments at the losses and joys at the (few) wins, full of workshops and letter writing and organizing. Full, in short, of the "Feminist" part of my path, but lighter on the "Witchcraft" than I might have liked.

The new year has found me trying to remedy that, by building women's spiritual community here in Dallas/Fort Worth, by launching a new networking initiative called North Texas Nature Spirit and re-launching my Tarot blog, Dakotawitch Divines. My practice is going through some changes as I transition out of old roles and groups, facilitate and join others, develop new practices, and return to those that I have allowed to languish. I hope and plan to share all this will you in the coming months, and to grow in my path through that sharing!

One practice I've been returning to is that of drawing a Goddess Inspiration card for each week, from the Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr. I love this deck so much that I will be sharing my weekly draws with you all, and inviting you to learn from the Goddesses along with me! Keep an eye on this space on Monday, March 3 for your first dose of Goddess wisdom. I hope you'll learn and grow with me this spring!

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    xxx
  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thank you for stopping by! Reading your work is one of the things that brought me to Feminist Craft, and to the decision to stud
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love your post, I too am a Goddess feminist, to me they two belong together. Looking forward to your upcoming blogs.

b2ap3_thumbnail_criticism_20140302-173627_1.jpgThe last few blogs I've posted have been all rants and ravings of mine about the trend in Pagan spirituality to turn rituals into platforms for critique or guests pulling aside ritual leaders moments after the Circle is closed to offer negative, unsolicited "advice." The danger in rushing to critique is that we lose focus of the ultimate goal of rituals: to create change in the world via Magick and/or building safe space for souls to grow, heal, and become reborn, or some other facet. They're not simply an opportunity to show to others our own knowledge. When we do this, our rituals lose their effectiveness. This is also a practice in the whole of the soul. We are entitled to our opinions, but others are not obligated to listen to them--even if we are right.

Yet sometimes, criticism is necessary.

No one is going to get any stronger at what they if they are only flattered and complimented. A good teacher doesn't only praise. A good teacher looks for ways the student might improve and a good student listens to those suggestions. Ritualists are no different and constructive criticism is necessary to building more effective rites.

But who gives the critique? And when is it appropriate?

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Sorry, apparently I can't hyperlink here. I was trying to link to this video: http://blog.chasclifton.com/?p=6332#comments
  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Graybeard is right—the Wiccan circle-casting works for small groups but becomes tedious with more than maybe twenty. But these pe
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Well-said. Learning to create rituals takes time and skill that can be learned. My general guideline is to keep it simple, words

Recent experiences have shown me that more and more relationships are being described in terms of customer and vendor, even when that application of the commercial metaphor is terribly inappropriate. Where this problem disturbs me the most is in misunderstandings of magical and religious relationships.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Thank you for an interesting article. I think people often fall prey to treating things (and people) as commodities because the re
Pagan savings challenge, week nine: Noumenia

This week, my Pagan savings challenge reflection goes all Hellenic, for today I celebrate Noumenia, the first of the month.  (Specifically, it's the first of Elaphebolion, 698th Olympiad, but I wouldn't have known that without checking.)  It's a time to honor all the gods of the household, and good for fresh starts in my experience.

Have you stumbled in your savings?  This happens, and it's okay.  It's time for a restart.  What that means is your choice, but here are some suggestions:

  • Track your spending.  Are there sacrifices you can make there so that the money is available for saving?
  • Reevaluate.  Are your goals too ambitious?  I think starting with as little as a penny is appropriate, depending on your income flow.  Be honest, and track your spending before you make that determination.  (And if you think you are not saving enough, feel free to bump it up!)
  • Catch up.  If you have missed a week or more, particularly if you're saving more each week like I am, it's probably not too late to add what's been missed to the pot.
  • Remind.  If you're having trouble remembering the weekly savings, try harder.  Write it in your calendar.  Put a reminder on your phone.  Subscribe to my posts so I can nudge you (also available via email, but you'll need to click the link above yourself for that).

For me, the new beginning is a bit pedestrian:  I've run out of singles, so this is the first week for which my savings is not entirely in dollar bills, despite my fondness for George.  I still like the idea of the volume of bills growing faster and faster as the year progresses, though.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Us vs. Them

Us: “We just want security. We want the right to believe as we see fit.”

Them: “Sorry, those things have been outlawed.”

Us: “Why?”

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

PantheaCon 2014 began a little over two weeks ago, and ended a little under two weeks ago, and I am still not finished writing all of my post-PantheaCon-reflections and remarks, primarily because I have hit the ground running on my return to the Northeast (as I have yet another major move lined up in the next few days). That said, as I did last year, I will share my personal account of the conference here. What follows are collections of my reflections and meanderings through the long weekend in San Jose, edited for deployment here at Witches and Pagans.

I arrived in California from Boston's Logan International a few days in advance, and my pre-con activities included some time in the chair at one of my California tattoo artist's shop, getting some devotional work done, and generally socializing with awesome people between Berkeley and San Francisco, who I've missed the company of since my move.

The conference itself rolled into place rather quickly, and Friday morning was a mad-rush of assembling stuff for the conference at the home of two dear friends, with ritual items and mundane items and food items and tons of liquor items (and some fresh meaty offerings to be fed lovingly to the wilderness en route) piled in around us in the vehicle. It was certainly one of those "there is not enough coffee in all the world for today" sort of days, which I resolved promptly by consuming dangerous levels of caffeine and then an even more amazing amount of liquor, which served to suitably assist my feeling arrived and grounded. I began my day with a fresh bottle of Barbancourt 8-year, flasked for easy carry, and found my way into the company of a dear friend until the chaos of bag-stowing and room-finding needed to be addressed.

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Thank you so much for your sharing. I was at Pantheacon as well, and found myself led to things I had not planned and blocked fro

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I am so grateful for the Goddess gifts that I have received this week! These gifts always come at just the right time. This week I was feeling sad thinking, "Am I really making a difference?", when I puttered down to check the mail and found these pendants from Molly of Brigids Grove waiting for me!

Tree of Life brigids grove etsy crescent moon brigids grove etsy

Their beauty and symbolism really touched me. The tree pendant reminded me that everything has its cycles and Spring is coming. Patience it said to me. Keep sowing the seeds and stay grounded. The crescent moon reminded me to continue connecting to my lunar rhythms-- the ebb and flow of my own energy during the month. Honor where I am in my cycle and acknowledge how that effects my productivity it said to me. Then there was the note from Molly thanking me for offering my circles (New Moon and Full Moon)I could not keep from smiling as I read it. It reminded me that I am making a difference with my offerings. Breathe and trust it is happening it said to me.

Ultimately this is my thank you note for all the Goddess gifts I receive every day. I am grateful for my network of Goddess sisters that inspire and encourage  me and each other. I am grateful for the unexpected little gifts like a text from a friend or a picture of friend's newborn. I am grateful for my partner who surprises me with kisses. I am grateful for all of these tangible and intangible Goddess gifts.

That is the power of  Goddess gifts if we are open to hearing their message. They connect us to our Goddess selves-- where we can find our inspiration, our encouragement and our joy.

♥ What about you sisters? What Goddess gifts have your received lately? ♥

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love that tree pendant.
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Carol--I'd be happy to send you one as a FAR-sisterhood-gift if you PM me with your address.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Creideamh a' Bhata Bhuidhe: The religion of the yellow stick. A Coll priest of former times was accustomed to drive recalcitrant natives to church by a smart application of his walking stick, those who yielded were thus said to come under “creideamh a' bhata bhuidhe.” Another version says Hector, son of Donald Maclean of Coll, was the one who applied the yellow stick. Hector was laird in 1715 and as the religion of the yellow stick was introduced into Rum in 1726, it is beyond dispute that Hector was the author, or propagator of it. He was dignified in appearance and stern in manners and could no doubt wield the yellow stick gracefully and with efficiency. - Dwelly's Illustrated Gaelic to English Dictionary

I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and forced by my parents to attend Kingdom Hall three times a week. So you'll understand if I confess a visceral reaction to the prospect of being beaten with a stick for the sake of piety. In fact, I still deliberately linger in bed on Sunday mornings, and it's been nearly thirty years since I had to attend a weekend service. But that's one of the lovely things about being Pagan, isn't it? We don't adhere to a rigid belief system, so we don't punish our members when they fail to think or do what such a system might dictate. Rather, the religious beliefs of Pagans are diverse, perhaps far more than members of mainstream religions. Around the circle at any given public ritual, we might have Dianic Wiccans, Celtic polytheists, Heathens and others, each nurturing an internal spiritual narrative unique to her needs.

Of course, that's precisely what faith is, an internal narrative about the way the universe works. In some religions, that narrative is externally prescribed, which helps to create unity among practitioners but also leaves them vulnerable to manipulation. In others, the individual is expected to function as his own guru, which helps to foster spiritual resilience but can leave him feeling isolated. However, in both cases, people of faith are receiving or creating sacred stories overlaid upon the unknown. No Christian actually knows if the serendipity in her life belongs to God or chance, no Wiccan is certain whether or not his magic is working, and no cartomancer can tell you why her efforts at divination are more than random but never wholly reliable.

Simply put, we tell stories to heaven, and sometimes we think heaven answers.

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  • Jose M
    Jose M says #
    Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!!
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thank you!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is deeply thought-out and exquisitely expressed for its clarity. I can see why your writing has been nominated for so many a

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The Three Centers of Paganism

I have found a useful tool for thinking about the Pagan community.  Most attempts to describe contemporary Paganism use lists of beliefs or practices.  Some of these lists attempt to be comprehensive, while others do not.  One problem with these lists is that they inevitably focus on those elements that the person making the list wants to emphasize.  Consequently, large portions of the Pagan community are excluded.

Another common way of understanding the Pagan community is as a metaphorical umbrella.  The problem with this metaphor is that the image of an umbrella suggest a single center.  And what the "center" is is a matter of perspective, usually the perspective of the person drawing the umbrella.  

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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks! I'm glad it will help.
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I found this very useful--in any Pagan group there's always a lot of translating to be done, and this model will facilitate that.
  • Julian Greene
    Julian Greene says #
    John, regarding the positive and negative potentials of each, I felt pleased when I had "arrived" at what I considered a middle pl

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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I'm currently going through an emotionally painful time in my life, which includes plenty of tears, and I'm not ashamed or afraid to admit that. It has got me thinking about a lot more about my future, my place in this universe, and not only what my spiritual path means to me, but where it's headed. I foresee a lot of change this year in my life, and it scares me. Recently, while having one of my less formal 'morning chats' with one of the goddesses, I broke down and began to cry at the overwhelming pressure and fear.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Bless you Peter. I too have known the despair you feel now. I am so glad you felt the arms of the divine power holding you through
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    Thank you, Carol.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Times of balance

The spring equinox is only a few weeks away. It is part of the modern festival wheel, not because there’s any real evidence for it being celebrated historically, but because it balances things up nicely. It being the time when days and nights are the same length, we tend to talk a lot about balance around these two festivals. However, every lunar month offers two rounds of balance between light and dark in the shape of the moon, so there are other times we might feel directed to consider balance, too.

Are equinoxes really a time of balance? I do not feel that point of day and night in equilibrium especially. What I do notice a lot at this time of year, is the racing change in day length. Around the equinoxes, we have the greatest pace on the balance between night and day changing. Every day right now is a little longer than the one before it, and I’m intensely conscious not of balance, but of a sudden feeling of hurtling towards summer.

I’m waking earlier as the first light comes a lot sooner, and I’m seeing shades of blue in the sky into the evening. My living patterns shift with the changing light. I have more energy in the light half of the year. My days are longer, and soon I will be able to go back to waking in the evenings – something I love to do but which just doesn’t work in the middle of winter. So on a personal level I’m not feeling balance, I’m feeling change, and that shifting from the hibernating part of the year when I don’t want to go out much, into the better weather and more light, when I have more energy and feel more inclined to be out and about.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Back-door benefits to divination

Some months ago I decided to set aside years to skepticism and conscious non-attunement in the interest of developing my divination skills.  As I mentioned to one of the other bloggers on this site, part of that practice is by using the Lymerian oracle daily, to get a sense of how an established system works, particularly one that was used by my Hellenic ancestors.  However, I'm a money guy, so I've also been trying out coin divination, with interesting results.

That journey began with the purchase of a copy of Raymond Buckland's Coin Divination.  It's available for as little as one cent on Amazon, and my initial impression was one of being had, since there's only about six pages of original information in the book, and even that was pulled from previously-published works by the author.  Nevertheless, the few pages which aren't a rehash of the I Ching or an awkward attempt to use coins as if they were a tarot deck have some intriguing possibilities, so I have been exploring them.  It's been a very slow process of discovering a system for myself, and it's long from over, but it is has had unexpected benefits.

Beginning in early November, and concluding today, I have flipped a single coin from a set I put together and asked one question:  "Will I have more cash in hand at the end of today?"  I use a total of seven coins (one was added later in the process, after the picture was taken) in rotation, and I have recorded the results of the coin flip and the answer to the question for each day.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Sacred Tattooing : A Brief Introduction

Altering the body as a means of drawing close to our gods, signaling our membership in a religious community, or communicating our beliefs has a long history. Tattooing has a proud place in human religious practices. For thousands of years we have sunk pigments into  our skin in a painful, transformative process. While those of us in the West may often think of tattoos as some combination of art or fad, there have always been those who practice tattooing as part of their spirituality. And among these people, we see a rich history of women tattoo artists and Goddess imagery. 

A recent issue of Archaeology delighted me with an overview of some ancient tattoo practices, including the role that women played in various cultures. I would like to introduce you to some of these ancient tattooers and their work over the course of the next few posts that I make. This will build up to the eventual discussion of spiritually significant tattooing in women's lives today. At some point, I will share with you the experience I went through adding an ancient tattoo image to my own collection of tattoos.

To get started, let's look at a quick assortment of ancient tattoo images.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

In the chorus of one of the sillier songs on my “Out of the Broom Closet” CD I gleefully sing:

 

“Well I’m a libertarian socialist, Christian Witch,

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is wonderful, Lizann - and a timely reminder to all of us, that just because we may not be able to reconcile opposing notions
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you so much Ted for your kind words about my odd but wonderful life. Yes, I get to hang out in Berkeley - still an interest

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Ok...don't fall out of your chairs.  Your eyes are not deceiving you...two posts in one day!  When I saw who the next divinity on my list was...inspiration struck.  #10 on the devotions on the gods from the "graveyard".  

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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A few weeks ago, in a conversation on Facebook with several of my customers about negative Spirit activity, one of them asked me which process I used for cleansing and protecting my own home. Since I am a professional Spiritist (professional as in making my living out of it), I get this kind of question almost very day – and I think my answer always disappoints them.

I spiritually cleanse my house weekly, using seasonal but simple elements like Salt, Sage, Resin Incense and Blessed Water, always caring that they are of the best quality possible. I go from the front of the house to the back, and then from the back to the front, saying a simple prayer that banishes negativity and encourages peace, protection and abundance – not more than two or three lines, that I can learn by memory quickly. If I feel a particularly negative energy I will choose a prayer from any of the prayer books I use, but that is very rare.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Today’s blog is on the di Penates or Penates.  Blog number 9 of my gods of the “graveyard” series.  This one was extremely difficult to write because…well no one really agrees on who the Penates are.  The concept for the Penates and Lares comes from the ancient Roman domestic cultus and were at some point included as part of civil or state rituals.  They remind me a lot of the ancient Greek agathos daimons, which are good spirits/gods of home, family and/or individual.  Everything I’ve read on Penates and Lares boils down to the individual.  I’m including the Lares in this blog because they are often honored with the Penates and very hard for the researcher to tell apart.

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