This Dusty Earth: Witchcraft in the City

A blog about mental health, magic, and the cycles of nature in parched Los Angeles.

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Asa West

Asa West

Asa is a sliding-scale tarot reader, intuitive, and witch blending pellar craft with animism and earth-based Judaism. Instagram: @tarotbyasa

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Radical Hope

Last night I read the news about Cape Town, and then dreamed that my garden died.

I live in a condo in Los Angeles, so my garden is small and fragile and mostly in containers: calendula and tulsi and borage and lemon balm in pots and window boxes, selfheal that's dying no matter what I do, jasmine and passionvine that twine around each other in bombastic friendship, nasturtiums that cascade in a curtain of friendly little circles. Baby blue eyes and violet seedlings growing in a flat. Cleveland sage in a pot, since the soil is mostly clay, and sagebrush and California fuschia in the ground, since they can tolerate that clay. I had to fight with my building manager to put plants in the bare dirt behind the building, even though I'm on the HOA board; status quo bias is so strong that people trust ugly cracked ground more than they trust small, quiet plants. (I won the rest of the board over partly by telling them my unit's property values are suffering because of the eyesore that is the dirt. In reality I don't care much about the property values, but a witch uses the tools in her toolbox; she shapeshifts when she needs to.)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
When Healers Need Healing

I think I've gotten sick four times in the past month.

There was that first cold, at the beginning of December: standard issue yuckiness that forced me to take a couple of sick days. (Since I've just come back from maternity leave, my sick days are in short supply, so it was a tough decision.) Then, when I was on the mend and just clearing out some chest gunk, I felt the telltale prickle in the back of my nose again. For a few hours I refused to believe it. Surely a just and loving universe wouldn't allow me to come down with a second virus while I was still getting over my first? But that's the sort of thing that happens when you have young children, and by the next morning I felt awful again.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Simple Spell to Stop TrumpCare

Now that the Senate has forced a debate on the ACA repeal, we may only have a few days to stop Republicans from stripping up to 32 million Americans of their healthcare. (For those of you who vote Republican, consider this an invitation to think deeply about what your party has become. Is this really what you had in mind when you registered to vote? Might this be an opportunity for you to help bring the party back from the brink?) In addition to calling your senators, hitting the streets, and taking action in other ways--see, for example, Indivisible's new tool for people in blue states--here's a simple spell to help stop TrumpCare from becoming a reality.

You'll need:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Hidden Light Tarot

My first exposure to Oli StarFrosting’s work was through his self-titled zine. I knew I’d found a gem of a writer and artist when I found myself swept up in passages like these:

bone deep in my blood is magic, I am a Witch too and breathe in mana with each breath, know the knots and tides of magic as my birthright, feel the presence of G-D Herself pouring out through the moon the trees the cold pulsing ground, know with an immediacy and intimacy the Divine gathered in all things, know the array of water and fire and earth on my altar as crucial to my taking my rightful role in creation which is nothing other than G-D Herself becoming cosmos…

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The Magic of Pregnancy (or: If You Need Me, I'll Be Throwing Up and Peeing at the Same Time)

Check it out--I'm pregnant with my second daughter! Incidentally, I've been too sick to blog for the past six months. It's worth it in the long run, right?

My first pregnancy was pretty textbook, but this one's been rough. The nausea and fatigue of the first trimester lasted until week 20 or so, at which point my uterus sprouted a new fibroid that sent me to the ER with pain and preterm labor symptoms. Since then, I've been working from home a couple days a week and taking it easy, but my body seems to have skipped over the high-energy period of the second trimester and gone straight to the constant exhaustion of the third trimester.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    First off, congratulations! You and I are due to deliver at around the same time -- late August -- and I'm having a girl, too! Thi
  • Tacy West
    Tacy West says #
    I laughed at the first comment "peeing and sick at the same time" which was so true of all three of my pregnancies. Mothering is

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

After taking a couple of weeks off from blogging, and then being gently informed by my editor that those couple of weeks were actually six months, I realized that I’m burned out on gods.

I never came to Witchcraft for the gods, but mythological deities--you know, the ones whose stories you can read at your local public library--hold such a fundamental place in modern Paganism that they quickly seeped into my practice. Starhawk’s writings center on nature, the immanent Goddess, and the horned God; Reclaiming Witchcraft centers on gods from world mythology and folklore to the point that--and this is a very gentle, loving critique--we hold rituals in Redwood forests and on dramatic beaches and give only the most cursory nod to the abundant spirits around us, focusing instead on gods and stories from faraway cultures. I stepped back from my local ritual planning circle in part because we invoked gods even for business meetings, and I was tired of elaborate, theatrical invocations for deities I didn’t care about. Other Reclaimers find deep meaning in the gods they work with, and I’m happy for them. But I eventually had to admit that it wasn’t for me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Asa! I didn'r realize how much I missed your writing until I stumbled across this post today (almost a month after you posted i
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I agree. The stories of the Gods and Goddesses come from patriarchal and warlike cultures for the most part. The idea that they ar
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I tried to do the eight Sabbats and the full moon ritual and they didn't click for me. I was just bored with it. Now I'm going w

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Simple Ritual for Menstruation

Long treated as a source of shame and impurity, menstruation is once again coming to be regarded as a sacred process and state of being. Rituals and celebrations for menarche and menopause aren't quite as rare as they were a generation ago, and those of us who menstruate are finding that we can talk more openly about the process.

However, although it's increasingly easy to find rituals for menarche and menopause, and although practices like ritual baths mark the end of each month's cycle, it's harder to find rituals that mark the beginning. The moment when the cervix opens and the first blood emerges is significant--for example, the first day of a pregnant person's last period is used to calculate their due date--yet most of us mark it with little more than a hurriedly placed tampon or pad.

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