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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Conchomagia: Sea Shell Magic

Shells have been casting spells of fascination and enthrallment for arguably all of human history. The earliest known example of jewelry is a set of thirty-three sea snail shell beads uncovered in a cave in Morocco, dating back around 150,000 years. That’s quite a tenure for conchophilia, or the love of shells. Within that time, in different cultures around the globe, shells were valued for many uses, even currency.

A step beyond the love of shells, conchylomania is the madness for collecting sea shells. And deeper still are the mystic and esoteric uses of shells – conchomancy, or divination with shells, and a new term I have coined: conchomagia, or shell magic. Not that the use of shells in magic and ritual is new, simply this specific name that fits in nicely with the other Latin-root terms and uses.

Crystals are wildly popular across spiritual practices and more mainstream than ever, but their cousins, seashells, don’t get quite the attention in this context they deserve. As discussed previously in “Conchomancy: Messages From the Sea”,

Just like the myriad spectral crystals that grow deep in Mother Earth’s flesh and bring us healing vibrations and messages, so too do the similarly composed shells that grow in her blood, the oceans…

Calcium carbonate, the primary compound in seashells and pearls, is also found in its more stable form, calcite, in rocks and crystals…

This scientific fact alone interestingly mirrors the nature and energies of these two different Earth treasures – the broader, original compound comprising the shells that
 move within the moving element, and its most stable polymorph making up the grounded, much-less-moving crystals.”

Essentially, seashells can be used in the all the same ways as crystals. But seashells have another element to them that crystals don’t; the fact that they are made and grown, almost magically, by living creatures. They have powerful life energy in this respect. I have been experimenting with shells in multiple ritualistic applications for some time and so far it seems that, like kyanite and citrine crystals, they are self-cleansing. In the case of shells, I attribute this to their inherent connection to water. Though literally rinsing them in water, more than smudging, is the best way to cleanse them if needed. This is one of many methods and practices that can be determined intuitively by the individual practitioner and might vary from person to person.

Read the full article here 

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Reveling in Love and Lust: A Beltane Tryst

Beltane is the sexiest high holiday for witches and one that is anticipated all year. I always look forward to having a joyful “spree” every May. Witches begin to celebrate Beltane on the last night of April, and it is traditional for the festivities to last all night. This is a time for feasting, dancing, laughter, and lots of lovemaking. The Celts of old made this day a day of wild abandon, a sexual spree, the one day of the year when it is okay to make love outside your relationship. On May Day, when the sun returns in the morning, revelers gather to erect a merrily beribboned Maypole to dance around, followed by picnicking and sensual siestas.

Ideally, celebrate outdoors, but if you are stuck indoors on Beltane Eve, pick a place with a fireplace and have a roaring blaze so celebrants can wear comfy clothing and dance barefoot. Ask them to bring spring flowers and musical instruments, including plenty of drums! Place pillows on the floor and serve a sensual feast of foods from the following list, under the title “Oral Fixations,” along with beer, wine, ciders, and honeyed mead that you can make or obtain from a microbrewery. Gather some of spring’s bounty of flowers—roses, tulips, and my favorite, freesias, in your favorite colors, or whatever is blooming with the most vitality where you live. Set out candles in spring colors—yellow, pink, red, green, white, purple. With your arms extended, point to each of the four directions and say, “To the east, to the south, to the west, and to the north,” and recite this Beltane rhyme:

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 How to Replace a Toilet | DIY Toilet Installation Guide | HGTV


"So, what have you been doing lately?"

I haven't seen N in quite a while. Foolishly, I ask the expected question.

“Thank Goddess, I finally got the new bathroom finished,” she can't wait to say.

Woe upon me, she whips out her phone and, finger-jabbing, speaks the dreaded words.

“Want to see some pictures?”


The definition of a bore is someone who says the same thing to anyone. (Interesting people discuss topics of mutual interest.)

No N, I don't want to see your pictures.

No one wants to see your pictures.


Gods, clueless pagans.

She'll show me three pictures of the toilet—from different angles, of course—three of the sink (same), then the shower. Then, if I'm really lucky, maybe I'll get to see some close-ups of tiles and grout, too.

And that's just the beginning. She'll stand here, rapid-scrolling, with running verbal patter, for just as long as I'm fool enough to play the polite.

Sorry N, you're committing a major breach of hospitality here. I understand that you've worked very hard and are proud of the results.

Seriously, though: how could you possibly think that anyone else would be interested?


Boorishness, meet dishonesty.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 Match wits with Cattubuttas the druid.


In the days of king Cú Roí, Cattubuttas the druid—said to be the wisest druid in Ireland, though he had not then a single gray hair in his beard—sat in a grove with his students, and this is what he said.

“As to foods, my children,” he told them, “the gods have denied us nothing, not even the flesh of the fleet-footed horse, noblest of animals.

“But know this also,” he added, raising a finger of admonishment: “that should it so happen that you do eat of horsemeat, it is thereafter geis upon you to enter into a chariot for the span of some twenty-seven days; for twenty-seven days thereafter, you may not enter one.

“Thrice nine days,” he told them again. “Remember it well, my warriors.”

So spoke Cattubuttas the druid to the young warriors in the days of Cú Roí the king.

And indeed, we still remember.


So: why 27?

In the martial society of Iron Age Ireland, such a prohibition—its memory preserved like a leaf in amber in Old Irish literature—would indeed lay heavy upon a warrior; it would, in effect, ban him from the field of battle for nearly a month's time.

The logic of the prohibition is not difficult to follow: it is, in effect, a breach of hospitality. Why, though, one wonders, specifically a period of twenty-seven days rather than, say, a full lunar month?

If Cattubuttas the wise, cat of battle, in his wisdom, knew, I for one do not.

Here's my guess, though: that it's numeric.

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The Spring Equinox: Ritual for Ostara

At this time, celebrate the festival of Ostara (a.k.a. Eoster), the Saxon goddess who is the personification of the rising sun. Her totem is the rabbit. Legend has it that her rabbit brought forth the brightly colored eggs now associated with Easter. At this time the world is warming under the sun as spring approaches. Every plant, animal, man, and woman feels this growing fever for spring.

This ritual is intended for communities, so gather a group. Tell everyone to bring a “spring food” such as deviled eggs, salads with flowers in them, freshly made broths, berries, mushrooms, fruits, pies, veggie casseroles, and quiches. Have the food table at the opposite side of the area away from the altar, but decorate it with flowers and pussy willow branches that are just beginning to bud, the harbingers of spring.

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 Lot Detail - Blatz Beer Flat Top 39-3

Like most tribal elders, I worry about my people. Is there a future for pagans?

In a group of, say, 50 pagans, one could make a case that, arguably, there are actually 50 different religions represented. How can so fragmented (not to mention self-obsessed) a group possibly have a future together? How can we possibly achieve anything lasting?

Well, something that I heard at a workshop at Paganicon 2024 gives me hope.


Hero Tales

His great-grandfather was a drunk.

He had recently moved back to the old family farm, land in-taken by said great-grandfather. According to family tradition, the old man had liked his booze, and then some.

So at Samhain, he'd take down the treasured bottle of 40-year old Scotch from the shelf and pour a dram or two for his ancestor-in-the-land.

After a year or two of this, one Samhain night, great-grandpa himself turns up in a dream and slaps him up side the head.

“What's this shit?” he says. “I want Blatz!”

(Blatz is a local beer that could charitably be described as a “beer-drinker's beer.”)

The man who told this story on himself was a respected local elder, founder of one of our regional pagan land sanctuaries.* When he told his tale, my heart leapt up and I thought: Ye gods, maybe there's hope for us after all.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A New Spring Beginning

The Spring Equinox/Ostara is all about new beginnings and resetting our internal clocks. Now is the time for forging new paths, trying new things, tackling new projects, perhaps even starting a new career. With bold, energetic Aries on our side on the same day, this makes it the ideal time for any and all of these endeavors. The sun in Aries can help us tap into newfound courage and bravery to undertake things that we might normally shy away from. We all could use a little extra hope and hutzpah right now, so tune into this and utilize it to your benefit.

Spring Things To Do

Besides setting out some pretty yellow fresh daffodils on your altar, and hard-boiling some eggs to peel and eat contemplatively, think of other activities you could partake in that would speak of spring to you. Nature hikes are always great, no matter what the weather happens to be up to. Just remember some good hiking boots or shoes you don’t mind getting muddy, as things tend to be wet this time of year, no matter where you reside! Spring cleaning and clearing the clutter from our closets and our minds is never a  bad endeavor, and clean slates restore peace and calm on both fronts. Speaking of which, I really need to get on this work desk area organizing project I’ve had on the backburner for far too long.

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