April’s Full Moon in Libra

The full moon in April 2020 will occur at 12:05 pm on Wednesday, 8 April 2020 here in Adelaide, and when the moon is 18º in Libra. Libra is the archetypal representation of sacred balance in relation to all things. She understands on a visceral level that we are continually in intimate relationships with all things in our lives whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

The gift that Libra presents us is to embrace seemingly opposing views and accept the spectrum that exists of each person in their own experience and perspective. There is the emphasis on finding the middle way, to learn to harmonise what is out of balance so that we can become a bridge between the differing perceptions a well as the worlds (the seen and the unseen).

According to Marina of Darkstar Astrology this full moon aligns with Kraz in the constellation of Corvus the Crow which means the gossipy crows will only throw more drama fuel onto the fire.

The moon seems to create either mad genius or bring out the vilest attributes of the crow. Those touched by this moon will strive to succeed so they can win the approval of an audience, and yes, this moon can bring out the classic narcissists that forever crave adoration. On the positive side, we can use this energy to generate a following that does good works in the collective. At this time we could crave to be loved and approved of so much that we may not be discerning enough when it comes to whom we give our body. (Quite hard to do with new relationships now in the current climate!)

According to mythology, the sun god Apollo sent the raven with a cup (Constellation Crater) to fetch some water for his feast. On his way, he was distracted by some fine figs on a tree and lost track of time gorging upon them. When the crow suddenly remembered his errand he picked up a passing snake (Constellation Hydra) and used it as his excuse for why he had not filled up the cup as asked.

During these uncertain times it is important for us to find our own inner balance by anchoring our core with what links us to the primordial centre of all creation, that being the heart of the earth. With that in mind, Libra also continues to remind us of the scared balance of reciprocity, of giving and taking, of equal exchange in order to continue to keep everything in flow.

Sources:
Darkstar Astrology
Mystic Mamma

Dark Goddess Online Sadhana Journey

The current climate has seen a change in how things are done and for me, it is almost like a cosmic “hurry up” to finalise something that was initially drafted about six or seven years ago – producing online version of Encountering the Dark Goddess.

And finally it is here.

Commencing on 23 April 2020, the Encountering the Dark Goddess online version is a month long online sadhana (or spiritual exploration) into your deep shadow self through the connection with various “darker” aspects of the Divine Feminine in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.

The word sadhana is a yogic term referring to any spiritual exercise aimed at progressing the sādhaka (seeker) towards the very ultimate expression of their life in this reality. Therefore, as a “sadhana”, this online journey will present you with the unique opportunity to step through the veil and into the realm of the Inner Self, to meet and embrace your Shadow Self, to remove the unwanted and to reclaim what has been missing.

During the month online journey you will receive:
:: Detailed information about the Dark Goddesses we will be exploring and working with over the month,
:: Instructions regarding how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work,
:: Prayers, mantras, and offerings that relate to specific goddesses,
:: Daily emails consisting on appropriate metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”,
:: Meditations,
:: A private Facebook group to connect with others who are undertaking this journey,
:: Group ritual,
and much more.

As the online journey lasts for around 30 days, it is essential that you are able to commit yourself to the sadhana (spiritual) practice.

To take place over the Southern Samhain – from 23 April 2020 (ACST) to 22 May 2020 (ACST).

Investment: AUD$222 $150 (special introductory rate)
Register online through Paypal**

Once registered, please email me with your preferred email address and Facebook profile so you can be invite to the secret Facebook group.

** Direct deposit is available for Australian participants only.
Please email me for my bank account details.

The Dark Goddess is waiting ….

Are you brave enough to step beyond the Veil?

Online Full Moon Meditation and Ceremony

Due to the current situation, a special live streaming of the Full Moon Meditation and Ceremony is planned to be taking place on Tuesday, 7 April 2020 commencing around 7.00pm (ACST) via the Temple of the Dark Moon‘s Facebook page.

We will be tapping into the power of the full moon that will be reaching the fullness of its energy on Wednesday, 8 April 2020 at 12:05 pm (ACST).

The moon will be in the astrological sign of Libra and as such, you might have a strong need for balance and harmony right now, a desire to keep things “nice” rather than venturing into fundamental questions in order not to disturb the peace. This is also the time to learn to share your good and bad feelings, and not to be afraid of you were truly are, despite what is expected of you or how you think others see you.

You are invited to join me online as together we create a sacred space where we invite Lady Lunar to descend and bestow upon us clarity and guidance for the coming lunar cycle.

You might like to create a sacred space where you are by lighting a candle and some incense on the light. A sacred circle will be cast and the Lunar Goddess will be called to join us live on the Temple of the Dark Moon‘s Facebook page.

To attend such an event would normally cost AUD$20. However in these uncertain times, I am offering this ceremony free. If you would like to participate in an energy exchange, donations can be made via Paypal

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Update on COVID-19 and Events

With the World Health Organization having announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic, the Temple of the Dark Moon is doing whatever we can to assist in following governmental advice. As such, we have postponed all events until May 2020 – however this was be extended pending updated advice.

The SA Health web site has a number of resources freely available including what exactly COVID-19 is and how it can be spread, home isolation, and much more.

As of this afternoon (22 March 2020), the South Australian State Government has announced that all people entering South Australia will need to isolate themselves for 14 days from their arrival. The exemptions to this ruling can be found on the SA Health web site.

As COVID-19 is a new disease, it is important to keep in mind that there is currently no existing immunity known which means that this virus can spread widely and quickly. One way to prevent this is for all of us to take self-responsibility and do whatever we can until more is known.

The current advice about COVID-19 is that the virus can spread from person to person through:

  • close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms),
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze,
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

The most important health advice widely circulated is the emphasis on hand washing, as is evident by this poster produced by the Tasmanian Health department that especially highlights spots that are often missed when hands are washed.

If you do find the need to self-isolate yourself then it is not the end of the world, unlike what some people may feel. Already, thanks to social media, numerous ideas and suggestions are being shared of what to do during these 14 days. Even the Red Cross has a number of suggestions on their web site from learning new skills (or refreshing old skills) to catching up on outstanding projects around the house.

Remember that not everyone can handle self-isolation. On the Lifeline web site there is some important information about dealing with loneliness and isolation.

Should I personally find myself in self-isolation then there are a number of outstanding projects that I hope to finalise. One of these is making available the “Little Book” series that offer various insights into the practices of contemporary witchcraft. The first of the series is A Little Book of Wicca which is nearly completed. This 60 paged book offers a much needed starting point for seekers or those of a curious mind living south of the equator.

Important: Event Changes due to Covid-19

Due to the Australian government today imposing a 14 day self-quarantine restriction on  all travellers into Australia, it has been decided that ALL events being offered by the Isian Centre of Metaphysics and the Temple of the Dark Moon will be deferred until after 13 April 2020.

The events this will effect will be:

Monday Night Meditations – tomorrow night’s meditation (16 April) has been cancelled with the meditations resuming on Monday, 20 April 2020 due to the 13th being Easter Monday public holiday.

Gathering around the Cauldron – due to take place on 2 April has now been moved to Thursday, 16 April 2020.

There will be NO Reboot Your Life sessions available until after Easter.

At this stage all other events will be taking place as per usual.

Protective Four Thieves Oil

Copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel (ie, Dr Beak), a plague doctor in 17th century Rome, circa 1656

According to legend, in 1413 while large parts of France was being devastated by the Bubonic Plague (aka the Black Death), a group of four thieves were charged for stealing from the sick and dying.  In considering their sentence (death by burning), the judge was curious as to how come they never contracted the plague themselves. According to legend, the thieves disclosed that as they were actually unemployed perfume and spice merchants who had devised an essential oil concoction that when applied to their hands, ears, temples, feet and a mask over their mouths, kept them safe from infection. The judge apparently stayed true to his word and while the four thieves were not burned alive, they hanged for their crimes instead.

While the recipe tends to differ depending on source, some of the more common oils tend to be clove bud, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary – all of which have various anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

One recipe for Four Thieves oil is to mix together the following essential oils into a dark glass bottle:

  • 40 drops clove bud essential oil
  • 35 drops lemon essential oil
  • 20 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
  • 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil

This recipe will result in the base essential oil blend that must be diluted for safe use as the essential oil content should only account for 1 to 2% of the total formula. This means that when formulating homemade cleaning products or other creations, six to 12 drops of essential oil can be added per amount of carrier oil or other menstruum. 

To freshen the air in your home or workplace, add a few drops of the base essential oil blend to an essential oil diffuser (consult diffuser’s use guide for amount) or a pot of simmering water on the stove. Diffuse for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

To make an all-purpose spray for cleaning your home or workplace fill a spray bottle with half water and half 91% isopropyl alcohol and add the base essential oil blend at a 1 to 2% dilution rate. Shake before using and then spray on countertops, desks, and other surfaces.

To make a massage oil for weary muscles and tired feet, mix the base essential oil blend at a 1 to 2% dilution rate with jojoba or olive oil. (Test on a small patch of skin first in case of personal skin sensitivity).

Place 1 to 2 drops of the base essential oil blend in a bowl of hot, steaming water and inhale the vapors under a towel to help relieve nasal congestion.

Safety Note: Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that can be harmful if not used carefully and properly. Contrary to the advice some makers may offer these days, when I underwent my training in essential oils back in the 1990s, it was strongly advised NOT to ingest them and that the majority of oils (save for an extreme few) should ALWAYS be diluted in a base/carrier oil when being applied to the skin to prevent any possible irritation. Essential oils should also be kept out of reach of children.

February Full Moon – Passion and Desire

The full moon tomorrow evening, Sunday, 9 February 2020 brings energy, courage and passion. It gives the strength and initiative to chase your desires and take what you want. However it also cautions against letting your emotions get out of control. Thankfully, this moon also helps you look carefully at a situation before forging ahead into it.

The major influence on this full moon comes from the fixed star in constellations Leo and Ursa Major. They both act as the planet Mars to reinforce the major aspect, Moon trine Mars. This enhances the influence of the full moon when it offers strength, courage, and initiative.

This full moon also encourages you to act on your emotional and passionate desires, especially regarding your intimate relationships and family.

The fixed stars give the confidence to act boldly and take what you want but they also caution against acting too selfishly and ignoring the feelings of others. Finding the right balance between bravado and sensitivity is the key to having your desires fulfilled.

The Time of John Barleycorn and Reaping the Harvest

Lughnasadh is traditionally the time marking the first harvest, that of grain and corn. The traditional English folksong about the Killing of John Barleycorn is often recited reflecting this time of the year.

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

John Barleycorn is a personification of the barley crop and this multi-versed song tells his journey from planting to the harvest and from harvest to being “reborn” a the alcoholic beverages which are made from the crop, beer and whisky.

The Bannatyne Manuscript (1568) contained a Scottish poem with a similar theme, Quhy Sowld Nocht Allane Honorit Be, which is often considered to be the oldest version of the poem. Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns published his own version in 1782, with the 1970s English rock band Traffic naming their fourth album after the ballard as well as recording it.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him further woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones. 

However here in southern Australia, the grain harvest has already been completed (this often occurs around Mid Summer) but there is still harvest to gather in – providing the intense Southern sun has not scorched everything.

Now is the time that we reap what we have sown, receiving back what we have put out. Now is the time when our deeds and actions over the solar cycle are presented to us. It is almost as if we find ourselves being weighed upon the Scales of Ma’at (excuse the Egyptian metaphore) – from which nothing can escape for the actual truth (and not the truth we may perceive through rose-tinted glasses) is exposed to us.   Now is the time we need to ask ourselves:

How well have we sown?
How well have we tendered our crops?

Lughnasadh provides a timely reminder that should our harvest not be what we expected, there is time ahead over the coming winter months, for introspection as what to do in order to achieve a more fruitful harvest next time.

What you sow comes back to thee
Flower and grain, fruit and tree.
What you reap be thankful for,
Return a piece and reap some more.  

The complete version of Robert Burn’s “John Barleycorn” can be found here.

How to Be a Better Beginner (Thorn Mooney)

A new year has commenced and while I am taking a bit of time away from the coven to finalise a number of outstanding writing projects, I came across the following article by Thorn Mooney which really struck a cord, considering the less than satisfactory outcome from last year’s Outer Court training. This resulted in a considerable amount of contemplation around future training structures, not only of the particular tradition of contemporary witchcraft that the Temple of the Dark Moon is aligned with, but indeed providing any degree of training in general when it comes to witchcraft in this Instragram image driven modern world where anyone tends to classify themselves as a “witch”.

A result of the contemplation undertaken is to offer training via a new format, Gathering around the Cauldron, where the focus will be a balance between the practical and theory. Should there be enough genuine seekers, then The Wytch’s Circle may be held at a later stage.

Back to Thorn’s article where she addresses the issue of how a seeker can simply be a good beginner! Her entire article can be found here.

We’re living in a moment—and I’m turning into my father as I say this—where a lot of people want things done for them. It’s not really our fault (I’m including myself in this, because let’s be real, my father was talking to me, too). Culturally, we’ve become accustomed to being able to just Google answers, to download an app for whatever our problem is, and to receive twenty-four hour customer service, whatever sort of customer we are.

I see similar patterns in many of the spaces occupied by beginners in Pagan and witch communities. People don’t want to read multiple books, they want to read one perfect one. Lots of people don’t even want to do that: why read a book when you can just DM [direct message] an author and ask them to explain what witchcraft is? Even using Google is too much to ask. When the going gets tough, the tough abandon ship and then complain that there aren’t any good resources available.

Beyond books, this applies to my own experiences with inquiries to my coven. These days, my group’s exclusivity has less to do with our tradition and more to do with the reality that people are just less willing to travel more than 15 miles, to compromise their personal schedules, or to do the work they’ve asked for (reading, contemplating, working ritual, attending coven meetings, etc.). I want to be clear: there’s a very important conversation here about inclusivity and ableism that’s ongoing in many magical communities (including my own coven), but I’m not talking about people who need consideration. I’m talking about people who are just entitled and lazy, or at least unaccustomed to putting forth the individual effort required for anything beyond mediocrity (who then complain as though the fault for their mediocrity lies elsewhere).

How do you not become one of these people? Well, the good news is that if you’re worried about it, you almost surely aren’t. But just in case:

1. Read everything, regardless of what the Internet says. Go to a library, use interlibrary loan, and get your hands on as much text as possible. Then actually read and think about the material critically. No book is perfect. No author knows everything, no matter how solid their bio sounds or how many social media followers they have.  Do some comparison! Does this text largely agree with other texts on the same subject? If they’re saying something bananas, look for confirmation elsewhere! And remember that just because something is repeated often, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

2. Ask better questions. My ninth grade geometry teacher told us on the first day that there were, in fact, stupid questions. A while ago, I wrote a blog that mentioned the failing utility of the question, “Is this book any good,” but there are others I’ll address here.

Broad questions and questions that reveal you haven’t done any legwork on your own are the main culprits. The one that plagues my inbox personally is, “What’s a traditional Wiccan?” Here’s why that question is frustrating: first, I literally wrote a book about what that means. I run a website about it. I write a blog about it and make videos about it. Most of these things are available for free. A ten second Google search will turn up, not only an answer to that question, but my answer to that question. If you can answer it with a Google search, do that first.

“But Thorn, you know Google isn’t always reliable! How can you tell people to rely on Google?” Thanks for pointing that out—yes, you’re correct. And I’m not. We’ll use the unreliability of Google to craft better questions. Like so: “I read on Google about traditional Wicca. Is true?” This is a much better question. It’s more specific, and it demonstrates you’ve put forth an effort. It requires less time to answer, and is therefore more likely to receive a response. This isn’t just me being weird and picky, this is true for most people who find themselves in the position of answering questions (see, Steve O’Keefe). Here’s another good one: “What does traditional Wicca mean to you?” A very similar question, but with the nuance that you understand you’re talking to one person and that mileage will vary. You can improve practically any question with some variation on, “But what do you think?”

If you learn to ask more specific, thoughtful questions, you will get better answers.

3. Get uncomfortable. I’m not saying throw out your personal boundaries or disregard your safety, but any time you’re doing something new you’re going to be dealing with a learning curve. You’ll hit a wall at some point and progress will get slow. It’ll happen. Sometimes the wall is running out of low-hanging fruit and suddenly having to seek out more advanced material, or new people who can guide you. Sometimes the wall is conflicts with other parts of your life, which you can either ignore or work through. Ignoring inconsistencies, conflicts, or other uncomfortable places will result in the wall not moving, and in no progress happening either way. You’ll sit right where you are. When you choose to work through something, you may still decide that the thing is wrong, irresolvable, or worth walking away over, but at least you’ll come by those conclusion honestly and on your own terms. When things become difficult, keep going. That’s usually means you’re making progress.

4. Be okay with being a beginner. In fact, rejoice in it. You know what I find exhausting? Social media accounts and blogs run by beginners that purport to be resources for others, when really they’re just plagiarized from books or other websites. Everyone wants to set themselves up as an expert as quickly as possible. Aside from things being exciting and new, there are resources everywhere, lots of people who want to help you, and every damn day can feel like a discovery of something magical. There’s nothing sillier than watching beginners fight online over who’s right, what’s authoritative, what terms really mean. Enjoy the learning process, and take advantage of this time where people expect you to not know. Don’t try to bullshit people, have some modesty, be kind, and do more listening than talking.

5. Take action. Reading and hoarding information is all well and good, but you have to do something with it. It’s true that witchcraft and magic are serious arts, and it’s also true that you can do foolish things and get hurt along the way. Let’s be real: someone who just read their first book and has never worked ritual magic is disproportionately unlikely to successfully invoke something genuinely harmful or to successfully pull off a working that is truly destructive. More than likely, nothing at all will happen, except for whatever internal emotional experience results. Witchcraft isn’t skydiving. A beginner and an expert skydiver both jump out of a plane, and they both have to equally deal with the fact that they’re falling. In magic, however, things don’t work just because you say the words and do the motions. You’re not just jumping and falling. There’s effort, intention, connection, and skill behind it. Those things develop in time, with work. For most people, success rates increase with time and practice. So start!

6. Don’t hang your hat on any one teacher, and don’t pick a hill to die on. I have my favorite writers and teachers, as well as religious narratives, traditions, and perspectives that are dear to me. However, I try not to model my practice after any one of those exclusively. Witchcraft isn’t a cult of personality, and it’s also not static. Don’t pin yourself to any one person or perspective, especially in an era when so many of our heroes and ideas seem to be made of straw. Community leaders are ousted, change their minds, convert, retract their positions, and are human just like everyone else. At the very least, they’re going to die eventually. If your practice is all about someone else, where will you be when that person isn’t there anymore? The same is true for ideas. Witches who began practicing in the 60s and 70s (and earlier) had to watch while their understanding of history was ruthlessly dismantled by scholars in the 90s and later. Witches who began their practice before social media had to readjust with the development of the Internet, and all of the changes that brought. In the last decade, some of our most cherished teachers have revealed themselves to be bigots, sex-offenders, and plenty else besides. Life gets messy and history keeps moving, without much care for your feelings. Explore, be open. You have to keep enough distance so that when it’s time to let something go, you can.

7. Do the work you say you want. If you say you want to be psychic, and every book and teacher out there says similar, core things about how to develop your psychic abilities, and you don’t do them because they’re time consuming or difficult, you don’t then get to complain about not progressing as a psychic. Magic, spiritual development, witchcraft, tarot reading, group leadership, and pretty much anything else worthwhile you can name requires actual work. That means time, commitment, effort, reflection, and repeated failure (after which you get up and try again). If you want to do the thing, and especially if you ask for help to do the thing, then you have to actually do that work that you said you wanted to do. Buying a book is not the same thing as reading a book, and it’s definitely not the same thing as doing the exercises in the book. So how badly do you want it? Prove it.

Wytch Bottles as Countermagical Devices Through History

In 2016 Kerry Sullivan wrote a rather interesting article about the history and use of Wytch’s Bottles. Considering the first workshop for 2020 that the Temple of the Dark Moon will be offering in our “Practical Crafting” series is on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle, I thought I would include part Sullivan’s article. Please click on the link above to read the article in its entirety.

According to Sullivan, witchcraft was deemed a serious threat in 16th and 17th century Europe, and court records attest to the terror evoked by suspected sorcery. Judges gave serious consideration to the danger posed by wytches, and many were hanged for it. One case, found at the Old Bailey (London, England), records a man testifying that his wife has been subject to the ill machinations of a local witch. The judge, understanding the severity of the man’s dilemma, gives him clear advice to visit an apothecary and create a witch bottle to turn the curse back on the witch that cast it. Magick was a genuine source of fear and trepidation and wytch bottles were seen as one of the best means of defense.

Wytch bottles are stoneware containers that contained a wide variety of materials believed to have specific effects if properly prepared. In particular, they were used as both counter-magical devices for those already suffering from a wytch’s curse and as prophylactic to protect the maker from negative or evil elements.  The earliest known written mention of a witch bottle comes from a book of witchcraft written in England in 1680. However, bottles have been found dating as far back as the early 1500s.

German Bellarmine Jugs were often used as “Wytch’s Bottles”.

The tradition is believed to have started in Germany around the time of the Protestant Reformation. Bottled spells are believed to have traveled to the New World with English immigrants. Researchers have noted that witch bottles tended to proliferate during times of intense social anxiety, for example during the witch hunts of the 17th century. Wytches were widely blamed whenever ill health or misfortune struck a person. Wytch bottles were not only meant to heal the afflicted but also to send the curse back to the casting wytch and hopefully kill them.

When created for counter-magical purposes, a witch bottle often contained nails, pins, herbs, and samples of the afflicted, such as urine or hair. In the Old Bailey case mentioned above, the apothecary advised the man to prepare a potion of his wife’s urine, nail clippings, and hair, combining the materials in a pot of water and boiling it. Boiling was a key part of counter-magical efforts, as it was believed to help reverse the curse. Another key ingredient, if you could get it, was sulfur. “If you think about where sulfur came from in those days, it spewed out of volcanic fumaroles from the underworld. It would have been the ideal thing to [kill] your wytch, if you wished to” said Brian Hoggard, an independent expert on British witchcraft who helped researchers understand a sealed witch bottle found in London in 2004.

Wytch bottles could also be used to invite good fortune. A common love spell called for a handful of dried and crushed flower petals (preferably from flowers given by a lover), rosemary and lavender (for love and strength), and rosewater. The cork would then be sealed with red or pink wax and set in a place where it would not be seen or disturbed.

If making your own wytch’s bottle to protect your home (or car) is something that interests you, then on Sunday, 23 February 2020 the Temple of the Dark Moon is holding a workshop on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle. This workshop also falls on the eve of the dark moon, which relates to our rebirthing as we unfurl us out from the depths and emerge from the Underworld of emotion into new potentialities.

All materials are provided. Bookings are essential as there are limited places available. See the above link for more information.