Chinese Whispers and Black Salt

In this modern age where everyone is offering magical advice, how do you know what is genuine and what has fallen victim of what I classify as “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” (a childhood game where a “secret” was whispered to one person who then whispered it to another which went around the circle to the last person who would vocalised the “secret” hoping it would reflect the original whisper). This year (probably reflecting the global situations and increase in social media usage), I have noticed an increasing about of “sage advice” about magical practices or techniques often gleamed from other spiritual traditions being incorporated into witchcraft practices. While I personally have not issues with adapting such magical practices or techniques, after all this is what my style of contemporary witchcraft is about, my issue is where the adaption is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of the original magical practice or technique. I will use “black salt” as an example.

In a number of folk magic traditions, black salt (also known as “Sal Negro” and “Drive Away Salt” and should not be confused with the Indian black salt which is a mineral salt used for cooking) is a special salt blend used to drive away evil. It can be sprinkled around your property to keep your home safe from intruders or troublemakers, and even sprinkled in the footprints of someone who is bothering you, to make them go away.

Black salt can also be placed in closets and dark corners in a room to drive away evil or negative spirits. You can even sprinkle it on the floor and then sweep the salt out through the front door for a cleansing of your home or apartment. This protective salt can be added to witch’s bottles and alternatively, sprinkled in a circle around the perimeter of your house for protection, to banish evil and also to cleanse from any negativity.

More traditional recipes instruct that black salt includes salt (preferably sea salt), scrapings from a cast iron skillet or pot, ash from your fire pit (ritual fire), maybe some herbs (such as black pepper) and even powered black food colouring (although black salt is not necessarily black in colour). These ingredients are blended during certain phases of the moon and have specific chants and prayers recited over them for a period of time.

Modern alternatives to making black salt include adding additional protective herbs and even essential oils to the mix, such as rosemary (protection from harmful people or toxic relationships), cayenne pepper (dispel anger or toxic relationships), cinnamon (protection from a broken heart or pain in a romantic relationship) or even lavender (to block invisible ickiness).

I recently came across someone advising their followers to make black salt from Himalayan salt and the left over ashes from burnt incense sticks. This advice I personally consider to be a prime example of “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” in that while Himalayan salt does offer protection, this is more commonly during astral travel or when spiritually travelling between worlds as opposed to protecting your physical space. Sea salt on the other hand is used in purification and cleansing baths, as well as to help release and cleanse negative feelings. Further, I question the use of burnt incense ash as this has little if anything to do with ritual fire ashes or cast iron scrapings.

In this modern age, anything appears to go. While this may be true to a certain level, when you are making products or utilising practices or techniques that come from other spiritual traditions, ensure that you actually have some knowledge of what is required to ensure your success.

Gardnerian Wicca – A Reincarnation Cult

The following article is an abridge version of the one written by Sophia Boann, which can be found from the Cup of Wisdom, a Gardnerian coven residing in East Cork, Ireland. To read the entire article, please visit the above link.

Often Wicca is portrayed as a fertility cult, however, at its core, Gardnerian Wicca is a reincarnation cult.

Gerald Gardner believed in group reincarnation. An early hint is found in the way he concludes his book A Goddess Arrives, a story based on a personal experience: “Do you believe in reincarnation?” he asked, and began to tell her about Rudolph Steiner’s theory of group incarnation.

Gerald Gardner refers to reincarnation immediately in the introduction of Witchcraft Today, where he describes encountering the coven who brought him into the Craft: “and I met some people who claimed to have known me in a past life.” Reincarnation is a frequently recurring theme in the book, and there are such statements as: “The cult god is thought of as the god of the next world, or of death and resurrection, or of reincarnation, the comforter, the consoler. After life you go gladly to his realms for rest and refreshment, becoming young and strong, waiting for the time to be reborn on earth again, and you pray to him to send back the spirits of your beloved dead to rejoice with you at your festivals.” (Chapter III) and “What they wanted was prosperity and fertility for the tribe, a life after death in happy conditions, and reincarnation into their tribe or nation.” (Chapter VI).

Not all initiates believe in reincarnation, and even among those who do, there are varying views on the concept. There is no sense of “Karma” along the lines that you will have a better or worse next incarnation if you haven’t done enough recycling in this life. But all of us have this experience of coming home, a feeling that we belong here, in the greater scheme of things. Additionally, we often have a strong sense of recognition with other initiates when we attend larger gatherings, an instant sense of belonging together, and having known each other before.

The training or “Outer Court” is mostly an excuse to feel out that connection with the group spirit, and if the Seeker will be at home in the coven they are with. And that “feeling out” should go both ways; if the Seeker doesn’t feel like they belong, which isn’t a judgement on the coven, they should move on to find their own place within the greater scheme of our existence.

Using Magical Condition Oils

Within specific traditions, “Condition Oils” are specifically crafted oils that are used to dress candles, anoint the body, anoint magical or spiritual tools used within rituals and ceremonies, as well as added to baths and even floor washes.  These oils are usually made from a base oil to which specific herbs, roots, flowers and other curios are added.

If the oils are added to the body, then they are more commonly applied to pulse points, or a specific body part. They should not however been taken internally – unless, of course, the maker specifically advises they are safe to do so.

When it comes to dressing candles, it is generally considered that if you wish to draw some thing or situation to you, that you rub the candle oil from the base to the top of the candle. this is so when the candle burns, it burns towards you. If you wish to remove something from you, then the candle is dressed from the top down to the base.

Condition Oils also are believed to add power to petitions. In this case, five dots of oil are placed in the corners of a piece of paper upon which the petition is written or drawn upon, with the fifth dot in the centre. The petition is then either burnt or a candle of appropriate corresponding colour is placed on top of the petition and then burnt.

Some Condition Oils, such as the Fiery Protection Oil (which is for sale through the LunaNoire Creations store), are made to steep over a period of time during which special prayers are chanted to add further power to the oil.

Honouring the Dark Moon

Modern astronomers denote the New Moon as the day the moon is at zero illumination. They mark this as the exact point when a new moon cycle begins, ie the New Moon. Modern calendar makers have followed suit & what is marked on most calendars as the New Moon is actually the time when the moon is at 0% illumination.

However when the moon is at 0% illumination this is, technically, the Dark Moon. The New Moon begins when the moon shows the very first, tiniest sliver of illumination. 

While modern astronomers tend to use these terms interchangeably, they are actually two different parts of the moon cycle. And as such, they have slightly different energies and are supporting us in slightly different kinds of introspection and growth.

This week’s New Moon occurs tomorrow (17 September) at 8:30 pm (ACST). This is the moment the moon receives exactly 0% illumination and will begin growing again. Until the moon is illuminated again, we are in the dark moon phase of the moon cycle.

The Dark Moon is a very important part of the moon cycle. A part that is often forgotten. 

This is where the wisdom of the ending cycle settles into our souls and our spirits. Without taking this moment of pause, we are missing this important integration of all our work and all our growth from the previous moon cycle.

It is not surprising to me that in our modern society we have lost the tradition of observing the Dark Moon. In so many facets of life we have dismissed this vital moment of pause. We rarely stop and rest when we complete one thing before moving on to the next. Rarely do we give ourselves these crucial moments of pause and reflection before diving in to the next thing coming.

In losing these pauses, we are also losing this vital time where we absorb and assimilate lessons learned & wisdom gained from our experiences. We are missing this crucial component of our personal growth.

Source:
How Does the Dark Moon Energy Encourage Your Personal Growth?

COVID-19 and Responsibility of being a Public Person

There is certainly a divide when it comes to the coronavirus and now some six months after we were initially warned of it, many of us having restructured our lives around governmental advice, are certainly feeling “over it”.  However it is not over as is clearly seen in Victoria and now New South Wales, with these States recording record number of cases being detected, not to mention deaths relating to COVID-19.  This situation has also seen the manifest of various conspiracy theories and “alternative” motives as to why the whole world is seemingly being brought to its knees.

For those outside the health system or who are fortunate enough not to know anyone personally affected by this virus, such measures that are being imposed upon us may seem unfair and unjust, especially as we are rocked out of our comfort zone due to pending unemployment options, diminishing superannuation and finances, not allow to travel or even visit loved ones.  After six months of being told “we are all in this together”, I find it extremely disappointing when self-proclaimed “celebrity psychic” considers themselves to be an exemption to the rules. 

Not only has this person been publicly flaunting what they classify as “draconian law” by travelling outside the travel exclusion zones that their State government has put in place in an attempt to contain the spread of this extremely contagious virus, but after their courtship with the media does not go their way, have made statements such as “You don’t get to shut me down because you don’t like what I say” and “Where there’s a witch, there’s always a way and now you are also on my radar” on social media.

The back story is that on Monday, “Karen” (not their real name) attempted to confront staff at a hardware store over the mandatory use of face coverings amid the current coronavirus crisis that is spiraling into extremely worrying levels in their State.  The video of this confrontation resulted in them being interviewed on a morning television show a few days later.  However, after boldly declaring that as the virus was “bio-chemically engineered” (a reason why they refuse to wear a mask), they were asked if they held a medical degree, to which their response was that they didn’t however they had worked as a “medic some time ago”.  At this point the host decided to end the interview as he “couldn’t listen any longer” to the “irresponsible” views that were being made.

The psychic, who has happily courted the media on numerous occasions, then took to social media to advise the television show host could very well be included in the “Ritual of Justice” that they were intending to cast upon the Australian Government.

A further twist is that only as far as back as April, this person was sharing images of themselves not only wearing a mask but also gloves, urging her 1,800 odd followers that “the minute you step outside please wear a mask and gloves” as that the wearing of personal protective equipment was important due to “the virus is invisible and contraction is airborne. We can all contract COVID-19. We could all be carriers of the coronavirus. We could also be immune to the virus”, and “Don’t be fooled, the virus is real.”

I get it – six months down the track and we are all over it.  Personal and financial hardships, the ongoing negatively being reported in the media (first the virus and now to sorry economic state of the country).  And I am fine with people changing their minds. What does bug me with this story is when someone who has a similar spiritual path to me (used loosely however the public does not differentiate) is publicly announcing threats (veiled or otherwise) to compensate for their bruised ego.  How about being mindful that if you want to court the media that you are being seen as a representative of the whole community.

How this virus came about, I don’t know.  Whether governmental health guidelines are outdated, a cover-up or actual, again I don’t know.  All I do know is that this virus highly contagious and our health professionals are working around the clock attempting to deal with it.  Most people have already had some degree of their lives impacted, not to mention others being denied social contact at their most vulnerable times.  However, this so-called “celebrity” psychic really should get over their overinflated degree of self-importance. Instead of a “ritual of Justice” so that they don’t have to wear a mask in public, how about utilising their energy (and social media influence) more positively – like a cure, a reduction in the number of cases or severity of the effects of the virus for those who are personally affected by it.

The Power of Words

My initial magical training included a number of timeless pearls that I believe still hold relevance today, one of them being the power (or energy) that words have. This belief in the power of words is not one that has been wrapped up in ancient esoteric secrecy that is only disclosed through appropriate hereditary initiations, nor has it been randomly plucked out of all obscurity. All throughout history, the power of word (or language) has been evident, being one of the first things targeted by an invading power (ie, where the conquered is forced to forego their language and adopt that of the conqueror).

In various metaphysical, neuro-linguistic and even new age teachings, students are instructed on the “power of words” and how they shape our perception of things including ourselves. Within the various magical communities it is the carefully chosen words that crafts the spell in order to achieve a desired goal, or expresses our devotion and requests to the Gods.

Even beyond the magical, mystical and metaphysical realms, most of us know the power of words – from a young age we are encouraged to believe that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.

Why then, are seekers of the Craft insisting on calling themselves “baby witches”?

Apparently this is not a new phenomenon despite me only first coming across someone (an adult) referring themselves as such a month or so ago (clearly I live under a rock). However, since a recent TikTok incident where so-called “baby witches” attempted to “curse” the moon, social media and blogs have go overboard.

Now, I don’t watch TikTok so have no real interest in whether the moon got “cursed” or not, not I have the energy to invest in ascertaining any logic as to why someone would attempt to do that is in the first place, what is getting my goat is the phrase “baby witch”.

There have been some popular bloggers who have openly stated that to call a seeker or novice a “baby witch” is rather insulting because we all had to start somewhere. However, the only people I have come across calling anyone “baby witches” are novices or seekers themselves. And it is this use of the phrase that, for the life of me, I don’t understand.

When I was starting to take my first steps on the path that eventually evolved into contemporary witchcraft, I was a “seeker” for I was seeking knowledge, experience, the answers to my endless questions, and possibly a teacher/guide. I was also a “novice” as I was still relatively inexperienced when it came to the art of magic and the Craft. Another word that was used was that of being a “neophyte”, again referring to someone new and starting out on the path.

The word “baby” conjures up impressions of an infant, someone helpless and totally reliant upon others (adults). Babies are incapable of acting on their own behalf, are unaware of things that are potentially dangerous due to their inexperience with the concept of harm, not to mention having an intellectual awareness of fully understanding what is going on around them.

While calling yourself a “baby witch” may sound cute, it also implies the avoidance of taking responsibility, and that you are simply absorbing whatever you are being told without displaying and discernment about your own education, needs, and desires. The negative use is further highlighted when compared to the term “novice” where the latter, implies having full autonomy of your spiritual path and the direction you wish to follow.

In my forthcoming book, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, I explain that one of the underlying aspects of this spiritual path is that “it calls upon its followers to engage in active participation as opposed to being merely spectators; and where each individual is ultimately responsible for the development of their own spiritual journey.”

How responsible are you prepared to be when it comes to your own spiritual and magical path?

Preparing for Spring

As the seasonal Wheel of the Year turns, it is not too long away before spring arrives. Even before Mid Winter my garden had been preparing itself with a display of early spring flowers.

This time of the year however there can appear to be a degree of false hope as the worse of the winter weather is often still to come. One thing that we do know for certain however is that life is starting to stir again.

Within contemporary witchcraft the first of the two spring festivals is Imbolc (Im-bulk), derived from the Irish Gaelic that means “in the belly” referring to the potential of all life that is in the belly of the Great Mother (Mother Earth), but also the pregnancy of other animals, particularly cattle and sheep, who give birth to their young around this time.  An alternative word is Oimelc, meaning “ewe’s milk”.  Although here in South Australia the lambs are often born around the autumn equinox to ensure that there is enough Winter grass for them to eat, in other parts of the country, and particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, Imbolc heralds the birthing season for lambs.

Within contemporary witchcraft, the Goddess is often considered to be in her Maiden, or youthful aspect, while the God is in his Young Stag aspect. Their innocent reflects the lightness of the energies around them at this time of the year.

Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look like low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes lightning to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
George Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

In the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc falls around 1st February and is often connected with the Goddess Brighid, or Brid (pronounced “Bree” or “Breeid”), who later become known as Saint Brigit. Spanning both paganism and Christianity, Brighid/Brigit is renown for her healing, and protection, with her sacred shrine still be utilised today in Kildare, County Meath in Ireland. 

As a way of marking and honouring Imbolc, I will be holding a special Celebrate Imbolc – The Celtic Festival of Spring at the Riverdell Spiritual Centre on Saturday, 1 August 2020, where participants will not only learn about the historical origins of this Celtic festival, but they will connect with the Maiden Goddess through empowering meditations.

We will also be making our own protective Cros Bride (Brigit’s Cross) that will be empowered through sacred ceremony, and discover how to connect with the healing energies of St Brigit through candles that have been lit from her sacred flame at Kildare.

Tickets are only $50 (plus Eventbrite fees) and are available through this link.

All attendees go in the draw to win a copy of my book In Her Sacred Name: Writings on the Divine Feminine.

Saturday, 1 August 2020 from 11am to 3pm
Location: Riverdell Spiritual Centre, 51 Clifford Road, Hillier SA 5116

The Power of a Witch’s Healing

These days there are numerous forms of healing, both orthodox as well as alternative, and it is within this latter category where witches most often work, in particular in the area of spiritual healing.

It never ceases to amaze me the power of the collective group (ie, such as a coven) when we are all focused on a single topic. I recall an occurrence a few years ago when a coven member arrived for our regular meetup feeling under the weather. They stated that they were suffering from a lack of energy, not to mention other ailments for which orthodox medical advice had been sought. Yet nothing seemed to be working.

As part of the work we do is that of healing, during our ritual energy was directed to our coven member … and so powerful was the chant that even today I still vividly remember half expecting to find the member in question flattened against the wall (as in the movies).

They declared the next day that they had woken up filled with energy and ready to take on the world again, and it was the most alive that they have felt in a while. Further, that the discomfort and other effects of what they had been experiencing appeared to have ceased. We joked about what they would tell their doctor at the follow up appointment.

Healing is one of those skills that whilst we readily give to others, we tend to forget about ourselves … there is an old saying of “healer – heal thy self” … meaning that before we can heal others, we need to make sure that we are in fact in tiptop condition.

Asking for energy, for healing from coveners who we work with on a regular basis and who we perceive as members of our “magical” family should never be considered as a hindrance. For there will be times that each of us will need a little help from our magical brothers and sisters – especially these days as there seems to be an increasing amount of negativity circling (regardless of whether it is intentional or not).

In any case, the following song from Joe Cocker certainly comes to mind.

Blessings, Frances

Cosmic Musings (Danielle Blackwood)

The following information comes from Danielle Blackwood, astrologer, author and registered counsellor, who addresses a number of cosmic happenings that will occur throughout this coming month, commencing with some tips on how to navigate Mars being in Retrograde.

Five Tips to Navigate Mars Retrograde
Take a deep breath, and a moment to center yourself, because the intensity is just not letting up this year. Mars, the Warrior entered his own sign Aries on 27 June 27 for the next six months. The last time this occurred was 1988, and before that, in 1941. Mars will finally move into Taurus on 7 January 2021.

Mars is the principle of action and energy. It is the way we handle conflict and anger, as well as our sex drive and libido. In Aries, Mars can lead towards frustration, impulsive action, and hot tempers. When unchecked, Mars in Aries is violence, war and unbridled rage.  Mars is also aligned with willpower, motivation and the ability to stand our ground and fight for what we believe in. When channelled mindfully, Mars in Aries is noble, passionate, strategic, and empowering. It is stepping into your sovereignty, standing your ground, and setting healthy boundaries.

Mars in Aries gives us the green light to break new ground, set plans in motion and heed the call to adventure. However, it might be best to wait on those new beginnings until Mercury stations direct on 12 July.

The following are tips for navigating the next six months constructively:
1.  Channel your energy effectively. Choose a cause that motivates you and clear the decks for action. Be proactive.
2.  Realize that anger is a normal human emotion.  If you are angry, take a deep breath and express it in a clear and direct way. Own your anger and speak your truth. Sublimated anger turns into passive aggression, depression, or buried rage that comes out in a distorted way to someone to whom it was not intended.
3. If you’re feeling heated, count to 10 and take a deep breath before responding. If you need time out, take it.
4. Make space for regular self care. If you don’t, you will burn out. If you burn out, you will not achieve your objectives. Know when to take a break, so you can come back out refreshed, focused, and more effective.
5. Cool that Aries fire with exercise, mindfulness meditation, breathing, and time spent in nature. Go swimming. Start journaling. Dance. Eat nourishing, grounding foods and avoid stressing your nervous system with too much caffeine or sugar.

Saturn Retrograde into Capricorn
On 1 July, Saturn moved into its last stint in Capricorn, before moving into Aquarius from December 2020 until March 2023. While traveling backward in Capricorn, Saturn will get closer again to Pluto, but doesn’t become exact as it did in January 2020. However, it is still close enough to intensify the Saturnian element in the mix, bringing a more sober, serious and discerning tone to the collective.

Full Moon in Capricorn and Eclipse (visible in North America)
Fourth July brings a Full Moon and penumbral lunar eclipse in Capricorn. Beginning on 5 June, this marks three eclipses in one lunar month. The next time this will happen is in 2029. This eclipse season has been intense, illuminating that which has been hidden, closing old doors, and beginning bold new chapters.

This is a serious Full Moon. We may feel contemplative or melancholy. The unadorned truth of something may suddenly be brought to light, causing us to feel the somberness of what actually is, rather than what we wish it would be. The Capricorn Full Moon might also bring a reality check. This Full Moon can also show us where we need to be more accountable, roll up our sleeves and walk our talk.  On the other hand, the Full Moon in Capricorn can also be a time of completion or reaching a milestone. It’s time to push past procrastination and self sabotage and commit to something important. Capricorn brings up themes of survival, commitment, responsibility, consequences, accountability, big business, institutions, banking, the patriarchy, and government. On a personal note, we may be re-evaluating priorities, and making some serious decisions before and after this eclipse.

Mercury Stations Direct
Mercury stations direct on 12 July. In a few days, it will be all systems go as Mercury gets back up to speed. You now have the green light to sign contracts, launch something new, or consider travel – with one caveat – if you are starting something big, signing important papers, or buying transportation or tech, try and wait until Mercury is completely out of its shadow, 26 July.

New Moon in Cancer
The Moon begins a brand new cycle in the sign of Cancer on 20 July. The New Moon in Cancer highlights themes of family, home and hearth, real estate, connection, belonging and security.  All new starts and initiatives in these areas will be on the table now. We might be feeling extra sensitive, intuitive, and craving comfort. Perhaps nostalgia plays a part, and we can gain sustenance and wisdom for our next steps by reflecting on the past.

New Moons happen each month in a different sign, pointing out where we can best plant our new seeds of intention for the coming six months.  Look to you chart to see what house this month’s New Moon/fresh start will be happening for you.  This is your most fertile ground to plant those seeds. To make the most of this month’s New Moon, think about what home means to you.  Do you like where you live? How can you make it more comfortable?

Cancer is also about family and family of the heart.  The archetype of the Great Mother is also connected to Cancer, and all things associated with mothering and nurturance are underlined: food, shelter, protection and emotional safety.  The Sun opposes Saturn today, lending a serious tone to this New Moon. We may be feeling the need for intentional solitude as we process emotions, memories and wounding.

Daniella Blackwood is the author of The Twelve Faces of the Goddess: Transform Your Life With Astrology, Magick and the Sacred Feminine (Llewellyn, 2018).

A Little Book of Wicca

The latest offering from TDM Publishing is A Little Book of Wicca.

Consisting of some 60 pages, this short guide to Wicca, contemporary witchcraft, aims to be a perfect introduction to this earth-centric spiritual belief.

Commencing with a brief history of how Wicca came into being, it also covers the common beliefs and ethics found within Wicca, the perception of a dual deity (a God and a Goddess), sacred days and seasonal festivals, as well as information specifically to the Southern Hemisphere that is often overlooked in other books. A glossary containing some of the more commonly used terms is included as well as a recommended reading list.

A Little Book of Wicca is a perfectly priced introduction book for anyone interested in learning more about Wicca, or to being used as a guide to be given to family and friends in order to explain what this earth-centric spiritual belief is truly about.

Details:
ISBN: 9780244863067
Dimensions: A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm)

Cost: $15.99 (includes postage within Australia) available direct from TDM Publishing.