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?

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.

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.

Visions mark a New Way Forward

As this current calendar year draws to a close, to brings to an end a rather “interesting” (to say the least) year for the Temple of the Dark Moon.

This year saw the first Outer Court training circle in five years commence that delivered more challenges than the initial desired result. As such, the Temple will be taking all of the Southern summer off, instead of commencing at Lughnasadh, as what has been the norm. This will mean that no teaching on the Craft will be offered until April, the end of Autumn, when Gathering Around the Cauldron will commence on Thursday, 2 April 2020 and continue throughout the year on a monthly basis.

Between now and April, there will still be a number of events being offered, including the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters that is held at Grange beach, Adelaide, as well as new practical crafting workshops on Spells, Amulets and Talismans held on Saturday, 15 February 2020 that will provide in-depth information on various highly effective techniques of spell casting as well as the purposes of using an amulet or talisman. Then on Sunday, 2 February 2020, the ever popular Making a Protection Bottle will be held.

April will also see the commencement of a six part exploration of the Tree of Life glyph that is found within ceremonial magick in the Climbing the Tree of Life series from Thursday, 16 April 2020, which will be nicely complimented with a ten part mediation series of corresponding Qabalistic archangels on Thursday evenings from 7 April 2020.

As with all events offered by the Temple of the Dark Moon, save for the Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters, it is essential to book as there are limited places available.

At this current time, there is no desire to recommence the Outer Court training circle. Those attendees who participated in the 2019 Outer Circle are fully aware of what is required of them should they wish to complete this training. My own personal commitments and focus for the new year will initially be on finalising the manuscripts of two books (including the long awaited Encountering the Dark Goddess) ready for publication.

Summer Time House Protection Charm

Summer in Australia can be a rather difficult time of the year to get through, especially as the soaring temperatures often mean the threat of bush fires. Even the proposed respite of a cool change can often mean more danger as the approaching winds fan the flames. With the official summer season only having commenced just over two weeks ago, the Australian “purification season” has arrived early as parts of New South Wales and Queensland have been aflame since early September.

This ancient land upon which we live has long sought cleansing and the clearing out of the old in order to make way for the new through fire. In fact, many of our native plants only germinate through the scorching flames.  The Aboriginal people understood this and used to start small bushfires to clear the fallen bark, dried twigs and dead bushes. These fires were slow-burning and the native bush quickly regenerated after the heat of the fire. This practice also helped to prevent larger and more destructive fires, especially as the native eucalyptus gum trees contains an oil within their leaves that is susceptible to bushfires, making them burn faster and hotter.

When I read Starhawk’s book The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Natural Rhythms of the Earth (HarperOne, 2005), what struck me were the similarities between where she lived in northern California, and where I live in Australia. As such, when I wrote Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats, I sought permission to include an adaptation of a ritual that focused on protecting one’s home from bushfires. This ritual can be found on page 168 within the chapter dedicated to “Lughnasadh”, the Sabbat more often associated with bush fires – yet, as we have seen (and are seeing this year) there are always exceptions to the rules.

In light of what is currently occurring in various areas around Australia, I include the excerpt of this rite in the hope that even the visualisations may assist anyone who finds themselves in danger of purification through fire.

Visualise the boundary of the land that you wish to protect. Invoke the elements, reflecting on each in turn in their natural environment. Feel the air on your skin as a natural cool breeze; visualise the waters as the most immediate water source (this could be St Vincent Gulf or the Murray River, etc); try and understand the element of fire as an integral part of the landscape, regardless of the danger it brings in the middle of Summer. Feel the earth that is under your feet, that makes up the land upon which you reside.

In the centre of your circle, have a small earthenware bowl into which you pour some water (preferably from a local spring, although normal tap water is fine). Reflect on the water and the gratitude that comes with being provided with it. Add to the bowl a small handful of dirt from your own land. Again, when reflecting on the dirt, conjure up feelings of gratitude.

Make a fire charm that consists of the alchemical symbol for fire, an upright triangle within a circle, the latter representing containment. Starhawk uses bay laurel branches, a protection herb. However, native flora can also be used. If in a group collective, have each participant also ties onto the symbol either small branches from bushes and trees on their property and/or sprigs of herbs and plants from their gardens.

Alternatively, other protective charms can be made including Ojo de Dios (“God’s Eyes” from Central and South America) as well as pentagrams (star shaped).

Once completed, the charm is then passed around the circle whilst the participants recite a chant, such as the following which has been adapted from Starhawk:

Sacred fire that shapes this land
Summer teacher, Winter friend
Protect us as we learn anew
To work, to heal, to live with you.

When the charm has gone around the circle, all participants then hold it together and chant, raising a cone of power, a request of protection, as well as a request for knowledge. Prayers that homes and lands will be preserved can be said.

We need to learn how to integrate fire with this land, as well as how to restore the balance that has been lost. The charm can then be hung from a tall tree, preferably in an area where it can survey the land that it is to protect. It is to remain there until the rains come, where it will then be dismantled and sections of it burnt by each of the participants in their own homes as a further means of protection for the coming season.

Exploring the Archangels of Kabbalah

The Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the map of the life journey that each soul has to go through in the incarnational experience in order to reach an enlightened state of consciousness.  It is a very important symbol of creation which encompasses the entire meaning of the universe.

The Kabbalistic teachings state that the origin of the universe and the world began by God’s creation of the ten sefirot, or emanations, enumerations or characteristics of God.
Everythingbegins with Kether, the Crown, and moves down the Tree to reach Malkuth, the Kingdom.  Each sphere (sephira) corresponds to a Divine name and the unfolding of the Tree of Life illustrates the ways God has designed energy to flow into creation.  The Archangels that are related to each of these spheres express that energy throughout the universe and play a specific role in mediating the divine influence via the celestial bodies, the planets and the stars.

Commencing in April 2002, a special ten part meditation series will be taking part where each week, we will connect with each of these ten archangels found within the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.  These archangels include:

:: Kether/The Crown – Metatron
:: Chokmah – Ratziel
:: Binah – Tzaphkiel
:: Chesed – Tzadkiel
:: Geburah – Chamael
:: Tiphareth – Michael
:: Netzach – Haniel
:: Hod – Raphael
:: Yesod – Gabriel, and
:: Malkuth – Sandalphon.

This course will commence on Tuesday, 9 April 2020 and be held until June.  Bookings are essential to secure your place.

Venue: Isian Centre of Metaphysics (Parafield Gardens) from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Places for this 10 part course are strictly limited and therefore bookings are essential.
Cost: $100 (plus Eventbrite fees) Bookings through Eventbrite.

(Casual attendance may be available at $15 per session depending on vacancies. Please contact us for possible weekly vacancies)

Traditional Bealtaine Observation

“Oh do not tell the priest of our plight
Or he will call it a sin …
But we’ve been out in the woods all night
a-conjuring Summer in.”

At the end of October, the call of summer can be felt and here at the Temple of the Dark Moon, Bealtaine marks the gateway to summer.

Bealtaine is one of the FOUR Greater Sabbats observed within many earth-centric belief systems that are Celtic in origin and agriculturally based which mark the gateway to the changing seasons, in this case, it is the gateway to Summer.

Bealtaine, in its truest form, is linked to the rise of Pleiades, a constellation also referred to as “the Seven Sisters”, as mentioned in Hesoid’s observations.  Within contemporary wytchcraft, Bealtaine relates to the sacred union of our God and Goddess which is represented by the colours of the ribbons that we dance around the Maypole with.

It is also the time of the fae, the arrival of fresh summer fruits blessed by the Queen of the May, and the warming of weather.  Bealtaine is the time to shake off the winter blues as we prepare ourselves for the coming hot weather through the creation of charms that encapture the power of the increasing sun.

Commencing in the afternoon we will be:
:: Exploring the folklore of Bealtaine
:: Learning about the sacred symbolism of this time of the year.
:: Joining in traditional dances around the maypole.
:: Making a personal charm to capture the power of the increasing sun.
:: Sharing in a delightful feast that has been blessed by the Queen of the Summer.

All attendees will also go into the draw to win a special Bealtaine gift.

If you are interested in attending our Traditional Bealtaine Observation, then you will need to book through Eventbrite as there are limited places available.

Embracing the Ebbing and Flowing for an Exciting New Direction

Life is all about ebbing and flowing, and this year has been no exception. As the calendar year enters its twilight months, reflection has been given as to what direction the Temple of the Dark Moon will be heading in for the new year.

Already there will be a number of exciting changes ready to be brought into manifestation when the new training year commences around Lughnasadh (end of January) 2020.

Gathering Around the Cauldron is proposed to continue as an open entry however on a more regular monthly basis. This way it will be utilised not only as a means of offering basic ritual and magickal training, but also a gateway to closed or special events and advanced training in the magickal arts.

Free registration for Gathering Around the Cauldron circles through Eventbrite with the attendance cost payable on the night will also continue. This way notifications of relevant themes and what the upcoming circles will consist off are able be provided through Eventbrite’s email message system.

If you are interested in attending a closed or special event, then the requirement is that you will have to have had either completed a previous training course offered by the Temple or attended at least THREE Gathering Around the Cauldron circles to ensure that you have a basic understanding of how the Temple of the Dark Moon conducts its workings. The rituals and magickal workings organised by the Temple are not for bystanders – all attendees will be expected to have a basic degree of understanding and experience when it comes to ritual work and how to conduct themselves within circle.

More about the continuing ebb and flow of the direction which the Temple of the Dark Moon will be taking over the coming months into the future will be made available on the web site.

Five Reasons to Not join a coven (or magickal group) (Courtney Weber)

The following link is to the above article by Courtney Weber.  Whilst the five points raised are indeed not new (similar articles have appeared over the years), I thought I would share this article as a timely reminder for the novice seeker/neophyte as to what a coven or magickal group is not be considered a substitute for.  While I do necessarily agree with all points raised, or indeed the manner or even the style in which they are raised, I do agree with the overall points made.

A coven/magickal group is not:
:: A “replacement family” for your physical family – although the bond within a close knit working group can almost replicate this.
:: A support group – if anything, the Craft (as well as most other magickal groups) focus on taking self responsibility.
:: A replacement for therapy – in many instances this point follows on from the previous one with the focus however being directed more at those who are already seeking professional assistance.
:: A place to get laid – whilst intimate partnerships may occur between members in some groups, this should not be your prime objective for joining a group.
:: A place to validate yourself – if you need external validation all the time, maybe what you actually need is to address your own areas of self worth and self esteem through gaining professional assistance.

I would also add to Weber’s list that a coven or magickal group is not a place to join simply because your friends are and you are suffering a degree of “FOMO” (fear of missing out).  Likewise if you are not prepared to pull your weight.  There is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to coven work (usually by the High Priestess/leader).  Stepping up and offering assistance moves you from being a spectator to gaining more about what  happen behind the scenes, as well as assisting your own knowledge and experience in the work to hand … and after all, is this not why you have joined ….to gain experience and to learn?