A Family Outing to Scarbourough

This weeks blog is a little delayed thanks to the beautiful weather we have experienced this weekend. Sunny days are so few and far between in this country that you have to make hay whilst the sun shines. And if you can kill a couple of birds with that stone so much the better.

Yorkshire is a county with many personalities. We have it all, usually within an hours drive; from buzzing cities to quaint villages and rolling moorland and outstanding national forests. We also have a stunning coastline, with its own rich history which covers every phase of human history to the time of the Dinosaurs.

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Scarborough, located on the North Yorkshire Coast, was our destination of choice on this occasion. We’re quite fond of Whitby as well but Scarborough has something for all the family.

The kids enjoyed an hour or so’s pootle around the Scarborough SeaLife centre, learning about the world’s oceans and checking in with the rescue seal pups which were in the process of rehabilitation, followed by all the fun of the beach.

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For Mummy there was a trip to the Rotunda museum to look at the Star Carr  and Gristhorpe Man displays whilst everyone else dried off and warmed up from the beach, followed by a swift(ish) visit to friends who live in the area.

My OH had the pleasure of providing transport for the entire affair. I am sure he enjoyed every moment, particularly the sitting in traffic on the way home.

Of course there was crochet. I was tempted to take my current blanket out on the road with me, it’s colours fitting perfectly with my coastal setting, but in the end decided it would take up too much space. It is possible to crochet in the car but a single blanket with drape isn’t the most transportable project.

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So I put aside my Attic24 coastal blanket in the Le Mondede Sucrette V-stitch to one side and I hunted out some inherited Drops Fable 4ply. It’s blue and green tones also fit well with my watery theme and every mermaid needs a beautiful shawl to drape around her shoulders and the Spirit of Summer shawl was the ideal project for it. I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, the wind was far too chill for me to crochet for too long, but now I have a project for knit and knatter afternoons when I am able to get away from work. Even as the shawl works up it should still continue to fit into my little project bag, a kind gift from a friend last Yule.

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Tales of a Thrifty Witch

Spring is the season of the car boot and vintage fairs as all my local events kick off in the first week or so in April. The theory is that  the weather is getting warmer so trawling around so attendance will be higher, and people who are spring cleaning will be looking to sell their stuff. So far this spring I’ve ventured as far as Skipton for a trawl of the charity shops and managed to catch the first Leeds Market Vintage fair. I was hoping to get out to a car boot fair as well, but the weather and Yodal were against me.  

Thrifty Witch

I always encourage budding Witches to start their quest for magical tools and objects in places such as car boot sales, charity shops and the like. Things might be a little miss-matched, but that adds to the charm. You are also going to pay a lot less for your items than your might if you were trawling actual auction houses and antiques shops, and in comparison to most new age shops.

The ‘story’ of an object can also be an important element of the magical potency of a given item. It formed the identity of the object, and its connection to you, which is why using an inherited black handled kitchen knife as your athame may be more appropriate than a mass produced item.  A story starting ‘this knife belonged to my mother’s mother…’ sounds a lot better than ‘I bought this new off the internet’. The story of an item purchased through a charity or car boot sale may have less zing to it, but the agency of its previous owners lends to the story.

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Personal photo – © Vicky Newton

These are also places where you can pick up the weirdest things. I never really thought I would own a modern reproduction of the phallic Egyptian God Ptah (a direct purchase from Egypt I was assured) but guess what I found lurking at the back of a stall at the Car Boot. Large brass keys that are not also key racks are a rarity in my experience but that’s what I found and beige gifted a couple of horseshoes replete with nails was an experience. Jewellery cupboards and tourism wardrobes are easily re-purposed as deity shrines and then there are the glass bottles, silver christening / confirmation cups and pottery of all kinds which are perfect for all aspects of altar wear.  Sometimes it just takes a little imagination.

So far in 2018 

My trips out in the last week or so have resulted in a bit of a splurge, basically because fate has put a couple of things in my path and it has been the school holidays, meaning I have been out and about more than usual.

Blue Box of Healing

On my recent visit to Skipton I picked up the very delicate blue glass jewellery box. I was actually trawling the charity shops looking for children’s audiobook CD’s but the colour caught my eye as I was passing and I was inspired.

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Personal photo – © Vicky Newton

I know a couple of witches who use similar boxes for healing rites each full moon. Their occasional posts about their practice has always been a source of inspiration and as my own practice at the full moon has evolved and changed in recent years the more I have wanted to incorporate this practice in some way. I suppose I could have used any box for the purpose but this box means I am staying much closer to the original inspiration as possible. As you can see it is sat under my new Hekate statue, waiting for the next full moon when I will be dedicating both items fully. More on that another time…

Our Lady of Lourdes

If you keep up to date with the doings of the RuneSoup premium members courses you will know that we have just completed a course on Saints and their use by magical practitioners. As part of it Gordon was offering saints kits, containing active saints cards and Holy Water, to Premium members but unfortunately the kits were way outside of my price range at the time.

I was wandering the Vintage Fair when I spotted not only a beautiful Madonna statue, but a vial of Lourdes water so I snapped them up (I had to forgo my weekly coffee purchase that week but I made up for it today).

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Personal photo – © Vicky Newton

No, that isn’t a rosary at the feet of Our Lady, not in the traditional sense at least, and no I am not breaking out into full blown Catholicism. I’ve always been interested in the Cult of the Saints and Gordon did a wonderful job of jailbreaking it as a Pagan practice, and one where I didn’t need to stray dangerously close to African diaspora traditions. I’m slowly constructing my own practice, and one of them is my Litany of Saints prayer beads.

There are far fewer beads than in a traditional rosary, through they are laid out in five groups with spacer beads, a medallion and charm. I am using them to count off my adaptation of the Litany, which is heavily weighted towards saints with interesting magical pedigree, such as St Cyprian and St Justina of Antioch, Hildegard von Bingen, Thecla of Konya and Joseph of Cupertino. This is really something that I threw together in a fit of inspiration, using the beads and charms I had to hand, but they work. I am now short on the beads I need to make a new Heketean Prayer Ladder, my regular set which doubles as a pendulum is looking rather tatty and is happy in its role as my on the go divinatory companion. I am already performing the litany as a daily practice to interesting effect and eventually I am planning to perform both, one at either end of the day, and see how that develops.

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Goetic Workings – continued

I love it when a plan comes together… eventually.

My original plan was to report back after my second performance of the simplified Goetic summoning, having triumphed over the complexities of my situation and setting.  Predictable (or not as the case may be) things actually got worse for me. The first possible Sunday was a write off when the kids refused to settle, and the second was obliterated by household disaster. I did perform the ritual on the Monday following, to ensure that I kept my promises, but the ritual was another rush job to fit in between  the kits going and coming back from their club that evening. I didn’t feel I manifested or even attracted Parsons attention at all.

Obviously, with that little disaster on my hands I didn’t want to write about it until I could come up with an alternative solution and was sure that I was getting results from the work I was doing.

Early Results

Although the results in ritual have been scant I have been seeing some positive results in my dreamscapes and it has become a little easier to interpret my dreams, or at least relate them to things in the waking world. For example, in February I dreamt that I attended a round table conference event, which included speakers like JSK and Gordon White of Rune Soup, and bought a whole selection of goodies. The next morning not only did the tickets for the Glastonbury Occult Conference go live but the event was confirmed for a weekend I could actually attend!!! It’s only been five years of trying but the dates have always clashed with birthdays before now. I think there were trails of fire across the Internet from the speed of my booking tickets and accommodation. Now, I’d that dream wasn’t foreshadowing something I don’t know what a prophetic dream is.

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I’ve also seen a sharpening of my intuition more generally, or perhaps I have just been listening more to what it is saying, and an increase in the number of synchronised events occurring around me. Certainly, when youngsters start to fall into place they do so with a series of resounding clicks all at once rather than one at a time.

It may be coincidence, or a by product of the previous rituals increasing my awareness, but I’m choosing to take the view that if this is the result I am getting it can only get better once I get the actual ritual working for me so what to do….?

March Ritual

Let’s call February a write off, despite the improvements, and look at how things went in March. I have had to, by necessity, turn the ritual into a almost silent affair. I’m no longer using bells and my chants are said at a whisper and my invocations and commands being given no lounger than polite conversation. This means I am having to ensure my tone and inflection carry all my command and commitment.

The flip side of this is I am able to chant the enn for much longer periods of time than before. The kids may not have been as unconscious as I would have liked but they were not disturbed by my nocturnal activities.

Equally the sense of presence achieved was still noticeable. Okay there was no physical manifestation but I could feel the presence of Purson and there were some small signs of his attention. I don’t really need a lion headed man mounted on a bear blowing his trumpet in my house so smoke and shadows will suffice.

Now I am three months in I am going to look beyond my dreams and intuition on a day to day basis and start opening myself up to divination. I will start with the Lenormand, which has always been a more oracular reading than technical one for me, or the Petit Etteilla and work my way out from there. Who knows, maybe be Purson can get me hooked on tarot…

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Hunting for Wetiko Part 2

There is something stalking the land… no that’s far too small scale. There is something stalking this world. It is a dark yet intangible being which stalks the earth in search of sustenance and no matter how deeply it may imbibe in the things it finds most delicious it will always crave more.

And we are the source of its food.

The last five or so years represent a period of turmoil on a global basis. Natural disaster, war and political instability are hardly new to to human history but since 2012 the nature and scale of these events has shifted. Yes, social media plays it’s part, but for those who have an awareness of the world of spirit there is an increasing awareness of something lurking just beyond our peripheral vision.

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Wetiko by ohsnap-son

Enter Wetiko

This entity has a name – Wetiko.

Wetiko is a term found in the Native America Cree Nation which refers to an evil being or spirit which creates terror in humans through acts of terrible evil. The term is analogous to the more recognisable Windigo of the Ojibway / Chippewa Nation mythology. These are beings of destruction and chaos, believed to infect a human host and cause them to engage in the most abhorrent behaviours right up to and including cannibalism.

Rather than reinterpret and redescribed Wetiko I will direct you to various sources which will inform you far better than I could. 

  1. The Rune Soup  cast roll now includes a very interesting discourse on the subject of Wetiko which is well worth listening to.
  2. Author Paul Levy has written a number of posts on the subject of the Wetiko infection in our modern world. You can read a small selection of his online work here, here and here.
  3. Blogger Cymraes reflects on how Wetiko has affected her life in the last decade or so, in addition to offering her own thoughts.

 

Standing on the back of giants, I wanted to offer a few of my own thoughts.

What’s in a Name?

There is power in knowing the name of one’s enemy, of this there is no doubt, but I am not wholly comfortable with the identification Wetiko for a couple of reasons.

Firstly Wetiko/Windigo is a Native American figure and I am conscious of engaging in cultural appropriation. Yes, Wetiko perfectly describes the phenomenon we are faced with. This entity feeds of the ill thoughts and deeds of Man, inspiring us to greater depths of personal, social and ecological destruction through our selfish greed, but is it right for me to use the name?

It’s a starting point perhaps, and using the name Wetiko gives us something to talk about but this leads onto my second concern…

Power Over Our Enemies

…are we ‘misnaming’ this entity in our search for its identity? Yes there is power in a knowing the name of a thing but this power is lost if we start to impose our version of its identity upon the being being discussed. The greatest power is in the knowing of somethings true name, the name by which it knows itself. In this case where have no way of knowing it’s true identity.

My personal opinion is that it is unlikely we will ever know this beings true name. It is likely to have existed from the moment that modern man emerged and began living in social groups, a manifestation of the tenuous nature of survival and the necessity for all members of a group to act as one. On one hand a group of humans coming together will have formed their group egregor, representing all the positive connections of their group such as shared ancestry and desire for survival and reproduction. The shadow side to such as spirit entity is a representation of all that is greed and a drive to have more for less effort.

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That is not to say that is a bad phenomenon, we wouldn’t be the advanced society we are today but for the drive to create easier ways to hunt, live off the land, create surpluses food for the year, make it easier to travel etc… but when allowed to run rampant such desires result in the hoarding of wealth and resources. Greed is king when there are fewer opportunities to develop.

We can easily identify our foe by examining its manifestations, both on the individual and global level, but this doesn’t draw us any closer to finding it’s true name. Using Wetiko as a name to facilitate conversation is fine with caveats but we are in danger of believing we have far more power over this thing because we have named it than the name would imply.

What Can We Do?

The enemy is in view, and we have the language (albeit borrowed) to discuss it amongst our peers, but this knowing does not make us any safer from it. It’s influence is best, and often, described as a spiritual infection and each time we come into contact with some effect by the we risk infection too. Worst still, this isn’t like a bodily illness which is passed on from person to person through physical contact and association. Being sat behind your computer screen puts you at as much, if not more, risk of encountering and becoming infected by the ravenous creature.

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If this were a common cold we could protect ourselves by eating well, washing our hands well and generally staying away from those who already have caught it. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and all that but it doesn’t always prevent us from coming down with the cold despite our best efforts. After that is it a case of self care. We keep ourselves warm and well hydrated, take medicine and generally rest as much as we can. We eventually get over it, but the chances are we and sure going to come down with a cold again in the future, because it is not something you can build a full immunity to.

The same is true of this being that attempts to ride the globe. As spiritual infection we are all susceptible to it, and at times our defences may be overwhelmed. It is only by being aware of the signs and symptoms of being Hagridden that it becomes possible for doing something about it.

Recognising The Infection

It is relatively easy to recognise the influence of this spirit in the lives of others but how do we recognise it in ourselves? That task is much harder because it doesn’t exactly manifest itself in the form of coughs and sneezing.

Awareness of self is probably the greatest tool for self diagnosing yourself of infection by Wetiko. If you’ve ever stopped yourself and wondered ‘is this really coming from me?’ then there is a chance that you are indeed being influenced by an outside force.

When Wetiko rides you it encourages you to engage in behaviours which create the negative energies on which is feeds.

When we look at these behaviours we often talk about downward spirals, with each act generating more acts of a similar nature. One act of hatred inspires another, the decimation of social security networks whilst the rich get richer breeds hatred and resentment which can lead to greater ill health and greater reliance on the state and so it goes on… and so the entity feeds.

 

Reviewing your behaviour, actions and beliefs in a dispassionate and constructive manner is one way to help identify whether or not you are under the influence of this entity. Divination and meditation are two tools which can help in this process.

Obviously life is not exactly straight forward. I don’t want to minimise mental and physical health problems by shrugging my shoulders and saying ‘Wetiko’ and blame all the world’s, our own, woes on the woo. We are still responsible for our actions and once we recognise the problem (which can be very hard) we should try and do something about, which includes accessing support and medication.

Nothing I am suggesting here is intended to replace modern medicine and I stress – this isn’t like a cold where staying in bed might stop your loved ones catching it from you. Isolating yourself is possibly the worst thing you could do in this situation and it is important to draw on strong social networks or access the appropriate support services.

Side Rant – I know there are a lot of people who bang on about how science based medicine is ‘bad’ and how all herbal/spiritual therapies are ‘good’, encouraging people to abandon one in favour of the other. Yes they can be very effective when used in conjunction with science based medicine! They are not ‘alternative’ medicines/therapies as the quacks would have you believe they are complementary – rant over

Fight the Infection

The best way to combat Wetiko is to stop the behaviour that feeds it, effectively cut off its food supply, but it needs to go further than that. We also need to engage in activities opposite to those that feed it to completely starve the beast and cause it to relinquish it’s grasp. Getting involved in community initiatives which promote a better society, or something that improves the local ecology and environment in general are at the top of the ‘anti-Wetiko’ to do list. Wetiko wants us isolated and selfish so get involved and get informed. Wetiko also wants us cut off from our support networks so don’t be afraid to ask for help and take medication.

In terms of spiritual practices anything that raises your protections is a good thing. The cornerstones of Ground and Centre defiantly apply and the Shield element may help protect you from infection by Wetiko. Certainly after the fact the process of grounding and centring yourself in relation to your position in the universe will help you keep in touch with your sense of being and help you keep a watch for any potential infection.

Unfortunately it is unlikely we can truly guard ourselves from infection completely because of the nature of our very nature. I am not a big fan of Jung but fully accept that we have within us a shadow self which represents all those aspects of our nature which we wish to hide, even from ourselves. Wetiko seems to draw on this side of ourselves, drawing to the surface every thought and compulsion that we have every have cause to repress and letting them run free.

We can not, as Jung rightly pointed out, wholly separate ourselves from our shadow side, to do so would be an act of ultimate self destruction, but we can attempt to make friends with it. The better we understand this side of ourselves, and attempt to process it for own understanding the things we have hidden there, the less likely we will be controlled by it and the less likely Wetiko will be able to find purchase in the first place.

Why Now?

When the whole conversation came up, and having formulated the opinion that Wetiko is a being which is older than the name implies I began to wonder why it had begun to become a problem now. What has changed in the last 10 years or so to allow a being like Wetiko to gain such primacy?

Social media certainly plays it’s part, we are more connected now that we have ever been in the past and we are able to reach out and connect with so more people than ever before. There are of course upsides to this, such as a heightened awareness of global issues, but the spread of misinformation and the dangers of echo chamber discussions to are very real. The downsides don’t necessarily outweigh the positives of increased connection to the world but they increase the risk of infection by Wetiko.

Side Note – since I started to plan out this post a number of things have happened in the real world around the whole issue of “fake news” on both sides of the pond. The growing Cambridge Analytica scandal, knowledge about the Russian Troll Factories and the massive Facebook data breach appears to have not only affected the American Presidential election but also the UK’s referendum on leaving the European Union. There are suggestions (dubious but still worrying) that the attempted assassination of Russian agent Sergei Skripal may also be connected. These are the tools of the Wetiko, but it does not serve us to try and cut our selves off because alternatives, such as the traditional media sources of newspaper and state approved news channels, are just as biased and in many ways more blinkered. Don’t delete your Facebook account just yet, but do proceed with caution.

Whist social media is no doubt a factor I am not sure all of our Wetiko woes can be placed at its door. It seems to me that mankind has become tastier somehow, that there has been some global change that has not only given Wetiko greater influence over us but made our energy far more effective a food source for it.One thing that has occurred to me that we have entered the Age of Aquarius (sometime in the last decade or so depending on how you reckon the beginning of astrological ages), a period there the hierarchical nature of the proceeding Age of Pisces is challenged and broken down in favour of a more individualised, spiritual understanding of how the world works. We are moving away from a society which prioritises identity and existence as a narrow either / or experience towards one which allows us to look within ourselves for identity and agency. Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, Me Too… these are all examples of this shift in action in society. Increasing awareness of complementary therapy, alternative spirituality, yoga, meditation etc are a couple of ways this shift has manifested in the spiritual realms.

Perhaps my thoughts are being influenced by the fact I have been watching SeaQuest DSV recently which, if you haven’t noticed, has a strong Aquarian Age tone to it. Talking dolphins and psychic abilities being incorporated into a number of settings are just just a couple find Aquarian themes that you can find in the show. They even make something of an oblique reference to Wetiko.

Season 2 Episode 4 (overall episode 28) “Sympathy for the Deep” -the crew is called to the peaceful underwater colony Miranda (pay attention Firefly fans) where the residents are being exposed to a psychological experiment gone wrong. The peaceful residents, and later crew, are driven to near insanity by hallucinations and changes in behaviours, brought about by an experiment which has spend the better part of a decade absorbing all the negative and violent impulses of the colonists. At capacity, the facility was in danger of critical failure which would have allowed the escape of all that violence and negativity, possibly in the form of a sentient, being which would have plunged the world back into global warfare.

Still, any form of transformation comes with risk. It is only natural for entrenched systems of power to resist change that threatens the primacy, leading to confrontation and conflict. Equally, as many of you will already know, greater spiritual awareness gets us noticed by the spirit realm and this brings its own problems. We not only need to look to our own defences but to our interactions and agency within the real and virtual world.

We are in the danger zone so to speak, the first formative years of 2000 years of transformation. There is a very long way to go but seeing there is considerable hope for the future when it is being forged by young people like the survivors and champions of the Marjory Douglas High School shootings.

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Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

  • Also Ostara pronounced  OH-star-ah
  • Also known as Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Vernal Equinox and Lady Day.

Dates

  • 19th – 21st March (Northern Hemisphere)
  • 20th – 23rd September (Southern Hemisphere)

Season

  • Spring

Zodiac Aspect

  • 0 degrees Aries

Themes

  • balance
  • renewal
  • action
  • beginnings
  • hope
  • new possibilities

 

Meanings

Spring Equinox is the first of the solar festivals in calendar, marking the point at which the hours of daylight and hours of darkness are equal in length. From this point onward the days will becoming progressively longer and (in theory) warmer as the solar cycle progresses towards the Summer Solstice.

For life on earth this is an important moment given that it marks the final passing of winter and the start of the growing season. The winter thaw begins in earnest, rivers swell and the emergence of new life into the form of green glass spring flowers and newborn animals of the field and forest is clearly in evidence. Gardens can be planted out and preparations made for the year ahead.

It is a pivotal point at which darkness and light stand equal and it is this fact that gives the festival it’s primary theme of balance. Weather becomes more changeable, chopping between winter and spring in equal measure. It’s other themes of new beginnings and fertility are also evident in the emergence of new life from the dark damp soils of winter. Contemplation on matters of balance and polarity are forefront, particularly as the God and Goddess grow further into their reborn power.

The Goddess, in her guise of the fertility Earth Maiden is filled with great potential, filled with anticipation of accepting the seed of the Sun God.  In some traditions it is during the Vernal Equinox that she becomes impregnated with his future incarnations to be born at the Winter Solstice / Yule. In other traditions she is preparing herself in readiness for the God to reach maturity at Beltane so they can participate in the Great Rite beside the bale-fire.

Ritual Ideas

The themes of the equinox are of renew and beginnings and nothing screams ‘new starts louder than spring cleaning. This isn’t just about throwing out the junk and hoardings we accumulated over the course of the year and throwing out the detritus of winter on a mundane level, it also applies to our spiritual home environment as well also pliers our own physical and spiritual self.

Household Purification “Ritual”

Step One

Clean your house from top to bottom. If you are wanting to do a mass de-clutter do this first and tackle the cleaning separately.  

If you can dry dust try and collect a little pile of dust and floor sweepings and put them to one side. If, like me, you can’t dry dust you can still get your floor sweepings for step four but use a magical wash such as 4 Thieves (link) on the relevant surfaces.

Step Two

Cleanse your house on a magical level. There are a couple of ways to achieve this, carrying a purification incense (NOT Sage!) from room to room or the old trick of chasing an onion or two around with your broom, getting in to every corner or your rooms in order to soak up the negative energy are two methods which will give you leavings for step four. This isn’t entirely necessary so also consider using the sound of a bell (link) or the LBRP for this purpose.

Step Three (optional)

You may also want to consider performing a personal cleansing ritual  again, and of course there are many types to choose from including egg cleansing (link). If you use a method that transfers and impurity or negativity from yourself to another object chose your method with care and retain the object in question for step four. Otherwise salt water washes in the shower are straight forward and effective with or without visualisation.

Step Four

Has anyone spotted the pattern yet? Yes, everything that I have described here is consistent with a standard Heketean Deipnon ritual in which the rubbish of mundane and spiritual life are offered to Hekate at a crossroads, or similarly liminal space, during the dark moon.

All of the processes described above belong to a wider western magical tradition so one does not need to perform them solely in the name of Hekate or only during the dark moon. If there are particular Gods and goddesses you wish to invoke at deposition you should feel free to do so.

In the case of this spring time purification I would recommend that you should offer the remnants of your mundane and magical household cleaning to the earth for transformation into new life and new beginnings. If the place your offer these items to is somewhere you know there will be growth later in the year so much the better, so long as it on the edge of or away from your property.

Step Five

As soon as you return home you will need to reestablish your household wards in whatever way you see fit. Long standing protections like charms and hidden items don’t necessarily need anything doing to them, unless it is your practice to maintain them at regular intervals, but wards and protections on an astral level should be immediately renewed and reinforced through any method you see fit.

Craft Idea

One thing I haven’t covered in my preamble is Ostara/Easter as a celebration. In part it is because the (miss)information that floats around around the this time of is extensive and a future post in its own right.

In short, there is of course a link between the Vernal Equinox and the Christian/Commercial celebration of Easter. You will be surrounded by all sorts of craft ideas and activities to do with rabbits, chicks and eggs and it is perfectly okay to get involved it these prepackaged activities.

For eggample, eggs are a perfect example of new beginnings and a great medium to work with across all ages. As ever it is not so much the activity but what you talk about whilst undertaking it which makes the magic.

  • Colouring sheets
  • Egg painting
  • Egg dying
  • Egg garlands

You don’t need to buy special kits for dying eggs, you can achieve the same results with things you find lying around your kitchen cupboards.

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Musings – Why I Blog

Everyone questions their motivation from time to time. Why do we participate in certain activities and platforms, or in my case why do I blog. So I sat back and thought about it for a bit and there are regular quite a few good reasons for me to be still blogging so many years down the line.

Personal Development as a Pagan

I spent a lot of my formative Pagan years as a solitary individual and other wasn’t until finding Facebook in 2008 that I became involved with paganism socially. 

Writing was always one way for me to work through my ideas and because of the slow pace I tend to work at it was also a good way for me to learn more about the things I was studying.

The same is still true now, the difference is that I am an no longer hoarding my musings on a USB but I am sharing them with a wider audience and getting feedback via the blog and social media. I am always happy to accept criticism (constructive at least) and I am open to new ideas, in fact the hope is that this blog becomes a vehicle through which the evolution of my thought and practice can be charted.

I also blog for the challenge. I am not above picking a subject outside of my comfort zone or one which is new to me in order to facilitate my personal growth as as a practitioner. It also allows me to challenge my understanding of the who, where’s and why’s of what I do on a praxis and spiritual basis and at times its lead to me realising that sometimes I am doing things I really shouldn’t, or the weird random bits of received practice I have actually have a basis in fact.

Personal Development as a Blogger

I’ve always enjoyed writing, despite my challenges. When I was a youngster I was the worst Mary Jane fan fiction writer possible but my grammar and spelling fears really stopped me from developing that beyond something to do on long journeys and when sat on the beach. Blogging now is a way of getting back to that, and it allows me your not only develop my writing skills but myself in all the ways outlined above.

There are things I want to improve though. I want to be taking more of my own photos, using better composition and perhaps better quality equipment. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to justify the purchase of a proper SRL camera but there are thinks I am wanting to try out, the biggest challenge is always planning the photos ahead of time.  I tend to spend more time writing and editing the text then when I come to post it I realise I haven’t even thought the images through properly.

I doubt I am ever going to get things as sharp and pretty as some Pagan and lifestyle bloggers but I do hope to start improving.

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Mental Health

Ultimately I find blogging a really good use of my spare time, and it helps me avoid falling into negative thought cycles when I am stuck waiting for the bus after work. I will admit it is a safe space / crutch, just like the ever present book or crochet project that I carry with me just in case. Yes it is a way of me shutting off from the long journey or large crowd, but it is a crutch that serve far more purposes than just getting me out of a funk.

Final Thoughts

So if I ever doubt my reasons for doing what I do I intend to just read through this list again. It’s been great to see my hit rates grow year or year, though I will never understand why my post on mirrors  (link) is so damn popular, and yes I do get a little glow when someone compliments my writing and passions.

But I’m not really doing it for the kudos, or the praise. I’m doing it because it benefits me as as a Pagan and a person in general, but if the peeps who drop in and read a popular article or two it is an extra added bonus.

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Protecting The Libary

I don’t have the largest occult book collection in all of Seacroft,  I think that distinction falls to my friend a few streets over, but I do have a lot of books. It drives my other half crazy because I am constantly having to find new storage solutions for the ever expanding book collection… or should I say he is.

Part of the reason for this is my need to re-refer to books further down the line thanks to my poor / low working memory which is a feature of my dyslexia. I was identified quite late in life, and had sufficient coping strategies established meaning that I have never really been supported in this, one of these being to never relinquish a book with useful and interesting information.

The other reason is that I rarely, if ever, lend out my occult books. I will show people my books so they can peruse them, and if someone was desperate to do some research out of a book I own I would probably facilitate it by having them come over or meeting up somewhere, but I don’t lend them out.

Books are expensive, even if I manage to obtain a book on the cheap it is still valuable and expensive to replace so whilst I am happy to function as a research library I am not about to turn myself into a lending library.

Once upon a time….

The realisation that books are expensive is hardly a new one, and it is a realisation that has plagued bibliophiles for thousands of years. How did the Library of Alexandria obtain the largest collection of scrolls and manuscripts? By demanding any boat docking in port to hand them over so that the library could ‘take copies for themselves, which should be better read the owner was more often given the knock off and the original safely stored in the library. I doubt those original owners were best pleased.

Medieval collectors were equally concerned about who had their precious books. Books at this time were laboriously copied by hand, often by monks or clerks, and we’re cost prohibitive  even amongst those groups and classes who had the opportunity to achieve literacy. A well read man was someone who owned perhaps a book or two, or had access to the library of some noble or clergyman. Security measures such as locks and chains were employed in many renaissance libraries to deter would be book thief’s from taking anything that didn’t belong to them.

But how did the individual protect their precious materials? Through the use of elaborate book curses of course.

As one might expect these curses often invoke the name of God and his Heavenly host to protect the book and punishes it’s theft. Such invocations would have been considered legitimate apotropaic declarations as opposed to any form of Witchcraft but as history has shown the line between the two is often blurred and indistinct.

That being said there are those that fail to invoke any form of heavenly title and seem to function as warnings of dire consequence. Lines such as;

May the sword of anathema slay

If anyone steals this book away. 

Si quis furetur,

Anathematis ense necetur.

It could be argued that the sword mentioned is a reference to the sword of God in the form of a rhyming couplet but then again it could be a threat of actual bodily harm by the owner towards the thief. I wouldn’t like to argue that one in a court of law.

…. and so it is today…

I am not going to accuse Pagans of being light fingered when it comes to the borrowing of books, we’re probably no worse than any other section of society, but we do have a problem with plagiarism and copyright theft.

The concept that knowledge is free is all well and good but pulling that knowledge together into a book and getting it published and produced is still a costly process even today. The cost may not be broken down into the material costs for each book as before but it is the time, energy (food and electricity) and costs associated with research.

It takes an awful lot for authors to get rich. The JK Rowling’s of the world are few and far between, and most pagan authors I know aren’t about to break the bank with their royalty cheques.  Therefore it can be heartbreaking to any author to find their labour of love being effectively stolen and given away for free on the Internet in PDF format.

There are perfectly legitimate ways to get your hands on free books and articles. The books available may not be the most recent publications, or they may be self published works of… questionable quality, but they are there for free. Amazon regularly cycles through books and if you sign up to websites like dailyfreebooks.com which regularly updated themselves with the latest offers you can keep in touch with all that is available. There are also wonderful resources such as Academia.edu which is still currently a free resource for all sorts of scholarly articles. In these cases the authors have either self published through Amazon and elected to participate in the occasional ‘free for’ listing, authors have waived their rights under creative commons or the work in question is no longer within copyright.

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© Vicky Newton

Sadly however there are a large number of social media groups and websites which host ebooks and pdf’s which are still clearly in copyright, which constitutes the author’s lifetime plus 70+ years. Whilst there are ways for authors to tackle this, such as through cease and desist notifications and DCMA‘s not all authors have the financial clout or knowledge about their rights and the tools available to enact them. There are groups out there that provide information and moral support to authors out there, such as the Facebook group Pagans Against Plagiarism. PAP’s members often get a bad rap, usually  because the group will highlight groups and websites to authors and publishers so they can exercise their right to protect their work, as well as providing information and support on how to do it. Members range from authors and publishers to artists and independent bloggers like myself and their only concern is protecting their rights as a creator. If by doing that they are infringing on the perceived rights of pirates and thieves well boo-hoo.

There are no organised campaigns or vendettas and the individual is responsible for any decision to speak up on behalf of anyone other than themselves in an offending group. Such confrontation rarely ends well and it is often best to notify the affected people / organisations and allow them to take direct action themselves as copyright holder, because they are the only people who are able to take such action.

But we are Witches, and we also have other means at our disposal. The practice of protecting ones books by magical means has never really gone away and many people creating their first Book of Shadows include a dedication a line or two invoking the protection of deity, if not just casting a spell to protect it against theft and prying eyes out right.

I am aware of a number of authors, bloggers and artists who overtly, and covertly, protect their work with curses and spells. It may seem counter intuitive that it is possible to protect a work which might be published in a variety of formats many times over but if you understand the basic mechanics of Witchcraft you will realise there are a number of ways to achieve it.

Whilst there is much to be said about keeping silent on ones methods there is no harm in being direct from time to time, hence the copyright notice to be found at the right hand side of my blog. This isn’t my only method, but rather than blab the specifics allow me to utter a dire warning – one inspired by one of the curses mentioned in the blog that inspired this post.

May whoever steals or alienates this work, or mutilates it, be cut off from the body of the Craft and held as a thing accursed. So mote it be.

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