Monday, August 8, 2011

Oh Dear Goddess, Make Me a Better Witch...

After my rant yesterday & in the name of becoming a more critical-thinking witch, I thought it best to provide some framework for abandoning rules. 

Sounds like a list of rules, huh? 

Actually, it is a list of questions:

Will ___________________________ make me a better person?

Will ___________________________ make me a better witch?

Will ___________________________ help me connect with _______?

Will ___________________________ help my spell work?

Does __________________________ improve my life or the lives of others?

Some examples to fill in the blanks:

  • An athame/wand/cauldron/etc.
  • Community Ritual
  • The latest book (omg...take away my credit card!)
  • Wearing black/hippie skirts/pointy hats, whatever
  • Reading blogs
  • Working in the garden
  • That awesome stone
  • A new tarot deck (another great weakness, right behind books)
  • A class at the witch shop (oh, why must I ask these questions?)
  • A class at the local college
  • Running naked in the forest (ok, of course it would make me a better person!)
  • Going to the beach (uhm, duh.)
  • Celebrating a sabbat
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • That blueberry muffin
  • That sip of Absinthe 
You get the point.  We have choices.  Choices guide our lives.  Make your own choices.  Make them wisely.

And Remember:

Do not believe everything you think.
Do not believe everything you are told.
Do not believe everything you read.
Do not believe everything on the internet.

Use wisdom & discernment. Do not drink the Koolaid

Wild & Bright Blessings,


Critical Thinkers ROCK!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Witch Enough

I'm done being a lemming.  I felt such joy in witchcraft before I found out about all the RULES about being a real witch.  I thought I found a religion & practice where I could shine as my true self. 

Today I'm throwing out the rules.  I will no longer follow the Official Guide to Being a Witch.  Oh, dear Goddess, here comes the high priestess to tell me I'm not a real witch, but just a fluffy bunny.

Why did I just spend 3 hours standing in a circle (inside a New Age shop) with a bunch of people I don't really like celebrating the first harvest while my garden wilts under the Florida sun?  Isn't the Wheel of the Year about connecting with natural cycles?

I did it because that's what real witches do.  We dress in black.  We collect expensive tools.  We buy stuff.  We build elaborate altars.  We join hands (even with people we don't trust).  We say just the right thing.  To just the right deity.  We celebrate the right thing at the right time.  We aspire to become the High Priestess almighty standing in the middle of the circle collecting energy.  We follow the rules.

Wait just a minute.  That was such bullshit!  I've never followed the rules for very long.

My witchcraft was much more connected & powerful when I didn't know all these rules.  I practiced solitary ritual weekly.  I connected with deity daily.  I used my body as my tools.  I dug in the earth.  I opened my heart.  I made things happen in accordance with my will.  I taught others.  I inspired others.  I was a witchy role model. 

So what happened? How did I become a lemming?  Should I never have tried to learn all the rules?

There really is great value in learning about the ins & outs of ceremonial witchcraft.  Witches need to know the rules.  The rules help us have a point of community & a basis for conversation. Rules are like scaffolding.  The scaffolding is necessary until the structure is solid.

Rules are training wheels.  They help us keep balance when we don't quite have the strength & coordination to keep ourselves from falling.

But at some point the scaffolding becomes redundant.  The training wheels need to come off.  We have to ride the bike & risk falling.

We begin to make decisions about risk & reward, finding our own boundaries.  Which rules are right for us?  Which rules are oppressive?

For some, fundamentalism is a comfort.  The rules of ritual bring them safety & therefore allow larger exploration.

Others need to color outside the lines.  We need to be free.  We learn best from our own experience.  We are the ones on the edge.  With strict rules & boundaries we wither.

I loved connecting with the Wheel of the Year as a new witch.  I felt excited to be celebrating holidays so often.  The Wheel introduced me to cycles of nature.  It brought ceremony & celebration to a life muted by technology & disconnection.  The Wheel was my trainer. 

But my broom will not fly with training wheels.  They are too heavy.

So I'm creating my own customs.  My own celebrations.  I'm going back to my beginning.

Nature made me a witch.  It is Nature I follow.

I don't care if I'm a real witch. Standing in my garden I'm witch enough.

Wild & Bright Blessings,


Oh, & P.S. Follow your bliss!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spiritual & Medicinal Herbalism

Over the past 2 years, I've been studying Western Herbalism & have recently finished my Family Herbalism Certification.  Now, I move on to Community Herbalism & clinical practice.  
All of this study, practice & research has led me to a theory:
There is little difference today between the practice of medicine & the practice of folk healer or shaman:

Begins study in teen years & maintains professional knowledge through continuing education
Recognized by early teens & apprenticed/studied since that time; modifies practice based on experience & further study
Prescribes medications & behavior modification for healing
Prescribes medicinal/magical herbs & behavior modification for healing
Uses ritual to establish authority during healing process
Uses ritual to establish authority during healing process
Bases decisions on tests & intuition
Bases decisions on tests & intuition
Knowledge is based on experimental data & tradition that is tested for validity
Knowledge is based on experimental data & tradition that is tested for validity
Has varied success rates
Has varied success rates
Treatment carries risks
Treatment carries risks
All patients eventually die
All patients eventually die

Now, obviously, there are GREAT differences in the way these healers think.  Those immersed in conventional Western medicine are rooted in science, where traditional healers are rooted in mystery.  

Wise men & women of the past & present were & are very connected to the land.   

Most of our modern medicines have their roots in the practices of these respected healers, but have completely abandoned the mystery & spirit of the land from which their practices are rooted.

Most of us have been living immersed in the idea that these experts are responsible for health.  We have forgotten that 80% of the time, our bodies will heal themselves if we just support them & get out of the way.

We have been so disconnected from our own bodies & nature that we have developed a collective amnesia.  We have forgotten how to commune with nature, how to recognize healing & nourishing plants.   

Even we, who call ourselves Witches, tend to rely on the study, experience & advice of others rather than our own intuition & experience. 

So, what are we to do?

It is time we reconnect!

The best way to know nature is to spend time with her.   

Plants have spirits, unique energy.  They WANT to connect with us.  Our genes are programmed to connect with them.  Together, we can heal.

It is high time that we, witches, women & men of the Earth, start chatting up our plant allies.

If the thought of having a chat with a daisy makes you feel silly, think of this:

Plants and people, actually all living beings, have, at the very core of their being, within their very DNA, particles of light that can become coherent.  These particles of light are called biophotons.  Biophotons are ultra weak light rays, that do not break apart, but maintain a beam of light that radiates out & interacts with other biophoton rays in the surrounding environment. The theory, presented by Fitz Popp, German biophysicist, is that this light carries with it a certain intelligence that is the foundation for communication between living things.   So, when you’re with plants, animals, basically any living being, you ARE communicating!  Biophotons are only one method of communication.  We also know that everything carries with it a vibration from the movement of atoms & sub-atomic particles. 

Using these principles, it is pretty easy imagine our communication with any living being.

But, even if we acknowledge the possibility of communicating with flora & fauna, we are also conditioned by our upbringing & society to classify everything using a system of hierarchy. 

Typical Western Hierarchy:
Other Humans Like Us
Other Humans Unlike Us
Mammals (divided into edible & non-edible animals or predator & prey, etc.)
Avian Creatures
Sea Creatures (also divided)
Reptilian/Amphibian Creatures
Bacteria & Fungi & Viruses

One of the biggest impediments to our communication with plants, animals & even other humans is this notion of hierarchy.  

As soon as we start to classify one person or life form as being greater than another, we begin to distance ourselves from that living being. 

In order to open ourselves to the wonders of the world, we need to abandon our ideas of hierarchy & think less of food chains & higher levels of evolutionary development & begin to think In terms of the interconnectedness of all, the web of life.

So, it's time to reconnect, how do we go about it?

A Few Activities to Connect with Nature

      Take a walk in nature
      Grow plants
      Visit a local nursery
      Taste fresh herbs
      Head to a botanical garden
      Meditate in a garden
      Take a Wild Weed Walk

Connecting With a Particular Plant

       Abandon Hierarchy – remember we live in a Web, all connected
·         Spend Time & fully connect (lay directly on the ground)
·         Maintain skepticism, but suspend disbelief
·         Use all your senses
·         Consider the automatic connection that occurs with respiration –                   oxygen/carbon dioxide
·         Be aware of the tendency to anthropomorphize – useful to a point
·         Notice & Identify your feelings using feeling words
·         Observe aerial view of the habitat –  a clue to plant’s properties

Partial Sun/Shade


           Use a 10x magnifying glass to observe the details
·         Touch
·         Taste
·         Smell – most stimulating to memory (genetic memory also)
·         Observe throughout cycles (day/night, seasons)
·         Communicate
o   Meditation works nicely at first
o   Verbal communication isn’t usually effective unless you are a "natural" plant communicator
o   Use light, breath, sound, care, offerings
·         When you get bored, stay! Only then will you open to the next level
·         Record your experiences
o   Journal your feelings & findings
o   Photographs
·         Return & Repeat

If you continue these exercises & those that come to you from your intuition, you will soon find plants calling to you in your dreams...honor them, look them up.  You may be amazed at how accurate plant dreams become once you deeply connect with these allies!

Wild & Bright Blessings,