It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I’m not referring to Christmas. For me and many others, the “most wonderful time of the year” is the Fall, when the leaves begin to change color, the scents of pumpkin and cinnamon fill the air, acorns are falling from oak trees, and the sound of owls hooting in the night fills us all with a sense of mystery and wonder. This is my favorite time of year, when everywhere you look, there are pumpkins and scarecrows decorating lawns and front porches, cafes and restaurants are selling pumpkin spice lattes and all manner of other fall treats. I love it. If it stayed this way year-round, I would be perfectly happy. Dark and cloudy skies, with a bit of wind and rain is what some of our friends affectionately call “Potter Weather”. To me, it is the kind of weather I love best.

We have started decorating our home, this year we have some new items to put out. We have a collection of vintage Halloween decorations that we started buying months ago. This old-world vintage style fits our home décor theme very nicely, and these little things are so creative and magical. These are the only kind of Halloween decorations we buy anymore. Of course, we magickal folk normally refer to this holiday as Samhain, but we enjoy the muggle Halloween as well. Here are some of our new decorations…

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A few weeks ago, we visited Columcille Meglith Park. It is a magickal place, a park rooted in Celtic Spirituality, with standing stones, nature trails and many places to meditate and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. If you’re ever in the Eastern Pennsylvania area, I highly recommend it. Below are a couple of photos from our recent visit.

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As it usually happens this time of year, my personal magickal work turns inward, and I enter a time of introspection. My deities and spirit guides are encouraging me to make a few changes, in the way I present myself to others and in the services I offer to the community. One of these changes is to develop a way to share the magickal tradition I developed (Blackthorn), with a greater number of people. I am looking into setting up some kind of correspondence course for non-local folks to learn the Blackthorn Magickal Tradition for themselves. One can only learn so much via correspondence, it is not the same as working with a teacher in person, so I’m still working out the logistics of this process. It may be that only 1st Degree can be via correspondence and those who wish to become a 2nd and 3rd Degree Blackthorn Witch will have to meet with me in person from time to time. In the coming weeks, I will be developing a website specifically for Blackthorn.

My musical tastes seem to shift in the Fall as well. There are some artists I listen to year-round, such as Llewellyn and Juliana, (as I have such a strong connection to their music), but in the Fall I start listening to music with a somewhat ‘darker’ tone. Artists like Autumn’s Grey Solace and Tearwave have a mystical, melancholic sound that I really enjoy, and I listen to them more often during the Fall/Winter months. I have purchased much of their music.

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In just a few days from now, we will return to the Wizarding World, and we’ll be there for four days. We go every October, and it is always a chance for us to “recharge our batteries”, so to speak, and I always return home inspired and renewed. It is a home away from home for us. The expansion to the Wizarding World is due to open in June 2014, and although I’ve seen pics of it’s progress, it will be interesting to see it in person. This will be our 5th visit to the Wizarding World since it opened.

Shortly after we return from our trip, the coven I belong to will host it’s first public event for Samhain. For more info, see the Upcoming Events link at the top!

In November I will begin writing my next book, Walking a Magick Path, which I hope to have ready by Spring 2014.

Til next time…

Lumos & Blessed Be.

Four Keys to Effective Spell Casting

cauldron1 copyWhile it is true that the spell itself can be highly individualized, there are certain components that must be in place if you want your spell to work. The absence of just one of these components can short-circuit your magickal working before it has even started. First of all, what is a Spell?

What witches refer to as a “spell” is a magickal working designed to bring about some sort of change, to bring something into existence that did not exist before, or to remove something that is causing harm. This practice is often referred to as Magick. As Witches, we cast spells not only for ourselves, but also to bring healing to our communities and loved ones, and to help bring solutions to various circumstances we face in day-to-day life. There are many intricacies involved in spell-casting, and I will save that for a future article. For now, I would like to focus on the four main ingredients that are necessary for all successful spellcasters. I will also share a few things that can sabotage your spell. At the end of this article, I have recommended a few excellent books for those who wish to learn more about the art of spell-casting.

Shall we begin?

1. Before you begin your spell, the first thing you must do is alter your consciousness. By using meditative techniques such as controlled-breathing and visualization, you can change your brain wave function until it reaches a state known as “Alpha”. Alpha is a state in which you are relaxed, yet still aware, but in a sort of ’daydream’ state. While in the Alpha state, you are more connected to the unseen realms, and you are better able to both give and receive psychic information. Since your connection to the astral realms is deepened by the Alpha state, it will be easier for you to effect change within those realms. The expression “As Above, So Below” illustrates this connection. Before something can manifest on a physical level (below), it must be first be present on an astral level (above). Your spell is the catalyst that places it there. You can alter your consciousness in other ways, such as drumming, chanting and burning incense.

2. Next, you must have a clear intention for your spell. Know exactly what you want, and focus on that specifically. Visualization will help with this a great deal. If you can visualize, your magick will work better. It is important to focus on the outcome of your spell and not on how it manifests. For example, when I moved to Pennsylvania, I needed a car desperately. We went to several car lots and looked around before buying. My intention was to get a used car that would be primarily for transportation to/from work, and I would apply for a car loan. I was a little concerned because my credit at the time was not that great, and I had been turned down for car loans before. In one lot, we found a purple car that I really liked, it didn’t have many issues to be concerned about, and I decided that’s the one I wanted. During the next week, I cast a spell to get this car and spent many hours visualizing myself behind the wheel, turning on the ignition, driving the car, my hands on the steering wheel, listening to the radio, talking to friends in the car with me, etc. I lived my life as though the car was already mine. It is important to include as many details as you can in your visualizations. Try to involve all of your senses: especially touch, sight, smell and hearing. Make it as real as you can make it in your mind’s eye. When we went to get the car, my loan was approved, and everything I visualized came to pass. Whatever your spell is for, you must be clear in your intention. If you need money to pay the phone bill, and you cast a spell for abundance, you may end up with an abundance of spoons or cockroaches. You cast a spell for abundance, after all, and that is what you got. Magick takes the path of least resistance, and you were not clear in your intention. Abundance and prosperity are not quite the same thing. It would have been better instead to cast your spell for the amount needed to pay the bill, with visualizations of receiving the stamped check or the statement showing the bill has been paid. If you cast a spell to get a new job, but you haven’t decided what kind of job you want, then you will get many offers that may not be to your liking. Clear intention is the key.

3. The next important component of successful spellwork is a strong will. It must be something you really truly want and not having it is unacceptable. If so, then you will be emotionally invested in it. It must be firmly rooted within you that you want this in your life, and you won’t give up until it is. An assertive mindset is like a magnet that draws things to you. Using affirmations is a big help. Saying things like, “I now have all the money and resources I need”….”I am now working at my new job at…”, “Here I am, driving my new car” will help to affect these changes on an astral level. If you believe it, the Universe will conspire to make it so. When you’re ready to cast your spell and you have a clear intention and a strong will, everything goes into high gear.

4. Lastly, you must have an effective means of raising and directing energy. There are many ways to do this. Some write an incantation or chant that they repeat over and over. Some like to dance around the altar in a circle. Others beat a drum and sing, while others like to burn magickal herbs and written spells, releasing them out into the Universe to manifest their goals.

Raising energy in an Alpha state while visualizing the manifested outcome, with a clear intention and a strong will, and then releasing that energy out into the Universe, is the most powerful combination of elements required for effective spellwork. (There are other things that can add energy and power to your spells. See the recommended reading list at the bottom of this article.)

Spell Sabotage

There are things that can wreck your spell, so it is important to keep these in mind.

* Energy was not raised or dispersed properly.

*You really don’t believe it will work.

*Your intention is unclear.

*You’re talking about the spell you cast with other people. Say nothing about your spell with anyone until it has manifested into physical reality. Negativity from others can damage your magickal working, so keep silent about it.

*Your will is passive. The outcome wasn’t really that important to you.

*Lack of real-world follow up.

*Your correspondences (herbs, crystals, moon phase, etc) are scattered. In other words, they have no magickal link to the outcome.

*Mercury Retrograde.

*When you cast your spell, you were pre-occupied, distracted or in a hurry.

*Your spell is violating the free will of another person.

Recommended Reading for Spell-Casters

Energy Essentials For Witches & Spellcasters, by Myo Om

Spellcaster: Seven Ways To Effective Magic, Edited by Elen Hawke & Martin White

The Outer Temple of Witchcraft: Circles, Spells and Rituals, by Christopher Penczak

True Magick, by Amber K

Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic, by Phyllis Curott

Exploring Spellcraft: How To Create and Cast Effective Spells, by Gerina Dunwich

Return to Salem

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

We had been to Salem, Massachusetts before, but that was over five years ago. During that first visit, we were walking along one street and I had a déjà vu experience. It seemed like I had been there before. Everything seemed so familiar. I then recalled a memory from childhood, when I was visualizing myself in Salem, Massachusetts, and suddenly realized that everything around me on that Salem street had appeared in that visualization so many years ago. The bank, the houses, the neighborhood, the trees, even the people walking past: I had seen it all before. For a few moments, time stood still. I had a strong sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment in time. It was a special occasion for me, not only because of this, but also because we met Laurie Cabot in person. We had just left a movie theatre after seeing a Harry Potter film, and she was walking right beside us. We chatted with her for a few moments, and she allowed us to take a photo with her (which you can see on the Glimpses page).

Since that first visit, some of our friends have moved to Salem. A few work in shops, or have opened their own. I was anxious to return, and a couple of weeks ago, we did. Visiting Salem always feels somewhat like a pilgrimage, making the long journey to this place where Witchcraft was once demonized and condemned, but is now celebrated proudly and openly. Salem itself is relatively small, you probably could see everything in a weekend. There are lots of quaint bed-and-breakfast accommodations located throughout Salem, but try to book as early as you can since these often fill up fast, especially during the Fall months. Many are within walking distance of Salem attractions. There is a parking garage near Pickering Wharf that was only 25 cents an hour! I’m not sure if it’s like that year-round. The town of Danvers (about a 15 minute drive from Salem) has some less-expensive hotels if you can’t find anything compatible with your budget in Salem.

There are many Witchcraft shops, excellent museums and great places for food. Nearby Danvers also has some historical spots connected to the Witch Trials. The shops in Salem are amazing, most carry magickal items made by the shop owners or other Salem witches. Anything you could possibly need for your spells and rituals. If you are a Witch, you probably make a lot of your own magickal items yourself, (or maybe you don’t), and I saw many things that I already make on my own. But, I also found several unique, hard-to-find items. Some people like things that are made by prominent Salem Witches such as Laurie Cabot (Enchanted), Christian Day ( HEX: Old World Witchery), or Gypsy Ravish (Nu Aeon). Other shops to check out are New England Magick, OMEN, Artemisia Botanicals, Magika and Crow Haven Corner.

Other fun, educational spots are the Salem Witch Museum, the House of Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial (see photos below), and the Witch History Museum. These are just a few places to see, there are many more. You can witness a live re-enactment of the Witch Trials, visit wax museums, and for those interested in the paranormal, there are ‘ghost hunts’ and ‘ghost walks’ galore. There are also a few spots for pirate enthusiasts. Salem has become a bit tourist-y, but at the heart of it all is the history and magick of the Witch. No matter how the local government tries to change the image of the town (or so I‘ve heard), Salem will always be about Witchcraft.

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For those interested in Harry Potter, Remember Salem and Wynott’s Wand Shoppe are popular Potter hang-outs. The handsome owner of these wizarding establishments happens to be a friend of mine. (You might even see my books on the shelves, and don’t forget to pick up some Butterbeer to take home!).

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a definite must-see. The memorial is built inside an enclosed courtyard, with stone benches around the perimeter that are engraved with names of the accused witches who were hanged in Salem in 1692. The energy at the memorial site is very solemn and melancholic. Each bench includes the name, date and method of execution for each accused witch. The site is intended to be not just a memorial, but a call for tolerance. Most historians believe it very unlikely that any of those who were hanged were real witches, but it is possible that a few of them did practice the magickal arts. The memorial is situated right next to a very old cemetery with tombstones dating back to the 1600’s. Some of them are so old that trees have grown around them, others are barely visible under decades of heavy overgrowth. Many have a ‘skull and crossbones’ emblem on them, very gothic looking.

During our visit to Salem, I was fervently hoping to find some Blackthorn wood, either as a wand, bits of wood or thorns. Noone had them, and when I asked about it, most had no idea what I was talking about. Surely, witches are familiar with Blackthorn? One shop owner told me it was “illegal in the U. S. or else we would have it”. I really don’t think this is true. I see people on Etsy who make wands from Blackthorn wood, or they sell the actual thorns, but I have noticed most of them live in the U. K. where Blackthorn is more prevalent. Many Irish import shops have Shillelaghs ( a sort of staff) made from Blackthorn wood, so I don‘t believe it is “illegal“.

On our last night in Salem (for this trip at least), we went to the tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel to meet with our friends for food, drinks and socializing. It was great to see them again. Many of our friends who live in Salem are those we met through Harry Potter, and have become an extended family to us. They are always encouraging us to move to Salem, and as much as I would love to, it is just not feasible right now. We have so many ties here in Bethlehem PA. And, winters in New England are horrendous at times, with several feet of snow, power outages, etc. Winters can be bad here in Pennsylvania too but it is much worse the farther north one goes. I’m still not used to winter driving where we live now. I also realize that as fun as Salem can be, it is fairly small. I was told that a person doesn’t realize how small Salem is until they are living there, and I can totally see that. When you see the same places every day, I can understand how it might get old after a while. On the other hand, Bethlehem PA can get pretty boring at times, too, but I believe that if our surroundings aren’t stimulating enough for us, then we can make our own fun. If there is “nothing to do“, then you can create something to do. I once heard a phrase, “You’re Not Bored, You’re Just Boring”, and I think there’s an element of truth to that. I think it would be a long time before I became bored with Salem, Massachusetts. I have always fantasized of opening a private school for aspiring witches in Salem, Massachusetts. I have it all figured out in my head, and it would be awesome. Ah, wishful thinking.

Another fun spot in Salem is the “Bewitched” statue. It is a life-sized bronze statue of Samantha Stevens sitting astride her broom, with a crescent moon behind her. The statue was donated to Salem by the TV Land network several years ago.

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For those interested in learning more about the Salem Witch Trials, there is an excellent video available from the History Channel. It is required viewing for all my private students, and you can get it from Amazon at this link. While you’re at it, check out my newly-released tarot/oracle journal, “The Noble Art of Divination: A Journal for Tarot & Oracle Decks”.

Til next time…

The Magickal Music of Llewellyn and Juliana

lanj2When I first discovered the music of New Age artists Llewellyn and Juliana over 10 years ago, I was living in San Francisco. I had walked into a shop that sold decorative items from different countries, including a large assortment of New Age and metaphysical items. While browsing the store, I wandered into a side room and found one of those music displays that allow you to listen to short samples from various CD’s. Among them was Moonlore from Llewellyn and Juliana. I put on the headphones to listen, and was immediately spellbound. From that moment, Moonlore became my most favorite CD of all, and remains so to this day. The entire recording is pure magick. When I heard it for the first time, I felt such an intense connection to this music, and a feeling of kinship. It seemed to have made contact with my inner magickal self. I purchased it that day, and since that time have given several copies as gifts for friends and students. I now own over 30 Llewellyn and Juliana recordings, but Moonlore will always be my favorite. There are many magickal recordings to choose from. Sacred Circles, Moon Spells, Walking With Merlyn and Mysts of Avalon are all wonderful. Celtic Legend and Faerielore are both amazing.

landj1Llewellyn and Juliana have won several awards for their recordings, and have sold over a million albums. Magickal energy certainly flows through all of their music. Both are very talented singers and musicians, and both are healing practitioners. For some special recordings, they worked closely with other healing practitioners to produce music for those who do healing work with Crystals, Aromatherapy, Massage, Color Healing and Reiki. There are a number of Reiki recordings to choose from. Reiki Gold in particular, recently went platinum and is used by Reiki practitioners worldwide. They have also recorded music for those who practice Shiatsu, Pilates and Tai Chi. I personally have used their music in countless public rituals and meditation classes.

A few years ago, they formed their own music label, Paradise Music, which offers selections from other talented artists. Not only music, but various teaching or ’workshop’ CD’s, which helps the listener learn about everything from Auras to Shamanism. (I personally love the Magick workshops by Cassandra Eason).

Digital downloads are available for many selections through Spotify, iTunes and Amazon, but I prefer an actual CD that I can hold in my hand. I enjoy the artwork and printed lyrics, etc. (It seems everything is going digital these days, and yes, it is simpler and faster to just download something, but I guess I’m an bit old-fashioned).

Visit their websites below, and listen to samples of their music, along with the artists on Paradise Music. I’m sure you will find many things you love!

Llewellyn and Juliana

Paradise Music

Magickal Earth

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Catching Up

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

 

It’s been a month since I last posted in this blog, but my time has been rather occupied. A few weeks ago, I somehow contracted a skin infection, with some swelling and poison oak on my neck, face and legs. My blood pressure was dangerously high, and I really did not feel well at all. It was quite uncomfortable, requiring three visits to the doctor, time off work, numerous medications, and continous self-Reiki treatments. One of the medications was Prednisone, a steroid. Although effective, it made me feel very strange, and I hope to never use that one again. Thankfully, I am back to normal now, even my labwork all came back normal, cholesterol and everything, which I was a little concerned about. I just turned 49, so health and fitness is more of a priority than it used to be. I’m still a tad overweight, but I’ve been losing pounds slowly, so I’m hoping the changes I’ve made to my eating habits will help me lose even more before the Fall.

My laptop is currently in the shop for repair. I had left it on when I ran to the store, and when I came back the screen was frozen. Nothing was working, so I had to ‘force’ it off. When I turned it back on, the screen would not come back up. I could hear the motors running, but no screen. They called today to tell me they have found the problem, but must order a part, and I will have my laptop back by the weekend. I am currently using my partner’s.

2013cover-indexI have started collecting back issues of The Witches Almanac. These little books are a treasure, filled with interesting articles about Witchcraft, Herbal Lore, Mythology and Folk Magick. In addition, there are spells, poetry, recipes and current moon phase information. Each issue is illustrated throughout with medieval and old world magickal artwork. Many of the older issues are out-of-print (it has been in publication for over 40 years), but I want to try and collect as many of them as possible. Regrettably, I didn’t buy them on a regular basis over the years, mainly because my visits to the bookstore were to look for something else, so I’ve missed quite a few issues.

We have a few trips coming up in the near future. In August, we return to Salem, Massachusetts for a few days. We’ve been there before, but since that time several of our friends have moved there, and new shops have opened that I’ve been very anxious to visit. In September, we go back to Gettysburg, PA for a weekend visit. Gettysburg has become quite a hotspot for ghost-hunters and paranormal investigators. There are many interesting activities to participate in, and one hotel in particular hosts late-night seances that are open to the public.  In October, we make our yearly visit to the Wizarding World. I am anxious to see the progress of the new expansion, due to open in 2014. At some point this year, we want to visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire again, which is incredibly pagan-friendly and always lots of fun.

I did manage to obtain a few Yarrow plants, for meditation and pathworking. One is in our patio garden right now, the other is in the cauldron on my altar. Yarrow has many magickal properties, and I have felt very drawn to it the past couple of years. It is used to increase psychic abilities, instill courage, strengthen the aura and many other things. I will be using it as much as I can, either as a live plant or dried herb.

We are preparing for Lughnasadh, a witch/wiccan holiday that takes place on August 1st, in honor of the Celtic god Lugh, The Many-Skilled One. At Lughnasadh rituals, I usually ask people to bring something to share that they have created, whether it be artwork, a song, a poem, a dance, something they have made, or anything that displays their creative skills and talents. We then offer these gifts to our deities, so that they may strengthen them or inspire us with new ways to use them.

Once I have my laptop back, I will be able to post more often. Until then…

Waterfalls and Dragonflies

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

 

I am sitting at my very cluttered desk, drinking a hazelnut latte and hoping to get alot accomplished today. This is the first day in a while that I’ve been able to stay at home, with nowhere I need to be at any certain time. I’m not a person who “sleeps in”, even on my days off I’m still out of bed by 6:30 am. Summer started with a bang, and even the days leading up to it have been rather busy. I will enjoy being home today.

riktarotA few weeks ago, we were at ARTIFEST, a local annual event that celebrates creativity and diversity from many cultures. Myself and a friend were doing tarot readings, and my partner Matt was selling his handmade pendants. We were in the Renaissance Village section, which was a bit small, but still had it’s own unique magickal energy. It was a very warm day, and our tent was a bit sweltering at times, but we still had fun. There were belly dancers, fire eaters, Irish step dancers, and people in nearby tents selling handmade tunics, gypsy jewelry, leather belts and such. We were there the whole weekend, and though Saturday was a bit slow due to the poor weather, Sunday was great and we did fairly well. Whenever I do public tarot readings, I always feel a slight tinge of nervousness. My spirit guides tell me “Don’t worry, just jump in and do it, read what you see”. It seems at times that the cards themselves are teaching me how to read them. At one point while we were chatting during a break, a dragonfly entered our tent. It was flying around us, and then suddenly landed on one of the cards from the oracle decks I use. It remained there a few moments, and then just as quickly flew out of our tent. Out of curiosity, I turned over the card to see what it was. Familiar Spirit. The Dragonfly has appeared to me in the past, but I never considered it one of my personal familiars. Lately, however, I have been seeing them everywhere and they seem to be following me. So, I will be studying the magickal significance of the Dragonfly, and what it might mean for me on a personal level. We enjoyed ARTIFEST, and will likely do this event again next year.

We recently visited Bushkill Falls, a large wooded area with several natural waterfalls, hiking trails and lots of beautiful scenery. There are trails for every level of hiker, from beginner to advanced, and we usually walk the “Red Trail”, which is the longest and most difficult. It’s a 2-mile trail, which isn’t really that long, but it covers steep hills, narrow paths, lots and lots of steps, and takes you right next to the waterfalls. I did manage to take a few photos.

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I am still on the hunt for the ever-elusive Yarrow plant. The local plant stores don’t carry it, and even though it grows in abundance here, it always seems to be in a spot that is not easy for me to get to. For example, where I live it grows alongside busy roads and highways where it is quite difficult to pull over, or in a field on someone’s private property. I’d like to pull a few of them and bring them home where I can plant them, and use them in meditation and spellwork. I shall continue my search. I may end up traipsing through a field somewhere.

1012346_195385440620030_23129754_nSummer is finally here, and we celebrated the holiday with our group, The Moonlit Grove. This one was extra special, as it was not only the Summer Solstice (or Midsummer/Litha, as some call it), there was also a Super Full Moon occurring, and a Handfasting. At the Summer Solstice, the Sun is at it’s highest height, and it is the longest day of the year. It is a day of powerful magick and divination. Herbs picked at this time are believed to be at their strongest and most magickally potent. The Oak King and the Holly King have completed their twice-yearly battle, and the Holly King is now victorious, ruling over the dark half of the year, as the days begin to grow shorter and the nights become longer until the Winter Solstice, when the battle takes place again. At our celebration yesterday I wanted to draw upon the massive power of this Super Full Moon, so I asked those present to choose a big, ambitious goal, and we did a bit of magick to help bring these desires into reality. What is a Super Moon? This Full Moon is the closest and largest Full Moon of the year. It presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013. The moon will not be so close again until August, 2014.

Our Summer Solstice celebration took place outdoors near the Wagner Forest in the Pocono Mountains, and also included a Handfasting. I was asked to conduct the ceremony (I am ordained through the Universal Life Church, a multi-faith organization which accepts Wiccan clergy among it’s members), and I was honored to do so. It was a perfect day, lots of great food, magick, conversation, and I had the opportunity to meet a few folks I had only known through Facebook. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many creative and inspiring people who are devoted to the magickal path. I have truly amazing friends. After the ritual/ceremony was over, people were commenting on the fact that there were spiders crawling on the altar, and guess what was flying around us at various times throughout the ritual?

Dragonflies.

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I am currently reading Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess, a book about the Morrigan. The Morrigan isn’t a deity I work with on a regular basis, however she is one of the deities I call on in my own version of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, and I wanted to learn more about her. I developed my own LBRP using Celtic deities (Cerridwen, Cernunnos, The Dagda, The Morrigan), and it seems to work well for me.

Later this year, I want to publish a tarot/oracle journal, with space to write the date/time of reading, name of deck, spread used, cards drawn, personal interpretation and actual outcome of the reading. I haven’t seen many of these on the market, so I figured I would just publish one myself. This journal can be used for both tarot and oracle decks, since I use both, so I didn’t want it to be tarot-specific. This coming July I will begin writing my next book, Walking The Magick Path. My current book, The Boy Who Lived: Magickal Spirituality in the Harry Potter Universe is available through Lulu and Amazon.

My magickal herb garden is growing nicely. Rosemary, Mugwort and Sage. Hopefully I can add some Yarrow soon…

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Have a happy Summer! Next weekend we are making our yearly trip to a local Lavender Farm. It is an amazing place. Just wait til you see…

World Tarot Day

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In celebration of World Tarot Day (May 25), I wanted to share some information that budding tarot readers may find useful. I have been offering public tarot readings for the past 6 years, and have been using the tarot for inner, spiritual growth and spellwork for many more. There are numerous resources available for those who wish to learn tarot, deepen their practice, or connect with other readers worldwide. Below are some links that I have found particularly useful.

Tarot Professionals is the best place to learn, develop and receive ongoing support for your Tarot as an absolute beginner or experienced professional with other students & professionals around the world. This is a full-time professional Tarot organization dedicated to supporting your Tarot studies and career. Membership gives you a range of innovative and modern Tarot courses, the worlds leading Tarot magazine (TarosophistInternational), video lessons and Tarot projects for you to take your Tarot to new levels. As a professional you gain valuable legal, business & marketing support. They also have a Facebook group. (Please note that membership in this group is by request only).

Aeclectic Tarot is a very useful website where you can browse through thousands of different tarot decks before you buy. Photos of cards from each deck are presented, as well as card meanings. Also offered are accessories such as tarot bags, boxes and jewelry.

Tarosophy Tarot Conventions take place around the world each year. This website provides info about upcoming tarot conventions in your area.

That’s Totally Tarot is a great tarot blog from professional reader Angelo Nasios. He has wonderful insights on tarot reading, YouTube instructional videos, and was awarded Tarosophist of The Year. He is very knowledgeable and explains things in a no-nonsense, easy to understand way.

The Sacred Circle Tarot is the deck that I use. As soon I picked up this deck I knew it was for me. There are many things I like about this one: the imagery of Celtic landscapes and symbolism, keywords at the top of each card, elemental associations (Fire, Air, Water, Earth), and I love how the realistic-looking figures on the cards appear as though they may begin moving and speaking at any moment! This deck comes with a companion book that explains the meaning of each card, along with some helpful spreads, including one of my favorites, the Planetary Spread.

There are two other books that I have found personally helpful in my tarot practice. They are “Tarot For The Green Witch” by Ann Moura, and “A Magical Course in Tarot” by Michele Morgan.

 Happy Tarot!

tarotaltar

Spring into Summer

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

I finally have time to sit down and write about my latest magickal adventures, things have been a bit hectic! This past weekend I was at the Spiritual Holistic Expo, a local event that takes place twice a year, in the Spring and Fall. This was my second time at the expo, and I did fairly well, though I’m not sure I want to do this particular one again. Booth rentals are pricey, and it takes a bit of work just to break even. Plus, I was limited on the services I could offer, which I found a bit annoying, especially since I have regulars who come to me for those services (such as tarot readings). There are other expos and festivals in the area that are less expensive or restrictive, so those will get priority in the future.

On May 13th, we returned from Laconia, New Hampshire, where we attended MISTI-CON, a Harry Potter convention that took place there. This is the fourth Potter convention we have been to. We had an amazing time, and it was wonderful to see our Potter family again. Over the years, we have made many friends through Harry Potter, friends whom we now consider family. It is a close-knit, creative group of people whose lives have also been profoundly influenced by the story of the boy wizard. In fact, an entire community and sub-culture has been built around Harry Potter. Unless you are part of it yourself, it is difficult to explain. For many, it has become a lifestyle, integrating various themes, elements and concepts from the Harry Potter mythos into everyday life. It is unconventional, but also highly creative and fun. MISTI-CON was an amazing experience, as are the HPEF gatherings. We prefer these smaller gatherings, as they are more intimate and meaningful. I am not fond of the terms “fandom” or “con” , as these are not typical conventions. They are not centered around celebrities or merchandise. They are organized by/for fans themselves, and are more like family reunions. We are all adult fans, sharing our love for all things Harry Potter, through various creative outlets: presentations, artwork, lectures, music, fashion, academia, games, crafts, discussions, etc. These smaller gatherings are exclusively Harry Potter based. In my opinion, that’s how it should be. The larger gatherings (such as LeakyCon) seem to be less about Harry Potter and more about celebrity fans and their fangirls, Potter off-shoots (such as Starkid), Pop Culture, and other things that are only loosely Potter-related. No, thank you.

Another MISTI-CON is being planned for 2015, and we will certainly be there.

My first book, The Boy Who Lived: Magical Spirituality in the Harry Potter Universe, was recently published (you can order a copy at the BOOKS link above), and will soon be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. At Misti-Con I presented a lecture based on the book, and sold nearly every copy I took with me. I will start work on my next book, Walking The Magick Path, later this Summer. I am brimming with inspiration and am already compiling notes for this one!

moonSpells

I am really enjoying the new CD from my friends at Paradise Music, entitled MOON SPELLS.

This CD contains music for each phase of the Moon, and comes with a booklet of spells from British witch Cassandra Eason. You can order a copy at THIS LINK.

In a few weeks I will be at an event called ARTIFEST, where I am doing Tarot/Oracle readings for the entire weekend, with a friend and fellow reader. This will be a fun event, as we are in the ‘Old World Renaissance’ section, which means I get to dress up and do readings in period clothing. Can’t wait!

The weather is getting warmer now, it has been in the 80’s the last few days. I am looking forward to the Summer months, Litha/Summer Solstice, and our yearly visit to the seaside. I am glad to see the Yarrow flowers cropping up along roadsides and in the fields. I will be gathering a bunch of it very soon for meditative and magickal work. The Yarrow plant began calling to me last Summer and I can sense it doing so again. I feel it is going to become a close plant ally. My next blog post will be about the magickal properties of the Yarrow plant.

This weekend we shall celebrate my partner Matthew’s birthday. We have been together for over 11 years now. Below is a recent photo of us.

mattrik

Also this weekend I plan to do some magickal spring cleaning, sorting through my ritual items, re-organizing and getting rid of a few things. As my magickal practice has evolved, there are certain items I rarely use anymore and other items that I use more often. Some things will be passed along to friends so that I can make room for new magickal tools that more accurately reflect my magickal path as it is now. Our ritual room at home has become a bit cluttered, as it also doubles as a storage room and is in desperate need of re-organization. Some things I will be getting rid of are: old and damaged essential oil bottles, certain brands of incense that I rarely use, ripped/damaged magickal craft items that cannot be repaired, and a few broken, partially used candles. While I am a fan of recycling wax for candle-making, I prefer not to re-use wax from a candle that has already been previously used for a specific kind of magick. I always use fresh, new candles for each spell. The only candles I re-use over and over again are those I have set aside for meditation, deities or spirit guides. I have acquired several new magickal herbs that need to be properly stored and labeled, and I still have a ton of information to transfer from my magickal journals into my Book of Shadows. Geez, this is going to take awhile, but I like things to be organized.

I’m getting hungry now, and there is meatloaf in the oven. And, while I was the grocery earlier I found Pumpkin Ice Cream! In May! My spirit guides are smiling on me. Tonight I shall have comfort food and begin watching the last season of Hamish Macbeth.

Til next time…

Magical May

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

 

Spring has finally arrived, May is here, and it is wonderful to see the leaves returning to the trees, the flowers blooming, the green grass and warmer temperatures. Summer is not far off.

BoyWhoLived_Cover

My first book, “The Boy Who Lived: Magical Spirituality in the Harry Potter Universe” was recently published, and I am quite happy with it. It is currently available on Lulu at THIS LINK, and in about 6-8 weeks you can also purchase it thru Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I would like to thank my friend Brian, for his invaluable assistance with formatting and helping it to look nice and professional.

 

May is a busy month for us, we have things going on nearly every weekend until the first week of June. After that, I want to take a break until Late Summer/Early Fall, when I would like to do more teaching and start working on my next book, “Walking The Magick Path“.

ppOn May 1st, we went to see the off-broadway production, Potted Potter with one of our close friends. We had seen it before in NYC and we loved it. This time, Potted Potter was here in town, performing locally for one-night-only, and we had the opportunity to see it again. The two talented and energetic British actors cover the entire Harry Potter saga, in comedic fashion, in just over an hour. It’s such a fun production, go and see them if you get the chance.

On May 2nd, we attended the MyChoice Voice Awards, where the best blogs in the Lehigh Valley (the area of Pennsylvania where I live) are honored and recognized. This event is presented by the local newspaper, The Morning Call. I am happy to say that I won again this year, for Best Religion Blog. Two years in a row, not bad! I am grateful to everyone who voted.

winner

May 4th, (last night, in fact), was our Beltane ritual and celebration with the magickal community we belong to. Good food, some divination, stories of the faerie realm, and afterward it was so much fun to circle around the Maypole again with our friends and extended family. The Maypole is symbolic of the union between the Goddess and the God, a union that is reflected in the flourishing earth. It also represents the weaving together of the soul of man with the soul of nature.

In just a few days, we make the journey up to New Hampshire for MISTI-CON, a 4-Day Harry Potter conference for adult fans, with many fun activities planned: academic presentations, music, games, crafts, Quidditch and a costume ball, among other things. This will be the fourth Potter conference that we have attended, and they are especially magickal. We are anxious to see our friends again and re-connect with our Potter family. It is always a transforming and inspiring experience, and I always come back from these conferences recharged and refocused. I will be lecturing on my book, The Boy Who Lived, and taking several copies with me to sign.

May 18 & 19 I will be at the Spring Spiritual Holistic Expo offering Magickal Reiki treatments. Reiki (pronounced Ray Key) is a combination of two Japanese words ‘Rei’ and ‘Ki’ meaning Universal Life Energy. Reiki is an ancient laying-on of hands healing technique that uses the life force energy to heal, balancing the subtle energies within our bodies. Reiki addresses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances. I am a certified Reiki II practitioner, and developed Magickal Reiki, a combination of Usui Ryoho Reiki, Crystal Therapy, Chakra Healing, Meditation and Aromatherapy. At the expo, I will be doing half-hour sessions for 30$. Magickal Reiki is done in sacred space, within the boundary of a magick circle. I will also be offering a small selection of my handmade ritual and spell candles. I wanted to do Tarot/Oracle readings there as well, but apparently they “already have too many”. Oh well, next time.

June 8 & 9, however, I will be doing Tarot readings for the whole weekend, at an event called Artifest. A friend and myself will be the only tarot readers there, so I am looking forward to this a great deal. This will be my first time at this event, and I’m told we are in the “Old World Renaissance” section. It sounds like lots of fun! Look for some of my candles there too.

For more info about these events, click the Upcoming Events link at the top.

Lots happening this month!

 

Tarot: The Planetary Spread

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For those of us who work with the Tarot, “spreads” are various card patterns that are used to intuitively obtain information. This is done by divining the meanings of the cards according to how they are ‘spread’ in the pattern.

I first learned about the Planetary Spread about 6 years ago, when I purchased the Sacred Circle Tarot, the primary deck that I use. It was suggested in the companion book, and I immediately felt a connection to it. I try to avoid over-used spreads (such as the Celtic Cross), and prefer instead to use spreads that are less known, or something I devised myself. (I developed a ‘Lightning Bolt’ spread that calls on the wisdom of the Three Realms, but I will share that in another post).

There are other versions of the Planetary Spread, but what I love most about this one is how it works with the seven classical planets of ancient astrology. Another wonderful thing about this spread is it’s simplicity. Each planet has it’s own magickal association that can be added to the meaning of each tarot card in it’s position. For example, if The Magician is in the Moon position, it can indicate an increase of psychic awareness and a revealing of hidden knowledge.

The cards are laid out clockwise in a circular pattern, with the first card at top/center. Their positions in order are: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. I’ve posted a photo below as an example.

planet

Let’s examine each of the seven planets and their magical associations. There are many more, but we’ll look at the basics.

MOON: The Moon is linked to Goddess energy, Divination, Psychic Awareness, Intuition, Meditation, Magickal Ability, Arcane Knowledge, Occult Mysteries, The Shadow Self and Introspection. It is Feminine and associated with the element of Water.

MERCURY: This planet’s energies affect all forms of Communication, Travel, Creativity, Writing, Conversation and Self-Expression.

VENUS: Venus is associated with Personal Relationships, Love, Intimacy, Family, Friendships, Affection, Romance, Passion, Lust.

SUN: The Sun lends it’s energy to Success, Achievement of Goals, God Energy, Connection to Divinity (both without and within), Power.

MARS: This fiery planet often indicates Aggression, Force, Masculinity, Male Energy, Rivalry, Competition, Ego, Assertiveness, Determination.

JUPITER: This planet is linked to Prosperity, Abundance, Career, Finances, Money, Employment, Growth, Business, Expansion, Increase.

SATURN: Saturn is associated with Conflict, Restriction, Protection Magick, Banishing, Binding, Removing Harmful Influences, Barriers, Obstacles.

(For more information about the planets, and how to use them with other correspondences, I recommend Book of Witchery, by Ellen Dugan).

Once you learn the magickal qualities of each of the planets, your tarot readings will take on a deeper meaning when you use the Planetary Spread. This spread is very simple, and can be used with any tarot deck.

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