Politics and the Magical Community

politicians2

I only want to read about spiritual things, not politics”.

People love to read about the spells and sparkles, the magic and mysticism, but when the time comes to actually take a stand for something, or stand against someone, suddenly you’re “getting political” or “being judgmental”. Politics are a part of our lives whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Spirituality and Politics often intersect. The very fact that you have the freedom to read this blog (and I have the freedom to write it) is because of politics. It is because of politics that gay people can get married now, and if this right gets taken away by the Trump administration, it will be because of politics. If you’re a woman, the reason you can vote today is because of politics. If you’re a person of color, it is because of politics that you don’t have to sit at the back of the bus. Slavery was abolished because of politics. Segregation was eliminated because of politics. If all of these things someday get reversed, it will be because of politics.

If you call yourself a witch, it is your duty to be an advocate for human rights and equal rights.

Who you choose to align yourself with reveals where your true loyalties are. If you align yourself with a tyrant and dictator like Donald Trump, you should not be surprised when people sever ties with you, nor should you be offended when they ask you to do the same with them. If you’re a white heterosexual male and voted for Trump, you have no grounds whatsoever to play the victim when people start unfriending you. You basically voted against your gay friends and those in other minority groups.

But we’re a peaceful people….can’t we just get along?

No, I’m afraid we cannot. Not when there are people in our government who actively seek to take away the rights of minority groups and support measures that will allow them to be discriminated against. I have no regrets about those I have unfriended on social media and others I have requested to unfollow me as well. It would be hypocrisy to assume friendship with someone who does not think I should have the same rights they do. Such a person is not truly a friend. The relative peace and freedom we have in America had to be fought for. It was not won by people holding hands and thinking happy thoughts. Being peaceful doesn’t equate to being timid and passive, and letting your rights get trampled on. To maintain peace, sometimes you must take action. You must be the louder voice. That’s why we will continue to protest (peacefully), resist and block Trump at every turn. I will continue to be an outspoken activist, not only for LGBT equal rights, but also for human rights and environmental issues.

Speaking as a member of the LGBT community, we know that Trump is not on our side. He has vowed to overturn gay marriage and approve measures that will allow us to be discriminated against and treated like second-class citizens in every area, including housing and employment. Those who say “He can’t really do that” need to take a closer look at those he has assembled to work for him. Every single one of them opposes LGBT rights. Every one of them.

I don’t buy into the excuse “I voted for Trump but I’m not a racist or a bigot”. What people really mean when they say this is, “I really don’t care about my gay friends”. Most of the people calling for “unity” are the ones who have the least to lose. The problem is, we all know you saw and heard the things Trump said about gay people, women and minorities leading up to the election, and you voted for him anyway. To us, this speaks volumes. True colors have come out, and now we know who our real friends are.

Some feel that paganism is not political, but I strongly disagree. There are many ways in which pagans are affected by what happens in our government. So, yes, witches and pagans really do need to be concerned about politics, because we are all affected.

Magical Spirituality in Harry Potter

14612486_10154145584448937_5081505771712641877_oOn November 18th, 2016, a new era of the Harry Potter universe begins with the release of the film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them”. It takes place many years before the birth of Harry Potter, and gives fans a glimpse of the ‘expanded universe’ of the wizarding world. In this film we see the adventures of Newt Scamander and his menagerie of magical creatures. Part of the genius of the Harry Potter stories is that there are bits of truth scattered among the fantasy. For example, in the new film, there is a nod to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. We also see magical symbols (including a pentacle on the floor), witches, wizards and all sorts of wonderful magic and enchantment.

harrypotterrender1Before going any further, it must be acknowledged that the Harry Potter books were not written to endorse any religion or spiritual practice. They are simply brilliantly written stories that include symbolism, myth and legend (with a few facts thrown in) from many different cultures. That being said, the Harry Potter books can appeal to those of any spiritual path: including those who follow earth-based paths such as Witchcraft and Paganism. If one reads between the lines, one can find magical concepts hidden behind subtle metaphor. This is the mark of a clever storyteller, after all. There are far too many too include in this article, but we will explore a few of them.

3booksBefore Harry ever arrives at school in the first book, his magical education begins. While on the Hogwarts Express, he purchases several chocolate frogs. Each frog comes with a collectible card containing a photo and short biography of a famous Witch or Wizard. Several of these are fictional, or characters of myth and legend, but a small number of them were real people who actually existed. These real-life people made a huge contribution to modern Magic, Witchcraft, Astrology, and Alchemy. They are prominent figures in our real magical history, and are often overlooked by modern pagans. (Heinrich Cornelius) Agrippa is the first Chocolate Frog card that is mentioned specifically in the Harry Potter books. Agrippa was born in Cologne, Germany in 1486. He was a scholar of magic, astrology and alchemy. He spent much of his life studying the occult. His most famous work, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, was first published in 1531. It was later translated from Latin to English in 1651, and is still available today. It is a voluminous book of over 900 pages, and is filled with magical knowledge on a wide variety of topics. For over 500 years it has been used by Witches, Wizards, Ceremonial Magicians, and is considered by many to be the most important book of magical lore in existence today. Information from the Three Books of Occult Philosophy has influenced several magical traditions, from Golden Dawn to Kabbalah. The chapters vary in length, from just a few paragraphs to several pages. Also included are various illustrations, charts, drawings and symbols. As the title suggests, Three Books of Occult Philosophy is a book containing 3 volumes. Book 1 focuses on the natural magic of crystals, herbs, metals and the like. Book 2 deals mainly with celestial magic and numerology, and book 3 explores pagan deities, angels, spirits and how to work with them.

The Four Houses of Hogwarts

The Four Houses of Hogwarts

The four houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin are each associated with a particular elemental force. Each house is also linked to a particular color and animal totem. The primary color of Gryffindor house is Red, and it’s animal totem is the Lion. Harry Potter is a Leo, a Fire sign, also symbolized by the Lion. Naturally, the element associated with Gryffindor is Fire. Those who belong to Gryffindor house are described as brave, bold and daring. In magical lore, the direction of Fire is the South. It should also be noted that in traditional witchcraft, the elemental ruler of Fire is the Salamander. It is said to be a spirit creature that lives within the flames. In the book version of Prisoner of Azkaban, Fred and George Weasley have an encounter with a Salamander.

The primary color of Hufflepuff house is Yellow. The element associated with Hufflepuff is Water, and its direction is the West. In traditional witchcraft, the elemental rulers of Water are the Undines, which is another word for MerPeople. We see a representation of MerPeople in Goblet of Fire, when Harry competes in the 2nd Task of the Triwizard Tournament. The attributes of Hufflepuff students are hard work, patience and loyalty. The totem animal is the Badger, an animal that fiercely defends itself. The Badger figures prominently in Japanese mythology as a shape-shifter, and is also linked to healing, herbology and storytelling. The Hufflepuff Cup is linked to the Throat Chakra, which rules speech and communication. Due to the Badger’s ability to quickly dig through the earth, Native American tribes viewed it as a Medicine Chief, conversant with all manner of herbs, seeds, roots and the mysteries of plants. Those who work with Badger Medicine are in tune with the mystical powers of things that grow beneath the earth. It is no wonder, then, that the head of Hufflepuff house is Herbology teacher Professor Pomona Sprout.

The primary color of Ravenclaw house is blue, and Ravenclaw robes are lined with this color. The element associated with Ravenclaw is Air, and its direction is the East. Ravenclaw students are intelligent, wise and studious. When choosing the totem animal for Ravenclaw, this is where Rowling strangely chose the Eagle, presumably because of the Eagle’s association with Wisdom, among its many other magical qualities. On the surface, the Eagle would seem appropriate. However, Hogwarts is a school of Witchcraft, and students do not attend this school to acquire superficial wisdom. They are there to gain inner wisdom as it applies to mystical, occult learning, magical awareness and perception. These are hallmarks of the Raven. The Raven reveals to us the secrets of magic and the hidden keys to unlocking our full potential. This is the true wisdom of Ravenclaw. The Ravenclaw Diadem is linked to the Crown Chakra and Divine Wisdom. In traditional witchcraft, the elemental rulers of Air are the Sylphs, which are thought to be formless entities that exist in the wind. Faeries, Sprites and similar beings also belong in this category. In the Potter books, Fairy Wings (symbolic of Air) are an ingredient in certain potions. Thankfully, official Ravenclaw merchandise does picture the Raven rather than the Eagle.

The primary color of Slytherin is Green. The element associated with Slytherin is Earth, and its direction is the North. Students in Slytherin house are said to display traits such as cunning, resourcefulness and ambition, but there are other qualities that have been overlooked. Slytherin house developed a bad reputation due to the large number of dark wizards and witches who came from there. I believe there are some missing pieces to this story. The animal totem for Slytherin house is the Serpent. In magical lore, the Serpent guards the secrets of the Underworld and represents the Shadow Self. The Shadow Self is that part of us that we hide from others, things about ourselves that we keep hidden. Severus Snape, head of Slytherin house, is a classic example. Working with the Shadow Self can be a dangerous process. As we allow issues that have been long hidden to come to the surface, the healing process can be painful and can take a long time to complete. The process is not always successful, and wholeness is sometimes replaced by anger at past hurts or revenge on those who have wronged us. Severus Snape sought the path of healing, while Tom Riddle/Voldemort sought destruction and control. Those who belong to Slytherin are deeply in touch with the Shadow Self. Harry Potter himself had Slytherin qualities. He was a Parselmouth and could speak Parseltongue, the language of serpents. In Order of The Phoenix he was becoming aware of his darker nature, “What if I’m becoming bad?” And let us not forget the words of the Sorting Hat, “You would have done well in Slytherin.” Harry was placed in Gryffindor because he willed it to be so. He is a perfect balance of Light & Dark, with both Gryffindor and Slytherin qualities.

mandrake1The path of the Witch is closely tied to the plant world and the spirit of Nature. Herbology is the study of the magical/medicinal properties of herbs, flowers and plants. Witches not only use plants in their spells and rituals, they also connect to the spirit of the plant through meditation, calling on their inherent powers to aid in magical workings. What is most interesting is the fact that the majority of flowers and plants mentioned in the Potter books are those that have been used in traditional witchcraft for centuries. These were not randomly chosen. Mandrake, Belladonna, Valerian, Dittany, Rue, Hellebore and others we see in the Potter books are some of the most powerful (and poisonous) magical herbs in existence. Ms. Rowling really did her homework when choosing these specific plants. The first plant introduced to students is the Mandrake, and this is quite significant, since the mandrake is considered to be the ruler of the plant world, and has accumulated more lore than any other plant. It was very popular in European witchcraft and what is known as “Old Ways“ magic. Its roots have a human shape, and for centuries it has been believed to contain many magical and medicinal properties. Old lore says that if one pulls a mandrake from the earth, its loud cries are fatal to anyone who hears it. The prescribed method for harvesting the root—in which a dog tied to the mandrake pulls the plant from the ground—is frequently depicted in ancient and medieval herbals. On a superficial level, the mandrake can be used magically for protection, fertility, love and money issues.

We also find Numerology hidden throughout the Harry Potter books, particularly the number 11. The number 11 plays a large role in Harry Potter’s life. This number signifies the beginning of a spiritual journey, the embarking on a path to enlightenment and heightened awareness. In Numerology, the word “Potter” reduces to 11. On Harry’s 11th birthday, he learns of his magical heritage and that he himself is a wizard. After gathering his school supplies and magical tools (cauldron, wand, owl familiar), he boards the Hogwarts Express, which leaves the station promptly at 11:00 AM. The wand that “chooses” him at Ollivanders is 11 inches in length and contains a Phoenix tail feather at its core. These are all mystical clues that Harry is beginning a journey of transformation.

Some aspects of Harry Potter can even be found in modern magical practice. In his book, “Hands-On Chaos Magic,” author/teacher Andrieh Vitmus gives detailed instructions on how to cast a Patronus Charm with the incantation “Expecto Patronum”. The memory-storing Pensieve sounds very much like the Memory Tower as described by Christopher Penczak in his book, “The Temple of High Witchcraft”. Author/teachers Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J. H. Brennan explain in their book, The Magical Use of Thought-Forms, that “Harry Potter is alive and well on the astral plane”. They describe how thought-forms work and that Harry Potter himself is a thought-form entity. What is a thought-form? Basically, whenever there is a large group of people who are collectively focusing their attention on the same purpose, person or idea, something extraordinary happens on an astral level. This purpose, person or idea soon begins to take on a life of its own and becomes a living entity or spirit-being. This ‘created thought-form’ can then be interacted with and called upon for various purposes. If this thought-form happens to be a literary figure with already built-in attributes and qualities, we can call upon those qualities through meditation and regular interaction. The Harry Potter phenomenon has definately taken on a life of its own. It has become a living entity, what some practitioners call a thought-form. Many who have been deeply affected and influenced by it have found ways to communicate and interact with it. It’s presence could be felt at midnight book and film releases, and it is still a tangible presence at Harry Potter conventions, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks, Wizard Rock concerts, meetups and gatherings, and within the heart and spirit of every fan who has had a profound experience from reading the books.

patrIn the Harry Potter universe, a Patronus is an astral entity, (usually an animal totem), called upon to provide protection or deliver a message. Harry’s Patronus is a White Stag, the same Patronus as his father, James. The White Stag appears frequently in Celtic lore, and this magical creature was considered to be a messenger from the Otherworld. It is a symbol of mankind’s spiritual quest, and is a creature that travels freely “between the worlds.” At times, the stag was depicted as having almost human-like understanding and certainly far beyond animal intelligence. Whenever a White Stag appears, it is a sign of great spiritual changes within the person who sees it. The elusive and mysterious white stag has been described by those who’ve seen it as radiant, eerie, striking, and even awe-inspiring, so it is easy to see how these creatures came by the legendary abilities assigned to them. The Stag, a male deer, is an animal with fatherly qualities, a fiercely protective guardian, and also happens to be the animal most closely associated with one of the primary deities in Witchcraft, a Celtic figure known as Cernunnos. He is often referred to as “The Stag God,” or the “Horned God.” He is seen as a peaceful god who cares for Nature and the fruitfulness of new life within Nature. For Harry Potter, the White Stag is a father-figure symbol with mythological links to the Celtic Stag God, Cernunnos. Both Cernunnos and the White Stag share a connection to the Underworld: the realm of the ancestors, or more specifically, Harry’s father. Remember also that James Potter was an Animagus, a shape-shifter, and could transform into a stag. Harry’s mother Lily had a Patronus as well, a Silver Doe. A female version of the White Stag, Does are reminders of spiritual evolution, and the patience required to allow our spiritual unfolding. The Doe was sacred to goddesses Artemis and Diana, and excavations have uncovered ancient vases in the shape of does, some of them in a crescent design. The Doe seems to have been closely related to Moon symbolism. In magical lore, the Doe is a symbol of spirituality, and the gentle inner voice of intuition. The doe’s energy is comforting, nurturing, maternal. By observing the ways in which the doe behaves, it is possible to see what amazing powers they possess. From them we learn how the gifts of gentleness and caring can help us overcome many challenging situations. Only love, both for ourselves and for others, helps us understand the true meaning of wholeness. The Silver Doe was the Patronus of Harry’s mother, Lily. In herbal magic, the Lily flower has near-identical associations as the Doe. It is linked to the Moon, the element of Water and the powers of intuition. It is associated with Water signs Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio. In the language of flowers, the Lily means : “May I kiss your hand?” It is a flower of purity, and motherly love. It speaks to us of keeping the heart open, and that no love is greater or more true than a mother’s love. In the White Stag and the Silver Doe we see glimpses of pagan gods and goddesses of the forest, deity figures that appear frequently in magical lore. These Father/Mother figures are sacred in Witchcraft, Druidry, Celtic Shamanism and other paths of Earth-Based Spirituality.

Three Cauldrons of Poesy

In 7th Century Ireland, a Bard by the name of Amergin White-Knee penned a magical text that has come to be known as the Three Cauldrons of Poesy. As is common with ancient Celtic lore, there is much mystical wisdom hidden within the text that can only be understood through meditative practices. Some have referred to these three cauldrons as the Celtic Chakras, Three Levels of Reality, Three States of Enlightenment or the Threefold Mind. According to this text, all people are born with three cauldrons.

3-cauldrons-small

The cauldrons are described as follows:

The Cauldron of Wisdom is located in the HEAD, and represents Spiritual Health. It contains our highest spiritual and artistic inspirations. This cauldron is inverted when we are born, but turns fully upright when we become enlightened.

The Cauldron of Motion resides in the HEART, and represents Psychic Health. It contains our spiritual or psychic/magical gifts and abilities. This cauldron turns on it’s side when we become aware of our gifts, fully upright when our gifts are developed, but turns fully inverted in those with no evident psychic/magical skill or ability.

The Cauldron of Warming is located in the BELLY and represents Physical Health. It contains the source of our physical strength and health. It is upright when we are born and remains upright, with the potential to be fully filled.

Some teachers suggest that through visualization, we can place objects or images into the cauldrons to increase our spiritual, psychic and physical health. We can also utilize these cauldrons when doing healing work for others.

The majority of the text of the Cauldrons of Poesy focuses on the Cauldron of Motion as the vessel that truly holds the poets power. It is born half-tipped, and it is by the deeds and events of human life that it becomes fully upright, able to obtain a full measure of the Mead of Wisdom. In the same way the Cauldron of Wisdom is born tipped on its lip, empty of power, and must be turned. This is described as happening due to powerful emotional events – sorrows and joys – during the course of life.

The Four Sorrows are described as: longing, grief, jealousy and hard travel. The Joys are said to be twofold: divine joy and human joy. Human joy is fourfold: Sexual delight, physical health, the joy of prosperity from one’s vocation, the joy of success in one’s efforts. Divine joys are the delight of the Blessings of the Gods, and the joy of eating of the Hazelnuts of Wisdom. These joys and sorrows come from the events of our lives – they are not just from within, but rather they must grow from real experience and relationship with the other. In a modern life, if we have any adventure in us at all, any of that which might make a poet or magician, we will have many of the joys and sorrows described. If we can take them in and process them, they become the raw material for our understanding and wisdom.

There are different translations of the text of the Three Cauldrons of Poesy. I have included one below.

Three Cauldrons of Poesy

(7th Century-Irish)

My perfect cauldron of warming
has been taken by the Gods from the mysterious abyss of the elements;
a perfect truth that ennobles from the center of being,
that pours forth a terrifying stream of speech.

I am Amirgen White-knee,
with pale substance and grey hair,
accomplishing my poetic incubation in proper forms,
in diverse colors.

The Gods do not give the same wisdom to everyone,
tipped, inverted, right-side-up;
no knowledge, half-knowledge, full knowledge —
for Eber Donn, the making of fearful poetry,
of vast, mighty draughts death-spells, of great chanting;
in active voice, in passive silence, in the neutral balance between,
in rhythm and form and rhyme,
in this way is spoken the path and function of my cauldrons.

Where is the root of poetry in a person; in the body or in the soul? Some say it is in the soul, for the body does nothing without the soul. Some say it is in the body where the arts are learned, passed through the bodies of our ancestors. It is said that this is the truth remaining over the root of poetry, and the wisdom in every person’s ancestry does not come from the northern sky into everyone, but into every other person.

What then is the root of poetry and every other wisdom? Not hard; three cauldrons are born in every person — the cauldron of warming, the cauldron of motion and the cauldron of wisdom.

The cauldron of warming is born upright in people from the beginning. It distributes wisdom to people in their youth.

The cauldron of motion, however, increases after turning; that is to say it is born tipped on its side, growing within.

The cauldron of wisdom is born on its lips and distributes wisdom in poetry and every other art.

The cauldron of motion then, in all artless people is on its lips. It is side-slanting in people of bardcraft and small poetic talent. It is upright in the greatest of poets, who are great streams of wisdom. Not every poet has it on its back, for the cauldron of motion must be turned by sorrow or joy.

Question: How many divisions of sorrow turn the cauldrons of sages? Not hard; four: longing and grief, the sorrows of jealousy, and the discipline of pilgrimage to holy places. These four are endured internally, turning the cauldrons, although the cause is from outside.

There are two divisions of joy that turn the cauldron of wisdom; divine joy and human joy.

There are four divisions of human joy among the wise — sexual intimacy, the joy of health and prosperity after the difficult years of studying poetry, the joy of wisdom after the harmonious creation of poems, and the joy of ecstacy from eating the fair nuts of the nine hazels of the Well of Segais in the Sidhe realm. They cast themselves in multitudes, like a ram’s fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving upstream swifter than racehorses driven on midsummer’s day every seven years.

The Gods touch people through divine and human joys so that they are able to speak prophetic poems and dispense wisdom and perform miracles, giving wise judgment with precedents, and blessings in answer to every wish. The source of these joys is outside the person and added to their cauldrons to cause them to turn, although the cause of the joy is internal.

I sing of the cauldron of wisdom
which bestows the nature of every art,
through which treasure increases,
which magnifies every artisan,
which builds up a person through their gift.

I sing of the cauldron of motion
understanding grace,
accumulating wisdom
streaming ecstacy as milk from the breast,
it is the tide-water of knowledge
union of sages
stream of splendor
glory of the lowly
mastery of speech
swift intelligence
reddening satire
craftsman of histories
cherishing pupils
looking after binding principles
distinguishing meanings
moving toward music
propagation of wisdom
enriching nobility
ennobling the commonplace
refreshing souls
relating praises
through the working of law
comparing of ranks
pure weighing of nobility
with fair words of the wise
with streams of sages,
the noble brew in which is boiled
the true root of all knowledge
which bestows according to harmonious principle
which is climbed after diligence
which ecstacy sets in motion
which joy turns
which is revealed through sorrow;
it is enduring fire
undiminishing protection.
I sing of the cauldron of motion.

The cauldron of motion
bestows, is bestowed
extends, is extended
nourishes, is nourished
magnifies, is magnified
invokes, is invoked
sings, is sung
keeps, is kept,
arranges, is arranged,
supports, is supported.

Good is the well of poetry,
good is the dwelling of speech,
good is the union of power and mastery
which establishes strength.

It is greater than every domain,
it is better than every inheritance,
it bears one to knowledge,
adventuring away from ignorance.

The Song of Amergin

Amergin was a bard and judge of the Milesians, who took control of Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Milesians had to win the island by engaging in battle with the three kings, their druids and warriors. Amergin acted as an impartial judge for the parties, setting the rules of engagement. The Milesians agreed to leave the island and retreat a short distance back into the ocean beyond the ninth wave, a magical boundary. Upon a signal, they moved toward the beach, but the Druids of the Tuatha Dé Danann raised a magical storm to keep them from reaching land. However, Amergin sang an invocation calling upon the Spirit of Ireland, that has come to be known as The Song of Amergin. He was able to part the storm and bring the ship safely to land. The Song of Amergin is often recognized as Ireland’s first written poem and Amergin as Ireland’s first Druid. There are several musical versions, but it can also be explored through meditation. This ancient, mystical poem from the Irish Mythological Cycle contains imagery that can be visualized in the mind’s eye while in an altered state of consciousness.

songofamergin

I am the wind on the sea,

I am the wave of the sea,

I am the bull of seven battles,

I am the eagle on the rock,

I am a flash from the sun,

I am the most beautiful of plants,

I am a strong wild boar,

I am a salmon in the water,

I am a lake in the plain,

I am the word of knowledge,

I am the head of the spear in battle,

I am the god that puts fire in the head,

Who but I spreads light in the gathering on the hills?

Who but I can tell the ages of the moon?

Who but I can tell the place where the sun rests?

The Irish musical group Anuna has a beautiful rendition of the Song of Amergin, which you can listen to at this link.

The Ways of the Draighean

tumblr_static_triple-spiral-4turns_green_transparentatqauI have always been drawn to the Celtic path, infusing my magical practice with Celtic symbolism and working with several Celtic deities, primarily Cerridwen, the Keeper of the Cauldron. Other paths and pantheons felt foreign to me, but the magic and mysticism of Ireland, Scotland and Wales always spoke to me deep within. As my studies led me to Druidry, I began to notice many similarities. Both paths cast a circle, both acknowledge a Goddess figure, and while not all druids practice magic, there are many who do. After joining the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, I learned about Philip Carr-Gomm’s book, DruidCraft: The Magic of Wicca and Druidry. I immediately ordered a copy and devoured every word. I enjoyed the book immensely, however, I was still left with a dilemma. I do not identify as Wiccan. I am a student and follower of the Old Ways, magical beliefs and practices that pre-date Gerald Gardner and modern Wicca. My practice blends Druidry and Celtic Paganism with Old World Witchcraft. The term “DruidCraft” did not fully express my path. What to call myself? There did not seem to be a name for it. I spent many hours in meditation with my deities and guides, and in my personal divination times, the Lightning-Struck Tower card repeatedly appeared in readings. This is usually an indication of some misfortune, some kind of personal trial or hardship that cannot be avoided. At that time I belonged to a local community of pagans and witches, and taught classes at a downtown shop. Without going into detail, I ended up leaving that community abruptly after observing a number of disturbing behaviors from the community leader. When I left, by my own choice, lies were spread and I lost many friends because of it. It was a very dark time in my life.

blackthorn-blossom-and-thorn-april-500x375Shortly after this happened, the Spirit of Blackthorn introduced itself to me in my meditations, and quickly became a plant spirit familiar and guide. I learned that the Blackthorn represents strength and protection after enduring trial and hardship. The Blackthorn shrub/tree has long, sharp thorns, yet it blooms with delicate white flowers as Winter comes to an end. To me this symbolized that even in the midst of Darkness, the Light can still be found. Blackthorn appears frequently in Irish lore. The Irish-Gaelic word for Blackthorn is Draighean. This word resonated with me on so many levels, and it was revealed in my meditations that this is what I should call myself from henceforth: a Draighean: Blackthorn Druid Witch. And somehow, I knew I wasn’t the only one. I now share my practices with private students and teach them how to become Draighean themselves.

bannerfans_1795776638There are a magical people who feel a strong kinship with the ancient tales of Celtic lore and legend. They are drawn to the Old Ways of magic and enchantment, ancient beliefs and practices that pre-date any concept of Wicca. They embrace both the Dark and the Light, recognizing that true strength comes from overcoming adversity, trial and struggle. These mystical folk find power and wisdom in the natural world, in the philosophy of Druidry, and in the practices of Old World Witchcraft and Celtic Mysticism. They hear the whispers of the stone circles and the misty moors, beckoning those who will listen and discover their secrets of times long past. These are a people who walk between the worlds, weaving their magic along the paths of the Seen and the Unseen. The magic and mysticism of Ireland, Scotland and Wales is part of their very DNA. Who are these mystical people? In the House of Blackthorn tradition, they are identified as the Draighean: the Blackthorn Druid Witch. The Draighean path is one that honors Nature and the Celtic Path, the study and application of Magical Wisdom and Occult Knowledge, and the dedication to Healing and Service. This triplicity of magical wisdom is symbolized by three symbols: the Triquetra, the Triskele and the Celtic Knot Circle.

The myths and legends of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are filled with hidden lessons and mystical teachings for those whose eyes and ears have been opened to receive them. The Draighean study and learn many of these stories, committing them to memory and applying their wisdom in their lives. These old tales abound with magic, insight and guidance. The Draighean experience these stories not only through reading and study, but also through altered consciousness and meditation. Those who follow the ways of the Draighean learn to explore and develop their own magical and healing abilities, in creative ways that utilize Celtic imagery and symbolism. The study of the Old Ways of Witchcraft (which include divination, spell-casting and other forms of magic) is a priority, and these studies are focused on pre-Wiccan beliefs and practices. In this regard the Draighean do not adhere to the modern “harm none” philosophy. Blackthorn Druid Witches take responsibility for their own actions and follow their own ethical codes. In the House of Blackthorn tradition, the Light and the Dark are embraced equally. The Draighean become aquainted with the Shadow Self, integrating their own darker aspects in a healthy and balanced way while working to transform what needs to be transformed. Both Dark and Light are necessary. Placing too much emphasis on one or the other puts us out of balance. Those who are called to the Draighean path have walked through darkness and have found strength after enduring hardship and adversity. Blackthorn Druid Witches revere Nature and view it as alive and sentient. The trees, flowers, plants and stones all have a consciousness of their own, and the Draighean learn to interact with many of them. The magic of herbs, trees and crystals is a vital part of Draighean practice, and Blackthorn Druid Witches frequently call upon them for assistance in magical workings. Druid magical philosophy is also a major force for those learning the ways of the Draighean. While it is true that ancient Druidry was primarily an oral tradition, today’s followers of Druidry believe that many druidic teachings are encoded in the old stories of Celtic lore and legend, particularly in the Tales of the Mabinogion. The Draighean identify as both Witch and Druid, blending two distinct paths seamlessly together. The path of the Draighean is not one of merely self-development, but one of service to the community. Blackthorn Druid Witches explore and develop their own healing abilities, whether inherent or learned from a teacher. Energy Healing, Crystal Therapy, Flower/Plant/Tree Magic and other alternative healing methods are explored. Those on the Draighean path are encouraged to offer their healing abilities in service to their communities.

Training in the ways of the Draighean is offered twice a year, in the Fall and in the Spring, for those who can travel or live in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. There are thirteen (13) separate lessons taught in-person. This is currently only a private training, however, not everyone who seeks training has access to a private teacher. For this reason, the entire training will eventually be available in book form for those who wish to self-study. While this is in no way a substitute for in-person training, those who feel drawn to the ways of the Draighean but cannot travel will be able to learn it on their own.

Friends of Like Mind

Occasionally I hear someone criticize others who “only associate with people who agree with them”. Is that really such a bad thing? That’s how you make friends, after all, with things in common, similar beliefs and interests.

Hey, there’s an interesting word: Friend.

How do you define true friendship? Who are your true friends?

Is it true friendship if your Christian “friend” thinks you’re going to burn in Hell? I don’t think so. Is it true friendship if your conservative “friend” doesn’t think you should have the same rights they do? I don’t think so. This is not about “hating” people who believe differently. It’s about associating with people who are truly supportive of who you are and who really want you to be happy. Let’s face it, that’s not everyone.

I do have a few friends with different religious/spiritual beliefs who are quite supportive, non-judgmental, and are genuinely concerned about my happiness. We acknowledge that we have different beliefs, but we don’t hate or look down on each other because of it. Unfortunately in today’s society, this is the exception rather than the rule.

If someone has different views than you, it doesn’t mean you have to hate them. It also doesn’t mean you have to be their friend. I have aquaintances and people I interact with that have drastically different views and beliefs than I do. I don’t shun them, (well, maybe some I do), but most of them are not in my “circle of friends”. I see nothing wrong with that.

News Flash: You don’t have to be friends with everybody.

It has also been suggested that by sharing personal views, we are contributing to the hate in the world, since there are others who will disagree with us. Does that mean we should refrain from speaking what we think, feel or believe, lest we step on someone’s delicate toes? I don’t think so. We all have opinions. We all have minds of our own. Perhaps it is the way in which we share our thoughts and beliefs that needs to change. I tend to be straight-forward. I do believe in peaceful solutions, but at the same time I’m not passive in the least. I believe in speaking out and taking action. Peace isn’t always passive.

If someone is being outwardly hateful and malicious toward you because of who/what you are, then it has to be addressed, though some will say you’re creating more conflict by addressing it. Will ignoring it make it go away? In some cases, perhaps, but not always.

I have a hard time with the word Tolerance. When you tolerate someone, it means you really don’t like them but you’re putting up with them. Tolerance is not acceptance. For me, it’s not about liking them or not liking them. I simply accept that they are someone who has different views than I do. Unless they’re being outwardly hateful and malicious, I will do my best to treat them with the same dignity and respect that everyone deserves. It doesn’t mean I have to pretend we’re friends. And that’s OK.

As the saying goes, “Friends of a feather flock together”.

Choose your friends carefully…

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“Friends of a feather flock together”

Symbols of Celtic Magic

trinityThe Triquetra or what some call the “trinity knot” is an ancient symbol that some people might recognize from the Charmed TV series. The word ‘triquetra’ originally meant ‘triangle’ and was used to describe triangle-shaped objects. It has pre-Christian origins and some scholars say it was originally a symbol of the Goddess. Over time, it was co-opted by the Celtic Christian Church to represent the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Still, modern pagans, witches and druids use the symbol to represent the three aspects of the Goddess (Maiden, Mother and Crone) or the triplicity of Nature (Land, Sea and Sky). Some associate this symbol with Body, Mind and Spirit. Many witches will wear a triquetra pendant if they are not comfortable wearing a Pentacle ( a 5-poined star in a circle). In our modern times, the Triquetra has become associated as a symbol of Celtic Witchcraft and magic, although some Christians still use it as well.
tumblr_static_triple-spiral-4turns_green_transparentatqauThe Triskele or Triskelion is another symbol with three points representing Land, Sea and Sky. This symbol consists of three interlocked spirals. At second glance it appears to be spinning, indicating motion and progress. This is one of the main symbols used by Druids, Celtic Pagans and those who practice a Celtic form of Wicca.

 

thThe AWEN symbol is the primary symbol of Druidry. ‘Awen’ is an old Welsh word that means “poetic inspiration”. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids describe the three lines as rays emanating from three points of light, with those points representing the triple aspect of deity and the points at which the sun rises on the equinoxes and solstices – known as the Triad of the Sunrises. The emblem is surrounded by three circles representing the three circles of creation. There are many layers of meaning to this symbol. The three dots represent the three sacred drops of ‘poetic inspiration’ that flew out of Cerridwen’s cauldron onto Gwion Bach’s thumb. Those familiar with this ancient story know that when Gwion Bach put his thumb in his mouth, he ingested the three drops and was thus imbued with all of the magical wisdom of Cerridwen. Various Neo-druid groups and individuals have their own interpretation of the Awen. The three lines relate to earth, sea and air; body, mind and spirit; or love, wisdom and truth. It is also said that the Awen stands for not simply inspiration, but for inspiration of truth; without Awen one cannot proclaim truth. The three foundations of Awen are the understanding of truth, the love of truth, and the maintaining of truth. The rays also stand for the letters from which all others evolved: I, O, and U.

 

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The Celtic Knot Circle has interlacing lines that stand for “No beginning, No ending”, continuity and intertwining. It represents how we are all connected to each other. In the Circle we stand as equals.

 

$(KGrHqVHJB8F!lZIlZbYBQZd-+mHbw~~60_35The Celtic Tree of Life is another many-layered symbol. It represents balance and harmony in Nature, Wisdom, Strength and long life. It also represents rebirth. Just a tree sheds it’s leaves in the Fall, and hibernates in the Winter, it is ‘reborn’ with new leaves in the Spring. The Tree of Life unites the Upper and Lower worlds. It’s roots reach deep into the Lower World, while the branches reach high into the Upper world. The trunk of the tree connects the two worlds to the Middle world (the material plane). It is through this commection that Celtic Gods and Goddesses can communite with people, through the Tree of Life. It is bleieved that the Druids regarded the trees and living, magical beings. Trees were considered a doorway to the spirit world. There are many meditative practices that incorporate the visualization of a tree.

The Ogham is an early medieval alphabet used to write the early English language and later the old Irish language. There are roughly 400 inscriptions on stone monuments throughout Ireland and western Britain. The largest number outside Ireland are in Wales. The Oghma is also called by some the Celtic Tree Alphabet, as it is believed the names of various trees can be ascribed to individual letters. The symbols are read from bottom to top. Below are charts that show the Ogham symbols and their tree associations.

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To see what your name looks like in Ogham script, visit this link.

There are many more Celtic symbols, some that contain various animals and other Celtic knotwork, however, in this article I wanted to share some of the ones I use in my own practice. I also use the Pentacle, since I combine Druidry with Witchcraft.

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