Good Witches in the Media: At the Movies

practical-magic-109977950375PRACTICAL MAGIC is a very popular film about down-to-earth Sally Owens and her sister, wild-child Gillian Owens, both girls are witches who are raised by their two eccentric aunts (also witches) in a beautiful seaside victorian house on the New England coast. We soon learn that the Owens women are under an ancient curse: Any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will die prematurely. (There is a backstory to this, but I don’t want to give everything away). When they are still young girls, Sally vows to never fall in love, and casts a spell for a man who can “flip pancakes in the air, ride a horse backwards, has one green eye and one blue”. She does this for her own protection, as she feels this is “a man who doesn’t exist”. Gillian finds a boyfriend, and when he starts abusing her, the two sisters use witchcraft to handle the situation in a way that has frightening consequences. This is a very entertaining film. I love how the two aunts walk through the town with their umbrellas and floppy hats, blissfully ignoring the jeers and mocking of the townspeople who all know they are witches. By the end of the film, however, everybody’s happy, even the local uppities, especially when they get invited to participate in a banishing spell. Good film, fun to watch.

onesheetTHE COVENANT is the story of the Sons of Ipswich, five young men with magical ability who are all descendants of a 17th century coven of witches. Four of them are close friends, and attend a private school, while the fifth was believed to have disappeared years earlier. In this film, magic is a sort of drug, addictive, and makes the “user” hungry for power. When young male witches turn 18, they go through an experience called “Ascending”, when their power is increased tremendously. When Chase Collins, the fifth Ipswich descendant (unbeknownst to the others) arrives at the school, trouble starts brewing as he uses his magic to torment and harass the other sons. He knows that Caleb Danvers will turn soon turn 18 and “ascend”, and threatens to kill the Ipswich families unless Caleb wills to him his power when his Ascension begins. Caleb is the good guy of the story, frequently cautioning the others not to use their magic irresponsibly. The film concludes with a battle between Caleb and Chase, in a fight of good against evil. This film is rated PG-13, as there are some adult themes, partial nudity and some very quick disturbing images. This would have made an awesome TV series, a sort of male version of Charmed.

bb41e1fcc19b816c4d375d34ee3349c0c9085f50BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS is a delightful Disney musical starring Angela Lansbury as an amateur witch, as she and three orphans along with a professor try to find an ancient incantation that will save the country from invaders. This is a very British film, part live-action, part animation, with lots of great music and family fun. One of my personal favorites.

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ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK is great adult campy fun, a story about a voluptuous rocker chick who moves to an uptight, ultra-conservative New England town to claim her inheritance of an old house left to her by her great aunt, a witch. Elvira is not afraid to flaunt her assets, which appalls the local snobs who want to run her out of town. Elvira discovers her great aunt’s “cookbook” (which is actually a book of spells), and meets her great uncle, an evil warlock who wants the book for himself. This is a totally hilarious movie, lots of great one-liners, and is not for the kids. We met Elvira in person several years ago at a comic convention in San Francisco, and she autographed my action figure of her. Some people complain about her revealing outfits, but I say if you’ve got it, flaunt it. I know I would.

beautiful-creatures-17178-1920x1080BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is an enchanting film about Ethan Wate and Lena Duchanne. Ethan meets Lena at school and the two become romantically involved, much to the dismay of Lena’s family. The other students do not take kindly to Lena as they all believe her to be a witch. And she is, but as she explains to Ethan, Lena and her family are “Casters” capable of using magical spells to change the weather or create illusions. When Lena turns 16, her true nature will steer her toward either the Light or the Dark. Lena’s family try to assure her that she is a good person and will not become dark. Her cousin and her mother, however, want her to become dark, as they foresee that she will be incredibly powerful and want her to use her power to purge the Earth of humans, leaving behind only Casters. Lena begins studying the Caster spellbook, hidden in a private chamber under the local library (the librarian is also a Caster), and with the help of her uncle, and Ethan, she defeats her cousin and her mother. I really enjoyed this movie, but it seemed like bits were omitted, and I seem to remember seeing things in the trailers for the film that were not in the movie. Still, I found it very entertaining, and Emma Thompson (as Lena’s mother) was excellent. This film was based on the book of the same name, which I have never read, and I hoped they would continue the story, but unfortunately this film did not do well in theatres.

Harry+Potter+render1HARRY POTTER is an immensely popular 8-film series about a boy wizard and his destiny to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. The films are based on the seven book series written by Scottish author J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter is the biggest selling book series in history, and has been translated into 73 languages. (In the film industry, the Potter movies are the 2nd highest-grossing films ever. The Avengers holds the number 1 spot). Audiobooks of the series are also available. Harry Potter quickly became a world-wide phenomenon, the popularity of which eventually spawned two theme parks, fan websites, Harry Potter conventions, it’s own officially recognized genre of music (Wizard Rock), a sub-culture of Harry Potter ‘Lifestylers’, and a spin-off movie series. The first of this spin-off series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opens in theatres November 2016. The release of the Potter books and films caused quite a bit of controversy, particularly with radical conservative Christian groups who claimed the books and films were luring children to Witchcraft, Wicca and Satanism. This is ridiculous, of course, as Witchcraft and Wicca have nothing to do with Satanism. Witches do not believe in a Satan/Devil figure. I am grateful for the fact that Harry Potter caused a lot of discussion to happen, about Wicca, Witchcraft, Mythology and the real practice of magic, which is not at all like the special effects “magic” we see in the films. (Would that were true!) Intelligent people educated themselves, while others chose to believe the lies of church leaders who condemned the books as “Satanic”. Harry Potter brought Witchcraft (a pseudo-fictional version, anyway) into the mainstream and made it normal. On the other hand, what you read in the books is not entirely fiction. Part of the genius of author J. K. Rowling is that even though these books are fantasy, there are bits of truth scattered throughout. Rowling included things from folklore and added some true magical concepts into the stories, which gave them an air of realism. There are subtle hints from Celtic mythology and if one looks a little deeper, one can find several metaphysical themes hidden between the lines. J.K. Rowling stated in a recent interview that there were no Wiccans at Hogwarts, however, I find this very unlikely due to the very subjects taught at the school (Divination, Herbology, etc). These subjects are part and parcel of Wiccan practice. The popularity of Harry Potter continues to grow, conventions are still going strong, and Rowling’s Pottermore website gives fans more details to absorb from these wonderful stories. Harry’s story has changed many lives, including my own. As a friend of mine said, “Harry has come to re-introduce magic to the world”.

So, that is my list of films that present witches in a positive light.

But what about…

The above films are about good witches fighting evil and darkness, which is why I have left out The Craft, I Married a Witch, Bell, Book and Candle, Hocus Pocus, The Witches of Eastwick and even that horrible Bewitched movie. What’s wrong with these, you might ask. Well, let’s see…

the-craft-movie-poster-1996-1020198968THE CRAFT is about goth girls who use witchcraft to hex and torment anyone who even slightly offends them. It is very unfortunate that this is the movie many people think of when you talk about Wicca, because it presents a horribly false idea of who witches and wiccans really are. We don’t all wear black lipstick and goth gear, and 99% of us don’t use magic to take revenge on people. If this film has any merit at all, it is that magic will have dire consequences if used improperly.

I MARRIED A WITCH is about a young witch who uses her magic to seduce a man away from his fiance. She and her father concoct a spell to make the man fall in love with her, and they totally play on the whole idea of witches causing havoc and mayhem. In the end, she acknowledges “Love is stronger than Witchcraft” and she loses him after all.

BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE is about yet another witch using magic to seduce a man away from his fiance.

HOCUS POCUS is a very popular Disney film that portrays witches as the stereotypical wart-nosed witches on broomsticks. I know a lot of people like this movie, and I have watched it many times, but here we are again promoting a false stereotype of witches being evil and ugly.

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (is it even available anymore) is about three witches who become involved with the Devil (Jack Nicholson). As much as I love CHER, this movie does not present witches in a positive light. Granted, by the end of the film they realize he is using them and they try to get rid of him, but here we have yet again, the false presumption that witches are in league with the Devil. When this movie was due for release, Salem witch Laurie Cabot launched a campaign to have it removed from theatres but was unsuccessful.

large_An2hoxmtqAuIiqmZbGf82As7izKBEWITCHED is a movie version of the TV series with a few unnecessary twists. A witch named Isobel moves to Los Angeles, and is discovered by a narcissistic actor (Will Ferrell) who wants her to play Samantha on a tv remake of “Bewitched”. He intends to overshadow her on the series and make the show about him. He soon discovers Isobel really is a witch and that’s where chaos begins. Isobel is a good witch in this film, however, she has moved to Los Angeles to have a “normal” life without magic. And, to put it bluntly, Will Ferrell was horrible in this movie. It if were someone else, I might have liked it but he was trying too hard to be funny and upbeat and you could totally tell it was fake. I was very disappointed with the Bewitched movie. They could have made a really awesome film adaptation of the TV series and they ruined it. Don’t waste your money.

Sometimes when I complain about false representation of witches in the media some people ask me, “Why can’t you just enjoy it as entertainment? You don’t have to take it so seriously”. The truth is, if we want to tear down stereotypes, we do need to take these things seriously. Many people form opinions by what they see on TV or in the movies. Would you consider it “entertainment” if something important to you was being misrepresented in a movie or a TV program? I don’t think so. If you don’t speak out about things and educate people, they will get worse.

I am always on the lookout for films and TV programs that present witches and witchcraft in a positive light. Have you seen any that I missed? I’d love to know about them.

Good Witches in the Media: Television

With Samhain/Halloween quickly approaching, and Halloween decorations appearing everywhere, I have been thinking of how witches have been portrayed in the media, on TV and in film, and if perceptions have changed at all about how the average person (not motivated by organized religion or culture) views those who call themselves witch, wizard or wiccan.

Only moments ago I was down at the corner coffee shop waiting for a pumpkin spice latte, and while I was waiting, I glanced up at the Halloween decorations. Right above the register where I had placed my order, there was hanging a green-faced, warty-nosed witch. A flood of images and thoughts ran through my head in rapid succession, the first being “How appropriate, a witch is hanging above a witch ordering coffee”, but then I caught myself. NO. Not appropriate at all. First of all, there’s that subliminal message of “hanging witches” (remember the Salem witch trials?), and then there’s the false notion of witches being evil, with warts on green faces. This stereotype is still part of the collective consciousness, especially where Halloween in concerned, due largely to the maligning of witches by the Christian church and popular media.

As much as I love the word Witch, this is a word that means different things to different people, depending on where they live, the culture and environment they were raised in, and their level of education (Education being the key word). Witch means something entirely different in South Africa than it does here in the USA. There are some places in the world where the mere suspicion of being a Witch could get you killed, because in those places Witches are associated with evil and misfortune. When bad things happen, the uneducated seek a scapegoat and the “witches” get blamed. This may sound familiar. (Again, remember the Salem witch trials?)

While other parts of the world still have a falsely negative view of witches and witchcraft, here in America attitudes are not so harsh. Well, maybe in some conservative parts of the country, but not everywhere. Most educated, intelligent people know that witches revere nature and use their gifts to bring healing and restoration. Wicca (the modern interpretation of the old religion of Witchcraft) has been legally recognized as a religion since 1972. Here in America, Witches are embraced and celebrated, both in real life and in the media.

This is the first of a two-part series of articles about witches and witchcraft in the media. This section will focus on TV witches and wizards. Wizard is a word that is not used often, and even though Witches can be both male and female, a Wizard is also a male witch. Warlock is another controversial word, which I will address a bit later.

There are many examples from television that present witches and witchcraft in a positive light. These are witches as they are meant to be, good and kind, helpful and healing. I own many of these TV programs on DVD and I think they are good for any witches’ video library. Here is my list of favorites:

bewitchedBEWITCHED is the story of a young witch named Samantha who marries an unsuspecting mortal (non-witch), Darrin Stevens. When he finds out she is a witch, he has second thoughts at first, but his love for her is priority and the two are wed. He forbids her to use her witchcraft, much to the chagrin of her flamboyant mother Endora (also a witch), who is completely opposed to their marriage. Samantha does use her witchcraft in many comedic situations that made this long-running TV series so popular. There are many colorful characters, such as Samantha’s relatives Aunt Clara, Uncle Arthur, and nosey neighbor Gladys Kravitz. The first actor who portrayed Darrin left the show due to severe back issues and was replaced by another actor. During the series, Darrin and Samantha had a daughter, Tabitha (also a witch) and a son Adam (not a witch). In the 1970’s there was a spin-off series featuring the grown-up Tabitha, but it was short-lived. Samantha Stevens was kind, caring and supportive of her community, a refreshingly positive image of the Witch. I know a lot of people think of Bewitched as “that old TV show I watched as a kid”, but I think folks need to seriously revisit this series. Both Bewitched and Tabitha are available on DVD. Incidentally, there was a movie version of Bewitched that was released in theatres, but it was absolutely horrible.

eb488bac22188ca67213eafc27a576a4CHARMED is the story of three sister witches, Piper, Prue, Phoebe Halliwell (and later, Paige) who discover their destiny to use their witchcraft to fight evil demons and warlocks. The sisters find their family Book of Shadows (with a Celtic triquetra symbol on the front) hidden in an old chest in the attic and throughout the series learn how to work the spells written inside to fight the forces of evil. At the end of the third season, one of the sisters is killed and they magically discover another sister who becomes part of the family to restore “the power of three” for another five seasons. The story is set in San Francisco, and watching the show was always nostalgic for us since we lived there for awhile, and they frequently showed clips of various landmarks around the city, places that we recognized and had visited many times. The Halliwell sisters are good witches, fighting evil and restoring peace. Some real witches have criticized the show, because the girls are often wearing skimpy outfits. I say SO WHAT. Speaking as a gay male, if I had a hot body (which I DON’T), I think I would show it off too. I see nothing wrong with that. My only complaint with Charmed (besides the entire Billie/Christie storyline) is the concept that “you can’t use magic for personal gain”. This is not true with real magic. If you don’t have your own immediate needs met, how are you going to help others? The whole banning of magic for personal gain may have been true for “The Charmed Ones” but it is not true for everyone who practices Witchcraft. There was one episode where a Wiccan was described as “Not a magical Witch but a Witch Practitioner”, also false. All witches are magical. These are minor beefs that I have with the show, which I still think is excellent. The first few seasons had many Wiccan references, Phoebe quotes part of the Wiccan Rede and you hear them using the phrases “Blessed Be” and “So Mote It Be” in numerous episodes. Throughout the series you will see both male and female witches, mythological creatures, leprechauns, faeries and the like. The Halliwell Sisters are cauldron-stirring, spell-casting, potion-making witches who use their gifts and abilities to fight evil spirits, demons and warlocks. There’s that word again, Warlock. In the series, Warlocks are evil, as that is the definition, after all. Oath-Breaker, Evil-Doer. Some people are trying to re-claim the word as a positive thing, using creative semantics and trying to spin the definition to their liking. Those who identify as ‘Warlock’ tend to do so with an air of defiance and a “challenge me” attitude, saying it “really doesn’t mean” what we’ve known it to mean for centuries. You can keep the Warlock title, I still prefer to be called Witch. There have been recent rumours of a new Charmed series, but nothing definate has appeared yet…we keep hoping!

The-Fate-merlin-on-bbc-14496723-1440-900MERLIN was a BBC series now on DVD about the young mythological wizard that lasted only five seasons. I loved everything about this show, I had grown so attached to the characters  and was very sad when it ended. Merlin was a delightful character and we especially loved Gaius, Merlin’s mentor. This is the story of young Merlin, Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana and Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon. Uther has forbidden the use of magic in Camelot, and anyone found to be using magic is put to death. Merlin takes a job as an apprentice for Gaius, the Court Physician. Gaius gives him a book of magic that contains spells, potions and how to use herbs and plants for magic. Gaius knows that Merlin is a wizard and is a father figure to him as he guides and protects Arthur on his many quests, and finally as Arthur becomes King. This series is filled with magic, mythological creatures, Arthurian legend  and adventure. A joy to watch, but with a sad ending that stays true to lore and legend.

Avalon-the-mists-of-avalon-32192811-1200-1406MYSTS OF AVALON was a TV mini-series, now available on DVD that tells the Arthurian legend from the perspective of High Priestess and Witch Viviane. This is a hugely popular program in Wiccan circles, as it portrays a line of hereditary Witches with ties to the ancient past, a concept held dear to many modern witches. Whether one agrees with this idea or not, the film is highly entertaining, beautiful music and scenery. It is rather long, just over three hours, and is based on the book by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

earthsea_cast_800THE LEGEND OF EARTHSEA was another TV mini-series now available on DVD, based on a book by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a story of a young wizard in training who is called upon to restore peace and balance to the world when the Amulet of Peace, which has ensured harmony between humans and dragons for centuries, is broken and a piece of it disappears. This was hugely entertaining, with Harry Potter-like themes.

legend-of-the-seeker-legend-of-the-seeker-30918024-1152-864LEGEND OF THE SEEKER was another TV mini-series on DVD, a story of a young man whose father is killed by a tyranical leader. With the aid of Kahylan, a “Confessor” with the ability to recognize when others are speaking truth, and eccentric wizard Zeddicus, they fight the evil leader, and overcome dangerous situations and creatures they encounter. Filled with witches, wizards and magic in a story of good against evil. This series only lasted two seasons.

room-on-the-broom_940x528ROOM ON THE BROOM is a delightful animated story on PBS about acceptance and friendship. The witch and her cat are flying on her broom as they make several new friends who ask to join them on the broom. I love the line “Is there room on the broom for someone like me?” The moral of the story is, yes, there is room for everyone, regardless of who and what you are. A heartwarming story of tolerance and acceptance. This is not only available on DVD, it is also a book, there are plush figures, coloring books and other activities for the kids, and a live stage-play version in the UK.

halloween-town-mainHALLOWEENTOWN is the first of a series of TV movies about a family of witches who must travel to Halloweentown to fight the evil forces who seek to take over the town. These are family films, and are often broadcast in October on the Disney channel. The residents of Halloweentown are always in costume, the town is populated by witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins and all manner of typical Halloween creatures. Debbie Reynolds is the matron of the family, a powerful witch who assists her grandchildren as they use their magic to fight the forces of evil. Good family fun!

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Witches of East End

WITCHES OF EAST END was an unfortunately short-lived (two seasons) series on Lifetime, now available on DVD, about a family of witches haunted by an ancient curse. The Beauchamp daughters are destined to die in their late 20’s or 30’s (I can’t remember which) and then be reborn to start the cycle over and over again for eternity. Their mother and their aunt do all they can to break the curse while teaching them how to use their magic and embrace who they are as witches. I really loved this show, and I was very sad when it ended. This show had a lot of fans when Lifetime cancelled it. What were they thinking?? I hoped that another network would pick it up, but that did not happen. There was no ending episode to tie up the loose ends, viewers were just left hanging.

the-good-witch-3THE GOOD WITCH is a popular series on the Hallmark Channel. There were several movies before it became a regular TV series, all of which are available on DVD. To be honest, I had a tough time getting into this, despite it’s large fan base. In all of the episodes I’ve watched, (and I will admit I haven’t seen them all), she never actually said she is a witch. She runs a holistic shop called ‘Bell, Book and Candle’, (a nod to the movie of the same name, about a witch). I never see her touch a cauldron, cast a spell, mix a potion, etc. You know, typical things that witches do. Her magic seems to be more of the New Age, holistic, self-help/counseling variety, which are subtler forms of magic in their own ways and not as obvious as I would prefer. Maybe I just need to watch more of it…

You will notice I didn’t write anything yet about AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN. That is because I have only seen parts of about three episodes, all of which were a bit disturbing. I can’t really make an objective opinion until I watch more of it, but I have some doubts about whether I will like it. People have said to me, “yes, it’s intense but just look at it as entertainment”. It kind of hard me to do that when I know that alot of people form their opinions about witches and witchcraft by what they see in movies or on TV, and if what they see is disturbing…

Part Two of this series will be about good witches in film, there may be a few you haven’t seen…

New Items Available

I have some new items available, in limited quantities, available for purchase via Paypal. Sage and Mallowsweet Divination Incense in 4 ounce glass jars, and Samhain Ancestor Bottles. These items were made during the recent Supermoon and Lunar Eclipse. Visit the “New Items” page of my website for more details and prices.

Sage and Mallowsweet Divination Incense

Sage and Mallowsweet Divination Incense

Samhain Ancestor Bottles

Samhain Ancestor Bottles

Crystal Magic: Tree Agate

treeagate3The markings on the Tree Agate crystal resemble the branches of a tree, some even compare them to veins in the body. This stone is used for all sorts of Nature and Tree magic, and some suggest placing Tree Agate stones in the garden or in plant pots to encourage healthy growth. This is truly a stone of growth and connection. As with all crystals and stones, the powers of the Tree Agate are activated by energy, intention and vibration. Due to it’s branch-like appearance, it is often used in rituals to connect with ancestors (the “family tree”), to channel tree wisdom, or to promote the healing of veins and cell growth in the human body. Meditating with the Tree Agate can remind us of our connection to Nature, to each other and to our place of origin. Those who practice Shamanism or meditative journey work with World Tree imagery will also find this stone helpful. The Tree Agate stone can be used in Celtic or Druid magic, due to the importance of Trees and Nature in Celtic lore and the Druid tradition. It can be used in magic to discover the root of a problem or situation in order to find an answer. It can be used for Tree Divination or with Ogham staves.

treeagate1The Tree Agate stone can be used to strengthen bonds between friends and family, and to connect with neighbors or people you rarely get to see. When used for healing, Tree Agate is calming and receptive, and helps to relieve small bone and vein problems. It can be worn to encourage fertility and prosperity. Folk magicians suggest wearing Tree Agate to relieve a stiff neck and to increase physical energy. Tree Agate is associated with the astrological sign of Gemini and the element of Air. It is linked to both planets Mercury and Earth. In the Chakra system, Tree Agate works well with both the Crown and Heart chakras. When using the Tree Agate in ritual magic, use Cedar and Pine incense, oils or the bark from any tree you feel a close connection to. Place tree branches on your altar, along with pictures of trees or a small sapling in a pot if you have room. This stone can be used in any kind of magic for growth and expansion.

TreeAgatePillowI happen to like the Tree Agate “pillow” (named this because it is flat and polished, and lays flat in the hand). Many different kinds of crystals and stones are available in pillow form. They are a bit more costly at around $12 each, but I find them to be very practical and easy to work with.

Tree Agate crystals are widely available online at websites such as AzureGreen and even Amazon. Purchase a few and make them part of your regular magical practice.

treeagate2

Perspective

This post will be a bit more personal than usual. In recent weeks I have been looking at where I am in my life, and all the things I do with my time, with teaching, writing and otherwise. I’ve been asking myself some pointed questions, such as, “Am I wasting my time, or am I really making a difference?” and “Do people really care what I have to share?” Where my writing is concerned, I like to think they do, or this blog would not have over 1,300 followers and it would not have won two awards. It would appear that my writing has been moderately successful, not to mention the three books I self-published. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I think I am much better as a writer than a public speaker. I have found that the pen truly is “mightier than the sword” and sometimes even the spoken voice. When I’m teaching a public class, I often have trouble finding the right words to express things I want to say, so I try to make an outline that has as much information as I can squeeze into it! Public classes are always a bit awkward, but they are although sometimes necessary. You never really know how many people are going to attend. Sometimes it is only a few, and other times there is nowhere left for them to sit. There are advantages to both small and large classes. Another factor is that the type of paganism that I practice doesn’t appeal to a lot of people here. I’m not entirely Wiccan, and I’m not exactly eclectic. My practice blends Druidry with Witchcraft and Celtic Spirituality, (also called DruidCraft), it is very specific and it is not everyone’s cup of tea. I do enjoy teaching, but I am honestly much more comfortable sitting in front of a laptop writing than I am in front of a class. In some ways, I have felt obligated to put myself out there and teach publicly, if for no other reason than to give local people a viable alternative to certain other teachers in the area whom I consider questionable, to say the least. I do not teach from an academic perspective, but rather from a practical, real-life, everyday living approach, with a little mysticism thrown in. Some call this being “fluffy” but I disagree. I believe most people would rather have information they can use rather than some kind of arrogant intellectualism. I try to make things simple and easy to understand, and I have had many kind words from readers who say I have done just that.

Here where I live there aren’t many teachers, and classes are sporadic. Bethlehem PA is kind of a small town, and pagans of various practices are scattered all over the Lehigh Valley. It would be nice to see more people who are mature and knowledgeable, with years of experience in witchcraft and paganism step up and start offering classes. It is important for folks to have a number of options to choose from, instead of the same handful of people doing all of the classes. I only teach privately now, and my students must meet strict requirements.

A solitary path is much more appealing to me now than working with a group. Group gatherings just don’t hold as much appeal as they once did. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and less patient, but it is also because organized groups often have expectations, personality conflicts, and widely varying beliefs and practices. I don’t shun them altogether, as I have many friends in these groups, but I don’t attend them as much as I used to. Even as a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, I am still solitary as there are no OBOD groups where I live. In one sense I am quite on my own, but in another sense I am never alone. Cerridwen is always with me, as Witch, Goddess and Mother. And my partner Matthew has always been supportive of my path.

tumblr_litjumIFDa1qi8jv8o1_400He also shares my obsession with Harry Potter. This has been a matter of much confusion, and perhaps a bit disconcerting for some folks where I live, especially since my last name is also Potter. This is not my birth name, but it is the name I have used for over 10 years since I chose it as a magical name. As far as I am concerned and regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is my name. I have never used my birth father’s name except when I absolutely must. He was absent from my life and I have no personal connection to his name, or his side of the family whatsoever. For the longest time, I sought to have my name legally changed to Potter, and I even had the legal paperwork prepared, but there were other issues that made it impractical to change my name just yet. Those issues are out of the way now, and the only reason I haven’t changed it yet is due largely to my own procrastination. I can imagine what people were thinking (Does he think he’s Harry Potter?) Of course not. I just connected to Harry’s story in a deeply profound way, as his childhood and my own were remarkably similar. I have been involved in the Harry Potter fandom for over 10 years, organizing groups and events, lecturing, and even writing a book about metaphysical themes in the Potter stories. We have made many friends through Harry Potter, and have had some amazing experiences. There is not one aspect of my life that has not been touched by Harry Potter. It has been firmly ingrained into my life. Some find this extremely odd, but it is what it is.

All of this rambling brings me to this point: After my last scheduled class in August, I will no longer offer public classes, and just focus on writing, private teaching, and making my hand-crafted magical items, which thankfully have done well. My spell candles and spell bottles have done very well. They have been sold not just locally but in Witchcraft shops from Salem, Massachussetts to the United Kingdom. I did have an Etsy store, but when they changed their policy regarding magical items, (You can no longer say your items produce a result), I closed my Etsy store and now only sell magical items through this website via Paypa,l when I have them available. Many of the items I make are sold almost immediately, before I have a chance to list them. I am grateful that people like them.

So, I am doing away with those things that aren’t working and sticking with what is. What I know for certain is that my writing is making a difference for people. My spell candles and bottles, blended incense, soaps and other items are helping people. My name is Rik Potter, Druidry and Witchcraft are parts of my spiritual path, the Goddess Cerridwen is my guide, and whenever I need to get away, Hogwarts will always be there…

Herbal Magic: Rosemary

rosemaryAt our recent Summer Solstice ritual, the organizers made a pinata in the shape of the Sun, and hung it over the altar. It was filled with bags of various magical herbs, inspirational quotes on small scrolls and other fun things. When the pinata was split open, everything fell to the ground and we all quickly scooped up whatever we could. One of the things I found was a small bag of Rosemary. Someone asked me what it’s magical properties were, and to be honest, I had to think about it for a moment. Up until then I had rarely used Rosemary in any magical workings. I knew it had some properties, such as healing, but I had always thought of it primarily as a culinary herb. I’ve often used it in cooking, but never as a spell ingredient or even as an incense. After the ritual, I felt led to do more study of this particular herb.

In my studies I found that Rosemary is one of the oldest incenses, and is associated not only with healing, but with protection, love, lust, memory and purification. It is used in love spells and in magical workings to remove negativity and bring positive change. It can be blended with sage and ground into a powder to make an incense for protection. It can be used as a substitute for Frankincense.

Rosemary is a masculine plant, associated with the Sun and the element of Fire. This makes it a perfect plant for spells cast during the Summer months, drawing on the powerful energy of the Sun. Rosemary is easily grown in a container, and when fully grown to desired height it can be hung upside down to dry. The dried plant can then be ground up and placed in ritual candles and soaps, burned as an incense, placed inside healing poppets, or scattered around the home for protection.

I like to place the dried leaves in the pool of wax near a candle flame, so they can be burned along with the candle to release their magical properties. For this, I use a yellow or orange candle, as these colors are also linked to the Sun and fire.

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Here are some other ways to draw on the magical properties of Rosemary:

  • Place fresh or dried Rosemary in a sachet, along with a few drops of Rosemary oil, and carry it with you for protection and healing, or hang it somewhere in the home.

  • Place fresh Rosemary in a muslin bag, and place it over the faucet when you shower or bathe. Allow it’s purifying properties to blend with the water as you take a ritual cleansing bath.

  • Hold a fresh Rosemary plant in your hands, and meditate with it, asking the spirit of the plant to share it’s wisdom with you. Be aware of any impressions or sensations you receive and record them in a magical journal or Book of Shadows.

  • Burn dried Rosemary on a charcoal block when casting spells for healing or protection.

  • Grow your own Rosemary plants at home.

Magical Communities Working Together

I’ve hesitated to write this post for some time, but I feel some things need to be said. I even struggled with a title, because this topic intersects with so many other things, but the final title sort of sums it all up. Even though I am writing from personal observation, I’m sure that any pagan community can benefit from what I have to share. If you read this and you think I’m writing about you, then maybe I am.

I am priviledged to belong to a local community of pagans, witches and other magical folk, a community that encourages and supports other magical communities in the area. We don’t think we’re “better” than anyone else, we attend each other’s events, we share and promote each other’s events and we often participate in events together as a whole. For the most part, there is no rivalry and no “competition” between groups. We are equal and we help each other out. Most of us. Unfortunately this is not the case with every group where I live.

Years ago, our community was divided due to the actions of an alleged High Priestess who caused a lot of damage from her desire to control and dominate. Many things were said that were not true and many friendships were destroyed. The community fell apart. When she left town, time passed and people were able to heal. New groups formed and many friendships were restored. But not all. In the spirit of healing and reconciliation, myself and another leader in the community organized a special gathering that we called “A Time for Healing”. It was intended to be a time of truth and forgiveness, of letting go of the past, a time of restoration and of looking forward to new things. We announced it months ahead of time, so people could arrange their schedules. I personally invited several people that I knew had been affected by the actions of the former High Priestess. We wanted to start fresh and new, and put behind us all the drama that had occurred. When the day came, myself, my friend and other organizers of the event were the only ones who showed up. It was very disheartening. Quite honestly, I was angry. It became clear to me that people did not want healing to take place, they preferred to hold onto their resentment. They had no intention of healing the situation. The community was not as mature as I had hoped.

I find it very unfortunate that some magical groups prefer to shun all others and exist in their own exclusive bubble. Reaching out to them is not always productive, and one comes away feeling unwelcome and looked down upon as an outsider. It doesn’t have to be this way. Likewise, I am not fond of pagans who brag about their “years and years of piled on experience” and how academically gifted they are, considering themselves elitist and “better than”, and therefore expect to be placed on a pedestal and treated like a celebrity. Such arrogance. Even though my favorite teachers are fairly well-known, they don’t brag about how knowledgeable they are, and they don’t look down on others who don’t have the same training. They don’t seek the lime-light, they’re not attention seekers. They treat everyone the same and simply share what they have learned. I have lots of training too, I may not have a degree in metaphysical studies, but it doesn’t make me worse or better than anyone else. I learned many things on my own without a teacher, but I have also learned some from teachers, from personal study, and from my spirit guides. In my classes and events I share what I have learned and what has worked for me. I don’t consider myself superior because I’ve had training that others haven’t. I still have alot to learn.

There are many gifted people in the magical community. Some have more training than others and some are more gifted in certain areas than others, but they are all equally important. As a community of magical people, we are supposed to be working together, supporting and helping each other, instead of isolating ourselves or expecting special treatment. No one is “better” than anyone else.