Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Time for a little Re-CCC on Some Tools?

Here are a few rules of thumb I follow:
- the full moon is generally the best time of the month for charging tools.
- the Summer Solstice is generally the best time of the year for charging tools. 
- the full moon closest to the Summer Solstice is the best time, hands down, for charging tools. 

Well fellow Wiccans, that full moon nearest the Summer Solstice is tomorrow night. So be ready for it! 

Look around on your altar, or in that box (drawer, etc.) where you keep your ritual tools. Is there anything that's been gathering dust? Anything you haven't bothered to use for a few months?  Anything that maybe other people have fiddled with? 

It's okay... sometimes you don't need a tool for a while, it gets neglected. I went a Summer doing all my rituals outdoors one year to attune with the Summer energies here (I hated Summers so much when I first moved to this part of the country!). So I would haul some supplies with me to the beach or the nature preserve near here and hold my rituals-- all but my athame.

Carrying a knife here is illegal; it's considered a concealed weapon. Mine in particular would be hard to explain if I got stopped-- it's kinda big for an athame, admittedly... in fact, at about 14 inches long it practically qualifies for a short sword. But it had lions on the quillion-- how could I resist it? I'm a Leo!!! It practically roared at me to take it home! 

Anyway, after a few months, my athame felt oddly heavy and lacked it's usual zip. So I had to Cleanse, Consecrate and Charge it.

My Tip for You Today: If any of your tools aren't quite singing to you, you might want to re-cleanse, consecrate and charge them. 

If you don't know how to do the '3 C's', you can learn here: Wicca Basics and the 3 C’s: Cleansing, Consecrating and Charging.

Now don't do this to every tool for no reason-- when you use a tool for ritual repeatedly, and treat it right, it should be humming with the perfect ritual energy for you. I actually like to ground residual ritual energy into my athame as soon as I draw up the circle and bring the ritual to a close.  

If your tools are buzzing and alive with your ritual energy, you don't want to cleanse that; you're going to negate it and start from scratch. So you don't want to do this to all your tools for no reason. 

But if your ritual tools have picked up some unwanted energy, or seem to have lost their 'zap', re-CCCing the implement to start fresh and to impregnate it new energy can really give it a jump start.

Look at my pretty athame-- do you see why I couldn't resist it? LOL.

Are you planning to cleanse, consecrate or charge anything at your esbat tomorrow night?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Head over to the Wiccan Way Grove Chat Today

From 3 to 6 pm today EST I'll be hosting a chat about the Wiccan Way Grove.

Applications will be available in July. So for the next 2 weeks, the chatroom will be up for anyone interested. This way you can get to know me better, as well as your potential Grove mates.

If you want the link & password, just shoot me an email  and I'll send them.

Please be advised, anyone being disruptive (hostility, name calling, starting religion wars, proselytizing, or anything else that makes people feel uncomfortable or distracts from the purpose of the board) will be booted.

My Tip for You Today: Join us at the Grove!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Give in to Primal Urges

My Tip for You Today: Give in to some primal urges.

I was cleaning and came across some of my old poetry, and my younger self left behind a reminder for me of how important it is to sometimes just say 'screw it' and indulge. Sometimes it's the only way to truly have the cathartic experience necessary to make oneself feel whole.

I'm not saying go totally nuts; don't hurt people, or put yourself in serious danger or anything. After all, it's all about balance. But we live in a world where society is cutting us off from some of those primal urges-- to let go, to dance, to hunt or camp, to put our hands in the dirt, to sing and chant, to make love.

Try to give in to some of those urges. Maybe you can't just chuck it all and run away to live in the outback or Amazon jungle, but can you go on a rustic camping trip for a week, or a hike one weekend? Can you go out in the yard under the full moon in the middle of the night with the porch light off and just let yourself go and move to your own tune?

Maybe you could indulge in something creative-- a painting, a poem, jamming with an instrument. Lose yourself in it for a while.

It's not always good to hold everything in... sometimes you have to let yourself be guided by instincts.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Add Some Words of Wisdom to your Book of Shadows

There are words of wisdom all around... especially in the modern age of the internet. Many memes are funny, but you can also find some real gems to live by. 

I started saving quotes decades ago. I'd stick ones I really like to my wall on post-it notes. When I had covered the wall practically and post-it notes were beginning to fly everywhere, I started writing them in a book. But then I would put the book away and not look at it for a long time.

Eventually they made their way into my Book of Shadows. 

About once per month, I go through the section, aptly labeled, 'Words of Wisdom'. I read the quotes that really strike me. By doing this, I feel the wisdom kind of seeps into my life. It's a constant reminder. 

My Tip for You Today: Put some 'Words of Wisdom' in your Book of Shadows. 

Add a quote section, and add to it when you find something worthy of copying... and then use them; look at them. Make them into your mantras. Live by them.

(This is my actual BOS, btw, the page with some of my favorite quotes-- I say this because some people have asked me about my BOS and wanted to see it):

What are your favorite quotes?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Don't Try to Justify Yourself to Others

As human beings, we crave acceptance. This is not bad; it's part of being a social animal. This is why so many strive to conform to the socially agreed-upon standards, no matter how absurd or screwed up those standards might be. 

Even those who try to argue that they are non-conformists, rebellious, etc. are trying to conform-- they're just trying to conform to the other side of that spectrum. People who paint their hair blue and wear facial piercings, tattoos, outlandish clothes, are very much conforming-- they're conforming with those who rebel against the socially agreed-upon standards. They're trying to impress and fit in with people on the opposite end of the spectrum is all; but they're still on the same spectrum.  

It's back to the law of polarity; all truths are but half truths. Things on opposite ends of the spectrum are just opposite sides of the same coin; they are the same, the difference is only in degrees. 

Because of this, there is this knee-jerk reaction to defend one's religion, to justify one's beliefs. A lot of people will ask, "How do I get my family (friends, partner, co-workers, people at school, community, etc.) to accept my religion?" 

A lot of Wiccans will battle with people in their lives, arguing religion, trying to explain themselves, trying to get the other person to understand and to be tolerant of Wicca. Sometimes these battles are big blow-ups, and sometimes they're just a series of arguments that go on for years and years. And the Wiccan tries to explain himself, tries to get the other person to see his point of view, to understand that Wicca is a good religion.

So how do you get people to accept your religion? Well, the fact of the matter is, you can't. And you should stop trying. 

My Tip for You Today: Don't try to justify yourself to people. You don't have to. It's better if you don't.

Trying to justify yourself may only makes things get worse, not better. This desire for acceptance ends up backfiring on people. You can end up making long speeches, nagging, or challenging other people on their beliefs... challenges they're not ready or willing to face. Most of the time, it's not going to help sway them to see your point of view, it's going to cause them to dig in their heels even deeper.

Trying to push people to accept you is trying to force your viewpoint on them. You may not be trying to force them to practice Wicca, but you're still trying to force a viewpoint on them that is not their own. This can result in the opposite-- you drive people further away. 

When you try to justify Wicca, you run the risk of sounding defensive. People who sound defensive can easily sound guilty to those who disagree with them. You sound like there is actually something that needs defending. Your beliefs don't need defending. 

What you really need is not to try to get others to accept you... you need to practice self-acceptance. When you're truly comfortable with who you are, when you know you're doing the right thing and have made the best choices for yourself, that you're living a life sincerely being true to yourself and your beliefs, you begin to realize that you don't need to justify it to anyone. You don't need to defend it. You don't need others to accept it, you don't need their approval and you don't owe them an explanation-- you only need to demand a certain amount of respect your rights as afforded by law and social contract.

You also need to practice the tolerance and acceptance you preach-- part of which is learning to respect the rights of those who don't accept your religion.

Do you waste too much of your breath trying to justify yourself to others?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Protect Yourself from Wicca Dangers

"What is the danger" or "how do you protect yourself" are some questions people who don't know much about Wicca might ask. They think that we have to worry about boogie men like demons, ghosts and all kinds of nasties jumping up at us during ritual or invading our dreams or something.

Sorry to disappoint these people, but in 25+ years of being Wiccan I've never encountered anything along those lines that have to do with Wicca. I don't believe in demons and ghouls and that sort of stuff. I'm not particularly superstitious, so it's not like I go around trying to protect myself from such nonsense. They're just not something I think about or worry about, and certainly nothing I've ever encountered.

Still, there are some things Wiccans do need to protect themselves from. 

I've taken the liberty of identifying the 10 biggest threats to Wiccans and their safety. Please take a minute to read them, note them, write them in your Book of Shadows if you like.

My Tip for You Today: Protect yourself from the following:

1. Never leave candles burning unattended. Be very careful with candles catching fire on long sleeves or robes. 

2. Be especially careful if you're burning papers and such, both indoors or outdoors. Flying ashes can burn homes down or start forest fires.

3. Likewise, use a heat proof censor, and when burning raw incense also use a trivet of some sort under it to protect the surface. Don't leave it burning unattended.

4. Be careful not to burn herbs or substances that might be toxic or irritants. Always keep rooms well ventilated when you're burning incense or other things, and always use incense charcoal for indoors (rather than toxic barbecue charcoal).

5. Dilute essential oils before letting them touch your skin. Many are irritants and allergens. Using them full strength can cause problems from rashes to increasing allergy sensitivities.

6. You may feel compelled to wander away from other people for private spiritual moments or rites; just be careful when you're going off the beaten path. Just don't get lost, or hurt where others can't find you, and of course be careful of wild animals and other humans. Be sensible and keep a phone on you.

7. Don't wander into private property; no matter how much you want to perform a ritual in that public park or nature preserve under the full moon, please respect operational hours, permit requirements and other legal issues. 

8. Nature is beautiful. Nature can also be dangerous. No matter how connected you feel to animals or how much you want to collect natural herbs in the forest for your tea, please use common sense-- educate yourself properly on these things, from reputable expert sources, or don't mess with them. 

9. Remember, Wicca is a religion, not a medical practice. Someone being Wiccan doesn't necessarily qualify them to treat illnesses and injuries with alternative methods like herbs and energy healing. When someone is acting funny, don't diagnose them with negative energy or a hex cast on them. Seek qualified medical advice. 

10. Protect yourself from people who would harass or harm you for being Wiccan. Don't try to engage them in some kind of holy war-- people can be crazy. Your goal should be to keep a respectful distance. If they cross legal boundaries, contact the police, get a restraining order, document their activities and take legal action if necessary. 

With knowledge of what dangers may exist, you can take the necessary precautions and release your fear.

What are your fears?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Be a Synthetic Witch

I remember when the movie The Craft came out... overnight, a whole hoard of people popped up claiming to be a 'Natural Witch'. To this day, people like to tote that one out and wear it like a badge of honor. Some even go so far as to say they're a 'Natural Wiccan'. 

I have never understood that someone, let alone a Witch, could buy into that concept... who doesn't have the potential to be a 'Natural Witch'? 

After all, isn't Witchcraft utilizing the natural energies of nature? And are we not all nature, all made from those energies? By virtue of that, isn't that natural for everyone?

Who doesn't have the potential to become a Wiccan? Would our Gods turn people away? Would tenets of things like finding balance or taking responsibility for oneself not be beneficial to just about anyone? 

Some will argue that their mother, grandmother, great aunt Tilly, etc. practiced some kind of folk magic or divination, by virtue of that they're a Natural Witch... well, everyone could trace back in time and find ancestors who practiced some kind of magic... that's a given. 

Someone actually raised in Witchcraft by actual practicing Witches knows that Witchcraft isn't so natural-- it takes a lot of work. No matter what a person's innate talents are, without the learning and the effort, without the work, they do you little good. 

And likewise, some will argue that being a Natural Wiccan is because their family had a Wiccan in it, or they were exposed to Wicca at a very early age. Likewise, I would say, does that make people 'Natural Christians' and 'Natural Scientologists'? No... you still need to practice a religion to be a religion. 

So when people say they're a Natural Witch... or a Natural Wiccan... it's a bit like claiming to be a Natural Human. Yeah, big deal. We all are. 

My Tip for You Today: Don't be a Natural.

The problem with a lot of these so-called 'naturals' is that they kind of give themselves a false sense of security. They don't realize how much work should still be involved... that's why I have to say 95% of the 'naturals' I've met are people who are more dabblers than anything else. They just kind of float along on their instincts and think it always has been, and so always will be, good enough; but they don't seem to really make much progress. 

I prefer to say I'm a 'Synthetic Witch', lol. The most skilled and wise Witches and Wiccans I've known have been of the 'non-natural' sort. I didn't get here by trying to claim some natural birthright... it's not enough to say "I am a Natural Plumber because my Grandfather was a plumber". You have to put in the work.

I have spent hours upon hours meditating, studying, reading, taking notes, re-reading (there are books I've read 5 - 10 times), discussing, pondering, contemplating, experimenting, practicing. Likewise, as a Wiccan, I have spent a great deal of time learning and putting my faith into practice. 

Witchcraft and Wicca... they aren't birth rights in a sense that all you need in you is some natural ability or inclination. Everyone has that. Everyone is born with psychic abilities to some extent (though many people are trained out of it by our society). Everyone can sense energy and utilize nature. But it's up to you to take your potential and use it, learn it, study it, use it, and become skilled at it. 

No, I'm not a natural Witch, or a natural Wiccan. I proudly admit I had to work hard to get where I am, and look forward to continuing to work for what will come in the future (I have certainly not reached the peak of my path yet). 

Work for it... being born with something is merely chance; that's not what makes anyone special. What makes you special is what you make of your potential, because that is not by chance. That's by your own efforts, and you should be proud of that. 

Are you willing to work for it?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Drop Your Baggage in the Solstice Fires

Yesterday, I talked about the Summer Solstice, which is tomorrow (so in my trad, it would start tonight at sunset). 

I said the Summer Solstice has always been the time for two things. The first is 'last chance'-- it's the time in the year where you basically have to put up or shut up. Do or die. 

The other thing is dropping that which no longer serves you. The Wheel of the Year has gone half-way, so it's a good time to look at what you're struggling with-- what's blocking you from accomplishing things? From moving forward? What's dragging you down? 

Before it was too late and the year was out, our ancient Pagan ancestors had to look around, assess their progress, and their problems. Does that old roof keep leaking no matter how you plug it up? Get rid of it. Is that old nag slowing down? You're going to have to replace her before harvest.  

It's not only a last chance to start something new before the dark days come, it's a time to get rid of things that are holding you back before they cause irreversible damage. 

Summer Solstice energies are great for banishings.

My Tip for You Today: Dump your Baggage!

Write your ails on a piece of parchment, or even on a dried bay leaf, and drop them in the Summer Solstice bale-fires-- this is transformation by fire. This is reducing your troubles to ashes so that you can rise again. 

Don't have a bale fire? No sweat-- got a barbecue? Or how about a heat-proof pot (I like cast iron) and a candle? I know you have a stove and a pot with a cover. So go to it. 

As Elsa said, 'Let it go!' 

Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm Sponsoring a WWG Chat on June 28 for Those Interested

WWG Chat! You're invited

The applications go up next month (July 15) and I keep urging only serious Wicca students to apply. But I realize a lot of people want to know more about me, my ideas about Wicca, and about the Wiccan Way Grove before they can decide if it's really what they're looking for.

To remedy this, let's open the lines of communication a bit better. I'll be hosting a private chat on Chatzy.com (a free chat site-- I'm not sure what platforms it supports so I apologize in advance if this is inconvenient for you, but I'm not that tech savvy and have to go with something easy).

I'll be available to chat on:

Sunday, June 28 
3 pm to 6 pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time
(that's UTC/GMT -4)

You don't have to be there for the whole time, just feel free to drop by any time during those hours and leave at any time. You can participate, or simply 'lurk' if you prefer to see what's going on. 

To participate, just Email me and put in the subject line "add me to the chat"

Give me your name and your email address, and I will mail you the chat room link that Sunday some time before it takes place.

This is not a lesson or workshop, just an informal chat so we can get to know each other better, and you can ask any questions you might have.

Please spread the word to those who you think might be interested. Thanks. 

Tips for Living Wicca: Jump on Your Last Chance for the Summer Solstice

This week end is the Summer Solstice, and it's a powerful time!

When you look at the wheel of the year on a whole, you see that it's a big cycle. Yes, it's related to the agricultural cycle, but it's so much more than that-- because agriculture in ancient times involved people. Whether our Pagan ancestors actually celebrated any festival or not, they still generally upheld the Wheel of the Year.

That is, the Winter Solstice (mid-winter) was a time for regeneration and recharging your battery. As spring approached (February), you began looking for signs of when that period would end, and began making plans, and then by March planning really got underway, and some early things got started. By May, things were really in full swing-- you were working, you were sweating. 

By the time the middle of summer came around (when the sun was at the highest point was at the zenith of summer, not the beginning of summer as the modern calendar marks it), it was time for two things. One of those things I will discuss tomorrow, the other I will discuss today: last chance. 

By around the time of the Summer Solstice (and again, I'm not talking about sabbats and rituals, I'm talking about how our ancestors lived the cycles of their lives), it was your last chance to get things going-- at least for big projects and changes. 

Let's say you realized your crops that you planted in the early spring is not doing so great; it's your last chance to get things into the ground so that you can harvest before the frost. Let's say you decided you needed to build an addition to your home or you want to make a root cellar or something. Again, before the weather gets too cold to finish it, you want to get it started by now. 

My Tip for You Today: Grab that last chance-- magically, or mundanely. 

The Summer Solstices gives an amazing burst of energy, the elements are practically crackling with energy around you-- particularly Fire, the element of action. So this is a time to really take action. If you've been planning or wanting to just throw yourself into something-- no matter what it is (going back to school? Starting a new business? Getting your photos scrapbooked once and for all? Painting the bathroom?).

Now is the time to draw from that active energy to throw yourself into something, especially if you've had a passion for getting it done. 

If you are Wiccan, it pays to help align yourself to the seasonal energies, to attune with the natural cycles of the earth, with their ebb and flow. This is one of those times.  

Do you have things you're itching to get done?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Don't Sabotage Your Own Magic

Yesterday, I just finished and published a very detailed article that I'm actually thinking of expanding into a book, just because there's so much to say on the topic. 

If you want to check it out, you can find it here:

 Witchcraft Spells: 'Why Didn't My Spell Work?

And it's a good read, if I do say so myself, for anyone who's been disappointed by the results of their magic and spell casting. 

One of the things that seems to be the biggest culprit is self-sabotage. I see it time and time again, and a lot of it is due to sending conflicting energies out into the world:

For example, people cast spells because they are in despair and depressed and they want to be happy; then they refuse to move out of their parents house, or see a doctor for depression, or to even stop talking for 5 minutes about how everyone is so mean and terrible and always taking advantage of them. Are you sure you really want to be happy? 

They cast spells for a better job, but don't bother submitting resumes or filling out applications. And how do you expect this job to come to you? Do you think the Gods are hiring?

People cast spells for money, but they badmouth those 'greedy rich jerks'. Why are they surprised their money spells don't work, when they've created this subconscious stumbling block of not wanting to be like a greedy, rich jerk?

All of our thoughts and actions contribute to our magical goals, not just the stuff we do while we're casting spells. It's all inter-connected, people. This is why the first step of really learning Witchcraft properly involves a lot of pathworking and going within and sorting out your own issues, it means dropping the ego and facing those issues, learning to let go of them, work with them, or even embrace them if you can figure out a way to make them work productively. 

Learning to cast effective magic is not just about learning how to sit there and chant over candles, or blend herbs-- it's about a total mental makeover. This is why things like meditations, affirmations, positive thinking, emotional language and discipline, etc. are not really optional. 

My Tip For You Today: Try to go beyond the surface of magic, and go deeper. Try to understand just how much of you actually needs to be thrown into a spell for it to work. 

They don't call it the Craft of the Wise for nothing. You can't accomplish changes with magic if you are resistant to change, to accepting responsibility, to making efforts to work on things. This is something not just for newbies to consider, but even those who've been dabbling or practicing the Craft for a long time but has had less than effective results.

Everyone has problems; even the best Witches have to deal with problems. I'm not implying that Witches have perfect, fairy tale lives. But why are so many Witches wallowing in poverty, bad family relationships, bad love life relationships, addictions, health issues, etc.? It's never going to be perfect, but any adept Witch can make it better-- there should not be so many Witches struggling with problems that they're so deep in over their heads.

It is self-sabotage, because they're doing Witchcraft, rather than living it. The Craft is not just something you do on the nights of the full moon, but who you are, how you live, how you think and look at things on a daily basis. There is no separating it.  Keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Are you struggling with self-sabotage?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Write Your Spells

Before you can cast a spell, you have to understand how to write a spell. If you don't understand how to write a spell, you're probably not ready to cast spells.
A lot of people get Witchcraft study backwards. They think learning Witchcraft comes from buying spell books that offer a bazillion spells, or by looking up websites like 'spellz r us dot com'. Then you find a page that features something you want to do, and you act out the instructions. 

Basically this is the equivalent of waking up one day to decide you want to play a piano, going out to buy a book of songs, sitting at the instrument and banging away to what you think the sheet music is saying.

This is why so many people say "I tried Witchcraft, it didn't work". Witchcraft works; the person just tried to play a classical concerto before they learned how to do scales and read sheet music.

Casting spells requires understanding of what you're doing-- you have to study first, and know the hows, and whys, and whats behind magic. You have to understand things like how to word a spell correctly; why you never use negatives or focus on the concepts of 'wishes' and 'wanting'; how to get specific with your goal and time frame.  You have to train your mind so it's disciplined in altering states of consciousness at will, so you're able to maintain focus, visualize, speak 'emotional language', raise and direct energy. You need to understand the concept of creating channels, and how to prevent yourself from sabotaging your own magic after the spell is cast.

My Tip for You Today: Start writing your own spells. 

Casting spells requires a certain amount of knowledge and personalization. This requires both study of the principles behind it all, and experience-- which comes from experimentation and practice. 

That doesn't mean pre-written spells are worthless. On the contrary, it's great that we live in a day and age in which we can exchange spells. I love to write up and share spells that I've had success with in the past on my Hubpages. Likewise, I find spells from others that I try. I find them very inspirational and learn a lot from other people's style.

You can grab a spell someone else wrote and use it, but you still need to know how to write spells first so that 1) you can be sure the person writing it knew what they were doing and 2) you can tweak it to personalize it.

If you've been dependent on other people's spell books and websites exclusively and try to follow them like a script, then it's time to walk away from them. Start fostering a little more of your own creativity and self-reliance, and work on writing your own.    

I create this little chart as a guide for learning to cast spells (I used it for this article: Witchcraft For Beginners: The Five Essential Parts of Casting Spells; it's also a good guide for writing spells.

Do you write your own spells?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Get Your Midsummer -- or Midwinter -- Plans Going!

Litha is upon us here in the Northern hemisphere; the Summer Solstice when it is the noon of Summer. 

For our friends down under, you should be getting ready to enjoy the Winter Solstice festivities.

I am of the school of thought that it's very important as a Wiccan to recognize the sabbats. To us, the Sabbats are more than just holidays. They're more than just an excuse to take off work and party.

Some of Wicca's most profound teachings come from our Wheel of the Year, and the meaning behind the cycles of the season. 

Sure, there's always stuff going on in our lives. A full-blown ritual celebration is not always possible. But even if you're working and busy with mundane things, you should still try to observe it in some way. This may be as simple as saying a blessing before your meal, or taking a moment to notice the sun riding high when you're walking through the parking lot to your car. 

Also keep in mind, we celebrate a season, and what that season represents, rather than commemorating a specific day. I know at least here in America the Summer Solstice falls this year on Father's Day, so a lot of Pagans might have family obligations, such as traditional outings with dear old dad who still doesn't know you're Wiccan. It happens.

So if you have to push your Sabbat to the nearest convenient date, don't feel guilty-- it works.

My Tip for You Today: Try to plan something for your Sabbat over the next couple of weeks.

For those celebrating the Summer Solstice, you might find inspiration in my latest hub: Magic for Midsummer: Simple Spells, Potions, And Other Magical Inspirations  As the week goes on I plan to put up a couple of more articles for Midsummer, so keep check. 

I've written a lot of hubs for the Winter Solstice, too, which can be found at Wicca for Beginners: Wheel of the Year Resource Guide

The point is, you should really start thinking in advance. The season isn't a moment in time-- there's a waxing and a waning period that works up to it and winds down. Making plans is in itself an activity, even if it's just a decision to buy a tin of Pillsbury biscuits to throw in the oven and slather with honey that night, or to spend five minutes outside meditating under the moon before you go to bed. 

Try to come up with something-- anything -- to keep yourself attuned to the cycle of the seasons, no matter how minor it may seem.

What are your Solstice plans?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Practice Magic Every Day

I have heard some Wiccans treat magic with such reverence and respect that they feel it should be reserved for only the most special or important needs. It's a last resort for when all else fails, and only for major things in life-- healing, for example, or perhaps to help  you find a job before you end up homeless. 

That's all fine and dandy for people who think like that-- but personally I recommend doing magic every day. 

Yes, that's right. Every day. 

Why? Well, there are two main reasons that kind of say it all for me. 

First of all, and probably most importantly: practice makes perfect. Magic is a learned skill. You don't become adept at magic by practicing it every 4 or 6 months. You become adept by practicing it often. Even if you practiced it often for a while, then stop for a while, it can take a little bit of time to get back into your groove (not nearly as much time as it took to learn in the first place, but still-- yes, you can get a bit rusty). Just like with an artist, or singer, or musician, etc. who needs to keep up the practice, you gotta keep those skills honed. 

When those desperate moments come, don't you want to be on top of your game? How do you think you get there? You practice with the small stuff. 

Second, don't you think it's a bit ridiculous to wait to help yourself until you're in a desperate situation? Would you wait until you're starving to death before you get up to plan a meal? Would you wait until you're on the brink of homelessness before you started working to earn the money to pay rent? Are you going to wait until you're dying of cancer before you seek treatment? Of course not... being pro-active is not just common sense, but it's the way you improve the quality of life.

How is it noble to wait for things to be out of control before you use your talents and resources to help you? Isn't it more noble for you to prevent you or those around you from reaching the point of suffering? 

Tips for Living Wicca: Practice magic every day.

Mind you, that's practice magic. That doesn't mean you need to practice ritual or spell craft every day... simple positive affirmations to attract that which you desire, putting healing or calming energies into your tea before you drink it, send that tired friend a jolt of energy in visualization, etc,-- these are small ways to incorporate magic into your daily life for little things. By taking care of these little things, you hone your skills and you keep ahead of the game (think of it like preventative medicine). 

Magic is not like fossil fuels. There's not a limited amount that will run out one day and be the end of it. It's not a wasted resource... it's part of nature, it's in and around us at all times. You won't use it up, you won't cheapen or disrespect it by using it. It's not greedy to use the resources at your disposal responsibly, just like it's not greedy to stock the pantry or plant your crops or put gas into your car on pay day. You have the means to keep things running smoothly and make life what you want it to be. Use it.

How often do you use magic?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Try to De-Polarize Yourself

I just wrote a lengthy hub article on the Duggar scandal and what Wiccans can learn from it, which is basically a lesson in polarization.

The article was not about the Duggars themselves, really. It was more about the reaction to the Duggars, and how it illustrates polarity. You can see the same lesson in political scandals, celebrity scandals, during campaigns/elections, in hot-button issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, the many deaths of young black men in the news over the last couple of years, etc.  

Polarized people can recognize this in people of the other extreme, but not in themselves. For example, extremist right-wing conservatives will recognize how unhealthy extremist left-wing liberals are, both personally and for the country. But they don't see it in themselves. 

It works vica-versa, by the way. Extremist, left-wing liberals can only see the problems with polarization when looking at people on the right end of the political spectrum. Neither of these extremes is better than the other; they're the opposite sides of the same coin, and their extremism is what exacerbates problems and inhibits solutions.

The reason I use politics as an example is because those who have something to gain personally from politics (from the politicians to the media) takes full advantage of the polarized nature and exploit it. Polarized people are their pawns.

Being polarized is an indication of a lack of balance. Leaning too far to an extreme drags you down and keeps you from functioning on optimal levels. This is because overly-polarized people -- extremists -- have a very skewed view and limited ability to understand things. It can create some real setbacks, in your personal, spiritual or even magical growth. When you're polarized you create mental filters, some of them so thick and distorting that they are actually just blocking you from achieving things 

For example, you try starting a little home business because you're sick of working for corporations. You absolutely despise capitalism and often rant about how capitalists are greedy pigs. But, alas, your business is floundering. You wonder why your efforts and magical workings to help you get that business of the ground aren't working well-- it's because your polarization has created a mental filter, and your subconscious does not want you to become a capitalist greedy pig! You have blocked yourself from being truly effective! 

Polarized people are easily manipulated-- just look at conspiracy theorists. They're polarized, and they're being majorly taken advantage of by authors, filmmakers, websites, and tin foil hat manufacturers and the like, who deliberately try to fuel that polarity for profit and notoriety. They do it by promoting fear-- they try to foster hate, suspicion and division, not unlike a cult tries to do. 

Meanwhile, the people falling for the conspiracies are just giving more power to the thing they believe in and fear the most. So you basically create your own reality, giving power to all the things you fear the most. This all interferes with you finding that balance, finding that happy medium at which you can function and progress in optimum levels. 

My Tip for You Today: Try to work on depolarizing yourself, for your own peace of mind, for your own progress, and for the rest of humanity as well (because it's the polarized people who impede compromise, and that is what world leaders, businesses and the media take advantage of to further their own agendas). 

Now don't get me wrong-- being polarized is not unnatural. And it's not 'all or nothing'. You can be perfectly balanced in many areas of life and still be slightly polarized on certain topics and issues. It doesn't make anyone a bad person, and no one is completely balanced. 

But the goal in Wicca is to strive for an ideal balance, and an ideal is never truly achieved-- it's always something to reach toward. The first step in finding balance is recognizing the areas in which you are seriously unbalanced. A good place to look for polarization are those topics that create a knee-jerk reaction, or where you have an us (the good guys) vs. them (the bad guys) attitude.  

I'm not saying you can't have an opinion on anything. Depolarizing yourself is not becoming so neutral that you are apathetic-- apathy is a polarized perspective as well, it's not a happy medium at all. You can certainly have opinions, make choices, do political activism, support causes, care about things, etc., even when you're de-polarized. 

But when you're polarized, your thoughts rule you; you don't rule your thoughts... and most of those thoughts have been implanted by other influences, so by extension, you have outer influences controlling you when you're polarized. You can depolarized and take control of your own mind again, and still have an opinion. You will find that you can breathe again when you depolarize-- you lose that knee-jerk reaction, that flight-or-fight response, when a topic comes up. You will find yourself better able to open up, to listen, to reason, to evaluate, to be more impartial and objective, to be more fair and rational. And you'll find yourself balanced, and finally operating on optimum levels, removing some of those stumbling blocks that you didn't even know were there.

Do you have areas where you're polarized?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Play With Circles

One of the most basic rites within a Wiccan ritual is Casting the Circle (also known by other terms like the Circle Rite, Conjuring the Circle, raising the Cone of Power and more, depending on the tradition). It's probably the one of the basics that Solitaries struggle with the most due to lacking hands-on guidance and books poorly covering it.

The Circle Rite sets the general tone for the ritual and helps create that sacred space for ritual observance and magic. It shouldn't be an afterthought; it's a learned skill, and an important one at that.

Don't wait to do rituals and just rush through the circle ceremony muttering words off a piece of paper. It's important to really learn how to shape that energy, 'program' it with what you want it to do and give it form.

If you're a complete novice to the concept, or feel like you've never quite grasped it, you might want to read:

My Tip for You Today: Practice your circle casting skills by playing with circles.

Whether you're completely new to circle casting, or just looking to get back to basics to strengthen your skills, there's no way to help yourself improve than with practice. Don't wait until a monthly ritual-- you can practice circle casting regularly until you get the hang of it better.

Go somewhere you won't be disturbed, such as your bedroom or even a park. It's good to have a little space to work with here, but you don't need any tools or supplies so don't worry about people seeing you. You'll just look like you're practicing some kind of Tai Chi or something.

Begin by spending some time sensing the energy in the area before you start. Progress to using different types of circle casting methods-- which I won't go into here, but there are tons of different ways (see the articles above, check out just about any Wicca 101 book, or google 'Wiccan circle'). 

Then try to sense the energy. How does it differ from the energy before you cast it? Can you sense a change in the air? Can you sense definite boundaries? Do you feel any weak spots? Is it getting warmer in there, or cooler? If you're outdoors, do you notice insects, animals, or people (particularly children) noticing you, even if you're just sitting there in the middle of it? Some will be drawn to you, while others will respect the boundary and stay outside of it. 

Then practice with different methods of drawing up the circle or letting it collapse. Again, experiment by exploring the energy of the area to see if it has changed again. 

By playing with circles you will begin to get a better grasp of what you need to do for ritual.

Are you confident with your circle casting skills?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Embrace Mercury Retrograde

In the last entry I talked about all the problems Mercury retrograde can bring. Now, I want to talk about the benefits. 

You don't usually hear about these benefits, because everyone is too busy griping about the problems. But Wicca is a religion of balance, and we don't see anything in nature as all bad or all good. Rather, we look at it for what it is, and find a way to work with it. 

Kind of like mint-- if you're not careful, mint is an evasive plant that can completely take over the garden. But who would want to live without it? The trick is finding a way to work with it, so you can reap the benefits and avoid the drawbacks.

This goes for Mercury retrograde as well-- it's not all bad, you just have to know how to work with it.

My Tip for You Today: Work with Mercury in retrograde, not against it.

So you know Mercury retrograde is a time when things often happen the opposite of what you wanted, right? You've probably heard from dozens (hundreds) of sources about how spells for things can go awry during this period due to the powerful 'reversal' energy it projects. 

Sadly, it occurs to few people that they can use this powerful reversal energy as well. Doesn't it make sense that during a time of powerful reversal energies you cast spells to reverse things? Rather than trying to work against the current by starting new things or drawing things to yourself, use Mercury retrograde to reverse things you don't like.

For some examples: 
  • rather than spells to promote good health, cast spells to reverse the effects of illness or injury. 
  • instead of casting spells to draw a financial windfall, cast them to diminish costs or need at the time so you don't spend more money
  • looking for love or companionship? You really don't want to cast spells to find a lover during Mercury retrograde; you might try casting spells to banish loneliness, or to make a break from those people in your past who have not been working out so you're ready to move on.

Mercury rX is very good at speeding up results. The problem is, if you're not careful, it can speed up things you don't want (all those lovely problems it's known for, like mechanical and electronic malfunctions, or miscommunications). But it can also speed up results of things you do want as well. So it is a good time for spell casting, if you're careful and know how to work with the energies. 

This 'speeding up results' thing is why so many people have trouble and problems during Mercury retrograde. Most people tend to lean more toward negative thinking, and it's bad time to focus on the negative-- because you'll get it in abundance. More than ever, during Mercury rX, it's important to stay in a positive state of mind, in good spirits, and bask in positive emotions. You will get those back in abundance as well if you're able to keep your mind focused on them.

Mercury retrograde may be well known for muddling the mind, but it's got an even better benefit: clarity of the soul. This is why it's a great time to focus on going within-- things like meditations, trances, visions, divination, pathworking, etc.

Your visualizations will be enhanced during this period (which is why, again, it's important to keep them positive), and your psychic abilities will be in overdrive, so trust that intuition. 

Pay particular attention to your dreams and the messages you're getting when you're asleep-- when your conscious mind is shut down, and your subconscious mind is running rampant. If you don't normally keep something beside the bed to record your dreams, such as a notebook and paper, or -- even better -- your phone or a small digital recording device, then you should start. 

If you keep in mind the beneficial things about Mercury retrograde, and be careful not to invite in problems, you can navigate this period with little trouble.

Did you even realize that there were benefits to Mercury Retrograde?