Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ask the Witch: An Interview

1.You call yourself a witch. Do you ever worry about the negative connotations behind the term?

I identify completely, specifically, and thoroughly with the word “Witch”.  It is who I am, it is what I’m made of.  It envelops me genetically through familial connections, through spiritual connections, ancestral connections, through universal esoteric connections.  I revel in the word.  I worship the word and the idea of the creature behind the word.  It is one of the most positive connotations in the world.  It is the wise-woman, the healer, the mid-wife, the herbalist…it is the ultimate image of the perfect woman.

Here I should note that in modern times many males who embrace the pagan path refer to themselves as ‘male witches’, and they are, by all means, free to call themselves whatever they wish.  But for me, within my world, within my practice, within my experience, within my coven…”Witch” is “Woman”. 

[*note:  scroll to the bottom of this post for further info]

Do witches have a creed of some sort?

Some do.  Those who follow specific paths and formal traditions, those who consider themselves Wiccan, those who practice what they call White Magick, those who stand at the edge of the cauldron and only dip one toe daintily, cautiously, carefully within the bubbling depths, they will have a creed.  The Wiccan creed is, “Harm none, do what ye will.”…this isn’t a bad creed.   It actually makes a lot of sense.  Those of us who follow this pagan path did not choose to do so in order to harm anyone.  Harming anyone or anything is not our intention, it is not what magick is for.  But there are exceptions.  Within the world of the Gray Witch, there are boundaries that, under certain circumstances, can be crossed.  The one thing that breaks the Wiccan Rede for me is the need for protection, the need for self-defense, the need to keep safe myself, my family, my home, and anything else connected to my world which would directly effect my standard of living, or my sense of well-being…Harm me or mine, and you will experience the wrath of the dark angels, the animosity of those spirits called upon for protection, for retribution, for justice.

What are today’s witch’s like?

Today’s witches are a diverse panorama of women from a varied melting pot of humanity.  They are immersed in our culture and within our communities so completely that they have become part of the tapestry of our modern world, rather than some medieval myth.

As I state at my website, The Witch’s Corner:

Who is the Witch?

She’s a teacher, a librarian, a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a shop keeper, a writer, a mother, a student. She’s a blue collar woman, she’s a professional woman, she runs a business, runs for office, runs a household. She’s a companion to her spouse, a grandmother, a partner to her same-sex mate. She could be any woman you’ve ever met and any woman that you interact with everyday.

What makes her different from other women? She sees things that other women don’t. Nature speaks to her in an ancient tongue that has been forgotten by most. Her body responds to the waning and waxing of the moon, to the powers of the planets, the changing of the seasons, the behavior of wild animals, the energies of the plants, the energies of the stones.

The Universe speaks to her with the colorful images on cards, by the crystal images of a glass ball, by the movement of the pendulum, by the visions only she is shown.

Who is the Witch?…She is the Sorceress, the Mother, the Healer, the Wise Woman, the Priestess. She is part of a dim and distant past, and she is the shining light of our future.

Witches celebrate the earth and the seasons. What specifically do you do?

We most certainly do celebrate the earth, the turning of the seasons, called “Wheel of the Year”.  The progression of the Goddess’s story is highlighted throughout the year; it’s connected to the natural world, through the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.  And it’s interesting that you ask me this question, as this very topic is part of my next book.  As I try to explain about the significance of the Pagan holidays in our modern world:

“…I think, for one thing, we have some innate deep-seated unspoken need to have our lives punctuated by milestones; whether personal milestones like weddings, graduations, and births; or societal, communal, and spiritual milestones. There’s a strange reassurance that the universe works in an ordered and predictable manner and time table. And maybe this is comforting to us because so much of life is unexpected, unpredictable, played without a script, and undeniably finite.

Long after we are but a memory, there will still be people celebrating these pagan holidays, punctuating the end of summer, welcoming with open arms the predictable end to the season of light and warmth, retreating into the dark and comforting confines of winter and the still peace that it will bring, only to return to a new season of light with spring.”

What specifically do I do to celebrate these holidays?

Some of these holidays might pass quietly, barely noticed by the rest of the household, significant only to me, celebrated with somber reflection in the flame of a candle upon my personal altar.  Other holidays are more all inclusive; like Samhain, when we get all giddy and excited, decorating the house and grounds for the evening, opening our doors to friends and family, reconnecting with our ancestors; but also reconnecting with each other.  As the bonfire burns late into the night on Samhain Eve, and the air gets cooler, we huddle together, punctuating another year, reminiscing about the past and looking toward the future.

Is a coven supposed to be 13 women?

A coven can be anything you want it to be.  As far as I know there are no written rules and laws to be followed, there are no Pagan Police who will break down your door and serve you with a warrant if your coven is all female or all male, whether it has 13 members or a hundred. A coven is a very personalized group of people, like-minded people, gathering to celebrate their pagan spirituality, gathering to support each other in the day to day humdrum of daily life.  Coven members provide a shoulder to cry upon, an ear for listening, a field board for new ideas.  Your coven consists of people you can laugh with, be totally yourself with, and they are a group of individuals within this great big wide world with whom you can depend upon for loyalty.  Your coven should be a safe haven.

My personal preferences?…My coven (The Coven of Bristolwicks) is an all female coven consisting of 13 members.  I prefer the all female energy, the hen-party aspect if you will; I prefer a small group; I like the number 13- it’s significant to me and it ‘feels good’. I want Coven Sisters for all the reasons I just stated in the first paragraph.

Reality check– when you put any group of people together, it might take some time, some experimenting, some failures, before you create a group of individuals who will work well together, who will successfully support each other, who will get along, and who will ’click’.  But when it works, you know it; and when it works, it is an amazing experience.

Is there a prescribed form to your rituals?

Yes and no.  I’ve performed formal rituals; I’ve written formal rituals.  I’ve done so in the past, and I probably will do so again in the future.  But this is not the only way I connect with the Divine; this is not the only way I celebrate my spiritual path; this is not the only way I create magick.  My favorite form of witchery lay in the world of the Kitchen Witch, the Green Witch, the natural witch.  Spells put together by the seat of your pants, on a wing and prayer, have been some of the most powerful– and successful–magickal endeavors of my life.  When Spirit hits you, when you make this connection, you want to grasp it when and where you find it.  My special connection with the Goddess does not rely upon getting all dressed up in formal robes and wielding a ceremonial sword to cast a formal circle.

How does being a witch help you in your everyday life?

Being connected to your spirituality, no matter what path you take, is reassuring in the idea that there is more to ‘the big picture’.  There’s something larger than ourselves, there is a higher power, there is a rhyme and reason to the Universe and how it works; and thus, there is a rhyme and reason for existence within this realm.

Witchcraft is a very unique spiritual path, in that the power to create change, the power to shape our lives, the power to overcome obstacles, all lay within us.  Divinity is part of us, not some intangible stereotype hovering in the heavens above watching as we screw up and drop to our knees.  I embrace the Goddess– I am the Goddess– and the Goddess is me.  All of life’s infinite possibilities lay in the knowledge of my own being and within the energies and entities that I have aligned my life with.
If you approach your spirituality in this way, everyday is a celebration of the miraculous.

goddess 2

*Note:  This blog and my experiences are related to the world through my eyes, through my world; it is a Woman’s Point of View.  My focus is on the feminine aspects of my spirituality, my beliefs, my practices, my experiences.  I could not, and would not, try to explain or write about the male pagan experience.

Friday, March 7, 2014

When is Enough Too Much

This is one of those blog posts that I wasn’t sure belonged here or at my “Other Blog”.  I opted for the Other Blog, but I’m posting it here as a link because it’s relevant.  Really– it is.

So–

When is enough too much? …to find out the answer to this, click  Here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tarot Lessons: Update-- by text, audio, video

Tarot Lessons 1-6 are now available in text form (emailed to you in rtf); audio form; and in video.
Although I charge for the text and audio lessons, these videos are free for anyone to watch.  They’re based on the lessons, but as you’ll see, I tend to improvise from time to time.  And actually, I’m considering a “part 2″ for the third video (Numerological Connections) because I have so much more to add to this topic… follow the link:

http://tarotreadingswithamythystraine.blogspot.com/p/tarot-classes-video.html

Tarot read

Beauty: Look Absolutely Spellbinding

Beauty…Mundane women of the world grasp at fancifully advertised chemical preparations to keep themselves beautiful, to achieve youthful skin, to stave off the effects of time– the Witch goes beyond that.  She knows that sometimes to achieve beauty and perfection, you have to get your hands dirty.  This spell is a good place to start:
 
Shed Your Skin Spell
 
This spell takes advantage of the energy of three creatures who change or freshen their appearance by literally coming out in a new skin:  the cicada, the moth or butterfly, and the snake.  And you’re going to be using in this spell one of three things:  the shed skin of a snake, the open and empty cocoon of a moth or butterfly, or the abandoned skin of a cicada.
 
Shudder now and get over the ‘ick’ factor– real magic requires girding up your loins and getting your hands dirty once in a while– as the gray witch will tell you.
 
Correspondences:
 
Day:  Friday– associated with Venus, beauty, and love
Hour:  1st/8th hour after sunrise;
3rd/10th hour after sunset
Planet:  Venus
Moon Phase:  waxing to full
Color:  pink, white, silver
Herbs:  for beauty– ginseng, lilac,
rose; for youth– catnip, valerian
Oil:  rose oil Stone:  rose quartz
Number: 6
Letters:  F, O, X– (no pun intended)
Symbols:  The symbol for Venus
Deities:  Venus/Aphrodite or Hathor
 
Items needed:
 
1.  The dried shell of a cicada,
a snakeskin, or abandoned cocoon
2.  A fireproof bowl
3.  A bottle of rose oil
4. A pink or white candle
5.  A red flannel bag
 
This spell works on the refreshing metamorphic energy of the creatures listed here.  It also works on the mind and what you see, or what you think you see.  This spell is not an instant facelift, but rather, it changes the perception of how others view you and how you view yourself.  It will give you the illusion of beauty and youth.
 
After the basic preparations are in place, the candles lit, the incense going, place upon your altar the fireproof bowl.  Drop within it the insect skin, cocoon, or the snake shed and light it afire– you may need a bit of a flammable oil sprinkled on the top to get it going.
 
When the fire has gone out and the remains have cooled off a bit, using your pestle, crush what’s left into a pulp, adding a few drops of rose oil and drippings from your pink or white candle until you get a good consistency with a nice scent.  Now take it in your hands– yes, in your hands– and roll it into a ball…drop this treasure in the red flannel bag.
 
Keep this bag in a secret spot, and on the evening of a full moon bring it out when you are alone in a darkened candle-lit room.  Stand before a mirror, calling to the changing energy of the creature whose remains are in the bag.  Wave the bag in a gentle back and forth motion before your face, saying:
 
“By the power of the creature here,
May youth and beauty shine pure and clear.
By the power of the creature within,
May I shed what’s old to reveal fresh young skin.”
 
 
  This spell is from:  “The Gray Witch’s Grimoire”
by Amythyst Raine
 
Published by Moon Books
 
 
 
 You’ll find more spells at
The Witch’s Corner:
 
Book of Shadows: page 1
Book of Shadows: page 2
Book of Shadows:page 3
 

Memories in a Handful of Stones



These three stones were sent to me by a friend, a friend who lives on the east coast– a magickal, creative, saucy little witch.  She brought her special energy to all that she did, everything she touched, from her whimsical blog full of recipes for Pagan holidays to the connections she made in the Pagan world on a variety of social sites. She was loved and respected among us all.

I forgot exactly what the circumstances were that surrounded the stones and why she sent them, but that really isn’t important; I treasure them.  I keep them in a beautiful sterling silver dish that is a leaf, a gift from my son.  The stones and the leaf are perfect together.

This lovely lady didn’t pass on, as you may have thought when you started reading this post, which sounds somewhat like a eulogy.  I guess it is a eulogy in a way; it’s memorializing, remembering, and honoring the spirit of a Sister-Witch who no longer exists.  The lovely lady simply decided to take another path in life, she went down a fork in the road, veering away from all the places she had been to have new adventures in a new life.  I miss the magickal, creative, saucy little witch; but I’d like to think that some of her energy still exists here, in these stones, and in the memories I carry.

I wish her well.  I hope that her explorations unearth new friends and positive connections.  I hope that she is happy in the life she’s chosen and the path she’s following.

Witches
 
*Note: this image is courtesy of Pinterest