The Importance of Online Community

astrology, Events, Mundane Magic, Services

COVID-19 aka the Corona Virus: heard of it? Chances are if you are reading this on a media device you have. There are so many questions swirling… How have you been feeling lately? How can we keep ourselves, loved ones and vulnerable populations safe? How long will the outbreak last? How can we best prepare our households? How concerned should we be?

One answer that applies to many of the above questions is to self-isolate if you are prone to respiratory illness, over 60 years old or show any signs of infection. If you are one of the privileged individuals who are able to financially make this choice not to go to work, this seems to be a great option: so long as you have support to help with grocery delivery and a willingness to put the external world on hold for half of a month. If you cannot afford this option, this puts the population at a greater risk: spreading or catching potentially deadly germs everywhere you go.

The thing about isolation though is that it’s….. isolating.

Being stuck inside and away from friends, family, co workers and friendly faces is lonely business. And being out in the world? When many others are sick and fearful? Intense. I know that the tendency for those who are a part of supportive, loving, inspiring communities is to get together. However, Health officials say that’s not a great idea right now.

So how do we take care of ourselves while also remaining connected and hopeful?

My answer? Online! What a time to have “social media” at our finger tips. We intend to offer the ability to talk instantly with other queers, witches, astrologers and guides without the trauma of the Facebook news cycle. We are building a Sacred Space online that will hold us as we share our array of experiences and lift each other up when things feel overwhelming. We will craft opportunities for introspection to ground ourselves and remind us of the things that we CAN control. Like Our Self.

We know that time off from work, buying supplies or just living in poverty can be expensive. We have done our best to make tuition affordable while also allowing the Work of facilitator to be sustainable for us. Interested? Check out our FAQ and Tuition pages for more information!

We have five courses planned for our 2020 cycle, which begins on March 24th. My co facilitator, Tere Parsley Starnes, and I hope that each one will serve as supportive, soul-healing that can be done inside, with slippers on. First up?

Magic of Earth and Sky

DATES: March 24th – April 22nd
DURATION: One month
COST: All 2020 courses (one time fee) =   $240 – $345 | Monthly subscription =  $20 – $30 | Just this course = $40 – $50 (sliding scale)

“If we surrendered to the Earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted like trees.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Starsdance magic honors the wisdom of the Earth as we look to the stars for inspiration and guidance. This class offers a framework for using astrology in magical practices. We will cover philosophical and ethical approaches to queer magic, which honors our birthright of joyful authenticity grounded in sacred relationship. Love fuels our magic and extends to encompass both Sky and Earth. Inspired by the stars, we will create altars, set intention, practice divination skills, ritualize the transits of the moment, and deepen devotional relationship with the Sky, Earth, and Mystery. 

This class begins at the Aries new Moon. Together, we leap into astrology-based magic to nurture fresh beginnings. All our classes include at least one webinar that students will be able to attend live or view later, instructional materials, portions of the Starsdance Mystery School workbook, and online discussion.

Radical inclusivity is important to us!

We are working to dismantle oppressive capitalist practices by offering sliding scale payment options. We also ask that those who are interested in our offerings, but perhaps unable to afford our prices right now: will you send us a message? We would like to make this school available to those who are committed to The Work and would like to join our community.

Follow us on social media:

Facebook: starsdance mystery school
Instagram: starsdance.mysteryschool

Become a student:
REGISTER: fill out our form

Stay safe, healthy and snuggly out there!

ReclaimingPGH’s Summer Ritual and Community Meeting

Events, ReclaimingPGH

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WHAT: Reclaiming Pittsburgh’s Summer Ritual
WHEN:  Saturday, August 25th from 3:00 – 9:00pm
WHERE:  Schenley Park, Pittsburgh
COST:  Donation

Intention: ​“Celebrating abundance, we share the fruits of our labors.

Things to bring:
Yourself!
Locally available food (either prepared yourself, or store-bought)

PLEASE NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT BRING PEANUTS OR PEANUT PRODUCTS – WE HAVE A PARTICIPANT WITH AN AIRBORNE PEANUT ALLERGY. PLEASE DO NOT BRING SHELLFISH – WE HAVE A FACILITATOR WITH A SHELLFISH ALLERGY.

Blankets (if desired, to lay on the ground)
Charcoal/Lighter fluid (assuming a charcoal grill adjacent to shelter)
Things to grill
Condiments
Paper plates/napkins/cutlery
Drums/Maracas/Other Percussive Instruments

 

For more about this event, up-to-date information, and the address to the specific spot where the ritual will be held: https://tinyurl.com/rpgh-summer-ritual-2018

 

Saturdays in Point Bay

WHAT: Reclaiming Pittsburgh’s Summer Community Meeting
WHEN:  Sunday, August 26th from 1:00 – 4:00pm
WHERE:  Swissvale, Pittsburgh
COST:  Donation

Join us for our Summer 2018 Community Meeting where we check in with what has been buzzing around in the cells of ReclaimingPGH and talk about what’s on the mind’s of our local hive of witches!

Want to make sure something is on the agenda? Fill out the form: FORM CLOSED

Our agenda (view only)

We use community consensus practices for group decision, which prioritizes all voices, feelings and concerns of the group. For more about how consensus Process works,  click here. A helpful flow chart can be found below:

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We welcome all newcomers to our events! We would love to meet you and our Reclaiming Pittsburgh team is available to answer questions you have prior to either these events. Just send us a message   Hope to see everyone this weekend!

 

Justice for All

Mundane Magic

Resist. Speak up. No justice, no peace. Come together. Show up. Act now.

We witness our representatives continue to violate our fundamental right to live a decent life and exist as we are in the places we call home. We remember that historically, we have never been TRULY equal and things are only getting worse. We know that everything must change and we cannot wait any longer for it to happen. We take to the streets to demonstrate that we will not stand for intolerance or unjust treatment. We do it the best ways that we can at this point in history. We chant these mantras and more.

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This weekend marked the beginning of a mass revolt in the name of justice. Of all of the marches that were scheduled, I chose the one that supported our local efforts to end gentrification and embrace intersectional feminism. It was being lead by a diverse group of organizers that welcomed us all.

I prepared myself for an afternoon of fighting back. I crafted my sign, arranged to meet up with a friend and scheduled safety check-ins with loved ones. I was ready to add my energy toward a cause of resistance, but felt unsure and fearful of what was to come. We gathered. We waited. Our numbers grew and grew. And then our leaders began to reveal their way (and quite possibly the best way) of shifting our world toward universal acceptance and equality:

They initiated a ritual as a rebellion.

We watched the organizers call down their ancestors to join us. They built an altar to black femmes and remembered the lives that brought so much joy to the world. We watched as Yemaya was invoked: the great Mother of the sea in their tradition joined us in our work. Offerings of rum, tobacco and honey were made as we all chanted in Her honor. We listened to the personal stories of trans-people, immigrants, disabled people and queer people. We roared as we heard the echo of Truth flow like water from the mouth of an incredible spoken-word poet. They invited us to dance to their drums as we celebrated lifting each other up, instead of tearing others down.

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And when an elderly black woman from the neighborhood walked straight up to the speaker and demanded to know what we were doing, she was not silenced. She was acknowledged. We told her that we were all there to work toward making the world equal and better. She said that she had fought to save the apartments that still stood on the partially demolished ground under our feet. We told her that this rally was a part of continuing that work. We cheered and thanked her for coming forward as she smiled and told us that her arthritis was calling her back home.

Sure, we marched and make no mistake: it was a powerful statement. Local business owners came out of their shops to cheer us on while police politely directed traffic as we flooded the streets. Onlookers took photos. Drivers honked in solidarity. We walked side-by-side to show that we will not back down from creating necessary change. We protested, but we also celebrated culture, uniqueness and spirituality. I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of such an enormous, incredible movement.

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As I move forward with my community of passionate activists, I am recognizing that if we are going to demand that things be radically different, we must also choose to resist in a radically different way. The anger, sadness and full-spectrum of emotion we feel must be channeled in a way that unites us with our own personal depths. We need to allow ourselves to connect with the strife of our ancestors and ask for their advice as we shape the future. We must listen to the Gods and culture of all traditions to discover how we can live in peace, together. We need listen to each other’s stories and respect all of the diverse ways of living life.

It is only when we do these things, while also accepting that our neighbor’s methods may vary greatly from our own, that we can truly have Peace and Justice for All.

New Links

Updates

You can now find VasalisaTheWitch on Facebook! Daily updates include: photos of my newest jewelry creations, intuitive collage artwork, concept photography featuring the Rider Waite tarot deck and opportunities to connect with witches from all over the world.

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Community is a collective spell of our diversity shaping reality.. and the world-wide web has made this magic oh so convenient. I look forward to connecting with all of you.

Stay tuned for the launch of my Etsy shop!

Creating Magic

Art, Jewelry

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“Simmering Embers” created by VasalisaTheWitch

 

I have a vision of a community that is saturated with self-expression and I am committed to manifesting this idea. How many times have you sought out a piece of beauty in the world that reflects your true self?

My work is made of semi-precious stones, wire, charms and chains that come together just for you. I specialize in talismans, which materialize in the form of bracelets, earrings, or necklaces. I also enjoy repairing and re-vamping old jewelry into something that suits the wearer as they are right now.

 

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“Breaking the Egg” created by VasalisaTheWitch

 

My inspiration comes from learning about people and making something that cannot be replicated. I love getting to know the style and personality of my clients so that we can co-create this magic together. All prices are determined on a case-by-case basis so that all interested parties are able to acquire that which they desire.

Interesting in scheduling a consultation? Contact me and tell me what inspires you!

 

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“Electric Swirl” created by VasalisaTheWitch

Witchcamp Whispers

Events, Mundane Magic, Poetry

I’m headed to the south in a few days to attend Tejas Witchcamp.

Witchcamps are both completely unique and reassuringly familiar. Reclaiming camps will often choose a myth or a story as a lens for campers to experience, as well as an intention to help facilitate personal transformation. These camps are an opportunity for witches from all over the world to come together, raise energy and learn about themselves from one another. I could describe the two camps that I have attended (prior to this one) as: transformative, difficult, ecstatic, necessary. There are “workshops.” There are “vendors.” There are “get-togethers.” The rest is a delicious mystery to those that have yet to experience one.

This time, I get to experience Samhain in Texas through the filter of Alice and Wonderland…

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Down the rabbit hole and into the land of our Ancestors to seek truth through connection and respect.

We witches do these things, you see.

My intention for this camp is to connect with my flavor of prose and write some poetry as I weave my spirit with the Unknown. The following is an ode to the parts of myself that I hope to cultivate: the part that puts words together in an agreeable arrangement and the part that allows inspiration in even though I cannot always understand it.

Whispers waft toward humming ears
Our distance less than tidy,
Connection’s a hiss from darkness
The slithering song of fate.

Our veil’s silk sewn mystery
Pulled back for prying eyes,
Vision strikes and penetrates
Venom of truth seeps then steeps.

Slithering Song of Fate” by Vasalisa
Samhain 2014

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Camps happen only a few times a year, which makes this a very special event for me. Some of you might be thinking, “this doesn’t sound like mundane magic… This sounds like ‘REAL’ magic!” And you would be right. Going to witchcamp is not something that happens every single day. So where’s the mundane in this entry?

The mundane is recognizing what I want: community and adventure. It’s committing: making the scheduling arrangements and paying for it (even if that means living modestly for a while.) It’s allowing myself the time and space to have an experience that is desirable without guilt. It’s not just saying what I want to do, but actually doing the thing that invigorates me and makes me feel whole.

How do you allow wholeness?

Cast Yourself

Background, Mundane Magic

My name is Vasalisa and I am a Witch.

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More specifically, I’m a polytheist fusion of Reclaiming and Feri beliefs. I primarily work with Aphrodite, Loki, and Baba Yaga but often call upon (and celebrate) the deities of other pantheons. Many more pockets exist within the word that likely sticks out on this page; a whole collection of worlds with names, descriptions and categories alive within this title that was once kept quiet… but this isn’t a poetic tour through our diversity as a whole. A solid intention serves as the core of this space, just as our Earth’s iron center pulls everything toward it’s molten heat.

In order to paint the full picture of what this blog is about, it seems appropriate to tell the story of how my perception of magic changed with one simple question.

Three years ago, I found my people and my practice. As my Work evolved, so did my mystical toolbox of supplies. I weaved wands out of branches and called in Inspiration. I set up an altar where all of my beautiful gems, images and soul-bits could be on display. I invested in my first Book of Shadows that I *knew* would encapsulate my spirit between those pages.

 

Book of Shadows

IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

I remember the day that I brought it home. I could barely wait to fill that book with poems, spells, artifacts and artwork… but it all had to be just right. Clean. Perfect. Just like all the mysterious ones I admired when I was younger. These two were the steel rods that held up my massive expectations:

 

This handmade, living record of the Sanderson Sisters

 

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This gorgeous “how-to” scrapbook of the Owens Women

 

I put a great deal of effort into those first fifteen pages. So many snips of paper were placed neatly around archetypes and explanations in such elegant cursive! Then it came time to record the heavy stuff… My addiction Work. My abandoned child Work. All of the pain and darkness that I desperately wanted to purge from my heart and burn after scrawling. I knew this Work was necessary, but I convinced myself that it needed to be done in a separate spot. How could I possibly follow poetry about connecting to a new deity with my reoccurring dream of defecating in public?

“I have a new journal for my Witch Work, a journal for my 12-Step Work and a journal for my dream Work,” I explained to one of my mentors as we were about to sit down for breakfast. “My new book is for magic only.” She stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and shot me a gaze that I knew meant she was about to slice right through my bullshit.

“Isn’t your whole life magic?” she asked.

And with that one sentence, I was knocked down off of my high-horse. Of course my whole life is magic. If the act of magic is defined as “the art of changing consciousness at will” and I use my will to make choices in my life, then it is the consequences of those choices that shift my perspective (ie: consciousness) so that I can continue to manifest the life that I want for myself and make the world a better place.  It is how I do my part to create change in the living Universe around me. Boom. Magic.

Writing a chant about courage helps me carry out the bold choices I need to make when I feel anxiety. Doing addiction Work helps me recover from destructive habits, which allows me to participate in healthy relationships. Witnessing a friend tenderly reading stories to a sick family member that was cruel to her as a child opens my heart to compassion for others. All of this is magic, and it definitely deserves to be included in that fancy book.

It can be easy to whittle magic down to “what I do in my coven” or “how I feel when I’m at a public ritual,” as if something *special* needs to happen in order for that magical spark to show up. Don’t get me wrong, these formal happenings are special, but truth be told: magic is how we choose to participate in life every single day. It’s how we show up in community as well as how we treat ourselves. Which brings me to the intention of this blog:

VasalisaTheWitch is here in cyber space to reveal how she experiences magic in daily life to her community.

There will be artwork. There will be poetry. There will be stories of synchronicity  realized through everything from divination to conversation. And there will certainly be a full spectrum of emotion unveiled as she travels down the road that cackles and shakes for your reading pleasure.

“Cast yourself. You are the spell.” – T. Thorn Coyle

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch