ReclaimingPGH’s June Skill Share – Runes for Beginners

Events

skill share_ runes

 

WHEN:  Sunday, June 3rd from 2:00 – 4:00pm
WHERE:  Garfield, PA
COST:   Free

Join Ravensong and Vasalisa as they host ReclaimingPGH’s June Skill Share on the topic of Runes for Beginners!

Skill shares are volunteer-based workshops in the Pittsburgh area that are facilitated by Reclaiming witches and practitioners on a variety of magical topics. They are offered at little to no cost so that these trades can be made accessible to all who are looking to learn.

To keep costs low for this event, it will be held at a private residence in Garfield and space will be limited. If you would like to attend, please RSVP with a private message to VasalisaTheWitch on Facebook to reserve your spot! You can also find up to date information about this event on the Runes for Beginners event page.

Stay tuned for more monthly Skill Shares with ReclaimingPGH in 2018!

Growing Sharper

Art, Mundane Magic, Tarot

Of all the divination tools out there, I really have quite an affection for the tarot deck.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Even before I had any inkling of what it was, the beauty of the cards called to me. After years of training and self-guided study, I have found the 78 cards of the tarot deck to be the complete set of archetypes that visually express what happens during life as a human being. These experiences occur in everyone’s lives and we cannot escape these happenings, no matter our sex, race, class, or creed. When paired with intuition and the humor of our fair Universe, I find them to be an invaluable tool of navigation.

Last April, I did a 12-card reading for my year. I laid out one card per month, to give me an idea of what energies will be present and pulsing. As October arrived, this guy showed up:

 

9 of wands

IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

While there is no handbook to the original set of cards, I interpret the 9 of Wands as: on guard, anxious, defensive, prepared, ready to engage, challenges, showing some backbone, and courage. If this archetype is what I can expect from my month, it will be a time of being on constant alert. Nothing is actively happening and the opponent has yet to show up, but the air is charged and the armor has been applied. Ready, steady… wait.

So how can a tarot card that depicts a guarded warrior prepared for battle serve as a source of magic after I’ve put the deck away?

One way is to open up and explore this specific energy during daily check-ins with the Self. I can notice the thoughts that scurry around in my head or witness how I am reacting emotionally to the day’s events. Using this card as a lens for my month means consciously experiencing all of the nuances that are present within this energy, and making decisions for myself from this perspective. If I knew that a strong odor of defensiveness was present within my center, should I choose to discuss an issue with my boss this week? Am I really able to give unbiased feedback to a friend soliciting advice regarding how to deal with her unmotivated partner?

Another way is to embrace and express this energy; not change it into something different, but recognize it’s significance and apply it’s power. I can allow these nine wands to flow through me as I prepare for a long run or a busy night at work. I can be honest with myself and gently suggest that maybe meditation is just going to be difficult right now. I could choose to engage in some social justice work in the field. Giving this energy permission to guide me at this point in time allows me to celebrate it’s existence and understand who I am when I embody it. I often use this insight to inspire collage, which is my personal process of fitting the parts together to create a complete picture:

 

"Stand By"

“Stand By” collage by VasalisaTheWitch

It can be really difficult to *see* everything that’s happening when thoughts, feelings, energy and the physical world collide in complex ways. Tarot cards (and all tools of divination) give us the opportunity to pick a very decorated whole apart to be observed and understood. Just like a paint-by-number portrait, each color is necessary to create the image and make it complete. Even if one part is missing, the entire whole is affected.

The name of this magic is awareness, which is our ability to perceive and act from a place of conscious knowing. It is this separation, exploration, opening, embracing and expression that allows each of us to create our desired life while the mysterious hooded figure called The Unknown perches in the corner of our eye…

“The Universe Is Full of Magical Things Patiently Waiting for Our Wits to Grow Sharper.” – Eden Phillpotts

 

ace of swords

IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

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