Decan Exploration

astrology

When most people hear the word “Zodiac” they think of the 12 signs of astrology, but did you know that each sign is divided into three parts known as the Decans?

These 36 classifications from Above have been around since Ancient Egypt and moved their way around Africa, Europe and Asia for thousands of years. They are a gift of specificity: revealing the diverse nature of the 12 well-known signs.

Have you ever found yourself thinking: “Cancer, eh? I am not sure that I’m the ‘mothering’ type, but I LOVE endlessly offering my resources to those in need.” Or: “I don’t feel like the ‘regal’ side of Capricorn is really me, but I AM really driven to build something sustainable in my life.” This is the versatility of the Decans, and I have completely fallen in love with using them within my practice as an astrologer!

Austin Coppock has given the world an incredible gift called “36 Faces: The History and Magic of the Decans,” a book that I have been closely studying for the past few months. I have decided to do my own personal exploration of these 36 Decans on Facebook đź’« I will begin with Aries I and move all the way through the Zodiac until each one is completed: invoking their energies through art, music, articles and everything else that the internet provides.

The intention of this Work is to reveal the magic of a lesser known arena of astrology and inspire those following me on this journey to observe their own experiences of these “Faces.” (NOTE: this is not a teaching of Austin Coppock’s book mentioned above, though I highly recommend it to all of those interested in the Decans as it is absolutely invaluable.)

Spring is here and this Work has begun. To follow along and add energy/insight to this endeavor, follow me on my NEW Facebook page 🌟 The Axe swings, and the wheel begins to turn…

Have you heard of the Decans? What are your initial thoughts about them? Are you ready for some Astrology Magic?

The Art of Reclaiming

Events, Mundane Magic

It has been my experience that most (if not all) people have opinions about Valentines Day. To some, it’s a frantic search for a date and a gift: the pressure to perform when expectations are high. To others, it’s a spotlight on their loneliness or a ploy of Capitalist society to suckle the bank accounts of romantic souls. Whether reservations are made or heads are low, this day carries a charge.

Witches Know that energy is a real thing and use it for channeling purposes to produce desired results: the more potent the charge, the more dynamic the results. There are countless sources of energy, but a common one is holidays and it’s safe to say that there will be many people participating in various types of “ritual” today.

Reclaiming witches recognize and honor the power of names/sacred days/life on this planet that is often taken for granted. This is the reason we call ourselves “witches”: there is a charge to this word that ranges from “scary, old, green hag” to “wise woman with plant-knowledge” to “the devil who will rid your body of an unwanted child” to “a person that will do the forbidden.” We reclaim the word “witch” for it contains a rich legacy of Wisdom and doing what Must Be Done. In calling that word ours, we give back to it with our thoughts and actions: knowing that both are enriched by the energetic current also known as “meaning.”

I believe that we have the right to reclaim words from toxic roots, so long as we have true knowledge of the source, integrity supporting our intention of its use and full awareness of the communities that have been impacted by said word (and whether or not it’s ours to claim.) I also believe that Valentines Day is an opportunity to practice the Art of Reclaiming: from consumerism, from gas-lighting and guilt-trips, from sexual violence as well as from hopelessness.

This tradition began during the Roman Empire when marriage was banned by Emperor Claudius II because he believed it made soldiers reluctant to leave for battle. A priest known as Saint Valentine married couples in secret and was later put to death for violating this law, though the lore reveals that he valued empathy and connection more than domination and obedience… An act, some might say, of True Love.

A wise witch once said “Don’t deny the gift just because you don’t like the package it came in.” There is an allegory present in Valentines Day, and humans have been feeding energy into it for centuries. While there is use in creating new words and philosophies to represent something important, why not use something that is already available? Does Valentines Day (or a pre-planned, widely known occasion to dedicated to expressing Love) deserve to remain hijacked by consumer culture or a bitter attitude?

So today, I challenge the willing: tap into the currents of love in whatever way feels right to you. Maybe it’s choosing to cook a nice meal for a beloved. Maybe it’s being clear with an employer about what you need as an act of self-care. Maybe it’s scheduling time to have coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe it’s something that isn’t listed here, but feels right for this day. Regardless of what it is (as long as there is consent if another person is involved!) I hope everyone chooses to have a wonderful Valentines Day. I know that’s my intention.

Becoming Unbound

Mundane Magic

Last night I had a vivid dream that I was laying in my childhood bed. The lights were dim and the room felt quiet, but there was a bustling around me. People I knew were interacting as they normally would. The atmosphere was not threatening. The bed I occupied turned into a warm bath and my body was completely submerged. I felt comfort. But then the moment came for me to rise up and out of the water and I began to wail. It was a loud siren of a howl that was filled with such despair and mourning. I kept screaming and moaning with tear-soaked cheeks…. it continued until I awoke.

This dream is the best description of what life feels like to me right now, minus the sobs and shrieks. I find myself coiled within my Self, repeating old feedback loops that don’t really *seem* to be relevant or useful anymore.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

I feel bound up and immobile. The joy that life still kindly offers me does not have the same impact. Sometimes eating overwhelms me and all I want to do is sleep the day away. Panic attacks have begun to pop up at random times. People around me (even those that I wouldn’t consider close friends) notice that I am “not myself” and ask what is wrong, which leads to shame for not being able to hold up my wall with a smile. On top of everything, my mind scolds me for taking the wonderful life I have created for granted: “there’s nothing actually wrong,” it taunts. “You need to get it together.”

As a rational person, I understand that these sorts of things happen to most human beings. As a witch, I recognize that I have many tools at my disposal. I can do a tarot reading to see what’s actually going on energetically. I can do Kala to heal the parts of my Self that are in distress. I can use the skills that I have learned to willfully change my circumstances (MAGIC!)

The energy to do these things exists within me, but it’s caught up in the battle of just trying to stay above the surface. So while I do have options, I am not able to shift my situation into anything “useful.”

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

In the past, this would be the point where I curl into a ball and hide out under my duvet until I feel the storm pass or numb myself to a point where life feels tolerable. This time however, I managed to do one of the most radical, magical acts of self care to date:

I asked for help.

I asked a close friend to listen to me when I was in a lot of pain. It was this conversation that helped me to realize that it’s time to go back to therapy. I asked another good friend to refer me to a trusted therapist, which (two weeks in) has felt like exactly the right choice. We have a plan in place to work through what’s going on and her insight is a gift that I could not have given myself at this time.

It can be easy to let the Ego to get in the way when we have already learned so much from life and done a tremendous amount of personal Work. There was a point not too long ago that I would have perceived the act of asking someone outside of myself to help me with my emotional state as weakness. The Self-hater within me would aggressively ask: Can I really call myself an experienced witch if I am unable to take on the intense difficulties of life on my own? How can I be of service to the world if I can’t even handle my own shit?

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

A powerful witch is a channel for Universal energy, not a permanent storehouse. I still think back to my intention for 2016: “I surrender to the flow” and realize that I can surrender to the Universe, while also refusing to let what is happening steamroll my spirit into submission. I can choose to notice my experience, decide whether or not I want to feel it at it’s full potency and do my best to direct the energy where it needs to go. I can also thank the Gods for the resources I have around me that help me when they are able and willing to do so.

We don’t get to escape being a human through witchcraft, but we can use our heightened awareness to do our best to live a life we can enjoy. What if one way to do begin doing just that is to release the expectation that we have to do everything all on our own?

Unflinching Prayer

Jewelry, Mundane Magic

I have allowed myself to sink into the story of Medusa, which is the myth we will be Working at this year’s SpiralHeart Witchcamp. It tells a tale of shame, betrayal, seclusion, authenticity, acceptance and sacrifice. (Feel free to read the whole story here.)

So often we are told stories of heroes. These (often male) protagonists answer the call to adventure, slay the demons, get the girl and score a kingdom. But this time, the monster is the hero. She is grotesque. Her eyes are lethal. Onlookers fear Her, but the darkness of her nature is powerful. And that’s exactly where the truth lies in this myth: where there is fear, there is power.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

We will gather together in July to open this myth and live it from the lens of our own personal experience. We apply the qualities of these characters to our own tendencies: When have I been considered a monster by others? We feel our response to their actions: What emotions arise when I’m all alone? We realize that the story of the Gods might not be too different from our own.

Prayer can be a really useful way to cope with accept these deep truths, which might be one of the reasons why I have made a few rosaries lately.

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“Sacred Depths” rosary by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Originally used in the Catholic tradition, these beads of prayer feel like a useful way to connect with the divine to manifest a desire. Same practice, new poetry.

SpiralHeart has chosen it’s intention for this year, which has been a warm blanket for my spirit. It reminds me that this Work has a purpose when I feel lost in the story. Every bead on the chain holds this carefully crafted statement of intent; as I run my fingers along each one, I am chanting transformation:

“We seek the Monster’s Unflinching Gaze. We are willing to Look, and risk the Seeing. Striving to hold the divine and monstrous both, we turn the gaze outward. We listen deeply, as allies, and work together to dismantle Privilege and Oppression.”

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“Steady Eye of the Serpent” rosary created by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Made of a variety of Serpentine stones, silver wire and chain, as well as a glass snake-eye pendant; this piece inspires integration. It is a softening of my rigid ego that strives for perfection. It’s also a reminder that the darkness that lies within me is an influential force that I cannot disown. As a wise witch once said, “oh honey, if you deny your Shadow you give up your power to shape it.” A lovely reminder that where there is a willingness to accept what is, there is the potential for transformation.

Feeling Connection

Art, Mundane Magic

Lately, I have realized how happy I am with my personal practice.

I used to scour the internet and books for a routine. I also relentlessly asked my spiritual friends, yogis and mentors what I “should be doing” to connect to my inner-most Self. I rarely asked myself these questions.

These people have it together I thought. What they are doing is clearly working.
That’s what I should be doing.

When I was told that writing in a journal about emotions can be a really useful way to experience them, I gave it a shot. Over time though, I realized that I’m a very verbal person…. I often use my mind to escape feeling things. Writing was intellectualizing what I felt and was therefore useless in this specific endeavor. This was a frustrating realization and the level of irritation I felt only reinforced just how badly I needed this outlet.

I took several things into consideration while tweaking this exercise. I decided that this practice needed to: be convenient enough to do on a whim, access my creative self, not take long to accomplish, and be something that I enjoy doing.

Collage was the answer. My collection of literary magazines, old college text books, National Geographics, art collections and children’s books served a turbo-charged source of inspiration. I find so much of the life I experience between those pages. Slicing them apart and piecing them together in a way that *feels* right has allowed me to match the emotion that I feel in the moment. The amazing thing about this process is that I am able to drop right back into that heart-space when I look back through old work.

The following is a peek into my Book of Shadows: the mirror of my Soul.

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“Hitched” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Your move

“Your Move” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

taliesen

“Mounting Transformation” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

dawn of silence

“Dawn of Silence” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

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“Triggered” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

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“Fingerprinting the Grail” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

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“The Chain Unveiled” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

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“Black Seduction” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

porcelain perfection

“Porcelain Hand of Perfection” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Devils direction

“The Devil’s Direction” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

cardiac hymn

“Cardiac Hymn” by VasalisaTheWitch

 

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“Impatient Dancing of the Dervish” by VasalisaTheWitch

A pocket of this blog will be dedicated to this Work. Some collages might eventually have some written context, some might not. Some of them may “make sense,” others might be totally bizarre. I love this Work because there is no right or wrong way to do it. The intention is to practice pure, unfiltered feeling.

How do you connect with your emotional Self?

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