Spring Fling Spirit Fair

Events, Tarot

WHEN:  Sunday, April 7th from 11:00am – 5:00pm
WHERE: Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Stems of the season are beginning to sprout, but what blossoms are yet to come? As the energy of spring begins to generate fresh life, it can be a great time to check in with Goals. Desires. Intentions. Direction. Join Journeys of Life (and me, Aurora) for their final Spring Fling Spirit Fair!

From the event page on Facebook:

“It’s that time of year – time for Journeys Spring Fling Spirit Fair! A day of tarot, palmistry, I Ching, intuitives, mediumship and more! RSVP to this page to stay up to date on all the details – we’ll be updating it with confirmed readers, vendors, services and more!

Amoret is not able to participate in the fair. However, we are excited to welcome Aurora. She is a talented tarot reader with a strong astrology background! You can learn more about Aurora on her website: aurorathewitch.com

For an up to date list of services and vendors, please visit the Spirit Fair event page on Facebook

ReclaimingPGH Annual Community Meeting

Events, ReclaimingPGH

NEW rPGH(1)

WHEN:  Saturday, December 22nd from 2:00pm – 5:00pm
WHERE:  Blvd of the Allies Panera Bread, Pittsburgh
COST:   Donation

Rescheduled and ready for action this December! Join ReclaimingPGH witches for their annual community meeting to discuss what’s going on in our cells, brainstorm about the future, choose the story/theme for the 2019 Ritual Year and more.

Story Bundle and Meeting Agenda links here!

Quorum guidelines: One member of each cell present at meetings so we could make informed, consensus-based decisions. No one is allowed to represent more than one cell, current minimum 7 people. Consensus 2/25/18 Community Meeting

Panera asks that those who book the community room as a group buy at least $50 worth of food. If possible, we ask that you get yourself a snack or drink from Panera while at the meeting.

For further details and up to date event information, please visit the event page on Facebook

Naming Transformation

Mundane Magic, Updates

I have changed. Four and a half years of deeply personal, magical work has crested to become a wave of change that I cannot reverse. It signifies both an end and a beginning. In my tradition, we call it: Initiation.

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What is it?

Initiation is a sacred contract with the Universe: a declaration that one is willing to sacrifice their comfort and perception of the worlds as they know them. These things are handed over to carefully chosen initiators and The Powers That Be in exchange for deep Wisdom and a customized journey to one’s own source of Personal Power. This is done so that these witches can be reborn and give back what is needed in the world in their own unique, authentic way. It is done knowing that this evolutionary Work is never finished and serves as a commitment to being challenged to change over and over again in this lifetime and the next.

In the Reclaiming tradition, initiation is not a requirement. Many witches who attend our rituals and have their own daily practices are not initiated; contentment can be found in maintaining one’s own spiritual hygiene through Reclaiming’s Principles of Unity and connecting with others in our communities. It is not a badge of honor that shows superiority or a “deeper dedication” to Reclaiming, but a personal choice that one makes on their own if they feel Called to it.

Why I chose Initiation:

My desire for initiation came in the form of a wish: to love myself and be proud of my life. It arose during a time where I felt lost… where the choices I was making were unhealthy and everything felt disastrously unmanageable. I could not have fully understood what I was in for at the time when I asked to be initiated. All that I Knew was that deep transformation was necessary and that Reclaiming witchcraft was the way that I felt it needed to happen so that my Soul could be truly revived.

Choosing initiators:

My experience of choosing initiators was a two-fold task of vulnerability. First, I needed to find the witches that possess the qualities that I aspired to have within myself. Then, I had to ask them for their consent and help in shifting my energy so that I could become empowered and, in turn, a spiritual leader.

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I chose two bold, powerful people who still intrigue, bewilder and deeply move me.

Independently, they are two enchanting women who call themselves witches: an oracular rose within a patch of briar and a weaver of bones that reveals deep Truth. Together, they are a facilitation team that compassionately revealed to me What Must Be Done. I admired their integrity, active resistance to codependency, ability to be fully present with others and balance of self-care with community service.

They began as my guides. Now, they are my family and I am eternally grateful.

Doing the Work:

Transformation requires a willingness to grow: and growth is often painful.

In order to shift my energy toward that of a priestess, my initiators gave me challenges to address problematic behavior, ignite awareness through first-hand experiences and directly confront my fears . Some challenges required repetition to incorporate magical Will power into my daily habits. Others challenged me to break out of my comfort zone. For me, this Work meant investigating the root of my wounds, choosing which relationships to nourish and serving my communities with humility.

What made this process so unique for me was that I was not always directly told to do these things. I was just told to cast a circle every day for a month, shovel snow for my neighbors without being asked, and make very conscious choices about physical intimacy. It was performing these tasks of growth that allowed for experimentation with support and coming to my own realizations about why they were so necessary in my Becoming.

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The contract for initiation is at least one year and a day. For some (myself included) it takes much longer. A revolution-from-within does not come with it’s own egg timer: time, trust and commitment eventually reveal when a priestess is ready to become initiated.

Initiation Day:

Initiation rituals are secret Workings and vary per line of witches. What I will say about this very special day that happened on the 4th of August, 2018 is that: I felt completely supported. I was fully present. The transformative energy was incredibly potent, yet tender the entire day. And I will never, ever forget it.

This experience was a Rite of Passage that signified the end of my life as I knew it. It was also the birth of a priestess with a new legacy riddled with it’s own challenges to be experienced and fulfilled. This transition becomes official when this priestess accepts her new name and says goodbye to the old one that no longer suits her or her Work.

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It is with great pride and honor that I reveal:

Vasalisa is dead,
and
Aurora has been born.

✸ ✸ ✸

The other side:

In the weeks after my initiation into the Bone and Briar line, I can say that things feel very different. I am in the process of reassessing what still feels important in my life. I am also realigning my priorities and discovering how I may best be of service in all of my communities. I don’t have clear answers about a lot of these things so far, but one thing that I can say for sure is that nothing feels certain…. which is intimidating, confusing, thrilling, and empowering.

My Work now:

Vasalisa ventured into the darkness to find her light. It was that brave adventure which caused her to become the light: bringing the dawn, with it’s brightness and magnificent color, back to the place where she once lived. I can’t say that I fully understand the magnitude of what it means to Be the light, but I know that Aurora is here to stay for now and very excited to meet you.

ReclaimingPGH’s June Skill Share – Runes for Beginners

Events

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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!

Earth Church Pittsburgh

Events

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ReclaimingPGH Priestess and longtime Reclaiming practitioner Amoret BriarRose has put out a call for all interested pagans to create an Earth Church here in Pittsburgh. Originally started by Willow Kelly in Staunton, Virginia, Amoret hopes to initiate this weekly spiritual offering locally with volunteers who would also be willing to help organize and facilitate. Read on for further details!

The premise is really simple:

– Hold Earth Church meetings every Sunday from Samhain to Beltane
– Meetings are 1 hour – 1 1/2 hours in length
– Each meeting has a simple format: Gathering, Round of Names and Pronouns, Short Check-In, Facilitator’s Offering

The way that Willow found it worked best and was the least heavy lift on any one person was:

1. Those that are interested meet up around Fall Equinox; five leaders are picked for the cycle.

2. Each leader gets a Sunday for the Samhain-Beltane cycle: one person is responsible for all first Sundays, one person is responsible for all second Sundays, etc.

3. To be the “leader” for a Sunday means you either a) find someone to be a facilitator or teacher for those Sundays or b) you are the facilitator or teacher on those Sundays, with the goal of bringing a variety of spiritual practices/artistic practices/body modalities/etc. from the region to Earth Church.

4. We all get to show up and have magico-religious experiences!

Some ideas for Earth Church activities:
– Trance
– Yoga
– Art/collage/drawing/painting
– Drumming
– Tai chi
– Sound baths
– Buddhist meditation
– Chanting
– Visiting the rivers
– Dance temple

 

If you are interested in helping Amoret create this weekly offering in Pittsburgh, Like Earth Church Pittsburgh on Facebook and express your interest!

Sharing Experience

Mundane Magic

Recently, I have found myself being asked questions about witchcraft by curious, non-pagans more than usual. Sometimes it’s a late night conversation with a co-worker, other times it is a pre-planned lunch date with a priest who is genuinely interested and supportive of my spirituality. The most common topics have been about dreams, tarot cards, astrology, numerology and intuition, but it feels like what I am really being asked is “what is the right way to experience these things?”

This is where I believe some people think my religion falls flat. There is no copyrighted text that reveals all secrets to those willing to seek them out or guru that will tell them for sure the way our Universe works. Witchcraft is an experiential spiritual practice and every single person’s experience varies. So while I will admit that I love rambling on about anything that has to do with the occult (and I keep my soapbox shined and ready JUST in case it’s needed) it doesn’t feel particularly helpful to fill in the hazy spaces of someone else’s mystery.

It can be nice to have something to relate to though, and that’s where I feel my perspective is useful. If I am asked “what is magic?” I can think back to the times where I felt magic and begin to share personal experiences that someone who doesn’t chant at an altar or cast a circle before driving can identify with. So how might I explain magic through my experiences in 2016?

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In the spring and summer, I felt so many things poking and growing inside of me… and this gestation was incredibly uncomfortable. While I have never carried a human child in my womb, my center has definitely served as fertile ground for potential. I know the magical feeling of being filled with something big that has yet to exist in this world. I have been a storehouse for things that I had a role in creating and taken responsibility for bringing them to life with zero guarantees of what they will become. This pregnancy of sorts required patience, inner-listening and a willingness to allow the wee cherub to take shape without trying so hard to control it’s growth.

So like any mother that Knows something big is coming, but has NO idea what it is… I asked myself questions that were more stressing than reassuring: What is it? How can I plan for this? Do I need to be doing more than I’m doing? Can I trust that what will come out of me has a purpose? What if it destroys everything I have created up until this point? Am I ready for a responsibility of this magnitude? Just waiting and wondering until the delivery…

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The catalyst that burst me wide open was initiated by deep personal Work I did at workshopswitchcamp, and rituals over the past few months. These special events served as opportunities for me to take a break from daily life to ask my soul some difficult questions in safe, supportive communities. The ironic part about this process is that my questions were met with even MORE questions, but somehow lead the way to the answer I was looking for…. Questions that sounded something like this: What is the consequence of desire? ✴ In this world, what work is mine? ✴ Will you allow your passion to inform your wisdom? ✴ What is your gift to the world? ✴ What will you do with the responsibility of knowing that there will never be another human being just like you ever again? ✴

The whole process magically inspired me to take ownership of the things I already know, but have yet to claim as Truth. It was the act of lighting my spirit on fire with fresh energy and solid conviction.

When I allowed myself to own my Truth, it set off a switch somewhere in The Universe. It was as if this shift of consciousness translated into the things around me clicking right into place. It felt ridiculous, laughable and almost too-perfect… like an over-the-top romantic comedy where everyone but the main characters foresee the ending.

This magic makes itself known to me as a sudden realization that all the pieces that feel separate are actually connected. Those things that happened earlier? That feeling? The idea that popped into my head a few times then faded to the background? It all lead to a gift that is more stunning than I could have imagined or made all by myself…. Yet I know that I had a role in making it a reality. It’s what lead to late hours, a jam-packed schedule of joy and exhausted hands that clack on this very keyboard.

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This year’s energy is now asking me to take action and I am finding myself in peak creation mode. Every hour that I have available is being used to manifest my ideas and work towards making my deep desire a sustainable reality. It’s the effort that doesn’t feel like work; I am giving birth to the favorite parts of myself and the source is endless. I will continue to do this until I am gifted another clue that will alert me that it’s time for the next step. This magic is faith that whatever comes next is an opportunity to level up.

My experiences have helped me to understand that practicing magic is a choice to train one’s eyes, ears and heart to recognize one’s Work as it presents itself. As much as I wish that The Universe would just scrawl my destiny in a book on sale for $19.99, I have found It’s messages to be etched on the walls of my soul. Somehow though, I have found this to be the most worthy text of life guidance I have ever ✴read✴ and each new paragraph is even better than the last.

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