Queer Craft Market 2019

Art, Events, Jewelry, Services

It’s been a long time since I opened myself up to the idea of vending at craft markets again. Tendonitis crushed my spirits a few years ago, as well as my ability to produce enough goods necessary to cover tables costs. Markets are a wonderful way to meet new people, connect with other craftivists and financially support my art endeavors, but concerns in the community have been raised about accessibility to those who may not be able to afford a spot.

However, the Queer Craft Market hosted at Ace Hotel by Assemble and WorkshopPGH has compassionately and Justly considered these issues: accepting all applicants and making table costs accessible to all who are looking to join the fun. I am proud to announce that I will be back at the booths as a vendor at this year’s Queer Craft Market!

From the event page:

The Queer Craft Market has been a community event for many years and taken on by several organizations. In 2016-2018 the Market was organized by Assemble, a fantastic non profit that supports STEM & maker education. In 2019, Workshop PGH DIY school began organizing the show to help expand the event to include more makers & community organizations. This event is a staple of the Pittsburgh queer community and is inclusive to all.

WHO.
We welcome:

Artists
Makers
Zine Makers
Creatives
Community Organizations
DIY schools & organizations that support the queer arts, handmade & Creatives
This event is all about the makers & folks involved, giving them a platform to sell and show their work. You can learn more about the vendors on the Vendor page as we update it.



It’s organized on a volunteer basis by Kelly of Workshop PGH (ally business & inclusive space) and several nice volunteers with support from Assemble, sponsors & the community.

WHEN.
The Market happens twice a year in Summer before Pride and Winter at rotating locations. In 2019, Ace Hotel Pittsburgh is gracious enough to host our event and is a Queer friendly event space and Employer. Thanks Ace!


I will be there, vending all sorts of witchy goodies (amount will vary based upon my physical ability to produce them):

★ Hand-burned, ethically sourced acorn runes
★ Upcycled jewelry: complete with semi-precious stones with metaphysical properties* combined with old charms and chains
★ Intuitive collage prints from my Book of Shadows
★ Holiday talisman keychains
Concept photography prints for personal reflection and cultivating intuition

Vending is a really fun experience. I love watching bewildered, intrigued eyes scanning my stock and finding themselves delighted by what they find. Each sale is a bright reminder that I am not the only one who wants to adorn themselves with Nature’s Wonders, but it’s really the conversation that I’m there for.

I can remember my days as a maiden witch and how vulnerable it was for me to ask about this tradition that was once violently kept quiet. I would have loved the opportunity to chat with a friendly face about what witchcraft is all about.

This will be the cherry atop my magical year: will it be yours too?

I hope to see y’all there!

*UPG: items with metaphysical properties are derived by Unverified Personal Gnosis.

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

Archetypes and Mysteries: An Introductory Tarot Course

Events, Tarot

TO POST Tarot Class FB header

I am thrilled to announce that I will be co-teaching an introductory tarot course with Amoret BriarRose in Pittsburgh this May through June! I have received numerous inquiries about whether or a workshop would be offered for those who are completely new to tarot or looking to deepen their understanding the archetypes present in the striking images of the Rider Waite Smith deck. If this sounds like you, scroll on to read more and register! Space is very limited.

“72 cards open the realm of the Archetypes. 72 cards hold a myriad of Mysteries.
Step onto the Fool’s path and unlock the wisdom of the tarot.

Over 6 Sundays you will:

– learn traditional meanings of the tarot cards while working with
Major and Minor Arcana energies

– participate in energy work, trance, and other activities to activate
intuitive wisdom in relationship with tarot archetypes

– participate in practice readings

Prerequisites:

– an open mind

– a Rider Waite tarot deck (decks will be available for purchase at
Arts & Crafts Botanica)

– ability to attend all classes as scheduled

*Tuition: We offer a fixed sliding scale of $150 – $270. You decide where you fall on the scale.* A $50 deposit is required to reserve your space at the time of registration; full payment is required by April 23, 2018.

To register: https://tinyurl.com/TarotCourseRegistration
Facebook event: https://tinyurl.com/TarotCourseFacebookEvent

Registration closes on April 23, 2018.

*A sliding scale is meant to accommodate varying income levels while assuring that teachers and facilitators receive fair compensation for their work. If the bottom of the scale is financially out of reach and you would like to attend the class, please contact Vasalisa to discuss work study options.”

Taking Action

Events, Mundane Magic, Tarot

It has been over one year since my last post and I find myself in a state of reflection. 2017 was a time of great transition: uprooting myself and moving twice; serving as a ritualist for a Reclaiming witchcamp; beginning an apprenticeship with a seasoned astrologer; adopting a kitten and shifting my daily life to embrace deep levels of intimacy with another person. Sure blog posts could have been written that narrated this journey of new magic in the mundane (and trust me, it was there) but these were things that I felt oddly compelled to keep to myself. I chose not to over analyze my experiences, remaining as present as possible as everything unfolded.

However there is something calling to be shared about where I have been, where I am now and what is coming to be. The story that connects the ends of that bridge happened last summer during a festival where I was offering tarot services to the public.

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Doing this outside of pagan circles is always interesting as society tends to associate this work with fantasy movies and phonies declaring when your doorbell will ring next. Most people came and went, likely more excited about the fire juggler nearby, except for two visitors passing through whose eyes I caught.

It was an aunt and her niece who was about seven years old. When they slowly made their way over to my table, I assumed that it was the older woman who was interested in some advice to pair with the drink in her hand. I was stunned to watch her bend down to the girl and ask, “do you want to talk to her about your dad?” As the three of us chatted I was told that recently her father had passed on and a tarot-witch might be someone who she could talk to about death. The young one, seemingly unfazed by her question, plopped herself in the seat across from me. The aunt promised she would be nearby (allowing for some privacy) and told us that we should let her know when the reading was finished.

Normally, I do not perform readings for anyone under the age of 18. However, my agreement with the event organizer was to spend just ten minutes with each individual that was interested and willing to donate some funds, plus I had the consent of her caretaker. So I handed the deck over to be mixed and prepared to do some deep listening. When it finally came time to ask the tarot-witch a question, I found myself delightfully surprised:

“Are fairies real?”

This charmed me for two very specific reasons. First, I had just returned from co-facilitating SpiralHeart‘s annual witchcamp where we Worked the Ballad of Tam Lin: a myth of love between human and fae (so I certainly had some opinions.) Second, this kid chose not to do what her aunt had suggested. She did what made most sense to her: she asked the witch about magic.

We both decided that we knew fairies were real, but that finding them could be tricky. So we consulted the deck about where and how they could be found. The Empress arose and we learned that being creative was a signal for them to join her. The Nine of Cups revealed to us that making wishes was a good idea. We pulled another and she just kept smiling: likely satisfied that a grown up confirmed something she Knew to be true. She politely said thank you before she walked off with her aunt and I was left alone with a feeling of pure love swelling in my heart.

Photo Jul 12, 5 02 57 PM

As months have passed and I witness the world today, I have been wondering how our interaction will serve that girl in the future (or if she will remember it at all.) We are living in a time of national trauma. The news cycle reminds us daily of how our leaders are betraying us. Kids are murdering each other in the hallways with military-grade guns. Storms due to climate change are devastating entire communities. Healthcare is denied to those in poverty and we are regularly taunted by the threat of nuclear war. Hopelessness has become a disease that seems to be swallowing the vitality of so many people.

What about the next generation? What do they have to work towards and dream into being? How will they relate to or use magic? Will they be able to find it amidst everything else demanding their attention?

I recently read that witchcraft was originally gifted to the poor from the Gods as a way for them to fight back against the oppression of unjust rulers. This idea has me thinking back to spells I have done, difficult conversations I have had and choices I have made among friends that have empowered me and created change in my surrounding community. I would not have these memories if it was not for what I have read about witchcraft, the lessons of priestesses, refining my magical skills and connecting with those who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. I am grateful every day that I found the witches’ road. I know that it is my responsibility to give back to those who are doing their best to find the same path towards right-sized pride and power-from-within.

Photo Aug 28, 12 09 05 PM

This is the year I break out of my comfort zone. This is the year that I initiate alliances and create opportunities for others to learn. This is the year that I say yes and take action. This is the year that the gifts that have been given to me must move; because there is a generation on the rise that desperately needs guidance and support. Faeries, magic and immanence need to be acknowledged by humans so that our Work together may be strengthened.

Brave leadership is required or else those being told they “have no power” and “resisting does not matter” will actually begin to believe those lies.

I am scheduling events online and in-person this year with other witches from around the world: offering them to everyone who is willing to do the Work. I am also nurturing a local community of Reclaiming witches in Pittsburgh, PA with other priestesses so that our city will be resilient amidst conflict, empowered to speak up, willing to demand better and welcoming to all.

Stay tuned and take action, because now may be your time too.

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.”

IMG_0490

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?

Anchoring Manifestation

Mundane Magic

The new year has begun. We have swapped out our calendars from 2015 for those crisp pages of 2016 that hold so much promise. For me, January has always been the month of freshness surrounded by the fiery glow of potential. Year after year I find myself swelling with ideas that light me up and sweep me off toward that which I desire.

ace-of-wands

I usually have my list of tasks, daily practices and first-steps planned all ready for after The Ball drops and this year was no different…. But my entrance to 2016 was filled with a week of phlegm and cough syrup. Then catching up on personal Work. Then a trip out of state. Then a mild blizzard. I felt so unprepared for this whirlwind of activity without my resolutions in place. Without them (I thought) how could my horse of Willpower spring from it’s gate with full force?

New Years Resolutions have always been important to this witch. However, I have discovered a method that allows me to successfully create and commit to something for a full 365 days. Because let’s face it: the sensation of “OH SHINY” is not sustainable. It’s easy to become distracted by the myriad of desires swirling around us and inside of us all the time:

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First Step:  Calculate the Numerology

Using basic arithmetic, I am able to reduce the sum of my birth date plus the most recent year I celebrated a birthday to a number between 0 and 21. This number correlates with a Major Arcana in the tarot deck, which reveals the theme/energy of my year. Sometimes, there is more than one Arcana involved if the sum can be added together again to a single digit.

EXAMPLE: My most recent birthday was on December, 26 2015

12 + 26 + 2015 = 2053
2 + 0 + 5 + 3 = 10 (main energy)
1 + 0 = 1 (supporting energy)

My birthday falls very close to the New Year, so this calculation is a useful first step in generating an intention for myself. This year, I will be spun around the Wheel of Fortune (with the support of The Magician.)

 

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Next Step:  Assess the energy

I crack open my tarot books and read about each card. I browse the internet for images from other tarot decks. I feel the emotions and ponder the thoughts each one brings up in me. I ask myself questions: How would I react to this entity if I met them on the street? If this card could speak, what would it say? What are the motives of this entity and how would they carry those motives into the world? All of this. Over and over. Until I have a good grip on what that specific Arcana means to me at this time.

To me,  The Wheel is about cycles, movement and Karma. The hand on the clock moves in one direction until it reaches the top and goes around again. Eternal. Spinning. The culmination of my Work and receiving what I have put out into the Universe (for better and for worse.) Immediate change. Gradual change. The Magician supports this energy by being an agent of manifestation. Things are HAPPENING. All necessary tools are available and ready to be used. A catalyst.

 

Last Step:  Create a Mantra

Using the knowledge above, combined with where I am at this point of my life, I decide how I want to engage with that energy for an entire year and put it into words.

Recently, I have noticed that I often try to manage my surroundings as a way to feel safe and in control. I’ve found that I also tend to rush through most experiences and despise feeling stuck. I Know that I struggle with trust… Trusting myself, others and even the Universe is so difficult for me right now.

I have found mantras to be the most effective when they are: phrased as an “I” statement, in present tense and short (usually between two to six words.) They affirm something that I want to remind myself of when I feel frustrated, overwhelmed and/or want to stuff myself into a hole in the ground. They’re simple, yet potent.

 

Which leads us to VasalisaTheWitch’s mantra for 2016:
I SURRENDER TO THE FLOW

fool mucha

 

I (Vasalisa) + surrender (give up control/allow myself to trust) + to the flow (The Wheel/Will of the Universe). That’s it. A simple sentence serving as a reminder of what I have chosen to work on. It anchors my actions toward manifestation like a great ship settling into the port that is my desire. It is a core truth that I have pieced together to carry out in my daily life and it gives shine to the Mundane, where I have the ability to make this magic… even as I’m realizing that I’m late for work or receiving a generous cash tip from a grateful patron.

This post may seem a bit late in the month to be discussed, but I’m suddenly feeling grateful for waiting. It reminds me that there is always time to re-access my situation and check-in with my spirit that is constantly shifting it’s shape.

What do you want from your year?

 

Taking Care

Mundane Magic

It’s about that time for a post. My life continues on and the magic of the mundane weaves it’s way through my experience. Things are happening. There are shifts. I witness my experience and have many things that I could share with my community of witches…

But here’s the thing: I honestly just don’t feel up to it.

I’m a multi-tasker with a to-do list fetish. The feeling of accomplishment feeds me and I enjoy hard work. I’m a Capricorn; I really do. However, this month has been a tough one for me and the thing that makes it feel worse is that it isn’t stemming from anything specific. I just don’t feel engaged with the things that I usually enjoy doing.

This happens to me sometimes. It might have something to do with the energy that declared itself through my monthly reading:

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Probably not the energy that I would have chosen for this time of year. Alas, it is here. I’m being pierced by those swords in my mind… they pin me down from my own vitality. And so it is.

Believe it or not though, there is mundane magic that can be shared to the world from this place of pain and despair that strikes from absolutely nowhere. Perhaps even one of the most potent messages of magic that I have shared thus far:

If you feel like shit, take care of yourself.

Self-care varies from person to person. For me right now, it is sleeping “more than I need to.” It is allowing some of my tasks to slide off to the side for a while without guilt. It’s making the choice to honor what I’m feeling and adjusting my life accordingly.

There is a saying in my community: you are your own greatest magical tool. If that is the case, then it makes sense that “it” (the Self) needs to be tended to when it isn’t working as desired. How do you care for your Self?

Growing Sharper

Art, Mundane Magic, Tarot

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

newtarot

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