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.

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.

The Power of the Poison Apple

Reblog

Last week’s coven meeting was powerful for me.

We did a quick trance to go down to meet a deity to find out more about our future work. Instead of meeting a deity, I was approached by a shapeshifter taking the forms of Disney villainesses: Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, the Evil Queen from Snow White.

She shifted through all of these forms and back again rather rapidly as we walked into the forest, toward a small cottage with a bubbling cauldron in the yard. The cottage felt peaceful and happy but also filled with potent magic.

The being indicated that this was where I was to live, and then handed me a poison apple, a gift for me and those that work with me. She then whispered in my ear, “If the work doesn’t kill them, it won’t transform them.”

I have been sitting with that powerful truth, knowing that this…

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Seeking Truth

Mundane Magic

A few days ago, I returned from a week-long stay in England. My sister (who lives there with my brother-in-law) just had her first child, which warranted a visit to meet my new nephew.

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

It had been two years since I had seen either of them in person and over ten years since I had the opportunity to spend an entire week just hanging out. Other members of my family were also able to make the trip, so we spent our time catching up in a beautiful part of the world that I rarely get to see. We reminisced about the adventures we had when we were young, talked about what’s going on in our lives now and cooed over the sweetest baby boy I have ever met.

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

There were numerous things about this trip that deeply impacted me.  I felt gratitude for being able to participate in a reunion with loved ones. I experienced frustration with my country when I saw how environmentally responsible England is (mandatory composting, intentionally higher gas prices and an overall lack of paper towels? YUP.) But the most significant emotion I felt was wonder: the world is so much bigger than I perceived it to be…. and surprisingly, I felt completely comfortable exploring the foreign terrain as well as my options regarding the future when I was there.

Sitting at home now, I find myself feeling like balloon that has slightly shrunk in size. Still afloat, but not as filled as it once was. I still love the family I have created for myself. I enjoy my friends and community. I am ready to get back into the swing of making art and creating change in the world around me, but I can’t help but consider: where am I headed?

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Asking myself this question is opening a floodgate of many other questions that are not much smaller. Is my job sustainable? Hm. How long can my body withstand it’s physical demands? Uh. Do I want to continue my education? Maybe. Am I willing to do this in a country that might bankrupt me in exchange for a degree? …. Do I want to live in a place where the government doesn’t consider sick leave or health care a right? ….. …. ..

What is important to me?

Considering these tides have made me less than present. I am having conversations, but I am not totally there. What once had shine is now lackluster. I feel overwhelmed. The magnitude of choice and consequence have made themselves known; and I fear what might happen if I don’t figure everything out as soon as possible.

So from this place of uncertainty, yearning and perceived urgency where am I supposed to find the vital answers I seek?

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

It is a source with depth. It is often cryptic, but riddled with content. It is becoming more reliable the more I access it and is willing to speak if I’m willing to listen. It’s name is Intuition and it’s ever present energy is something I can always rely on, even if I cannot understand it at first… and this is exactly where magic crosses over into the mundane:

  • When I am drying my hair, allowing the worry of not-knowing what lies ahead sweep me away, I can choose to ask myself: Am I trusting my inner Self to reveal truth when the time is right?
  • When I am browsing the internet with my breakfast, flipping through pages of potential avenues to pursue, I can allow the warm sensation in my chest alert me of whether or not what I see is for me.
  • When I lay in bed after a long day, feeling completely disconnected from the vision of my future, I can celebrate my bravery for handing my destiny over to the Universe and doing the one thing that has yet to fail me:

Having faith in my Self.

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

If only life were as simple as a small, personalized black book of concrete answers to everything we encounter… It’s a good thing that all the answers I will ever need lie within me.

 

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.

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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

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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?