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.

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.”

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.

Genuine Exploration

Mundane Magic

There is a word that I have been thinking about a lot lately. It pops up in the articles I read, message boards where I post and the conversations I have. The word is authenticity.

As a member of multiple spiritual communities, it seems that there is something to be read every single day on this topic. These articles are often titled “How to be Happy in Life” and end with a go-get ’em message that states some variation of, “be authentic: and everything in life will be awesome!” A lovely ideal, but my personal Work as of late has plummeted me into what it means to be truly authentic.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

For me, what seems to be missing in these conversations is the full dimension of what authenticity really looks like. Of course this can mean (as stated in this rhetoric) quitting a day job to pursue a dream or getting the tattoo that expresses who we feel that we are.

“Oh, this bird flying out of it’s cage on my arm? It symbolizes how I refuse to be held back in life. Don’t like it? Take it or leave it! It’s who I am.”

I see it described as what we aspire to be: our best Selves. However, that’s only one part of owning our realness as human beings. As I Work the magic of The Unflinching Gaze, I have realized that the act of being authentic (or genuine) can be messy, ugly and downright nasty. It might mean screaming at a loved one who has upset me, crying during a work meeting or telling someone how their actions are impacting me… knowing that they probably aren’t going to like what I have to say.

Authenticity is about being true to oneself and owning one’s narrative. I have found this practice to be vital in honing intuition: doubting or numbing the signals of the body only causes them to become distorted and less prevalent. It is also one of the most important ways I can express love for my Self: it proves to my Soul that I value what is happening within me and I am willing to let it be seen by the outside world.

This can be an excruciating practice, especially since (by nature) we are all completely unique beings and our variations of Truth collide all the time. To be real here: I find authenticity to be one of the most terrifying parts of being a witch. I sometimes fail at showing up truthfully when it will hurt other people or when it could lead to me not being liked by others. It’s a very human thing to do, but it’s frustrating to know that I could just say what I’m really feeling while witnessing myself choosing not to.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

This poem by Nayyirah Waheed from the book “Salt” really sums it up. (Find more of her amazing work here)

Pack-mentality is strong in our species and it’s very normal to cling to the desire to be accepted. But I was recently reminded by my mentors that not being liked is a common price to pay for being authentic. Historically speaking: “the witch doesn’t live in town with everyone else,” they say. This statement reflects the heavy Duty of the witch, which leads to power and great responsibility: We must reveal Truth, even if it is difficult and the way that we do that is by being our most-authentic selves. Our unique flavor is needed in the world today and this act is the only way that necessary change is going to be created.

Now I write this post with the caveat that it’s probably worth considering the delivery of this Truth. Taking a minute to experience genuine feeling and embracing it exactly as it is can sometimes be enough. Especially if (in the moment) authenticity is the desire to walk up to a stranger and tell them their haircut is the worst or punch someone in the face for being a jerk.

WARNING: pleading a case of “authenticity” will not hold up in a court of law.

We can still be real, while also considering the consequences of our actions. Figuring out when and how to do this is an undertaking and I can’t say that I have a universal failure-proof technique for such a task. The best I can do is a quote from the late, great Kurt Vonnegut:

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

A witch leads by example, and this one is committed to bumbling through it for my community as well as myself…. Striving to be real, but kind. How do you express your authentic self?