What do Witches Look Like?

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What do Witches look Like?  This is a question that we often get asked and one that has no specific answer.

There are many preconceived notions of what witches are supposed to look like, however, these notions are more often than not a big departure from reality. Depending on how we dress or present ourselves in the moment, we receive responses that range from yes you’re everything I expected a witch would look like or huh?!, you’re not what I expected.

It can be amusing and I know I don’t let myself be bothered by it as we’ve all had similar notions on other subjects until we are educated. Being a witch is not about how we express our spirituality through the clothes we wear (though we often do). The reality is witches and pagans come from all walks of life and upbringings: we are construction workers, bartenders and teachers, dignitaries who work in the White House, ambassadors, doctors, psychiatrists and everything in between.  We are not defined by what we wear or what our profession is, but who we innately are inside.
We are curious as to other witches and pagans experiences?

 

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What Witches Look Like

Adventures of the Two of Wands

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y card for today…. Two of Wands. This card leaves me hopeful. Oftentimes read as a card on the precipice of stagnation due to feeling hemmed in from the steadfast structure and empire we have created for ourselves and those around us. I often see this at times when people are restless and unsure of what to do next because they’ve held so tightly to beliefs about what they should be doing or how they should be doing it both for themselves and perceived by others. Generally, this card has a character with a crystal ball or the Earth the Heart Center which means I am hopeful that today will bring about information where my heart and mind can come to some alignment or agreement about the next steps I need to take on my path.
How do you all read the Two of Wands?

Dark Time….in like a Lion out like a Lamb. 

Dark Time-by Holly King

March 2000

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irthdays are among the most sacred of personal holidays and more often than not greeted with mixed emotions.  Some people await the day with bittersweet anticipation, while others look upon the day with dread.  For many there is the apathetic acceptance that it is just another day full of yet more wrinkles with a foot in the grave.  Unfortunately, the lack of proper understanding around this sacred day means a missed opportunity for deeply quiet rest and self-reflection.

History has shown that birthday ceremonies of past potentially began as a form of protection.  It was believed that people were more susceptible to the influence of evil spirits and demons as the veil is thought to be thinnest for people close to the time of their birth.  It is plausible given the vulnerable place that people find themselves in the weeks preceding a birthday.  I would also entertain the possibility that it offered an explanation of peoples out of character actions.

As pagans, we live our lives attuned to both the nature around us as well as the sun, moon and stars above us.  The more attuned we are the more we feel the impact of the movement of the planets that went into our creation and also affect our daily lives.  In our natal charts and daily horoscopes, primary attention focuses on what role the sun plays in our lives with less acknowledgment of the other planets.  In this instance it is to the stars we can look to help us understand the science of what we experience as we listen to our intuition to help us navigate this sacred liminal time.

Each year, approximately six weeks before our birthday’s changes start occurring as the transiting sun progresses towards the natal sun in its solar return.  The activating presence of the sun normally stimulates us into action and provides the outward expression of our moon personality. It is also an important aspect in foretelling the conditions and activities of the coming year.  As it heads toward the same position it held at birth, it slows the stimulation and physical activity as it transitions to a new cycle.

This slowing of the suns stimulation makes way for a period known as the Dark Time. This period is associated with the Moon as well as Saturn.   The Moon represents the continuing cycles of ebb and flow and governs our internal dialog. Saturn is the planet of obstacles and self-undoing, destroying false ideals. The two together draw our center of attention inward and perpetuates a need for spiritual and physical hibernation.   It is very similar to what occurs during a woman’s menstrual time or the 2-3 day period when our birth moon occurs in the month, though on a much grander scale.  When one pays close attention, the very real sensation of the inward spiral can be felt as the protective veil of the birthing womb is drawn around us and the outer senses become numbed.  We struggle as we buck the demands of others to engage our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves and do what or essence is intuitively inclined to do.

Being renewed and prepared for birth is an exercise in trust and letting go.  There is not a choice given as to whether it will happen. Rest assured, whether it is by grace or force, it will.  The only choice is how we engage this sacred period proceeding rebirth.  Engaged properly we are provided with a period of purging, cleansing, healing and renewal on all levels.  It is a time to dream, rest, reflect, meditate and follow the meandering path where intuition often takes us.  It is a time to process the old year and listen to what your essence is telling you about what does or does not work in the progression of your spiritual journey.  It is at its simplest, the time to just be and allow the natural unfolding of yourself so that recovery of your soul may take place.  It is a time to be gentle with yourself. This is not a time to enter in and out of relationships, bind yourself in contracts and agreements, take risks or make big life-altering decisions.

Realistically, in our busy world, it sneaks upon us unaware as we fight what we don’t understand. When this happens we invite chaos, apprehension, anxiety, and feelings of impending doom into our lives.  People get divorced, depressed, commit suicide, get into accidents, become clumsy and make bad decisions on a whim-only to find the hole of despair a deeper place than remembered.  The Dark Time, no matter how one chalks it up, is frustrating.  The very strengths that we rely on are gone.

What does this look like in the real world?  I am sure if you look back over the time preceding your birthday a pattern will emerge.

I am both cursed and blessed to experience my Dark Time in the fall.  My birthday falls on or near Mabon and this time is extremely busy making the most of the harvest season.  My ‘burning daylight, need to keep going till it’s done’ mentality that usually works for me causes me to be slapped upside the head as my hibernation period descends and I’m left wondering what the hex and hades is going on.  I move forward in action like everything is normal, unaware that I am losing pieces of myself little by little.  Over the years this has expressed itself in many ways as it seems all of the very things I excel at, all of my strengths I take for granted, are gone.  I am left feeling defenseless.  My ability to organize-gone, ability to cope-gone, language, spelling, communication skill-not happening, my easy going nature:-(limited as it is) not there.  I get along with most everyone because I’m only half functioning.  Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  The amazing thing is that if you don’t consciously turn inward your body will do it for you.  I found myself half functioning like a zombie while my body did the turning inward for me.  It’s like walking in a thick fog with droplets of water here and there working like a telescope magnifying the outside world.  One also learns that when stripped of the very skills we take for granted we are forced to find and discover one(s) we weren’t aware of.  Even while we go within we are still being taught awareness. I have experienced an inability to communicate, I couldn’t write what I was thinking, I couldn’t spell, and my flow of thoughts was garbled.  It has resulted in stupid actions such as backing over a bucket of newly dug potatoes in my jeep.  It was one of those things where I put them in the way so as to remember to put them away.  Needless to say, I didn’t see them as I stepped around them to get to the jeep, them remembered them just before the potatoes went flying and the bucket shot out from under the tire….obviously too late. I have proceeded to blow a small hole in the roof corner of my porch with my 22.  in my angry haste to scare the horses off the fence because I didn’t stand out far enough on the porch.  Those are just a few highlights.

When I finally started recognizing the signs of my impending dark time and wanting to take that time for myself, it seemed as if there never was any available.   In reality, one must make the time.  This is not an act of selfish need, but one of necessity. If not, you’re turned in by force.  Our bodies will do the work even if we won’t.  This ancient call goes beyond any calendar. In retrospect, I always come out on the other side with a burst of energy and a new appreciation for my life.  I’ve been burnt and stripped of everything, only to arise from the ashes like the Phoenix, though the beautiful feathers apparently were not included in the packed deal.

Blessed be!

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Dark Time Oils

Remember….

The quieter you become,                                                                                 the more you can hear.                                                                                            ~ Ram Dass

Mysteries of the Dark Moon, by Demetra George

Moon Watching, by Dana Gerhardt

Parkers Astrology, by Julia & Derek Parker

Myth, Ritual & Religion, by Andrew Lang

Continue reading

Carbon Footprints and Mindful Consumerism

Posted: March 28th, 2010                                                                                                              Times Viewed: 2,878

Do you know what your carbon footprint or pollution rate is? If you don’t, you should find out and there are several websites that are helpful in determining this based on your lifestyle. This blog spot came about as a result of conversations with coven members and attendances at past pagan events. As Pagans and Witches we know-or should know, about environmental issues, waste and recycling, the acres of debris choking our oceans and its effects on our sacred lands.

Carbon footprints (or shall we call them troll prints) and pollution go hand in hand. It has been a long standing problem starting in the Industrial Age and has snowballed out of control. From what I have seen it seems that many people see an issue aired on Oprah or in a magazine and get up in arms. For a while that may affect some change, but it’s never consistent or long enough. I’m not saying that every little bit doesn’t help, however if lasting change is going to happen it has to be built on responsible lifestyle choices all of the time, even when these choices are not convenient.

As pagans we recognize the earth is sacred, what we do to her, we in turn do to ourselves. We are quite literally, in every way made up of atoms from the earth and through the elements we are linked to the web and life force of our planet. With this sacred bond also comes the understanding that we are connected to all life on this planet, whether it be elemental, human, or animal, “fur, feather, scale and skin-different without but the same within”. When one is highly attuned to this web we know the joys and beauty of the network as well as the very physical pain that comes with pollution.

The degradation and pollution of our planet is consistently a topic among my pagan friends as we try to solve it for ourselves and see where we are responsible through our life choices for helping or hindering the war on pollution. One of the biggest factors is understanding our personal relationships with deity and how we see ourselves in relation to what is going on around us, how do our actions and waste effect our environment?

Through the years I have come up with many things I do to take responsibility for my family and our carbon/pollution footprint. One of the major ones, of course, is to recycle. However, it is taking it one step further and buying products that use the least amount of packaging and required the least of a footprint to produce. I do not have a lot of landfill waste; however I did look at the contents of my recycled plastic and aluminum. I made lists of the most often consumed item and then chose to can or make those that I could such as the basics, mixes, as well as chili, soup, pizza sauce, root beer, even Irish cream, etc. I save and purchase everything from pastas and nuts to teas and spices in bulk. It all takes time and is a project of organizing your home and pantry to make it work. As a single parent ‘doing it all’ time is something I have very little of it. I don’t necessarily want to be ‘doing’ all of the time, but as I said it’s a lifestyle and a choice that is responsible for less waste. I compost food waste for the garden and shred much of my paper in a shredder to compost so it’s not being burned and wasted.

As a pagan, I go through a lot of candles and incense. I keep all my candles that I use for Sabbats wrapped up and labeled so that they can be used the following year if they don’t burn all the way down, if I need a new altar cloth in the past, I wait till the material is on sale or do without. I make sure to buy quality and have enough now that I shouldn’t need to buy those for a very long time. I take all my incense powder in the bottom of bags and boxes and keep it in an old baby food jar. I use this to make my own incense or add to spell workings. I grow as many of my own vegetables and herbs as I can-of course aided by my compost. I have found that it is important to think about every item I purchase in terms of what it took to make it and what waste it will be in the end. I also made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t bring something into my house if it didn’t have a use. I want beauty and function and if I bring something in, something goes out. Quality over quantity. There has been a movement to try and stop waste by having people ask themselves how much do you need, what do you need versus want? Yet it seems to me when I look around that people will rationalize a want into a need, so it only partially cuts down on waste. I’ve heard people say that everything they have is needed. Is that really true? I read an article wherein a man suggested that people, ‘RETHINK ESSENTIALS’. It makes much more sense to buy only what you need. Anyone can rationalize a want. But ‘rethink essentials, ‘ I think, says it all.

A few years ago I joined thousands of other people and spent 18-months buying no new consumables except food. (I did draw the line at undergarments, but everything else was used). You know, it wasn’t really that hard and it does a good job of pointing out your own impulse buying or the rationale ‘I just have to have that’.  I did do without some things, however there was nothing that was really missed in the end.  I remember going out with some friends and one forgot the camera at home. What did they do? Went and bought a disposable. How about taking responsibility for the fact that you forgot it and must do without? We see this all the time in the need for the latest gadgets and junk. If one really requires that stuff in his/her life maybe priorities need to be rethought. What is each person willing to do without somewhere else in order to offset that gadget or technology? It is said that one should plan for seven generations ahead of you. When people try to rationalize to me their choices I have to ask why? Would one not feel shame at the lack of responsibility in terms of one’s own relationship with the Earth and Deity and future generations?

As Pagans I think it is time that we rethink our essentials by being mindful of every single item that is brought into our homes and the waste that leaves it. If the Earth is our Mother, then what are we doing? I go to events or pagan gatherings and find myself scratching my head as I look around and see the waste. Being a pagan and a witch means living an integrous and morally responsible life day in and day out. It is doing the work within to know who we are as people, thereby knowing what drives our needs, our wants and our triggers. It is knowing what is going on in the world around us, educating ourselves and having our voice heard by how we spend our dollars.

We must ask ourselves: would we treat our Mothers the way we treat the earth? Would we bring the mess of junk into our mother’s home or discard the junk there or waste her resources with such disrespect? If you were to look around your home and/or property does what you see bring honor to your spirit, honor to the spirit in which you practice, honor to your relationship with Deity? What do you think? How do you help or hinder? What do you do to consume mindfully and take responsibility? I would love to hear what your experience has been or what you have done to lessen your carbon footprint.