Wordless Witchy Wednesday

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Scratching Back: chicken’s foot charms

Chicken’s feet charms are common in the American South, Voodoo, Hoodoo, and Conjure traditions.  These traditions focus on a practical, low-cost approach to magick: which is part of what I like about them.  Another advantage of Hoodoo is that it’s a distinctly New World and American branch of magick.  Hoodoo is where European, African, and Native American beliefs and practices converge and this makes it accessible to most Americans.  I think this has to do with part of its growing popularity.  If you look at traditional Conjure and Rootwork traditions you may also find that Wicca and Witchcraft as practiced in the United States has many similarities.

Due to its multicultural nature of Hoodoo, and my own multicultural (religiously at least) background, I often take things that resonate with me – the chicken’s foot protection charm is one of those things I have incorporated into my practice.  These are my chicken feet.  Now, I’ve seen some places claim you can use a chicken’s foot charm for just about anything but I disagree.  It’s been my understanding from my teachers in the past that chicken’s feet are primarily protective or even offensive – they are not likely to aid you in gaining success (unless it’s the sort that requires you to pull someone down to climb on top of them), love, or luck.  You, dear reader, may do what you wish but I would not use a chicken’s foot in work to deal with that.

Chicken Foot Charms

Chicken Foot Charms

Chicken’s feet are ideal when you have enemies (known or unknown), seek protection, and have somewhat of a proactive stance on fighting negative entities and general negativity.  Of course, that “general negativity” one is the catch-22 when it comes to chicken’s feet.  Chicken’s feet are perfect for attack magick or protection based on sympathetic magick.  They’re protective in that chickens are constantly scratching and picking at the ground, making all kinds of messes: in the Hoodoo and Conjure traditions where powders and all sorts of things are often literally thrown or laid in a targeted person’s path, a chicken scratching up all of that powder or whatever would serve to protect a practitioner.  Now, this concept is taken to a metaphysical level when it comes to the chicken foot charm.  The chicken foot will “scratch out” all the negativity and icky-ness that’s coming at you, or in your space.  However, the chicken’s foot (or even better a rooster foot) would also be useful in the act of “scratching back” against your enemy.  It’s not just to protect you and pull out the bad, but also, to scratch back at your enemies.  You have complete control over how your own charm works when you focus and clearly state your intent:  but be aware of the implications of your chosen charm!  If you are your own worst enemy, you might not want to charge something to “scratch” you back.

How to use chicken feet charms: I created these charms myself, and my home. Obviously, if it is carried or worn it protects the wearer.  To protect my home, I place the feet in a crossed position over a door or in a windowsill to ward a home or provide protection to those therein.   Additionally, you could hang the feet outside (as many as you want) like a wind chime (more common in the South) or from a car’s rear-view window.  Chicken’s feet charms may be added to other charms in spirit bags for protection as well.  To use one for magical attack you could leave it where your intended target will find it, or use it as a fetish object for your focus when you perform the spells.

Chicken’s Foot for protection against negative entities or protection against enemies:
These are best made at full moon or on a dark moon (for hidden enemies).
First, find a chicken’s foot and proceed to dry the foot out either by leaving in the sun until dried out or on low heat in the oven for 12 hours in a bowl of salt. If using the oven method, you will know the foot is done when no more fat comes from it. The “toes” may be positioned as desired in end result: I choose to leave them “natural” but for certain charms (especially those made to ward against car theft and theft) it’s traditional to bend all toes down except the middle finger. As these were for general protection against entities and general ill wishes I did neither as the more fingers “ready” to attack. While you are positioning and prepping the chicken’s feet, thank the chicken for it’s feet and pass them through smoke of a cleansing herb to cleanse the feet from any previous attachments or intentions. (Unless they were your chickens in which case, I’m sure any chicken spirit would want to protect you… or maybe not you decide.)

Once the feet are dried and positioned, its time to do the “ritual” of making the amulet. If you are going to cast a circle or invoke, now would be the time – I simply requested that my ancestors and the Mighty Dead aid me in this task – since I don’t work with any deities that particularly like chickens or chicken feet. Thank the chicken for the feet again. Next, focus your intention and “charge” the feet. If you are adding any decorations (optional) now would be the time to do so. You can add crystals, feathers, and paint to the foot to enhance or better direct the energy. As you’ve seen, mine are painted:

  • red and black: for protection against enemies and those who wish me, and mine, harm
  • black and purple: for protection against negative entities and spiritual attacks

Once the foot is assembled and charged, it’s important to speak the intention over the foot in whatever what way you want.  While speaking the intention, anoint your foot with an appropriate oil. I usually use Fiery Wall of Protection Oil or Uncrossing Oil and my own personal oil blend.  The personal oil blend is to attune the charm to myself, of course, if you are making this for someone else you might want to choose to make a blend for them – or choose an oil that corresponds with them in some way, or omit the personal step.

To close out the rite, thank the ancestors, Mighty Dead, or any deities and leave an offering.  I left an offering this time of burning a candle for the ancestors and a Santa Muerte candle. In retrospect, I should have probably left something for the chicken.  That’s it – your chicken foot charm is ready for wearing, carrying, or hanging!

Care of chicken’s feet charms: I believe one should recharge or feed amulets.  Generally, depending on what kind of charm or amulet you are doing, how frequently you utilize it, and how much “power” it needs to do whatever it does, you may want to do this monthly, weekly, yearly – whatever.  In general, I do this every few months or whenever I feel it needs charging or re-working.  Keeping your magical tools in good, working order is important to the potency of your magick – if you use tools anyway.  So, you can charge by the moon at full moons, dark moons, etc.  In general, I re-charge, re-anoint, and re-enchant when I do this.  Sometimes I wait until I really feel it’s necessary – but generally, I do try to work with the moon.  If something comes up though, the best magick is usually done on the fly driven by a real need.
On the practical side of things even if you are not painting your foot, it’s good to put a coat of lacquer or something over them.  When they are dried out completely, there should be hardly any smell. Also, if completely dried, it’s unlikely harmful bacteria or ickyness could live there.  However, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  One other thing, painted or sealed or not, I try not to get my chicken’s feet wet at all.  I know many people don’t worry about it, but if something really disgusting happens after you get your chicken’s feet wet you can’t blame me!

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Back to School

The end of August and beginning of September is back to school time.  I think this time of year as a time to put things in order and start off fresh. While there are still at least one and a half season to go until the official new year, it’s a time when I begin evaluating: what works, what doesn’t and what changes need to be made. This may also have to do with the fact that my birthday comes at the end of September. For me, birthdays are a new start in our lives, a time to do new things, mark the changes of the last year, and embark on new lessons. This is also the beginning of what I like to refer to as “witching season.”  Festivals are all over, summer vacations are gone, now we’re left with preparing for winter, dropping temperatures, bonfires, and magick comes back in the build up to Halloween (Samhain) and all the way into the spring there is plenty of time for magick and occult studies.

This year, while I need to work on a few mundane things, I also have decided to do the herbal ally exercise. I have never officially done a herbal ally. Starting in autumn will give me plenty of time to stock up on dried supplies. In addition to the herbal ally exercise where you work closely with one herb throughout the year, I am also starting Susan Weed’s Nourishing Infusions online class.  For right now at least, this course is offered free from her website.  I’ve wanted to take her courses for awhile but really couldn’t justify the cost.  Taking this class now will both give me a good experiment and let me know if I will enjoy taking any of her other online courses in the future. So far, I haven’t made any infusions yet but I have read through much of the material. Everything looks very well researched and I have enjoyed the structure and go at your own pace of the course. I’ll let you know how things taste as I get to that part later on. I intended to take the first infusion today but unfortunately, I couldn’t find a quart sized canning jar not already in use. Before I start this I will need to empty one: which means eating up the last of my quick pickles!

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PBP: Thoughts on Queenship

Pagan Blog Project 2013: Q is for Queenship.

The Wiccan triple Goddess is traditionally Maiden-Mother-Crone; representing the female lifecycle.  However in my personal practice I tend to think and work a little differently.  In my own mind and practice I think in terms of Princess-Queen-Crone.  This is a more direct link to my life and the lives of my female friends.  We all graduate to what’s been called “auntie” stage (or the Mother):  when you’re no longer young and fresh, you’re not green, and you can’t be considered naive.  We do not necessarily have children, we do not necessarily get to share the joys of parenthood, and we do not necessarily think of ourselves as Mothers.  The reproductive based lifecycle doesn’t necessarily describe our lives on anymore.  So Mother as a life stage is important since it is a different stage of life, but it’s not defined by reproduction anymore. (Just as Maidenhood is no longer defined with menarche.)

Motherhood is a joyous and wonderful thing; but to call that stage of life “Motherhood” in a way demeans the sacred experience of birthing a child, caring for that child’s life, and parenting.  Motherhood really never stops.  You are or are not a Mother, this state of being doesn’t end with menopause.  Maidenhood on the other hand, unless there is an untimely death, evolves into the other parts of the life cycle.  Unless we are intercepted by Death, our personal powers and autonomy too will decline into the Crone stage.  Inherent in Maidenhood, or Princess stage, and the Crone are certain levels of dependance and heightened vulnerability.  In the “prime” of our adult lives, we gain autonomy both bodily and often in all ways are able to rule over our lives in a way our foremothers never imagined.  So, in my mind, this is the Queen stage of life.  You will reach it weather or not you choose to have children, a career, or anything else the moment you learn the lessons of the Maiden and graduate from Princess to a Queen in control of her own reality, destiny, and life.

As a feminist, and a modern woman, I think defining our lives and spirituality in terms of reproduction is wrong.  I am more than the sum of my reproductive life, though I will not deny the historical precedent Motherhood and reproduction plays in traditional monarchies.  Queens, and Princesses, were mainly there to produce heirs and offspring.  That was in fact a Queen’s “job” just like the new English Duchess Katherine, or Princess Kate, has done her “job” in producing a male heir to the English throne with Prince George.  Okay, so as a feminist that’s problematic but there is more to the Queen archetype than just this historical role. The Queen rules herself, her body, her reproduction, and her life: as we must rule ourselves.  At this stage in life I feel like I am still in the transition from Princess to Queen: without having a child of my own, and without a stable career, I am still wavering but I have lost some of that youthful innocence so I am not necessarily just a Maiden, or Princess.  Finally before we dismiss princess pop culture, let us take a minute to remember: Princesses become Queens, and Queens are important.

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Witchy Wednesday: Wands

Bringing back the witches tools: I have a new tool!  Wands are used in many ways and by many magickal people, not just witches.  For a lot of Witches wands are used almost like athames.  I don’t really use an athame because for most of my witchy life I haven’t practiced Wiccan rituals.  Now that I am getting back into the Wiccan swing of things doing drawing down the moon rituals and celebrating sabbats with Wiccan rituals, I’ve been thinking about getting one.

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My new wand titled “Heart’s Desire”, made by myself.

One tool I have wanted for some time is a nice wand.  So much so that I bought a plain wand at a festival over a year ago.  I spent a year “working” on it, attuning it, getting to know it, and finally I dedicated it.  This is my new wand: the “Heart’s Desire” wand.  Generally, wands and athames can be used much the same in rituals and both are for directing and conducting energy.  I associate wands not just with certain rituals but with magick in general.  This wand I created is not just for ritual use but also for spell craft and all kinds of magick.  The wand will direct energy, lend its own energy and “amplify” energy released from the witch.  A witch’s wand will “work” for whatever spell is cast, because it is “your” wand but some wands are more predisposed to work for certain things.
My wand is made of red oak.  This wood has all the magical properties of the oak, plus a fiery temperament.  I have gilded the handle and inset rose quartz and garnet stones.  Rose quartz for loving and compassionate energy, and to align the wand with my heart.  The garnet both lends power and focus to my spells.  At the bottom is yet another garnet to focus my will and power when using the wand.  The copper wire also attaches a pink heart, to re-align the wand with my desires.  I choose to charge this wand at a group ritual to celebrating Lammas; the ritual was about releasing that which holds us and reconnecting with ourselves and the divine love.  I also have dedicated and charged this wand during rituals to honor Aine, the faery queen, and the wand is aligned with her.

I will use my wand for spell work, generally for spells that are affecting outward things and bringing my desires to reality.  I might not use this wand to work an inner magick spell because I plan on creating another wand for this purpose, but there is no reason it wouldn’t “work.”  It very likely would work, but perhaps not as well.  All wands have their own “personality” so to speak, you will choose your wand and use your instincts to create it and use it as you feel is right.  It’s also perfectly acceptable not to use a wand, as the magick comes from the witch not tools.  I choose to make a wand because I felt drawn to this and I like to have pretty toys.

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Messages, Omen, and Signs

I believe the Gods are always speaking.  We are bombarded with thousands of messages everyday.  However they come, we need to be careful in reading these messages.  I’m sure everyone can think of that one person on their life who everything can be attributed to magical things; the Divine is in constant contact with them.  Well, this might be the case but more than likely, I think not.  Before we jump to magical conclusions, I think we should evaluate messages and situations in our lives.  Finally, for all the messages we do acknowledge in our lives, because we were primed by the outside world, another influence, or our past to see them: we miss thousands.

There are two kinds of messages: confirmations that come from ourselves and messages from the Divine.  Now, messages from ourselves are not necessarily a bad. They’re necessary and a part of learning to listen to our intuition. We ought to better acknowledge when it comes from inside not outside.  That song on the radio confirms something: but WHAT and who’s doing the choosing is important here.  Why not the song that was on five minutes before – did it not speak a message to you?  The first thing I evaluate when I receive a message is where is this coming from: myself or the outside.  Confirmation bias is our own tendency to confirm information we already have been told.  For example, on a mundane level if you really want to believe 9/11 was an inside job you will seek out evidence to support this theory and unconsciously  not give evidence to the contrary a fair evaluation: you already have the truth.  For a magical example: if you really want to believe what your coven leader says about a person, and they’ve said it enough, if you hear a song on the radio when you were going to call them that confirms the information that becomes a “sign.”  Well – in my opinion, that’s not a sign from anyone but yourself.  See, most signs don’t *confirm* what you already know.  By their nature, signs and messages bring to light new information.

If you can determine that the message is not just your own unconscious trying to confirm something you’ve been told, the next step is to tell if the message comes from the Divine or your imagination.  Most of the time, though messages are about us and our lives: “we” are not at the center of them.  I’d say most things are beyond your control and basically NOT about you.  Even when messages are coming to you about your daily or very personal parts of your life, they’re not about you. You are probably not being chosen for something special, required to do great feats, or whatever else.  All of those “messages” are very Ego driven.  Now, as a Pagan I don’t believe the Ego is bad – but I also believe that for spiritual and emotional maturity we need to learn to control it.  Seeing around the Ego is an important skill for magical people to have.  We can get lost in our Ego: “I can make it better,” “I can do better,” “I am chosen.”  Honestly?  Get real.  “Messages” like that are most often not coming from the Divine but from our own Ego’s wish for gratification.  Messages that say something specific about another are also suspect in my book as well, see that seems more like confirmation bias: messages usually speak to a situation and overall state of being, not characters.

What do you do if you have a message that isn’t you-centered or confirming information?  Well, we choose where we take our messages from so we naturally have a tendency to choose “languages” we speak.  For instance, I am familiar with Jungian psychology, the Western esoteric tradition, and Tarot.  All of these systems provide a multitude of opportunity for the Divine to lay messages out for me.  Why would the Divine pick a language I don’t speak?  In my experience, it doesn’t.  So if you have to stretch too far to figure it out, it probably wasn’t meant for you.  All other things being equal, at that point, if I really truly feel this was important write whatever it was down in a journal and come back to it at a later date.  Maybe years down the road, it will make sense: if not, it’s not a big deal.

When we do get messages from the Divine, we can and should take them when and where we can.  However, I believe even Gods can be wrong.  We are always in control of our own actions, up to and including interpreting messages.  When we give up that control to another, be it an entity from another world or another person, we have committed a grave error.  Remaining vigilant in our own personal reflections in how we receive information is an important step in spiritual maturity.  Just as finding the messages is a skill, so too actually hearing them over our own psychic chatter.

 

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Daily reading

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A good day for creativity and shows that I work online.

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The Maiden’s Dance

PBP M is for Maidenhood.

Wicca is a mystery tradition as much as it is an Earth based spirituality.  While some Wiccans may focus more on cycles of the earth, the Triple Goddess is central to Wicca.    This article deals with the Women’s Mysteries of the Wiccan tradition.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the mysteries, it’s not something that one can really fully “explain” because these are not logical, rational things.  The Mysteries must be experienced to be fully understood and we will not be able to experience all of them in a single lifetime.

For those unfamiliar with the Triple Goddess she is the Feminine divine force representation and she has three faces she chooses to use to interact with humans.  She is all things and more than this but she chooses the faces of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  The Maiden rules the late winter and spring, the Mother rules over summer and the Earth’s abundance, the Crone rules the dark, winter months.  While these cycles do align with the Earth’s fertility, they are primarily about the cycles of women’s lives as well.  These life stages in the women’s life cycles are part of the Mysteries and I believe they are tangible.  Many coming of age rituals for young women mark the entrance into Maidenhood.  These rituals may be found in pagan contexts as well traditions like Quinceañera, Sweet 16, and Debutant Balls.

Maidenhood is not the same a Menarche.  Menarche is a girl’s first period: which today comes sooner than in the past.  Maidenhood is when the young girl becomes a young woman. When a girl crosses the threshold from child into womanhood – meaning it’s likely that in society’s eyes she becomes sexually available.  Now, as a feminist I have a problem with saying this is all well and good: but I’m not going to deal with that now other than to say young women should feel confident and safe to engage in sexuality as they see fit and not feel pressured or shamed by it.   Maidenhood begins when the others around her notice her as a grown or fledgling adult.  Young women usually cross this threshold sometime in the mid to late teen years, and in my opinion it would be a nice gesture to begin to acknowledge this transition with ritual as this is one Women’s Mysteries.

Maidenhood is the time in life when young women learn all those things that will make them the women they will be later in their life.  Maidenhood is both a dangerous and exciting place.  Your late teens and early to mid 20’s are a time to try new things, adventure, make mistakes, fuck shit up, and a time of total freedom.  That freedom to become yourself is both exciting and terrifying.  The best advice I can give young women is to reject the cultural training that tells you other women are threats: they are not – they are your allies.  Sisterhood is powerful at all life phases, but this phase Sisterhood is not just powerful but fun.  Maidenhood is a time that focuses on finding and seeking, both material things, relationships, and our “place” in life.  Once you find yourself on the other side of this chasm, you will find these things have been to some extent settled: you will know yourself.  The challenge of Maidenhood is to take the journey towards this self-knowledge.

Maidenhood is also the time when youth and inexperience leave women open to predators: some degree of which are natural parts of growing up.  To grow up and advance, we must get our hearts broken, we must get tricked by the predators so we learn, we must encounter the Blue Beards or Big Bad Wolves.  No one gets out unscathed: though our experiences vary from woman to woman depending on our preparation, our support by other women, and our knowledge of the lay of the land.  Learning the signs and trusting ourselves, learning to listen to ourselves, is part of what will take us onwards to the next stage of life.  These are hard lessons, but important, they will keep us safe.  The pressures at this time in life are great: pressure to prove our worth, to preform a certain way, to look a certain way, pressures personal to our families and social groups.  It’s easy to get lost in the negative aspect and miss the freedom to change and grow at this time.  Teenage angst seems to linger until all these psychic kinks are worked out: but once it has worked itself out, you’ll find yourself in another transition.

Maiden goddesses or archetypes may be used to connect with the energy and lessons of the Maiden.  The Maidens may also be able to provide wisdom and guidance for women in this stage of life.  I find connecting with goddesses that correspond to our own life cycles to be very powerful.  Some Maidens you may want to consider working with are Persephone (especially in her incarnation as Kore), Athena, Artemis, Breed, Eve, and The Butterfly Maiden just to name a few.  For literary stories of Maidens look towards Pandora, Psyche, Shakespeare’s Ophelia or Taming of the Shrew‘s Katherine and Bianca.  Other stories that deal with the lessons of the maiden are Blue Beard myths, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.  This is a stage of great potential, freedom, strength, and vulnerability.  Regardless of our age, sex, or gender we all encounter and learn from the Maiden and she is always within us. For women or those who identify as female, we are also creating our own Maiden stories.

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Blessed Midsummer

It occurred to me yesterday: exactly 10 years ago I celebrated Midsummer at Stonehenge. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but those experiences play a large role in who I am today. I feel so blessed to have had that experience.

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This year, I am looking forward to a new group and hope for even more changes to come. Last night we had a small ritual with just the two of us and some fun with henna.

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“Theology and Imagination: A Brief Note”

THIS! I dated an atheist and I struggle to convey this to my Aspie Husband all the time: religion is more than what you think. Religion is about humanity much more than it’s about any gods or goddesses or even philosophies and to ignore that and say it’s not “real” is to miss the point entirely.

The Muted Trumpet

by Sam Buntz

Richard Dawkins once said that he saw no need to study theology in order to buffer his case against the existence of God, since he felt no reason to study leprechaun-ology in order to buffer his case against the existence of leprechauns.  Yet, I’m sure any anthropologist or psychologist could find plenty of interesting clues to the nature of humanity by studying folk beliefs in things like leprechauns and elves… So, it’s Dawkins choice if he wants to restrict his view-point to a certain picture of human beings, derived from a study of physical constructions existing in nature alone, rather than considering imaginative constructions of reality—which is both what leprechauns and what our ideas of God (since our ideas are all that we can pack into theology) admittedly are.  But why do imaginative constructions have to be denied a hearing?  Do they not have their own kind…

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