Month: January 2016

Plush Familiar: Étoile

Plush Familiar: Étoile

Born when something comes to life. Born when something goes to death. Born when something crosses an in-between. Garden Spirit Familiars take their names and their personalities from locations, items, and events filled with magic. So it’s no wonder that they pop up around witches. […]

What are Some Ways to Meditate?

What are Some Ways to Meditate?

Almost every book about witchcraft I have read mentions the importance of meditation. A lot of spellwork requires energy manipulation, visualization, sensing, and/or focus, and meditation is how to work your mental muscles for all four of those. I’m sure everyone will get tired of […]

Ever Feel like Jumping into Traffic or from Great Heights? You are not Alone.

Ever Feel like Jumping into Traffic or from Great Heights? You are not Alone.

The French call it ‘L’appel du vide.’ It’s that moment when you lean over a stair rail, a bridge, or out a high window and think how easy it would be to jump. Or to push someone else. The phrase ‘The Call of the Void’ most often refers to the previously mentioned flavor of intrusive thoughts, but can also refer to the urge to jump or push someone else in front of cars. Recently, it seems like the phrase has come into use when referring to any scenario where the sudden urge to harm yourself or others appears.

An intrusive thought is an involuntary thought, idea, etc that is upsetting to the person having it. Many people have them from time to time, so they aren’t a rare occurrence. Although, some people do become distressed by these thoughts, and reoccurring ones can cause anxiety. Some people even begin to think badly of themselves for having these thoughts, wondering if they are bad people or if something is wrong with them. (Of course the answer is ‘no,’ no one is bad for having intrusive thoughts, and many people experience them.)

So, what can be done about them? Or, rather, what can be done to minimize the distress from The Call of the Void or other intrusive thoughts? In my experience, just knowing their name and that other people had them was helpful. But, I thought of the way I deal with them now after watching Mad Max: Fury Road, of all things. Right now, I call it ‘scapegoating’ the thoughts, but if you have a better name for it, please let me know!

All I do is assign the intrusive thoughts I get to their own persona in my mind. Then, I acknowledge the thought, and dismiss it as though mentally speaking to that persona. If I named it ‘Larry,’ like one of the tumors on the character Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road, the internal dialogue might go like this.

Larry: You should jump in front of that car.

Me: Thank you for your input, Larry. But, you don’t really have good ideas.

Larry: You should drive away right now and never look back.

Me: Please put your hand down, Larry. Thanks for your participation, but you don’t really look out for my best interests.

A little silly? Maybe. But it certainly has taken my anxiety levels down. If you have intrusive thoughts, or the Call of the Void is particularly strong one day, give this method a try and let me know how it worked out for you in the comments below.

What are Magic Uses for Cat Claws?

What are Magic Uses for Cat Claws?

I have two cats. They are named Pluto and Mercury, or You Two Assholes depending on what they have done. Neither of them are declawed. Usually, I put Softpaws (small, vinyl caps) over their claws to keep them from ruining all of my worldly possessions. […]

Plush Familiars: Snowdrop and Luna

Plush Familiars: Snowdrop and Luna

  Born when something comes to life. Born when something goes to death. Born when something crosses an in-between. Garden Spirit Familiars take their names and their personalities from locations, items, and events filled with magic. So it’s no wonder that they pop up around […]

What are Magic Uses for Cicada Shells?

What are Magic Uses for Cicada Shells?

During some summers, millions of insects crawl out of the ground, and drag themselves up trees before grabbing hold of the bark or branches. Then they scream until they die. This is less horror fiction and more truth. Where I live, cicadas come in cycles. Many years, you don’t even see them. Other times their numbers alone make driving dangerous, because millions of flying bodies hurdling through the air and screaming are not good for visibility. Cicada Broods 10, 13, 14, 19, and 23 all make part of their homes in Indiana, each of them with their own schedules.

According to Wikipedia, Periodical Cicadas live most of their lives underground. They burrow into the soil after hatching from their eggs in tree bark. While some species live for two years underground, the type I’m talking about have either 17 year or 13 year lifecycles—most of that spent around ten feet underground. Towards the end of that, they crawl out of the ground and start their mating song. Or screaming. Whichever you prefer to call it.

At the end of the summer, the cicadas disappear once more. But they leave behind a wealth of discarded brown shells on tree limbs everywhere. In late 2014, I gathered a jar full of the shells left behind, cleansed them with a paint brush and blessed salt water, and put them in my cabinet for later. For what? Conceivably, anything.

I associate cicadas with transformation. You could fill the shell with a small, rolled message, or anything else small enough to fit inside, and then bury it while doing a spell for change or metamorphosis. They are ideal for shadow work, or anything involving the emerging of a ‘true self’ or rebirth. If you powdered the shell or left it whole, it would make a nice addition to a servitor’s body. I don’t think they would suit glamour very well since they change once and then are very obvious, but I don’t tend to work with glamours to begin with. They would also make nice wards—sleeping in the soil until the time has come for them to act. In many cultures, cicadas are a symbol for longevity. An insect with a 17 year lifespan is definitely out of the ordinary. Even though humans might not appreciate their song, they are also symbols of communication.

Information on each brood is available online, including the location and year they can be expected to appear. For witches concerned about ethically sourced materials, cicada shells are practically guilt-free. Just wait until they adults have emerged. The shell is shed as a natural part of the cicada’s life span and there are always plenty to go around in a big brood year.

Have more ideas for spells or charms using cicada shells? Post them below!

Media Spotlight: Hemlock

Media Spotlight: Hemlock

Hemlock is a webcomic that began in June 2010, beautifully written and illustrated by Joceline Fenton. It’s about a witch named Lumi, and the colorful cast of characters that surround her. Among these are fellow witch Ulla and the three sons of Baba Yaga. The […]

What are Magic Uses for Limestone?

What are Magic Uses for Limestone?

Limestone is everywhere in Indiana, and no one thinks about it. It’s dull, with a pale and chalky appearance and it’s common as dirt. In some parts of the state, you can literally park off the side of the highway and pull fossils out of […]

Looking to Start Witchcraft? Start a Dream Journal.

Looking to Start Witchcraft? Start a Dream Journal.

 

As much as it annoys me, there is nothing more correlated with improvement as practice. It’s the same for athletics, art, language, or witchcraft. If you want to get better, you have to put in the hours.

Every witch is different. Every witch has their strengths and weaknesses, and there is no real way to tell what those will be without getting right into it. Again, how can you tell? You put in the hours. You mess around with different things for weeks or months or years until you get a feel for what works for you. There are hundreds of books easily available about witchcraft, and easily dozens of books in most open paths and traditions. It sucks. There’s so much cool stuff out there, and it’s always tempting to start big.

But, that’s probably not going to work out.

Beginner exercises are beginner exercises for a reason. More accurately, they are foundational exercises. Calculus is impossible without an understanding of algebra, and more advanced aspects of witchcraft will be very difficult without workable foundation skills. For one thing, they build up your confidence. For another, they give you a good foundation of data to look back at.

For a long time, I made the mistake of trying to work with parts of the craft that were out of my ‘league’ so to speak. And what was holding me back the most? Not doing my beginner work, that was what. Each witch practices these a different way, and some not at all. However, the general word around the witch-o-sphere seems to be that everyone should give some of these consideration and attention.

The first skill is recording, or record keeping. How difficult is it to study without taking any notes? Without doing any homework? One of the first witchcraft instructors I had made it abundantly clear that all students should write at least three pages in their journal every day. That was a bit much for me, personally, and I have other problems with that instructor. However, writing and record keeping are still priceless.

I personally keep a dream journal. Its only purpose is to keep track of my dreams and sleep quality. I record everything in bullet format, not caring about the grammar or spelling. Sometimes I remember a lot, and sometimes I don’t. Don’t remember your dreams? This will help you start to remember them. It will also be helpful in more advanced exercises, and a good record for you to compare against. This sort of exercise establishes the ‘normal’ state of things in dreamland, so you have a basis for comparison later down the road.

If it helps, put your dream journal by your bed and write in it first thing in the morning. I usually forget my dreams by the time I eat breakfast or shower. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t kept a record and noticed a pattern in what I wrote, though. I also don’t keep perfect records. But, it’s a good habit to keep up and I’m always happy that I make the entries that I do.

How do you dream? Tell me about it in the comments below!