LESSONS IN MAGICK: The Plutonian Healer

Pluto

 

“Each of us has his own way of emerging from the underworld, mine is by writing. That’s why the only way I can keep going, if at all, is by writing, not through rest and sleep. I am far more likely to achieve peace of mind through writing than the capacity to write through peace.”

Franz Kafka

Spirituality is a commodity sought high and low by people of all socioeconomic statuses, gender and sexual identities, race and so on.

And, it has been this way since the beginning of time.

Many people still cling to monotheistic religions, billions in fact, but there has been a wave, an uprising of non-traditional (they were once traditional) philosophies and practices being adopted by people all over the world.

Just like people feel let down by their Government and desire to break the two-party pretend democracy we have been living in, hence the rise in Socialists, Communists and Anarchists; people feel let down by their religions of youth and/or culture, so they are turning to Witchcraft, Nihilism, Atheism, Paganism, Wicca, ATR (African Traditional Religions) and every other path that is not the “big three”.

The psychological breakdown is that people want to be shatter the status quo in the most extreme ways possible. Which is, sadly, why there has also been an uprising of hate groups, and far right extremists pushing nationalism.

When people break free, or as I say, wake up, they are often wounded by their past and carry deep trauma from having to suppress certain aspects of themselves to fit into the box society, and in this context, religion put them in.

A Spiritual Awakening is a process of dying and coming back to life over and over again, it’s grueling work and not for the faint of heart.

As with all other areas of Spirituality, there are those who wish to romanticize the process, make it all love and light, unicorns and butterflies, and I can’t speak for all 7+ billion people on this planet, but I know I speak for a good chunk when I say, for many of us, it’s everything BUT love and light.

There are gurus galore who want to take you on a retreat to Bali, Costa Rica, Joshua Tree or India for an extraordinary amount of money, and through Tantric, Shamanic journeys, or whatever, they connect with the Source of love, Divine light and *poof* you are healed.

You will feel lighter.

Your trauma will melt away.

Your vision will become clearer.

You will become Spiritually Enlightened and Awakened.

While I am sure these retreats and this process may help some people, and/or perhaps may even be part of the overall journey, there are a great many folx who don’t need love and light, they need darkness.

They need the comfort and discomfort of the Womb.

They need a journey to the Underworld.

They must dive into their psyche and collective conscious (and unconscious); dangerous places for someone in recovery from religion and indoctrination.

Enter the Plutonian Healer.

Skull

Pluto is the God of the Underworld in Roman mythology.

In Astrology Pluto is death and rebirth (renewal), it’s the journey of going beneath the surface—it’s transformation, change, and the key to our inner most secrets; some secrets that we may have locked away from ourselves without even knowing.

Pluto, like Saturn, is a brutal but necessary teacher.

And, often it’s an energy that many people cannot, or don’t want to tackle alone and that’s valid.

It’s okay to need or want help.

It doesn’t lessen your personal power—you’re still doing the work, you still must face those Shadows and Demons, and traumas, no matter if someone walks with you, they can’t do the deep Plutonian work for you.

“You can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink” comes to mind.

We can show you the way, but we can’t do the work for you.

The choice is always, always yours.

The power is always yours.

I have a love/hate relationship with the word “healer”.

What does it even mean?

Does it mean this person is superior?

*ego talking here*

“No one rules over me! Ahhh!”

*raises fists*

But, seriously, sarcasm aside, what does it mean to be a healer?

For me, as I have grown on my path, grown as a person, as a practitioner and shed my skin only to truly enter my skin, I have realized I am a healer, and superior to no one.

My experiences allow me to be a buffer for people to bounce ideas off; they can look to me, and others like myself, and say, “they made it through the darkness, they immerse themselves in Shadow Work, and I can, too.”

Maybe someone needs me to hold their hand while we navigate the dark together, maybe they need my torch to help them find their way, or maybe they need me to help them ignite their own torch by reminding them of their inherent personal power.

Pluto 2

The Plutonian Healer is the dark mirror embodied: we reflect deep abysmal truths.

Just like some healers (and people) find comfort in the blissful energy of light and love, I find comfort in the depths of darkness, mysteries and shadows.

I don’t “heal” in any kind of traditional manner.

I take people on a journey to the Underworld.

I exist in the shadows, inside liminal spaces so that I may understand them better and pass the lessons along. Again, not doing the work for anyone, but being a guide, a map, a path, a light in the dark.

A torchbearer.

And in these times of unrest, unknowns and uncertainties, it’s more important than ever for people to understand not only their own darkness, but the darkness of the collective.

With so many focusing on love and light, things have become unbalanced and it’s time to reign the darkness back in by understanding it better; thus, mastering it.

And, the only way to understand it is to journey through it.

Remember, you are the light, it is the darkness that you seek.

Lux in Tenebris

RANTINGS OF A MAD WITCH: The Great Divide

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“The human body resonates at the same frequency as Mother Earth. So instead of only focusing on trying to save the earth, which operates in congruence to our vibrations, I think it is more important to be one with each other. If you really want to remedy the earth, we have to mend mankind. And to unite mankind, we heal the Earth. That is the only way. Mother Earth will exist with or without us. Yet if she is sick, it is because mankind is sick and separated. And if our vibrations are bad, she reacts to it, as do all living creatures.”

Suzy Kassem

I don’t identify as Pagan so writing a post that has been inspired by Pagan community issues is ironic, and that point is not missed by me.

As the world spirals out of control due to Government policies not in alignment with or appropriate for modern, progressive times, among other things, our system becomes further and further unbalanced with an “us vs. them” dichotomy.

This divisive narrative has bled into all areas of life.

And, yes, that includes Magick.

I always looked to the Witch community for inspiration.

For hope.

I sought out my Brothers and Sisters in Magick when the world got me down; it was my escape.

And, as socially and politically aware as I am, perhaps that escape became blinders.

Note: For clarification, I use the term Witch broadly in the context of this piece, and in general; I don’t use the term Pagan broadly (even though many people do) and I’m aware that by definition my practices are Pagan. We will unpack that mess another day. I also know that some Practitioners of African Diasporic Traditions, for example, do not identify as Witches, or practice Witchcraft. They are still and always included.

Carrying on…

Over the last several months I have noticed how deeply divided we are within the Witch community, and I must admit, it was surprising to me.

I know that many of my readers will say they are not shocked at my epiphany as they have experienced division, elitism and, often, racism first hand, but I thought we were better than this.

It’s important to point out that I stick to myself in pretty much every way possible; I have never been part of a Coven, or organization. I am not initiated into anything, and don’t believe someone must be in order to be taken seriously. On a mundane level, I’m a loner with a tight inner circle and extremely close familial connections.

I am a seeker and follower of the Old Ways, my path is my own and my research is endless, vast and deep.

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I consider myself to be super introverted, and us introverts know the one thing we do better than hiding is observing.

I notice everything, so how the divide in the Witch community was missed by me is something I must reflect on myself; no outside opinions necessary, or welcome.

It all started slowly, too–the realization, I mean.

First it was certain groups using Norse symbolism and Asatru teachings taken out of context to promote (white) nationalism, and racism.

Then it was white Witches excluding WOC (Witches of Color) from Witch spaces, or worse, talking for them instead of allowing them to speak for themselves.

Then it was white washing deities and/or using them out of context (ie. etymology of words/names and traditional lore must be considered); a blonde Kali threw me over the edge.

I have watched Witches’ pounce one another for “pulling the race card” simply because they wanted to have a conversation, an honest and open dialogue about what it means to live with brown skin in this world, in these times AND be a practicing Witch (again, all inclusive term).

Intersectionality is important—it’s the keystone of progress.

I have watched as Witches called out sexual abuse in the Pagan community only to be attacked in every way possible for daring to have a voice.

I have watched Witches improperly lash out because they are too scared to face their own traumas; Shadow Work is essential no matter what path you walk.

I have watched people use mental illness as an insult, or suggestion that someone’s behavior is because they are mentally unfit; this is dangerous for so many reasons.

I have watched people gather like a group of ‘Mean Girls’ and judge the witchiness of another to somehow validate or invalidate their practices and experiences.

I have watched Indigenous traditions stolen and exploited over and over and over again.

It goes far beyond the use (and misuse) of Sage, too.

I have watched as people were told they couldn’t practice a tradition because they are not the proper ethnicity.

And, trust me, I speak up, I speak up all the fucking time and I am shut down or attacked as people project onto me.

I have witnessed white folx being told they can’t practice Hoodoo, Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo or any African Diasporic Tradition in general because they don’t have African Ancestry.

The folx (gatekeepers) telling them this are the same folx who say that all people come from Africa (which they do).

Here’s a link for your reading pleasure, and my sanity.

You can’t have it both ways though.

We are either an inclusive community or we are not.

YES, black Witches, and black people in general, deserve to have spaces for themselves where they are represented authentically and unapologetically, by themselves.

And, YES, there are many traditions that ARE NOT up for the taking by outsiders because they are rooted in culture as well as practice and tradition (ie. being immersed in it day to day with your physical presence and time).

I DO NOT believe that as a white person everything is available/accessible to me, but when it comes to Spirituality, Spiritual practices and what resonates with the Soul, the lines get blurred really fucking quick, and it’s important for ALL parties involved to acknowledge this.

Respect for the path we walk, and education for the tradition we follow is key, in my opinion.

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I have watched white Witches tell black Witches they cannot venerate Norse or Celtic deities, or any Anglo-saxon group because they themselves are not white; that they will not be accepted because they are black.

I have only met a handful of Spirits who gave any flying fucks about race; generally, they just like to be honored, and most Practitioners, regardless of tradition, will agree with me on this.

It boils down to respect and education, as aforementioned, but also intent.

Another point, colonialism and how it continues to affect this country, and the world is a tricky, tricky subject and one of great complexity.

This of course affects our community.

Racism, sexism and sexual abuse in the Witch community are topics that must be addressed, and folx it’s going to suck for all parties involved.

White privilege is real. White supremacy is real. The patriarchy is real. Racism is real. Sexual abuse disguised as enlightenment or ritual is real.

We as a community cannot expect change on a grand, global scale, like so many of us truly want, if we are unable to see the issues among ourselves.

We cannot resist the system that wants to obliterate our existence if we aren’t even strong enough or brave enough to have the difficult conversations.

Yes, some white feelings are going to get hurt in the process, but imagine the generational trauma that POC must work through?

And, no folx this is NOT SAYING that white people don’t have generational trauma themselves.

Comparing the two is a false equivalency (another reason Intersectionality is paramount).

Our community is better than the actions of a few and I know that, but what I brought up here has moved far beyond just a few people.

How can Witches be a force of resistance, a force in the resistance if we can’t unify on the most basic shit?

How?

RANTINGS OF A MAD WITCH: I Will Not Submit, I Will RESIST

Chains

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas


**TRIGGER WARNING**

I do not speak for all Women, but for myself and those closest to me, the last 10 days have been profoundly painful; I did not realize how triggered my own trauma would be.

I watched in awe as Dr. Christine Baisley Ford testified and told her story of survival.

I watched in shock as Brett Kavanaugh testified by throwing temper tantrums, losing his composure, putting on the fake tears, justifying his predatory behavior (“boys will be boys”) and trying to be a victim.

I watched in horror as Congress voted 11-10 to confirm him through the first process of nomination.

I watched as our Government told myself, the females in my family, the Women, girls and Femmes around the world, that we do not matter.

Our voices do not matter.

Our stories do not matter.

Our pain does not matter.

But, I am here to say that

I do matter.

Our stories matter.

Our pain matters.

We matter.

The Divine Feminine is more than waking up, She is here and She is GROWLING WITH RAGE.

Lioness

Humans have raped and pillaged this planet, its animal inhabitants, and people through genocides, crusades, white supremacy and all-out war for eons.

Men have raped and pillaged Women since the beginning of time to place their superiority over us; to place their superiority over all things.

Side note: I do not hate Men. I know that not all Men are predators. I know that there are good Men out there. We are not here to discuss them, though, we are here to call out the predators and discuss how we got to this place as a country, and world. If your initial response to this blog is “not all Men!” then you have missed the point entirely.

I have not met a Woman, in my life, who has not been sexually assaulted.

Read that line again.

And, again.

For the Men who follow my page/blog: your Sister, your Mother, your Grandmothers, your Aunts, your Female/Femme Cousins, your Nieces, your Daughters have or will be sexually assaulted to some degree in their lifetime.

This is not to say that Men do not experience sexual assault, too—they do.

But not in the way Women do, and to compare the two is a false equivalency that helps nothing.

Let’s look at statistics:

  • One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives
  • In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime
  • 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance
  • 52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger
  • Almost half (49.5%) of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime
  • 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male
  • In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator
  • Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work.

Source

How can you look at the next generation and not feel despair in your heart for what they will experience? How can you look at them and not want to change their fate?

I can’t do nothing. I can’t remain silent. I can’t accept this.

I won’t.

The world will hear me roar because:

I have experienced (multiple) sexual trauma in the form of rape and molestation. I have experienced sexual (and physical) trauma in abusive relationships. I have experienced sexual harassment in every workplace. I have had men pleasure themselves in front of me on public transportation. I have been stalked (and fought off an attempted kidnapping, twice). I have been verbally threatened and physically abused on more than one occasion when saying no to a man’s advances. I have been spat on (by strangers) for speaking my mind. I have been sexually assaulted by partners for saying no to sex; relationship rape is real.

And that’s the abbreviated list.

Nude

The unrest so many of us are feeling lately is not just the cosmic fuckery going on, it’s the collective.

It’s our trauma coming to the surface.

It’s our Sisters’ trauma coming to the surface.

It’s every single word we have swallowed when biting our tongue’s coming to the surface.

It’s every Woman/Femme to have ever existed finding her/their voice.

And, it’s magnificent to watch.

A few days ago, a prominent Herbalist and Witch posted a blog about sexual abuse in the Pagan community; it was illuminating and heartbreaking. I support you, Sarah.

On Social Media I saw Women, and Men, showing solidarity with Dr. Ford by using #WhyIDidntReportIt and telling their stories.

More recently there was the “blackout” to represent how Women do not matter; a cool concept, but poorly executed. (The idea was/is to change your profile picture to all black.)

I will not give the Patriarchy what it wants; I will not give them my silence.

I will not give them the satisfaction of thinking for one split second that they have won.

I will not shrink myself.

I will not make myself invisible; the world tries to do that already.

I am here to make noise.

I am here to make people uncomfortable.

I am here to rebel.

I am here to RESIST.

Hex the Patriarchy.

Fuck the Patriarchy.

Don’t give up, keep roaring.

WITCH OF THE WEEK: Bill Duvendack

Photo Five, Bill

Bill Duvendack is an astrologer, internationally known psychic, presenter, teacher, and author. He has presented in many venues, ranging from colleges and high schools to national and international conferences.

He is the author of the published books “Vocal Magick,” “The Metaphysics of Magick,” “In the Shadow of the Watchtower, Enochian Grimoire Volume 1,” “Spirit Relations,” “Awakening Lucifer,” “Sat En Anpu” a book on Anubis, and “Astrology in Theory and Practice,” with several other essays released recently.

He has had over a dozen essays published in various anthologies, and his magical writings have been translated into 6 languages. He regularly teaches classes on magick, astrology, and modern spirituality, nationally and via webinars.

He has been interviewed by the NY Times, RTE 1, and has made many TV and radio appearances.

For more information about him, please consult his website: www.418ascendant.com

His upcoming projects include:

Second Enochian Grimoire is coming out this month, called “Dark Fruit.” It’s part two to “In the Shadow of the Watchtower.”

Unlimited hardback version of “Sat En Anpu” is coming out this month as well, available through my website for a signed copy.

Lucifer-Amaymon just got released with Become a Living God.

Lots of events coming up in September and October, mostly local to the Midwest.

Website is going through a major overhaul that includes having more of my classes available through there.

Video class series on Draconian Egypt is available through Become a Living God, and another video series is being discussed with them.

Slated for next year with them is also a book on Qliphothic Astrology, as well as a tarot deck with Asenath Mason.

I’ll also be writing a piece for the third book in their nine book grimoire series, coming out around the end of the year on Azazel.

Next year I’ll be releasing a book with Immanion Press on Psychic Protection.

Photo Two, Bill

Q. You are truly one of the best Astrologers I’ve come across, when did the stars first call to you? What is your favorite aspect of Astrology? What is it about Astrology, in your opinion that draws people in? Conversely, what steers them away? I’m very new to Astrology, and for me it’s been a powerful learning experience, but a lot of people scoff at the idea; some dismiss it entirely. What do you say to the naysayers?

A: “First of all, thank you for the compliment! When I was around seven I wanted to be an astronomer, but when I learned it required a lot of math and you don’t really get to go out and look at the night sky I looked into astrology. However, every time I read a horoscope it was constantly wrong, so I abandoned that. Approximately 20 years later a dear friend suggested I come back to it, so I did, and the rest is history. So a lot of my early exposure to astrology was in seeing it NOT work, which is why I can relate to skeptics! Let’s face it, the sky is the second half of what we perceive, and this has been true for thousands of years, so it’s natural to look for meaning in it. People generally get turned off of astrology because it is not common knowledge that it is a soft science, like all of the other –ologies out there, which is why I dedicate a lot of space to explaining that in my book “Astrology in Theory & Practice.” To deny astrology is to deny all soft sciences because it works on the same principles they do.”

Photo Three, Bill

Q. I am friends with you on your personal page so I may get to see a side that you don’t show professionally, but I notice that you intentionally word things a certain way because you want people to think, or you want to ruffle feathers. Although that isn’t my approach (come to think of it, in some ways it is) it’s a really effective method at mirroring people’s bullshit back onto them. It seems you just want people to internally reflect, but more importantly you want them to take personal responsibility. Is this correct? If so, where does that mischief, for lack of a better word, come from? It has an almost trickster vibe to it, but in a loving way that only a Teacher can have. I for one have learned a lot from you.

A: “Yes, you are correct in your observation. I do that to encourage people to think, but also to take accountability for their own lives. Trickster? Yes. It reminds me of something I learned many years ago when I was first becoming a teacher. The difference between a teacher and a good teacher is that a good teacher will tell you where to look, but not necessarily what you will find when you look there. What you find is all on you. Another piece of the puzzle is that I promote change. It is the only constant, after all. I love being the instigator in a lot of ways, and astrologically it is my Sagittarius side coming through.”

Photo Four, Bill

Q. Given the social and political upheaval here in the states, and worldwide, really, there seems to be a huge drop in folks flocking to religion and more coming to Earth based and Pagan beliefs. Over the last few years I’ve called it “the great re-wilding”–a way to return to our roots, collectively. Do you think people are sick if the fear and hypocrisy religion delivers? Or is it something else entirely?

A: “Again I agree with your perception, but would also like to add that a lot of people are looking for a connection with simplicity and the natural world.”

Photo One, Bill

A Collection of Bill’s Published works, including Anthologies

Q. What is one piece of Magickal advice that you were given that you will never forget?

A: “Funny enough, my friend Donald Michael Kraig quoting Dr Timothy Leary: “Think for yourself, question authority.”

Q. What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new Astrologer? And, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to a new Magick and/or Occult Practitioner?

A: “A new astrologer? Learn the Western Tradition of Occultism, because it and astrology are intertwined for the last few thousand years. Funny enough, the converse is also true for a new magical practitioner. Traditionally speaking, before one could become a magician they had to become a competent astrologer first, so learn astrology and become good at it. Secondly, remember context and keep everything in it. We are all stars, after all.”

Bill is as down to Earth as they come; a unique soul who manages to keep his eyes turned to the Stars.

He is knowledgeable and shares that knowledge with the world.

Full of wisdom, humor and otherworldly insight it’s easy to see why I decided to spotlight him.

For these reasons and so many more Bill Duvendack has been chosen as The Nephilim Rising’s Witch of the Week.

Congratulations, Bill.

PAY ATTENTION, WITCH: 3 Pitfalls of Witchcraft

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“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
Mary Oliver

There is so much that I love about the Witch community, but there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved, too. In an ideal world I would like to see more unity, and less divisiveness but that doesn’t look like it will resolve itself anytime soon; mostly because that’s a human issue, not solely a Witch issue.

I am not naïve enough to believe we will attain some kumbaya status, but there, at the very least, should be respect for other’s traditions, experiences, and practices.

I have been guilty in the past of making fun of Wiccans, for example, mostly in a light-hearted way because I was being attacked from every direction by superiority police whom happened to be Wiccan.

I’m not saying all Wiccans are like this, but all the people who felt the need to judge my way of life and practice have been Wiccan.

It was hard at first to make the distinction, so I lumped them all together; in a very similar fashion they seemed to lump me in with the LHP, Luciferian and Occult communities.

I try to take a more diplomatic stance on “the shit I talk” because everyone is entitled to *their* experience; if they decide to become self-righteous, then I will handle it how I see fit.

Otherwise, live and let live.

Rolling your eyes when necessary helps, too.

I also try hard to educate when and where I can, it’s imperative as a public figure to not feed the fire *all the time*.

Sometimes, we must learn to neutralize the fire and save our energy for bigger fights.

This blog is one way I hope to combat some of the main issues plaguing our community.

Do I believe I am the solution? Not at all.

Do I believe this blog will suddenly solve the problems in our community? Nope.

I do believe this will start an important conversation, debate and reflection.

Which is a win I will take.

I have compiled a very abbreviated list of the main issues I have observed playing out within our community, and in many cases, the Spiritual community at large.

Blind

Spiritual Bypassing: This is the idea that you use Spiritual ideas to avoid handling/healing/confronting emotional wounds, trauma and conflict. A clear example of this is the love and light only crew; this is a group of people who completely deny the existence and necessity of the darkness, or Shadows.

Conversely, there is a large group of people that are darkness only, and they completely avoid the higher vibrations of love and light.

Yes, there are many people who are so accustomed to their pain that they fear being happy; they don’t know who they are without their trauma.

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image source

I know this to be true because I used to be one of those people; you don’t get to know the dark as intimately as I do without having immersed your mind, body and soul in it while dismissing all aspects of light/perceived light.

Spiritual bypassing also takes the form of denying ego—something we all have, and an aspect of ourselves that should be fed, not starved; a starved animal is dangerous.

Anyone who teaches their way as being the only way to attain (insert Spiritual promise here) is lying to you.

There are a million different roads that all lead to the destination of Spiritual Enlightenment and the reason so many roads exist is because we must pave our own way, using those who came before us as guidance.

This isn’t a contest, this isn’t a race; this is a winding journey that will take you to highs and lows you never imagined possible, and a reward you never knew existed.

Remember, the essence of the Spiritual journey comes from within, not without; while people and our outer world are great teachers, they are not and should not be our compass.

Our intuition is our compass, use it freely.

Angela

You need a Coven: This is probably one of the most annoying pitfalls within the community, and it trips a lot of people up. The idea that one needs a Coven to be taken seriously is not new, and if you choose to get into a debate with someone over it, I bet it will turn heated rather quickly.

Not only does this effect the Witch community, but it effects the Occultist community, too.

I have met people who introduce themselves by their name, and then the list of secret societies/organizations they are part of or worked with and by the time they are done listing their pretentious titles I have lost interest because honestly, who the fuck cares?

I mean, of course I care but not when I meet you.

You should be proud of your accomplishments and accolades, but to lead with that?

To have that be your introduction?

It’s arrogant as fuck.

You know that saying that wealth is quiet? And, how I have said in the past that truth is quiet because it’s truth and there is no need to boast?

Power is quiet, too.

Real power, real Magick is quiet because it knows the strength it wields, it respects itself enough to know the damage it can do.

We should be like that.

We should respect ourselves, our Power and our Magick enough to shut up occasionally and let them do the talking for us without using any words.

Covens can be an amazing tool, and asset but in my experience, they are often lead by power hungry individuals who do not see their fellow members as equals but almost like slaves.

I have seen disastrous Witch Wars come from Coven fallouts, and most of the time all because they denied their ego. The irony? Their ego is what killed them.

And, yes, there are people out there who genuinely get something from being in a Coven, and yes there are even a few Covens in existence not plagued by ego, power struggle and hierarchies, but they are few and far between, and they do not define you.

THEY DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

You define you; the company you keep can be an indicator but not a definition.

COVENS DO NOT HOLD ALL THE POWER.

You hold the power.

You decide how to use it.

Make sure to use it wisely, or it will use you.

Stormy

Your expertise is based on the number of followers you have: This is real ya’ll.

THIS IS REAL!

This obviously pertains more so to those like me, who are in the public eye, but it’s important to address all the same.

It’s probably one of the biggest issues in our community right now.

In the age of Social Media, and Instagram Witches we are being judged by the number of followers we have; we are not taken seriously unless, across all platforms we have a huge following.

I have been all but snubbed in the Instagram arena because the following I have on Fb doesn’t translate over; mostly because I wasn’t and still am not super active on Instagram.

The heavy hitters on that platform won’t support baby pages like mine, and honestly?

It makes me fucking laugh.

Their worth is put into numbers and an algorithm.

What happens if IG were to disappear tomorrow? Or Fb for that matter?

What would they do then?

I have a Shop, Courses, Published Books and a blog where my heart and Soul live outside my body.

What do they have when it’s all gone? When the filters fade? When the pretty pictures are no longer considered pretty?

I have missed opportunities with Magazines because of this; only for them to see my Fb and blog and suddenly they come back with, “Oh, sorry, we didn’t know your reach as an influencer. We would love to have you!”

That’s an actual quote.

And, this happened not once, but TWICE.

I have been dismissed by some people in the community, only to be given a stamp of approval later because someone, considered more prominent, gave me a shout out.

What a herd mentality.

The numbers on Social Media are essentially arbitrary; meaning, you can’t do anything with them.

You can’t live off them, you can’t cash them in at a bank, you can’t put them on a resume.

They have meaning in the sense that (in my case) 45 thousand people have resonated with my work, and what I share, and they have chosen to include me on their journey; to use me as inspiration and motivation to keep going.

They have chosen to learn from me and my experiences, and that’s a great honor.

I will carry that with me forever.

At the end of the day, I do this because it’s needed; because the Soul cry deep within tells me that people need to hear my voice.

So, in that regard the numbers have meaning on so many emotional levels, but not in the real world.

Even still, we are judged because of them.

Another way we are judged is who we are friends with.

It’s like, in a professional sense, if you are not friends with other high caliber public figures, then you aren’t taken seriously.

For this reason alone, it makes me want to keep to myself even more than I already do.

Don’t judge me based on who I am friends with. Don’t judge me based on numbers on a screen.

Don’t judge me based on anything other than the words I write, and who I am as a person.

I do not seek approval. I do not beg to be seen. I do not need to be loud.

I am who I am, and you either take it or leave it.

Numbers don’t define me, or my power because truth is quiet, and I am truth.

THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE: The Story of PTSD and Me

Depression

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

Laurell K. Hamilton

I have written a lot of extremely personal blogs, but this one might take the cake.

This blog has been dancing in my head for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t find the perfect time to sit down and write it. Seeing how I just had surgery yesterday and am on bed rest, I figured now is as good a time as any to tell this story.

I have been very open with my chronic health and mental health issues; I wrote a piece on this very topic back in May, it was my way of reclaiming my power.

I have even had a hugely successful blog published on WITCH regarding my battle with chronic health issues and how it directly relates to and affects my Magick.

I wrote about Trauma the Teacher on The House of Twigs.

This is a follow-up of sorts.

A redefining moment in my life that I want to share with all of you.

If you have read my past blogs about my health you know that I have struggled for essentially my entire life, but more so recently; mostly regarding degenerative disc disease, a torn disc between L5 and S1, degeneration of my Sacroiliac Joint, Arthritis, Hashimotos, fribromyalgia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Not to mention cervical and skin cancer in my past, along with 7 abdominal surgeries for a variety of feminine health problems which resulted in a full hysterectomy.

Besides these physical ailments, I have been facing head on both my anxiety and C-PTSD.

Let’s rewind for a minute.

Back in 2010 when I was just coming out of an abusive relationship I kind of lost my shit; I don’t know how else to describe it. I didn’t suffer a psychotic break, I did not have delusions, I can only describe it as “losing my mind”.

Now, to be clear, my entire life has been one giant reel of traumatic events, there is not a singular moment that caused my pain; 2010 was just the tipping point.

Out of fear of what was happening, because I didn’t know what was going on, I checked myself into a private mental health institute where I was medicated with poisons and diagnosed: Bipolar 2, ADHD, OCD, Anxiety (GAD, Social Anxiety), Agoraphobia and PTSD.

For 3 years I went to therapy session after therapy session and pumped my body full of toxins; I was even forced to go to substance abuse programs because I was open about smoking cannabis.

They labeled me as “self-medicating”.

For the past 14 years cannabis has been my medicine of choice, and of course some of my closed-minded family members and Doctors alike thought I was (and am) nothing more than a pothead.

A druggie.

In 2013 I stopped all medications besides Estrogen, Synthroid, vitamins, a muscle relaxer for my back and allergy meds; I have not been medicated for my mental health. Though about 2 months ago I was given a low dose of Klonopin to help take the edge off because my anxiety can be debilitating some days. I have continued my use of cannabis, which as you may know is illegal in NYS; I have always been open and honest with my providers about my use.

Recently having found a great PCP and a Pain Management Doctor I was given the gift of hope.

A cruel gift sometimes, but I embraced it for once.

When my PCP prescribed me the Klonopin, he suggested I try to find a mental health professional for medication management; I understood his point completely and a few weeks ago I went to the appt.

I walked out before even seeing a Doctor.

I was filling out paperwork and the very last sheet was a checklist that you had to initial (30 something “agreements”) and it read like a court ordered type document.

It basically said I would be subject to random drug tests, and *forced* to go to talk therapy because I have an anxiety disorder(s).

WHAT?

I specifically asked about therapy beforehand because it’s not my thing, and they said they force no one.

When I asked the nurse about the checklist she said that if I test positive for any trace amounts *at all* of cannabis that I would be weaned off my medication and put into a substance abuse program.

Now, I know that checklist and that office saves people’s lives, but that was not a place that jived with the kind of treatment and healing I need.

I left that appointment so, so discouraged.

It was like my dreams just blew away in the wind.

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I went to my PCP the following Monday (the appt was on a Thursday), told him all about it and even he was shocked, but then he said, “well, just so you know in the next few months St. Peter’s (the hospital in which his practice is associated with) is sending out contracts for all users of controlled substances” (which Klonopin is).

He continued to say that he has no clue what will be on the contract, but it might have something in there about cannabis; reminding me it’s a Catholic establishment (he is an excellent Doctor, I don’t care about religion).

He told me he would continue to prescribe the low dose for me, and we will “Cross the contract bridge when it comes”.

I went home and immediately started researching Medical Marijuana and how I apply, how much it will cost and what the qualifying conditions are.

You see, it’s not easy to get approved…like not at all.

And, it’s costly. Very, very costly.

I had to weigh my options; do I give up the Klonopin? Do I give up the cannabis? Or, do I try and legitimize my use?

I decided I was going to try to get certified for Medical Marijuana.

I found a brilliant Psychiatrist, said some prayers to my Gods, and started walking this new path.

My appointment was August 15th, and not only did she tell me that I was, indeed, misdiagnosed and that *I AM NOT BIPOLAR* but she said I have one of the more severe cases of PTSD and C-PTSD she has seen. The PTSD is a direct result of sexual trauma; the C-PTSD is from long term abuse as a child, and abuse as a teen and young adult at the hands of my Father, Step-Father (not the Step-Father in my life now) and romantic partners.

For the last 8 years I have worn a scarlet letter of sorts as far as the medical world is concerned.

They would look at my chart, and for the last 5 of those 8 years all they saw was “unmedicated bipolar” and treated me as if I was going to kill myself or someone else.

She granted me FREEDOM and POWER by telling me, “Jaclyn you are not at all Bipolar, you do not suffer from any personality disorders; you suffer from severe trauma, and your body remembers.”

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I will not go into all the ways in which PTSD paralyzes me, and all that it entails to carry this diagnosis.

I will say:

It’s why I can’t leave my house for days on end.

It’s why I haven’t been intimate with anyone in 5 years.

It’s why I can’t be touched.

It’s why I don’t like loud noises.

It’s why my nightmares torment me.

In one swoop, with a few words she ripped that scarlet letter off of me and the weight that lifted with it was tangible.

We sat and talked for almost 2 hours, and she told me how intelligent and insightful I was; how impressed she was with what I know about trauma, more specifically my trauma and my reactions to it.

Then, she said, “Jaclyn, remember this day. Remember this day because you are certified. Congratulations.”

To tell you that I started sobbing would be an understatement; I am telling you I was full on ugly crying in her office.

This has quite literally changed my life.

She gave me my certification form, told me the next steps and I went right home, printed out my temporary card and walked into the dispensary for the first time that afternoon.

As of right now I am on pills and vape pens; I might try oralmucosal (tincture) but because I have been smoking for so long my receptors are dense, and I need high THC content for it to be medicinal in my body.

I can now travel (within the state) with my medication.

I can now be drug tested and it won’t be considered illicit because it’s my medicine.

I can now show my family and Doctor’s that I am not some druggie, but a person who genuinely needs this plant ally as MEDICINE.

I have written over 1,000 words telling this story and still they are not enough to describe the feeling I have, the freedom I have been given, and the emotions that are still overwhelming me.

We must be our loudest advocate for our own health and well-being, and if you ever needed inspiration to be that, use me.

I did it, so can you.

Always listen to your gut, and always follow what your body is telling you.

Don’t give up, Warrior.

Keep fighting.

WITCH OF THE WEEK: Womb Tree Alchemy

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Logo by Witchcraft Branding

This week’s Witch of the Week is a brand that has become a movement and a Woman on a mission.

Lauren Roberts is a student of Lunar Alchemy, a crystal witch, and a warrior for empowerment of the Divine Feminine in her many forms.

Born under the New Moon, with the Sun in Aquarius, Lauren is dedicated to bringing change to a world that is READY for a new paradigm. She works with women to help them align with the Cycles of the Moon and the power within their natural feminine rhythm.

Recently her work has shifted to focus primarily on dealing with the Witch Wound, and she has begun to focus her energy on helping women heal from lifetimes of systematic oppression, persecution and torture.

Today Lauren is working with women, both 1:1 and in groups, from all over the world. Through her soul-aligned business, Womb Tree Alchemy, she offers individual and group coaching sessions and courses to empower women to reclaim their truth, show up authentically, and make BIG MAGIC in the world.

You can connect with her Facebook Group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/wombtreealchemysisterhood/

Lauren is currently available for 1:1 coaching and will be opening registration for the 3rd round of the Moon Cycle Mastery Course in late August. If you are looking to dive deep with the phases of the Moon and the Feminine Archetypes reach out to Lauren and to be notified when registration for the MCMC is open.

Her Site: https://www.wombtreealchemy.com/

You can also find her writing (alongside myself) over at The House of Twigs.

Lauren’s Course ‘Waking the Feminine with Cyclic Alchemy’ will be launching on The House of Twigs: School of Ritual soon, so be sure to keep an eye out!

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Photography by Ashley Morris

Q. You are an advocate for Sisterhood, Womb and Moon Magick. What called you to this path? Has the issues Women face always been a passion of yours, or was there a specific moment where you said, “this is what I need to do”? Why do you think Womb and Moon Magick are important areas for Witches to focus on? 

A. “A deep connection to my feminine lineage and powerful Sisterhood of women is what lead me to my craft. I didn’t know I was a witch, until I was dancing with Sisters in a circle, celebrating the magic of our blood and the sanctity of our Sisterhood. In that circle, we called for rain to quell the fires burning in the next Valley over. We called in the energy of the New Moon, we summoned the goddess, and just like that, the skies opened the rain began to fall.

“And suddenly I remembered lifetimes of making magic.

“Magic lives within our blood and bones. When we gather in Sisterhood and activate through the connection between our Wombs, the Magic is undeniable.”

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Photography by Ashley Morris

Q. As a fellow Feminist, and a Woman who works closely with other Women, what are some tips that you would give to gain access to our Womb Wisdom? For those of us, like myself who had a hysterectomy, or our Transgender Sisters who biologically don’t have a Womb, what are your tips to connect with that space? How do we gain wisdom and power from our pussy when *so many* spiritual teachers only teach about the power of blood, in-tact Women, and/or disregard Trans Women as Women? Where do the rest of us fall in?

A. “I am so grateful that you asked this question. Our Womb’s are energetic portals, and a connection to the Feminine gives you access to this space. Even my cis male fiancé can tap into the energetics of the Womb if he is willing to do the work.

“I don’t believe that being born with a uterus, or possessing one, is a prerequisite for having a potent connection to the magic energy and creative force that is the Womb. Although the physical organ can make it easier to anchor into that energy, it’s not required.

“My biggest piece of advice for ANYONE looking to connect with the cyclic power and nature of the Womb, is to tap into the Moon and her powerful rhythm, she will guide you home to your own unique cycles.”

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Photography by Ashley Morris

Q. You have recently started a journey with Cacao, what it is about this amazing Earth medicine drew you to its Magick? What are the benefits, both health and spiritual of Cacao, and Cacao ceremonies?

A. “I have been working with Cacao off and on for about 4 years now, but in the last 12 months I have taken my relationship with this sacred plant ally to a new level of dedication. On the surface it felt like I was drawn to this medicine because of my love for chocolate, but now I see that I was drawn to chocolate because of my LOVE for this Medicine.

“Plants have long been friends of mine, and Cacao’s subtle psychedelic effects open me up in ways that other plants have not been able to.

“Physically, Cacao is a vasodilator, it increases blood flow in the entire body, and it is PACKED with micronutrients and antioxidants. Ceremonial Grade Cacao is prepared with very specific intention, and I believe that it is important to source your Cacao from places that are considering the lands and the people who produce this crop, that’s all a part of the magic that come with her.

“Spiritually, Cacao is a Heart Opener. And for Witches, and other people who have experienced deep oppression, Cacao can soften and open the heart to allow the individual’s Soul Purpose to come through. I’ve seen it happen with so many people.

“Purpose becomes primary. I have watched Cacao empower an individual to leave their soul-sucking day job for a life that serves them after ONE CEREMONY.”

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Photography by Ashley Morris

Q. Living in these uncertain, toxic, overtly Patriarchal times there has been a rise of Earth based and Pagan belief systems; there has also been a re-wilding of sorts that has swept across our community. Do you think in a sense Witches and Women are being called to arms because the Divine Feminine has been silenced for so long?

A. “YES! Witches from across time are gathering here in this moment on earth, act as midwives as the Feminine wakes Up. Collectively, we are moving out of the Dark Moon phase of the Feminine, and the CALL to show up comes from the part within each of us that is waking up with her.”

Q. What is one piece of Magickal advice you were given that you will never forget?”

A. “Wise woman, Author, and Inspiring Witch Danielle Dulsky said to me at a workshop here in Eugene that “the most potent and powerful rituals will be written in my own hand.” And that was the medicine that my Witches Soul had been yearning for. It gave me permission to be my own version of my Witchy self.”

Q. What is one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you started that you would like to pass on to other Witches (no matter their skill level)?

A. “My bit of advice is that the antidote to the Witch Wound (the fear of showing up in our fullness and the fear of speaking our truth) is a CLEAR awareness of our Soul’s Purpose. If we can see with CLARITY what we are on this earth to do, if we are connected to the very mission that our Soul incarnated to complete, then fear becomes just an emotion, not a roadblock. Show up Magical! That’s why you are here!”

Social Media Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wombtree.alchemy/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wombtreealchemy/

Lauren is a fierce Advocate for her work, and healing the collective and individual Witch Wound. She is an embodiment of the Goddess, and represents and includes all aspects of the Divine Feminine in her teachings.

For these reasons and so many more, Wombtree Alchemy has been selected as this week’s Witch of the Week.

Congratulations, Lauren.

WITCH OF THE WEEK: The House of Twigs

 

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This week’s Witch of the Week is a friend, Sister Witch, personal inspiration, and my Boss over at THoT.

Erika Fortner, founder and Head Mistress of The House of Twigs, has been a Tarot reader, Witch, medium and Psychic for 23+ years. She is also the Head Mistress and Curator of THoT: The School of Ritual.

She is an Artist with a BFA from Pratt Institute and has an extensive fine Art background in NYC with one of the top Artists in the world working with museums such as the MOMA and Guggenheim as well as living in Berlin, Germany and Venice, Italy.

She is the owner and main Creator of Keven Craft Rituals lifestyle products including the only maker of their handmade skincare products, organic goods, metaphysical, and home & hearth items.

She is an eclectic energy worker (Reiki master as well as other healing modalities) Shamanic/folklore Witch; specializing in her own style of in-depth Tarot reading, crystal work, and channeling.

She favors the Morrighan, Isis, Hecate, Freya, and Cernnunos. Erika’s inspiration of ritual comes from many areas, including her family lineage which connects to the first Kings of Ireland, Queen Maeb, the King of the Picts, as well as connections with the Welsh Lewellyn family, the Scottish McLaughlins, De Forsythe and McCloud clans.

She has worked for the Psychic Friends network while in Brooklyn before deciding the ethos of the company didn’t align with her practice.

She now has her roots planted in Oregon with her partner and daughter.

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Q. You have created a Sacred space known as The House of Twigs; a family of Witches that I am honored and blessed to be a part of. Where did the idea for the brand come from? What made you want to create a space where Witches of all different paths could voice their opinions and experiences? And, where did the name come from? I, of course, love the play on words with the slang word Thot and how you took the power back; was that intentional?

A. “To be honest, I have been a member of Witchvox since 1995 when I started my path. I was pretty computer savvy and found an online community very quickly. It looks almost exactly the same as it did then! It has a ton of information on there, but it is still almost impossible for my brain to navigate. My life and business partner Tad grew up in the mid-west and had very little exposure on where to find information. It led him to attempt working with some pretty advanced and non-recommended books of spells and concepts. Since we both come from a visual background, it made sense to create something visually appealing and content curated; the visual aspect was based on our original idea from a few years before. We did not have the time or the funds to get it off the ground. We wanted to create something that looked more like Vogue for the witchy community, but with more real content; something that had great imagery and great content that was both inspiring and relative to its readers.

“The name was a collaboration between Tad and I. He has been working with the Film and TV world as well as branding since before I met him. He wanted to create something timeless, that expressed the collection of a community but under a “house”, sort of like the Harry Potter world we all love but know isn’t the way this witch world works.

“As for the acronym, THoT, it was something that we saw was a possible issue, but not  deterrent. I have always been someone who challenges the mainstream and simultaneously doesn’t follow pop-culture so when I saw the connection with the slang word Thot, I laughed. I laughed hysterically. How ‘simpatico’ as they say.

“A shunned community of predominately women who are both desired and marginalized. Why not take the word back we thought? The word will die-out but this community would not. Occasionally I get messaged about the connection acting like I must not know what it means. But yes, I get it and I don’t care.

“The logo was also inspired and designed by Tad Ericson. It contains a pentacle that forms a house but also contains hidden sigils that make sense for this type of community. He did a great job making a timeless logo and brand of the company and what it represented. It is a collection of individuals that make up a greater community. We have recently made this something that could be monetized through the school but the main concept was never about money as much as it was providing a single place to find people and information. From there each individual has a link to their site so if you resonate with one writer, you know exactly where to find them and get more info.

“The school aspect of the community in the early stages was a concept we didn’t know how to do. We wanted to create a space where people already had this amazing content and we could help connect those people with that content. With the addition of the school we have taken on the tech and financial burden of hosting a complex online school integration where some of the best teachers and writers could share their content.

“This allows the piece for each contributor to be much more accommodating because the structure and e-commerce on every site would be very expensive and spread out onto many sites. It is a much more in-depth process to become an instructor and means a ton more work (as you know with your newest Luciferian Course that is soon to launch).

“What it does is allow us to have an eclectic selection of witchy courses and content that can be accessed no matter what timezone or location you are in. You can take 5 courses on 5 different subjects and allow yourself the ability to learn from all paths and all types of teachers.”

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Q. You are a bad ass Tarot reader and teacher, how long have you worked with the cards? What is it about Tarot that you like the most? What do you dislike the most? Since you know the cards so well, what is one misconception that you wish you could erase? What is your favorite card of the deck? What is your least favorite? And, finally, what is your view on reversed cards? I have one deck where I include reversed cards (that deck is associated with a particular Spirit) but my other decks I operate without reversed cards.

A.”I have been a tarot reader since I started in 1995 which is crazy because that seems like a lifetime. I have only in the last few years decided to start teaching tarot. Part of this was because of the unique reading style I have developed but also the fear and “wives tales” associated with tarot. I believe it really does a disservice to both the reader and the person being read.

“I’m an artist at heart with my Venus in Pisces. I love history and mythology and it is what really drew me into the beginnings of the pagan world. I see them as allegorical representations which are similar to mythological stories. They give us the lesson and the underlying archetype of a person or experience. I dislike the entire fear and control over tarot.

“As a teacher, it is insane the amount of rules and expectations people come in with about tarot: ”Your deck has to be given to you. They have to be wrapped in silk, or placed face down so they don’t absorb negative energy. That have to be cleansed with oils…or moonlight…or smudge. Don’t let other people touch your cards.”

“If I could erase one misconception is would be that the Rider-Waite is the only deck to learn from, or somehow the best style of deck (NOPE, its old white dude energy and there are a ton of other cards with deeper meanings that will suit you better!).

“In fact, some of my favorite decks are based on the Rider-Waite, but they never use their original interpretations or direct symbology.

“There is also tons of information out there on this style of deck which is why I am skeptical as to why most instructors require this as the deck to learn from. Many books are written on the subject as well as used in the learning of tarot, so much of this information feels re-hashed and “low-level” if you know what I mean.

“My favorite card of the deck is the Moon. It is the perfect example of why I dislike the original Rider-Waite interpretations. They define it as female hysteria with an unbalanced, pendulum swing of emotions. It is the shadow but perhaps linked with the subconscious. Instead, I find it to be a card for the Witch; The feelers; The knowers. It represents the magical world of energy we can connect with but can also consume us if we don’t search for our balance.

“My least favorite card is the Emperor in reverse. It represents all things that are toxic masculinity. As an Aries/Pisces cusp I resonate with intense energy and fire. In fact, the Emperor card aligns directly with Aries which is perhaps why I have an adverse reaction/feeling to the reverse of it so much. Maybe it’s because when I see it in readings it is often paired with abusive, or manipulative relationships where the other partner is in a toxic situation. This male/female energy is not about gender, but masculine and feminine energy… so yes it is possible for a female identified individual to get the Emperor in reverse to represent them. I don’t like it very much in the upright version either. I mean, I guess he is okay; I just prefer all of the other cards. Usually people hate things like the Tower, or Death. These are painful but transformative cards so I just can’t hate on them.

“I love reversals! I could teach a whole course on reversals. Imagine you have 72 cards in the deck. Adding reversals gives you 144 options of the cards. You can get one card in reverse that means the same as a card upright, but there is a ton more information there. If it is in a suit, it can tell you on what plane this lies in. (Ex. with the Swords suit it would represent an internal battle of the mind.) I have a few decks I don’t read reversals with including my Lenormand, and a few oracle decks. However, I read with 6 or more decks at once, making the decks I use have a very specific purpose and why I choose to use them. Each one has a voice. I like to think of them like our friends who give us advice. Some of them help us to remember to take care of ourselves, some are more pragmatic, and some are more sweet and sensitive even when delivering difficult information. I know all of my decks very well so I look for these nuances in the personalities of the cards and the stories that help shape the details in the readings.

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Shop

Q. You own a brick and mortar and online Shop called Keven Craft Rituals, have you noticed running a Witchy business is a little more challenging than the average business? Not that running a business at all is easy, but do you think as a Woman (even with your partner) and Witch that you hit more obstacles? What have been some of the obstacles you have faced, and how did you overcome them?

A. “Running a business is challenging. Running a Witchy business, I would consider to be unique and complex but not necessarily more challenging than any other business… Just different. The challenges are less in the 3-D world of what is trending or having to make packaging decisions.

“We still have that happening, but instead it is mixed with a very diverse community of belief systems, and many unbalanced people looking for balance. We also get to hang out with and meet some amazing people. The types of questions people have when they come in you can imagine…

“Usually it starts off with “This might sound crazy but ___ is happening to me”.

“My response is usually “Nope, I have heard crazier.”

“Having a business in Eugene was interesting as well because it has a 20 year Witch war history, an open-minded, but in reality a closed-minded community, as well as 8 secret societies (not which all seem to agree with each other). We have just recently closed our location in Eugene and are currently transitioning to Portland to open our new brick and mortar. This has been really challenging.

“As a normal business we qualify for all of the financials and show a huge growth in the industry with 21+ wholesalers across the US that carry our own brand of skincare and metaphysical goods. However, when we show potential lease locations our website and they seem to find out what type of company we are; the conversation goes silent. We have missed a few amazing locations as if the challenge itself is selling the concept of this business to people in the general population. I guess that does make it more challenging.

“As a woman owned business with my own super pace and intensity, yes, I feel like that is intimidating to many out there. People are always looking for Mr. Fortner, or trying to man-splain things to me. There is also this “mean girls club” thing that happens in the small world of witchy stores and makers. I overcome this the same way I do everything: analyze the shit out of it, and charge full-steam ahead, doing it better and with better ethics than some.

“As a metaphysical business it really matters where you source your items and how energetically you treat and sell those goods. I really avoid imports as building your company on the back of people who are not making a descent wage comes at an energetic cost. I choose quality over quantity and I allow myself to keep that vision.”

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Q. As the world is spinning more and more out of control (whether that is the reality or not, it seems that it’s shoved in our faces at all times) we are seeing people turning away from religion and running towards Earth based, and Pagan beliefs; why do you think that is? What do you think it is about Magick, and the Craft that draws people in? What drew you in, initially?

A. “We have all heard of the call of the Goddess, or the age of Aquarius? I see this being as both an energetic and social shift in the balance of energies. The masculine has been weighted to one side for so long I think we are seeing people whom are unsatisfied and looking for more.

“Paganism has always been accepting of the minority and marginalized (or at least it is supposed to) and it is a place that accepts both the strange and the “straight-laced”.

“People are not satisfied with the mainstream religion they grew up with and are searching for answers. They want to know why they feel and perhaps see or even hear something on the back of their mind. Why they are pulled in one direction when there is no explanation for it?

“Living in fear can be exhausting and one of the issues with mainstream religion is the control and dumbing down of the masses. Magick and the Occult are alluring because we have a romanticism about the idea. It allows us to have fantasy and a beauty in our belief system whilst also being a functional practice. Magick is really all about the energy that is put in by the individual so there is no one to blame and you must do your own work to get there.

“I’m not quite sold on the insta-priestess movement that is happening but we all have to start somewhere, right?. We all must walk through the fire and face our own shadow.

“I got into this path because I grew up in a very haunted house in an Evangelical family. I was a very sensitive and a psychic kid. The things I was seeing and feeling were from such a different vibe from what I was surrounded with. Some of the nastiest people I have met were from these Evangelical churches and they were the same people telling me my gifts were evil because they could not explain them.

“As a creative, and especially an Aries, I was meant to create my own path. As a Pisces I need something inspiring and positive to follow; something that is painful from the depth of myself and the karmatic process of moving through it. I needed a place to learn about my own energy and paganism was a start of that exploration. I started with what I was fascinated and drawn to. I followed Isis from the start. I resonated with her and then began exploring Celtic witchcraft. I realized quickly that anything Wiccan or too ridged wasn’t my style. I dislike following rules and rituals based on someone else’s ideas. If I feel no connection with it then it is a meaningless act for me.

“I also needed something that explained my pain and sadness; I’m not saying my life was the worst, but I have trauma and I needed a place I could use that to transform that pain.

“Magick was all of that.

“It was taking something like abuse and not allowing it to be what defines me because I changed it into something else. I used it to empower myself and transform myself into something energetically different. I guess that is the same concept of what The House of Twigs is to me. It is a place for people to empower themselves and level-up, so to speak.”

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Q. As a Witchy Mom, do you incorporate your Craft into Motherhood? Do you plan on raising your little one as a Witchling, or do you just go with the flow? Does she show interest? If so, how do you handle that?

A. “Anyone who knows my daughter can immediately see and feel that she is special. She is an 11 in numerology, and resonates at such a different frequency than most children. I try and allow her to choose her toys, not pushing her gender on her. She can play with most of the tarot cards and crystals (minus the super expensive ones) and is very good at reading people with them. She will pass out cards to people or find special little stones in the store that speak to people. She has no judgments and so it is very natural, like a game to her.

“It’s funny to see how people respond and just allow her to do things, hopefully without destroying the store in the process. Many times people would come in and she had dumped out all of my cards onto the floor. All 20+ decks.

“Freya just turned two in July and is a Cancer/Leo cusp. She has attended red tent events, our broom rituals we host, many of the classes I teach or visiting lectures from people that come and teach or speak at our store. Her favorite person is by far our young, Witchy, Trans friend whom has been helping to lead our Queer Craft Circle.

“She intuitively uses a stick as a wand and we talk with her about all the interesting books on the shelves, she gets to meet all the interesting people that come-in and participates as much as she can without distracting others.”

Q. What is one piece of Witchy advice that you were given that you will never forget?

A. “I was at a lower point in my life and was seeing a Shaman/Therapist. She was really adverse to me calling myself a Witch and did not understand really what that entailed.

“She was mostly “love and light” but had studied with some really interesting people and her sessions were very much on point with pushing old energies out.

“She had said to me “The real sin is fear, shame, and guilt. It removes your power and it is how you control someone not empower them”.

“This is my go-to motto for all of the little Witchlings I meet. It gives permission to not be controlled by the past, your own feelings, and allows you to take responsibility for the energy and feelings you decide to hold.

“As a Witch, this is one of the greatest things you can do. It susses out the negative things that can get in the way of your path. It can build your confidence which is essential to really practice the Craft.

“I prefer to be a confident Witch over being a superstitious one, any day.”

Q. What is one piece of advice you wish you were given before you started your path that you would give to someone else (no matter the skill level)?

A. “I would have liked to been told that it’s okay to make mistakes and not like something you do. You can pick and choose what you like and not what you are told to like.

“Just because you read it in a book doesn’t mean it resonates with you.

“Maybe you need to dabble in something that teaches you that you want nothing to do with it. I mean, don’t we do this in life anyways? We learn what we want and definitely what we don’t want.

“I wish I would have been told that this process IS the path. We spend so much time trying to get to where we want to be not realizing we are already there.

“Part of the process is realizing this so we can move forward in the right way. It can be painful and messy but it can also be magical and beautiful. Some of this is perspective and your choice on how to proceed. Magick is what you decide to make it to be.”

Erika is a fierce advocate for the Witch community, and ALL marginalized people; she is a warrior Soul fulfilling her life mission one twig at a time. She pushes me to be better, to do better, and there’s nothing more special than that.

For these reasons and so many more she is The Nephilim Rising’s Witch of the Week.

Congratulations, Erika.

LESSONS FROM THE STARS: A Survival Guide to Eclipse Season

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“Astrology is assured of recognition from psychology, without further restrictions, because astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity.”

C.G. Jung

I don’t know about any of you, but for myself this Eclipse season has been BRUTAL.

If I am being completely honest, Cancer season was particularly rocky this year, too.

So, it’s been a solid 2 months of just balls to the wall MADNESS.

I for one am over it.

The Universe, however, has other plans.

We are at the mercy of the cosmos right now.

And, don’t hit me with “We create our own reality” because I follow that Philosophy, but currently there is no creating my reality; it’s being written before my eyes as the planets and stars seemingly collide.

Let’s not forget that Saturn, Pluto, Neptune, Mars and Mercury are ALL Retrograde.

Only adding more chaos to our inner and outer world’s.

Saturn: Defining your boundaries and work ethic

Pluto: Spending time with your darkness

Neptune: Waking up and facing reality

Mars: Learning how to fight for your desires

Mercury: Communication breakdown, anger and anxiety

Plus, we’re in the middle of Leo Season, and the Lion’s Gate officially opens today.

The final (partial) Solar Eclipse during a Super New Moon in the sign of Leo coming up on the 11th is going to ease things a bit, but if the card I pulled this morning regarding the Eclipse is an indicator of things to come, we are in for a harsh awakening:

The Tower.

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For many people the Tower is one of the most feared cards in Tarot, and in some cases that fear is warranted.

Who likes change?

Not me.

I hate quick, forced, harsh change; all change is hard, but I am talking about the kind where it’s just a shock to the system, you have no fucking clue it’s coming until it’s already happened.

This can be good or bad, as with all things, but the Tower *always* represents change, breaking of old patterns, and sudden realization, among other things.

Read more about the Tower, here.

So, are you freaking out yet?

Don’t fret.

Here are some tips on how I survive crazy cosmic events like what we’ve been experiencing.

Survival

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STAY GROUNDED: This is important always, but during Eclipse season when change is dancing all around us, it’s paramount to be grounded and present. It’s easy to let our minds drift off and become distracted but we must stay grounded in our current reality because we are still in rough waters with fire energy closing in around us. To read more about my tips for grounding, click here.

PROTECT THYSELF: Protecting ourselves is an essential self-care practice, especially for Witches. I don’t know about you, but for myself, fucked up people have been seeking me out, and clinging to me like the psychic vampires they are. Then, there are other people who are so blind with jealousy and ego that they make their attempts to attack blatantly obvious. It’s a Spiritual war out here. We must take appropriate measures; draw boundaries, cut out toxic people and situations from our lives, no matter how bad it hurts. Take Spiritual baths or showers at least once a week, but as often as you can is fine. Cleanse your phone, and most used items (purse, jacket, bag, shoes, jewelry, etc) with sage, palo santo or other consecration herb of choice. Make sure to re-ward yourself and your home, too. These Retrogrades are bringing out the worst in some people and they seek out our light to distinguish it; don’t let them. To read more about my protection tips, click here.

STAY HYDRATED: During this massive heatwave it’s super important to stay hydrated, during cosmic events it’s even more important. Water is a carrier; it holds vibrations. Plus, it’s essential for our bodies to function properly; it helps our organs function, rids the body of toxins, and keeps our skin looking young, and glowing (among a million other benefits). Carrying water with you and speaking a short incantation (even silently) before taking a sip can help calm you, it can cleanse your energy field of negative energy; think of it like an internal Spiritual bath. Add crystals (usually quartz crystals are safest) and fruits, or herbs to give yourself added Magick on the go.

LISTEN TO MUSIC: I am a lover of music, always have been. Do you know what loves music more than I do? OUR CHAKRAS. Music is a form of sound therapy, especially if we have an emotional connection to the songs we are listening to. The music does not have to be Spiritual in nature, it can be whatever gets you feeling good, whatever gets you moving. Music by itself will help clear and re-balance our Chakras, but when we add movement, we re-connect to ourselves, and etheric body.

EAT FEEL GOOD FOOD: What we put into our bodies to fuel us is super important, especially as Magickal practitioners. During Eclipse season you want to eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and high vibe, colorful foods; make sure to add spices and herbs where you can, and always look for ways to cut out foods containing excessive amounts of sugar. Nurture your body with foods that make YOU feel your best, and work at your best level. This is not a time to be hitting up the McD’s drive-thru; comfort your body with nutrients as you would comfort your Soul with meditation.

GET OUT IN NATURE: This is easier said than done right now, particularly because the heat index is crazy across more than half of the country. Even if you just go sit out in your garden for a few minutes in the early morning, and evening when the heat isn’t quite as intense. Or, go for a walk to the park, take a walk around your neighborhood/apartment complex. Find a way in your urban jungle. Then, find a spot where you can take your shoes off and get on the grass; this is two-fold, it grounds you and re-connects you to Mother. Nature is the best Spiritual cleanser in existence.

I know that nothing mentioned here is particularly special but, they are important reminders during a time when our minds seem to be scattered in a million pieces.

The lessons we are being forced to endure, and the changes we are being forced to accept are opening doors to huge opportunities, and new beginnings.

Embrace what’s to come.

Remember, destruction is a form of creation.

We got this.

You got this.

You are not alone.

LESSONS IN MAGICK: How We Block, Curse, and Jinx Ourselves

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“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are a one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.”

Victoria Moran

This blog is long overdue, and I have talked about the topic a few times here and there throughout the years, but I have never sat down to write a piece solely on what it means to block ourselves.

We can also curse and jinx ourselves.

“No, we can’t. That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!”

I hear you saying it right now.

Hello, denial.

As you can imagine I get an array of messages and engage with all kinds of comments; I see a lot.

What I see the most of, especially lately, is people saying they hear nothing from the other side; they are saddened that their Spirits are silent, or that they disappear when needed most.

So, clearly this is a complex issue (ie. Our Spirits being silent) and too many variables come into play to write here in the blog.

AND

Our Spirits (Ancestors and deities alike) DO TEST US and yes, the lessons often are hard.

*HARD*

I have personally had certain Spirits go quiet, or step back to teach me something.

BUT

If *ALL* my Spirits went silent, if I could suddenly no longer even feel the other side, my Witchy senses would tell me something else is going on; something more than a lesson.

People will point fingers everywhere, everywhere and not for a second stop to think, “Did I cause this?”

Previously, I have talked about needing to Feed Our Spirits but this, this is something else entirely.

We are powerful beings; Witches are benders of reality.

Why do so many fellow Witches and Magickal folk think they can’t bend their own reality?

I mean, they believe in manifestation, right?

Bringing in the positive shit, right?

*looks at the good vibes only crew*

So, then why do they deny being able to bring in the negative shit?

Like attracts like.

We attract what and who we are and, what and who is needed in that moment.

Think about it.

You can curse someone else, you can curse yourself.

You can heal someone else, you can heal yourself.

You know that saying, “Your vibe attracts your tribe”?

Well, your vibe also attracts your life.

Here are some common ways we block ourselves and don’t even know it.

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NEGATIVE SELF TALK: This is something that every single person struggles with, and anyone who says they don’t are lying to you.

Negative Self-talk can be simple, like when you make a mistake and immediately say, “Oh, I should have caught that. How stupid of me.” Or, “I am so stupid for missing that. Sorry.”

This immediately becomes our reality.

We become victims.

We become prey.

We define ourselves as stupid, so “stupid” things will continue to happen.

How we talk to ourselves, and about ourselves are some of the most important words we speak.

We must be aware of what we are speaking into existence, and when we catch ourselves talking negatively ABOUT ourselves, we must ask, “Where is this coming from? What is the root?”

And, rip that shit out.

The world is quick to cast people out who show strength and are different.

Witches, Mystics, misfits in general exude strength by daring to be different; even if being different isn’t by choice.

Love your weirdness because the world will not.

Remember, negative Self-talk is casting spells on ourselves.

Be mindful of the words you speak.

Areas affected: Throat, Heart, Crown and Solar Plexus Chakras. These blockages can cause problems communicating, loving, connecting and doing (actions). Crystals to help: Lapis Lazuli (any blue stone), Rose Quartz, Unakite Jasper, Prehnite, Emerald, Herkimer Diamond, Clear Quartz, Optical Calcite, Citrine, Orange Calcite, and Peach Aventurine.

Follow through

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FAILING TO FOLLOW THROUGH: This is a lesson when I bring up to other people they are mind blown.

Okay, so, backstory, I can be a bit a people pleaser; I have struggled with it my whole life.

I am either “fuck off, get out of my face, get out of my space” or I am “yes, yes, yes, yes” to please everyone around me, only to leave myself depleted.

As with everything, I am one extreme or the other.

I have learned through experience, when I couldn’t follow through with something my Will, Magickally speaking, seemed to weaken.

If I said I would do something, even the tiniest thing like going to the store, or cleaning my room and Altars and didn’t follow through I noticed a tangible dip in the strength of my Will.

I didn’t understand that I was breaking vows.

When we say we are going to do something we are creating a contract of sorts, a vow.

And, when we don’t follow through with that vow, it ripples back.

This is not some threefold, karmic Law, it’s simple consequence of action.

We must be impeccable with our word (one of The Four Agreements).

And, yes, that means following through when we say we are going to do something.

Areas Affected: Root, Heart, Throat, Third Eye Chakras. This causes problems with feeling grounded/safe/secure, loving, communicating and living our truth, and intuition. Crystals to help: Garnet, Red Calcite, Mahogany Obsidian, Black Tourmaline, Moldavite, Green Aventurine, Angelite, Blue Calcite, Aqua Obsidian, Amethyst, Rainbow Moonstone, and Phantom Quartz.

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COMPARING YOURSELF TO SOMEONE ELSE: I think we are all guilty of this to one degree or another, and often it’s done on a subconscious level.

In Western culture particularly, from childhood we are forced to compare and/or compete with our peers.

In many ways this is healthy because the world is indeed a competitive place, but it can also be negative and have adverse, long lasting affects not known or shown until adulthood.

The majority neglects to see that each one of us are on our own journey, no matter how many similarities we may have with another person, we’re all different.

We’re all creating and forging our own path.

Our experiences, outcomes, journeys, will all be different; our methods, and techniques will be different as well.

This does not mean one is better than the other.

I see a lot of comparing and competing in the Magickal world, and often the comparing turns into an ego driven Witch War.

And, what for?

Because someone has better tools? Because they experienced a Spirit differently? Because their Altar looks better? Because they have a “cooler aesthetic”?

Because they didn’t have the same experience as yourself?

These questions are based on actual conflicts I have seen.

We can do better, we are better.

Stop comparing and competing; we are all subjectively experiencing our own reality, and you should compete with no one except yourself.

Areas Affected: All Chakras. This causes problems is every area of your life. Crystals to help: Jet, Labradorite, Selenite, Pink Tourmaline, Kambaba Jasper, Lepidolite, Herkimer Diamond, Black Moonstone, Garden Quartz, Hematite, Opal, Fire Agate, Blue Apatite, and Pietersite.

In a world of Spiritual gurus, and self-proclaimed teachers, nobody wants to talk about the negative aspects of spirituality and how that negativity affects us as Practitioners, and in our everyday lives.

Everything we do is Magick; it’s so very, very true.

That sentiment must be understood when dealing with ourselves, our needs, our desires, our dreams and our boundaries.

We create our reality.

So, when shit hits the fan, we really have no one to blame but ourselves.