Thursday's Child: The Watcher

Of The Wildwood
As Samhain approaches, I'm feeling much more like cocooning and communing with the spirits of the earth and the Otherworld.

I absolutely love the poetry of Ly De Angeles. I highly recommend her book, "The Feast of Flesh and Spirit", where you can find the following poem. It reflects completely where I am at today.

"I am forgotten until you remember me, 
I am the living root; the forever Tree---
I await beneath the senses for the soul who truly listens
with an ear to hear my mystery...
and in the song of such a one I am remembered;
and remembering will set the sacred free
to walk through dreams that can rebuild the ancient trackways,

to awaken memories of fires on the hills,
to call the faidh and the ceoltóirí  to attend me
As I plant the living legends in the places of the deep,
(where the forgotten ones still sleep)
of the forest of profusion of the ever-living Tree.

I am the Watcher of the Gate--I am not found
in any book already written, already printed, already bound
but in the spaces yet to be heard;
in the mystery of the yet-to-be-written word.
Ancient Now. Alive divine.
Prepare a place for me; a face for me.
Deny me not; I am the legend of the Vine.
And I am yours, beloved---you who hear me
And in an act that holds to nothing, we entwine." ~ Ly De Angeles (excerpt: The Watcher)

Witchy Wednesday: Samhain Ideas

Artist Helene Grasset
It's getting close to Samhain. If you need some new ideas or are new to this celebration, here are some ideas for you to try. Don't forget to check out Samhain's Sirens for some nifty ideas and recipes as well!

Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of parchment, and burn in a candle flame (set the candle inside your cauldron to catch the ashes). Scatter the ashes in running water.

Wear costumes that reflect your wishes for the coming year.

Carve a jack-o-lantern. Place a candle in it to guide the loving dead through this world while they visit.

Drink apple cider spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead. Bury an apple or pomegranate in the garden as food for spirits passing by on their way to being reborn.

Perform divinations for the next year using tarot, a crystal ball, a flame, a pendulum, a mirror, a black bowl, runes, Ouija board, ogham sticks, or a black cauldron filled with black ink or water.

Perform a “dumb” (mute) supper ritual.

Make a mask of your shadow self, and hang it on the wall above your altar.

Make a besom, or witches broom.

Make a witch’s ladder for protection or as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.

Find a magic wand of oak, holly, ash, rowan, birch, hazel, elm, hawthorn, or willow.

Let this be the traditional time that you make candles for the coming year, infusing them with color, power, herbs, and scent depending on the magical purpose.

How to make a Witch's Ladder:

The Witches’ Ladder is a technique for working a spell, and quite simple to do. This one comes from my personal Book of Shadows. Feel free to copy it and modify it as you like.

What you will need:  

1 length of cord Silk cord is nice, but anything will do ie. a piece of string, a shoelace, scarf  or tie, etc...  see variations as well.

Before you make your Witches’ Ladder you must first be clear on what it is you wish to accomplish. The Witches’ Ladder can be used for any purpose, but it is best used to bring about something which is accomplished through an on-going process -such as increasing prosperity, learning a particular skill, losing weight, etc- rather than something which is accomplished in a single event. Start out with reasonable goals -skill is built through practice. 

Here is an example. Feel free to modify and make it your own. First, consecrate your items. If you've never done this, here's a simple rite to follow. You should do this in a quiet place by yourself.

Begin by placing yourself in a comfortable position, then take three deep breaths and release each one very slowly.      
Now imagine a ball of golden light in the area of your heart. 

Say to yourself “I am One with the powers of the Universe,” and imagine that ball of light growing larger and brighter, radiating out in all directions like a sun inside you.  Let the ball of light grow to fill your chest, growing stronger and stronger as it does so. 

Now, take your cord (and any other items you may be using, if you are doing either of the variations given for this spell) and place it before you. Make three Tuathail, or counter-clockwise, circles above the cord with your hand. 

Say something to the effect of “ I cleanse and purify you, sending out for you any impurities which may lie within.” Imagine the cord surrounded by a golden light. Imagine it shining brightly, then let the image fade.  

Make three Deosil, or clockwise, circles above the cord and say something like: “I bless and consecrate you to this purpose!” Imagine the cord surrounded by a blue-white light, shining brightly.  Again hold the image for a moment, then let it fade. 

Once consecrated, take the cord in your two hands, or hold your hands to either side of it (palms facing it). 

Imagine a ball of white light between your hands, surrounding the cord. Concentrate on the goal you wish to bring about through this spell -focus as hard as you can on the goal for several minutes. 

Imagine the goal inside the ball of light, or some image that represents the goal.  See the goal as you want it to be when it is already accomplished and complete -if your goal is to gain a skill for example, imagine yourself already proficient in it.  

As you imagine this, know that this goal is already accomplished and only needs to be drawn into physical manifestation. Now let the image of the goal and the ball of light fade, and take up your cord.  Continue to focus on your goal, seeing it already accomplished. Still concentrating on the goal, take the cord and tie a knot near one end of it.  

Say: “By Knot of One, the spell’s begun.” 

Imagine yourself one step closer to having your goal.  

Now, tie a second knot a short distance from the first, and say: 
“By knot of Two, no power undo.” 

Focus even more strongly on the goal, knowing that each knot draws it closer. 

Tie a third knot, and say: 
“By knot of Three, so mote it be.” 

With each knot know that your goal comes closer to you, imagine it more strongly and know that it is truly yours.         

Tie the fourth knot, saying: 
 “By knot of four, open the door.” 

Then, the fifth:       
“By knot of Five, it comes alive.” 

The sixth: 
“By knot of Six, the spell is fixed.”        

The seventh:  
“By knot of Seven, the boon is given.” 

The eighth:
 “By knot of Eight, decreed by Fate.”  

And lastly, tie the ninth knot: 
“By knot of Nine, now it is mine!”        

Once again, imagine white light all around the knotted cord, and place your hands above or beside the cord with palms facing it.  Keep the image of your goal very firmly ensconced in your mind.  

Then, release all of your focused energy and concentration directly into the cord - imagine the energy flowing out of you in the form of light or water. 

When all of the energy has flowed from you into the knotted cord, take it and seal it in a safe place. It is best to bury it in the Earth, and especially good if you can bury it at the foot of a tree.  This symbolizes the physical manifestation of the goal.  

In some cases you may wish to keep the Witches’ Ladder in your house, rather than burying it out of doors.  You can do this by placing it in an Earth pot-a pot filled with soil and kept on the altar or a special place. Or you could make a special box or bottle for it.  


The simple technique used to make the Witches’ Ladder has many variations.  These can add to the efficacy of the spell by deepening your connection to it.  This deepening is accomplished by appealing to the Higher Self through symbolic means or “Keys.”  Keys are aesthetic or symbolic elements which help you to make the Shift in Consciousness and access your Higher Self, thus facilitating magical work. Anything which appeals to you creativity or your sub-conscious, and puts you in a more “magical” mood can be a Key.

Make your Witches’ Ladder using not one but several cords of differing color.  For example to do a prosperity spell you might combine a green cord, for fertility and abundance, with a yellow cord, for success.  Or for psychic development you might select a dark blue cord, for psychic ability, a pale blue cord, for communication and learning, and a violet cord, for spiritual guidance.

 Instead of simply tying a knot, tie something into the knot.  You might use beads, or twigs, or feathers -to give just a few examples.  Then tie one into each knot as you work the spell.  The use of feathers is a particularly ancient version of this spell, and examples have been found dating back hundreds of years.

Monday Meditation: Dark and Light

Dark and Light: A Different Perspective.

Dark vs Light by fostic popcorn
As we approach what is known as the dark time of the year, it's a good idea to reflect on how we view dark and light and their place in our world, personally. In the majority of western and monotheistic beliefs, dark represents evil and light represents good. My perspective is a little different, and I find a lot of Witchy folks tend to agree with me.

I don't ascribe to the light = good, dark = evil philosophy. I realize it's both religious and literary (although I would argue that the literary took on the religious tenet and made it so) but it is both a disservice and inaccurate.

This mislabeling has led to some serious repercussions in our history of humanity. People of color have been thought of as "less-than" or evil , and that those of light skin, eyes, and hair were considered good. In some religious beliefs even today, those beliefs are prevalent. I actually had an African American gentleman in one of the churches I attended tell me that he and other black people were descendants of Cain and that being black was their mark. I know of one religion in particular that believes black people are fallen angels. It is ridiculous.

 Evil is not bound by light. Many evil things take place in broad daylight. Evil is about intent, not dark or light. We need both dark and light for many different reasons. Evil and good are subjective terms. What I may think is evil, someone else may call good. For example, I believe that the domination of indigenous cultures is evil. I believe it is evil to institute a 'convert-or-die' mandate upon others. I also believe it is evil to brainwash young children into believing that they are born with something called sin.

Society also dictates what is good and what is evil. At one time, pedophilia was the norm in ancient Greek and Roman societies. Young boys and girls were sex-slaves, and no one thought anything of it. Slavery was considered a good thing by many societies in the past. In the majority worldview today, both are seen as evil.

Let's look at the dark for a moment. Dark is where creation takes place. You'll notice even in the bible that the sun and moon are not created until the 4th day. Creation takes place in the dark. We humans are formed in the dark of the womb. We don't see light until we're born. It takes us awhile to adjust to the light after birth. Light is invasive. Dark is comforting. As a migraine sufferer, I know how much light can hurt and dark can heal.

Life isn't black, white or shades of gray. There is a whole spectrum of color involved. With light,we get to see things in the brilliance of color and our experience is enhanced.

When it's truly dark, there is no color to be seen. However, other senses take over and are heightened. Our sense of touch, taste, smell and hearing are all enhanced when our sight is not reliable. This helps us to experience life more fully.

When we meditate, we do so with our eyes closed, shutting out the invasion of the light. The light brings with it a beauty, but also a bombardment. We need the dark to help us ground, center, and look inward.

While I'm not a fan of the movie overall, there is a line from The Craft that I believe succinctly defines this dichotomy's problem:

 "True magic is neither black nor white. It's both because nature is both, loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. life gives a balance of it's own."
In other words, there's no such thing as a "white witch".

We limit ourselves with dualism. Light and dark both bring us lessons and experiences that enhance our learning and teach us things we need to know. We should welcome them both and be glad we can experience both perspectives and the gifts they bring.

It's something to think about.

Thursday's Child: Cultural Appropriation?

For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you may remember I started a series called "Thursday's Child" based on the Mother Goose poem (see below). I wanted to explore what it means to "go far" or be a success, as I was born on a Thursday. Now, I want to change up the theme of this, as I prefer to have at least one day where I'm just personally blogging about whatever it is that comes to mind. It'll definitely be eclectic. 

This week, I'm interested in exploring an article I read which, on the surface, seems to be addressing cultural appropriation. I shared it, and my first reaction was, "brava!"

Now that I've had an opportunity to think about it, I'm more interested in delving a little deeper into this subject, as it also applies to others who use the phrase "cultural appropriation" a lot.

Here is the article from 2014:

Dear White People/Queridos Gringos: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us – Stop Colonizing The Day Of The Dead

As I said, at first blush, this is about standing up against those who see take these cultural celebrations lightly, and particularly, white Americans who seem to want the "fun stuff" but not the people themselves. I have a deep love and respect for my Latino brothers and sisters in the world. I want everyone to have an opportunity to live wherever they want to live, and to pursue their happiness as they see fit (as long as it isn't harming others). But, her article is myopic in nature, and therein lies the rub.

Day of the Dead
Many cultures around the world have celebrated and continue to celebrate their dead/ancestors. You can find this type of commemoration on every continent. For those of us with Northern European ancestry (particularly those of the Celts), we have Samhain, originating at least 2,500 years' ago. The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that goes back at least 3,000 years. Coincidentally, they both happen approximately at the same time of the year- the end of the harvest. Other cultures celebrate their dead at varying times through the calendar.

It behooves me to address the fact that the author specifically states  her roots are in Puerto Rico, which means that she, herself, is taking on a culture that really isn't hers. Her indigenous ancestors would most likely be Taino, and there is no historical evidence of Day of the Dead celebrations there. That's okay. I get it. She wants to identify with her Latin heritage. But, her Latin heritage is a combination of European (Spanish conquest) and indigenous cultures  of an island that is approximately 2,300 miles away from Mexico.

The languages of Puerto Rico and Mexico (Spanish) originate in Latin- a European language. The same people who conquered my ancestors (The Romans) also conquered Spain, which in turn, conquered the Caribbean and what is now known as Latin America.

She brings up the point that Halloween has been taken over by Walmart with plastic, candy, costumes, etc...  and, to a degree, I can agree with that. However, those who celebrate Halloween versus Samhain would say that it's a secular holiday. In reality, it is the remnants of the Catholic Church's attempt to eradicate this celebration and make it a Christian holy day instead; and, this is something my Irish ancestors share in common with the people of Mexico.

For those of us who celebrate Samhain, it is not about candy and costumes. It is separate, holy, and revered. Some of us participate in Halloween as well. But, so do many in the Latin American community. Things like carving pumpkins come directly from my Celtic heritage where my ancestors carved turnips to light the way for the spirits crossing through the veil, or that costumes are remnants of dressing up to fool the god of the wild hunt. I'm not complaining that anyone who isn't of Celtic origin stole the culture of my ancestors. You can't really talk about separation of culture, and then lump my Irish ancestors, who were slaves in both the Caribbean and the Americas, with the conquistadors.

Here in America, we speak of a melting pot of culture, art, music, food, and holiday celebrations.  If we're going to start separating these out to only those who can prove ancestry in this fashion, well, the author then has to let go of her Dia de Los Muertos celebrations as well, because Puerto Ricans and Mexicans share only their conqueror's ancestry in common.

I have a suggestion for all of us. Try focusing on your own spirituality and honoring your ancestors in whatever way you see fit. Given that so many of us have mixed ancestry, I don't think our loving dead really care that much. Somehow, I think they'd just like to be remembered.

Sláinte! (to your good health)

"Monday's child is fair of face..."
by Mother Goose
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Monday Meditation: Is it Personal?

"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."-- Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements

I love "The Four Agreements". It's one of my favorite books. I'm exploring this concept today because I'm encountering folks who take things I've said or posted online and are inferring that I'm speaking to or about them, particularly on Facebook. 

I'm always taken aback when this happens, because several presumptions have to build upon one another in order to reach that conclusion. 

  • The first is that I'm actually that close to him/her. With over 700 Facebook "friends", the odds are that's unlikely. 
  • The second is that I've actually seen or read something from this person that would make me post something personally about them. Again- see # of FB friends. Even those people I've labeled as "close friends" get missed in the scroll shock that is my Facebook page, unless I am directly tagged, and even then, I might not catch it. 
  • The third presumption is that I would lack the character or intestinal fortitude to directly confront someone rather than post a nebulous Facebook status in regard to him/her. This completely nullifies both first and second assumptions, because if you know me, you know I have no problem whatsoever with confrontation.
  • The fourth would be that I have a cruel streak or am petty enough to want to make fun of him/her in some kind of nebulous way. 
Sorry, friend, I'm just not that into you.

Many times, I will post an observation about what I see in general on Facebook or in other forms of social media. I find it fascinating how much people are willing or eager to share with those they've never met in person. The assumption of relative anonymity or facade that one has allows him/her to behave in ways they might not in person. 

While maybe that's a good thing in some ways, in others, I think it might be best to be who you truly are. There are also other ramifications that aren't considered when one posts. I've seen teenage girls and young women posting pictures of themselves in very compromising positions and poses that they may later regret when they get a little older and are seeking employment. Or, maybe they won't.

This might also apply to those who plaster a string of insults, cuss words, etc... in a long litany of rage against some girl whose taken her man. She might regret that later- or not.

These are not scenarios I'm usually 
privy to outside the cyberworld. I don't normally see people standing on front porches screaming insults and epithets about the kind of um.. flexibility they have in the bedroom with their mate of the week. 

It is rather fascinating, and a little disconcerting to me. I don't know that people tend to think before they strike sometimes, and I wonder what the consequences will be for us as a whole. But, that doesn't mean I've directed that at anyone in particular- I'm mostly thinking "out loud" or attempting to start a discussion. While I believe some private groups or one-on-one conversations on there can provide some degree of intimacy, I don't see public broadcasts of status messages as being in that same category.

That's just one example of how someone assumes I'm discussing him/her personally. I've had it happen on several occasions.

I like to joke around with friends who post things that seem personally directed at someone. I'll usually post something in response that makes it seem as if I took it as directed at me so they'll lighten up and get a laugh. Social media should be enjoyable. When it becomes more than that, it's time to take a break.

But, what if I was directing it at you? I wasn't, but let's go there for a minute. Ruiz says:

"Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up…."

The point I'm trying to make is while I'm just not that into you, neither should you be that into me, either. No one should have that kind of power over you. Your power resides within, as does your wisdom, magic, and love.

Ruiz: "As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others."

I am responsible for my own happiness and well-being. What you think of me is none of my business; and vice-versa. So, if you don't comment, give feedback or you just think this is all crap, I promise not to take it personally :)


Don Miguel Ruiz's book, "The Four Agreements" if available for purchase here.

Monday Meditation: The Aisling Dream

Aisling (pronounced  Ash-lin, Ash-leen, Ash-ling, Esh-ling) is an old Irish-Gaelic word for a dream or vision. It also refers to a 16th-17th century form of Irish poetry.

In the poetic, the aisling would come to the poet in the form of a female (called Spéirbhean- pronounced Spare-van or Spare-ven, which means 'heavenly woman') wraith-like in appearance (can be old or young) and would lament on the state of Ireland at the time, predict a brighter future for Eire dependent upon whatever she was advising at the time. 

The Aisling in dream/vision work is also part of a meditative state used by many Gaelic witchy type folks.. it is the writing down or oral description of a vision in the meditative state.. the form itself is usually poetic in nature or in story-form (which is the way of the Seannachi). 

I love the movie, "The Secret of Kells". The female character is called Aisling and if you know your Irish history, you are able to recognize this as a title as well as a name. 

This Aisling is one of the Tuatha De Danaan, a race of people who have become minimized and marginalized through history to resemble small creatures now called "fairies" (something which annoys a great number of us). 

Many of us follow a tradition that believes we are descendants of this race of people and have a strong connection to the land and magics because of our genetic memory.  It is also said that as the veil thins, we are more likely to have this experience, if we are open to it. 

To have an aisling experience is very profound.

Are you open to an aisling experience?

Here is Aisling's song from the movie. Pangur Ban is a poem from the 9th century, found in the margins of a monk's book. It is said to be about his cat. There is a dispute as to the meaning of the name. For the purposes of the movie, the assumption is that it means "white cat", but etymological research says otherwise. Regardless, the song is beautiful, as is the imagery. The lyrics are profound. Enjoy!