Boundaries, Vulnerability, and the Cave in Dagobah



That place… is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
What’s in there?
Only what you take with you.

―Yoda and Luke Skywalker



While my image isn’t a cave in the Star Wars Universe, it’s one in Ireland, the conversation between Yoda and Luke Skywalker has been a powerful one to look into. Have we taken our own journey into the perceived dark side?

When we consider that what we take with us (our own behaviours and issues), we are the dark side within the cave, and the torch that guides us out. This speaks directly to the work of integrating the Shadow self into a wholly integrated Witch.

So are you ready to get vulnerable with yourself? (Author note truth telling: I’m working through this myself, as I write it).

Recently I’ve been deep into the world of Brene Brown, and her incredible research into being vulnerable. She indicates that in order to truly be vulnerable, we must also build our boundaries because without them we are solely speaking vulnerabilities into the world with no container.

Words are power witches. So speak to the boundaries and vulnerability. Then you will carry the tools needed to enter the caves of Kalypso like Odysseus, Hekate’s Cave, the caves of Dagobah, however you name the Cave. The place in which your Shadow resides. You can integrate with it, owning your Power, or you can walk in like Luke, with the lightsaber, and cut your own head off, thinking that eliminating the shadow is the answer.

What Boundaries are we Setting?

Take some time to really mind map or brainstorm out what values are important to you. For me the boundaries that stand firm as I write this are integrity, truth, sovereignty, and reflection. As we build these boundaries, it encourages us to dig into our vulnerability. Often the things that bother us in others are where we need to look in ourselves to determine our boundaries.

Integrity. Pursuing a life that aligns with our Witch’s Soul, with our values and ethics. By journeying in to the caves of Shadow, we can find our way to integrate and understand the motivators of our Shadow self and work with it. (You can read all about working with our shadow self in The Shamanic Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak, a book that I highly recommend).

Truth. Sitting with what we know as true for ourselves, what we know as true for the community, what we know as true for our world. Write and reflect on what is true for you.

Reflection. This is fully about looking at myself and seeing what’s happening in the mirror. How does doing this help with our boundaries? Well sometimes we see how we push up against others when we might not have realized it before. Witches, this sucks. I have been there, not realizing I was up against another’s boundaries, and it has cost friendships. Clarity of what you are doing can help you build your own boundaries. We need to do this hard work of looking into ourselves and our own faults so we can then build the boundaries of what behaviours we engage in that we wouldn’t accept from others.

Sovereignty is self love by fully engaging with ourselves and embracing our Powerful Witch Nature. When we seek the Crooked Path, walking it to our own Truth, liminally living, we are Soul Seeking the Crown of Humility, our Bornless Self, and the advancement of our Witch Soul.

I’ll write more about some of the concepts I mention above, but I definitely recommend checking out what Christopher Penczak says about the Bornless Self, and Devin Hunter’s Book Series on the Witch’s Power, Spirits, and Soul. For now I’ll share some of my tips on how to enter into the cave, be vulnerable, and know yourself well. Doing so means that your Witchcraft comes from a place of Power and Sovereignty.

  1. Let go when it’s time, like the seasonal shift of leaves falling away, or the storms that break the branches. Like this amazing sketch from Tyler Perry’s Madea, there are times when people are in our lives like leaves or branches. We are also leaves or branches for others. Go into that cave and know yourself so you don’t stick around longer than you should, stepping on their boundaries and your own in the process.
  2. Trust your square squad. This is a Brene Brown concept, where you write on a 1 inch by 1 inch square, the people who are your tree roots. Those who support your growth, those who give you the space to feel vulnerable, and will speak truth to you in love. This exercise can help you figure out who falls into Number 1 above. If you have someone you thought was a root but they are a leaf or a branch for you, sit in your cave in meditation and let that hurt come out (you can do this with a square squad person as well). Name it, feel it, and move forward in strength.
  3. Let your witchcraft focus on the boundaries that support your growth as a wholly integrated witch. What are your core values and beliefs in life? Does your magick focus there? For example, if a core value for you is social justice, do Witchcraft activism. If the protection of the planet is your passion, focus your magick there through community gardening and working with plant spirits. I suggest checking out the Temple of Witchcraft ministry model for inspiration and correspondences as each ministry focuses on a particular correspondence related to the zodiac sign. Using that model can help you connect to more of what you are working with in the “mundane” world. Details are at http://templeofwitchcraft.org/structure/ under ministries.

So witches, I hope that you join me, and boldly step into your own Dagobah caves, carrying all that you are, and wearing your strength and boundaries, sovereignty and self love. Find your self within the cave, and love your Shadow self.

Blessed Be,

Jade

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Hekate, Motherhood, and Childbirth

It has been my own personal gnosis, and that of many other devotees of Hekate that She is a goddess of Motherhood. She is given the epithet of Eileithyia, birth goddess, and also given the epithet of Kourotrophos, protector of the young.

The torch of Eileithyia guides women through the burning pain of labour. As Kourotrophos, she is often depicted with a babe in arms.Other epithets associated with Her and Motherhood, particularly at the time of Childbirth include Hekate Enodia (of the Crossroads), Hekate Genetyllis (birth-helper, midwife), Hekate Lochias (protector of birth), and Hekate Geneteira (mother). Thank you to Mat Auryn for collating such a fantastic resource of Her many epithets, available here (http://matauryn.com/many-epithets-hekate/).

The epithets of her as both Hekate Enodia and Hekate Eileithyia were clear to me through my own birth experiences, as the crossroads of birth, and the initiation into being a mother. As a Witch, it was important for me to have my spirituality reflected within my birth experience.

Birth is hard, messy, [in my case] long, and above all – sacred. I chose with both of my births to have images upon which to focus so that my body could relax and I could allow each contraction to move over me and through me without fear.To do so, I created a labyrinth (or labour-inth) specifically for birth. You can buy one, and I have seen many of these used successfully for women in labour, however you can create your own if you have reason to.

Creating a labour-inth for sacred childbirth

Use and adapt as you so choose.

Supplies Needed:

  • Medium on which to draw (I used a piece of linen as I wanted something that would also provide a nice tactile quality)
  • Pens, markers, pencils, paints
  • Materials that you’d like to affix to the image if you wish

Gather your supplies and if it is a part of your tradition, create sacred space (magick circle, smudging, or going to a sacred place). Invite in your spiritual guides to create your labourinth for your highest good. Call upon the goddess Hekate Eileithyia to be with you as you create your image.

In the centre of your page, draw your labourinth. Connect with it as you do so, and set an intention that with each contraction, you will journey to the middle of the labourinth at the contraction’s peak, and back out again as it begins to subside. Set the intention also that Hekate Eileithyia will be with you on this journey inward, offering relief as the cool waters and rejuvenating energy needed in labour.

If needed you can find simple instructions on how to draw a labyrinth here: http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-a-Labyrinth

Once your labyrinth is drawn, draw a door at the entrance. This door is your gateway through the crossroads that you experience with each contraction. Around your labour-inth, you can add symbols, quotes, or other inspirational images and items that are sacred to you and will help you on your journey through childbirth. I drew a turtle, the sigil of the Covenant of Hekate (the waves at the top were reminding me of the waves of each contraction), a spiral (representing the spiral of life). I also wrote the mantras, “The way out is through”, and “Surrender, Relax, Let Go.”

Jade’s personal labourinth. It has made it through two births, and now sits in her altar.

Once created, call upon Hekate Eileithyia (or your chosen epithet) to bless your pregnancy and birthing of both baby and mother. You could write your own blessing, or use the following, which I have written specifically for this post:

Eternal mother, eternal midwife,

I call upon you to bring your blessings of childbirth,

Hekate Eileithyia, bring peace and safety, love and power to me!

Grant me your wisdom,

Grant me freedom from fear,

Meet with me in the labyrinth of my soul.

Hekate Eileithyia, be with me now,

Bless this pregnancy, bless this baby,

Bless me as I become a mother,

Bless the maiden left behind.

Io Eileithyia, Io Hekate, Io Eileithyia!

Raise energy as you see appropriate or as per your tradition, and infuse it into the image you have created. Ground yourself as needed and end your ritual/ceremony as per your own spiritual tradition.

Store the labourinth in a sacred space such as your altar or shrine to Hekate until the time of birth, and bring it with you. Pin this somewhere that you can see it during your labour.

Have you ever used the energy of the labyrinth in your workings with Hekate? How did you use it? What were the results?

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Brooms Up Reviews — The Healthy Witch

The Healthy Witch: A Workbook for Optimal Health

by TJ Perkins, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Red Feather Mind | Body | Spirit. Health, Mind & Body. Pub Date 28 Sep 2019

“As within + so without = a healthy witch. But getting there takes the right magikal work. This holistic witchy workbook combines medical knowledge with magikal healing to put you where you need to be to get the most out of your life. Learn to personalize your healing needs by fusing skills in magik and nutrition, conducting rituals, and employing specialized spells. Using the pentagram model, take a healing journey through each organ in your body, allowing you to gain optimal health via signs, suggestions, and practical tips. Examine each element, and discover how your organs interact and affect your magikal energy flow. The tools here will guide you to becoming a naturally healthy witch, enabling you to work with the Goddess from a place of sacred well-being. A healthy witch is a successful witch!”

Book description from Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

One intersection of living the liminal is no more overlooked than that of physical health and witchcraft. In this book, TJ Perkins brings together both, with a fierce and challenging look at optimizing health through challenges of physical pain, menopause, and more. I appreciated the focus TJ brings to this area.

TJ’s approach builds on that of the pentagram – each point representing one of the elements and uses the body for various correspondences with each element. She then delves into each with questions designed to help you understand areas of imbalance in your physical and spiritual self. Following the sections of the workbook devoted to this reflective exercise, she shares various ritual baths and candle magick, as well as crystal grids to support healing.

The second section was definitely the highlight for me. The rituals, the correspondences, and simple rhyming spells were perfect for witches of all experience levels, and shared enough detail to understand how to work through a ritual. TJ also reminded the readers throughout the book that these practices for healing are not “one and done” magick – that healing, whether physically or magickally completed, take time and continued effort.

For the first section, I would say I struggled with some of the medical information shared. As a health professional I had a difficult time not letting that knowledge come into play, and I would encourage readers to remember that TJ is not a health professional and sharing her own knowledge and experience. Should you decide that you do have imbalance in one or more of the pentagram points, it’s important to work with your health care provider(s) alongside the witchcraft. This is one way to live the liminal and work with both. My friend Mat just wrote a great blog about this very thing, combining the woo woo and the science. I encourage you all to check it out.

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 brooms up!

Available for pre-order by clicking the (affiliate) link here.

Many thanks to Schiffer Publishing Ltd for providing the book for review.  

Discernment in Witchcraft

There are often trends and rises in popularity for Witchcraft, with the latest tied to feminists reclaiming the word, astrological and political climate, popular TV and movie, and more. With this brings an incredible influx of new witches, asking questions that make many of us with 10+years of practice eyeroll and sometimes gatekeep!

“They aren’t real witches”…”Those aren’t signs”…”That’s not real magick”

This gatekeeping has got to stop. It doesn’t progress Witchcraft, and it certainly doesn’t serve ourselves or new/curious Witches. It creates an unwelcoming environment and those new witches are going to move along to something better. None of us know it all, and when we think we do it’s time to let that view go.

What does serve us Witches? Discernment. 

One thing that often happens, in my opinion, is that the above type of responses come either from a place of experience and skepticism, or assholery. Now I won’t deal with the second. They aren’t worth the time. But if like me, you’ve said some of those things above from a place of experience, and perhaps discerning, then you’re still being a bit of a jerk but the reason for it is valid – and that means we can change our approach.

Discernment is such an important tool within witchcraft, and unfortunately few beginner books discuss it. The Temple of Witchcraft series by Christopher Penczak speak about it, but few other beginner books do. I’ll include some of my recommended resources that speak to discernment at the end.

Discernment is the act of critically reviewing the psychic/energetic information received to determine what is meant by it. Was that bird just the same crow that always flies by here? Does my toddler constantly giving me rocks mean anything more than they’re a toddler? Does constantly dropping tarot cards mean something beyond being a crap shuffler?

If discernment isn’t a part of your practice today, here are some simple ways to be more discerning in your practice:

  1. Examine the frequency of the event. Something out of the ordinary is far more likely to have a spiritual significance to you than the everyday crow or squirrel in your tree. Not that they aren’t important, but as far as spiritual significance in terms of signs for you, they likely aren’t it.
  2. Examine the cause of the event. Was the toddler picking up stuff just being a toddler again, picking up the usual rocks like toddlers are want to do? What emotions were you experiencing?
  3. Examine what the experience is telling you. Is it always confirming what you already know – if the experiences are always good news or bad news only, you have cause to be skeptical.
  4. Review what you were doing at the time. For example, walking by a farm and getting a spiritual message from cows far away in a field is pretty unlikely if you live down the road from that farm.

Another tip I’ll offer is that if you want to look for omens, signs, or messages from various daily encounters (a completely valid divination tool), then start your day by aligning yourself to that. When your day begins with a ritualistic practice such as a grounding, centering, brief meditation, and a card draw for the day, you are inviting the sacred to your life. By doing this you are working more closely with the energy and spirits of place, and you can then (alongside the critical thinking I mention above) discern more fully what is Real.

Another important point of discernment, which I’ll quote from the Grape Vine over at Patheos Pagan.

Does it tell me one of the following things that are very rarely/almost never true?

• You are the savior/the chosen one/the most important person in the world
• You are vile and horrible and not worth living
• Everyone is out to get you
• You’re not really a human being

If any of these occur I recommend seeking support from a trusted spiritual adviser, counselor, or therapist. You are human. You are worth living. No one is out to get you. You’re just as dull as the rest of us.

So in closing, experienced witches and new witches alike, discernment is important practice. Use it daily in your Witchcraft so that it becomes honed like a sharp knife, directing you toward the Truth. And experienced witches, use that sword of discerning Truth well, for the new witches don’t need to get stabbed with it to learn how to use the sword themselves.

Blessed Be,

Jade.

Hear more from Jade by following her blog, and over on Facebook.


Want to read more on discernment?

Discernment: Distilling the Truth from our Pagan Experiences

Discernment, The Spirits, And You: How To Separate Invocation From Ego

Sharpening Your Knives: Three Simple Tools for Developing Discernment

 

 

The Forgotten Magic of Game of Thrones: Greenseers and Wargs

By Lisa Jade

Here in my little slice of Canada, it’s begun snowing again, in what I can only assume is an entire country hyped up for Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Winter has come back to Nova Scotia.

Recently my dear friend and amazing writer Cyndi of Keeping Her Keys spoke about the magic and witchcraft types within the Game of Thrones world at a broad level. I want to dig into what isn’t known. And that’s most of the magic of the north.

In this installment I’ll get into Greenseers and Wargs. Let’s journey down this rabbit hole, shall we?


Greensight, and those who have it. 

Greenseers (those with the Sight) are the wise men of the children of the forest. They were the people who carved the faces into the weirwoods (the trees I would say are most like a world tree for journeying through location and time).

Where wargs (skinchangers) are quoted at about 1 in 1000 men born skinchangers, only 1 skinchanger in a 1000 are born greenseers. Most of these are children of the forest, and some of the Crannogmen of House Reed.

In ASOIAF books, green seers and green men are more clearly differentiated. There is only one green man left when Bran goes north of the wall, and that’s Brynden Rivers, decaying, and rotting, feeding the Weirwood while it also feeds him. At his death Bran is the only remaining Green Man. Greenseers however have an unknown number within the Children of the Forest, both beyond the wall (3 score quoted in the books at the cave with Brynden Rivers), and an unknown number at the Isle of Faces, with the largest concentration of weirwood trees. With both greenseers and the green men, blood sacrifices are made in some form to the trees to maintain their abilities, and many of the Northerners also offer blood sacrifices to the trees.

Image result for ned cleaning sword by weirwood
Season 1 Episode 1, Ned Stark unknowingly giving a blood offering to the weirwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relating this magic to modern witchcraft, the most obvious connection is through ecstatic journeying through a world tree to look into your past, present, and future for divination. If you’re into pop culture magic, try a meditation where your world tree is a Weirwood.

This video from the GoT official page speaks a bit about the differences, and you could of course go down the rabbit hole I have with theory videos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrxY2B00mLI

Shapeshifting Wargs

this-man-is-a-warg-or-skinchanger-he-can-enter-5315923

More common than Greenseers, the Wargs are people who enter into the consciousness of other animals and merge with them through control. This technique of shapeshifting isn’t foreign with the world of witchery and ecstatic indigenous practices, but in ASOIAF it has the high fantasy blended in.

Beyond the wall, these abilities are still known and understood well. Varymir Sixskins is one of the most famous wargs north of the Wall, and controls 3 wolves, a shadowcat, a snow bear, and an eagle. He speaks of the discipline needed for warging, and warns of what can happen with your mind.

“Once a horse is broken to the saddle, any man can mount him. Once a beast’s been joined to a man, any skinchanger can slip inside and ride him. Orell was withering inside his feathers, so I took the eagle for my own. But the joining works both ways, warg. Orell lives inside me now, whispering how much he hates you. And I can soar above the Wall, and see with eagle eyes.” —Varamyr, to Jon Snow (A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73)

Throughout the books, the type of creatures that can be warged into are reviewed – dogs are one of the easiest creatures to warg into, where wolves and direwolves are harder to warg and control without a bond. Even with a bond, direwolves cannot be tamed as we see with most of the Stark’s direwolves that roam on their own. However, the Stark children are also undisciplined wargs with merely uncontrollable abilities (Bran being the exception). Birds are also mentioned heavily in book more than the show, and one warg north of the wall in particular is killed while he is in an eagle. Brynden Rivers (the Three Eyed Raven) wargs into crows frequently to track the Army of the Dead, which has now become Bran’s job.

When the human is killed while the mind is in animal form, eventually the beast takes over again unless that mind can continue to transfer, ultimately going mad in the process. Among the Northern people, there are ethics and codes of conduct on warging that help prevent the dangers of warging.

So what’s the magical lesson of warging? Be mindful of your ego and controlling anothers’ mind, and journeying so long you forget who you are. In modern witchcraft, this is more related to grounding appropriately in the physical world after ecstatic magickal practice.


Both of these types of magic are related to inherent abilities that can be further trained, and that is certainly a reminder for our own magickal practices. Inherent psychic abilities can become more fully understood and we can seek mastery through study and practice, circling back again and again through the beginner mind.

Until next time, when I’ll get into the Starks, who really need to remember their magic before the end of the season. Stay warm in the long night everyone!

 

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Article 2:

Stark Magic: Wargs, Blood Offerings, and the Dead Kings of Winter

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Hail Unto Thee… Adapting Ceremonial Magick for Hekatean Practice

Known as Liber Resh, the Four Adorations of the Sun in Thelemic practice, written by Aleister Crowley, mark the liminal times of the solar day. At sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, the suns liminal moments and directions are honoured. This year I adapted these to fit my understanding of Hekate as the World Soul, using her epithets to connect to the energy of the liminal times of day. 

While I tried the Liber Resh as written, it wasn’t really resonate with me. Working with the Egyptian deities isn’t something I’ve done so there’s no connection or history for me there. This presented an opportunity for me as I wanted to continue practicing the Four Adorations as a part of my study and witchcraft practice. (Witch tip: working with an uncomfortable practice that isn’t actually causing harm can help you understand yourself, understand other practitioners, and connect to the gods in a new way).

In some Thelemic practice, the Four Adorations are performed daily. This doesn’t work for me personally, however I love aligning the solar energy. So I work with it at the 8 Sabbats of the Witches’ Wheel of the Year. The Four Adorations help us connect to the solar wheel, and the wheel of our life here on earth. 

One of the most profound experiences of this practice was on the summer solstice, because I was staying up to drum down the sun, and was able to do all 4 adorations as timed with the liminal times of the solar day.

20190325_071105-1
Sunrise March 25, 2019

If you want to try working with a Hekatean Four Adorations, I share it with you here. Many thanks to Sara Neheti Croft for her fantastic epithets list, which I have drawn upon for years of magickal practice. I also mention particular grades used at each direction, which may be different than what others who practice Thelemic magick do – I am not a thelemic witch so I work with it as I need to. If you aren’t familiar with grades and their positions, you can always hold your arms up as though reaching toward the sun.


Chosen Epithets:

Sunrise/East/Fire: Hekate Erigenea, daughter of the morning

Noon/South/Air: Hekate Iokheaira, one who shoots arrows (the arrow energy reminded me of that of wands/Air, and the directness that air and words can provide)

Sunset/West/Water: Hekate Einalian, of the sea

Midnight/North/Earth: Hekate Khthonia (of the underworld/ of the earth)

*I work with this orientation of the elements most of the time. If you don’t, Witch, Do You.


At sunrise, face east (philosiphus grade/ Fire):

Hail unto thee, Hekate Erigenea in thy rising

Hail unto thee, daughter of the morning.

Hail to you who hast traveled the heavens to bring the dawn.

I welcome you into my soul, at the rising of the sun in the east.

(Sign of silence)

At noon, face south (practicus grade/air):

Hail unto thee Hekate Iokheaira, in thy midcourse

Hail unto thee who’s arrow blazes in the sky

Hail unto you who’s far shooting arrow directs the sun to my brow

I welcome you into my mind and my words, at the height of the sun in the south.

(Silence)

At sunset, face West (theoricus/ Water):

Hail unto thee, Hekate Einalian, at thy setting

Hail unto thee, queen of the sea

Hail unto you who’s horizon swallows the downgoing sun

I welcome you into my heart, at the ending of the day in the West.

(Silence)

At midnight, face north (zealator/earth):

Hail unto thee Hekate Khthonia, in thy hiding

Hail unto thee of the underworld in thy silence

Hail unto you who travels the depths of heavens in the darkness,

I welcome you into my home and my dreams, in the witching hour of the hidden northern sun.

(Silence)

 


Want to read more about Liber Resh and Thelemic Practice? Start here. And here for indepth conversations about ceremonial magick and qabala.

For a qabalistic practice that incorporates Witchcraft, check out Christopher Penczak’s book, The High Temple of Witchcraft. 

You can follow more of my work at Living the Liminal on Facebook.