QUESTION - I am a born witch, my mother wiccaning me when I was born without my father knowing. I didn't know my mother was a witch until now. I was a Christian like my father but I left Christianity and now I am practising the craft although nobody knows. I want to know if my mother blessing and doing rituals with me when I was a baby has influenced the path I have chosen.
ANSWER - I'd say it is possible your mother has had an influence on your path but not necessarily by virtue of the wiccaning. In the same way that I do not believe a baptism makes a Christian I do not believe a wiccaning makes a Wiccan (and certainly not a witch). Every individual has the right to choose a path in life that works for them and any choices made for them by even the most well meaning parents are to my mind pretty redundant. Going through a naming ceremony as a child does not direct you to the path of the associated religion later in your adulthood.
That said there is a very definite school of thought that witchcraft is to a certain degree hereditary. The craft is believed by some witches to pass through the bloodline and other witches believe that an adult witch can pass on their own propensity for the craft by educating the child from a young age. It is similar to the nature/nurture debate in Psychology which seeks to determine if the personality of an individual is formulated on a genetic level or through the environment they are brought up in. The usual (and in my book the best) answer is that both factors play a part. I suspect it is the same thing here with you - you may well have natural abilities as a witch passed to you from your mother but it is just as likely that spending your formulative years in a witchcraft friendly environment has stimulated your interest and knowledge and given you craft experience that has helped you on your path as an adult.
So yes, you may have inherited some gifts from your mother but the open minded approach to witchcraft she has demonstrated to you in your childhood has likely also played its part in you choosing your path of a witch in favour of the more conventional Christian religion.
QUESTION - I have a wedding coming up in March 2015, Should I ask my fiance's brother to go with me? My fiance died on Feb 6 2015 and I don't know if that is weird or not.
ANSWER - It depends on your motive for asking him. If you are friends and you are looking to strengthen your friendship in order to support one another through your grief then I see no problem at all in asking him. Equally if you are looking to maintain a friendship with your deceased fiance's family either through respect for him or through your own liking for the family you have grown to know then again that sounds fine to me.
I'd suggest you make it very clear that you are inviting him as a friend and that you are not looking for another relationship at this stage. To be honest even if you do have romantic feelings for this man it would be prudent not to act on them while you are both so recently bereaved. If you do find yourself attracted to him it could be the fact that he reminds you of his brother which is no basis for any kind of relationship. If over time you grow to know him as an individual in his own right and a love does grow then that is different but at the moment you are too emotionally vulnerable to be looking to rush into anything.
My advice would be to be totally upfront, explain you are asking him as a friend and that you are only looking for his friendship. If you don't feel able to do that or you feel that saying that to him might not be telling the whole truth then it might be better to find somebody else to go with.
QUESTION - I’ve been looking into all the different ways that menstrual blood can be used in witchcraft but I’m not sure how to actually go about storing it. How do witches keep it?
ANSWER – The first thing is deciding how to obtain it as that will determine some of the methods you can use for storage. For witches who are comfortable using a moon cup (a small plastic cup that sits inside you and collects the flow) the blood can easily be poured directly into a container. The most hygienic way of doing this is to freeze the blood – have a specially designated ice cube tray and freeze into small manageable sections so you can use as and when required.
If freezing your blood is not an option (and let’s face it many family members might object to you using the household freezer to store menstrual blood) then you can store neat drops of the blood in oil or alcohol to act as a preservative. These can be sealed in small bottles and kept in a dark cupboard until use.
Another option is to saturate a tissue with the blood, dry it out and then store it in a jar where pieces can be ripped off for use when required.
For witches who prefer to use sanitary towels or tampons the procedure can be a little messier. Place the used sanitary item into a bowl of warm water and agitate gently. Once soaked through wring the item out to squeeze as much blood as you can from it into the water. Discard the item and then the diluted blood water can be frozen or stored in a jar. Be aware that the problem with this is that you are using diluted blood which may not suit your purpose. I’d also caution that this is by far the least pleasant smelling method of storing menstrual blood. A month or so in a jar (no matter how tightly sealed) will smell pretty strong when you open it. Refrigerating it will increase the longevity but again you have the problem that family members may not like your blood on the shelf next to the milk.
Views differ on this. Some witches like the option of playing music during ritual which often means that electronic equipment has to be close to or contained within the circle. Other witches believe that the electromagnetic energy produced by electronic equipment displaces the energy of the circle and is to be avoided at all costs.
If casting in small areas a witch will often cast to the walls of the room thus embracing the entire room in protected space. It can be very difficult in these circumstances to remove every piece of electronic equipment from the room. You need to think how practical it is to empty everything out of the room. If I had to disconnect and remove from the room every tarantula heat mat every time I wanted to complete circle work I’d probably get so fed up I’d never cast again!
My own view is that you have to take a sensible approach. Mobile phones should always be removed as there is always the danger of them ringing and breaking concentration. Mobiles also operate on a very high frequency (similar to televisions) and can be particularly disruptive to other energies. I would always switch off or remove a computer as well as I personally dislike the idea of having a communication device or anything that could connect with energy outside the protected space in my circle. I’d extend this to radios as well but would find a cd player or an mp3 player/speaker acceptable.
I’ve not had a problem with this personally but some witches have reported the energy of their circle breaking nearby electronics. This is another reason why you may have heard magic and electrics should be separated. The most common issue seems to be with watches – many witches refuse to wear a watch when casting as it is very common for watches to break during circle or spell work.
(I did manage to crack a diamond down the middle once and have always suspected this was due to the energies involved in casting so it might be worth removing any precious jewellery along with the electronic equipment.)
There are a few things you can do to remove negativity from the room however perhaps the first stage should be to prevent negativity from entering the room in the first place. If the source of the negativity is likely to be a visitor who brings the mood with them then I would suggest sealing the doors of your property. This can be done by sprinkling the thresholds with salt water or you can run a lit incense stick (pine would work well) around the door frames. When using either of these methods I usually state what I am doing and why I am doing it and confirm quite firmly that negativity is not permitted entrance.
If the negativity is already present then the first thing I would do is to sweep its presence out of the room. If you have a broom this is an ideal tool to sweep the essence of the issue out of the house but in the more modern world there is no reason at all why you cannot use your hoover and visualise the negativity being sucked up out of the room and into the bag ready for destruction.
Once the house has been swept you can look to soak up any lingering remnants of the negativity. A popular way of doing this is to cut a potato in half and place in the problem room. Leave until the potato goes black and then discard.
You can improve the feeling of the atmosphere of a room by lighting frangipani incense and of course there is always good old fashioned sage to smudge and cleanse the room.
Question – Do you think the emergence and social acceptance of Wicca has led more people to claim Trad Craft as a path and do you think a lot of these are wannabe ex Wiccans?
ANSWER - I think it is certainly the case that Witchcraft is in the spotlight now more than ever. It is unsurprising that whenever popular entertainment chooses to depict Witchcraft in a positive light there is a surge of interest. Think the film “The Craft” back in the nineties or more recently the followers of “Charmed.” The television and film industry have played a part in demystifying witchcraft and changing the perception of craft practitioners from the wizened crones of old to attractive, confident and (usually) young people. It is unsurprising that with this change in perception the view of witchcraft has changed from derisive to aspirational.
At the same time that the media has been giving witchcraft the glamour treatment there has been a renewed interest in spirituality and New Age beliefs. This has marked a turning away from the conventional religious paths (in particular Christianity) and given rise to a generation who define themselves as spiritual rather than religious but who may lack a framework to practise within. Wicca for many has filled this void by bridging the gap between the modern revival of magic and spirituality and the convention of a formal religious structure.
This new social acceptance of Wicca is perhaps one of the reasons why we are seeing more witches claim a Trad path rather than an adherence to Wicca. It has been very interesting watching the evolution of Wicca which started as an informal belief system and is now fast approaching a religion with dogmatic doctrine to rival any of the world religions. I’d argue that the more socially accepted Wicca becomes and the more mainstream, the more structured and formal the less it is going to appeal to the freethinkers, those who want to forge a path rather than follow one.
Wicca is often the first introduction to witchcraft and the first confirmation that witches do exist and that the practise of witchcraft is alive and taken seriously in the 21st century. However the individual beliefs of many witches do not fit the belief structure of Wicca. For a witch who does not believe in deity Wicca is not a good fit. Although there are many “Wiccans” claiming to be atheists they are missing the point entirely of the religion they purport to follow. You can no more be a Wiccan without belief in deity than you can be a Christian without believing Christ was the son of God. You can however quite happily be a witch without believing in deity. These witches who do not conform to the Wiccan structure often end up seeking out a traditional path.
I think it is important to point out that even though Wicca can be (and often is) a stepping stone on the path to Trad craft for many witches this doesn’t diminish Wicca as a religion in its own right. But as with any religion it is only going to appeal to people who share the core beliefs. For those who do not share the core beliefs but still practise witchcraft there is no formal structure or path to replace Wicca. The essence of the traditional path is a witch who goes it alone.
I do think that the more prescriptive modern Wicca becomes the more it is going to switch off the witches who want to use traditional methods of working and perhaps more crucially those witches who want to use the elements of magic prohibited by the harm non rules of Wicca. It may not be a popular viewpoint but it could be argued that no witch adhering to the Wiccan religion is going to be able to fully actualise herself as a witch as the limits on her power are too great. A witch on a traditional path will use all parts of who she is and not confine herself to what might be termed the “white” side of magic.
Do I think a lot of those people turning from Wicca to Trad Craft are wannabes? No I honestly don’t. I think most people who are open minded enough to look to embrace a lifestyle of magic and witchcraft are also the kind of people who don’t want their path dictated to them. The very prescriptive nature of the Wiccan witch simply doesn’t appeal to all witches. For those it does work for, that's great and they are to be respected. The world is a big enough place to cater to both Wiccan and non Wiccan witches without need for conflict or controversy.
There are no hard and fast rules on this so I would advocate taking a common sense approach. Performing magic can be quite draining so completing multiple workings in a single night might be too high a demand on your energy leading to less efficient spellwork and fatigue the following day. The other danger is that if you are splitting your focus between numerous different expressions of intent your focus will be diluted and the power of your spellwork will be reduced.
My own view on this is that if I am completing magic in a formal session I would look to undertake no more than three separate workings at any one time (though usually this is only one or two as it is rare to find three separate issues all needing attention at the same time). For adhoc day to day magic I’d play it by ear – if your energy levels feel depleted then it might be worth giving them a boost before attempting spellwork. If you feel fine and in good health then casting as and when needed on a regular basis will not present a problem.
QUESTION - I read your article about how snow and ice can be used in magic and I really like the idea of using the weather to create spells. I was wondering though – how can I use rain to work magic?
ANSWER - Rain can have a lot of uses in magic. The most common is that it is used by many witches whenever water is called for in a spell. A lot of witches dislike the idea of the chemicals used in tap water being incorporated into their workings and prefer to use the water straight from source.
It is important to note that there are different types of rain and that each type may be used to bring differing energies into the magic being worked. Rain from a warm gentle summer shower could be used to encourage tranquillity and the sense of sleepy summer days into a spell whereas rain from a powerful thunderstorm may be used to invoke passion and strength. As a word of advice I would suggest if you intend to work with rain it is well worth documenting the nature of the weather and time of year on the day you bottled it so you can recall which characteristics you are hoping to bring to your magic.
Rain and water in general are commonly used in cleansing rituals and spells. This can be a physical cleansing (think immersing your non water soluble crystals in a bowl of rain water), it can be a spiritual cleansing (think anointing your forehead or washing your face with rain water to connect with the element) or it can be a symbolic cleansing (think bathing a poppet in pure rain water to watch away negativity).
I’ve undertaken effective spells where I have used rain water to wash away ink on parchment to perform a spell to reverse an action and similarly this method could be employed for memory spells – if you want somebody to forget something you can write it down in non-waterproof ink and then simply agitate the paper in a bowl of rain water until the writing has dissolved away.
QUESTION - Will we know in this life, if we have paid all our karmic debts ? Is there a way to know or find out in this life?
ANSWER - The key to answering this question of course is whether or not Karma actually exists. Karma is traditionally an Eastern concept and one which many practitioners of witchcraft, particularly those in the West and particularly those who not subscribe to the New Age ideas of magic do not accept as part of their belief structure.
The principle of Karma - as I am sure you are aware - is that people receive back what they put into the world. The idea is that good begets good and evil begets evil. This view can be adopted as a general belief or in some cases it is accepted as a quantifiable principle with the idea that specific deeds are measurable in terms of their good/bad nature and then the same precise amount of good/bad is returned to them as a consequence of their actions. Wiccans especially tend to be quite keen on Karma - think the threefold law of return.
My own personal path doesn't incorporate the idea of Karma much beyond the idea that if you go around being nice to other people chances are that other people are going to be nice to you. There are too many issues with the undeserving being rewarded or the suffering of good people to substantiate a Karmic world view in my opinion. This imbalance is often addressed by supporters of Karma with the argument that the rewards and consequences of our behaviour can trangress different lifetimes. But I would argue - firstly there is no proof for this and secondly for those who believe in reincarnation the idea is that we get a new chance each lifetime to take a step closer to our full potential as a human soul and it simply makes no sense to carry the baggage from one lifetime into another.
The concept of good and evil in the Karmic view is also too simplistic for my liking. People often do bad things for a good reason and good things for a bad reason. Nor is there a universal agreement on what exactly defines good or evil. For Karma to work there would have to be an absolute source of moral authority. This could possibly be substantiated in a belief system that yields to an omniscient deity but it is shaky ground and smacks more of Pavlov's dog mentality that it does morality. If we only learn morality through punishment for our actions then it could be argued Karmic morality isn't morality at all - it is simply learned behaviour.
There is a certain amount of idealism in people wanting a world where everybody gets what he or she deserves but the truth of the matter is that as long as human beings have free will there will be inequality between those receiving reward and those receiving suffering. It is hard to reconcile the idea of free will with the concept of Karma.
Coincidence is also a big issue when discussing Karma. In an average lifetime any person will go through many good and bad times. They will undertake both good and bad acts and both good and bad things will happen to them. It is easy to find a pattern if you want to look for one but the fact that a good action is undertaken and is followed by a positive consequence is not evidence of cause and effect.
So I may not have been the right person to ask about Karma - if I'm completely honest it doesn't grab me on either an instinctive or an intellectual level. I don't believe good and evil can be neatly defined and labelled and I don't believe the world operates on the principle of "fair" which is essentially what Karma is I think to say that those who suffer deserve it on some level is both wrong and naively simplistic.
I don't speak for all witches of course but I think you will find a lot of witches who practise Trad Craft will agree that there is no universal balancing of the scales to punish or reward. Sometimes the good go unrewarded and the evil go unpunished and that - as they say - is that.
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