QUESTION - A weird thing just happened. It is storming outside, which I love. There is an eerie feeling in the house. I just have one of those feelings then all of a sudden the antler on top of my tv fell with a loud crash. No one was in the room. It feels even weirder now. I feel a weird energy... Could you tell me what this might be and if I need to do anything about it? It kinda feels smothering. I have had this happen before. I can really explain it but it feels smothering and very noticeable. It just feels unsettling and not right...
ANSWER - I always think that with any question like this it is really important to look at both sides of the coin and consider both a practical down to earth explanation and a more alternative answer. Without actually being there and in a position to make up my own mind (and even if you had a roomful of witches you may get different answers from what they pick up from the atmosphere…) it is hard to tell you for definite which is the right answer. But I think perhaps rather than me give you a definitive solution it is better for you to consider all aspects and reach your own conclusion. You are after all the person having the experience and therefore the best placed to understand it.
My mundane explanation would be that you are connecting the naturally atmospheric ambiance of a storm with the coincidence of the antler falling. Just because two events happen at the same time does not mean that they are connected… It is natural to attach more significance to something toppling over when your senses are heightened by the power of a storm. You may not have been so unnerved if the antler had fallen in bright sunshine but the dark and the noise of the storm do invite the mind to speculate that there might be a deeper meaning. Getting even more mundane now I’d also ask whether your doors and windows were securely fastened as the wind blowing in from the storm could well have been responsible.
I’ll give you a similar example that happened many years ago in my own home. My younger sister (around ten or so at the time) once asked my mother if she believed in ghosts. My mother gave the robust reply that she didn’t and at that precise moment a painting that had been hanging on our wall for over twenty years jumped off the wall. You could attach great significance to the fact that it happened at that specific moment but then it could have happened at any other time in the twenty years on the wall and perhaps gone unnoticed. This wouldn’t be enough for me to conclude it was definitely the work of spirit activity but it does give a damn good case for it. My point is that two unrelated events can happen at the same time without significance and that sometimes it is human nature to see a link when there isn’t one.
I’m not disparaging your experience but I know some witches who always want to slap a magical explanation on everything and I find it frustrating and try very hard not to do so myself. Many things do have practical explanations and it is as short sighted for a witch not to consider these as it is for the pragmatist to look for logic in everything. Our world is more complicated than either extreme will allow. Looking at something from all sides with an open mind helps us get as close to the truth as possible.
My less mundane explanation would certainly consider spirit activity. I very much doubt that living beings are the only ones to be influenced by atmosphere. Why do you think so many séances are conducted at night with dimmed lights and incense to stimulate the senses? I’d argue not just for the benefit of the living. I’d also make the observation that many spirits can be mischievous and irritating and would get a lot more about putting their energies into pranks like pushing things over when there is a good chance that the human at the other end of it is feeling unsettled in the first place. When you consider the degree of effort it would take for a spirit to move anything (and opinions are divided as to whether this is possible at all) then I think if I were a spirit bent on scaring the living I’d hold fire until the right conditions came along as well.
A storm can have a real effect on the energies in the air and sometimes it can sweep away so much of the stable energies that it can leave behind it a sense of emptiness. It may well be worth taking back control of your space and building back up the energy levels you are accustomed to working in. A good cleanse of the space (good old sage smudging…) will dissipate some of the negative vibes and leave the place feeling yours again. I doubt this is anything more sinister than a touch of negative energy, easily cleansed and cleared away.
I’ll just finish with the advice though that if something doesn’t feel right then likely it isn’t. No matter what your level of experience from absolute novice to seasoned practitioner there are things you can do to affect changes in your own space. Cleansing is one of them but sometimes just standing your ground and openly asserting your possession and dominance of the space is enough. You wouldn’t let an uninvited stranger into your home - take the same attitude with passing spirits. This is your space and your home and anything that comes in, living or dead, does so on your terms.
QUESTION - I can't bear to be around non witches. They seem so superficial and dull compared to witches. All they care about is telly and boyfriends and crap like that. How am I supposed to relate to people who think there is nothing more to life than fucking Facebook and shit like that?
ANSWER - I think most people, witches or not, get a little fatigued on occasion by the apparent superficiality of others. Note the word apparent.... The trouble is not that people are by their nature superficial but that the parts of ourselves we are willing to share with others are the parts with the least depth. You are right that social media often show the least worthy side of human behaviour. But social media is a very impersonal way of interacting. If you want to see more of people you have to work harder at it than just switching on your computer
Scratch below the surface and you will find that most people have depth and a meaning to their lives that goes beyond the shallow confines of popular culture. But as I say - you have to work at it - people will not trust you with their innermost thoughts and feelings if they are fearful that they will be condemned and judged. I'd suggest telling people that the things they care about are "crap" isn't the best starting point for forming more meaningful relationships...
When we are young we have an understanding of our own worth but as we become wiser we also start to appreciate the worth of other people. This is the wisdom of maturity - we begin to understand that we are not alone in having thoughts and emotional depth, we are in fact just one of many (most? all?) sentient and complex humans who do. I am afraid that writing off sections of humanity is both short sighted and to your own detriment. How do you expect to grow if you are willing to learn nothing? How do you expect to attain humility if you value nothing?
I do not believe I have ever met anybody, witch or otherwise, who has not been able to teach me something. Nor have I ever met anybody who was not better than me in some way or at something. If you open your eyes to the fact that the world is filled with people who can teach you and you can swallow a bit of your arrogance you will be in a better position to understand the worth of others and as a consequence you will not feel so alone. Putting yourself on a pedestal separates you from those who might have real wisdom to share with you. I'd venture you'd also be enjoying life a lot more if you hopped off your self built pedestal and tried to mix with people without believing yourself to be superior to them.
Incidentally you also make the assumption that witches are in some way better than other people. I've met some pretty shallow and stupid witches and I'd dispute the fact that practising the craft makes you special in any way. Witches are just like anybody else - a hotchpot of good/bad/ clever/stupid/ kind/malicious. There are witches who will tell you they are better than anyone else but these are people to avoid. Generally with witches, as with anyone, the people shouting from the rooftops how great they are are spouting hot air.
Now stop being so self indulgent - get out there and make some friends.
QUESTION - I had 3 great aunts who made no secret that they were natural witches. I only spent time around one of them and she took a liking to me and even made me a cloth doll which I have kept all my life. (My mother abused me that's the reason she gave me it) I am a normal person with no mental issues, I have dabbled and seen the dark. My daughter is 12 and has never heard a word of anything (craft related) but she is telling me things that I remember seeing at that age. She even asked who the lady named Lemon who looks like me is. Lemon was my great aunt's name...
ANSWER - I see no reason at all not to at the very least consider that your daughter is making contact with your (I'm presuming) deceased aunt. If you consider the fact that most spirit encounters are made with ancestors or family members and young people/children are generally more susceptible to these encounters than adults then it seems plausible to my mind that your great aunt has chosen to visit her niece. Factor in the fact that we know the aunt to have been a practising witch and the balance of probability swings toward a genuine spirit encounter.
I'm not a fan of trying to prove this sort of thing scientifically but it would be interesting to know if your daughter has ever heard you or anyone refer to the aunt by the name "Lemon". Was this a common nickname for her or just a special name known to a few? Would the aunt have been likely to refer to herself as Lemon..?
If the encounter is genuine then my suggestion would be that you consider what wisdom the aunt may wish to impart to the girl? Has your daughter shown any other signs of being called to the craft? Might the aunt have a message for you but chosen to go through the daughter as she has more developed medium skills than yourself? Without labouring the point with your daughter or making her feel intimidated I would question her gently on what she has seen and see if you can get some more information about what she is experiencing. Don't push it though - children tend to take spirit encounters very naturally in their stride but fear can set in if the adult gives them the idea that there is something to be frightened of. Let her tell you at her own pace and keep the subject light. There is after all nothing of concern here, if the encounter is genuine it is your much loved aunt making contact with her family. What could be more benign?
Of course we do have to consider that there may be a rational explanation that has nothing to do with the spirit world. I get very frustrated with witches who are eager only to view one side of the coin and look for a magical/spirit related solution to everything. Like it or now we live in a world where magic and the mundane blend together. Not everything has a practical explanation and not everything has an other world related explanation. As witches we have a duty to consider both the magical and the mundane before forming any sort of conclusion. In this case it is perfectly possible that your daughter has heard the name Lemon mentioned and it has captured her imagination. She could be creating a fantasy (children are very adept at blending fantasy with the real world) or she could be deliberately feigning a spirit encounter to get attention. I actually think the latter is extremely unlikely - a twelve year old has much better ways of getting your attention and would be unlikely to grasp how much a fabricated tale of seeing her dead aunt might disconcert you. For my money I'd say your daughter and your aunt have made contact and that the best thing you can do it sit back and wait to see if either the aunt has a message for you or if your daughter shows an aptitude or interest in witchcraft that needs to be fostered.
The concept of the doppleganger originates from Germanic folklore and relates to the idea that a person may/does have a double in the world. To see your doppleganger is interpreted as bad luck or even a foretelling of death.
Dopplegangers do not play a significant role in witchcraft and to the best of my knowledge there are no traditions (certainly no British traditions) where they are heavily featured. As such there is no single interpretation and (as with anything) individual witches will form their own individual thoughts and opinions as to whether there is any credibility in the concept.
A witch will however be open to the idea that a spirit can leave the mortal home of the body. A doppleganger may be interpreted as a meeting on the astral (one soul seeking out its double via the astral plane) or even the soul meeting itself at a different stage of its life. If this is the case it makes sense for the soul to appear in the same physical form as the individual meeting it. Witches who believe in reincarnation may interpret the doppleganger as a visitation from a previous (or future) life and one possibly with a lesson to teach. Such an interpretation doesn't fit with the legend of ill luck - if anything such an interpretation would be a positive one suggesting new knowledge and wisdom would be forthcoming.
However a different view might be that the doppleganger is not so much an omen of our own death but the means by which we embrace death. If we see the doppleganger as our guide to the otherworld then it isn't too difficult to see how the associations with death have come about. Perhaps the best guide into death would be our own self. What could be more safe or familiar?
The doppleganger legend varies as to whether it is defined as a physical living person or as a non corporeal entity. The latter would be easier to reconcile with the spirit world of the witches. With regard to the doppleganger as a real life living duplicate person my own view is that this interpretation leans too heavily on the idea that an identical mortal home must house an identical spirit or soul. There are logically only so many ways you can arrange two eyes a nose and a mouth without inevitably incurring some duplication. I'm inclined to think physical similarities even to the point of mirror image are just coincidence. There are after all seven billion people on the planet - you'd be pretty hard pressed not to get a few duplicates.
QUESTION - Why do non witches have to celebrate Halloween? It just takes what is a really magical time for me and spoils it. They think it is all about being scary and totally miss the point of it being the third of the harvest festivals and the transition from the light half of the year to the dark. I hate all the tacky kids toys and silly shop windows. Do you reckon Halloween should just be a witch thing?
ANSWER - You are not the first witch to make such a comment and I doubt you will be the last. Halloween does provoke some pretty strong views. At the one end of the scale is your own viewpoint which sees the Day of the Dead as primarily a witch tradition that does not necessarily lend itself to popular culture. Other denigrators often complain that the publicity of witchcraft detracts from the secrecy of what is essentially a very private path and that it encourages people to jump on the bandwagon and proclaim themselves witches without putting the ground work in. Others also feel that the tackiness of the modern festival takes away the solemnity and respect at a time of year when traditionally witches and pagans are honouring their ancestors.
But (and you knew there was a but coming...) there is also a real positive to such a public holiday. Nothing breeds fear more than lack of awareness and understanding and Halloween is our chance to be a bit more open about who we are and what we do. Demystifying the craft helps reduce discrimination and fear of witches. In many cases and I'm thinking especially Bible Belt America it might be the only time of the year a genuine witch can actually dress in accordance with her path without fear.
Yes there might be some young people who get caught up in the holiday and fancy themselves witches but rather than see them as bandwagon hoppers why not see them as the future of the craft? Today's little girl trotting around on a toy broomstick could be a credible witch of the future, continuing the work that we put into the world. Witchcraft is a path, a craft and an art and these things will only survive if new people are willing to put their energies into it. If Halloween is one big mass advertising event for the future of our craft then I don't personally have a problem with that. Those who are serious about what they do will practise long after the festive spider webs are taken down and those just having some fun will move onto the next big thing - no harm done.
I'd also point out that witches are no different to anyone else - we like a bit of fun. I certainly don't think wearing a pointy hat and a warty nose one day of a year mocks my calling to the craft. There is such a thing as being too serious... Practise the solemn Samhain rituals by all means but if you also feel inspired to have some fun with the kids - do it. There's nothing to say witches can't let their hair down and lets face it - Halloween is our time of year. I say claim it back, welcome everyone and lead the way with style!
QUESTION - I just charged my crystals and gemstones under the recent Super Moon we had, this was the first time I've actually done this. While I've been interested in the Pagan path for a very long time, it is only now at this point in my life that I've felt ready to go down that road in earnest. It has been incredibly INTERESTING thus far.
Pardon my digression, back to my crystals, my husband brought them in for me rather than waking me up to go and get them at the crack of dawn as I didn't wish them to be sitting in the heat of the brutal Florida sun. When I got up later, I walked by my dish of crystals and they really caught my attention. They were quite radiant and nearly glowing with energy. I could see there was some definite renewal that had gone on during the night. Is this a common thing??? I was thrilled to see such a thing---and honored to witness it. Has anyone else experienced this? It was MAGICK for me!
ANSWER - I do love questions where a reader has a beautiful experience to share with all the readers of Witch Path Forward and this is a particularly lovely question to answer.
Do I believe that energy can manifest itself in physical form? Yes of course. In a similar vein to those able to see the energy aura of a person it is equally plausible that an item charged with energy could produce a visual experience. The energy transfer from moon to crystal charges the crystal and the energy surrounding the crystal could be observable as a physical aura.
I haven't personally observed this but then I tend not to be a very visual person, I'm more likely to sense the energy through touch and feel rather than see it. But we all experience the world in different ways and if you are inclined toward the visual then your experience of the charged crystals doesn't surprise me.
Might be an idea to photograph it if it happens again. I'd be happy to publish on the website and see if some of our other readers sensitive to that sort of thing can see the same energy surrounding the crystals.
A wonderful experience and no doubt very self affirming for your path. Magic is all around us and hearing from a person who has taken the time and trouble to stop and appreciate it is always very uplifting and positive. Thank you x
Pleasant soul aren't you... What a question!!
I haven't actually. Vomit doesn't come my way very often and if I'm the one vomiting I'm usually less interested in spell work than I am in getting better. I've also not had cause to go scooping up other people's vomit for spell work.
Icky though your question is, it isn't a silly question. Any personal bodily fluid can be used in spellwork and while blood, urine and semen are the preferred substances there is no reason vomit couldn't be used to equally good effect. That said, I prefer to use blood to urine or vomit because the latter are waste products ejected from the body and I see them as having less of a connection with a person than blood which is the life force itself. So from a tag lock perspective vomit is both a rejected substance and hard to get hold of which - probably explains why you don't hear much talk about its use in magic.
You've also got the problem of storing it. It would need to be frozen or at the very least refrigerated. I'm ok with dead mice, dead birds and frozen menstrual blood in the freezer but I do balk a bit at the thought of vomit nestling between the bags of oven chips. I suppose if I had a definite need for it... But then I'm confident I could find a more palatable alternative to improvise with.
If I did have to employ vomit in spell work I would probably use it in a working connected with corrosion or decay due to the acidic nature of the stomach acid. I also might look to use it in connection with the idea of reversion or going against nature as the physical act of vomiting is a negation of the body's natural digestive process. I was chatting about this with my apprentice who added the suggestion that vomiting could be incorporated into hexing with the energies of the retching motion being used to facilitate the working. Taking this idea further you could consume a symbol of the person (write their name on rice paper perhaps) and then vomit it up as a symbol of expelling them from your life and purging yourself of their influence.
QUESTION - Is there such thing as being too emotionally vulnerable for witchcraft?I mean if you've been raped or abused or stuff like that? Can it make you too vulnerable to be a witch?
ANSWER - There are dangers inherent in following a craft path for some individuals certainly but I would say that the danger is less to do with becoming a witch and more to do with unscrupulous individuals who may prey on and take advantage of the vulnerable. Although the vast majority of people who embrace an alternative spirituality or magical path do so in the genuine spirit of honest personal growth there are those who seek to manipulate others for personal gain. There is always a risk that people who have suffered abuse will be looked upon as easy targets for those seeking an ego trip.
Now that is not to say that a person who has been abused or raped is a weak person. On the contrary if they have survived their experiences and are looking toward their recovery then that makes them a very strong person. But all of us are vulnerable at times and recovering from a deep emotional trauma must be a very vulnerable time indeed. Would I suggest it wise for a person to leap into the craft arms open wide and eager to make changes that will permanently affect the core of who they are? Possibly... But what I would not suggest they do is make long term commitments to covens or groups without taking the time to allow themselves to fully heal first. I'd suggest if they wish to start a journey toward a craft path they start out as a solitary and build any relationships slowly until trust can be established. And I'd tell them never to trust anyone who promises that anything, even witchcraft, is an instant way to relieve their trauma and pain. Nothing can do that but the passing of time and the will of the person themselves. If more people understood this better there would be fewer vulnerable souls for the egoists to harm.
I do think that the practise of witchcraft or the observance of pagan practises could be very beneficial in allowing an emotionally distressed person to achieve their healing. Basic rituals and meditation can have a positive effect on calming the mind and strengthening a person. I'd be very encouraging to somebody who wanted to take these positive steps to aid their recovery. This isn't necessarily full blown witchcraft but it is a starting point and it's pointing the way forward and building a foundation of a craft path.
There is of course another side to the coin. When a person (note not woman, person, it happens to men too) is raped or abused their suffering is through no fault of their own and I'd question why any abuser should be allowed to influence the lives of their victims further than the initial impact of their attack. For some people getting on with their lives and living in the way they would have done before their abuse gives them a power back over their lives. If it feels natural for a person in such circumstances to follow a craft path then I don't think any abuser should be granted the power to make another person feel so vulnerable that they cannot continue with their life in the direction that feels right to them.
So I suppose its down to taking sensible safety precautions and listening to your own intuition. If it feels right to you then it probably is but do be aware that not everyone in the craft is all love and light and some people will see vulnerability as a weakness and look to exploit it. Never offer more of your trust than you feel comfortable with.
QUESTION - Do you think the promise that magic will solve all popularised in modern fiction gives young people a false perception when taking their first steps as a witch?
ANSWER - I think the very nature of fiction is to make things seem more interesting than they are. I read a lot of romance novels for example and if I expected real life to emulate fiction I'd be very disappointed that my husband didn't meet me from work everyday mounted on a huge stallion determined to seize me and make love to me passionately the moment he set eyes on me. There is a certain amount of willingness to suspend belief when we read a book or watch a film. We understand its real life plus 80% exaggeration.
Do I think young people are incapable of discerning the difference between fantasy and reality? No, of course not. I've no doubt that the odd young person gets disappointed when they order their Harry Potter replica wand off the internet only to find that the only magic they have performed is persuading their parents to fork out an outrageous amount of money for a plastic stick. But I give most young people a lot more credit for being able to perceive the difference between magic portrayed in fiction (effortless, instantaneous, flashy) and real magic (needs hard work, persistence and even then might not work out the way you want it to)... The young people I have met through my website have always impressed me with their willingness to read, listen and learn. I don't think our witches of the future are into quick results - I think they may have been inspired by fiction (and let's face it magic has been everywhere these past ten years...) but they understand that to succeed on a craft path requires a firm reality check and a lot of hard work.
I'm not against all this magic in the media, if it gets people interested in something that benefits them and others then that can surely only be a good thing. Yes some witches are a bit scathing of fantasy fiction but most that I know would agree with me and see it as harmless fun and entertainment.
Altars are highly personal affairs and differ greatly between witches in both intent and purpose.
An altar an either be a working surface where it is used to store current spells and on the go workings, it can be a shrine to a deity (either specific or general), it can be a secular area of worship where a witch may keep items belonging to her path but with no religious overtones of worship. It can be an area dedicated to nature or the elements or even just a table where magical tools are kept. It can also be a combination of any of the different examples above.
The altar of a Traditional Witch is less likely to be an area for worship than an altar belonging to a Wiccan witch as broadly speaking Trad craft is a secular path and Wicca a religion. However it would be too much of a generalisation to say all Trad altars look one way and all Wiccan altars another. If we were to take a basic overview as to what a witch may (notice may and not must) have on his/her altar it would likely be a selection of items from the list below:
Usually decorative, will likely cover an altar table or in the case of a travelling altar may be set up as the foundation of the altar itself.
Represents the element of water and/or the Goddess and the feminine divine. May be a symbol or may be a practical container for consuming wine or juice during ritual.
The ceremonial knife - used primarily for directing energy and for those witches who do cast circles this is likely to be the tool of choice for doing so. Some witches use this to represent fire on the altar. The wand can be made from wood, crystal, resin (pretty much anything really) and may be used in a similar manner to the athame or more directly used in spell work.
Another symbol both of femininity and also of sexuality. The cauldron is often said to represent the womb from which life will spring. Again a very practical tool for the witch who may use in spell and potion work and may also even cook with it on occasion. Useful for lighting portable fires in as well if you have a cast iron cauldron.
For those making offerings to their Gods of choice offering bowls can be used to hold gifts from nature - cut flowers perhaps or acorns -
A representation of the five elements (the fifth being spirit) - pentacles may be embroidered onto altar cloths, depicted in statuary or formed in designs on the altar with elements from nature. More likely to be found on a Wiccan altar.
Used as a tool for purifying the sacred area and may also be rung at the start and end of ritual to signify the passing from mundane to magical.
Used extensively in spell work and lit to represent fire.
Different incenses will be lit for different purposes. (See pretty much any correspondence table on the internet.) Incense can also be used to represent the element of air.
Used for the different properties inherent in each crystal, to represent earth or to symbolise the different stages of the year.
Symbol of Fire
Candles, fire ashes, even a statue of a dragon could be used.
Symbol of Water
Chalice, bowl of water, shell from the beach.
Symbol of Earth
Tree bark, rocks, crystals, bowl of soil, bowl of salt
Symbol of Air
Incense, feather, statue of a bird, dream catcher
Representation of the God
Statue, gold candle, bottle of sun water. Statue need not necessarily be of the Sun Go. The Green Man may be used, Pan even Baphomet. Depends on your own belief system.
Representation of the Goddess
Statue, silver candle, bottle of moon water. Some statue choices include fairies, mermaids or mythical creatures and then the Virgin Mary has been known to be used.
Fundamentally the choice of what you put on your altar is down to you, it has to mean something to you personally. I tend to change mine with each sabbat to keep it fresh and up to date and each month starts with it looking pristine and ends up a cluttered mess as all the working from the month accumulate on it. My advice to you would be to think about everything on the list and work out what resonates with you personally and what you think you have genuine use for. Use this as a starting point to create your own basis of an altar.
Image - altar belonging to Deguwitchrose
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