The other night I had a dream that a very close friend of mine gave birth to a little dark haired girl, a happy, healthy little girl with a beautiful name. And of course, upon waking I rushed straight off to send her a text with this good news. But then I got to thinking.... interesting things dreams... Depending on your viewpoint, dreams can be seen as foretellings of the future, data dump to keep the mind working well, spiritual assistance from our sub conscious or even a bit of free cinema for overnight entertainment. Now as a witch I have no problem believing dreams can prophesise the future. But the key question for me is what future and to what extent? Every time we make a decision in life and choose one road in preference to another we are creating a new future for ourselves. This could happen hundreds of times a day. So the future is, to say the least, a bit tricky to pin down. The future I see today may be a different future tomorrow. I may see one actualisation of a future but that same future could completely change when another ingredient is tossed into the mix.
In the case of my dream, the foretold future depends on the decision of the parents to have another child and the biological factors of whether that child is female and looks like the girl in my dream. And even if all those factors are in place there is still no certainty that I have had an insight into the future. Statistically a healthy couple already proven to be fertile and attempting to conceive are very likely to have a child. If they do have a child, I'm at least 50% right that the child will be female. Pretty good odds. This is the type of prophesy where confidence trickster clairvoyants have a field day... Good stats, good luck and the wind in your favour is taken by our trickster friends to be hard evidence of their future telling abilities. But predicting something highly likely isn't really all that much of an achievement.
There can often be more than one way to claim a prophesy has come true. Take my dream for example. The child I dreamed of had dark hair. Now commonly a lot of babies are born with dark hair, so I could point to that and say hey - look my dream came true. Conversely if the child happens to be born blonde I could wait until the hair darkens and then proclaim my clairvoyance. Tricksters aside, this kind of ambiguity muddies the waters for the most genuine seekers of truth. In my case, it means that even if everything happens exactly as I dreamed it, I have no single point in time to which I can point as irefutable proof I have foretold the future. Objectively I may never know if I the future I foretold has been realised.
Again, specifically in my dream there is the naming of the child to be considered. In telling my friend of my dream, am I foretelling what she will name her child or am I influencing what that child will be called? Would the future I foretold have come about without my intervention? Will that future only happen because I happened to have had a dream and mentioned it or -- and here's the philosophical bit -- was my intervention necessary and possibly even pre ordained to bring about that future?
I don't know the answer. I'll be interested to see what happens now after the events of my dream. As a Tarot and runes reader I will always be interested in the future and in looking ahead to see what we can learn and predict about events to come. I just think sometimes we need to remember that there can be more than one future and in prophesising we need to remember that not every future we foretell will necessarily come true.
There is one part of the Harry Potter books where JK demonstrates a true insight into the real world of magic. And that's when Bellatrix Lestrange declares that to perform a curse you "need to really mean it...."
Curses seem to be, for a lot of people, the spell that doesn't always work. And old Bellatrix is right, without intent, anger and even hatred, your curse will flop like a pancake. This is where many first time curse castors go a bit wrong. They tiptoe timidly round the whole concept, they kind of want to get their own back without being TOO bad. Forget it. If you are thinking like that then you are wasting your time and to be honest you probably don't really want to be doing it anyway. Its either not right for you or not right for the situation. If there is no anger and hatred to summon up, save your breath.
The thing is that anger and hatred don't turn up all that often. I can honestly say with perfect truth that I have never hated anybody in my life, past or present. People regularly irritate and frustrate me but never enough to generate anything even close to hatred. So for me, the curse would be a rare piece of magic indeed. And also, for me, when I do end up in confrontation it has to be a fair fight. I don't abuse my managerial position at work by bullying my staff and I don't abuse my craft by resorting to extreme measures for trivialities. I also believe it is really important to consider the fact that no matter how justified I think I am, or how much I believe someone may have wronged me personally, I am too involved in my own life to view it dispassionately. I can never be completely sure if I am the hero or the villain. So with this in mind, I think it prudent not to use magic "against" people I know.
A lot of the Traditional witches I know personally will disagree with me when I say that curses are over used by some. To some witches I feel it is too much of a lightening reflex (in honesty I am more likely to slap someone who annoys me as my immediate reflex). It reminds me of the old saying about using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Why would you bother? I also feel pity for anyone who goes round with that level of hatred in their soul all the time. That must be a hard way to live your life.
That's not to say that curses don't have their place. When I'm not involved in a situation and I can view it objectively, I feel a lot more comfortable using more aggressive magic. I was recently shocked and appalled at an animal cruelty article I read on the internet (no details here, we all know what goes on in the world). I brooded over it for a couple of days and I could feel the anger building at the thought of such totally unnecessary cruelty toward a defenceless creature. Animal cruelty really sickens me. So I made the decision to curse the perpetrator. I summoned my derision and disgust, focused it and cursed the living daylights out of him, (If its worth doing its worth doing properly). To be honest, I felt pretty morally justified in doing it.
Oh and yes Bellatrix, I really meant it....
I did a tarot reading for a new person the other day and it got me to thinking about the nature of a good tarot reader and what differs a poor reader from a competent one.
There are three things a tarot reader could do that would annoy me personally and turn me off the reading. The first is demonstrating a lack of confidence in their own ability. This type of tarot reader constantly stops to check "Am I right? Am I doing ok....?" Basically they try to get the querant to validate their skill as a reader. Now yes, it is important to keep your querant engaged and interested and to check that you are answering the right questions for them. But the Tarot isn't about telling them what they already know and getting praised for it. You are giving guidance that you believe, through your experience with Tarot as a method of divination, is right for them. They cannot validate this for you. If you don't believe you can read the cards with confidence, don't read for other people until you can.
The second type of reader who I believe gives a poor experience is the one who either relies entirely on the generic meaning of each card or who contrarily informs you that they do it their way and don't use any of the traditional guidance. To me, a good tarot reader doesn't need to memorise each card but if they choose not to then they do need a reference to jog memory close to hand. A good tarot reader will take a mixture of traditional wisdom, personal interpretation, intuition and perhaps if they know the person for whom they are reading, personal knowledge. A good reader will explore the links between cards and interpret each card in line with the flow of the reading and the relation to the position of the other cards. Beward of the reader with twenty reference books on their desk but also beware the reader who believes they need know nothing of traditional tarot meanings....
The third thing that would annoy me is the reader who uses their insight to try and get more information from the querant than the querant is willing to give. Several of my readings have caused me to have some very curious questions about my querants! But I don't probe. I offer the opportunity for them to tell me anything they would like to but the value of a reading isn't just what I interpret for them, the further value is when they go away, think about the spread and draw their own conclusions. You may never know if your reading has shaped or changed their life in any way and that it how it should be. As tarot readers we are gatekeepers to knowledge but only the querant can stride through that gate and choose whether to use that knowledge or not.
Come Autumn sae pensive in yellow and grey and soothe me with tidings of nature's decay... Robert Burns
Autumn is the season of my birth and I sometimes wonder if this makes me a little biased toward this time of year. But then, perhaps not. The beauty of the season, aptly described by my friends across the seas as “fall” has a charm that lures many to the season of "mists and mellow fruitfulness.." And there is a lot going on in Autumn. The last crops are harvested and while this may not have as much resonance for the modern world as it would in times gone by, who hasn't seen a farmer gathering in the corn and not felt that little connection to the earth?
We celebrate Mabon, the Autumn Equinox from when the nights start to become longer than the days. And the final big celebration of the season is when the wheel turns to Samhain, the festival where we honour our dead and make contact with the spirit world.
Autumn has much meaning for the modern pagan. After the activity and pace of the summer months it is a time to sit back and reflect on the year that has gone by. Like the farmer harvesting his crops we too can take this time to look at the seeds we have sown during the year? What has worked well for us? What actions have borne fruit and what do we think would be better done differently in the year ahead? As we start to put the year to bed and prepare for the rest period of Winter it is a time to take stock of who we are and what we have achieved. And after our period of rest we can go into the new year with renewed energy and the knowledge we have gained from what we have harvested through our experiences.
You know, if I told you everything I did in the average day, you would probably fall asleep before I finished the sentence. Most witches (and I'm very much including myself in this) do what everyone else does. We go to work, earn a living, cook some dinner, fight over who does the washing up, try to find a good film on the telly, fail to find anything at all worth watching on the telly, watch reruns and repeats of old sitcoms and fall asleep on the sofa to be rudely awakened at some ungodly hour to do it all over again....
But you didn't want to know all that did you? You'd rather know what I'm doing when I'm being "witchy...."
Well the thing to remember is that whenever I'm doing anything I can be being "witchy". Making a meal can involving stirring in a little magic, maybe working in a little positivity toward the intended recipient. Going to work in the morning, I might stop to look at the autumn leaves to feel the change in seasons and take a second to think about the turning of the wheel as it takes us on its journey through the seasons. I might pick up a feather and think it would make a good offering to the Goddess and wrap it carefully to put into my bag to put on my altar later. I did a load of housework the other day and finished off by making a room spray of lavender and herbs (using an old cif bottle, lol) to purify the atmosphere in each room.
My point is that I don't have a "witch switch"...(!) I don't change into being a witch. It is a part of who I am and it flows through me and every action I take. And it generates a moral consciousness in everything I do. I am a religious witch. In every deed, I ask myself - would the God and Goddess approve of this action? Is my intention true? Am I doing what I do for the right reasons?
There is nothing special I need to do to focus on my inner witch. Its just about seeing what I can make of the moment and bringing my magic, intent, belief and will into everything I do.
Today sees the birth of my simple little website. Here I shall share with you my progress on my spiritual path, the challenges of being a witch in the modern world and the trials and tribulations of being the owner of five very naughty Degus. Like I said in my introduction, I will continue to record my most personal thoughts in my private spiritual journal - I'm not one who believes in this funny trend of washing all your dirty linen in public. Sure I'll wash my socks for you occasionally but I'll keep the knickers to myself thank you very much.....
Also at the moment I am working in an industry where one could possibly be a little too forth coming for the liking of senior management. So for the dual purpose of respect and self preservation, the adult rated stuff must sadly stay under lock and key. However in the delightfully modern world of equal opportunities, it is now illegal to discriminate against a person for religious reasons. So I shall share willingly and with candour anything to do with my craft, my path and my religion. And sincere apologies that you miss out on the naughties!
So first things first. This is a picture of a degu. "What exactly is a degu?" is the first question people usually ask me (straight after -"So you worship Satan, right??" (umm.... No...) and "Can you cast me a love spell?" (I could but I probably won't).
This is a degu. Kind of a cross between a rat and chinchilla. They eat everything, my books, my altar, my clothing. They also widdle on everything I own, my ouija board has not been right since being used as a degu loo... I am owned by five degus named Drifter (my own personal nemesis of a degu), Caramel, Wispa, Crunchie and Minstrel. The relationship between witch and degu is a complex one. I have the advantage of higher consciousness, access to books, opposable thumbs and the knowledge and power of the internet. They have a wheel and a water bottle. Yet they beat me in every clash of wills you could care to name. I am but a servant to the whim of the degu. And I don't like it at all. But that is how things are and that is how things must be. And they can live up to 13 years. Thirteen years of subservence to a rodent. A man could go mad thinking too much about that....
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