Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Attraction Powder Working

We CAN manifest our goals and dreams. We can attract luck and blessings. Working yourself to death trying to keep the negative away  is actually just FOCUSING on the negativity, which is the opposite of what you want, right? The idea is to attract positivity by projecting and visualizing our goals and needs being achieved-think only positive. By complaining about all that is wrong in our lives or worrying about the next thing to come, we are only manifesting those things, giving them power and momentum. Words are merely sounds, which are vibrations. They are physical energy that we send out when we speak. When you say "i'm ugly" , "i'll never get this job", "i can't do this"-then you are right, and you have already failed. Our thoughts are even more powerful. When we have a thought we involuntarily see images in our minds, even if you are focusing on getting rid of something or if fear something, you are still focusing on that fear and manifesting it. That energy is sent throughout our bodies, into our impressionable cells, into other people and out into the world.

Imagine what your negative words and thoughts are doing to you and others. It is extremely difficult to just stop worrying or to stop expecting the worst, but instead of thinking about what could happen or what you are expecting, think about a solution to the problem. If you are worried about a bill coming and how much it will be, visualize the amount of that bill being low or visulaize the money in your pocket or bank to pay it. Give energy to the goal-NOT the problem.This is where grounding and meditation practice comes in. We are made up of atoms, minerals, and elements, just like everything else in the universe. We are connected to the universe, we are divine, and we CAN control our lives. You can control your future by utilizing this law. What you send out is what you get back. Like attracts like.

A big key to this is letting go the past. You cannot change it and it is not who you are in this moment, so leave it alone. Sure, your past is part of you but you are not your past. you have taken steps away from it, to change yourself. Going back to re-visit it with your thoughts only re-creates it in the present, and the same things will happen over and over.ever wonder how people get in cycles where they make the same mistkes over and over? this is how.
This requires several steps, with idea that you will be creating a new habit, and change in your everyday life. This is the catalyst for attracting these positive avenues and opportunities. The idea is that the more time you spend and more physical acts you do during this, the more energy you have invested into your creation and your life. It’s like baking a cake; the more precise you are with the ingredients, measurements, and timing, the better the cake;) You also have to give it time. If you want to lose weight, you can't diet for one day and expect to lose 20 pounds. You have to create new, healthy habits and stick to them. This creates a ritual which will help you take small steps each day to achieve your goal. This is how magic works.

The working;
This working has been successful for every person I have suggested it to who followed the direction and gave it adequate time to work. 

Gather several magazines, catalogs, or newspapers. Cut 7-9 pictures out of these of the things you need or desire. Get a white novena candle you can burn for at least seven days. These are glass encased prayer candles that you buy from the grocers. You can find these in the “ethnic foods isle and they cost between $2-3. Create a space just for this candle and lay the pictures around it. Anoint your candle and the pictures with my Attraction Oil (powder and oil are available in my shop). Then glue the pictures onto the candle so you will see them glowing from within when the candle is lit. It will serve of a reminder for you each day of what your goals are. You can also use it on doors and windows-any threshold sf your home. Sprinkle my Attraction powder in each corner of your house, moving clockwise, and say "spirit of attraction, bring me what I desire", then name the things that are on the pictures cut out. Sprinkle some powder on your candle and say "as I feed you, you feed me". Do this ritual for seven days. Ask Lakshmi (or whatever prosperous deity or spirit you work with) that your needs and desires are met. Set a bowl in the place you have reserved for your candle and pictures and fill it with coins and cinnamon as an offering for Lakshmi (or offering appropriate for your deity) After the 7 days, continue to fill this bowl with your loose
 change. Once in a while, bury a coin outside in your garden or in a houseplant. Give the rest of the change to charity or to someone who needs it, and start to refill your bowl again, repeating the process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Using the Quiet of Winter

Yes, that is my tree.

I now live in Michigan and the winters can be pretty brutal and a lot of people complain about them...even pagans. You'd think that as children of nature, we'd all value each season as much as the next but I've found that's just not true. We often loathe the winter. After all, we can't go out and bask in the sun, pick herbs, get our hands in the earth, bathe in the lakes or sea, hold ritual or worship outside. Winter lacks those things, and that is exactly what it is supposed to do! Winter is a time of REST. I LOVE the fact that I am freed from yard and garden work for 6 months! I can actually pick up a book and READ it! That is my favorite thing to do in the inter actually; catch up on reading books that are spiritual in nature. Right now I am reading the latest issue of Witches and Pagans.

So how to we keep our spiritual practices alive? By switching over to a different kind of energy-slow, peaceful, energy.

Things I love doing that take advantage of this slow, restful time are;
Freshening my altars. Dusting statues, refilling candles, replacing old roots, and adding new pictures and items, and creating image candles for deities who are new in my life.
Scrubbing with bluing. There is nothing that prepares you and your home for the long rest like a good cleaning with bluing. After all, you are going to be stuck inside for a while:)
Donating. I donate year round because I know from volunteering at the local mission that most people only donate in the winter. This is good, but people are in need of food and clothing ALL year-not just winter time. Donating also de-clutters the home and mind which allows energy to flow freely and also stirs up the muses! I get so inspired and receive such wonderful ideas when I organize and donate! It's like the muses say "because you have given, I will give to you".

A story about donating;
I have family from India. When Indians meet a stranger, they invite them into their  home and offer them only the best of what they have. Most often, this is very very little. You are likely to receive the best food they have and a straw mat to sleep on. This culture does this with the belief that at any point, they may be encountering the divine. Every person they meet, they treat as if they are a deity-after all, you never know. Imagine if we treated strangers this way? What a world it would be! I keep this custom in mind when I donate and when I encounter someone who is homeless or displaced. I too have needed help at times-haven't you? What does it hurt to give away an extra pair of shoes or the dollar in your pocket? I promise it will return to you 3 fold.

There is something liberating about donating your clothing and your shoes. It creates movement and opens paths that were not there prior to this action. It also fills your heart.

Take time to learn a new craft that you can sue to create spiritual items. One can learn to make candles, sew simple mojos, make paper, sculpt with clay, crochet, etc. There are tons of useful crafts to learn that can be picked up easily with little investment. What do your friends do for hobbies? I am sure they would be willing to teach you their craft. Even virtually!

Baking! Baking is a magical chemical reaction in itself-just like ritual! I often use baking as an analogy when I am explaining magic to someone. When you combine certain ingredients together, a chemical reaction happens and it becomes something completely different than what you started with. As with any recipe, the better your ingredients are and the more careful and precise you are with timing and amounts-the better then end result. Just like baking.

Get outside and harvest some evergreens to add to your altar, home, mojos and candle dressings. Boil these on the stove in a simmering pot along with clove and orange peel to create a protective and healing simmer for your home's atmosphere. 

Snuggling with your kids or spouse in front of a movie or a fire. Give strength to your relationships. Rekindle the love. You have the time in the winter-use it.

Make time for your friends. It gets dark early so we tend to retire earlier in the day. Visit a neighbor and bring some hot chocolate or hot toddies and catch up on your friendship. Even distanced or virtually-this is magical and meaningful.

Set the goal of making small gifts for your closest friends or conjure family for the winter solstice. Small hand made cards or embellished pictures make lovely and inexpensive, heart felt gifts.

Plan your garden for next year. Make a list of the seeds you'd like to get and draw out a simple plan. You can also so this if you live in an apartment. Plan what you want to grow and how big of pots you'll need and how many. This is my favorite thing to do in February when the seed catalogs start taking over my mail box.

Develop your studies. Listen to that deity or spirit that's been appearing and calling to you and spend some time researching them. You will be glad you did.

Lastly, get some rest...spring will be here before you know it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fear and Mistakes

This post is about something I encounter on a weekly basis that severely impairs a person on their path. It either happens via convos in my shop or I hear it from a student of mine. It is easy to spot through my shop. It's when someone has sent me 20+ e-mails asking these very specific questions about a working they want to do. What goes where? What time do I start? For how many days? Do I need to cast a circle? Do I need to take a special bath? I don't have a statue! I don't know what to say! I don't have any money! I can't buy an offering!

Then, the truth comes out;
"I am afraid of doing it wrong."
"I am afraid of offending the spirits."
"I am afraid of what will happen."

The TRUTH is that all these little, tiny, obsolete details you are obsessing over have virtually nothing to do with your working. ESPECIALLY when the only reason you are obsessed with them because you are scared. If you feel fear when you think about your spiritual path, the divine, or when contemplating helping yourself or others through divine power, then one of two thing is happening; you are on the wrong path or you have been misinformed. Most likely, you have been misinformed.

Why were you misinformed? Because society, the media, and Hollywood films will tell you that (and I am only referring to hoodoo, Vodoun, and Santeria here because other Pagan sects do not have as much fear associated with them) that we work these blood thirsty, angry, vengeful, chaotic gods and unless we do everything just so in order to appease them, they will come for us and terrorize our lives and families. This is what they would have you believe. The truth is, THEY are the majority but the majority is not always right. Especially when the majority doesn't even subscribe to our beliefs! So HOW could they know more than US?

Let's look at this logically. People often think that you can not be logical and use sound reasoning if you are a religious or spiritual person. Not so. I can logically explain every facet of my beliefs, I can use sound reasoning in a religious debate. I was am a woman of science as well as spirituality-it does exist.

We have all taught something in our lives. Maybe you are a college professor, maybe you are a cub scout leader, maybe you volunteer and teach kids how to garden, or maybe you taught your kids pre-school class how to bake muffins-whatever-we have all taught at some point. When one of the people you were instructing came up to you with a mistake did you rain fire on them? Did you throw lightening bolts at their family? Did you cause a flood to destroy their home? Or did you smile, sit down with them, and walk them through it...

Why would the deities treat you any differently? YOU are their child, their student, and you have the divine within you. You are part of them.

Isn't one of the reasons you chose paganism because you did not believe in a vengeful, angry god?

I'll give you an example. Me and my whole family cuss like sailors. If there is a heaven (which there could be, who the hell knows?) do I really believe that Jesus is not going to let me in because I say "fuck"? No. I don't. He's got bigger fish to fry than my potty mouth. So then let's apply this same logic to our deities. Do you really think that if you don't have a red a candle to offer Eleggua, instead you have a pink, that he is going to pissed and say "You know what, fuck you!". No. The intention is what matters. That we TRIED. That we had the thought, that we carried through with action, that we honored him in whatever way we could.

There were times when I did not have money to buy this or that for an altar or working. Do you know what happened? The deities sent me those items by random acts of kindness and little miracles to show me that they were there, they saw what I wanted to do, what was in my heart, and that they loved me and would provide for me.

In 15 years of working with the Orisha and Lwa I have NEVER seen an ugly or malicious side to them. Now, your heart and intention has a lot to do with this. If you are asking for blessings without honoring them, without first respecting them, I imagine it ain't gonna turn out so well for you. We all know a person like that, that is always in need of help and always taking advantage and will never be there when you need help. Don't be that person in your spiritual life. It can be easy to do, people get excited at this wealth of possibilities, this overflowing source of blessings from the deities. But you can exhaust your resources if you keep taking and never give in return.

There are very simple ways to honor and return the blessings. A simple white candle or small piece of food offered in the morning each day is affordable and full of good intention. My favorite thing to do is to donate, time money or other resources. We live by the personal philosophy that if you are blessed with something, a portion of it should be given away to those who also need help. If this is not done, I believe you will begin to see your own blessings, opportunity, and good luck run out. Now, this is not WHY I do this, because I am afraid of the consequences of NOT doing it. I do it because I want to and because I have a sharing nature. It is not difficult for me to share or give. This is something that is unusual in our culture now which I suppose is why people just ask and ask from the deities without it occurring to them to give anything back. This will be detrimental to your spirituality, growth, and to your relationship with your community and all humanity as well. Unfortunately, it comes down to this; respect your fellow humans and your deities as you would respect yourself.

We must learn to let go of the fear that stops us from finding our true path. Fear will push away everything that you want in your life. Fear is a death grip and desperation is the grease that will make your goal fly right out of your hand. To fear the divine is nothing more than fearing yourself and your very own breath.

You can not make a mistake with the divine when you are of pure intention. It can not be possible that every practitioner everywhere has every item they "need" for their altar, says each word perfectly for their petition, and does this on the right day, at the right hour, in the right moon phase-nothing would ever get done! Trust me I have had plenty of times when I've said after a ritual, "Well, I fucked that ALL up."

 I always tell my students it is better to have tried and make a mistake than to never attempt to commune with deity because you are afraid of "not doing it right". If you have to, first as the gods for some courage, stronger faith, and ask the muses inspire you! You will be rewarded for your efforts, whether you think you fucked it up or not;)

Here are some REAL books about our practices that teach the truth-that we are seekers of love and healing.

Jambalaya by Luisah Teish
Sticks, Stones, Roots, and Bone by Stephanie Rose Bird
Carnival of the Spirit by Luisah Teish
Four Seasons of Mojo by Stephanie Rose Bird
Jump Up by Luisah Teish
Finding Soul on the Path of the Orisha by Toby Correal

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Raising "Pagan" Children

Probably the most common question I get asked is something like "How long have you been practicing?" or "How did you find this path?" And when I tell them I was raised pagan, the response is always the same, they exclaim "Oh, how lucky you are! That must have been wonderful!" Well, it wasn't. At least not all the time, because there are flaws in every parent and in every religion.

I must say this first. When I am asked how long I have been Pagan I say 17 years. Even though I was raised Pagan, I was not equipped to make the decision until I was 13. At 13 I felt I had a good connection to what it meant to be Pagan and a good understanding of the deities.

I was expected to teach the tradition in my family, just as in any "family business" I guess. Being raised pagan actually set me up to be cut off from the world. To be distant from those I would be teaching in the future. I had nothing in common with the beliefs and traditions others were raised with. There was no bible in my home, no church on Sunday, no prayer before meals, and no father-god that terrified me and shackled me with immense guilt. The biggest difference was, I had no concept of sin. I was a good kid. I didn't lie, cheat, or steal, and if I did screw up (which I began to in high school) my mother left it up to karma to straighten out the situation out-no punishment for me really. So living without the idea of sin, I was also able to live without a lot of the guilt others feel on a daily basis. I have seen guilt over nothing break people down so badly, because they were taught to feel guilt by organized religion from a young age. Now, I'm not a sociopath- I FEEL guilt when I do something wrong, I feel remorse when I hurt someone. But do I LIVE with it? No. I was raised with much freedom, perhaps a bit too much, but at least I was free.

So when I began to teach I found the majority of my students were former Catholics and Mormons-the two most guilt riddled sects I have ever seen. They would confide in me about simply feeling guilt for intuitively being drawn to this path. And all I could think was "Why?!" How can one feel guilt for their intuition, their gut instincts, for following their heart?! It made no sense and I was therefore completely devoid of being able to help. Or so it felt.

This didn't just interfere with students-it interfered in everyday life because only a tiny portion of us are raised pagan or, at least, are not raised Christian in this country. Think back to that Jewish kid or Muslim kid or maybe the black kid you went to school with. Kids feared them, maybe even you did. Well imagine that plus the fact that no one had ever even heard of a Pagan. If you were raised Christian I am sure you were never questioned about your religion. Imagine trying to explain why you weren't at school on May 1st, or the other 7 sabbats, when you are a child. It's not so easy's not fun. Your religion, at that point, becomes some sort of embarrassment. Something that segregates you and makes you weird. There are times, when I was not proud to be Pagan.

I transferred to a Christian high school in 8th grade. Yeah. Can you fucking believe that? I was being bullied at my former school. Pushed down stairs, spat on. So my family (my mother, grandma and grandpa) figured private school would be best. I am blessed that my grandparents paid for that opportunity or I could have never gone. Here, I had to completely hide the fact that I was pagan. Even the kids who had become my best friends, I never told, or I would have been removed from the school. I also had to hide my sexuality because I would have been removed for that as well. Here I was seen as some sort of freak. We were extremely poor. I'm not talking we had to buy our clothes at the dime store poor. I'm talking dirt floors, no washer or dryer, no water heater poor. While that mattered in my last school it REALLY mattered here in this private school filled with the kids of doctors and lawyers. Also, coming from public school I knew about all sorts of things that these kids had never even heard of, like drugs and sex. My senior year, at age 16, I was holding a sex ed class in the girls locker room once a week for the 19 year old girls in my class. These girls did not even know basic anatomy or how the act of sex physically took place, as in what went where-at 19! They were leaving for college for fucks sake and I was terrified they would be raped or get pregnant as soon as they got there. This, I saw, as a huge fault in being raised Christian. I did not like the way these kids were terrified and into not doing certain things but were never really taught about why not to do them other than "because the bible says so".

So I was this weirdo that didn't pray in chapel, or sing their songs (we had chapel every Tuesday for 3 hours), or pray in the morning or before meals. I lived too far away (45 minutes) to ever have anyone over, plus I was embarrassed of the 30 year old trailer we lived in at that time. I knew far too much about sex and drugs and the "secular" world  in their eyes. It's funny; while every one wanted to ask me questions about sex, they called me a whore behind my back for knowing the answers...because that's what Jesus would do, you know.

So, this brings me to another question I often get. "How do you raise your children?" I am married to a man who is agnostic and extremely respectful of my beliefs. He is proud that I am so self sufficient. I know how to grow our food, forage for food, make our soap, make our candles, grow herbs and make our medicine from them, raise animals, and more. These are the things I will be teaching my children-not necessarily about the beliefs of our family. Being raised pagan, I was given a choice. I could CHOOSE if I wanted to be pagan and participate in rituals and such. This is not common for organized religions. I have seen families abandon their children for choosing to be Pagan over their Christian upbringing-some of these were my own students. It is heart breaking and mind boggling.

You may think "Why wouldn't you raise your kids as Pagan, it's so great!". It's not. It's great for ME and great for YOU. It may not be great for my kids. I don't know yet, and neither do they because they are 3 and 4 years old-there is no place for religion in their lives. Just as I believe it is wrong to raise a child as Christian, I believe it is wrong to raise a child Pagan. Children should be having fun, not worrying about communing with deities. It's far too heavy and complex of a subject for a child's mind to understand. They don't understand it and it causes fear, anxiety, and guilt over things they can not comprehend but feel they are supposed to.

Now, being raised Pagan and from a Pagan culture, it is my CULTURE to make herbal medicines, to make protection amulets, to make candles, and make oils-as my ancestors have done for thousands of years. This is where my religion overlaps with my culture. I view these things as life skills, self sufficiency, and it doesn't hurt anyone to know how to do them. In fact it makes you stronger and more likely to survive in this world.

I do not keep my religion from my children. I practice around them daily, I have my shop, I do readings, we celebrate the sabbats-but I will never make them participate. Honestly, I don't even hope they will choose Paganism because I hope they will choose what makes them happy. I hope they choose to honor their culture in whatever path they choose-which may be no "path" at all. Would I be disappointed if at 23 my daughter tells me she is a satanist? Maybe a little, because I do not find it to be a religion based on much reason or compassion. Would I disown her? Never. Would I chastise, ask her to change, or belittle her choice? Never. She's an adult, it's her choice and if there is one thing I want for my children it is freedom. For me, freedom is one of the most beautiful parts of being raised Pagan.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Doesn't Jesus Hate Pagans?

How can you work with the saints, who are all Christian when you are Pagan? Don't they hate us? Wouldn't they hate what we are doing? After all, witchcraft it against the bible...right?

I used to get these questions quite a lot...a lot of times, from myself. Before I truly embraced my multi-cultural background, I was a bit confused. Don't Pagans hate Christians? Because I know Christians hate Pagans...the bible tells me so. So, how can I be raised Pagan but named after Jesus and Mary Magdalene's daughter?! Because the bible left that part out, and the bible is what most people go by... and twist to suit their own agendas.

I believed I should hate Christians because they hated me and because other Pagans I "knew" hated Christians. I never did, I am incapable of hate. And there were many a workshop I did and many a Pagan parade I joined in where there were Christian fundamentalists protesting us with their awful signs. Screaming at us that we ate babies and throwing food at us. If I hated them, then I WAS them. I would be exactly what I loathed-an intolerant, small minded, asshole. 

"Love your neighbor, but who is your neighbor. Your neighbor is the one who is sent to you from the Divine. Your neighbor can be one who is a total stranger to you from afar. Your neighbor can be someone living close to you. But what is true is that your neighbor is one of the Light who needs your support as much as you need his."

I couldn't be that. I also could not deny my heritage which is a mixture of Jewish, Middle Eastern, Black, White and God only know what else...literally. While all cultures began as polytheistic I can acknowledge and love the fact that we evolve. Religions evolve, people evolve. Some are better for it, some worse, but I can appreciate the cycle just as I appreciate that there is a cycle in everything. I love the layering of cultures and traditions, and that's all religion really is.

The facts-at least what SHOULD be the facts; 
Pagans are polytheistic and while there are pagans out there who are completely against Jesus, Pagans also hold the belief that each religion is correct for it's adherents. Meaning we believe there is more than one path to God-not just ours. We embrace all cultures and their beliefs and customs that are traditional to their lands. 

Let's get this out of the way now; God is like an ocean and there are many, many ways to get to the ocean.

So if you are able to understand how a Pagan can worship Jesus and the saints, depends on how you view Jesus. I believe his mother was Sophia, Hebrew Goddess of wisdom, and that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child, Sarah. Most Christians don't believe in this Jesus, that's kind of where the problem lies between the Pagans and Christians. All early civilizations and cultures were polytheistic, even the Hebrews and Mesopotamian of which Jesus is a descendant. This is the Jesus I know and the Jesus I know loves everyone, even us crazy hoodoo workin'  Pagans. I believe in a Gnostic Jesus and I believe this is the truest view of him.

Once you work with saints and spirits you will find that HUMANS are the only one's saying they would hate Pagans or witches. The bible says that-which was written by humans not God and not Jesus. Look at Mother Theresa who only teaches love, giving, and helping those less fortunate. I admire and honor her, does she look down from heaven and not acknowledge me because I am not Christian? No. Because I strive to practice what she teaches. The path doesn't matter, how you live does. No saint, god or spirit cares what religion you call yourself, it's how you serve your fellow humans and that you strive to be pure of heart that matters. Spirits and souls at that level could not care less what path you follow-there are far more important things than a name we have chosen to identify and segregate our beliefs.

"Knowledge and ritual without compassion is empty."

If you read the words of Jesus, his teachings, you will find he only preaches love, tolerance, giving, and compassion. Pagans strive to live the same way. We all strive to be Christ like, and Buddha like, and Mohammed like, which were all great teachers.

No one will ever convince me that Jesus and the saints do not love me. And if I came to find that they did not, I would still love them and live my life the same way. 

My multi-cultural background has taught me to love without reciprocation. I have learned to embrace what I do not immediately understand. I have learned to trust the instincts my ancestors have provided me to guide me down my path, for they were already there once. Most importantly I have learned that the divine is within me-God is within us all-and NO God hates me.

"The kingdom of God is within you."