Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Seeking a Magical Education

If you are interested in learning how to do this work for yourself, you can either study independently or with a teacher. I am an excellent teacher — having been a professional educator (high school English and theatre teacher and a public speaker within the witchcraft community) for many years. But I am not the only teacher available to you, and I think all prospective students ought to know what to look for.

Wherever you study, your education should include:

1. Grounding and Centering — The magician is the center of her own Universe, and from a place of balance she can control the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.

2. Sensing, Raising, and Moving Energy — The magician should be able to sense, generate, and control the flow of the energies listed above.

3. Shielding — You don’t want to be bombarded or bothered by these energies, so you must know how to shield from them.

4. Invoking and Evoking — All effective magicians must know how to call energy and spirits into their presence and into their bodies to accomplish their work.

5. Banishing — If you call it, you need to know how to get rid of it. Whether you prefer sage smudge or the Star Ruby (a ceremonial banishing using ancient Greek language), you must be able to rid yourself of unwanted Spirits.

6. Laws of Magic — A sorceress can’t function properly without a basic understanding of the way magic works.

7. Psychism, Divination, and Spirit Communication — This will give you some tools to communicate with the Unseen World of Spirits.

8. Ethics — You must know where your ethical boundaries are.

I think it's worth noting that the above list is only aimed at the "science" of magick/Craft. I've left religion and faith out of this particular list, but that might not be the way you prefer to learn your magick. You might want the rich symbolic heritage and potent mysticism of a particular religious tradition to inform your magick. If you study with me, we can work that in. (It's how I work best, too.)

I recommend the following texts for close study as you begin:
Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig
The Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession, and Divine Relationships by Diana Paxson
The Witches' Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery by Laurelei Black

Monday, June 18, 2018

Basic Banishing and Psychic Hygeine

I know that we are going to have more in-depth posts on topics of banishing and psychic hygiene, but I couldn't resist posting this brief intro right away. Maintaining your psychic and energetic health is one of the most important aspects of spiritual work and spirit keeping. Without a basic knowledge of how to get rid of "psychic sludge" you will find yourself dealing with physical, mental, and emotional trouble.

The mental, physical, emotional, and energetic "bodies" of a person are all connected to each other. Furthermore, they all need regular maintenance, activity, and care to stay healthy. Most people know this is true of the mind, the body, and the emotions; but many people don't know they even HAVE an energetic body -- and have no idea how to care for it.

Banishing is a basic technique of psychic hygiene. To BANISH something is to make it leave. I feel it is important to know how to banish before you ever call a spirit or energy to you. You wouldn't let someone in your house without knowing you can get them to leave. Some guests, like some spirits, will leave on their own at the end of a visit. Others need to be told politely that the time is up. And some folks have to be told (forcibly) to GO.

There are a few different ways to handle this. I would highly recommend performing a banishing. It could be something as complicated as the Star Ruby or Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Or you could banish the entity by proclaiming "Get out" while focusing on the intruder. I like something a little in between. You can say/chant the following Greek words:

Hekas, o hekas, este bebeloi.

It translates to "Afar, afar, o ye Profane." So, really, it is saying "Get out, bad spirit." But in Greek. ;) I like it because it links into that energy-connected part of the brain, and it makes a very nice chant.

Whatever you say, say it with meaning and conviction. And picture the spirit/energy being forced away.

You can also use physical items to banish. Florida Water or some other very floral perfumed water can be sprinkled around you and your home. You can cleanse yourself with salt-water -- including swishing some in your mouth. You can smudge with sage or cedar bundles -- or burn an incense stick that has a clearing effect.

All of these techniques should work wonders. You may have to "banish, rinse, repeat", as I like to say. Banishing is like sweeping the floors. Dust and schmutz can come back, and you have to sweep again.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dusting Off Some Gems

Almost three years ago, I asked for readers and clients to pardon the dust around Blade & Broom;s online presence while I got some things sorted out. So much has changed since then! My then-poly-partner and I divorced, my other poly partner and I moved to Louisville, I took a day job doing AMAZING work that I loved, I wrote and published about 500 Book of Shadows pages, my daughter graduated from high school, my son started high school, my (now one-and-only) partner and I got married, and now, that amazing day job fallen away so that I can focus once again on my Craft, my writing, my coaching, and even my own education.

In all that shuffle, my website sat by the way-side. I focused on the BoS pages in the Etsy shop, and that was plenty to be doing. Sadly, though, the old Blade & Broom blog is gone. So, I am dusting off some of the posts I wrote from 2014-2015, and I am re-posting them here.

Fresh brand new content is coming, too! My practice has been very rich these last few years, and I can't wait to share thoughts with like-minded peers and students.

Let me know if there is something you're curious about and would like to see! I love to stay topical.

Conjure and the Witch

I am a Witch. I have been interested and involved in the occult since I was about 11 years old, and I began my official training when I was 21. I'm 42 now, so half my life has been dedicated to magic and the Craft. If you met me "out and about" and asked me to describe my spiritual path, the short answer would be "American Folkloric Witchcraft." The long answer would also include Aphrodite, the Ordo Templi Orientis, rootwork/conjure, Druidry, Goddess studies, and more. The part of the long answer that I find most tricky (and at the same time, easiest to align to the Craft) is what is called Conjure or Rootwork.

Generally, "conjure" and "rootwork" and "hoodoo" all refer to African American magical traditions. The philosophies and practices behind them came from West Africa to the West Indies and Americas via the slave trade. Here in the US, those traditions have not only held on, but they have flourished in areas like the Gulf Coast (particularly New Orleans). Indeed, African American folk magic is kind of a unique and separate thing from its predecessors.

In 2008, (my now ex-wife) Natalie and I founded what we came to call the American Folkloric Witchcraft tradition. You can read about the tradition on the AFW blog. AFW began as an American expression of British Traditional Craft -- the stuff taught by Robert Cochrane and the Clan of Tubal Cain, not Gardner's witchcraft. We dug deep into Cochrane's writings, particularly the correspondence between Cochrane and Joe Wilson, who went on to found 1734 (another American witchcraft tradition). We also pulled deeply from the Arthurian legends, recognizing in them a mythopoetic pattern that speaks to the magical mind on a deep level. She and I had already done quite a lot of study of what some call "woodcut witchcraft" or "Sabbatic Craft" as depicted in medieval woodcuts and witchcraft trial records.

All of these roots of the AFW tradition were very European, as you can see. That was fine by us. As very, very white (and I mean, the type of white that spontaneously combusts in the noon-day sun) American girls, we have a lot of Northern European heritage. She was largely Scottish and German. I'm mainly Dutch-German with healthy doses of Irish and English.

So, what makes AFW "American"? Well, there are several things, actually. One is that we made a decision early on to work with the spirits and energies of the North American continent. We encourage AFW witches all over the country to get to know the land spirits, local legends, and regional flora and fauna of their locales. This is a big country. A damned big country, in fact. Florida feels (and smells and sounds) different than Indiana or Oklahoma or New Hampshire or Oregon. Those differences impact your magic, and we let the American (particularly the Hoosier, since we lived in Indiana at the time) landscape and history influence our magical choices.

We also opened ourselves up to the nuances of Native American traditions. Like many Americans, our family trees include roots that are very firmly planted in American soil. There are a few subtle ways in which AFW is informed by Native American traditions. We do a fair bit of shamanic work in our private coven work, though we haven't written much about these aspects publicly yet. Some of that work is drawn from European traditions, and some is drawn from indigenous traditions.

Mountain magic -- particularly Appalachian and Ozark -- is also a major influence in our practical Crafting and general worldview. This is actually a fascinating area of study for me right now, since my family has been in and near the Ozarks for the last 5 or 6 generations. Until I started actively reading about it, I hadn't realized how many of the superstitions and folk-ways of the Ozarks are deeply ingrained in the way I see the world. (Her family is more Appalachian, and we both live closer to Appalachia, where those folkways seep into our individiual and collective practices.)

We also saw and were open to African- and Latin American magical influences. We may not have any (or much) biological connection to these traditions, but they are undeniably part of the fabric of American folkloric magic. Indeed, Hoodoo, Voudon (particularly the New Orleans variety, which has been my greatest exposure), etc are some of the strongest and most uniquely American types of magic around. 

For myself, rootwork and Hoodoo practices (and also Voudon, to some extent)  started showing up in my magical workings in a very organic and Spirit-led way. Maman Brigitte has always been a part of my Craft life (originally as Brighid, the spiritual Mother into whose lap I threw myself for comfort and guidance as a young Witch), and when she told me (as Maman) that she "had my head", I wasn't entirely shocked. My first beloved Goddess had been brought to the "New World" by indentured servants, who shared her magick and power with the slaves they labored alongside, eventually becoming a beloved lwa (and finding her way back to me through that guise, as well). Also, my familiar S informed me early that she is a Ghede (in addition to being known to the writers of the Goetia as a demon and showing up to John Dee and Charles Kelley as an angel whose name shows up in the Enochian tablets). My daughter's familiar is a simbi, and he has taught both of us so much!

One of the clearest messages that has come through is that magic is color-blind. Magic is there and available to anyone who is willing to listen to the Spirits and do the work. Conjure and witchcraft aren't two separate things. They are the same. The flavors may be a little different, but the goals and folk-ways are surprisingly similar. Use what you have. Do what you must. Help yourself and your kin.

America is the great Salad Bowl, with lots of different colors and textures and flavors. American magic is equally as colorful and diverse. The adept American Witch knows which flavors work well together, knows how to use every bit and scrap, knows which piece will pack the biggest punch at a given time.

Which folk traditions influence your magic? Do you feel more comfortable working with just one system, or do you blend several?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pardon Our Dust

It's time for a blog and website reboot!

Blade & Broom Botanica has been  on the Internet since 2008, and we've been actively selling on Etsy, Artfire, Bonanza, and IndieMade since 2011.

We're taking a big leap into our future with the launch of our own website! We'll still be selling on Etsy (for the foreseeable future), but we want to be as independent as we possibly can be.

We've loved Etsy, and we owe a lot to the handmade marketplace for the success of our botanica. Sadly, though, Etsy isn't a great venue for all of our excellent products and services; and we've witnessed too many shops like ours being closed without warning. That's just not a risk we're willing to take.

It's going to take us a little time to get our website completely ready for business, but we hope you'll bookmark us and check back often. Our homepage will offer specials, and we're going to be posting lots of great witchy tips and tutorials here on the blog.

Subscribe right now so you can be sure not to miss what's new with us all along the way!
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