I consider it something of a gift that I wandered away from my witch path, to return twenty years later. That break in continuity, along with lessons I have learned along the way allowed me to see something I had not before.
When I first became a witch, the internet was a very different beast. I had a website about witchcraft then, but it was a rare thing and as such was popular with pagans desperate to be acknowledged and welcomed. There was no social network.
Now I find witches, brujas, wizards etc everywhere of every persuasion and description. The beautiful thing about witchcraft is that it is the very essence of creativity and as such, we witches are free to define that however we choose.
But there is also something troubling in the witchcraft community that I see now: the desire by some to share how they are hereditary witches. While I think heritage is important, especially if your heritage has been disregarded for too long, there is nothing that makes one witch more valid than another. Add to this the idea of initiation. Initiation again, does not make one person more of a witch than another. High priestesses, initiation etc. are great if you are into it, let’s not forget however that these usually come from wicca, a very specific type of witchcraft promoted by a white British male.
I was drawn to witchcraft as someone who sees danger in hierarchical structures and felt that witchcraft is ultimately an expression of freedom and free will. I don’t need any other human being to approve or applaud what I am doing. I also don’t need to claim some kind of fictional, exclusive rights to the moniker. It is not within my interest to discourage anyone.
If you have someone identifying as a witch who wants to scare you by claiming this is dangerous unless you really know what you’re doing, then they, in my humble opinion are doing this because:
“I am a witch”.
Welcome my fellow magick maker. Welcome. Everything else is now your choice.
This is the second excerpt from the course "Introduction to Magickal Art Journaling". Here, we discuss the advantages of using a journal to develop our magickal practice.
If art magick is such a powerful activity, why don’t we just go big and make a painting? Sculpt something?
Here’s why - perfection. Perfection is quite the poisoned chalice. We aspire to it and we resent it. Art and perfection have become so tangled together and that if we mere mortals try to be Da Vinci, we fail, get discouraged and give up saying “I just don’t have the talent.”
Art journaling gives us permission to avoid this. We need to focus on process, it’s the only way. We need to get our hands dirty, smell the paint, rip pages, allow the goddess to guide our hand.
For magick to be effective we have to do it, to do it we have to love it, to crave it and the same goes for art-making.
There is another more practical benefit to art journaling - it is easy to conceal what you are doing. Some of us cannot be open about our witchcraft or magickal work. Telling a housemate or family member you are going off to work on your journal is can be easier than saying you are going off to cast a spell or commune with the goddess.
An art journal is for no one but you and there is no right or wrong way to approach it. There is only your way.
This is the first in a series of excerpts from my online class "Introduction to Magickal Art Journaling". In this first part we talk about magick.
What is Magick?
Magick for me is becoming fully awake. So much of life seems to be made up of distractions, ways of removing oneself from the present moment. Feelings are wrong, vulnerability is embarrassing and authenticity suspicious. To be alone is to be lonely or sad. Where does this leave us? Hunting but not experiencing, looking towards the horizon but not seeing the sand beneath our feet.
While I became a witch in my late teens, I abandoned that path a few years later after a death that left me confused and angry. Magick wasn’t real anymore except when I went to art galleries and these became sacred places to me. I did not understand my feelings as I sat surrounded by paintings and sculptures, at that time I didn’t make art myself and certainly never thought I would. The magick was always there. I had simply gone to sleep.
It was only when I came to Asheville that I started to wake up as I returned to my witchy roots as well as finding the confidence to make art. The two together were, and continue to be, a potent mix.
Magick for me is to be alone within myself and at the same time knowing I am part of something interconnected. It is the sense that energy is all. It is trusting intuition and the subconscious, because that is where we can find our path to the goddess who is everything.
Spellwork then is finding agency in our own lives through magick, looking to ourselves and seeing that all we need is within us to make a change. True there are many who practice magick that has influence over others but we have to start with ourselves and the goddess within us.
If this all reads like something of a riddle that’s because it sort of is. In many ways it is a hard thing to verbalize and that is essentially what this whole course is all about. We can talk about these things, but there is no substitute for doing.
There are no right or wrong ways to be a witch, but that doesn’t necessarily make things easier. Developing a practice takes time and space. This a personal list of the things I do (or try to do) that have made a difference in my spirituality and path as a witch.
Get Up Early
It’s hard to do, but I have found the time before anyone else is up, beneficial. I use this time to think, do a little yoga and perform a small ritual. All of this takes less time than you might think. Sometimes I just sit and look out of the window and watch the sky change or the moon set. This is a very sweet time and I have received some powerful messages simply looking into the dawn sky.
Yoga is a form of magic. Before it became a health craze it was part of a sacred set of beliefs and systems. I love yoga, it is a time of devotion and I cherish it. The focus on the body and mind in a holistic context has done wonders for my sense of sacredness. If you choose to do a yoga class, try to find one that has respect for the philosophies of yoga as well as the physical aspects.
Meet with other witches
So many of us are alone in our witchcraft, either by choice or circumstance. However I am full of gratitude for my fellow witch friends. They motivate and guide me, their nurturing has been vital. All witches can end up in a rut and meeting others can help with this as we learn from each other. And how can one pass up a chance to geek out with others who share your love of the esoteric?
It should come as no surprise that I journal, given the theme of this site. My journal is a mix of art and writing. This is where I am able to access my inner voice most efficiently.
I try and meditate everyday. It’s a sort of spiritual training. Clearing one’s head, sitting in the now. People like to talk about "holding space" these days. I prefer to call it pausing for yourself. Try it during a lunch break or for a few minutes in your car before you go into work. I like to use a meditation app such as Insight Timer, to help me.
Notice the Moon
Just look up as often as you can when she’s out. Give her a nod, journal how you feel at different phases of the moon. Keep her in your heart.
Have an Altar
These can be hidden or on plain view. However you arrange it, try to have it somewhere you will notice it a great deal throughout your day (even it is hidden). Can’t be open about your path? Even a potted plant with a meaningful picture can suffice. Pinterest is full of novel ways of creating an altar. In my own life I have one in my office at work, one in my bedroom, one in the space where I do my rituals and one in a small box in my bathroom. Each one has different items depending on the purpose.
If you can do nothing else, find time to be in nature. Feel its rhythms, pick a particular place in a park or garden and visit it regularly. Notice how it changes not just through the seasons but with the weather, the moon phases and YOUR moods. Over time, this will be a balm that soothes you.
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When finding myself in a rut with my practice, I find a few witchy quotes always get the juices flowing. Ideally I would be spending time reading, ruminating and exploring my path through ritual and spells. That would be great, but I also have a full time job, a family, a fledgling business. Honestly, it's more common once I have time to myself that I collapse on my bed and fall asleep with the tv on in the background and a stack of unopened books beside me.
So let's not be so hard on ourselves. When all you have energy for is putting on your pajamas, these quotes will be little talismans that help keep you anchored.
When you make art, every choice, every movement, every stroke has meaning. Mistakes don't exist, perfection is exposed as the chimera that it truly is. These pages are crinkly from the water I used to bleed the colors. The pages also have a pleasant smell because the collaged items came from a fashion magazine that had perfume samples. Looking at the page I see that I am often drawn to the same palette and patterns. These are messages. Each circle was not carefully chosen but they all have a vitality and meaning. When you make art, you are multi-lingual and the conversations you are having are with your deeper self and the goddess.
I have learned so much from designing this course. The process has been intense and rewarding and I can't wait to launch it! I know from past experience that I tend to run before I can walk, so I have been extra-cautious in this endeavor to ensure that this course is the best that I can make it. As an adult education specialist I wanted to make sure that this was truly a course where participants would feel they were growing in their sense of creativity and spirituality. This course is not simply a suite of videos, but a carefully designed experience that nurtures you through developing your magickal self. I do this through short videos, articles and multiple opportunities to interact with me and other people doing the course. In addition you will receive printables of activities and rituals that are yours to keep. In addition you will be invited to join a private online community where you can share your work, ask questions and meet others. You will receive an invitation to join this community once you have registered.
The course launches on April 27th but you can register now.
The course will take you through demos, rituals, spellwork and activities to develop your sense of power and magick while using simple art techniques.
Check out this video excerpt from the course where I explain more about what magickal art journaling is.
Creativity is not a reservoir of clear water that we dip into whenever the fancy takes us and come out with a perfect draft of hydration every time. It is not a spring that miraculously erupts when we least expect with no effort on our part. It seems like that to those of use who watch artists create, what we do not see is the work and practice that goes into that art.
For every piece I happily share, there is a stack of discarded ones. But that's ok. I learned from every splatter, every miss-drawn line. We have to just keep going. Often being given a starting point will help grease those creativity cogs.
For the month of April, every Wednesday I will post a quote, along with some parameters that you can use as an art journal entry. Then you can share your results using #majchallenge on Twitter or Instagram.