I've been taking a break from social media and online plugging to turn more inward and work on developing Open Coven. However I did want to share some thoughts I had today that got me excited to do with magick, flow and creativity. I enjoy the vlog format more than I thought I would so who knows? Maybe it will become a regular thing!
New moons. We can rely on them to give us the opportunity for a do over, to close the book on the pointless habit or the rotting resentment. These days witches and the like to refer to it as ‘what no longer serves you’ which in my opinion is vague and unhelpful. We can’t always identify whether it serves us now or never did, never will or perhaps it did but not in a way that is healthy. Given the trickiness of witchcraft, I prefer to be as direct as I can whenever possible though I know that is quite a challenge.
This new moon comes on the heels of Beltane, a time full of fertility and love. Traditionally a time of hand fasting I offer to you an opportunity at this new moon, full of promise of new beginnings, to hand fast to yourself. We must always be the first person to offer ourselves love and commitment. With this should come truth and clarity about those things we should discard. Use and adapt this ritual to your own needs by all means, but never be afraid of specificity. It is what keeps us honest.
You will need:
Begin by cleansing yourself and your space in either your preferred way or with incense smoke.
Cleanse your space and lay out your tools and materials.
Breathe deeply. Ground yourself by imagining a you spine growing into a tree trunk. Visualize the trunk of this tree plunging into the earth.
Now think about yourself. How precious you are, how your body is the perfect vessel for your voyage through life. Take your time sitting alone with yourself, enjoying your own company.
Open your eyes. Take your pen or pencil and put your non-writing hand flat on your paper. Draw around it.
Now come up with some vows to yourself as if you were writing them for a wedding. These vows are to yourself. How you want to write these are up to you, beginning with ”I promise…” is one suggestion. Come up with at least five vows - one for each finger. When you are ready, write them either alone each finger, or at the tip or anywhere you choose.
Here are some vows I made to myself:
“I promise to nourish your body with good food and restful sleep.”
“I promise to fight the negative self-talk that looms always.”
After writing your vows, embellish your page/paper however you like. Use this embellishment as a way of setting your intentions.
Sit and read your vows over, say them to yourself. Hold them to your heart. You are the source and the return. End by saying “So Mote It Be” or an equivalent phrase of your choosing.
Open your circle. Congratulations on the love you have shown to yourself.
At the weekend I talked to my parents in the UK. We discussed our dismay at the attempted deportation of individuals in the UK who came over from the Caribbean in the sixties to live and work in the UK. They were humiliated and terrified and made to feel like outsiders after over forty years of living and working the UK - a country that had originally colonized and enslaved their ancestors in what was called the "West Indies". We talked about the ICE raids happening here in my neck of the mountains and how one brave young woman asked the sheriff to please not destroy her family and his response was that he was simply following the law.
Why am I writing about this? Why should you care? Because at one time, those raids were for witches. Those men were following the law too. Women were persecuted and murdered. In some places witches are still persecuted and murdered.
As I chatted with my father who had been a minister in the Church of England for forty years. An altruistic man with a long history of social justice work and community organizing, he confessed that he felt he had contributed to a damaging patriarchal structure. I said to him "Why do you think I became a pagan?"
Why am I writing about this? Why should you care? Because I need to be honest with you and, to quote Syliva Plath, "let the wind blow in more roughly". True, Open Coven is about unleashing your creativity as a witch and/or occultist and in so doing reclaiming the power we all have.
Now what do we do with that power?
This month I ask you to choose your cause and put your magick and your life towards that cause. You commitment can be small and often small is more effective. We do not exist in a vacuum and whether you believe in the wiccan rede that anything you send out comes back threefold, whether you believe in karma or you simply believe in kindness we have to agree that we are all connected.
I want to share an organization that I love and am proud to support: Southerners on New Ground. To quote their vision: "SONG envisions a sustainable South that embodies the best of its freedom traditions and works towards the transformation of our economic, social, spiritual, and political relationships. We envision a multi-issue southern justice movement that unites us across class, age, race, ability, gender, immigration status, and sexuality; a movement in which LGBTQ people – poor and working class, immigrant, people of color, rural – take our rightful place as leaders shaping our region’s legacy and future. We are committed to restoring a way of being that recognizes our collective humanity and dependence on the Earth."
Sound good? Perhaps consider donating to them, every bit helps.
So Mote it Be.
The short answer to this question really is: that's up to you. What I will do however, is talk about what it means to me and how I try and guide people through my workshops and courses.
Using art in spell work and ritual has a long heritage. Often we think of chanting, music or dance as a way of opening hidden portals but visual art can do this too. There are many artists who explicitly used art as an occult practice, such as Hilma Af Klint or Marjorie Cameron. Today there is a growing number of performance artists that are exploring the relationship between esotericism and creativity. Even artists who would never consider themselves to be part of the occult have discussed the spiritual and transformative nature of creating art. I have experienced profound change through using art in my craft and I believe it has made me a more effective witch (whatever effective means!).
While art witches use different techniques and media, I like to recommend when people get started that they begin with art journaling. Art journaling is using art techniques to record time, experiences, thoughts and more in a book. Your work may be literal, pictorial, abstract, whatever you want it to be. Google the term "art journaling" and you'll find a plethora of styles and indeed your own style may change depending on the project. Magickal art journaling is a method of accessing your inner self (where magick resides) through the conduit of art process. The practice can be a random exploration of the psyche through spontaneous actions, or it can be more considered - as part of ritual or spellwork.
Witches can benefit hugely from art journaling as a means of finding the unique intuitive voice that we all possess. The esthetics are not important here, your goal is to go on a journey. From here your intuition takes over. Whether your work is realistic or not, choices are being made by something other than your conscious mind. This is the sweet spot, this is where we find our spirit and soul. This is where I discovered that everything I need or seek is within me.
You need very little to get started with magickal art journaling. A book to work in and some pens are a great start. If you are not feeling inspired or don't know where to begin, I recommend you sign up for my mini-course "Introduction to Magickal Art Journaling".
It seems rarer and rarer that I get to play and practice. But I did this week. After a little time the room was littered with drying experiments. I worked fast and even as I worked I questioned why I couldn’t slow down. I was running. Trying to outrun the doubt and negative self-talk that creeps in and wakes me up at night, that freezes my hand sometimes.
The pieces were messy and bright and even bloody looking. A purging. Sometimes the practice is smooth, other times it’s a little desperate. After I'm done I like to put them away and go back days later and perform a kind of divination, seeing in the images and colors messages.
This is a really fun technique and requires little to no artistic skill! Experiment with different designs such as sigils, runes, zodiac signs etc.
Register for my online course Magickal Art Journaling for more projects, demos and rituals.