Kansas City Witches Meetup Presents
Fall Equinox 2018
The Center Spiral
All thoughts and opinions expressed in any article in this publication are expressly those of the author and the author only. They do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of The Center Spiral Magazine and Staff.
Letter from the Editor
The Center Spiral STaff
From the STars
Turn of the Wheel
Fire Witch: grounding
by Catherine Boudreau
by Dennis "Doc" Cromwell
Songs of the Season
by Mike Nichols
with Marietta Williams
by K. Simmons
by S.P. Manning
In the Cards
The Apprentice Tarot
Gifts of Gaia
Grounding in the World Tree
by Emily Gabbert
Out of the Cauldron
Prosperity Cinnamon Rolls
Elderberry Cough Drops
How to Spot a toxic Pagan Leader
by Stella Webb
Spirits and Shadows
by Balder Bloodaxe
from the Urban Crone
Quotes from a Question
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Theme and Call for Content
Table of Contents
Cover Image: Emily Gabbert
Image Credit: Emily Gabbert
Letter from the Editor
An understanding of the elements is one of the most basic, foundational concepts when learning witchcraft. It is one of the first concepts we need to grasp because it permeates everything else. The elements play into astrology, the tarot, associations with stones, and herbs, and nearly every magical thing you can find. It is so easy to fit so many things into an element because they have an endless number of correspondences to expand their meaning beyond the basic idea of what they are.
So, we begin with Earth. Earth is the foundation, it is the solid ground we stand on, the fertile soil we sink our roots into, the planet on which we live and the place we call home. Earth is the beginning.
The first things most people will associate with earth are fertility, fecundity, prosperity and abundance. Those are certainly great associations for earth, but it can go so much deeper than that. If you only call on Earth when you want something to grow, you are missing out on the layers hidden beneath your feet.
Earth is where we find our history. That is in the literal layers beneath our feet. It is where we bury our ancestors and go to find their wisdom again. It is where we learn what was here before we came along, and what happened here in the eons past. Learning your history is a part of setting the foundation to build something solid and it applies to spirituality, career, relationships, family, yourself, and everything else in your life.
We are also taken into darkness through earth. It is representative of the two biggest transitional periods we all experience, birth and death. Humanity has long held caves to be sacred because it was likened to the womb of the earth, and often considered the entrance to the realm of the dead. That darkness inevitably leads to the growth, fertility, and prosperity we mentioned before, but you cannot have the one without the other.
Throughout this issue, you will find references to the dead, to ancestors, to underground. You will find references to prosperity and growth, and talk of some good foundational practices and books. I hope this is the beginning of a series that will build upon those foundations, and continue to refer back to them. A solid foundation is how to you begin to educate, so you can inspire growth, and connect to share your knowledge with others.
Laurie Sherman (Urban Crone) has over 30 years of experience in Tarot and divination, Urban Witchcraft, Multicultural Folk Magic and Eclectic Paganism. Recipient of the 2014 KCPPD Community Service Award, she has been a teacher and organizer for the Pagan community for a number of years, including her work with the KC Metaphysical Fair, Kansas City Pagan Pride Day, and has been the Organizer of the Kansas City Witches Meetup since 2012. Laurie Sherman is also a mixed medium and pyrographic artist, as well as a writer.
Marietta Williams is the writer behind Witchy Words: A Witchcraft Blog, a popular online witchcraft resource. Her blog reaches an audience millions strong each month, leading to partnerships with with Cratejoy, Plum Deluxe, and Sabbat Box, among others. She has utilized the Craft for nearly 20 years, identifying as a nontheistic witch with emphasis in spirit work, and has experience leading covens and public rituals. When not blogging, she works as a full-time professional caricaturist. Marietta resides in KCMO with her husband of 10 years, four familiars, and family parrot.
Kim Tarwater is a Christo-Pagan Witch, leads a local circle here in the Kansas City area, and is a Reiki Master Teacher in Seichim and Usui. She owns and operates Higher Vibrations Metaphysical Studio where she teaches, counsels, and give readings. She thrives on learning and experiencing all the magic this life has to offer, from cruising on her motorcycle while balancing her chakras to climbing the Qabala from Malkuth to Kether.
Mike Nichols is the author of The Witches' Sabbats and www.WitchesSabbats.com, both award-winning resources on Pagan holidays. Mike has been a featured speaker on National Public Radio, and local TV and radio programs. He taught classes in Witchcraft for twenty years continuously, beginning in 1970, and owned Kansas City's first occult bookstore, The Magick Lantern. A founding member of the Coven of New Gwynedd, Nichols was the first Wiccan representative on the Kansas City Interfaith Council.
The Center Spiral Staff
Audrey Hazzard has been practicing some form of witchcraft for over 20 years, and leading public and private rituals in the Kansas City area for the last 10. She's a tarot reader with a fondness for chaos magick, trance work, potions, farmer's markets, feminism, and vintage cookbooks. She blogs intermittently and travels whenever she can.
Emaleth Summer has been a practicing witch for more than 25 years. She is also a professional writer and editor with 11 years of experience in her field. Emaleth has several works in progress as well as a blog about witchcraft and eclectic paganism.
Please welcome our newest
Emily Gabbert has been a practicing witch and a follower of a Pagan path for nearly 20 years. She led a group for alternative religions at MU, and was tapped into a society recognizing women leaders for her efforts. She joined the Kansas City Pagan Community in 2013, and has been a co-organizer for the Kansas City Witches Meetup since 2016, receiving the KCPPD Community Service Award in 2017. She is a baker by trade with an interest in all kinds of arts and crafts, and sometimes she writes.
by Emily Gabbert
Sep 21 - Fall Equinox: Happy
Happy Birthday Libra!
Sep 24 - Full moon in Aries
Sep 30 - Pluto goes direct
Oct 5 - Venus retrograde
Oct 8 - New Moon in Libra
Draconids Meteor Shower
Oct 21 - Orionids Meteor
Oct 23 - Happy Birthday
Oct 24 - Full Moon in Taurus
Nov 5 - Taurids Meteor
Nov 6 - Uranus retrograde
Midterm Election Day!
Nov 7 - New Moon in Scorpio
Nov 17 - Leonids Meteor
Nov 16 - Venus goes direct
Nov 22 - Happy Birthday
Full Moon in Gemini
Nov 24 - Neptune goes direct
Dec 6 - Mercury goes direct
New Moon in Sagittarius
Dec 8 - Chiron goes direct
Dec 13 - Geminids Meteor
Dec 21 - Winter Solstice
Happy Birthday Capricorn!
Ursids Meteor Shower
Dec 22 - Full Moon in Cancer
From the Stars
Turn of the Wheel
The leaves are beginning to fall, the evening breeze is becoming cooler, and the nights are getting longer. Fall is upon us! For many, this is a favorite time of the year. You may have a multitude of plans for this season, especially around Samhain and Yule, but let’s not forget that often the simplest and most powerful times to work our magick is during the full moon.
Each month’s full moon lends itself to different types of magick depending on the season. There are also different types of magick that are best for the moon in different astrological signs. Use this reference to plan your full moon rites as the year comes to a close.
“Drink in the moon as though you might die of thirst.”
- Sanober Khan
by Emaleth Summer
image credit: Max Pixel
Colors - Dark Blue, Black, Purple
Herbs - Apple blossom, Rose, Mint
Stones - Obsidian, Amethyst, Tourmaline
Element - Air
October 24: Blood Moon
The October full moon is sometimes called the blood moon, vine moon, falling leaf moon, or hunter’s moon. This time of year is about honoring those people and things that have passed: The plants and animals that will sustain us through the winter and the ancestors who brought us into being and shaped the world in which we live.
It is a time to reflect on your goals for spiritual advancement, a time to look to and learn from ancestors and those who have passed from this life. The October full moon is perfect for scrying and dream work.
This month, the full moon is in Taurus. The moon in Taurus is perfect for magick having to do with lasting love, prosperity, or sensuality. During this full moon it would be appropriate to perform spells for money, security, love, business, self-esteem, endurance, patience, and fertility. It is also an appropriate time for bindings.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Rachel Winter
November 27: Dark Moon
The November full moon is also called the ivy moon, snow moon, or beaver moon. This time of year is all about final preparations for winter. It is a time to surround yourself with those things that will provide comfort and sustain you through the colder months.
This is a good full moon for looking back at your goals and seeing how you have progressed. It is also a time for letting go of the past and pushing forward into the future. The best type of magick for the November full moon is banishing spells.
The full moon this month is in Gemini. The moon in Gemini is good for magick surrounding memory or intelligence, travel, commerce, writing, and teaching or learning. It is also a good time for tool consecration. Gemini rules things of a dual nature and this moon can be used to bring forth the aspect of things that you most desire.
Colors - Gray, Blue
Herbs - Thistle, Fennel, Pepper, Betony
Stones - Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Topaz
Element - Water
December 22: Wolf Moon
The December full moon is also called the elder moon, the long night moon, the cold moon, or the oak moon. This is a time for gathering up the wherewithal to make it through the winter. It is a time for looking ahead to what may be in the year to come and beyond, a time to think about where we want life to take us from this point forward.
This is the perfect time to make goals for the next year, either as a whole or for the twelve individual months. It is also a time to volunteer or donate to the causes you find the most worthy. Any and all gemstone magick is completely appropriate for this full moon. Charging crystals or stones with energies to take you through the winter or meet your future goals is recommended.
December full moon is in Cancer. The moon in Cancer is a good time for magick surrounding hearth and home, as well as psychic gifts.
Spellwork for home, family, psychic abilities, divination, and past lives are all appropriate. This is also a good time to consecrate your altar, be initiated or establish a coven, or consecrate a high priestess.
Colors - Red, White, Black
Herbs - Ivy, Mistletoe, Cinnamon
Stones - Obsidian, Ruby, Serpentine
Element - Earth
Fire Witch: Grounding
It was warmer than usual on this late summer day, so Rebecca decided to wear a much shorter skirt than she normally preferred to try and stay cool as she walked barefoot down her favorite path in the woods. She pulled her hair back, with way more scrunchies than one might think possible, into a sort of non-ponytail. She had been very meticulous about keeping the path clear through the spring and summer so it would be accessible in the fall and throughout winter. The mid-thigh skirt and camisole top were fine without worrying about branches or thorns scratching her, and the lavender and peppermint oils she sprayed herself with would keep mosquitoes and ticks away.
She pushed the dysphoric thoughts that started to encroach on her as far back as she could and concentrated on the beauty of Mother Earth that currently surrounded her. The greens were still deep and rich, with only a very slight hint that fall was just around the corner. The stream was still babbling in the distance and the birds squawked at each other with excitement about things that were important only to other birds.
To her, a witch should always be seeking knowledge so she could grow in wisdom.
She paused several times along the way to smell the various flowers and touch the trees as she talked to them. Mother always gave her good advice. Smiling as she walked deeper into the woods to get to her meadow, she scoffed at the idea of being a Green Witch. Yes, she was a Capricorn, an Earth sign. Yes, she could feel the energy of the plants and animals. But there was so much more than just the earth-based Crafts. This young, technology driven generation had to put labels on everything. It was ridiculous, to her, to think that a witch could walk a singular path. To her, a witch should always be seeking knowledge so she could grow in wisdom. But, to each their own. She called herself eclectic and walked a solitary path for a reason.
She found herself watching a cottontail nibbling on some clover, then a three-toed box turtle as it slowly moved across the path. At the hammering sound, she looked up to see a pileated woodpecker diligently doing his thing in the upper canopy. She could feel the energy coming into her feet. Earthing. That's what this younger, computer based generation called walking barefoot, like it was some newly-discovered radical healing technique and hadn't been around for millennia. Witches were the first scientists, after all. Why parents stopped letting their children run around barefoot just baffled her. Kids are more sick today than ever, with shots they don't need and medicines given designed to kill the connection to all the magick in the world. Just let your kids be kids and run around barefoot. It would solve many of the worlds problems. Once again, she found herself pushing negativity away as she wiped tears out of her eyes.
She thought more about the magick that came from the earth. There were herbs that could make salves and potions for healing. There were magnetic pulses and currents for recharging and energizing the body. The earth gave us food and sustenance. Elegant in its simplicity, but so true and real.
Then she smiled as she entered the meadow. This was her favorite place for several reasons. Two of them pranced around the meadow while a third watched from a distance. Momma deer turned toward her as she entered the glade and, recognizing Rebecca, just went back to nibbling at the greenery as the two fawns played together.
There were magnetic pulses and currents for recharging and energizing the body.
Momma let Rebecca get just a little bit closer each time she was there. There was a certain amount of trust being built up, especially since she stopped bringing her camera. She didn't expect to ever be able to pet any of them. But she loved the fact that she was accepted by them the way she was.
She was really surprised the first time one of the fawns bleated at her having never heard a deer make a noise before. She was even more surprised when momma gave a quick grunt as if scolding the youngster for talking to strangers.
She sat on the ground and watched them for what seemed like only a few minutes but was actually hours. It was so easy to get absorbed in the moment. Between the deer frolicking away, the other wildlife coming and going, along with the earth's life energy flowing into her, she felt there was no way she could ever be happier.
As an Eclectic Witch, she was in touch with all the elements, but she always felt stronger energy from earth and fire. Rebecca closed her eyes, laid back and sprawled out in the tall grass, letting the reviving oscillations pulse through her body. It renewed her to the point of excitement.
When she slowly opened her eyes - who knows how much later - one of the fawns she called spot because of the large white mark on the right side of its body was standing over her. She reached out and put her hand on one of its legs. The fawn only hesitated a moment before it bolted away. She couldn't help but think to herself how amazing it was that she actually got to touch one of them.
Dusk was slowly approaching as she got up and made her way back to the path that took her out of the woods surrounding the meadow. She smiled to herself as she walked along. How could life possibly get any better than this.
by Catherine Boudreau
by Luna Motherowl
Know that there are no simple, unimportant questions, and none too off the wall. I can say that my answers will be honest to my truths, loving from my heart, and straightforward from my personality. I will reply to all email questions, and will choose a few questions & answers for publishing in each edition. Send all questions to email@example.com.
I am a new witch and have struggled with the whole garden thing. Not only do I not have the space for one, I live in an apartment, I also have a brown thumb!
So many spells and rituals include herbs and I would like to have some at my ready. There aren't any magic stores in my area so I am going to have to go online to purchase them. Any suggestions on this would help!
Dolly S. Thompson
There are some great online magic shops. I really adore The White Witch Parlor, but you will be paying for the packaging and cute details for any purchase through these small shops. I myself purchase any herbs that I don't or can't grow through Amazon. I recommend buying 8 or 16 oz at a time because you get a great price and you always have plenty of extra for tea mixtures and gifting. They also stay fresh for a great length of time. My two go-to companies are Davidson and Frontier. My purchases have always been of great quality and I am always satisfied.
Cernunnos is a god shrouded in deep mystery. He is often seen wearing animal skins in the forest with great horns or antlers. Though early Christianity erased much evidence on his origins or how Cernunnos was celebrated, we can piece together some through paintings, sculptures, pottery, and other forms of historical art. One of the first depictions was a 1st Century Gallo-Roman pillar called the “Pillar of the Boatmen.” On it, Cernunnos’ bust is presented with great ram horns. Above his head, his name, only partially visible, is proudly etched. Cernunnos is derived from the Gaelic and Old English word meaning “horned one” or “he who has horns.” As a horned deity, he is most known for being a god of the wild, the hunt, animals, forests, and fertility. He is also known for his role as a psychopomp; being capable of passing through realms, he will guide the dead to the afterlife.
Many illustrations of Cernunnos show him sitting, surrounded by animals and the forest, with a torc in one hand and a snake in the other. Snakes, being phallic in shape and design, give off a certain masculine energy, aiding in the thought that Cernunnos is a god of fertility. Torcs were a symbol of status worn around the neck of wealthy individuals. Cernunnos’ association with torcs seems to point towards his nobility.
Disciples of Cernunnos can find him amongst the untouched trees, deep in the wood. There, he makes his presence well known. It should be noted that Cernunnos is best affiliated with the summer solstice (Litha); however, Beltane is also appropriate. Offerings should include fresh fruits and vegetables - apples, peaches, and carrots, and scents of lavender, musk, cedar, and patchouli. There is a debate as to whether Cernunnos enjoys meat, due to his love of animals but also his love for the hunt. That decision is best left to the individual practitioner and their relationship with him.
Gods closely linked with Cernunnos include Pan, Herne, Ochosi, Gran Bwa, and Osain.
*Authors Note* Matters regarding Cernunnos rely heavily on interpretation from the practitioner. I have found tidbits of information regarding him throughout my studies, but, truly, the only way you are going to get to know him better, is by immersing yourself in nature and in his territory. Come bearing offerings and then sit in quiet contemplation or meditation. He will reveal himself, and his secrets, to you. However, if you are desperate for information, Wicca: Magical Deities by Lisa Chamberlain is a decent start. I am also partial towards Wikipedia and using its reference section
JFlynn is a novelist, artist, lover of nature, and mother to a beautiful blue-eyed boy. As a social service servant, she gives youth who have gotten into legal trouble much needed skills to become successful. She also teaches ESL to Chinese students part-time and volunteers for Kansas City Pet Project.
Image Credit: Gundestrup Cauldron
by Hekaterine Nox
Image Credit: Ivan Bilibin
Hekaterine Nox, known as “Black Kat”, is a Lushede tradition-initiated Witch with wordsmithing tendencies. Having found the Craft at 18 though a Southern California based Celtic Reconstructionist “church”, she travelled the path of the solitary for many years thereafter. Influenced by Athena and the Morrighan, she is a crafter of fabric and weaver of words with teaching tendencies.
When you conjure the image of the Earth Goddess, typically it’s a young woman, with a fertile womb and long flowing hair. However, what about the guise of the Goddess that is both equal parts creatrix and destroyer? Here is where the Baba Yaga resides.
In Slavic mythos, she is simultaneously a violent crone and a savior-like benefactor. Residing in the deep, dark woods, she sits on the roof of her house on thin, spindly chicken legs, her hair is thin and grey, and her nose crooked and quite longer than average. She’s constantly flying about in her mortar and pestle and is known to be a cannibal, threatening those who invade her home with being thrown into her huge oven and eaten.
She is most well known in Russian fairy tales for tricking then “rescuing” Vasilisa the Beautiful from her wicked step-mother and two plain, but vain, step-sisters. Those three women abuse Vasilisa relentlessly, sending her into woods where they knew the Baba Yaga would “eat her like a chicken”. But the Baba Yaga saves Vasilisa by tricking her into sorting the wheat from the rice. When Vasilisa completes her task, the Baba Yaga grudgingly gifts her with a skull lantern that explodes when she comes back to her step-mother and step-sisters, engulfing them in flames. Essentially, the Baba Yaga, by being a trickster, ultimately saves Vasilisa.
Many have only heard of her through old folk tales, and ask, how does she tie into contemporary witchcraft? She is called a feminist icon, because she knows her heart, but spreads fear and magnanimousness to people who seek her help. She has the benefit of living outside society’s structure and confines but has a mercurial and dangerous nature that refuses to be tamed. Her internal power isn’t confined by her beauty, and lives within the rejection of social standards. What an evident way to “smash the patriarchy” and be a strong symbol for the modern women.
For more reading:
“Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles” – Taisia Kitaiskaia
“Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales” – Sibelan Forrester
It peeked out from behind the bush. It was dusk and I was sitting on the deck cooling down after mowing grass on a hot and muggy Kansas City summer evening. I thought at first I was seeing things - after all, the gates to the backyard were closed. So how did a toddler get into the backyard and, more importantly, who was this person?
I walked to see who was hiding behind the bush only to find that no one was there.
I sat down again, keeping my eye on this area of the yard. Within two minutes, the toddler actually stepped out to reveal itself and slipped back behind the bush. Of course, I jumped up and ran to the bush only to find no one was there. As I walked back to the deck, however, I distinctly heard giggling emanating from the area of the bush.
That’s when it hit me: I had just been introduced to an elf, a nature spirit, who was living underneath my shrubbery.
In an instant, my entire viewpoint shifted. I had never believed in nature spirits and, in particular, elves. Ironically, I had always believed that plants and trees had consciousness; I would ask my bushes for permission before trimming them. Now I had to take into consideration the family living beneath them!
I had just been introduced to an elf, a nature spirit, who was living underneath my shrubbery.
And so this has now been added as part of my routine, asking the elves what they would like in exchange for "disturbing" their house. Generally, I hear grumbling and protests about doing the trimming, but a simple reminder that the neighbors will complain to the city who might require me to completely cut down the bushes often quells the argument. End of protests. It’s at that point that they usually want me to leave five or six small branches for them or, on occasion, a bright shiny penny or dime. When I offer the coins, I always push them into the ground with the top sticking out so I can find them later. Within a week or ten days, the coins are gone again, proof that my underground residents are still there. This last time however, they upped the ante asking specifically for red jasper and citrine. So, without hesitation, these stones were gratefully given and again, in less than a week, they were gone.
My relationship with the elves is one I cherish and protect. They actively take part in protecting my property when I am gone and I certainly make sure they have my respect and gratitude, be it in branches, coins, or something more.
by Dennis "Doc" Cromwell
When our celebrated editor-in-chief sent out the call to collect music for this issue's audio playlist, she invited contributions from our readers that would invoke the element of Earth, the central theme for this edition of The Center Spiral. And once again, our readers have responded with a playlist of dazzling diversity. There are songs that evoke the earth's powerful majesty, as well as its delicate beauty. Songs that awaken the social consciousness of people to protect the sacred ground beneath their feet, and songs that remind us that the earth was here before we were, and will be here long after we are gone.
That same solicitation noted that this issue covers the last three months of the year, and gently admonished "don't get too crazy with the holiday themes.” That's when things went off the rails. Because, ironically, the columnist of this section (yours truly) has been collecting Yuletide music his entire adult life and immediately flooded the playlist with some truly obscure holiday music. At this point, our beleaguered editor-in-chief did the only thing she could: Set up a separate Yuletide playlist and asked for more input. The result is a holiday playlist that we will maintain and add to as the years roll by.
We hope you enjoy both of these sonic treats and we thank you again for your amazing contributions!
Elements: Earth Playlist
by Mike Nichols
Songs of the Season
with Marietta Williams
How did you get started in your work?
As a child, I never saw art as a career path, but being hired at 14 to draw caricatures changed my entire life pursuit. Since 2004, I’ve worked as a full-time event artist, drawing a caricatured face in less than 3 minutes at everything from weddings and birthday parties to corporate and college events. Once I graduated college, I had the time to focus on my occult practices and decided to document it through my blog, Witchy Words. That exploded as an online resource for pagans and witches looking for a visual approach to the Craft and garners millions of views a month - a fact that continually shocks me.
Where do you pull inspiration from?
I have always been interested in the shape and fluidity of the human form. I spent my teenage years creating characters by emphasizing their differences and took figure drawing every semester in college. Caricaturing plays right into my base strengths, but it’s my job. While I enjoy the art form, I need a freer outlet. That’s where photography comes in. I’m able to merge my beliefs with my creativity, to document that moment when the mundane becomes the ethereal. My photography is intricately connected with my Craft and thus I cannot be hired for it. My caricatures are a service; my photography is spiritual.
What mediums do you work in and why?
The reality is that the art is in the artist, not the tools, so I use simple and inexpensive media. For caricatures, the Crayola marker is efficient at achieving varying line value quickly and cleanly on card stock. For my photography work, while I have an SLR and am proficient with a DSLR, I prefer a combination point-and-shoot for my work – specifically the Sony RX100 series. The Sony RX100 boasts a large BSI-CMOS Exmor sensor, meaning it can take higher detailed pictures in low-light settings than even some of its DSLR competitors. It’s small, quiet and easy to tote in ritual without being invasive.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Talent is simply an elevated interest plus intensive practice. Put in the time and effort and you’ll reap the rewards. This doesn’t always necessitate a degree; in fact, while I have a bachelor’s in my field, I certainly didn’t need it to do what I do. Finally, some simple advice: Always be on time, make them sign a contract, and never bend your ethics for a job.
Where do we go to find more of your work?
Blog and Photography: www.witchywords.com
The Sycamore by my Window
I wonder what my sycamore tree sees?
Does it see me, scurrying and hurrying at an impossible speed
Chittering and chattering, slower than the squirrels it hides and keeps
But faster than the ants that are running too fast to see
When the summer wind turns to autumn breeze
And it feels a lot like spring
Only instead of flowers, the trees will bloom
In orange, yellow, brown, red and green
Are the leaves on this tree their hair of feathers?
I’d like to think it’s much like birds, displaying and proclaiming for all to see
Calling out a mating call: “Hey! Over here! Sit a spell with me!
“I’m tall and strong and have dappled bark - Do you hear it? The wind and earth; they sing.”
with K. Simmons
K. Simmons is an eclectic Wiccan with a passion for gardening, cooking, and helping others. They have lived in Kansas City for 10 years.
A Poem for Winter
I’ve heard it say in winter
That snow is a blanket, to cover
All that’s dead and ugly
Or a veil, like the Earth is a bride
Awaiting the Sun’s warm kiss to help her life begin
Or even a quilt to swaddle the roots and seeds within
Until they’re ready to wake up.
For My Sister
I think you see beauty all wrong
It’s not your fault - you’ve been told, sold
And idea of beauty meant only to see
But never be a part of or experience or create, or make
I think you’ve been sold an idea, a mold
That you have to fit in, no matter the cost
But in trying for it, nothing is gained, only lost
But it’s you, your soul, that’s truly glorious to behold
You are beautiful like the fall, when you hug, like a warm sweater
You are beautiful like winter, especially when you’re resting
You are beautiful like spring, when you get excited for something new
You are beautiful like summer, with a loud laugh, as bright as the sun
Image Credit: Maxpixel
by S.P. Manning
My pilgrimage to the house was penance for not visiting it enough while Mother was still alive.
I remembered it bigger, fuller, warmer. The soft and familiar things had been boxed up and mostly taken away by my brother. He was the practical one, the sensible one, the one who took care of things. He had written off my avoidance of coming home as sentimentality, and didn’t understand when I wanted to see the house. It is barren and empty, he had said. There is nothing there, he had said. It is just a shell, he had said.
Which is what I needed to make sure of.
Nothing was familiar. I carelessly wandered from room to room, looking for something that I wasn’t sure of. But it was just a shell.
It had been the same when Father had died, back when I was little. Mother and my brother had struggled to rekindle something warm and happy for me again, but I saw the strain it put on them to fake it. Their dishonesty disturbed me more and I tried to hide from it, but there was nowhere to go.
Sometimes at night, when I was most alone, I felt a spark of warmth, a soft song in my skull, and I crept through the quiescent house to find it. I always found myself wandering to the basement, surrounded and embraced by the earth, and I found myself there again, dropping myself flat on the ground with no thought of what I was doing.
I lay on the cold, hard cement floor, wallowing in old water stains and accumulated dust and dirt – far different from decades ago when mother would have scolded me for soiling my clothes playing on the dank basement floor. The damp black was familiar, but curious this time, not scary like it was when I was a child, finding myself called here to the cellar, down rickety stair, uneasy but compelled, losing my way in the dark until I huddled in a corner, surrounded by dirt and dust and the dried husks of old bugs. But I felt the spark again.
“I remember you from when I was a child,” I said aloud to no one in particular, since no one in particular was there. “How long have you been here?”
I have always been here, since the sea receded and the grasses began to grow.
I lay on the cold, hard, cement floor, listening to the words throbbing into my being from the silence, remembering the feeling that had startled me when I was young but was a comfort now. “I remember you.” I said. “I remember your songs.”
I sing to any that can hear. You heard better than most, and crept down here to sit with me, to hear the whispers of the tree roots and the grubs and the moles and the trickling water and drifting earth.
“I was scared.” But I hadn’t been, really. Not until Mother had yelled at me. Until my brother had teased me. Little girls that talked to the dirt weren’t good little girls, and they had to be fixed. I was tired of being fixed.
I have always been here, since the sea receded and the grasses began to grow.
You know that the true world lies beneath your feet and between the air, begging to be heard by those who have forgotten how to listen.
“I don’t care if they tell me I’m wrong for who I am anymore. I need to hear it again. I need to be who I’m supposed to be.”
I lay on the cold, hard cement floor, wanting only to return home, to the between place, and I felt myself sink through the floor, beyond the gravel beneath, into the thick clay deeper still, where the old voice was clearer and made my heart warm with her words, the way mother’s words did when she was still alive.
Will you finish what we started? Will you come to the between place and listen to the songs, and remind others how to hear? Are you ready to remember how to be the witch you always were?
I wept tears of joy and relief into the warm, soft cement as she sang. I remembered the words and my voice joined her.
S. P. Manning is a native Kansas City poet, artist, and sorcerer, who enjoys exploring the liminal place where ritual, myth, and the numinous meet.
Daniel Moler is writer, educator, and shamanic practitioner in the KC area. His is the author of Shamanic Qabalah, coming out from Llewellyn in Dec., 2018. He is a sanctioned teacher in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, a lineage of Peruvian shamanism. Discover more at: www.danielmolerweb.com.
by Daniel Moler
Kabbalistic Path: Vau
The Hierophant, also called the Pope in older versions of the Tarot, holds many titles, from the Emissary of the Prime Source to the Magus of the Eternal, among others. A magus is one who has the ability to mediate power from one level of manifestation into another. The Hierophant is the fundamental arbiter of hierophany, the ability to manifest the sacred. Yet the hierophant’s objective is not to manifest the Divine for the sake of relishing in the higher powers of the universe. Rather, the true goal of hierophant can be found in the astrological sign of this Arcana: Taurus.
Taurus, the bull, is an earth symbol. From this we can understand then that the art of hierophant is about manifesting the sacred into the plane of material, bringing the power of spirit here into the physical world. In Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck, the hierophant is enraptured by the bull kerub, which represents one of the Four Holy Living creatures as visioned in the Book of Ezekiel. The hierophant is thus earth in its most balanced state, the holiest of holies as embodied in the expression of creation.
In Kabbalah, Vau (pronounced Vav) means “nail” in Hebrew. Vau is the nail which fastens the Divine Will to the individual. The Kabbalists attribute Vav to being the Son born of the great Father (Yod) and Mother (Heh), the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton, the name of God: Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. The triplicity of Vav cannot be forgotten in other decks in which the Hierophant acts as priest, officiating the wedding of the two halves of the Self kneeling before him: The higher self and the lower self. The two combined are the alchemical marriage as relayed by mystics through the ages. And, just as in some wedding ceremonies the priest may take the bride and groom aside for a private conversation, so too does the hierophant impart the secrets of the Mysteries to the lower self. To receive these Mysteries, one must be still, open to receive, and grounded in the earth - like the Hierophant.
In the Cards
Image Credit: Wikipedia
The Apprentice Tarot may not look like anything special to begin with. It’s printed on average sized cards only marginally bigger than a standard playing deck, and the card stock quality is just okay. In fact, the gloss is prone to fingerprint smudges, and it boasts a low “photographability” for our more aesthetically-minded readers. But this deck isn’t about its beauty. The deck’s creator, Germ, said that this project was "less of a personal vision and more something [created] to serve the individual reader.” Serve it does. Where The Apprentice Tarot lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in its ability to aid beginner readers to do fluid on-the-spot tarot readings first try. This deck isn’t meant to be a highly rated deck; it’s meant to be a usable tool for the novice to break into tarot reading as a divinatory practice without lengthy study. If you’re interested in reading tarot right now, you could certainly start with The Apprentice Tarot.
The Apprentice Tarot features pastel watercolor backgrounds, giving it a light and airy presence. Each card face includes keywords that define both the upright and reversed meanings in a simple and easy-to-remember design. Suits in the Minor Arcana are color-coded, with elemental correspondence and a keyword linking to that particular suit on the corners. The Major Arcana features all of the colors in its background with an eternity symbol at the corners. Finally, in the center, a basic drawing conveys the card’s imagery. This overall simplicity in design combined with straight-forward keywords and artwork help the new reader divine and memorize with ease.
Before publishing it, Germ wanted to do a small personally-funded run to see what beginner and experienced readers thought, which is how this deck ended up in my hands prior to their initial Kickstarter campaign. While reading with the draft deck, I noticed a few minor errors, many having to do with the original printer Germ used. Now that they've swapped printers, the colors are more vibrant and the mistakes in printing have been corrected. I admittedly have a deep respect for creators who want to make sure their product works, adjusting any issues before moving forward. Germ corrected every issue I found and more before officially publishing The Apprentice Tarot for purchase.
Unfortunately, the deck has no booklet, no suggested spreads and no educational material included, instead opting for an additional card that diagrams how the deck should be read – and that’s it. For an educational study deck, this is the only place where The Apprentice Tarot misses the mark and falls just short of its intended goal.
That being said, I was pleased with this deck. As an experienced diviner, I found it read well. As someone who doesn't use tarot, I felt it was effortless to follow. Exhaustive paragraphs of description can make readings far too complicated, particularly when you're just starting out, but The Apprentice Tarot uses elementary descriptions that make connecting to the cards painless. This easy-to-understand format works well with the creative, minimalist designs and a clean interface. Overall, I enjoyed this deck and would strongly recommend it to any beginner in the field.
by Marietta Williams
The Apprentice Tarot Review
Image Credit: Witchy Words
Overall: 3 out of 5 wands
Cardstock quality: Average
Card size: Average
Book/Booklet Quality: N/A
Reader level: Beginner
Where to find it: Germ’s Curio Shop
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Aragonite, named for Molina de Aragon in Spain, is a carbonate mineral, the high pressure polymorph of calcium carbonate. It forms naturally in mollusk shells and corals, and is a rather common mineral found in a variety of forms. Aragonite is used for replicating reef conditions in aquariums, providing materials necessary for much sea life, as well as keeping the pH of water close to its natural level. The mineral has even been proven to remove pollutants like zinc, cobalt, and lead from contaminated wastewater.
Multiple colors are listed for aragonite, but you will mostly likely find blue, and, more commonly, the tan/brown color. Both colors come polished or as a rough stone, but the signature “starburst” with the hexagonal crystalline structure is only found in brown. This starburst stone is the most standout feature of aragonite, and is what tends to attract people to the stone in the first place (see image). It can also be found in aquarium sand given its use in that way, but checking for purity or other minerals mixed in would be suggested if you try that route.
On a more magical, metaphysical level, aragonite is good for enhancing your connection with Earth. Having earned the nickname “the conservationists stone” with the ability to increase conservation and care for the earth, it is also said to clear blocked ley lines and aid in geopathic stress. This is a great stone to work with for increasing patience in difficult situations, aid in grounding and centering, and work with healing of all types. It can also help to overcome stagnation in personal growth, those lacking discipline and self control, and it’s good for releasing issues in the past and attachments in the present.
Aragonite is a beautiful stone with a fascinating structure that can help you connect to earth. From my own perspective, the starburst shape and the presence in mollusk shells and aquariums also gives this stone a connection to sea and sky. Pick one up and use it for grounding and earth connection, and maybe explore some of that sea and sky as well.
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."
- Hamlet, Shakespeare
Gifts of Gaia
Whether used for school work or remembering a passed loved one, Rosemarinus officinalis has a lengthy history of connection to memory. This Mediterranean evergreen plant was once worn by scholars in ancient Greece to improve memory and later would be tossed into graves in remembrance of the dead during war times in Europe and Australia. And that’s only a small taste of this tasty herb’s vast folklore and history, spanning from ancient Egypt to the modern Appalachian region. This hefty range is owed to the herb’s ability to grow in tough conditions, making it easy to cultivate for even the novice gardener. A member of the mint family Lamiaceae, the herb blossoms beautiful blue, purple, pink or white flowers that attract bees, making it perfect to pair with other garden plants. It’s truly a multipurpose, easy-to-grow herb for the beginner and advanced practitioner alike!
Because of rosemary’s association with memory, it was commonly used as a traditional wedding herb in the middle ages to remember the happy event. It would be dipped in gold, tied with ribbon and gifted to the wedding guests or used in the bride’s bouquet, dress or headpiece. It was even added to wine to assist the couple in remembering their sacred vows and planted near the doorway to protect the love of the house. Eventually, rosemary’s use in weddings associated it with love and fidelity. Nowadays, you can burn rosemary in incense, place it in poppets or add it to your lover’s food to encourage love and faithfulness.
Speaking of protection and the purity of love, rosemary aids in cleansing and magical defense.
Romans decorated paintings and statues of deity with it, and the Virgin Mary was said to have turned white rosemary blossoms blue by walking over them. These associations have earned it a reputation for being pure and blessed. One such way to utilize this herb for that purpose is to burn it, much like the Egyptians did during rituals. Create herb bundles of to give your home a good smoke cleansing, or use rosemary essential oil, diluted in a carrier oil like grapeseed or olive, to cleanse and consecrate magical tools.
Because of this herb’s powerful ability to repel negativity, it’s often used for a good night’s rest. Place a sprig of rosemary over your bed or under your pillow to ward off nightmares or lay it under the bed entirely to protect the sleeper from harm.
Though rosemary is a tasty ingredient for breads, desserts and teas, those who are nursing, pregnant or hoping to become so soon should avoid this herb as it may induce miscarriages. It may also have a negative effect on blood pressure and epilepsy.
Grounding and centering are the foundational practices of witchcraft. It is how we release excess energy, and how we refuel when our own reserves are low. It is one of the deepest ways to connect with the world around us and to feel present in the natural world. However, we also use this as a first step in connecting with other worlds. This practice can make you feel calm, empowered, and in control of the power you have.
I learned early on to ground and center before a ritual or working magic. Not only does this practice help to balance your own energy and tap into the energies of the earth and the universe, it helps you get into the ritual mindset. Of course, this is not the only practice used for getting into a ritual mindset, but it is one of the most powerful ones. It can also be useful to bring everyone to the same place before beginning ritual if you are working with a group.
There are actually endless ways to ground and center yourself. You can do some very physical things like digging your toes into earth or actually hugging a tree, but these only work if you are in a place you can access those things. It is useful to be able to do this through visualization without needing the physical presence of something to ground through. This can actually expand the ways you can ground. You can work through your chakras, you can visualize yourself in your own happy place, somewhere you feel calm and centered. Some people will even ground through elements besides earth. In fact, you could even combine more than one of these methods to find what works for you.
That is the trick with grounding and centering. Find what works best for you. This could take some time and experimentation, but it is worth it to find the most effective method you can. But don’t stop there!! Find your best method, or combination of methods, and have that great, long version written out or set in your head. Use it for a deep meditation, or a ritual mindset, but work on the quick and dirty version too. Have something you can do to ground and center yourself when you are in line behind the creepy weirdo at the store, or you have to sit next to that annoying co-worker at a meeting. If you can do the quick and dirty ground and center in those instances, it can calm your own energy, and you can tap into where you have grounded to help beef up your own shields when you are in those kind of situations.
This practice can make you feel calm, empowered, and in control of the power you have.
So, after telling you to find your own way and what works best for you, I am going to give you my own favorite meditation. The long version. I first learned a version of this in my earliest days of learning witchcraft. At the time, it was only the first part, the roots reaching into the earth. It was not written out quite so in depth, either. After a while, doing it on my own, I started reaching up to the universe as well. I cannot remember what prompted that initially, but it very quickly became an essential part of both the long version and the quick and dirty version. Eventually, I got around to writing it all down. I believe I have rewritten it a time or two, becoming a bit more poetic each time. However, I do not often read this directly, even when doing the long version for myself, or talking others through it. It is so deeply ingrained in my head that I tend to speak it from knowing, so if you ever hear me recite this, it will likely not sound the same!
Use this as a jumping off point for your own grounding and centering practice, or an addition to what you already do. Change the words, visualize different colors, different images, shift it to fit the land where you are. Take my world tree meditation, and make it your own.
Feel a root reaching down from the base of your spine. As it moves down, it will start to spread, as roots do.
Reach down through the flooring below you.
Down into the rich black soil.
Past the roots of nearby plants and tendrils of mycelium.
Through the tunnels of critters living in the land and the layers of native clay.
Past veins of minerals and underground reservoirs water.
Through bones and stones and remnants of the millenia of life.
Reaching down into the golden glowing heart of the Earth.
Linger there a moment, basking in the warm, comforting glow, then begin to draw that golden, glowing energy up through your roots, collecting from the layers you pass as you move up.
The memories of eons past hidden in stone and bone.
The nourishment of the minerals and water buried below us.
The malleability of the clay, and the instincts of the critters living in the land.
The tenacity of the nearby plants and the richness of the black soil.
Bring all of it up through your roots, into yourself. Let it fill every inch of you. From the tips of your toes, to your hips, up your back and to the tips of your fingers, up your neck and to the top of your head. Feel all the energy from the earth below you pulsating throughout your body and falling back down to make a circuit back into the earth that you are now a part of.
Now, feel branches begin to grow from the top of your head. Reaching up into the sky above. Spreading out as you go.
Through the roof of the building you are sitting in.
Past the trees and leaves around you.
The birds flying by.
Through the clouds overhead.
The stratosphere, the troposphere, past the blue sky.
Go beyond the moon and the sun, and the planets in our solar system
Into the stars, the nebulae, by countless galaxies
All the way to the center of the universe.
Linger there in the iridescent silver glow of the infinite. Basking in the endless, then begin to draw that energy down your branches, collecting from everything you pass as you move down.
The unending vastness of space.
The unknown possibilities of countless galaxies.
The massive energy given off by the stars.
The potential of new worlds in the nebulae.
The energies of the planets we know.
The mystery and rhythms of the moon.
The life giving warmth of the sun.
The multiple layers of our atmosphere.
The electricity contained in the clouds.
The freedom of the birds and the stable flexibility of the trees.
Bring it all down through your branches, into yourself. Let the silver iridescence fill you from the top of your head, to the tips of your fingers, down your back, to the tips of your toes.
Let the energy of the heavens mix and swirl with the energy of the earth within you. Looping through your roots, your branches, and you as the heart of your great world tree.
Now, find the spot within yourself where all the chaos is balanced. Your center. The place where you, the earth, and the infinite are equal and harmonious. The place you can focus the energy to your will. When you have found that, open your eyes.
Grounding in the World Tree
Prosperity Cinnamon Rolls
*~ Adjust spices in filling to your taste. You can make extra filling if you like a lot of filling in your cinnamon rolls.
*~ Icing can be thicker or thinner, depending on your preference. You can also shift flavors if you’d like but a mix of vanilla and orange is what I suggest.
*~ All the spices work for money draw, prosperity, success, employment, and business. Use the growing action of the yeast for growth of money (or whatever you want to prosper). Use the sugar to “sweeten the pot” in your favor. You can even trace sigils for your goals in the filling before you roll the dough. With any spellwork involving a kneaded dough, focus on your goal as you knead to work it into the dough.
4 cups Flour
2 ¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Milk
⅓ cup Sugar
⅓ cup Butter
½ tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Brown sugar
1 ½-2 tsp Cinnamon
½-1 tsp Cloves
½-1 tsp Ginger
½-1 tsp Allspice
½-1 tsp Nutmeg
1-1 ½ cups Powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp Milk
½ tsp Orange or vanilla extract
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and yeast. Set aside.
2. In medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm and butter is nearly melted.
3. Add warm milk mix and eggs to dry mix. Beat on low speed about 30 seconds.
4. Beat on high speed about 3 minutes. Mix in as much remaining flour as possible with wooden spoon.
5. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 min).
6. Shape dough into a ball turn into a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease dough. Cover and allow to rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
7. Punch down dough. Divide in half, cover and rest 10 min. Lightly grease 2, 10 in. round baking pans.
8. Roll each portion into about a 12x8” in rectangle. Brush melted butter over dough.
9. Combine sugars and spices. Spread over butter-brushed dough as evenly as possible.
10. Roll each rectangle jelly-roll style and seal the seam.
11. Slice each roll into about 12 equal pieces and place into prepared pans. Cover and allow to rise in warm place until nearly doubled, about 30 min.
12. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 min, or until golden.
13. While cooling, mix powdered sugar with extract and add milk a little at a time, mix completely between each addition. Icing should be a thick drizzle consistency. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls, and enjoy!!
Out of the Cauldron
Héena Harvest & Hedgewitchery was started by the Héena Lushede Coven is line of hand made witchy products. Including herbal remedies, bath & beauty products, aromatherapy candles, smudge sprays and other magickal goodness! You can find us on Facebook at Héena Harvest & Hedgewitchery or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Héena Harvest & Hedgewitchery
2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp dried Elderberries
1 tbsp slippery elm powder (another ½ cup for dusting)
1 cup sugar
.5 cups honey
Elderberry Throat Lozenges
1. Add elderberries to the boiling water and stir. Take it off the heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes.
2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or oiled silicone molds and place the slippery elm powder, or sugar if preferred, for dusting in a bowl.
3. Mix the honey, sugar and slippery elm powder in a saucepan.
4. Strain the elderberries from the water and add 1 cup of the elderberry liquid to the saucepan.
5. Bring saucepan mixture to a boil and continue boiling until temperature reaches 300 degrees (known as “hard crack” in candy making) on your candy thermometer. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture constantly.
6. As soon as your mixture has reached the “hard crack” stage, remove from the heat.
7. Your lozenges will set very quickly. You can pour into greased molds or into lined baking sheet. Let sit until cool. Remove from molds or pan and break into pieces.
8. Roll the pieces in the slippery elm powder (or sugar if you prefer) to prevent them from sticking to each other.
9. Store in an airtight container.
Image Credit: MaxPixel
Our society has learned to identify and reject toxic, abusive behavior in many areas, such as our work environment and even in relationships. When it comes to our spiritual lives, however, we still allow our leaders to conduct themselves in ways that can be harmful to us and others.
Due to the nature of the many beautiful paths pagans follow, as well as the fact that we tend to reject structure, rules and social conformity, we find that many pagan leaders have little or no leadership training. What leadership instruction they do receive typically comes from elders inside the group and is only loosely held as being of any real importance, which means it can often be tossed aside without any significant consequences. In other words, pagan leaders can typically do whatever they want to do and get away with it.
Spiritual abuse is when a leader uses their spiritual position to control, humiliate, harass and dominate another person. The effects of this abuse can lead to serious repercussions for the victim and may result in psychological trauma.
In Perfect Love and In Perfect Trust
When pagans choose to gather with a group, they are looking for and expect a type of spiritual sanctuary. They want to know they can trust the leaders of that group to provide a safe environment. The last thing they expect is for the very leaders of that group to be the ones who would cause anyone in that group to feel unsafe, but it does happen, which makes it all the more important to know how to identify an abusive leader.
Traits of a Toxic Leader:
If a leader has ever said, “I just can’t stand her” or “Man, I just hate that guy,” about someone in the group, that is a toxic leader. A good leader is mature enough to hold their tongue knowing it is of no benefit to spread hatred through the group and the ill feelings they have toward that person is their own to work through.
If a leader spends lots of time speaking negatively about someone in the group, that is a toxic leader. If a leader gossips about others in the group on a constant basis, that is a toxic leader. Gossip can kill a group faster than anything else and a good leader knows this and will work to put out those fires instead of stoking the flames by being the one to start and spread the gossip.
If a leader creates lies or half-truths to intentionally harm those in the group, that is a toxic leader. A good leader can stand on their own merit and honor with no need to make someone else look bad just so they can look good.
If a personal agenda is more important to a leader than an actual person, they are a toxic leader. If a business plan is more important than a person to a leader, that is a toxic leader. Good leaders never sacrifice those in the group for some pie in the sky idea because they know ultimately the group is nothing without the very people who make up that group.
If a leader feels the need to try to dig up dirt on those in the group to control, manipulate and silence them, that is a toxic leader. If a leader works their way through to group stirring up dissension, that is a toxic leader. A good leader has no need to manipulate and control others because those in the group are the ones from whom the leader should be taking cues on how to make the group even better. A good leader also understands the atmosphere created by trying to manipulate and control others will always cause them to run instead. Pagans do not like to be controlled.
If a leader has no problem destroying a person mentally, psychologically or in any other way, that is a toxic leader. A good spiritual leader works hard to help those in their group to thrive in all aspects of life.
If a leader systematically works to eliminate any others in the group they feel may somehow outshine them, that is a toxic leader. A good leader is practiced at putting aside petty ego, jealousy and envy, so others can grow on their own path. A good leader also knows how to make use of the innate talents and gifts of those in the group to create a successful and thriving place for the good of all.
If a leader has ever used magick to manipulate, control or harm someone in the group/organization, that is most certainly a toxic leader! This is a leader who has crossed the line. A good leader would NEVER use magick (or anything else) to harm the very people who trust the leader with their spiritual growth and welfare.
A group led by such a leader will fall apart piece by piece, person by person, because a toxic environment can never be a spiritual sanctuary. No one in that group should ever assume they are exempt from the abusive leader’s misconduct. If they have displayed any of the traits of a toxic leader with one person in the group, they will do the same with anyone in the group given the right circumstances.
Even worse, one leader’s bad habits can spread to another leader in that group and to another until the entire leadership team is abusive and the group’s atmosphere is toxic, unsafe and harmful to anyone who chooses to gather with them. Instead of a spiritual sanctuary, a group with leaders like this becomes a living hell and you can be sure there is a long list of victims kicked to the curb. Moreover, every person who visits this group becomes a potential victim.
However, remember this: Pagans are energy workers and we “know” when things are off. We “see” more than we are expected to see. So, when these abusive traits are obvious and you get those off-putting vibes, just go with it.
How to spot a Toxic Pagan Leader
by Stella Webb
Stella has written extensively on political and social issues in Guyana, SA. However, ministerial leadership has long been a topic of focus for her, specifically targeting the issue of spiritual abuse while serving as a Christian minister and missionary. Having walked her path as a Pagan since 2006, Stella sees the need to address ministerial leadership and spiritual abuse within the Pagan community.
Spirits and Shadows
I like to patrol the neighborhood. Mostly at night when the Others are asleep, but sometimes during the day. On those days I like to grab a quick bite to eat and then go on patrol. Just after sun-up is my favorite time. The birds are in full song, Sigurd’s wake-up call. Plus they’re pretty to look at. Sometimes I chase them, but they always fly away before I can get very close. Even so, it’s fun. I don’t know what I’d do if I caught one, actually!
Some understand birdsong, like Odin. And some of the Valkyries. And those who drink the Blood of the Dragon. But, not me. That’s for nobles and Kings. Not for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not unimportant! I’m VERY important. Especially to the Others. And to The One.
But I don’t understand birdsong.
I patrol the neighborhood and keep an eye on the Spirits and Shadows who would do mischief, or even harm. And I am always keeping an eye on The One. The One can’t see the Spirits or the Shadows, and acts like there aren’t any. So I have to keep watch. I consider it my sacred duty. A time-honored trust, if you will. Me and my kin have been doing just that for generations. We keep an eye out because the Others can’t see. And we protect The One.
But what I REALLY like to do is to find a nice, warm patch of black Earth, warmed by Sunna, and lie there. When Sunna and Jord prepare a Sacred Place like this for me, I feel SO BLESSED! I am overwhelmed with bliss and I roll around and feel connected to Everything. Midgard and Asgard in harmony. And Freya flying by in Her chariot. Ahh, this is bliss. Sometimes it’s so much bliss that I have to run around in the grass and spin around and chase my tail and run up a tree before I can catch myself! I’m glad The One isn’t around to see me when I’m like this. It wouldn’t do for The One to see me in anything other than Protector Mode.
During the Cold times, I can make do with finding Sunna’s light near a portal in The One’s living place. It’s not the same, but it’s good. Not long ago, The One put a box of Earth right up next to a portal, but then put a bunch of Plant Stuff in it! I ignored the Plant Stuff and lay on the Earth anyway. And Sunna’s light found me and it was very good. Eventually the Plant Stuff went away and I had the box of Earth to myself. It pays to be patient. I am very patient.
Unless I’m hungry. When I’m hungry, I can be very insistent. Or when it’s time for patrol! The One doesn’t understand! When the Spirits and Shadows are abroad, it’s imperative that I get out and find out where they all are. I have to go NOW!! If they don’t see me seeing them, they might get emboldened, and then what would happen? Well, I’ll tell you what would happen – YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW, that’s what! Having Spirits and Shadows up in your living place, that would be no good! The One would be at risk. And confused. And endangered. And that’s what I’m sworn to protect against. And once they’re in your living place, I tell you what, they’re a MESS to get rid of. I mean real nasty. Way worse than mice. And you KNOW how I feel about mice!
But The One just lies there, making that horrible noise. It’s not terribly loud, like that other box in the living place. The one with the moving pictures. That makes ALL KINDS of different noises. The One’s noises during the time of Manni, when it’s dark outside, are grating, grinding noises. Almost like when I growl at the Black & White. Once in a while, they change and sound like my Happy Noise, but that never lasts long. Soon here comes the grinding, grating noise again.
So I have to make my Go Outside noise to get The One to stop. Sometimes I do it over and over again. And if that doesn’t work, I scratch The One’s bed. Not enough to tear the cloth, but to make noise and make The One stop that noise and get out of bed and LET ME OUT! In dire circumstances I have to jump up onto the bed and walk right up to The One’s face and bop The One’s nose!
Then The One will get out of bed and let me out to patrol.
I like to patrol at night. Sometimes I do it in the morning, just after sun-up. But I like to patrol at night best. Manni shows me the way and the Spirits and Shadows are not hiding so much. I see them and they see me. But most importantly, they see me seeing them. And they know that I’m not playing around. It’s my sworn duty to protect The One from them. And I will, and they know it. I hate them. I hate them worse than mice. And you KNOW how I feel about mice!!
by Balder Bloodaxe
with Laurie Sherman
I have an old Eastern European spell I absolutely love to use to efficiently remove negative energy from any space. I have had it for years, copied from a friend’s grimoire, who got it from someone else long ago. I know it by heart because it is my go-to spell for removing negative energy from pretty much anywhere, and it is a reasonably simple spell.
One of the items the spell calls for is an egg stolen from a neighbor’s farm from a black hen during the dark phase of the Moon. Now, I am an Urban Crone, with no farming neighbors, and an almost irrational fear of chickens (those beady eyes and crazy talons). And, my thoughts are that driving out through the country on the night of the dark Moon, going from farm to farm, rummaging through random chicken coops, is probably a really good way to get an ass full of buckshot or chomped on by a territorial farm dog.
The point I am trying to make is there are spells out there, whether they are actually old or trying to sound old, that ask for things that are, for one reason or another, almost impossible to procure. I am sure back in days of yore, there were farms and chicken coops all over the place, with easy access to black hens ripe for the pilfering. But, today, in many parts of the country, chicken coops have been replaced by backyard pools and sheds, and you are more likely to be surrounded by homes than farmsteads. Not every herb called for in a spell will be growing within a mile radius of your home, and not every item will be able to be procured. So, what is a Witch to do?
Let go of the notion that every spell is to be done exactly as written. What may work for me, may not work for you. What may have worked in the 17th century, may not actually even be possible today. Energies differ from Witch to Witch, area to area and time period to time period. The world continues to turn. You are going to have to accept that and move on. It does not mean you cannot perform the spell, just that you are going to actually have to figure out how to make the spell work for you.
As a competent Witch, you should be able to dissect a spell, look at its components and be able to figure out what the purpose of each item and aspect is. This should be part of your studies, your training. You are supposed to understand what you are doing and what you are working with. If you do not understand the items in a spell you are working with and their purpose, you need to do your research. Understanding the purpose of each item that is asked for in a spell will allow you to properly perform a spell, and to find a suitable substitute for an item you may not be able to find.
While, like cooking or baking, using the ingredient the recipe calls for is ideal, the reality is that there are many instances where using a suitable substitution is perfectly functional and acceptable. If you understand the purpose of the item you are missing as well as its magical properties, you should be able to find something that has the same magical properties and will be a suitable substitute. For example, if your spell calls for you to cleanse with sage, and you either have none, or can’t stand the smell of it (like me), a cedar bundle works just as well with the same properties. If the spell calls for a gold coin, you do not have to drop a mint at a coin shop or go diving for pirate gold to get it when a standard gold dollar coin will do. Both are tangible representations of money, symbolic of prosperity and wealth.
Also keep in mind what you are going to be doing with the item. If the item is to be burned in loose incense, be mindful as to whether what you are using as a substitute can be burned. The practical purpose of the item is just as important as the magical. Doing your research and understanding both the magical and practical properties of an ingredient is important to making the item work for you.
The idea is that every item a spell calls for brings with it a specific magical energy, a specific purpose. Finding something else that has the same magical energy and serves the same purpose will yield the same results. The notion that a spell cannot work unless you have the exact items listed is just completely preposterous, especially when you take into consideration the most important element of spell casting.
The most important thing, the key to every single spell in existence, is your own faith in yourself. It is your energy, your will, that brings everything together and makes it work. As long as you believe in yourself, and have a solid understanding of what you are doing, your spell will work, whether you bought an organic egg from the farmer’s market, or hopped 10 fences and tossed through a dozen chicken coops to find just the right egg.
Image Credit: Laurie Sherman
Walk my dogs on the nature trail, put water out for the bees, and keep the bird feeders filled.
- Calistar KB
I walk barefoot through mud puddles.
- Kimberly Christianson
Stand barefoot in my garden in the light of the moon.
- Ari Bavel
Hitting the pavement going 60 MPH on my motorcycle.
- Jason Arlie Robertson
How do you connect with Earth?
Swim in the ocean. Hug a tree. Walk barefoot through the grass. Observe her. Watch the sunrise. Gaze at the Universe. Buy organic. Don't eat meat. Protect her.
- Robert Ramberger
- Dan Anderson
- Mike Nichols
by Shandril Oc Arran
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Pratitioner
by Scott Cunningham
Earth. The element of foundation, of grounding, of not wondering which path to take, but of walking the path one has chosen.
Choosing one’s path in the Craft can be difficult; a lot of people get hyper focused on whether or not they’re “doing it right.” Today’s age of social media and instant feedback (read “instant judgment calls”) can make any new Seeker reticent to forge ahead on their own path. Sometimes it’s just scary to try something new! Yet striking out on one’s own and taking responsibility for one’s own spirituality - isn’t that what we’re all doing here? Why so many of us have been drawn to paganism, Wicca, and the Craft?
So where do we get started? I can, and probably always will, recommend a great place to begin. It’s a book I was assigned to read when I was a newbie over 25 years ago and I’ve been assigning it to my students ever since.
“Wicca: Guide For The Solitary Practitioner” (often referred to as “GSP”) was written by the late Scott Cunningham and was first published in 1988. Listed in Llewellyn’s “Practical Magick Series,” GSP was written at a time when it was still widely taught that magick and witchcraft could only be learned under the tutelage of a more experienced practitioner, usually within a secret family lineage or coven tradition. What set GSP apart was Cunningham’s insistence that a Seeker could be a witch, could be Wiccan, all by themselves. The audacity! What, no five-generation line of familial psychics? No Salem ancestor? No coven elders?
I don’t mean to make light of familial or coven lineages; I am an Ordained High Priestess, after all. I only mean to highlight how groundbreaking GSP was. It was one of the first books that not only told Seekers they could learn ritual magick on their own, but it also showed them how books like this, printed by publishers like Llewellyn, changed the course for how magick is studied, and thus practiced, to this very day. I didn’t know I was going to answer a call to service when I started out. I was just looking for a spiritual path that was going to fit. In the early 90s, I don’t know if I could have put a footstep in the right place if it wasn’t for “Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.”
Cunningham’s GSP opens with the necessary declaration from the author that Wicca can be done alone, then Chapter 1 takes us right back to the beginning - Shamanism. In discussing the anthropological and pre-civilization background of pagan teachings, GSP establishes a timeline, allowing the Seeker to tap into the ancient energies that exist on our planet and have been built up by shamans, magicians, and witches for millenia. From there we learn about deity, of the concept of duality, the reflection of the universe upon itself and how nature is divine manifestation. We learn, maybe for the first time in our lives, that we are part of the Earth, part of the ecosystem - a member of an intelligent, strong species with a lot of responsibility to get it right for everyone else on the planet. We learn about Wicca.
Wicca is a religion. It has a holy calendar (The Wheel of the Year), ritual tools, and its much-debated singular tenet, “An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Wiccans believe in their power to work within the synchronicity of nature, whether out in a forest or at home behind their altars. Throughout GSP, Cunningham teaches us this path, how to keep the holy days, use magickal tools, commune with deity and nature, how to work ritual. He spends the entirety of GSP laying the foundation for solitary Seekers, walking with them down their private paths to becoming practitioners of the Craft. He even includes a self-dedication ritual. Then, to make sure we have somewhere to continue once we close the book, Scott gifts to us his Book of Shadows (after providing guidelines on how to start our own, of course).
All told, “Wicca: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” has stood the test of time. As a text about spirituality, it came out when many of us needed to know we could stand on our own, take the reins, and commune with deity on our own terms - within the structure of this new religion. Thirty years after the original publishing date, pagans are still striking their own paths of individuality, and GSP still plays a part by providing access. For those that choose Wicca, GSP becomes a guide book and Cunningham the guide. His definition of Wicca is still a favorite of mine.
Shandril’s path has been that of Teacher and Guide, having led Eclectic Wiccan covens for the past two decades. As a witch, she is well-versed in healing, animal lore, and ritual magick. Trained in both Earth-based and Ceremonial systems, she is an avid reader who will pick up a book on just about any occult or Craft-related topic. She is an Ordained high priestess and Co-Founder of the Winding Spiral Tradition, currently offering private studies for Year-&-A-Day work, as well as defensive magick. She also loves cats, volunteers at SNKC, and will one day finish her cross-stitch sampler.
“There is not, and can never be, one ‘pure’ or ‘true’ or ‘genuine’ form of Wicca… Wicca is varied and multi-faceted. As in every religion, the Wiccan spiritual experience is one shared with Deity alone.”
~Scott Cunningham (1956-1993)
Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales
by Sibelan Forrester, Jack Zipes, Helena Goscilo, and Martin Skoro
Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore, and Herb Magic
by Ann Moura
Germ's Curio Shop
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Correspondences
b Sandra Kynes
Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles
by Taisia Kitaiskaia
Wicca: Magical Deities: A Guide to the Wiccan God and Goddess, and Choosing a Deity to Work Magic With
by Lisa Chamberlain
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
by Scott Cunningham
December 7, 2018
Next in our series on the elements will be Air in the Winter Solstice issue. We are looking for your articles, artwork, pictures, and input for this topic. Absolutely anything regarding Air. What does the element mean to you? How do you work with it? How do you connect with it? What do you associate with Air and why? Do you connect to air through other elements? Do you connect to other elements through air?
Send all of your submissions to
Because the elements are basic building blocks of witchcraft, there are a million ways you can go and we would love to see all levels, perspectives, and ideas of the Air element whether standard practice or completely off the wall.
Also remember, we cover from the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox with this issue, and anything seasonal is always welcome!
Deadline for this issue is
Winter Solstice 2018
Image Credit: Open Photo
The Center Spiral Staff would like to give a huge Thank You to all of our contributors. We are thrilled to feature the hard work, expertise, creativity, and knowledge of our community. The Center Spiral would not be what it is without your contributions. Thank you for helping us to educate, inspire, and connect.
Dennis “Doc” Cromwell
S. P. Manning
Héena Harvest & Hedgewitchery
Shandril Oc Arran
The Center Spiral Staff
We appreciate the support of all of those contributing articles, images, creative works, time, editing, advertising, sharing, and moral support while we put together our magazine. We could not do it without you.
- The Center Spiral Staff -
An extra special Thank You to The Center Spiral staff. This would not have happened without the help of all of you. You are all an amazing inspiration, team of support, and integral in making this become a reality and continue to grow. Thank you. -Emily Gabbert