Come with me while I journey as an Initiate through the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft - a shamanic path of fey sorcery; a martial tradition of magic.

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Thursday 7 April 2016

Sexual Health for Beltane 2016

"For behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals..." - Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente 

As Pagans we view sex as intrinsically holy; it is the impulse that gives us life and pleasure. A Reclaiming witch once told me that when you orgasm, you are possessed by the Star Goddess. Whether we engage in sexual acts with others or have self-sex as our main erotic expression, our work is to honour this part of our lives to the fullest. 

Beltane (for those who follow the Wiccan/Neopagan Wheel of the Year) is the festival most associated with sex and/or fertility, depending on your viewpoint. Here in the UK the blossoms on the trees are starting to bloom, the weather is (finally!) getting warmer and animals, humans included, are starting to feel the heat in more ways than one.  

Yet, sexuality is dangerous. In modern times, we are acutely aware of sexually transmitted infections and the responsibility we need to take to stay sexually healthy. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that we are all as careful with our sexual health as we could be. Therefore, as part of your Beltane celebrations, I have a challenge for the wider Pagan communities. 

In honour of Beltane and sex I would encourage you and your co-religionists to see a doctor or healthcare provider for a sexual health check up, if it is not already part of your normal healthcare routines. 

If you are sexually active then this is an act of maturity and power. If you are enjoying your sexuality, it is your responsibility to yourself and partners to reduce the risk of infection. Yet, far from being a sterile act, it is infused with worship of the body as sacred. 

Your check up can be ritualised beforehand with simple prayers and offerings to your Gods, and you can ritualise the results, either as comfort or celebration. Most pantheons have a deity associated with sexuality, so be creative. 

While you are at the clinic, take an attitude of reverence and prayer. It takes courage to undergo a sexual health screening, and the rapid HIV test doesn't always feel very rapid. It is better to go with somebody that you trust should you need support. 

So, go and get tested. Own your sexuality along with the responsibility that goes along with it. And please share this post!

Please note:

There is not space to list all of the sexual health charities out there. In the UK I would recommend you go to your local GUM clinic (Dean Street in London is fantastic) and in the US I would recommend Planned Parenthood. 

Saturday 5 March 2016

Just Showing Up

I'm currently re-reading the excellent book "Cranky, Beautiful Faith" by badass Lutheran minister (or pastrix as she likes to be known) Nadia Bolz-Weber. While I can get behind a lot of what she says - indeed, Jesus Christ is becoming increasingly important in my spiritual practice, but that's another blog post - not everything resonates. 

However, there was one passage where she says that the best spiritual practice, ignoring chanting and candles and prayers, is simply showing up. 

This hit me square in the chest. For the past two months I just haven't been showing up. I have barely sat at my altar, rarely made offerings, hardly cast a spell. By not showing up I haven't prioritised myself. I haven't acted like I'm important. 

In Feri, we say, "God is Self and Self is God and God is a person like myself", which is a very Luciferian way of saying that you are holy and are indeed a God (if only in potential). My aumakua/ori/Godself is my personal God, the part of me that encompasses all other parts with the sacred. By showing up, I am honouring myself and my life. 

I suppose that's the point of spiritual practice. It can be about connections to the Gods or nature, but by showing up in affirming that I am important. 

And by doing this every day, I'm more likely to remember this when life isn't going as I'd like it to. 

Sunday 3 January 2016

Starting Again

"New year, new me!"

This is the popular hashtag floating around on the Internet, and while I understand the sentiment completely - who hasn't had the desire before to press the reset button on their life?! - it's completely unattainable. 

At the very best, all you can hope for is a "slightly changed in some way me". We bring over so much from the previous year, such as relationships, jobs, habits, living situations, health, spiritual practice (or lack thereof!), that it is hard to completely begin again. 

I was tempted to start a brand new blog for 2016 and let this blog remain fallow for posterity, but I realised that some of what I've written still holds true and has some value. So, why am I starting again? 

My spiritual practice over the past two years since my previous post has changed considerably. I formally joined a Lucumí/Santería ilé by receiving my necklaces. I have re-engaged with the Strategic Sorcery course that I signed up for. I've deepened my Buddhist meditation practice. I have deepened my commitment to Feri. I have begun to reclaim the Christianity of my childhood (this last one being a huge surprise!). I let go of the Unitarian church I had been attending, although I wish to revisit this in the coming year. 

This blog will attempt to weave together these seemingly disparate strands into a cohesive narrative, the various threads hopefully coming together into something of substance and authenticity. 

I eagerly await the conversation. 

Sunday 23 February 2014

Sit Down and Be Still

The title of this post is a light-hearted nod to my profession as a secondary school teacher. Helping teenagers to navigate their way through the hormone-drenched adolescent years is a tough job, and a piece of advice I often give to my students is, 'Sit down and be still'. While on the surface this is a simple behaviour management technique, I am also communicating a deeper truth to these young people. Simply sitting down and being still allows us to be our most authentic of selves, limiting the unwanted effects of the constant influx of varying emotion and external stimuli. 

As a Feri Witch, sitting practice is fundamental to my formal morning practice. In fact, I would say that it is the most essential practice that I engage in on a regular basis. While it is often more interesting to do complicated kala rites or an energetic Ha prayer, without the grounding and foundation of sitting practice, these more exciting techniques often come to nothing. Indeed, sitting practice is the rock upon which all other practice is built. In my Sevenfold Feri Praxis, I place sitting practice in the North, given its grounding and stabilising nature. 

What do I mean when I say 'sitting practice'? There are countless forms of meditation, from the most abstract contemplation of the nothingness of the void, to the most prosaic of chanting while counting mala beads. While these all have spiritual value depending on your goals, sitting practice is a lot simpler and manageable for those of us not living full time in an ashram. What follows is my interpretation of sitting practice as it relates to Feri. 

For me, sitting practice is a combination of three things: stillness, openness and focus. These all combine into the umbrella term of 'mindfulness' as I understand it. By stillness, I consciously rest in the physicality of my body, kneeling on a meditation bench (after three years of pins and needles from incorrect sitting posture, I finally caved and bought a wooden bench.) I attempt to focus solely on my breath, the soft sensations of the indrawn breath and the satisfied exhale of the outgoing breath. I will say to myself mentally, "" to keep my mind focused on this task. This then leads to a natural and unforced openness. This openness is the key for grace to descend. By grace, and I am paraphrasing Thorn Coyle here, I mean the expectation that the Universe will meet me half way, often in an unexpected manner. It also invites the decsent of the Godsoul. 

It is no secret that the goal of Feri is self-possession. When you have wooed your own divinity like a lover, called to it in the night, prayed for its descent into your body, and felt it's presence shimmer through your being like an electric wave of honey, you have tasted self-possession. Full self-possession occurs after a long period of openness, of clearing the way for the Ori or Godsoul to descend of its own accord. Sitting practice provides the periods of quiet solitude necessary for this most holy of goals. 

A less well-known Victorism is "Work for the Self, and soon you will see the Self everywhere." I believe he is pointing to the truth that our Ori is the point of light through which all other light can pass through. By consciously working on the descent of your own divinity, you open yourself (eventually!) to the numinous that exists outside of the self, as well as inside. By simply resting each morning, sitting still and focusing on the breath, untold gifts are bestowed upon you. 

I have not discussed the difficulties associated with this practice - I will leave that for another post. Needless today, just because something is simple, does not mean it is necessarily easy!

Happy sitting!

Saturday 28 December 2013

The Magic of Clothes

One of the distinguishing features of the human species is that we fashion (if you'll excuse the pun) clothes for ourselves out of materials found in nature. Our clothes project a statement about ourselves to the world; we can garner information about a person's wealth, interests, ethnicity, religion, and much more from the clothes they choose to wear. 

Now, as a Witch, I am always on the lookout for ways to imbue more magic into my life and to live with more magical intention. There are already countless historical examples of magically-charged items used in ritual - robes, veils, crowns, and jewelry come to mind. This post is not the place to discuss these more obviously magical items. Rather, I wish to discuss how we can use our ordinary clothes in a magical way. 

So, how can we magically charge clothes to aid in spellwork? Here are some examples that I have come up with:

- When washing clothes, charge the washing powder and conditioner to wash away all that does not belong in your life.  

- When ironing your clothes, visualise yourself having a smooth and easy life. Literally, iron out the wrinkles in your life. 

- Place spell-papers or petitions inside your shoes, so that you walk your spell. 

- Charge a scarf for protection, and seal the spell when you knot it around your neck. 

- Choose clothes of colours that relate to your goal. Hold the item of clothing before you put it on, and charge it with your desire, sealing the spell when you put it on. 

- A hat can be charged as a devotional item to your Godsoul. Charm the hat to bring your Godsoul closer to you. 

- Sew mojo bags into the seams or hem of your skirt or trousers so that you consciously work your spell as you walk. This is particularly good for spells involving movement. 

- One spell that was given to me in a dream by an old hoodoo woman (who I believe to be one of my spirit guides) involves making mojo bags out of work underwear. A euphemism for underwear is "intimates" - given that underwear is in contact with a person's most private and intimate part of their body, cutting a square out of their used underwear is a fantastic way to influence them via a mojo bag (with their permission of course...wink wink). 

Is there anything you are wearing right now that you can charge for a magical goal? 

Sunday 22 December 2013

Simple Spells for Daily Life

Part of my Seven-fold Feri practice is the path of spellwork, which I associate with the East, given the necessity of clarity, focus, vision, and intention in spellwork. 

Nevertheless, I find it very easy to relegate spellwork to big rituals or special occasions, when it should be fully integrated into daily life. We can take inspiration from other traditions to see how they incorporate spells into daily life. 

One of the best spells to do on a daily basis is to cast a shower spell for purification: 

Using whatever method you choose, create your own magically charged soap containing herbs and oils such as hyssop, lavender, and peppermint. Charge this with mana before showering with the intention to purify yourself in all your parts. 

Lather yourself with the soap, then say the following, visualising yourself as being underneath a waterfall:

Spirits of water, now appear, 
Cascade and fall, I draw thee near, 
To cleanse me and leave me pure and clear. 

Visualise all negativity going down the drain. 

Other every day spells include;

- lighting incense and candles to draw specific influences

- locking the front door with the intention of protecting the home from intruders 

- charging food with mana for prosperity 

- spraying your clothes with charged water to work a glamour for a specific purpose 

- carrying a charged stone or crystal for a particular intention 

Enjoy bringing more magic into your every day life! 

Sunday 8 December 2013

The Gods in Ritual this post may descend into a bit of a rant, but please indulge me just this once. 

I have participated in many Neo-Pagan rituals, both as part of a group and as a solitary practitioner. I have participated in an Alexandrian ritual, Reclaiming celebrations, initiates-only Feri circles, and many more. From all of these, I have reached the conclusion that the way we treat the Gods is often horribly, hideously wrong. 

Semantics aside, we worship the Gods because they are worthy of our respect, honour, and love. They are the awe-inspiring manifestations of the Unknowable Divine that our human brains can begin to grasp. Whether or not you are hard-poly or of the "All Goddesses are one Goddess" camp, for all intents and purposes you treat the Gods as real beings in a ritual. And the way we treat these real beings often falls short. does this happen? 

In Feri, we say that the Gods are real (albeit incorporeal) Beings, not merely aspects of the Goddess (although, paradoxically, that is also true!). When we invite them to participate in a ritual, they should be treated as honoured guests visiting the home. 

Consider this scenario: your best friend comes to visit your home for the evening. You greet her at the door, invite her to come in with a hug and ask how she is. You tell her how great her new haircut is and ask her where she bought that fabulous coat. You make her something to drink, probably a cup of tea (or something stronger!) and ask her if she'd like something to eat. So, you start cooking her some food, all the while engaged in conversation over a glass of wine, and then you finally settle on the couch and watch a film together. During the film, you're still chatting and having a giggle, until it's time for her to go home. You give her a hug and a kiss as she leaves, thank her for coming, and maybe give her a bit of food to take home. 

This would be considered being a great host. 

Now contrast this with what we do with the Gods in ritual:

We generally prepare the space for them, with an altar and perhaps a magic circle of some kind. We will then invoke the Gods, usually with some kind of spoken invocation or maybe an action. This will last a couple of minutes. 

And then that's it.

They aren't mentioned again, or talked to, or interacted with until it's time to "thank them" and asking then to leave. What's wrong with this picture? 

I firmly believe that we should treat the Gods as we would a beloved friend. Here are my suggestions as to how we could do this (some of this was influenced by Deborah Lipp's excellent book "Elements of Ritual):

1. Invite them to your ritual ahead of time. This could be a written invitation that is burned, a spoken invitation to Their image, or something similar. 

2. Do your research! Don't just invoke any God you think sounds cool. Chances are they won't actually come if there's no prior relationship. 

3. When in ritual, treat them as if they are the most important person in the room. Direct every action towards them, mention them in every spoken prayer, ask for their aid in spellwork. 

Basic courtesy goes a long do not need to pick and choose different Gods to work with as if you were making an iTunes playlist. Get to know a God in a deep and meaningful way, treat them right and have faith that they will reciprocate.