Saturday Spellwork: Stop Casting These Spells Because They’re Crap

I know, I know, at least ten of y’all are going to see that headline up above and comment with DON’T U TELL ME HOW 2 MAGICK, but I really need you to hear me out on this. If you Google “Wiccan spells,” you’re going to get a metric fuckton of garbage from a lot of different websites, and nearly all of them are literal and total crap.

Stop Googling these spells. Image by Yuganov Konstantin via Canva.

They’re crap because they don’t work, and they’re crap because they encourage people to do spellwork for stuff that spellwork can’t do, and thus set you up for automatic failure. And then you’re going to email me or one of the other people out there who write about magic and Paganism and you’re going to ask why it didn’t work, and I’m going to tell you “because it’s crap,” and you’re going to get your panties in a twist and tell me U DON’T NO MAGICK U PROLLY NOT EVEN A REAL WITCH!

So I’m going to save you the hassle of going down that road, and tell you the four crappiest of the crap spells that you’re going to find on the Interwebz, and I’m going to use basic logic and no small degree of metaphysical knowledge to tell you WHY they’re crap. But never fear, I’m not going to just leave you peeing into the wind here – I’ll offer you some better alternatives, k?

If you still want to do them after that, have at it.

Change Your Eye Color:

No, you can’t change your eye color. Image by Bergadder from CC0 via Canva

This one seems to surface a lot – the fact is that while magic is useful to change the way people perceive you, it’s not going to work against the laws of physics and science. You can’t change your eye color, no matter how many episodes of Charmed tell you otherwise. Don’t like the color of your eyes? Not everyone does, but you’re stuck with them. However, what you can do is try some mundane tricks like using cosmetics to alter the way people perceive your eye color, and then doing a bit of magic to change other things about yourself that you may not like. If your self-esteem is low, do a working to boost your confidence. If you feel anxious in social situations, do some meditative exercises to help keep you calm when you’re meeting new people.

Lose Weight:

Magic is not going to make you lose weight, period. It’s just not. And the reason for that is because you can cast spells all day until the cows come home, but if you want to lose weight, you have to take mundane steps to make it happen. Eat less, and mostly green things. Move more, working on cardio to burn fat and build muscle. Want to cast a spell to help you along? Do one to push yourself to feel motivated to get to the gym, or to help you focus on healthy eating.

Win the Lottery:

Magic isn’t going to help you win the lottery. Keep in mind that successful magic is dependent upon two things – the possibility of it working, and the probability of it working. Your odds of winning the lottery, whether you use magic or you don’t, are the same as that of everyone else who’s playing. Also, let’s say half a million Pagans cast spells to win the lottery – what makes you think the Universe is going to favor you over the other 499,999 people working magic? Instead, do small workings for gradual, attainable, realistic prosperity. Do a working to get a better job, get an improved return on your investments, or pay off some of the bills that suck down your checking account every month.

Turn You Into a Unicorn/Dragon/Mermaid/Whatever:

And you can’t turn yourself into a dragon, either. Image by maria-anne from CC0 via Canva.

Remember that whole possibility/probability thing I mentioned above? You’re not going to turn yourself into some sort of mythical creature, because they’re mythical. If you’re really unhappy being a person – and some people are – do a working to make yourself into a person you like being. Spellwork for courage, self confidence, and generally being charming goes a long way towards changing the way you view yourself, and with a little bit of effort, you can be so awesome of a person that you won’t want to be anything but human.

Religion in Public and Private Schools

Every so often I get messages from students who have questions about what sort of religious expression is permitted in school. For instance, who can speak about religion, and in what context? Can your school prohibit you from wearing a shirt with a pentacle on it, or a piece of Pagan jewelry?

The answer is going to depend on two things – first, which country you live in, and secondly, whether you attend a private or public school.

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on schools in the United States, simply because I don’t have the knowledge needed to speak with any semblance of authority on other countries and their laws.

Image by Latino Life via Canva
Public School Guidelines

If you’re a student at an American public school, that information is standard across the board, because there are federal guidelines on religious expression in public schools.

Why is this a thing? Well, public schools are funded by public money, which means that the federal government can take a stance on the issue. Your tax dollars pay for schools, so this means that public schools fall under the umbrella of federal legislation and guidelines.

In 1995, then-US Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley sent every school superintendent in America a set of guidelines to follow, and those rules still stand today. In general, they are as follows:

Student Prayer and Religious Discussion: Prayer and discussion of religion by students is permitted, and they are welcome to engage in these activities as long as they do so in a way that’s non-disruptive. They can even attempt to persuade other students about their beliefs, but they can’t harass members of another group in the name of religious free speech. So, you can say, “I really love being Pagan and here’s why I think you might like being Pagan too.” What you CAN’T say is, “Well, Becky, I’m Pagan and your Christian belief is STUPID and you should be Pagan like me because I’m right and you’re wrong.”

Teaching About Religion: Public schools aren’t allowed to teach religious courses, but they are allowed to teach about religion. For example, the Bible and the Koran can be included as part of a literature class, or as part of a comparative religions class.

Student Clothing: When it comes to clothing, local school districts get a some leeway from the government as far as setting dress code. Ideally, no articles of student clothing should be disruptive. You can wear a shirt that says “I <3 the Goddess,” but not one that says “Jesus sucks.”

Administrative Neutrality: Teachers and other school officials are considered representatives of the state, so the establishment clause prohibits them from being involved with student religious activity in a public school. They can’t participate in or encourage any sort of religious activity with the students.

However, if you’re a student at a private or parochial school, these guidelines may not apply to you.

Religion in Private Schools

In private schools, all bets are off, and the reason is a simple one: private schools are privately funded, and don’t receive federal or state dollars. This means they can set their own rules for student and staff conduct.

If you attend a private school that is church-affiliated, you could be required to attend religious classes, prayer sessions, or Bible study. This too is legal. If you are a student at Our Holy Father of the Chia Pet High School, and Sister Mary Margaret tells you it’s time for prayer, there’s nothing against the law there.

A private school may have a specific dress code that all students are expected to adhere to. You could be prohibited from wearing shirts, jewelry, or clothing that have Pagan messages or symbols on them.

Despite the fact that they don’t get federal tax dollars, no private school may discriminate against students on the basis of race, but pretty much any other issue (like religion, or sexual orientation) is something that gets really slippery in the courts. For instance, a Christian school might refuse to admit a gay or lesbian student because it goes against the philosophy of their church. They also might say “We only want Christian students here.” As long as they are not receiving federal tax dollars, this has been allowed by the courts in the past.

The bottom line? If you’re attending a public school in the US, you’ve got some legal standing when it comes to religious matters, but if you’re a student at a private institution, you are probably going to be required to follow their rules.

 

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July 19, 1692: Rebecca Nurse

House of Seven Gables from tpsdave by CC0 Creative Commons via Pixabay

In 1692, nearly two dozen people were put to death in Salem, Massachusetts, for the crime of witchcraft. One of them, Rebecca Nurse, was hanged on July 19.

Like many of the women and men executed that summer, Rebecca Nurse was a devout Christian. Known for her piety, Rebecca was known for being a regular churchgoer. During her trial, some two dozen community members, including relatives of the accusers, wrote, “We whose nams Are heareunto subscribed being desired by goodman Nurse to declare what we knewe concerning his wives conversation for time past: we cane testyfie to all whom it may concerne that we have knowne her for: many years and Acording to our observation her: Life and conversation was Acording to her profession and we never had Any: cause or grounds to suspect her of Any such thing as she is nowe Acused of.

So, why was Rebecca Nurse convicted and hanged, despite her role as a model Christian? It is entirely likely that the accusations against her were rooted in a series of unpleasant land disputes she and her husband, Frances, had with their landlords, the Putnam family. Young Ann Putnam accused Rebecca of tormenting her with fits, and – as was often the case – spectral evidence was considered legitimate by the court.

Interestingly, the jury in Rebecca’s trial originally returned a Not Guilty verdict, but they were asked to reconsider, since Ann and several of the other afflicted girls kept screaming and fainting in the courtroom. She was found guilty, and hanged on July 19.

After her death, she was denied burial in the local churchyard, because she had been convicted of witchcraft. However, family members later disinterred her and reburied her at the family homestead in Danvers. Today, the Rebecca Nurse Homestead is the only place where members of the public can visit the home of one of Salem’s victims.

Are You Really Cut Out for Spellwork?

I periodically (and by periodically I mean A LOT OF TIMES) get emails and Facebook messages from people who lead in with What A Powerful Witch they are, and then by the second paragraph they’re begging me for spells. This weird juxtaposition tells me a couple of things.

First, it means they’re not as Oh So Powerful as they think they are, and more importantly that they actually think Powerful is something that can be measured, when really what matters more than Powerful is Effective. I’d much rather be effective – and I am – than so-called powerful, which is all relative anyway.

The second thing it tells me is that they’re lazy. There are a floppity-million spells out there, already created by people (including me) that are just out there for the asking. I guarantee that whatever it is you think you need a spell for, someone has already written it, or something very close to it that you can tweak for your own purpose. And if they haven’t, then YOU should write one.

So you have a pointy hat – what else you got?
Image by Yuganov Konstantin via Canva

If you can’t Google “magic spell for [whatever]” or “how do I write a magic spell,” then you’re lazy. A caveat to that is if you’ve already researched, and done your homework, and honest to dog, there’s REALLY NOTHING OUT THERE ANYWHERE, then your message should include “Look, I’ve tried all of the following searches and I can’t find anything, what other ways can I try to locate the information I need?” Not I need u 2 give spell 2 me now.

And the third – and possibly most valuable – thing it tells me is that you may just not have what it takes to do spellwork.

Hold on… before you send me nasty messages telling me YOU CAN’T TELL ME HOW TO MAGIC, hear me out. Here’s the thing, y’all. Spellwork consists of two parts: spell + work. Yeah, we all get the spell part, that’s covered in every single one of the Wicca 101 books. But the work part… well, that’s a whole ‘nother bucket of fish.

Work. Yes. As in, you probably have to read some stuff. You have to research. You have to do homework. You have to go out and find supplies that aren’t sitting on your bookshelf. You have to exercise patience. You have to stay up late or get up early. You have to make mistakes and learn from them. You have to make sacrifices. You have to do things that are outside your normal routine. You have to get dirty, bloody, or hungry. You have to be uncomfortable.

You have to work your ass off, because if spellwork were easy, everyone would do it.

Are you willing to do all of those things? Are you willing to accept that shit isn’t just going to be handed to you on a silver platter? Because if you’re not, then I stand by my original statement, that you may not have what it takes.

But if you’re willing to put the work into spellwork, there’s nothing in the universe that you can’t do.

Saturday Spellwork: Blessing Moon Hyssop Spell

July is the season of the Blessing Moon – this year, 2017, it appears on July 9 – and it’s a time in which our gardens are abundant and fertile. We’re watching the orchards and fruits trees ripen, the vegetables and herbs blossom and bloom, and our fall crops are rapidly growing towards the sunny sky. It’s a good time to do magic that focuses on counting our own good fortune – this simple spell uses hyssop, which is associated with not only purification, but with abundance and blessings.

Image by StevePB from CC0 via Canva

You’ll need some fresh hyssop leaves, and a cup of consecrated water. Go outside after the full moon has appeared in the evening sky.

Hold the cup up to the moon, closing your eyes, and think about all of the blessings you have in your life. Consider your good fortunate and abundance – not just of material things, but your spiritual bounty as well. Crush the hyssop leaves into the water, saying, I am blessed, I am fortunate, I have abundance in my life. New journeys begin with a single step, and I move forward each day. I count my blessings, I count my fortune, I count my abundance.

Count off all of the things in your life that you consider a blessing. Do you have good health? A loving home? Friends who always have your back? A career you love? Once you’ve finished enumerating your good fortune, offer the cup the the moon once more, and then pour the hyssop water on the ground at your feet. Take a few minutes to bask in the moonlight, considering your good fortune once more, before you go indoors for the night.

Note: A variant of this working appears in The Good Witch's Daily Spell Book.

Self Care During Tower Time

The past year has been pretty rough for a lot of us, as we see our country rapidly spiraling into the Republic of Gilead, thanks to the absolute shitshow that was the 2016 election cycle. We’ve watched as women’s rights and privileges are chopped away, and we have a giant toddler in the Oval Office who openly brags about grabbing us by the pussy. For many women in America, this has been extremely triggering, and we’re teetering on the raggedy edge of our own sanity. This is why now, more than ever before, self care is so damn important.

What is self care? Well, it’s not just physical actions – it’s also a mindset that acknowledges that it’s perfectly okay to take care of your own needs and wants. Allowing yourself the gift of self care allows you to be a functional and mentally healthy human being – and you’ll find that as you take care of your own needs more, you’ll be better equipped to deal with all the drama and rage that’s lingering in the external world. In short, self care allows for a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

Oh, shit, y’all, it’s tower time…

If you’re Pagan, and the sacred feminine is a part of your spiritual belief system, tapping into that energy can be especially gratifying for women. After all, if you accept the idea of polarity in the divine, and the power of womanhood, why not find a way to incorporate that into your self care regimen? ESPECIALLY during this chaotic and turbulent period that many of us refer to as Tower Time.

So, what can you do? There are any number of things you can try, but here are a few of my personal favorite methods of self care.

Kitchen Magic

There are a number of goddesses associated with the home and hearth, including Brighid and Hestia, and there’s something magical about the act of creation when it comes to meal preparation. Plan out a meal in advance, shop for all the necessary components, and do so mindfully. Think about what you’re putting into your body, and focus your attention on chopping, grinding, dicing, and stirring.

Image by Latino Life via Canva

Turn on your favorite music as you work – for me, cook time is often accompanied by 90s Alternative on Pandora cranked up to 11 – and make sure your workspace is thoroughly tidied before you even start. Fill a sink with soapy water so you can wash pans and utensils as you go – this means less stress after your meal, because there’s little to no cleanup involved.

If you live alone, don’t worry about it – you’re still allowed to prepare a delicious meal from scratch even if you’re eating for one. I give you permission right here and now to treat yourself well!

Pet Therapy

My dog, Bandit, is an 80-pound coonhound mix, and he’s the love of my life. There are times when I’m stressed and frazzled and he just KNOWS and makes things better. I’ve discovered that taking him for a walk or run around the neighborhood helps me a lot. I leave my phone at home so no one texts or calls me and I’m not tempted to check Facebook as I’m out exploring with him. It’s good for both of us, and because he’s hilarious, he often ends up in my apartment complex’s pond trying to catch geese, with me trying to reel him back in. We both end up wet and muddy, and you know what? It’s GOOD.

On days when we’re not feeling like a walk or run, I sometimes just lay beside him on the floor or couch. He’ll stretch out along the entire length of my body, his big goofy dog nose resting against my face, breathing softly as I rub his belly. Before I know it, we’re both calm and relaxed, because there’s nothing quite like the love of a good dog.

Get Your Ass In Gear
Image by Latino Life via Canva

Okay, okay, I know. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious the LAST thing you want to do is go to the gym. Me too. But I’ve learned that there’s nothing quite as amazing as the way I feel when I’ve banged out a mile or two on the treadmill (I use the Zombies, Run app, which is a riot), put in four on the cycle, and get a good hour on the weight machines. Pro tip: Spotify has some kickass workout playlists, and anything with Pitbull songs on it makes me want to do 400 reps of EVERYTHING.

Learn to Say No

Can you please:

  • Run the PTO meeting next Tuesday?
  • Take the kids to soccer practice every night this week?
  • Chair a meeting of the book club?
  • Plan the class reunion for June?
  • Organize a charity fundraiser?

What? You’ll do ALL of them, because you hate to say no? GREAT!

No. Just NO. Repeat after me: NO.

If it makes you feel better, NO, I’M AFRAID I DON’T HAVE THE TIME AVAILABLE TO DO THIS EFFECTIVELY.

Learn to say no. That shit is liberating. Stop saying yes. Someone else will handle it. Let it gooooooo.

Reflection, Prayer, and Meditation
Image by Hasloo Group Production Studio via Canva

For the love of Medusa’s muffins, you’ve got goddesses and gods you work with, don’t you? Call upon them and petition them for calming energy – or warrior energy, depending on what you’ve got going on – and ask them for assistance. Send out a hello to let them know you’re still alive and functional. Offer them a prayer of gratitude if they’ve gotten you through tough times. Ground, center, and shield. Meditate and communicate. The Divine is out there for us, both in good times and bad, so why are you not reaching out to them? Do it – connect with them again, remember why you chose to walk with them in the first place, and draw strength and fortitude from them.

 

 

 

Saturday Spellwork: Honey Jar

Image by Sarah2 via Canva

I’m a big fan of any kind of magic that involves stuff you already have around your house, and I find a LOT of magical whatnots in my kitchen. I always have honey on hand because (a) it’s freakin’ delicious and (b) it’s good for you, from a health perspective, to eat locally sourced honey.

It’s also really good for magical stuffs.

Binding

You can use honey to bind things together – after all, it’s all kinds of sticky – so why not incorporate it into a bit of binding magic? Bind a couple of poppets together with a layer of honey between them to sweeten the relationship, and then wrap them in a cord to hold them in place.

Sweetening Jar

In some magical traditions, the honey jar is used to sweeten someone’s disposition. Got a cranky landlord or that one coworker who’s really salty? Can’t get your significant other to stop being a Negative Nancy? HONEY JAR!

There are a number of different methods for this working, but this is the one I’ve found most effective – feel free to play around and modify it until you find the one that works best for you.

Put a photo of the person whose personality needs some assistance into the bottom of an empty glass jar. Next, you’ll need to do a bit of creative writing – in some traditions this is called a petition. Write on a piece of paper what you want to see happen – it can be simple, but it should be specific, like Mary will stop being rude to her coworkers or Bob will feel happier about his life and quite complaining about things he can’t control. Fold the petition paper up as many times as you can, folding it towards yourself, and when you can’t fold it any more, place it in the jar.

Pour enough honey in to cover the photo and jar completely, and then cap the jar. Light a candle in an appropriate color – yellow for persuasion, for instance, or light blue for patience and understanding – and place the candle on top of the lid. Let it burn down so that the wax runs down onto the jar, and allow the flame to burn out on its own. Once it’s all melted and extinguished, bury the jar (with the wax still on it) somewhere that it won’t be disturbed.

 

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