Dear Witchful Thinking,
I found your site in a search for ways to protect my home from a guest who I am going to have to invite into my home, but this woman, who is also a Witch, does not not like me and I do not trust her. I am Wiccan also, my distrust isn’t due to her beliefs. I need some advice on ways to protect my home when inviting an unfriendly guest who could cause harm into it. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
There’s an old saying that goes “guests are like fish, they stink after three days”. Ok, it’s not a very nice thing to say, but there is something to it. Back in the day, maybe our parents generation, folks knew what it meant to be a guest. This included cleaning up after yourself, offering to cook one night, and generally not trying to be much of a burden on the host. Now-a-days, guests expect it to be like at a hotel, where they are waited on hand and foot. Some open communication with your guest could really help–especially establish when she will be leaving.
I assume that since you have to invite this guest into your home, that you are either 1) related, 2) working on a business deal, 3) trying to please your partner who wants them to visit, or 4) taking a charity case and you are the nicest person ever.
In Wicca, we recognize that sometimes people we don’t like are actually very like us. It is what we see in them that we don’t like about ourselves. So what is it about this woman that you dislike so much? Is it her manners? Her attitude? Or just the fact that she doesn’t like you? And does she really not like you? Or do you just think that she doesn’t like you?
I don’t know what kind of harm this woman can do to you that you would allow. If she breaks something like a vase, that harm can often be mended. Even if it is irreplaceable–it’s just stuff. If she leaves “bad vibes”, you can clean them up when she’s not looking, and recognize that it’s probably only upsetting you anyway (you’re the sensitive Witch, after all!). Will she physically hurt your animals or children? That’s unacceptable for anyone, Witch or no, and she should know better (after all, who needs that kind of 3-fold return Karma??). So what kind of harm are we talking about?
Not everyone will like you. Sometimes they are projecting their own past on you. Perhaps you symbolize something distasteful to them. Sometimes they just have the wrong impression. Often their values are different than yours. It doesn’t make sense, but I think you know it is true. Something about you scares them–and that there is valuable information that you should try to find out! With that info, you can work on it and learn to help them have some compassion for you. Here’s the thing: it goes the other way, too: As Above, So Below, right?
Remember that Wiccans work for the highest good for all involved, especially because we reap our own Karma. Is starting a Witch War going to help you do that? Your guest may not have the same values that you do, even if you are both Witches, but hold true to YOUR highest ideals and strive ever toward them (Thanks Uncle Al!).
So, it sounds like you can’t change the situation. But you can change your mind. Imagine this woman is, well, a Witch–she challenges you and rubs you the wrong way and might cast a spell on you. You can’t fight her with sword and shield, so you must defeat her in less obvious ways. You are the hero in the journey and story of self-awareness and personal growth. You will defeat her because you know the ways of magic. You know that you are powerful, and nothing she can do will truly harm you (after all, a curse only works if you believe in it). You listen to her and are kind to her because you know that she can teach you something about yourself and about the world.
My advice in real life? Kill her with kindness. Make food she’ll enjoy. Make her comfortable. If she gets petty, take the highest road. If you think she’s casting spells on you, utterly ignore them. If her vibes are trashing your house, cover them with your light vibes of peace and tranquility (and a little sage or cedar never hurt either). Do not sink to her level and engage in a Witch War. I promise you will both lose.
Perhaps this isn’t the advice you wanted. But I honestly believe that when you cast spells on people, your Karma gets tangled with theirs. And I know I don’t want to be tangled with someone I don’t actually like. I trust that the Gods and the Laws of Karma will even things out in the long run. Until then, I’m free to change myself–and so are you. You have a valuable opportunity for learning here. I suggest you take it and run with it!
Otherwise, check out this article on clearing spaces and keeping magically safe.
Dear Witchful Thinking,
I’m a college student and I’m home for the summer. Unfortunately, my home has become a very negative place. Can you give me any tips on emotional shielding?
Coming home from college can be a tough transition. You are used to running your own schedule and having your own space. It is a time when you explore who you are as an individual outside your family, and then coming home can be a difficult experience. Sometimes our folks aren’t honestly ready for us to leave, because as far as they are concerned, you’re still their baby. Sometimes you come back and find that things aren’t the same. For parents, having a kid out of the house gives them room to look at their relationship, and they don’t always like what they see.
Whatever the reason, there are several ways you can shield yourself from negativity:
- Shield Yourself. Create a charm or amulet–something you can wear. A Pentacle works perfect for this: start at each of the corners and trace it with your athame, wand or finger. Visualize the power of earth, air, fire, water and spirit protecting you. See yourself wearing it, and a protective egg around you that lets in only good and safe energy. Imagine any negativity simply bouncing off harmlessly, to be transformed into something else later. You can raise some energy into it by chanting, humming, soaking it in the moonlight or sun, or whatever seems appropriate to your spell. Whenever you wear it, you know that eggshell of energy is protecting you. When things get rough, touch or pull gently on it, to release the protection and remind you that you are safe.
- Shield Your Space. If you have your own room, or a place that you call yours in your parents house, consider making it a sanctuary. First, clean the heck out of it! You can burn some sage and let the sacred smoke banish the negative vibes, but beware that the smoke sometimes smells like marijuana! Another option is cedar or sweetgrass. You can usually pick these things up at a New Age or metaphysical store. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might be able to find a dry piece of cedar outside. Or consider aspirging with sea salt water. Once your space is vibrationally clean, cast a semi-permanent circle. Using your athame, wand or projective hand, draw a circle around your room. Visualize the energy surrounding it and making a 3-D bubble. Draw the energy up from the Earth. Give this boundary a purpose, that is keep out all negativity, that negativity inside be dissolved away, and that love and safety shall prevail in the circle. Consider decorating it to reflect that serenity, or create an altar to hold the energy of safety. When the energy of the room feels good, draw a door on top of your door, and tell the circle that you want to be able to come and go freely, with the door acting as a permeable barrier that still keeps out negativity. Should someone burst in your room and spill their negativity everywhere, you can always clear it out again. Remember the more energy you put into your visualizations, the stronger they become. When the break is over, and it is time to go back to college, take down your sacred space–it takes energy to sustain it, and the distance between home and college will make it tiresome.
- Shield your Astral Self. If you are adept at meditating, consider this idea. Go to the Astral Plane and shield yourself there. Ask any entities for advice or insight into the problem. Try visiting a deity you work closely with and see if they have any thoughts. Ask them to protect you in the physical and Astral worlds.
- Actively Banish the Yuck. You can use a Mudra to banish the negativity and calm yourself. Choose a hand gesture that is subtle and easy to remember, perhaps the thumb and forefinger squished together so the hand resembles a dog, or make an OK sign. Whatever you choose, go into a meditative state and “program” your Mudra to your needs. Again, visualize yourself being safe and secure, protected from negativity whenever you do the hand gesture. With this programed, you have only to make the gesture, and you will feel its effects! Be sure to be specific when you program.
- Try the Mundane. Magic always works better when paired with a mundane manifestation of your desire. If there is conflict in the house, it is ok to face it. Problems rarely go away on their own, and if you address it and bring it into the light, so to speak, it is much more likely to be addressed. Even if you can’t actually do anything about it, you can gently voice your concerns, talk over how you feel and how it affects you. People don’t always consider how their problems affect other people. Maybe there is something you could do to make the problem better, but don’t get tangled up in someone elses mess! Unfortunately, people have to learn their lessons on their own. The best you can do is tend to your own life lessons.
I hope that gives you enough to get through the summer. Good luck with this situation! Remember that college is right around the corner.
Dear Witchful Thinking,
I’ve never been asked this before, so I’ll do my best to answer. At the church I attend, because it is for public worship, we do not do nude services, although I know of a semi-private Pagan church that does, but they have a lot more property [and a lot less neighbors] than we do). At a festival, where we use other property, there might be nudity in the ritual. Nudity is not associated with purity, but with rebirth. Wiccans have a sacred writing that is pretty consistent throughout the diversity of groups called the “Charge of the Goddess”. The text is spoken aloud by a Priestess who has invoked the Goddess, so the words are divine (even the tiny changes made are correct–so the text is quite alive. See some variation here). Anyhoo, the Goddess tells us that, as a sign that we be free from slavery, “you shall be naked in your rights” and that “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. So there is divine approval for both nudity and sexuality as worship.
Some groups do worship in the nude and are described as “skyclad”. But this is typically done with tight-knit groups. The focus is usually on freedom from societal pressure, being beautiful as you are, humor, healing, sensuality, expressing your true/divine nature etc. I’ve been to festivals where a coven will host an open skyclad ritual (so it is open to people outside their tradition, but only to people at the festival, who are probably all Pagan). They have a way of doing it which takes the focus off of the sexual excitement of seeing naked people (which is something I think the rest of the world needs to figure out too, that nudity does not equal sexual excitement).
We aren’t particularly focused on purification on the whole, at least in my tradition. Although we ritually purify ourselves before entering sacred space, the purpose is to clear your mind of negative thoughts, because it is believed that thoughts are amplified in sacred space, and the Gods can see and hear you better. Wicca does not believe in original sin, nor follow any other Christian thought like that, so there is nothing inherent to purify. However, purification might be a part of a ritual or spell. I recently did a type of purification ritual after people were talking trash about my writing on the internet. I had started to feel that what they said might be true or hurt me in real life, and honestly made me feel kind of tainted–plus, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. So I did a purification ritual involving mindful bathing, visualization and meditation, and am now “clean” of these thoughts. The magic is in the psychology.
Ritually bathing another does not come up very often, but I have seen it associated with initiation into a religious mystery, and as a symbol of being cleansed after birth or rebirth. So the dead are ritually bathed, as they are being reborn in an afterlife. Babies are ritually bathed by others after birth, and during a ritual which introduces them to the Gods (different from baptism in that there is no commitment on the part of the child).
I hope that answers your question!
I stand at the door of Apollo’s shrine–I’m not sure why I have come. Whether I am simply drawn by the energy of this place, or by the serendipity of a short line, I know not.
The Pithia is at the door. She’s the mysterious prophetess of Delphi, and the most powerful women in the world. She invites me to share in her fumes–a heady incense that would take me ages to recognize. It goes straight to my head. She speaks to me, but her words make no sense. By the time she motions me to enter the shrine, my doubt clears and I enter the door. I glimpse the mosaic ‘Know Thyself’ as I commit myself to crossing the threshhold.
Somehow, my frivolous hat with kitty ears seems woefully inadequate to wear when you stand before a god. I couldn’t take it off fast enough.
He is glorious. A young man in a shining chiton of pure white and gold. Clean shaven and well groomed–he looks like that hot professor I never actually had in college. Behind him, a sparse altar with symbols sacred to Him; a vase, a bust of Himself, a crown of laurel, some soil from Apollo’s own birthplace, and several offerings of poetry and writing.
For the scarcity of time, two are allowed inside, and when Apollo the Sun God asks kindly what brings us here, I defer to the woman next to me. She is to be the caretaker and healer of young boys who have seen real trauma and experienced great loss. Boys who have had violence against them and no true father figures in their lives as they were in and out of the system. Suddenly my own desires for Apollo’s blessing seem shallow and contrived. I turn my gaze to the young Sun God, joining in this woman’s beseech, “Lord Apollo, can you heal them?”
“Although I have felt many heartaches and pains that mortals normally bear alone, I am compassionate to your blight where other Gods cannot be. But I cannot heal these young men. I can offer my love, empathy and protection,” he touches the woman, “but you must heal them.”
I can see her breaking down–the weight of such a responsibility is heavy, yet she knows Apollo will be standing behind her, guiding her actions as long as her intention is pure. She straightens herself and seems so brave to me. I know of Apollos loves and losses from my mythological studies. His understanding is real.
He turns to me to ask why I have come. I wring my cat hat and shuffle my feet–I wonder if Hermes has stolen the words out of my mouth, for suddenly I seemed to have more words than I could edit coming out of my mouth at His shrine not fifteen minutes ago. Now I stand before the God of decorum, right action, poetry…and my words and body language reflect none of these things.
“Er, it’s like this…” I begin, “I have all these projects–too many, really. I went to your sister Artemis to ask for her help in finishing what I start. And She said I should see you about, er, getting organized with my writing. Or something.”
That sounded dumb, so I try again, “I’m writing a book, you see. Several, actually. I’m well blessed by your inspiration, my Lord. I just can’t seem to accomplish anything.”
Apollo, the God of inspiration, of song and civilization seems to contemplate me a moment, “Is it one thing you wish to accomplish, or one big thing?”
“It’s huge!” I gesticulate widely in demonstration, “A big idea–a vision–I want to give to the community. It involves several separate writing projects.”
I thought his statement ironic.
“What is the action you must do to begin and sustain this project?”
My mind races–research, interview, find time, support myself, keep the lights on, make the computer work for me…
“No.” said Apollo, reading my mind, “You have to write. What is a book but an accomplishment of chapters? What is a chapter but an accomplishment of pages? Empires and encyclopedias are gained and created by a thousand accomplishments inside a thousand accomplishements inside a thousand accomplishments. Begin with the page. Write what you know. What you put there will be honest, true and perfect for you at that moment. If, when it is done, you find it not to your standards, then you do one of two things: You might honor Athena and delve into research. Or you might honor my sister Artemis, and accept is as practice, and try it again.
“If you are open, I will keep you well inspired, but to become overwhelmed by the big idea and never make accomplishments toward it–that is failure. But looking where you are and seeing how far you have come shows your many accomplishments. It is not a failure simply because you are not at the end.
“The sign above the door says “Know Thyself”, but unless you are a God, it is an impossible task. The goal is to strive toward it. Everything you do something to enrich that is an accomplishment.”
He seems done, but the magic is broken by noisy events outside the shrine. From my place in Apollo’s presence, I peer out the door over the green. I can see Ares stomping away from the shrine he shares with Athene.
“If you would just listen to reason!”
Without a word, but with many grumbles and a flare of cigar smoke, Ares pulls off his armor and kicks it to the ground, piece by piece, and heads straight for Aphrodite’s shrine. He pushes through the long line of worshippers, even shoving Her mermaid attendant out of the way. He swings open the door to Her shrine, and I swear I could see Aphrodite dismiss the Lord of War with a wave of her hand.
Apollo and the other woman and I look out. The young Sun God shakes his head, “My family is so…dramatic, sometimes. O dear. He’s not going into there, is he?”
Indeed, Ares slams the door at the shrine of his lover, and proceeds to a group of Sirens–fierce bird women who would sing to you lovingly as they play with your entrails. Their song lures Him in as they dance and sharpen their claws–the woman and I look at each other with worry.
“Fear not,” Apollo touches our shoulders and invites us both back into his shrine, “If anyone can handle their play, it is my brother Ares. Now, where were we? O yes.”
He blesses us both, and I leave the temple inspired by what I’ve heard and ready to write. But first, there are other Gods to visit. I step out of the shrine into Apollo’s glorious sunshine, and inhale the sweet air of optimism. I spare a glance back for the Pithia, who snakes into Apollo’s shrine–no doubt to drink up the words of prophecy he sends to her. I wonder what my destiny will be, and the outcome of this project. But first, I know, I must write…
As you know, our boundaries about relationships is different from other peoples. In honor of Beltain I wanted to talk about a specific one.
Very likely, if you are just beginning your magical practice, this won’t be a problem for you, but as your practice grows and your magical identity deepens, you may want to consider choosing a magical partner.
A magical partner is a person with whom you do magical work with. This work could be spellcraft (like a two person coven), service to the community (such as leading a group), doing a Great Work, or a mature teacher/student relationship. A magical partner is someone you work closely with as you grow in the Craft. In Wiccan communities, your partner is typically the opposite gender. It is an unusual relationship when looked at from outside the community.
A magical partnership is not inherently a romantic or sexual relationship, although it can take on the characteristics. A magical partnership is based upon the work you do together, but the nature of the work can be very intimate and emotional, with or without sexual activity. The relationship is very much like professional dance partners.
Some things to consider when choosing a magical partner:
- Magical practice: choose someone who has the same style that you do, or who magically thinks like you do, or is of the same tradition. Your styles need to mesh and come to some agreement about how you will go about your practice.
- Your romantic partner: what would your spouse or significant other think about this magical relationship? What are the boundaries? At what point does it become emotional cheating? Think about what energy and parts of yourself you would be keeping away from your partner. Come up with some rules to avoid jealousy–remember that in a serious relationship, your partner comes first. Obviously if your magical partner is your romantic partner, then this is not a problem.
- Focus and intent: what will be the nature of your work? Will you be working on a project? Leading and teaching the community? Worshiping a particular deity? Working on a particularly difficult psychological problem? Exploring other realms together? You and your partner should be on the same page.
- On the Outside: how does this relationship look to outsiders? Not that it matters, on one hand, but you had best be prepared for rumors if you aren’t willing to explain yourself. If you are leading a Beltain ritual and one of you invokes the Goddess and the other invokes the God and you spend half the ritual flirting and making out with each other, people are going to wonder if there is anything between you and what your significant other thinks about it. You may tell yourself that it is just ritual and, like actors on stage, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but for the observers, the energy is there and it looks very real.
- In the Pagan community: while those not in the know about your relationship may be whispering to each other, those in the know in the community may treat you like a couple. For example, they may invite you and your magical partner to a ritual or gathering, and neglect to extend the invitation to your significant other.
- A magical partnership is very serious: the Karma and energy accumulated in a magical partnership is amplified, just like in Circle. Personality differences, psychological scars and spiritual crisis are more likely to come to the surface quickly in this kind of relationship. Luckily, you have this partner to work through it with! You will experience a deep sense of loyalty, almost like family, that comes from being emotionally intimate with someone else. This relationship is a chance to experiment, and the work you do here is likely to influence how you are in other relationships. In order to experience the best of the other, you will have to give them your best. It is a serious commitment.
- This relationship has cycles: it begins with a lot of energy, experiences growing pains and conflict, and may eventually end or change form, just like any other relationship. It may not go in the direction you expect, but you will certainly grow and learn from it. Be prepared to commit to it as long as it is productive, and be ready to release it when it is time to move on.
Having a magical partner is a beautiful and intimate way to experience Divinity and do the work of the Gods. But it is a very mature relationship, both personally and magically, and must be thought through just like any other magical endeavor. Rather than searching one out, I think you’ll find that you’ll fall into one naturally as you grow in the community and in your Craft. You will end up working with people on rituals and may find a powerful energetic chemistry between you. You will likely end up partnering with someone you already know–partnering with a stranger is unwise when you consider the possible ramifications.