Recycling as an Act of Devotion

When I lived in apartments in North Georgia recycling was next to impossible. My complex did not participate in any program or pick up and the closest plant was an hour’s drive away. I hated the amount of wast we were generating as a two person family, but I personally was unable to do anything about it on a regular basis. Moving out to Phoenix there was a large difference in the acceptability of recycling resources. Now living in a three person household we may generate a bag of waste a week and up to two bags of recyclables.

Why did not being able to recycle bother me so much? As Pagans we practice an earth-based religion, and if so then what happens to our scared space should be a major influence on our practice. Look at other religions that hold sacred space in buildings and special places. Do they leave these “houses” of their deities dirty and neglected? No, so why is the earth, our sacred space any different? Taking care of the earth is an act in its self of devotion to our home and to the Gods when placed into this context. But, your thinking, recycling is a no brainier due in part to the large recycling movement of the ’90s; however according to US Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) 66% of the materials we throw into landfills could be recycled.

That means all that talk in the ’90s and early 2000s didn’t really make that large of an impact. I don’t think I know a single person who would not say recycling is important, but how many of these people recycle on a regular base? When Earth Day rolled around the company I was working for made a big fuse about how green and energy efficient the buildings were, but the free cups in the brake rooms were styrofoam and there were no air driers in the bathrooms. As you can see above, one strofoam cup takes 50 years to decompose and a paper towel 3 or 4. So, a large company that has over 500 employees at one campus; witch an average of each employee using up to three cups per day and six paper towels. . . I should see some astonished faces.

So, not only are we not recycling what can be recycled; we are not making simple changes to recyclable or earth friendly materials. Why? cost. Styrofoam is cheep, people prefer patter towels because driers are loud and unreliable, its hard to remember reusable shopping bags, and so on. Are you taking part in recycling in your home and office? Is your neighborhood and work place recycle friendly? If you said no to any of these, then what are you doing about it? There are a ton of resources out their on the internet for learning how to recycle in your city so I implore you as a Pagan, show gratitude to your Gods for such a beautiful earth and keep it that way.

If you live in the Phoenix area please see this link to understand the recycling program hear: http://www.recyclecleanphoenix.org/faq/

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

The Ethics of Hex and Curses

There has been a lot of talk on and offline lately about hexing and cursing, especially around the Brock Turner rape conviction; and I felt like adding my two cents in. To lay out my biases I am a criminologist and Wiccan. My degree work heavily focused on understanding violent crime and American Criminal Law. I also use magick as a last resort measure, generally waiting for a dire need to ask outside forces for formal assistance. Most importantly, I am on the fence about using hex and curse magick myself. So, when my friends were bringing in books on “Gray Witch Craft” and the internet was a buzz with hexing a known rapist I decided I wanted to explore the ethics of hex magick and what other options are out there for Witches.

The word Hex comes from the German word hexen “to practice sorcery”. In modern witchcraft the word hex is more commonly used to describe a spell cast to cause pain or ill will on an individual or group. Curse, believed to come from Old English crus “a prayer that is evil or harmful” or “to swear profanely”. Today there is some debate that hex and curse can be used interchangeable, but what I found as a more interesting use is describing hex as a verb and cures as the effect. For the sake of this post I will being using hex to describe a spell with ill intent directed at a person, group, or culture.
As I have mentioned in the post on The Threefold Law a large majority of Wiccans believe in a rule of return. The Threefold Law along with the Wiccan Rede; “an do what yhe will, harm none” (more on that in a later post) maintains for all that believe in it, there will be consistences to knowingly causing harm to another. Because of this, a large percentage of magick practitioners do not use hexes in their practice. However, even in the Wiccan community there is a growing amendment to the Rede to include “harm none, but take no shit”. Adding an argument for using magick to fight back or as self defense. There is also, in the grater pagan community those who do not follow the Rede, or believe in the Threefold Law. Some of these witches do not hex due to personal morality, but what stops or encourages witches that do not have such convictions?
To understand the use of hex magick today one would have to look at what brought about hexing in first place. Byron Ballard described in episode 53 of Down at the Crossroads, hex magick was used by the poor and those outside of the justice system. I believe this was said in a European Middle Ages context, but can be seen to explain different places and times. Such as, the use of hexs in Hoodoo or Voodoo. This statement a lines very well with the witches who are wielding hexs at Turner’s defense of since justice was not done in the courts their magick will bring about a more preferable punishment.
Since the discussion on hex magic has become so heated recently many elders have spoken out againts the use of negative magick. Such as Raymond Buckland, though a Facebook post Uncle Bucky stated his disappointment in the use of negative magick and how the public use of hexing is destroying all the pioneers of Wicca’s work on changing the perspective of modern witchcraft in the eyes of the larger culture. Uncle Bucky underlined the importance of spreading healing and love though magick. So, an alternative to hexing Turner has been to bless the two gentleman who found and caught Turner, or to send healing to the victim. I personally find sending blessings to the people who fight for the rights of victims and help heal the world a more constructive use of my magick then to hex and send anger out to those who tare the world apart.

In conclusion I urge all magickal practitioners to think before doing any magick, good or bad. To remember that it is your responsibility what you do with the power you send out and to be prepared to take what ever comes back. Even if you do not believe in a Threefold Return you should be prepared and understand all of the possibilities your magick could create. After reaching in myself I feel I could not cast a hex, but that should not limit or stop someone who can.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

Sources cited in this post include:

Orapello, Chris: Down at the Crossroads, Episode 53 Willful Bane: The Joy of Hex with Byron Ballard.

Buckland, Raymond: Facebook Post June 13th 2016

The Witches’ Pyramid

The Witches’ Pyramid is a philosophical foundation to magickal practices. There are many different ways to describe, visualize and understand this necessary thought process to effective magic, and no one way is right or better. In this post I will be describing the Pyramid in the way I feel it is easiest to understand for a new witch. As a seeker of a magickal practice please note it takes time and personal exploration to fully invoke these ideals in everyday life but once you do, you will see an extreme improvement to your magick.

The Pyramid is constructed from four statements; To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Silent. Like the elements called into a circle you must invoke these ideals and their corresponding directions while preparing a magical working. These four statement when working together help build the necessary mindset that is needed for effective magic. I will explain what these statements mean, how to work with them, and how they make your magick work.

pyramid
The Witches Pyramid

 

To Know

The base of our Pyramid and the first ideal needed to creating effective magic. To Know corresponds with the East and the element of air. To use magick effectively you must first know yourself. I tell anyone about to do magick to first know yourself and what you want. Explore what you want from the magick you are about to do on all levels, such as spiritual, emotional, and physically. How can the magick do what you want if you don’t know what that is? Don’t forget the revers of this, know also what you don’t want.

You must also know your craft. I have complained in the past about “Pinterest Spells” or spells you find online and in some books that tell you what to do but not why. If you don’t understand what you are doing, how are you sure it will bring about what you want. The worst part of this is you lose the ability to learn from these simple step by step spells. Ok, you used Basil why? How will you use it in the future? Why did the spell call for fresh instead of dry? You don’t know! These spells if done without more research have robbed you of the ability To Know.

To Will

The next step on the Pyramid corresponds to the South. Like the element of fire To Will is to is the burn to believe.  At the end of a lot of spells you will see the line “As I will, so mote it be.” The will is the strength and the push for magick to work. You know who you are, want you want the magick to do, and the magick that needs to be done; but do you really want it? Do you see yourself with it? The motivation and  determination to do what ever is necessary mundane or magickal is the will to have it so.

To Dare

After you know and have a will for your desire you must dare to get it. Corresponding to the west  To Dare is to commit to the magick without fear. You must let go of fears that you are not good enough, worthy, it won’t work, or you don’t have all of the tools. Like Nike just do it! To dare is to push forward with out fear into the future because what you want is worth it.

shh

To Keep Silent

The tip top of the Pyramid is To Keep Silent. Corresponding to the Earth, north, and winter after you have completed your magick, your lips should be sealed with ice. Less all the strength and  mystery of your working slip between them. Much like the belief of not to barter for magical items a witch does not boast about what magic they have done. You could say this is a precision in case it doesn’t work much like you don’t tell everyone you got a new job before you have had the interview but it is also more then that. The universe works in mysteries ways and you don’t know how your spell is going to manifest. Blabbering about it demotes your respect for the working.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

The Threefold Law is Not Karma

Sometimes referred to as The Rule of Three or The Threefold Return, when a Pagan describes The Threefold Law a comparison is often invoked, such as “it’s like Karma”. Where this comparison may be useful to help non-magical folk understand the basic idea of The Threefold Law; it is not accurate nor respectful to the people who believe in Karma. I believe we, as in Pagans, fall into using this comparison because of two things; we don’t really know what Karma is, and we are using an already respected religious principle to give ourselves validity. I myself have made this comparison and that is why I decided to do my research. What I discovered and hope to share with you is that The Threefold Law is not Karma.

idtukwim

So what is The Threefold Law? First seen in Gerald Gardner’s High Magic’s Aid (1949) “Mark well, when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold”and popularized in Raymond Buckland’s writings The Rule of Three is a widely believed guide line in the Neo Pagan world. A more modern verse  “What you put out comes back to you three, times three, times three” written by Scott Cunningham in Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. It is described as what ever action or intent you put out into the universe comes back to you threefold. The ‘what’ that comes back to you threefold is defined in a variety of ways, and can change from person to person or tradition to tradition.  Some of the ways the threefold return is believed to occur include; your output comes back in a set of three waves or three different thing happen, three times worse or three times better, or the effects are physical, emotional, and spiritual. If you poll the Pagan community you will find people who believe all of these interpretations work together, only one of them holds true for them, and people who don’t believe or follow in The Threefold Law at all.

rede
A version of The Wiccan Rede by Doreen Valiente

Karma is very different. Not as up for interpretation as The Threefold Law, Karma is a belief system held by many religious sects including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sikhism. Coming from the Sanskrit word meaning action, work, and deed Karma is a spiritual principle of cause and effect, yes like The Threefold Law. Also, Karma holds that the actions and intent of individuals’ influences their future. That is where the similarities end. Karma not only effects the individuals future in this life but also determines their quality and circumstance of future lives. Karma has three themes that are seen in all belief systems that hold it; causality, ethicization, and rebirth.

These Karmic themes bring a level of sophistication that The Threefold Law lacks. Starting with causality which deals with the actions and intent. Causality explains for every action there is an effect on karma, intentional or not. Ethicization is the idea that like attracts like. So within Karma ethicization establishes similar return of the intent and actions the individual releases. The effects or return in Karma are two fold; phala and samskaras. Phala is the immediate affects and occur in this life. Samskaras are an affect that occurs to the individuals mindset that lessens the possibility for that individual to experience happiness in the future this life and others. So where some of these ideals are seen in other aspects of Neo Paganism they are not internally present in The Threefold Law its self.

karma
Like how there is Pop-Psychology there is a pop culture understanding of Karma 

 

We know the builders of Wicca were very aware of Eastern philosophy so it is no stretch to believe that The Threefold Law is borrowed in part from Karma, but the builders of Wicca were also constructing a new form of worship in a different culture. So, they might have left more up for interpretation or some ideals from Karma might have been lost in translation at that time. Later showing up as the religion aged. However, this lack or loss of ideas is not a bad thing when it comes to Neo Paganism. A large percentage of Neo Pagan practitioners  came to the craft because of the ability to discover and build their own prescriptive of their religion. This adaptability is the a major “selling point” so why tarnish its individuality by comparing?

What happens when we compare our religions to others is that we are not establishing ourselves on our own terms. If a non Pagan hears about Neo Paganism in the terms of “we are not like them”, “we are similar to them”, and so on. The speaker is relying on the listener’s understanding of these other religions and their feelings or bias of them. If the speaker misjudges the listener’s biases or exposure to the compared religion there will be miscommunication and misunderstanding. If the listener has the same knowledge and feelings of the compared religions as the speaker, then comes away with the ideas of Neo Paganism based on others and not its own belief system. If a comparison is unavoidable to us as speakers are then required to do a lot of ground work to avoid miscommunication.   A future topic will be on how to talk about Paganism with others so please look for that to continue this discussion.

A late but very blessed Beltane to all.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

A Pagan Earth Day

How to Celebrate Earth Day as a practitioner of an earth based religion.

image

Earth Day is Friday April 22nd. Commonly celebrated in an effort to raise awareness on environmental issues. Since its first celebration in 1970 more then 193 countries are involved, but has that made an difference fixing the devastating impact humans have had on the earth? As Pagans we celebrate Mother Nature and  the Earth in our daily religious practice; because of this ever Pagan has a responsibility to do what we can to have as little to no impact on the environment as possible.

If we do that everyday why should we make April 22nd any different? We make Earth Day special by doing just a bit more then our normal actions. Make Earth Day the one day of the year you reaffirm what you currently do, decide on what more you can do, and being present in the actions of others. The following are some activities you can do on Earth Day to remind yourself the importance of Mother Earth. You can even do more then one!

image

  • Volunteer

What better way to spend Earth Day then with a community driven volunteer program. Look on your city or county web site and I am sure you will find a park clean up on Earth Day. If spending the day in the hot sun doesn’t sound like fun consider donating to a charity or signing a petition. On the bottom of the page I have a list of Pagan and Non-Pagan organizations that need our help! Please consider looking at these worthy causes.

  • Hold a Ceremony or Ritual

In a group or buy yourself consider holding a ritual in honer of the Earth. Send some healing energy out to her and take time focusing on what can be done between the worlds to care for the Earth. You can do this inside or out, decorating your alter with images and items that call Earth to your circle.

image

  • Go on a Nature Hike

I would say the best way to spend Earth Day is being out in nature. So get out there and take a hike! Better yet go camping! Become one with the Earth will help not only your soul and magick, but grant you good memories to help you call on earth later. Make sure you review safety material and pack appropriately, but best of all bring an extra garbage bag and while your on the trail remove all signs of previous travelers that you find. Like the Girls Scouts leave the place better then you found it!

  • Start a Recycling Program

When I lived in apartments recycling was practically impossible. The closest plant was an hour away and my complex did not collect. So, everything went in the trash. Now I live where recycling is picked up every week and I have more recycling then wast. If you want to create a change in your community, school, or work place  speak up at the next town hall, talk to the other people who’s support you need. On the same note you can also start a compost or garden. Use Earth Day too get needed supplies and  do something for yourself, your community, and the Earth.

  • Join a Movement

Need to feel more active then what the previous suggestions provided? Have time on your hands? Join the fight! Go out to a protest, community board, or an organization. There are so many things you can do locally or world wide to be the change. Lend your voice or arms to the efforts to heal and stop the pain we are causing to the Earth.

image

The following are organizations you can lend your support to this Earth Day and everyday:

Earth Day – April 22

http://ecopagan.com/

http://www.paganmusic.co.uk/the-green-album/

https://www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org

http://www.rainforestfund.org

5 Steps to Make the Wheel of the Year Yours

celtic-wheel-1For many American Pagans the Wheel of the Year and the sentiments connected to the Sabbats do not work. The number one complaint is most loudly expressed when the Sabbat is for celebrating the first signs of spring and the practitioner is experiencing the coldest months of winter. A seasonal chart for Northern England doesn’t match any North American Witch’s experience. So, why should we base our worship around it? Many witches don’t, and you don’t have to either. All throughout the craft you will hear many advisers tell you to do what works for you, why is the Wheel any different? The following is 5 steps to fit the Wheel of the Year to your climate and liking.

1. Look at the Traditional Wheel

Before you change something you better know it’s not working. If you haveyear-wheeln’t worked through the Traditional Wheel of the Year at least once, do so and then come back. I’ll see you in a year. If you’ve gone through the Wheel, and it doesn’t work for you the first thing you want to do is pull out a note book. On a separate page for each Sabbat write the date(s) the Sabbats fall on at the top. Next write all the corresponding information below it like; the Sabbat’s name, what is celebrated, and what corresponds to it. Leave plenty of room!

2.Gather Information on Your Climate

Next do some research on your own slice of earth. Take the note book you prepared in step 1 and add to it with what happens in the climate you currently live in. Be sure to use the dates on the tops of the pages as guides. If there are dates for local events that are slightly different record them on the sheet closest to the date. Your research should include looking up average temperatures for the seasons, planting and harvesting seasons start and end, and average rain/ snow fall. Compare your research to what is presented in the Traditional Wheel. What looks different? What looks the same?

prickly
Spring Blooms of the Prickly Pear

3. Look at the Indigenous Traditions

You may also want to look into the indigenous people of the area. Find out the tribe names and how close to where you lived they were or are located. Depending on record you may get a good idea of  what celebrations they held thought the year. Why and when these celebrations took place should be added to you notebook. Keeping information on the page that is most closely related be sure to also include corresponding Deities and themes.

4. Decide What Needs to Change

wheeloftheyearThis notebook should have a wealth of information in it by now. Going page by page review all that you have gathered. Now is when you decide how much you want to change from the Traditional Wheel and why.  Do you want to change the dates? The sentiments? The names? Do you want to add or remove Sabbats entirely? You now understand enough about your home to be able to decide what works best for you. To make this daunting task easier go slow. Starting on a fresh page transfer everything you liked on to the new page. Then move on to the next.

5.Document and Practice

Now with your new pages write your Wheel of the Year. If you have unexpected holes don’t try to hard to fill them right now. Focus on what you do have. At least you want to have dates and purpose of celebration planed. Once you have all that you want filled in start practicing it. Leaving room for change and improvement. The point is not to be married to what you first hashed out but to let it grow over time. Also keep in mind your Wheel is yours, so it might not work for everyone. If you made drastic changes to the Traditional Wheel don’t try and implement it in a group without the groups consent, and remember not everyone will want to change. Even if you live in a drastically different climate.

When I first moved to the Desert from a large pine forest I wish I started this process right away. It would have saved me a lot of grief if I had dropped the Traditional Wheel and appreciated where I was. Let me know what kind of climate you live in and how you celebrate it in all its glory.

This week I suggest the Modern Witch Podcast with Devin Hunter.

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                                                     Autumn Wolfe

An Altar in Every Room

Creating small inconspicuous, sacred spaces all thought a Witch’s home.

thefaceofvenus

What is with us Pagans and our Altars? I love looking at a clear perfectly arranged space. In fact it causes a lot of hostility in my home, because my roommates don’t have the same need for organization and cleared space as I do. I would say a large portion of my need for cleared space, i.e. uncluttered empty counters and table space, is due to the teachings of Paganism. In every beginners book there is a section dedicated to removing unwanted and unused things. Normally in a spring cleaning or emotional baggage type section. They encourage a working witch to get rid of energy suckers; and that these clear spaces help our thoughts and our magick stay fresh. Maybe when I was younger I didn’t ascribe to that philosophy as much, but now I can’t stand clutter of any kind! Everything I have out on display has a place and gives me nothing but joy and if it is a necessary item that does not bring me happiness with a single glance it better have a place to go where I don’t have to look at it.

As a “compromise” I enforce stringent regulations on my spaces and try to respect shared space. I am really bad at the respecting shared space bit. Now top of that, I have thrown embarrassing tantrums and had fits over my spaces being touched and in prep for spring cleaning I think I found out why. Every space I set up is an altar of some kind that I have devoted a large portion of energy in setting up and caring for. Each one in turn gives me satisfaction on a spiritual level and could be used to invoke certain feelings, Deities, or emotional states. Whether you maintain a standing Altar in you home or not, if you have been in the craft for any length in time you  keep your tools in a certain place in a special way. You know the sting of your magickal space being disturbed and work to prevent it at all cost. You may let others touch your tools but if they have been disturbed out of your presence it’s a brake of trust.

Sryai'scloset        High Priestess Syrai RavenWynd’s (of Circle of the Spiral Moon Coven) “Witchy Closet” The closet door has a lock to keep unwanted eyes and hands out.  This is where a practitioner of the craft for over 2 decades keeps her tools safe.

So, what is with us and our altars? I know a lot of practicing witches who have multiple places in their homes and outdoors that they can go to to recharge their witchy batteries. Why if the Earth is our “church” do we construct these places? Altar construction and devotion is an ancient art found all over the world. Its in our DNA, and if you ask me our ancestors built these physical places of worship for their convenience. The first altars were just as much for spiritual need as much community. These slabs of stone and art that have survived where there for the people. Used as anthropologists and historians speculate for more then religion but politics, education, and Judaical proceedings as well, but in these ancient times all of these communal acts would be considered inter connected. In short the ancestors built these places to bring the people together and to give a place that was everyone’s space and no one’s at all; because they are the Gods’ space.

Moving away from historical speculation and to  Neo-Paganism there is a large focus of altar building. All the books talk about altar decoration and set up and most of us that don’t have a stationary altar wish we did. I personal find myself very lucky after fifteen years of not being able to maintain a constant altar I now have one; and as I have said before have been finding that some spaces I once considered mundane are not so much anymore. If you do not have the luxury of freedom to have a open and stationary altar consider some options.

ostaraalter16                        My Altar currently midway cleaned from Ostara.

Not all altars have to be large and elaborate. I have seen plenty of altars that get the job done on just a small floating shelf. Also, your altar does not have to be just your altar. Sometimes a space has to pull double duty. If half the time your altar is your desk due to space, that is not a problem. Your altar also does not have to be covered in pentacles, and Goddess symbols. A candle and some images of nature can be all you need to know what it is and not freak out your gusts. Also fold out tables that come out only when its ritual time is just fine too. For a long time I had to flatten a TV dinner tray when not in use and then pull it back out when it was time to set the circle.  The main importance hear is to do what you need when you need to and do what you feel works for you. Yes a lot of books will tell you how set up an altar, but most of the advice they are giving is rooted in Ceremonial Magick and that might not work for everyone.

Before I end I did want to share some of the spaces I never planed on making into altars that have organically become so. I have a large garden tub in my master bath.  It is not a shower and tub combo and because of this I have decorated the edges of the tub with candles, large shells, rose quarts, and a marble statue of Michel Angelo’s Birth of Venus (see top picture). The Goddess of beauty and love has infused that space to a place of self care and worship. With the offerings surrounding her the whole tub is infused with love and care whether I am using it or not! My nightstand was a bit of a labor of love to begin with. I wanted a very specific piece of furniture and once I got it I wasn’t going to stop there. I ended up replacing the knobs for much prettier blue and white panted porcine and found a tile coaster that matched.   At home I had two tea lite holders. One blue louts flower and a blue Moroccan Lantern. I was gifted a beautiful purple incense holder and with all of that strategically placed the table gave off a warmth and peaceful vibe.  So even the most simple and mundane places can become magickal and full of spirit. How does your altar look? Make you feel?

This week I suggest music by Onmia.                                                                                                          I can’t get their title track song Earth Warrior out of my head!

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                                                            Autumn Wolfe