My 101 Reading List

Two years into my serious studies of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism I realized something most avid reader of Pagan books comment on. A lot of material is repeated and that there are a growing mountain of Wicca 101 books. At that time I was quite certain that I had mastered the basics but there was still so much I wanted to read. So, I wrote myself a reading list. A stead fast curriculum to finish what some call their Dedicant Year(s). This list was writen base on books I already owned and had not read yet. I have finally finished this list!

This not a list for seekers, ones who just found the craft. Where a lot of the books on this list are advertised as such there are some I would not suggest as a first witch book and some that I would not suggest to be read at all. I am a slow reader, fearless in perusing the end of any book, and enjoy reading text bookish writing so these books might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As I said before these were not my baby witch books and most certainly not all the books I have read on Wiccan and Paganism, or the only things I have read in the past year. The following list being completed marks for me a personal acceptance to move toward higher concepts and serious education. My homework is done. Now I will show my work!

  • Wicca Revealed- Wicca Revealed is the Wicca/ Witchcraft 101 course given by MagickaSchool.com.  MagickaSchool.com is a great resource not only for Wicca 101 and 202 lessons, but also Tarot, Kabbalah, Herbalism, and Spell Crafting. Wicca Revealed its self is a fantastic course for the new witch but a word of caution; the tests are hard. The questions are not necessarily relevant to a spiritual pursuit, or for a solitary eclectic. If you don’t care to remember exact dates or feel associations are a personal choose I would just take the test to unlock the next lesson and don’t feel the questions are what makes a witch.gbg
  • Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner– My homework would not be complete if I did not crack open this historic text. For without Witchcraft Today none of this would have been. Personally Gardner was hard to get though. You can tell he thought highly of himself and he is definitely a story teller, but I do have to respect his moxy.  He was one of the first to jump out of the broom closet and allowed the light to shine. I am marveled at how far we have come from then.
  • Wiccan Beliefs & Practices: With Rituals for Solitaries & Covens by Gary Cantrell– Oh my! This is one of the few books I sold back to the book store instead of adding it to my Reclaiming Community book swap bin. Cantrell speaks a lot about a Pagan community that doesn’t exist anymore and not in a positive light. The book is a good overview for basic beliefs and principles of Wicca but is highly outdated of information on the Pagan community as a whole. Cantrell is also rude and dismissive of other paths. I would not suggest this book personally.
  • Wicca, for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham– I read this book as one of my very first baby witch books when I was a teen and knew I needed to reread it when constructing this list. I strongly suggest not just reading Cunningham and then never picking up another book, which I see very frequently. Instead read the books he references. Cunningham has a very light and clear way of explaining difficult concepts and is an author I strongly suggest.
  •  Living Wicca by Scott CunninghamlivingLiving Wicca is the follow up to Solitary Practitioner and gives more information. If a new witch were to pick up these two I do suggest reading a few books in between them instead of reading them in direct succession. Not because he leaves gaps making it difficult to follow, but because if they are all you have to base on you’ll have a very light knowledge.
  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk– The copy I read was the 20th anniversary edition with 10 years and 20 years notes on how Starhaw currently perceives the concepts written. This is slightly frustrating and fascinating. You get to watch an Elder in the craft grow as a teacher and practitioner but you also get some contradictions. I know a lot of witches that have read Spiral Dance and we all had a similar experience. It reads at its own pace and if you try to power though it you will be slowed down even more. The experience has its own magick to it, ensuring the reader allows for chewing of concepts; and everyone learns something new about themselves while reading it.         margot
  • Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler– This book is probably the most text book like book on this list. Adler preformed numerous tests, handed out dozens of questionnaires, interviewed several people, and completed field research to such an academic level equaling that of a cultural anthropologist. All of her work preserved a fully formed view of the Neo Pagan community of the 1970’s, giving witches today an amazing resource into our development. Readers would be opened to how groups like Covenant of the Goddess formed, Z Budapest first came on the scene, and the formation and subsequent dissolution of many groups otherwise forgotten. I suggest this book to avid readers, history buffs, and any witch that is willing. In all honesty there are sections I skipped and even a chapter I only grazed over, but that’s ok. Read what you can, I guarantee you will get something out of it.
  • Earth, Air, Fire, Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham– I picked this book up hopes to learn how to develop a stronger relationship with the elements. This was the wrong book for that. In his sequel to Earth Magic, Cunningham wrote a spell book focused on natural magick and gave the readers a lesson on how to develop their own spell work within the natural magick structure; with each element and some places the elements can be found. Such as, the difference between water, snow, and ocean magick, or how to use star magick. I still liked and learned from the book it just wasn’t what I was hoping it to be or at a level I was looking for.
  • Maiden, Mother, Crone: The Myth and Reality of the Triple Goddess by D. J. Conway– I honestly was not expecting Conway to be such a feminist, or for this book to be a copulation of myths and stories of the three faces of the Goddess. Once again, I picked up this book and the one below in hopes I would be able to develop a stronger relationship with the Goddess and God. Where this book set me on the right path; it was not as deep on relationship building as I wanted. lord of lightAfter introducing the aspect of the Goddess there is a chapter devoted to braking down mythos from their patriarchal retellings. This was the first book where I read the story of Persephone completely void of Hades. Where it was Kore’s choice to become the queen of the underworld to help the dead not out of marital restrictions, rape, or kidnapping. If you read this and liked Conways views I suggest reading Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen.
  • Lord of Light and Shadow by D. J. Conway– Like Maiden, Mother, Crone Conway wrights to give a feminist view on the Pagan Gods, and I liked it. Now knowing what to expect Conway’s Lord of Light and Shadow gave me more stories that I haven’t read and concepts to chew over. Both books set me on the path to understanding my Patron Gods and Goddesses but only just a taste of their full potential. The main take away I got from Reading Load of Light was that a patriarchal society such as the one we live in also harms men and male passing individuals. I have learned to be more sensitive to the struggles of others.

In the end every book on this list taught me something new and gave me the foundation I have today. I can not express how important it is for Pagans to keep reading and developing deeper understanding of them selves. My plan is to take a break from “witchy” books and catch up on my fiction list before diving back in to a new list.

What are you reading?

Please share with me in the comment!

I started a Twitter! Follow me @AutumnIronWolf

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, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

 

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My Morning Prayer

In a lot of the beginners books on Wicca there is an emphasis on creating a daily practice, and I always brushed it off as something I would work on down the line. A daily practice wasn’t something I wanted to focus on right now, I just didn’t have the time, I’m to inexperienced; were my excuses. Its surprising now to think I didn’t really have to “work at” adding prayer to my morning. I clock in at 7 am five mornings out of the week and find myself four stories up looking at Camelback and the Papago Mountains between 8 and 10 am.18342211_10155333921268417_6852586912892122644_nMost practitioners prefer to ground on solid ground but seeing the largest representations of earth for my region above the building is very humbling to me. It is hear where I focus my breath and release all that will not serve me though out my day. Then with my head down and eyes closed I send my attention to the four cardinal directions, calling the elements in my minds voice as I go. Once I have a circle I call the Goddess and God to help me though my day. Normally asking for attributes I feel I need for that day or their protection. Then I thank the spirits of the land I live on for nourishment, ending with a chant of “may the summer be short” repeated once.15941431_10154943040248417_8857899218113315545_nI then close my circle and go about my day. This practice does not take long and does not effect my work, but it is quickly becoming not enough. I have only been unable to complete this practice at work once and it has become such an important part of my day when I don’t work I feel like my day got off on the wrong foot. Sadly I have only ever noticed this is the cause of the feeling until evening and not the time for a day starting prayer. Also, before starting my prayer every morning I think to myself that I should also be doing a end of day prayer to thank the Goddess and God for their gifts but the memory to do so does not stick. I hope to expand this practice in these ways. I actually feel more focused and clear after my prayer and would like that feeling to wash over to days I do not work and before bed.

 

Do you have a daily practice? Do prayers or devotions? How would you like to expand on these?

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

Back and Ready to Write

Hi All,

Sorry for the long absence. Between my life getting busier and the ever changing political environment writing seemed harder and harder, but I’m ready to start posting again. I have been in a stand still with my magickal practice as well. My work scheduled has made it difficult for me to go to ritual, I was stuck in one book for almost two months, and my book club has been woefully neglected. You could say this witch has fallen off her path. Well its time to dust off my pointy hat and get back on the broom. I know I don’t tend to post personal stories but coming out and clean about my absence is how I see myself restarting. I hope you don’t mind!

I personally feel a type of spiritual practice is necessary for our mental health and when you let it fall from the level you are happiest at it leads to downfalls in other areas of life. So hear I am taking the rains back and saying I’m in-charge! Who’s with me? Coming up you can expect from the IronWolf Circle a look into the American legal battles and what protections they granted Pagans, how I incorporate the “Harm None” clause into my daily life, and Initiation. Please feel free to contact me hear or though email.

Blessed Bee,

Autumn Wolfe

autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

High and Low Magick

At my first Pagan gathering I was sitting around the sacred fire with the High Priestess of my coven and few others who, like me, were unwilling to move from the warmth of the blaze. When, a class just happened to be scheduled for that location began; the class was Magick 101. Since I was already there I decided to stay in my seat and listen politely to the instructor. The first thing the instructor did was ask each of the people around the fire their level of knowledge. Some people where members of different covens, others were solitary, and I was honest about being new to my coven and serious study. The next thing the instructor did was ask “What is the difference between High and Low Magick?”

Que me slinking farther in to my blankets and hoodie, it was going to be a long class discussing the same information I just wrote a three paragraph essay on for the woman equity buried in microfiber beside me. The instructor looked around the circle, and the second answer he received is one I remember shaking my head to. The High Priest of I don’t remember coddled his answer in the form of a story with an ending moral of High Magic was when you impose your will on someone else. I guess I was to noticeably surprised, or disused by the implications of his answer since I felt two pairs of eyes on me. My High Priestess wanted me to speak up and the instructor wanted the “new girl” to give a go. I untangled my moth from my cave of fuzzy materials to be heard and gave a short one sentence answer, before like a grumpy dragon retreating to her cave gave the instructor the floor to continue. I will not be giving you readers just the one sentence answer I spewed on that 19°F October afternoon. Instead lets brake down these forms of magick to understand better what they are.

Low Magick also referred to as Nature Magick, is any magick performed using tools of nature to incite change on this plane of existence. High Magick is ceremonial magick intended to bring the practitioner closer to deity. Normally very strict in performance or done on the astral plane. So, as you can see the high/low is not in reference to a hierarchy but the plane in which the magick is intended to affect. Almost all magick a witch performs can be considered Low Magick.

Historically speaking Low Magick was preformed by the healers and cunning folk of the village. You needed your crops blessed, your child healed, the pests out of your home; the magick preformed was to affect your plane of existence and preformed by someone of similar social standing as you. So, another way to look at why they are distinguished in High and Low is noticeable. High Magick took training and time, everything had to be preformed perfectly, and the magician was of high stature. Not to be bothered with issues of the common folk but communing with the Gods for King and State.

The first book Gerald Gardner published on Wicca was “High Magic’s Aid”. Published at the time as fiction, Gardner’s book divulged methods of Magick he learned from his time with the Golden Dawn, and how modern pagans open and release circle can be traced to High Magickal practices. So, where the distinction of high and low is not an indication of strength or one being better then the other, it does assist the practitioner in understanding the differences in both practices.

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

 

 

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