Reading as a Magickal Practice

I have been described as a book witch, and have been an avid reader since I could read. Usually, I am seen with a book whether I am camping, going on vacation, or sitting in the break room for lunch. For the past few years, however, my reading has been solely Pagan and Wiccan literature with little deviation into Syfy, mystery, romance, or horror. It’s easy to see why I host a book club that focuses on Pagan reading and enjoy having something new to share with my members. There is so much to read in the p-word world I know I will never read everything I want but I keep finding new books.
Which made me realize the majority of my practice revolves around reading. Books, blogs, talking about books, writing this blog; Pagan reading is my Pagan practice. Where I have said I do intend on doing more magick this year and I do go to a few local circles for Sabbat ritual I tend to read more than any other work (podcast listening is just reading with your ears right?). I have a bookcase in my room filled to overflowing with just Pagan books, and there is a local used bookstore that I go to to find treasures. A recent visit had me walk out with books by Z Budapest and Pensky. Books I do not intend on reading in months but could not leave them in the store. They belonged in that overflowing shelf in my room with others just like it.
I do tend to read more than the average witch and feel it is essential to do so when you are a Solitary.
I have currently taken a short break from Pagan literature to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but once complete will dive back into a new list of books I want to read in a certain order. The lists I write are intended to give me a group of books at a similar level of education and theme. I call my current list a 102 list due to the material not being very introspective for the reader but also not being beginners material.
Thanks and 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, follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf, or friend me on FaceBook!

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How to Tell if a Pagan Teacher is Abusive

Recently pagan spaces have had to deal with leaders and teachers being accused of abusing their power over students and members. Most recently is the accusations against Yeshe Rabbit (Jessica Mathews) of the Come as You Are (CAYA) coven based in the San Francisco Bay area. As a relatively new community, most Pagan groups have never had to deal with such issues and some newcomers are suffering from lack of preparedness. Recognizing abuse in a religious community is sometimes difficult especially when it is not sexually driven. The following is a few warning signs that a leader or teacher might be abusive. If you recognize any of these as occurring to you or someone you know, inform those of higher level within the organization or stop all contact with the leader/teacher.

  1. Requesting Sexual or Physical Favors– Most of us can identify sexual misconduct in other spaces but in Pagan religions, sex is revered and spoken about freely. If a teacher says you can not continue your journey or studies with them without sexual acts with them or anyone else then that is abuse. If they ask you for sexual favors in lieu of payment for lessons or services then that is also abuse. This goes for demanding you to do physical favors such as clean their home, deliver goods, or anything that could be done by a service outside of a religious capacity. If they threaten to discontinue lessons if you do not perform any superfluous acts then they are abusing their power.
  2. Belittling or Bullying– Sometimes it is difficult to tell if you are being bullied but easy to see if someone else is the victim so this might be easier to see occurring to group mates. If a teacher is bullying or constantly berating current students, former students, current or former group members or others in the community; especially to elevate their status or to make themselves look better they are being abusive.
  3. Telling You Who You Can Interact With– Abusive romantic partners will cut their victims off from friends, family, and community and abusive teachers will do the same. If your teacher is demanding you to remove people from your life or telling you not to interact with others in the community they are isolating you. A good teach may help you to see others who are abusive or unsupportive of you in your life but would never demand you to stop spending your time with someone. (With the exception of a teacher witnessing domestic abuse. If you are being physically hurt by someone in your life please call 1−800−799−7233) Furthermore, if a teacher is telling you not to interact with other groups or people in the pagan community they are isolating you from other perspectives.
  4. Taking Credit for Your Work– Did you write a blog on a subject you and your teacher just went over and they say it was their idea? Did a spell you worked come out great and your teacher said it was due to their influence that it worked. This is also a sign of abuse. If your teacher is taking credit for things you did or saying your work did well due to their blessing they are gaslighting you. They are belittling your power instead of nurturing it.
  5. Refusing You Continued Education based on Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender, or Reproductive Capability– If a teacher started your education and suddenly tells you certain lessons are not available to you but are to others based on any of the above then that teacher is being abusive. Discriminatory practices such as the above are a form of bullying that is sometimes forgotten.

These are just a few examples of abusive behavior found in recent pagan groups. Do not let teachers or leaders continue to get away with such abuses. Work with your groups and communities to develop strong responses to such allegations and to develop policies that make it very clear abusers are not welcome within the community. If you are or know anyone in a domestic abuse situation or being harmed please go to http://www.thehotline.org/ . If you do not know if a person is in need of help please consult the DASH risk assessment:  https://www.dashriskchecklist.co.uk/ .

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

 

Good Year, Bad Year; Predictions for 2018 and Looking Back at the Past Two Years

2016 was the first year in my memory where it seemed everyone agreed that the year sucked. Looking back on 2016 I remember a few major events that caused the word to shutter and be happy it was over but nothing like 2017. Personally, 2016 was a huge year for taking out the garbage. It was a year of pain and numbness and by the end, I was left in a state where I had no blood relatives, single for the first time in my adult life, unemployed, in more duet then I ever been in, and essentially homeless. Due in no small part to amazing friends 2017 became a year of growth, and like all growing came to a lot of pain. On top of the political strife and unease of the world, I had to pick myself up and figure out who I am. I had an amazing support system that followed me through the year, but I had a lot of work to do and still do. At the end of 2017 for a second time, the world let out a sigh of relief and begged that it wouldn’t get worse. All across the magickal community, I see everyone predicting 2018 to be a positive and uplifting year full of prosperity and hope; but on social media I still see memes joking that the worse is yet to come.

2018 flowers

Where I fear the memes of social media may be correct for our political future I hope my horoscope is correct on a personal level. I needed a year of prosperity, career movement, and personal happiness. Aside from my personal feelings of the world needing a year or possibly a decade of average citizens saying enough is enough; I want to focus on the positive predictions and how individuals and the magickal community can make 2018 be the year we are hoping for. I don’t know about other signs but all that I have read for Aquarians is 2018 will be a year for career growth due to Pluto’s location in our career house and personal growth. I have read on several platforms that Aquarians will see a major turnaround in “luck” that will last past 2018. I am no astronomer and have no education in this field so cannot say for myself; please if you know more or better feel free to comment. I am sure we all need this kind of luck but how can we ensure 2018 is better?

On a magickal note, January is the best month for preparing magick for the year. The first falls on a Full Moon Monday! So much power for magickal use right at the start, but if you are reading this after the first fear, not the 31st is also a Full Moon, Blue Moon, and a Super Moon! What a powerful start that screams use it and one of my New Year’s resolutions (made back at Samhain) was to do more magick. My plan for January first is to do a job spell, one that I have done before but with a little more grown up magick to it. I am no longer looking for just a job but a career to build on and will be focusing my intention on longevity and financial independence. We are witches; we have the power through our magick to change our circumstances this should be the first thing we do to make 2018 our year.

fullmoon

As I have said before, I do hope all of the predictions for a positive 2018 come to light but I am not going to just sit around and hope. I intend to do everything I can about it. As every good magick practitioner will tell you, you can’t expect results without putting in the work. Do the magick and do the normal stuff to get you to your goals. Changing my grandmother’s favorite saying to fit “The Gods help those who help themselves.” Some of the things I am planning to help 2018 be positive and uplifting are:

1. To make a jar of positive thought- I am going to take a jar and fill it with fortune cookie slips, yogi tea tabs, and other small pieces of happiness; so when I feel down I can just pull one out and read it. To further this practice I might also use the thoughts to meditate on. I would defiantly help change a negative mood.

2. Work on my smile- My Christmas present to myself was a water pick, and since then I have used it every day! I have had bad oral health most of my life and it is definitively and expensive problem. I hope the water pick will help the current issues and prevent more.

3. Minimize my footprint- 2018 I will stop using one-time use plastics. Including shopping bags, straws, cups, containers, etc. I will refuse Styrofoam and seek out new ways to minimize waste in my daily life. I know this will be a work in progress but I have all year to do it.

What are your New Years resolutions? What kind of magick are your going to do to make 2018 your year?

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

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 steadfast curriculum to finish what some call their Dedicant Year(s). This list was written 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 read at all. I am a slow reader, fearless in perusing the end of any book and enjoy reading textbook like texts 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 is 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 choice 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 through. You can tell he thought highly of himself and he is definitely a storyteller, 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 bookstore 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 of 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 Starhawk 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 through 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 textbook like book on this list. Adler performed 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 on 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 breaking 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 Conway’s 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 of 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 a deeper understanding of themselves. My plan is to take a break from “witchy” books and catch up on my fiction list before diving back into 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

 

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 too 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 heard where I focus my breath and release all that will not serve me throughout my day. Then with my head down and eyes closed I send my attention to the four cardinal directions, calling the elements in my mind’s voice as I go. Once I have a circle I call the Goddess and God to help me through 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 affect 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 an 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 here I am taking the reins 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 here or through email.

Blessed Bee,

Autumn Wolfe

autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

How to Handle Protesters at a Pagan Event

It’s that time of year again! When Pagan Pride Festivals and open rituals start popping up in our communities, and with them all the problems of being pagan in public. In light of the protesters visiting Nashville’s Pagan Pride day I thought it would be fitting to give some advice on how to still enjoy your day out with fellow pagans while protesters try to ruin it. These suggestions are for attendees and not organizers and I do encourage all to follow the rules set forth by the event coordinators, but sometimes everyone is following the rules and there are still gray areas on how to deal with these issues.

  • A majority of the time protesters will not be allowed into the event or will set up “shop” at the front entrance to discourage attendees from entering. For the protesters, this tactic can be very effective, especially on people who would be coming to their first event. As an attendee of a Pagan event, the best way to handle this type of protest is to walk by without acknowledging the protest. I suggest eyes down, ears closed till you get into the event or the sign-in table. If the protesters signal you out, physically touch you, or otherwise make your entrance difficult inform organizers, police, or event/ venue staff as quickly and calmly as possible.
  •   Sometimes, with open public events, protesters are able to walk in an attempt to disturb the event from the inside. This can be the most difficult time when dealing with protesters; since they are not just using volume to disrupt but their persons. As with the Nashville Pagan Pride, these protesters could also videotape their actions. If you are “in the broom-closet” this can be terrifying. I do want to take a moment and remind you that in some cases when going to an event you are giving permission to be photographed or videotaped. Before going to an event check their rules to be sure this is explained for the event its self. When done for the event or vendors they normally ask before the picture is taken and give you a chance to move. However, when the protesters are videotaping it is best to just turn your back and let them pass by. You can find the video the Nashville protesters posted online and see individuals that can be identified are clearly standing in front of the protest. Other attendees are not identifiable. I would not suggest going up to them to engage or trying to impend traffic through the event.
  •    When protesters become verbally or physically violent the best thing for an attendee to do is to get out of the way. Let the police handle the assault and give a clear and calm description of what you witnessed when asked by police or organizers. If you were involved or saw what happened to stay at the event to give your account. Help injured or angered friend remain calm and walk a safe distance away from the altercation. Do not describe parties involved by religion or group when giving police statements. Describe by the apprentice from foot to head. If people fled or left this is extremely important for police follow up as they can get group names from people involved in the groups but not always personal descriptions. Remember in the aftermath most parties are going to protect their own. This includes lying about who started what and who was involved. If you give a clear, impartial, and honest statement you will be presenting the event well and help police better investigate and prepare for next year.
  • When you see a person you know involved in the protest do not walk up to the individual or engage with them later on the issue. Maintain distance and if they notice you be polite and do not confirm your reason for presence. This is especially important if you know this person from your place of employment. Say hello, it was nice to see you, then move on. If this person later attempts to reveal your presence at the event you can then go to your HR department and honestly state you never confirmed or denied your involvement in the event while reporting the inappropriate workplace behavior.

Most importantly while attending a Pagan event remember you are representing all attendees, the event its self, and Pagans. The best way to do so is with positivity and light. When our events end up on the news because of protest mainstream media will take anything to make Neo-Paganism look bad. So don’t be the one to give them fuel, only give them the story of protesters came and were handled by the appropriate authorities or left out of boredom. Have a fun and safe festival season!

Do you have any stories about protesters at a pagan event?

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