Consumerism and witchcraft?

There once was a brand, like no other.

The brand could double – no triple! – an item’s value!

Flocks of customers searched far and wide for the brand.

Satisfying the need for one item only led to the need for more!

People sought it religiously.

They still search, with unsated appetites, endless need.

And the Brand was Wicca!

I had a random urge to do a search for items relating to witchcraft, first on etsy and then through google.

1St it brought back memories from when I was just a fledgling witch, desperately trying to understand what I ‘needed’ (remember those days when it was necessary to have “that precise wachimicallit”?) and why and where it came from. The things I coveted, like beautifully decorated figurines and ornate witch bottles, everywhere… makes me want them all over again!

2nd (and sort of an irrelevant point) it opened my eyes to what some people try to sell as ‘art’. I am open to expressive designs, nudity, abstract et c… but some people really don’t seem to understand that you need a little bit of talent… just a little… please…? Some people think making money through art is easy (it actually is for some people but letting me go off on that tangent will only open you up to my jealous ramblings); you draw a couple of pictures and sell them, right? Wrong. Some forget that in order to sell it, somebody has to buy it and in order for that to happen they have to want to pay money for it. You may have a talent for drawing pictures, making a nice likeness of someone but something has to be worth going up on somebody’s wall. It has to be extra special… usually. I’ve only ever bought two pieces of art in my life – a Christmas present for my Dad, a painting of some boats that I thought would look lovely next to the paintings of ferries coming in to our local harbour (the colours were really gorgeous as well), and this one picture for my self… I stare at her a lot is all I can say. Well, that’s enough on that little rant-ette.

3rd, and of course the most important, it brought home the power of the brand; WICCA, WICCAN, ALTAR, WITCHCRAFT, PAGANISM, PAGAN, SPELLS, MAGIC… (you get the drift) All in tags attached to the items.

I was alarmed to find a bundle of items lumped in together and labelled as a beginner altar set, that I didn’t feel suited a beginner at all – a lot of the items easily performed the same function (in other words were a bit superfluous and might leave someone puzzled as to how they were supposed to use them) and some items, I felt, were missing (where on Earth was the altar cloth? Why was there a million different shaped bowls but no altar cloth!). It seemed you could put anything in – including a very strange spoon/incense burner/bookmark/(?) – as long as it had a pentacle and swirly whirly patterns on it. It was two things I hate – high price and low quality.

I could go into listing the contents but this set of items was merely a reflection of something greater, in a host of similar examples… In other words, there are so many lots/items like this for sale, including runes, bags, jars, bottles, spells, and even books! (yes, I really am beginning to question the book industry and the habit of having to have every book out there)… Some I thought honest trade and some obviously just taking advantage of the brand.

There is something good sometimes about getting the branded item. Once, I absolutely HAD to have Dr Marten Boots. They looked smart as well as being boots I could wear absolutely anywhere, doing anything. I wore them as my school shoes, as well as my work boots. And I have several ‘Wicca’ brand items, mostly books of course and some jewellery. I never had to buy a Witch bowl, chalice, athame, et c… I found them in charity shops, medieval fares and souvenir shops and they were no different from their Wiccan counterparts. I have a sterling silver dish from a big box of mixed miscellaneous items and my triskellion necklace came from a similar box, picked up in a auction/jumble sale thing… You sell all your unwanted crap and furniture in a large auction in the town hall every couple of months and get a couple of quid for it, and someone else (usually me) gets a card board box full of random crap. Whoo! Everybody’s happy!

Anyway, the conclusion of this rant is not a conclusion but a question (or several)… Are we pagans, wiccans and witches being taken advantage of? Are we taking advantage of each other? Does someone actually believe that the items they sell are valuable?

OK, some items sold are truly things you can’t get anywhere else or under any other name but some of that stuff is just junk! It makes me kinda glad that I didn’t have access to a bank account when I first started! XD I appreciate that though you can make many objects yourself and find them easily, there are some things that are better bought. There are some things, I know, that are just so much better under the brand because you can be sure of high quality or at least suitability to specific purpose. However there seems to be masses and masses of low quality, high cost goods (especially runes. do you know if they were made in the traditional way of making runes? Really?)

I’m sure most of you can sympathise.

I think a lot of us try to model our craft on an imagine of a back to basics kitchen, strewn with herbs, and a house littered with glistening crystals, nooks filled and tables covered in little symbols, paintings on the walls of moon light goddesses and forrest gods… et c. Starter kits and wiccan products can sometimes be take us farthest from that idyllic image than we could imagine, yet they misleadingly place themselves in that category.

But we can’t really give young witchlings very clear guidance on what they need in order to practice because it takes time to make your craft your own.

This is another post I archived for posting a long time ago, but not sure if I ever posted it. Thought it was time it saw the light of day. I finished it off as it wasn’t completed.

Rowan

x~x

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Living in mixed households; Where is the love?

I was looking through stuff I was going to post to the blog and this is the last entry that never ended up on the blog. I intended to post it some time in November 2012 in response to Ayslyn’s post on her blog. I had to change a little little detail in it but other than that it is completely intact, as is my opinion on the matter. 🙂

Pagans and non pagans

When I hear about the stick (trouble/mischief/trolling) that some pagans get for being pagans it can really annoy me, but in general we can easily say “it’s because they don’t understand”, “they just don’t know any better” or “they’re just closed minded is all”. We can get away as easily as when people give us stick for our other personal or political views, or our habits and tastes in music.

That’s the way I cope with it on a daily basis. It’s a bit like when you support different football teams sometimes – you can say some pretty nasty things about the other team but at the end of the day you don’t feel like that about the people personally. It can be just a bit of banter sometimes.

The “thing” and how I get around it at home

At home, my paganism is my “thing”. OK, OK I’m lucky enough to live with a Dad who follows Druidic beliefs and an agnostic mum who just says “why is it so important to believe anything?” (why must we believe things completely and exclusively? Why can’t we just live our lives as we like and forget about who’s right and wrong?). My sister was also part of my first coven. My little brother is a sort of student (?) of mine now… I just shove books his way and hope that works for him, because I don’t think I’m ready to teach a soul.

Anyway, at home we just treat my witchiness as my “thing”. My Dad’s “thing” may be to over study things, so he has an “anorac thing” and is really into fire engines, armoured vehicles, the world wars, wars, pirates… cool things really. (watch out if you wake up late, he has a second world war air raid siren…) My older brother’s “thing” is computer games, my middle brother’s “thing” is mechanics and my littlest brother’s “thing” is books and mythology.

The most important thing is Compromise.

You have to start off and accept:

Not everyone is going to think your “thing” is important.

When my brother (middle) bought a Landrover and started to dedicate a lot of time and money to it I just thought it was a complete waste. Of course, he got loads of fulfilment from it.

At the end of the day, when I’m outside doing a ritual and it’s only Dad who doesn’t think it’s weird, I can understand.

Don’t expect your family to feel the same way you do about the things you do.

Another thing is this concept of “My family just doesn’t understand”. OK, a lot of families clearly don’t. I did a google search for Wicca lately (looking for websites to show my brother) and found several that were giving advice to parents on how to deal with the demonic forces that were making their children turn to Wicca. Yup, it’s quite clear that some people still don’t get it. We just believe something different.

But I think there’s a small portion of us who are lying to ourselves. Sometimes our families are just concerned about us; maybe we’re deceiving ourselves. My Mum has often voiced her concerns about this. (I come from a family of people who might have been considered natural mystics and mediums on my mother’s side, but they never really went into it) My Mum once said “Your great aunt never needed to do all those rituals and spells (I think she actually said something more along the lines of “aerie faerie stuff” or something) but she still just knew things”. Of course I then agreed and said I understood her point of view but explained why I do rituals and spells. (1. personal beliefs, 2. raises energies)

Your family might actually understand what you believe but think you’re leading yourself on (fooling yourself, that is). Ask yourself; might you be? I frequently asked myself that and it lead me, sometimes, to the revelation that (at points) I was going about it all completely the wrong way.

Just remember; the best way of finding your inner self (which is the goal of a lot of people who decide to take a pagan path these days) is not necessarily the way that someone else is doing it. Don’t get caught up trying to follow somebody else’s path if it’s leading you nowhere. That was one of my biggest revelations. XD Seems a bit obvious though, doesn’t it?

Be truthful to yourself.

OK, getting stick for being a pagan annoys me (and sometimes entertains me) but there’s something that really upsets me.

When people effectively love you less for your faith. I haven’t experienced this much before. It’s definitely been a barrier between me and some of my friends; I dropped it into a perfectly good conversation once and disappointment dawned on my friend’s face. He was an agnostic and immediately I saw his face read “you believe all that angel, astral projection, aura fluff?” (as if he had a stereotype of pagans being very impressionable people and that we’ll believe any “fluff” we hear). The moment his face changed I was more disappointed than he was – willing to sign off all the years he’d known me to be a very intelligent person (if I do say so myself) on the basis of my religion. Lovely.

However, the real problem is when families pretty much disown their kids or distance themselves from offspring because of their paganism. I could not possibly offer advice for this, but at the end of the day if your parents don’t want paganism practised in their house then don’t practice it in their house. It’s their home and they deserve to feel safe and secure within it, and as if it’s respected.

Honesty is the best policy, because you may one day find yourself drowning in lies, but at the end of the day sometimes you have to keep it to yourself no matter how wrong it feels. Only you can decide whether you have to come out of the Broom-Closet.

Blessings

Rowan

x~x

Seasons

I didn’t know what to come back with today. Some people may have noticed a slow creeping return. I’ve learned recently though that blogging about aspirations for a blog, telling everyone your great goals of re-inventing your writing, does not get the job done. The only way to tackle your first post back is having something to say other than “I’M BACK!!!”

Seasons.

It’s pretty much all I talk about, and it’s quite important to paganism. When you’re developing your craft/path you experiences centre pretty much around sabbats and esbats. They’re your learning exercises in a way because they’re basically the framework of tangible practice. They’re the way you most easily get to test what you know. Seasons are always relevant where I live and with the way I live, as you may have guessed.

It’s hard to imagine a world where seasons are irrelevant. However, they are irrlevant to so many people. Mum and I were talking this morning about an old traditional recipe that has been mutated by the development of a society that doesn’t need it any more.

Cawl is a traditional Welsh dish – THE traditional Welsh dish – which is simply a stew/soup that could contain anything. The idea was that it would go on in the morning and be ready in evening when people came in off the fields. I remember days when we had it boiling on the old Aga for days and just helped ourselves whenever we got hungry. I mentioned new potatoes as a potential ingredient for some people and she told me how she thought it was sad.

New potatoes were a March-April thing when she was young. It meant spring. It was exciting and different. It was a lesser Christmas of its own. Now we indulge in things like new potatoes and strawberries and raspberries at any time of year often at the expense of the environment and the impoverished. It makes these things less special, less exciting.

I think I’d be a hypocrite, if I didn’t get myself closer to the seasons – closer to the Earth – and quick. What I consider sacred and magical centers around these things.

Oh and by the way I’M BACK!!!

BB

Rowan

~x~

Tea leaf reading update

^.^ In my last (I think it was my last) post on tea leaf reading I wrote about a reading I did for the question whether I’d get a job. I doubt my ability to read a lot but here we are none the less. Nope, I didn’t get a job last month, just like I said. But, I also persevered and it paid out (just like I said it would) and at the beginning of this month I had two job interviews and I should be working by the end of this month (paperwork needs to go through).

So, there’s a pleasant little update and a bit of reassurance for me on abilities to read the tea leaves. 🙂

Rowan

x~x

Hawthorn – Elder’s less revered unidentical twin

When I was young I was always told that Hawthorn berries were poisonous. It was in a hedgerow herbalism course that I was told the instructor frequently used it – both for colouring and for curing.

Herbal medicine

All these herbal uses are new to me! I’ve never used it and still have a bit of a fear of picking them.

It’s used in tinctures and tablets made from the flowers and berries for the heart and to strengthen the blood vessels. It has been thoroughly researched and has been found effective for these uses; studies on people showed that it improved heart rate, lowered high blood pressure and helped in general with heart disease patients. Bioflavanoids found to be present, help strengthen the blood vessels. It is also used, along with other herbs, to improve memory by increasing the circulation to the brain.

Remember, before using a herb for your health, remember that you should do plenty of your own research and always consult a doctor who knows about your condition and the side effects of the drug (because herbs are drugs too).

A Touch of Witchcraft

The flowers, in folk lore, were said to be the flowers of death and would bring fatally bad luck if brought into the house. It might be due to the fact that the flowers have within them a chemical that’s one of the first produced as dead animals start to decay. It is also strongly associated with faeries, so if you have one planted in or near your garden you might be looking out to The Otherworld. It grows abundantly in my area and I’ve always feared the guardians that protect the Hawthorn tree more than those who guard the Elder.

Hawthorn was strongly associated with Beltane, just as you might put Elder flowers above your door to usher in luck and fertility at the time you would also wear hawthorn flower crowns. In some Christian superstition, the thorny crown is often thought of quite sacred, as the crown Jesus wore as he was put on the cross. It was said that Hawthorn is only safe to pick and have in the house if you say this while picking it:

“Under the Thorn

The Saviour was born”

We ourselves, at that time of year celebrating the rebirth and life of our god, can say something like

“Under the Thorn

Lugh is reborn”

Samhain

Of course, though the Beltane folklore is interesting it is Samhain that we are drawing nearer to right now. Samhain, I like to think of as Beltane’s big brother (also probably the favourite brother as far as we pagans like to go!). I thought it fitting to suggest that while we place the flowers around the place at Beltane we should now be placing the berries on our altar on Samhain, or if you’re absolutely certain you’ve got the right berries (don’t go ahead if you’re not sure!) you could include some hawthorn berry recipes in your Samhain feast. Making a wine from the berries as offering on the the altar sounds perfect.

I’ve not seen any folklore or pagan references guiding you to do so but something, while I was walking out and about looking at the lovely berries out there, clicked in my mind; It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Too much of the time am I trying to find things to put on the altar that just don’t grow abundantly around my area (up in the windy coastal hills with wet clay soil) and sometimes it should just boil down to celebrating the harvests that surround you, not the ones in the supermarket.

Rowan

x~x

Aside

Making Mabon your own

There’s been a bit of confusion with some people on where to draw the line between making your craft your own and making it up. The phrase “go with your heart/instinct” is quite popular and well used but also vague. Sometimes people feel their faith is being attacked by misinformation, and some have gone as far as to say that people are just too lazy to do proper research into a subject.

I like the saying “it’s a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable but it’s a lot wrong to call it a suspension bridge” (nabbed that from Big Bang Theory). In my opinion that’s quite true in Wicca.

I hope to do a little series of posts/videos on the topic of making something your own, without going as far as making it up, maybe to clear it up a little for anyone out there who’s lost, confused or feels that people seem to act unfairly against what their doing but no one seems to send a solution. This is quite important to me as I felt when I first started on this path, without a mentor (or at least without one who had a presence in my life for more than four or five days a year!), that people often criticised you if you got something “wrong” but still said to you “it’s okay to go with your instinct”. I didn’t understand how both of those things could be true simultaneously.

For the first post on this I’ve made a video about what I did for Mabon and made a list of links to other people talking about their beliefs and activities at Mabon. Hope you find something good. 🙂

This is a great video from Feathers And Flight, with a reasonably alternative view of Mabon, I love this video!

Here’s a must see video that really got me thinking about the term Mabon and it’s use, and got me researching deities again. ^.^

If that video interested you, here are a couple of links to what I found about the Mabon the god;

A fairly simple one and a more in depth one.

Here are some blog posts from other bloggers talking about Mabon traditions and what they did. 🙂

Here’s our blog post

And here are some more 🙂

The Hidden Children of the Goddess

Hyacinth Noir

Ayslyn’s Corner

A Year And A Day Wicca

Neferet

And Ayslyn’s Corner again XD

There was one I really wanted to link to and I only read it yesterday but now I can’t find it and I can’t remember who it was by. 😦 Nevermind. 😦

This post is a bit late to be useful for anyone on Mabon, but it’ll still be here next year!

Enjoy

Rowan

x~x

In Our Time – The Druids

The Druids – In Our Time

I thought I’d recommend this radio broadcast for any British readers who’re interested in the Druids.

It’s really quite interesting and I love how it illustrates just how debatable history can be, when so many of us hold such a definite, prescriptive view of the subject. That’s probably because when we study history in school we only really study what’s almost certain, rather than what can be debatable. I love this side of history, mostly because of my interest in sociology. What did people really believe? How did people really live? What made things the way they are now?

Besides, In Our Time is an excellent program, isn’t it?

Enjoy

Rowan

x~x

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