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

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

A personal post (yet another about tea leaf reading! XD)

Hello there!

Another dreadful tea post! XD I’ve been living tea lately; did two videos for youtube recently on tea leaf reading (saying pretty much the same thing only one was waaaaay better), but this post is going to be different. The posts on tea leaf reading I’ve done before might not have been very helpful or taught anything very useful (they’re just things you could easily learn without my help and actually my method is just one of many). Anyway, I know tea leaf reading posts can kinda be quite boring because there’s nothing very thought provoking in them and most people don’t use tea leaf reading but I thought I’d do a reading just to share on the blog.

The reason I haven’t done this before is I view my readings as quite personal things. I’ve done a reading for someone and decided not to share the full extent of my prediction with them (because I felt that what I was about to say would be unethical and horrible… even more so than lying to them… it did come true but me telling them wouldn’t have stopped a single thing and would only have made an enemy of me in this case… sorry, that’s just one reason why it’s quite personal) and a lot of my readings are quite personal just because I just feel within myself that I should keep them secret. That is also why, on my video, I might have seemed very rude and dismissive towards others, because I didn’t really want to discuss the reading itself.

However, here I feel accepted and safe to share one of my readings. So, this morning I decided to do a reading so that I could show you guys one and I didn’t really expect it to be this good. I sometimes get ones that tell me absolutely nothing.

This reading, however is not typical of readings; it is usual to have a collection of several (from just two to twenty!) very small, simple images in the cup but today I have one simple image and two very complicated ones.

My question was “where will I find work?” At the same time, because I was doing this for the blog most of what I was thinking about was the blog – so some things might actually be blog related.

Image

A page in my Book of Shadows

Now the first little symbol I’ll talk about is the hog in there. I looked at it closer and thought it might be a teddy bear, at one point, but my first and strongest instinct was that it was a hog. It might be the Twrch Trwyth, because I’m going to (when I have time) do a little bit about the Mabinogion. Which might mean I’m going to do it within the next few weeks, because that’s about as far as tea leaf predictions extend and it was near the bottom of the cup, but not in it. The bottom of the cup is the future that’s just a little further away. The symbol was also near the handle, which means it was personal. That’s what led me to believe that actually in this case The Twrch Trwyth is a symbol of a small trial or quest, a test of my strength. The symbol’s small and only feels a little significant, so it might be me just overcoming a fear maybe? Maybe learning a life lesson in some way?

Image

The next interesting and significant symbol was the Koi. It was really quite an elaborate image. 🙂 It’s right in the bottom of the cup, meaning it’s about a month to come. The Koi symbolises perseverance in adversity as well as good luck. So this might mean that though it’s hard to find a job right now I’m going to keep trying very hard (which is obvious because I really really need a job) and it might show some good fortune to come. It doesn’t say anything promising about finding a job soon, so I don’t expect that I will this month but maybe next month! 🙂

Image

The most elaborate pattern in the cup was that of what might be some form of shaman(..?). It’s furthest away from the handle, meaning it relates to a person either that I am yet to know or that is distant. It is also about the level in the cup that suggests it will be relevant in perhaps around two weeks. I don’t know if it’s clear the in the pictures to you, but to me it looks like this person’s skirt is a stampede of animals. They’re wearing a crown, have a butterfly wing, have a symbol representing a four legged creature above their head and three dots above that (they just felt like significant dots) and I think this person is female. Butterflies are symbols of transformation. This might be a real person I’m yet to meet, maybe someone distant like someone who reads the blog or perhaps a Spirit Guide who might come into my life slowly.

Either way, before I put the painting in my book of shadows I’m going to stick it in the North West corner of my wall. This corner, in Feng Shui, is a good corner for attracting a new mentor, which is really important for me right now. (We’ve been doing quite a bit of Feng Shui lately and that’s another excuse for why we haven’t been blogging XD We’re writing up some posts and might put it up as a big project!)

Thank you for letting me share this with you guys.

Love and Light

Rowan

x~x

The dreaded ‘P’ word – Addressing Prejudice

Hello, Rowan here. Just a quick post on prejudice, which I have mentioned a couple of times on the blog.

Prejudice is a pretty delicate subject for all of us, me included. We know it’s out there, but sometimes we don’t want to be associated with those who discuss it as that discussion sometimes turns into prejudice its self (usually towards Christians – which has made me feel very uncomfortable at times). Prejudice also exists within our community – with some pantheons undermining each other and some practitioners defining themselves as “real witches among fluffy bunny pagans”. Some of it is truly cringe worthy!

People who know me well will know I try very hard not to be prejudiced. I may come across however as very prejudiced, because I am very open about my prejudices. For example, I am a devout sexist. I really don’t think men are as capable as women, although I’m trying to address this and try not to allow it to effect my day to day things and especially not my faith! Yesterday I bought and started reading a book that I hope to use to challenge myself, to root out one of my deepest prejudices:

My prejudice against the English.

I have loads of English friends and even Silversun is originally from England. XD I don’t have a problem with the people, it’s just that “England, sweet England” attitude that really ticks me off! I’d find it much easier to tolerate “Saxony, sweet Saxony” (which in my biased view is far more accurate!). I also hate how my country seems to have no international identity separate from that of England. I once read an online fanfiction that stated the main character “came from Wales, a little village in England”. D: So, admittedly some of my hate is misplaced; it’s not England’s fault that some people never got a full education. Though, I do believe that that particular instance, of the fanfiction, that the author was poking fun at the ignorance of some people. You never know, though; some are really that daft.

Well, I’m not only reading the book (“The Book of English Magic”) to learn what it can teach me. It does seem pretty good so far, though! I’m trying to purge my mind of that little voice that tells me English people can’t be patriotic anywhere near me – when I should understand that they have as much of a right to love and celebrate their country as I do! Instead of reading to add to my arsenal of information against other people’s prejudices I am reading to deconstruct my own. 🙂

So, as you can see I have prejudices and I really do hope that no one feels put off or offended by my openness about them. I hope, rather, that this encourages you to shake off the denial surrounding your own prejudices. As Ronnie and I were discussing earlier today, everyone is prejudiced whether they show it obviously or not. You don’t have to be open with others about your prejudices as long as you are addressing them. The biggest thing that can stand in your way, though, is your own denial. If you don’t admit to yourself that you are prejudiced, then you cannot take action!

Anyway, I’m going to try and finish and review this book by the end of the week. I have an exam on Tuesday though, so this is going to take its time. I’m also hoping to finish it so I can lend it to Ronnie as this really does live up to its reviews so far as really quite a good book!

Blessings all

Rowan

x~x

The Value of Initiation

It’s interesting to see what seems to be a dialogue among bloggers on this topic. There are varying and valid views out there. As a hedgewitch myself I also don’t see the importance of ranks or hierarchy, as long as nothing stops me from practising my craft I’m happy. 🙂 However, I see that the ceremonies are very important to a lot of people and can enrich the spiritual experience.

(Here are a couple of posts discussing different views on the topic by Spider Goddess and from Witchy Ramblings)

I’m looking forward to the Initiation ceremony we’ve planned (see post entitled Initiation). Why? Well I’m one of those who sees great value in it. It’s like going to the cinema – you know you’ll love it when you go but you can always watch the film on DVD. Ok, that’s a very mundane way of describing it. In case I’m not making myself clear, what I mean is that an initiation is a valuable experience whereby you can accomplish much spiritually and truly connect with others although it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy spirituality (or Avatar, or Smirfs, or Despicable Me, or Tron) and be spiritual without it.

Some things I heard others say/imply that I thought were interesting:

You cannot ascend without initiation. I have a couple of things to say. Anyone can reach ascension (with or without ceremony). However, what I think might be what the people who seem to think this means is that you cannot reach ascension without spiritual progression. In our craft, because of its diversity (rich, beautiful diversity), we have a problem – paradigms. A paradigm is a way of describing, interpreting, thinking about the world around you. This is something wonderful because we can say to other because of this “do what feels right to you” because we appreciate the different angle that everyone takes everything and we’re also recognising that the world is as you choose to see it. Back to the point, maybe a lot of us are seeing initiation differently. (That’s Great!)

That initiations and degrees mean there’ll be a hierarchy. Ok, we have people we like to appoint sometimes. For instance a High Priestess. But I personally believe that if you view the role of High Priestess solely as leader and decision maker then you are being misled. To me, it means you are denying the actual spiritual dimension of the role. The High Priestess has a responsibility to be a spiritual doorway for others – conductress of rituals rather than dictator! Although I still believe you can manage without… Just like an initiation, but with one you can experience something very unique. Another point I want to make about the ‘hierarchies’ aspect is that actually there’s no smoke without fire. That’s because some people do choose to use their initiations and degrees like badges on their sashes. It’s these people who’ve gleaned nothing spiritual from their experiences, in my opinion.

Ok, something I’ve not seen expressed in the discussion but have experienced (really through being one of the perpetrators!) is the attitude that you can’t work together without being in a coven. I’m guilty as charged. I was desperate to be in covens and to be initiated. Honestly, a study group is what they should have been called. Covens should be with people you really really want to experience the craft with (not just because you all love the craft but you really want to work together and celebrate together and learn as much as you possibly ever could from each other). A coven should be a nurturing environment full of encouragement and learning. 🙂

And another thing I haven’t seen others discuss yet – initiations aren’t all about belonging to covens! Just thought I’d make that one clear and it doesn’t really need an explanation. 🙂

My very very personal views on initiations and all rites of passage rituals are that they are unique in that they’re aim isn’t fertility, to bring love into your life, get a good harvest, acknowledge female or male aspects etc. … but to celebrate and encourage spiritual progression. I also believe that it builds up energies that you don’t send out of yourself but you use to take you through to the next spiritual level. They’re acknowledgements of experience, development and learning new lessons.

This means you’re probably doing things like this in your own way without the ritual or ceremony as a solitary. The value of that is no more or less than that of initiation ceremonies.

Spiritual development is very personal and cannot be universally measured! XD

Thanks for letting me stick my spoon in the discussion cauldron and stir!

Blessed Be

Rowan

x~x

Athame

OK here’s the long awaited finished athame!!!!!!!

BEFORE:

Close up of the monster tangle

  So you can see the beads completly came off.

AFTER:

 As  you can see I re-strung all the beads; I used a sock for the black hilt!

An athame is used to symbolise the male and is used to open a circle by “slashing” the air.

Please comment and let me know what you think. I did some research on the shape and it appeares to maybe be Mayan or African!

Silversun

)O(

Previous Older Entries