Sunday, 23 August 2015

PDU - Advice for Beginners

From here.

There is only one really important bit of advice I can think of for a beginner.

Never take anything as writ – do your research, find out as much as you can and make up your own mind.

I could really stop there because honestly, it’s the best advice I could give anyone. There is a habit of taking everything as writ – as being right, true and the one way (we all know the kinds who do) and it becomes limiting. Take the time to discover what you feel called to and explore it fully; this way you’ll build your own path instead of an imitation of some one else’s.

And because I’m on a roll:

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong – if it’s right for you that’s all that matters.

Never read only one book and think it is the answer – it rarely is.

Always know what you’re doing before performing any workings or rituals.

However spontaneous magic is a powerful thing as well. Do it often.

Don’t try to run before you can walk, you'll only trip up and face-plant.

Take your time, there’s no rush – walking this road is lifelong, you'll never learn everything there is to learn so enjoy the process.

Never ever presume to tell anyone else what they’re doing is wrong – especially if it is a more experienced witch – besides being rude, it might not end well for you.

If you love herbs, start with the easy ones – the more obscure and baneful ones are not for beginners (unless you have a death wish, then by all means).

Being new to the Craft is exciting, and some of us who have been on this journey longer don’t mind helping you out but don’t get shitty if we say no – sometimes we’re busy, have other things to do or prefer to keep our practice private. A sense of entitlement and expectation of obligation will not go over well.

If you want a magical name, then choose one that suits but by all that is holy, please don’t run around calling yourself something like Lady Morrigan Faery Unicorn Glitter. Really. Don’t.

If television is your source for knowledge – please meet Google, it will be your friend.

Exception to above rule: Hocus Pocus. All Hail Queen Winnie.

Witches do magic for personal gain.

Not everyone follows the same path – some witches will hex, bind, curse, use bone or blood and do a multitude of other things. If you walk another road – awesome – but please bear that in mind while speaking on another’s Craft.

Shading magic is generally annoying (white/black/grey).

Always be respectful to other witches, if you respect others that respect will be given in turn.

Bouncy enthusiasm is great but when embracing the feeling of shouting your witchiness from the rooftops; check the temperature of those around you – they may not particularly be supportive.

Online forums are a great place to chat or meet new people – beware of the propensity for drama – it can get uglier than a pissed off wasp in a heartbeat.

Stuff is not necessary. Tis awfully nice to have but one can find oneself become somewhat of a hoarder without meaning to.

Always have good ventilation for incense burning.

Don’t go sticking people with your athame – it’s not the done thing.

Ouija boards – not a toy.

Never leave your candles unattended.

Never invoke, summon or invite that which you can’t banish (although, being a beginner, I have absolutely no idea why you’d be invoking, inviting or summoning anything – perhaps best not to attempt it).

And finally – and probably most importantly:

May your path be long, your journey be fruitful and your knowledge real and not from Sabrina or Charmed.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Datura - The Moon Lady

For informational purposes only – I do not recommend experimenting with, growing or using Datura unless you’re an experienced herbalist or horticulturalist. It is a toxic herb and not to be played around with.


Datura

Devil's Apple, Mad Apple, Stinkweed, Sorcerer's Herb,
Thorn Apple, Toloache, Witches' Thimble

One of my favourite banes by a mile is the Datura; it has a wicked reputation and its pods look like they are from another planet but even with all of this, I adore this plant so very much. So much so I’ll be experimenting with growing different types (especially the purple ones!). I’m looking forward to my inroads with the beautiful, dangerous moon lady. 

Datura, in all her guises, is a plant that people either love or fear. And one would be right to fear her if you do not know her, she has quite the reputation. Ingested or abused, Datura is toxic, fatal even – at the very least it will give you some incredibly mad hallucinations. There is a story of British soldiers during the 17th century in Virginia (USA) eating some (mistaking it for vegetable greens) and suffering the effects for over a week – when they came to, they recalled nothing of their experience but it was reported they were acting quite mad. She is not one to suffer fools lightly. The ability for madness comes from her chemical make up of scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine – these tropane alkaloids can cause all sorts of havoc in the system, least of all the ability to poison. This is why, in times past, a good understanding of Datura was needed in order to administer it safely and properly in a medicinal (and yes, ritual) capacity. A fair example would be the compound ‘Atropine’ derives its name from Atropos, one of the Moirai or Greek Fates; she is the one who severs the life thread, a perfect example of why Datura is not a herb to be messed with recreationally or without any knowledge of her.

You will notice I  refer to Datura as “she”, this is because Datura is a feminine herb, of the element of water and Saturnian in nature. She shares this with her cousins in the Solanaceae family – you may have heard of them – Ms Belladonna, Ms Henbane and Mr Mandrake – her cousins, as darkly delightful and deadly in nature as Ms Datura– interestingly enough in the Solanaceae family we also find potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and tobacco to name a few. 



There are many different varieties of Datura – my personal favourite is Datura inoxia (gorgeous white flowers) but I’m branching out and experiencing other Daturas – my current interest is in those with purple flowers. I’m growing purple Datura metel (var fastuosa) and Datura stramonium (var tatula). They are currently in a teeny hothouse, I’m hoping they’ll pop their heads out before long; I’ve always had relative ease growing Datura so fingers crossed my luck continues. I’m also going to be trying the considered Australian native version Datura leichhardtii. The seed pods of the Datura are wicked looking, spiky, prickly and can give you a rather nasty poke if you’re not careful. They house hundreds of seeds which go forth in a projectile fashion when the seed pod opens. This is how Datura can become an invasive weed, in fact my first round of Datura plants came from some I found growing wild along a stretch of highway up here while on my way to Adelaide one day, they’re not there anymore, I would assume that they were sprayed by the council of that area – it’s a shame really but not a surprise. Given I live in an agricultural district, anything not considered useful for livestock or cropping generally gets the toxic end of a spray bottle.


Datura is shamanic herb, having been used for countless centuries in religious rites, spirit travel, rights of passage and witchcraft – the Aztecs held it as sacred, and it is often thought of as a plant of the Gods. It’s not hard to see why; the plant is quite powerful, even in passing, you can’t help but notice her energy. It is sometimes quiet, but taking a moment and listening, you will hear her temptress whispers as she beckons you forth to touch, to smell, to hold. She will reel you in before she strikes, enamoured and caught in her snare; you barely notice that as she plays coy and innocence, she is weaving her dark web around you. 

Datura is used for hex breaking, sleep and protection but her Saturnian nature lends her to workings of a chthonic nature, underworld journeying, flying ointments and trance work. Datura is also considered a plant for oracular and prophetic purposes but also for healing – but unless you know how to use Datura for healing, I wouldn’t recommend trying. 

To grow this rather beautifully deadly plant, seeds need to be soaked in some warm water to soften the shells; she prefers heat so when planted out into your sowing medium, make sure there is plenty of warmth hitting the seed bed. I prefer to start mine in jiffy pellets in a little hothouse until they get to a size ready for planting. Datura has a relatively short germination, 5 – 15 days but it can be stubborn as well so patience is key. Datura grows to about 1 – 1.5 mtrs (sometimes slightly larger), with dark green foliage and the flowers grow to a trumpet shape. When the flowers have formed, they slowly unfold to present their gorgeous faces (I took some photos once of a flower evolving here), however they do begin to wither the next day rather quickly. The flower then turns into the wonderous seed pods the daturas get. The seeds, depending on the type of Datura, will be either black or variations on brown.


If you choose to walk the path of the Moon Lady, be wary, be careful and be cautious for she will ensnare you without a thought, pulling you gently to her side whilst dancing a beautiful song around you. She will hold you within her petals as you lean toward her, eager to scent her beauty. She will have you as her own then and you may find yourself ensorcelled unable to walk away. Then you will truly be owned by the spirit of Datura – the herb of the ancients.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Around the Garden

Early signs of spring coming in the garden. It is heading toward one of my favourite seasons, the buds are beginning to form, flowers are starting to unfurl, bulbs are looking gloriously wonderful and soon, the garden will be a rainbow of colour.











PDU - Imbolc

The Almond tree is such a beautiful sight this time of year, it represents everything that Imbolc is about, the reawakening of things slumbering deep through the winter months coming to life as the days begin to be that little bit longer and the sun begins to kiss the earth, preparing her for the coming spring.






Tuesday, 28 July 2015

PDU – New Ideas

Or there lack of?

The Pagan community is an interesting place whereby everything old is new again. Whether it is traditional witchcraft, shamanism, making flying ointments or crafting an eclectic path – there aren’t any real “new” ideas; just old ones re-invented. It’s not a bad thing by any stretch, it’s an amazing thing, to take ideas seemingly lost to time and bring them back into the public eye, creating new traditions from old traditions, creating new products from old ideas (witch bottles, flying ointments, spirit traps). It brings a new depth and creativity to the Craft, preventing it from stagnating and becoming something that everyone is doing the same of.

However, these old ideas made new do become new ideas in of themselves and they create opportunities for growth on the path. I have found of late that so many are taking old traditions and incorporating them into their Craft, me being no exception to that. It is creating a rich, vibrant tapestry of witchcraft, giving every practitioner an individual path that is different from the next practitioner. We all interpret things differently; the ideas presented or created being no exception. I’m now finding myself moving into the art of shapeshifting (early stages) and have found a wonderful mentor and teacher to guide me on the journey. This is an old idea, but for me, it is a new one, a new road in my journey, a new art to learn and use.

Although, I do find somewhat amusing how when it rains it pours in the Pagan community, and with new ideas or repurposed ideas, more than one person seems to have them at the same time. An idea I had in August last year but didn’t act on immediately was an idea others had and have acted upon. It’s an interesting dilemma but also interesting how some of us think of the same things. I’m not sure if I’ll go ahead with my idea or not – I don’t really want to be accused of copying or imitation (which is also another issue with new or “old made new” ideas in the community), I think I’ll see how I get on (so many things on my plate right now).

I hope the continuation of new ideas continues, it offers a rich tapestry of information, practice and eventually history to furnish the Craft with. I’m proud to be some one who is contributing to that, in whatever way I may be doing so.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

PDU -Ethics

Ethics is always an interesting topic. A long time a go I wrote a lesson on ethics for part of a course I was teaching but I think, even now, my views have changed again somewhat.

So what are ethics?

Ethics:

1. (Used with a singular or plural verb) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture. 
2. The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics. 
3. Moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence. 
4. (usually used with a singular verb) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

From here.

I hold to ethical idea of personal responsibility. I don’t believe in, nor adhere to, the ‘karma’ or ‘threefold’ or ‘harm none’ philosophy. I find them quite unrealistic and honestly, a bit of a control mechanism. I do believe that the universe keeps a balance on its own, I tend to ascribe more to the ‘equal and opposite reaction’ idea. But I don’t believe that all magic attracts consequence or an opposite reaction. I think if you work magic for petty, mean-minded reasons then you more than deserve an ass kicking in return in equal measure, but if the actions are necessary, justified or for personal gain that is not at the (deliberate) expense of some one else, then there’s not going to be any sort of consequence or reaction. My personal theory of course, I’m sure there are many that would disagree. I do believe that some actions bring about our own destruction as much as they bring about good things for us – it depends on your perspective. To be clear, I do believe in cursing, hexing, binding and all manner of “black magic” (oh how I hate that whole shade thing – it’s just magic people, just magic!!) and I do believe that in some cases those actions are absolutely necessary.

Another of my personal ethics is never to discuss exact usages of entheogenic herbs in public, I’m a cynic, people tend to be stupid and not exercise much common sense (that sounds a bit harsh huh?) so to put that info out there where it could potentially end up in the wrong hands would be irresponsible of me. If I was to teach some one or was to work within a coven or circle I would share it, but not outside of that. I will discuss generalities though, it’s good to share some things, and information on certain topics can be hard to come by so if I know it, I’m happy to share it to the extent I’m comfortable with.

I suppose my ethics are pretty flexible, I’m not a malicious person so my nature isn’t toward magic of that sort, but I see no reason to not do magic to protect, gain or change. I’ve done all of those and will continue to do so.

What are your ethics when it comes to magic?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

PDU - Yule

Lucious, ripe Firethorn

I always struggle with Yule at this time of year. It’s not really cold enough for me to think ‘winter is here’ – not to go all GoT but winter is coming, just not yet. It’s very cool, yes, and being that I’m a soft touch, I have a water bottle, flannie sheets and a very warm doona but still, I think winter won’t show until July proper. I’m looking forward to it, I like the cold, I like to curl up with a hot water bottle and a book. I like an excuse to have those few extra minutes in bed simply because it is too cold to get up and the cocoon I’m in is so cozy.

Winter is also interesting where I live; it’s unpredictable from year to year. Some years we get high rainfall, other times biting cold, even the very occasional bit of snow (which tends to melt before it hits the ground). We have dewy mornings, frost – some years ‘black frost’ which tends to kill everything that is sensitive. Last year we had a black frost, it temporarily killed off my Jacaranda (a surprise) yet the things you think would die off didn’t. But no two winters are ever the same. This year we’ve had relatively decent rainfall, no frost as yet and the cold is obvious in the morning, but hit mid morning it’s brisk but not cold. The coolness doesn’t start setting in til about 3pm or so, depending on the day. Some days we have lovely warm sun at 4pm – our verandah is a good place to be sitting when it comes. Even our Oak was late to the party; she’s still hanging on to some of her autumn leaves.

I didn’t celebrate Yule on the 21st of June, I likely won’t be celebrating yet for quite some time, I would rather have a meaningful connection with it and have it make sense than to enact a hollow acknowledgement to it. I will know when it’s time because the Cailleach will be breathing down my neck, her icy breath letting me know that it is now time to pay tribute to Winter, to see the season in it’s full glory and revel in the highs and lows that come with this season. Winter is my quiet time, my reflection time, my planning time and my indoor herbal madness time. I have plans for this season and I’m looking forward to enacting some of them.

Like cheese-making.