Path Bashing

Path bashing is the vocal objection to religious or spiritual practices that seem counterintuitive to your own practices.  In my experience in the Pagan community, this happens most often with two things: concepts of deity (i.e. unverified personal gnosis) and application of the Rede.  This term does not apply to discrimination of a group from a path (namely the “women-born-women” ridiculousness in certain female only groups and festivals); that is a whole different animal.  It does incorporate the exclusion of Judeo-Christian Witches from being “valid” practitioners and complaining about how Wiccan-centric Pagan shops are.  It also applies to bashing mainstream religions as well, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.

If you do this purposely, shame on you.  It is definitely one thing to have a difference of opinion.  It is also fine to express it rationally and reasonably.  But how dare you name someone or someone’s practice feel inferior.  You don’t know their life path or their relationship with their deities.  It isn’t a matter of the other person “not having a tough skin” or “not being able to take criticism,” it’s a matter of you are bullying someone.  So stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

If you do this accidentally, you aren’t off the hook.  It happens (I know I have done it), but it still is a mistake that needs correcting.  If it is a difference in personal definitions, an exchange of ideas of a similar concepts will help clarify the situation.  This approach is great for approaching UPG and debated concepts like fluffiness.  Try to keep an open dialogue and lower the judgement.  If you speak before you think, apologize.  Every time.  If you don’t really know anything about the subject but made a comment, make an effort to read up on it.  Take this mistake to grow and learn.

If you think someone has path bashed you, call them out.  While some people thrive on being assholes and this approach will fuel the fire (walk away after the initial “excuse you” in that case), most people respond well to people who speak up for themselves.  If they apologize, accept it.  Be the bigger person.  In the event that someone does this more than once, report them to a teacher or even the administrators of the website you are using.

© Ariadne Woods

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Self Care for Witches

Self care is a term that denotes activities someone does to keep up their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.  Everyone does this to some extent with doctor check ups, hair cuts, and journalling.  For witches, we can engage in positive activities to grow our spiritual side and personal power.  Of course all of these things can be done as needed, but here’s my schedule for good witchy hygiene.

Daily

  • Meditate: At least five minutes with a clear mind, because “Meditation is medicine for the mind.”  It nurtures good metal health and spiritual connections.
  • Visualization Practice: Working with the Third Eye daily provides a way to hone your magical skills since visualization is such an integral part of magic.  These exercises are in just about every magical book on the mass market.  They’re easy and only take a few minutes.
  • Greet the Day: Whatever your religious tradition dictates, saying ‘hey’ to your Gods and guides strengthens your bonds.

Weekly

  • Do Something Fun or Relaxing:  Too often people get caught up in drama and activity.  So pour a bath, grab a bottle of wine, see a movie, go to dinner with friends, whatever restores your spirit.
  • Sexy Time: Whether alone or with someone else, sex is a powerful experience for everyone.  And maintaining a healthy sex life can be quite spiritual.  Remember if with a partner, make it matter and use all necessary protection.

Monthly

  • Cleanse the Chakras and Aura: There are a couple of methods for both, although visualization is key (hence the exercises!)  For chakras, I like this guided meditation which I augment with crystals.  Aura cleansing is a little trickier and way more personal.  Meditate on what methods work for you.

Seasonally

  • Space Cleanse: I am a big advocate of doing this as often as possible.  Bare minimum, around the solstices and equinoxes.
  • Cleanse Your Tools and Crystals: Keep the energies of your favorite stuff clean and ready to use.

Yearly

  • Psychic House Cleaning: I think people take “psychic vampires” and “energy leaches” way too seriously.  They only have as much power as you allow them to have.  However, it is good once in a while to return to sender any bad vibes you have been getting.

© Ariadne Woods

Ostara Myths

Ostara is a holiday about rebirth, new growth, courtship, and fertility.  In the Wheel of the Year allegory, the God and the Goddess are romancing and getting to know each other as romantic partners.  They’re in the first date stage of their relationship.  The land is becoming green again, and snow is turning to rain.  There are a number of myths that correspond with Ostara that are perfect to incorporate into ritual or to share with your children.

Eostre, the sabat’s namesake, is a Germanic goddess of Spring, rebirth, and fertility.  One myth that strongly ties to the season is Eostre and the Egg.  A hare came across a perfect egg one day and wanted to give it to his Goddess.  But he was worried that the meager offering wouldn’t be enough.  So he gathered plants and herbs and dyed the egg the colors of the sunrise.  The hare gave it to Eostre, who was enchanted by the gift.  She charged the hare with sharing this art with the world.

Also, the myth of Persephone and Demeter is appropriate for both Ostara and Mabon.  While the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is the primary source for this story, there are a lot of great retellings.  Starhawk’s version, which can be found in Circle Round, is a particular favorite of mine.

As the God is a young man, myths that deal with trickster gods are appropriate for this sabat.  Hermes, Loki, and Coyote are all possible candidates to honor during ritual.  A favorite story for this holiday is Hermes’s First Day, during which he discovered the lyre and stole Apollo’s cows.  Check out a classical mythology book for the full tale.

© Ariadne Woods

Five Essential Magical Herbs for Students

School is a balance of expanding the mind, communicating effectively, and dealing with stress.  For the Witch, knowing the multifaceted element of this stage of life helps to create effective education spells.  These are my top herbs when doing spellwork to help my studies.  Any herb associated with remembrance and communication is also quite effective.

  • Earl Grey Tea: This particular type of tea is blended with bergamot essence, which is known to stimulate the mind and to foster confidence.  There is also enough caffeine to make this the perfect potion for all nighters.
  • Grapefruit Peel and Essential Oil: Again, good for activating the mind and a great study aid.  The essential oil version also is known for promoting joy and happiness, so a good choice to wear during classes you hate.
  • St. John’s Wort: An age-old antidepressant, both medically and magically.  It is known as the ‘sunshine herb’ for bringing light into dark situations and problems.  I use this in spellwork when I have a difficult professor or administrator I need to confront.  DO NOT take internally if you take any prescription antidepressants.
  • Lavender: Very calming and relaxing.  Use it to help with sleep problems that may arise with dorm living and with social stress.
  • Lemon Balm: Associated with healing of the mind and success.  I use this as a tea to wash away the stress at the end of a hard school day and as part of spells to help with a difficult assignment.

© Ariadne Woods

Field Trip to Salem

This weekend I went to Salem, Massachusetts.  If you are not familiar, it is the site of witch trials in the United States which led to the deaths of 20 innocent people in 1692-93.  They are infamous for a number of reasons, primarily because it is it is the first case of mass hysteria in my nation’s history.  For American witches, we consider it a sacred site.  Many believe there is a point of energetic convergence at this city.  To illustrate the complex history of Salem, there are a lot of museums dedicated to the Trials, witches, and even piracy.  And, of course, the Peabody Essex Museum.  I did not visit these on this trip because I was with friends less interested in history and more interested in other activities Salem offers.

Salem is also a haven for the modern Pagan movement.  It hosts dozens of shops and many Witches call this city their home.  I went in several stores: Omens, Hex, and Artemisia Botanicals to name a few.  What struck me was the helpfulness and friendliness of every person I met.  They walked the witchy walk.  In my favorite shop whose name unfortunately I cannot remember, the shopkeeper revealed something I never realized.  When reading spellbooks, looking at the elements associated with the components of the spell gives a clue regarding what kind of problem best applies to the particular spell.  For example if the herbs and crystals in a healing spell correspond to Air and Water, it is supposed to help the mind and emotions.  So simple but so cool.  I appreciated the insight and was blown away by friendliness.

It was a transformational experience and there are bits about it I will explain in installments.  But I encourage everyone to visit at least once!

© Ariadne Woods