Witch Tips: Back to School

I’m sorry, school bound Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches, but the summer holidays are almost over.  Time to start thinking about the scholar’s new year, the first day of school.  What kind of year do you want to have?  What are your goals?  These are a few tips to start the year magically and mundanely.

  • Start Getting Back Into Your Sleep Routine Now: Left to your own devises, it’s hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule due to vacations, summer job shifts, and late night movies.  Don’t do it all at once (it won’t work).  Start by going to bed a half an hour earlier every night.  Making a routine (example brush teeth, read a book, take vitamins, turn out lights) also helps.
  • The Desk Altar: While you are free to put this on your desk at school, the intention behind this altar is to extend the feeling of scholarship into your homework space.  Mine always takes up a small corner of my desk.  You can dedicate it to any scholarly deity (examples: Athena, Thoth, Saraswati) or just to the spirit of scholarship.  Some ideas: a yellow candle, a picture of an appropriate deity, incense or potpourri made from dried orange peel and Earl Grey tea, etc.
  • Look Into Taking Off For Sabats: If you (or your kids) are in public school, this is something your parents will have to do for you.  I would not recommend doing this for every sabat (that would mean 6-7 missed days of school), but try getting off for at least Samhain and Beltane.  Although parents if your kid’s Halloween party is on Samhain, consider sending them in with a plate of cookies instead (when else in your life will you get to wear fairy wings to school!).
  • College and Boarding School Students, Research Room Restrictions: Some typical Pagan supplies are banned for safety and legal reasons.  These can include (but are not limited to) candles, incense, matches, lighters, athames (and other knives), ritual wine, certain herbs (anything experience altering namely pot and peyote), tapestries, singing bowls, bells, smudge sticks, and wind chimes.  If you need any of these things for ritual practice and cannot seem to be able to alter your practice, discuss it with your RA or campus religious figure.  The pot and wine might not go over well, though, so make a decision about those for yourself.
  • Smarter School Supplies: Eco-friendly notebooks, pencils, and binders are fairly cheap and easily accessible.  If they are a little two rich for your blood, at least buy a lunch box, water bottle, and storage boxes.
  • Buy New Pagan Books:  Learning doesn’t have to stop at the school bell, especially if you want to expand your awesome witchy knowledge.  Cool Pagan workbooks are also a great idea.  Some recommendations: Ariadne’s Thread by Shekhinah Mountainwater, Circle Round by Starhawk, and Living Earth Devotional by Clea Danaan (comes out in September, but I’m excited about it.)
  • Relax:  The school year is stressful, so enjoy the rest of the summer.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Eclecticism

The term “eclectic” as applied as an adjective to Pagan, Wiccan, or Witch means that the person draws from many different ideas and traditions and applies them in a personal matter.  Usually this person is solitary (but not always) with a strong calling.  In an area in which there are not “rules,” there are ideas to consider, especially when starting on this path.

  • Let Your Freak Flag Fly: It’s just you and the Goddess plain and simple.  Connect the way you want to connect.  Exception: Don’t hurt yourself, other people, animals, property that is not yours, or anything generally found to be illegal.
  • Come to Grips with the Problem of Cultural Appropriation: Cultural appropriation is the misuse of elements of particular or multiple cultures.  Generally this happens when someone uses harmful stereotypes.  The best way to counteract is to educate.  Read up on and talk to people about topics regarding your interests.  Get a deeper understanding.
  • Pinpoint Your Influences:  When I am feeling technical, I classify myself as an Eclectic Witch with strong Wiccan influences.  It’s not that any of that means anything to me, but it provides context for others trying to comprehend your path.
  • Don’t Feel Intimidated: Work on your spirituality one step at a time.  Just because there may not be a teacher or precedent guiding you doesn’t mean you can’t have a meaningful relationship with the God and Goddess.
  • Reach Out:  Find a community of people on eclectic paths and create a support group of sorts.  It’s nice to talk about your experiences with people in similar stages in their lives.  Hell, you could email me if you feel a little isolated and want to talk.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Continuing Your Pagan Education

In the Northern Hemisphere it’s getting colder.  Where I live the leaves are absolutely gorgeous, but are falling pretty regularly.  For us college students, campus residence life (or whatever it’s called at your school) have switched from air conditioning to heating in the dorms.  We will temporarily be cut off from the vibrancy of nature.  So why not cultivate a vibrant mind?  Even if you have read all the books, there are alternative forms of getting information.  Here are some ways to get started.

  • REALLY Read Your Myths: Not to say you didn’t the first time around, but treat them this time as meditations.  Seriously contemplate a myths implications on your way of life and your relationship with the gods.
  • Podcasts and Youtube: These are two active communities full of people willing to share information and knowledge.  For students still in the introduction stages, try CharmingPixieFlora, TheShoeWhisperer, and TipToeChick.  They are people who have been practicing Paganism for a long time and are genuinely willing to help you out.  As I subscribe to all these ladies, I know things are kind of rough in the Pagan Youtube community right now, especially for Flora, so make sure to show them some love.  For people a little further down their path, I would recommend concentrating on podcasts.  They tend to have more in-depth discussions than Youtube can provide.  Right now, Selena Fox and the Circle Sanctuary group are hosting a series called Circle Craft Studies.  She covers a wide variety of topics and recommends books and articles to get more educated on a given topic.  Also, Another Pagan Podcast is by far my favorite.  They’re lively and still informative.  iTunes offers many podcasts for free, so go crazy!
  • Take a Class: I am a firm believer that sometimes it really is better to ask an expert.  I know when I started studying herbalism, I learned a lot easier in a class than I did reading from a book.  Try something you’ve never done before.  While there are a lot of great classes online, perhaps try one in your community.  That way you’ll always have that connection to at least a part of your local community.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Working with Spirits

Working with spirits comes in many shapes and sizes.  Some witches and practitioners make contact through a variety of methods, including dowsing and mediumwork.  Yes, Ouija boards qualify here, but be careful they are easy to manipulate.  Others, myself included, give offerings to the spirits of heroes, ancestors, and admired figures to aid them in the spirit world.  Workers also call on spirits to aid in craftwork.  All spirit workers revere this time of year and its thin veil between the spirit world and our world.

For those interested in working with spirits, Samhain is a good holiday to begin this practice.  I have a few tips for the ingenues

  • Spirits lie.  Get used to it.  Even the one of your sweet grandma.  But you can still learn from them.
  • Have a healthy amount of skepticism.  You shouldn’t go approach it disrespectfully, but at the same time use your common sense.
  • When beginning on this path, try to find someone who’s done this before to help you.  I am not talking about a book, I mean someone who regularly and expertly contacts the dead and DOES NOT get paid to do it.  Why?  There are a lot of unknowns in the universe and in the metaphysical work.  An expert can help you navigate them safely.  Advertise on the Witch’s Voice or ask around your local metaphysical shop to find one.
  • Veneration is spiritwork. Honor your ancestors often.
  •  Stick close to home.  Most dwellings unless they are brand new contain some sort of spirit activity although 99.99% its completely benign and unnoticeable.  My teacher described them to me as quiet observers. Treat them with the same respect you would your individual spirit guides.
  • DO NOT HANDLE BIG PROBLEMS ON YOUR OWN.  I have never come across a true spirit infestation that harms to household.  I believe that most ‘contact’ that the media publishes is bull shit.  But at the same time I will not discount the possibility that it could happen.  If you think you are encountering a bad situation, ask your teacher or an experienced friend to help. Not only will they give you a better perspective on the matter, but in the case that it is a serious problem you’ll want the extra help.
  • You should not approach spiritwork as trying to have a paranormal experience.  You are attempting to find wisdom from whatever source you can.

I encourage anyone with long-term experience to comment.  My experience has been mainly reverent ritual to honor home dwellers, so I’m limited in what I can say.  Just be careful.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Preparing for Cold Weather

It’s getting chilly!  This is the first weekend I needed a coat in the daytime.  This means it is the time of year to start making preparations for the cold winter months.

  • Stay Active: It is easy to feel sluggish in the winter.  You don’t spend as much time outside and the lack of sunlight can make your energies feel weird.  Try to do some form of exercise three days a week.  Something that will keep you accountable is to sign up for a class at your gym or YMCA.  A couple of great ideas: pilates, flamenco, yoga, or tap.
  • Consider Buying a Sunlamp:  A former roommate used one every morning from October to May to balance her seasonal depression and she said it made a significant difference in how outlook and mood.  I would talk to a doctor or medical practitioner before buying this cool little device because it is an investment.  Do a little bit of research to find the right machine.
  • Knit a Scarf:  It is so rewarding to bundle up in something that you have created.
  • Harvest the Very Last of Your Herbs:  Go on one last wildcraft hike.  Winterize your garden.  Take your potted plants into your home.  This it the point in the year where you should finish drying, canning, and storing herbs and food products.  Also, cleanse and bless any outdoor altar space.  Ask its guardians or resident fairies to watch over it and protect your sacred space as you move your rituals indoors.
  • Make a Snowstorm Kit:  Flashlight, batteries, candles, a lighter/matchbox, an ice-melt product, Hot Hands, a car snow scraper, a shovel, any non-perishable food, a blanket, any special coats or warm weather clothes, a sled, a few materials to make a snowman, and cocoa mix/ingredients!

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Balancing Spirituality and Other Responsibilities

Life gets busy.  Work, school, kids, partners, friends, ritual time, family, and oh so much more.  Finding the time for incorporating the God and Goddess can be difficult.  So here are a few ideas to make finding spiritual time easier.

  • Keep Organized: I have a two part calendar and to-do list system which seems to keep me on track.  Don’t over schedule your life so that you have to keep to a schedule or to a list, but manage your time wisely.
  • Daily Practice: It can be as formal as meditation or as simple as thanking the God and Goddess while watering plants.  If you make it a habit, you’ll be less likely to skip it.
  • Don’t Feel Guilty: You need to forego spiritual work because you have a Statistics exam and need the study time?  Then study. Remember that spirituality is paramount, but not the only important thing in your life. Make a mental note and spend some extra time in meditation or ritual on a slower day.

© Ariadne Woods

Want More Witch Tips?

I love writing Witch Tips!  They are by far my favorite posts.  How I normally decide to do a Witch Tips page is I think of enough ideas for a particular category.  But I was thinking the other day, what about the tips that really have NO place, the oddballs?

So I got a Twitter.

You don’t need to follow me per say, but if you have Twitter and are a fan of the Witch Tips, please follow #witchtips.

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day!

Bright Blessings,

Ariadne