21st Century Witchcraft: if you need it, it will come

Part of an informal ongoing series.

To read previous segments:

21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the Everyday

21st Century Witchcraft: Books

Today was not an easy day. But I feel like I’ve climbed a hump for right now and I can’t worry about what comes next.

My favorite Bible passage, and the one read when I got married was Matthew 6:25-34.

Verse 6:26: Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.”

34: “So do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.”

The universe will provide.

In its own way, in the right time.

My daughter has recently delved into my treasure trove of hand-me-down witch/Wicca/spiritual books. She wanted tools, candles, and to create her own rituals. She wanted to go to a witchcraft shop.

I quickly told her no.

Your tools, I said, will be more powerful if you find them. A piece of wood from a hike with friends. Trinkets from travels. I touch stones constantly to see if they speak to me. I found an unopened pack of cigarettes once and tobacco and fire are both good for ritual.

My bedroom altar is an old Crayola stock box used to carry crayons around the factory for a hundred years. I use the inside as a bookshelf (messy now because I have the Bible in my lap).

On top:

  • My cauldron is a small bowl I fell in love with at the Asian gifts store.
  • My daughter’s favorite book from her toddler days and her first mouthpiece from her baritone which just broke this year.
  • A “nameplate” I bought from a friend’s country gift store because it happened to have my name on it.
  • The pen I used to write a novel in middle school.
  • My old silver ring of Jesus on the cross. I used it to remind me not to lose my temper.

  • Sea shells
  • An amethyst
  • A sun candle holder
  • A necklace from I believe Iraq

So look for those items that speak to you.

21st Century Witchcraft: Books

Originally I had intended to include “personal space” in this section with books, but I know myself and I’m going to babble enough to make that an upcoming entry.

For part one of my “Witchcraft in the 21rst Century” series: 21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

For part two: 21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the Everyday

Welcome to my bookshelf.

During two decades of book-hunting, I have amassed (and given away) a lot of books. I also have a fairly extensive collection of tarot cards but that is another topic for another day.

I gave a large amount of books by Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolf. Before the Internet was readily available and put the universe at our fingertips I used to comb used bookstores and new age shops looking for spiritual ideas.

Then I finally ended up on Llewelyn Publishing’s mailing list.

My daughter now has a lot of the Classics, like Buckland’s Book of Witchcraft.

But I kept some in my vintage Crayola stock box that stands beside my bed.

Everything in this photo is precious to me, except the Celtic Myth book. That one was a disappointment though a good reference. I have some characters who worship ancient Celtic gods.

  • The white book on the bottom is the manual to my 2005 Altima. I loved that car. Having the manual close brings back good memories, nostalgia and longing.
  • Solitary Witch by Silver Ravenwolf is the only one of her books I kept for myself.
  • Wicca: A Year and a Day is a fantastic way to study Wicca and a lot of the meditative daily exercises help find your unique connection to your spirituality. That said, I have never finished the whole book.
  • The faded book lying horizontally on top of those books is my personal book of shadows. Yes, I have one.
  • The two books on top of those are pocket guides to graphology and palmistry. I never found anything else as concise and easy to follow.
  • On top of those are two antique prayer books, both more than 100 years old. One is Catholic. I love Catholic rituals.
  • The Oxford Annotated Bible. This was the Bible from my college Bible classes. We wrote in it. It has extensive footnotes and historical context. I take it with me to church services and still take notes in it. With dates. So over time, I can see my travels through the Bible.
  • The United Methodist Hymnal. My childhood church closed. And one of my peers from those days got me one of the hymnals at the last service.
  • The Book of Centering. An influential pastor once told me about the practice of centering. We were discussing prayer, and this is a type of meditative prayer that also focuses on relaxing the body and pulling prayer into yourself.
  • The Way of Chuang Tzu. This book of Taoist poetry radically altered my perspective of my place in the universe.
  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. My favorite book. I even have an image from it tattooed above my breast. This book, by an amazing man, is all the life lessons you need. It looks like a children’s book, but it’s not. It’s happy and tragic.
  • Walden. This book is meaningful to me from a spiritual and a family perspective. This copy belonged to my great-grandmother’s little brother.
  • Dirty Pretty Things. Sexy, beautiful poetry. Because our sexuality is key to our power.
  • Bloodletting by my friend William Prystauk. Kinky, dark, violent, but the most sincere love story. (For my review of Bill’s book: Review of Bloodletting)
  • My first “novels” that I ever wrote
  • Go the Fuck to Sleep. The last book my husband bought me.

21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the Everyday

To understand my perspective and my background, see the earlier piece (part 1): 21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

My definition of witchcraft is neither the practices of spells nor the following of Wicca, though both of those may qualify as witches.

My definition of magic isn’t based on hocus pocus or ritual, though both of those may qualify.

In my view, and what I wish to discuss here, there are many practices in everyday life that, again in my view, equate to everyday magic.My views may run counter to your views. please remember, the universe has space for all of us.

Respect, first and foremost.

  • Prayer. The basic concept of prayer has a person preparing a sincere conversation with God. Thinking that our words with influence a higher power or change the outcome of events certainly feels like magic to me.
  • Aromatherapy, essential oils, herbal medicine. Witchcraft may be seen as finding the best use for items in the natural world and understanding how these items influence our mind, body, health and behavior.
  • Good luck charms. Lucky penny? Only take a test with certain color pens? Not only is this about superstition but it’s also a case of using an object to focus and strengthen our own will.
  • Candles. If you choice your candles or scented wax products based on color or smell, I consider that trying to change the atmosphere of your home with subtle magic.
  • Traditional foods. Eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day? Certain desserts on certain occasions? Our food habits and what we chose to eat alters our frame of mind. Those mental states can certainly impact us. And in other cases, the ingredients and preparation procedures gives us singular focus.
  • Pets. The animals we bring into our homes may bring an intense bond. Some may be so attuned to us, they may provide protection, strength and reassurance. In other cases, the animal may bring beauty or joy just in its presence.

Coming soon:

Witchcraft in the 21st Century (part 3): Books and personal space

21st Century Witchcraft: Why I’m no longer “Christian”

I proposed a topic of discussion with my daughter the other day, the manifestation of witchcraft in contemporary culture.

“Witchcraft” is all around us.

Now I’m not old enough to say anything about the 1960s, but it seems that’s when American spirituality tried to break from religion in the form of rote brainwashing.

Now, don’t read me wrong.

I merely mean that traditionally, religion begins in the family and people typically follow the same spiritual tenets their parents did.

That’s how the system works and how religion and patriarchy go hand-in-hand. But that’s not my point for today nor a conversation I’m willing to have with the internet-at-large. At least not today or anytime soon.

My mother drove me to a local United Methodist Church on Sundays. Even though religion was not a core of my home life, that experience of attending a church shaped my mind.

And for a long time I was strongly Christian.

Attending a liberal arts college (Moravian College), exposed me to other religions for the first time. Maybe I was ignorant and/or blind, but my small town, rural upbringing did not expose me to anything beyond Christian. This was pre-9/11 so concepts like Jewish and Muslim were foreign to me.

And then I had to take my three religion courses for my requirements. I took Old Testament, Religions of China and Japan and maybe something else I can’t recall right now.

Studying the Old Testament’s origins shook my faith in new ways. Yet, my experiences reassured me that the universe has an order and inherent creative power.

Around this time, one of my mother’s friends gave me a Ryder-Waite tarot deck and I really fell in love with Taoism.

So now, I’m a college student dabbling in other religions convinced I’m going to hell for divination.

Present day me might be going to hell for a lot of reasons. Tarot is merely one. But I don’t believe in hell. I can’t believe a god that loves us enough to sacrifice for us would condemn us to hell. I can’t believe a God that promotes forgiveness would condemn us.

I’m no longer “Christian.” My lack of faith in Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I just believe that Christianity is a system of bribery and reward. Institutionalized Christianity focuses too much on a Biblically-mandated moral code that prescribes what we need to do to receive eternal life in Heaven.

I want to do what’s right because I’m a good person, not because of repercussion or reward.

That’s not to say I feel Christians, church or religion is bad.

A genuine faith community is a powerful source of support and good, for individuals, families and neighborhoods.

I have met and interacted with deeply beautiful Christians who improve the lives of others through their generosity and faith. I have worshipped with many faith groups that move me to tears.

I believe in my own spiritual concepts and my own higher power. Those are personal to me and they impact how I live my life.

In my next post:

21st Century Witchcraft: Magic in the everyday

Mini road trip

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and for the first time in more than a decade, the teenager and I both have “off.”

We had originally planned to go to DC, visit friends, renew the teenager’s passport and plot an African vacation.

But with a Goffin’s cockatoo still getting adjusted and a new kitten in the house, a three-day weekend away sounded disastrous.

My daughter complained that she was feeling the need to get away, so I suggested a day trip this weekend. I even offered to let her pick and plan it. She declined.

With the snow forecasted for Saturday and the pets already in a semi-routine, she suggested today, Monday, for an outing.

Of course, she didn’t wake until almost 11 (which gave me time to do dishes and a load of laundry). She did her chores and I offered her a choice: a childish little mini-road trip or a girls day out at the mall as we both need a few things.

We started the trip at the ATM and then Dunkin’ Donuts for egg wraps. Imagine the teens surprise when I accidentally ordered her TWO hot chocolates.

The surprise option was the Pocono Reptile and Animal Farm, which the web site said had special hours for the school holiday. When we got there, the door had a sign saying it was closed due to cold.

So I mapped a route to House of Candles in Henryville on Rte. 715, where my mom used to buy her candles.

The teenager is knee deep in my old witchcraft books. She’s reading a lot of Scott Cunningham books. She loved the shop and forgave me for making roads where there were none.

On the way home, we stopped at a different Dunkin’ to use the bathroom and ended up with sour cream doughnuts to finish the day.