Nehalennia Statue

Look at this beauty! I worked together with the lovely people of Godsnorth to create a custom statue for the Goddess Nehalennia. They were such a pleasure to work with and I am absolutely in love with the end result.

Some close-ups:

Some of the details that I wanted included: her loyal dog companion, grain/wheat for the harvest, water/the sea, her having one foot on the boat which is something that is also on a lot of the altar stones, as well as a symbol for her as a psychopomp.

Her signature cloak of course! As well as a basket of harvest abundance. I also love how her hair and clothing seems to flow in the sea breeze. I am in love!

Bonus! The final sketch!

The process went smooth and easy. We talked about what I wanted. She sent a sketch and we went over what I loved and what I wanted to change. Then when I gave the green light they made this beautiful statue (which is now also available to everyone!) I will definitely work with them again for statues of Cernunnos and Baduhenna.

Binding and Banishing jar

Yesterday there was a pretty unique event. We had a partial solar eclipse, which coincided with the peak of the new moon. A perfect time to do some powerful and heavy-duty spellwork. I’ve had the idea for this jar in my mind for a while, and this new moon/solar eclipse felt like the perfect time to make it. I had to make some black salt, as well as the banishing powder that you see as the layer on top of the sand, and I had supplies enough to make some pretty big batches, so I feel I have some pretty powerful new stuff added to my witchy toolkit!

The Concept

I call this jar my binding and banishing jar. Whenever I perform a binding, like we will next week during the Pride Witchcraft event, I like to use a simple spell format. I write whatever I wish to bind on a piece of black paper, fold it up and bind it with twine, wool or cotton cord. After leaving it on the altar to charge for a period of time, I would do the banishing part and toss it in the trash. Lately I’d been toying with the idea of burying it, interring it into the ground so it can decay, desolve, and its energy used to grow something new. However, I didn’t want to keep digging holes in my (overgrown) garden and litter, even if it is biodegradable. So, the idea for this jar was born! I will bury my bindings and banishings in here, and when I feel it is time to renew the energy, I will toss out the old and remake it anew.

What you need

  • a jar
  • sand/dirt/(potting) soil/salt, something you can bury something in
  • Bree’s Banishing Powder, make your own or buy it here
  • chains and a lock (optional)

What you do

  • create sacred space in whatever way you prefer
  • fill your jar with your sand/soil, focussing on its function: to bind, to banish, to decay and dissolve the things you have bound so something new can grow in its stead
  • add the banishing powder, focussing on its function: to banish and pack that extra punch of fire and power
  • close the jar and add the chains and lock if wished
  • charge and bless your jar in whatever way you prefer. I sat with it outside in the sun and spoke to it. Told it what its function was, what I wanted it to do. Visualised the things I would put in there dissolving into the ground and a seed of something new, better, more positive, stronger, growing in its place. Then I left it charging in the sunlight until the eclipse was done and moved it to my altar space.

Now it is ready for use, and I’m excited to start using it for the first time next week, to banish and bury the things that negatively impact our beautiful queer community!

Pride Witchcraft

Photo by Ana Cruz on Unsplash

Pride Witchcraft

Happy Pride everyone! It’s the rainbow time of the year again… This will be the first time for me where I will incorporate Pride month actively into my witchcraft practice. As I’ve written about before, self-discovery and self-love is a big part of my daily and monthly practice and exploring gender- and sexual identity has dominated that over the past two years or so. I learned a lot, not just about myself but about queer history and the queer community as well. Which is why I decided that this year, in a year where everything still sucks, I will take Pride month as a sacred celebration, not only to celebrate my own identity and the journey that I’ve made, but also to celebrate how far we’ve come, as a community, and the things that we’ve already achieved.

But there is still quite a way to go. Homophobia and especially transphobia is on the rise again. There is a lot of infighting in the community as well with the rise of TERF ideology and purity politics based on white, Christian values ingrained in our societies and cultures. Which is why a friend commented that for her Pride had a very double feeling this year. We talked about how we both looked forward to it, and didn’t, because of these issues and struggles. We also talked about doing some community magics, where we as a community practice our witchcraft to better the queer community, which I will talk about below.

So, what are my plans for Pride? (My Pride bucketlist, if you will)

  • Celebrate
  • Journal about what Pride means to me and the journey I went through
  • Shop locally and in small, queer owned businesses for some queer merch
  • Finish my “acceptance” tarot spread, and use it
  • Read/watch/or listen to something related to queer history, -people or -education topics every day
  • Donate to a queer cause
  • Join an online queer event
  • Read Arcane Perfection, an anthology by queer, trans and intersex witches that is now 0.99 on kindle!
  • Do a binding/banishing spell (see below)
  • Do a community protection spell (see below)
  • Watch some fun queer shows and movies
  • Celebrate some more!

So let’s talk about the community magic. We invite everyone to join us on a witchy Pride weekend! June 18 to 20 we will be doing various spells to help the queer community, and the more people who cast them, the more powerful they will be! We’ve also chosen this date because we can harness the potent energies of the Summer solstice into our workings.

Binding and banishing
On June 18 we will perform a binding and banishing spell to bind queerphobia, harmful laws, and any other personal things you might want to include. Use your own binding/banishing method, or use the following, which is my preferred method. Take a piece of black paper, or paint one side of a white paper black (protection/banishing). Write down the things you wish to banish, think of things like homophobia, police brutality, job inequality, the names of certain laws, TERFs, or more personal things like people using your deadname or the name of a homophobic uncle (for example). Make sure the black side is on the outside. Focus on binding and banishing every point as you write them down. Now fold it up in a way that the black is the only colour that’s shown. Wrap your folder paper in some black twine, wool, thread, laces, whatever you have. Focus on binding the things you’ve written, say some words if you wish. I like to bury my bindings/banishings, but you can also dispose of them by simply tossing them in the trash where they belong.

Protection Sigil
On June 19 we will cast a protection spell for the queer community. I designed a sigil for this to function as a focal point for your magic. You can print it out or redraw it yourself. Place a candle over it, use it as a base of a crystal grid, place it on your altar and meditate, make it the centre of a (digital) moodboard, whatever feels right for you. The centre of the sigil is the Pride flag, symbolizing our community (you can redraw the sigil and place a different flag inside, if you wish to focus on a specific part of the community). Around it is a circle (protection, community) which is made by five stickfigures holding hands (people, community). Around them is a square (protection) and then a ring of intertwined briar branches with the thorns pointing outwards (again, protection). On the right side I also snuck the rune Thurisaz (briar, protection) into the ring of briar branches. The pentacle in the centre stands for magic as well as, surprise, protection. Customize this for whatever you need, the pentacle is optional, place more stickfigures, change the flag, whatever makes it work for you.

Celebrate and Remember
On June 20 we will celebrate! Celebrate our own identities as well as the community and all we’ve achieved so far. Watch a fun movie, shop for some fun merch, eat and drink something rainbow, dance to music of queer artists, whatever you want! We do also want to acknowledge and remember those who we’ve lost, those who have paved the way before us. You might want to do this by making a toast to your queer ancestors (by blood or – more often – not). By saving a place for them at the table and inviting to join you. Or by using a Beloved Dead sigil and burning a candle in remembrance. I will also be making a list of names of those I wish to honour, which is at the same time a nice excuse to dive deeper into queer history!

So please join us for a witchy Pride weekend! Share your thoughts and experiences with #PrideWitchcraft and share this post far and wide so we can have as many witches adding their magic and power.

a Kindness

Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

You know how we have a murder of crows, a blessing of unicorns, and a cauldron of bats? What if, in a world where humans are space-orcs, a group of humans is called a kindness?

When the grey-haired human asked Xar’ell if zir was cold, zir answered yes. Xovas’ simply had base temperatures that were lower than most travelling species. It’s not like zir was uncomfortable, simply that zir wasn’t really comfortable either. That evening a kindness flocked the messhall, filling it with the sounds of their chatter and the clicking of wooden and metal needles. Now Xar’ell has garments made of ‘wool’ from a creature called ‘sheep’ in the exact colours of the Argodal nebula (zem favourite). Zir has never felt so warm, both inside and out.

When a freak storm wrecked her house Bahrya was in despair. What was she to do for shelter, for both herself and her brood of six? She’d never thought a kindness would show up, let alone two. One came with wood and tools and “don’t worry, it might not look great, but it will be sturdy. And you’ll have a roof over your head until we can rebuild the house”. The other with blankets and toys and “I baked you greshpen, from your homeworld. Now the recipe called for yakka root, which I didn’t have, but I think sweet potato comes pretty close”. Bahrya wouldn’t have been able to stop the chitter of pure emotion as she pulled the humans into her many arms, even if she’d wanted to.

Now, a kindness should not be underestimated. And neither is a kindness always kind to everyone. When Fysha’rrelle was wrongfully accused and arrested, he had but one moment to meet the eyes of their human friend, rage clear on her face. After all, Fysha’relle wasn’t the first innocent Haftarr to be taken away, and he doubted he would be the last. That night, in a cold jail cell, he could hear the kindness coming. Their repeated words ringing off of the stone walls, the grey being warmed to orange by the torchlight of the kindness. As he looked from the window saw his friend, standing in the front, a voice expander in one hand, a sign in the other. Most humans were holding signs, he saw, a call to justice. When the guards tried to use violence to disperse the kindness, they were met with force they had never expected. No, Fysha’relle thought, a kindness is not always kind to everyone, but seeing one fighting not only for him, but for his people, made the cold jail cell feel a lot warmer.

Remembering the Pink Triangle

In the Netherlands, today is Dodenherdenking. It is the day of Remembrance of the Dead, the day and evening before our Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day) on May 5th. On this day we remember those who lost their lives in war, from the second world war until today.

This year I will remember Willem Arondeus. Artist, freedom fighter, and proud homosexual who forged documents to protect the Jews. When the forgery was discovered, he and his fellow resisitance members bombed the Amsterdam city records, erasing hundreds of names and saving hundreds of people. He was arrested and executed in 1943. His last words to were “Tell the people that homosexuals are not by definition weak”.

This year I will remember all those who wore the pink triangle, the Nazi concentration camp badge which identified them as homosexual, bisexual or trans. I will remember all those who were saved from the concentration camps, only to be thrown into prison because of paragraph 175. All those who were freed but never knew freedom.

Tonight at 20:00, two minutes of silence will be observed in the entire country. At that time I will light a candle and place it on the sigil above. The pink triangle with my sigil to honour the beloved dead. In those two minutes I will be silent, and I will remember.

And tomorrow, the flame of freedom will burn and I will celebrate the freedom that our LGBTQIA+ community has in our country and be grateful to those who made that happen.

Unearthing your True Needs

Photo by Ksenia Yakovleva on Unsplash

When preparing for a spell, we ask ourselves what do we want to accomplish? What will the theme of this spell and ritual be? But what I realized is that I need to ask myself more often: what needs to happen before I can work this spell?

I’m struggling right now, physically and mentally, with a new chronic illness. What I want is help in accepting this, accepting the reality of my situation and accepting that things will never be the same again, no matter how much improvement I’ll make. So this was the theme I had in my head: acceptance. I’m having trouble accepting, so I will make a spell and ritual to aid in this. Simple, right? Except it didn’t feel right. I realized there were things holding me back from my acceptance, things that a ritual with me chanting “I accept” while focusing on a sigil that I made would not take away. Things that would block that magical work before it even began. So there are things I need to do before I can do the spell that I want to do.

I needed to unearth my true needs. What do I really need to get to a place where I can start working on acceptance? I’m a journaling kinda witch, so I grabbed my journal and started braindumping. No thoughts, just write it out. Start with what I am feeling about the subject and use that as a kickoff point for the rest. For me this often starts with “I feel…” because this gets me to the root of the problem. The things I have to address before I can go on. And through this work I realized that underneath that need for acceptance, there were a lot of other things:

Anger
Grief
Betrayal
A sense of injustice
A need to be understood
Feeling lost
A need for tranquillity, wholeness and calmness
Self-esteem issues
People pleasing
Toxic bonds with certain people
PTSD

I cannot gain acceptance until I deal with these underlying issues. I can make the most beautiful and powerful ritual for acceptance there has ever been, but it will crumble if it doesn’t have the right foundation. Because I looked deeper and tried to unearth my true needs, I have a list of eight magical workings that I need to do before I can do one for acceptance.

So when you are dealing with something big in your life, something you want to do spellwork or other magical workings for, ask yourself: is there something else I need to do first? Is this what I truly need or is there something deeper that needs to be dealt with? Unearth your true needs, then work towards what you want.

Finding Fantasy Names

— for D&D and writing.

It’s one of those things any writer or GM struggles with. Naming things. Characters, towns, magical doodads, everything needs a name. And not just a name, the perfect name. So today, I wanted to share some tips and sources that have really worked for me.

Keep a list

Inspiration can be found anywhere, at anytime. So I make sure I have lists where I can quickly jot things down if I come across anything I want to remember. In my dropbox I have a huge word document where I keep all my names. I also have a page dedicated to it in my bullet- and writer’s journals, as well as a quick reference guide in my GM’s journal. I keep my lists divided into sections, as well as some themed lists:

  • Town names
  • Male names
  • Female names
  • Gender neutral names
  • Surnames
  • Nature names (for EarthSong Forge: a city in my Averion D&D setting, where names are traditionally nature-inspired)
  • Colour names (for the Colours, the different branches of special forces in Averion)
  • Crystal names
  • Superhero names
  • Fairy names

In my GM’s journal I keep some of these lists as well, with names fitting my setting. Often I make a little note behind a name with which race I find it most fitting. Then, when my players interview a random NPC on the street, I can quickly pick out a name for them and make a note when and where it was used.
To prevent going back to the same names over and over, if I’ve used a name for a story, I will make it bold in my huge word document.

Forge your own

Something I like to do is take a modern name, and forge it into something a bit more suitable for fantasy. Usually I take a name as a base, then take off a few letters, change another, then add a few new ones and see what new and fun combinations I can come up with. For example: Melanie – Melnie – Melnia – Melniya. Or: Melanie – Melan – Melandra. Or: Melanie – Movanie – Movani – Mohvanii.

End credits

Every once in a while I like to grab my notebook and pen and take a moment to watch the end credits of a movie or show that I was watching. It’s a great way to get some names you’ve never heard before, since most are international productions, or have more common names but with a unique spelling. For example, the end credits of WandaVision gave me Neraida, Khodai, Mayes, Vasilios, Tanis, Gaëtan, Nicanor, Solan, Phen, Inzinna and Praveen.

Last names as first names

Something I’ve noticed is that surnames usually make amazing first names, especially for a fantasy setting. In my job we always ask the surnames of our clients to put into the system, and I’ve taken a lot of amazing names from there already. Especially if it’s from a culture that is not your own, the last names work amazing. For example, Janssen is a very common Dutch last name, but in America Jensen is used as a first name. Some other ideas: Aarden (Dutch), Darzi (Persian), Solak (Turkish), Melnyk (Ukranian) and a few of the names from the End Credits-list are also surnames!

Name generators

There are many (fantasy) name generators online, which are a great resource for finding names. I use them often, and if I see a name that I like, but doesn’t fit the character I’m currently searching for, it goes on a list! By far the best and most extensive one is Fantasy Name Generators. Not only do they have names for *everything* – from magical swords to drugs to cyberpunk cities – they have everything sorted in a way that it’s super easy to navigate. And the more you use it, the more trees get planted! How amazing is that?

(Baby) Name sites

(Baby) name sites are also an amazing resource. Most let you search by gender, cultural origin, or theme. My favourite for this is Behind the Name and their sister pages Behind the Surname and Behind the Place Name. Often names from a different culture work amazingly for your fantasy setting. They are names you don’t hear often, which means they won’t look out of place. Also, they make great bases for forging your own names.

Graveyards and obituaries

Another great source for names, if perhaps a bit…dark. Both usually have a person’s full name noted, which means that it can be a treasuretrove for longer names. Here in the Netherlands we often see that middle names are more unique, so it’s a great source for the more “unusual, but still this realm” names. It’s also a great place to see many different versions of the same name, or to find names that tie to a specific period.

So there you have it, a few sources and tips that I like to work with while writing or planning a game session. Where do you get your names?

Change

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Witchcraft is a path of change. Usually we practice magic to bring about a change in our lives, or the lives of those around us. In the years that I have been a practicing witch and pagan, my path has gone through a lot of changes. From a wiccan based one to a more nature and pagan based one. From only doing spells for myself to doing spells for social change on a global level. From practicing in my bedroom with an altar on top of a dresser, to having an entire room dedicated to my craft. Live is a river, ever moving and winding, and witchcraft is no different. It’s the reason I made the Write your Witchcraft challenge, to document those changes for yourself.

But no matter how much things changed, there were a few things that were a constant. A few small things that have been so ingrained into my practice since the beginning. And now that has to change as well, and I find myself adrift. I’ve mentioned before that in May of last year I got ill with Covid. On top of me still not being anywhere near recovered, it also damaged my lungs in such a way that I have to rethink much of my life, including my witchcraft and pagan path.

I’m going to need to find a way to practice without incense, burning candles, perfumed spell oils, strong scenting herbs or flowers, and smoke of any kind. Which might not seem like such a big deal, but for the past twenty-one years all of those things have been such a big part of my path. A cornerstone of sorts. My daily offering to the Gods is burning a candle and praying to them. I use incense and smoke to cleanse my magical tools. I use incense as a representation of the element of air, both in circle when creating sacred space and when charging something with the elements. In our coven we use spell oils to anoint ourselves before stepping into sacred space. I use candles to create a warm and intimate mood for my ritual workings. I burn certain herb mixtures for protection and cleansing when preparing for ritual.

I know I’m not alone in this, that there are many witches out there with asthma or other lung problems who also can’t use these things. So that helps, knowing I’m not alone, as well as reading a lot of tips and ideas for alternatives. But it’s difficult right now to try these alternatives. I don’t know what I would respond well to or not, and with the lockdown and the virus still going strong, I can’t go around to shops and try things out. It also doesn’t help that I have this gorgeous altar room which is now mostly finished (as finished as it will be during a lockdown) and I can’t be in there for more than five minutes before my lungs seize up because of something in there. It’s making me feel a bit lost and desperate. Witchcraft is a path of change, and this is another change that I can and will work through. I will find new ways to cleanse, to create sacred space and a sense of peace and intimacy. I will work around obstacles and make new traditions. I know all this. But right now, I’m mourning the loss of the path I had.

Element pages

Another peak into my Art Grimoire! Today I wanted to share my pages for the four elements with you. I wanted this one to be quite simple, the triangles with representations of the elements inside, and then have keywords which are my personal associations with each element.

What I love about this method is that I can keep adding correspondences and associations as they come to me, right up until the box is full!