My view on the Gods

I believe the Gods are the mirror of ourselves. Created by our ancestors’ need for answers and meaningfulness (zingeving), which we’ve fed through the years with worship and sacrifice and stories. We gave them their power and through it they became both the collective of all the people who helped maintain them, and grew beyond it. And because they came from us they are a mirror of us. They show us the parts of ourselves that we need, that we wish to emulate, or that we missed in our interactions with others. But it is all within us. They are within us.

However, simply because they live within the realm of the imagination doesn’t mean that they do not have power, quite the opposite. Human inventiveness, creativity, and imagination, our love and compassion and kindness, are the most powerful things we have. They are the source of our power. They are the source of the power of the Gods. Divinity is found within.

When I call upon deity I call upon this collective archetype that we built together, for ages and ages, and I call upon this power within myself. I use the mirror that is the collective stories and the art and the experiences and rituals of others, to call forth my own power. That power that has been with me since birth, but that I have kindled and nurtured and made grown.

I think the Divine is something that we’ve created ourselves. With our own sense of imagination and wonder at the world around us. We saw the beauty of nature and Named it, and we told its stories, and made it sacred. We had so much love for the world around us, and so much love for ourselves, that we made it powerful. That we lifted it above and beyond us and made it mighty. And isn’t that the most amazing thing?

The power of humanity, the power of love and curiosity. The Divine is not somewhere far removed from us, on a different plain of existence looking down upon their creations. It is us. All of us. Throughout all of time and space. All coming together, living life, looking for answers, being hopeful, seeking spiritual meaning, loving each other and the world around us, being kind. That is what builds and sustains Gods.

Worldbuilding tip: Museums

Trix the T-Rex in Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden

When building your worlds, don’t forget about museums! A fun and easy way to get your players involved and more immersed into the world you have built.

In bigger cities and towns they can be an amazing alternative way to get information. Your players could go to the library and study to find out more about a subject, or they could visit the exhibit at the local museum. Think about museums of history, natural history, science, botanical gardens, zoos, or the fine arts.
In the zoo they could learn about weaknesses of monsters roaming the countryside (and perhaps help round up an escaped giant chicken without hurting it for a fun side quest).
In the botanical gardens they could learn about which plants they could forage for their alchemy or herbalism kit.
In the history museum they can learn about a specific historical event or -figure that ties into their current quest. (For the Critical Role fans, how amazing would an Aeorian history museum be?)

Then, think smaller. Often small, more quirky or specialized museums can be found in smaller towns and villages. These can often be broken up into different categories:

Niche collection, a collection that got so out of hand that it now turned into a museum. Think teapots, chicken figurines, papercutting art, miniatures. A great way to add some whimsy to your setting and to ground it a bit more. And of course, these would have great NPCs attached to them, perhaps with a quest for that one teapot that they has been eluding their grasp.

Historic events and -figures, usually specific landmarks or homes. With famous writers or artists for example their houses often get turned into museums. Think Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo used to live or the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden.
Here in the Netherlands we of course have many museums dedicated to the second world war, including specific buildings that were used as hiding places or for the resistance. We also have a museum dedicated to the witch hunts, because Oudewater was known far and wide as the place to get weighed, because they were fair. So don’t be afraid to get specific, and let your players learn about the history of your world.

Crafts, things that this area is known for. Oudewater was not only known for weighing witches, but also for making rope, so there is a rope museum. Schoonhoven is known for producing the best silver, so they have a silver museum. Including crafts museums is a simple and great way to show more about the region your players are in. And with regional pride comes the opportunity to add things like local festivals or heroes, all tied to these crafts. (annual rope pulling contest, with all sorts of food made into ropes, anyone?)

So when building your world, don’t neglect the museums. They are a great and easy way to show your players things about your world and the people living in it. And they can be great hooks for new sidequests, or provide information needed in bigger story arcs.

Prayer to Cernunnos

You stand tall within your sacred grove,
The sun’s rays shining through your antlered crown
I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos
You stand rooted deeply within the Earth,
Connected to all things living and passed,
I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos

You lead the dance ‘round the blazing bonfire,
The drums echoing the beat of your heart
I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos
You lead the hunt through forest deep,
The spirit of hunting wolf and hunted stag both,
I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos

You stand firmly ‘pon the threshold,
The liminal of body and time and place is yours,
I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos
You sit cross-legged between the standing stones,
The power of tree and root and fur and fang is yours,
I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos

You wear the torc of sun-bright shining gold,
The wealth of coin and wealth of life are yours to give,
I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos
You hold the horned serpent within your grasp,
The keeper of ancient knowledge and lore long forgotten,
I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos

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.