Poetry: Find me, sister

A poem inspired by the Goddess Baduhenna.

Find me, sister
In marsh-filled forest
In sacred grove
The places which are wild and raw and free
Filled with magic and power

Find me, sister
Through ties of blood
Through bonds of spirit
See me in the faces of your kindred,
Connected and rooted to all life

Find me, sister
In spring’s green delight
In summer’s bright splendour
For, like you, nature grows and blooms
It perseveres through all adversity

Find me, sister
In the call of the crow
In the howl of the wolf
Join the frenzied roar of thousands,
And fight for those who are oppressed

Find me, sister
With fangs bared
With claws curled
Head held high and strength in your spine
Never giving in nor giving ground

Find me, sister
Crowned in iron
Crowned in madness
With shadows twisting behind my rooted throne
Whispering of all your deepest fears

Find me, sister
In darkened forest
In the depth of night
When you are wounded and bleeding
Open and vulnerable for all to see

Find me, sister
Through your tears
Through your rage
Bruised but never weak nor defeated
Bending but never, ever broken

Find me, sister
Within your heart
Within yourself
You, who are mettle-tested and battle-worn
Wear your scars with dignity

Find me, sister
Within your eyes
Within your bearing
Stand in your power without reservation
With pride in all that you are

New Moons are for Self Care

One thing that keeps popping up when I write about why paganism and witchcraft draws me, it’s “community”. To be a part of a group of like-minded individuals. To connect. Somewhere in the beginning of this hell-scape that is 2020 I’d decided to finally look into Red Tent ceremonies. To figure out what they were, how they worked, and what happened during one of these nights.

As I’ve spoken about in my Gender in Witchcraft series, I do think a place where women can meet and be accepted is a very important thing, so I was intrigued. Unfortunately, we’re in the middle of a terrifying global pandemic, one which has already had a (maybe permanent) effect on my health. I am not in a position to meet new people right now, especially not in groups. Travel is difficult. But I did want to do something with exploring these ceremonies and what they would mean to me. So, what to do?

I looked deeper into women’s circles and rituals related to that, and found that sometimes, instead of linking it to menstrual cycles, the rituals and gatherings are tied to the new moon. This spoke to me. Like I said before I’ve been doing some (ritual) self love work on and off for over a year now, but perhaps by choosing a time to set apart would be a very powerful thing. I could have one evening a month dedicated to self love and self care, no matter what else was happening in the world.

My first new moon was in June, where I explored what “being female” means to me. I’ve never felt drawn to the “sacred womb” and “sacred yoni” paradigms. Next to that, due my personal experiences I feel very little connection to them at all. (PMS so severe that I am on medication to no longer menstruate, not being able to become a mother, trauma, vaginism and my sexual- and gender orientation, just to name a few.) They are a part of my body, I acknowledge that and feel love to those organs for that, but they are not more sacred than say, my heart, or my eyes. So that first new moon I made sacred space, called out to my deities, sat down and meditated on that. Afterwards I drummed and drew oracle cards, and ended with a journaling session about what I had learned during the ritual and my thoughts. It was amazing. Richly empowering and eye-opening.

I’ve been setting time apart every new moon since then. I have it marked in my calender and try to keep those nights empty. So far, it worked. Some hurdles of course: my husband having the evening shift while working at home, so no space available upstairs. That night I just sat downstairs behind my laptop and wrote. Last new moon where I was having a terrible day and didn’t feel good enough to do ritual, I did it the day after. I’m approaching this very intuitively, for what I need in that moment. Somethimes that will be centred around a chosen theme (gender, community) and other times those themes will pop up naturally because of what is going on in my life (body positivity, boundaries).

So my message to you, dear readers, is this: Set time apart for yourself. To explore yourself. To find those answers within you that you’ve been looking for for a while. Pick a time (the new moon, the full moon, Sunday, the festivals, the first of the month, whatever works for you!) and keep your calender clear. Create your sacred space. Sit with yourself and listen. Ask yourself the difficult questions and listen to what you have to say. Without judgement and with acceptance. Work towards loving and empowering yourself, a small step at a time. You might be just as surprised as me with how this will change not only yourself, but the world around you.

Happy Halloween!

A happy halloween and/or Samha’in to everyone who celebrates it! I quickly wanted to share with you all the card I made for my friend. It was a great excuse to finally use those halloween papers and witchy hat stamps.

And a sneaky peak into the inside of the card!

A ghost heart! It was a lot of fun to make and I loved how the colours came out.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day, and remember: stay spooky!

Birthday Witchcraft

Today, the 28th of October is my birthday! So I thought this was the perfect time to share with you all some magical things to do for your birtday. Here are some ideas to add a little bit of witchcraft to your already magical day.

Candle Magic: Light a (birthday) candle, make a wish, blow it out. Simple, yet effective. Traditional birtday magic!

Glamour Magic: Choose your clothes and make up in such a way that they make you feel empowered, happy and confident. Choose happy colours and patterns, draw sigils with your foundation, or wear jewellery enchanted to make this a happy day.

Food Blessing: Get a cookie/cupcake/cake/donut and bless it with happiness and love for the coming year. Think about your flavours: which do I associate with happiness, or love? Will it be a confetti cake, or is a white chocolate and rosewater cupcake better? You could also draw sigils, runes or bindrunes in the icing or frosting for added oomph.

Hot Drink Blessing: get your favourite flavor of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and charge it with warmth and self love. Stir the drink clockwise while concentrating on what you wish to imbue your potion with. Add edible glitter or shimmer (like luster dust) to make it even more magical!

Dance it Out: Have a little party (even just by yourself) and get rid of those things that no longer serve you. Put on some fitting music and think of the things you wish to let go of. Match your music to your intent: releasing anger? Headbang it out to some heavy metal. Releasing lethargy? Jump and bounce to some high-energy pop music. Releasing loneliness? Put on some Bohemean Rhapsody and sing along at the top of your lungs. Do it with friends or do it alone, but know that someone, somewhere, is belting right along with you.

Make a Toast: Make a toast to the year that has gone by. List the highlights for yourself. What are you proud of? What happened that made you laugh the loudest, that made you dance with joy or cry with happiness. Make a toast to the wonderful things that happened the last year.

Kitchen Magic: Cook your favourite food. Think about why it is your favourite? What memories or feelings does it draw up within you? Then think of ways you can enhance that with magic, for example by drawing symbols into piecrust or adding spices with intent.

Practice Divination: Do a tarot or oracle spread to reflect on the past year and see how it rings true. Do a spread for the coming year as well, then next year you can reflect on how accurate it was!

Give Yourself a Gift: Buy or make yourself something pretty. It is your birthday after all and gifts are part of that. Is there something that you’ve wanted but kept finding excuses not to buy it? Now is the time!
Make yourself a gift for next year! Make a little box filled with happy thoughts, herbs, poetry, crystals and all else you want to surprise yourself with next year. Tell future you how proud you are of them. Then next year, either burn or bury them and begin anew!

A Gift for Someone Else: Perhaps you’re not really one for gifts. That’s okay! Perhaps you’d like to give to someone else on your day. Make a donation to a charity that is important to you. Volunteer. Pick up trash in the local park. Share your sparkly tea and confetti cake with your neighbour. Share the love.

Make Plans: Make some plans for the coming year. Is there something you want to study? Break it into steps and write it down. Some practice you want to dive deeper into? Do the same.

Express Gratitude: Thank your ancestors for being here. Their loves and lives made it possible for you to be born. What better day to thank them than on your birthday? Remember that they are proud of you.
Thank your deities for the same thing and for the love and guidance they have shown on the way. (If you honour deities of course)

Practice Self Care: This is your day after all. Take good care of yourself. Protect your boundaries. Surround yourself with people and things that will make you happy. Don’t feel like having certain people over? Don’t! Or at least reschedule to a different day. Birthday celebrations can be stressful and hectic, make sure you use this day to take care of you.

Pamper yourself!: Take a luxuriously long, hot shower. Dress in soft and comfortable clothes. Make only your favourite foods and drinks all day (or order in!). Have a mini spa day. Meditate. Snuggle with your cat and watch something wholesome. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to make your birthday a bit more magical! What do you do to incorporate some witchcraft into your celebrations?

Samha’in Pentacle Spread

Samha’in is, for me, a time to reflect. For some of us it is the witches’ new year, and while I don’t really believe this, I will do an oracle reading every year. I reflect on the reading of the year past and draw new cards for the year to come. In 2017 I made a reading based on the pentagram, and I’d like to share this with you all today!

  1. Me – my year: a general card for how the new year will be for you, especially for your inner world.
  2. Spirit – my spiritual path for the new year: what will happen spiritually? What will I need to focus on and what will I need to change?
  3. Fire – love in the new year: not necessarily romantic love, but relationships in general. What will happen when it comes to love and relationships?
  4. Air – learning and study in the new year: what are areas of knowledge I will need to focus on in the coming year? What will I need to learn?
  5. Water – what needs to be cleansed?: what is it that I need to let go of? What is toxic and/or no longer serving me? What do I need to stop doing or need to cut out of my life?
  6. Earth – career and work in the new year: what will happen career-wise? What do I need to focus on and what needs work when it comes to my working life?

So there it is! I hope it might serve you well at this particular and special Samha’in that we have this year. If you do use it, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Sigil for honouring the ancestors

Samha’in is creeping ever closer (like autumn fog!) so I thought it would be a nice time to share with you a sigil I made a few years ago. This was made for a ritual me and my coven sisters did in honour of Samha’in, where we honoured our loved ones who had passed through the Veil. The sentence to make the sigil was therefore “Beloved Dead, we honour you.

We drew them on glass candleholders and made spellcandles by adding herbs and crystals to it. What I used was:

🍁 Rosemary – remembrance
🍁 Marjoram – brings spiritual bliss to the souls of the departed, personal connection (my name means marjoram)
🍁 Apple – offering, nourishes the souls of the dead
🍁 Thyme – re-establishes communion with those who have past
🍁 Heather oil – invites the spirits to visit
🍁 Willow oil – sacred to the Gods of the Otherworld
🍁 Marjoram oil – see above
🍁 Calcite – closest in consistency to bone, connects with ancestors
🍁 Hematite – blood, the ancestral bloodline
🍁 Obsidian – connections to spirits, seeing into other realms
🍁 Red, White and Black candle wax for the connection through blood (red), bone (white) and spirit (black)

It was a very powerful candle and ritual that year, so I’m bringing it back and making a new candle this year. There are many who I wish to honour.

(the sigil and candle were first shared on my Tumblr)

Fall fun and a Spoonie blessing

In my post about the Autumn Equinox I showed the lovely card that my friend Chantal made me to celebrate the start of Fall (both our favourite season!) Of course she inspired me, and I just had to make one for her as well. A week or so late, but luckily Fall can be celebrated for a while yet!

I made this lovely box for her. It folds up into a square card that fits into an envelope, and when you take it out it bounces back into it’s box form. It was my first time using it and I am absolutely in love! The possibilities are really endless.

For her it is also the start of a big home renovation, with a new living room and kitchen. It’s a stressful few weeks, so I wanted to add something both as a bit of a pick-me-up, and as something for the new kitchen. They collect fridge magnets, and are planning to install a metal plate in the kitchen to display their lovely collection. So why not make a magnet?

Inspired by this lovely plaque by Caralee Wells. She unfortunately doesn’t ship to the Netherlands, so I had to make something myself. My friend loves coffee, so I wanted to add a bit of patterned paper, as well as using distress oxide to age my paper from white to brown. Of course I am a witch, so I actually worked my blessing into the magnet, so that she always may have enough spoons!

She loved it, for which I am grateful. Also, it was the first time in a long time that I made cards again, which was just a lot of fun and inspiring.

Gender in Witchcraft, pt. 2

In my last post I dove (or well, dipped my toes) into the history of gender in witchcraft, to see where our thoughts and visions on gender come from. When I was thinking and journaling about gender and witchcraft came the question: does it matter? Does it matter in our magic whether we focus on gender?

For witchcraft and paganism in general I would say yes and no. Yes because we are a path that stands up for the marginalized, and being yourself and being true to yourself is something we value a lot. To know yourself, to truly and fully know who you are as a person, can hold great power. Exploring gender and what this means to you can be a (big) part of that. It can also reveal shadows; suppressed parts of ourselves that often have to do with trauma or pain, that we often have to work through. Standing in your own power with confidence and pride can spring powerful magic. Acknowledging and owning your truths can be super empowering!
So therefore I do think it’s important for women (and I mean all women) to have a space where they can be themselves without the pressure of what society expects from them. A space to talk about the things that concern us, as women. The problems that we run in to and the worries and sorrows that we have. To find the strength and power of being a woman without the weight of the patriarchy on our shoulders.
I also think it’s important that men (and I mean all men) have a space where they can be themselves without the pressure of what society expects from them. A space to talk about the things they run into, in this society that portrays them as “the bad guy”. To explore a version of masculinity that isn’t toxic. A place to connect to others in an emotional and deep, meaningful way. To form a brotherhood that is not about being a warrior and being aggressive, but instead is gentle and soft in the same way we feminists see our sisterhood. That is what I wish for them.
And for all of us who fall outside of that binary, I wish the same thing. A space to explore what gender means, what falling outside of the norm entails and the troubles that we face because of that. To explore how that influences spirituality, connection, life in general. To find power and strength in being who we are, openly.
So yes, it can be very important to focus on gender, even (or perhaps especially) in spirituality.

Photo by Anna Shvets through Pexels

However, there is another side of this coin. Discrimination is, unfortunately, also found in our community and has been there since the very beginning. Gardner was a misogynist and a homophobe. He created a “sacred” rite which hinged on him, and other High Priests, to have sexual intercourse with young women. Gay and lesbian people were not allowed into Wiccan covens for many years under the guise of the Wiccan Laws.
In 2011 on PantheaCon a group of Dianic Wiccans refused entrance to Transwomen who wished to participate in a women’s only ritual, stating that only women born with a womb were allowed to enter. Budapest, the founder of Dianic Wicca, came out with a statement which was, frankly, hurtful and outrageous. Claiming that “transies” (her word, not mine) were just men trying to encroach on women’s spaces again. This incident, which was in no way the first, sparked a lot of (trans)people speaking out against gender discrimination in our traditions.
Then there are those who take the “divine feminine” and “divine masculine” so far that it becomes toxic. An example of this is the phenomenon of the “twin flame”. Like many spiritual beliefs, it has been ripped out of context and is now to many an idea where every woman, a.k.a. the Divine Feminine, has a perfect soulmate somewhere out there, their man, a.k.a. the Divine Masculine. They claim it is our divine duty as women to heal men, so they can step into their power as true divine masculine. With lovely ripped-out-of-context poetry like: “If you want to change the world, love a man; really love him” and “Because you have a womb, a sweet, deep gateway to wash and renew old wounds.” That last one is because we (supposedly) should see the “ancestral burden” of all the confused, angry warrior-men who came before him and we, as women, can heal that with the magical power of our wombs. Right.
The idea that “feminine” means that you have to heal others, that you have to be “of service” to those in need (not just men), that you have to use your “divine gifts” of gentleness, and patience, and true love to better the world is extremely toxic! Just like the idea that all men (yes, all men, apparently) are these wounded little boys stuck in a violent rampage of fear and ancestral aggression is. Does that sound healthy to you?
Then there are the women’s movements who believe, like the Dianics mentioned above, that you can only truly connect with the inner feminine goddess if you have a womb. After all, life is created from the womb, it is the source of all living things (or so they believe). So if you don’t have one, either because you weren’t born biologically female or because of medical procedures like a hysterectomy, because of, say, cancer, you aren’t a woman (anymore). And some take it even further. Since life comes from the womb, you are only truly a woman if you’ve given birth. So anyone who can’t, for whatever reason, or anyone who doesn’t want children, is no longer a woman. Which is of course insane, hurtful and extremely toxic.
Also, I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely offensive to be reduced to a single body part. The only value I have, according to some of these feminist fringe “goddess” movements, is a womb. And sometimes a vagina. Aren’t we always accusing men of reducing us to that? Now we’re doing it to ourselves as well, but it’s in the name of spirituality so it’s okay? Hell no! I am more than a womb. You are more than a womb, or a penis, or boobs, or a vagina. We’re people! Our body parts don’t define us.

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Does it matter in our magic whether we focus on gender? No, because gender is something earthly, something of our societal world, and witchcraft is from the fringes, from outside polite society. We work in the liminal, in the in-between. In both the realm of spirit and the mundane. We work in the shadows. With a lot of our workings, we go beyond the physical.
I spoke about the Gods in my first post. There are a lot of Gods who are shapeshifters, some of whom can also change between genders: Zeus, Loki, Dionysus. There are also Gods who are neither man nor woman, or a combination of both: Hermaphroditus, Hapi, the Christian God. There are Gods who were known to have both a male and female form: Fosta, Aphrodite, Shiva. There are Gods who could upon request change the sex of mortals: Inanna, Isis. In myth gender is a very fluid thing. Sometimes it matters a lot, usually in stories about humiliation or love, but mostly it doesn’t matter at all. We, as pagans and sometimes as witches, take a lot of inspiration from our Gods. We see (part of) ourselves reflected in what they stand for, or in their stories. So if for them gender is something fluid, something that could change one way or another, or glide along something of a spectrum, then why would ours be one or the other? If we work with them in our space, in our world between worlds, then wouldn’t we then also be granted  to be something else? To rise above the expectations that modern society holds for us? Not to mention the many cultures whose shamans, spirit helpers, guides, witch doctors, clergy and magical practitioners were not man ór woman.
To become rigid in your magical focus, on any subject, is to limit yourself. It’s important to keep an open mind. To keep yourself acceptive of change, or you’ll grow stagnant. This is true for any part of witchcraft and paganism, so also with gender. It’s okay, and perhaps sometimes good, to focus on what it means to you. But don’t let this focus limit yourself and your magic.

Up next: let’s get personal!