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.

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.

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!

Deity Bindrunes

I received a question on how I made my Nehalennia bindrune, so I figured I’d make a quick post about my process.

Nehalennia Candle Shrine side view with Nehalennia bindrune

First really quick: a bindrune is a symbol which combines different runes, in this case using the elder futhark. They can be used for magical purposes, combining their different properties towards a certain outcome. In this case, I use them as a symbol for a specific deity, combining their different areas of rule into one powerful symbol.

So step one is brainstorming. I usually sit with a crappy notebook and just jot down all the things I want to incorporate into the bindrune, or the domains of the deity I wish to make this bindrune for. This is a messy process and can take several days or weeks, depending on how smoothly this goes. Cernunnos’ bindrune came together super quick, only a few days, for example, while Baduhenna was a lot more nebulous, taking several weeks to get right.

Burnable Spellboxes with deity bindrunes. Left: Baduhenna. Middle: Nehalennia. Right: Cernunnos.

For the Nehalennia I settled on four runes of the elder futhark. Raidho: for travel, in this case across the North Sea. Laguz: for water, since Nehalennia is the Goddess of the North Sea. Fehu: for material wealth, most of her followers were hardworking merchants, and Nehalennia is a Goddess of prosperity as well, so I associate Her with reaping the fruits of your (hard) labour. Gebo: for gifts, relationships, and exchange. She is the Goddess of the harvest, and keeps the ships safe on their travels, but it comes with a price – and exchange – in the shape of an altar stone commissioned for Her. She gives, so much, but she does expect things in return. A relationship of equals.

After I made my choice it’s as simple, and as complicated, of trying out different combinations until one feels and looks right. For some runes this is very quick and can happen in one doodling session, like the Cernunnos rune or the Nehalennia rune. For others it takes multiple sessions to figure out something that works, like with Baduhenna.

Deity Bindrune concept page in my bullet journal. The top two-thirds are for Baduhenna, which eventually became something different entirely. The bottom one-third is for Nehalennia, the circled bindrune being the final one.

A parting note: for some it is important to not include the reverse or mirrored versions of the rune, since their meaning is different and often opposite of the upright one. For bindrunes, I do not have this belief, because I am using the meaning of the upright runes to built something new, while still holding the original meanings. They lose their individuality (a bit) to join into a conjoined and new symbol, with new meaning. But, this is for every individual practitioner to decide.

a Card for Imbolc

Last monday was Imbolc, the pagan holiday which celebrates the start of spring. A symbol for Imbolc are snowdrops, which are also my favourite flowers! So, because I finally wanted an excuse to use this stamp, and I wanted some freedom in playing around, I made this Imbolc card. A soft lilac cardstock base with layers of white plain card stock, green mulberry paper, and plain card stock again. I used distress oxides to create the background and stamped my snowdrop over it. With white pencil I coloured the “drop” part of the snowdrop. I cut out the letters and added a layer of nuvo aqua shimmer to both the letters and my snowdrop.

I love how soft this card turned out. This is the first time I made a greeting card for a pagan holiday, but I quite enjoyed it, so it might just have to become a new tradition!

Baduhenna: Valkyrie, or Dutch Morrigan?

Photo by Martin Lopez via Pexels

Baduhenna, the Dutch Goddess of battle and the forest. I already knew of a possible connection with Badb, one of the Morrígna, due to the etymology of both their names. The root badw- or badv-, meaning battle, that they both share.

Donahue, in his article “the Valkyries and the Irish War-Goddesses”[1] exposes perhaps a deeper link. He states that it is likely that the Scandinavian and Germanic Valkyrie and the Irish Wargoddesses evolved together. That is to say that because of the close relations between the Celts, the Gauls and the Germanic people it is likely that these cultures intermingled, and through that their mythology and beliefs were influenced. The Valkyrie for example, went from demons, “those who bring fear”, to beautiful, almost Goddess-like, women who chose the slain and poured mead in the Halls of Valhalla.

De Vries, in his article “studiën over Germaanse mythologie”[2] also speaks of the links between Valkyrie, the matronae (triads of Goddesses commonly worshipped by the Germanic tribes), the Norns, the dísir, and the Goddess triad that is the Morrigan.

Next to Badb and the Valkyries, there is another Goddess to consider. The Gaulic Goddess Cathubodua, whose name means “battle-crow”. Perhaps Her link with Badh is even a stronger one, with the crow aspect being right there in the name. All we have of Cathubodua is the inscription of the name upon a shield, unfortunately not a lot to go on.

Baduhenna might not have the crow in Her name, but she does have something else. Her “mythology”. I’m putting “mythology” in quotation marks here, because it is not myth, it is history. However the history only tells us that there was a battle, that the Frisians against all odds attempted to overthrow the tyrannical Roman leader, that they won that battle and killed 900 Romans, and that the retreating Romans were so paranoid, that they slayed 400 of their own men. Those are the facts. But if we look at it in another way, a different story can perhaps be told: a small group of people won a battle against a far greater and better trained army. This battle was fought in a sacred forest, dedicated to their Goddess; a Goddess of war. Divine intervention perhaps, the Goddess choosing which side of the conflict will be the victor, and which will be slain. Much like both the Valkyrie and the Morrigan. The remaining soldiers fleeing, but being so overcome with confusion and madness that they turn on their own battle-brothers. Just like the madness that Badb spreads when she flies over the battlefields in her form as a crow. Which is why Braakman is his article “Baduhenna. Godin van het Slagveld.”[3] states that Baduhenna and Badb are one and the same, and says: “Baduhenna had struck again.”

So we have a Gaulish Battlegoddess, the Valkyries, and the Morrigan. So where does Baduhenna fit into this? Perhaps nowhere, for as far as we know She is not part of a triad or group, like the Morrigan and the Valkyrie. But to me, they do have a connection. To me, the theory that the Valkyrie and the Irish-, Gaulic-, and Germanic Goddesses of War and Battle influenced each other, and therefore, grew together, seems very logical. I tend to see them as sisters, or cousins. Not the same, but part of the same family.

For me personally, the link with the Morrigan is stronger, simply because of Baduhenna’s “mythology”. This is also the reason I relate crows with Baduhenna, without there being evidence for it. And perhaps also because Morrigan was already a known Goddess to me, through my partner who considered Her his patron for a while. I always felt drawn to the Morrigan as well, but it never felt right, not completely. And who knows, perhaps this was because She was trying to point me towards Her Dutch sister all along.

[1] Donahue, C. (1941). The Valkyries and the Irish War-Goddesses. PMLA,56(1), 1-12. doi:10.2307/458935
[2] de Vries, Jan P.M.L. (1931). Studiën over Germaanse mythologie. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal en Letterkunde, 50, 85-125. Link.
[3] Braakman, W.A. (2001). Baduhenna. Godin van het Slagveld. Westerheem. Tijdschrift voor de Nederlandse Archeologie, 50(1), 2-12.