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.

Pagan festival pages

You might have noticed that I added a subject “witchcraft” on top of this blog. And if you’ve looked you might have noticed that I like sharing some of my art grimoire pages! Besides a bunch of information that I keep digitally, or printed out in a binder, I wanted to make a book of shadows that was part artbook, part reference book, part whatever else I wanted it to be. Today I wanted to share my Wheel of the Year pages with you!

All these pages where inspired by Dominee from BlessingManifesting. I loved the watercolour effect and tried to copy that with coloured pencil.

Below the name of the festival I added some other common, or less common, names the festival is known by. Or festivals that were inspired by the pagan feast, like easter.

I really wanted the pages to make sense for me and what I’m most likely to use it for. For me that’s planning celebrations for our Circle, decorating the altar and the potluck that has become festival tradition. So for me that meant: decoration and symbols (correspondences), inspirtion for the types of spells and rituals associated with the festival (spellwork), creative ideas and the spirit of the feast (activities), and foods for the potluck (or on my own!).

Before I started on these pages, I really took the time to think about my associations with the different festivals. The things that were important to me, and that fit my path and practice. With this book it’s so important that it’s personal, so I really took my time to gather resources, look at old spells and rituals, and use a lot of intuition.

I really love how they turned out. Even with a few flaws here and there ;). Join me next time when I share my pages on the elements!

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?

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!

Drawing myself

I’ve been on a self love journey for over a year now. One of the parts I am focussing on is learning to love my body. When I was younger I’ve been bullied because of my weight. When I became older I was still often judged for it. It came to the point where I wouldn’t wear the clothes that I loved anymore (vintage ’50s dresses) out of fear of being too fat or too old. I got over that, but there was still a lot of work to do about accepting my body. Accepting myself as I am.

I came across a wonderful artist Sara Tisdale (Sergle Art) who has soft and wonderful art of full figured women. Adorable and gently coloured, just very cozy looking. And I fell in love with her style and with the ladies that she shares. So this inspired me to make a self portrait of sorts. Drawing myself as I am, full figured, wearing the clothing that I love, in a soft and loving way.

As I made this drawing I focussed on that feeling of self acceptance and -love. I truly went about it as if it was a ritual for myself. Art magic!

After I finished this self portrait I made another one, this time nude, which was a very confronting and intense magical working. She will become part of a self love altar that I am planning to set up. My work around self love and -acceptance is not done yet, but I am loving the progress I am making.