goddess spotlight: bastet

Bastet has recently become one of my favorite goddesses. She’s more than just another love goddess. If you’re not familiar with the deities of the Egyptian pantheon, I highly recommend reading up on them. They are some of the most fascinating and beneficial deities to work with on a wide variety of areas of life.

But, back to Bastet.

History

Bastet (also Bast) is the Egyptian goddess of love, sexuality, fertility, music, dancing, and war, but also lotions and perfumes. She is typically depicted in Egyptian art and writing as either a cat or a beautiful woman’s body with the head of a cat.

There are sources that point to her being worshipped in Egypt as far back as 3200 B.C.

Some historical sources point to her being the daughter of Isis and Ra, but most just depict her as the daughter of Ra alone. The hieroglyph that represents her is also the same that represents the ointment jar, which is why she is associated with lotions, oils, and perfumes.

She was said to be the wife of Ptah, the god of architecture and craftsmen. She was closely associated with the goddess Hathor, who was also associated with love, music, fertility, dancing, and intoxication.

There is also some indication that she was originally a lioness goddess, and at some point, she and her sister Sekhmet became two separate goddesses with different attributes.

In addition to her associations above, she is also a goddess of cats, highly revered animals in Egypt.

Bastet is a solar deity, and, therefore has attributes of all the planetary bodies, which she can manifest under certain conditions.

Bastet could also be a vengeful goddess, taking vengeance on the enemies of the Pharaoh when called upon.

She is commonly shown holding a sistrum, a musical instrument commonly used in ancient times.

Bastet was most commonly worshipped during huge celebratory festivals in her honor. These occurred several times per year, and women attending the festivals were said to ride large ships up the Nile river, partying, dancing, drinking, and exposing their genitals to others on the river banks as they sailed past.

She was petitioned to protect households from evil spirits and thieves, as well as a protectress of pregnant women. People also had their pet cats mummified after they died, in honor of Bastet.

Bastet was said to have slain Apep, an underworld serpent god of chaos, who was also the enemy of her father, Ra.

At some point, as the Greek pantheon and Egyptian pantheon began to take on associations of their counterparts, Bastet also was likened to the goddess Artemis, and therefore became associated with the moon, in addition to also being a solar deity.

Associations

  • Cats
  • Patron of: dancers, musicians, possibly other performance artists, mothers, and healers
  • Fertility, Love, Femininity, Beauty, Pregnancy, Sexuality, Intoxication, Dancing, Music, Protection, War, Vengeance
  • Sensual pleasure
  • Perfume
  • Lotions, oils
  • Colors: Green, Red, Gold, Turquoise
  • Planets: all, depending on the day of the week; especially rising sun
  • Incense: Myrrh, Frankincense, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Vervain, Lavender
  • Herbs: catnip, cattail, yew, cypress
  • Crystals or metals: gold, pyrite, lapis lazuli, red jasper, red agate

There’s really a huge body of content and information out there if you want to get more about Bastet, so if this has piqued your interest, I highly encourage you to search out more information, and even maybe check out some of the Khemetic resources on Bastet.

symbolism of the raven

Long considered a magickal symbol or omen or portent, the raven has captivated humans since before we could even paint images of it on cave walls.

Ravens have been symbols of messages, growth, and guidance to humans across various cultures. Depending on where in the world the raven was seen, it may be a bad omen, a wise sage, or a neutral messenger.

In general, birds are viewed by most cultures as messengers of some sort, as they are able to traverse long distances, arrive from seemingly distant lands, and are seemingly not subject to the same laws of gravity and movement as humans. They are usually considered prophetic, even if they are seen to only bring bad prophecies in some cultures.

Some people viewed them as sneaky, or opportunists, and others viewed them simply as artfully witty birds, finding and taking what they wanted. Yet others viewed them as tricksters, ready to steal your shiny beads and laundry hung on the line to dry.

And, yet other cultures compared or attributed them to daemons, all-knowing spirits with powers beyond human comprehension, and capable of imparting immense wisdom, if only you could see past your own prejudices and contrived myths.

It also doesn’t help the image or reputation of these birds that the plural or name for a group of crows is a ‘murder of crows’ and, this I didn’t know, the name for a group of ravens is an ‘unkindness of ravens.’

These terms may simply stem from the fact that both of these types of birds are known to eat carrion (dead or rotting corpses of previously living humans/animals), which is also perhaps why they became associated with bad omens in many parts of the world.

Also, ravens were associated with the dead and the afterlife by many cultures, as they were thought to either be mediators between this world and the world of the dead, or as actual spirits of the dead whose souls were damned (based on Christian iconography in Europe, mostly).

Across all cultures, however, there does definitely seem to be an association with ravens/crows and magick and witches. Perhaps we see them as kindred spirits, misunderstood and wrongly assumed to be ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ simply because they live for themselves, take what they want from the world, and are highly intelligent.

Ravens and crows are also sometimes considered shape-shifter spirits, or animals that witches or wizards can shape-shift into.

I also want to note here that in many places, no distinction appears to be made between crows and ravens, as some cultures viewed them as similar enough to have the same qualities or symbolism, or, in historical texts, records, or archeological finds, it is not possible to distinguish whether the bird depicted is a crow or a raven.

Of the two birds, crows are physically smaller and more sociable, living or traveling in larger groups, and ravens are more likely to be seen alone or traveling in pairs.

Ravens in North American Cultures and Beliefs

The Northwest Pacific Coast Indians (including, but probably not limited to Tsimishians, Haidas, Heiltsuks, Tlingits, Kwakwaka’wakw, Coast Salish, Koyukons, and the Inuit) referred to a particular raven as “Real Chief,” “The Great Inventor,” and “the One Whose Voice is to be Obeyed.”

In this setting, the raven was very much viewed as a wise spirit, a perceptive being, bringing tidings, predictions, or other advice deemed important to the people of the area.

Ravens in many of those cultural groups also saw the raven as the creator spirit, with myths centering around the raven bringing the world into existence, and bringing light into the darkness, as the raven, despite its dark plumage, is typically associated with the sun, or solar energy.

Another raven myth of NWPC Indian peoples involves the raven finding a clamshell, or many clamshells, and opening them, to find the first human men trapped inside. Upon letting them out, he became bored with them, and went in search of their female counterparts. He found them trapped inside a chiton (another type of mollusk).

After he brought the two sexes together, he derived great entertainment watching them mix and interact (I’m not so silently laughing at this because, for real, if you were some other species watching human men and women interact, you’d be pretty fucking entertained too).

Ravens in Asian Cultures and Beliefs

The most well-known legend involving a crow or raven in cultures of East and Southeast Asia (areas including China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan) is by far the three-legged crow or raven.

The earliest known depictions or written instances of this occur in China, and are usually of the Jīnwū, or Golden Crow. It is actually depicted as a red crow, rather than black, or, as the name implies, gold.

This crow is associated with the sun, and even considered a type of solar energy, or solar deity in some areas.

In Japan, the raven named Yatagarasu is a very large black bird, also referred to as a crow-god or raven-god, symbolizing important news from god or the gods, intervening in human affairs. It is also thought to be a symbol of rebirth, perhaps due to its aforementioned affinity for eating animal remains, which is associated with rebirthing the spirit of those dead.

In Korea, a similar three-legged black bird is called Samjogo, a crow that lives in the sun and was all powerful.

Ravens in Afro-Caribean Cultures and Beliefs

Reliable or documented information from African and Caribbean cultures and beliefs about ravens and crows is hard to find, so if you are reading this and happen to know more about these geographic areas and their connections, myths, stories, and beliefs about ravens/crows, please let me know! I spent a LONG time combing through sources on the internet and didn’t come up with much other than northern African cultures like the Egyptians, and even there, I couldn’t find much.

Ravens and crows definitely do exist on the African continent and on the Caribbean islands, though.

Most African cultures appear to have considered ravens as guides, or spiritual guides. They carry wisdom and are to be consulted, or may appear to us as guides, in times of trouble.

Ravens in Celtic and European Cultures and Beliefs

Perhaps one of the best known examples of ravens in religio-cultural history in northern Europe are the two ravens of Odin, Hugin and Munin (which translate to “Thought” and “Memory”). They are said to fly through the nine realms daily and bring news back to Odin.

Another famed Norseman, although not a god, whose tale has been even more popularized by the History Channel series ‘Vikings, was Ragnar Lothbrok, whose banner called Reafan depicted a raven.

The crow is associated with the Greek god Apollo, and is his divinatory animal, bringing reports of what will come. It is also said that crows were originally white, but when one brought bad tidings to Apollo, angered, he turned the bird’s feathers black.

Ravens commonly seen in Celtic depictions include those associated with the goddesses Macha, Badb, and Anu (the triple goddess comprising the Morrigan). Here, they are omens, but also representations of war and battle, as well as death.

Roman priests would often make predictions for the future based on the flight patterns or shapes of flocks of crows or ravens.

Ravens, even to this day, are considered the guards of the Tower of London, and it is said that if the ravens ever leave, the tower will fall.

A well-known legend involving the martyr Saint Vincent says that after he was executed, ravens protected his body from other wild animals devouring it. They then took up their posts protecting his body when it was laid to rest under a shrine in Portugal. That shrine was eventually named Kanīsah al-Ghurāb, or “Church of the Raven.” Even after St Vincent’s body was exhumed in the 12th century, it was still followed and protected by ravens.

One other interesting theory or legend is that the mythical King Arthur didn’t really die, but was transformed into a raven.

Ravens in Middle Eastern or South Asian Cultures and Beliefs

The Q’uran actually mentions a raven as the bird that teaches Cain how to bury his brother Able in The Repast 5:31. He watched a raven digging a hole in the ground in which to bury its dead mate or companion (also a raven), and then he did the same for his brother.

In the Hebrew Bible, ravens are the first birds mentioned, as well as the first animal to leave the Ark when Noah sends one out to test if the great flood waters have receded enough to disembark back to land. The raven was said not to have returned, which symbolized there was land somewhere nearby.

However, some interpretations say that the raven did not return because it was selfish, and then God turned its feathers black, symbolizing Satan. The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, however, theorized that the raven did not return because it had many corpses of the drowned on which to feed after the flood.

In the New Testament Book of Luke, Jesus called the ravens God’s provision for man.

In Hinduism, crows are associated with ancestors and there is also a goddess named Shani who rides a crow or raven.

goddess spotlight: Creiddylad

Creiddylad, (Creddylad), is also sometimes associated with Cordelia, but this may be an erroneous association carried over from a 12th century fictional tale written by the cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth, in which he wrote of Queen Cordelia of the Britons, a woman not known to have ever actually existed, and with a very different story than that of Creiddylad.

Creiddylad, on the other hand, is the Welsh goddess of the spring, and strongly associated with the Greek Persephone.

In the Celtic myths, she is the daughter of Lludd Silver Hand, and a lady at the court of King Arthur. She was set to marry her true love, a knight named Gwythr, but was kidnapped by the dark knight Gwyn, whose aspects associated strongly to Hades and the Underworld.

She is fought over every year on May Day (the festival also known as Beltane in many pagan traditions) by the two knights who desired her hand. It is said that they will fight for her each year until Judgment Day, at which point the victor will finally marry her.

Creiddylad is associated with the land of faeries, beauty, love, and fertility.

Other Associations with Creiddylad

  • May
  • Liminal
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Flowers
  • Love
  • Fertility
  • Peace
  • Balance
  • Cycles
  • Seasons
  • Maidens
  • Ivy
  • Self-love

magickal uses of iron

Pretty much everything in the natural or mundane world has a real or symbolic use or meaning in the magickal world as well. Metals are no exception.

Magickal History of Iron

First, know that to our ancestors and the ancients, iron was often considered a gift from the gods, as the first iron used by humans to make items was actually taken from meteorites that landed on Earth. The ancients did not know that the Earth actually contains a LOT of iron.

Because of that, iron was, at one time, actually more valuable than other metals we consider precious, such as gold or silver.

Iron was used fairly regularly in craftmanship, but it is difficult to know exactly when it came into regular use in human civilization, as it rusts and corrodes much more easily than other metals we typically find in archeological sites, and is, therefore, often hard to find in ancient artifacts.

The earliest records of the use of iron by humans date to about 5000 B.C., but it wasn’t until the beginning of the aptly named ‘Iron Age’ that iron deposits were discovered and humans learned how to smelt it, and it became far more cost-effective to use in weaponry and other goods, around 1300 B.C.

Magickal or Spiritual Associations of Iron

Now that you know that little bit of history, especially pertaining to iron’s supposed divine origins, it may make more sense why you see or read about tools or items made of iron used in rituals, given its precious meaning and limited availability in antiquity.

  • considered to be of divine origin by the Egyptians
  • Lodestone, a naturally occurring oxide of iron, is magnetic, aiding sailors as a compass before compasses were invented
  • its magnetic properties can be used in magick to ‘attract’ what you want
  • because iron is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood (as part of the ‘heme’ molecule), it is critical for human life, and an integral symbol of our life force, blood
  • iron is also considered to be the ‘life force’ of the Earth, due to how much iron is buried in our planet, and its magnetic effects on all life on the planet
  • iron is said to be magickal in part because it can withstand both an extremely hot fire and freezing cold
  • horseshoes made of iron were used by hanging on one’s door to repel unwanted ghosts and evil spirits (but also thought to repel witches; its more likely that the iron was used to repel curses or the evil eye)
  • iron was (and still is sometimes) used in iron bars around cemeteries and prisons to ‘contain’ the ghosts and spirits of the inhabitants (or in the case of prisons, previous living inhabitants)
  • It is also thought that iron bars and gates keep ‘negative’ or ‘bad’ energy contained within a space
  • because of its aforementioned protective properties, iron boxes, or even cauldrons, have been used in magickal practices to contain dark, negative, or malevolent energies
  • its commonly said that fairies do not like iron, or are repelled by it, but because of the large amount of naturally occurring iron found in the earth, its more likely that fairies are actually repelled by iron that has been corrupted by man (steel, or any of the other amalgams or composites we typically use)

So, while iron certainly has some magickal symbolism, it is also considered a desirable material from which to make magickal tools, such as blades/athames, dishes, implements, cauldrons, and other containers.

goddess spotlight: Ista Devata

Ista Devata was relatively unknown to me before writing this, and I’m glad I ran across her because she definitely resonates with me and a lot of what’s going on in my life right now, and perhaps you will feel the same!

Origins

There is very little actual information about Ista Devata accessible online. Like, almost none. Ista Devata (also may be spelled Ishta Devata) is the Hindu goddess of individuality (so far, I love her already) in India.

According to Priestess Brandi Auset’s The Goddess Guide (seriously, get you a copy of this book), she is also the patron goddess of ‘the self found through enlightenment.’ (please note the term ishta devata can also mean – loosely- ‘the deity one devotes themselves to’; not to be confused with the actual deity Ista or Ishta Devata)

What I think is particularly relevant here is the massive and powerful spiritual awakening and enlightenment that seems to be spreading across the globe as humanity is beginning to re-initiate the search for higher meaning and impactfulness in our lives and our world.

This goddess can teach us the power of transformation and transmutation in order to understand personal energy. Transformation is a fairly straightforward concept, but transmutation is slightly different, in that it is the use of energy from a person, situation, object, etc that we perceive as negative or unhelpful and turning it into a positive force, such as acceptance, affirmations, love, or other typically positive experiences.

An example of a transmutation would be when you are arguing with someone and you feel their negative or angry vibes coming at you, stop, smile, maybe even laugh, and say ‘You know what, let’s stop. We’re not getting anywhere with this. Can we come back and discuss it later? Or maybe just agree to disagree?’

The laughter changes whatever tension was there into a positive emotion and counteracts the negativity of the argument, transmuting it into joy or at least a neutral feeling in the space.

Transformations are things we tend to associate more with abstract ideas and concepts, such as ourselves, in the spiritual or identity sense. Transformations occur when we shed old habits, drop old layers or shells we’ve created, make small or large changes to our lives, begin new phases of our lives, or even just change our mindset and the way we think about an idea, person, or experience.

This may be the perfect time to consider contacting, working with, or tapping into the energies of Ista Devata, as you are undergoing your own personal growth and transformations.

Associations

Ista Devata is associated with:

  • Red
  • the element of Fire
  • Imbolc
  • the maiden

what is hermeticism?

Ok, buckle in. This is another post where I will attempt to condense a huge amount of information into a blog post, whereas you can read volumes of books on this. And if this post interests you, you should read those volumes of books.

History

The Hermetic system of theology, philosophy, and tradition is based on writings (collectively referred to as the Hermetic Corpus) by the pagan prophet Hermes Trismegistus. Hermes Trismegistus was possibly a real person, or possibly a collection of people writing, depending on who you ask.

And, its not likely we’ll actually really know this, as the writings attributed to him are difficult to truly date and could have been written anywhere between approximately when Moses was alive and the 1st or 2nd century CE.

Regardless of when the writings of Hermes Trismegistus actually were composed (which I think is probably not an incredibly important point to argue right now), they contain a wealth of esoteric information that is credited with creating or organizing the beginnings of things such as:

  • alchemy
  • ancient occult practices
  • foundations of Western esoteric magickal traditions
  • the basis of modern Western astrology
  • spirit conjuring/invoking/evoking
  • Gnosticism
  • probably the foundations or inspiration of almost every occult or ‘secret’ society we know of
  • plenty more arcane magickal subjects

Many people actually believe that Hermes Trismegistus was actually a humanized figure representing the combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth being syncratized, as they represented similar characterizations to these two cultures which borrowed and overlapped each other heavily during the period of antiquity.

The term ‘hermetic’ is also often used interchangeably with the term ‘occult’, which means hidden or obscured.

Major Tenets

I hesitate to call these tenets in the formal and rigid sense, as one of the overarching principles of Hermeticism is a denial of or resistance to complete ‘doctrinal faith.’

(Meaning, they saw the emergence of the major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, then Christianity, and, finally, Islam, as problematic to their findings that there was one universal deity present in all religions, rather than only one religion with a deity that was ‘real’, whilst all others were ‘wrong.’)

God is everything and within us but also apart from us

This belief essentially states that the universal unifying force of all beings, matter, thoughts, and so on is god. And this force is both within us and apart from us. We are god, but we are also apart from god. And everything else is too.

This makes Hermeticism a monotheistic system, however, it also recognizes that there can be other deities and beings born of that ‘god,’ which seems contradictory initially, but when you understand that these other deities are also ‘god’ and ‘not god,’ then I guess it begins to make sense 😉

There are some beliefs within Hermeticism that are based on texts found describing the universal force of god creating the other gods and goddesses to rule over various aspects, areas, planets, or concepts. Which, again, still falls within the framework of a monotheistic ‘supreme creative force’ view.

As Above, So Below

This is where many people got this extraordinarily famous saying. It comes from the Emerald Tablet, a writinng of Hermes Trismegistus.

The Hermetic writings teach that whatever happens on one plane of existence, also happens on all other planes of existence. Also, whatever has already happened, will happen again. And we can know what will happen on Earth if we can know what has already happened throughout the universe (the stars and other planets).

This is also a commentary on the microcosm and macrocosm concept. What has happened around us will also happen within us, and we are the universe, therefore what happens within us, also happens across the universe. Everything is god, and inter-connected.

Astrology Can Be Harnessed to Understand Our Lives

One of the central concepts taught is that what the stars and planets do are influenced by the universal god, and their influence can be studied and understood to better understand how to operate our lives in synchronicity and symbiosis with our current world, and the universe around it.

Alchemy as a Symbol of Life Cycles

The study alchemy is heavily symbolic, and, apart from literally trying to change lead or other less precious metals into gold, it also speaks to the metaphor of birth, life, death, and reincarnation into the next life cycle, all the while, the energy of the spirit, interconnected as it is with the greater consciousness and the universal god, remains intact. Reincarnation is obviously a key point and belief within Hermetic philosophies.

Theurgy vs. Goetia

Hermetic principles state that the study of magick and accessing it through higher spirits such as angels and gods, is the noblest of studies. The study or pursuit of ‘black’ magick through association with demons or dark spirits is viewed as undesirable, and thought not to lead to spiritual enlightenment.

I think this is a point of contention with some who argue over the definition of ‘demon,’ and what type of being or spirit specifically qualifies as this based on historic and modern interpretations.

Reincarnation and Physical Embodiment

Another central part of the Hermetic belief system is that of the physical embodiment of spirits is due to the universal god being displeased with the souls or spirits in their original form and sentencing them, for lack of a better word, to life in the physical world as a trial the souls must undergo in order to achieve higher levels of spiritual growth, so that, eventually, they can fulfill the requirement of purity to be able to exist permanently on the spiritual plane.

Until each soul reaches that enlightenment, it will continue to reincarnate in human form and undergo the trials and struggles that which is human life.


I would like to point out here that Hermeticism was initially tolerated, and even embraced by, some early Christian sects and churches, as it was actually quite compatible with the early Christian teachings.

It wasn’t until the Christian religion began to organize and stamp out competing views, or views which give too much power to the common man to commune directly with deity or spirit, did Hermeticism come under fire and disappear from mainstream, becoming an ‘occult’ or underground practice until very modern revival in the late 18th century through present.

The Christian church was particularly disturbed by any religious approach that encouraged the common person from knowing and entering into enlightenment, scholarly undertakings, direct communication with a deity, religious education, and critical thinking, which might lead to their rebellion against a quite controlling religious organization and carefully crafted doctrine designed to place the communication with a supreme god squarely in the hands of only a select few, rather than make it accessible to all.

At this point, I want to reiterate that you should read many many sources on this subject if you’re interested in learning more.

As an ecclectic witch, I borrow from and work with concepts of many different schools of thoughts or paths of teaching, and I think the Hermetic philosophy is probably equally as influential in many of the paths we consider ‘modern’ as other sources.

A large part of the Wiccan system is based on Hermetic principles, as is chaos magick, shadow magick, and green witchcraft. You can see elements of the Hermetic system appear almost universally, which is probably not coincidence, given its core belief that everything is interconnected.

A great, short, and mostly easy-to-understand book to whet your appetite further is The Kybalion, as well as you can purchase translated copies of the Corpus Hermeticum, which is the compilation of some of the more important writings of Hermes Trismegistus, at least the main ones that have been translated.

Goddess spotlight: Tashmetum

Hey, its another monday, and what better way to spend part of it than learning about a really cool goddess?

Tashmetum (also Tashmit and Tashmetu) is the Babylonian love goddess, and she specifically is associated with the love of marriage. so, within a marriage and finding a marriage partner.

She also functions as a sort of mediator or ‘spiritual counselor,’ if you will, between husbands and wives (I would take this to mean all couples, regardless of orientation; the historical information that this is taken from obviously pre-dates social progress and LGBTQ recognition and equality).

She was often referred to as ‘the lady who listens,’ which is a close translation of her name. She is the consort or wife, depending on the source you consult, of the god Nabu.

Their temple was located in the city of Borsippa, which is located in modern-day Babylon, Iraq. Borsippa was a completely separate city from Babylon, however. There are some associations with the famous Tower of Babel as the Ziggurat of Borsippa.

Correspondences:

Zodiac: Associated with Capricorn

Associations: Love, marriage, sensuality, femininity, seduction, wives

As both Tashmetum and her husband, Nabu, were the patrons of scribes and written word, she would be a good goddess to invoke for support or inspiration if you are a writer or author.

‘banish negativity’ is an empty phrase

if you feel offended by this statement, and if the shoe fits, wear it.

i see this banal phrase all. over. the. place.

what do you even mean when you say this or repost this shit? do you even know what it means?

its one of those things humans say that have like no substance, but everyone else nods when you say it, like there’s some collective understanding or acknowledgment of its message, with no actual applicable or tangible outcome.

its like standing in a group of people and saying, ‘let’s be happy about trees.’ yeah, okay, i guess, sounds good. but what does this actually do for us?

the way i view it, negativity is required in order to have positivity. this duality exists on a continuous spectrum.

so, ‘banishing’ it really isn’t possible, but beyond that, perhaps you can come up with a better or more specific phrase here? or just stop altogether, because, as i’m getting ready to explain, this is actually counterproductive to our growth.

please define negativity

let’s start here.

are you just parroting this phrase because every other new age spiritualist or ‘positivity witch’ is spewing it? exactly what is negative?

is it your negative self-thoughts? is it feelings traditionally viewed as negative (shame, fear, guilt, etc)?

is it complaining without offering solutions?

is it a victim mentality?

is it being a pessimist?

like give me a specific ‘thing’, ‘idea,’ or ‘personality trait,’ that we’re looking for here, because, again, its impossible to banish ‘negativity’ as a concept.

how about asking why the negativity exists first?

oh my, that sounds uncomfortable.

and you may not be able to make an infographic about ‘which crystals are best for asking why your negativity exists’, but, you know, maybe you’re more concerned with personal growth than clicks? *awkward silence settles*

i’m all on the shadow train these days, have been diving deep into this stuff for a while now, and, personally, this is what we need to be posting instead of just telling people to ‘banish negativity.’

guess what, if its your own negative self-talk, your own fears, guilt, or shame, or your own tendencies to victim-complex, scapegoat others, or whine and complain, that bitch lives inside you and she’s not going anywhere. banish away, sweetie. she’s just gonna laugh and go back to calling you a failure.

but, here’s a crazy thought, what if…*and this is a BIG what if*…you sit and talk to her and find out why she’s there.

what made her negative? was it things from childhood, people who hurt you, bad decisions and regrets, and so on?

because likely it was some or all of those, plus traumas, and stressors we all live through as part of the human condition. you can’t banish these. these happened to you. they will always have happened to you. you can only change the way you confront, accept, and react to them.

you have to admit that and then you have to accept that. and then, guess what? let yourself be okay with them existing. in you, at that.

embrace negativity

so, this took a turn.

hear me out. negative emotions and thoughts serve a purpose.

before modern society, when humans were still hunter-gatherers, fear of others or unknowns kept us alive.

anger over a neighboring tribe or clan stealing our harvest led us to wars or battles, some of which we won and prospered from, others we lost and learned valuable lessons (we hope).

but the point is, these negative thoughts and emotions came from somewhere in your past. something, somewhere, someone cultivated them and they are the result of learned experiences, upbringing, environment, and even personality traits from things like our natal chart, our genetics, and more.

what’s going on in the world right now, and specifically in the US is a massive, fiery emotional uprising demanding attention. POC are dying because they do not receive fair treatment in the eyes of law enforcement.

and quite frankly, there are a LOT of white people who are finally waking up to this reality. they’ve been denying it for likely their entire lives, but its now becoming harder and harder to excuse and push away what’s happening to our black brothers and sisters.

you can’t banish this. but for some of my fellow white people i’ve talked to, they’re struggling with the internal war of the negative and biased thoughts they have about POC.

some of these people will even swear up and down they’re not racist, but internally, they’re terrified of the conditioned responses they feel to black people truly having equality. it makes them uncomfortable, but they don’t know why.

and then they might even be that person that says ‘i’m not a racist because i have a black friend,’ while posting on social media that if black people just followed police officers’ directions, nothing bad will happen to them, because that’s what happens when you’re white, why would it be any different if you’re black?

it shouldn’t be karen, but it is.

i don’t care who you are, if you’re a white person in america, at some point in your life, and perhaps for even your entire life, you have been exposed to biased sociocultural thoughts like ‘black people are criminals, that’s why they make up so much of the prison population,’ or ‘asian people are smarter than everyone, that’s why they’re good at math and science.’

take a long hard look inside yourself and you’re going to find plenty of these. and your immediate reaction is going to be shame, and then you’re going to ‘banish’ that thought and move on with your day, refusing to confront this darkness.

stop doing that. stop ‘banishing’ this type of negativity. sort thr0ugh it. CONFRONT IT.

where did it come from? were you raised like that? were there people that directly or indirectly contributed to it? was it from an incident(s) that happened at some point that colored your thoughts this way?

because nobody is born racist. how can you undo the root system that thinking has laid in you?

it is absolutely 100% scary to admit that we have these thoughts, because we have to admit we are/were wrong. we have to admit our parents were wrong, or our racist uncle was wrong, or whoever it was that planted those seeds…was wrong. and then we have to rip them out and replace them with something better.

all the while, not ‘banishing’ the negativity. because the negative aspects of the human self are what drive us to action. if it wasn’t there, we couldn’t look at it and know there’s a problem and then act on it to make the situation better.

if you never experienced conflict within yourself, congratulations, you’re a fucking ascended motherfucking spiritual being and why are you even here on earth with the rest of us peons?

but for those of us who are normal, we DO experience discomfort and conflict within ourselves (e.g. such as thoughts or beliefs that are harmful or limiting towards another ethnic group, LGBTQ+ persons, the elderly, etc etc).

we can either stop and figure out why we have those thoughts and make a conscious choice to change our perception, expand our perspective to include empathy and solidarity with those marginalized groups, or we can ignore it and keep being the actual problem.

‘banishing’ thoughts and emotions is tantamount to ignoring them and pretending like they don’t exist. and that’s exactly how we ended up in the current situation we have right now. the last thing we need to do is ignore this.

the ethics of witching

let’s go there for a minute.

when people think about ethics related to witchery, we tend to think of the use of what some refer to as ‘dark’ witchcraft, such as curses, hexes, binding, or other types of magickal practice that affect or control another human being and/or their free will.

other ethical considerations of witchery, though, include, but are not limited to:

  • using animal parts in practice
  • using human parts in practice
  • appropriation of another culture’s practices without respect for the culture of origin
  • sexual misconduct of ‘mentors’ or other positions of power, taking advantage of others’ trust
  • children or minors involved in various ways in the craft that may be inappropriate

so needless to say, there are a number of ways we can approach ethics, and each of us has to make our decisions about where we stand on most of these, but i think its safe to say that there are some lines that, ideally, all of us should be drawing, but are not consistently happening.

sexual or other forms of abuse need to stop.

okay, so there are a TON of gray areas in this, and i would like to think that we’re all consenting adults in whatever we choose to do. but, the reality is that, as those of us who have been in situations elsewhere in life involving sexual harassment and sexual assault know, consent flies out the window the second the abuser or harasser is in a position of power relative to the victim. always. full stop. there is never an exception or ‘but what if…’ to this one.

if you or anyone you know is using your relative power or status to coerce another person into ANYTHING they would not normally do otherwise, including but not limited to nudity, sexual acts, participation in events or rituals, castings, or else, you are an abuser. and anyone who witnesses and doesn’t do anything about it, is your enabler at best, and an accomplice, at worst.

i like being naked, its great and fun, and so is sex. and if magick and sex go together for you, that’s awesome, too. there should never be an unwilling participant. ever. every time i have asked my husband to participate in any sex magick i have always asked him. and when he initially replied ‘well, i’ve never done that but, sure, i’ll give it a shot,’ my reply was, ‘only if you feel comfortable.’

any kind of act within magickal practice should always occur under consent throughout from all participants, and the conditions under which it occurs need to be structured so that all participants feel comfortable voicing their discomfort, should it arise.

i won’t say that men are the problem, but i will say as a woman, women understand this much better than men do, in my experience.

women are typically much better at making sure everyone is comfortable throughout an experience and checking in with participants during than men, who assume that unless you speak up, you’re consenting, which we all 100% know is not always the case.

and this is probably because, statistically, 75% of women have been in situations where they absolutely didn’t feel comfortable, but also didn’t feel as if they could speak up and voice a concern.

taking or appropriating another culture’s religious, spiritual, or magickal practices without giving appropriate attribution and respect

is absolutely never okay, especially if you are profiting from it. there are many many cultures in which forms of witchcraft are practiced and they each come with their own inherited and cultural considerations for those practices. if you want to learn about them and learn from them, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

but if you want to profit off of them with products or services without giving proper due, that’s never okay. ask yourself if you would want someone taking your cultural history and practices and passing them off as something else without respecting you, your family, your ancestors, and your heritage?

and then we get to the really gray areas that i think we can all argue about all day long, but at the end of the day, we have to make some tough decisions about where this weighs on our conscience:

initiating children into practices when they are minors.

as a legal rule, minors cannot give consent for virtually anything. they’re minors and the government views them as property of their parents or legal guardians.

i have some personal reservations about viewing any human being as property of another, but as a parent, i also fully understand that minors do stupid shit and sometimes have stupid ideas (including my formerly minor self in that, as well).

so, sometimes parents need to make these decisions for them. religion and spirituality, however, feels icky if its a decision we make for someone else, though, at least to me.

if my son expressed interest in my beliefs, i would have no problem explaining to him and referring him to further reading so he could make informed decisions for himself, but i would never just say ‘hey, i think you should look into this.’ and then bring him along for full moon spells and rituals.

where i think this is okay is if a child expressed on their own an interest and there are some activities they can do that are age appropriate, then, yeah, absolutely. but it should never be a decision that’s made for them, however, that’s just my personal opinion formed from a personal autonomy point of view. this stems heavily from my embrace of The Satanic Temple tenets, the third of which states:

“one’s body is inviolable, and subject to one’s own will alone.”

the use of animal or human parts.

so this tends to be a topic that causes a chasm in some parts of the magickal and pagan community.

in an ideal situation, all human and animal parts should be ethically acquired, meaning you didn’t have to kill a person in order to get their teeth and there’s no live animal sacrifice happening, but we all know there are seriously divergent views on this that stem from cultural experience and practice.

hell, my own viking and northern european pagan ancestors sacrificed the fuck out of some animals and humans throughout history and before christianity took over their ancestral practices, so its not even like i can claim i’m clean on this one, and probably nobody else can, either.

i’m also personally an omnivore and eat meat from animals daily, and would never be so hypocritical to say that i won’t use animal parts in my practice, but i will do what i do when i acquire animal products to eat, which is to look into the supplier, their ethical history and practices and make the best judgment call i can with the information i have. if it doesn’t seem right, i don’t participate or buy.

human parts are a little more vague, because lots of people ‘donate their bodies to science’ or expire from ‘natural causes’ and apart from official morgue records, which we can only hope are true and verified, we really can’t know if they were ethically harvested unless you were there at the time, which begs the question: wtf were you really doing there?? lol

magick that controls the will of another person.

this includes hexes, curses, bindings, and so on. these are often referred to as ‘dark magick’ but in reality, magick itself is neutral, the intent of the user is what may be termed ‘dark’ or ‘light.’

its my opinion that all of these have a place. i also don’t at all believe in the ‘rule of 3.’ if you cast a curse or hex on someone and you regret it for even a second, then its absolutely going to backfire and come back on, you. that’s my experience. so just make sure its absolutely 100% what you really want.

i’m not going to hypocritically sit here and say i would never curse someone, either. i personally don’t know anyone right now that i would want to go through the energy expensive process of placing a curse on, but i can’t say that i never will know someone like that, present federal administration excluded. i can tell you i 1000% would curse someone that hurts my kid. no question. i hope they feel the pain of a 1000 deaths before feeling the pain of their actual death.

but i have friends who couldn’t even grasp the concept of that, even if it was their own kids.

my vast life experience has taught me that most people are their own curse. really. they’re miserable fucks that hate themselves and are hollow inside and you don’t actually need to take the time or energy to curse them, because their lives already suck, even if you think they don’t.

if you’re the kind of person that likes to curse others just because you’re the actual miserable fuck, well, then why are you even reading a post about ethics? or maybe you counter curse someone who curses you? does that balance the karmic scales? (btw, i don’t have the answer to that question just yet…)

this might also include love spells, and, honey, if he doesn’t love you without a spell, do you really want him? maybe that’s the universe screaming in your face that he’s just one giant walking red flag…

but what about spells that ‘encourage’ another person to do something that’s of benefit to them, like casting a spell to get your spouse to look for a better job because they’re miserable where they are but they feel stuck on their own, or a spell to get your neighbor to clean up their trashy-looking yard…

i can’t tell you how to approach those because i’m not you and i don’t know those people. but these things still fall under the category of you controlling someone else’s free will, so weigh the karmic outcome on these things carefully.

so that sort of sums up where there are some potential problems that are obvious, but then keep in mind, as with any supply chain and growth of consumer interest in a particular subject or industry, there will absolutely be impacts on human welfare, such as mining those beautiful crystals you like to buy, or growing and harvesting the herbs you buy in bulk, and so forth.

there is absolutely no way that any of us can live and operate in our modern world without impacting another life- human, animal, or plant. so, beyond that, i think barring the actual illegal acts that fall under sexual assault or harassment and the actual illegal harvesting of animal/human parts, we need to decide where we stand. there’s probably no completely right or wrong answer.

stop thinking of deities as good and bad

when i get really into a particular subject or thought, i get, like, REALLY into it. i’ll download 20+ kindle books and purchase another 10-15 or so from amazon on the subject, or those complementary to it.

and the human-created concept of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is certainly one of those i’ve spent a fair amount of time in the rabbit hole on.

basically, what i’m trying to convey is this: our limited human minds cannot comprehend divinity of any kind. i don’t care what particular religious doctrine you subscribe to, they’re all more or less right, in that there are powers much bigger, more powerful, and all-knowing than ourselves. and these deities can, and likely do, all exist in one form or another somewhere. like all at the same time. nobody is right or wrong here.

there are probably multiple planes of existence, too.

and beyond all that, these divine entities or beings are neither good nor bad. humans have this habit of applying dualistic labels to absolutely everything, and its a habit that sometimes saves our lives, but in general, probably limits us more than we think.

so here’s the path i’ve been on lately: i have been an atheist since probably middle school. i just tried really hard to believe in various religions, none of them really sticking for me, until maybe around my late teens encountering various pagan practices that looked a little like wicca, but without all the rules and without the goddess and god. maybe its nature worship or some other non-theistic branch of spirituality of the self.

so, fast forward to maybe sometime in my late 20s and then into my 30s, satanism really appealed to me. and, if you’re ignorant and need to be told, satanism is not human sacrifice and eating babies.

its essentially a variety of religious paths that fall under the umbrella of self-worship, self-esteem building, self-advocacy, and embrace of your darker self (we all have one- those of you that think you don’t are the worst off, because yours is repressed and you’re constantly fighting your own innate nature).

some satanic sects are theistic, with deities ranging from satan to lucifer, to other demonic beings that existed before christianity, and others are atheistic, believing instead that there is no higher power, humans are the higher power and its our responsibility to solve our own problems.

for what its worth, i think both are right, more or less.

through all that, though, i still considered myself nontheistic, or, at most, agnostic. i joined The Satanic Temple a couple years ago, but still as a nontheistic atheist.

i previously had interacted with the Church of Satan, but found them to just be a cover for old, white conservatively-leaning atheist men who were hoping for orgies. maybe not all CoS chapters or groups are/were that way, but the ones i encountered in the 2000s all had that in common. CoS doctrine and writings, especially those written by Anton LaVey, its founder, are heavily misogynistic, which is the main reason i never officially joined that organization.

what appeals to me about TST, however, is their neutral stance on actual religiosity, with heavy involvement in fighting injustices that governments and human constructs have placed on the freedoms of humans, like our 1st amendment rights, for instance. if you’re not familiar with TST, i highly recommend you go read their tenets before passing judgment. you will likely come away with a new appreciation for what you consider ‘satanic.’

i’ve never been involved with a group before that did more for personal freedoms, the women’s movement, and free speech and expression than TST.

but lately, in the last few years, as i’ve re-embraced my spiritual self that i lost somewhere along the way, i’ve had experiences, which i won’t go into detail here, but if you really want to know, i’m happy to speak about elsewhere, which lead me to believe that the deities i have reached out to or thought about intently at certain points actually do exist in some form, and communicated with me in some very direct, but also indirect ways.

for those of you who have been practicing the craft for some time, this comes as no surprise to you, because we’ve all had those experiences that open our minds. those ‘a-ha!’ and ‘omg!!’ moments where you realize you’re not alone.

for those that don’t believe, that’s totally fine, and i’m not here to change your mind. if you’re not a believer in any type of higher power (god, lucifer, athena, ishtar, apollo, oya, etc), and you don’t want to be, then you can stop here, because this isn’t really relevant to you. you’re not on that journey right now, and that’s okay.

but to everyone who is on it, or who thinks maybe they are, or wants to be, or just isn’t sure, i have found that one of the biggest blocks that you will experience in making contact with energies and beings beyond our plane is your own fear.

you fear they actually exist, you fear their power, you fear they won’t like you, you fear you’re not important enough for them to listen or respond, you fear a lot of things. but mostly, you fear the unknown.

you fear handing over control to them, or you fear they may be spiteful like you’ve been taught (some can be, but only if you’re a piece of shit, or if your fear rules you, tbh. there are some beings that feed on fear, and those are not the ones you want to make contact with anyway).

and, to top it off, you’ve been told (mostly by your established and dominant religious indoctrination of abrahamic religions) that there is good and evil, and we sort beings into those categories. don’t try to contact dark entities because they want to corrupt you and use you for their own evil purposes. the devil will trick you into a contract to serve him, etc etc.

first, yes, there are dark entities, and there are also entities that feed on fear, hate, destruction, and death. and second, its not likely you’re going to conjure (that’s not even really the right word) one of the latter unknowingly, and, unless you’re a particularly powerful medium, they don’t want anything to do with you anyway.

they have more important shit to do. some of these entities do like to see murder and mayhem, literally, but they’re not that common, and again, you’re likely not a conduit.

third, there are plenty of deities or beings with ‘dark’ reputations, or even those considered ‘demons’ by established judeo-christian organizations, who are, in fact, not at all demons or bad or evil.

they were simply worshipped in pre-christian times and when christianity began to wipe out all prior religious practices in order to control people and information, pagan and pre-christian deities were literally demonized, in every sense of the word. they became evil, harmful, and something you should fear in order to get our ancestors to stop venerating them.

examples of this are lilith, hekate, lucifer, and ba’al.

all were gods or goddesses, or minor deities who had very few, if any, harmful or negative associations until after the establishment and organization of religious doctrine that needed them to appear ‘evil’ in order to convince people to stop worshipping them.

they are no more ‘demons’ than jesus or buddha. they were simply a threat to the growing power of the hebrew and then christian churches, followed by the muslim religious establishment later on after 600 CE.

and this is not an attempt to ‘demonize’ abrahamic religions, because what’s done is done. its recorded in history and we’re living in the now. the powerful leaders of those religious organizations understood propaganda the way that our current president does: fear works.

fear can get otherwise rational people to do all kinds of things, simply because they fear the unknown, and here is someone telling them they “know” as long as you follow them and vote for them/give them your money.

but what i think i took away from this deeper exploration myself is that we fear things we do not understand. we fear concepts we can’t comprehend. we fear change. we fear upheaval. we fear knowing something very heavy like that, because then what do we do with that knowledge? we fear there is a greater purpose for us than just this mundane shit we do all day, and what if we’re asked to act on that?

and then, to add to that, we fear the truth that we are also connected to the divine. whether its pure energetic bonds between molecules you consider divine, or an actual being or group of them, part of that is in you. and its both dark and light. and facing your dark can be terrifying. admitting your deepest thoughts, fears, secrets, anger, hatred, impulses…all of that is in you.

(p.s. in a previous post, i recommended this shadow work journal and i’ll recommend it again. i get no incentive for recommending this, its just a really great tool to explore and accept the darker aspects of yourself so that you can grow and become a better and more functional human, and then also read a little more about what shadow work is in my previous post here).

so, if anything, we humans are dualistic, but our deities need not be. sure, some deities are not that into humans and don’t want anything to do with us, and some are even unfriendly, while others love interacting with us and want to help us out when we call. but just because a deity is associated with dark aspects like war, death, and the afterlife does not make them evil.

a great example are a couple well-known goddesses of the celtic and norse pantheon, like the morrigan, who is the goddess of war and death, but also fertility and sexuality. and then freya, the norse goddess of beauty, love, and sexuality is also the goddess who gets the first pick of souls of the dead in battle.

there are usually both ‘light’ and ‘dark’ aspects to most deities, because, again, they are part of the divine, and, therefore, do not exist in a state of ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

i have friends who are very devout christians who believe that pretty much anything spiritual that is not 100% christian is a path to the devil. and i have friends who are of varying religions who believe that there are many paths to interact with the divine.

personally, i think this is a personal journey. anyone who tells you that you cannot speak directly to the divine, in whatever form she/he/they appear to you, is wrong. run from them. they want control and probably your money. each of us needs to decide exactly what role any relationship with divinity plays in our lives, and that includes how we interact, or not, with it.

as a former atheist, i can tell you that i wouldn’t have opened my mind had i not been led there. and no, i don’t believe in a christian ‘god’ still, but many deities who are a direct channel to higher and more divine power and through whom we can better know ourselves and our higher purpose in life (’cause i’ll be honest, your higher purpose in life isn’t to judge other people on facebook, karen).

in case you want a longish list of books that i’ve read all or part of in no particular order and can’t remember exactly what it was that was said that was so helpful, but i just remember that i found them enlightening and enjoyable to read, here you go (some of these may contain affiliate links):

there are still yet another few dozen i didn’t link here because i haven’t read enough of them to really make a recommendation, but maybe i’ll come back and edit this post in future to include additional titles.

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