The Message of Goddess Fortuna

I live a life of devotion. I love my Gods. Sometimes they talk to me in my dreams.  Since today is a very auspicious day, dated 12-13-14, I thought it appropriate to finally post a dream conversation I had with the Goddess Fortuna.  This is a re-post from my old Mindsay blog.  So posting this again, I hope, will bring you a great message, and us both wonderful luck.  Enjoy!

On the night of September 3rd 2009, I dreamed about the Roman Goddess Fortune (also known as Dame Fortuna).  The following is posted directly from my private handwritten dream journal.

“I am not Lady Luck,” she smiled, dressed in jewel encrusted red velvet and gold (as if she just stepped out of an Italian Renaissance painting) her hair colored amber honey, tied up in braids with ribbons of gold — real gold that shimmered like tinsel. Looking at her… she seemed ablaze with that gleam of gold, so gold it blurred my vision. When she talked to me, she was hard at work in, of all places, a modern morgue (or mortuary, it kept changing from today to ancient and back again) yet all the while, between the flickering back and forth of time, shifting of places, Fortuna’s golden aura made the room warm and comfortable. She was attending to the bodies — unzipping the body bags and decorating the dead with flowers, jewels, chains of gold, scented oil, rose petals… it was easy to breathe in the thick scent of myrrh, gardenia, roses, musk, incense…

“I am FORTUNE,” she sighed lovingly, firmly while placing daisies over the eyes of a dead man, “I am there at the end of life, but I am no nurse. I am the one with the job of making sure the lost and unknown receive a proper funeral — especially when there is no money or living people around to bid farewell to these souls. This is what you need to tell people, Valentina.”

She gave me a serious down-to-business look that sent a shiver through me.

“When a person — no matter what their significance when alive — passes from body to spirit without a funeral, it is as if they never existed. No one acknowledges that they lived. But this is not their fault. Death came to them inconveniently. It happens. However, it can be remedied. They do not have to pass into the next life without someone knowing who they were. Gods like me, we do not miss them. We grant these unknowns grace and peace — their bodies, their faces, their names, all these things stay a mystery to you, but we know them. This is perhaps the most important thing I do, providing a funeral when there was none.”

She paused while scattering more rose petals over the severely battered body of a woman. The woman is dark-skinned and Fortune’s light makes her broken corpse seem like a liquid black gold. Fortune’s eyes are moist with sad recognition. She briefly touched the dead woman’s head and the face reconstructs, glowing with Fortune’s golden aura so bright. “This one was stolen from her destiny, and enslaved by men. Her fate was entangled by money — as long as her body provided pleasure she made it with great ease, but the gold she earned never went to her. She could not own herself. In order to escape, she had to die. Her family does not know she died. She was beaten so badly, and on purpose, so no one can identify her. But I know her. See how beautiful she is? Death is kind to those who have suffered. Keep that in mind.”

I follow her as she moves on attend to other battered bodies, repairing them in death, touching and decorating each carefully.  I notice that behind her there rages a great, fiery furnace. There are two men completely clothed in black.  Completely void of any identity, they move like shadows, they are covered in a kind of opaque chiffon, wrapped up like mummies or ninjas, strips of the strange cloth cover every inch of their skin, it seems they are nothing but this fabric — without body and soul. Fortuna notices I’m disturbed by their presence.

“You see my workers?” She winks and smiles. “Pay them no mind. It is their fortune to carry the dead. They who kill cannot rise again to life until they answer for the burden of murder. Keep this also in your mind — write it down — share this — this is the killer’s burden. Murder is heavy on the soul. You cannot escape the fortune you take. Tell as many as possible. This should not occur anymore. People must know. Share what Fortune is telling you, Valentina, and your fortune will be assured.”

When I’m about to express some self-doubt, my thoughts are laid wide open for I stand before a goddess and she knows all. “Just do this, Valentina! You will see I will not forget you. You will prosper. This is not a fiction. Gold will follow these words.”

She says this as her workers, these shadow men, stir up the coals of the furnace. Quickly, they zip the dead back into their bags, some bodies into old-fashioned sacks, and one by one, the bodies’ are placed into the furnace like they are backing bread, beginning to melt into black puddles and then, without smoke, they disappear. When gone, there is no mess, no residue, no trace of them left behind. As the last body disappears, this place of death becomes cold and silver.

Funny how I associate “silver” with cold…

Dame Fortune blows me a kiss and sends me back to bed. Her voice is still in my head.

“I will reward you for following my wishes,” She said.

So let this be shared.  Let it be passed along.  May Fortune’s words of gold also be yours.

Thank you, Fortune, thank you.

**This dream was very important to me because, in the following year, my mother died, and it helped prepare me, in an unexpected way, for that life-changing event.  I began to understand more about life and death, yet also went through a series of emotional upheavals, that, I always discover, lead to breakthroughs (often our break-downs are breakthroughs in disguise).  Immediately after my mother’s death, when her body was sent away for cremation, I watched the documentary A Certain Kind of Death (about what happens to the dead with no next of kin), and not only was I reminded of this dream, that film brought me relief from my worries about what happens to bodies after they die. It’s the side of “fortune” we rarely examine — who will care for the physical parts of who we were after we’re gone, and will someone respect us when we’re dead? From what I saw in A Certain Kind of Death, even the unclaimed dead are treated with respect, a sobering prospect to ponder. One of my fears was dying alone and undiscovered like those stories you hear about in the news every now and then — no one wants to be known someday only as “that person” who died in a horrible circumstance where no one cared, or know someone who died alone undiscovered for a long while…  I truly believe the gods don’t forget us.**


The following is a list of the many aspects of this gracious goddess. Call upon any of her names below to ensure good fortune (derived from the page on Fortuna at Wikipedia:

Fortuna Annonaria brings the luck of the harvest
Fortuna Belli is the fortune of war
Fortuna Primigenia directs the fortune of a firstborn child at the moment of birth
Fortuna Virilis attends a man’s career, celebrated only by women
Fortuna Redux brings you safely home
Fortuna Respiciens — She is the fortune of the provider
Fortuna Muliebris is the luck of a woman (of note is the fortune of a woman in marriage was also Fortuna Virilis, tied to her husband’s career)
Fortuna Victrix brings victory in battle 
Fortuna Augusta is the fortune of the emperor
Fortuna Balnearis brings the fortune of the baths
Fortuna Conservatrix the fortune of the Preserver
Fortuna Equestris fortune of the Knights
Fortuna Huiusque Diei fortune of the present day
Fortuna Obsequens fortune of indulgence
Fortuna Privata fortune of the private individual
Fortuna Publica fortune of the people
Fortuna Romana fortune of Rome
Fortuna Virgo fortune of the virgin
Also something to note:
Pars Fortuna is your Lots of Fortune, or Part of Fortune; “time of birth” determining your fate that are calculated by the three degrees/angles of the major cosmic bodies that make up your Astrological natal chart — your Rising Sign (Ascendant), Moon, and Sun.

As you can see, the Goddess Fortuna, or Fortune, is incredibly involved in all aspects of life. The name Fortuna finds its root in the Latin fero, meaning “to bring, win, receive, or get”, hence why she was later associated with gambling luck. She was a very popular goddess in Ancient Rome, and today She is actively worshiped by Pagans, Witches, and many polytheists.

Awesome pages about the Goddess Fortuna and the people who worship Her:
The Obscure Goddess Online Directory: FORTUNA
Temple of the Goddess Fortuna
A Rite to Fortuna — Mirror of Isis, A Fellowship of Isis Publication

An art installment by Dawn DeDEAUX using imagery that is very close to my dream, so close it frightened me when I discovered it online: The Goddess Fortuna and Her Subjects In an Effort to Make Sense of it All — however it is a statement about

Who’s Afraid of the Devil?

I grew up Evangelical Christian, and in my mother’s house we had more than a healthy fear of The Devil. That fear was especially keen during the early 1980’s when day care sex abuse hysteria, also known as “the Satanic Panic” (because all of the allegations of satanic ritual abuse that went along with the molestation allegations), made everyday life for a kid full of the potential to get raped, or murdered, by devil worshipers who could be anywhere. It was all over the news, talked about at church, but what was most heavily emphasized was about the sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Any thoughts about it made you subject for the Devil. You could invite Him in with just one horny mind. A campaign of shame was hammered into our thoughts to prevent us from getting curious about it, or daring to give in to the natural urge teenage and young adult bodies manifest as they grow. The more we were told that the seat of evil was in our pants, the more it raged. Even when in love, the guilt of heavy petting ruined perfectly innocent relationships. The Devil was everywhere, right in our underwear.

Without getting into all the hoopla of the Book of Revelation (I refuse to quote scripture here because I have an aversion to the Bible, not because I disrespect Christians, but because it’s a religion I don’t identify as my own, and I feel disrespected whenever anyone uses Biblical scripture to defend their beliefs to me because one should not use a book to give me their personal testimony), I’ve always wondered why sex was such a taboo and not a celebrated thing. You would think that people who revere life even in its earliest stages would also be pro-sex! Because how else will we get those babies? Babies come from sex. More specifically, babies are born out of women’s bodies. It’s a woman’s body that is a battle ground in regards to religious morals about sex. You can’t have life without sex, right? So how did sex get so molested? The Devil made men do it. He got up into women’s bodies and made men’s lust evil and twisted so babies come out unhealthy. At some point, I suspect, the Devil was born from the belief that still-borns, sexually transmitted disease, and sexual abuse all originated from one supernatural enemy — a scapegoat to pin the blame on for the sins of men who couldn’t control their urges, especially ones that brought them down into animalistic and brutal practices.

I don’t believe the Devil as molester and rapist was ever a pagan god, or even any god’s adversary, but a personification of the feral side of human sexuality — the kind people greatly fear will take over their bodies while in the throws of lust and euphoria. When we’re naked, we are really stripped down to our true human animal skin, and when it comes to sex, we behave as we truly are, throwing ourselves back to nature.

Getting back to everyday, modern society here, I notice correspondences between symbols, numbers, and the common iconography that people associate with their fears and desires, how we use these images to create good luck and even invite bad things to happen to us. One thing I see repeating throughout pop culture is the Number of the Beast — 666!

I’ve known people who will actually defend the so-called power behind this number, adding so much of their fearful energy to it that they create their own reality of “evil out to get me at every turn”. Why do that? No wonder some people put no stock in other forms of positive ways to fuel their own power and turn to other people for spiritual help. They simply cannot believe that number won’t have any hold on them, especially when I point out that not all cultures on earth consider it unlucky or associated with the Devil.

In light of today being International Women’s Day, I know that the number 6 has a much more benign meaning in Numerology… The number 6 relates to feminine sexuality, family, fertility, domestic duties, womanhood, and home. This makes me wonder if that number has a connection to a fear of the Devil as being a fear of sex, especially as a fear of women having control over their sexuality and being independent of men.  My feminist views aside, I must consider the other meanings of this numerical conundrum.

In Kabbalistic Judaism, the 666 number is representative of the awesomeness of all creation because the world was created in six days, and there are six cardinal directions (north, south, east, west, above and below). Also if you add the numbers 666 together they equal 18, the number of life, also known as the Jewish “Hai” or “chai” which means “living, alive”! It’s customary in modern times to give monetary gifts in the number of 18 because of that spiritual significance.

The number six is a lucky number, and a triple six is a triple trinity. Trinities are really considered special in many religions, most representing the three main forms of gods and goddesses, including the Christian God, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. All trinities also represent three stages of life being youth, middle age, and old age, the emphasis on life, not evil or death. You can put whatever power you want on a number, or any type of sigil, and it can work a miracle for you depending upon how hard and well you believe…

I read somewhere once that the number 6 was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. I believe that the number 666 may have originally been a sign not of “the beast” but of the lust men have for women, or the lust people have for sex, and that the number represented wild sexuality, something that was later considered evil because it related to the temples of the love goddess where ritual prostitution was practiced, and eventually abused. From there it must have grown, especially with the advent of more conservative religious thought (yes, even the Romans before Christianity frowned upon  some lecherous behavior) into a major misongynist hysteria that manifested with the mythos of the Devil, especially when it involved the prostitution and rape of young people. What once was a sacred institution became a den of debauchery, where people used religion as an excuse to disguise their true intention to exploit the innocent. Hello, slavery!

Just like so many religious institutions today. We trust our clergy, no matter what god devoted to, to be perfect representatives of our god, trusted to help and educate the innocent in the ways of that god. But can we not see how tempting a position to apply for that makes an already perverted “beast” of a person to want to be in? I can imagine it was the same for followers of Aphrodite to use the excuses of religious worship to take advantage of people, especially ones who were taught that it was okay to be a sexual slave in the name of the goddess.

Such behavior leads to un-wellness — centuries of it — and it’s no fault of any god/dess, or even any Devil, and no one need put a number on it either. 666 triggers all sorts of distortions and demons in the mind, even people who aren’t religious are unnerved by it, as if human beings have conditioned each other to see those three 6’s as three human figures buggering one another — come on, you can see it — and that means we’re all going to meet our doom, or that we have dirty minds.

Thinking beyond numbers and symbols, getting to the heart of their meaning and how they can be used, and realizing no thing has any power over myself except what I give it, helped me grow up. And I’m a Witch, I love the magic of these things, you’d think I was a messed up crazy person over all this, but being what I am is the heart of being wise — we practice the craft of it.

How I survived the satanic panic was that good common sense won out over fear. Faced with other people’s ignorance and all the over-the-top claims of satanic abuse every neighbor and their mother had to the point where anyone, including myself, who wore black was suspected of being a Satanist, somehow I developed patience and tolerance, and I took the time to learn mercy and forgive. And, *gasp!* I even made friends with real Satanists who shared with me their stories, set me right, and really helped me appreciate the world we live in.  Anything that could not be answered logically by my mother and other authorities, I turned to the library for help, and that place became my safe haven. To this day libraries are like my church, book stores a spiritual warehouse, and my own reference library at home is like having a chapel at arms-length.

Where did I get my confidence and wisdom to appreciate our differences? You’ll laugh when I tell you that I swear it came from the gods! I escaped into my mind and imagination. I had visions, inspiration, poetry to read, heroes to dream about, and, no, that’s not pathetic, that’s using my mind.  It’s a good thing.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the lessons from my childhood, but I’m also grateful to not live in that atmosphere anymore, to not fear sex or be in constant anxiety over the world blowing up, or even being afraid of eternal damnation if I should die (because no one was ever sure of getting to Heaven due to the multitude of sins one could commit without the reassurance of constant absolution). Besides, I’ve always suspected that “the Beast” already lived and died. He was quite possibly Nero or any number of naughty Roman, or other ancient bad boy leader in power at the time the Book of Revelations was written. No matter, I don’t make the Bible my book of choice as to what choices I make in my life.

The real devils are real people who have the nasty problem of seeking power and control over other people, sexually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. They take advantage of our innocence and vulnerability. They don’t come out of the dark wearing horns and black capes and they don’t use magic or cast curses on us.  The real devils are far more direct, brutal, bloody. They don’t rape us as part of satanic rituals, nor seek to sacrifice us to the Devil. They charm us into sacrificing ourselves to them. The nicest people are the best murderers because they take advantage of our desire to be nice, not just come at us when we’re vulnerable. I shake my head when I hear people claiming demons are inside them or following them around when we have living people who don’t have to have a devil in them to be completely devilish.

Don’t fear 666, or the Devil, or sex, or preach against all the things young people will naturally do due to being human, and don’t tell anyone they’re possessed by the Devil even if they are selfish and naughty — be sensible and guide them to be wary of real dangers in life. Teach yourself and others to have self esteem, to be physically strong and fit, and to read the psychological signs of people out there who may hurt us.  Lead by example.  Live in love.  Be blessed and give blessings in return.

Can I get a Blessed Be?  *giggle*  Or how about an Amen?

What You Thought the Oracle Said Wasn’t True: A Guide on How to Read a Psychic


I have twenty years experience giving psychic Tarot readings, I’ve worked as an Occult Consultant for paranormal investigations, I moonlight as a Spirit Medium, and I seek to serve my community as an Oracle, but I will be the first to tell you that not everything us so-called “psychics” tell you are true. In the game of predictions there is a wide margin of error, hence why fortune-telling is more of a novelty and not taken so seriously. It is always up to the seeker (you) to decide what to believe in.  I have read the destinies of many people, some have taken what I said to a degree where they allow it to direct their lives into an unhealthy direction, and some have done what they’re supposed to do with their fortunes; they took what I told them as a guide, they made a choice, they took control of their lives, and perhaps look back at what I said as an interesting story to talk about at a dinner party.

Being a guide, that’s what an Oracle is, she’s not your personal doom seer, not someone to fear and expect death sentences from.  If you don’t want to know the possibilities of whether or not you’ll be with your boyfriend forever, don’t ask the Oracle.  If you really want to know when you’ll die, go ahead and ask, you’ll get a number, but it might not happen at the age predicted.  Or maybe a kind of death will happen at the age pin-pointed.  I was once told I’d have a baby at age 24, and then die at age 39, but both those ages came and went without those events!  However, at the time I was engaged… if I had kept the choice to stay in that relationship, who knows, it could have happened.

Beyond fortune-telling, there is another game, that of psuedo-spiritual advice, and a psychic can do it without a degree, they don’t have to be an ordained minister, and most just jump into it without a lick of experience dealing with the public. All you have to be is pleasant and approachable. But to make money at it, you have to have “game” just like any person out to make a connection with another — a gimmick, a look, some kind of unique talent that catches the imagination of others and leaves them wanting more. I knew about this game when I started making a living at it in the mid-90’s attending psychic fairs, and pandering on the street while homeless during the early 2000’s. The game was highly competitive, like a boot camp for crystal-baring New Age-rs and other metaphysical nerds, and I was never completely keen on the idea of taking money from people who were all-too-eager to buy everything I told them as Bible Truth. In the beginning, I was taught to always add, “Just be aware, no matter what the outcome, you always have the power of Choice”, but the message never quite gets through to people, especially when a querent is desperate for messages from the Powers-That-Be. When I was homeless, I was the one desperate to survive, and I knew how to play a part — I was an actor, I did all my own marketing, and I had a following — performing at festivals, at local cafes, anywhere for anyone, applying the tricks of the trade I saw other psychics use to scrupulous measure. I put Cold Reading to the test, and I must say it worked every time, but it was still very stressful to do because I never knew when I’d mess up. Needless to say, my “performance era” was short-lived, but it was fun being something akin to a gypsy.

Always think for yourself. Question everything you are told. A psychic, just like any good therapist, only shows you your possibilities… and alternatives as you make your choices on life’s path. But when you’re like me, when your life’s path is that of an Oracle — a person who uses trance, and many other means, to connect to the spiritual world according to her religious beliefs and/or cultural, spiritual, and magico-religious practices, to procure messages from the gods to give to seekers — the role of playing fortune-teller twists away from the game of psychic counseling to something altogether different. I have much responsibility and integrity to uphold. It feels dangerous. It’s like playing with people’s’ lives, but only if they swallow the message whole, or use it to further their cause.

In the ancient world it was also the same, I believe, because it’s evident in the hero’s epics — Oracles warn heroes that if they pick a certain path it will lead to doom, but if they pick a more domestic path, one without adventure (and therefore without valor or renown), they can live a long life with their families — yet heroes always pick, despite the Oracle’s counsel, the hopeless cause. Just like in the movie The Matrix, the Oracle seems to know everything that is going to happen, and she recognizes who-is-Who, yet events happen outside of the reach of her knowing, choices change the direction of things, even though the same result is reached, just not the way we all think it’s going to turn out.  Oracles are not know-it-alls!  If we were, we wouldn’t be poor. We’d live like the famous psychics that pop up now and then, selling their series of books and wares, appearing on television series, and what all. And if we were perfect, we’d all not have any mental or emotional pain.

Some people really want to have the abilities that psychics, mediums, and oracles seem to have because it gives them a thrill, they truly want to help other people, and they just want to know more about the spiritual world. But I’m here to tell you it’s not all beds of roses with ghosts in them giving you back massages and whispering secrets about your friends in your ears. Scary experiences will haunt you, and if you’re not strong, you’re in for several breakdowns. Natural ability or not, it’s not easy to figure out what to do, or who to go to for your own counseling on how to deal with “talking to dead people” because there are very real, very serious disorders that can debunk all that. I have questioned myself a lot, but I also cannot deny that, after so many years of practice, training, and testing, clients come back to me to testify I was “right” (whether or not I remember what I told them).

I want to write for you a small question/answer list of what to look out for when you go out for a psychic reading. Want to know what to look for in a reader? Who can you trust? Who is shady? What is all entertainment only, and real spiritual counseling? And how can I avoid misinterpreting the results of a reading? Much of it is common sense, really. Read on and see if you agree with me.

Q: How do I know when a psychic is taking advantage of me?
A: Look for clues in what they offer. Their services are usually outrageous. If they charge you a lot of money for a cleansing, or to rid you of a curse. If they tell you in a reading that someone close to you is zapping you of energy, that your house has a demon in it, or that you have a spirit attached to you and that you need them to get rid of that, and only they have your cure, chances are they want to rip you off. Especially look out for them selling you even more expensive “cures” that are really cheap ingredients like a simple wax candle, “holy oil” that is just canola oil, and soap you can buy anywhere. The money charged is usually in amounts like $99.99. Psychics like that are not true advisers, they’re con-artists. Other fake psychics may actually have some talent, but are in it strictly for money. They really want to keep you as a client. Scare tactics work every time. Believing that something supernatural has it in for you is rather flattering, and thrilling, and these psychics will play you for your money’s worth, not to mention destroy relationships and mess with your mind.

Q: What should I look for in a good psychic reader?
A: “Good” readers are professional — they do not give you any outrageous claims, they are straight forward, don’t ask many questions, and present their impressions, opinions, and advice confidently. Their prices reflect their intentions, experience, and reputation. The more references they have, you can be assured they are doing right. Look for testimonials — real ones, not false advertisements — from clients who are also professionals. Also look for a solid history that is well documented. Even if a good reader does not have these, check out where they are doing their readings: have they been hired by a reputable business? Is their place of business somewhere comfortable, appropriate, or even if it’s campy and/or decorated according to a cultural standard, is it clean and the people there helpful? Do they make you feel welcome?

Q: How can I tell when a reader is telling the truth when they answer my questions?
A: You can’t. They will point out the truth as they see it. You may not agree with them at times, but it’s up to you to decide what is true. Every psychic is an individual and will have their own unique opinions that may, or may not, adhere well to your personal views. If you go to more than one psychic, you may get more than one answer. Some will tell you what you want to hear according to how many dollars you give them. Some will tell you only what they pick up, no matter what you pay. Answers always will vary and change according to your mood, worries, and the energy you are projecting. Psychics pick up more on what is going on with you right now, and what happened to you before, and when it comes to the future, well, the future is always changing based on what you are doing now. Instead of feeding you answers, nearly all good psychics will get you to ask more questions of yourself, and think for yourself.

What is your truth? If it doesn’t match what the oracle says, then investigate what it is about you at the moment of the reading that brought about that result. If you didn’t like what the oracle said, don’t pay attention to it. Why believe everything someone “psychic” tells you? Just because someone is dealing the Tarot cards, does not mean they know more about you than you do about yourself. Pay more attention to how you feel and what you think. Again, you are asking the questions. You are the seeker.

Keep searching.

Q: What should I do to keep track of every psychic reading I get?
A: Bring a notebook and write down the results, record the reading using a voice activated device, or video tape your session. The value of documenting your reading is essential so you can go back to re-examine the results as they happened! If you want to guard against misinterpretation, having documentation to back up someone else’s claims, as well as aid you in any kind of paranormal research, is the smartest way to check the accuracy of a psychic.

Q: How can I find a “real” Oracle, or spirit medium?
A: In my honest opinion, the “real ones” are practitioners in a specific cultural or religious tradition, or have some affiliation within an organized spiritual institution. These are people who have trained and devoted their lives to the practice, and it is foremost the main service they give to their communities. Many of them do not make much money at it. Using myself, for example, I often do an exchange of services, or use a barter system, especially during times when money is scarce. Acting as an oracle is often part of the duties of priest/ess in many cultures. Major decisions are not made without consulting with this holy person. It is a very different way of thought and action than how it is in the average American Joe world. If you seek this kind of person for spiritual advice, you may have to petition them by offering them a favor or two in payment, or you may have to be a part of the religion they practice, depending upon how exclusive and secretive their tradition is. Oracles and mediums work with spirits, they do not command them to do things for people, so often times messages come from the spirits, and the spirits require offerings and favors. Again, not every oracle follows these rules, this is just a few examples added for flavor.

Q: What can a Spirit Medium do? Will they contact specific dead relatives for me? How do I know it’s real?
A: You’ll never quite know. Refer back to the top of the list and beware of the fake psychics who’ll take advantage of you while you’re vulnerable. Don’t seek a spirit medium while you are the most upset during mourning the loss of a loved one. However, sometimes when you do get a reading, miracles can happen. Who knows? It’s up to you to believe and let what needs to happen, happen.

Let me spell out for you what spirit mediums do, and what you can expect from them, with this list…

1. A Spirit Medium is Not a Ouija Board, or a Telephone! However sometimes we feel like we’re being used like a device by the spirits, we just can’t be used by people as if we are.  It would be nice if it were exact, that would at least make the skeptics settle down.
2. Spirits Communicate Through the Medium, ‘They’ Decide if They’re Gonna ‘Talk’.  There is no forcing or demanding spirits to do anything, unless you want a very unhappy, angry spirit on your hands.
3.  Spirit Mediums Do Not Always ‘Hear’ Spirits Talk:

  •  Most of the time that “talking” is our interpretation of dream-like images flashed within the mind, and it’s up to us to decide whether or not they are actually messages from spirits
  • Communicating with spirits is often flashing back to the spirits ideas in the shape of dream images, this going back and forth is a process that sometimes requires me to go into a trance-like state: I let go of my present consciousness and share consciousness with spirits, the spirits and I operate as “one” for a little while. (Not every medium does that, by the way)
  •  Spirits are disembodied beings of pure emotion, and rarely show themselves entirely in a medium’s mind, so most of the time they “talk” by projecting emotions and sensations through the physical body — it can feel like they are attacking you, especially when these sensations become painful (because sometimes a spirit is urgently trying to reach out)
  • Spirits send “thoughts”, and that leaves a lot to the imagination! Not every medium is great at interpreting what’s shared.

4. Spirit Mediums Don’t Just Talk to Ghosts. There are a host of spirits out there. Depending upon the personal beliefs of the medium, they will react in many different ways towards spirits. Some are very afraid, some aren’t. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with.
5. The Success of a Spirit Medium Depends Upon the Querent. If you have an open attitude, the more chances the world will “open” up the possibilities of spirit contact for you. If you are nothing but skeptical and don’t really want anything to happen, everything will remain closed. Simple as that.
6. Shut Up! Stop Telling the Medium All About Yourself. We want to explore and find things out on our own. Feeding us information will spoil a reading. If you want us to validate true contact with the dead, it’s gotta happen naturally.
7. Mediums Always Make Mistaken Identities and Describe Inaccurate Details that Don’t Match Up. It’s hard to tell sometimes when it’s our own thoughts and dream imagery and not that of the spirit world because both go hand-in-hand. It seems like a risky guessing game, but actually it’s funny. Sometimes what I think is the wildest interpretation is the most accurate.
8. Even Spirit Mediums have Skeptical Minds. We question things we think, we wonder if we’re right or wrong, we research what we thought were vibes, and there’s a healthy amount of doubt no matter what. I don’t buy into everything I’m told, why should you?
9. Not Every Psychic, Spirit Medium, Oracle, or What-Have-You, is Spiritual or Religious, and they will be most insulted if you make the mistake thinking that they are. Many don’t believe in angels, demons, or even ghosts. So how can they do what they do? They are experimenting with energy, they use terms and techniques more on a scientific level, often in the name of research and detective work.

After writing this, I realize this all still seems confusing, and I may have convoluted it all with my personal testimony. So, dear reader, before I leave you to your thoughts, I will lastly differentiate all the types of mediumship in this world I slipped into I call Supra-Oracledom:

Valentina’s Guide on How to Read Psychic Readers
Part 2: Identifying Spirit Mediums & Psychic Senses

  • Mental Mediumship: A practice where thoughts are exchanged with spirits as a form of communication. These thoughts are “heard” just like thinking to yourself, they are subtle, almost a type of whisper, and can be intermixed with the medium’s own thoughts. Messages come like dream interpretations — it can be tricky to make sense of what is real or delusion, hence why the margin of error.
  • Trance Mediumship: Partial consciousness shared with spirits where communication takes place as an exchange of dream images or ideas. A variant of Trance is a deeper form where the medium is fully inducted into trance, letting a spirit(s) take over their consciousness in order to communicate with the living. Such individuals require assistance. The practice of Channeling is a variant of Trance — where a medium goes “out-of-body” temporarily to let an entity (such as an angel, or some one-thousand year old monk) take over their body to relay messages.
  • Physical Mediumship: The medium is used by spirits as a sort of battery to plug into so they can manifest in the physical world, producing all sorts of noisy and possibly sudden, violent effects that are quite electrical-feeling. This is the rarest form of mediumship, and the most hoaxed.
    The Senses & Abilities Psychics Claim to Have:

  • Clairaudience: hearing the thought-like voices of spirits
  • Clairvoyance: seeing spirits
  • Clairsentinence: feeling the presence of spirits, taking on their ailments, sharing physical sensations
  • Clairsentience: sensing the presence, or impression, of spirits
  • Claircognizance: knowing something without being conscious of it
  • Clairalience: smelling the presence of a spirit(s)
  • Clairgustance: actually tasting the impression of a nearby spirit!
  • Quick note: All the prefixes clair mean clear

As a parting message, I leave you with words from the great goddess Fortuna, or Fortune, whom I consider a patron goddess of fortune-tellers (for do we not participate in her games of chance and destiny?):

“I turn the cycles of life, and I am happy to bring down those on their high horse, and lift up those who are down on their luck. You’re welcome to step up and spin the wheel of fate! Provided that you remember everything is left to chance, and change. I am not changeable, I stay the same, it is life that changes with my touch. It is said I favor no one, except those who make their own luck, but I am not about luck. I am fate. You’ll never know me. I’ll only give you peeks.  I was there at your birth and will be there at your death, and though you may blame me for the results of your choices, know that I owe you nothing save what I give everyone, my namesake: fortune.”

Postcard #46: Home at the Shrine

There needs to be more shrines — in every city — on every block — places of peace — sanctuaries for silence, comfort, where I am embraced by Gods… Places of seeking, sharing, spaces of Away-from-Time and into Nature-Nurture. I seek a shrine nested in nature, un-interrupting the trees, a haven for birds and squirrels and many other creatures, one that lets plants grow over it, a shrine no person carefully manicures.

I want a wild shrine carved out of rock and petrified wood and earth by the wind and water. A shrine that is natural shelter, perhaps serving as the neighborhood safe house, more like Mother House — the place to go during tornadoes and hurricanes, a place never ravaged by storms or floods or fire or earthquake, and yet created by them. And when there, as I feel my heart blowing me down, when no one can hold me up, when no clergy or friend can console me, when my own tears threaten to drown me, a sister slips me underneath a warm blanket and the Gods’ stone likeness catches me under their ever-watchful eyes.

The most perfect shrine glows here with the special warmth of a camp fire, fragrant as incense and every exotic perfume I love, tender as the womb and every mother hug, calming shivers and curing panic, replacing every doubt with courage. My Gods do not suffer cowardice, and yet they know the human value of a good retreat, that in order to free myself from overwhelming defeat, I must recharge, find this place of wound-soothe and mind-quiet.

Here I re-connect with my Source. Forces far greater than myself reside in the Gods’ Home Mother House Shrine Storm Shelter. Here the space is peopled with the beings that move the world and push the buttons that make me think and dream. When I’m here I am taught I am part of all this powerful importance, that somehow this small woman I call me has more time to go, more work to finish… that this place is not the place of petitionary prayer and whimpering wishes, but another place for me to collect and list my dreams and ideas, whisper my desires and make them happen in Their name.

I want to build shrines.

I want to mark maps full of them.

Every where I walk. Place one somewhere — some invisible, some tiny, some large, for each God, and even for the Unknown Gods that walk the darkness beyond human understanding. There is no dot on the world’s map not worthy of a spot for a shrine.

I want to visit more shrines. Every one. Collect them in my memory like postcards. Write them down in poems. Like this. Places in my mind like gifts.

I believe in gifts. I believe in feeding the Gods with gratitude, not out of obligation, but of devotion, and not just with objects or food, some gifts are actions, duties, favors. A God may pass through the body of someone walking by. One may ride on the back of an animal or whistle through the trees in the form of a bird. Picking up a piece of garbage from the side of the road may save the life of a creature — one less thing that will not offend the ground or poison the water — because the land is religion, is the shrine, the place I count on to be here, especially after I am dead.

I will bury myself someday in this shrine. You will visit me every where it is planted in the earth.  My grave markers will be likenesses of my Gods dotting all over the world.  I can smell the dirt hugging me already, it is cool and dark chocolate, just like I thought a cemetery would feel, and very silent. Just like when I was above, I’m all alone and with the Gods. This place is life and shelters and molds me, takes me away from every pain…

Will I see you here, tomorrow?

Why You Don’t Have to be Ashamed of Paganism

Do not judge and you will never be mistaken. ~Jean Jacques Rousseau

If you are insecure about what you believe, much less what you practice, chances are you are losing your religion. Or perhaps the faith was not yours to keep to begin with? If you become embarrassed by the way your fellows worship, could it be a sign that you are simply prejudiced against your own kind, or that you really don’t belong? If you cannot join them, why are you there? Why complain and judge and spend so much time debating how they should change, when perhaps it is you who needs to make the change? If you are not dancing with your friends, the joy gets knocked out of you, and you cannot experience the joy the others are sharing. The only way to find your true way is to take a cue from your heart, step back, do not judge, and move towards that different beat calling you away…

If you find yourself ashamed of what you once loved, take it as yet another “ordinary” omen; you are growing into and beyond faith, moving past the surface you clung to, and soon you’ll prove to yourself what it is you truly believe. At some point we have to separate ourselves from the community we once identified with, and it is very healthy to become disillusioned with the behavior of our peers, especially when we decide it is time for us to create our own practices.  But it is also just as important to remember our roots, to honor where we have come from, and thank the people who fostered us during those early days when we first set foot on our path.

There are a great many young Pagans today who are ashamed of being associated with other Pagans and who are embarrassed by public performances of Pagan communities at Pagan Pride celebrations. This used to anger and upset me to tears. I took this as a terrible rejection, especially when close friends decided to no longer worship with me, or after many years apart I would find out they were not Pagan any more.  We would get into arguments over whose way of thinking and believing was more correct, or needed improvement, and we’d compare religious thought like who has more money in the bank.  I would tell myself that this is how we were showing each other we cared, yet we did was hurt each other and waste our time, time we could have spent building each other up instead of putting each other down.  With time, I’ve come to accept my friends’ choices to quit Paganism, not as a rejection, but as part of the personal spiritual journey they are going through. Who am I to judge them? And why should I care when they judge Paganism an embarrassment?  For I am certainly proud of it.

It reminds me of a time when some lesbians and gays would get embarrassed by all the flamboyant drag kings and queens on the floats at Gay Pride parades. “I don’t want people thinking that’s what we’re all about,” they would say, worried about the images of gays presented to mainstream America in the media.  It still pervades today among different subcultures across the world — we all get our panties in a bundle over stereotypes! So worried other people will lump us all in with the louder, weirder, crazier, fluffier, campy members of our little tribes that it keeps us from truly enjoying who we are and what we do.

The problem with letting this embarrassment get to you is the shame of it all. At the heart of being ashamed is humiliation and guilt: both are tell-tale signs that we make ourselves feel inferior to the point where we remain restrained by the anticipation of shame brought upon us by another culture we deem more powerful, all because we are guilty of belonging to a group we believe is without power. When we believe our community does not have power, we in turn believe we have no power when we stand with them, and we cease to believe our religion has no validity compared to other religions with less embarrassing behavior and practices.  When we are ashamed, we support powerlessness.  We cave in.

I am an invisible man…. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. ~Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man, 1952

The other danger of letting embarrassment rule your judgment is the way in which you come to treat other people — will you let yourself fall into the Hall of Assholedom?  Or love, respect, and wisdom?  The people we are embarrassed of, are people we make invisible.  We stop validating their feelings, experiences, thoughts, and rights.  We start to judge them, not for the friends they are, but as strangers you deem them to be.  Even if you know them, you stop seeing them.  You don’t know what level they are standing at, or what they’re going through, and they have no more importance.  Even if you claim to live by a code of honor and be the best human being you can be; if you hold any prejudice against a group for being different (that includes flaky), you best check yourself.  It is not righteous or heroic to bully a group’s right to worship as they see fit, and they will worship and behave as they will, with or without your approval because it makes them happy.  The same goes for any individual who is different than you, too.  Let them be different.

When in a group, it is good etiquette to practice as the group does, improvise when the time is right, share ideas, and speak up! If you do not like working with a group, don’t work with a group. To get along with others it is essential to let people be who they are. Let them tell you what they are all about. Don’t assume you know all about them just based on how they look or even what they say. They might be deeper individuals than you think. People always surprise me once I get past that first impression. Judge a book by the cover? Covers lie, my friend. Ask any best-selling pop fiction author, they usually never get to pick what art will grace the cover of their books, but the content may blow your mind every time.

If you judge people you have no time to love them. ~Mother Teresa

I tend to fall in love with people no matter who they are, regardless of age or sex, and want to adopt them all as my family. Perhaps I am unique in that sense. I have never really been ashamed of the silly, fringe, New Age-y members of our community, however at one point I was greatly annoyed to the point of irritation. I was in my mid-twenties then, found myself surrounded by adults older than myself who talked about Witchcraft like teenagers giggling about boys, as if it all were the latest fashion, and I immediately assumed these women were definitely not going to stick with “the program”. Then I realized what a waste of time it was that I spent complaining about them. As I whiled away the time groaning over their girlish behavior, anxiety ate at my gut and I could not relax. They were really having fun and I was rotting like a big poop.

Focusing instead on being more productive, plus cutting loose and letting my (to *gulp!* quote one of those New Age phrases!) “inner child” out to play, was so much better. I often liken our rituals to getting outside to play! When you feel ashamed, you won’t dance or laugh, you can’t do anything but stand there feeling the fool. When you are free from shame, you’ll not feel like a fool, in fact you will be far from caring whether or not someone else thinks you are one. This is when being part of a group helps loosen the inhibitions. You’re not alone at play! You’re among your own kind and we will not judge you… at least that is the way it is supposed to be.

Why else do you think we swear perfect love and perfect trust? That was not made up to procure fantasy.

You do not have to change an entire religion in order for one person, or a new generation, to feel comfortable and respected by the rest of the world. There are reasons why neo-Paganism is the way it is and why it will remain so. There are no rules other than:

  • Everyone has the right to follow their own Path
  • We believe in a Higher Power(s) — God/desses
  • Nature is to be venerated

So why worry about what other people think? When confronted with co-workers, family, strangers on the bus, or other silly persons who snicker at the religion I identify with, I adopt an attitude of being Un-Spookable, because ultimately my religion is a personal issue that is left out of their business (they can say whatever they want, but they can’t take it away from me and I shall not be bothered!). When I’m at a job, I’m there as an employee. I leave my private life at home. If someone brings up my beliefs, or anything else that is private, I do not discuss those things at a job. It’s not professional to get friendly like that. If a boss Googles me, they are sticking their nose in my personal business. It does not matter if I have made my blog public and that I call myself Valentina the Witch, that is my persona separate from any other job I’m hired to do. Yet. I have it easy. I’m freelance, it does not matter if I advertise myself as a Witch or not, it goes along with my illustration.

It’s weird that nowadays folks find it easy to make fun of Pagans and Witches then be afraid of them! There are still some parts of the world where announcing your religion of choice could get you killed, yet at least here we can express our spirituality as we see fit. In the late 1980′s/early 90’s when I first discovered Witchcraft, I saw a few Goddess-centered public rituals that were pretty damn intense that included nudity, fire, mud, and large statuary representing giant genitalia. Back then more people were spooked by Paganism not scoffing at it!  A lot of people liked the tenets of belief and practice, yet weren’t as brave or wild to invent such crazy performances, so even then there were people embarrassed by that. Thus began movements to tame down ritual into simple, child-like, easy-to-swallow forms for personal and public use.

Pagan religion, movements, traditions… they are always evolving, changing, rituals get rewritten, no one way is supposed to be the only way, you make your way of worship your own way.  This is not disorganization.  This is individualization.  It is the way all of religion is flowing into the future.

Most Pagans today find an introduction to our religion by books, or by websites, much of which filled with half-truths and myths written mainly to lead an individual to further study.  In our age with the instant gratification of information and popular spirituality, we have a multitude of authors (some posers, some true authorities) out there to test young minds.  Yet I find that part of being Pagan is discovering the truth behind the fictions we are given.

I once had a teacher who was a terrible drug addict and dealer! I did not know it at the time, but there was something about him that did not feel right to me, some of the things he said and did were off, and after finding out how messed up he was, I still walked away with mighty lessons. He taught me what NOT to do, but even though he was delusional, he was a powerful magician with years of herbal medicine experience and introduced me to other Witches who weren’t addicts who taught me more than he could. His behavior was appalling, and perhaps someone else may have walked away in disgust, never again to dabble in the Craft, but not me.  Even the worst guide can still be a guide.

Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to be, that’s what they’ll become for us. ~Richard Cowper

I find that often Paganism is a gateway religion for many seeking another path that is out there for them to discover and experience. Yet I would advise you all not to abandon Paganism for a passing fad, or continue to treat Pagans with harsh criticism because you have come to the conclusion that it does not work for you, or you find you do not fit in with the crowd. If any of you grew up in a strict religious family, or have ever been confronted with ultra-right-wing religious conservative people,  you would do well to remember how having their doctrine forced upon you felt. And the more someone argued with you, attempted numerous times to convince you how wrong you are, and policed your behavior with phrases like “you ought to be ashamed of yourself!” while you were simply just being different, the less you stayed within the church of your upbringing, and the less their words had any effect on you. Pagans are against that practice. Why?  Because we are not a religion that hates or inhibits anyone’s freedom.  We do not force people to stay in a religion that they are embarrassed of, or have out grown. If you must move on, please go in peace. We will not try to change you.  We ask nothing from you.  Just be yourself.

So, please, with all due respect, do not try to change us. Because we’re happy with ourselves. We’re not ashamed like you are. Don’t shape us into what you think we are. You might someday discover we never fit that mold to begin with. But we’ll forgive you just the same.

As for me, this Witch always has room in her heart for you, who ever and where ever you are, no matter what religion or subculture you belong to, and even if you think me silly and want nothing to do with me, I’ll miss you while I dance with the whole wide world under the pale moonlight!

Therapeutic Magic & Mental Illness, an Introduction

**UPDATE 10/12/2014: When I first wrote this introduction I thought I had all my ducks in a row on this subject, but the research and concentration needed to completely cover what I intended to finish could not be done in a matter of weeks, let alone years. Now I do not know if I ever will. However, this was a great start!**

“To be bewitched is not to be saved, though all the magicians and aesthetes in the world should pronounce it to be so”  — George Santayana The Life of Reason: Reason in Art

In the early days of my magical practice, I was taught that in order to perform magic well, one should be of sound mind and body.  Beyond this, in order to perform magic safely, one should be calm and clear of mindgive generous offerings to all spirits and always have complete confidence.  In fact, you can have low self-esteem about your looks, but can never have a bad opinion about yourself when working magic.  When you set out to cast a spell, you must put all of your confidence into it. Not everyone can draw upon that kind of inner power because they are unaware they have it to begin with.  It takes time, discipline, and practice to get to a level where one can achieve reserves of iron will power.  Yet even the best of us aren’t like that all the time, just only when we are working magic.  There are those of us who are flawed, we need more work and time to accomplish raising power.  Then there are those of us who perform beautifully because our minds are wired differently to work best in that dream state in between states of consciousness where confidence and belief in endless possibility flourishes!

Some of us don’t know how to use our weaknesses as assets, we only think our best abilities are going to be our forte.  We struggle because we can’t believe anything is possible in the face of what we can’t do.  We get stuck in the how and why, not the “do” of it.  Even some teachers think they are supposed to fix us once they know we have problems.  Yet we are not the sum of our problems.  Problems are the doors to our power.  Didn’t you know that?

The stigma of mental illness is a powerful one, enough to convince even the most intelligent and kind magus that the insane are a spiritual threat more dangerous than a malignant spirit.  But magic has always been about changing and creating things to better humankind, to gain power over problems and make solutions, and why not heal and train a tortured mind to overcome disorder?

The Unacceptable Ones

The most undesirable candidates to learn magic, from what I remember, were  the mentally ill.  People with these problems are not so readily recognized at first meeting.  Many folks with mental and emotional problems are often rejected from their own subculture before they even get the chance to identify with said subculture.  Some understandably so, others perhaps unfairly.

The most common undesirable are the ones who immediately make outrageous claims like talking to unicorns and turning into werewolves, to less outrageous delusions like claims of speaking with berries and trees and angels, etc…  Whether or not their condition is real, or if they’re just simply being visually creative, the stigma of mental illness alone is disturbing enough to separate them from any circle.  Witches and magicians are not psychologists, and therefore are not qualified to diagnose mental illness, yet they all have the right to choose whom they will teach and accept into their private circles.  This is acceptable, but we should endeavor to understand how common some disorders are, how they are treated, and in what ways magic can assist people coping with their disabilities. Beyond that, we must no longer see people as the sum of their problems, we need to look beyond ‘the crazy’ and treat them with respect and understanding.

Just as mental illness is not a result of evil spirits possessing the body (as once believed in primitive times), but caused by dysfunctions of the brain and body, magic is not a miracle cure, nor is the medicine one takes to relieve it.  A cauldron’s brew of therapy, a medicinal regimen, physical exercise, proper diet, good sleep habits, a regular daily routine, assistance and counsel of doctors (not just from a psychologist, but psychiatrist and primary care doctor) is even more required to handle an illness.  Adding magical practice to the treatment one is already receiving is just another way to get healthy, but with the kick of getting into the heart of the patterns and cycles of one’s thoughts and consciousness.

It’s Medicine, not Poison

I have seen and faced more prejudice over using prescription drugs to treat disorder than over having a mental disorder itself.  You would think that taking medicine to take care of yourself should be indication to others that you are taking responsibility for your problems, especially so when along with medication you are actively participating in therapy and practicing meditation.  It’s one thing to have a problem, but when some ignorant few see you taking your medication, they’ll want to know why.  First of all, your medical history and your medication should not be public knowledge, that is confidential.  Even when involved in a spiritual group, it’s rude for it to become an issue.  However, I have experiences where instead of asking me what it is I’m taking, some people have made assumptions, and soon gossip built up enough drama to dissolve our connections with each other.

The use of drugs is no stranger in the practice of magic, in fact the mind-expanding, experimental drugs of generations before ours used them to achieve spiritual experiences and to produce visions.  But that all came with a cost.  Many caused damage to their minds that they could not reverse.  The idea of using drugs to heal now comes with the fear of chemicals inducing more disease.  There is also fear that mind-altering drugs open up the consciousness too dangerously wide, leaving the student vulnerable to hostile, lower spirits who can cause all kinds of mischief and chaos.  The New Age belief in natural cures over standard western medicinal ones only makes things worse for those of us who, out of real necessity, must rely on chemicals to support our very natural bodily functions to help us cope with our problems.  The drugs we use are helpful, not like the recreational drugs, home-grown or not, people without mental illness use at a risk to their mental health in the name of expanding their consciousness.

There is no magical drug to help anyone project the spirit into the astral over night, however my experience with peyote was intense and did work for me right away.  Yet I was not disciplined for that challenge and I believe I have spirits to thank for keeping me safe.  My first out-of-body trip was forced upon me, without guidance it was like being tossed into the void without any hope of return.  Peyote, like any drug, should never be taken without the guidance of a professional healer, not distributed on a whim without spiritual purpose.  In fact, I don’t recommend any spiritual use of drugs either.  The best ways to alter consciousness are the natural, harder, more meaningful ways to get it done: go into trance the old-fashioned way, dance into a trance, get your ecstatic joy on!  No drug can provide that reality.

When I take medicine to cope with my illness, I’m not using it as a crutch, nor am I depending upon it to cure all my ills.  Drugs that help the mentally ill aren’t able to do that.  It would be nice if they could, but if wishes were fishes…

From Problems to Powers

I am a Witch with several functional mental disorders that are often exhibited in annoying, irritating, and confusing ways that make it difficult for me to relate to other people.  Over years of treatment, I took ownership of my problems, gained valuable coping techniques, formed healthy habits, and know when to turn to professionals and check myself into the hospital when I’m at my worst.  My condition is not as scary as it seems and it does not interfere with my ability to practice Witchcraft, in reality, if anything, it has enhanced my abilities.  Once I learned to regulate some emotions, I can also draw upon them and use them to direct a lot of power into my work.  The overwhelming passions that have so often hurt me are ones I don’t have to let torture me when I can direct and project them into something useful.  I have come to the conclusion that Witchcraft remains a magico-religion incredibly beneficial to its practitioners and clients who suffer from even much worse problems, yet I am just one case.  I can only estimate what other mages and Witches have done to help heal people with disorders much worse than my own.

I write from my own personal experience and I do not claim to be any kind of  expert or professional in the mental health field.  I can only share with you what I have found works for me.  More extensive research should be cared out by professionals who are sympathetic to and/or are magicians themselves applying the art and science of magic to use as therapy.

Magic transcends and transforms, what a powerful way to supplement medicine!  And even better, it reinforces self-confidence, too.  That is much-needed in a struggle for order over one’s thoughts and emotions.

Is Magic the Way to Sanity?

I asked a friend what his thoughts were on the mentally ill practicing magic. Eight years ago, after my diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization, I went through a brief period where I worried if it was wise for me to continue to practice magic and provide magical assistance and spiritual counsel to others. I thought that my condition would make me less credible as a Witch in the court of public opinion. It is common knowledge in my town I am a Witch, so would having a disorder soon make it seem that, just based on my story, all Witches are crazy? As time went on, the thought of no longer doing what I loved made me more depressed. Practicing magic isn’t just some hobby that makes me happy, it keeps me sane, and I believe it can help others, too. My friend also agrees, yet one should never thrive on magic alone…

Whether someone who is mentally ill should practice magic is a highly personal choice. In my limited experience of working with schizophrenics, the mental illness makes it harder for the practitioner to tell what is objectively real and what is in their head. However other practices like meditation can actually be very helpful. I was able to work with one schizophrenic and develop his meditation practice to the point where he could control whether he was hallucinating.Drew Jacob, altmagic.com

There is more than one way to create peace of mind, sometimes one has to apply many different ways to get at least some semblance of peace. As I look into the many ways of magic, I turn to Witchcraft’s The Eight Paths of Power, with number one being MEDITATION. Meditation is often confused for mere intent or concentration, but really it is all about disciplining the mind and conditioning it to better regulate one’s thoughts and emotions. I’ve always thought it a tad incomplete to just term meditation as forming the will to power. Meditation is needed to become not just a good magician, but a healthy person, because it is the method to reach into one’s center of being to create calm, practice silence, become more mindful of one’s behavior and speech, and condition the self to act more out of this center of calm. The calm that is created aids the Witch (or patient, or anyone!) to have more control over the mind and body, to recognize unhealthy behavior and change it to more constructive modes of behavior — it is not just some superficial form of “asking the universe for something until you get what you want because you wished really hard for it”, it requires deeper understanding and years of commitment.

There are no immediate results with meditation. It’s not really even mind control in the cult sense of that term either, because you can still react with emotion, you are not programming yourself to become a robot, meditation just helps to better filter the overwhelming aspects of emotions that can keep us in prolonged states of suffering. Emotions and thoughts are slowed down so you can better deal with them and experience a better quality of life. In magic, meditation helps us to develop a process where we can better direct the power of our previously out-of-control emotional and thinking patterns towards a goal we don’t just want to achieve, but one we can achieve no matter the obstacles. The steps we take to make a spell work, supported by symbols and physical cues (like scented oils and incense for instance), helps to kick-start and maintain this process.  Chanting and ritual further increase the power that meditation starts.  It is the basis for all magic, and healing the mentally ill who need extra help coping with dysfunctional mood and thought regulation.

I will address, in future, each Path of Power as defined by Witchcraft, using it as a guide to suggest and share ways I have used to help me cope with my own struggles. I might add a few more ways I’ve discovered and improvised, too.  Please share with me any ideas and suggestions of your own. Consider this a work in progress. I hope it will help inspire you to write about ways you have utilized magic to heal your own heart and mind.

Magic just might be the right therapy to support sanity, but you don’t have to be crazy to reap its benefits!

Where Witches Came From

“Have Witches always been evil throughout history?” The innocent and curious may ask. “If so,” the ones who misunderstand say, “why call yourself a Witch since it is synonymous with an evildoer?” Some modern Witches suggest the witch as evildoer is a myth, that the term was never meant to be used to describe someone who performs malevolent magic. “Yet where is that proof?” Some friends have asked me, and no answer I’ve given them has sufficed. One well-meaning friend suggested that, instead of using the term ‘witch’ to describe my spiritual path, I should use a different word that has a better association; “Why not call yourself Wizard, Herbalist, or Magician, or just Wiccan?” Another solution suggested to me and other Witches has been that we should claim that we are solely seeking to re-define the term ‘witch’ as benevolent spiritualist, someone akin to a hippie who practices peace, love, and harmony. Or why not claim that modern-day Witchcraft is a re-creation of an Old Religion, not a true relic of the ancient pagan past, but one inspired by it, one that is really a New Age spiritual movement, not a true religion. Who is to say what is a true religion? What basis are we comparing real religion on? Not all religions are defined by one type of belief in a Divine Being. We have to look beyond our own bias, divorce ourselves for a moment from thinking within the confines of our own culture, and open our minds to new concepts we dared not consider before because it just simply was not pointed out to us in a direct fashion.

The answers to the questions above are not easy to come up with on-the-spot.  Even I, after two decades of practice, have to consult books and cite references.  I should know, by heart, answers to the questions most asked by non-Witches.  I sometimes assume people will just Google them these days, but after checking on the internet myself, and even consulting books I have long turned to, I realized that the answers are not always clearly listed.  It reminded me of the days when I was first taught Witchcraft, how my teachers encouraged me to think for myself, leaving me alone to do research to answer my own questions.  But not everyone is willing to do all that research themselves, they ask and, since I am the Witch, I should be the spokesperson, the only expert they will ever come across whom they can personally interview. Even though I am a Solitary Witch, one who prefers to be alone, I still make it well-known I am a Witch, and this means dealing with the public. In an effort to educate, share, and put to rest concerns and debates, it is my intention to present a list of answers to each question and, where applicable, cite historic, documented sources. Here we go!

Witches weren’t evil, they were just the enemy

* The English word “Witch” evolved from the Saxon word wicca which was a masculine noun pronounced “witch’-ah”, not “wick’-ah” with the feminine form being wicce, properly pronounced “witch’-eh”, wiccan being the male plural noun (not an adjective) and the feminine plural form wiccen (pronounced “witch-en”)– referenced from the Witchvox article A Witch By Any Other Name (The Great Wicca vs. Witchcraft Debate) by author Mike Nichols.

* First evidence of the sin of Witchcraft documented in Latin penitentials (set of rules regarding penance first developed by Celtic priests) by Theodore of Tarsus, stated: “If a woman has performed incantations or diabolical divinations, let her do penance for one year. About which it says in the canon: Those who observe auguries or auspices or dreams or any kind of divinations according to the customs of the heathens, or introduce men of this kind into their homes in investigating a device of the magicians – if these repent, if they are of the clergy let them be cast out, but if they are truly secular people let them do penance for five years.” This provides just one example that Witchcraft was primarily concentrated on the magical practices of women and not yet a sin punishable by death. Source: Meaney, Audrey (1989). “Women, Witchcraft and Magic in Anglo-Saxon England”. Superstition and Popular Medicine in Anglo-Saxon England (ed: D.G. Scragg) (Manchester: Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies): 9–40.

* First documented use of the word ‘wicce-cræeft (witchcraft) and ‘wicce’ (witch) was used to describe the malevolent magical practices of people, specifically women, who were not Christian, appeared in the Law Codes of King Alfred the Great, circa 890 C.E. These people were most likely the last priestesses and/or magicians left of the polytheistic Anglo-Saxon pagans and various ancient British cultures who were still resistant towards monotheistic Anglo-Saxon Christianity. King Alfred was zealous in his mission to convert all subjects under his rule to Christianity. So zealous, that in his Laws, he adapted the “Do not allow sorcerers to live” from the Book of Exodus to “Do not allow the women who are accustomed to receive enchanters, magicians and witches to live.” This Biblical law would not be translated to “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” until the reign of King James I centuries later.

* After the 9th century, the masculine noun ‘wicca’ was later dropped and the feminine noun ‘wicce’ soon evolved into the English word Witch used to describe any woman who practiced magic, malevolent or not. Based on the information listed here, it is no surprise that Witches were considered evil since they were the enemy of the Anglo-Saxon Christians. Any kind of spiritual and magical practices were suspicious. Women were especially suspect because they were connected to sexuality and the church preached that the world of the flesh was the domain of the Devil. Young, beautiful women were the most dangerous. It wasn’t until after the Black Death that widows, the elderly, ugly, and diseased women were most suspect of Witchcraft.

Witches are synonymous with Power, not evildoing

* According to Éva Pócs, there are three varieties of Witchcraft in popular belief:
The “neighbourhood witch” or “social witch”: a witch who curses a neighbour following some conflict.
The “magical” or “sorcerer” witch: either a professional healer, sorcerer, seer or midwife, or a person who has through magic increased her fortune to the perceived detriment of a neighbouring household; due to neighbourly or community rivalries and the ambiguity between positive and negative magic, such individuals can become labelled as witches.
The “supernatural” or “night” witch: portrayed in court narratives as a demon appearing in visions and dreams.

*  There are four general categories for accusations of witchcraft:
— Getting caught in the act of positive or negative sorcery.

—  A sorcerer or healer lost their clients’ or the authorities’ trust.

—  Someone gained the enmity of their neighbors.

—  The person was reputed to be a witch because their presence is imbued with a sense of “magic” or other-worldliness that cannot be explained.

*  In 1487 the publication of The Malleus Maleficarum, “The Hammer of the Witches” or “Hexenhammer” by the Dominicans Kramer and Sprenger, was used as the primary instruction manual for magistrates on how to detect and exterminate Witches — 80 % percent of whom were women. Why women? Because women, despite being believed to be the weaker sex and treated as second class citizens in the Middle Ages, still had power

“If we inquire, we find that all the kingdoms
of the world have been overthrown by women.”
–quoted directly from the Malleus Malificarum itself!

* From the earliest societies and on through the ages, women tended to the physical and spiritual needs of people in the private spheres of family life. At one time this must have extended to a very vital role in tribal societies. Yet in a culture dominated by a religion where God was male, powerful women were a threat and had to be devalued. Women’s work became the Devil’s work, especially if it was carried out in secret. Even the most innocent of acts could warrant an accusation of Witchcraft; favoring a pet cat, sweeping and cleaning, making a doll, braiding hair, being too beautiful or too ugly, and just simply being “uppity” could get you burnt at the stake.

The Proof is hidden in the lies

The memories from the Burning Times and centuries of bad propaganda have given the term “Witch” a very bad name. Yet it did not end with the persecution of wise women, it was used as a means to enslave and demonize tribal cultures as European imperialism grew.

* Moving beyond the Witch Trials of the Medieval times, during the 17th through 19th centuries, charges of Witchcraft practiced by natives were to justify the enslavement and usurption of African, American Indian, and Latin American cultures. It was believed these people lived in fear of their spirits and Gods, and that Christianity was the only way to save them, or they would be destroyed.

* In order to keep their spiritual ways alive under the rule of their white Christian masters, Afro-American people adapted to the ways of Catholicism and intermixed with them their tribal spiritual practices and beliefs, thus creating new religions. Maligned and very misunderstood, Maccumba, Santería, Lukumi, and Voudoun (along with MANY other Afro-American magico-religious traditions) are all religions hurt by the evil myth of Witchcraft created by European Christians to belittle and bedevil their beliefs. So much so that even today it is a grave insult, and a laughable mistake, to associate their ways with even the harmless neo-pagan version of Witchcraft today.

* The possibility of a conquered people revived and empowered by religions considered the stuff of “witchcraft” by Christians, was a bit of history repeating. Like the Anglo-Saxons who feared their pagan spiritual enemies, and the threatening idea of women powered by supernatural forces conspiring against the church, the mysterious ways of a people guided by unknown spirits was yet another blow to the insecurities of an arrogant and dominant culture fueled by the negative reinforcement of belief in a Devil.

To acknowledge that a supposedly primitive, weaker culture had the power of Witchcraft, was to admit that they had a power that could not be completely controlled by the nation that claimed to conquer it. To claim that the native religions were not true religions because they were considered inferior, primal, or simple compared to the much more organized and civilized Christian traditions, was an arrogant attempt to claim superiority over religions that cannot be “tamed” or easily labeled. If one cannot contain it in a box, it is wild and unpredictable, easily considered dark and dangerous. Whether or not native traditions practiced violent or non-violent rituals in service to their Gods and spirits, fear of the power of “witch doctors” and other tribal spiritual leaders led to Christian missionaries converting innocents. In exchange for leaving their tribes for the promise of a better life as a Christian, sometimes led to life-threatening situations for new converts, completely playing into the Evil Witch Myth needed to scare people into staying in a different religion. It doesn’t matter if it is considered “evil”, power is power, and people, no matter what the religious background, are frightened and awestruck by it.

Therefore I claim that Witchcraft, mythic, historic, perceived diabolical or holy, is synonymous with POWER, both psychological and supernatural, unbound by time, geography, and cultural definitions.

Any other name would not mean the same


* Being a Wizard is not the same as being a Witch. Wizards are a different kind of magician altogether, often considered a higher class venerated as thaumaturgists (miracle workers) who were the world’s first chemists, philosophers, mathematicians, and astrologers. One of the most well-known wizards in history was John Dee, devoted advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.  All wizards were men protected by the aristocracy — they really weren’t all that different from the women, yet women’s magic was considered diabolical, typical misogynistic bias of the day.

* Herbalists are people dedicated to the study of the economic and medicinal uses of plants. They are not magicians or witches by any means, however many Witches today often use herbs for both their medicinal and magical properties. Key components for charms are roots and herbs. Most of today’s Witchcraft is based on the teachings of folk or Hedge Witchcraft, a contemporary tradition inspired by the “low magic” ways of peasants and slaves. Low Magic is the opposite of the “high-class” science-oriented magic of wizards mentioned above, centered on the simple ways of hearth and home — the magic of the common people.

* The term Magician can refer to anyone who practices magic. Yet magicians are a different breed of practitioner than the Witch. The magician uses an outward projection of the human will and mastery over the spirits of nature. The magician’s use of magic is more scientific, formulated, and quite technical in execution. The magical practice of Witchcraft is an art. The Witch uses a more inward approach, letting her own body be a conduit for the spiritual forces of nature and the Gods to work through her. Witches’ magic is more homemade and personable, concentrating more on the poetry of ritual and trance.

*  Wiccan is the same as Witch, Wicca is the same as Witchcraft, even though today it is contested by those who wish to separate themselves from the magical practice and just strictly be spiritual and vice versa.  This movement from the magico-religious to merely religious, I suspect, stems from the need to accepted by society and to be better tolerated by other faiths.  This is a backwards step in interfaith networking.  Even Witches can get their own terminology mixed up with the best of intentions!  I once questioned it myself until I did some research over the last five years and came back to the conclusion that I felt was right all along; call me what you like, believe what you will, but the correct name of my religion is Witchcraft OR Wicca (I prefer Witchcraft because it sounds like home to me, has never freaked me out, and I wish more people would recognize the joy I find in it).

Who is to say that one way is better than the other? Or that our ways don’t ever overlap? We call ourselves by different titles for a reason, to distinguish one from the other, and to sometimes reclaim a power that was stolen or lost.

Religion is the soul of the People

Religion should not just be defined as the way people relate to the Divine, nor should it be limited to just the set of rules established to hold in check the behavior and thoughts of a culture. Religion involves community and public duty, reverence and respect for our fellow human beings in the name of our Gods, and the daily communion with our Gods as a means of practicing harmony between the worlds of spirit and earth. Not all religions require a belief in the Divine, but all include a tradition of seeking enlightenment and maintaining inter-connection with the source of all life.

Witchcraft is another type of religion that helps people fill in what is missing in their lives that they could not find in more traditional, mainstream religions. They want to reconnect to an ancient past, find a new way to relate to the Gods, share their unique personal experiences pertaining to the spirit world, and connect with free-thinkers of a like mind and soul.

Witches are not hippies, but many of us have learned from them. Nor are we a sub-branch of New Age spiritualism. We are not a passing fad or trend, yet groups of teens will always be fascinated with becoming the fantasy kind of Witch or the Goth type that drearily stares out at us from many illustrations today. The real witches, like me, owe it to these young people, and to the ones who just don’t get it to give some clear answers that will break the cycle of misconception.

The title ‘Witch’ is justly earned by those who have achieved it through initiation, experience, and study. To use this word — Witch — is take back the power stolen from innocent people whose souls were crushed by tyrannical religions and governments. The ancient European pagans were supposed to be wiped from memory. Conquered indigenous people were supposed to be removed from history. Witches were supposed to be the perfect supernatural scapegoat for all humans to blame every misfortune on. In every pocket of the world over the Witch is still referred to as evil, even though there is plenty of common sense to prove there is no need to believe in such a thing, yet why do we like to cling to our demons? There are still places in the world where it is dangerous to be a Witch, yet here we are, reclaiming the word as a means to take back power, redefining the word to be empowered, and reviving it as the word as a jab against ignorance and complacency.  This is my free-form poem definition of Witchcraft:

A religion for free thinkers, misfits, rebels, feminists, freedom fighters, misunderstood heroes, and other pius oddballs who, despite ridicule, end up making a difference in the world NOT by using their ridiculous talents and mysterious skills and tenacious willpower, with the cooperation of many invisible friends (spirits) and Gods everyone else likes to believe are fiction, but because they still wield extraordinarily frightening influence over the minds and hearts of people everywhere by merely mentioning that they are a WITCH !

So, where did Witches come from? They were conceived by the fearful imagination of those who don’t want us to think for ourselves. They were born out of the minds of people who are scared of us stepping out of line. Witches are the nightmares of dictators. And no matter how many times they seek to destroy us, we are beyond all control.

What shall I write about next?  Did I answer all the questions I listed at the beginning of this article?  It is now 6:20am, I have been writing all night, so focused on my task, I can barely hold my head up and I feel like I have repeated myself several times.  I want to do some more myth-breaking-writing.  Something about where all the cartoon witch symbolism stemmed from, yet that will have to wait until next week!