Thursday, December 27, 2012


I admit, I had to look up words that start with Z to come up with my topic. Zymurgy is the branch of chemistry that deals with fermentation. You might wonder why I chose zymurgy as my topic.
Before the rise of Christianity, many of the things we take for granted today were seen as magical. Most people just drive to the grocery store and pick up some beer or wine and don't give the wonderful process of fermentation a second thought. Through fermentation starches are transformed into alcohol. What could be more magical than the transformation of one substance into another? The process of fermentation, and those who knew how to create with it, were seen as magical.
This is the thought I leave with you. As we move into the New Year, maybe we should add "Finding the magic in the everyday" to our list of resolutions and try to look at the world with the eyes of our ancestors.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

End of the Semester

I started going back to school this fall to get a nursing degree. I just took my last test last night and am finally able to relax. Final grades have been posted for two of my classes and I managed to pull an A in a class I thought I was going to have a B in. Now I anticipate getting four A's and only one B for the semester.
In related news, I found out I got in to the nursing program at my college! I am attending the program orientation later today.
I only have one major project in mind for the winter break. Build a chicken coop from pallets. I want to get chickens in the spring, but city ordinance says the coop must be inspected and who knows how long that will take. Expect a post later about it.
That's it for now. Have a Blessed Yule!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Healthy Food Cheap

Fall semester is almost over with. I only have this last week of finals left. Wrapping up my Introduction to Sociology class, I was asked to write a paper about poverty. I learned a lot while writing that paper. Did you know that an individual that is considered impoverished is expected to feed themselves for only ten dollars a day? There are a lot of people that spend more than that on a single meal. For my paper I kept track of the cost of my food and I was surprised by my results. Here is an excerpt from my paper.

"I have attempted to learn more about the link between poverty and food. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty threshold for a single person was $11,702; the amount for my family, two adults and one child, $18,106 (Poverty Thresholds for 2011 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years). This means that if I were living by myself I would be expected to spend about ten dollars a day on food, and the amount allotted for my whole family is about sixteen dollars and fifty cents.
Because my family lives near the poverty threshold, we eat cheaply whenever we can by buying local whole food. It is much cheaper and healthier than purchasing processed food. For the purpose of this assignment I kept track of what I personally ate for one day.
I belong to Rochester Roots, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I pay twenty-one dollars a week for fresh farm produce grown locally. Some of it comes from the small garden right across the street from my house. Last week I received parsnips, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, butternut squash, apples, beets, Swiss chard and celery root.
For breakfast I had a large filling breakfast. I used two potatoes from last week’s CSA, an onion from the week before, and two eggs from Wegman’s. Eighteen eggs from Wegman’s cost $2.68. I diced and boiled the potatoes, then fried them in a skillet with Rooster Sauce. I added diced onions, and when they were done cooking, I scrambled the eggs. I estimate this breakfast cost me less than fifty cents.
I also had a cup of healthy coffee from Organo Gold. Because I have just started an Organo Gold business, I got my latte wholesale for eighty-seven cents. After shipping costs, it probably works out to about one dollar.
For lunch I had a delicious venison stew. I went hunting this year and shot the deer myself. It cost sixty dollars to butcher it and I got back forty pounds of meat, so it cost a dollar fifty per pound. We used about two pounds of venison in the stew. We also used Swiss chard, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onion, celery root, beets, and broccoli. We put about half the vegetables we got from the CSA last week in the stew. We also added some herbs from our garden last year. We estimate that we made about three gallons of soup for about fifteen dollars. Since I ate two cups, my lunch cost about seventy-five cents.
A few days ago, we made butternut squash apple soup. We used four butternut squash and a dozen apples from the CSA, some chopped ginger, and two quarts of organic chicken stock. The chicken stock costs two quarts for five dollars from Wegman’s. The result was approximately a gallon of soup for less than ten dollars. My leftovers cost about a dollar fifty.
That was a whole day’s worth of food for less than five dollars! Because we made large batches, I can continue to eat like this for the rest of the week. You will notice that the only processed foods that were consumed were the coffee and the stock. Those items also had the highest cost.
Since we eat like this most of the time, it was pretty easy for me to stay within the budget. The most exciting thing about this project was finding out how cheaply we were able to feed our family. A lot of people eat heavily processed food which has a higher cost and less nutrition. Our food was cheap and nutritious. Eating locally grown, whole foods is better for the environment, your health, and your wallet."
"Works Cited:

“Poverty Thresholds for 2011 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years”. United States’ Census Bureau. 8 December 2012. <>"

The moral of this story? Support your local farmers. Go to farmers' markets, find local CSAs, grow a garden. The food you find will be cheaper and healthier.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Raised Garden Beds

Last week I decided to take on the project of creating a raised bed for my garden before the fall semester started. I have never made or worked with a raised bed, so this is an experiment of sorts.

I began by searching Craigslist. You can usually find listings for free shipping pallets wherever you are. Businesses receive goods on them all the time and then have to figure out how to get rid of them. They can be a good source of free wood for any home project. I found a listing that said wooden shipping pallets were being given away to anyone who could come get them. I cleaned out the car and drove to the location in Fairport (a twenty minute drive from my house). There was a small mix up with directions, but I was able to find free pallets. I loaded up as many as I could carry and returned home.

Once I got the pallets unloaded, I looked up instructions online. These were the instructions I followed. I spent most of my time taking the pallet apart and removing all the nails. I was able to construct four walls and attach them together to form a box using only a tape measure, skill saw, hammer and nails. My daughter helped.
Avalon really enjoyed our first project together

After I finished the box, I weeded the area it would occupy. Then I dug a small trench to set the walls into. The final step was to fill it. The finished raised bed was approximately 4x4x1ft for a total of 16 cubic feet that I needed to fill. I was able to fill most of it from our compost pile, but I did need to borrow some from a friend to top it off. This is what it looked like when I was done:
My first raised bed

The following day (Aug 29) I planted spinach, carrots, beets and parsnips. They are cool weather crops and should do well in the fall and hopefully be harvested before winter sets in.

Update: As of Sept 3, we have our first sprout, a parsnip!

Back to School

Today is the first day of school!

I have decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Nurses are in high demand, make good wages, typically get benefits, and I can move out to the country and still be able to get a job. I'm not in the nursing program yet, but I do anticipate that I will be able to get into the program this spring.

To that end, I am taking five classes this semester. I am taking a math, yoga, introduction to sociology, introduction to psychology, and an English class on mythology. I am especially excited about taking the mythology class. It is a higher level class than I was required to take, but I had to take it. I hope it will give me a broader pagan worldview than I already possess.

I am taking the sociology and mythology classes online, which will hopefully encourage me to post on my blog more regularly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Direction

You may not know it, but I've actually been unemployed for quite some time. Dental hygiene does not have a good job market so I've been staying home with my daughter. My wife works and has become the breadwinner while I have been raising and taking care of the baby and running a household. You would think not working a job would give me more downtime. Any stay at home parent can tell you that raising a child and running a household doesn't really have a lot of down time. But it is giving me some time to think about where my life is going and where I want it to go.

My daughter and I at the zoo
I have recently enrolled at a local community college and I'm going back to school to get a degree in nursing. Being a licensed nurse would give me a better salary, better job market and benefits. But we're also looking into moving out of the city. We live inside the city limits and it's not a great neighborhood. My wife's son was held up by a 12 year old with a gun a couple of weeks ago just down the street from us. It turns out it was just a bb gun replica, but it looks just like the real thing when all you can see is the handle sticking out of someone's pants. It's not a great neighborhood and we don't wanna raise our daughter here in the city (her son lives with his dad in the country).

We have joined a couple of sustainability and homesteading groups on Facebook. We are interested in moving into a communal homestead. We have actually found one that sounds great to me. I'ts all the way at the tip top of Maine. They grow their own food and raise livestock. It sounds awesome, but the only problem is that Heather is a chiropractor. Getting a chiropractors license in Maine is a major pain in the ass. Otherwise the place is perfect. It's even run by pagans which means we don't have to worry about having religious conflicts with our neighbors.

Over the next couple of years I'm going to be in school (I start next month). Who knows, maybe we'll find a nice community to move to and get out of the city before I finish my degree. In any case things will get real interesting from here. I will continue to find time to do some blogs, hopefully more often than I've been doing lately. It's very difficult to get a blog written when you have a 10 month old trying to bang on the keyboard while you are writing. Until next time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mojo Bags

For this week's Pagan Blog Project post, I have decided to write about a project I have undertaken recently. Actually there are two separate projects. I am creating a couple of mojo bags for some people I know.

In this context I am using "mojo bag" to refer to a generic spell bag. I don't practice hoodoo, nor do I know much about their spell work. For these two people I am creating individualized spell bags customized to the person I am making it for. As in any other magick, spell bags are more potent if you create a new "recipe" for each one. 

We'll call the first person "A". A was recently diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neurological disease. In addition to other work she is doing for herself, and other healing services offered by yours truly, I recommended the creation of a spell bag to reinforce the healing effects between visits. I journeyed to ask the spirits what was needed for the creation of a spell bag for A. 

This is what I was told I needed:
        -green pouch to place other components in
        -a walnut
        -bone from A's spirit animal
        -wood cut from a living birch tree freely given for this purpose
        -an item supplied by A

The green of course, symbolizes healing. Mint is good for the nerves. The meat of the walnut looks like the brain, so the walnut represents the nervous system. The spirit animal in question has appeared in all of A's healing sessions. It is a powerful ally in her healing process and including it's bone will add much power to the working. I have the first four items already, but not the last two. Birch is not that common in my area and I haven't had a knife with me to cut off a small branch the few times I have seen one. Also the wood must be freely given by the tree. After I have the wood, I will use my wood burner to inscribe it with the birch rune.

The last item will be the trickiest. A has to supply this item herself. Part of the reason I haven't made the bag yet is because she hasn't provided it. This is one of the most important lessons of magick and healing: You have to be involved or it won't work. Magick is not a cosmic ATM, it takes work. That's why she has to provide one of the items for the bag.

Once I have all the items needed, I will have a ceremony to create the bag. A will need to be present at the bag's creation. During the ritual, I will prick A's finger in order to blood the rune. This serves two purposes. First, blooding a rune gives it power, and secondly, it binds the rune and the bag to A. Once the bag is complete, A will need to carry it on her person and not allow others to touch it. 

The second bag I am creating is much less complicated. My friend "B" has a very stressful work environment. For B, I am creating a bag that contains:
       -an iron nail
       -lavender oil

These will be placed in a blue bag because I find blue to be soothing. The hematite and iron nail both attract and ground negative energy. Sage is used to clear energy. Lavender oil is very relaxing. Also, these four things represent the four elements (with the iron nail for fire).

Thursday, May 31, 2012


This last weekend we went larping. I was very excited because we brought our daughter along for her first larp! For those of you who don't know, LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. People go to a location that is rented for the event, usually held over a weekend, dress up in costume, and act out the characters they have created. The larp I went to over the weekend, Finger Lakes Adventure Gaming (FLAG), is a fantasy setting where players dressed in armor and carrying foam weapons battle mythical monsters.

Yes, that's real chain mail and it's heavy

I just started larping last year. Counting this past weekend, I have only larped at four events, so I consider myself a newbie. What was different about this event for me was that it was the first time I have played an NPC. An NPC is a non player character. They are created by the gamemasters to interact with the player characters to move the story along. Being new to this larp, I decided to only play an NPC and was assigned various monsters to portray. There weren't opportunities to role-play, but there was quite a bit of fighting.

Avalon's First Boffer Weapon

I got to see larp behind the scenes, as the gamemasters tested out a new system of rules. That was pretty cool. We dressed up as different monsters. I also got to play with the face paint, which fascinated Avalon. For me, the most difficult thing about being an NPC was having to memorize a new set of stats for every different monster I played. There was one module that I played three different monsters, each with different special abilities.

Overall, I had a blast. It was a lot of fun, and I hope I helped those who paid to be at the event to have a fun and exciting time. Avalon really enjoyed herself too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Journey: Part 2

This part is late because I was house sitting over the weekend. Last week I wrote about the reasons to do a journey and some general tips. Today I will write about how to journey.

Before doing any journey work, you should have a goal or question in mind. During the process of entering the spirit world, you should keep this at the forefront of your mind. If this is your first journey, your goal should be to meet a spirit guide. This guide can come in any form, so try to not hold any preconceived ideas about what form your guide should take. I have helping spirits that appear as animals, plants, and human forms. You can learn a lot about your guide and yourself by what form it takes.

The reason you search for a guide first, is because your guide will help you with all other journeys. The guide knows all the paths of the spirit world and the locations of other spirits you want to meet. If you want to talk to a specific god or goddess, your guide can take you there. If you need help with a problem, your guide knows the best spirit or spirits to help you.

Once you have a goal, the next thing you need is a way to exit your body and enter the spirit world. Creating a ritual is a great way to approach this if you have no prior experience with the journey process. Set it up as you would any other ritual. Take a ritual bath, wear special clothing, clear the space and call a circle. These things tell your mind that you are about to do something special. After you have experience journeying, going through the whole ritual won't be necessary, but it will still make it easier.

There are many different methods of detaching your mind from your body. Some physically push your body to extremes. Examples of these are dancing (very energetic tribal), fasting, pain, sleep deprivation, and anything that would cause exhaustion. Others affect your mind more directly. These include entheogens, meditation, drumming, rattling, binaural beats, chanting, and other forms of brain entrainment. You should use the method that is most appropriate for you. Entheogens are commonly classified as hallucinogens and are illegal in many countries. If you are not physically capable of handling the rigors of the more physical methods, you should try less stressful means. The most commonly used method is the steady beat found in shamanic drumming. There are many good CD's out there. Sandra Ingerman's book "Awakening to the Spirit World" comes with one that I use frequently.

So you have your goal in mind, you started the journey ritual, called the circle, and put on your drumming music. Now what? This is the tricky part. Sometimes you have to help things along. You can start with a guided meditation.

Picture yourself entering a cave. The cave extends deep underground, yet there is enough light for you to make your way down into the earth. the cool moist air envelopes you as you do deeper into the cave. You hear the sound of running water and soon come to an underground river. A small boat is tied to the bank. You step into it and it floats out into the river and the current carries it downstream. The gentle rocking of the boat calms you, and you release all your cares and worries, focused only on the task at hand. Soon, the river carries you out of the cave. At this point, let the images come to you instead of creating them yourself. What kind of landscape are you in? Do you hear anything? If you feel drawn to do so, land your boat and walk around.

That was the guided imagery used when I first journeyed. Feel free to personalize it. Anything involving going into the ground to come out in a new land will get you to the Underworld. Climbing down the roots of a tree, going through a cave or other hole in the ground, descending a stairway, etc will all work. If you feel you should search in the Upperworld, choose ways that take you up. Climb into the branches of the world tree, take a balloon, ride a broomstick, or just fly up into the clouds to the lands beyond.

Once you are in the spirit world, speak your intention. Someone or something should come to you. Ask if it is your guide. If it is your guide, get to know it. Ask questions, talk, build a relationship. This being is going to be by your side for a long time.

If at first you don't succeed, don't worry. Try again later. I was once told that all someone else can do is show you the door. They can't help you step through it. I've found this to be true. There was a man who joined the journey circle I attended. He had read about shamanism in his spiritual searching and was very enthusiastic. But for the last couple of months that I was there before I moved, he was unable to leave his body and mind to travel the other worlds.

I think I covered the basics. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Friday, May 18, 2012

1000th page view

I'd like to thank everyone who reads my blog for helping me get my 1000th page view today!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Journey: Part 1

When I started this project I had every intention of posting every week. That hasn't happened. But I was not going to let J week pass me by. For me J is for journey and it's so important that I am doing two posts about it.

As a shaman, journeying is at the core of what I do. What is a "journey"? A journey is a type of out of body experience. The shaman leaves his/her body and journeys to the spirit realm. While there, he/she meets and communicates with various spirits. The reasons for journeying are as varied as the reasons for magick. Journeys can be done for divination, healing, blessing, learning, etc. I've even done journeys to receive spells direct from the spirits I partner with.

A disclaimer. Journeying, like magick, can be dangerous. It is recommended that you are trained by someone who knows what they are doing before trying it on your own. I was once in a journey circle with a girl who almost didn't come back. Not that I ever had what you would call formal training. If you haven't noticed, there is a distinct lack of traditional shamans of European descent. Something about most of them being killed by Christians. I did have someone help me with my very first journey, but most of it after that was self taught from books and direct from the spirits themselves. Luckily, I managed to not screw anything up. I always come back and I don't leave pieces of myself scattered from here to the Underworld.

Second big piece of advice. And this one isn't optional. BE POLITE. You ever read fairy tales? Magickal beings get down right hostile when people are rude to them. If you are polite and show them common courtesy they will at the very least not attempt to smite you. They may even help you. Rudeness always results in cursing. During a journey, you are in their world. Which is not to say that you have no power there. Far from it. But until you learn enough to take the training wheels off you probably won't be able to stop them if they decide to have their way with you. Remember, they've been spirits for centuries longer than you've been human.

Don't worry. The bad news is also the good news. Every single person has spirits who take an interest in their well being. Guardian angels, totems, guides, what ever you want to call them, they're just waiting on the other side to help you along. As long as you don't grievously insult them in some way and manage to piss them off, they will make it their job to try to keep you out of trouble. They won't do everything for you and they can't stop you from being an idiot, but they'll do their best.

Spirits are the allies of the shaman. It is from them that the shaman receives the bulk of his or her training. Some are generalists, others specialize. There is a spirit that I only ever see in divinatory journeys. Over the years, shamans build up a network of spiritual allies. They are his/her greatest strength. They guide the shaman on his/her journeys, ensuring the shaman does not become lost in the shifting realities of the spirit world. They help with healing, give advice, and if it ever comes to a fight with another spirit, they have your back.

Unlike the physical world, the spirit world is a subjective reality. If you take ten people and show them a big oak tree, they will all agree that they see a big tree. Some of them might even know it is an oak. But, send ten people on a journey to the Underworld, and they will come back with ten different descriptions on what it looks like and what they found there.

Once, the shaman leading the journey circle I was in had us divide into pairs and journey for our partner. The person that journeyed for the shaman returned shaken. She said she had gone to a place that was pitch black. The shaman encouraged her, "Yes, that is the place that I go when I journey." Then she said she was approached by something that looked like a glowing triangle. The shaman said it was one of the spirits that she often worked with. "What did he say?" asked the shaman. The woman was almost afraid to answer, but finally said, "He said you have to die." "Don't worry", the shaman laughed. "They tell me that all the time."

Which brings me to another good point. Things are not always what they seem. The woman from the journey circle thought the spirit meant the shaman was going to have a literal physical death. The shaman explained that the spirit was actually talking about a type of spiritual death and rebirth. It is a very positive experience. It cleanses away negative energies and often accompanies initiatory journeys. I myself have experienced several of these "deaths".

Lastly, you are the best person to interpret your own journeys. Your consciousness filters the spirit world into something you can more easily understand, assigning symbols to meanings. The message is customized to the journeyer. Your symbols are different from mine.

That's all for this week. Until next time.

Friday, April 20, 2012


It has been several weeks since I last posted on the Pagan Blog Project. It's been a crazy month. I lost my job, traveled across the country to visit in-laws, and spent time playing with my baby girl who is finally starting to crawl. But you didn't come to my blog to read about how hectic things are. You came here to read about Hexes.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"A hex is a magical spell, usually with malevolent purposes such as a curse. The term is derived from the German word Hexe for a witch."

In the context of the post, hex refers to a curse. Traditionally, hexes could result in a range of afflictions including: illness, disease, deformity, loss of fertility (the victim's or the victim's land), or even death. The effects of the hex are limited only by the imagination of the one performing the hex. The reasons for hexing someone vary as well, usually to avenge a personal wrong. 

The methods of placing a hex also vary dramatically. The bards of Celtic culture were able to hex using only the power of their words. The evil eye, a type of hex, can be cast merely through envy. In the case of ritual hexing, something personal of the victim's is used, preferably something coming from his or her own body. It is for this reason that people in cultures where various forms of magic are still widely practiced, take pains to prevent any of these things from being taken by their enemies. In some indigenous tribes, they go into the forest alone to cut their hair and trim their nails and bury the trimmings afterward.

I am not going to give any specific spells or rituals. You won't see them on any of my other posts either. I believe spell work is strongest when it is your own. The energy you put into designing your own spells and rituals empowers them. If you want to find a hex to copy, just search for a love spell. There are plenty of them online and in books, and they are basically hexes designed to subvert the free will of another.

Now we move into the murky world of ethics. Is cursing bad? Should it be avoided? Some say that all negativity should be avoided, especially in spell work. Hexes, being inherently negative are therefore universally banned. A fine example of this is the Wiccan Rede, which states: "An ye harm none, do what ye will." Others are more grey, believing that there is a time and place for everything, even hexes. Still others embrace the darkness and freely hex anyone who gets in their way, and even take money to hex the enemies of others.

Personally I see too much grey in the world to say that hexes should never be cast. I think there may be times when it is even appropriate. As the Buddhists say, life is pain. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Death and other "negative" things are a necessary part of the delicate balance that allows life in the first place. I have developed a rule of thumb that I use to determine if hexing is called for. If I am not willing to physically harm  the person, I should not hex them either. I've never been one to get into fights, so that is a hard line for me to cross. So far I've never hexed anyone. 

When I was first learning magick, I got a letter from an acquaintance of my mother's, threatening me physical harm if I did not stop defying my parents. He said he was going to come to my work place and "kick my ass". The letter was handwritten. Idiot. I really struggled over whether or not to hex him. Having his hand writing was precisely what I needed to make a ritual hex work. In the end, I simply threatened to call the cops if I ever saw him again. I also informed my employer about the threat, just in case he did show up. I still have his letter. A reminder of why I left, and something to show my daughter when she asks why she doesn't have a grandmother like other kids.

As a strange coincidence, (which I don't believe in, by the way) a friend of mine received a phone call today. It was from the Department of Social Services. They called because his daughter, who lives with her mother,  showed up to school today with bruises indicating that she was physically abused by her mother. Now, for the second time in my life I am seriously considering hexing. Right now, I'm not sure what I will do. A lot of it depends on what my friend plans to do about it. Since I am not personally involved, I won't do anything without his permission.

Ultimately, to hex or not to hex is a personal decision. One whose consequences you will have to live with.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fertility and Sex Magick

WARNING: this post contains descriptions of sex and sex magick. It also contains pictures. If you are not legally old enough in your country or find such things offensive, please check out my other posts. By continuing to read you acknowledge that you are old enough to legally view this post.

For today's post I am writing about a ritual that Heather and I did last full moon.

Every year we plant a garden in our yard. It's not very large, maybe 500 square feet. In it we plant a variety of vegetables and kitchen herbs. This year we decided to use sex magick in our seed blessing ritual. I was exited about this because I had never used sex magick before.

We began by setting up the altar. The main thing was putting all the seeds we had just purchased on the altar. We chose a time when the baby was napping so that she wouldn't interrupt the ritual.

We called the corners and the god and goddess. We work with Brigid and Cernunnos. We stated our intent for the spell, then we invited the god and goddess into our bodies. In some traditions this is called Calling Down the Sun and Moon. It's not a full possession, but I could feel the difference when Cernunnos entered me.

We had very intense sex. We channeled the energy from the sex into the blessing for the seeds. When we had finished, we thanked Brigid and Cernunnos and dismissed the corners.

The ritual and blessing were done on Thursday, March 8. We planted the seeds on Sunday, March 11. By Tuesday the 13th, we already had sprouts. A week later on the 19th our plants looked like this:

Friday, March 9, 2012


According to

"Definition of ETHIC

1 plural but sing or plural in constr : the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation
2 a : a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values —often used in plural but singular or plural in construction b plural but sing or plural in constr : the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group
c : a guiding philosophy
d : a consciousness of moral importance
3 plural : a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness) "

I once attended a meeting about ethics in shamanism. There were a variety of levels of experience represented, including students who had recently found shamanism. It was the position of the shaman holding the meeting that, among other things, ethics prevented shamans from interfering with the lives of others without their permission, even when we believe it would be in their best interests. For example, if a hurricane were headed for Haiti, it would be unethical to attempt to divert it without the request of the people of Haiti.

One of the students disagreed with the shaman. The student asked if she saw person A abusing person B, shouldn't she try to stop it? The shaman replied that she should only get involved if person B asked for help.

What are your magickal ethics? When is the use of magick, healing, curses, etc appropriate? Do you need the permission of the people involved? Is using magick to get a job, win the lottery, or find a lover cheating? If you are in a coven, does your coven have a code of ethics?

I'm interested in what you think. Leave a comment telling me about your or your coven's code of ethics. My ethical rule: don't bash other comments. If you do, your comment will be removed.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Energy Work and Shamanic Extraction

From the shamanic perspective, there are three main causes of illness: power loss, soul loss, and energy intrusions. Intrusions are harmful or misplaced energies that become stuck in already weakened energy fields.
People, places, spirits, even plants and animals, all give off psychic energies. Healthy energy fields keep out these random intrusions. There are many reasons why energy fields become weakened. Power loss, soul loss, and stress are some of the most common causes.
Sometimes intrusions are not random energies. Intrusions can be caused by hateful or jealous words or actions. "If looks could kill" is not a meaningless saying. They can also be caused by negative self image or magical attack.
The process of removing energy intrusions is called extraction. First the shaman enters a trance state. Then he or she locates the intrusion. This is a very intuitive process.
Once the intrusion is located, the shaman works with his or her guides to remove it. Two of the most common ways to remove the intrusion are pulling or sucking. The physical movements mimic the actions of the shaman on the spiritual level. Once removed, the intrusion is placed into another object, such as a stone, insect, crystal, or piece of bone. This is very important. The healer should NEVER take the energy into themselves. The energy is instead put into the object. The object is then destroyed, buried, or cleansed.
The next step is to prevent a new intrusion. Nature abhors a vacuum. With the intrusion gone, a space is left in the energy field. Once the intrusion is removed, the shaman fills the space with healing energy. Lastly, the shaman cleanses him or herself and ends the ceremony.
The ceremony may have to be repeated more than once to remove all of the intrusions.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's Here

It's here.
Can you feel it?
I felt it today.
Birch feels it too.
Spring is coming.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Every culture recognizes the importance of dreams. It is through dreams that the gods, spirits, ancestors, and the subconscious speak to us. It comes as no surprise that there are many books and techniques for dream work. Below are some techniques that I have tried.

Dream interpretation can be a very tricky thing. The message of the dream, if there is one, is meant for the dreamer and is best interpreted by the dreamer. The symbols in the dreams are tailored to them and attempted interpretation by others can be difficult. The presence of a squirrel in my dream can have a totally different meaning than if the same squirrel appears in your dream. This is why I don't use books on dream interpretation. The interpretations in books are based on cultural generalizations and may not reflect my personal symbology. I usually meditate or journey on my dreams to get a more intuitive read on them.

A dream journal is an excellent tool for those interested in dream work. To keep a dream journal you need to place it next to the bed so you can write down your dreams as soon as you wake before the dream slips away. I used to keep a separate journal for dreams, but now I record significant dreams in my shamanic journal. keeping a dream journal will allow you to look back at dreams later and sometimes that hindsight will give you a clearer understanding of the dream.

Lucid dreaming is the technique of taking control of the dream from the inside. Lucid dreamers are then able to reshape the dream as they see fit as in the Matrix "there is no spoon", or Dark City's "tuning".  I haven't set out to try lucid dreaming, but I have recently been able to spontaneously achieve this state. I think it may be related to my shamanic studies. Dreams and shamanic journeys are very similar and my familiarity with the state needed for journey work allows me to recognize this state in dreams and take control.

Recurring dreams usually carry an important message. I had a series of dreams that started before I began studying shamanism. The settings of the dreams were always different. What was the same was that in all the dreams I was held immobile by an outside force. My attacker appeared in various forms. in some dreams it was a ghost. In others, it was invisible. The last time I dreamed of it, it manifested as a swirling shadow. In the dreams I knew that if  I could command it to let me go, it would have to obey. However, I could not speak. So the dreams became a contest of wills between me and it.

When I began studying shamanism, I learned about the shadow. There are many different names for it, and there is a great blog post about it on Standing At The Centre. Basically, it is the parts of you that are denied and repressed. But repressing things doesn't make them go away. Instead, because you are ignoring them, they get to run amok, influencing you in ways you don't realize. I believe the dreams I had were an initiatory experience of sorts. They alerted me to the presence of my shadow, and showed me that if I did not control it, it would control me.

After I began working with my shadow, the dreams stopped. I still journey to check in with my shadow from time to time, especially if I do or feel something and I don't quite understand where it is coming from. I have made the process an important part of knowing myself.

This is by no means a complete list of dream techniques. These are only the ones that I personally have experience with. There are stones, charms, herbs, and spells for working with dreams. Working with dreams can be a big undertaking, but it can really pay off. If you want to learn more about dreams, dream interpretation, and dream magick, there are many books on the subject. I really like Christopher Penczak's book "The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft". Among other things, it has a chapter on dreams.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Death and Shamanic Dismemberment

Death. It is inevitable and unavoidable.

I heard a story once about a man's encounter with Death. The man was in the market one morning when he saw Death staring at him. Fearing for his life, the man bought a horse and rode out of town as fast as it would carry him. Eventually, the horse would go no farther, and the man had to continue on foot. Late that night, weary and exhausted, the man became aware of another presence on the road. It was Death. Unable to run any further, the man turned to Death and asked "Why did you look at me so strangely this morning?" Death replied, "I was confused. I knew we had an appointment here tonight and I wondered how you would make it." Then Death collected the man's life.

For believers in reincarnation, death is a natural part of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It is a change that all living brings must eventually go through. It is our egos that fear death. When our bodies die, our souls live on and reincarnate in new bodies. Our egos, however, do not. They fear the loss of identity that comes with death. To conquer our fear of death we must first conquer our ego. Every tradition has some form of initiation designed to force the initiate to assert control over the ego and face his or her mortality.

Those who practice shamanism eventually experience what is called shamanic dismemberment. During this process, a spirit, or group of spirits, destroy the journeyer's "body". It is then remade. This is a type of initiatory experience that simulates death and rebirth. Shaman's will experience this multiple times over the course of their lives. By the time they grow old, a shaman's familiarity with death, partly through this experience, allows them to meet Death as an old friend instead of fearing it as an enemy.

A shaman that I studied with briefly conducted an exercise. She had everyone pair up and do a journey for their partner. Because there were an odd number of us, she partnered with one of us. The woman who journeyed for the shaman said that the spirits told her that the shaman was going to die. The shaman laughed and said, "They are always telling me that." She then went on to explain the dismemberment process and told us that was what the spirits were referring to.

It was not long after that I had my first experience of shamanic dismemberment. In my journey I met a spirit with the body of a man and the head of a jaguar at the top of a Mesoamerican pyramid. He instructed me to lie down on the altar in front of him, which I did. Then he ripped out my heart and ate it. He replaced the heart with one made of a neon blue light, but the flesh around it smothered the light. He breathed out a swarm of insects that completely devoured my body. When they fell away, I had a new body made of the same blue light. When I returned to my body I  felt a sense of empowerment, like something inside me had been cleansed. Since then I have also been eaten by wild animals and ripped apart by a horde of zombies.

Death is a part of the natural process. It is a consequence that follows the choice to be born. However you choose to deal with it, it is something that you will have to face sooner or later.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I don't believe in fate. I don't think our lives are predetermined. Our choices make our lives what they are. But I don't believe in coincidences either. I believe everything happens for a reason. The choices we make determine the course of our lives and synchronicity pulls events and people into our lives that reflect those choices.

Because I believe in reincarnation, I believe your choices begin with the choice of being born. With that choice you accept all the consequences of life, including eventually death. You also choose your parents and everything that goes along with them. Everyone says you don't choose your family, but you do. Everything after that is a result of your other choices.

For me this belief affects all parts of my life. I don't complain about my bad relationships with the rest of my family. I chose them. I think the reason I chose to be born to christian fundamentalist cultists was so that I would reject their madness and begin my path as a pagan and eventually discover my calling as a shaman. Bad things don't happen to me without being allowed into my life by my own choices. That means I am responsible for everything that happens to me. It also means that if I don't like something, I have the power to change it by changing my choices. Every time I talked to my parents we fought over my choice of spirituality. So I made a different choice and now we don't talk at all.

A long time ago I read a book that had a very strong influence on this belief, "The Celestine Prophecy". If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.


Cernunnos is a Horned God, usually pictured with various animals including the ram horned serpent, and holding or wearing a torc. Nothing is written about Cernunnos. What I know of him has come from inferences based on his images and direct experience during shamanic journeying.

 He is a primal, cthonic god. His antlers and occasional depiction with an erect phallus show his connection with the male aspect of fertility. Cernunnos is strongly connected with the land and I have only ever encountered him in the underworld. He is also shown with a money pouch indicating that he is associated with mateial wealth as well as fertility and the hunt.

 The animal that is unique to Cernunnos is the ram horned snake. When a composite animal is shown it is usually to stress or invoke certain attributes shared by both creatures. The ram is a powerful animal. During the mating season, the males butt heads with tremendous force to compete for the ability to mate. For this reason the ram is a symbol of male fertility. Have you ever seen a snake that was about to shed it's skin? Their scales become dull and their eyes cloud over and they look like they are close to death. Then something miraculous happens. They shed their old, dead skin and emerge with new vibrant scales. This is why ths snake is such a powerful symbol of rebirth. The snake is also associated with male energy because of it's phallic shape. The horned snake emphasizes Cernunnos's role as the male aspect of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Most of the pagan groups I have met have focused of the goddess to the exclusion of the god. I was made to feel second class because I am a man. It has been great to find a god to work with that acknowledges and embodies the importance of the male in the cycle of life.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

crazy week

I still haven't finished my first C post yet. It has been a crazy week. On Wednesday my paycheck bounced; one of the hazards of working for a small business. I deposited a new check on Thursday but the money was removed on Friday. So I spent all weekends and Monday trying to find out what happened and get my money in my account before the bank started charging me fees.. I discovered that the risk department of my bank put a freeze on my deposit because the first check bounced. They won't release the money until Friday when they can be certain that it won't bounce this time. But it wasn't all bad last weekend though. I had a bunch of friends over and we played Settlers of Catan til the wee hours of the morning Friday and Saturday nights. Tuesday night we worked a prosperity ritual. The last time we did that, I got a new job after looking for work the previous three months. So we'll see what happens this time. Tomorrow my paycheck will be released and I can put all this madness behind me. I will work to catch up on my blogging, and I should get the first D post out on time. Life happens. Deal with it and move on.

Friday, February 3, 2012


For those of us in  the northern hemisphere, Imbolc happens on Feb 2, and in the southern hemisphere on July 30. Imbolc immediately follows Yule on the wheel of the year and is the first of the spring fertility sabbats, the other two being Ostara and Beltane. Imbolc celebrates the first signs of the coming spring. It has been a very mild winter where I live and we are indeed seeing the signs, although we would normally still have snow on the ground.

While doing research for this post, I learned something new (I love it when that happens). The crone will make winter last as long as she has firewood to keep her house warm. On Imbolc she goes out looking for more firewood. If the weather is good, she is able to gather lots of firewood, and she will be able to make winter last longer. If the weather is poor, she can't find enough firewood and will have to end winter early. When I read this story, I had a lightbulb moment. I had always wondered why the winter would last longer if the groundhog could see his shadow.

I hope everyone had a blessed Imbolc as we celebrate the return of spring!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


For this week I decided to write about Brigid since she is patron to both Heather and I. Also her holiday on the Celtic wheel of the year, Imbolc, is just around the corner.

 Brigid (also spelled Brighid, Brighde, Bride, Breo-Saighead, Brigantia) is a Celtic triple goddess whose responsibilities include poetry, healing, and smith's work. She is also associated with fire and knowledge. A sacred flame was kept at Kildare for her even into Christian times when nuns tended the flame. It is because of this association with fire that she is also considered a hearth goddess.

Brigid is also a goddess of magick. Words have power. As a goddess of poetry, the power of the word, spoken or sung, falls under her domain. The bards frequently called upon her as a patron of inspiration.

My workings with Brigid go back to before she became my patron. My wife was having health problems so during a healing ceremony for her I journeyed to Brigid to ask for healing. I chose Brigid because of her association with healing and because she is Heathers patron. During the journey she taught me a new healing technique. I believe that at that time she had already decided to become my patron, it just took me a few months longer to figure it out. I journeyed to the Goddess to officially petition her to become my patron, and I have been working with her ever since.

A note: Many of my posts will reference journeying. This is a shamanic technique that I practice on a regular basis. For those who do not know what a shamanic journey is, it is similar to astral projection, OBE, and lucid dreaming. I will go into more detail about journeying when we reach the "J" weeks.

Friday, January 20, 2012




When I was considering what to write about this week, I originally thought about Beltane. Ultimately I decided to do separate posts for the sabbats that mark the wheel of the year. Instead I am writing about burdock.

Burdock is a weed. It grows wild in my yard whether I want it to or not. Every year I pick the burs out of my pet's hair and off my clothes. But like most things there is more to this unassuming plant than meets the eye.

Burdock is edible. The leaves may be cooked or eaten raw. Burdock root is medicinal and can be boiled to make an excellent liver tonic. It purifies the blood, and as such is used in many herbal blends to treat everything from acne to gout. Burdock also has magical uses. Use burdock for protection, to cleanse negativity, binding, and warding

Last year when the burdock plants began growing, I was not sure what they were. So I left one of the plants alone so it could fully mature to make identification easier. In early summer, the plant became infested with aphids. It was quite severe and the aphids were aided by ants who milked the aphids for their sugary excretions. I didn't want the aphids to move to my vegetable garden, so I left them alone where they were. A few weeks later, the aphids were all gone. What happened to the thousands of aphids? Lady bugs. The burdock had summoned allies is the form of lady bugs. They laid their eggs on the plant and when they hatched, the ravenous larva ate every aphid on the plant.

Ant tending aphids

Lady Bug larvae
What I learned from the burdock plant was that even when it seems like you have insurmountable problems, when you are surrounded by those that want to pull you down, nothing is impossible with the help of friends.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Unlike my last post, I didn't know much about angels. When I learned about the project, I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn. I am named after the Archangel Michael and so I decided to research angels for this week's post. I found an online catholic encyclopedia that contained a HUGE amount of information about angels in Catholicism as well as Judaism.

The original word in hebrew simply meant "messenger" and could refer to either human or spiritual messengers. In addition to carrying messages for God, angels also performed various tasks. Some angels were tasked with protecting or guiding individual people. Also some angels oversaw, or governed, a specific location or country, preserving the natural order and guiding the people. It was believed that if an angel caused imbalance in the natural order it created famine and plagues. In later, more complex, systems, angels were arranged into a hierarchy with nine ranks or choirs. In some systems of ceremonial magick four archangels are assigned to each of the cardinal directions, but there seems to be some dissent as to which angel governs which direction. They all name the same four angels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel; but assign them to different directions.


The earlier views of angels appear similar to animist or totemic belief systems. Guardian angels are like personal totems. In the New Testament, a description is given of a sacred healing pool. It was believed that when the angel of the pool disturbed the water, the first person to bathe in the pool would be healed. There are similarities here to the sacred healing pools and springs of pagan Europe. Also, their role as enforcers of natural order parallels that of nature spirits in other belief systems.

This is just a basic overview of angels. Some traditions, especially ceremonial magicks, get really in depth about the angels and their powers and duties. If you are interested in working with these powerful beings, I highly recommend more research. Today's post has been brought to you by the letter A.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I just started this blog last month and I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with it. Then my wife, DrFeather read about the Pagan Blog Project. So now we are participating together on the project with our blogs. Without further ado, my first Pagan Blog Project blog: A is for Animism

For me animism means that everything has a spirit. Every tree, every animal, every blade of grass, every rock. Even things that we would not normally consider alive, like mountains, planets, or stars. A good example is "Spirited Away". In the movie, a girl meets the spirit of a river. defines animism as:"


the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and theuniverse itself possess souls.
the belief that natural objects have souls that may existapart from their material bodies.
the doctrine that the soul is the principle of life and health.
belief in spiritual beings or agencies."

Believing animism gives me a different outlook than most people. Recently someone posted on facebook about wanting to become a vegetarian for ethical/spiritual reasons. For me this is a non issue. Plants have spirits just like animals do. No matter what you eat you're still killing something that has a soul. No matter what I'm eating, I give thinks to the spirit of the food. When I weed my garden, I apologize to the spirits of the weeds. It's not so much about not killing as it is showing respect for the things that you kill. Nothing can live without taking life from something else. And it doesn't end with "living" things. For example, if I ever build a house, I will ask permission of the land I'm building it on.

Many cultures have rituals to give thanks to the spirits that support human life. In societies where animism is a prevalent belief, rituals are conducted to show respect and give thanks to spirits of crops, weather, land, water, building materials, etc. In a culture where people traditionally only stop to give thanks once a year, and respect for our fellow beings is practically nonexistent, we could learn a lot by looking to these other cultures.

That's my two cents about animism. Be sure to join me next week for my blog about angels. Today's blog has been brought to you by the letter A.