Wednesday, September 26, 2012


According to Swiss psychologist Carl G.Jung, synchronicity is happens when individual events fall together by chance to create a cohesive whole because of their similar association. The resulting whole is greater than any of the individual parts of which it is made. Another way to describe synchronicity is meaningful coincidence. This is a more satisfying definition for me than anything found in New Age thinking.

The whole gist of Chaos Magick is based on the result of  individual factors/elements/forces coming together simultaneously.  Although it's forms are specific to the individual, the results are effective because the underlying premise is that magick is a tool.

Chaos magick draws from many discordant sources: ceremonial magick, Kabbalah, Eastern religions and philosophy, science and science fiction, among others. There is an extraordinary variation among practitioners. Because of this, I believe it is one of the very few magickal systems where mastery is constantly evolving, so there are no actual Adepts. It is a magickal mash-up, a non-system system that works primarily due to synchronicity.

*****************************************************************************The understanding of many of our deities draw directly from the archetypes of the collective unconscious. We often assign human characteristics to our gods in order to better understand and relate to them. In effect, this forms a bond due to synchronicity- our projects make them like us so we can accept their individual quirks more easily. It is the only way we can even begin to approach any rational logic to many of the symbolic myth and stories of our spiritual history.
Jung defined archetypes as " ancient images from the collective unconscious".[Man and His Symbols, C. G.Jung,1964] Jung states that "...archetypes are not individual concepts of the world or individual pieces of the world we must come to know as separate things, but we must come to know the machine (archetypes) as a whole, not just as individuals." His meaning is that these concepts form a synchronicity which defines the collective unconscious. He believed that the archetypes were formed by the collective memories and experiences of many peoples, and that they were shared subconsciously by all in a continuum. Coincidences due to chance suggests manifestation of these images to be shared across cultures and by many individuals as a form of synchronicity. Therefore the experience of one tribe of people were reflective or shared by another tribe, and in fact all these experiences ran true for the whole as governing dynamic. The whole of human experience is interrelated on various levels in regard to society, culture, psychology and spiritual experience. If viewed this way, we truly are one people out of many.

My personal spiritual practice is eclectic and my magical working often fall under the category of Chaos Magic. I'm sure this makes some of you out there clench up, but it works for me. It is the end result that matters, and I believe that if these things are approached respectfully then there is no offense to the universal forces or deities I employ in my workings. I have effectively combined hoodoo road-openings with petitions to Ganesha, written runes on candles that I have charged in the names of archangels and invoked the energies of goddesses with related aspects from different pantheons simultaneously with remarkable effect ...all in the spirit of synchronicity, with the expectation of  positive results. Sometimes those results are rather surprising and not exactly what I had in mind, but I have never been disappointed by what my magick has wrought. I will make the caveat once again that you never call up forces or entities that you are ill prepared to deal with should things take a  bad turn. I will caution you to never work with things you are not thoroughly versed in, do not call upon deities you have no knowledge of ' just because' not be foolish. There is a discernment between creating synchronicity and courting disaster.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Swallows: Birds of Magick

There are many types of Swallows (aka as Purple Martins), but the one most associated with the occult is the Barn Swallow. A slim little bird, it has rounded wings and a distinctive long tail which ends in two long points. Swallows are found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and there are six subspecies in the Northern Hemisphere alone.

Swallows are fast fliers: you will often see them diving after insects which have been stirred up by tractors working the fields. They find man-made structures convenient to nest upon-barns, chimneys, houses and bridges. It builds its cup-shaped nest out of mud and straw. Sometimes you will see a large birdhouse with numerous holes in them which look rather like apartment buildings; these are made exclusively for 'purple martins', and are indeed tiny little compartmentalized bird houses within one larger structure.

Swallows are frequently mentioned in religious and literary works due to it's close association with humans and it's migratory habits.They are often referred to by a name which relates to the location where they build their nests, such as 'barn swallow' or 'cliff swallow'. The story of the infamous swallows that return to the mission of San Juan Capistrano, California is still popular. Every year the birds leave town around the feast of the death of San Juan in October and return there in the spring around the feast of Saint Joseph in March. They have traced to a spot in Argentina where the migrate in the winter. The annual return of the swallows to Capistrano each year is a huge tourist attraction for the mission, which is the oldest building still in continuous use in California

Swallows are thought to be both a blessing and a curse. A story related to the crucifixion of Christ claims that the tiny swallows flew around the head of the deceased Jesus and chirping," Dead! Dead!" to the Roman soldiers so they would inflict no more torture on the body.

A swallow nesting in the roof of a building is believed to guard against lightning, fire and other misfortunes. If the bird abandons the nest, it is a sign of ill fortune. Killing a swallow will result in various punishments from damaging rains to soured milk, and even death of the perpetrator. Folk legends abound about birds, and it is especially thought to be unlucky if a bird flies into house; not so with the swallow, who is thought to a sign of happiness.

In many cultures, the swallow is associated with death. A Russian folk tale claims that the spirits of dead children take the form of swallows in an attempt to stay with their families. In Ireland, a hair plucked from the head by a swallow means the individual will not only die but is doomed to reside in Hell; the Scots believe that a swallow has a drop of the Devil's blood in it's veins [Cassel's Dictionary of Superstition, pg 252]. A Native American tale recounts the swallow bringing fire to humans, a feat commemorated by the ring of red feathers about the neck of some. Many folk tales feature the antics of swallows portending the weather, such as  this rhyme: "Swallows fly high, no rain in the sky; Swallows fly low,'tis likely to blow".

A prevalent belief in folk magick is that a swallow carries stones in it's crop which can heal madness, promote eloquence, restore eyesight, or bring luck to the bearer. There are other remedies which endorse the use of the body of a swallow for curing toothache, alcoholism,or epilepsy.
Copyright 2012, Broom With A View/Amaethjera

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Problem With Memes...

I am a Wiccan. And I do not like the meme pictured below for several reasons....

I do not like "In-Your-Face" anything...particularly concerning religion and specifically when the religion in question is a form of Paganism. This meme fairly drips with contempt. Not only is it an inappropriate way of communication, it's just damn annoying.

I do not like the tone of haughty arrogance with which it is written. It conveys a feeling of smugness and superiority."...we do not force our views on others." Really? Sounds pretty forceful to me. A more constructive and less annoying way of putting this would be, " These are our beliefs."

No, Wiccans do not worship Satan, a spiritual entity identified in the Abraham religions as a fallen angel who challenged and betrayed G-d. It is unnecessary to be snarky about this, because the general public believes what it's been told by Hollywood and drilled into them by certain religious sects, and for a long time no one refuted the accusations. People will repeat without malice what they believe to be the truth whether or not it is factual. As a Wiccan, I have an opportunity to educate others on this point, and have found I can do that without being confrontational.

It generalizes our faith. There are many variations on Wicca. We don't all hold fast to the Three-Fold Law or the Rede; we don't all worship the same deities; not all of us wear pentagrams... And the word is pentagram, not pentacle, unless you're wearing an amulet of some sort such as the Seal of Solomon [] In Christianity, the pentagram is used to symbolize the five wounds of Christ, or in the same way that we are familiar in reference to the Elements and Spirit. It is also found in Freemasonry, among other esoteric orders.

We are not all healers and shaman. Each of us have  unique gifts, which may include the ability to heal. Shamanism is a form of spiritual practice which takes years of study to master. You do not suddenly wake up some morning and proclaim yourself a shaman; that us usually left to a community or council of elders in a specific tradition to determine.

A seasoned practitioner knows that magick (or magic) is neither 'black' nor 'white', but identified by the intention of a specific work...and some Wiccans do indeed cast what can be defined by others as
'evil' or maleficent spells.  Magic is a power used in many ways and for many reasons, both negative and positive. It does not always "change the world", but rather focuses the will of the practitioner and attunes to a specific situation.

Paganism is theoretically the term for anyone not engaged in an Abrahamic religion, although Buddhists, Hindus,Taoists and a few others do not readily identify themselves as pagans. There is a difference between pagan in the lower case form and Pagan, a proper noun which identifies a practitioner of the NeoPagan religions.

The statement " calling a Baptist a Lutheran" is erroneous. The two are both Protestant Christian traditions. A more accurate statement would be likely " calling a Christian a Hindu", because the differences in belief  systems are unmistakable.

"It only shows your ignorance." Actually, it shows the ignorance of the writer...glaringly. For someone who "harms none", this single meme has undone much of what many of us have worked so diligently to win through years of dialogue and teaching in the mainstream. It perpetuates stereotypes and misinformation. The writing is rather immature. Adding "Blessed Be"   to the end at this point is grating and insincere. I'm assuming the  little moon-phase graphics were added in just to let everyone know that a 'real' Wiccan/Goddess-loving Pagan wrote this sorry diatribe, but  the gesture is lost and   is rather shallow and juvenile.

Frankly, I not only find this meme offensive, it sounds very much like thinly veiled hate talk to me. Someone wants to get into a fight.  Anyone wanting to take up the " Look what the Christians did to us" gauntlet can spare themselves the effort of argument with me. Put away your sack cloth and ashes and quit beating your breast. In 25+ years of practice, with 20 out of the broom closet, no one has ever accused me of  being a "baby eater". It's a laughable analogy we need to purge from our vocabulary once and for all because it's only used for shock value.Some of us need to take the chip off our shoulders because the litany of  wrongs done to them  are simply fabrication. Unless you have personally suffered legitimate, verifiable discrimination , drop the victim mentality, because you're boring the crap out of the rest of us with your 'Emo' ranting.

While I honor the tragic deaths of those who were and continue to be  savagely murdered at the hands of witch hunters throughout the world, I believe it is much more important to recognize that the majority of these victims were not, in fact, witches.Stop trying to hang on the coattails of  The Burning Times because your employer requires you to take the metal out of your piercings or cover up your witchy tattoos or refuses to allow you to wear your " Witches Do It In Circles" t-shirts on casual Friday. While I do agree you have a right to personal expression on your own time, your employer gets to make and enforce the rules while you're representing them. You are not being discriminated against or singled out to be victimized. Instead of jumping to conclusions about what people of other religions think about you because it makes you popular in "the crowd", try talking to them about your beliefs in a calm, polite manner. Trying to understand their viewpoint and educate them-and not expecting to change their mind-is of much more benefit to the community and the creation of tolerance than arguing, finger-pointing and belligerent memes posted to Facebook.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pagan Prosperity

Living an unconventional lifestyle has it's desirable moments for me-I love my insanely artsy friends who are unfettered and unencumbered by the disapproval of society. Those who have created their own Gypsy Nirvana are my favorites-the folks who live in 'little houses' off the grid, eat nothing but what they grow in the yard, and Free Cycle to their hearts content. There are days I am absolutely certain I want that " live with out care" lifestyle, unattached to  material things. Early in my spiritual journey, I wanted to break away from the mundane corporate life I knew I was headed for so I could attend all the Pagan festivals and rock concerts I possibly could and be a gypsy, because I think within reason, it's okay to float around and see the country. In fact, I highly recommend it. Go and experience as much as you can, while you can and while you're young enough to recover from any folly along the way. I wish that I'd followed my dream of jumping in the car and driving the entire length of Route 66 alone, that I'd moved to that mountain cabin in high Colorado, or hiked the entire length of the Appalachian  Trail... I really do...because ten years ago I had the money and the time to do all that and then some. I wanted to live by the sea in Nova Scotia for a few years...and in a tiny Irish village. I wanted adventure. Most all I wanted to live, just live. It was great fun living with three friends in a third-floor walk-up in the Village when I was enrolled in art school. I didn't mind working two really shitty jobs, because I knew they were temporary and would eventually end. I kind of enjoyed eating noodle ring and beans and rice, because it made that ham sandwich I got at the lunch counter job on Saturday taste that much better. Besides, I would have really cool stories to tell my grand kids someday.Who needs money when life is so much fun?

The thing that looms large in all of this is individual in the world do you support yourself while you're sowing your wild oats? Fresh out of college, you usually still have Mom and Dad to hold the safety net if you screw up or run out of cash. At least you can move back home if things don't pan out, right? And what do when, in the far distant future-which is closer than you think- what you thought you had to fall back on is no longer there? There are only so many ways and places you can peddle your artsy wares, and a few weekends in a scorching a parking lot flea market made me re-think my disdain for the evils of the corporate life.

That cool, hipness of the Andy Warhol era was only made possible because good old Andy sold a lot of prints of those soup can and Marilyn paintings, had a number of wealthy patrons, and he was franchised. The blasphemy that no one in the anti-establishment would speak is that Andy was a one-man corporation which made him one rich bitch.

I wanted to thumb my nose at all of this and return to the comforting  illusion that one day, someone would come along, take note of my creative brilliance, and launch my fabulous art career so I could quit my job at the lunch counter know, the one I hung onto because I could get a free ham sandwich on Saturday. I was pretty damn proud to be poor then, because somehow in my not- yet-mature mind I thought it made me a better Pagan. Pagans were supposed to be Bohemian and poor, weren't they? Didn't we all make our own clothing and eat out of the same pot of beans and rice? We hadn't sold out, we were penniless and non-materialistic, which showed EVERYONE just how dedicated and sincere we were to our path. We were People of the Earth,damn it. We were supposed to be poor, and the majority of us acted like someone should have given us a medal for being so noble.

The stereotype of the 'poor Pagan' has been around since the middle ages and long before Gardner wandered into the woods to join a coven of witches. They were the people, if you recall your history, who lived up in the hills and out in the country continuing to keep faith with their local gods  when Christianity had claimed the larger cities and towns. They lived off the land,and occasionally did work for a wealthy landowner. No one expected much else from them. This mindset has been passed from generation to generation through the years and right through the advent of the rise of modern neoPaganism and witchcraft in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Part of that individualized spirituality requires a certain amount of independence and self-sufficiency, and yet too many of us are unable to pay the bills.

So, where's the disconnect?

I believe some of it arises from 'Pagan values', which are different from the  conventional values of our culture which views working solely for financial reward and gaining material possessions acceptable. A lot of us-me included- don't care to keep up with the Joneses. For the most part we are pretty happy with what we have and are satisfied that we have just enough. We just want to live and let live and be left alone and allowed to practice our religion in relative peace. I loved being a barista, but I couldn't make a living at it. And here is where the disconnect lies:  we don't put enough- if any- emphasis on the fact that we need to work at making a living and not just have a job. I have a number of friends who are terrific massage therapists, but are failing to make ends meet because they are putting all their energy into the esoteric side of their practice and not enough into the business side. Even though they were willing to go to a conventional school to learn their skills, they are unwilling to build a practice by doing the dirty work involved. We need to stop wrinkling up our noses at the parts of life we don't like and find distasteful. We need to change the mindset that making money is evil, that anything to do with corporate America is selling out what is genuine and authentic. The only way to be  financially successful  is to put forth the effort to be good at whatever we can do to make a reasonable living and not a burden on  our families, friends or society. That doesn't necessarily mean we all need to have jobs that require three piece suits and briefcases: my cousin makes a very respectable living for himself and his family as an auto mechanic...he also makes beautiful wands from found wood on his property. Another friend is a hairdresser, who reads tarot on the weekends, another works on a production line in the auto industry and sells his handmade jewelry at festivals. There are Pagans who work in all phases of conventional health care, as school teachers, and in factories and the military, and all of them are making a decent wage to live....because they have shaken off the stereotype of the 'poor Pagan'.

I personally abhor most of the tenets of the currently popular 'prosperity ministries' seen in fundamentalist and evangelical churches. I don't believe just 'speaking the word' and having faith will make the money miraculously appear in our pockets.However, I do believe supporting Pagan business in our own faith community does lead to financial and spiritual prosperity. I believe that employment networking among peers does lead to better job opportunities and better living conditions, and that we as Pagans need to optimize that tool more frequently. I believe we need to strive for just a bit more and just a bit better in our employment so we can achieve the desirable level of independence we are ardent to talk about, and if that means cleaning ourselves up, upgrading our skills and educating ourselves in a genuine wage earning mundane career, so be it. The majority of us are already striving to make that change for the better, save for a small segment of 'traditionalists' who will never be open to change. Save the Bohemian lifestyle for the festivals and strive to transform the stereotype of the poor Pagan into one where Pagans are integrated into every part of society as contributing members

Monday, September 3, 2012

Repetition: Words Have Power

Repeat after me: "Words have power, choose them wisely."

A word is a linguistic symbol, something that illustrates the meaning of something else. We are aware that words are spelled and appear differently in a variety of languages. Words in English are not the same as, say, German. Many words typically used today  have their origins in Latin, which is a common language developed so that individuals who spoke different languages had a single way of understand one another.[] Latin was taught in most of the universities and monasteries in the middle ages for just this purpose, which is why so many of the origins of words we use today began in language. There is a slight difference between Ecclesiastical or Church Latin, and the form of the language used in commence, literature, law and science.

The same words may have many definitions; sometimes different words refer to the same things. In the Craft, we have many words that define mundane objects and institutions that differ from their common, everyday names...Such as 'cup'. In the mundane world, a cup is a drinking vessel with a handle on it, usually holding between five and ten ounces of a (usually) hot liquid, such as tea or coffee. In the Craft within the framework of a ritual, however, when we place a cup on the altar, it usually means a drinking vessel with a stem, such as a chalice or large wine glass. In ecclesiastical or 'church' terms, 'the cup' or chalice is a footed goblet used during communion.[] Two of these words describe the very same item, yet we attach different meaning to them due to our personal experience and framework. A gathering of witches is usually called a coven; some Pagans also refer to their organized group as covens, but many do not, preferring to call themselves assemblies, fellowships, societies, or churches. Church is a word we associate with the Christian religion, but a Buddhist or Jewish temple is also technically a church. 'Church' is not a specifically Christian word. Groups of Pagans gathering in a recognized religious organization, on  a regular basis, no matter what they choose to call that group themselves, is also a church. Charitable organizations with religious affiliation which fall into this category and have been assigned 501 charitable organization status are churches in the eyes of the IRS, no matter what religion they profess. It simplifies the bookkeeping for them, and all other government and non-profit agencies the group may encounter. Most of the population has at least a vague idea of what a church is, because of the things commonly perceived to be done by people of faith, and so the term is widely accepted. 'Religious folk' no matter who the are, meet in churches... and that's that.

A priest or priestess ( group or solitary) is an individual who has the authority to administer religious rites and is theoretically  also a minister because in that role, they administer or manage those rites. []. A minister in the commonly accepted lexicon, is a member who has been specifically trained to preform religious services,  and is usually considered to be of the clergy. The Old French root word for this task is clergié , meaning " learned men". Members of the clergy are typically individuals who have attended schools or universities specifically formed to confer academic degrees in the study of theology and/or religion, and most ( but not all) are later ordained to the priestly class and are titled Rabbi, Iman, High Priest (or High Priestess) in a specific religious body...therefore, while minister does not always denote the ordained and professional members of the religious leadership (because some remain as lay ministers),  clergy always defines the professional ministry- paid or not. However, neither are words which belong to a specific religion. Sometimes it feels like beating at the fine points unnecessarily, until you take into consideration the situation of such individuals as the Rev. Patrick McCollum [], a member of the Wiccan clergy who's been fighting this very type of discriminatory nitpicking with mainstream religions for a considerable amount of time in California and elsewhere.

The word pagan its self has a widely ranging definition depending on the individual's personal experience. lists four very different meanings for the word, all specifically distinct with either positive or negative significance. The first identifies a community observing a polytheistic religion; the second a person who is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim, the third as a irreligious or hedonistic person; and the fourth as someone who is savage, uncivilized, or morally deficient. As a faith community (and that is what those of us who practice a polytheistic religion are), the first two definitions are an umbrella term commonly written as Pagan ( capital 'P', to denote the proper noun, or name). As we find the third and fourth definitions  erroneous,  anachronistic and offensive when used to describe our community. [] However, if the word pagan is used in the common lexicon to describe the actions of a group (lowercase spelling) it defines a negative viewpoint agreed upon by society in general. What we as a faith community (Pagan or Heathen) would find offensive and derogatory, a majority segment of the population heavily influenced by the a fore mentioned Christian, Jewish or Muslim religions finds as an acceptable term through justification of societal norms.

The meanings of words morph and change according to any given society's world view and /or experience.Those words can be used to empower us, or to make us powerless. The most recent example of this I can think of is the huge flap in our community a year or so ago when Christian Day, a well known figure in occult  popular culture, decided to call himself a warlock. He did this with the full knowledge of the history and meaning of that word, and the potential outcry it would cause from many "traditional"occultists. There was an ensuing 'witch war', angry, hateful exchanges, and people shook the dust off their Old English Dictionaries in righteous indignation. When the smoke had cleared from the initial altercation, folks were still prickly and picking at each others scabs, but Day only dug in his heels further and asserted his right to identify as he desired. The opposition on both sides hasn't changed, except the fact that Christian Day is now notably known as a warlock by most of the occult community  is practically a moot point because the definition of the word changed for a majority of the population and -like it or not - acceptance of the term has prevailed, at least when used in reference to this particular individual...Just ask the media [ ].

Words have the power we assign to them in addition to the meaning assigned by society, therefore it is prudent to examine our words carefully. Choose them wisely. The color and shading of language is crucial to being understood, not only in our own community, but the larger community as well

The Sweater Trimming Meditation

'Fuzzy Sweater' painting by Mark Hall
It's time to get out the heavier clothing in anticipation of cooler weather. Everything has been packed away in totes with lids and plastic bags,it's all a bit into the washer it goes. The luxury of dry cleaning is unknown, and there is no dryer here, so laundry is done the old fashioned way...dried on the rack or line. The line is usually full, and it's been raining recently, but the rack is in my room, and there is a fan to help with the process. I became dependent and spoiled by the availability of an automatic washer and dryer at most of the other places I've lived, having to wait for clothing to dry harkens back to the days of my childhood, when the backyard clothes line was the only option.

Everything goes into the washer or is washed by hand, including sweaters, which must be drip-dried and shaped by hand. And as we all know, most wool or wool blends "pill" and develop those unsightly little balls of fuzz. I used to own a lovely little machine  that "shaved" the fuzz off sweaters and wool suits, but it has gone the way of all worn-out electronic and battery powered devices., so I am back to removing the cursed little balls of fuzz by hand.

My favorite zippered sweater jacket is a victim of the fuzzy curse. Trimming it is a time suck, because I have to go over every inch and carefully snip off the fuzzies.One slip with the scissors , and I'm re-weaving and sewing up a hole. It's easy to be distracted by, oh, say...just about everything else in the house. So I have to be focused about what I do.

Today I decided to approach the task with a new attitude: I put on some quiet music, and began snipping, blocking out everything else around me. There was nothing but the music and the careful snip...snip...snip. It became a meditation I could relax into with intention. Snip..snip...snip...a question pops up which I quickly push a side...Snip...snip...snip...a car goes zooming down the road, it's racing motor fading in the distance...Snip..snip...snip...

Nothing but this task fills my consciousness, until the last fuzzy is gone. Their remains litter the floor and cling to my pant legs, but they are easy to brush off and clean up. I look around for something else that needs a bit of TLC and the removal of fuzzy pills.

blogpost copyright by AmethJera