Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oneness and Salvation
Oneness and salvation...two words that most Pagans shy away from using or have banned from our vocabulary. The memories attached to them are sometimes painful and infuriating when placed in  the context of a former religious tradition. Why? Because words have power. They evoke memories which cause us to relive situations. What we miss in our hurry to cast off words such as these is that the power they have is infused by us-we ourselves give them power. Words are just tools, and until we realize that it's not the words that are the cause of our knee jerk reaction and  gut-wrenching pain, but our definition of them, we are going to be slaves to the negativity we ourselves create. Oneness is the unity of many parts:it is that which has come together.

Just being together is generally a good thing. Sometimes it's a necessary thing. We are not so much independent as we are interdependent. Our existence matters to others, and that's why we get together for conversation and dialogue, to sing and dance, to simply be.

The need to be together surfaces intensely during the winter holidays. Perhaps it's something in our genetic code that relates directly to our tribal origins. We gather to remember things we did together, things and people we have lost, traditions we hold dear. We gather to share the stories and beautiful music of the season. We gather to witness the return of the light and to experience our mortality. We gather to celebrate.

And celebrate we do! We bring evergreens inside our homes, stake up a tree and decorate it with fantastic and magickal baubles. We feast and make merry. We grow close and love. Our last days of the waning year are mostly spent in a frantic observance of hilarity and excess, which for the most part, is intended to make us happy. We make magick in the mundane, and it is the only time of the year when it is not only acceptable, it is expected.

We expect miracles out of nowhere. Out of thin air, the most dark, dank, boring  everyday parts of our lives are suddenly supposed to be transformed into something glorious. Because...Everything looks better with glitter.  In those precious few days at the end of the calendar, we ought to renew and transcend ourselves. Few of us actually know how, and this, I believe, is what causes what we've come to know as the 'holiday blues'. When our high expectation falls flat or is not met, we suddenly sink into the dark and cold parts of our souls, defeated. What were we thinking? Why did we dare to dream? The demon of depression sits heavily on our shoulder, and he has our ear.

The fact is that life goes on, even without us. That puts our existence into perspective. We are here now, and tomorrow we will be gone. What makes that matter is what we do with our time here, and who and what we love. These last few precious days of being gathered together with a singular focus is the only time for some when it is safe to love, as if they need permission or an excuse. Love, however we define it, bids us to come closer. It enjoins us to become one, and our Oneness, our recognition of our being a part of something larger than ourselves, is our true salvation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Take A Moment Out of Time

I'm suggesting we all take a moment to simply gather our thoughts...and breathe. With a breaking story on the news this morning that 27 people are dead in an elementary school in Connecticut at the hand of  another gunman, we are once again reminded how unpredictable, fleeting and fragile life truly is...and yet again we are struggling to understand.

Let's try to be a little kinder to one another from this day forward. The world is a big, scary place full of the Unknown and Unforeseen. The truth is that although some of us can, indeed read signs and omens, they are only glimpses of what may come...and in many cases we can choose to change the course of events if we dare. I hope we choose to live authentically, but with understanding where we can. In those other places, I wish the use of discernment and compassion.

In these long nights of darkness, as we bundle ourselves against the cold, may be warmed by the Light to come, and the Light within each of us.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Reason For The Season-Revisited

We all get our very own reason for the season, and in the larger scheme of things, I honestly don't believe it matters what that is. We're in the final weeks of a dying year...Good, bad or otherwise we made it through another one!  That alone is  cause enough for celebration. Let's go out with a bang, we deserve it just for hanging in there!

The Nativity story transcends the birth of Jesus; in fact, it goes beyond the birth of any one we hold as a god. What I see is the never ending saga of our own birth and rebirth. In that old story I hear the echoes of the story of our own creation. I see the nativity of all of us, not just one, because every child is a Divine Child born of Mystery. I see parents in a committed relationship who have endured hardship, who have risen above, who have endured. I see their devotion to one another, and to the new life they've brought into the world. I don't just see Mary and Joesph...I see Tom and Mary...or Mary and Susan...or Tom and Joesph... and their child. Every child is a gift and we are all Divine.

The reason for the season is being born into Life. It is enough without all the trappings of myth and folklore ( which does, admittedly, make it more interesting). Please do drag out the decorations to brighten your home in the drab, long days of winter...which are drab and long even if you live in sunny Southern California or Florida because winter is as much a mindset as a season. Bring in the evergreens and light the candles. Hang your stockings with care, because a jolly old elf with a sleigh full of goodies just might stop by while you're taking a long winter nap. Pull everything out of the fridge, raid the cupboards and put out a feast...and don't forget to invite the neighbors because they probably feel just as crappy as you do right about now. Misery really does love company, so have a party. Have a drink and don't be afraid to be silly, because it will make you feel better. Let loose and sing until you're hoarse or someone calls the cops...Ring up someone you haven't seen in awhile and tell them you miss them...and don't be afraid to cry because you miss someone who's no longer here.

The reason for the season is whatever you want it to be. Okay, if you STILL need a reason, it's the Solstice. It's all science, folks. Hallelujah and pass the eggnog!

Friday, November 30, 2012

W is for...Wassailing

"We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door,
but we are friendly neighbors whom you have seen before"

This line from the traditional English carol Here We Come A Wassailing makes the distinction that those who come to the homeowner's door are not random visitors, such as in the fashion of those who went from house to house seeking "treats or tricks" at Samhain. This was the ancient precursor to singing Christmas carols made famous in Victorian times. The reason for this visit was meant as a blessing for abundance for the household, or the farm. Wassailers came to the threshold to 'drink a health' and the ritual was exchanged between friends and neighbors. No one attempted to hide their identity as one did when guising, masks and costumes were seldom worn. This was not the outrageous visit of the celebration of Misrule, but an act of congeniality.
God bless the master of this house, likewise the mistress, too; And all the little children that round the table go.


" God bless the master of this house and bless the Mistress,too,
And all the little children that 'round the table go"

God bless the master of this house, likewise the mistress, too; And all the little children that round the table go.

The singers honored the homeowner with a sung prayer or carol, then joined the benevolent host in drinking a toast to everyone's welfare in the coming year. The carols were often songs citing not only the blessing of abundant crops, but the multiplicity of the animals-and humans-in the home. In this day and age it's difficult to understand that a farmer would want a huge family, as there would be that many more mouths to feed...but many children also meant many hands to labor in the fields.

Sometimes the wassailing took place in an orchard among the fruit trees, or where the livestock were kept. The drink of choice was hot spiced ale or cider, meant to warm the bones and the soul; often it lead to an impromptu bonfire or feast, where many 'healths' were drunk. Alcoholic and heavily spiced beverages were believed to help in keeping away the myriad diseases of men (and animals, as sometimes the beverage was mixed with the feed, or the mash from distilling was fed to the animals.) Afterward, the group moved on to another house to repeat the ritual; one can imagine the revelry and drunkenness that resulted from making several of these visits in a single evening.

A version of wassailing/blessing took place in Scotland, where the spirit of the sea was similarly honored by a hearty soul wading out into the cold water to pour a frothing mug of hot ale or cider into the waves in the hope that it would result in a plentiful supply of fish and shellfish for those who made their living on and by the water.* [*Cassell's Dictionary of Superstitions, by David Pickering]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Awakening Gaea: A Message from Oberon Zell Ravenheart

I have always had lovingly goofy feelings about Oberon and Morning Glory Zell Ravenheart; I say that with the utmost respect for their many, many contributions to both the Pagan religious tradition and as ground breaking leaders and elders in the general community. They are both brilliant ritualists and teachers each in their own right; but it is Oberon who I have gravitated to and connected with the most, perhaps because I have found contentment in his gentle patriarchy. When I want to learn something new in an exciting way, I go to his wonderful book Grimorie for the Apprentice Wizard, which is actually written for children...but then again, I am still very much still a child at heart when it comes to learning.

Oberon has been credited with developing the Gaea Theory and has long been a proponent of synergistic healing of the planet. His newest project, which is effectively the creation of a grand cone of power calling upon the concentrated effort of practitioners of diverse occult disciplines to awaken and release the healing energies of Gaea is tantamount to standing on the edge of a new paradigm of consciousness. To achieve this, he has partnered with one of the most noted philosophers of the modern age, Jean Houston.

Dr. Jean Houston is one of the founders of the Human Potential Movement. I was introduced to her through John Denver, when she was a keynote speaker in a series of symposia sponsored by his educational foundation, Windstar. Jean Houston is riveting to watch: she is at once inspiration, humorous and convincing. Her inter-disciplinary perspective combines an expansive knowledge of history, culture, science, spirituality and human development.( Be sure to use the link for The Shift Movement included in Oberon's article and watch the video!)


A global ritual to catalyze Gaea’s Awakening
From Oberon Zell

Over the past quarter-century I have traveled throughout the world, meeting with magickal practitioners and indigenous tribal elders and shamans of many lands and cultures, and the subject of Mother Earth and Her Awakening has been a constant theme of our conversations. I have never encountered so widespread a paradigm among wise ones everywhere as that of the immanent Awakening of global consciousness. And all those with whom I have discussed the coming prophetic date of Winter Solstice 2012 agree that it is a perfect time to synchronize a vast global meditation and magickal working to catalyze this coalescence of consciousness. What shall we choose—Apocalypse or Apotheasis?

Therefore I propose to all Pagans, Witches, Wizards, Shamans, Magicians and Visionaries the creation of a global “Grand Cone of Power” ritual similar to the 1987 Harmonic Convergence, whose focus on world peace catalyzed the ending of the Cold War.

Just so do I propose a vast global unified Visioning meditation on Winter Solstice of this year to catalyze the Awakening of Gaea. I urge all magickal people everywhere to begin conceptualizing the structure and contents of this Working, and writing poetry, songs, and meditations for it.

Locally, Morning Glory and I will be creating and conducting the 2012 Yule ritual with our Sonoma County Pagan Network (SCPN), and afterwards retiring to our home, RavenHaven, for a traditional all-night vigil (including a showing of the Discworld movie, “Hogfather”—highly recommended!).

And as the sun rises around the world on the morning of the 22nd, let us all greet the dawn by playing and singing the unifying song “Aquarius!” from the 1967 musical, “Hair.” For this is the one and only moment those lyrics will be absolutely true—this will indeed be “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius!”

I will be assembling a collection of liturgical materials, as well as a full-scale ritual which other people may utilize if they choose—on my personal website:

Also, Jean Houston has created a major networking organization to coordinate a worldwide “Awakening” to commence at dawn of Dec. 22—the opening moment of the new Age of Aquarius. Join the Shift Network at

Please pass the word to all your friends and contacts; let’s make this go viral!

This is your wake-up call!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I am a writer because I love the nuances of language. I love the subtle gradation of tone and feeling of words. Writing is a lot like painting: the words color your thoughts. Depth, and perception are obtained by the use of light and shade in a painting. Coloring words give a richness of meaning to communication. It is these subtle nuances, the use of verbal coloring, which makes language exciting. The colors make it come to life.

When I first started writing, it was primarily just for me. My first honest attempt was launched in the same place many others begin self-expression: someone gave me a diary. Most days I wrote a  couple of sentences which summed up my typical teenage apathy. Peppering the pages were brilliant entries such as this one from December 15, 1971: "It rained to day and was cold. I stayed home and played the radio. Sure hope it snows." Other than on those rare occasions when I let loose with a tirade about how unfair the world/my grandparents who raised me/specific friends/ most hated teacher were to me, several lines about the weather and how I felt about it was the extent of my mastery of creative writing.

Later, when I was in my late teens and early 20's, I would relax by re-writing the scripts from my favorite television shows, and activity I thought was geeky but found satisfying to my creativity. Little did I know I was ahead of the times with this until fan fiction became the pop sensation of the moment. In my thirties and occasionally in my forties, I wrote short stories and articles of my own; I even managed to sell one every now and then. I was also doing technical writing and working with municipalities,utilities and emergency services to draw up contingency plans for disasters. The plans were a basic formula that was customized by agreements and contracts between the various local agencies, and it allowed me to travel a bit. Looking back at that time, the other two things I was doing-working as a paramedic in a large metropolitan city and touring as a production assistant for  country/pop/rock musicians, should have provided me with an endless well to draw from...but I was too tired or busy to write. I actually stopped writing altogether for a while except to publish a paper now and again when I was working on my advanced degree. ( This was all done, mind you, on a type writer and paper, so I had hard copies and files of everything...everything. Which becomes a problem when you write a lot...and I did.)

A few years ago I took a notion to start writing about my experience of spirituality, most specifically, I wanted to share what it was like being an occult practitioner in a world of mainstream religions. This is how I found my 'Pagan' voice, the one I primarily use here when posting to Broom With A View. I wanted to not only to share my personal journey in a non-Abrahamic wisdom tradition, but to express it as a spiritual exorcise. And frankly...I was leery of the cacophony of 'experts', when I knew that the only voice that truly mattered to me was the one coming from inside.

I have to say that occultists, and those in religious traditions in particular, are a verbose bunch. We seem to love our verbiage. The more wordy a book, the better: if it was translated from a language other than English, or better still, written in Old English or Latin, it was a keeper. It could be a tritest on the merits of plain toilet paper versus that with embossed daisies, but as long as it sounded vaguely like Shakespeare, it found a home for life on a shelf in the library. An overabundance or superfluity of words sold product in a world of text messages. Never mind the subject, the content wasn't as important as how it sounded when read with the voice in your head.

Pagans love flowery language. Verbiage seemed to be key to becoming a Pagan; if what was being written and read was pro-ponderous sounding, it was taken as credible and serious. Throw in an occasional archaic word or an anachronistic phrase, and suddenly, it was the voice of the gods-literally. If the author claimed a title of hierarchy such as Lord, Lady or Elder, so much the better...which is why I became hooked on Scott Cunningham's books early in my formal Pagan infancy. Scott was a natural teacher; his writing was conversational and down-to-earth. You didn't need an extensive education in medieval English to understand what he was talking about, and his magickal style was deceptively simple as well. He placed the reader into the role of protagonist in all his books, therefore making it clear that whatever came of the use of his information, you were ultimately responsible for the outcome. This was never done in a heavy-handed way, but always phrased in a cautionary manner. I will be forever in Scott's debt for his simple, yet subtle teaching, for his humor, and his wisdom.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meanwhile, On The Horizon

Thank the Gods the election is OVER!

Honestly, I am all for the electoral process. I am thrilled to be a citizen in a country where I can vote for the candidate of my choice and not have to literally take my life into my hands and suffer physical violence for the simple act of casting a ballot. It is an imperfect process and an imperfect system which makes me no less  proud to be an American.

What makes me cringe, however, is the behavior of some of my fellow Americans on both sides of the fabled aisle. The over-all level of mud-slinging preceding this election has been some of the nastiest and distasteful and elevated stripping the dignity of others to a new high. The lack of personal integrity-not just of the politicians and their minions, but the public in general- has been embarrassing and disheartening.

I am not naive. I have been participating in the political process since the age of 18, both as a voter and as a sometime party volunteer. I do not look upon the process with rose-colored glasses, and I have glimpsed the underbelly of politics first hand when my grandfather ran for the senate years ago
(and was essentially screwed by his best political party buddies, thank you.) I know it's a what's-in-it-for-me constituency. Humans are a self-serving and selfish lot. Duly noted.

However, I draw the line when the snark reaches the super-sonic levels it did during this election, when I am told by candidates that as a woman I am too mentally deficient to be responsible for my actions in everything from choosing which health care procedures I will and will not undergo to defining whether or not I have been sexually assaulted...and what I should do afterwards. I draw the line when my chosen and carefully created form of spiritual expression is negated and I am told there is only one acceptable model of religious expression... or else. I draw the line when I am told that I am not enough and therefore not worthy of the regard of the almighty ones who make the decisions in our society.

It is when I have had enough of this kind of abuse by those seeking office that I will march my not-so-delicate lily white, female, witchy little Pagan ass to the polls and remind the politicians that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS and therefore serve the citizenry, of which I am a card-carrying member by casting my vote ...which will either allow them to remain employed or replace them with someone who has a better grasp of what We The People really want.

In every election there are winners and losers, and it really is okay to celebrate a victory or mourn the loss- as long as we don't gloat or whine too much at the expense of others. I sincerely believe we can do that without ripping apart someone else's character and stripping them of their dignity and self-esteem to make ourselves feel superior. I also realize that I may be alone in that feeling, but I still refuse to stoop to gutting another person just because they have different beliefs and hold a totally opposite political point of view...even one I personally find troubling...because I believe that celebrating diversity is more than just so much lip-service.

The election is over, folks. It's time to stop the celebration, sweep up the confetti, finish eating the crow we were served, or licking our wounds and move on. Right now in particular, we need to buckle down and focus our energy to fuel the skills and fortitude that is needed to put parts of this country literally, physically back together for the health, safety and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. In the greater scheme of things, all the hype and unadulterated bullshit surrounding this election pales by comparison, because in the end, we are all Americans.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quietly, But With Spirit

I rushed to the store on Halloween afternoon because in all the excitement surrounding Hurricane Sandy, I'd actually forgotten to buy candy for my  treat bags. This year has been out-of- sorts: I'm still recovering from a torn ligament in my knee, still not settled into my own home, discontent about a lot of little things that frustrate me. This year, Halloween is my anchor.

Only half the decorations from my collection are in place. The rest are still laying on a table in my room with stacks of clutter around it. The floor is a mess. The disrupted energy of all of this is a distraction.

Distraction has become my middle name in the last month or so; I haven't felt settled , and now that we are entering the time when the seasons are sinking in to slumber, I need to hunker down and focus to be productive. I've let things slide, and I need to get back on track. Forgetting to get the candy for a holiday I so dearly love is proof of that.

Back to Halloween...
The bags of candy are packed- a Tootsie Pop, a little package of hard candy 'bones', and two pieces of bubble gum. It's easier to just hand out a candy bar, but less satisfying. I remember going out for treats, and being thrilled that I got more than one single piece of candy in one of those little bags. So I still pack treat bags, hoping I will get a smile that will keep me warm through the next few cold months.

My altar will get a make over today as I fill it with photos of my beloved dead. I will spend time with them tonight, talking with them, releasing regrets, just existing in my own mortality. There is a holiness in the stillness of All Hallows Eve that doesn't exist any other night of the year.

This is also the second anniversary of AmethJera's Broom With A View. Samhain is the New Year for those who follow the Pagan Path, and this blog has certainly been  journey for me, as I hope it has been for you.

Brightest Blessings  this Samhain for a Joyous and Prosperous New Year!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kitchen Witchery

My kitchen smells like Autumn! There are apples cooking on the stove and baking in the oven; pumpkin bread just above the baking apples, and pumpkin butter cooling on the counter; molasses cookies in a bowl waiting to be dropped on the cookie sheet...all with the heavenly scent of  nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and cloves ( The Five Sisters).

The last of the garden produce sits on a tray nearby: eggplant, green and banana peppers, grape tomatoes, a few stray okra and an onion. It begs to become a soulful mixture of tampanade with the addition of a salt, olive oil and a little gentle cooking. There are potatoes, cabbage and turnips to accompany the porchetta to be served as Samhain Eve Dumb Supper. With all this harvest abundance, you'd think I'd be cooking for days-and you'd be right. When the nights become longer, I cook heavier, more extravagant meals. The chill in the air signals the need for food to 'stick to your ribs', as the old folks used to say. I suspect somewhere in my place of Deep Indwelling there is a need to keep the pots boiling, something harkening back to the days when an abundant harvest meant surviving through the cold winter months. My Celtic spirit honors that.

The aroma of the Five Sisters wafts up from the pan of apples. When cooled a bit, they'll be drizzled with a bit of maple syrup and wear a crown of vanilla ice cream. They reach up through the steam with beckoning fingers and whisper, " Come closer!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Samhain is seven days away; the Veil has been opening little by little for nearly six weeks now, the vibratory thrumming from the Other has been constantly in the background. It is the thrumming, along with the tree frogs and crickets, that I notice the most as I sit in the screen porch in the dark silently sipping British Blend tea from an old, cracked cup. There are other cups, but the tea tastes best front his one, it seems to have a history about it. I'm certain it was bought at  a flea market for just a few pennies. No one other than Jane would have bothered buying it, but it was probably cheap. Dishes and cups seem to be disposable in this house, as do clothing, and at times, people.

The backyard is pitch black. There are still a heavy umbrella of leaves to block the moonlight. Tall hedges block the neighbors on both sides. All I can see are the edge of the steps and the hanging bird feeder in the ambient light from the kitchen. The tea is good and comforting. The darkness- the Unknown- is disquieting. Somewhere a mournful train whistle is blowing. It is the only sound besides the crickets and the thrumming.

I should not be on the computer at all right now: my bed is full of Halloween decorations that need to find a spot on the shelves. I have been telling myself this for nearly six weeks. I love Halloween, it's my favorite holiday, and I look forward to it with Christmas-like anticipation each year...but to be honest, I have been depressed for weeks and don't want to do much more than I am doing right at this moment...except that I need another cup of tea to ward off the chill.

I did manage to take some things out to the recycle bin this afternoon and to cut a piece of wooden trim to fit into the casement window so I can wind the purple icicle lights around and hang them, and sit the 40+ year old blow mold ghost-holding-a-jack-o-lantern on the sill. Although it may not sound very productive, pushing through the depression/apathy makes this an actual accomplishment. Later I sat on the rolling chair in my room and unloaded all the Halloween things onto my bed in the hope that it would inspire me to start decorating. Instead, all I really want to do is ramble and drink tea.

Sitting on the porch as I type in the dark does neither. In the darkness just a few feet away, on the other side of the screen, lurks the Unknown. The other side of the screen doesn't feel threatening, just cold. Not being one who has ever been afraid of the dark, I am not eager to check whatever has just made footfalls out in the Unknown...probably just a cat or a fox...Maybe something else. I'm not certain I really care, I just want more tea.

I wonder if my ancestors ever gave in to this type of lethargy. I wonder if any of them ever had more pressing things to do, but stayed close and safe drinking tea instead while the great Unknown lurked just beyond the door.

It's Pumpkin Time!

I adore pumpkin pie, and to be truthful, I like a good, flaky pie crust, too...but it's all about the filling, so I went hunting for a good pumpkin custard recipe and found one on Taste of Home. Go ahead, use more spice if you want...I did.
Pumpkin Custard Recipe

Pumpkin Custard Recipe Pumpkin Custard Recipe photo by Taste of Home Rating 5

THIS DESSERT is a refreshing departure from pumpkin pie, but it has the same good old-fashioned flavor. I like to make custard. It's a cinch to prepare even on your busiest days and especially good after a hearty holiday meal, when just a touch for the sweet tooth is all you need. -Andrea Holcomb, Torrington, Connecticut

  • Prep: 10 min. Bake: 50 min.
  • Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients10 50 60
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • Whipped cream and ground cinnamon, optional


  • In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients; beat until smooth. Pour into four greased 10-oz. custard cups.
  • Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan; pour hot water around cups to a depth of 1 in. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20 minutes.
  • For topping, combine the brown sugar, pecans and butter. Sprinkle over custard. Bake 30-35 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm or chilled; top with whipped cream and cinnamon if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutritional Facts 1 serving (1 each) equals 422 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 144 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 61 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tree Lore

Buddha beneath the Bodhi Tree
" Tis wise to listen to the voices of trees, for they tell  us much that we might otherwise forget.", wrote the second century philosopher Tacitus. The ever expanding rings of trees tick off the years, decades, generations, centuries. They have long bee viewed as the keepers of memories and the gateways to the Otherworld in folklore. The Saxon word for tree-treow- means truth or trust. The tree, the oldest of living things in many cultures, held the ancient wisdom and knowledge. The Oak in particular, is a tree of mystery and magick,sacred to the mighty Greek god Zeus and the Nordic god Thor.The Oak and it's evergreen parasite, mistletoe, are both revered for their magickal properties by the Druids.

Trees play a part in many diverse religious traditions. Those in the Buddhist heaven known as Khunlun eat fruit from a divine peach tree, as do souls in the Empire of Jade in the Taoist faith. It is said  the fruit allows those who partake of it's sweetness to remain vibrant and young in order to enjoy the splendor of the afterlife. In the Islamic legend of the El-Mounteha, a magickal tree grows in the garden of Djanna which has branches of gold and emeralds, each leaf bearing the name of a living person. During the month of Ramadan the leaves with the names of those who will die during the year fall to the ground at this time. As this happens, new leaves with the names of those who are to be born emerge during the year. A similar tale exists in Africa.

The Norse god Odin hung on Yggdrasil, the "World Tree" for nine long days as an act of sacrifice, and while doing so took up the Runes. The Norns (whose Greek counterparts are the Fates) watered the Yggdrasil with water from a scared well  and coated it with clay so it's branches would not rot, ensuring the immortality of the tree. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Judeo-Christian myth of Adam and Eve is well known.

Tree worship cuts across cultures throughout the world, as evidenced in the custom of suspending or tying items such as ribbons, strings or strips of torn cloth to enlist the favor of local deities. A notable example is the Irish "clootie tree", usually found in close proximity to a sacred well. The items are affixed to the branches of the tree as a tangible reminder of a prayer to the god/ess of the area for a special favor, such as a healing or for a good harvest. The Glastonbury Thorn, a small Hawthorn, is said to have sprouted from he staff of Joseph of Arimathea. The Buddha is said to have gained his enlightenment while lying beneath a Bodhi Tree (believed to be a fig tree).

There is a surreal connection between humans and trees;  try meditating under the vast canopy of a tree, with your back against the trunk sometime. The result is a melding oneness as you seem to be absorbed into the heartwood. This is a particularly good opportunity to try a pathworking or trance journey if you have never experience this before. Simply ask for the tree's help in taking you deep into the place of Indwelling. You will never feel more grounded, more rooted to earth than when sitting beneath a tree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Uriel, the Flame of God

I will admit to you that I learned more about the angelic realm through ceremonial magic than in seminary. We talked about them a lot- we just didn't learn much about them. The reasoning was ( and still is in most mainstream religious teaching colleges) that there is very little concrete empirical  information  about angels other than they are messengers of G-d. The majority of them seem to appear out of  nowhere, deliver the goods, then just as miraculously disappear. Jewish tradition refers to them as 'ministers', with their names being their specific ministry or mission.[ ]

The sacred Hebrew texts mention several angels (or archangels) who have had notable missions. Sepharadic or Chassidic Jews do not pronounce the names of these angels aloud in readings and prayers, recognizing them for their tasks, but not giving them credence that could be mistaken for worship.While not mentioned in Christian cannon, Uriel is a significant presence in apocryphal texts.

The Archangel Uriel (aka  Auriel, and other names) is among these ( along with fellow archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel). His name translates roughly to" G-d is my light". He is often portrayed with a flame and sword, sometimes the two being combined due to a Biblical reference where he is believed to be the angel armed the flaming sword who kept Adam and Eve from returning to Eden.[,] This is based on a variety of folklore which associates him with illumination through fire, heat, light and traditionally names him as the angel who oversees Sheol according to the Book of Enoch.( It has been postulated in recent years that this angel guardian was actually Michael, who is often portrayed with a flaming sword. My personal feeling is that Michale has recently been used to supplant Uriel in myths due to the current resurgence of the cult of St. Michael that has infiltrated the occult.)  Uriel is also sometimes referred to as a Cherubim.http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Flaming_sword_%28mythology%29]
Sigil of Uriel

Uriel is also known as the Angel of Wisdom, because of his association with illumination. Doreen Virtue, PhD recommends that Uriel be called upon for "...problem solving, brainstorming, or important conversations".[] Those in some mainstream religions such as Catholosism and the Eastern Orthodoc traditions invoke his  help with decisions or to solve problems through prayer. In this role, he is depicted as carrying a book or scroll, or with the Flame of Truth burning on the palm of his hand. Because of this he has been adopted as the patrol of those being confirmed in the Anglican tradition, where he is given additional guardianship over the arts and sciences. John Milton's Paradise Lost features Uriel as "...the sharpest sighted spirit in all of Heaven"; he is also mentioned in Hideaway by Dean Koontz as the protector of a survivor of a near death experience to fight off the evil that continues to clamor after his soul.

Pagans are likely more familiar with Uriel as he is portrayed in the fantasy series Chronicles of the Dervni by Katherine Kurtz, where he is the Angel of Death who escorts souls to the Veil. He is a popular figure for conjuration by those who practice Ceremonial Magic and Kabbalah. Aleister Crowley and S.L. MacGregror Mathers mentions him frequently in their texts on Enochian ceremonial magick as one of the Watchtowers. ( Watchtowers being another version of  'The Watchers', spiritual beings each assigned a direction and element in some magickal traditions.) An invocation to Uriel, from the Grimorium Verum, which I first became acquainted with through The Book of Ceremonial Magic by A.E.Waite, features a lengthy invocation to Uriel. I have just recently found it online through the excellent resource site Sacred Texts []. As with all magick, Uriel can be evoked in the positive or negative, and I leave you with my usual caution to not call up anything you are not absolutely certain you can control and bind if necessary.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Soul Retrieval

Soul Retrieval is a shamanic practice used by indigenous people to attempt healing through the reclamation of parts of the psyche that have become lost due to trauma. The basic theory is that when an individual harbors internal feelings of the self not being complete or whole, a part of the person detaches from the psyche and becomes lost or otherwise disconnected. A shaman maybe called in to explore the situation through 'journeying', astral travel or ritual, much in the same way as a counselor would use cognitive therapy to delve into the hidden areas of  the client's mind.

I became interested soul retrieval a few years back when I was exploring different methods of trace to connect with past lives. Soul retrieval is a shamanic practice that aims to re-integrate 'lost' parts of the psyche.  I was fortunate to be able to attend some workshops on the subject Michael Harner and his associate Sandra Ingerman.[ Sandra Ingerman, Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self (2006); ISBN 978-0-06-122786-8]

Having attended these workshops and read a number of books on the subject, I can honestly state that I prefer the Harner/Ingerman methods because they they address 'soul loss' from a psychological as well as spiritual one. I am aware of various theories, including the recapitulation technique of Carlos Casteneda, and I personally do not believe that the problem is singularly psychoanalytical and kept in the deep memory of the individual as he suggests, but psycho-spiritual in nature. From my perspective you cannot have one without the other, as both areas need to be addressed to make the retrieval effective.

There is a variety of reasons for soul loss: a wish to escape an abusive situation where upon a part of the soul leaves to escape harm, to avoid a traumatic event suck as an accident. Theoretically a part of the soul can be taken by a lover, or a departed loved one.A mother may give away part of herself to her child. These are all procedures which lead to a type of protection which in psychology would be termed a form of disassociation.In many cases this is temporary and the missing portion returns on its own. Other times it becomes necessary to assist the individual in becoming whole again, usually through the employment of shamanic techniques.

Our language reflects this subconscious depletion. We speak of "giving my heart" or "giving myself away" or "giving a situation my all", when in reality what has taken place is a loss of a piece of the self. This type of exchange may at first seem to be reasonable and noble, but rationally unwise because you cannot give away a "piece" of your self  (psyche) to another person and remain a healthy and fully integrated individual.

You cannot empower another person by giving them a 'piece' of yourself, as each of us are unique. To do so causes the individual with the missing piece  not to be fully present within themselves. How often have you heard it said that someone feels like they have a hole or a void inside them? This is unconscious acknowledgement of that which  is missing.Even if you love someone madly and deeply, you cannot-you must not-"give yourself away". The reason is simple: you need all of who you are, all of what you have become, to be the very best individual you can be. Giving a part of yourself away to someone, even if you love them, means you are no longer the same person they fell in love with. The result is often expressed in statements such as, " I lost a piece of myself" Or " I feel my heart was stolen."...which are truer statements than we realize.

We have lost legitimate  understanding of what it is to loose a piece of ourselves because we are so often out of touch with our inner selves. We are no longer readily able to communicate with that which resides in our deep and shadowy places: the relationship between the mundane and spiritual is not just a gap, it's a chasm. That's why the issue of soul loss has been relegated to the psychologists and shaman to act as intermediaries.

Soul stealing is another version of soul loss, one where the piece of the individuals psyche is taken by force. A good example is the domination of an abuser over his/her victim. Another is being afraid of loosing someone, so you unintentionally take a piece of that person so you will always have them with you. While it is at a glance rationally reasonable to do such a thing, the one who "takes" or  "borrows" is in effect weakening the other individual, leaving them with a wounded psyche.

"Take it!
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!
Oh, oh, break it!
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh, oh, have a!
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby,
You know you got it if it makes you feel good."
~ Janis Joplin

It may make for cool lyrics in a rock song, but the fact is that taking another little piece of some one's heart (soul) strikes a devastating blow to their psychological integrity. Soul loss is a form of disassociation which can cause depression and loss of interest in things that normally gives the individual pleasure. It leaves you with the feeling that something is missing in your life...and it is.The void left crumbles away at the edges, leaving you feeling incomplete,helpless and ultimately worthless.

I find it interesting that the individual who has lost a piece of his or her soul to another person or situation often wishes to return physically to the place where the loss occurred. How often have you read of someone returning to their hometown after many years to 'face' their fears or to reconcile themselves with a particular personal event? I believe this is done by the individual in the hope that the lost part of themselves can be found there. The physiological event known as 'shock' is the loss of balance within the systems of the body: this also includes the regaining of equilibrium when the 'self' or 'soul' fully reenters the body. Until then, the person may feel disoriented.

Consultation with a shamanic practitioner concerning soul loss would result in that individual performing various techniques and rituals which would include astrally journeying  through trance in search of the client's lost soul fragments. Once located, it could possibly require another session in which to retrieve them, where upon the individual pieces would need to be ritually returned to the body until the soul's essence is once again felt to be in balance. It is a rare occurrence that the individual would be able to do this for themselves. This is where the objectivity of a skilled practitioner comes into play. The interpersonal exchange of being comforted by another during the process of  healing is a key element in this ritual, because the act is usually energetically and psychically exhausting. This is why I personally recommend the event take place in a ritual performed in sacred space.

I am not saying you cannot be active in your own healing; my point is that the process of journeying and the actual retrieval are very intense, and you will most certainly be energetically drained, perhaps so much so that you would be weakened to the point of being unable to complete the process properly. Engaging an experienced, knowledgeable practitioner who is aware of this and can reliably monitor the proceedings is paramount to a successful soul retrieval. 

For more information on methods of soul retrieval, visit:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why We Write What We Do

Teo Bishop often serves up an inspirational slice of  home made wisdom in his Bishop in the Grove blog Today's post asked what Pagans wanted to read in their magazines, blogs and books.I was particularly struck by this suggestion because it's Banned Book Week. The fact is that just five years ago a  blog for Pagans would have been rare; ten years ago, and it would have been unheard of. Any time I find someone who writes eloquently and mindfully within our community, that calls for recognition and sharing in my opinion. Our spiritual and personal growth depend on it.

I read BITG because I believe it's possibly the most well crafted and thought through blog online...certainly worth my time, and may I suggest, yours as well if you don't already indulge. Because to me, it often seems like an intellectual indulgence: something like pouring rich melted chocolate over a decadent piece of literary cake...and no one is fighting over fucking pancakes.

Today's Bishop in the Grove poised the question asking what Pagans wanted to read in their magazine, books and blogs,and more to the point, examined why those of who write do so. As a regular reader-and a writer- I was moved to mull this over and respond with my own thoughts. After I finished, I realized that I had written the foundation of the post you're now reading...

" I read other blogs (and write my own) for the occasional " A-ha" moment...I like my books to be a little more enduring. I may not go back to the blog that momentarily enlightened me, but I will always go back to a book on my shelf to refresh my memory or look for a deeper meaning in the words.

The truth is that I started writing my own blog because it was therapeutic; it was for me and just a few others who might have been interested in my occasional ramble or rant. The fact is, however, that now I also write for others because I have gained a bit of readership. I feel I owe it to the people who take time out of their day to make the effort to actually read my blog, and I appreciate and am grateful they care. They spur me on to be better at it, to go deeper, to pay attention to things I might not otherwise and to sometimes address those issues with my own unique voice.

The thing that keeps me personally humble, and the thing I like most about your style of writing, is that we both realize that we are only one voice out of many. I honor the voice inside of you as I honor my own -in a vast sea of others-as it should be.

Keep doing it just the way you're lead, because it makes for a fabulous journey."

And so it does make for a fabulous journey,one we can make together- fearlessly- whether all of us are 'out of the broom closet' or not. Each of us have a distinctly unique voice that should be heard.
And so it must be, by the gods. And so it must be.

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.