The Teaching New Moon in Taurus

FourOfCups

Admiring the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is an old NYC pastime that brings everyone out of their apartments and into the fields marveling at the fleeting pink beauties. Yet all I could think about were my allergies, broken sunglasses, and the one too many layers I wore on this otherwise picturesque outing. It took me almost an hour before I could finally be still. While spring has most definitely sprung and we’ve entered the Venusian season of Taurus, I’m feeling less sensual seduction vibes and more like a bull in a china shop. A New Moon in Taurus approaches us on Wednesday, April 26th at 8:16am EST. My initial thoughts were action-oriented and excitedly I wrote down one too many intentions: “I will use this energy to find a new day job, finish writing a screenplay, lose 10 pounds and why not organize my shoe closet.” While Taurus energy can be deeply productive, its attitude is slow and steady wins the race.

Like most New Yorkers, my work-life balance encompasses many places and faces. The common threads involve the art of witchcraft, social work, and performance, when lucky. Having spent much of my adult life championing witchcraft as a healing path, it can throw a witch off her broomstick when she becomes less than enchanted with the tools she’s come to rely upon for divine guidance. As we enter Taurus I find myself feeling totally lost about what projects to pursue and which ones to leave behind. Like a little kid yelling, “Are we there yet?” I want the answers and I want them now. What does a witch do when the signs seem vague, the astrological forecast is cloudy, and at the end of the day the common denominator is you? The wise words of my friend and astrologer, T.C. Eisele pop into my mind: “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Taurus can sometimes be the sign of what I like to call “stagnation nation.” Taurus craves security and material status because it suggests that they have it all together — the empire is impenetrable and therefore safe from any unknown variable. How do you know when it’s time to change ships and set off towards a new horizon? Are you selling yourself short by staying in a certain rut because it’s comfortable and easy with no surprises? Aries enjoys sport, yet Taurus enjoys the fruits of hard labor. Once a Taurus gets in their working groove, they are utterly reliable, trustworthy, and single-minded in their approach to getting the job done. When they go in, they go ALL in. Because they are Venus manifested in an earthy fashion, unlike airy counterpart Libra, Taureans are a tactile bunch who enjoy working hard in order to play hard, reveling in good food, wine, and sex.

One of the lessons of Taurus is in their stubborn resistance to change and their cautious approach to the big decisions we all face in life. I get this, now more than ever. Maybe it’s because I have a Moon in Capricorn, so I innately understand the need for security. Or maybe it’s because I’m a grown-ass, grown-up woman now with responsibilities. I operate in a world where I believe in the possibilities of magic but am practical with my application of it and see the danger of illusionary thinking. There are times when magic shouldn’t be used, and will not solve your problem no matter how many candles you light. No amount of chanting mantras will stop schizophrenia, pay your bills, or break up your relationship for you. Magic is energy and you are the conduit. The systems of divination are revelatory and magic always happens when you’re firing on all cylinders. But sometimes, when your magic seems to have run out, the lesson is all about “sitting in the vacuum of self.”

nina

Pain, disillusionment and change are teachers, and as stern and baffling as the lessons may be, they are all necessary parts of our spiritual journey. In many ways I recognize that I am living many of my dreams; married life is oh so sweet, I have a tight-knit group of friends and I get to pursue many of my life’s passions. With Taurus time, instead of relaxing among the blossoms, I’m not feeling myself and have been pining over others with their successful lives and bank accounts, something I hate to admit. What have I done wrong, why can’t I save money, why don’t I feel confident like some of my peers? The questions kept coming and finally one of the lessons stuck. Perhaps the challenge is to stop thinking, continue working and let the earth energy stabilize my frantic nerves. I thought of Nina Simone singing “Ain’t Got No-I Got Life,” and immediately remembered what I do have, my smile, my freedom, my limbs, my boobs and most importantly my life. I may not have figured out the next step but with this New Moon I’m going to be in my body and celebrate every sensual delight it can offer, blessing and thanking the earth for letting me walk among its many blossoms.

Advertisements

Magic for the Heart

trung-nguyen-tarot

Working in an occult shop as Valentine’s Day approached always brought out the romantic and amateur sociologist in me. I never grew tired of hearing people’s tales of broken hearts, sweet kisses, and the courage of commitment. For a secular holiday with murky and not so romantic origins, Valentine’s Day holds such a sense of power over us, producing anxiety around relationships or the lack of them. What unites us is our desire to give and receive love. What keeps love so elusive for many, is the tendency to neglect the most important relationship we have, the one with ourselves.

Our modern Valentine’s Day is really a product of American consumerism with a few traces of antiquity. The Catholic Church recognizes a few different saints named Valentine all of whom were martyred. One Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine disobeyed Claudius and performed clandestine marriages. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Lupercalia is an ancient Roman festival, which doesn’t have direct ties to modern Valentines Day, but being a fertility festival in mid-February, along with the rise of romantic sonnets and love letters during Victorian England, a modern holiday was born.

redrose

Love magic is most appropriate to work beginning with Ostara, the Spring Equinox, all through Midsummer with an emphasis on Beltane or May Day, the high holiday of fertility, lust and love. But now as we are in the stretch between the last snowflakes and first buds of spring, there is much time to meditate on how we can better show love for ourselves in order for it to manifest once spring arrives. bell hooks, author and feminist visionary writes that “true love sheds light on those aspects of ourselves we may wish to deny or hide, enabling us to see clearly and without shame, it is not surprising that so many individuals who say they want to know love turn away when such love beckons.” What aspect of yourself is hardest to love and in your mind could never be embraced? Why is it that we shy away when others see us in our most vulnerable and naked states? When love is presented to us, why do we feel not worthy of it?  And most importantly, why do we have the desire to throw it into the fire and walk out the door rather than work it out? Our shadow side is buried deep when it should, in fact, be tended to like a delicate rose garden, nurtured, watered and spoken to on a daily basis.

Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to meditate on the wounded parts of yourself that feel far removed from the thought of human touch, care and connection. Take a salted bath to cleanse and if possible use a green candle to represent the heart chakra and Venus in her earthly, grounded state. Carve the classic symbol of Venus into the candle with a pen or small carving tool. Dress it with scented oils of rose, geranium, lavender or any favorite floral scent that represents harmony. Light the candle and meditate on your beauty, strengths and what sets you apart. Write a love letter directly addressing the shadow side of you that feels incomplete and promise to make self-care and self-esteem a priority. More importantly write down three things you accept about yourself, no matter how difficult these truths may be. The more willing you are to be honest about your fears, desires and intimate goals, the easier it will be to share with future lovers. Reclaim this Valentine’s Day and treat yourself to a moment of loving self-reflection with honesty, commitment and caresses.

Image Credit: Trung Nguyen

Originally published at Slutist

Night Hags Unite!

hecatecrossroads

Little known fact, I used to be a burlesque dancer in my younger years, and learned all tricks of the trade from mastering a glove peel to the ultimate joy of tassel-twirling. My most memorable acts, however, were always the subversive ones that allowed audiences to relate and celebrate frank expressions of sexuality and personal wildness. Favorite reveals were waxed moustaches or surgery scars rather than the usual nipples. It was always sheer satisfaction, watching audience members cheer on honest and comic moments over standard beauty acts. As we approach a New Moon in Scorpio this Sunday October 30th as well as the high holiday of Samhain or Halloween, I’m whipping out the moustache once again, not for a costume, but to honor my own wildness, my own dark Goddess, warts and all.

kali

The New Moon in Scorpio coupled with Halloween this year, conjures up a desire to go inwards, diving headfirst towards the part of you that remains untamed. Culturally we’re living in a time that feels like a paradox, a bit of one step forward, meets one step back. Women in all their radiant forms have come so far, yet with recent politics, it sure doesn’t feel that way, as basic principles of respect and dignity are still laughable to some. What’s most meaningful about Goddess worship today, is that by the power of ritual, you can heal shades of your deepest and most private self by tuning into a cultural and energetic archetype that has remained throughout history. Samhain marks the end of the Wheel of the Year as the Goddess slumbers, we too cannot escape the plunge towards winter, a season for hibernation. The Dark Goddess can be found in the mass of our uncombed hair. Her mythology and tales cross cultures, from Jewish mythology, we have Lilith, “night-hag” and first wife of Adam, who refused to lie beneath him. In Irish mythology we can draw power from The Morrigan, “phantom queen,” who foresaw tragic deaths in battle. The Dark Goddess shows herself in the Hindu goddess Kali with blood dripping down her blue skin or with Oya the warrior orisha fiercely protecting her children. Our naked shadow side, the Dark Goddess is not easily embraceable which is why during Halloween, she is the anti-costume. Letting all truths hang out, coming to teach us strength and resilience she leads with her guiding and weathered hand. She is twice bitten but never shy. Often women like this become known as “bitches,” “crones,” or “hags.” The Dark Goddess is a three dimensional archetype and like the triple moon goes through all phases from seductress to crone.

perfect-lilith-crop
The Dark Goddess I connect to often, is a popular one, Hecate the Greek triple goddess, who represents the moon, crossroads, occult powers and sexuality. The stark beauty of Samhain is reflected in Hecate’s symbolic torches, a reminder that through our darkest hours, moonlight never fades and always provides solace. If you feel drawn to her, find a crossroads late at night on Halloween. Dress in a black cloak and sprinkle cypress, yew or hawthorne in all 4 corners before walking toward the center of the crossroad. There, light two candles, purple or black, to represent Hecate’s torches. Ask for her light and guidance to navigate your personal darkness and for safe passage through this winter season. Not the easiest of rituals to do in public, so this can also be performed at a crossroads in a park, or a graveyard. If you are an urban dweller, improvise and create 4 corners in your room, calling out for Hecate and entering a trance-like state. As we approach the introspection of Samhain, take some time to delve deep and discover your own inner wildness.

Originally published at Slutist

Sowing Seeds In September

woodland-witches

The feeling of hysterical blindness was running rampant last week as the Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Pisces left no eye dry and wounds reopened. Like Persephone or Alice in Wonderland, I felt as if I was descending into a frightening abyss only to wake up to even more confusion and endless tears. Luckily this week ushers in a whole new season and a chance for emotional equilibrium with the Autumn Equinox or Mabon this Thursday Sept. 22nd as well as the planet Mercury stationing direct.

Mabon is a lesser Sabbat in modern Wicca where autumnal delights are celebrated and witches use the equinox energy to balance and ground oneself before the season shifts as leaves fall and temperatures dip. The 2nd of the 3 harvest celebrations, Mabon is a thanksgiving where all the bounty gets collected, distributed and the process of storing for winter now begins. One can see the old ways in your local farmers market and notice what produce is on display in abundance.

arthur-rackham-joy-of-a-fallen-leaf

Equinoxes are auspicious times of the year as day and night stand equal and anything that feels out of proportion sticks out like a sore thumb. What’s the elephant in your room? Mabon also welcomes Libra season, the only astrological sign represented by an object, the scales of justice. Libra famously represents relationships, the other and the collective “we” as opposed to the Aries “me.” What relationships feel unbalanced or undernourished? Have they changed or have you grown past them? Take the time to evaluate your role in all interpersonal relationships and be the graceful change you want to see rather than pointing the finger at the other party. Libra is also the sign of aesthetics, art and beauty and with Jupiter now orbiting in fair Libra for the next year; we have an opportunity to expand our Venusian attributes and visions. That is if we can gather the confidence and gusto to take a change. The Libra energy can get us stuck in endless debates and weighing the pros and cons rather than making a decision. Use your “witch gut” as I like to call it and only allow yourself a few days of deliberation.

Mabon may not be as celebrated as say Samhain or Beltane, yet I find it rather important because it’s a time to take a step back and do a visual scan of your holistic being from your health practices to your unique place in the world. The beauty of the equinox is a moment where there is perfect balance for one day. An easy ritual to do is to go into nature, perhaps your own backyard, or a quiet spot in a local park and lie out on a blanket. Mabon altars are typically decorated with corn, pinecones, pumpkins, apples and other September offerings. Make your body the altar and hold any of these tangible tokens as you guide yourself into a deep mediation. Assess your physical body and see where the aches and pains stem from. Tears may flow. Let Mother Earth absorb them for the ground you lie on is sacred ground here to balance and nourish you. When you feel grounded sit up and write your Autumn intentions on a piece of paper, and as many farmers sow the seeds in September, plant your intentions into the ground. As they are buried safely within the dirt know that they are being fertilized and processed, like a bear hibernating through winter, so will your deepest wishes.

Originally published at Slutist

 

 

Magic Rites Between The Eclipses

suncat

As we enter the final 2 weeks of August, I’m submerging myself into a wondrous time and space to work magic between the eclipses. Currently we are in the midst of the season of Lammas, the ancient Celtic holiday was celebrated on the 1st of August. Lammas, or Lughnasadh, is the first harvest of the year and the beginning of the end of summer. The hot nights are starting to grow shorter as wheat, corn and a variety of vegetables are ready to be gathered and stored for winter use. Lammas lore tells of a time when the God of Grain (the myth of John Barleycorn) is reaped and transformed into bread; he who gives up one state in order to become another, parting from his beloved Goddess, all for the greater good. Sound somewhat familiar? One of the key themes of Lammas is sacrifice and its mythology is one of the darkest in Wicca, only second to Samhain, the final harvest sabbat of the year. As we bow our head to the fading rays of summer, let’s use this powerful time between the recent Lunar Eclipse and the upcoming Solar Eclipse (& New Moon in Virgo) on September 1st, to reflect on our summer lessons and prepare for the cycle of change that lies before us.

 

Last Thursday we experienced a partial Lunar Eclipse and a Full Moon in Aquarius, also known as the Sturgeon Moon in some Native American tribes due to their savvy knowledge that fish were plentiful this time of year. The Aquarius Moon opposite a Leo Sun is symbolic of figuring out one’s place in the big, bad world. But is it really so bad? Are you feeling isolated and without a purpose, lost on a mammoth and unloving planet? Or are you feeling right in sync, weaving and working out differences with others, content with your place in the world at this point in time. As the Full Moon wanes, we leave magnanimous, sunny Leo and enter the practical earth sign of Virgo, the perfectionist maiden who is hard at work, collecting summer’s bounty and purposefully organizing it all with her delicate hands.

constellation-virgo

Use this waning energy to do a purification ritual with the intent of clarifying your visions and getting focused on “cleaning house,” both body and spirit. If you are so lucky to be near a lake or ocean, do your rites there, or a bathtub will suffice for urban witches. Wait until everyone has gone to sleep and gather the following herbs that are symbolic of the season and used for purification such as, heather, oak, basil, blessed thistle, elecampane, sage, hyssop or mandrake. (Any combination of these herbs will do.) If you’d like, feel free to add moonstone or opal to this bag for some extra lunar mojo. Assemble them into a muslin bag (a bag similar for steeping tea leaves) and grab a silver, white or blue bowl to collect water. Make sure you can see the Moon, in all her bright glory, regardless of your location. As you enter the water, feel the cool waves wash over you. Fill the bowl up with water and toss in the herbed sachet. Let it soak for as long as you’d like and meditate on the lunar mysteries. Reflect on your unique place in this vast universe even if you’re not quite sure where the next step will take you. Any anxieties or inadequacies will be washed away, the water absorbing those feelings with love and care. If you’re doing in ritual in the bathtub, simply toss the sachet into the cool water. If you’re out in nature, use the bowl to steep the herbs and pour the water over yourself asking for the Moons’ blessings.

 

On the morning of September 1st at 5:03am (Eastern time) we welcome the new month with a New Moon in Virgo along with a Solar Eclipse. The shadow side of Virgo as a frazzled, detail-obsessed workaholic, missing the forest for the trees can reach an all time peak with planets Mercury and Jupiter also currently in Virgo. Use the energy of the Solar Eclipse to take the mental energy of Virgo and manifest it into something earthly by doing a ritual dance of the dawn. In advance, prepare an incense of frankincense resin, honeysuckle flowers, marigold, benzoin resin and rose oil. Grind it in a mortar and pestle and burn on a charcoal tablet in a heat-safe cauldron. Again, any combination will do, but frankincense and benzoin will create a nice base that is easy to burn and blends well with the scent of rose and honeysuckle. As the sun rises, sit sky-clad (nude) and soak in the powerful beauty of the dawn. If you feel inspired, wear a piece of amber or any golden stone. As you breathe in imagine yourself to be one its rays, full of illumination and health. Light the incense and as you continue to meditate, stand up with your arms spread open and wide, receiving the Sun and begin to dance. Do not feel self-conscious for this is your private moment where you are honoring the beauty and strength of your physical body and it’s in rightful place in nature. Put on your favorite songs and get lost in a passionate dance all your own. As seasons change, unexpected opportunities, tragedies and non-events all happen simultaneously. The magic of our rites gives us permission to pause as we say farewell to days of summer and welcome the cool autumn nights.

Previously published on Slutist

Mischief and Magic On The Eve of Beltane

fire-dance

Gimmicks, bonfires and what witches do, the Eve of Beltane or May Day is upon us. To add to the energetic pandemonium, 5 planets, Jupiter, Pluto, Mars, Saturn and now Mercury are all retrograding in the sky, giving us the optical illusion and palpable fear that all we have set forth will now come to a screeching halt. What auspicious timing; the art of witchcraft and one of its’ most potent holidays is here and instead of running away from the onslaught of energies why not face the bonfire with gusto and jump in.

The cultural mythology and true magical lore that surrounds the eve of Beltane also known as Walpurgis Night in European and Scandinavian countries is filled with a tradition of celebrating fertility and the height of springtime with full freedom, passion and a bit of mischief in all activities. It is a time of year when the veils between the worlds are quite thin and an essential night for spell casting. In German folklore, Walpurgis Night was a diabolical evening, Walpurgis translating to “Witches Night,” where witches would meet and convene with the Devil atop the highest peak, Brocken in the mountains of central Germany. The 17th-century German tradition of a meeting of sorcerers and witches on May Day eve is deeply influenced by the descriptions and fascination with witches, the devil and sorcery found in much of German 15th- and 16th-century literature. In Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and other eastern European countries, the eve of Beltane is a farewell to the last day of April and the welcoming of bountiful crops, sunshine and romantic courtship.

may-pole-daisies-600kb

Along with Samhain, Beltane is one of the Great Sabbats for Wiccans and other Pagans who follow the Wheel of the Year. May 1st marks the official beginning of Summer and Beltane or “Bel-fire” corresponds to the Celtic god of fire Bel, “Bright One” god of light and fire. The Bel-fires were lit on hilltops to celebrate the return of fertility and life to the world. One of the popular traditions is to jump over the bonfire for various intentions; finding a mate, safe journeys, or healthy pregnancy. Cattle and other herds were driven through two fires to bring luck and a healthy supply of milk on April 30 and then on May 1st (in Ireland) the cattle were taken off to their summer pastures until Samhain.

Munich-May-day

Beltane is also a frank and joyous celebration of sexuality and fertility. Maypoles are erected, as representations of phalluses and dancing around the Maypole, hunting for nuts and staying up to watch the May 1st sunrise are all festive things to do. Love spells and divinations as well as beauty spells, such as washing your face in the May morning dew to beautify the skin, are also popular. On the eve of Beltane, start a small fire in your cauldron or light a large red candle to symbolize fertility (in all senses of the word) love, passion and joy. Work your magic skyclad, or nude, and start your spell close to midnight. Whether it is for clarity in regards to a lover, creative inspiration or purifying oneself for the new season, fire magic can be used in numerous ways. Put on some music that inspires ecstatic dancing and move wildly around your fire until you fall into a trance. When your energy is raised and your intent clear send all of it in to the fire and when the moment feels right, jump over it. Working nude is preferred for fire safety and as an expression of healthy sexuality and love for ones’ beautiful body. If you have a partner, what a perfect ritual to share with your loved one and let the sparks ignite your passion deep into the night as the sun rises on May morning.

Originally published on Slutist