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Hey don’t give me the evil eye on my bookversary. ^_~

Today marks the two year anniversary of my book:
🧿 Combatting the Evil Eye 🧿

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Combatting the Evil Eye

The history of malocchio–the evil eye–crosses multiple cultures, and apotropaic charms and practices have persisted through to the modern day. Combatting the Evil Eye explores how to diagnose and treat this condition. It offers a range of traditional and not-so-traditional cures and a plethora of resources for this often overlooked but potentially devastating affliction.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NPNy84

 

So many cultures have folk traditions revolving around warding off the evil eye that in 2018 it was added as a universal emoji icon: 🧿.

For my readers, what was your biggest take-away from the book?

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Autographed Copies of Living Runes

living_runes_autographedFor anyone interested in an autograph copy of Living Runes: Theory and Practice of Norse Divination, I have a very limited quantity  available (only ten remaining) for purchase at the shop. So better act fast before they are all gone!

This is the ONLY place to get autographed copies short of a face-to-face interaction with me.

A Strange and Frustrating Day

Today was a very frustrating day, for reasons that I’m about to go into. I’ve spent hours searching online for a dollhouse. There is a blessing charm for a home that I learned years ago, that involves a dollhouse and a bit of sympathetic magic. For all that it sounds simplistic, it is surprisingly organic, creative and enjoyable to work, and very, very difficult to break. I’ve been wanting to make one of these for friends of mine who just moved into their first home for some time now. I thought it would be simple (if somewhat expensive) to find the perfect dollhouse and get to work. I was so very wrong.

Now I had a dollhouse when I was a child. When I was seven or eight, my parents took me to a local craftsman’s shop, one who specialized in custom built dollhouses and I got one made to my specifications (within reason and my parents’ budget.). It’s only now that I’m an adult that I realize just what a gift that was. My parents never had much cash to burn. It was a rare indulgence.  I loved that dollhouse though and it was my first introduction to world-building. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that I learned to work magic through the medium of this structure. If I had children, I’d be absolutely sure they had the same opportunity to develop this type of spatial creativity. (Plus, it kept my overly curious ass out of trouble, which was no bad thing lol).

So, anyway, I’ve been collecting small miniatures that I planned to use in this charm for some time now so I figured it was high time I got the house and started putting it all together. It’s a type of hands-on magic I enjoy but rarely get to use. How hard could finding a dollhouse be? Well, holy shit. For one thing, 95% of the dollhouses I found were for kits. One even opined, “Have you always wanted to build your own house?” No fucker. I haven’t. This is what I pay craftsmen for. Die in a fire, thank you. (Though granted, had one the skill, making this type of thing from the ground up would be a very, very powerful addition to the overall charm). So that was annoying, but not what I found really upsetting and aggravating.

Almost all the finished houses I found (on specialty sites, etsy, ebay, etc.) were utter trash. They were cheap, poorly made, often garish, and ugly. They were, essentially, disposable. I’m not sure what bothered me more, the fact they were ugly or the fact they were poorly made. I’ve seen this with a particular relative’s children the first time I visited them: their toys were all mass-produced garbage. They treated it that way too and I realized not ever having something made with care and craft, these kids weren’t learning to take care of nice things. I wonder what their lives will be like as that attitude takes root and grows. Far better to have one thing well and properly made than a dozen pieces of trash.

I realized, talking with my husband and our housemate that part of what was being triggered in me was a series of Duergar related taboos I picked up from my adopted mother. My housemate, a Freya’s woman, was likewise triggered (not surprisingly since Freya has a strong connection to the Duergar and to good craftsmanship). As we were talking this out, I realized that buying shoddy, cheaply made items, mass-produced items, represented the destruction of individual livelihoods, of artisans, artists, and craftsmen. It breaks the essential relationships upon which proper, healthy communities should be built and it ingrains in us a lack of caring for the beauty around us. It takes away the pride in having something well made, making something well, and the ability of the crafter to take pride in his or her labor. There’s a huge difference between mass production and creation. No wonder I ended up having so many problems with this today. On top of that, it’s not enough to have something well made. It has to be the appropriate, proper item for a task too.

Trying to help me out, a friend of mine this morning found a lovely, hand-made dollhouse for me and brought it over. He’d found it on craigslist, a lovely Victorian cottage made in 1920 by a man for his daughter. It didn’t look like what I wanted (for this type of charm, it’s helpful for the house to look as close as possible to the actual environment that it’s to represent) but I figured it was hand-made and had been much loved and I might as well use it, even though my first, gut response had been, “Nooo that’s nice but not right for this.” I should have listened to my gut. Always, listen to your gut! Instead, I started spinning out the magic. Several hours later I was about ready to tear someone’s head off. I was aggravated, irritated, achy, and starting to get a bad headache, not a migraine, but the type of headache I get when magic is going awry. When my husband came in, we spoke about it and I realized that the house just wasn’t right so I took everything out of it, undid the charm, asked the ancestors for help and put things away. I’m still doing cleansings. Tomorrow, I’m probably going to see if my next-door neighbor, who has a small child, would like the house for her kid and then I’ll just give it to her. It’s a beautiful dollhouse, but just wasn’t right for my purposes.

I remember last year I went down the rabbit hole on youtube one day and ended up watching something like eight hours of a BBC show on the Edwardian Farm. Three archaeologists live like Edwardian farmers in a recreated village setting for a full year, following the rhythms of the seasons and introducing the viewer to what life was like in Edwardian England (they did a whole series of these and they’re awesome). One thing that struck me was how interconnected the entire village would have been. The baker gets yeast from the brewer, who gets xyz from the farmer, who relies on someone else for certain goods. It was an interconnected web of existence and interdependence. There was individuality and craftsmanship, a respect for well-made tools that honors the thing itself and the spirit of the thing. With the coming of industrialization (and eventually mass production) that web was broken. Look at our world today and one can easily see the results.

We learn as children how to move in our world through play. We learn to value and respect the connections we make, and to appreciate beauty and art, craftsmanship and care. If that is lacking our world can be a very uneasy, fractured place. If all we are ever exposed to is cheap garbage, what is that teaching us? Far better to support our local craftsmen or our community craftsmen when we can. 

victorian dollhouse

Cats are Magical Creatures ^_^

hishida-shunso-cat-under-plum-blossoms

This is, I’m sure, no surprise to any cat owner. Lol. But I’ve been realizing the last few months, exactly how magical these little furry murderers can be. Lately, I’ve become fascinated by folktales and fairy tales where cats are, in some way, the heroes. This all started as my ancestor practices with my paternal, Lithuanian line deepened. Gabija, the Lithuanian Goddess of the hearth and fire, can take the form of a cat and many of my ancestors really seemed to like them. I started getting pushed to get a cat of my own, so my husband and I adopted a little old lady cat from a local shelter. That was eye opening.

I’ve noticed that she wards the house. Whenever there are jagged, miasmic, or negative energies about, she will be our first warning. Even before we pick up on anything, Elena (our cat) is alert and through her behavior gives us warning. When we are divining, she will come from wherever she’s at in the house, sit and watch without interfering with the mat, and when we’re done, she’ll wander off again. She also seems to help at managing the energy of the house. As I’ve been reading about the role of cats in folklore, Lithuanian and otherwise, my respect for the little creatures has skyrocketed. This is an animal I’ve always liked, but never really considered in terms of a working ally. So, I’m kind of shocked to find myself, as a vitki and spirit worker, thinking “cats are cool.” Lol. I’ve even seen friends’ felines engaging in behavior that to my eyes and senses looks an awful lot like prayer.

Cats are of course, associated with magic in much of the folklore I’ve been reading. They are clever and dangerous; they are also often protective. In ancient Egypt, they were sacred. In Japan, they are believed to bring luck and wealth into a dwelling. I think they do. Also, I firmly believe they bring out the best in people. I said recently, only half joking, that all diplomatic negotiations should take place in a room full of cats! When we respond to them, they make us better humans.

Finally, there are two movies about cats that I’d highly recommend. The first is a Turkish film called “Kedi” that traces five stray cats throughout their meanderings around Istanbul. It also shows the sweet and caring way random people respond to them. The second is “Cat Nation,” a documentary about the popularity of cats in Japan. It’s a beautiful example of animism in action at times.

I also recommend “The Cats of San Martino,” a short story by Ellen Steiber in the anthology “Black Heart, Ivory Bones.” It’s a re-imagining of an Italian folk-tale about the King of the Cats. I love this tale. There’s also the book “The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles” by Kij Johnson, a beautiful book that makes me wonder about the stories cats tell about themselves.

I’m still pondering this. In the meantime, those of you who have cats, tell me your magical tales. ^__^.  And if you have any books or stories to recommend, feel free to post here.

 

“Two magicians walk into a bar…” quite a good teaching tale

One of my friends and students sent me the following story, which I found so relevant that I asked for the link which I now share with you here

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

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Wow…Just…Wow: talk about missing the point

Someone emailed a colleague of mine out of the blue with the following question (he shared it largely out of shock at the utter obliviousness of it all):

-” What does the shaman who horses (1) deities get in return for all the sacrifice, hard work & suffering they had to endure to become a shaman in the first place?… Can the shaman expect to be a highly skilled & powerful sorcerer whose (sic) able to bring about change in his life & this world through sorcery, after horsing deities for years? Or is it dependent on the relationship that is forged with the deity?”

The question is offensive on many levels and oblivious on many others, so much so that I was left quite literally speechless when my friend emailed me. (I think I said something to the effect of ‘I don’t know quite what to say here but you do get the best questions. Damn!’).(2)

Even writing this, I’m still pretty boggled by the question. First of all, what do you get? You get a job. You get the honor and privilege of serving the Gods, a particular privilege that most people never even conceive of let alone experience.

But more to the point, it’s not about us. A shaman provides service to the Gods and to the community. It’s not self-serving. No one in their right mind would want this job and yet, it is an honor and a privilege to be taken up in this way.

I just am so boggled by the incorrect attitude displayed in the email, not just to the idea of a shaman’s work being for personal empowerment, but the idea that we can use relationships with the Gods for personal greed. It is so incredibly wrong. If you ever wanted a primer on how not to approach the Holy Powers, this is it.

There are many ways to approach the Gods but first and foremost there is a foundational commonality on those that are appropriate and that commonality is respect. These are Holy Powers. They are the Movers and Shapers of the Cosmos. We were created to exist in right relationship with Them. They do not exist to pander to the worst of our instincts and desires.

Part of regaining right relationship with the Powers involves understanding that everything is not about us. We are not the super-center of the cosmos. The universe does not exist to cater to our whims and to stroke our egos.

So to answer this fool’s question, you get to be of service. You get to go to your grave knowing you did your part to restore right relationship communally with the Gods. You get to experience specific Deities more closely than can ever be imagined. That is both a grace and a blessing. No, you cannot, as a result of horsing (or anything else we do) expect to be “a highly skilled & powerful sorcerer” capable of bending the world to his will (and if you want to study magic, that too is a lifetime’s commitment and takes sacrifice). This is not a D&D game. And everything, everything is always dependent on the relationships we forge with our Gods, and those relationships that we nurture? They’re the reward for the work.

Notes:

1. To horse a Deity is to carry that Deity via possession. It’s terminology drawn from the Afro-Caribbean traditions. The Deity “rides” the devotee as one might ride a horse.

2. I asked my colleague’s permission to share the question for this post.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Allegiance

 

takei lions

So my article on re-enchanting our world seems to have provoked a bit of concern among some of my readers. Normally, this would pass unremarked but I think in this case it really highlights the major ideological fault line running through our various communities today: what takes precedence, the Gods and spirits or humanity?

This is not new. In fact, I think it’s always been the primary fault line upon which we dance for at least the twenty-five plus years that I’ve been a polytheist. I wasn’t surprised to see it come up here. This is what the differences in our communities largely come down to: do you prioritize the Gods or do you prioritize the people and if the latter, then what it eventually becomes is prioritizing politics over any Holy Being. That is the inevitable outcome of that consideration. Is it any wonder then that the political pagan crowd are so doggedly determined to silence polytheists? We challenge the entire framework by which they have ordered their world. We also apparently challenge contemporary parenting styles, you know, the kind that teach you that there are consequences to one’s actions.

There are rules to dealing with Gods and spirits. They don’t have our ethics and we don’t make those rules but yes, we are expected to abide by them. This is not a difficult thing. There is, in fact, no small degree of middle class Western privilege inherent in our difficulties with what is really a very easy equation. It’s something that anyone raised in their own indigenous polytheisms easily comprehends. Hell, it’s something that anyone raised in a culture still possessing a vibrant folk tradition (like, for instance, Appalachia) might also comprehend. It’s only the privilege of the supposedly enlightened middle class that refuses to see what any five year old familiar with Grimm’s fairy tales might know: there are consequences to ignoring rules and we don’t get a pass with the spirits when we do so just because we’re happily steeped in social justice, politics, or racial self-abasement. Some spirits value our consent, but not all of them, not by a long shot and that goes for Gods too. What is the saying? Ignorance of the law does not excuse breaking it.

Now, one may argue that by laying my charms I’m setting out a honey trap. Yes, I am. It is still the choice of the passer by whether or not to steal it. Choices have consequences and if I am able to create even the barest crack whereby my Gods and spirits might gain greater purchase in our world, then I am happy to help and I shall sleep content.*

I think that at the core of this fault line is fear of the Gods warring with lack of belief and perhaps lack of desire to believe. If you believe in the Gods after all, then don’t you trust Them? Why would you not wish to return the world to Them, to restore what was destroyed? If you don’t believe in Them, why are you bothered at all? A delicious catch twenty-two, yes? No matter, paucity of piety on the part of others will never impact my own work and let me be clear about what that is.

My allegiance is to my Gods and spirits. My job is to open doors for Them, restore Their cultus, reclaim territory ripped away by monotheism. I am not in the least bothered if that makes people uncomfortable. I will always put the needs of my Gods and Their attendant spirits first and foremost, understanding that They are hunters, understanding that They have been waiting a very long time to reclaim what was Theirs, understanding that in struggles such as these there is always a rate of attrition. I will break your reality down until you see and hear and taste and smell, acknowledge and maybe even fear what is actually there.

and i’ll consider that a good day’s work. 

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* I might also add that it’s rather insulting that my readers might assume that I simply create blanket doorways for random passing spirits. Of course they are keyed to a very specific group of spirits and Gods. I am very careful in what I do.

Re-enchanting our world…literally

We have assembled inside this ancient
& insane theatre
To propagate our lust for life
& flee the swarming wisdom
of the streets
(J. Morrison)

This weekend was so tremendously inspiring, in part because I was able to talk with other devotees, other polytheists, and in a couple of cases other spiritworkers. We were able to exchange knowledge and techniques, and one of the things that I was able to see first hand is how others go about opening doors to the Gods and spirits in their world. I’ve come away with quite a few ideas.

One of those ideas is actually littering my town with enchantments designed to enhance people’s awareness of the Gods and spirits populating our world, designed to open small keyholes and doorways through which our eldritch spirits may skitter. I suppose it might be called ‘glamour bombing’ but there’s less glamour and more eerie fucking magic to be had when this is done right.

To create charms designed to affect the finder, designed to tag them for the spirits, designed to mark them for the Gods, designed to open their awareness little by little to the world beyond our world, the world within it, the enchantment, the holiness all around us? Fuck yeah. It is seeding the place with power. It is creating contamination with the holy. I’m good with that. Let the Gods and Their retinue of spirits seep and creep into our world by any means necessary, by any doorway, window, keyhole, and loophole at their disposal. Amen and ashe.

Tonight, I decided to try my hand at it. It’s 2:30am and I just returned from planting the first charm, and about that I’ll say no more save that I felt it take hold in the fabric of the wyrd and it is the first of many to be laid.

gl bmb 1

I’d like to encourage others to do this…use the conduit of art to lace your world with enchantments, beauty, and a little mystery. Create charms and shrines and everything in between and fucking recolonize the world for and with our Gods and every one of the spirits that serve Them. Step by step, stone by stone, shrine by shrine, offering by offering, and charm by charm let us reclaim. They are everywhere.

 

 

The Lords. Events take place beyond our knowledge or control. Our lives are lived for us. …But gradually, special perceptions are being developed. The idea of the “Lords” is beginning to form in some minds. We should enlist them into bands of perceivers to tour the labyrinth during their mysterious nocturnal appearances. The Lords have secret entrances and they know disguises. But they give themselves away in minor ways. Too much glint of light in the eye. A wrong gesture. Too long and curious a glance.
(J. Morrison)