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Bright Moon, Kemetic

Kemetic Bright Moon 6/24

Earlier today, I did my usual Bright Moon Ritual to Bast and Sekhmet, and this is the message they gave me, to share with my community:

Many of you are standing at a precipice: take care how you fall. If you stand there, you will fall, for there is no longer a way to stay where you are. But you can choose how far and how painful an experience your fall is. You may be tempted to prepare a swansong and leave your destination to chance, but this is a beginning as well as an ending. Those of you who feel isolated may find compatriots where you land. Be more proactive than reactive — be careful what you reflect. Contribute to illumination, not misapprehension and obscurity. Grief swirls around each of you, and if you get caught in an eddy of that grief, you must learn to steer your emotions — do not let them control you. Move like water, and dance like flame: not all feelings can be processed in stillness and silence. Your struggles are the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, and the doubts you have for yourself are also doubts for the victories of ma’at. Isfet is persistent, and the war is ongoing: we fight at night so that you may enjoy the day. Stand in the sun — let us warm you.

The next full moon is July 23rd, and after that we’ll be heading into the Epagomenal Days at the beginning of August. If you have any questions, or if you would like to request a personal message or heka for July, please email the shrine here. And if you are interested in supporting the shrine, I have a tip jar set up here. Thanks!

Other Updates

Hedgewitch: How I Describe My Magical Craft

I mentioned in a previous post that I tend to refer to my magical practice as hedgewitchery, and myself as a hedgewitch, but I thought it would be useful to go into that in more depth in this new blog post.

So, what do I mean when I call myself a hedgewitch? What is it I do ?

This: I practice folk magic to balm and bane, I divine for omens, I truck with spirits, I cross the hedge to walk the worlds, and I dabble in herbs.

FOLK MAGIC

A lot of my magical practice draws on folklore and folk magic traditions, and incorporates the materials I have around me in a way that some might call traditional witchcraft. I use pieces I’ve learned from family and friends, or invented myself, with what bits and bobs I had on hand or could easily acquire: paper or yarn, candle or salt, herb or stone. I read about other witches’ practices, I talk to my peers, and we inspire each other to use materials or magical technologies in ways that solve the problems in front of us. Most of it is highly personal and highly intuitive, often with guidance from spirits. I have a couple of pretty tools (a brass bell, a copper mug, a pillar of quartz, an engraved wooden spoon) but most everything also has a very practical purpose. I love the look of a fancy wand as much as the next magpie, but I’ve never really used ceremonial tools with any regularity, and I rarely do magic in a manner that requires an altar set just-so. In fact, many of my most “complicated” workings are done almost entirely in trance.

BALM AND BANE

Healing and hexing are two sides of the same coin, in my view. I can heal with darkness, I can curse with light, and in fact I have an upcoming workshop for the NoVA Pagan Moot on exactly that. I am trained in several modalities of energetic or spiritual healing, and I combine them intuitively for those who seek my services. But just as poison in the right dosage can be medicine, a medicine in the wrong dosage is often a poison. Non-consensual or inexpertly targeted healing can cause harm, and sometimes a binding or a banishing can twist someone’s fate so that they’re heading in a more positive direction. Magic is complicated, consent matters, and every effective spell has consequences, intended or not. I try to do more good than harm, but if I’m between a rock and a hard place I will use every tool in my arsenal. I see a lot of people who have a very all-or-nothing mindset around banework, and I don’t think that’s nearly as helpful as having actual discussions about ethics and harm reduction, and us each figuring out our own personal boundaries.

DIVINATION

I am an eternal student of divination: I keep learning new forms, and I keep going deeper with the forms I am already proficient with. I practice several types of cartomancy, I read ogham staves and rune stones, I take omens taken in the wild from the flight of birds, and I sometimes even turn to modern technological omens like shufflemancy and the rolling of d20s. Not everything works well for me: I’ve never quite gotten the hang of pendulums or spirit boards, for instance. But I am proficient enough in many forms that I have enough confidence in my skill to offer these services for money, and the reviews I get back are extremely positive. I use my tools to divine the future, the past, the present—to illuminate anything that is shrouded, to look around corners, to answer what-ifs as best I can, knowing as I do that things are always in flux. I use these tools to speak with and to get messages from spirits of many kinds, both for myself, and on the behalf of others.

SPIRITWORK

I have deep relationships with two pantheons of Deities: the Tuatha Dé and the Vanir. I am also deeply entwined with the Álfar and with the Daoine Uaisle, through the Fairy Queen I serve. I maintain relationships with my local Good Neighbors, Nature Spirits, and Land Wights where I live, where I visit and practice, and where I travel. I honor my Beloved Dead, and those Ancestors (of blood or of path) who appear to guide and to help me. There are spirits in my household; they are my allies and my companions, my guides and my guardians. I also maintain cordial relationships and open lines of communication with many of the Deities and other tutelary spirits of my human-incarnate friends and associates. Most of my magical work involves these many types of spirits; I do workings with them, for them, because of them, on their behalf, or at their request.

HEDGECROSSING

Hedge-crossing, hedge-riding, journeying, pathworking, world-walking: whatever you may call it, I use these to refer to the act of travelling in spirit to the Otherworlds. This is a type of trancework, and the one I use most often. I slip between this world and an Other to see spirits more clearly, to converse with them, or to take a look at the landscape and flows of energy. I travel to visit spirits I know; I travel to seek those I have not yet encountered. I go seeking answers for myself and for others, and I bring answers back in words or images, scents or feelings. Sometimes I wander the worlds for the sheer joy of it, the ecstasy of spirit-flight. From time to time I go walking in my dreams, but most of my wanderings are waking visions.

HERBALISM

This is the one area that I most wish to have additional education in. I am familiar with some herbal remedies for common things like colds, scrapes, and bruises; I know remedies for menstrual cramps. I have deeper education in a couple of chronic conditions I am personally dealing with, including migraines, but I would like to take an actual certification programme at some point. For magical uses, I work with herbs and resins a bit more intuitively, mixing flavors and intentions into food, blending oils for scent and resonance. I speak with the plants themselves, and learn what they would teach me. When I need to ground deeply and my usual way is not enough, I go walk the land or else I spend time in my own garden. The cycles of plant growth, of harvest, of weather, of the moon, bring me back into the present, back into balance with the cycles of my own life.

Other Updates

Labels, Titles, and Updating My Bio: What Is It That I DO?

I’ve been thinking a bit about labels and titles in regards to my path and practice, recently. It began because I was tidying up some workshop outlines and proposals, and for some of those I had prepared short bios for the event programme. Then I looked at the bio I have on my website, which I haven’t updated in a while, and as thoughts often do, it started simmering away in the back of my mind, now and then bubbling to the surface in the form of a short phrase. And what better month than June to consider labels?*

For a few years, now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to condense myself down to just a few phrases — a line I could fit beneath my name on a business card, if I were to print one. Most business cards have titles on them: Assistant Manager, Software Engineer, Senior Partner. I don’t really have titles that are easy to claim, though, as my craft is more esoteric. And some titles that resonate with me are not mine to claim for myself — they must be bestowed by one’s community.

Freya and Hela have called me völva, starting before I was trained in Hrafnar-style Oracular Seidr, but I believe that’s more the path I’m traveling down, not a destination I have already reached. Now that I’m doing oracular seidr, or spae, work for the community, it is beginning to fit more, but spaekona fits better. It’s descriptive: “one who does spae” (in the feminine — the masculine is spaemadr). But that’s only one part of my practice, and the term is only recognizable to a few.

The Morrigna (and also Lugh and Flidais 0n occasion) have called me banfháidh, a seeress or prophetess, and again, that seems more like a path I am traveling down, a winding road of seership and poetry and ogham study. A stream of living culture and practice that I’m joining, not a place I already am. The Fairy Faith I practice is also in this stream, and bean feasa (literally wise woman, though sometimes in English they are called fairy doctors) is another title that one cannot claim for themselves. It is bestowed by the community once someone is doing the work and getting results. I have been called a “Fairy Lawyer” (though I think “Fairy Intermediary” is possibly more descriptive of my actual work), and I expect that even if I do become known for this sort of work, it won’t carry an Irish title. Mine is a very different situation, immersed in a very different culture, even within the Irish-American diaspora that forms one of the circles of my cultural venn diagram.

Bast and Sekhmet, when they asked me to begin delivering their messages, instructed me to call myself an “Oracular Priestess-Novitiate” and then after a few years, an “Oracular Priestess-Initiate”, and I expect I’ll drop the “Initiate” in a few years when they think I have completed my training period. I do not know what the term would have been in Ancient Egypt for the service I am providing, nor have I found any good resources on the training of oracular priests, generally. But this is a third stream of my practice on the theme of oracular seership, in the context of serving a community. “Oracular Priestess” would seem to fit, then, but that seems almost too static, implying a single relationship with a singular deity when in fact I serve multiple deities and also deliver messages from the Dead. After much thought, I finally settled on “Oracular Cleric”.

One term decided, I returned to the idea of a business card, outlining the ways I might serve others, but decided that first I ought to clarify my general theological position. If I’m a cleric, that implies a religious background. This one was fairly easy, though I moved it around a little to attempt to remove the slightly annoying rhyme, before giving up. I settled on: Polytheistic Pagan Mystic. I believe in the reality of multiple distinct deities. I am working within a neopagan paradigm, though my path is informed by the ways of the past, and parts of it are Reconstructionist or Revivalist in bent. And “mystic” is the best way to sum up my relationships with the gods and other spirits. I commune with them in trance, through otherworldly encounters, and ecstatic experiences. My practices are more sensory and experiential than book-learned, though I believe books and other studies play an important role as inspiration and basic instruction.

But what should go with that, to explain the rest of my work? One of the largest remaining streams is healing, whether through energetic ministrations, assistance from spirits, or magical craft. I am trained in Usui Reiki through the William Lee Rand lineage, and that informs my work and serves as the scaffold for much of work for clients, but my healing work is broader than just Reiki. Though I could put Reiki Master Teacher on a business card (because I completed the Mastery course and have taught my own courses), that seemed limiting. I opted instead for “Spiritual Healer”, because I think that best describes the whole range of my work. I’ve used “Energy Healer” in the past, but that doesn’t really cover my work with spirits. On the other hand, I think people will recognize that Spiritual Healing includes energetic work.

Those three terms – Polytheistic Pagan Mystic, Oracular Cleric, and Spiritual Healer — do a good job of explaining the work I do for others, and would fit well on a business card. While I was coming up with these, I considered coining a term to replace the rather clunky first phrase, and toyed with the idea of “Numinant”, from “numinous”, but I decided straightforward language would probably be best for printing on a business card. Still, I was really drawn to the word “numinous”, and came up with three short phrases that may make it into my new short bio: “aspirant to the numinous, denizen of liminal realms, visionary weaver of magic”. Magical practice is the largest remaining stream of my work, but that work is not usually for paying clients who are strangers to me. The magical work I do for myself, for people close to me, for my communities, for my spirit allies, and for my Deities. For that stream, I have a label I’ve been using for a couple of years: hedgewitch. But what I mean when I use that is a discussion for the next blog in this series!


* If you didn’t already know, I’m queer. I use several labels, and some of them overlap or fluctuate: bi, or pan, for pansexual or panromantic but grey ace or maybe demisexual. Agender or genderqueer or nonbinary. I don’t fit labels well and while I like them, I feel most authentic swimming in a sea of them, a sea I call “queer”. My pronouns are she/her or they/them, or the gender neutral neopronoun of your choice.

Paganism, Spiritwork

Building Ethical Relationships with the Land

I read a blog by Hecate Demeter recently that I thought asked a very good question at the end: “Do you ever introduce yourself to the land? If you travel and will be somewhere for a few days, do you ever bring an offering to the new land?”

My immediate answer was “Yes, of course I do,” but my very next thought was – “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do that at an event who wasn’t doing it with me.” That doesn’t mean people aren’t doing it, of course – doing it privately is much better than attempting to show off to your fellow attendees – but it did make me wonder. How many people actually do this? Do they always do it, or only at witchy/pagan events? Do they do it differently if they’re visiting in different contexts?

And then I reflected on my own practice. I tend to default to the ceremonies and prayers of the indigenous tradition from my mother’s side of the family. Tobacco, a self introduction that includes the place I was born, murmured words of thanks to all friendly spirits. When I’m at witchy or pagan events, or anywhere I’m likely to do magic, I also seek out the Local Fair Folk. As part of my work with the Fairy Queen I serve, I am supposed to check in at the local consulate, in a manner of speaking. However, If I’m somewhere only briefly, or if I’m not on Turtle Island*, my introductions are more likely to be silent and meditative, seeking brief connection and energetic exchange. In general, I consider friendly relations with the local land wights, body-of-water wights, nature spirits, and otherworldly beings to be an important exchange of hospitality.

If there are Dead around, you can try reaching out to them, too, if you can do it in a way that is respectful and not dangerous to you or to them. If they have very different life experiences or spoke very different languages or practiced very different spiritual systems to yours, they may not want to hear from you. That goes double if your bloodline ancestors wronged them or were their enemies. However, knowing who not to bother or ask a favor of is also an important part of getting to know your neighbors! Also it can sometimes be a good idea to leave the Dead – especially the Unquiet Dead – to a witch who specializes in deathwork.

Occasionally Deities/Divinities** may show up as well. One time I was in Puerto Rico talking to the waves on a beach, and a Divine Spirit associated with the sea — in the shape of a Black woman with blue hair — touched my mind, leaving me with a brief experience of divine awe. (I think she was probably Yemaya, but she didn’t give me a name — just the vision, and a sense of welcome.) When they show up, though, they are not usually invitations to a deeper relationship. These brief experiences are the energetic equivalent of getting a friendly wave from a Head of State who is currently in a motorcade that just happened to be going by wherever I am.

Most of Hecate Demeter’s blog series, however, is a call to ground your practice in the place you are, and to build relationships with the land, water, and nature spirits who live nearest to you. She says (and I very much agree) that we don’t need to “re-enchant” anything. The land is still enchanted, still inspirited. What we need to do is to rekindle our relationship where we are, wherever we are Right Now. Lots of modern USian*** people feel like they don’t have roots because as a culture we move around a lot, but population movements have always happened. Even if you’re only going to be around somewhere for six months, it’s still a good idea to get to know your neighbors – corporeal and otherwise.

In my own practice, I try to build conscientious and respectful relationships with the spirits I encounter as I go about my daily life. A lot of those are Otherworldly beings of various types that largely fall into the broad category of “fae”, or they are spirits of specific “objects”, like trees, cars, houses, creeks. But I find that when I reach out to the land itself, there are what feels like layers of spirit, like the layers of a nesting doll. The deeper and larger I go, the harder it is to communicate, though I have had pretty good results with rivers and cities as singular units. For example, I wrote this quarter call that calls upon rivers local to me for use in a group rite I helped lead:

Tonight we create sacred space by grounding ourselves deeply in our natural surroundings.  We live here, in a landscape dominated by the Appalachian mountains to the West, and the Atlantic ocean to our East, beneath the dome of the Sky.  But tonight we call on powers more local, better known to us.

In the North we call to Lady of the mighty Potomac, River of Swans, Lifeblood of this area.  We offer you sweet smelling incense, and soothing herbal waters, if you will stand as Guardian to our ritual tonight.

In the East we call to the Great Lady of the Chesapeake Bay, Grave of a Meteor and Mother of Rivers.  All waters in this area come home to you.  We offer you sweet smelling incense, and soothing herbal waters, if you will stand as Guardian to our ritual tonight.

In the South we call to the Lady of the majestic Rappahannock, River of Tides, Quick-Rising Waters.  We offer you sweet smelling incense, and soothing herbal waters, if you will stand as Guardian to our ritual tonight.

In the West we call to the Lady of the beautiful Shenandoah, River of Spruces, Daughter of the Potomac. We offer you sweet smelling incense, and soothing herbal waters, if you will stand as Guardian to our ritual tonight.

(c) 2019 by the author, Alexandra Nic Bhé Chuille. Please ask for permission before using.

Hecate Demeter says in the second blog that being in relationship with your landbase will make both your spiritual practice and your magic stronger, and I couldn’t agree more. I also find that cultivating relationships with your hyper-local land and neighborly spirits helps a lot with ward maintenance, and some of them may even be willing to enter a sort of agreement that if someone else intrudes into your shared space, they’ll let you know.

The third blog in the series has a few good ideas about how to begin this work, but it’s a bit like any spirit work, really – just go introduce yourself and see what happens. It’s hard to go wrong with a shared drink of water, as long as your water bottle isn’t made of steel. (Most land wights and nature spirits won’t mind that, but the Daoine Sidhe and some of the Huldufolk certainly will!) Use divination or ask for an omen, however it is that you normally talk to spirits. And get to know your land and its inhabitants!


*The continent of North America.

**I have seen Yemaya and others referred to with a distinction made between Deities and Divinities, and as I am both not sure what the distinction is, and also unsure who I was interacting with, I just put both. I occasionally use the term “god-level” for interactions like this, to describe an unknown entity who seems to have the level of power and vastness usually attributed to deities, but who is either someone I cannot identify, or is someone not known in any surviving lore.

*** I use “USian” here as shorthand for “US American”, to differentiate between citizens of the USA versus people who live in the Americas more generally.


Links to the blogs:

Bright Moon, Kemetic, Paganism

Kemetic Bright Moon 5/26

I returned to my full ritual this month, though I was careful not to do it during the eclipse, as those energies don’t align well (and besides, I had other work to do then). The message this month builds on the one from last month, so if you don’t remember you may want to glance at that one again here.

As you emerge from isolation, do not rush too quickly back into so much busyness that you find yourself burning faster than a lamp wick. That will lead you to burnout faster again than before. Burning so quickly only leaves more ash. Ease in slowly to new social arenas, let the scent of the oil in your lamp rise and fill your atmosphere. Emerge slowly from your solitude, scented and captivating, to meet with those who will best fill your life, and to do what will best bring you contentment. Although others may rush, you shall not. Be steady as the Apis Bull; do not join the stampede. Let their chaotic energy pass you by, and leave you unaffected in your bliss, as you begin to enjoy the things you have missed. Their eddies make pretty trails to look at, but bad paths to follow. Stay on your own road, where we walk beside you.

The bit about the Apis Bull was unexpected, but the imagery and message were clear. It does make me wonder if there was a proverb of sorts about its steadyness. Hopefully this message reaches those who need to hear it most. I’ll be back next full moon with another message, but the summer is here, and I’m beginning to think about Wep Ronpet (Aug 9th in DC this year!)

The next full moon is June 24th. If you have any questions, or if you would like to request a personal message or heka for June, please email the shrine here. And if you are interested in supporting the shrine, I have a tip jar set up here. Thanks!

Deck Review, Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Wild Wisdom of the Faery

Deck: Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle
Publisher: Blue Angel
Writer: Lucy Cavendish
Artist: Selina Fenech
Overall Rating: 5/10

image (c) Blue Angel. Cards shown are: Lift the Darkness, Acorn’s Invitation, Star Dust, and Into the Woods

Cardstock: They’re pretty flexible and smooth, but the cards are nearly too large for me to shuffle. They measure about 5.5″ tall and 3.75″ wide (or 14cm x 9.5 cm). Still, I manage to get them mixed up well with a combination of shuffling methods. The deck box is a two part hard case, which so far is holding up well.

Artwork: The artwork appears to be mostly traditional media, but the artist’s website says that she often begins with watercolor or acrylic, and then adds a little more in digital form afterwards. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m generally a sucker for watercolors. A lot of the art is pretty “twee”, almost all the fairies have wings, and while there’s a range of sizes (from tiny to human-sized), there’s not much by way of diversity of body shape or skin tone (mostly femme, white, thin, and wearing filmy clothing). The cards also have the name and keywords written over the image, despite the rather large border, and the contrast isn’t great on a few of them.

Book: The booklet pretty large, about 170 pages, though the beginning is a bunch of New Age Fairy Nonsense that sees Them as mainly benevolent (if tricksy) nature angels, and says that all the stories of bad luck and negative encounters are a product of Church propaganda. For example, they define the Unseelie Court by saying: “not so fond of humans, as they feel we have been very harmful. Most of the Unseelie’s [sic] have ‘given up’ on us. ‘Tis up to us to prove them wrong.” Yeah okay, I guess maybe kelpies eat people because they… littered? Sure, okay, let’s just ignore several centuries of living belief and practice. [/sarcasm]
The booklet does include a few interesting spreads, though I still can’t advise invoking the Fair Folk or asking them for divinatory advice on your life situations, the way it recommends.
The descriptions of the cards themselves have a few paragraphs of description and then a few paragraphs each of divinatory meanings and reversed meanings, which is always helpful. The cards all have their number on the top border, so you can flip through the book to find them, but they aren’t in alphabetical order.

Likes: I like the general art style, though I wish it depicted a more diverse cast. I also do actually really like the amount of information the booklet gives for each card, because as I’m learning a new deck I really like to figure out what the writer and artist were both thinking, so I can better understand their symbolism, and build that into my intuitive readings. I do also like it when there are a couple of keywords on the card when it’s an oracle deck, because with those there’s no set of meanings like there is with tarot, lenormand, or runes.

Dislikes: Basically the entire introductory section in the the book. And the lack of diversity. And the borders, and how the keywords aren’t well contrasted. The size of the cards.

Overall Recommendation

TL;DR: if this one goes missing or gets water damaged, I probably won’t buy a new one. A lot of my clients seem to like the artwork, but I never use this one for my own personal readings unless I can’t use something better. I bought it a while back because it was pretty, but this one really is a bit too twee for my tastes. The Faery Forest Oracle by Lucy Cavendish again, but with artwork by Maxine Gadd, is a bit less twee, and I find that they work okay together, for better rounded answers. The Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle sugarcoats like a candy store, so if you’re looking for a very gentle deck with a sunny disposition and cute artwork, it’ll probably serve you well, but I think a fair few of my readers will be put off by the twee.

Celtic Polytheism, fae, Paganism

Crow Folks: Send Out Ripples

This month’s Dark Moon, when I journeyed to see Na Morrigna, another of my allies came along, one of the Fair Folk who often takes the shape of a white horse, and as we five stood around the great cauldron, she bent forward so that her white hair fell into the water of the cauldron, and it filled with visions that she had seen, both Otherworldly wars and human carnage, in a sort of dreadful symmetry. I began to feel overwhelmed by it all, when the Three Morrigna spoke to me as if in one voice. This is the wisdom they would have me share:

The Cauldron of the World is too large for you to control, though you can create small ripples. Focus instead on the Cauldron of your heart. That is small enough for you to work changes within. When you have wrought change in yourself, send ripples out into your sphere of influence. Focus not on sorcery but on mundane workings, this summer.

I have been told to skip June to focus on my own work, and to return with another message or poem at the dark moon in July, in preparation for the Lughnasadh harvest.

Divination

The Importance of Consent in Divination and Oracular Work

Since this came up recently elsewhere, I thought I’d share with y’all my basic guide to etiquette in divination and oracular work! It can be tough to figure out boundaries when you find divination and godphoning come easily to you, and you feel called to the role of a messenger or oracle. But as with most things, the first thing to keep in mind is consent.

So: before you do divination for someone else, make sure you have clear consent to do so. Make sure you’re on the same page as far as who (ex. Bast) or what (ex. their wyrd, The Universe) is being queried, and how the question, if any, is phrased. If you’re using a form of divination that has meanings associated with a symbol set, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re on the same page about whether you’re just pulling runes/cards/what-have-you and conveying those, or if you’re also going to interpret them. Also, if you usually charge money or take tips for readings, that should be clear upfront.

If you’re feeling like you ought to do divination on someone else’s behalf in order to offer them advice, that all still applies: don’t ask any spirits what advice to give someone unless:

  • 1) the person actually wants advice (as opposed to space holding or comforting),
  • 2) they consented for you to query these specific spirits,
  • 3) with these specific questions.

Asking your Deities, your Guides, and your Ancestors what your friend should do to fix their life isn’t usually very helpful, because they don’t have solid relationships to draw on, and you’ll need a lot of discernment skill to make sure they aren’t just telling you to tell your friend the advice you want to give. Asking their Deities, their Guides, and their Ancestors, with their permission, is more likely to get you helpful and nuanced answers, because those spirits are more aware of and engaged in your friend’s life.

However, quite a few people who feel called to this path have had an experience where, for whatever reason, a Deity or other spirit asks us to pass on a message, often in a too-real dream, during a journey meditation, or in a ritual. At that point, it’s best to tell the spirit that you will try, if the intended recipient is willing to hear it.

I don’t recommend promising you definitely will deliver the message, because there are times that the recipient is not going to be able to hear it from you, for a variety of reasons. First, we come back to that concept of consent: the best way to start this conversation with the intended recipient is just to tell them you’ve received some insight that is a message for them from a spirit (or name/ describe the spirit), and ask them if they wish to hear it.

Then, if they say yes, do your best to deliver the message as accurately as possible, and gently suggest they verify it again with another source if it’s something potentially life-altering (like changing jobs, or moving out of state, or getting divorced). Even if you practice divination, too, they should ask a different diviner. If they say no, they don’t want to hear it, just move on. You promised to try and you tried and that’s the end of it. If the message was truly important, the spirit will try again in a different way.

That might sound like unusual advice, but I believe we really do have agency in our relationships with Deities and other spirits, and I think one of the most important ways to use our agency is to make sure our actions are in line with our own ethical codes. Deities certainly have ethical codes as well, but they have a different perspective, and it’s important to remember that even if you’re given a divine message, you still have to be responsible for your own actions. Our personal relationships should be maintained with good boundaries and mutual respect, allowing us all to exercise our own agency. (Excepting in extreme circumstances, of course – sometimes agency is restricted for good reason, as when the individual presents a clear danger to themselves or others.)

Mostly what I have discussed above is about specific messages for specific individuals, but I also want to briefly touch on the type of oracular work my blog followers have probably seen before: monthly messages from certain Deities. With those kind of open community-wide messages, the consent exists in whether or not the person reading it wishes to consider themselves part of my community.

I’m usually pretty upfront about these messages probably being more relevant to people who have similar practices and beliefs to my own, and to people who are located in the same geographic and political region as me. People who aren’t nearby sometimes tell me that something resonated strongly with them, and I occasionally get similar comments from people who have very different practices and beliefs. And that’s okay, too! People can read it and take from it whatever they want.

Or – and this is really key – they can read one and decide it really doesn’t resonate or apply to them at all, and they can avoid my writing in the future! That’s perfectly fine with me. I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking; I’m just sharing a message I was given, and hoping it might be helpful for a couple of others who find themselves in similar situations.

As with the individual oracular messages above, if the message seems to be suggesting some sort of change, it’s a good idea for other practitioners to verify community oracular messages that seem to resonate with them. They could do their own journeywork, or turn to divination. If the message is verified, that will also give them a bit more nuance about how it applies to their specific situation!

Hopefully this was a helpful (or at least an interesting) little excursion into how to apply consensual boundaries to divination and oracular work. If you’d like to discuss more, or to ask a question, please feel free to leave a comment below, or to send an email.

fae, Holiday Celebration, Paganism, Spiritwork

Bealtaine with the Local Fair Folk

As frequent readers of this blog might guess, my upcoming Bealtaine* plans will revolve around the Fair Folk. While most folklore tells us to ward and protect against Them on festival days, here in faery-witchcraft-land, it’s a holiday to celebrate connections with Them, instead. I plan to do a simple solitary ritual on Oíche Bealtaine (May-Eve), and give offerings to a Local Fairy Queen who is an ally of mine. I call her the Rosegay Queen, since she seems to be associated with wild roses. I’ll also be paying my respects to the royal couple she has claimed descent from, Úna and Fionnbharr. To that end, I have some mead, and I’m thinking about making some of the Fairy Cakes Morgan Daimler learned to make in a dream. Perhaps I’ll top them with hawthorn jelly (it is SO GOOD), and maybe I’ll get some rose flavored tea or floral lemonade.

I was hoping to buy a young hawthorn tree this spring, but was warned not to because of the 17 year cicadas, which are due any day now. (Apparently they can stress and kill young shrubs!) So my May Bush this year is probably the rhododendron out front again – but I suppose that’s in keeping with the rose theme, as another name for those is the rosebay!

I’m still planning the menu for the family dinner, which usually is the bulk of the household observation of holidays. I tend to stick to dishes with ingredients that are in season locally. I have in the past made a strawberry-filled salad, but I think the strawberries are going to be a little later this year. The wild violets are coming up, though, and those are edible! I may do a side salad with violets and a quiche with local eggs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs. My herbs are all regreening in the bed out front, and I should have plenty. Maybe I’ll use some of the baby green onions, too – those will need thinning soon!

After dinner we’ll probably have a fire in the pit outside, and do a short round of offerings and prayer, like my household does for most holidays. My kiddo really likes to watch the fires, and even though he’s not really clear on what’s going on yet, he’s keen to be involved! As he gets older, he’ll understand more and can decide how much he wants to participate but for the moment he likes to toss things in the fire whenever he’s allowed to!

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do my solo ritual after the rest of them go to bed, or earlier, at sunset, but I’m leaning towards earlier rather than later. None of the rest of the people in my household really interact with the Fair Folk much. Not on purpose, anyway, though sometimes They follow me home or come in to deliver a message, or some such. I try to keep “office hours” as best I can, but serving a Fairy Queen is a full-time job! Still, there are some perks, and with any luck I’ll be dreaming of celebrations in the Otherworlds on Oíche Bealtaine, as I have sometimes in the past. (And returning home in the morning, Gods willing!)


* Yes, I know this isn’t how a lot of people spell it, but I think it’s important to use the Irish spelling when I’m going to be honoring Irish Fairy Monarchs, and this is the modern Irish spelling. Living culture and all that. See Also: Úna and Fionnbharr, both of which have other Old Irish spellings.

Bright Moon, Kemetic, Paganism

Kemetic Bright Moon 4/26

I was not well enough this past weekend to do my full ritual, so this month I did an abbreviated ritual, and have received a shorter message.

When I spoke with them, Bast and Sekhmet stressed that this was not a good month to start new things: new travel plans, new ventures, or new gatherings. This is a period of careful transition, not a time for leaps of faith, or of reckless return to old patterns, as though the past year had not happened. We can’t go back to exactly the way things were before – we need to plan a new way forward.

So: plan carefully, friends. Try to smooth the transition, and look where your foot will fall before you commit to stepping forward.

The next full moon is May 26th. If you have any questions, or if you would like to request a personal message or heka for May, please email the shrine here. And if you are interested in supporting the shrine, I have a tip jar set up here. Thanks!