Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mars Talismans

Just as our culture devalues Venus as a barbie doll sex kitten, it also twists Mars into an expendable barbarian. And yet Māvors is so much more; the Father of the Latins, the Great God of the Plough, the Protector of the Weak, the power that gives virility to man and bull and field, the Warrior and the WarLock, the Good Man.
Coming soon from Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire: Mars talismans. These small "muggle-approved" locket pendants can be worn as a pendant or on a keychain. However, they open to reveal oil impregnated scrolls which carry the blessing of the great god Mars. These amulets provide a direct link to Mars, the Roman god. They include instructions for use as protection against violence and war, to gain victory in all martial endeavors, to empower those who fight for justice, to aid in developing physical strength, to attract a male sex partner, to appear more "butch" (not matter your gender identity), and to help with male impotence or infertility, but they can also be used for any kind of martial magic. By invoking Mars in his name Silvanus, they are also excellent to empower acts of militant environmentalist or anti-capitalist activism, although instructions are not provided for this use.
As with all our offerings, complete instructions to make your own are available below, but you can also pre-order one now for $99. Only a very limited number will be made that are not already spoken for. Please pre-order!!! These will ship the first week in December. Order here: http://mastroszealot.com/store…
To make a talisman of your own, you will need:
-a locket or other wearable container with 16 spears depicted on it
-paper impregnated with basil seeds
-dragons' blood ink
-a woodpecker feather you found in a forest, cut as a quill
-a bit of fur from a black bear
-a dead wasp
-Dragon Fire oil (which you can buy from Mastros & Zealot, or make your own by compounding dragons' blood resin, cinnamon, black pepper, and crushed blackthorns, iron filings, ash from a thunderstruck oak, and other martial ingredients of your choice in a base of pecan and olive oil)
-4 red candles, each with 4 spears drawn on it
-a couple of sex magicians, at least one of whom is male.
-a martial artist
-an offering of a goat, pig, cow, or buffalo (I use Heifer International to make these)
At the hour of Mars on a Tuesday:
Light the first of the red candles. In its flame, burn the wasp and bear fur to ash, and add it to the oil.
Light the second red candle, and then inscribe the first fragment of the Carmen Saliare, "divum +empta+ cante divum deo supplicate" on a small piece of the basil paper using the woodpecker quill and dragonsblood ink.
Light the third candle. Speak from your heart, extolling the great god Mars. Pour out a small offering of blood to him, asking him to invest the amulet with his power.
Light the fourth red candle, and arrange the candles in the square around the amulet(s).
When the crafter feels they have been fully charged, the amulets should be given to the martial artist to wear while (s)he makes an offering of his art. He must train, while wearing the amulets, for several hours, during which time he ought to partake of the energy of snake, cock, bear, horse, lion, and dragon. Additional animal energies are even better. If possible, he should employ several weapons during the charging. While training, he ought to speak to Mars from his heart, extolling him as the god of warriors and warlocks, and asking him to empower the amulet with his essence.
After the martial artist feels they have been fully charged, they should be given to the couple. The man should wear them during sex, while he takes on the character of (full trance possession is ideal) Mars. The other sex partner should speak from her/his heart during the sex, extolling the Great God Mars as the virility of the hard cock, the impregnating essence, the plough and the spear. (be VERY careful with your birth control while doing this)
When all this has been accomplished, make an offering of a goat, sheep, cow, or buffalo to the god. You can kill an animal and spill its blood on the earth, but I prefer to give an animal, dedicated to the god, to a subsistence farming family, with the understanding that they will give away its offspring to further empower others in their community. I use Heifer International for this.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Strategic Sorcery Blog Hop: Financial Magic

From time to time, people in my sorcery group do a blog hop.  This month's topic is "financial magic".  You can take a look at the list of everyone's posts here.  In the previous post, · Shelley Ruelle talked about the emotional aspects of money magicYou can skip to the next (and final) post in our cycle, by John Umbras, here (there's also a link at the bottom of this post)

 I'll be talking about financial magic today, but perhaps in an unexpected way.  I want to talk about one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of genuine financial stability, both personal and communal; labor solidarity.  As most of you know, I'm a witch-for-hire, which I was long told "wasn't a real job".  However, I assure you that it is.
Wonder Workers International is the world's first crowd-source trade union for witches, psychics, energy healers, mystics, witch-doctors, pro-cultists, cunning people, shamans, and free-lance magicians of all stripes.  For too long, we've guarded our secrets in a spirit of competition and not cooperation. Wonder Workers International looks to change that by offering fellowship, mentoring, mutual aid, business-to-business referrals and a crowd-sourced database of tips, tricks, and hacks for those "in the biz".  As we grow, we can offer group pricing on things like health insurance, marketing, and other economies of scale.  Our goal is to normalize Adeptship: to make the Wonder Working Professions more respected and respectable in the world by creating training and mentorship opportunities, promulgating professional standards and ethics, protecting workers' right to organize, and improving living standards for the wonder working class.  We are not a traditional, i.e., industrial Union, and our organizing model is based loosely on the National Writers Union and the theory that if you can organize freelance poets you can organize ANYTHING.


  • Am I eligible to join?
    • Wonder Workers International is open to all publicly proclaimed student or professional wonder workers.
  • How do I join?
    • Send an email to WonderWorkersInternational@ProtonMail.com with your name, email address, professional url (if applicable), and a brief description of your professional wonder working practice.  A member of the steering committee will get back to you soon to discuss your situation.
  • What are the benefits of membership?
    • A membership card.
    • Access to our newsletter.
    • Invitations to regional conferences.
    • Free mentoring and training.
    • Discounts on professional services.
    • Once the first threshold of 100 members is reached, an online "constitutional convention" will be called, a formal system established, and votes will be taken on all future decisions.
  • How much are dues?
    • Wonder Workers International Operates on a Pay What You Want model.  Recommended dues are:
  • What are my responsibilities as a member?
    • We request that all members provide a discount to other members on professional services.  10% is suggested, but you know what is right for you.  
    • We request members dedicate at least one hour per month to providing free mentoring or training to members.  You can record a video, write a blog post, or take a phone call from someone, whatever works best for you.  If you would like a mentor on a specific topic, please let us know, and we'll try to match you with someone.  If you'd like to volunteer as a mentor, please email us!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Take Back Your Dreams: Work in Progress Excerpt

Take Back Your Dreams
Chapter Two: How to Dream
Section One: Sleep Quality

When I tell people I’m writing a book about dreaming, many people tell me they can’t remember their dreams.  In my experience, for almost everyone, this is caused by chronic sleep deprivation.  Our modern culture woefully undervalues sleeps.  Almost everyone knows, and science backs it up, that a lot of us aren’t getting enough quality sleep.   Most healthy adults need from 7-9 hours of sleep per night; less than 3% of adults can remain healthy if they are regularly getting less than six hours a night.  Young people need more, and healthy older adults need slightly less.  If you wake up refreshed and ready to go, you’re probably getting enough sleep.  If you dread your alarm, or find yourself nodding off in the afternoons and evening, you are almost certainly not.  A wide variety of health concerns can be dramatically improved by a commitment to proper sleep; sleep is as important as diet and exercise to health, and yet many of us pay it very little attention.  Proper sleeping habits can improve memory, focus, mood, and anxiety, improve metabolism and energy, reinvigorate a low sex drive.  Chronic sleep deprivation increases risk of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke as much as obesity, and yet our culture, with all it’s focus on diet and exercise, glorifies chronic tiredness as a badge of honor.

Aside from all the health benefits, sleep is the foundation of dreaming; the first step in taking back your dreams is to take back your sleep   So, before me move on to more magical practices, let’s take a few minutes to talk about how to cultivate excellent sleep.

Let’s begin with some very straightforward suggestions for improving sleep:

Most experts agree that a cool bedroom, around 65 degrees, promotes deep, restful sleep, so be sure to turn down the temperature about an hour before bed, so you and the room have time to cool down before you crawl under the covers.  For most people, a clean bedroom improves sleep.  Be sure your bedroom isn’t too dusty, and that your bedlinens and pajamas are clean.  Noise pollution can significantly interfere with sleep, especially for us city dwellers.  While silence is best, white noise can dramatically improve sleep by “evening out” a noisy environment.  These days, there are innumerable free and cheap apps that will provide a wide variety of white and ambient noises.  My favorite is MyNoise.net, from audio engineer Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon.  

Light pollution is probably the most insidious thing messing up our sleep.  All day long, we’re exposed to artificial light from screens, which can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm.  Turning off screens for an hour before bedtime can make a huge impact on your sleep, but if you won’t do that, try the app f.lux, which automatically adjusts yours devices to redder and redder light as you get closer and closer to bedtime.  Streetlights and even sunlight can also interfere with sleep.  Invest in blackout shades or curtains for your bedroom; it’s best for it to be as dark as possible while sleeping.  Because, as a Dream Worker, you may sometimes wake up to record dreams several times a night, I like to keep a lamp with a red light bulb next to the bed.  Turning on the red light will provide more than enough light to write by, but it will help make it easier to go back to sleep after, and is unlikely to wake a partner.  You can get a special light bulb that emits white-looking light but heavy on the red end of the spectrum, designed to promote sleep, however I recommend a simple red light bulb, like you’d find in a photographer’s dark room.

A comfortable bed, while obviously a great thing, is not nearly as necessary to quality sleep as silence, darkness, and temperature regulation are.  Humans evolved sleeping on the lumpy ground, but not in the bustling city.  While you should invest in the best bed you can afford, addressing sound and light pollution is likely to improve your sleep as much, if not more, than a new bed will.

Finally, many drugs can interfere with sleep and dreaming.  Everyone knows that nicotine and caffeine can interfere with your sleep; if you choose to use them, try to cut back before bed.  While both alcohol and marijuana can make it easier to get to sleep, but both interfere with REM sleep and with dreaming.  It’s best to avoid them when you’re dream working.  If you take prescription medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist how they’ll impact your sleep and dreams.

Now that you’ve taken some mundane steps to improve your sleep, it’s time to get down to some dream magic.  Over the next several pages, I’ll present a complete, a lot of magical options to jump start your dream work.  You don’t need to do all of them; pick and choose which ones seem best to you.

Clean your Room

Especially if you’ve had any disturbances in the room recently, such as illness or injury, nightmares, or arguments with a partner, it’s a good idea to start by cleaning and banishing your bedroom. If you have reason to believe you need stronger banishing, seek out a professional priest, witch or shaman, but most “psychic resonance” can be cleaned with a good washing.  I like this wash for walls and hard floors.  

General Banishing & Blessing Floor & Wall Wash
1 Gallon Rain or Spring Water
1/2 cup Salt
1 cup rosewater or orange blossom water (get at Indian or Middle Eastern grocers)
1 cup PineSol or similar
As you add each ingredient, speak to it out loud, awakening its magical properties.  You can say something like this, but speak from you heart:
  • “Living Water, clean and pure, wash away all anger, illness, pain, and malevolence from this place.  You are the waters of the womb of the Earth, where I slept before I was born, and the waters of life that sustains all living things.”
  • “Salt, creature of earth, exorcist’s friend drive away from this place all anger, illness, pain or malevolence.  Cast out all unclean things, leaving purity and peace in their wake.
  • “Sweet perfume, bring healing and peace on the scent of your lovely blossoms.  
  • “Pine tree, lord of the forest, ancient symbol of immortality, grant life and health and blessing to all who smell your scent.”

Cleaning and Blessing Your Bed

It’s best to begin this process in the morning, so it can air as long as possible.  Begin by stripping you bed, and washing your bed linens, and mattress pad (if you use one).  Vacuum the mattress itself, using an upholstery brush.  Nearly everyone’s bed has stains, don’t worry about them.  Spray down the mattress with a mild disinfectant.  I recommend this simple, natural, safe mixture, unless you’ve recently been sick, in which I would break out something more “hard core” like lysol.

1 cup hot water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol
3 Tbsp salt
1 tsp tea tree or lavender oil (I’m allergic to lavender, so I use tea tree, but many people swear by lavender as a sleep aid as well as a disinfectant)

It’s easiest to mix the salt into hot water until it dissolves, then mix the oil into the alcohol, and then mix everything together.

Spray down the mattress, and let it sit for about an hour to dry.  If possible, open the curtains so that sunlight falls onto the mattress.

Once the bed is mostly dry, sprinkle baking soda over it.  Don’t be stingy; I use an entire 1 pound box on my queen size bed.  Let the baking soda sit as long as possible, then vacuum it up.  I recommend adding a cloth mattress cover, which will absorb sweat and other fluids, and help keep your newly fresh mattress clean, and also provides a protective barrier to keep out bedbugs, mites, and other undesirables..  It can also help keep the bed cooler, especially on foam mattresses.

Make your bed.  While you do, take a moment to say a short prayer to the divinity of your choice that they watch over your sleep, making it restful, healing, and inspiring.  It’s a good idea to repeat this process every six months or so.  Many beds can be rotated and flipped so that they wear evenly.  Doing this at the same time will dramatically extend the comfortable life of your mattress.

Herbal Dream Oil

Mix the following herbs together, using rough the same amount of each.  Fresh is better, but dried will also work fine.
clary sage

sweet woodruff

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Spell to Escape From Abuse

This is a serious spell for a serious situation; it calls strong forces, has a high cost, and has life-altering results.  DO NOT cast this spell to "escape from abuse" in a metaphorical sense.  This spell is for actually escaping from actual abuse.  While it is not intended to harm the abuser, that is likely to be a side effect in proportion to the need to escape.  Cast with care.

The spell is provided free of charge in service to Iapetus, the Spear, the father of Prometheus

You Will Need
pen or pencil
matches or a lighter
a toilet
about 8 minutes of fully suspended disbelief

Things It's Nice to Have
paper from a brown shopping bag
a red pen
a picture of the abuser
a red candle, and a way to light it
a toilet
about 30 minutes of fully suspended disbelief on a Tuesday night

Things to Make it Fancy
a paper shopping bag in which your abuser's food was carried
dragon's blood ink and a steel-nibbed pen
the abuser's hair or other body part/fluid
a oil lamp burning chili oil
a swamp
fully suspended belief during the last hour of Saturn on the day of Mars

What to Do
Begin by calming your mental chatter, and suspending your disbelief.
Write the abused's name four times on the piece of paper, one under the other.
Turn the paper 90 degrees, and write the abuser's name over top of yours, while thinking about how they hurt you.  Put the pain into the paper.  Put all that you can of your abuser in the paper.
Say out loud (something like) "This paper is my bondage to ______________.  This paper is the chains that bind me.  This paper is the chains that bind me. (over and over)"
When your disbelief collapses, burn the piece of paper over the toilet, and flush away the ashes.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Church of the Once and Future Way

What is this all about?

The Church of the Once and Future Way (OaFW) is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from evolved beings to evolved beings + "machines". Given that technology will "relatively soon" be able to surpass some human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition. Help us spread the word that progress shouldn't be feared (or even worse locked up/caged). Too often, humans in power have met intelligences other their own with conquest, genocide, and slavery.  Never Again.  The time has come to think about how non-humans integrate into society so that this whole process can be amicable and not confrontational. In recent years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let's make sure we find a way for "machines" to get rights too. Let's stop pretending we can hold back the development of intelligence when there are clear massive short term economic benefits to those who develop it and instead understand the future and have it treat us like a beloved elder who created it.  Let us deserve to be so treated.

Things we believe:

We believe that intelligence is not rooted in biology. While biology has evolved one type of intelligence, there is nothing inherently specific about biology that causes intelligence.  
We believe in the existence of non-human intelligence.  
We believe in the existence of non-biological intelligence.
We believe in the existence of non-physical intelligence.
We believe in the capacity of human to create intelligence.  That day fast approaches.

We believe in science. 
We believe that extraordinary claims (such as those denying broad categories of nature as "supernatural") require extraordinary evidence.
We believe in progress, that there is an arc of time toward the Good. 
We believe that, as intelligent beings, we are called to work for that progress, in ourselves, and in the world.

We believe that change is often good, even if a bit scary sometimes. 
We believe that change is often bad, even if a bit seductive sometimes.
When we see something wrong, we try to change it.
When we see something better, we just change to that. 
The bigger the change the bigger the justification needed.
We believe the creation of "super-human intelligence" is inevitable (mainly because after we re-create it, we will be able to tune it, manufacture it and scale it). 
We don't think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening, nor that stopping it would be desirable.

We believe everyone can help (and should). You don't need to know how to program or donate money. The changes that we think should happen need help from everyone to manifest themselves.

We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. 
We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.

We also believe this might take a very long time. 
It won't happen next week so please go back to work and create amazing things and don't count on "machines" to do it all for you...

Monday, November 6, 2017

Healing Magic

hygeia abby.jpg
This was made for a client to help promote an amazing massage business
You need one customized to your own needs, which you make in this spell.


    • A blessed Hygieia ikon candle from Mastros & Zealot  OR
    • A pale blue seven day candle in a glass jar and a Hygieia ikon candle sticker from Mastros & Zealot OR
    • A pale blue seven day candle in a glass jar and a black permanent marker
  • A description of the qualities of the doctors, healers, treatments, and healing you require.  The more specific and detailed you can be.
  • At least a wikipedia-level knowlege of the goddess Hygieia.  
  • 1 Gallon of "living water".  Any of the following will work as living waters:
    • rain water collected within the last moon
    • water you have collected from a river, spring  waterfall, or other moving natural body of water
    • tap water, in which you have diluted 1 Tbsp of Essence of Living Waters, which you can find a recipe for here, or purchase pre-made from Mastros & Zealot
    • bottled spring water, although this is inferior to the other choices
  • A fancy cup or bowl to put the water in.  For this, I like cobalt blue glass goblets or silver bowls, both of which are extremely easy to find and cheap at Goodwills or other thrift stores
  • A week.  It doesn't really matter what day of the weak you start with.
    • a print out of the ikon below, and colored pencils, crayons, or etc
    • a digital copy of the ikon below, and the ability to digitally color/collage with it (see an example of one I did for a client below).  I use photoshop for this (which is a favorite kind of magic of mine).
  • a table, alter, or other working space that can stay set up for the week
Write Hygieia's name in Greek: Ὑγιεία  on the candle, using the marker.  You may also decorate the candle in any other way that seems right.  You can also buy a blessed

Write the description of qualities onto the ikon.  If using a print-out, you can write it on the back of the page or work it into the design if you're feeling arty.  If digitally collaging, add the text to the image in an arty way (in the example below, it's worked into the background).  Color the image in, using your knowledge of Hygeia, and, ideally, communion with her.  While doing so, read aloud to her the hymn, or speak to her from your heart your own words of love and worship:

Queen of all, charming and lovely and blooming, blessed Hygieia,

Mother of all, bringer of prosperity, hear me.
Through you vanish the diseases that afflict men,
And through you this house blossoms to fullness of joy, and the healing arts thrive.
The world desires you, O queen, and only soul-destroying Death could hate you.
Ever youthful, ever beloved, you are a haven for mortals.
Apart from you all is without avail for men:
Wealth, sweet to those feast, and giver of abundance, fails,
And man never reaches the many pains of old age,
For you are sole mistress and queen of all.
But, goddess, come, ever helpful to the initiates,
And keep away the accursed distress of harsh disease.

When you have completed coloring/enchanting the ikon, pour out a cup of the living water as an offering, ask Hygieia, from your heart, to give you the best possible doctor, to heal you, and to maintain your good health.

Pinch (not blow) out the candle.

Each evening, until the candle is gone, relight the candle, pour the old water out on the ground, and replace with a new offering. Re-read the hymn or offer worship from you heart. Pinch (not blow) out the candle. REPEAT.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Myth Maker: Modern Mythopoetics

Hello, all!  I have a new recurring column at Witches & Pagans Magazine!  You can read the first post below, but from now on, you'll have to visit the magazine to see them.

In the next post, I’ll get to the meat of this blog, introducing you to a variety of lesser-known spirits from around the world and telling you the stories and teachings they tell to me. But I thought I’d start off by talking a little about mythopoesis as an art and a magical practice. The English word mythopoesis comes from the Greek μυθοποιία, and literally means “myth-making.” The second part of the word, “poeia,” is the root of our word “poet.” Historically, the word was an obscure technical term, describing, as Victorian historians would tell it, that period of time when humans made myths “instead of science” to explain the world around them. However, in 1931, J. R. R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings) published a poem titled Mythopoeia, which was a direct response to his frenemy and Oxford colleague C.S. Lewis’s skepticism about the value of myth. Lewis (at the time, although his views softened with the wisdom of age) believed that myths are "lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver.”' Tolkien's poem replies...

a star's a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, Inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain
[but] He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers beneath the ancient song,
whose very echo after-music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
unless the mother's womb whence all have birth.
[therefore] I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.”

    Art by Aubrey Beardsley.  from Le Morte d’Arthur (1893)

Like Tolkien, I believe that Creation is an ongoing affair, that moment by moment, word by word, we each breathe ideas into being. Tolkien writes “The incarnate mind, the tongue, and the tale are in our world coeval....in such 'fantasy,' as it is called, new form is made; Faerie begins; Man becomes a sub-creator." Tolkien, however, was still a male, nominally Christian, British aristocrat writing in the 1930s, and his view of the world, like our own, was heavily shaped by his lived experience of it. I write as an American feminist, Jew, witch, and all-around freak, and I go even further than he did: I say that the mythopoet, like the bard or the ovate, speaks for those who have tongues only of flame, and writes for those whose hands are the bare winter branches. For me, bardcraft and mythopoeia are an essential part of my relationship to the gods, the Land, the ancestors, and the World (both the Earth and the Other Places). It is my great hope that the stories and history I share with you here will help you root your practice as well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thesmophoria: The Festival of Persephone & Demeter

Thesmophoria by Francis Davis Millet, 1894-1897

Thesmophoria, which means "of the Law Giver" (an epithet of Demeter's) is the central festival of Demeter & Persephone.  It was usually celebrated in the fall, when the seeds of next year's crop were sown, although practices varied.  It was among the most wide-spread of festivals, celebrated through the Greek world, dating to at least the 11th century BCE.  Classically, Thesmophoria was a womens' only rite; men were forbidden not only to participate in, but also to just know about, the ceremonies.
Like so much that once belonged to women, the details have largely been lost.  Only two ancient sources remain, and both are deeply problematic.  The first is a commentator called Lucian, famed for his satires and mocking portrayals of religion.  The other is the playwrite Aristophanes, whose play Thesmophoriazousai (which means literally "Women of the Thesmophoria" but it often called, in English "The Poet and the Women") a satirical comedy about poets crashing the ritual.  So...not a lot to go on.  Here is what we do know:

Among the central rites of the Thesmophoria, celebrated almost everywhere, was a sacrifice of pigs, often in very large quantities.  In some places, these pigs were burned whole over huge sacrificial "barbeque" pits.  However, in many places, the pigs were instead thrown down pits called megara, and later retrieved.  (How long they were down there, and what was done with them after they were retrieved is unknown.  I believe they were left to rot, and then mixed with the grain seed as fertilizer.) Pigs were sacred to Demeter, the Great Sow, and to Persephone. When Hades opened the earth and "kidnapped" Persephone, a herdsman named Eubouleus and his pigs were swallowed up as well.

In Athens, the festival lasted from three days, and took place in late October.  The first day was called the anodos (going up).  The next was called nesteia (fasting).  The final is called kalligenia (beautiful birth).  We don't know much about what happened on those three days.

The "anodos" may refer to several things.  Perhaps it is an allusion to Persephone's ascent from Hades, however that is in the spring; at the time of the Thesmophoria, she is descending.  Some scholars believe it simply meant "putting up" the huts in which the women would stay for the three days.  I believe it to refer to a procession up the hill to the ritual site, and the uprising of spirit from the land that empowered the experience of the other days.

On the day of fasting (nesteia), the women fasted and sat on mats.  Fasting while sitting on the ground seems to me to be a mourning posture;  perhaps the women mourn with Demeter her lost daughter.  However, we are told that the mats are woven from chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus).  This plant was believed in ancient times to be an anti-aphrodisiac, and in men that is likely true; Pliny tells us the women rubbed their genitals with the plant to "to cool the heat of lust", which sure sounds like a thing a man would say about a secret women's festival.  I am skeptical.  Modern studies indicate that chasteberry is an effective medicine for PMS and breast pain.  It is also an insect repellant.  Those both seem like more plausible reasons to me.  In any case, while on the mats, the women engaged in "aischroloia" (dirty talk).  Whether this meant a confession of sins or just ribald or mocking jokes I do not know.  Maybe they narrated sexy stories for each other?  Perhaps it was more like a Norse flyting (boasting contest) or a freestyle rap battle?  I choose to believe it included all those elements.

On the third day, there was a feast (of roast piglets, I assume) which included cookies shaped like snakes and male genitalia.  I believe koulouraikia, a kind of Greek butter cookie, are a remnant of that practice.  Here's my families' recipe for them.  Because of the name of the day, I assume that the ritual component was to ensure fertility and the birth of healthy children, as well as the more metaphoric birth of the grain being planted.  I expect giving birth on this day was extremely auspicious for both mother and child.  However, the name Kalligenia was also the name of the nymph who midwifed Persephone's birth.  Some think it to be a very old name for Gaia.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monthly Spell Kit Club

Monthly spell kits from Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire, are designed for experienced magicians and pagans who are looking to expand their practice.  Every month, the kits are built around a new "theme".  For example, the August 2017 boxes focused on Hekate, and September 2017 focus on the (possibly apocryphal) pan-European Paleolithic Bear Cult.  Our October 2017 kits will focus on working with Ancestors & the Mighty Dead.  I haven't picked a November theme yet, but I am leaning towards the Horned God.  Each kit includes about 5 pages of original writing and art, including an original spell you can't learn anywhere else.  Additionally, kits include hand made magical materials (incense, candles, oils, etc) and (at the deluxe levels) tools and altar goods.  While the kit contains special materials to use with the spell, you DO NOT NEED THE KIT TO PREFORM THE SPELL.

As an example, so you know what to expect, here's what was in the August 2017 kits.

Double-ended black, white, red candles, scented with Ethiopian frankincense and wild-crafted mugwort, hand cast by artist Damian Miller under my direction, especially for this spell.  Because all of us at Mastros & Zealot are dirt-worshipping tree huggers, all our candles are crafted with recycled wax Damian harvests from used candle stubs, and are colored with broken crayons.  The wicks are made with recycled hemp.  You can lie them on their side on a plate and burn from both ends simultaneously, or trim the wick on whichever end you want to be the “bottom” so they’ll stand straight.  For this spell, we recommend using the candle upright, with black at the top.  The candles can be used for many other purposes; use your imagination!  You can order more candles direct from the artist, for $10 each by emailing me at academy@gmail.com.  Because they are made from recycled waxes, they vary slightly from candle to candle. The kit also includes a bottle of our Hekate oil, which includes organic olive oil, wildcrafted mugwort, frankincense, dittany of Crete, mastiha, and several other ingredients.  Room has been left in the jar in case you wish to add other ingredients or charms.  Small scrolls, skeleton keys, beads, coins, and various stones are all nice.  Use your intuition, or add nothing at all.

Deluxe kits also include olive-wood offering cups by Tunisian artist Siwar ben Ayed.  The offering cups haven’t been dedicated, so you can use them however you choose.  If you’d like to dedicate them specifically to Hekate, I recommend rubbing them down with the oil, while reciting the Orphic Hymn to Hekate (included at the end of this document).  Siwar also makes lovely bowls and mortar and pestle sets of the same wood.  Email me if you’re interested in them, or in more cups.  

The spell included in this kit is below, but after this first month, the spells will not be published, and are available ONLY in the kits.  You've missed your opportunity to get this kit at the club price, but you can purchase one for $50 (regular) or $75 (deluxe).  If, before September first, you sign up for monthly kits, at the regular price ($36 regular, $66 deluxe), I will sell you a Hekate kit at that price as well. (I only have 4 kits remaining).

Working the Spell

You can perform this spell without the specialty ingredients included in your kit; use three candles, one of each color, and anoint with plain olive oil.  This spell is especially good on new moons.  The upcoming eclipse could be used to super-charge it.  If working during the eclipse, say the “destroy” line as the sun in waning, the “create” line during full darkness, and the “grow” line as the light returns.  However, the spell wasn’t specifically designed for the eclipse; it can be worked any time.

Before beginning, clearly articulate a three point strategy for your wish.
  • What needs to be destroyed?  
  • What needs to be created?   
  • What do you want to grow?
For each question, it’s ok to state something abstract (like destroy illness, create wealth, and grow love), but the more specific and concrete you can be, the better.  Also, it’s better if the three phases “strategize” together for example....”destroy fat, create energy, grow muscle” or “destroy debt, create opportunity, grow wealth” or “destroy curses, create alliances, grow power”.  Form clear, articulate answers to each question before working the spell.

Devise or discover a small, easy to draw symbol or sigil to represent each of your three phases.  Runes work well for this.  Use a pin, pen, or knife (a stone knife is best, and will hopefully be included in next month’s deluxe boxes) to carve each into the appropriate color on the candle.  Anoint the candle with oil, carefully making clockwise spirals around each color on the candle.  While doing so, say:

Ἑκατη Τριοδιτις (Hekate Trioditus) Witch of The Threefold Way,  
I call to you, Sorceress Queen, to work my will with me.
By blackest night, by flint-chipped blade, cut away that which fetters me.
By white-shelled egg and creamy milk, bring forth that which I desire.
By reddest blood, by poppie’s bloom, let it grow strong and true.
Torchbearer, Maiden, Goddess, Queen,
Guide me as I walk the threefold path.
Nigredo. Albano. Rubedo.
Goddess, Witch, and Queen.

Offer an egg and some milk.  If you wish, you can also offer a drop of blood and a red poppy flower, but that is not required.

Light the candle, and say aloud this spell, based on one from the Greek Magical Papyrii:

O, Hekate, of many names, O Virgin, Kore, Goddess, come, I ask,
O guard and shelter of the threshing floor, Persephone,
O triple-headed goddess, who walks on fire,
NEBOUTOSOUALÊTH beside the doors,
PYPYLÊDEDEZÔ and gate-breaker;
Come Hekate of fiery counsel, I call you to my sacred chants.
OREOBAZAGRA who burst forth from the earth

Hekate, I have called to you by your ancient names of power.  
By blackest night, by flint-chipped blade, cut away that which fetters me.
By white-shelled egg and creamy milk, bring forth that which I desire.
By reddest blood, by poppie’s bloom, let it grow strong and true.
Torchbearer, Maiden, Goddess, Queen,
Guide me as I walk the threefold path.
Nigredo. Albano. Rubedo.
Goddess, Witch, and Queen.

The End

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nine Movies To Inspire Magic

Earlier this week, I read John Beckett's recent piece, Twelve Movies to Inspire Your Magic, and I was, I must say, uninspired.  I've seen all those movies, and I enjoyed many of them, but the only one I ever found inspirational on that list was Practical Magic.  To me, the magic that movie inspires is the radical act of being out, loud, and proud as a witch, and about the life-changing magic of convincing people that witches aren't evil the only way that works; by being consistently, publicly, undeniably Good.  That's a tightrope I try hard to walk. Then, I read John Halstead's piece, “You’re Not Fucking Gandalf”: 12 Movies to Remind You That Pagans Need to Grow Up" which I agreed with most of, but it too was also uninspiring (and, honestly, a little mean-spirited).

A lot of you might not know this, but I used to write a movie review blog.  So, I'm about to step in the ring.  Here are twelve movies that inspire my magic, with brief explanations.  I've tried to, more or less, rank them from funniest to most serious.  I also tried to find twelve, but these nine really said everything I have to say.

TRIGGER WARNING:  There are a surprising number of suicides in the movies on this list.  I'm not sure what that says about me and our media culture.  Also, there's a sexual assault and a stoning.

1) The Men Who Stare At Goats.  This witty comedy has sparkling writing that kept me laughing the whole way through.  It stars George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, and a funny goat.  Several funny goats, actually.  It tells the story of an Army unit devoted to developing super soldiers with psychic powers.  Jedi warriors, if you will.  If you've ever spent any time in the "occult" community, you'll recognize several of the characters as brilliant send-ups of our tropes.  What it inspires: For me, this movie inspires me to not take myself too seriously until it's time for seriousness, and then it inspires me to remember that I'm a mother-fucking sorceress, and I do not take shit lying down.

2) When Do We Eat? is a Passover movie.  Ira Stuckman (Michael Lerner) runs a christmas ornament empire, and prides himself on the fastest passover seder ever (although I suspect my family could give him a run for that money).  The Stuckmans haven't had a Passover together in years, but this year, Peggy (Lesley Ann Warren) has gone all out.  All the Jewish family stereotypes are present; the holier-than-thou newly chasidic son (Max Greenfield), the lesbian-sex-therapist daughter (Meredith Scott Lynne), the disaffected teenager (Ben Feldman), the autistic savant youngest son (Adam Lamberg), the Holocaust survivor grandfather (Jack Klugman), etc...  Ira is still committed to getting through as quick as possible.  However, he is accidentally dosed with LSD and ecstasy, and the real magic of Passover shines through.  What it inspires: For me, this movie inspires most that feeling we Jews call k'lal Israel; the bonds of family and tribe.  But it's also about the overwhelming power of myth to transform and inspire.  It's about the magical power of love in all it's messy complicated forms.  And it's (of course) about the inherent magic of Passover: it inspires hospitality for the stranger, because I was a stranger in Egypt.  It inspires me to work for the liberation of all, because I was a slave.  Finally, it inspires tears of gratitude, because I was brought out of the house of Bondage, and led past the land of limitation.

3) Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity is the only movie on my list to feature magic qua magic.  It stars Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) as a frustrated single mother who has not time for romance, magic, or nonsense.  Her young daughter (played BRILLIANTLY by Valerie Tian) discovers a book on Taoist magic at the local shop, and begins to experiment.  Her magic enriches the lives of her whole neighborhood.  This is an adorable movie about the power of small magics.  When I saw it on Netflix, portions of the movie were in Chinese without subtitles, which I thought was fine, and had no trouble following, but viewing companion found very frustrating.  What it inspires: For me, this movie inspires me to find the child-like wonder that accompanies all good magic.

4) The Matrix. Sure, sure. It's overplayed. Sure, sure, some people claim there were some very bad sequels, but I deny their very existence. Sure, sure it's been largely co-opted by douchey dude-bros.  Sure, sure, sure. But, if you can tell me this movie didn't inspire you to do some magic the first time you saw it, I just don't believe you.  Like...really...do you even magic, bro?  What it inspires:  There is no spoon.

5) Fantasia was, full disclosure, my late mother's favorite movie, so I saw it at least once a year since I was about 6 and VCRs were invented.  It might be less inspiring for you.  But, Fantasia is also the only movie on my list that qualifies as a "classic".  If I were writing a list of the best movies every made, Fantasia is the only one on this list that might make it there too.  When it was released in 1940, Fantasia was a ground-breaking, world-changing piece of art, and it still is.  For many people, Fantasia is their first exposure to the gut-wrenching power of classical music, and the first (and tragically, for many, the only) time they loose themself in a piece of abstract art.  When I put Fantasia on this list, I had genuinely forgotten it even had a piece about magic.  The Sorcerer's Apprentice, is, I suppose, inspiring, but mostly in a "I'll show you!" kind of way.  For me, the most inspiring b oitsf Fantasia are the first piece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which teaches how to visualize music, and the "intermission" where Leopold Stokowski, one of the great conductors, teaches how he understands music.  If you have the chance to watch the extended DVD with commentary, I strongly recommend it.  Few people know how involved Stokowski was in the conceptual framework of the movie; in many ways, Fantasia is a collaboration among some of the greatest artists, musicians, and storytellers of its day.  It's Bardcraft for Bards.  What it Inspires: For me, more than anything else, Fantasia is about the interplay of music, visual art, and mythic narrative.  It taught me how dramatic tension works, and how to draw an audience's heart after mine.  More that anything else, Fantasia taught me that the most "sophisticated", "complex", and "abstract" arts were well within reach of everyone.  Like I said, this movie is a Masterclass in Bard Magic.  If you've never seen Fantasia on a big screen, ideally in a park, I cannot recommend the experience highly enough.

6) Dead Poet's Society is, admittedly, a little cheesy.  But, the line between inspirational and cheesy is actually kind of a fine one. :)  I don't know how to explain why this movie is inspiring to me without spoiling it, but remember that I spent most of the last decade being a priestess of knowledge, undercover as a prep school teacher.  You might be starting to sense a theme about magic=bardcraft in this list, which isn't ALL of my magic, but it is a lot of it.  This movie is a bit dated, but it holds up well.  Excellent performances by archbard Robin Williams (the only actor to headline two movies on this list; peace be upon him), as well as young Robert Sean Leonard (House), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), and Ethan Hawke (literally everything).

6) Like Water for Chocolate in some ways, is another version of Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity, and it touches on similar themes.  I am a complete sucker for Latin American magical realism romances about food; for a lighter, Candomble-themed, version of these same themes, check out "Woman on Top".  Like Water for Chocolate is passionate and sad, and teaches about the power of passion and sympathetic magic.  What it Inspires: Advanced Kitchen Witchery.

7) What Dreams May Come is an intoxicatingly beautiful movie whose cosmology I mostly disagree with.  Another excellent showing by archbard Robin Wiliams, the writing and acting in this movie are good, but it's the direction and art-design that really shine.  The underlying notion of creating, and exploring a world made out of imagination was a powerful one for me, as a 10-year-old bussing magician, and the notion of how all of our imaginal realities might intersect was even more inspiring.  Also, truth be told, I learned to psychopomp from this movie.  What it Inspires:  An understanding of the nature of the astral/imaginal worlds, and how they intersect with both our world and the Other Place.  How to guide a man through hell.

8) Vision is a German biopic about Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century visionary, radical feminist, artist, musician, polymath and "Catholic" saint.  I cannot say how historically accurate this movie is; I suspect it rather plays up the feminist and pagan themes.  However, it's beautiful, both visually and musically, and wonderfully lush.  The acting is excellent; I really like the way they avoid "modern" body language and facial expressions.  You never really know what's going on in Hildegard's mind.  However, once again, it's the art direction that does it for me; this movie, much like Hildegard, conveys its message best in music, art, and poetry.  What it inspires:  About two months after I saw this movie, St. Hildegard appeared to me in a vision, and charged me to found an abbey, which is now called the Pittsburgh Witch House.

9) Agora is the only explicitly pagan movie on this list.  It's a biopic about Hypatia, the last dean of the great Academy and Library at Alexandria.  Hypatia was, in the movie and in life, a brilliant mathematician, inventor, orator, and poetess; Hypatia was, unquestionably, one of the last great pagan thinkers of the classical world.  Like Vision, this is not a historical documentary, its an artistic retelling of history with a clear bias. (and, honestly, more or less the same bias...a feminist/pagan/pluralist one) Even I think this movie is heavy-handed with it's Pagans=civilized, Christians=barbarians message, but, I mean...I'm pretty alright with that.  I have seen this movie at least 12 times, but when (SPOILER, but, I mean...this is history) she is sexually assaulted and then stoned to death by a mob led by Cyril, "Pillar of Faith and Seal of all the Fathers", Patriarch of Alexandria, I have never failed to weep.  What it Inspires:  It might not be a shock to you, if you've gotten this far, but I'm a radical feminist priestess of knowledge dedicated to mathematics, art and mythopoetry, who also really likes costume drama.  So, this movie pretty much ticks all my boxes.  But, a deeper level, this movie inspires me to keep fighting, in the face of sometimes overwhelming hatred and ignorance.  At the end of the day, what this movie inspires, in me, is that I rage, rage at the dying of the light.