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What Makes a REAL Witch

blindfolded woman with a lit candle

I hate this.

I hate this set of rules that some pagans put on others. These rules and sets of judgements in order for someone to call themselves a practitioner of the craft is oppressive.

I recently read “a real witch harms none.” A real witch “acknowledges karma.” A real witch owns this tool or that star.

Let me tell you something: All of those statements are wrong.

First of all: Karma belongs to Asian religions, and unless you are of an Asian faith blend or background, using one idea from Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, or Taoism and not others areas of that religion (and have no cultural or immersive experience) is *clears throat* CULTURAL APPROPRIATION.

I know, you don’t want to hear that. I am aware that you feel the use of karma as a part of every day social and societal norms of the ‘western world’ because karma is a completely integrated concept. This integration does not excuse that it is part of another culture and is used to benefit or in spite of other cultures. If you don’t have other aspects of these eastern religions fully integrated into your work as well, then karma should not be in your ethical arsenal. “beware of your karma” is a racially oppressive and culturally offensive comment. Back off, Betsy, and check yourself.

Also, these rules stating that witches don’t harm people is incorrect. All people harm people. Some of us try not to, and some of us try to. Harm is not where we draw the line for being a witch. It is however for Wiccans. ALL WITCHES ARE NOT WICCAN. So, you Wiccans out there: STOP BEING MISSIONARIES AND TRYING TO FORCE OTHERS INTO YOUR WAYS. That is what the Christians did starting in 70AD. Stop it. You can do you. But let other pagans do themselves.

Witch is a much broader term to specifically associate with NATURE and the energies of this world. All of the energies, even the chaotic ones.

Nature harms

Nature creates life

Nature takes life away

Nature has spirit

Nature has energy

Nature has predators

Nature has prey

Nature can nurture, torture, disease, and cure.

alluring young woman preparing potion against black background
Photo by murat esibatir on Pexels.com

The witch does these things, too. Even if you elect not to, having a complete understanding (or working towards it, because who ever understands ALL parts of nature?) means you are a witch.

Witches have the ability to do all of these things (or, again, a student of nature and its magical secrets and counterparts), also because if we ARE really one with nature. That doesn’t mean we sit outside and make love under the moon (at least not me because I don’t like to get dirty or get bit by bugs). “One with” just means moving with nature, moving with people, moving with animals and weather, and understanding (or trying to understand) the ways nature wants to move.

We are those who grow and can give disease.  We can mend and twist but we can rest and heal.  We have choices. Stop telling people they are not witches because they don’t fit YOUR belief system or YOUR ethics. Nature and spirit.

And all the chaos and order that nature is.

We love trees because their beauty is mathematically a part of chaos.  We love butterflies because their beauty is mathematically a part of order.  
We also fear what is organized and what is chaotic as well. To say that a witch harms none means that you live in a bubble of lies. Just being here harms something. Do you create to give back? Well, by attacking someone else *clears throat again* YOU ARE HARMING THEM! 

Therefore, those who go out of their way to attack other pagans to scold them about ‘harm,’ well, you are harming another practitioner of the craft with your bullying and your judgement, and therefore is also a hypocrite. Mind your own business and stick to your relationship with nature. Leave my babies witches alone.

Chaos, order, creation, and destruction.  Denying the harmful parts of life means denying being a witch. This is me coming for you. Back down and let people be.

Oh, and one more thing:

And don’t bully others based on what they don’t know, yet. We are all on the path to discovery, Betsy. Back down and let people continue to learn and evolve.

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Graveyard dirt and where to get it

Please don’t steal from someone’s house.

Please don’t go to the closest cemetery and offer something and then take their home, a magical ingredient needed for so many things.

Truth is, spirits can be mad, just like people, and can be vengeful. They will want justice for taking part of their place of peace. Imagine someone taking from your house. How would you feel about that? Angry? Vulnerable? Vengeful? Well, now imagine if you had the flexibility and fluidity of being spirit.

A student of mine had a recent problem. He did leave offerings both at the gate and at the plot of dirt of a cemetery and everything seemed find. He left whiskey, candy, coins, and tobaccoat a Jewish cemetery. He went home and had been having minor inconveniences left and right even small scratches on his nose.

“Should I give back the dirt or toss it out, I don’t think these people like me cause I’m not one of them,” he said.

I told him to give to back. My thoughts are that he probably left the wrong offerings. Jewish people don’t leave anything that decomposes as grave offerings. So no food, no flowers or other plant matter. Also, the probably would prefer to not be used and then dismissed.

What annoys me is that my student had asked a lot of experienced witches to make sure he did all the right steps, who all told him that if he did not have permission to take the dirt the spirits would have made it abundantly clear to him in that very moment and they didn’t. He even kneeled down and asked. But spirit isn’t a parlor trick. They’re at rest. A relationship must be cultivated and understood between both parties, and patience.

One of my lovely students wrote to him: “I think unfortunately people in a lot of witch groups have an unfortunate tendency to assume that they will be stopped if they did something wrong. But that’s honestly just assuming that there’s far more order in our world than there is. I think it’s another form of the good things happen to good people fallacy. Some people are just jerks. Some spirits are just jerks. You unfortunately got a jerk. I personally would return the grave dirt and take back the offerings the spirit didn’t like, apologize, and not work with that one in particular any further. There’s a Japanese tradition to rub sea salt on your back before leaving an area where there are angry spirits so the spirit doesn’t follow you any further. I would do that as well.”

Here is the reality about life and getting what we need. We shouldn’t just take. And we must be patient when we ask, because the answer can be no, and we must respect that. But we must be patient. Most of all, it is audacious to assume the answer would be yes from a singular chance meeting. Walk up to a stone’s house and ask for a chair in exchange for a gift. This request to take of their land is just as audacious. But if your nice came to your home with a gift in exchange for a chair that she needs, for which will better her life? Well, she will probably get her chair.

Even spirits don’t have to like us, right?

I don’t necessarily like every person I come across.

Think about the living. We have our own prejudices and our own preferences when it comes to people. So… simply go to a different ‘club.’ We don’t belong in every circle and we don’t make friends everywhere we go. This cemetery is just not for you.

Also, the signs from spirit aren’t necessarily shown right away. AND build the relationship with the rested before taking the very first time. In some cases, you may not be allowed to take from a site.

In Hawaii, all of the land is a burial. You can NEVER take lava rock as it is part of Pele’s body, life, and the resting place of her mortal body. Many have taken the land, wanting a token or a souvenir of their vacation, but this little rock is part of her resting place, her home, and her body. Wouldn’t you be upset if someone took one of your knuckles?

The great Goddess Pele will literally kill you slowly with bad luck and misfortune until you’re hit by a bus or something. She is a God, which the spirits at rest are generally, not; however, spirits have the ability to do the some major damage, especially in a group.

Cemeteries are like book clubs… not all of them are welcoming. Find a different cemetery. Maybe one that speaks to you culturally. Maybe one that just feel comforting. One that you can feel the peace. You are taking part of someone’s home, so shouldn’t you feel welcome in their home, too? Trial and error. Return the dirt, leave the gifts as a “thanks for seeing me anyway” and move on to another book club.

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Why spells don’t work

There are many reasons why spells don’t work. Let’s look at all of them.

  1. Self-care is bad
    • If you aren’t taking care of who you are, the energy you put out will be weak. A hammer needs energy to put in a nail. If you are weak, your ability to use the hammer is weak. Same with spells, but regarding energy. If you don’t take care of yourself, you are quite frankly ineffective.
  2. Life Balance is bad – these need to be close to even:
    1. Spiritual life and relationship
      • Your authentic relationship to your faith. Witchcraft is use of supernatural and preternatural. You need faith. Authentic faith.
    2. Social and Family relationships
      • We are social creatures. Build your family and friends strong.
    3. Career & Education aspirations
      • If you are unhappy with how your aspirations are being met, you need to change. You spend most of your life feeding this energy, make sure you aren’t feeding a ‘lemon.’
    4. Money & Personal Finances
      • Need money? Change your life. Happy with how things are going? Then you’re all set.
    5. Health, Recreation, and Leisure
      • Don’t have time to take care of yourself (see #1). Time to make space so you can have your leisure and recreation.
    6. Your home and routines
      • Are you taking care of your home. Like where and how you live? This is important as it is where your energy ebbs and flows.
    7. Relationship with your community and sense of belonging
      • Everyone needs to feel accepted and valued. If your community isn’t doing that, go searching for one that will.
    8. Mental & Emotional health
      • Are you taking care of your mental and emotional health? Are you using creativity? Are you socializing? Are you going to therapy?
  3. The kinds of spells you are doing are not in your talents
    • Many spell books are written from a practitioner. That practitioner has a specific set of beliefs (and if you don’t have the same, they may not work) and talents (and if you don’t have those talents, they may not work). Check your own talents here.
  4. Copies from a faith of which you do not genuinely believe
    • Same notes as above. If you are reading from Aleister Crowley, and don’t believe in the Christian or Jewish pantheon, THESE WILL NOT WORK RIGHT!
  5. Intention is not clear or not strong – you’re just playing with ingredients
    • Without a focus of energy and intention, you are not going to get anything to work. Hammer: If you wave a hammer willy nilly at a nail hoping it will just work, well, it won’t. You have to intend to nail the nail (or hammer the nail?).
  6. Your ingredients are weak
    • Quality matters. A nail made of tin will do a worse job of holding up a heavy picture than a nail made of iron.
  7. How you put your ingredients together are not skilled
    • Without practicing, skill does not develop. Don’t be impatient. Be patient and dedicated to practice until you succeed.
  8. There was no actual ‘cast’ to send the spell or finish it
    • Same spells leave out the part that makes them finish the spell. You need to cast the spell. Just mixing isn’t necessarily enough (depends on the spell). How do you seal the deal?
  9. Unrealistic expectations
    • If it can’t be explained, it can’t happen. But you can explain a lot. You probably can’t turn into a horse through explanation, though.
  10. Asking for too much without the proper exchange
    • Magic need exchange. Energy, ingredients, devotion… Something. Just be willing to do what you need fully. There is no cheating. Everything comes at a cost.
  11. Not Enough Effort (no follow through, and not energetically helping your spell to continue working)
    • Lazy begets lazy results. It’s that simple.
  12. Not enough time to manifest
    • Unless you can bend time (some can), you need to allow for the spell to take place.
  13. Not the way you wanted, but you did get what you asked for.
    • You probably should have been more specific. Just be careful what you ask for.
  14. You aren’t focused
    • If you aren’t paying attention to hammering the nail, you could hurt yourself or damage the wall. Focus.
  15. Not devoting to your deity/ not paying spirits/ not recharging the working
    • If you expect entities of deities to help, you need to cultivate relationships. More than you would with people. Authentic relationships. And if you say you are going to do something, you best do it.

 (and always go back to 2-1)

OK. Happy casting.

If you need help with casting, you can book time with Aly directly to help you figure out what went wrong or how to improve your spell work.

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Quiz to find out what your witchcraft strongest element is!

Want to know where to start as a witch? Maybe you are working in witchcraft or a folk religion and you don’t know why your magic isn’t working. Take this quiz! and if you want to be linked to other articles once you’ve found out your base element, check them out:

Divination Separated by Elemental Expression

Elemental Connection to Magic

Take the Quiz Here!

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Spell Casting, pt 1: Self-Care is the only way to make your spells work

I can’t tell you how many people will read this wanting to take a short cut into the world of witchcraft. I’m going to tell you that there isn’t one. But I will tell you this:

There is a basic formula to making spells work.

First, you’ll read over and over again that your intent needs to be clean and clear. Yes, this is very true. Imagine that your first ingredient to your spell is water (the water represents your overall health). If you are murky in any parts of your life, your spell work will also be murky. Here is why:

The energy we give off is the first catalyst to making anything we want happen.

Give that a thought.

I mean, that makes sense, right? Even just in how you talk. If you are in pain, or hungry (upsetting a ease in your existence), then how you behave is affected by how you feel. And if your tone isn’t a clear intention to what you want, then your intent is murky.

In other words, your WHOLE self needs to be intact and healthy before even attempting spell work.

MIND

I tell all of my students this: End your toxic relationships, fill you time back up with giving ones. If you are toxic, start new habits and stop taking from other people because even you wont function requiring people to “need” you. Go to therapy. Learn something every day.

Get off of social media so much! Comparing yourself to the world online is bad for your mental health. You wont ever make it to the facade that is social media. Be living in the life you have and make it the life you want. Focus on that, not others’ posts.

Get creative. Take a dance class. Sing. Paint. Cross-stitch. However you do it, creativity helps fight depression.

BODY

Guys, exercise! It doesn’t mean you have to climb a mountain. In America, it’s always a “all or nothing” mentality. You don’t have to join CrossFit in order to check this box. Just move! Learn what your limits are, and give them a nudge. There are so many things you could do to fulfill this requirement. Just move.

Eat more vegetables. You need vitamins. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. I very much believe in the power of meat. But your body is a temple, and you get to decide what goes in it. Again, there are so many options out there. It should make you feel good and fulfill the proteins, carbs, and fats (and vitamins) needed for your diet. Also, if the only way you are feeling good is to over-indulge in food, go back to mind health.

You should not be over-indulging in anything for your body to ‘feel’ good, or to prevent it from feeling. Stop destroying your ride.

Get enough sleep, and make it good sleep.

Drink more water

SPIRIT

Become or reconnect with something greater than yourself. Yes, it’s that simple. Being the end all of your reality can be overwhelming. Reaching out to a mother or father on a spiritual plane helps build your self-worth.

COMMUNITY

Socialization is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. It can be with one person, on a facetime date, or you can do a watch party. Either way, no man is an island. Islands are islands. People are social. Find someone to be social with in a healthy and consent-full way. Build up your tribe and your support system.

Are all the boxes checked?

Then your water should be clear and its time to get down to spell casting!

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Elemental Connection Categories

I’m teaching a class on basic witchcraft, and I like to start with honing your innate skills. I’ve created this basic chart of elemental categories in order to figure out what you gravitate to first. Sort of like a “sorting hat.”

I’ve included the chart below:

Highlight all of the items that strongly resonate with you. All of them! Even if your judgement says that something is/are negative.

At that point, I assign basic spells in each category but encourage you to start with the category that resonates with you first. In theory, this should be your base element. In order to strengthen yourself magically, you should start in your base element to get the connection you have to nature stronger. As you connect, you’ll find that other elements become easier, but you’re probably going to want to go back to your base element/s.

As someone who works in witchcraft, you should have a comprehensive knowledge of and ability in every area, even if you don’t necessarily excel.

You may notice that defense and protection aren’t really on here. The reason why is this: if you are protecting your home, it should incorporate all of the elements to ensure attack will be prevented.

Here is my disclaimer: I am aware that in many northern European faiths, elements are broken down into Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Spirit. Great! I don’t use Earth because everything is our Earth. The air is part of Earth and water and fire and our spirit always connects us to the energy of which our ‘aina gives us. But I think you understand what I mean in the area above. Also, you’ll see that Earth is basically separated in two areas. One of which is stabilizing and one of which is growing. I do strongly believe that they are different areas of interest and intent, as I believe so does our environment. You’ll probably also notice that time is an element in and of itself. We only are a part of our reality because we experience, recall, and recite it. Without the concept of time and how it affects us, we are not.

I’m also aware that some simplify it down further: below, here, above. I think for beginners, this concept over simplifies because this structure naturally combines many elements in the craft. If a new student fails at one area within a spell, they may wrongly determine that they are unable or that the spell itself doesn’t work. It’s probably one of two things: 1) the ingredients are incorrect or weak, or 2) the practitioner is not connected to one of the aspects of our world. The Below/Here/Above is a fantastic simplification for craft workers who are more able or more naturally connected, and for those who are more acquainted or (dare I say) advanced.

Either way, I find that knowing who you are and your natural strengths, then nurturing those first, will incur stronger results and a stronger faith.

Finally, this may clarify pantheon, patron saints/deities, and a belief structure. This is what is lovely about Benedicaria, if I may? Instead of being boxed into worship of the Norse pantheon, or the Cult of Diana, this allows for you to really connect to a deity worship that matches your connection from your heart to your environment. From your mana to your ‘aina. From you soul to the land.