Witch Tip: Unpleasant Truths--Flakes

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Flakiness exists in every subculture. There's always going to be that set of people who just seem to float from place to place, ideology to aesthetic, without any real ties to any of it. Such is the way for the ones who inhabit the magical community.

Just what are we talking about when we say "flakes" or "phonies" or "fake witches"? Usually, when that kind of language is thrown around--and generally, with as much venom as possible-- the individual in question displays one or more of the following qualities:

  • False knowledge or no knowledge
  • Pretentious behavior
  • Unwillingness to commit to a coven's expectations
  • Free-will taken to a selfish degree
  • Carefree turning to carelessness

It scares us that we are surrounded by--and possibly are just such a one ourselves--people of no substance.

That happens, folks.

We need to come to terms with that. What means anything now is what we do with that knowledge. Stop acting like flakes are going to be anything but. It's okay. That's what they do; they're going to let you down, they'll tell you flimsy lies, they'll give you the runaround about the smallest, dumbest things. But that's what you should expect of any flake, not just the magical ones.

Because the magical community loves its autonomy and self-directed paths, we're dealing with a fair amount of them. Because we deal with outcomes that don't have a direct physical correlation to the work we put in, they can say a lot before we realize that they know nothing. But that doesn't mean that we should spend all our energy decrying them.

I've had coven-mates who were flakes. One was a glorious example of what not to be, and the rest of the coven was bolstered by it. We were stronger before this person was booted out. Sometimes, an in-group is given its strength by the existence of an out-group.

I've met with new people who did their level best to snow me into being impressed by them, even to the point of later telling everyone that I had begged them to teach me, which was ridiculously false.

But that's not the thrust of what I do, not then and not today. I am a stronger witch based on the storms that I've weathered, the troubles I've endured, the problems I've solved, and--yes--the flakes I've suffered and from which I've drawn wisdom.

So feel free to kick them out, to turn away every flake and every false witch if you feel so compelled. But stop acting like there won't be two more on the way. Instead, get smart, get tough, be firm, turn away from what is wrong for you and for your coven. But then let it die. Don't worry over it. Don't barrage others with expectations of eradicating them totally.

It just can't happen.

Quick Link--Online Guide to Dream Interpretation

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:



Dream Bible: the Online Guide to Dream Interpretation


Keeping a diary of your dreams can be a good way to keep track of the hidden things, the broken things, and the undigested knowledge we gain every day.  Some dreams are straight-forward replays of the waking world but others require some delving to understand their true meaning.

To aid you, I offer today's link: an expansive listing of dream interpretations for you to check against the wonderland of your dream world.



How to Reset Your PST

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

PST is a painfully common issue in the modern magical community.  Only through identification, education, and alternative methods can we eradicate it.

I'm talking, of course, about the phenomena known as Pagan Standard Time. 

This malady's main symptom is being habitually and unapologetically late for every Pagan/magical event--whether attending or presenting--causing a stuttering waiting period for things to begin that quickly turns an enjoyable day into a frustration.  For those of us already on a razor's edge of a timeline, this can sound the death knell for any future events.


Because the occult world has very little authority--and we like it that way--there are strong feelings on both sides of this argument.  On the pro side, we see the forefront is about our cherished individuality.  After all, organized religion (that thing that runs opposite to so many magical practices) has schedules and rules that can stifle the free expression and creativity we adore.  If we're going to dig our fingers into the mysterious occult, we've got to forge our own perspective on who is in charge and to what degree.

While it feels good (and oh so counterculture!) to always follow your own directive, it can really get in the way when you involve other people. A teaching arrangement, a coven, a public event--all these have to have some sort of schedule. Keep in mind, too, the ever-present desire to present to the outside world a formidable community can make this an issue with real weight. How much do we--and should we--care about looking "professional" to other paths and spiritual bodies?

The support in favor of Pagan Standard Time is worth exploring, as well:

  • When you create something yourself (and the magical community is by far self-made), you get to set the rules
  • Many of our people are young and impetuous; free-wheeling is their style
  • Timelines feel restrictive and unimaginative
  • Magical people adore surprises, mystery, and happenstance. What better setting could there be for these things to thrive than one without borders?

On the con side, though, are points just as important to make:

  • To be taken seriously, we must present ourselves in a serious manner
  • Punctuality is often linked to respect; not always in the eyes of the person arriving but definitely by those awaiting the arrival.
  • People are busy and their days and nights are filled with activity. If you want your event to be a priority to them, you must maintain timelines they can trust

Having been on both the giving and receiving ends of PST, I can say I've learned a lot about how it begins--and how it can end.


How It Happens

Let's be honest, folks.  Events are hard to plan and even harder to host.  Many elements have to be carefully knit together to be successful. If you want to keep them interested, energetic, as well as inspired, you're going to have to have a quick-moving agenda of unique experiences mapped out in advance.  Do you have what it takes to arrange this?  Do you even know what such a thing would look like?  Yeah, me neither. 

Most of us are just stumbling along when it comes to creating great events.  Come up with a way cool
idea, dream about how great it would work out, then watch the reality fall far short.  It can still be nice, still work to a certain extent, but achieving that ideal is probably out of the question. 

Even if you're not asking for the moon (and several perfectly choreographed dancers, drummers, and a poet who will ad-lib beautiful prose in honor of the occasion), there are other factors that go into making events a difficult project that's often over-due or over-time:


1. Events rarely have enough staff

Being a guest at a huge ritual is a helluva lot more fun that working at one.  Considering how rare it would be to find a really big event to attend, it's no wonder that so many people want to enjoy the time spent in that space rather than be its bouncer (or do its set up and tear down, or feed everyone, or pass out papers...)



2. We don't have a lot of good role models to emulate in this arena

Until you've been to a number of events, you won't really know what elements go into making them successful.  Think of the parties you've attended in your life.  Whether you noticed or not, you used every one of those experiences to formulate how to manage social gatherings.  You saw what worked and what didn't, what was fun and what made the evening drag, as well as how the host handled problems and turned the focus of the group away from misery-making things like a brewing fight or an embarrassing drunken episode happening in another room.  You came away with lots of knowledge from that and it helped make your own shindigs a great time. 

What do magic folks have?  Unless you live within driving distance of the festival circuit, the likelihood is pretty good that you consider your events history as a few dull-to-regrettable afternoons with other practitioners who claimed to be having the time of their lives.  I know this one well.


3. Our needs and desires are unique for spiritual groups

This means that general advice doesn't always help us do a better job.  Looking at what works for prayer circles or sweat lodges might not offer any real insight.  We do things in a unique way and we need to find our own voice for that.

The most important element of this is freedom.  Witches are crazy about it but that makes it hard to get everyone to want to do the same thing at the same time, which is a staple of building group unity.  It and individual expression must be in balance without losing focus.

We're also incredibly talkative.  Time has to be divided between work and play, social time and magic.




How to Combat It...

Now that we know a bit about where it starts, let's talk about how it can end. To be able to keep the good aspects of PST while ditching its drawbacks might seem like an impossible task. It can be managed, though, if we're attentive to not only what works for occultists in general, but also for our own local groups.

...as a Presenter

When you're the one hosting an event, you must start out recognizing both the weight and the potential in your position. You have a lot to answer for but you also have the chance to put a personal spin on what others are expecting to see. Where do you want to take this and what do you feel is the surest way to get there? This will take some time, so let's start there.

1. Start planning the same day you take the job

No lie, don't wait a single day to begin the process. Not only is it essential that you have all the prep time you can get, it's also a good idea to begin work while you're still excited about the event and are filled with those initial dreams of its success. This will give you some early fuel.

2. Lots and lots of lists

Start with a basic outline of what you want to have happen at your event, then list the things--large and small--you'll need to have.

How many people would ideally handle each of those aspects? List the positions. List people you know who could fill them.

Where will you get the things you need but don't currently have? Make separate lists for buy and borrow.

Do you have a venue? If not, list ideas. Do you have enough money to do this yourself? If not, list methods of gaining capital, like arranging for donations or requiring payment before or at the time of the event.

3. Know how long things take

Give yourself a generous amount of time for each of the points of interest throughout your event.  Add to that meet and greet time before and food and drink time after. This is how long your event will take.

You can also make a separate plan based on ideal lengths of time and then add in some things that people can be doing in the gaps. This is handy for times when people must take turns at something and everyone else waits for their time to come. Give them something to focus on, something to see or do, and you will keep them interested and involved.

4. Have a definite ending

I'm a big believer that you should always end strong. Give your guests a clear idea of the end of the event approaching and they will be relieved to know they won't miss anything or overstay their welcome.

This can be achieved a few ways, depending on your event. You can pass out programs at the door or have it posted online so guests know what will happen throughout.  You could also have someone in charge of announcements, giving a 5 or 10 minute warning to the end of one act and reminder for the next. Make these brief, clear, and loud.

Moving an event forward is always about wringing out all the worth from a block of time as possible and making people look forward to the next one. This can be achieved with leaving if you give them something to take with them or something to do when they get home. A classic is the "swag bag" or parting gift that each person picks up as they exit, but you can also offer things for them to do afterward such as posting photos from the event, leaving reviews, or using items made during the event.

5. Take note of what worked

This is essential! Over time you'll get good at this, but until then, learn to watch people's reactions and figure out if your plans are having the desired effect. You might even want to make comment cards available for guests to turn in anonymously.  Grow a thick skin if you're going this route, though; people can have startlingly high standards for people other than themselves.

Knowing what to keep and what to cut can really tighten up your timeline for the next event. Also, doing this immediately afterward will keep it fresh in your mind what you thought about the pace. Were you exhausted? More help next time. Did things have to be left out to stay on schedule? Go over your schedule to make sure you gave enough time for the most important aspects and then next time allow lesser aspects to be dropped, if need be.


...as an Attendee


This is usually where things get messy. That person who gives their R.S.V.P. as an insecure upward inflection, "Well...maybe I'll be there? And if I am? It'll be...like...30 minutes later?"

Or how about the member who counts themselves as the backbone of the event but shows up late and bustling through like a hurricane of plastic bags and unfinished sentences, "Oh my god, what a day...Everything's been so...! And I was all set, had the car packed, and that's when it happened--you'd never believe!"

Or maybe it's the one who just decides to swing by and check out what's going on, "Hey, so, did you guys get to the spellwork yet or is it still circle time? 'Cause, it'd be cool to be in on the magic but our paths are different and plus, I've got to jet out of here in 45 minutes anyways..."

Don't be that person, not for your sake or mine.

1. Ask every question you need to when you first decide to attend

Talk in depth to the person who invited you. E-mail or call the host and ask questions. Write down any you want to ask between the initial plans and the event date and contact the necessary person as soon as you can. 

Know where you need to be and when, where to park, what to bring, age ranges, limitations, rules, expectations of guests, event timeline...everything and anything you can think of. There's no such thing as being too informed.

Many events will have opportunities for unscheduled time before and after the main occasion where arriving and leaving are okay at any point. Talk to the organizers about this and find out what the window is. Ask what to do if you accidently must breech that limit.


2. Give yourself extra time for everything

Plan ahead for driving time, then add some. Plan your outfit and a backup in case something happens. Be weather-wise in case a sudden rain, snow, etc. delays you or turns an outdoor event sour. Have appropriate emergency items in your trunk.

Pack the night before. Treat this as an excursion that you want to get just right. It doesn't matter if it's only an informal gathering with people you've known for years. It's important to enjoy it--and benefit from it--to the greatest extent possible, so give planning it's due time.


3. Keep a goal in mind

Are you going mainly to make new friends? To reconnect? To find a possible teacher? To learn a new skill from a workshop or meet an influential person? Know exactly what you're seeking so that you won't squander time or miss your chance when it comes.


4. Be gentle with others

Because PST is more the norm than an occasional irritation, it's going to be widely assumed that your behavior as explained here are strange. Think ahead how you'll handle flakiness when you encounter it.

Be generous with your schedule after this event, as well. If things end on time, great! If not, know how much extra you can spare before you need to get back to your own plans.




Remember, PST is not intended to offend. Most of the time, those displaying it are good-natured but ill equipped to deal with the self regulation needed to keep things running on schedule without outside insistence. There's actually nothing wrong with that; those folks just need some support and a few extra hands to help with the work. Offer whatever assistance you can and what advice you can. If those fail you, take charge and create the structure yourself.

And also note that there's nothing aggressive about plotting the demise of PST. It may be a joke to some, but to many of us it's just a bad habit that needs to come to an end and make way for better, more productive things.

No matter which side you're on, awareness beats all.



Images from:

Amazon.com
Pinterest.com
highlandtownshiphistoricalsociety.com
kkrgowthamgudavalli.blogspot.com

Quick Link: Secret Magical Writings

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:



Secret Writings for Spells, Magic, and Witchcraft


Oh, how I adore grimoires!  If you've been reading this blog with any regularlity, you'll know that nothing pleases me quite so much as books, and occult books are, naturally, the very apex of that love.

To wit, this week's link is nothing but grimoires and occult texts.  It's an excellent resource if you'd like to understand the classics or if you've run dry on inspiration from modern reads.

Witch Tip--Easy Herb: Cloves

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

It would appear that the spicy little clove bud has a contentious following; folks seem to either love it or hate it.  Either it's a sprightly reminder of home baking, childhood security, and family togetherness or it's headaches, pungent bitterness, and nausea.

Of course, this doesn't stop that little herb from being a fantastic staple to your magical supplies.  If you are part of the die-cloves-die camp, you might be able to soften their scent--but not their influence--by tempering clove with other additions while the rest of us enjoy them straight-up!

Whole clove buds are set on fire in the flame of a candle and wafted over the head of a person who is potentially cursed.  If a clove bursts, that person has had a curse put upon them.  If the loud pop makes them jump or twitch, the curse is broken.

Cloves, mint, rosemary, and eucalyptus are mixed,  simmered in a fatty substance, and then the ointment is rubbed between the fingers and inhaled to clear one's head and instill fresh focus.

They are also linked with peace of mind, tranquility, friendships, and keeping bonds close.  For this you can carry them in your pocket or matching conjure bags to be shared between you and a loved one.


Image from:
alinariarchives.it

5 Ways to Be a Brilliant Social Witch

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,


Let's play a little make-believe.

Say you make talismans.  You've made some for friends and family, sold a few to acquaintances, but are generally unknown.  Your work is beautiful and you feel really strongly about sharing your unique take on a classic art; you just need to be where the people are.

Or maybe you design clothes.

Or you're a tea leaf reader. 

You teach witchcraft to students. 

You write magazine articles. 

You host open circle events. 

You lead social justice events. 

You lead a coven. 

You're in a band. 

These things don't have to be a money-making venture, but they're a big part of YOU.  Expressing that on a large scale is the ideal way to live the big, beautiful life of your dreams.  But first, people need to know that you exist.



Our community is generally insulated against non-magical folk but friendly and highly vocal once you come inside.  This can mean an open door to expressing some of those amazing characteristics that don't get to come out at any other time.  In addition to its general sense of welcome, we also have a unique take on topics that mainstream society handles quite differently:

  • We support pop-up business
  • We put money into independent ventures and small business
  • Our social interactions are rarely aligned by social class, affluence, or upbringing
  • Learning is our prime status symbol and authors are our celebrities

This is good news for those unique offerings that might not fit in any other place.  Let's see what we can do with that.


#1 Get Familiar Online and Off

If you've been reading Ex Penna, you know that I'm not much interested in being tech savvy (hell, I don't even have a cell phone), but I'm here because this is where it's at.  If the latest trend was to communicate by carrier pigeon, I'd be in on that, too.  Go where the right kind of people all hang out and present yourself.

So there's the word right in there.  I don't mean the in-crowd, only your crowd.  What type of people would really get what you're promoting?  Find out the kind of online groups, social media platforms, and sites have the largest gathering of those types.  Think of the ideal age and background for your most receptive audience.  Though it may make things seem a little too clinical, here's a helpful chart to reference:



You can further narrow your scope by choosing the kind of interaction that best showcases your work.  Authors and teachers (*ahem*) do well with Blogger and WordPress; visual arts grab attention on Instagram, deviantArt, and Pinterest; performers and teachers can make YouTube videos or vlog independently; and designers, musicians, and artists can find their outlets through places like TeeSprings and CD Baby.

Of course, being social isn't just about the internet.  The whole world is your Facebook if you do it right!  Find opportunities to meet people, even if you have to arrange them yourself.  Find or create a book club, join meet-and-greets, go to workshops.  Regularly doing spontaneous things, too, can inspire connections, like talking to people you meet in the Metaphysical section of a bookshop or tucking your business card under the wiper blade of a car with a pentagram bumper sticker. 

#2 Know What You Want to Gain


It's not just what they say about "getting your name out there" or spreading positive word of mouth.  The real question is "Where am I going with this?  What's my final outcome?"

In all reality, your destination is not one place but a succession of many.  For example, I write here because I love to write but also so that I can be recognized as a writer, gaining further opportunities to write for other blogs, leading to more magazine articles, to form a worthwhile author platform for my manuscripts, and to overall interact with a much larger audience than just my shop customers.  That's a bit more complex than "getting my work noticed," but it's that kind of precision that gives a plan its practical value.  I've given myself a way to know if I'm actually succeeding or not.


#3 Go All In

If you can name 3 famous occultists from any point in history, you'll understand this point perfectly.  You absolutely must give your all if you want to be remembered.  Though some of our community's characters might be less than reputable, each one knew/knows how to throw themselves into their work and the promotion thereof. 

What kind of character are you?  Embody that most magical side of yourself, that unique and vibrant persona that you just can't legitimize in your mundane world.  There's something wonderfully individual there and bringing that to your forefront can be not only creative and magical but also deeply liberating.


#4 Connect the Dots 

Don't let any of your social interactions exist as an island.  To make it work, all pieces should find their place among the whole.  Just as you are made up of many interests, talents, memories, and quirks that acquaintances may uncover at different times, so too is your witch persona discoverable in many places.  Be sure that all those places lead to one another, as well as leading back home. 

For myself, my shop, my writing, my spellcasting business, teaching, online interaction, and art have at least 2 threads apiece that tie them to me as a person.  I blog about most of them, share my blog on Facebook and Twitter, then use each of them to promote my art, which I make available online and in person. I use examples from online to illustrate points made in my classes and use student questions as the basis for some of my blog posts.  If we were to meet on the street, you wouldn't immediately know all the places my work is present, but in hearing about one, you would have information leading to the others.   


#5 Don't Stop for Anyone

The most important aspect of any success is the fortitude to persist.  Though the magical community can be a welcoming and open arena for each of us to test and refine what we bring to the world, it can also be quiet and lonely.  Don't expect a pep squad to keep you going.  Be self-driven and persevere.

This goes double for any time you come up against those who try to silence you just because they feel entitled to speak for the whole of us.  Let it be known now and forever that there is no spokesman for the occult, and no one has the right to declare one in or out of the fold. 

Keep doing your thing, keep sharing what you've got, keep shining, keep going.  Even if it's quiet, the world is listening.











Images from:
royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012/
s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/74/a4/7e/74a47e960b916ae5dbdc2b70d99b838f.jpg
aliexpress.com
pinterest.com/source/polyvore.com

Also see this perfectly timed page:
 http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-12-08/gift-guide-for-the-materialistic-social-media-witch/



The Future of Quill's Occult Supply

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

"Deactivated by Etsy"

 
Those are some gawd-awful words, not because my world is Etsy, but because part of my work is only found there.  For many occult sellers, these words--now found on 5 of my listed items--have been the opening lines to an obituary of their public work.
 
Following the rules of the site, sellers don't promote their goods anywhere else, so losing their shop is easily the complete end of their business.  It's tragic to think what has become of such a perfect platform for selling magical goods (especially when the ban on such items over at eBay saw sellers flocking to Etsy for a new place to host them).  I do understand the need for rules that protect buyers from hucksters, but in trying to keep out the false they have denied so much of the gloriously creative and honorable. I wish we could find some land between "too much" and "not enough" to occupy.
 
For those of you who may not have heard, it was in 2015 when Etsy quietly updated the restrictions on the types of items sellers may offer to include the removal of any items which are purport, either directly or indirectly, to create physical change through metaphysical means.  Of course, not all your items may be removed and some items in the same category could remain while others are taken down.  There seems to be no specific organization to this so the whole mishegoss has led to widespread confusion while sellers try to figure out why items were deactivated, how to get them reactivated, and what we need to include (or remove) from listings to adhere to the very vague language of the new policy.
 
It is, indeed, my job as a seller to control my own business and not wait to be controlled by authority figures. That I understand.  Without real clarity on where a shop is "right" and "wrong," however, many sellers are sadly watching a good magical career end.
 
For myself, however, I refuse to let this be the end of anything.  One way or another, I'm determined to bring to all my customers the kind of honest, potent magic they crave and have come to expect from me since 2012.  That could mean remaining here, leaving for other online marketplaces, or even doing the rogue thing and turning this into a full-fledged physical store. 

So what say you, internet?  Let's talk about what you think of the Etsy restraints.  Would you follow Quill's Occult Supply to new grounds or are you an Etsy-only shopper? 

No matter what outcome I receive from Etsy, though, it is my only interest to serve the magical community.  I'll always be doing that, through the shop, my writing, art, public speaking, spellcasting, divination--for you, for the future of the occult world, to whatever ends magic brings me. 



Image from:
Etsy.com

About Me

My photo

My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 








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