Repost: Gigi's First Big Spell (Be Warned--You May Not Agree)

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

Today was another day quite similar to the one I described when I first wrote this article 4 years ago. The names have changed but the bullshit remains the same.

Our son, now in middle school himself, was hit by a similar monster-run-amok as the one who attacked Gigi. Again the belittlement of our religion (oh foolish mortals, aren't we past this?), again the unprovoked violence. It ended with our man, Drake, being hit in the eye in a sneak attack from behind. I contacted the father of this boy immediately so that he could handle his end of this altercation and--what a surprise--he was as vicious as his child. This grown man's tantrum was truly a masterwork full of accusations against my character, my child, and (of course) the fact that I am surely "what is wrong with the world today."

Oh, pal, you have no idea what's about to happen to your world today.

So after I humiliated him with a solid display of tact and fact--ending up with him agreeing with me--Drake and I took to the spellbooks. This wasn't over.

All of this got me thinking back on the incident described in the following article, how I handled it, and even how a local parent managed to uncover my writerly pseudonym and expose me to her church group as a topic of discussion.

Yes, it was just as weird as it sounds.

But, in truth, I was much more careful back then than I am now to appease a reader who might misunderstand and disparage my methods. I am a witch. My whole family believes in and practices magic. I don't care if anyone thinks it's wrong or sinful or filled with Karmic debt. I do what I do because it is my work to fix what is broken, to loose what should be free, to bind what should be restricted. If you can't handle that I do these things, don't bother telling me--just go about your own business.

If, however, you've ever been so mad that your limbs are shaking, if you've ever wondered where you can go from here now that there is no help for you, or--most essentially--if you watch this in your child, see the powerlessness in their eyes, read on and see what magic can do.

P.S. I don't believe I gave an adequate update on the situation you're about to read. The school, at first hesitant to do what clearly needed done, was deeply apologetic to us. The girl's parents were called in to discuss her behavior, ending in her suspension. Gossip around the school was brutal towards her and deeply sympathetic towards Gigi. Nothing of the sort has happened since and, in fact, both now juniors in high school, the girl has made tentative steps towards friendliness with our young woman.

No word if that has made any sort of impression.


Today the bus arrived at the edge of our snowy yard promptly at 3:30 and I expected Gigi to leap promptly through the door and declare herself home from the forced labor camp that is middle school.  Instead she quietly slunk in, with a red face and redder eyes, her shoulders drooping so low I couldn't believe she was still upright.

Somehow this bold, smart, friendly girl had been viciously bullied on the bus.  Now I take the middle-of-the-road approach to school bullies.  One one hand, bullying has happened since the time of the cavemen and continues the be an issue, in one way or another, for adults as well as kids (pushy relatives telling you how to live your life, that jerk who's out to get your job, etc.).  If we're able, standing up to these people can be a real breakthrough.  Can we (should we?) really eradicate something that is old as time and that many accept as part of learning one's own strength?  On the other hand, bullying is a painful, unnecessary expression of pointless hate (or repressed desire, jealousy, fear, etc.).  How can we pretend that isn't a problem?  How can we accept it without showing our kids that we condone them becoming victims...or monsters?

Like any mother seeing her child hurt by another, I was ready for blood.  While I simmered, Gigi's dad sensibly called the school to let them know what happened. I probed Gigi for more information: no, it wasn't provoked; yes, others saw and they can be trusted to tell the truth if asked; yes, the bus driver saw but, no, it didn't make her stop.  It had begun with the other girl calling names and shrieking  (can you believe this??) "You're a witch!"  Gigi did as I said before and ignored her, but it only escalated now that she wasn't getting any reaction.  It ended with the girl taking scissors from her bag and trying to cut off Gigi's hair.  Hearing that, I wanted to march right over to that girl's house and shave her head bald and her mother's too, for good measure!

Gigi was upset for quite a while and especially embarrassed at having cried in front of older kids.  I explained things as best I could about how embarrassing things happen to everyone and that, to others, we usually don't look as bad as we think we do.  "It'll fade away and pretty soon, no one will remember a thing about it," I said.  But is that so?  Did it feel like that to me when I was her age?  My optimistic "mom talk" wasn't working.  I needed stronger medicine.  I needed magic.

Up until now (read Dreams and Curses), Gigi has learned and long worked with little magic -- healing, rain making, etc. -- and mostly in her own way, not formulated spells.  It has been time, in my estimation, to begin the work in earnest but it's been slow going without a clear focus to begin.  Was this a good focus?  Can curses properly propel a magical career?

In the end, it's up to every parent, teacher, guide, whathaveyou, to determine when the student is ready and how best to help them cross into the magical life.  If it "takes", great.  If not, try again another time, another way and hope for better success.  Some may disagree with my methods but the timing couldn't have been better.  She was totally ready.

I went to my work room and picked out my favorite spellbook.  Gigi sat sniffling on the couch as I opened the heavy book and sat it between us.  "Now, we're gonna fix this," I said.  "And we're gonna fix her, too!"

We looked through all sorts of curses, Gigi asked questions and I explained, we talked about herbs with bizarre properties, we cracked jokes and cackled at our own wickedness.  I looked at Gigi and her eyes weren't red anymore.  Her body was relaxed but her face was alive with curiosity.

We worked magic together--mother and child, fighting fire with fire.  Our visualizations fed one another, our chanting blending perfectly, growing rich and deep.  The candles burned brightly and reflected in her eyes, her smile.  I talked about having faith in the work because you put your all into it, and about letting that power unfold in its own way because it's on your side and knows just what to do.  I told her of the importance of faith in yourself because you will be the only one certain to always be there for you.  She sat up straight and looked proud, listening more intently than I've seen since she was a wee little girl and thought mommy was a genius.  The work done, we laughed and relaxed.  We washed our hands in special salts and had a hug before bed.  She fell asleep calmly, breathing deeply.

This isn't over and there are things yet to happen between me, this girl's parents, and the school.  But what happens next rests largely on what we did tonight.  There will be no "getting away with it" and no similar events in the future.  But, best of all, what this taught Gigi isn't over and never will be.  She's tougher than any opponent because she's got the will to be.  If it takes a little revenge to teach her that, then I say it's worth it.

Who says that black magic only brings sorrow?  All magic is done for the betterment of someone, somewhere.  The better is here and now--mother, daughter, partners and protectors.  The worse is with our enemies.  What they have asked for, they now receive.  Who are we to deny such a fervent request?

Repost: The Truth About Cascarilla Powder!

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

Cascarilla was my big pride back in 2012 when I first introduced it in the shop (Notice the old labeling? Ah, simpler times...) and I am still in love with both the process and the practice.

Here's what I had to say about it back then. I'm sure you can still find use here, especially if you haven't tried Cascarilla before.

I'm so super proud of this beautiful new item in my shop, I've just gotta brag!  No one on Etsy offers brown cascarilla powder--until now!

Making brown cascarilla is more than just crushing shells of brown eggs.  Instead, white shells are flattened and then slow toasted for hours in the oven until they turn brown.  This is a long and very...fragrant...process (okay, honestly, hot eggshell smells awful!  It's like a roadkill casserole!  Bleck!  But, lucky for you, once cooled they are scentless).  After the shells cool, I grind them superfine by hand in my big marble mortar and pestle with chants and charms to drive away evil.  A lot of work goes into this little bag!

Cascarilla powder is such a potent cleansing and protecting agent that it can be used in any number of ways to guard from evil, malicious magic, and disease:
  • If someone leaves a trick on your doorstep or you find some suspicious item in your home from an enemy, dust your hands well with this powder before picking it up.  This keeps the evil from transferring to you, and you can dispose of it safely.
  • Add some to your bath water or sprinkle in the wash bucket for scrubbing the floor to disperse negativity. 
  • Use cascarilla powder to make symbols on the floor or altar during ritual or spellwork. 
  • Add a bit of water and use it to paint symbols on your skin or use it dry to dust your body for all-over protection.

All this magic talk has my mind percolating.  I'm in the mood for some spells--I'm off to my workroom for provisions!  Happy Equinox to you!

Related reading includes  The Magic of Iron,  Who is This "Joe Pye"?,  What's in a Spell Kit?

Repost: Osho and Other Beautifully Imperfect Teachers

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

First off, I am a big fan of Osho (though, I usually call him by the name I first read him under, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) and I have tremendous respect for his ideas. Osho has caught a lot of heat in the past for his sometimes politically-incorrect views.  One such view came to my attention only recently now that I'm his Facebook friend (Wild, isn't it?  Renowned the world over--and dead--and he's my friend.  I sure must be something special).  In an article linked from his website, he expounded on his thoughts about homosexuality being an expression of socially, physically, and religiously repressed heterosexuality.  He believed that without those conditions, homosexuality would not exist.  Though I don't believe that myself (and, for all I know, Osho himself may have changed his ideas since writing this in 1979) I do see what he's doing by saying it.  And it's a fundamental of teaching, no matter the message.

Here, for your enlightenment (if you haven't already read it) is the original article, taken from his "Be Still and Know" talks.  Read it and watch closely your reaction:

So, were you intrigued?  Outraged?  Hurt?  Ashamed?  You'd be surprised at how few responses I've seen that answer the first.  Most people seem to say something along the lines of "I used to respect him, but no more!  What a quack!  What an affront!  How dare he?"  Here's a good example, straight from the gay community:

Ouch.  Coming from the point of view as a teacher, I can say that every one of these people who are so grieved over Osho's statement, so hurt, so ready to turn their backs and shun his name, they have totally missed the point.

So what was the point?  Why is it that I can say I know this "as a teacher?"  It's because I've seen it happen plenty in my own teaching.  First you get this fresh-faced student, all geared up and ready to learn at your feet.  Then they hear you say something they don't like, something that offends their little ears.  "I have to practice this?"  "You expect me to do homework?"  "Wait, so I don't get to pick and chose what you'll teach me?"  And then it comes out--"I used to respect you, but no more!  What a quack!  What an affront!  How dare you?"  Yup, they're all yours until you challenge them.

But learning is about the challenge.  That's the reason we go into it.  Maybe it's been too long ago for adults to remember starting school, or maybe they just figure that it's a different story when you choose to take classes instead of doing it by government mandate.  But it's not.  It's still hard, it still takes work and dedication, and it will often fly in the face of what you knew before.  But that's good.  It means you're learning.

Sadly, I've lost more than a few students because they didn't like having to think.  I feel sorry for them.  We seem to have become a community that treasures individuality to the point of not wanting to even consider a teacher's right to say needful, if uncomfortable, things.  I'm not asking for students to worship my words, but I do want them to hear them, mull them over, practice what I prescribe, and then come to a conclusion.  Opinion-forming should be a process, not a reaction.  Just because your brain came up with it doesn't make it right. 

Unfortunately for Osho and I (though I'm not claiming to be in his league at all), people want to worship words.  They want their teacher/leader to say things that are easy to accept and agree with.  They want to nod at every line and be comforted.  "Work" should never enter into it for them.  And that has driven away many potentially enlightened people.  Osho might not have felt this pinch quite as profoundly in 1979 as today, with gay rights being one of the topics at the forefront of politics, but just the reprinting of this talk has people leaving in droves the shadow of the temple they built for him in their minds.  If they had only listened, they wouldn't still be inside it; they'd be out into the light of day.

Neither Osho nor any other teacher is perfect.  They have silly ideas sometimes, they work through impossible theories--they're learning as they go as well.  But they are ahead of the student, often far, far ahead.  We shouldn't follow blindly but we should follow and listen.  I saw in Osho's talk a viewpoint vastly different from my own.  I took some time to think about the possibility of it being true.  Could it really be that way?  What would that mean in general?  What would it mean to me?  How does this change my thoughts?  After that, I decided that it is not likely to be scientifically, literally true, but that there may be a kernel of truth underneath.  But, in the end, it gave me pause for thought.  I had to consider my own ideas and weigh them up against what I was seeing.  In the end, I feel pretty much the same about the topic as I did before, but my mind is just a little bit more open.  I still think about it from time to time, juggling these nearly opposite ideas and considering them all over again.  I think about the worth of speculation, of keeping open options, of not making harsh critical statements without full investigation.   Seeing the anger at other reader's fingertips, I feel sorry that they're missing out on this.  And I miss those students who refused to try to open, not for me, but for themselves.

Dreams and Curses Revisited

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

I haven't read this post in many years and the sight of it gave me quite a smile. Now our Gigi is 16 and as independent a Pagan thinker as ever. She's learned a lot, though we never did create an organized training system. I guess organic learning is my parenting style.



In our home, we don't hide from the important issues and we don't create an information gulf between child and adult.  Sure, there's "grown up" stuff I don't tell the kids, but I figure that if a child's old enough to ask a question, they are old enough for a straight answer.  This has been especially true with magic.

Now, I don't believe that magic is an adults-only game.  Nor do I see it as a membership club where, by someone else's say-so, you're either in or you're out (more about that later!).  So I believe in teaching children as early as possible.  Our daughter, Gigi (11), was only a few years old and making it rain and healing the neighbor boy's hornet stings.  The little man (7) is an expert incensier  (that's my freshly minted word, by the way: incensier [in-cen-SEER] one who compounds incense.  Sounds about right.) and I love employing his little biceps at the mortar and pestle.  But, until now, their learning has been atmospheric.  I always figured that the proper time would come for them to be formally taught.  And now, I believe it's Gigi's time.

Gigi and I were talking before getting her to bed tonight and I mentioned this.  She was happy to and only requested that it be a "weekend thing."  Fine by me!  Weeknights are plenty full as it is.  So I asked her if there was something she was especially interested in learning.  Her reply--dreams and curses.  I didn't say anything for a moment.  She explained that she wants to know how to return to a dream or get a specific dream, and how to give someone a little curse--if you're really mad--like bad test scores.

That set me back a bit.  Yes, the first one's no big deal and they're both easily done.  In fact, I could teach her everything about those two subjects in a day or two.  But...should I?  The kids know that I do magic of all kinds; sometimes I'm nice and sometimes I'm not.  That's just the work of a witch for me.  When I have clients who request curses or people who write asking for information on them, I don't turn them away and I don't tell them their feelings are wrong.  So I tried to look at it from that perspective.  I surely can't tell Gigi that it would be wrong to curse someone at school.  I'd be making a liar out of my practice.  And I can't tell her that it's not for her to know, because that could make her either perversely intrigued in this forbidden topic or dismissive of magic altogether since her lessons won't provide what she wants to know.  So what should I do?

I've been thinking about this ever since she said it.  I told her at the time that we'd talk more about it when it was time to start.  I guess that's the best way to go--talk it out and get to the core of the issue.  I can't say that at her age I didn't have the desire to blast some classmates, but maybe I can reroute those feelings so that she's less inclined to do it to the whole class.

Cursing is just as valuable a skill as any other in magic, so she will be learning it sometime.  Like any other spell, there's a right way to do it and a wrong way.  I believe most of the people who shout about the dangers of black magic and say that curses will always rebound on the witch did it the wrong way once and believed that it was the only outcome.  Training would have changed everything.

So maybe I'll let her get her feet wet.  She's not blasting crops or poisoning wells, just spreading a little revenge.  She'd probably be doing that anyway, and much sloppier too.

Feel free to write in with your feelings on this topic.  What would you do?

A New Direction for Us All

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

After much deliberation, I've decided to close Quill's Occult Supply on Etsy.

This wasn't a flippant decision, nor one based on monetary reasons. On the contrary, the shop was doing quite well and I was finding it difficult to get orders out in a reasonable amount of time. After over 1,000 sales and over 530 followers, I was enjoying interacting with customers but not feeling able to do justice to their trust with my shipping issues. My other projects--including manuscripts still in the pipeline for publication--were suffering while I tried to keep all these separate plans orderly. As you can imagine, it didn't work very well.

So let's talk about where we're at now...

What's Happening to the Shop?

Quill's Occult Supply is no longer with Etsy. I'm relieved about this for the above reasons but also because they've been cracking down on their new rules about metaphysical products in a firm but totally random fashion, and it was starting to eat away at my listings. I had a rather devious trick planned to ensure that customers still got to hear all the details about what my products can accomplish and how to use them (Etsy's main grumble was the descriptions; absolutely no insinuation that magic actually works is allowed), but it was looking like a long-shot that they still might pick up on. If that was the case, I could end up banned from the site and lose everything without warning.

So, instead, we're hitting the road! From my love of working Comic-Cons with the indie comic book group with whom I collaborate, an exciting plan has sprung to offer the same wares of the former Etsy shop to customers in person at live events aimed at the Pagan and magical community! All your favorites will be there, plus live tarot readings and magical advice for getting the very best from your situation.

 What About This Blog?

To keep with the new goal of streamlining my public practice I've chosen to switch things up around here, as well. Monday Quick Links, Wednesday Witch Tips, as well as the long Friday articles you're used to will be replaced with shorter, quick-read pieces once a week plus event schedules, photos, and observations from traveling in the magical world. Hopefully this will be as exciting an adventure second-hand as I'm sure it will be for me!

In the meantime, I'm going to bring back some of the older posts you may have missed, dust them off, and pop them on the front page for you to enjoy. So look for this old/new content every Friday. It's sure to be a grab bag of unique snapshots from my earlier days!

What's Replacing Them?

The biggest excitement of all of this is that moving my schedule around this way will give me the time I need to really focus on my manuscripts! Though I indeed have a possibility of professional publication, it is a very long process that has not yet garnered much. So I will be putting all my efforts into another edit, plus illustrations and cover art for all four of them and then to a local bookbinder to create for you a homebrewed edition of my work. I believe very deeply that these manuscripts are able to provide some of the renewed vigor and beauty that the magical community is sorely needing. I write for the intermediate to advanced practitioner with a solid education and a willingness to experiment. I bet this sounds familiar to many readers!

Naturally, I'm hard at work making these books beautiful enough for all of you to enjoy at every event I attend. I don't know how long this will take, of course, so bear with me as I dig through the mountains of unused material from earlier drafts, work up countless hand-drawn illustrations, and play around with just the right wording to get these new books out to the world in the best possible version of themselves. It's just another trip we'll take together.

Something else exciting that you'll see with me at events will be a custom quarterly magazine. If you find yourself missing the articles of Ex Penna or are just in the market for more bite-sized magic than a whole book, I know you'll love what this new exclusive mag will provide! It's as yet untitled but the focus is clear: modern, upbeat, snappy articles with ideas and spells throughout for a fresh take on the magical life. You're going to want to grab a copy of this a.s.a.p.!

Also note that one of my newer projects will be stepping into the spotlight now--The +1 Pencil--a side-business my husband and I have of drawing custom RPG character portraits and painting minis. We are both gamers and also have lots of friends in the geek community (and I mean that with both respect and also a noogie) and the demand for quality representations of player characters is pretty damn high. Minis are fun to shop for and dream about painting, but actually doing it--and doing it well--requires more than patience; it's a skill requiring a steady hand, careful attention to detail, knowledge of color theory, and practical experience with portraiture. In short, it's really hard and worth the money for someone else to do it for you.  lol

My work in comics is also a part of my life to which I would like to dedicate more of my time. Deerborne, who you'll remember from her first issue available at the shop (and the piece that I both write and illustrate), has a lot more story to play out, as do the MixmeN, the neo-futuristic fantasy taking place on a defunct prison planet (in which I am the illustrator). There's so much to explore in these stories that I really want to get more time to dig around in their respective universes! Happily, with this shift, I can.

As you can see, now matter what comes and what goes, I will still be available for the same purposes, just in a different space. You can write me anytime through this blog, Facebook, Twitter, or by email and I will faithfully respond. In time, I'll have a printed catalog available for old-school mail order and possibly a stand-alone website from which you can find Quill's Occult Supply alive and well online. In the meantime, however, I can't wait to come straight to you, in person, with armloads of spells to enliven and enrich your life!

Thanks for traveling with me, from the first beginning and onward into this second one.


Witch Tip: Formulas--Van Van

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Van Van is a formula, most often found as an oil, that is lucky in all respects while also removing all barriers to that success. It's the standard item in any good Hoodoo cupboard.

Oddly enough, though there are many successful recipes floating around, the only ingredient they have in common is Lemongrass. It would also seem that there are sellers whose Van Van oil is nothing but Lemongrass.

You can certainly create a starter version of this all-purpose formula with just Lemongrass in a carrier oil, but if you have access to the other Asian grasses found in the complete recipe, I recommend adding a generous dose of each:

Van Van Oil

Witch Tip: Spellcasting Shortcut--Ritual Arangement

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

Sometimes all you really need is some uninterrupted focus on a topic, and everything will turn out in your favor. This what you are doing when you create an arranged space.

Here we're talking about making room on a shelf, on your everyday altar, or on a special zone set up just for this purpose. Put all things related to the topic on that table as well as a hefty dose of items which are lucky for it and which work in favor of your goals. I like mixing in a few colored papers with positive messages on them and some auspicious tarot cards.

Move everything around until it looks and feels done. I know that I've seen such instructions in books and I've shuddered, but I can say that you will indeed know when it's done. Leave this layout untouched for a week. Take stock at that time. How are things progressing? Need more influence? A bigger push? Add some compelling herbs. Want to smooth things over and let them settle a bit? Change the color scheme to reflect a calmer atmosphere for the work.

Don't actually do a spell.  Let the casting be in the movement and setting of the space. Put all your energy into that and not into words or thoughts. Just allow the space itself to do the work.

You may be surprised at what happens.

Quick Link--Perfumes for Witches

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

Witchcraft Perfume Recipes

What an exciting secret it is to carry a magical item on you and have others under its influence without them even realizing it.  It is, perhaps, the most consistently enjoyable part of being a witch!

Now imagine that doing just that was as simple as putting on a few drops of your signature scent each morning.  It can be just that easy, and this weeks link offers a few good places to start!  Whether you're seeking to add another dimension to your spellwork or to have every day guarded and enhanced by magic, perfume is an option that anyone can enjoy!

When Witches Share, How Much is Too Much?

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

So I meet a witch and we begin to engage in that most sacred of magical rituals, the Intellect Dance. Who knows more? Who's read more books? What spells have you cast? What was your most impressive success?

We weave around each other offering tiny boasts, sprinkling the exchange with quizzes and minor tricks.

And in the midst of this--especially when it's painfully obvious that there's no need for it--I offer up too much information.  I say something that gives away what took me years to discover. Or maybe I reveal my ignorance of a popular practice. Or brag that my collection contains illegal items and then spend the rest of our conversation wondering if I can trust you to keep that to yourself.

Then there are the times I've found a conversant who thrills at the topic of magic but has very little knowledge of it. I should take it slow, lay out something soft and easy to digest, but instead, my excitement overrides my judgement and suddenly I'm chatting about my history with coercive love spells. Or I launch into a passionate rant about the value of demonic evocations. Or gossip about the trouble I've had with covenmates in the past.

Yep, I've said too much again.

As you know, I'm a firm believer that all practitioners, as to their desire, should be honest with themselves and others. We have the right to openly discuss our knowledge, abilities, and practices on the same level as any other person, and to use our magic in whatever way we choose. That being said, there is a definite point when things can go too far and that which should have been better guarded is allowed to land in front of those utterly unprepared to receive it. The one hurt by a reveal like this could be either party, or both.

So the question becomes, is there is a limit and, if so, can it be perfectly predicted?  Is there a way to prevent spilling secrets to those with whom we don't share a magical intimacy?

To this end I've devised a simple method--SCRIBE

It's based on the idea that our words should be worthy of preservation. If they're not, they shouldn't be shared at all. Before you open your big fat mouth, consider the following:




Does this information fit this time and place? Should I save it for a more private occasion? Would it be best shared after I've gotten to know this person better?


Does this information fit the current conversation? Am I rerouting its direction just to talk about witchcraft?


Is this a conversation? Will the other person have anything to add to this topic?


If I consider this informative, has this person expressed interest or am I just spouting facts?


Do I have already in mind the best way to express this concept to this person? Am I able to explain it without slowing down the give-and-take of our conversation?


(As honest as you can) Is this just bragging? What do I hope to gain by sharing this?

Some Life Experience

As often happens to those of us who inhabit a counterculture, I've been faced with circumstances that give me only a moment's pause to consider whether or not to open up to a certain person about my occult life. Sometimes it has proven to be the wisest choice.

An example that I often return to is a story that Silver RavenWolf told in her book "To Ride a Silver Broomstick" wherein she told a job interviewer that she was a witch--before she even got the job. That, to me, is the absolute wrong time, wrong person, wrong place kind of scenario. How many of the SCRIBE items did she forget to check before she came out with this information?  
I can compare that incident to one of my own. I was meeting with our son's preschool teacher for the first time to sign papers, learn about the schedule and whatnot, when he asked if there was anything else about our son that he should know. After giving the idea a quick inspection, I decided to share that our family is Pagan and because our son has been surrounded by it since birth and we haven't hid the fact, the teachers would probably hear about holidays, traditions, and other practices that were unfamiliar.
This was my heads-up and I said so right away. I knew the teacher would be uncomfortable as soon as I said it (and he was), because it is illegal for him to bring up religion as part of a screening process, but I wanted him to know so that he wouldn't be surprised at anything our chatty 4 year old said. That, to me, was the right time, right person, right place.
You, of course, will have to decide for yourself.

Keeping Perspective

Magic is a big, emotional topic and it seems that everyone--even non-practitioners--have big, emotional opinions about it. Keep this in mind when you're talking to others, especially if you stray into the more controversial corners.  If you keep facts clearly separate from opinions, maintain a strong take-away message, and hold onto a "quick escape" statement in case you need to wrap things up quickly (especially if the other person is getting upset at your choice of discussion), and all will be well.

Remember that sharing of all kinds is about letting people in on the real you. This means that anyone from your sister to the coworker you've been hanging out with after work can hear about this part of your life and it isn't going to ruin everything. Naturally, too, other witches should hear about your take on magic.  The secretive nature of the occult really does us a disservice when we try to hide from fellow practitioners.

So go on--share! But do it like all your magic: with care, skill, and no more than is required.

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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. 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. 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Quick Link--Spells for Your Wellness

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

Healing Spells

One of the best and most accessible uses for our magic is healing.

No matter what you practice, your background, your training, or what books you have--or have not--read, everyone appreciates magic that protects wellness, undoes the wicked work of disease, and speeds recovery.   Though there is still a low simmer of debate over the ethics of healing without consent, I really doubt anyone would object to you doing your best on their account.

Life is a long chain of opportunities to bring ourselves out of the seed shell which bound our soul at birth.  Good heath is fertile ground, warm sun, and plentiful rain to take that little potential we carry and raise it to unimaginable height, blooming in the full glory of summer.  Make this happen for you and those you love.

Making the Fantasy Fiction Connection

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

"No, I can't cast Fireball, a**hole. I do magick with a k."  Cue scowl and hair toss.

What I'm about to say might shock you:

I don't side with this kind of attitude.

In fact, I'm against most of such snarky remarks that are designed to separate us.

We can't deny the correlation between fantasy and reality in what we do, and we should really stop trying.  Not only is it a never ceasing task that renews every time a magic-centered book or movie rises to fame, but it also works against our best interests as casters. 

We can refrain from describing ourselves as wizards so that no one mistakes us for overzealous Harry Potter fans, but we can't ever forget the thrill we felt following him into Hogwarts for the first time and imagining ourselves amid an entire society of magic users.

We can insist on alternate spellings (magick, majick, magik), but since no one can hear the difference in our meaning--ya know, being the same dang word and all--it means very little except in print. This might seem like enough of a distinction since, of course, the occult is a scholarly pursuit for many of us, but it is certainly not enough in practice. In the coven, at the festivals, in the spell, and in our heads and hearts we still use the shared language of the fantastic.

Belief in Magic is Beneficial, Even to Non-Spellcasters

And what's so wrong with that? Scientists have already proven that there is a genuine benefit in superstition and other forms of what is known as "magical thinking." The numbers aren't small, either.  Even though this information is often presented in the context of magic being make-believe and a mild form of delusion, the fact remains that everyone from athletes to exam-takers, small children just exploring their new world to adults with life-altering anxiety gain a huge advantage by trusting in luck, magic, and their own ability to control circumstances.

Fantasy literature can help us be more creative, as well.  Those who embrace it understand concepts that make navigating life much easier: how heroes feel and act, compassion for wildly different types of people, respect for experiences we perceive as ordinary, and finding commonality in a diverse world.  This leads to better problem-solving and decreased stress.  Sounds pretty good to me.

So what does this all mean for those of us practicing the genuine art of magic? Well, first we must put aside the concern that our magic is accepted only on the condition that it's fake. We've seen that it has real world merit, even before we start casting genuine spells. The personal opinion of others, especially those outside of our community, don't have a strong enough bearing on what we do to require our attention.  In other words--don't sweat it. Live well on that shared respect for the supernatural and don't bother to speculate on what exactly it means to the other person.

This Witch's Story

When my husband and I first met, I was still "in the broom closet." I had not, at the time, yet told anyone about my interest in magic outside of a few brief exchanges with my mother and sister, both of whom were firm disbelievers and scoffers. It's worth noting, though, that they both held similar attitudes towards other aspirational concepts like true love, so take that however you like.

When talking to this wonderful new person in my life, however, I found someone who was not only accepting of the possibility of the unshakable and meaningful connection of true love, but also a believer in a hidden side of the world. He has always been an intellectual and we had many conversations that swept quickly between philosophy to pop culture, sociology to the supernatural. We got there mainly through a shared love of literature. We talked a lot about books then and his love of fantasy-fiction quickly came up. I was intrigued; not having read anything of the genre myself, I saw through his eyes a sense of excitement and wonder at the possibility of the occult that I myself experienced with my first spellbooks.

When I finally told him that I was a witch, I prepared for any reaction from disgust to disinterest. Instead, he was fascinated and said what have become sweet and immortal words to me, "I'd always hoped it was real."

That, in truth, is what lies on the other side of fantasy. Yes, society makes sure that children grow up having clearly defined lines between reality and pretend (mostly, I believe, to stave off the possibility  of raising schizophrenics), but no one can really crush that universal small, inner wish to see it happen in real life.

Touching on this spot in our collective minds can make discussing our interest in non-fiction magic much easier. Fantasy opens up and explores out human thrill at the hidden, the beautiful, the mysterious. In that sense, we have a lot in common and that mutual curiosity can bring you closer to others.

What Fantasy Does to Spellcasting

So we know what fantasy does to the rest of our lives, but what does it do specifically to our magic? I've come to find that it does impressive things. Books, movies, video games, and other entertainment like RPGs offer fuel for your witchcraft by showing clear images of what magic looks like. This can help strengthen your visualizations and concentration while casting. Reading or watching examples of evocative spells and rituals can also influence you to up your game and insert more theatrics and beauty into your work, stimulating the senses and gathering a more impressive store of power. 

The other boon of engaging in fantasy forms of the occult is one that meant a lot to the 16 year old me who was just taking her first steps into the magical world--you're not alone. I watched "Bell, Book and Candle" and relished in the idea that there might really be other people in the world who did what I did. I may not have been ready to talk to them yet but I wanted to know that they were there.

This is a useful building block to your magical self-esteem. We talk a lot as spellcasters about the power of belief and there is no belief as strong as that in oneself. If you go into a spell knowing that results are imminent not only because the work is strong but because you are strong, you cannot fail.

Acceptance Will Bring You More Than Intolerance

In the end, we'll never rid ourselves of all the many ways that we are tied to fantasy, nor should we want to. It's only that instinctive desire to be taken seriously that gets in the way of us truly enjoying all the benefits of those ties. The best thing we can do as a community is to embrace it openly (not just among ourselves, as we already constantly do!), use it as a tool to help others understand us, and find our inspiration in that parallel world.

Images from: (King Arthur II)

Witch Tip--Unpleasant Truths: Our Community's Mental Health Issues

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

I realize that this is a difficult topic to breach for anyone, let alone the magical community where so many of us found acceptance after being shunned by the world outside.  To many, many practitioners, this is a safe and comforting place where we can be ourselves without judgment.

On the mundane side of things is the simple fact that a dangerous number of individuals with mental health issues are not coming forward or being properly diagnosed.  The stigma of needing help to balance one's mental landscape is too great for a lot of people to bear, so they hide their issues as best they can.  Others cannot afford doctors and treatment.  Still more have been on medication in the past and have chosen to go unmedicated for as long as possible, believing the drugs change them and that without such "unnatural" help, they are, in fact, their true selves.

The occult is all about seeing the world with an inner eye, delving boldly into the underlying beauty and terror of the universe, reaching for the pinnacle of human understanding.  But what if what you're seeing is really just a dangerous hallucination?  What if those guiding omens were delusion?  How can you tell if you are indeed powerful and important or just experiencing symptoms of unaddressed inner turmoil?

It's been my experience that the magical world contains a stunning number of people with Bi-polar Disorder, and of those I've met, none were currently on their medication.  They said that the doctors gave them drugs to keep them from being creative, from having visions, and to stifle their magic.  You can imagine how difficult it was to come up with a response that wouldn't be pushed aside as just more of the same "mundane" thinking they believed was ruining witchcraft.

But that isn't witchcraft, people, it's dangerous.  Magic is something you can and should do with all your wits about you.  You don't need to have mental imbalances to see visions or speak with spirits.  In fact, I'd prefer if that were the case.

Here's a little story.  Many years ago, I met a young man--in a very mundane way--while grocery shopping.  He, amazingly, picked me out immediately as a witch.  I wasn't wearing anything that would make the average person suppose it, but somehow he figured me out.  He was eccentric, but I didn't see any harm in him while he talked rapidly and happily about his journeys into spirit conjuration.  I replied with more reserve than him, but didn't try to calm his fervor.  After all, he was in his early 20's and thrilled to meet another practitioner.  Who wouldn't throw caution to the wind and share magical experiences with abandon?  I gave him my phone number so we could talk more later.

You might suppose that giving him my number was the mistake.  In fact, letting him carry on was probably where I should have corrected myself.  Because I gave him the unspoken acceptance of the tales he spun in person, on the phone he opened up even further.  Demons regularly visited him.  He once killed a Goddess to punish a former friend.  His past life continually intruded on his current life, causing black outs and showing him long periods of that time in a dreamlike state.  The Devil himself wanted to talk to him.  And after all that, he needed me to ask around the Catholic church for any priests available for performing an exorcism on him.  

All of this was amusing at first but when put together, it became troubling, then terrifying.  He told me finally about the meds and how he only pretends to take them.  He was diagnosed as Bi-polar, but he knew better; he was special and would someday be the savior of the world.  I didn't believe he was Bi-polar, either--it looked much more like Schizophrenia.  I ran.

After that, I no longer answered the phone and he eventually stopped calling.  But what if he had known where I lived?  What if we were related or worked together?  To what extent could these delusions have taken him, a vain but seemingly unprepared actor in a movie under someone else's direction?  At what point would the average person have shut this down, and how much sooner than an occultist?

I'm no stranger to interesting magical tales.  I've listen with rapt attention to the conjurations of others, witnessed--and personally experienced--powerful deity possessions, made incredible things happen with spells.  I've seen with my own eyes fairies, sprites, and gnomes with others present to verify it.  So I know what it's like to see and do things that no one else would get.  But we're talking about something altogether different here.

This is the fatal flaw in the magical community; just because someone tells rich and detailed stories about their magical work doesn't make them true.  In our eagerness to be accepting and non-judgmental, we let in dangerous thinking without even a moment's hesitation.  We say "everyone's experience is different" rather than identifying patterns and beliefs that could point to mental problems.  We don't want to be like other groups, so we bring in all those who were both unjustly and justly removed from them.

If you know someone who seems a little off, do some research into the most common types of mental illness.  When they talk, stick to the big picture and stop them from trying to make their delusions real for you.  This sounds mean, but it could cost you something far worse than your time.  

Quick Link--Non-Wiccan Witchcraft

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

Traditional Witchcraft Articles and Information

The occult community in the modern day has much to thank Wicca for.  And yet, it was an imperfect announcement that the Wiccan tradition made to mundane society, and because of that, Wicca will forever be linked in the minds of many people with the "authentic" practice to which all others aspire.  That is definitely not the case.

The world of magic is vast and varied, with many traditions veering off into their own space and bearing almost no resemblance to others in the same area.  There is definitely no "one true way" when it comes to magic.

Traditional Witchcraft is one of the many paths taken pre-Wicca--as well as post--and it's particulars are unique and rich.

If you've ever been expected to conform to rules that work for Wiccan practitioners but no one else, you will certainly enjoy this elucidating read!

About Me

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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 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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