Witchcraft is an inherently personal business; everybody’s Path will look slightly different. And in contrast to the organized religions of the world, Wicca doesn’t have a central dogma besides the Wiccan Rede. That’s why we often say that there are as many ways to be a Wiccan or a Witch as there are practitioners. Yet, for all the openness of our spiritual practice and the subjectivity of one’s Path, there are still some unspoken rules within the community. Those new to the Craft may often become attracted by the more shallow or commercial aspects of it—especially nowadays, where being a Witch doesn’t carry the social stigma it once did. And in contrast, some more experienced practitioners can fall into the bad habit of gatekeeping—feeling like only they know the right way to be a Witch. This creates tensions and conflicts that need to be acknowledged.
A Witch’s New Year begins after Samhain. But there’s something about the festival of Imbolc, the first to take place in the new calendar year, that feels like a fresh start. As the midpoint between Winter and Spring, Imbolc carries a hopeful quality: as Nature all around us starts stirring from under her deep blanket of snow, so do we. We shed our “hibernating” mode and begin to renew our commitment to growth, both personally and spiritually. During this time of reawakening, putting pen to paper is one of the best ways to prepare for this new Turn of the Wheel. Here’s what you need to know about Imbolc journaling—and all the ways it can help you in your practice.
Mercury Retrograde gets what we colloquially call a “bad rep,” especially from people who don’t really understand how astrology, or magick for that matter, works. Mercury Retrograde tends to be blamed for everything from communication and technological breakdowns (possible) to breakups, accidents, and all kinds of disasters or bad luck (not very possible, unless you believe it is so, and thus, bring this upon yourself).
Mabon ap Modron comes to us from the Welsh pantheon, but different versions of this deity and the archetypes he represents are found in Celtic, Gaulish, and Irish legends. Mabon’s name seems to be derived from Maponos (“Great Son”), a Gallo-Brittonic deity developed as the local counterpart of Apollo. In fact, several historians believe Mabon himself is the Brittonic counterpart of Apollo, the God of Light. According to sources, Roman soldiers that were posted along Hadrian’s Wall in the 2nd century CE (in what is now Northern England) recognized one of the local gods of the Britons as ‘Apollo Mabon,’ a version of their own Sun God. Mabon is also referred to as Mabon ab Mellt, Mabuz, and Mabonagrain in Celtic mythologies, Pryderi fab Pwyll in Demetian mythologies, and Mac ind Óg and Óengus in Irish mythologies.
“I begin to sing of rich-haired Demeter, giver of good gifts, bringer of seasons, universal Mother.” Thus start several ancient Greek hymns to Demeter, the Olympian Goddess of the Harvest and agriculture. You’ve probably heard of Demeter in conjunction with her daughter, Persephone. But although motherhood is a sacred aspect of Demeter’s identity, the Goddess is so much more than that! As we approach the first Harvest of the Year, let’s take some time to acquaint ourselves better with “She of the Grain”.
Learning the Tarot can be a healing and enriching journey. As far as divination methods go, it’s one of the most easy ones to muster. But learning to read the Tarot for yourself can feel very different than learning how to read for others. In this article, we’ll explain both approaches, what’s different, and what you need to consider.
Our pagan ancestors have been looking at its gleaming globe for answers for millennia, synching their lives and their magickal practices with its phases. And today, modern witches and Wiccans know that everything from our spellcasting to our mood can be affected by whether the Moon is waxing, waning, or full.
Thor has a fascinating origin story that’s quite different from how the world has come to know him. According to Snorri Sturluson, the 13th-century Icelandic historian who wrote the Prose Edda (which to this day remains our main and most complete source of Old Norse religion and mythology), Thor actually descends from Troy. Yes, the ancient kingdom Greeks laid siege on for ten years before using the Trojan Horse to sneakily win the war. Sturluson says Thor, also known as Tror, was the son of a Trojan prince who survived the war and was raised in Thrace, in northern Greece. He was often compared to Zeus, the Greek god of thunder, and Herakles. He’s supposed to have “fair hair,” and in some depictions, he’s seen as a pagan priest. His descendants followed the Germanic tribes to the north of Europe, and his twelfth descendant, Woden, became celebrated as a god amongst the Germans and Scandinavians. A very interesting tidbit in this story is that “Asgard,” the legendary realm that was home of the gods, according to Sturluson, meant “the city in the east,” a reference to Troy — and “Aesir” meant “the gods from the east.”
Mother Nature has all the remedies we need — and as witches, it’s important to know how to harness them through working with herbs and plants. Throughout this series of articles, we’ve examined some of the key herbs to work with for healing, spells, and divination rituals. After learning about the magickal properties of jasmine and clover, it’s time to look at another favorite: lavender.
Celebrating fertility has been very important to our Pagan ancestors. It had to be, of course. Whether it was to help secure the birth of new human (or animal) life or to coax rain to fall to make the land fertile, every pagan pantheon had its own gods and goddesses of fertility — many of who are still very much celebrated to this day. As Beltane, the great Wiccan Sabbat of union and fertility, draws near, it’s a great opportunity to get to know these gods and goddesses a bit better so that you can include them in your Beltane altar and ask for their blessing.
Hera was worshipped in Greece way before people started speaking Greek there. She was the first deity to whom the people of that area ever dedicated a temple; she was worshipped all the way from Iran to Egypt. She's often conflated with the Egyptian Goddess of fertility and agriculture, Hathor, and with Demeter, the Earth Goddess. Hera's name probably comes from an older form of the word for "Lady" (Kera) but adapted to mean "Lady of the year" or "Lady of the season." Some historians think it's an anagram for the word for "air," as Hera was considered the Queen of the Skies, or the Heavens. Just as Freya, the Lady of the Old Norse pantheon, played a much more important part in the past before her role was diminished to not antagonize Odin, so did Hera. Prior to her marriage to Zeus, Hera was considered a manifestation of the Great Earth Goddess in all her three aspects: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
At the dawn of Imbolc, when the flicker of Spring quickens in the belly of Winter, Brigid’s fiery arrow descends from the Heavens to usher in hope for the new season. Brigid, also known as Brigit, Brighid, and Brighde/Bride, has been one of the most important goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. The Goddess of Spring and Fire, Poetry and Smithery, Healing and Prophecy, has a long and winding legacy that has survived the Christianization of Ireland and is beloved by Pagans worldwide to this day. Brigid has been transformed into both a Christian Saint and a Vodou Loa while still maintaining her primarily Celtic and Gaelic identity. As we’re gearing up for Imbolc, the first Wiccan Sabbat of 2021, let’s spend some time getting to know the many different aspects of the Goddess and learn how to best work with her.
The gods and goddesses of our Pagan ancestors differ from place to place — and from pantheon to pantheon. But some overarching themes can be found throughout the world: in every pantheon, there are gods and goddesses of war, wisdom, harvest and agriculture, death and rebirth. And in every pantheon, there are the gods and goddesses who preside over the most precious of human feelings: joy, happiness, and pleasure.
During these previous months, we embarked on a journey to understand the Tarot. We’ve explored the four Minor Arcana suits (Pentacles, Swords, Wands, Cups) and seen how each suit corresponds to a specific area in our lives. But what about the Major Arcana? The Major Arcana (22 cards, numbered from 0 to 21) are cards with powerful symbolism and evocative imagery. They are meant to stir your intuition and guide you on your journey. When you see a Major Arcana tarot card appear in your reading, you know something big is happening!
What makes you want to say, “My precious”? Beautiful, shiny things? Material comfort? Money in your bank account? The tarot suit of Pentacles deals with the things we treasure the most in the physical realm — the things that make us feel richer than Croesus or poorer than a pauper.
Hekate (also written as Hecate or Hecat) is, both literally and figuratively, a multifaceted deity. Almost always, she is depicted in her triple form: a Goddess with three aspects/faces. Some say it’s to symbolize the power she has over all the three realms (Earth, Sea, and Sky). Others say it’s to symbolize the inherent Sacred Trinity in her nature, being simultaneously the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.
The wand chooses the wizard.” It may be a line from a children’s book, but its premise is correct. Far from being just a passive staff we wave around during spellcasting and rituals, a wand is an energetic tool. Used with respect, it helps manifest a witch’s (or wizard’s) will. That’s the main energy behind the suit of Wands in a tarot deck.
Long before the festival of Ostara was “repurposed” as Easter by the early Christian church, even long before the Goddess Eostre was celebrated by our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, a different Hare Goddess was honored by some very spiritual people every coming Spring. These people were the ancient Egyptians. As for the Hare Goddess, her name was Wenet; the Swift One.
Strictly speaking, Freya is not a name: it is an honorific that means “Lady”. Different forms of the word have been used since the Viking Age (freyjur) to this day (Frau) to address women. If the Goddess had an actual name, it is lost to us. Apart from “Lady”, Freya is also called “The Beautiful One” and “The Priestess of Sacrifice” (Blotgydja), a reference to her status as the Goddess of Witchcraft.