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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Friendship Is Love, Too

Helping a jilted friend get over a bad relationship is good medicine, which can be therapeutic for you, as well. For example, a wonderful male coworker of mine was dumped unceremoniously by a woman he had been seeing for two years. He quickly went into a deep depression, and my heart went out to him. I felt compelled to help. I knew my friend walked to work each day, so I decided to let the cleansing winds work a little magic on his behalf.

At the nearest florist I bought two long-stemmed white roses. I took the petals from one and mixed them with a cup of aromatic lavender. I blessed the concoction, chanting:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs




 Dear Cowan (that's “non-pagan” in Pagan),


Yes, I'm pagan, and no, I don't want to talk about it.

That may surprise you. Here in the US, we're lousy with people who can't wait to tell you all about their religion, usually in excruciating detail.

Well, I'm not one of them.

I'm not just being froward here; this is an integral part of who we are. For us, religion is tribal; it's ours to us, and—quite frankly—none of your damn business. Think of the religion of Zuñi pueblo. It's not for talking about with non-Zuñi. As a Zuñi elder once remarked about missionaries, “They throw their religion away as if it isn't worth anything, and then they expect us to take it seriously.”

In fact, what seems to you mere friendly curiosity—and we are interesting, I acknowledge that—strikes us as both rude and deeply intrusive.

Oh, I understand that your questions are well-intentioned. What you need to understand is that, as a non-pagan, you're operating out of privilege, and in fact—if you'll pardon me for putting it quite so baldly—a sense of entitlement. You think that you have the right to ask me anything that you bloody well please, and that I somehow owe you an answer.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it just ain't so.

If you really want to know about me, my people, and our ways, there are plenty of resources out there. Go and educate yourself. Then if you come to me with questions, you won't be coming from a place of ignorance, and I may just consider answering.


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Celestial Celebration Sacred Scents Incense

To purify and enhance the space where you perform spells, here is the best incense to burn before and after every circle gathering with your friends.

Mix together one part of each:

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I never had a son or a daughter; gay men of my generation mostly didn't. (Talk about a failure of imagination.) But if I had, I have a pretty good idea what I would have wanted to name them, assuming it had been up to me to do so.

What do you want from a good name? Well, you want 1) something unique, but not weird enough to encourage teasing. You want 2) something with some history, some myth, to it: an old name in modern form. And you want 3) something that gives the kid a context, a sense of the culture that he or she is born into.

So, unsurprisingly, I would have wanted to give them names from the old dialect spoken by the Hwicce, the original Tribe of Witches. (Ah, the down-side of having a linguist parent.) This would have been by way of saying to them: Your life is your own, to do with as you wish, but you have a culture that's yours by right of inheritance, and always will be, whatever you may or may not choose to do with it.


Frytha. My daughter I would have wanted to name Frytha ("soft" -th, as in “breathe”): “peace.” Unlike speakers of modern English, who make do (or, just as often, don't make do) with only one kind of peace, the ancestors had different names for different kinds of peace; frith (“hard” -th, as in “breath”), the base-word from which the name derives, means “peace within a given community.”

Girls were still named Frith in East Anglia well into the early “20th” century. Frytha is a variant used—perhaps created—by one of my favorite (and formative) writers, novelist Rosemary Sutcliff; it's the name given to the bow-maid viewpoint character of her 1956 teen novel The Shield Ring. It's not a form that would have made sense to the Anglian-speaking ancestors, for whom -a was a masculine ending, but that's surely acceptable. As Mordechai Kaplan says, the ancestors get a vote, but not a veto.

So, welcome Frytha.


Siffrith. My son, I would name for a hero: a dragon-slaying hero, in fact.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Closening the Ties That Bind

You can further empower your friendship amulets by knotting them in accordance with the laws of magic. If the cord binding your bags is knotted nine sacred times, you will have increased greatly the power of the spell. Nine is the number of idealism, altruism, generosity, tolerance, and sacrifice. Here is a rhyme to recite as you bind:

By knot of one, the spell is begun.
By knot of two, it comes true.
By knot of three, so mote it be.
By knot of four, ’tis strengthened more.
By knot of five, the magic is alive. 
By knot of six, this spell shall I fix.
By knot of seven, the planets in heaven.
By knot of eight, I have sealed my fate.
By knot of nine, this work is divine.
So shall it be.

You can also make a magic knotted cord to tie around a paper scroll. On the paper might be a written desire, a spell, or a wish expressed to a friend in a letter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Footage of Burning a Three Candles on on a Yellow Background of Colored  Blurred Bokeh by AndriyASD


The homophobia down at the little jazz club where I worked had finally got to the point that I decided to do something about it. No one should have to hear "fag" this and "puto" that every day of his working life.

Demographics lay at the root of the problem. The kitchen crew were all straight guys; the floor staff mostly women and gay men. Since even the most pathetic cook still held out some hope of getting laid, that meant that it was the gay guys that bore the main brunt of the assholery.

At the time, Luis was the kitchen's alpha male—I won't dignify him with the name “head chef,” it wasn't that kind of place—and the other guys mostly followed his lead. So, clearly, I needed to make him the target of my working.

As for timing—timing is important in magic—in every well-run restaurant, there's always a brief window of time between when the prep work is done and when the doors open, during which everyone takes a moment to breathe and center before the evening's work gets underway. So naturally, that was the time that I chose.

I go into the kitchen and take up my stance just in front of the door. Every painting needs a worthy frame.

“Listen, Luis...” I call across the floor in my best pissed-off-bitch-with-attitude voice. I pause to make sure that I have his attention, and the attention of every single person in the kitchen. (These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell....)

"...Just because we've screwed a few times, doesn't mean I want to be your boyfriend, OK?”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sweet Heart Herbal Amulets

If you create amulets to share with your friends, your good intention will be returned many times over. I keep a stock of little muslin drawstring bags, but the amulet will be even more powerful if you sew them by hand and stuff the dried herbs inside.

  • For courage: mullein and borage flowers

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