Behind the Broom: What the Books Don't Tell You

Witchcraft Philosophies, Action, Leadership, Humor, Outrage, Awkward Mishaps, Lovable Lessons, and a search for Grace with a clumsy Witch.

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Courtney Weber

Courtney Weber

Courtney Weber is a Priestess, writer, Tarot Advisor, performer and activist originally from Portland, OR living in New York City.She is the High Priestess of Novices of the Old Ways, a Progressive Wiccan and Pagan Coven and community. Her writings on Witchcraft have been published in numerous publications. She host public Circles in the city, teaches locally and nationally, and is available for Tarot consultation. Her first book "Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess" will be released by Weiser Books in February, 2015.

It's a pleasantly cool August night, and my partner and I are drinking Mojitos on the patio, the laughter from our friends drift up from the pool. Once in awhile, we hear the melodic chants of the guest Coven, raising energy in the new sacred space we carved out in the woods just last week. The lights are dim in the freshly painted cabins, as some of the greatest minds in contemporary Paganism arrived last night to circle and discuss Magickal and theological gems. Within the walls of our sacred Pagan space, we have no need to explain ourselves. Trees get hugged, and there's no eyebrow raising. The Fey get their due respect without reminders. The Unicorns are only ever fed with the produce from our collective garden and Peter Dinklage makes a nightly stop to simply have a chat and sometimes lets us ride his pet dragon around the area. It's a great place.

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  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    I've never quite understood why people think that it's not ok to pay to take a class, but it's ok for a teacher to pay out of pock
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Thanks, Phaedra! It's an important conversation. Nothing is ever truly "free."



a1sx2_Thumbnail2_qmi2.jpg“Peace and Blessings!”

If you’ve had a phone consultation with the Queen Mother Imakhu, you’re sure to recognize the trademark greeting, along with the joyful cackle. This time, I wasn't following my usual "Call The Queen Mother!" routine which usually involves bringing her a dream for interpretation or seeking guidance in untangling a leadership knot. This time, I was seeking to make her the subject of a blog post, hoping to speak about the nuts and bolts of Priestesshood.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_springnyc.jpgIt was spring, finally. The Westerosi-esque winter had finally departed, but on the first beautiful day NYC had in 2014, my partner and I were not frolicking in the park like the sane people, but wading through a "Hoarders" meets "Chernobyl Diaries" landscape: a scent memory that surfaces and spins at inconvenient moments like the little rainbow-wheel on a frozen Mac. Two friends donned homemade haz-mat suits made of shower caps and black plastic bags from the liquor store while our roommate followed us through the putrid maze, dabbing a "apartment-claiming" spell she'd whipped together made of vinegar and a dab of her own urine. She's never done a lot of spellwork before, but frankly, the New York Real Estate race will make a Witch out of anyone.

'I'm going to write about this, and I'll wish I were joking,' I thought as I watched the teenager from down the hall roll around on the linoleum in the hall, groaning, "I CAN'T! IT SMELLS TOO MUCH! I CAN'T!" 

Our neighbor had been evicted and she abandoned 23 frightened, malnourished cats in a two-bedroom apartment stacked so high with years of garbage, walking through the halls required a weird little dance I'd only performed in Twister, before. Through a series of frustrating events, my partner and I ended up as wardens of the kitties. By the time we got into the apartment, the little ones had been alone for at least three days and there were no signs that they had any food or water during that time.

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  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Thank you, Anne! I'm sorry you had to go through the illness (it, like alcoholism, is an illness that affects the family). I appre
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Thank you for this post: heartbreaking, wise, and down-to-earth, all at the same time. As a survivor of a hoarding parent (though,

b2ap3_thumbnail_criticism_20140302-173627_1.jpgThe last few blogs I've posted have been all rants and ravings of mine about the trend in Pagan spirituality to turn rituals into platforms for critique or guests pulling aside ritual leaders moments after the Circle is closed to offer negative, unsolicited "advice." The danger in rushing to critique is that we lose focus of the ultimate goal of rituals: to create change in the world via Magick and/or building safe space for souls to grow, heal, and become reborn, or some other facet. They're not simply an opportunity to show to others our own knowledge. When we do this, our rituals lose their effectiveness. This is also a practice in the whole of the soul. We are entitled to our opinions, but others are not obligated to listen to them--even if we are right.

Yet sometimes, criticism is necessary.

No one is going to get any stronger at what they if they are only flattered and complimented. A good teacher doesn't only praise. A good teacher looks for ways the student might improve and a good student listens to those suggestions. Ritualists are no different and constructive criticism is necessary to building more effective rites.

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Sorry, apparently I can't hyperlink here. I was trying to link to this video: http://blog.chasclifton.com/?p=6332#comments
  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Graybeard is right—the Wiccan circle-casting works for small groups but becomes tedious with more than maybe twenty. But these pe
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Well-said. Learning to create rituals takes time and skill that can be learned. My general guideline is to keep it simple, words
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Thank you, Carol! We just talked about this last night at a class. We didn't even use props and just used internal energy instead.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good rant. Unlike some other religions our clergy are often not trained very well and our rituals get more creative. One reaso

A chemical spill in West Virginia contaminated the water source used by over 300,000 people.  On February 8, 2014, a bunch of Witches gathered in Brooklyn at Catland Books to honor the Imbolc Sabbat. The NYC Witches had this message for West Virginia:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

(Hee hee.)

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you about the time someone criticized my student and I nearly lost my friggin’ mind.

b2ap3_thumbnail_swans.jpgI see my Coven the way most people see swans. Graceful and lovely on the surface; pedaling like mad beneath the surface to keep all things going well. Guests may see them as the calm and friendly people who call the Quarters, take the suggested $10 donations, raise the energy, and don’t let anyone open the wine until Fellowship. What they don’t see are the hours driving to NYC (for those who live in CT or Westchester), or the local members shuffling their shoulder bags full of ritual gear onto the subway, setting the space, performing the rite, cleaning up, and then shuffling everything back onto the subway, but usually with additional baggage in tow: canned food, toys, or clothing for various drives. The life of the Urban Witch often demands long journeys on foot, up and down long flights of stairs while jostling staffs, swords, candles, and goods among drunken strangers on and off of subways. It’s work. It’s a task of the Spirit and one I believe we are all glad to give. But what guests also don’t see is how many hours are spent in Circle outside of Sabbat, working on strengthening their Magickal and Energetic prowess as well as working through and with their Personal Shadows as part of becoming better Practitioners.   

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  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Told you.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    See?

Oh, it's the High Holy Season of Witcheries again!!!!

Whether this weekend sparks off your Beltaine or Samhain celebrations...one thing is for sure--Witches are dancing around the globe. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year....until six months from now when Beltaine/Samhain comes around again. Isn't it wonderful that our faiths have so many delicious holidays to choose from???  GO US!!!

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