This Dusty Earth: Witchcraft in the City

A blog about mental health, magic, and the cycles of nature in parched Los Angeles.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Asa West

Asa West

Asa is a sliding-scale tarot reader, intuitive, and witch blending pellar craft with animism and earth-based Judaism. Instagram: @tarotbyasa

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
One Minute at the Altar

Last week I realized that yet again I'd set my standards for my daily practice too high. I couldn't sit at my altar without lighting the candles; I couldn't light the candles if the candles were burned out; I couldn't buy paraffin candles, I had to make my own out of beeswax; I couldn't make my own candles because the kitchen was a mess. This is what happens when you have high hopes and two small children. You sit around wishing you were doing spiritual work while they empty every drawer in the house for the fun of it.

I'm proud to say that I did end up making my own candles, but the compromise was that I did it in the filthy kitchen. If I'd taken the time to clean the kitchen beforehand, you see, then that would have taken up all my candlemaking time, and the next time I went to make candles, it would be filthy again. When I took my new candles to the altar, I thought, "But I can't light them without cleaning the altar off first. And cleansing the space! And refreshing the offerings! And performing invocations!" No, I told myself. I found that I had to give myself permission to do things imperfectly. I let myself cleanse the space. Then I lit the candles and annointed my Cernunnos statue. And that was it.

...
Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thanks for this! I appreciated it today, while feeling overwhelmed by a chain of to-dos.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Public Abusers in Paganism

Yesterday I heard the news about Susun Weed: that she was arrested for choking one of her students, that her abusive behavior is apparently nothing new. I've never really followed her work, so I didn't know about her reputation for hostility; when I followed the news and read all the accounts, old and new, of her mistreatment of students--when I saw that behavior justified and rationalized on her very own website--I immediately thought of other abusers in witchcraft, pagan, and earth-based communities. (Ahem.)

Some abusers are very good at crafting public personalities that mask their behavior in private. "What?" people claim when the allegations come out. "So-and-so would NEVER do that! They're so warm and kind and gentle!" Other abusers, though, lack that skill. They can't help but engage in very public, very visible abusive behavior: lashing out when they're challenged, screaming at people in rituals and classes, belittling their followers, enforcing corrosive hierarchies. Yet what should be obvious red flags are explained away. "Well, she's very passionate about her work." "He's calling someone out because he cares about justice." "They've got a warrior's spirit!" "Oh, she's a crone, don't take it personally." And here's the thing: even if, for some reason, you're okay with violent behavior in public, public abuse is usually only a taste of the abuse that's occurring in private, where power dynamics can be twisted in the abuser's favor. Think of 45: was anyone really shocked to learn that he's a violent rapist when we all heard him bragging openly about grabbing pussies?

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    One more comment, this was discussed in another forum which featured a writing from Weed. In it, she compared herself to Baba Yaga
  • Asa West
    Asa West says #
    Working with "dark" deities can be a really transformative experience if you undertake that work mindfully and with a commitment t
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    What struck me was why put it on her website and have people focus on it? It is a red flag to a casual observer that this person i
  • Cristina Potmesil
    Cristina Potmesil says #
    All abusers have to justify their behavior. Most often it is by projecting blame onto the other person for a baffling assortment o
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    As a parent, I was told to never yell at my children. Yelling was useless. It was also a sign that the adult gave up. Yelling was

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Radical Hope

Last night I read the news about Cape Town, and then dreamed that my garden died.

I live in a condo in Los Angeles, so my garden is small and fragile and mostly in containers: calendula and tulsi and borage and lemon balm in pots and window boxes, selfheal that's dying no matter what I do, jasmine and passionvine that twine around each other in bombastic friendship, nasturtiums that cascade in a curtain of friendly little circles. Baby blue eyes and violet seedlings growing in a flat. Cleveland sage in a pot, since the soil is mostly clay, and sagebrush and California fuschia in the ground, since they can tolerate that clay. I had to fight with my building manager to put plants in the bare dirt behind the building, even though I'm on the HOA board; status quo bias is so strong that people trust ugly cracked ground more than they trust small, quiet plants. (I won the rest of the board over partly by telling them my unit's property values are suffering because of the eyesore that is the dirt. In reality I don't care much about the property values, but a witch uses the tools in her toolbox; she shapeshifts when she needs to.)

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
When Healers Need Healing

I think I've gotten sick four times in the past month.

There was that first cold, at the beginning of December: standard issue yuckiness that forced me to take a couple of sick days. (Since I've just come back from maternity leave, my sick days are in short supply, so it was a tough decision.) Then, when I was on the mend and just clearing out some chest gunk, I felt the telltale prickle in the back of my nose again. For a few hours I refused to believe it. Surely a just and loving universe wouldn't allow me to come down with a second virus while I was still getting over my first? But that's the sort of thing that happens when you have young children, and by the next morning I felt awful again.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Simple Spell to Stop TrumpCare

Now that the Senate has forced a debate on the ACA repeal, we may only have a few days to stop Republicans from stripping up to 32 million Americans of their healthcare. (For those of you who vote Republican, consider this an invitation to think deeply about what your party has become. Is this really what you had in mind when you registered to vote? Might this be an opportunity for you to help bring the party back from the brink?) In addition to calling your senators, hitting the streets, and taking action in other ways--see, for example, Indivisible's new tool for people in blue states--here's a simple spell to help stop TrumpCare from becoming a reality.

You'll need:

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Hidden Light Tarot

My first exposure to Oli StarFrosting’s work was through his self-titled zine. I knew I’d found a gem of a writer and artist when I found myself swept up in passages like these:

bone deep in my blood is magic, I am a Witch too and breathe in mana with each breath, know the knots and tides of magic as my birthright, feel the presence of G-D Herself pouring out through the moon the trees the cold pulsing ground, know with an immediacy and intimacy the Divine gathered in all things, know the array of water and fire and earth on my altar as crucial to my taking my rightful role in creation which is nothing other than G-D Herself becoming cosmos…

...
Last modified on
The Magic of Pregnancy (or: If You Need Me, I'll Be Throwing Up and Peeing at the Same Time)

Check it out--I'm pregnant with my second daughter! Incidentally, I've been too sick to blog for the past six months. It's worth it in the long run, right?

My first pregnancy was pretty textbook, but this one's been rough. The nausea and fatigue of the first trimester lasted until week 20 or so, at which point my uterus sprouted a new fibroid that sent me to the ER with pain and preterm labor symptoms. Since then, I've been working from home a couple days a week and taking it easy, but my body seems to have skipped over the high-energy period of the second trimester and gone straight to the constant exhaustion of the third trimester.

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    First off, congratulations! You and I are due to deliver at around the same time -- late August -- and I'm having a girl, too! Thi
  • Tacy West
    Tacy West says #
    I laughed at the first comment "peeing and sick at the same time" which was so true of all three of my pregnancies. Mothering is

Additional information