The Maniacal Rantings of the Urban Crone

Bear witness to the rantings of the Urban Crone as she emparts her wisdom in her own rather quirky way.



Monday, November 3, 2014

A Witch in Time...


A Time Magazine article written on 10/28/2014 says:

 “Witches, like terrorists, “threaten to wipe out everything you believe in. If they could, they would overthrow your government, overturn your faith, and destroy your society,” [Emerson] Baker writes.”

Huh, well, that really sounds like a lot of work, and I have some laundry to do, and I haven’t had my coffee yet….

Jennifer Latson’s article for the “pop culture” of the 10/28/2014 issue of Time Magazine (note the proximity to Halloween, folks) has certainly stirred up quite a hot cauldron of debate in the Pagan community. Her quotes and comments about Witches not being real or, if they were, equating them with terrorists has numerous Witches and groups of Witches calling for an apology from Time Magazine for posting what they consider to be an inflammatory and degrading article. I am not among that group. My thoughts are:

Lighten up..

Now, if you read the article, actually read it, you will notice that there are really only 2 types of Witches that Ms. Latson is discussing: The Hollywood variety and the 1600’s Puritanical variety. Neither of those Witches exist today. Though America certainly still has a way to go when it comes to the religious freedoms of non-Christians, it is most certainly no longer a Puritanical society. And, no matter how much you would like to think those AHS: Coven chicks are actually chilling in the Big Easy, they really aren’t.

The other things you need to really notice about the article is the fact that it is a poorly put together piece of crap that was probably crafted because her editor told her he needed something on Witches because it was Halloween week (look at the date the article was posted, folks). She probably googled some stuff, downloaded a few books to her Kindle and wrote the article without really giving much thought to it. It is choppy, lacks flow, lacked strong source material, and would get a C from me for a lack of original writing (the article was heavy on quotes from pretty much one source).

And this article really only gained attention because someone got their panties in a twist about it. The article probably would have just faded into the whackadoo/mediocre writing pile if someone, somewhere, hadn’t have gotten their nose out of joint over it.

I have been an actual, non-hollywood Witch for 27 year, with an every-day job and a pretty standard life. I am also a community leader and leader of a coven. And my nose is not out of joint one bit. Why? Because it is a crap article with a very limited scope and source material. Nowhere in that article was an interview with an actual practicing Witch. You want to see me get pissed about an article? Write one with multiple sources, first-person interviews and a really inflammatory spin on Witches, something with more credibility than some 4th stringer in the “pop culture” section of a magazine. Then, you may actually get my attention. This article is not worth our outrage or our time, and should be treated as it deserves, as a poorly written piece of bird cage lining. Save your outrage for when we are really under attack, my friends.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

An Infinity of Hearts...


We have one physical heart, beating in our chests to our own funky little beat that lets us know we are physically alive and present in the universe. But, somewhere deep in our soul, in that dusty cupboard that contains all that is the ethereal “Us”, is the collection of our other “hearts”, the metaphoric ones that connect us emotionally to the rest of the universe. Yes, I said hearts, plural. I am a firm believer that most human beings are so emotionally complicated that we possess many hearts that serve many purposes.

We are born with this cosmic jar of hearts within us, this capacity for potentially limitless love. None of these hearts are labeled to begin with, but, over time, they are labeled and given away. The very first heart we label, even as babies, is the heart we label for our mothers. There are those who believe that this is something that perhaps takes place even before we are born, as we reside comfortably inside of her, listening to her heart beat, feeling her emotions as our emotions, hearing her voice, and maybe even some of her thoughts. She lays claim to that very first heart. And then our father claims the next one, as he holds us close and we hear his voice, that familiar voice that we may remember hearing before we were born. We somehow recognize that he is part of what created us, and give him a heart of his very own.

If we have siblings, and we are close to them, we give them their own hearts as well. If we have a close relationship with our grandparents, as I did with my Grandmother, they are given their own heart, nurtured by stories and warm hugs. If we are not, then they all become part of the “family” heart, the heart that reminds us that we are connected to these people. This is where we come from, where we share some commonality, being blood or otherwise.

There are times when it feels like we are not connected to these people, that they have not earned the right to a heart. We pull away. We disconnect. This is not because there is no love, or that we have taken back the heart we have gave them. It is just far too painful to that heart to be in close emotional proximity to that person. It is sad when I hear that someone hates a member of their family, when really, it is the pain they bring, not the person themselves. We shove them into a tiny corner of the family heart because it easier to just leave them there and ignore them rather than try and sort out the pain.

Somewhere in the happiness and sadness of growing up, we finally allow ourselves to pick a heart of our very own, the heart of self-love. We quietly put our names on it in pencil, erase it a million times as we go through phases of self-loathing over the years. It can become dusty and a bit cracked from the harsh internal dialogue we inflict upon ourselves from time to time. But then we have one of those day or weeks that make us feel good to be us, and we dust that heart off, patch it up and polish it until it shines. This is why those with a healthy (not narcissistic) sense of self-love seem to shine from within. They maintain and care for their hearts.

Somewhere in here, we also create our “spiritual heart”, the heart that we give to the Divine in our lives. We may label it “God” or “Goddess”, or the names of hundreds of Gods and Goddesses. We may label it simply as “that thing that is greater than I am.” This is the heart, the love we send to that Divine spirit that we feel present in the universe, that we feel connected to. This heart is our connection, our hotline to Spirit when we ask for guidance and receive that Divine love back in return. Some find this heart early in life. Others develop it much later. I feel like it exists in some form in all of us, as we all contain that Divine spark of life.

We also (hopefully) at some point in growing up, develop what I can the “humanity heart”, the heart that sees and understands that we are all one community on this planet. This is the heart that aches when we see suffering in the world, and becomes outraged at war and the mistreatment of others. This heart moves us to help out a stranger. The humanity heart aches when it sees those commercials with puppies and kittens in cages. This is the heart that says, “I do not know you, but you are a part of me.”

Those we care about, that we make an actual part of our lives, earn hearts of their own as well. We have a general heart labelled “friends” for those who we interact with and have come to care about. There are friends who become so close that we add them to the heart that I like to call “the chosen family heart”, those individuals that we develop a deep, lasting connection with. If we are very fortunate, we have a handful of people connected to this heart, an emotional support system so strong that it carries us through the dark periods of our lives.

The strongest heart we give away and carry within us is the heart we give to our child (or fur baby, as I love my animals as if they were my own children). The “parental” heart is made of molten iron, encased in some strange rubber material. It is capable of enormous amount of love yet able to withstand enormous amounts of abuse. Anyone who has every raised a toddler or a teenager can attest to this. They do things, say things that would break an ordinary heart. This heart looks beyond all of this and still is able to love this being completely, even if they do not like the things that they do or say. This heart still hold firm to that connection, even when the child is pushing away with all their might. This heart can look past atrocities that some children grow to become, and yet still say, “this person is still my child, and I still love them.” This is a heart that is given and can never be destroyed, not through death or the end of the universe. Nothing can destroy the parental heart. The parental heart is the strongest heart because it truly has to be.

The most fragile heart we give to others is the one labelled “the intimate heart”. For some, it is crafted of finely spun glass. We hand it to the person who we choose to love on a most personal, intimate level. We label this person as our soul mate, our significant other. These are not rendezvous or simple affairs, or superficial sexual relationships we tell ourselves are really, but really only serve some random purpose. These are the people we connect to on the deepest, most intimate level, well beyond sex and into the realm of the spiritual. We see them as the other half of ourselves, and share our lives with them on a profoundly personal level. The hearts we hand them are etched with their names, and is theirs to keep forever, even when the relationship ends. This is why these people seem to leave an imprint on us years after they are no longer a part of our lives, because they still carry with them a part of us with their name on it. They still have possession of one of our hearts. Even if they shatter it with a hammer in a million pieces, those million fragments still exist. We think of them from time to time when something catches our attention, a song, a scent or something that reminds us of them, reminders that there is someone out there carrying one of our hearts in their heart.

There is a poem by e.e. cummings that goes:

 

“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

 

I think that is what that poem means, that we give away all these hearts, sometimes with reason and sometimes foolishly. And that these individuals carry these hearts in their own hearts, much the same as the ones we are given we carry in our own. It connects us to them no matter where we go or what we do in life. We all walk around with this heart that is actually a container for multitude of hearts we carry within us, some we created ourselves, and some that were gifted to us by others.

If we stop looking at our heart as a singularity, and start seeing it rather as a container for an infinite number of hearts, life would change. We would suddenly realize the tremendous capacity we have for love. We would come to the understanding that we do not have to love one over or instead of another. We could stop agonizing over the damage that one heart has sustained through someone’s carelessness, and saying we will never love again because we would realize that we have other hearts to share. Having a broken heart would no longer stop the world from turning because we would know that, though that one is damaged, we have a shiny new one ready to share with someone more worthy, someone who will hopefully tend to it with more care. I give you my heart, and if you do not handle it with care, if you break it, you do not get another one, and my life moves on because…

I carry far more than your heart with me. I carry an infinite number of hearts in my heart….
 
L. Sherman...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Magical Ownership...

   I have been a practicing Witch for quite a while now. Like a really long while. I do not claim to be perfect, or to know everything. And I have made mistakes in the past. Part of being a Witch, of working with Magic, is owning everything you do. You have to own your Magic.

   Magical ownership is important. It means that you will take responsibility for whatever the outcome, for better or worse. That is incredibly easy when things go just right. You smile and point and say, "Yea, I did that. That is my handy work." Or when you do a Magical working to heal someone and they become healthy and whole. You smile and point and say, "Yea, I did that. I healed that person." When everything works out right, when nice, shiny, positive things happen, it is easy to take ownership.
   It is much harder when you make a mistake. You send out healing energy to someone who is really terminal and needs release; so they linger on the border of life and death a little longer than they should. You do a spell to get a promotion at work, and you get it, only to find out that you took it out of the hands of someone who was in desperate financial need of the promotion and the raise in pay. You cast a love spell (don't do that) on a guy you see at the gym because he is really hot and really sweet, and he becomes obsessed with you, leaves his wife and children, and becomes a scary, creepy stalker.
  All of these things are your handy work, whether or not you choose to claim them. Owning your Magical mistakes is the first step in fixing them. By saying, "I did this. I made a mistake," you put the energy out there that says you are owning it. The universe will then be far more accepting of helping you fix it. Every Witch will make a mistake or 20 in their life time. It happens. Owning those mistakes is the start of the road of learning from them, and, hopefully, fixing them.
   The collateral damage of Hexes and Curses can, sometimes, not be fixed. Not all Witches work with this kind of magic, because they do not wish to live with whatever consequence that may arise from them. There is nothing wrong with that as magic is always a matter of choice. Those who do, often do so with the understanding that they must take ownership of their Hex or Curse, and whatever may come from it. They should never be taken lightly, and really require serious thought before executing. Your target does not live in a bubble, and there is a real possibility that someone around them could potentially be effected by your Hex or Curse. You have to accept ownership of that. Your Hex or Curse could also result in something very detrimental happening to your target. You have to take ownership of that as well.
   Magic requires ownership, requires full awareness of the consequence and acceptance of these consequences, even the unintentional ones. A Witch who owns their magic, who really gives serious forethought to their spell work, who does not just fling spells out there without care, is a Witch who is truly worthy of being called a Witch. All others, really aren't. If you are going to use Magic, own it. If you do not, then do not call yourself a Witch. You are an accident waiting to happen, and eventually the universe will teach you a lesson. Witchcraft is not about doing whatever you want, but rather acting with the understanding that you are responsible for your actions. And, taking ownership of your own magic.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Coffee House of the Soul

   I love coffee houses. To me, they are those places that just seem to be brimming with social activity. Not the mallish, uberbusy social activity where everyone is moving about like an angry hive of bees. These are the places where people stop, and take a moment. The coffee house is the place of moments, carved out of the rest of life, stolen from the mundane so that we can unwind and recharge. It is a place where we step back from life.
  The Coffee House of the Soul is much the same way. It is the place inside of ourselves where we collect those things that give us pause from the rest of life, that make us stop, take a moment and really think about things in a deeper, slower manner, without feeling too stressed or too serious about the whole matter.
   There are no problems or worries allowed in the Coffee House of the Soul. These things do not feed the Soul. They do not allow one to just simply sit and be for a moment. The things that dwell in the Coffee House of the Soul are the curious bits of thoughts that make us think just really random things. In the Coffee House of the Soul, we dwell upon the significance of belly button lint. We ponder the wonders of striped socks. We watch in wonder as a plastic bag is caught by a breeze, how a piece of trash has the ability of beautiful and graceful movement. We think about a painting we have seen recently or a poem we read and allow ourselves the moment to really consider how it impacted us emotionally or spiritually. We smile about some random funny thing we overheard at the supermarket and really take the moment to savor the humor.
 
   Our daydreams also hang out here, as resident writers for the chapter of our lives that I like to call "the what-ifs." These aren't the scary what-ifs, like getting hit by a cross town bus or lost in the woods with no Wi-Fi. These are the magical daydreams of far away places and curious lovers. Of finding an old bookstore that has every book you have ever wanted, ever loved. The writers of these day dreams are the ones with ratty backpacks and passports with a billion stamps. They have been everywhere in space and time, and write these day dreams that transport you to anywhere you would ever want to be. They are loved and always drink coffee for free.
   The Coffee House of the Soul is that place within us where we sit with a cup of coffee and allow ourselves to just be in the moment, without any cares or worries. It should be nurtured, cherished, decorated with things that speak to your Soul. Here is where our Soul takes a moment, a breather. Here is where our Soul stops and says, "time out, man. I need a scone and a frap and a moment to just BE."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spelling and Usage and Grammar.... Oh My!!!


I have a pet peeve. Actually, I have a whole farm of pet peeves, but out of all of them, this particular pet peeve is probably the largest, most sanity-testing creature of them all.
   As Witches, I feel we should be reasonably intelligent beings. Before the days of the Internet and Google paste and plug, Witches were required to not only read books, but understand them. We were required to have the intelligence to not only understand what we read in the book, but the ability to apply that understanding in some sort of real world application, whether it was casting a spell or creating a ritual. We handled words with thought and care because they carried weight, they had meaning, and we understood the power of the written word, so much so that we held it sacred. To me, an extension of holding the written word sacred was in its usage, that is, Spelling, Usage and Grammar.
   When I scroll down Facebook, or go to someone's blog, or look through someone's website, someone who is claiming to not only be a Witch, but be a Witch of some intelligence, and I see things like misspelled words, improper usage, and seriously poor grammar, I cringe. I don't cringe because I am some spelling/grammar warden. I cringe because this person is professing intelligence and knowledge, yet everything I am seeing screams otherwise. You see, to be a Witch is to understand and respect the Power of Words. They carry weight. They have significance. Yet, how is it that you could possibly understand and respect the Power of words if you cannot use or spell them correctly, if you cannot string them together in an intelligent manner, complete with at least punctuation where needed?
   Are you adding an ingredient "to" another ingredient before adding it to something, adding it to something as well as to something else (too), or are you needing more than one of that ingredient (two)? Usage matters, sometimes to the point of being detrimental to one's health and well-being.
  I have actually seen a page where the person was talking about creating Talismans, all the while spelling the word as "Talisments". If you cannot get something so basic as the spelling of the word right, do you really expect to create a functional Talisman? The very word itself has such power, such significance that you can write it on a piece of paper, tuck it in your pocket and it can serve as a Talisman all on its own, with only the energy of the word mixed with your own energy to drive it. That is how significant a single word is, and to misspell it shows a lack of respect.
   I went to a public school. I did not have any extra education as far as grammar, usage and spell, except if you count the quality of books that I read when I was younger, and more so as I started my path as a Witch. Crowley, Mathers, Waite, Spare, Fortune, Regaldie, Levi and so on were just some of the authors at my fingertips, and their writing was beyond measure. It was almost an orgasmic experience to turn each page of a book so intelligently written, even if I didn't agree with what was said. Those people understood the weight of words, saw them as full of a sacred power that required reverence. It would not even be thought of back when they were writing to bring the intelligence of their work down to the lowest common denominator, as we sometimes see today in literature and the Internet. Their expectation was that you should be intelligent enough to read what they were writing, or you probably should not be reading it.
   I got a message once from a woman who claimed that she had been a practicing Witch almost as long as I have, claimed to have read and understood some of the materials I have, and who also claimed a certain amount of intelligence. Yet, the entire lengthy message was one long run on sentence, void of any punctuation or capitalization, and full of misspelled and misused words. I could still decipher the message she was trying to convey, yet my mind instantly marked her as someone I would not seek council from, see as an equal, want to share circle space with and so on. Why?
  Words carry weight. Words have meaning. If you cannot even be bothered to take a moment to spell a word correctly, you are not understanding their significance. If you cannot even be bothered to take a moment to use them properly in a sentence, complete with punctuation and all the due they deserve, you probably show a lack of respect and care in other aspects of your practice.  And if you are not understanding the significance of words in general, how they carry weight and power with their mere presence, stop calling yourself a Witch as you probably are not understanding the significance of that word either.
  I know that sounds harsh, and I do understand that I am the one with the pet peeve, but to not respect the power and energy that the written word brings to the table is to not understand power and energy itself. And to lack an understanding of power and energy, even in the simple sense of the written word, is to lack a certain key piece of knowledge that I feel should be required to be a Witch. After all, even in written form...
"Words cast spells. That is why it is called Spelling. Words are Energy. Use them Wisely..."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Embracing the Gray, and What I Have Learned...


I have dyed my hair religiously since I was 16. I have been pretty much every shade from the darkest black to a red the color of a cherry twizzler to the color of a shiny new penny, and colors in between. It was just one of those things I did without every really thinking about it.

I woke up one morning this past fall and made the decision that I would stop dying my hair and allow the gray to grow in. I had been going gray since I was around 18, but had never really been brave enough to forgo hair color to see what would happen. There were moments where I had given consideration to no longer dying my hair, as the roots began to grow out a week or two after each dye event, and I started thinking about how much of a pain in the ass it was to maintain some random color. But, then I would spot those grays and panic, and grab the closest box of hair color to ease my anxiety.

But, this time I was serious. With 4 grandchildren, and creeping up on my mid-40’s, I decided that I was really over the hair color thing and I wanted to see what it would look like without the color. Growing out the gray became my latest self-challenge, and from this, I have learned a couple of interesting lessons.

Gray hair does things at its own pace:

 It is incredibly ironic that when you dye your hair, the color starts to grow out within a matter of a week or so. Get a great color, and a week later you are already seeing those roots grow back in. My assumption was that this would be the case, that not dying my hair, the gray would grow back in at that pace and I wouldn’t have to wait around for it. Not so. Gray hair is in no rush. It moves at its own pace, which is pretty slow and tedious.

 I have learn from this that I have to be patient with some things. I cannot make hair grow any more than I can make the Sun rise and set. Too often, we get in a rush to see things manifest. We have become a society of instant gratification, and have lost our ability to be patient and allow things to grow in their own time. The universe will move at its own pace, and I have to learn to not only respect that, but go with the flow that is presented to me.

And, gray hair definitely does its own thing:

I have known women with gorgeous gray hair. Beautiful pale soft grays that look like finely spun silk. Glorious steel grays that are fun and playful. Gorgeous salt and pepper grays that look like angels came and granted them the perfect blend of dark and light with threads of shimmering silver locks. So, when I decided to go gray, all of these images were in my head, giving me the courage to embrace my gray and see what unfolds. Not what I got.

I have the crazy gray. They grow unruly and wiry gray. The go whatever direction it wants gray. There is no lovely uniformity, perfect blending of dark hair with the gray. Nope.  My hair is like the love child of Einstein and Don King at this point, and a true test of sanity some days. I come home from work at the end of the day, or wake up in the morning and look in the mirror to see it going in every direction like I licked a light socket. I keep telling myself as I pull it back and try to be patient that it is still growing out.

What I learned from this insanity is that gray does what it wants. I think that is almost an anthem for every woman I know who has embraced her gray, this sort of feeling of freedom, like you have reached a point in your life where you do not have to conform to what others think you should be. Gray is not about conformity. It is about having the courage to do as you will, when you will, to not have to apologize for being yourself, for being your age. Gray is that point when you decide that you do not need to try to look younger because it is far more fun to just be your own age and do your own thing.  I still dress like I am in my twenties because I am comfortable. I still blare grunge and alternative music as I go down the road because that is what speaks to me. I am an artist and writer with a wicked day job building vans, and living a rather free bohemian lifestyle that really just requires me to be, well, me.

That is what I have learned by letting the gray grow out, to be me. To ride the flow of the universe and live as myself. Embracing my gray meant embracing myself, who I am as a person and accepting myself as is, flaws and all. I am not saying that I don’t get the urge to grab a box of color every once in a while, but those urges are becoming fewer. I am having fun with myself, embracing my gray, and releasing the things I have allowed to color my life that are not really serving a purpose in my life. Watching my life grow out has become as interesting as watching the gray grow out. You just never know what is going to sprout up from where next…
Laurie Sherman/Urban Crone

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Sanity of Spell Substitutions...


I have a Gypsy spell that I absolutely love to use to remove negative energy from a space. I have actually had it for quite a while, copied from something I saw somewhere. I know it by heart almost because it is really my go to spell for removing negative energy from pretty much anywhere.

One of the items that the spell calls for is an egg stolen from a neighbor’s farm from a black hen during the dark phase of the Moon. Now, I am an Urban Witch, with not only no farming neighbors, but an almost irrational fear of chickens (those beady eyes and crazy talons). And my thoughts are that driving out through the country on the night of the dark Moon, going from farm to farm, rummaging through random chicken coops, is probably a really good way to get an ass full of buckshot or chomped on by a territorial farm dog.

The point I am trying to make is that there are spells out there, whether they are actually old or trying to sound old, that ask for things that, for one reason or another, are probably almost impossible to get. I am sure that back in days of yore, there were farms and chicken coops all over the place, with easy access to black hens ripe for the pilfering. But, today in many parts of the country, chicken coops have been replaced by backyard pools and sheds, and you are more likely to be surrounded by homes than farmsteads. Just like, not every herb that is called for in a spell will be growing within a mile radius of your home, or every item will be able to be procured. So, what is a Witch to do?

The first thing you have to let go of is that every spell is to be done exactly as written. What may work for me, may not work for you. What may have worked in the 17th century, may not actually even be possible today. Logistics change from Witch to Witch, area to area and time period to time period. The world continues to turn. You are going to have to accept that and move on. It does not mean that you cannot perform the spell, just that you are going to actually have to think for yourself.

This brings be to the next thing. As a competent Witch, you should be able to dissect a spell, look at its components and be able to figure out what the purpose of each item and aspect is. This should be part of your studies, your training. You are supposed to understand what you are doing and what you are working with. If you do not understand the items you are working with and their purpose, you should probably not be using that spell as it will probably not work out the way you would like it to. Understanding the purpose of each item that is asked for in a spell will allow you to find a suitable substitution.

While, like cooking or baking, using the ingredient the recipe calls for is ideal, the reality is that there are many instances where using a suitable substitution is perfectly functional and acceptable. If you understand the purpose of the item you are missing as well as its magical properties, you should be able to find something that has the same magical properties and will be a suitable substitute. For example, if your spell calls for you to smudge with sage, and you either have none, or can’t stand the smell of it (like me), a cedar bundle works just as well with the same properties. If the spell calls for a gold coin, you do not have to drop a mint at a coin shop or go diving for pirate gold to get it when a standard gold dollar coin will do. Both are tangible representations of money, symbolic of prosperity and wealth.

The idea is that every item a spell calls for brings with it a specific magical energy, a specific purpose. By finding something else that has the same magical energy and serves the same purpose will yield the same results. The notion that a spell cannot work unless you have the exact items listed is just completely preposterous, especially when you take into consideration the most important element of spell casting.

The most important thing, the key to every single spell in existence is your own faith in yourself. It is your energy, your will, that brings everything together and makes it work. As long as you believe in yourself, and have a solid understanding of what you are doing, your spell will work, whether you bought an organic egg from the farmer’s market, or hopped 10 fences and tossed through a dozen chicken coops to find just the right egg.

 

The Urban Crone

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who is the Urban Crone?


I wake up during the week around 5:20am, grab a shower, get dressed, and drive to work, usually stopping for coffee and some sort of breakfast thing. I get to work at Ford Motor Company’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, sit in the lot for a few minutes, listening to the radio, eating my breakfast thing, and working up the will to walk into the plant. I am a utility operator on the actual line. Over the years, I have done jobs such as building up and installing steering columns, building dash boards, installing carpets, seatbelts, window regulators, hubs and differentials, body side parts, installed carpets and consoles, and a variety of other things that have definitely been a wear and tear on my body. This is my actual job, what I do to pay the bills. Money does not simply fall out of the sky for me. I work hard and earn everything I have.

I am 43 years old. My parents are living, and I have finally come to a good place with them where I feel like we have a decent relationship. I have 2 grown daughters who I love beyond measure, and 4 grandchildren who I adore more than I ever thought possible. I also have a man in my life that I have been with for almost 9 years, who is my North Star and solid place to land when the world seems to go sideways. And I love him in a way that I sometimes can’t really begin to understand the depth of. These are the people in my life that I find most important to me, to my world, because they are a part of who I am as a person.

I am also an artist and a writer. As far back as I can remember, I have been in love with words and art. I am a voracious reader, loving that insight into other worlds and other minds that see things in a different way than I do. Writing is an extension of my psyche, as it allows me to make tangible those things that dwell in the curious recesses of my mind. My art and other creative pursuits are my form of meditation. They are what allow me to clear my mind and unwind from the rest of the world, and are a way for me to express my true self.

For those of you who do not know, I am Wiccan and a practicing Witch, and my relationships with the Goddess and God are very important to me. I have been on this spiritual path for a very long time now, and I am very comfortable with it. I am also very publicly Wiccan, not hiding this aspect of myself from the world. Several years ago, I even reluctantly took on a leadership role in my spiritual community. This role has evolved into a larger role, and I am grateful for it as it has brought many fantastic people into my life, a number of whom I consider close friends. I have even started putting together my own Coven, and teaching my practices to others, as I feel this is the highest expression of spirituality, that of sharing this intimate part of self with others.

And with all that said, one of the more interesting things about me is that I am an introvert. My strong empathic nature, coupled with a deep intuitive ability, makes it a difficult process to be around other people. I am also an open channel, so even when I am alone, I am often dealing with those who have passed beyond the veil, who often do not knock or ask permission to chat. Over the years, I have learned to shield and manage those aspects of myself, not only my person, but in my home as well. These things will sometime keep me from events because I know that there will be energies there that I will not be able to push through and overcome. I have accepted that part of myself, and have learned to know when to push past it and go out into the world, and when to trust my instincts and stay in my safe haven.

I am also a recovering drug addict. I struggled with meth addiction for a number of years, and have been clean for 14 years now. I look back on that experience with the understanding that those were lessons I needed to learn, an understanding that could only be found through those experiences. They have shaped part of who I am today, have made me stronger and more self-reliant. I pulled myself up from a deep dark hole with only my own will and faith in my spirituality. It showed me that no matter how hard I get knocked down in life, I am capable of getting up and standing on my own two feet. In this world, that is a very powerful piece of knowledge.

I live my life on my own terms. When I chose to do something, I do it because that is what I feel is the right thing to do. I do not need my ego fed as I am totally ok with myself as who I am now. I do not use my spirituality as a way of feeding my ego, and I find those that do distasteful. What I choose to do for the community, I do for the community. I have other things that I feel more than happy with to keep my ego in check. I know that I am human, and I am reminded of that through some of the people I have met, those whose contributions to community and the world as a whole are humbling. They remind me that building community has to come from a desire to see the community thrive, not to build one's own ego.

I write all of this because I wanted there to be an understanding that I am a real human being. I have real feelings. I have a real job. I have a real family, and real friends who I cherish greatly. I do not just take up space on the internet. I am an actual person living a very real life. I am not perfect, and my life sometimes gets complicated. But, that is part of being a real person living in the real world. This right here is who Urban Crone really is. She is Laurie Sherman, a real person in the real world living a real life. And, now you know…..

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Garbage: Sifting Through Witchcraft in the Age of Google


   Before the internet, finding spells and information on practicing actual Witchcraft was a challenge. If you were lucky, you could find a book with a listing of books and publishers in the back, contact them for their mail order catalogs, and build a reference library from there. In this, you were relegating yourself to countless hours of pouring through books, referencing several books at once, and sifting through all the contradictory information to hopefully come up with something, through trial and error, that would work for you. There were no guarantees in any of these books. Being printed in a book, even by a known author, did not guarantee that a spell or ritual would work, or even that it was safe. For many who started practicing in the pre-Google era, this was how we entered the craft, not with a click, but with the turn of the page, and the determination to find what we were looking for to build our path.

   I was lucky enough to have a mentor prior to having to dive into the book pile with everyone else. She was feisty old woman who would not accept anything but perfection. She was not one who would not just hand you something like a spell or a ritual. You had to earn it from her, and earning it meant that you had to prove you were ready for it, that you understood the mechanics of the ritual or spell. You had to be able to pick it apart and explain every aspect of it, why each piece was chosen and whether or not it would work, and be able to back that up with an explanation. It was that foundation, the foundation of questioning everything, which I still bring to the table when looking at anything to do with any aspect of Witchcraft.

   We live in a click and paste, Google existence. It now takes no time at all to find any spell with a simple Google search, whether we should be using them or not. And there are countless pages and people that just share spells and random information on Facebook and the rest of the web without any thought of responsibility for what they are putting out, or even the safety of those who find it and want to try it out. With the creation E-books and self-publishing, it is now possible for anyone to print anything, anywhere, whether it is true, right or functional. Because of this, I decided to put together this helpful primer on how to wade through all the Witchcraft that is now readily available at just the click of a mouse on Amazon or Google.

Rule #1: Nobody is golden.
I do not care if it came from Scott Cunningham on high or your Great-Great-Grandmother’s underwear drawer. I do not care if someone hands it to you who claims to have 7 generations of blah, blah, blah and initiated on their Grandmother’s kitchen table. If you didn’t write it, or directly witness the spell or ritual being successfully done, it is not to be taken as an automatic functional spell or ritual. Everyone makes mistakes. Your Grandmother may have jotted that spell down to be looked over later, and never got back to it. The person who typed up or edited an author’s work could have misread something. Aleister Crowley would intentionally write his rituals wrong or with very little explanation so that only those truly experienced would be able to perform them. Absolutely Nobody is Golden.

Rule#2: There is no such creature as a 100% reliable webpage or Facebook group/page.
We often fall into traps of being added to this group or have that page recommended to us because so and so runs it who is friends with whomever who is supposed to be some sort of 8th degree Jedi what have you. There is nothing wrong with belonging to a group or liking a page. And there are some people and groups who are experienced, intelligent and responsible enough to think about what they post before they post it. But, not many pages are like that. And, it is when you take everything on that page as 100% whole cloth gospel that you fall into a problem. There are people who claim to have experience who do nothing but copy and paste what they find on Google as their own work, without really having any understanding what they are actually posting. Worse, you have people who post things that are dangerous without any warnings or cares as to the safety of others. I don’t care who runs the page. There is simply no such creature as a 100% reliable webpage or Facebook group/page.

Rule#3: This may be a repeat of everything I just said, but, QUESTION EVERYTHING.
It doesn’t matter where you found it, whether in the book of a well-known, well-respected author, a web page/group, your Grandmother’s sock drawer or on the bathroom wall at your favorite book shop, question it. Never take any piece of magic, no matter how old or awesome it may seem, at face value. It never hurts to give anything a good solid look, yet it may hurt a whole lot more if you don’t. Question Everything.

   So, now that I have you questioning everything, I should probably give you some pointers as to how to question everything. This is not something that I found on the internet or in my grandmother’s broom closet. This is what I was taught, and what I do whenever a piece of magic I have not written comes in front of me:

1.       What is the actual intent of the spell/ritual? The title is not the intent. It is just there to catch your attention. Look at how it is written, the wording, key elements. What is the main focus of the spell/ritual? If you cannot clearly define the intent of the spell/ritual from the body of the work, more than likely the universe won’t either, and the spell/ritual is probably trash.

2.      Why did the author of the spell/ritual choose those ritual components/correspondences/etc? I am talking about everything from candles, herbs and incense to the components of their quarter calls. Why did they pick that color? Why did they choose that Deity? Pick the entire thing apart without mercy. A good solid spell/ritual will not have any waste. Every aspect of that spell/ritual will have a purpose that is directly tied to the intent. AND none of the components will counter act with the other components. Items that represent fertility probably should not be in a mojo bag that you are creating to not get pregnant. Any component that works at cross purposes with the intent of the spell/ritual will cancel everything else out.

3.     What would you do different to make the spell/ritual fit your path? Spell/rituals work by channeling our energy, our intent. There is nothing that makes a spell/ritual stronger than making it our own, putting our own spin on things. Incorporate Deities, herbs, stones and whatnot you are comfortable working with. Change the language of the body to your own words, something you would be comfortable saying. Rework the spell/ritual to where it actually speaks for you as your own voice, not as someone else’s creation in someone else’s voice.

4.     Write it all down. All the changes you made and why, along with the original spell/ritual. Write the new version down, date it, and note what happens when you cast it. If it doesn’t work (after a reasonable period of time), revisit your changes. Question your own work and start the process again until you get your desired outcome.

5.      Do your homework. If you come across an herb you have never used, or an aspect of a spell or ritual that you are not familiar with, research the heck out of it, and make sure you write it down, including your sources. You should know and understand every aspect of anything you work with. This holds especially true for herbs, as some of them carry some serious hazards with them. Understanding everything that you are working with will keep you from putting yourself or others in danger. It pays to take your time and do your homework, as understanding what you are working with will give you an extra boost of confidence that will come through in your work.

    Witchcraft was never meant to be taken at face value, handed over with the click of a mouse or the turn of a page. It was meant to be a slow learning process where you examined every aspect, questioned every morsel, and turned what you found into something that was your own. While the internet age has brought more information into our homes than ever before, it also brings with it things that at the very best isn’t necessarily functional, and at the very worst, downright dangerous. There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with being a Witch that some Witches simply do not understand, or just do not care. It really is up to you, for your own safety and peace of mind to not take anything at face value, question everything you find, and put your own energy, your own words into what you find so that you craft not only a spell/ritual that is functional, but that you craft a path that you understand fully and that you can be proud of as a creation of your own hard work. It’s a lot to do in this world of fast answers and fast food, but I promise that, in the end, it really is worth it.

Blessings,

Urban Crone

The Problems (and Dangers) with Love Spells...

“Find your true love!”

“Make him/her fall hopelessly in love with you!!”

 “Find your happily ever after with your heart’s desire!!”

Love spells are probably the second most requested form of spell in Witchcraft. They are also the second most peddled spells on the internet, with everyone and their sister setting up a website and claiming they can give you true love from a spell. You see them all over the place, even on Facebook, people posting some Love spell they found on Google. "A spell to make someone you desire fall in love with you." And who would not want that?

The problem arises when you look at the fact that magic cannot create true love. True love is a connection of spirit between people who are actually mean to be together. Love spells, even the best of them cannot create that. The least damaging effect of a love spell on another individual would be a sort of binding effect, entangling their lives with yours in some way. Rarely, blind luck strikes and this proximity is enough to generate some fond feelings that may become love, but this is, again, very rare. More often, after a month or so, either the person casting the spell becomes disillusioned with their target, or the target becoming annoyed and somehow breaking the spell. Enchantments aren’t real love and generally fizzle out.

Love spells can also create an obsession, not an actual emotion connection, which can become dangerous. You are creating a desperate emotional need to be with you in an individual that does not understand why that need suddenly comes into existence. The irrational, randomness of these emotions in an individual can create a psychic break as the rational mind tries to shake off this unnatural feeling. If this person was already emotionally unbalanced or compromised in some way, have violent tendencies, or if the spell was poorly constructed or performed, you can create a seriously dangerous situation. Obsession is not love, and can lead to someone getting hurt even killed.

Again, the reality is that you cannot create True Love out of thin air with magic. It is such a complicated thing that really only Divine intervention can master that. So, what do you do if you are alone and tired of being alone, and magical intervention is starting to look really good?

The best alternative to Love spells cast on another person is to cast a spell on yourself, opening yourself up to accepting love and asking the universe to bring someone into your life. This can easily be done by taking a deep breath, focusing on this intent, calling on whatever Gods you wish to work with, and lighting a red candle while stating your intent:

“I call upon the divine (or whomever) to bear witness that I am opening myself up to the universe. I have love for myself, I accept the love of the universe, and I am opening myself up with the request that a man/woman come into my life to share this love with me….”

Or something along those lines. You can make it as simple or fancy as you like. Instead of casting a spell on someone else that will not work, and possibly even end badly, you are opening up a pathway for the universe to send you a sure thing, a true love. If you leave your heart and mind open, and trust in your Gods and the universe, you will find that you will get what you desire.

Blessings

Urban

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Working with Loose Incense...


Working with loose incense:

Loose incenses have been used for centuries as a way to cleanse space, honor deity and even bring about mystic states and visions. They general come in 3 forms:

Dry herbs are just as they sound, herbs that have either been dried by you, or one’s you purchase. Keep in mind that some herbs don’t do well used as incense, or at least need special consideration. For example, coriander seeds tend to pop and explode when burned. Cloves smoke like crazy, so you want to be mindful to make sure you have adequate ventilation. Damiana and Mugwort can be hallucinogenic if you use large quantities in a closed in space.  Do the research or use a tiny bit if you are unsure of the effects.

Resins are usually found in rock or gum forms, and tend to have a slightly damp, sticky consistency. Dragon’s blood and different forms of copal often come as resins. They burn a bit smoother than other incense, though they can be a little messier as they tend to leave behind less ash and more of a tar like substance.

Powders are just as they sound. Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh and Asphodel are good examples of powder incense. These powdered incense are very dry and tend to burn quite quickly. You also need to be mindful that the powder you buy is not the synthetic crap that is very harmful to be around.

One of the best ways to utilize loose incense is to combine all three. The herbs bring a nice magical property, as do some of the powders, and the resins bind them together and slow down the burning. Mixing the three types, you can really experiment with different blends. I usually do this with a mortar and pestle to get a thorough mix.

To burn loose incense:

You will need something to burn your incense on. While there are numerous loose incense holders, censors and burners, I prefer a small cauldron as it does not heat up as the metal ones do, which can be a pain if you have to move things around while you are working. I do still set the cauldron on a trivet or stone so that if it does heat up, it doesn’t ruin whatever it is sitting on.

You will also need a charcoal tablet, easily purchased from most metaphysical shops, some fairs and a number of Christian shops. I prefer the ones made out of bamboo. They do cost a bit more, but they don’t smell as weird as the charcoal ones, and are less toxic. The ones made from charcoal contain salt peter, which not only makes them light and burn faster, but make them slightly toxic as well. The bamboo ones are more organic and less toxic. You will also need some sand to place in the bottom of your incense holder. This will keep the charcoal from damaging the bottom of the container, and keep any fire that may ensue from getting out of hand. Place the charcoal tab on top of the sand and light. Let it burn for a minute and then blow it out. Then, feed the loose incense onto it a little bit at a time, no more than an eighth of a teaspoon. Be mindful that some loose blends smoke more than others so you are always better off using a little bit at a time.

Loose incense will often smoke more and burn longer than a stick or a cone, so you want to experiment, and be able to ventilate a space if things get out of hand.  But, if you take the time and patience to get to know and become comfortable with using loose incense.

 

Urban Crone