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.

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 But, today in many parts of the country, chicken coops have been replaced by backyard pools and sheds, and you are more likely to be surrounded by homes than farmsteads.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.


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.



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