Sacred Circles & The Modern Witch’s Guide to American Tribal Style Belly Dance

I experienced my first coven not among witches, but among dancers.

In swirling, hypnotic circles, they connected with seemingly psychic awareness of one another. Moving smoothly and with a steady grace, they morphed from one languid, surreal movement to the next, signaling to each other with a silent language of eyes and fingertips.

Like orchids whirling weightless in a funnel cloud, they swung around their jewel-toned layer skirts in quick, light circles, snapping their hips to the syncopated tremble of brass.

Watching them, I felt myself caught in a waking trance.

Unable to resist the momentum of their collective current, I let them sweep me into the dance with them, instinctively following them from one turn of the circle to the next.

The clamoring sound of ten thousand pairs of zills clashed around me in bright explosions of light and sound.

dancer ats

Several years down the path of my belly dance journey, and many years after my first steps down the path of my interfaith journey, I found myself chatting over Turkish coffee with a self-styled pagan gypsy about what she called “the art of moving meditation.” We stumbled on the subject of dance as meditation, and, in particular, our mutual affection for belly dance as an outlet for spiritual expression.

She excitedly told me about a style she recently tried in New York called American Tribal Style (ATS).

Struggling to describe what about this type of belly dance appealed to her spiritual life, she kept coming back to the words “meditative” and “sisterhood.”

Still practicing as a solitary witch with no coven, the ideas of blending meditation, dance and group empowerment intrigued me.

I decided to experiment. I wanted to see if this dance style might help me in my quest to blend dance with my spiritual life.

I agreed to go with my friend to one of these classes, but only to watch.

That night, I arrived early.

Studio lights washed over the room with electric warmth. Standing on the dark edges, I watched shyly from a quiet corner.

Breathless dancers began to buzz through the door, chased by rush hour traffic and trailing behind them long strands of windswept dark hair.  They pulled on skin-tight dance slippers, chattering like songbirds in lilting, warm voices.

But at the appointed hour, a thick stillness wound through the dancers as the room quieted.

I held my breath. I waited.  And all at once, they started to dance . . .

Many years later, during what I thought to be an unrelated fit of inspiration, I made up my mind to feature in my blog some kind of retreat.

But I wanted something not exclusively geared towards pagans—something “pagan friendly” but not something every pagan blog already features annually.

I also wanted something in a location I’d never been to before, something to open up new neural pathways and clear my mind with the fresh perspective of a new landscape.

After comparing several options (like the lantern festival in Arizona!), I tripped across a website for something called Sacred Circles, an ATS dance retreat held annually on a remote Michigan campground near the dreamy shores of Lake Huron.

It marked all the boxes on my checklist:  I’d never seen the pure wilderness of Michigan.  Plus, dancing with bunch of total strangers in the middle of the woods for an entire weekend forced me way, way outside my comfort zone.

After 18 months of the stay-at-home mom experience, outside my comfort zone was exactly where I needed to be.

I contacted the event planner, booked my plane ticket to Detroit and rented a car, pushing myself beyond the point of no return almost immediately.

In particular, I hoped to get a chance to meet some other pagans and ask them whether they also made the connection between this mysterious, ethereal dance and their experiences with covens or power raising.

To my delight, the event planner pointed out that one of the dance workshop instructors just finished priestess training.  She encouraged me to meet up with her.

On faith, I flew to Detroit.  Driving my rented car on a two hour journey through the Michigan countryside and to the edges of wilderness—-or as far as this city girl generally ventures, anyway.

In my GPS, I vested utter faith.  “”Destination, on the right.”

Making my way on winding path through the storybook thicket of evergreens, I felt quite like a naive fairy tale character about to be snatched by a wolf.

As the waning moon rose over the dusk, the little woodland cottages steeped with the giddy, anxious energy of an outdoor backstage on opening night.

My roommates came from diverse backgrounds.   I stayed with a flamenco dancer, a former arts & entertainment journalist, and an inner city librarian.   Most of them taught dance at home and had encyclopedic knowledge of their genres.  I ended up learning as much staying in the dorms as I learned in the workshops.

Initially, I dreaded the idea of sleeping on dorm mattresses and sharing a bathroom with total strangers.  I know, I’m sorry.  The hospitality industry spoiled me.  I like hotels.  I like little soap cakes and extra pillows and somewhere to get a dry martini, you dig?

Most of all, I liked privacy.

But after only a few hours of no internet access and a dead phone with no bars, I realized I hadn’t had this much privacy in years.  No texts, no social media, no television.

It was wonderful.

Also, for the first time in 20 years, I remembered the simple joy of the slumber party.  I long ago forgot the phenomenon of “instant friendship” that negotiating sleeping space with new people seems to foster.

Two nights on a campground in friendship is worth at least ten coffee dates.

Just before the rosy dusk swept over the horizon, I went for a walk to still my nerves after the long drive, a plane trip and 2 cups of coffee (the event planners wisely made it available 24 hours a day.  I not-so-wisely drank it 24 hours a day).  Swinging open my cabin door, I set out down the path, stopping short on the wood plank stairs that led down to the edge of the water.

In the commotion of dance costumes, workshops and world-renowned belly dance instructors, I wanted to stop and appreciate the simple, natural beauty of the place I found myself in.

lake huron

The lake adorns the shores of Camp Cavell  with a charming pebble beach.  I like to take back natural treasures from different parts of the world to show my child where I went.

A few of the pebbles from this beach came home with me for the altar.

(More on altars for toddlers soon!)

pebble beach

biscuit altar 6

Night fell.  Beneath a blackened sky streaked with starlight, I started back up the path in plenty of time for the evening show.  But I found myself rushing in at the last moment after I stopped to stare dumbfounded at something invisible to me for a very long time in my mostly urban life:  The Milky Way.

I hurried along towards the lodge.  Beneath their twirling umbrellas and bundled in a swath of jewel-tone veils, a few stray performers emerged from the woods, darting between the trees like psychedelic forest sprites.

Entering the cozy warmth of the lodge, the sweet, heady smell of cedar and autumn pine rolled over me.  I wondered about the first ancient people who thought to tie the needles in a bundle and burn it in the temple as an offering.

Something about this place felt like a temple.

Finding a seat near the middle, I listened to the host’s opening remarks and waited with everyone else for the lights to go down.

With the suddenness of a wildfire, dancers burst into the room, filling it with a raging joy that pressed against the walls.

A troupe called Twisted Gypsy emerged from behind the rafters.  As the drum beat gathered momentum, their full, layered skirts quivered.

I searched the beaded and bejeweled dancers for Jen McDonald and finally spotted her among them.

The baroque stage lights cut hard shadows across her face.

I met Jen earlier that day.  She taught a dance formation to the group that swirled in a spiral pattern.  Standing at the front of the class with supernatural, eclectic beauty, I imagined Jen emerging from the surreal blue waters of Huron like the Lady of the Lake.

As she walked the class through this interesting and unique blocking pattern, I thought about the meaning of the spiral shape in ancient European paganism and imagined the dancers (of every age group, from their early twenties to dancers in their sixties or possibly older) moving through it as a metaphor for the winding path of life.

After class, I approached Jen to interview her about perspective on dance and how it fit into her spiritual life.

Jen is a seeker.  I related to her journey.  Leading me through her years of eclectic spiritual experience, from the tutelage of indigenous American tribes to meditation-fueled visions to her recent training with a group of Isis worshipers (a modern revival of ancient Egyptian goddess devotion), she talked to me over lunch at the mess hall like we’d long been old friends.

In fact, everyone here seemed to have an easy way with newcomers.

Watching her troupe dance that night, I felt her draw energy from her mystical roots, alternately taking the lead and relinquishing it to the other members of her group.

Moving as though mesmerized by each other, they broke off in circles, swirling in little whirlpools.

They reminded me of a coven in the woods drawing down the moon.

I felt the energy of the power they raised together hovering over the little lodge, electrifying the air with an ionized charge.

tribal dancers

dancer ats

By Sunday morning, the rains washed in, and I prepared to return to my life of Beltway traffic and coffee shops and Etsy and Montessori mommy-and-me groups.

But Sacred Circles reminded me once again of the immeasurable joy of dance, of connecting with other women, and the power of leaving technology behind for a few days to dwell on the natural beauty of a wild country not yet lost to cell phone towers.

Blessed be.

 

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Harvest Moon Esbat Cakes

My new favorite kitchen tool:  the mini muffin tin.  I rarely want or need a full size cake or even a cupcake for Cakes & Ale.  Enter the mini muffin tin.  A perfect size for making ritual cakes, I constantly find new and creative ways to honor the seasons of the moon using this simple device.  This month?

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I usually provide a link to the recipe and focus on the ritual meaning of ingredients in my kitchen witch posts.  But one came about of my own experimentation and tinkering, so I’ll dish (I know, I’m full of cheesy kitchen jokes this time of year).

The Harvest Moon and the fall season in general signify a time to acknowledge our deceased loved ones’ memories (especially those who have passed on during the last year), give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and enjoy the company of those we hold most dear.

The baking process fills your space with the scent and spirit of the autumn season.

Sharing harvest moon cakes with a coven, friends or family solidifies bonds and honors our relationships with our communities.

Make your ritual cakes for the Cakes & Ale portion of your moon ritual to lend power to your spell work.  The focus and concentration of choosing ingredients especially for the occasion raises the vibrations in your home.

This recipe makes 24 mini cakes, but you can half it pretty easily.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extrac
t
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup milk

Any combination of the following (I just eyeballed it):

*A whole bunch of ground ginger
*A whole bunch of ground cinnamon
*A whole bunch of ground allspice
*A little less ground nutmeg

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter (softened)
8 oz.  cream cheese (softened)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
splash of vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder and ground spices.

3.  Blend butter and sugar.

4.  Combine dry ingredients and add eggs and vanilla extract.

5.  Grease your muffin tin(s) well or use cupcake liners.

6.  Spoon mixture into tins and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7.  While the cakes are baking, combine cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract to make frosting.

8.  Allow cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing them.

9.  Optional:  garnish with soft-bake ginger snap cookies.

Enjoy at your harvest moon ritual or leave some on the altar as an offering.  They freeze well, so you can bake a big batch and use them throughout the fall during the Esbat.

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All the spices included in these cakes are traditional to the harvest season in the Wiccan religion, as well as many neopagan traditions in general.  Cinnamon in particular has many spiritual properties.

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harvest moon cakes 3

If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy this post about yule cookies, in which I go into more detail about the meaning of the harvest season ingredients.

Feel free to leave your own harvest moon recipes in the comments or share your experience with this one!

Blessed full moon!

20 Experiences to Add to Your Witchy Bucket List

I love bucket lists.  Who doesn’t?  They inspire us to dream bigger, travel more, try new things and imagine all the possibilities.

But what about our spiritual lives?  What lies ahead in our path remains a mystery, but if you could make a few roadside stops, where would they be?

Sometimes called “The Witch’s New Year,” Samhain marks the beginning of a new cycle of the Wheel of the Year.  Celebrate by setting new goals for yourself!

designing your witchy bucket lsit

Try this: sit down with a pen and paper (yes, a real pen and some real paper), set a timer for 15 minutes and brainstorm all the things you would do in your pagan life if your resources and time were unlimited.

Here are 20 ideas to get you started.  As I do them (or have done them), I will leave a link to a post about the experience.

Start a mind/body workout regimen.   In a couple of months, everyone begins the predictable process of making resolute, well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions to be more fit and lose weight.  Rather than joining the (sometimes unhealthy) crowds in a crash diet stampede to the local gym, consider taking a more spiritual workout approach.

Participate in a paranormal investigation.  No matter what they say in public, most people feel something a little compelling about ghost chasing.  With the veil between worlds at its thinnest, the time before and after Samhain presents an amazing opportunity to try this out!

Visit Salem, Massachusetts.  Contrary to popular belief, no witches every actually stood trial or were put to death in Salem.  The victims of the Salem Witch Trials were very likely Christians accused of witchcraft falsely by their community.  However, this hasn’t stopped the pagan/Wiccan/modern witchcraft culture from making the trip to Salem a kind of unofficial pilgrimage.  Salem embraces this designation, especially during the month of October, when the many occult shops and practitioners put on events. 

Discover your pagan roots.  Everyone alive today in the world carries the genes of pagan ancestors.  Whether you people hail from Ireland or Botswana, discover and learn about where you came from for deeper meaning in your practice.  (I recently got my DNA tested and found out I descend partly from India and partly from Romania—-both historical and current pagan cultures that interested me greatly from the beginning.)

Create a mini shrine.  Already committed to a pagan path?  Express yourself creatively by designing a mini shrine that suites your specific approach to the Craft.

Get to know your tarot deck.   Refuse to let your tarot deck intimidate you anymore!  Break away from your dependency on the little booklet that came with your deck and become fluent in the language of tarot.

Gather fresh flowers for every Sabbat.  Nothing brings the spirit of the season into your home like a fresh bouquet of local herbs and flowers.  Be creative!  An arrangement of pinecones or winter vegetables makes a lovely centerpiece during the less garden-y months.

Try a weekly nature walk.  If you spend more time in front of a screen than surrounded by green, take some time out for yourself and commune with nature.  The effect of fresh air and the time spent un-cluttering your busy mind refreshes even the most frazzled witch.

Read every book on this list.   Or feel free to compile your own! Amazon lets you create lists if you constantly come across books you mean to read but never get around to.  It helps to refer to one for those trips to the library or when your friends/family start asking what you want for yule.

Celebrate every full moon for one year.  We all skip Esbats occasionally, but committing to a full year of planning them out and following through cultivates self-discipline, lending to power to you magick.

Visit New OrleansFamed for its rich spiritual traditons (like hoodoo and voodoo) and swarming with ghost stories, a stay in New Orleans enriches any pagan’s bucket list!

Try fasting for spiritual insight.  Fasting gifted me one of my more interesting spiritual experiences this past year.

Learn to write your own spells.  Learning to write your own spells puts the power (and responsibility) of your magick in your hands—-exactly where it belongs.  Get creative and express yourself!

Write down your dreams every night for a full moon cycle.   It’ll blow your mind.  You very likely experience reoccurring themes in your dreams that play out completely subconsciously.  Bringing them to the surface with a dream journal provides special insight into both your dreamning and waking life.

Do something special for the Blue MoonIt’s coming up on January 31st, 2018.

Take a belly dance class.  If you’re looking to discover your inner goddess this turn of the Wheel of the Year, a belly dance class makes the ideal introduction.  Explore your femininity, celebrate your mystique and draw out your unique allure.

Go to a lantern festival.   I haven’t yet done this, but it looks amazing!

Experiment with dark moon divination We tend to place a lot of emphasis on the full moon in witchcraft, but the dark moon calls to our sense of mystery and intuition.  Try a new form of divination this Wheel and commit to practicing every month during this sensitive period.

Commit to living closer to the earth.    All of us can do better.  And little changes make a big difference.  No need to go crazy, just pick one or two new habits to work on at a time.  Then notice the little ways Gaia thanks you for your contribution to protecting the natural world we love so much.

Learn to live with less.  If it’s been a while since you’ve de-cluttered, experiencing the spiritual rejuvenation of weeding out unnecessary clutter.  You’ll literally breath easier.  I promise.

10 Ways to Use Lapis Lazuli in Witchcraft

Tranquil, soothing and beautiful, lapis lazuli’s timeless mystical appeal drew the admiration of ancient royalty.  Today, practitioners of crystal magick use it in a variety of ways.  Want to try it?  Here are a few simple, creative and inspiring ideas to incorporate this unique stone into your spell work and rituals.

In honor of Moody Moon’s new Bling Blessings jewelry line, this post begins a series on the in-depth properties of common gemstones and crystals.

If this subject interests you, be sure to check out my article, 10 Ways to Use Clear Quartz.

10 ways to use lapis lazuli in witchcraft

Hold a piece to sooth stress or anxiety.  People struggling with mild anxiety sometimes feel relief when holding a piece of lapis lazuli.

Place it near the hearth of the home to harmonize disrupted relationships.  Kids bickering?  Are you and your partner inexplicably annoying each other lately?  Try a piece of lapis lazuli near the heart of the home (living room, kitchen, wherever everyone spends the most time together in the house) to help quiet tempers and promote cooperation.

Use during dark moon divination to symbolize the night sky.  With its dark blue color and tiny, flashing golden flecks of pyrite, lapis lazuli resembles a star-filled, moonless horizon.  Keep a piece near during your dark moon divinations to draw in the energy of the darkest nights of the month.

Place a piece on an Egyptian altar.  If you honor the Egyptian Pantheon in your practice, place a piece of lapis lazuli on your altar to draw out your “inner queen.”  Egyptian pharaohs ground the gemstone into an deep-indigo powder for use as eye shadow or to dye clothing.  Its brilliant hue symbolized royalty and power.

Place it in mojo bags for inner peace.   Include lapis lazuli in inner peace mojo bags for its wonderfully calming properties.   Let it smooth out frayed nerves and quiet the rough tides of your spirit.

Bring it with you into deceptive situations.  If you suspect dishonesty afoot, carry a piece of lapis lazuli to encourage the truth to service.  But take caution!  Expect it to unmask your own deceptions, too!  Especially the ones you tell yourself.

Toss one in the cauldron for tranquility and reconciliation brews.   
Lapis Lazuli’s tendency to encourage people to empathize with their partners, family members and friends deeply allows them to see past their personal frustrations and misunderstandings, clearing obstacles that stand in the way of healthier interpersonal connections.

Carry it to sooth stage fright.  If speaking in public makes you nervous, carry a piece to calm your nerves and center your emotions before presentations and performances.

Wear it during meditation to open the third eye.  Lapis lazuli’s chakra correspondence rests on the Third Eye, a both literal and figurative place in the body between and slightly above your eyebrows.  The third eye “sees” the invisible and informs your intuitive senses.

Give it as a gift.  This gemstone blesses deep friendships.  Give it to a new or old friend in raw form or set into jewelry.

Sources:

Crystal Vaults

Balance Chakra

The Witch’s Guide to Ghost Hunting & Paranormal Investigation

The following article is based on my experiences with various paranormal investigators, professional exorcists and spiritualists.

I chose not to include my personal beliefs on this matter, as they bear no relevance.

On that note, ghost hunters vary in their beliefs, from Catholics to atheists (I know, it seems like a contradiction—more on that later).  Many, many approaches from different belief systems, including those of non-believers, offer valid perspectives on the subject of ghosts, spirits and the strange phenomenon of haunted dwellings.

However, this article addresses broaching the subject of paranormal investigation and ghost hunting for the practicing witch.

the witch's guide to exploring haunted spaces

Step 1:  Decide if you even want to go there.

People feel drawn to the paranormal experience by an innate, powerful, totally human curiosity about that which they know not.

Sometimes, the recent loss of a loved one prompts them to search for answers about where the spirit “went.”

Sometimes, they just want to find out if making contact with an unseen spirit world is even possible.

Sometimes, they miscalculate just how possible it is and end up falling way, way over their heads down a phantasmagoric black hole that requires professional help to claw out of.

Don’t get me wrong.  Many people with paranormal experience describe a sense of wonder or peace when they connect with the spirit world—particularly those practitioners who experience it positively and feel they discovered a way to communicate with loved ones they believe continue to “live” on the other side.

But sometimes, paranormal experience broadsides the spirit, shaking the worldview in an irrevocable way.  Opening the door often proves easier than shutting it.  Many people end up wishing they never turned the knob.

As one sensitive once wisely put it to me:

“Once you know, you know.  And after you know, there’s no longer any way to not know. ”

In othet words, This isn’t a bell you can un-ring.

Whatever you decide, as a practicing witch, you will very likely, at some point, be approached for help by someone living the sometimes frightening or disturbing experience of residing within a dwelling they believe to be haunted.

So at the very least, know where you stand.

sanatoro duran

Step #2:  Recognize that not everyone has the luxury of choosing.

While experimentation-gone-awry triggers many a haunting, much of the time, the victim simply moved into the wrong house at the wrong time and/or carries the burden of extraordinary sensitivity.

When I first began to interview people living with what they described as “spirits” or “ghosts,” I frankly expected to find a lot of folks with psychotic or delusional mental health issues.

In fact, their very “ordinariness” often makes the haunted reluctant to come forward.  They almost always know they sound crazy.  Admitting one believes one lives among entities no one else sees or hears inherently invites the suspicion that one’s cognitive abilities lack a grounded foundation.  Often, they only agree to speak with paranormal investigators on the condition of anonymity—-particularly if they work in professions that necessarily require clean psychiatric records.

Sometimes, they live in a terrifying silence for months or even years before they work up the courage to tell their stories out loud.

Unable to turn to traditional authorities (like the police) or even seek out the guidance of their own religious leaders, the sufferer very often feels desperate, confused and unsure of how to proceed.

As members of the alternative spiritual community, I believe we owe a duty to those who stand at this spiritual crossroads.

Step #3:  Assemble a team.

Depending on where you live, there may be a shortcut to this step.  Search “your area + paranormal investigators” and see if an existing group pops up.

Contact them and offer to assist them on their next paranormal investigation.

Take the time to describe your background as a witch and what you offer in terms of your abilities.

However, if your area lacks a paranormal investigative team, start one!  Facebook and Meetup.com groups provide great opportunities for those looking for others interested in ghost hunting.  This also comes in handy when the time arrives to find subjects and locations.

The more web presence you have, the better.  Once you begin a group, people often approach you before you even get a chance to approach them.

During the recruiting process, be particular.   Screen, screen, screen.  While most people interested in ghost chasing live otherwise fairly typical, mainstream lifestyles (expect “normality” to surprise you again here—-paranormal investigators come from law-enforcement backgrounds, teaching positions, hair salons, and doggie daycares) every once in a while, you run into a less than desirable character.  Do not engage.

Whether you find a ready-made group to join or start one yourself, bear in mind that very few investigators go it alone, especially in the beginning.  Most experienced ghost chasers recommend starting with a group of 3 or 4 people with various skill sets for several reasons.

Bringing people with you helps with verification (“Did you hear that?”  “Chill out, man.  That was me.  I farted.”)

Just as importantly, choosing members for their individual abilities makes for a more organized and insightful experience.

For example, an energy healer, a photographer, a “tech guy” and a tarot reader all bring different things to the table.

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Step # 3  Make sure you can deal.

If you have little tolerance for Christianity, monotheism, atheism or other belief systems, find another way to spend your time.  Paranormal investigation requires that you feel comfortable around people who don’t think like you do spiritually.  Not everyone who investigates a haunting believes in witchcraft.

In fact, they don’t all even believe in ghosts.

A word on atheist and “scientific” investigators:  yeah, they exist.  Some atheists believe “hauntings” are simply a natural phenomena not yet pinpointed or understood by the scientific method.  They usually acknowledge that ghost hunting isn’t a true science.  They’re right—it’s not.  But they also realize that science is still in its infancy, and there are many phenomena we can’t yet explain with it.  Personally, I think this perspective is very interesting.

Bottom line: make sure you can respectfully function as a practitioner around people who don’t believe what you do.

I work with another witch as part of a local paranormal team.  We always, always ask if it’s okay before we perform any ritual, including cleansing and healing rituals.  She comes from a Catholic background, so if the person in question happens to be Christian in faith, I let her conduct the prayer and blessing.

Step #4:   Find a location

Perhaps you arrived on this page because you already know someone who believes he/she lives with what they describe as paranormal activity.

But if not, there are lots of places to look for it.

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Believe it or not, your kids or your friends’ kids may surprise you with what they know about the local folklore.  Teenagers in particular feel drawn to places with a history of disturbed or unsettled entities (perhaps because their own lives feel so unsettled). You probably remember knowing of such a place as a teenager yourself.

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Often, abandoned houses seem to carry the spiritual “fingerprints” of the lives lived there.

Don’t trespass.  It’s usually completely unnecessary, anyway.  Many owners will be happy to oblige you if you just ask.  They sometimes even delight in a request from a paranormal investigator and want to tell stories about the history of the place.

They can also provide very useful information.

Like “Just so you know, the center beam upstairs is about to collapse, so . . . you probably shouldn’t walk on it.  Yeah.”

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sanatoria duran handprints

Step #5 Set boundaries.

Some people refuse to use Ouiji boards (but oddly, see nothing wrong with Tarot.)

Spiritualists, on other hand, used Ouiji boards to communicate with the other side all the way back in the 1800s.  They continue to use them today without thinking anything about it.

But if Ouiji boards bother you, make sure everyone knows that ahead of time.

Or, if you feel compelled to cast a circle, smudge or otherwise preform any kind of protection ritual, make sure everyone knows you plan to.

Basically, let everyone decide what their personal limitations are before one of them shows up and starts chanting scripture backwards in Latin or spraying holy water all over creation.

Step #6 Gather evidence

Many approaches to evidence gathering may be taken.

Photographs:  In a pinch, even a smartphone will do.  But someone with a background in photography and a quality camera obviously makes the best option; particularly, a photographer skilled in advanced techniques for challenging, low light settings.  Not only will this make gathering quality photographs easier, a person with such experience also quickly spots common tricks of light (like lens flare or optical dust) that a less experienced photographer might mistake for orbs or other phenomena.

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena):  Again, people definitely sometimes use smartphones to gather audio recordings.  But analogue still offers the best option.  If you look into how exactly analogue recording works, it makes sense that this older technology actually responds more directly to vibrations in the air than digital.

Video.  Obviously, video recordings gather both audio and optical evidence.  But they also take a considerable amount of time to evaluate.

Sensitives, Psychics & Tarot Readers.  Hold them to a high standard.  Tell them nothing about the history of the place or what happened there.  Assume they know anyway if that information exists somewhere on the internet.  Take seriously only impressions that can be verified later by an independent, non-public source.  The most compelling impressions match up to verifiable events that the sensitive could not possibly have known during the reading.

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Detectors:  I personally don’t really get into these.  Lots of people use them.  By all means, try it if that’s your thing.

Step #7:  Analyze the evidence.

Analysis requires patience.  It can take hours of focused concentration to pick up anything in a video recording, even if you watch the same clip 10 times—-and you must do it knowing you very well may have nothing.

But the pay-off returns 10-fold.  Even a 2-second EVP will rock your world if you’ve never heard one before.

In addition to examining your physical evidence, talk to your sensitives, psychics or tarot readers.  Make them write down their impressions and send it to you in an email so it’s time-stamped before you tell them anything about what you know for sure regarding the history of the place you investigated.

Step #8  Skip the conclusion drawing.

Statements like “There’s definitely paranormal activity here!”  and “There’s definitely not paranormal activity here!” rarely actually furthers the discussion.

Very few rational people dispute that photographic anomalies occur or that sometimes,  recording devices document things no one can explain.  Reputable, mainstream scientists acknowledge this.

We know there’s something. 

But beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

For some, it’s a matter of faith.

For others, there is a logical explanation that falls within the parameters of traditional scientific observation techniques, we just haven’t yet discovered it.

Personally, I think the best gift the paranormal experience offers is a more open mind about the world that exists beyond our five senses.

 

 

What’s New at Moody Moons?

As autumn makes its official debut, Magical Moody Moons presents fresh offerings from the handmade workshop, including a new line of jewelry (more to come!), totem oils and of course, Moody Moon’s signature Samhain items.

Click on the photo to be redirected to the product page for more details!

Back in stock!  Samhain oil!

As dark begins to overtake the light, the witch’s festival of Samhain approaches.

This spicy aromatic oil is blended with organic essential oils and herbs chosen especially for this sacred festival. Steeped and finely strained in a rich olive oil base.

The charm tied to the neck symbolizes the crow, which is said to carry messages back and forth from this world to the world beyond.

Bottle is approximately 4.5″ tall.

Are you a fire sign? A red-headed witch? Someone who considers the fox a personal totem? Or maybe you’re just in need of some of the smokin’ hot, fierce energy in your circle?

Introducing Fox Oil, the first in Moody Moon’s new line of totem oils.

Enjoy the spicy, evocative scent of essential oils chosen for their sacredness to the fox and steeped in an olive oil base.

Use this oil to anoint candles, gemstones and altar items, or burn it to fill your sacred space with the awesome energy of the crafty, wise fox.

Jar is approximately 3.5″ tall.

It’s mid-harvest season, and as the smell of wood smoke and falling leaves fills the air, it’s time to turn our attention inward for personal reflection.

This handmade blend of fall herbs, botanical oils and aromatic spices, including orange peel, dried apple, cedar, rose and thyme is specially crafted to fill your sacred space with the essence of autumn and the Wiccan harvest festivals Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain or Spirit Night.

Place mixture on a charcoal burner in a fire safe dish during meditation, scrying, divination, spell casting or ritual celebrations during the Harvest Season.

Please use caution as the herbs sometimes spark when burned!! Never leave this or any other loose incense unattended.

Jar is approximately 2.5″ x 3″

Gorgeous drop earrings with turquoise and om pendants.

Reputed to emanate natural “chill out vibes,” turquoise heightens spiritual awareness and brings the mind and body into alignment.

Om is an ancient mystical Hindu symbol of a sacred mantra used in scripture, before meditation and during spiritual rites.

Alloy-free, fishhook ear wires.

Drop length: Approximately 3″

Free domestic shipping on all US orders for this item.

Earrings made of the most serene, soothing gemstone in world!

Lapis lazuli’s brilliant, deeply saturated indigo-blue color appeals to the eye and the spirit.

Wear them to sooth frayed nerves, open the third eye and release negativity.

Points are about 1″ long. Earrings have about a 2.5″ drop length. Alloy-free fish hook ear wires.

Free domestic shipping to anywhere in the US.

Moody Moon’s introduces cloth menstrual care.  Don’t be scared!  It’s no big deal!


This 11″ reusable cloth menstrual pad makes a perfect addition to your stash for overnight needs or heavy flow days.

Choose from floral/fuschia or adorable fox pattern on the pad with contrasting orange arrow/zigzag pattern on the wings.

Topped with 100% cotton, terry cloth soaker/absorbent core and backed with PUL (waterproof fabric). This PUL is a little more breathable than some of the more waxy PUL fabrics.

Wings are fully lined with soaker material.

Hand-executed whip stitch on pull-through seam.

Snaps are sew-on (as opposed to the machine embedded snaps).

Pre-soak in cold water to avoid staining, but otherwise, you can feel free to throw this pad in your washer/dryer.

If you haven’t yet made the switch to cloth pads, this one makes a nice starter pad to try. One cloth menstrual pad replaces up to 300 disposables.

This set of two regular absorbancy gray and white polka dot cloth tampons are made of 100% natural cotton flannel with an organic twine pull string.

If you haven’t made the switch to cloth, this set makes a perfect introduction. Everyone thinks cloth menstrual care is “a little too much” until they try it and get hooked!

Unlike designs that are sewed rolled, “roll up” design makes them easy to get them clean for reuse.

Simply roll them tightly before use, then unroll to wash.

A cold water rinse before washing is recommended to prevent staining.

 

 

Mabon with a Kitchen Witch: 10 Traditional Foods for the Fall Equinox

Planning to celebrate Mabon with a traditional meal?  Try including some of these traditional, homemade, from scratch foods to bring the spirit of the season to your table.

For many more ideas on how to celebrate Mabon, check out this link.

mabon with a kitchen witch

Apple crumble.  If one symbol dominates the holiday of Mabon in North America, the apple wins!   Nothing ushers the essence of fall into your home like the sweet, warm awesomeness of a well-baked apple crisp Feature it in this traditional recipe for apple crumble.  On that note, take a moment to learn more on the significance of apples in witchcraft.

Sweet potato mash.  No need for a recipe, this one makes itself.  Just pop sweet potatoes in the over for 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees.  If you want to step it up, add maple syrup and butter.  Amazing.  Bonus:  you can make this up to two weeks in advance and freeze them for a no-fuss side dish.

sweet potato mash

Pumpkin seeds.  If your grocery started stocking the first of this season’s pumpkins, pick one up to gut and use those seeds.  But take caution: roasted pumpkin seeds disappear quickly!

Chai tea.  While not itself traditional to neopagan traditions, the typical recipe for spice chai tea usually includes many of the traditional fall equinox ingredients used in Mabon spell craft, like cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

cahi tea

Ground turkey balls.  While roasting a whole bird might not be practical for the average solitary practitioner, ground turkey balls freeze well and be made ahead to heat up on Mabon, which is especially helpful if Mabon happens to fall on a weeknight.

Brandied cranberries.  If you like to get fancy, brandied cranberries make for an elegant twist on the more typical cranberry sauce.

Green beans.  If you already canned some, consider Mabon the time to break your first seal.  Or, if you live in a region where green beans still arrive fresh at the market, fry them in garlic, butter and sprinkle some red pepper flakes on them to “heat up” a lively dinner conversation.

green beans

Spice cookies.  Remember these?  Nothing conjures the thrill and excitement of the imminent fall season like a fresh batch of gooey spice cookies.  They make a lovely addition to a group ritual as an alternative to the cake in the “cakes and ale” portion of the ceremony.

Corn on the cob.  If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of wandering through a corn field to gather your own fresh corn on the cob right off the stalk, go!  Before it’s too late!  And if you’ve already got Samhain on your mind, make it spooky by watching Children of the Corn before you do it!

corn on the cob

Spiced pears.  One lesser used but uniquely wonderful dish for Mabon takes the form of the spiced pear.  Make it as a (slightly) healthier alternative to heavier desserts.

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