It is a cold raining day in Florida-- we have been getting a lot of those down here lately-- and I decided to do one of my favorite things on days like this, visit one our many metaphysical shops. We have so many here, each with their own unique feel and personality. I was in the mood for a new book. I am picky when it comes to books, so I spend quite awhile looking at them.
I am sitting in the book area of the shop, pulling out certain books that pique my interest, when three teenage girls are chattering non-stop looking at stones. One of them wanders off towards where I am sitting and opens a large cabinet containing an array of various oils. I hear her say, “Hexing oil!” and her friends quickly come over and giggle.
“How do you use hexing oil?”
I keep my mouth shut because, well, I do not work in the shop, nor am I the seller of the product. She asks again. Finally, I say, “well there are many ways, you should check with the cashier when you check out.”
Why did I say this? All while I was there, she (the cashier) was assisting customers with their questions on how to use various stones, which candles work best for what, etc. I assume it was her responsibility to tell the customers how to use things.
After a while, no book to be found, but chime candles held happily in my hand (because you can never have enough chime candles!), I stood behind the three teenage girls in line. They bought a pendulum; did not know how to use it so the cashier showed them. They bought two different colors of calcite; the cashier explained what one did what. They bought……. HEXING OIL!
“How do you hex someone?” I hear again the mousy sweet voice of a baby witch.
The cashier immediately changed her tone, “We do not hex people here. We only do white magick. The manager said we only do healing work here. Bad things happen to people who hex and people who hex are bad people.”
Um….” Well, I hex, and I am not a bad person. And some practices hex and nothing bad happens to them because they know how to do it right.” Sorry, I had to stick up for myself. Yes. I hex. Responsibly and only if needed. The cashier looked frightened. Like I was going to suddenly going to explode into a pile of flying bats or something. She continued talking to the girls, but in a lower voice and closer, “While that maybe true, there are other ways to stop people from doing bad things.”
Since I had not burst into a bunch of vampiric blood thirsty bats, I had to interject one more time.
“You claim that your manager states you only do white and healing magick here, and yet you sell products specifically used for the purpose of hexing and other forms of manipulative magick” I went ahead and listed a few of the items I saw around, “And now you are selling a product which specifically says, ‘hexing oil’ to a teenage girl and not explaining to her how to use it or not use it. Rather, you will sell it to her, and let her walk blindly out of the store with a product she has no idea what to do with.”
Crickets. I stopped. I let the transaction happen. Bought my freakin’ candles and left. And then I let the event cycle in my head for twenty-four hours before I wrote this.
Witch shops, metaphysical stores whatever you want to call them, they have a responsibility to the customers they serve. For starters, if you want to be an all-white magick shop, do not sell products that counter that—like hexing oil. I can not think of any healing rituals or spell work that would require hexing oil as a healing element!? If you want your shop to just be an occult/witchy/metaphysical shop—then do not push for the “we only do (insert color of magick) here.” Just sell the products you feel are worth selling and do your thing.
Moreover, you have a responsibility towards the community you are serving. If you are selling products that promote healing and positivity and are willing to assist those customers in finding the correct items, they need to have their desires manifested--- then you owe it to those who are buying other products that may have a completely different purpose to assist them in answering their questions to. Sorry. Otherwise, do not sell those types of products in your store.
Most of us are well aware that teenage girls are using hexing oil for some mundane reason like a bad break up or to get back at someone, which hexing really is not necessary for. As the shops responsibility it would have been better if they addressed the issue and talked the girls out of buying it. I understand the store needed a profit, but we need more educated baby witches out there. Ones that think things through are rational and can tell when a real hexing needs to be done.
I have spent the last six months of 2020 delving deeper into occult practice of Ceremonial Magick. It is something I have been practicing since 2002 and while I know a lot, there is always more to learn and more to understand. I liken Ceremonial Magick to a darker version of Buddhism. Much like Buddhism, Ceremonial magicians work towards reaching a place of enlightenment in which they can break free from the cycle of reincarnation. We just have a bit more ritual flare to our path, like the Lesser Banishing of the Pentagram and working with the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. It is a form of symbolic meditation and personal reflection. Working towards our Higher Self through Will.
I have also been devoting a lot of my time to studying more in depth the Goetia and the practice of invoking Celestial spirits and the conjuration of Demons or infernal spirits. Of the two, the infernal spirits have been the most interesting to work with.
I was recently asked a question regarding whether a demon could just enter house and take over. Most definitely not. Truthfully, demons do not appear unless specifically called upon. And to call upon a demon one must have the proper sigil, name of the demon and proper offer to give. Moreover, it is the magician’s responsibility to be able to control the demon once summoned. Demons are not stable – they do not think or feel. They only act. This is why the Goetic sigils and names are important as they allow the magician to summon the demon and control the will of the demon before it can control the practitioner. Furthermore, there is a misconception that demons are evil or malevolent when in fact, while they can be destructive, they can also be very creative and clever in doing what they were asked to do.
There is always this mistaken belief that demons just appear through accidental use of a quija board or someone fucking around with the occult. Its not that easy. Aside from summoning a demon to do task, there is a higher purposed to working with demons and that is to understand the faults in humanity. Demons are Greed, power, hate, pride. All humans, even the best of us, have a defect. Sometimes, we refuse to acknowledge it. When you are literally faced with your demons, you can recognize those weaknesses and work to fix them.
I am not saying that conjuring demons is safe—its not. It takes strong will and proper knowledge. But if you aren't facing your demons-- are you even practicing magick?
Tis' the season for ghost stories, so I thought I would go ahead and share one of mine. As someone who has lived in a haunted house (near the infamous Bridgewater Triangle!) and who works with spirits frequently, I have a fair share of spooky stories, but this one... well, this one is the scariest. Its also the one that taught me to be the humblest when dealing with those who often cannot be seen.
About 20 years ago, when I was about a naïve 18 years old, I was visiting my parents very haunted house in Brockton, MA. I could go on and tell you about the haunts, but those stories are for another time. It was October and fall in New England reeks eerie and strange. Their neighbors were over and well, we decided, why not have a séance…. with you guessed it…. a Ouija board.
Now let me explain to you my mindset at the time. I was naïve 18-year-old who had been studying the occult for about 5 years at that point. I am a fourth-generation witch so I already could sense when spirits were around, nothing new there. I had just joined The Temple of the Seekers, the Ceremonial Magick group that I would later in the future be initiated into and gain formal training in the occult. But, again as naïve 18-year-old, I had everything in control. For fucks sake, I even had my robe from Temple with me. I could conjure shit and hold the fort down.
I cast the circle (oh yes…I was a bad ass witch) to protect us from the uglies, we lite the candles and six of us sat around the table in the circle with the Board in the center. Myself and our neighbor Bob had our hands on the planchette asking the usual stupid questions everyone asks when trying to get in contact with the other side. After 15 minutes of questioning, we got nothing.
We took our pee breaks and started gabbing. Telling ghost stories of our own. My dad always had the best, growing up on an old farm in upstate New York. The candles were still flickering in the darkness and then….
I knew something was in the room. The tingling feeling, I knew so well crawled up the back of my neck and my left arm went cold and completely numb. That is how they let me know they are there. That is how the spirits tell me they are ready to speak. Without any hesitation I just said, “It wants to speak to us now….”
No sooner had I uttered those words than Bob and I placed our hands on the planchette….and no sooner than it came…….
Within a matter of milliseconds, it was like a gust of wind came in: the bird cage holding my mother’s cockatoo suddenly fell knocking the candles over and igniting the curtains on fire, plunging the room in darkness. A lot of screaming ensued followed by a lot of people jumping on one another in fear (including yours truly).
WHAT THE LIVING FUCK JUST HAPPENED.
I literally wanted to pee from fright. I had to pee, but hell was I going by myself. I grabbed my sister, and we went to the bathroom together. That night, after we all regained our ego’s and after the neighbors left, my sister and I slept in my parents’ room, huddled on the floor in fear something would get us. I mainly slept in their room because my old bedroom was full of nasty Shadow people that were relentless energy manipulators and also my room was next to the room that was aptly called “Grandpa’s Room, “ and no…he wasn’t our Grandpa.
I learned three lessons that night:
Since then, I have learned a lot more from working with spirits. Now, I am not afraid of those tingles up my neck or the feelings of something wanting to talk now. I also know the correct ways of using the Ouija board and, most importantly, how to set up boundaries and protect myself and others from negative influences. I am also bad ass at cleansings. That night changed me a lot. I am not scared of things like that anymore. I am a bad ass witch now, with a little more control. But I also know when I need to be humble. As always, the dead teach the living.
**I should note, to add to this... the cockatoo died the next day, headless. I swear to you it is the truth.**
Have we forgotten the basic foundations of magick?
Aleister Crowley defines magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” While there are many definitions of magick, this is my favorite. Basically, it says that you can use magick to will what you want into existence. But how? Why does magick work? And what type of magick should you use to obtain your desire.
There are eight basic principals of magick and each principle describes how and why magick works.
.I. PRINCIPLE OF KNOWLEDGE
This is one of the most basic of all the laws and probably the easiest to understand. The more understanding you have of a subject the more in control of it you are. The more power you possess over it. This includes self-knowledge. One must know themselves (Gnothi Se Auton=Know Thyself), know your own powers, abilities, and limitations. This law is especially important because the more you understand and know your subject the more you can control and change the situation around you. This is the whole point of magick: the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity of will. You can not cause change within something you have no knowledge of.
.II. PRINCIPLE OF ASSOCIATION: This law is rarely used in its pure form; however, we want to cover all the bases. The principle of association means, if two things have something in common- anything in common-that thing can be used to control both. This will have a mutual effect on each, depending upon the size of the thing shared. An example of this could be the hunter. He runs down the lion and kills him, he will then eat the lion’s liver thinking that this will give him strength.
.III. PRINCIPLE OF SIMILARITY/CONTAGION: The principle of similarity/contagion tells us that things once in contact with each other will continue to interact on each other after separation. The emphasis here is the object has been in physical contact with the entity you want to affect. Essentially this is the definition of sympathetic magick. A perfect example of this is taking hair from your lovers’ hairbrush to use in a love spell or taking fingernail clippings from an enemy for a hot foot spell.
.IV. PRINCIPLE OF BALANCE: This one is simple and states that if you wish to survive and become powerful you must keep your life in balance. By balance we mean you must avoid the extreme. You must be flexible and adaptable to change. You must take care yourself, mind, body, and spirit. Eating healthy, exercising, and meditating to keep you magically aligned.
.V. PRINCIPLE OF THE INFINITE UNIVERSE: There is different way to view the universe. Everyone is different and they see things in many ways. Every being that can perceive sees the universe in a unique way. Your universe depends on how you perceive things. The key is here is that if it works for you, keep it. This is the truth to you. If it hinders you then reject it for this is false to you and your progress.
.VI. PRINCIPLE OF LIMITATION: This is important when it comes to any magickal workings. Any operation must have a limit. Any magickal spell or working must have a limit. An extent of what you want to accomplish must have an end date. Once you start set an end date. Typically, 3-9 months is a good time frame. If your workings fail within that time frame, then end it. Revise it, make changes, wait a month, or so and then try again, with a new end date.
.VII. PRINCIPLE OF EMOTION: Everyone of us has emotions and strong emotion is deeply connected to you. An example of this is if you have a strong emotion that is repellent to you for some reason and you reject it, split if off from your personality. You have a reason to reject it, deep in your subconscious. The idea of doing magickal work is to clear up or resolve rejected parts of your personality (Shadow Work) and get them back into yourself. “Whatever things you want, believe that you have them already and you will have them.” When it comes to working magick emotion can be compared with desire. You have the proper amount of emotion or desire to attain the proper result.
.VIII. PRINCIPAL OF BINDING: This principle states that forces of magick have two sides, therefore, double acting and dual in nature. There is nothing in the physical universe that does not have two sides to it. However, in our physical lives, we use both sides of things so much we do not stop to think about it. The key here is to remember that a force can bring something to us, and the same force can take it away. It would follow naturally that if we want a certain thing then the side or aspect of the force, we want is the side of aspect of that force that will bring the desired result. Do you want to use the side of light or dark? What we want to remember is to bind up the force or aspect that we do not want to use.
The Lesser Banishing of the Pentagram (from here on called the LBRP) is not a ritual found in every occult or witchcraft tradition. In fact, it is mainly a Ceremonial Magick /occult mainstay. But, as someone who practices it daily, I will tell you, it should be a staple in everyone’s system. I belonged to a Ceremonial Magick group that also practiced modern day witchcraft, so the LBRP was incorporated into our rituals. For me it has become an extension of all my magickal practices.
Ok. Long or short, I will try to get to the point. For starters, there will be a lot of Christian verbiage, albeit, it is not necessarily Christian. So those adverse to being converted to Christianity need not worry! In fact, it while it does have an early Christian base, Gnosticism, I can tell you the that the Gnostics did not practice the same way modern day Christians practice. The Gnostics believed that we were all Gods. Yes. All of us contained a spark of the Divine Light, therefore, in the part of the ritual when we get to the part of "Thy Kingdom and the Glory of God"-- it is talking about you. Ok....tangent there...so what is the LBRP? Essentially, it is a banishing ritual that removes any chaotic or impure energies from your auric field by tracing pentagrams in the air by the power of Divine names. The basic components of the Quabalistic Cross and the LBRP are drawn from works by occultist Eliphas Levi. Essentially the words mean: In the Name of God, the God of Yisrael: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God.
So why should you do it? Well, here are my personal reasons:
I wear a lot of hats: daughter, aunt, student, former belly dancer, former snake charmer, witch, occultist, artist, writer....it goes on and on. To add to my many hats....I have two names....and I answer to both.
So why do I have two names?
Well, naturally, I have a birth name. The name I was given when I was born on November 1st many moons ago. My birth name is Melissa. Mostly, my birth name, is used by my family, colleagues, co-workers and some friends.
Then there is my rebirth/magickal name: Zehara Nachash. This name is what most of my friends, fellow witches, occultists, belly dancers, artists and Voudists call me. Zehara is pronounced as Zeh-Ha-Ra=a. Zehara's meaning is 'bright'. This was the name that I took when I was initiated by my late High Priest Balaam into the Temple of the Seekers. Its a special name to me as shortly after I added, "Nachash" which is Hebrew for Serpent. Together, Zehara Nachash embodies my inner spiritual workings with the life and rebirth metaphor of the Serpent. I kept this name as my dance name when I was performer and its pretty much my name to most people, except for those on the "outside."
So, needless to say, whether you call me Zehara or Melissa- I answer to both!
I have heard it on podcasts, read it in books and seen it in posts: (insert witch, occultist, etc.) should not practice magick if they have a mental illness. What a singular discouraging thing to read and hear. Not only do they you should not practice magick, but you also should not do it to help others---because you are not in the right state of mind to do so.
What a horrible thing to say! Especially considering that in the US alone around 1.5 million Americans identify as a witches or pagans and greater populations worldwide. And this is only for those who identify as witches or pagans—what about the occultists? Ceremonial magicians? And what about those who choose not to identify themselves?
Considering that anxiety alone affects 40 million adults in the US and depression affects 16.1 million… it is a safe bet that some of these self-identifying witches, pagans and occultists suffer from depression. And I am also going to bet that most practice some type of magick for either themselves or for clients.
So, what is the big deal?
I understand that you most definitely do not want to have a narcissistic personality doing root work for your, nor would you want someone who has anger issues that they have not yet worked out doing a healing spell for your loved one…I get that…
What about those of us who have a mental illness: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia- but our illness is controlled by medication. Does that make our magick and spell work less effective?
No. No it does not.
Mental illness is caused by chemical issues in the brain. We cannot help it. Medications can. We can still practice our four-fold breathing- in fact, we probably find it easier since we use it as away to help calm us down when we are mid panic attack. We can harness our energy field – another thing we are good at because some of us have used our energy to help us work through depression. We are good at meditation and visualization—things crucial to successful magick and spell work—and things needed to help us through the murky gloom of our illness. Furthermore, and this is the biggest.
We can walk within the darkness and bring in the light. Those practitioners, including myself, who have a mental illness are terrific shadow workers. Part of being mentally ill is dealing with the days when you are stuck in a shadowy muck of emotional and physical pain brought on by psychological issues and shitty serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. We have walked through the shades of death and fear….and some of us have even attempted to find solace in its silent embrace. We know what its like to suffer and be in pain. But we also know what its like to rise again and take back what is ours.
In fact, I think witches, pagans, occultists or however they want to identify--- with a mental illness-we make damn good fucking spell workers. We can walk and balance out the darkness in the light.
I recently read “Evil Archaeology” by Heather Lynn, Ph.D. While I enjoyed the book, it was the last chapter that really gave me a paranormal brainteaser. In the chapter she discusses an idea called a “thought form.” The idea of giving life (or consciousness) to something that doesn’t really exist.
Huh? (don’t worry, I said the same thing). How can one create life out of thin air? As impossible as it sounds…. its, well, possible!
In Toronto, Ontario in 1972, the Philip Experiment was conducted. It was a parapsychology experiment to see if a being could be created just by shear will power. The small group of eight created a fictional biography of a character they called Philip. The biography included everything from his status into society, his appearance and the love of his life, Margo, a young gypsy woman. After Margo was arrested and executed for witchcraft, Phillip was so distraught he committed suicide.
With the story laid before them, the group would spend time meditating on Philip. Essentially, the group eventually felt that Philip was a real person, and not created by fiction. Now, this is where the fun comes in--- they communicated with him!
In several seances, the group was able to contact the person that they had all created. Their thought form had come into existence! During the seances, not only was Philip able to communicate with the group via rapping on the table, other incidents occurred that could never be explained.
After reading about the Philip Experiment, the very first person I thought of (mind the pun) was Aleister Crowley. It was said that Crowley had such powerful psychic energy he could create thought forms that were powerful enough to topple his enemies. During his feud with Macgregor Mathers, the founder of the Golden Dawn, it was said Crowley created a thought form so powerful that it not only stopped Mathers own thought form, but was able to make it even stronger (Crowley said he was able to do this by the thought forms “own current of evil). Crowley then sent Mathers own, albeit stronger, thought form right back to him and there was nothing Mathers could do. After the incident, Mathers health diminished; He finally died in 1918, with no cause of death on his death certificate.
A more current thought form is the Slender Man. Slenderman was created as a fictional supernatural character created by a “Something Awful” forum user. Again, Slenderman had a fictionalized history and eventually became an internet thought form. The Slenderman thought form was so strong that it not only led to a Hollywood movie, but also caused several violent acts by his followers, including the nearly fatal stabbing of Payton Leutner in Wisconsin. Payton’s two friends, under the order of Slenderman, stabbed Payton over 19 times.
All these stories of thought forms made me think of their place in the magick. They are all created by, as Crowley said, the “power to will” psychic energy to create a living spirit. We all have the access to create a thought form, albeit it does require an immense amount of time. You would need to create a backstory of the character you want to create, their features, their personality. Then you would will that character into being. Its possible as you can see from the examples of above. And thought forms can be used for both good and evil. Since we can create beings from thought form, imagine what the world would be like if they were made to help increase the good in humanity. Power to will.
Its strange to know that I have somehow written enough articles and blogs that I have been able to complete two books in two years! Next year I will be releasing my first ever free standing researched occult book! Thank you all for following me on this journey!
I am a Scorpio. For those unaware, here is a brief synopsis:“Scorpio is the emotional dynamo of the Zodiac. No stranger to the subconscious mind, he reads the hidden motives of others with ease. You may see the Scorpio frowning with a deep hurt inside, or smiling delightedly with some secret knowledge. A keen observer of human nature he fears no enemy, because Scorpio sees all danger and knows the weaknesses of his opponents. To be his friend is to have the bravest ally, the fiercest fighter on your side. To cross him can be deadly. Scorpio is in tune with the forces of life and death, sexuality, birth, dramatic changes, danger, catastrophe and the powerful forces of man and nature. His ruling planet, Pluto, is associated with atomic power and the criminal underworld.The Scorpio is fascinated with anything that offers complete transcendence – spirituality, the occult, ecstatic or thrilling physical states or a complete renovation of some part of his life. To him, these experiences are like a rebirth. They make him feel alive because they give him the spiritual and emotional regeneration he needs.Scorpio is passionate and intense with loved ones. He values loyalty and bravery above all. He can be secretive, but is very open with his most trusted friends.”
I am run a full gamut of emotions and moods, but typically, I am full of life, the social butterfly. Except when I get flooded with what I call my “ecstatic state of ecstasy” –where noise literally disrupts my life. I need silence. I can not speak. Its almost like walking in a dream state. These moments can last days or weeks. Sometimes only a mere hour. I am completely in a zone of creative zen. Where ideas flow through me. My creative surges flourish and grow.
Its often when I am in one of these moods, that people are confused by my mental state. I don’t talk, I don’t want to engage conversation. I am physically in my body, though my spirit is elsewhere. They may speak, but I do not answer. I am channeling the spiritual creative force flowing through me. Noise is painful. I remember as a child, I would lock myself in my room for hours, sometimes missing dinner, just to write. Poetry. Short stories. I couldn’t mingle with my family. Disruptive energy not vibrating on the same level interrupts the flow. Negativity interrupts the flow. Noise is painful. It was not uncommon for me to write 10 poems in an hour during these moments. My parents took it as a rebellious child. I was just feeling the power of the creative force.
“The Scorpio is fascinated with anything that offers complete transcendence – spirituality, the occult, ecstatic or thrilling physical states or a complete renovation of some part of his life. To him, these experiences are like a rebirth”
Rebirth. In my quiet state I enter a path of rebirth. My dancing forms a story of what is hidden in my soul. No longer just a dance. My writing evolves. My ideas are born. My spirit reaches new heights. And I find myself standing alone.
As I grew older, it became easier. “Speak to me but don’t expect an answer.”
However, things changed when I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. My moments of creative bliss would be disrupted by anxietal trigger. Something that would send my brain and body into a tizzy. The ageless “flight or fight response.” My creative surges would get bundled up and thrown into a corner, piled underneath piles and piles of stress and negativity. When they would spurt, I would be to exhausted, or they wouldn’t last long enough for an idea to full emerge.
Emergence is key. When I started to seriously delve deeper into my spirituality (brought on primarily by my Shamanic based show ANIMUS) and in-conjunction with weekly therapy sessions, I have learned when my creative surges are coming and how to access them longer.
People who have known me for a long time, are aware of this. People who don’t know me, don’t understand. And the truth is, I feel no need to change who I am during these surges to better accommodate those around me. Its the role of the Lonely Sage. If there were a cave for me to go to and work until the creativity fully released itself, then I would go there. But I live in the city. My studio, my bedroom, those are my caves. Its where I work. I think the hardest thing, is for people who are not deeply involved in their own spiritual and creative selves, to understand what this mood is.
This past creative surge has left me exhausted, I have been writing non stop, ideas swimming in my head. Show ideas of ANIMUS are forming, images for paintings are forming. And they all are fighting to come out. In the end, I am exhausted, tired. My spiritual energy spent of physically extracting these bits of myself out.
I nurture. I grow. I live. I am free. Walking a lonely path of my spiritual destiny to become the person The Universe intended me to be. We are all great things, waiting for great things to emerge. Even the dark Scorpio.