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5 Witchy Things To Do After A Vacation

Merry meet, Witchlings!

It’s been nearly a month since our last post, so I want to share a brief life update with you. We’ll get back to the Elements series in our next post, but I figured a personal update or something different every now and then couldn’t hurt.

First the Update

My partner and I returned home a few days ago from a lovely two-week vacation to the UK. Life got very busy leading up to our departure, and most of my writing took a backseat to other tasks and entertainments. We’d planned and saved for this trip for over a year, and with how busy this last year got, it was so very needed.

I read so much!

Being able to read for enjoyment has always been one of my favorite pastimes, but I haven’t been able to binge-read in years. The last four weeks or so, leading up to and during the trip, allowed me to read the first full series I’ve read since my teen years (and only the second full series in my life). It reminded me a lot of why I write and why I adore certain stories.

Now that I’m back, I’m more excited and motivated than ever to continue the variety of projects I’ve got in store for you. Still, even after a refreshing break, I always need a little time after a long vacation to get back into the dance of my everyday life. In addition to time, there are a few things I need to do to settle back into my home space after being away for so long.

If you’ve ever left home for a few days, you may have noticed that it feels different when you return. Whether the place is empty or occupied by a cat-sitter, the energy of our apartment shifts when we’re gone. To get our place’s vibes back into balance after a long separation, here are some of the things I like to do within 24 hours of getting home.

Five Witchy Things I Must Do After Vacation To Reconnect To My Home

Shower
Image by Fifaliana Joy from Pixabay

It may not sound witchy right off the bat, but showering is a well-known tool for spiritual cleansing. Of course, for me, I’m usually more concerned of getting the grime of travel off of my skin. Whether it’s eighteen hours on a Greyhound bus or ten on a plane, the recycled air filled with the respirations of a hundred other people always leaves me feeling sticky. It’s typically my first thought upon getting home.
In addition to body cleaning, there’s something very grounding about showering in your own home. Using my own tub, knowing the perfect position to turn the knob for my preferred temperature—it all serves to reconnect me with my sacred space. It’s a step I can never skip, and I tend to do it within an hour of getting home.

Express Gratitude
Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Once the grunge of travel is off of me, I begin to assess the moment. Either immediately after my shower or during it, I start thinking about all the things I’m grateful for to further ground myself.
I’ll typically say thanks for getting home safely (especially since flying kind of freaks me out), and I’ll give thanks for having a place to rest, for my pet, my books, my friends, and all the things that remind me of the best parts of my life.

So, even though I may feel a longing to go back to the freedom and adventure of a trip abroad, it’s easy to feel joy for all the good stuff I’m returning to. We may already be planning our next trip a year and a half away, but I can focus on all the things I’m grateful and excited for in the meantime.

Clean (Both Physically and Spiritually)
Image by annca from Pixabay

I typically try to clean our apartment just before we leave, so that I have less to do when we get back. Sometimes, though, we have a cat sitter stay at our place to avoid upsetting our fluffy girl, Brooklyn, too much. While they don’t go “hog-wild”, most people I know aren’t nearly as particular about cleanliness as I am. Because of this, I tend to go into deep-clean mode after anyone else has stayed at my place.
Having a physically clean living space settles my mind, while the activity itself tends to bring me down to earth. If I mix up a batch of enchanted cleaning spray, I’m able to put magic into the actual structure with each spritz. Simply put, cleaning up after a trip plops me squarely back into the reality of my life.

After a physical clean, I need to clear the energy in the air. Depending on my mood, this can be done with smoke from a sage or mugwort bundle, cleansing mists sprayed throughout the room, a boiling potion allowed to evaporate into the air, or any other method that strikes my fancy. Whatever methods I use, the goal is to clear any stagnant or negative energy that may have settled in my home when I wasn’t there to do my usual spiritual upkeep.

Light Candles and Incense

Once all that old energy is cleared, it needs to be replaced with something positive and healing. To do that, I usually light a long-burning candle after blessing it with a prayer and dressing it in ritual oil. The candle burns down and, as it does, I go about my day, occasionally imagining its firelight filling the place with positive energy.

I basically follow the same concept with incense, letting it burn and visualizing the smoke spreading my whispered blessings through the air. While the incense tends to burn out quickly, the candle can last most of the night, often remaining alight until just before I go to bed sometime around sunrise.

Meditate
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Finally, once my body and home are cleansed and we’re both filled with positive energy, I can take the time to actively meditate. I say actively because, throughout the whole process, from shower onward, I will typically be in a meditative state.

But, I think it’s important to sit down and focus entirely on meditating when all those other tasks are complete. The meditation can last from two minutes to half an hour, depending on my mood at the time. I usually focus on grounding and visualize my personal, internal light bonding with that of my cleansed and blessed space, as well as with the light of the planet and cosmos.

Bonus: Stare At My Pet

Of course, as I do all of these other things, I take frequent and long breaks to do one of the most relaxing things known to mankind: stare at my cat, Brooklyn. She’s a perfect grey Tabby with perfect ears who smells like pure magick. I honestly don’t know how I ever felt at home anywhere before I had her to come home to.

Traveling has always been a dream of mine, but leaving her makes each trip a little harder, and having her makes coming home a thousand times more exciting. She makes me feel like I’m “home sweet home” more than anything else.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

These few things not only help me settle in after being away for a while, but they help me to realign spiritually. Seeing as I can’t bring my entire sacred space with me, my practice is temporarily altered whenever I go anywhere for long.

These things bring me back to me. They bring me back to the path, to my work, and to the things that bring me a sense of fulfillment. As much as I love to travel, I love my work and feeling like I have a purpose even more. Maiden’s Circle, writing, card reading, and all the things I hope to accomplish drive me every day and fill me with passion. And I wouldn’t give that up for a million dollars.

What sorts of things do you need to do to reconnect to your living space after an extended absence? How do you realign your energy after being away from home? Let me know in the comments!

Be blessed,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

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Brief Update and a Rerun

This week, I’ve been dealing with some personal things, so I’m still catching up. It didn’t feel right to leave you hanging, though, so I’ve found an entry from my now-inactive blog, Voix de Wilder, to share with you. I believe this piece does a good job of explaining my thoughts on things like “fate” or “destiny.” While my views have shifted slightly, a lot of what I said back then still stands, and I think it’s important to explore our own mindset over time. I’m still learning and always asking “why.”

I also wanted to take a break to let you know how things are going concerning the course and other Maiden’s Circle endeavors. As you know by now, Maiden’s Circle sends out a newsletter each time there’s a new update. Lately, that’s pretty much only been notifications of new blog entries and whatever news comes up that week. Do you like that format? Would you like more in the newsletters?

In any case, I want to let you know that our Covenpath course is coming along slowly, but surely. Each week, it gets a little closer to publishing. I want this to be as valuable as I can possibly make it, so I’ve spent many hours researching to make sure we provide the right amount of information while keeping in mind that this is a self-study course. As soon as it’s ready, you’ll be the first to get an email. Make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter, because only those people will get the massive discount of $13 (as opposed to $133). That’s $120 worth of content just for joining the newsletter!

The closer we get to going live, the giddier I become. I sincerely hope this course provides a sturdy base for your witchy practices and that it can lead to a huge growth within Maiden’s Circle. The fact is, I’m looking for coven members. It’s important we all have a similar understanding of the Maiden’s Circle practices, even with varying practices of our own. That means, new members would need to take the course. (That said, enrollment in the course doesn’t automatically mean initiation into the coven.) So, with the launch of the Covenpath course, I hope to see growth in our numbers. If it isn’t clear already, I have a deep need to share this journey.

To help sate that need, Maiden’s Circle now has a learning group on Facebook! The group is meant to foster discussion and learning from one another and is just a bit more formal than other groups I admin. This is because I truly want to have an engaged Pagan community where everyone expresses themselves and participates. I want to hear about your beliefs and practices so that we can connect with one another on a more personal level. So, be sure to check that group out, as well as the Bacchans of Witchsfest group for even more fun, witchy posts.

The Ordains series will continue next week, but I hope you enjoy this brief update and break. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or join us on Facebook. Until then, I hope you enjoy the entry below in which I discuss the ideas of fate or destiny. Blessed be!

Previously titled Sh*t Happens. First published Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Let’s just say that things happen, that sometimes events randomly fall together to create the perfect circumstances for certain things to occur.  Let’s say that’s it.  Things fall into place and things happen, without the hand of Fate or “the Universe.”  This is, indeed, the view of many skeptics and self-proclaimed smart people.  If that is the case, then we’re really just living to die, no?  Shit just happens, and either it’s good or bad, but it’s never important.  Moments aren’t special, so there’s no reason for sentiment and reminiscing.  There’s no point to romance.

I’ve seen two reactions from those following this school of thought.  Some people embrace it and adopt a devil-may-care attitude.  They live life fast and hard.  They live for the sake of experience.  They live dangerously, trying anything new, ignoring the consequences. These people believe they could die young, so they live every moment doing whatever they please.  Then, there are others who take this thought and find fear and misery in it.  If there is no meaning, if their lives are just a series of random events, what is the point of living?  These forlorn people often feel their lives are tragic, and tend to share their tragedy with others, leading to dysfunctional, often co-dependent, relationships.

It’s all very nihilistic, isn’t it?  On the other end of the spectrum are those who believe that Fate rules the world.  To these hopeful beings, every single event has a meaning, everything happens for a reason.  They are always where they’re “meant to be.”  There is some power in the universe that is watching over them, and even the smallest occurrences are meant for them.  A leaf falling at just the right moment is some message for them to interpret, or there’s a raging storm because they’re having a bad day.  Essentially, they believe the world revolves around them.  Truly, their own world does.

Then, of course, there are those of us who are the most idealistic.  We see the world as a gray area.  Some things just happen because they do.  Some things are destined.  Not everything happens for a reason, but nothing is pointless.  Life, ultimately, has a meaning amidst all the mundanity.  We’ve seen the magic that can occur; we’ve seen what can happen when certain random circumstances come together and create the perfect setting for creating change.

The task, then, is to learn to discern the difference; and when you find the things that are significant, when you do receive messages from the Universe (or the Fates, God/dess, Spirit, the Higher Power, or what-have-you), you must determine what they mean.  Perhaps it is just that I like puzzles, that I feel this is the most accurate idea of why things happen.  Who really knows why some people fall into jobs they’d never imagined and end up finding their calling?  Who knows what determines whether or not one person survives an accident?  Is it luck?  Or is it Fate that brings a person into another person’s life?  A person that makes the other feel joyous and free?  Or a person that leaves pain and destruction behind?

We search for lessons and often find them too late.  It isn’t easy figuring out what is mundane and what is a whisper from the gods.  I am happy that my mind works the way it does, but even that is a mystery to me.  The life I lived as a child, the environment that raised me, could have a different influence.  Instead of following in the footsteps of generations before me, I chose to take a new path.  Though, I’m not entirely convinced it was a choice.  I believe that, when it comes to destiny, mine is one of greatness.  I do, however, have to make the choices that take me there; nothing is set in stone.  I believe life will bring to me all I need, but it is up to me to make it mine, to keep it.

Some things are truly supposed to be in our lives, but we must work to prove we deserve them.  Not everything that’s meant to be is easy.  Not everything that’s difficult is a random occurrence or a “lesson learned.”  Perhaps sometimes, the lesson is, “Don’t give up.”  In that same vein, not everything that’s pleasant is fate.  Sometimes, we’re just lucky; it’s just good timing.  So, how do we figure it out?  What do we do with the information once we’ve done that?  How do we know which actions are “right”?  I can’t answer that.

I am working to figure it out in my own life.  There are things I see as signs, and but I am ever skeptical.  Everything is a sign and nothing is.  I am attempting to look at unique occurrences from as many angles as I can conceive.  Of course, it makes me seem a bit…insane, but I’m not sure that matters.  I am analyzing life constantly, and I can’t seem to let go of certain concepts, certain “signs.”  I don’t know what’s happening yet, or why, but I know something in my life is changing.  I don’t know which direction it’s going to go.  All I can do is make the choices that I believe will bring me the most joy and fulfillment.  I hope luck is on my side.

With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Check out our Monday to Friday Tarot readings here, and subscribe to catch them every week! Have any questions or topics you’d like to see on the blog? Interested in writing a guest blog? Let me know in the comments or reach out through the contact page! PLUS Did you know we have an MCCA newsletter? Sign up to get updates whenever there’s a new blog post and any other MCCA news. Sign up now!

Was I Born A Witch?

I’m in a lot of Pagan Facebook groups where Pagans of all traditions can come together to celebrate, grow, and learn. A question that pops up time and time again in these groups is something along the lines of How do I know if I was born a witch?

If you’ve wondered this yourself, you might have gotten some pretty varied responses. Well-meaning websites list anything from marks on your palm to just not giving a damn in general as “signs” that you’re born a witch.

Those erroneous articles aside, most practitioners know the truth: no one is born a witch. It’s true that some witches are born with certain spiritual gifts. You may have always “known” things beyond what you’ve been exposed to. You could even have been born into a family with a long-practiced witchcraft tradition. However, while anyone can be born with spiritual gifts—that doesn’t make one a witch.

What does make someone a witch is choice. You choose to practice witchcraft, to learn what it has to offer, and to make it a part of your life. No one else can tell you whether you are. No special marks or gifts. You choose to be a witch, and it’s as simple as that.

For most of us, it’s a lifestyle and endless journey. Sure, there are those who call themselves “dabblers,” but most witches have spent a significant amount of time learning our craft and incorporating it into our daily lives.

In the beginning of my own practice, I asked this very same question. Was I born a witch? I had many gifts and didn’t fit in with anyone, instead choosing to drift through social groups, mainly in shadow. I knew things others didn’t and saw the world differently from just about everyone around me. There are quite a few in online communities who’d claim those are signs I was a witch at birth.

I believe that I was born with the potential to become a witch. There are spirits, deities, and such varied otherworldly beings who interact with us on the earthly realm all the time. Whether in this realm or another, it’s possible for these beings to become attached to others. They may choose to guide and protect certain people, much in the way we might choose to help and protect our friends and family.

That’s why it might seem like witchery has been “calling” you. In a way, it has been. Some people are more inherently tuned into the spiritual realm and are therefore more likely to pursue a Pagan practice. Still, you are not a witch until you take on that mantle.

No one is born a witch, but most of us are born with the potential to become one. If you feel you’re guided to this path, I encourage you to pursue it for at least a year before deciding one way or another. Remember that no one else can decide for you whether or not you’re a witch—not relatives, not other witches, and certainly not strangers on the internet.

So, what are some of the signs you saw or experienced growing up that lead you to this Pagan path? How did you discover your connection with witchcraft? Let’s discuss in the comments!

 

With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

 

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Reflection and the Future of Maiden’s Circle

You may have noticed that I skipped the last update. I had begun two separate blog entries, but neither felt ‘right.’ Both entries focused on topics I’ve had lined up for months, so you’d think they would be easier to write. That has not been the case.

The truth is, I’ve always had some difficulty writing this blog. Non-fiction has never come quite as easily to me as fiction writing. Due to the specificity of this blog, I’ve also realized just how much I’ve had to limit my writing here. Somewhere in the search for appropriate topics, the seeming necessity for a broader reader-base, and my desire to be easily accessible while still providing useful information—this blog became somewhat of a chore.

Recently, I read something along the lines of, ‘in order to have a successful blog, you have to first and foremost know what you want to say.’ That struck a chord and forced me to reevaluate the purpose of this blog. This is a Pagan blog, yes; but what do I want to say here?

While I’ve got plenty of topics lined up, I haven’t given myself plenty of reasons. Yes, all of the topics are things I like talking about. But are they helpful? Does each entry somehow feed into this blog’s original purpose? Do the readers even know what that original purpose is?

In the beginning, this blog’s sole purpose was to aid the growth of Maiden’s Circle Coven and to draw in students for the Academy. However, I didn’t want to just talk about Maiden’s Circle. The practice behind Maiden’s Circle is one of growth and eclectic Pagan practices, so that’s what I chose to write about.

Instead of focusing on the coven itself, I aimed my energy on discussing witchy issues, history, and spiritual beliefs—topics I’d hoped would spur some sort of conversation. I figured, the more people who join that conversation, the further reach Maiden’s Circle would have, and that would mean I could share the gift of healing on a larger scale.

However, in the pursuit of that larger scale, I feel my writing has lost some of its meaning. The last few topics have been on my list since the birth of this blog, and I do believe to be important, but I’m not sure similar posts can’t be found elsewhere. That’s not to say I want to be the only person who knows something, but I do want my content to be relatively unique and to add something of value to the Pagan community.

In addition, because I diverted so much energy away from the actual Coven and have focused on more general Pagan things—on top of building my fiction writing career—Maiden’s Circle has been in a nearly standstill state. The course is no closer to being complete than it was at the end of 2017*, and I’m considering outsourcing its structure and administration to lessen my workload.

I’m hesitant, though. Having someone build the structure and put everything into place is one thing. But, it doesn’t seem proper to have someone who isn’t a member of Maiden’s Circle administrate a program that is integral to this Coven’s existence.

So, again, I am searching for beta students to take the course. This time, however, taking the course gives you the opportunity to actually join Maiden’s Circle Coven. In this case, you would not only be able to take part in MCCA’s inner-workings, but we’d meet up regularly to celebrate Sabbats and Esbats.

Becoming an official member is only open to New York and New Jersey residents (or other close states, so long as you can make a meeting once a month). There are other forms of membership, however, which have no location restrictions. I’ll be updating you on all of this within a couple of weeks.

One thing I know now is that I do want to continue writing for you. The desire to inspire conversation, to reach out to the community and touch hearts—that desire is still here and still strong. I’d like it if you joined the discussion, but I won’t pressure you. I’ll just keep writing until you feel ready share your journey.

Who’s to say what the future holds? For Maiden’s Circle? For me or you? This blog might change a hundred times over the years. I’m happy as long as it keeps a Pagan heart. I’m happy if it helps just one person.

More attention is going to be given to the Coven as an organization in the future. I will still use some of the pre-planned topics (because I think they’re pretty interesting!) but I do want to recenter the focus on this blog’s original purpose. I do hope you’ll stick with me through the changes.

Other than the aforementioned topics, what would you like to learn more of from Maiden’s Circle?

Remember that I love you,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Come see Maiden Circle’s Tarot readings here, and subscribe to catch them every Monday!
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*After some reflection, I realize this isn’t entirely true. All of the lessons have been written. I’ve just been unable to choose a proper format for delivery—one that allows us to connect as a community. So, it’s closer yet simultaneously…not.

How To Be A Healthy Heathen

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably guessed that health is an important subject here at Maiden’s Circle. I believe that if one intends to serve in any way, one must be well in all aspects. That means spiritually, mentally, and physically.

The internet is host to tons of websites about having a healthy body. You can find anything from diet plans to entire wellness agendas. Looking for that kind of information is how I came across bullet journaling. And we all know how I feel about that.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love hunting for ways to incorporate my spiritual practice into literally every aspect of my life. That includes my health and fitness routine. So, today I want to talk about the Pagan things I do to stay balanced and healthy.

Here in New York, it’s easy to feel bogged down by the energy of such a dense population. If you are someone who’s sensitive to those energies, it can affect both your mood and body. This could lead to bouts of depression or irritability, and even to physical illness.

It’s important that we make cleansing and shielding part of our daily routine—or at least something we do whenever we go out. The easiest method I have found for this is to incorporate a short visualization in with my morning drink of water. Drinking water is something I have to do every morning to function like a person. Since it’s going to happen daily, it’s easy to see the water as a purifying, expanding light source. As I drink, I am cleansed and balanced.

If I’m going out, I will often do a shielding meditation during my morning commute. In fact, you can add meditation to anything you do. It’s the perfect way to add a little spirituality to your mundane life.

Like the need to regularly cleanse and protect our bodies, mental health is imperative to living a well-grounded, Pagan lifestyle. As someone living with a mood disorder, I have always been interested in mindset “hacks.”

My favorite method of altering a negative mindset is to use affirmations. Affirmations, for those who don’t know, are statements meant to support and empower by repeated use.

I use a number of affirmations that keep my mind from going dark, such as “I am naturally healthy” or “I am strong in mind, body, and spirit.” Speaking the words every day, or even just once a week, has drastically improved my outlook and energy levels.

To further keep my mood up (and keep track of it when it isn’t), I set daily intentions. Each night before bed, I decide how I want to spend the following day and note it in my bullet journal. I include any physical exercise I want to do, along with the energy I’d like to rule my day.

This all leads to me starting my day with intention. When I wake up with goals, I generally feel better. Why this is, I’m not 100% sure, but it may have something to do with having a sense of purpose. When we have that sense of purpose, it’s a lot easier to care about our own well-being.

Of course, visualizations and affirmations aren’t necessarily Pagan methods. One definite Pagan health tool is the use of spells. Spells can be cast for just about anything, so why not for better health? In fact, spells for health are among the top three most requested spell types in the Pagan community—including spells for love and spells for money.

Because I practice daily activities towards healthy living, I don’t need to cast health spells all that often. Still, there are times when my usual meditations could use a boost, and then I work a little magick.

Coincidently, I’m in the process of writing a book of spells for a healthy Pagan lifestyle. It’s a lot more well-organized and in-depth than any blog post could cover. It contains a handful of spells and a bit of bonus material that cover all aspects of healthy living.

I suppose this is the first “official” announcement of 10 Spells for the Healthy Witch. So, woohoo! The book will be available in the fall and should be available for pre-order in late Summer.

In 10 Spells for the Healthy Witch, I offer spells for sleep, for breaking bad habits, for dealing with anxiety, and so much more. I am so excited to share this with you and I know you’re going to love it!

There you have it. These are just a few of the methods I use to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I focused on mental and spiritual health because I believe those are necessary for physical health.

On top of that, there are a million sources with information on how to be physically healthy. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for finding spiritual balance nor for incorporating your spiritual “self” with your physical and mental “selves.”

Yes, we have a lot more Pagan health resources now than we did just ten years ago, but it’s still far from adequate. It’s necessary to work towards health and balance on all levels of being if we are to fulfill our purpose in this lifetime.

It’s likely that this topic will be revisited in the future, because there’s so much more I could say. I’m still in the process of healing and learning the best way to care for myself.

I still have some unhealthy habits I’m working on—like staying up way too late. As I type this, it’s a quarter to four in the morning. Nights like these are rather common for me, and they used to be a huge problem.

Now, I work in the afternoon, and so I get to sleep in—but there was a time when my bad sleeping habits affected my school and my jobs. During that time, I wrote a spell to help myself sleep at night.

I think it’s appropriate to share that with you here now. If you’re a night owl like me, take this spell and sleep with the brightest of blessings. May you awake refreshed and ready to start a successful new day!

Sleep come easy,
Sleep be sweet.
Goddess hold me,
From head to feet.
When night should fall,
Before morning comes.
By midnight play
The Sandman’s song.
To dream through night,
To wake with ease.
As I will it,
So shall it be.

What do you do to stay healthy and incorporate your spiritual practice in your health routine? What’s most important to you when it comes to being healthy?

Send me your responses in the comments!

With love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Did you folks know I do weekly Tarot readings? Check out the videos here, and subscribe to catch them every Monday.
**PLUS** I’ve decided to start a new MCCA newsletter so that you can be updated whenever there’s a new blog post, as well as on any other MCCA matters. Don’t worry, I won’t spam your inbox! Sign up now!

The Emotional Witch

I have a confession.

While I often speak of MCCA in terms of a group, the Maiden’s Circle community isn’t very large. At the moment, it exists solely online. Ultimately, the goal is to establish a physical academy, but for now, all of MCCA operations have been via the Internet.

That said, it may be a surprise to learn that—although I’ve attended dozens—I’ve never personally led a group ritual. In my experience with coven/group work, I’ve always been an attendee at someone else’s event. For a long time, this was ideal. I simply did not have the time or confidence to comfortably lead a group in ritual.

That lack of confidence also contributed to the setbacks with MCCA’s earlier incarnations. Despite my experience in my personal practice, I didn’t believe that I had anything of value to offer the Pagan community. At times, that doubt still crops up, but I’ve found that pushing myself to move forward eventually pulls me out of that mindset.

It’s lately become important to look at what causes me discomfort and why. I’ve learned that many of the things that make me uncomfortable are the result of Fear. This isn’t exactly the adrenaline-based, run-for-your-life Fear. This is something that governs my every move.

This Fear lives deep in my psyche, as I suspect it does for most people. This is the Fear that tells me not to take a specific route. It tells me to try just enough, but always reminds me of the risks of trying too much. It’s the Fear that says that any moment of happiness can be taken away in an instant.

It is that Fear that I’ve allowed to stop every grand endeavor I’ve attempted. Of course, a life of self-sabotage doesn’t seem like a very sustainable model, so I’ve been taking steps to confront that darkness. This means willingly stepping into situations that aren’t always easy in order to better understand myself.

This month, I’m facing down my fear of loss, as well as that lack of confidence I mentioned earlier. I’m forcing myself to pay attention to my reactions, to analyze them, and to accept them for what they are—whatever they are.

This doesn’t mean I’ll allow myself to wallow should my response to certain stimuli be negative. But I will accept what I feel in the moment as a completely authentic expression of my experience. Whether I’m nervous, sad, or over-the-moon-joyous, I make an effort to stand in these emotions—to let them wash over and through my being and do whatever it is they’re meant to do.

I may have lamented before that we’ve created a society where emotions are seen as weak or “less” than the alternative. Fortunately, we’ve entered a new age of thought in the last seven years known as the Age of Aquarius. During this period, more and more people are getting in touch with their emotions.

In the last few decades, we’ve drastically altered the way we see human emotion and mental health. Instead of suppressing, we now know the overwhelming benefits of truly experiencing. I believe that we can’t be whole without allowing those most true aspects of our personality to breathe.

We have to study our Fear, but we can’t let it stop us. We have to touch the things that break our hearts and still move forward. We’ve become too reliant on aversion.

The ability to run away from what makes us uncomfortable has become a modern crutch, but that’s not the life I want for myself or my future children. I don’t want to let the Fear of emotion keep me from a fully realized life.

So while I do sometimes feel a bit impostor-syndrome-y, I know without question that I was called to provide something to the Pagan community. What that something is, I can’t claim to know—but Maiden’s Circle is a start. In addition, I’ll be leading a ritual for the first time this coming Full Moon in Brooklyn.

I am terrified that I’ll screw it up. I’m nervous no one will listen or even show up. But just as I continue to write this blog whether anyone reads it or not, I will be there on the Full Moon for all who arrive. Will it be perfect? No. But I’ll be there.

Emotions can only stop us if we don’t understand them. We can’t understand them if we avoid them, and we can’t heal. We must have the compassion for ourselves to open our hearts and heal whatever hurts reside in there.

 

How do you experience your day-to-day emotional journey? Are there things you can do to treat yourself better? Are you suppressing anything that you want to get rid of?

 

Let me know your responses and opinions in the comments!

From the depths of my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Did you folks know I do weekly Tarot readings? Check out the videos here, and subscribe to catch them every Monday. Be sure to reach out through the contact page with your questions and topic ideas!

The Importance of Gratitude

How many times have you had someone say, “you should be grateful”? How many times did that lead to you actually feeling grateful? Often, being told when we should feel gratitude only serves to make us feel somehow “wrong” when we don’t. It’s important to take time and get to the root of why that is. And if you find yourself saying things like, “you should be glad”, take a moment to consider how they might affect the person you’re speaking to. These comments are typically said with someone’s best interests in mind, but they can be seen as dismissive.

Let’s say a person (Shane) is telling their friend (Jess) about their hard day at work. Jess responds: “At least they pay well.” Jess may have simply meant to encourage Shane, but the result is that Shane’s complaint is diminished. What Jess has essentially said is that Shane shouldn’t talk about the less pleasant parts of the day because they should be grateful for the money. The message Shane receives is that their complaint doesn’t matter—their feelings don’t matter. And every time someone tells Shane that they should be grateful for something, it adds to their discomfort.

Eventually, Shane finds the simple act of expressing gratitude difficult. They may not even notice this discomfort, but it shows in a few ways. They’re perfectly fine thanking a cashier or waitress (and we all should be), but the idea of living a grateful life is foreign. They push against it—preferring instead to focus on the negative in their life.

I’m willing to bet that Shane isn’t alone. We’ve all had someone tell us that we should be grateful when we didn’t feel it. Even children experience this. And we all feel bad about it whether we want to or not. This negativity can make true gratitude that much more difficult to feel or experience.

Last Wednesday, while washing dishes and listening to music. I was overcome with a wonderful surge of joy that brought me to tears. I started thinking about the good things in my life. I thought how lucky I am to have a home to clean, how awesome it is that I have an understanding partner, as well as a pet and day-job that I love. I thought about my friendships and the lessons I’ve learned over the years and where I was just a few years ago.

The truth is, I could have ended up in so many negative situations. My background, without going too much into detail, is riddled with addiction and abuse. I could easily have followed the patterns of my family—and I nearly did.

I credit my mother and my faith for giving me the vision to change my path—and for allowing me to suffer the consequences of my own choices. Experiencing certain hardships has made seeing the beauty in my life that much easier.

After a recent period of darkness, I began to put more effort into living a grateful life. It seemed like the only way to find joy again was to sort of force it. So, I wrote in my journal at the end of every day about something that I was grateful for. At first, it was a little tough, but I began to see more and more good with each passing week.

The act of forcing myself to be grateful eventually led to me seeing real change in my outlook. In fact, every time I’ve found myself in a cycle of depression, I’ve used a similar method to get myself out of it. Simply put, I pretended until it became real. Were there days I didn’t actually feel grateful? Definitely. But I wrote something in the journal, anyway. Finding things to be grateful for helps to improve my life, and I think it can do that for anyone.

You don’t have to work hard to find something you’re thankful for. The fact that you wake up each day is a thing to be celebrated. If you’re capable of doing something someone else isn’t, be grateful for your good fortune. If you’ve gone through some hardships, take notice that you’re still standing—you’re strong. Tell yourself to see the good in your life and you will. “Fake it” as they say.

Every day, I find some reason to thank the Goddess. For inspiration. For holding me up when my pain seemed too much. For making Entenmann’s donuts so good. Whether it’s in song or silent prayer; whether I simply close my eyes and feel grateful or I spend half an hour crying and blubbering about the beauty of my life—there is no wrong way to thank Her.

How do you find gratitude in your daily life? Think about what you’re grateful for. Do you think you could bring more gratitude into your life? What are some ways you express gratitude?

Let me know your opinions in the comments!

With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Have any questions or topics you’d like to see on the blog? Interested in writing a guest blog? Let me know in the comments or reach out through the contact page!

The Magickal Fire (Of Motivation)

As is common during the first weeks of a new year, the air is laden with the energy of forward motion. Many of us resolve to use this time to start new habits and break old ones. For example, you may resolve to meditate once a day and to spend less time watching Netflix. Often, we stick to these resolutions for a few days or weeks before we slip back into our usual behaviors.

We may blame it on “life getting in the way” or an increased work schedule following a holiday lull. Whatever the reasons, many of us give up on our resolutions within the first three months of a new year. According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. So even though we start out full of fervor and vim, the odds are stacked against us.

How do we hold on to that spark for the rest of the year? The spark that inspired us to want to change our lives for the better? In order to answer that, it’s important to understand why so many of us don’t succeed with our New Year goals in the first place.

One of the reasons we don’t succeed is because we don’t choose the right goals. Oftentimes, we offer vague resolutions, such as meditating more, but make no actionable plans to follow through. We hope to figure it out as we go.

Continuing with meditation as our example, let’s take a moment to imagine how a typical year might pass for some of us:

In the beginning, we’re excited and make our lofty resolution. We stand around with loved ones—or retreat into ourselves for personal reflection—and decide, “I’m going to meditate more often this year.”

For the first two weeks, we do it daily. Five minutes after we wake up. Half an hour during our workday commute. In the final moments before sleeping. For those two weeks, we feel amazing and we know that—this time—we’ll stick to it.

But then we reach week three. It’s mid-winter and business has picked up. We come home a little more tired than usual, because it gets dark so early and kind of throws off our rhythm. All we want to do when we get in is crash on the couch and catch up on our favorite shows.

The little voice in the back of our mind whispers something about how we forgot to meditate that morning. That’s okay; we wave it off, promising to do it in the five minutes before bed. We have dinner, watch our shows, and then it’s time for bed. We go through our nightly routine and lie down, and it’s not till morning that we realize we skipped a day.

Maybe we maintain it for a few more days, but the winter blues hits and another day is skipped. By summer, we’re stressed about not meditating. We spend hours complaining to our friends that, because of said stress, we can’t focus enough to meditate and have locked ourselves into a vicious cycle.

We turn our heads when asked how the meditating is going, disappointed in ourselves. We avoid the Halloween party we always go to because we know all of our meditating friends will be there. (That’s probably unlikely, but bear with me…this is the metaphor I chose, and I’m sticking with it.)

Just after Christmas, we admit that maybe we didn’t do so well. But, you know, we’ll definitely do it in the New Year. This time we mean it. For real. Like seriously.

Whether or not your goal is to meditate more, get more exercise, be more patient, make more money, or anything else—it is extremely easy to fall short when you don’t have a real, actionable plan in mind.

As you can see by now, this isn’t a strictly Pagan post. I feel this topic is valuable to people from all walks of life. Since my practice is so integral to who I am and how I live my life, it seemed appropriate to speak on the topic of motivation here.

I’d like to offer you some of the ways I have used in the past and some I’m implementing this year to keep and track my goals for 2018.

1. Bullet Journaling –

I began bullet journaling in July, and it’s changed the way I think. I’ve never been good at journaling, nor have I ever actually used a planner for more than a few weeks. The beauty of bullet journaling, for me, is the freedom to do it however the heck I want. I want to track how much water I drink? Put it in the journal. Need a simple calendar? Easy as pie.

In 2017, I kept it simple and practical. In the front was the year at a glance, a few pages with holidays, birthdays, and a 12-month calendar. Immediately following was the month in overview, my tasks for the month, followed by short, daily diary-style entries; later I added a section for the Tarot card I pull each day.

This year, I’m doing many of the same things, but using different methods. I’ve also added some personal trackers for things like savings and my mood. There’s even a page for my goals. Bullet journaling is the main tool I’ve used to better organize my life in the last six months, and almost all of the methods below can be added your own journal. It’s definitely a habit I’d recommend to anyone wanting to live on their own terms.

2. Daily Goals and Tasks –

In my bullet journal, I still have a dailies section, but instead of a feelings diary (for which I now use a simple mood chart), it is my guide for each day. Sometime before bed, I prepare a list of the next day’s tasks and goals. I leave space for the card I pull, and for anything new in my life. I try to keep the goals simple, to ensure that I can get them done with as little stress as possible.

One thing that motivates me is previous success. So, if I have three or four tasks that I can do within the first hour of waking up—for instance, meditating to pull a Tarot card, doing squats, and drinking a full glass of water—then it sets the tone for the rest of my day. Each time I check off a task, it sends a message to my brain that tells me I’m being productive and rewards me with a dose of dopamine.

According to Entrepreneur.com, we actually learn best through success—not through failure. Failure can be an excellent teacher, but our brains are naturally more attracted to success. This means that if we’re trying to create a new habit, we’re more likely to succeed if we have smaller goals towards our ultimate desire.

3. Accountability Buddies –

One of the best ways I find to stick to my goals is having someone other than myself to hold me accountable. This other person doesn’t always have to be someone I know. They don’t even have to be real.

I have no idea if anyone is actually reading this blog, but I choose to believe you’re there. In my head, you’re sitting at your computer or on your Monday morning commute, and you’re coming here every week. So, I’ve got to show up for you.

If you partner with a friend, make sure you’re both on the same level. You want to motivate one another, so it’s crucial that you’re both committed to your respective goals. This means that both of you are taking the steps necessary to achieve them, are in similar places in your journeys, and can offer each other support as you travel your paths.

When someone else is counting on you, you’re more likely to step up and follow through. First, decide what your goals are. Decide the milestones you’ll need to reach to get there. Then find someone in a similar place, with goals and the steps they need to take, and keep each other going. Be there for one another during the slumps and cheer each other on during the good times. You’re far more likely to succeed when you have someone to share your journey.

4. Choose the Right Goals –

The last thing I want to mention isn’t exactly a method for success throughout the year, so much as it is the key factor behind lasting goals. Choosing the right resolutions could mean the difference between an abundant, successful year and a year of disappointments.

Do you pick goals because they seem like the right thing to do? Did you decide to meditate more because you want to fit in with all of your meditating friends (the ones from the party), instead of pursuing something that’s true to you?

In order to triumph over procrastination, fear, and anything else that may come between us and our goals, we have to choose ones that are aligned with what we truly need and desire.

 

What are your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them? Let me know in the comments and be sure to like our Facebook page! (If you don’t already…)

May you succeed in gaining all you seek, so be it in love.

With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

I’m tepid towards the “listicle” format, so I’ll definitely be returning to the more intimate style. But would you folks hate it if I did these every now and then? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Holidays!

I decided to give you guys a video blog for Christmas. Happy holidays and may you find joy and love for the rest of your days!
Blessings and eternal love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Being Black And Pagan

Last night, my partner and I were watching one of my favorite shows on Hulu, the instant classic Black-ish. It’s a show that stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson as a mother and father of four children living in an affluent, predominately white neighborhood. While the show is filled with hilarious jokes and ridiculous situations, it also provides valuable teaching moments in every episode.

At one point, they present an episode in which one of the main characters reveals that they don’t believe in the Christian concept of God. Unsurprisingly, this causes a huge upset with the lead character, Andre—which he laments at length to his free-spirited wife, Rainbow. As he states it, black people are supposed to be Christian. Why does he make this claim? According to him, it’s “what we do.”

Being that this is a family sitcom, the situation is resolved in a very sweet, believable way. The purpose of that episode, I believe, was to show why American black people have relied on their Christian faith for so many generations, as well as to show how important it is that our community become a little more open-minded and accepting of other walks of faith.

Unfortunately, for some of us, it isn’t always easy in the real world to admit that you aren’t Christian. It’s especially difficult to come out as Pagan or Wiccan. Of course, I acknowledge that, depending on where you live, coming out of the broom closet can be tough for anyone. However, the idea that Christianity is “what we do” is disturbingly and consistently present among black Americans.

It’s this pervasive idea that makes every interaction I have with an elder a little more charged; so much so that, as much as I love talking about my path, I tend to avoid the subject of religion entirely when I’m in their presence. I won’t deny my beliefs if asked, but it’s impossible not to cringe when, after explaining I’m not Christian, the questions are followed by a lecture on why I should be—or remarks that make it clear exactly what they think of me and my blasphemous ways.

These may be entirely unique experiences, but considering that Black-ish is but one of many sources in media that restate that stereotype of black people only being Christian, it’s easier to believe that this is a common occurrence for many of us in the Pagan community.

In addition to the pressure we get from media and black Christians who believe such things, it seems that the overall Pagan community is suffering from an imbalance when it comes to visibility and representation of people of color. I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the most diverse cities in the country, and I think that’s accurately demonstrated during large Pagan gatherings (like New York’s Annual Witchsfest).

The same can’t necessarily be said for the smaller groups I attend, in which I am often the only person of color. I’m not saying this to be disparaging towards those groups—they’re wonderful and I genuinely appreciate everyone I’ve met and the beautiful ceremonies they provide. Still, I get a bit like a kid seeing a unicorn whenever I see another black person at ritual.

While there may be fewer black Pagans in America, which I’m not so sure is still true, I think the cause of this imbalance goes a bit deeper. In fact, the topic of race relations throughout the Wiccan and Pagan community is wrought with tension and disagreements. Saying that racism is still a huge problem in the community tends to push against some people’s core beliefs. They often believe that, because Wicca is such an encompassing religion, that Wiccan groups are inherently free of hatred.

This is a clear disconnect from the reality that all Wiccans/Pagans/and literally everyone else is a human with their own personalities and beliefs. When you factor in that racist terrorist groups are still allowed to operate and that there is a volatile political atmosphere currently at play, you have to acknowledge that the likelihood of every single Pagan group being intersectional and welcoming of the perceived other is extremely low.

The fact is, I would be naive to assume that just because a group is Pagan or Wiccan, they’re going to welcome me with open arms. Before I attend a group, I have to do my research. I have to ask how they’ve treated people who don’t fit into the mainstream standard Wiccan box in past. This includes how they treat black people, but I also have to know how comfortable of an environment they provide for people in the LGBTQ community, how women are treated within their internal structure, and how they treat people who don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say.

I never recommend anyone join a group without first understanding that group’s core beliefs. That said, I want to encourage other Pagans of color to reach out more. I do think part of the reason we’re so nearly invisible in the community is because we’re still entrenched in this old idea that if we aren’t Christian, we’re doing something wrong, so we hesitate reach out.

I’ve been Wiccan for a decade and a half but, even now, I sometimes think, “What if?” What if—despite all my studies and experiences—there is a Hell and I’m going there for my beliefs? I feel deep in my heart that this isn’t true. But because of the pressure I grew up under to be Christian, and because of the scare tactics that were used in the churches my family attended, I believe these thoughts are echoes of my childhood fear. I also believe I’m not alone in having them.

The seeds of fear that my religious environment planted in my childhood are like deadly weeds in my spiritual garden. When those thoughts crop up, I’m usually in a place of depression. Sometimes depression just happens and, when it does, it somehow manages to make me believe that all the good in my life is a lie. Luckily, my faith is strong enough to stamp down those dangerous, fear-based thoughts.

It’s that faith that inspired me to look for and connect with other Pagans, even in a place as religiously strict as the town in which I grew up. By that point, I was already an outcast for a whole list of other reasons, so I didn’t have much to lose by stepping out into the light.

I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. Many black Pagans have a lot more to lose than I did. The fear of being ostracized, disowned, and becoming the subject of the family rumor mill is powerful. That said, I want to urge my fellow black Pagans to act against these fears and make a real effort to not only become part of the current community, but to come together and create groups in our own communities, which typically don’t get much Pagan exposure.

It’s not solely up to the majority to create space for people of color, it’s our duty to create our own facilities. I could be biased because I’ve always been the kind of person who, if I see something I want but don’t have a route to it, I tend to try to forge my own way. This means I have to be flexible with my goals and the way I achieve them, while still maintaining a clear objective.

Some day, I’d like to see Pagan schools that are just as common as Catholic schools. I don’t know the exact steps I’ll take to get there, but I do know that my goal influences how I choose to run my business and my life. I want this because I want to send my future little witchlings to such a place. However, dreams like that can’t be achieved by just one person. My goals ultimately affect the Wiccan community, and therefore it’s essential that I try to be an active and helpful member.

Whatever your goals are, you’re going to need a support system. No one exists in a vacuum. If your Wiccan or otherwise Pagan faith is important to who you are, then be willing to step forward so that you can find and create your tribe. We’re doing no favors by remaining in the shadows. Too many little black kids are raised with no choice in what they believe, no other visible options, and the lesson that our religion is evil. I think it’s time for that to change.

I’m Pagan. I’m black. I’m proud.

 

What are your experiences concerning diversity and representation in the Pagan community? If you’re a person of color, what is your experience being Pagan in your community?

Thank you and with love from the moon and back,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

I’m not a very political person, but I do think this is an issue that should be discussed. If you’re interested in my less witchy, more creative work, go ahead and sign up for my author newsletter here!