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Earth and the North

Hello! This is the first entry in our series on the natural elements. In this series, we’re going to have short entries on the main cardinal elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. We’ll explore their connections with other aspects of the craft, such as color and direction correspondences.
This series starts with those basic correspondences, then moves on to tools of the craft which are used to represent these elements. We follow that with various activities one can do in relation to the elements and finish off with elemental connections to the Zodiac.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this series, so be sure to leave comments and say ‘Hi!’ on the Facebook page!

Earth and the North

If you’ve ever attended a Wiccan ceremony, you may have noticed that most rituals begin with participants facing the North. This is more common than the Maiden’s Circle tradition of starting in the West. North is the default direction for most navigating tools, so it makes sense that people consider it the “dominant” direction. (The University of California, Santa Barbara has this interesting and short article on why that is.)

Of course, Pagans have a number of different reasons for why we start our rituals in certain, specific ways. For some, it’s simply because that’s what they were taught. For others, we make a connection with the corresponding element. In this case, that element is Earth.

I can’t speak to why other Pagans may associate Earth with the North, but I can tell you why I do.

Earth is Grounding

In ritual, we call elementals or guardians to join us from their associated directions. Guardians of Earth share traits with their element, as you might imagine. And, as one of its names suggests, Earth has a grounding nature.

Grounding, in witchy terms, is the process of connecting metaphysically with the earth’s core. It allows us to stabilize our energy and connect with our fellow practitioners. This is because we associate the earth with a solid foundation. It symbolizes stability, strength, and wholeness.

When we need to ground, we imagine the energy of the planet filling us with the essence of those traits, and it allows us to feel strong and ready to do the tasks ahead of us. Perhaps that is why so many Pagans start rituals in the North, as that grounding energy is necessary for effective spellcraft.

Earth is Cold and Dark

Imagine what it would feel like to be buried deep underground. The heavy soil piled on top of you and blocking out the light. It’s a scary thought, a reminder of life’s harshness, and of the dichotomy between vitality and death.

What does that have to do with the North? That harsh cold can be found at our northernmost peaks. Admittedly, the southernmost peaks have even colder temperatures. But where I’m from, the North is known for its cooler climate and harsher weather.

If you’re wondering why “cold and dark” would be considered a good aspect of Earth, know that it’s simply a matter of perspective. For some, “cold and dark” describes their ideal aesthetics. Personally, it reminds me to be grateful for the warm and bright aspects of life.

It also shows me what I’m capable of withstanding. So, by enduring the harshest of winters, I am made stronger. And I am that much more thankful when the spring comes around.

I Was Just Taught That Way

When I was just a few years into my Pagan study, I had the honor of working with a variety of groups in both high school and college. By that time, most American Pagans knew pretty much the same associations thanks to the torchbearers of our community such as Scott Cunningham and D.J. Conway.

These witches paved the way for writers and Pagans like me with their books, and they established certain connections that many of us still adhere to today. That is, Earth corresponds with the North, Air with the East, and so on.

Whether it’s arbitrary or not, I couldn’t say. All I know is that these associations make sense to me. They just feel right. Sure, that probably sounds a little woo-ey, but look around—this whole blog is woo-ey!

That’s all I have for you today. I’m hoping this series has a bit of a lighter tone than that last one. I spent half the year writing about a pretty serious topic (which I encourage you to read for a more in-depth look at the core beliefs that make up the Maiden’s Circle tradition). Now, I’d like to be just a little less strict for a while.

I hope you enjoyed this start to our new series, and I’ll see you next week for Air and the East.

What other reasons would we associate Earth with the North? Do you associate any other directions with this element in your own practice? Let me know in the comments!

Love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Check out our Maiden’s Circle Tarot readings here, and subscribe to catch them every week! Check out our forums and say hi! 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.

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

 

Check out Maiden Circle’s Tarot readings, 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!

Are All Wiccans Witches?

Today’s topic came sometime last summer. A friend and I were discussing our different practices—she’s Norse-centered, I lean toward the Celtic, British, and American traditions—and she asked me, “Aren’t all Wiccans witches?”

Isn’t that a fun question? It’s one we’ve all probably heard at some point. I’ve briefly touched on this subject in the past, but thought I should take some time to discuss deeper the differences between Wicca and Witchcraft.

In order to discuss the differences, it’s important to make sure that we first understand what Wicca is. In Wicca Done Wrong, I offered my opinion on what makes a person Wiccan. That would be anyone who practices a “pure” form of Wicca—including Gardnerian, Dianic, and Alexandrian Wicca. That doesn’t really tell us what Wicca is, though, does it?

Another thing we’re bound to hear is that Wicca is a religion based on the idea of “if you harm none, do as you will.” While this is mostly true, it’s important to remember that there are more rules to Wicca that make it the religion it is. Both Gerald Gardner and Scott Cunningham included a section of “Laws” in their Books of Shadows which let us know the rules of their particular tradition.

Because Wicca is such a personal religion, there are likely hundreds of different traditions in the world. Despite that, Wiccans are held together by a few things. Of course, there’s the aforementioned “harm none,” which is a line from the Wiccan Rede. (This is also a line in the Witches’ Creed, which is not a strictly Wiccan text.) In addition, traditional Wiccans recognize Deity as a God and Goddess, and we tune in with that Deity through nature, meditation, and ritual.

While Wicca uses older practices and there is a focus on ancient knowledge, the religion itself is relatively new. Wicca became “famous” thanks to Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, and most of its modern practices date only as far back as the early 1900s.

Witchcraft, however, has been around much longer. Witchcraft is less religion and more of a practice that pretty much anyone can do. As in the name, witchcraft is a learnable skill.

I have often said that Wicca is a witchcraft religion. What that means is that Wicca the religion was born from a collection of various old craft practices mingled with modern magick.

What we call witchcraft today includes practices that date back to ancient civilization. Communing with ancient gods we’ve now revived—working with sun and moon—healing through nature. All these practices which are older than our minds can actually conceive are elements of the craft, and we still follow them today.

My friend’s question has a complicated answer. Yes, Wicca is a witchcraft religion. So by its nature, shouldn’t that mean that all Wiccans are witches?

Personally, I think it’s a choice. I think of it like the invention of pie. All pies are pies. They all have a pretty basic shape, similar ingredients, and can all be recognized as pie. However, a person who loves chicken pot pie doesn’t have to eat cherry pie. In a similar vein, a person who loves Wicca doesn’t have to love any other witchcraft practice.

It’s true that we practice magick by merit of being Wiccan, but if you aren’t making the active choice to practice and learn witchcraft, you’re not a witch. That’s my opinion, of course, and you’re bound to find plenty of people who don’t agree.

But tell me what you think? Does being a Wiccan automatically mean someone is a witch?

Let me know in the comments!

With infinite love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Come see Maiden Circle’s weekly Tarot readings 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!

How To Relax For Maximum Magickal Effect

In the last entry, we discussed the dangers of aiming for perfection and the need to just relax. Of course, that’s easier said than done. This week, I’d like to talk about some of the different ways to aid in relaxation that allow us to be the most effective in our Pagan works.

These are a few of the methods I’ve used in times of high stress or when I need more focus. Some of these methods have become such integral parts of my personal routine that going a day without leaves me feeling imbalanced and anxious.

You can tweak these anyway you’d like to best suit your practice. None of these techniques are strictly Pagan, but incorporating them into your Pagan practice will help you find a deeper connection by achieving a more relaxed state.

1. Reading

Pagans love books. Visit any of your Pagan friends and you’re bound to find a variety of spell-books, how-to manuals, “beginner” books, and more. We read a lot, but our reading material tends to skew towards non-fiction.

Make sure that, along with gathering knowledge, you’re setting time aside to read for entertainment. It could be fiction or narrative non-fiction, but it’s important that you allow yourself to be taken away by stories.

Whether it’s witchy-themed, a heart-racing thriller, or a cozy kid’s tale, getting lost in a story will improve your imagination and soothe your mind. An especially good story will make you feel things—joy, hope, sadness, excitement, and so much more.

It’s necessary to connect with these emotions and expand your imagination not only for an improved Pagan practice, but to live a fulfilled life.

2. Coloring

Did I mention that Pagans love books? Coloring books included. If you think you’re too old for coloring books, you’re sorely missing out.

Connect with your inner child and get yourself a spiritual or nature-based coloring book. Let yourself be drawn into the images and change your vibrations.

Color magick is old school, so this is the perfect relaxation method to bring into your spiritual practice.

3. Exercise

It might sound counter-intuitive, but pushing yourself to do short bursts of exercise is a great way to relax. If you’re feeling unfocused or unable to settle down, brief, vigorous exercise allows you to funnel any anxious energy out of your body. This, in turn, allows you to chill out.

Each day when you wake up and each night before bed, take about five minutes to engage in some sort of physical activity. This could be anything from jumping jacks to walking up and down stairs to doing seated triceps dips.

Not everyone is capable of such physical exertion, but if you are, this is an ideal way to relax and improve your overall health.

4. Aromatherapy

The human brain is uniquely connected to scent in a way that makes aromatherapy a rather powerful tool. Aroma is one of the fastest ways to human emotions, so it’s a perfect tool to relax.

You can use essential oils, incense, scented candles, and many other methods of aromatherapy. One of the most used and beloved scents in the witchy community is lavender, so do yourself a favor and pick up a vial of the essential oil today.

5. Bathing

Baths have been a source of relaxation for centuries and that hasn’t changed. Sure, nowadays many of us tend to think of baths as people soup. Ick.

However, a spiritual cleansing bath is imperative for any Pagan practitioner. It allows you to cleanse your aura, to release anything that may be holding you down or causing you discomfort, and clear your head.

I highly recommend taking at least a monthly spiritual bath. Make it part of your New or Full Moon ritual. By adding this simple practice to your routine, you’re sure to find all of your witchy workings improved, along with a lightening of your overall mood.

6. Meditation

I recommend meditation for just about everything. That’s because it is so amazing. Meditation is one of the best methods we have of connecting body, mind, and spirit.

If you aren’t meditating daily, then you should start. Having a base of meditation will make every working that much easier to get into. It helps your brain to focus faster, calms your body, and allows you to tap into other realms.

Meditation is my number one method for relaxation and is possibly the most important aspect of my spiritual practice. It’s important that you find a style or system of meditation that works best for you and put in the effort to maintain a regular practice.

7. Walking

More specifically, I mean walking away from whatever is causing anxiety. If you’re having trouble relaxing and getting focused for magickal work, then don’t do the work!

It’s important to remember that mindset plays a huge part in manifesting, and sometimes it’s better to just walk away from the work than to try to push through our anxiety.

Stepping away from the problem allows us to see it in a different light, so when we come back to it, we may be better equipped to move forward. So if you’re having trouble relaxing enough to do magick, walk away and try out one of the other methods above.

Those are just some of the ways I currently use to calm my mind and aid me in achieving my best form for magickal workings.

What do you do to relax? How do you prepare for magickal work? What’s your favorite method?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

With all 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 check out my other works HERE
**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 Perfect Pagan

Back in the early days of this blog, we mentioned a beta version of our Covenpath course. The course is structured for those who have committed to a Pagan faith, but are relatively new to the practice of Wicca.

When testing the beta version of the course, it was important to have a wide variety of students. In order to get a more rounded viewpoint of what needed fixing, what worked, and what could be expanded upon, we needed both newbies and crones.

The range of experience helped immensely, but it also allowed for some interesting observations. A few students felt that they had an unfair advantage over other students and were eager to push ahead. Others seemed to feel they needed to push through the tasks quickly to “keep up” with their fellow betas.

We didn’t expect or intend to create this competitive energy, especially considering that the Covenpath is all about personal growth. The result of that energy was that students weren’t getting as much from this course as we’d hoped.

The time spent worrying about where other students were in the course made the whole thing a bit less enjoyable for everyone. The betas put so much stress on themselves to be the perfect student that they seemed to forget the purpose of the Covenpath course.

Later this year, the course will be launched publicly on the Maiden’s Circle website. We’ve taken some steps to prevent a repeat of the competitiveness, and it seemed prudent to discuss the subject of toxic perfectionism.

Chasing perfection is an endless quest

Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s an unhealthy and unreachable ideal. We’ve created a society in which people are always striving for some idealized version of themselves. When we imagine our Perfect Self, it makes us that much more aware of our perceived flaws.

What often ends up happening is we start to see that Perfect Self as a separate entity—much in the way that some people see the soul as separate from the body. Creating a mental separation between our True Self and our Perfect Self often causes a cognitive dissonance, leaving us unsure of who we are.

Striving for that unattainable Perfect Self leads to the constant feeling that we’re never good enough. We feel like impostors, regardless of our own legitimate experiences.

This can happen to anyone. Even doctors at the top of their field still face this self-doubt created by the need to be the best. It doesn’t help that we as a society tend to assume that someone in that position is perfect—at least when it comes to their expertise.

This is unfair to professionals and it’s unfair to ourselves. We’re all people. We’re humans trying our best to live happy, fulfilling lives. Trying to be perfect to the point of distracting and making ourselves feel bad is in direct conflict with that.

Chasing perfection makes it harder to enjoy stuff

Life should be enjoyed. Being on a constant quest towards perfection makes that harder. In our case, it makes the practice of Wicca much less fun. Yes, our faith is very real and serious, but it is built on love.

Doreen Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess is a Wiccan text that is spoken in the perspective of the Goddess. It states:

Let My worship be within the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

It’s important to remember that most of us chose Wicca because of the way it makes us feel. Shouldn’t we want to feel good during our practice? Not to ignore the darker sides of our work, but to balance it with love and joy.

Chasing perfection distracts from Pagan work

It could be argued that striving to be a perfect Pagan is the best way to be a bad one. If we’re so focused on perfection, we risk being distracted, and it may even close us off energetically, making all of our spiritual work that much more difficult. It could even make our works entirely ineffective.

During spellwork, it’s important that we’re relaxed and focused on our goal. The same goes for certain meditations and activities used in the Covenpath course. If we’re paying more attention to what we’re doing “right” and “wrong,” then we won’t benefit from the work we’re doing.

Especially when it comes to the course, our goal should be to learn as we go. That means embracing the mistakes and loving the mishaps. In all my years of practice, I’ve never attended a group ritual where everything went exactly as planned. And that’s okay.

Life isn’t perfect and, again, neither are we. We’ve just got to roll with the changes and try to enjoy the ride.

Just Be You

When the Covenpath course launches, along with some other MCCA goodies, we want to make it clear that this path is both a communal and a very personal one. We share it with one another, but our connection with the Goddess has to be forged within us.

We are not in competition to see who’s the better Pagan. We do not invite witch wars or offer degrees and rankings. There is a hierarchy in the structure of Maiden’s Circle to keep things running smoothly, but no one witch stands higher than another.

The High Priestess position is a position of service. It’s an office that requires the most dedication to the highest good of the Coven. A High Priestess cannot and should not run a coven alone, and so Maiden’s Circle is structured with a small council of Handmaidens to help.

No one who holds these positions is perfect. We don’t expect those who come into the Coven later to be perfect, either. We just expect you to be you, whoever that is.

Do you have any hang-ups or doubts that keep you from moving forward? How do you deal with moments of self-doubt and the desire for perfection?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

With love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Did you know I do weekly Tarot readings on Youtube? 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!

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

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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!

I’m Not “Sensitive” Enough (When Everyone Else Seems More In-Tune)

Have you ever gone to a Pagan gathering and found yourself surrounded by people who all seem a little more witchy than you? There’s the lady decked out in crystals and charms; the professional tarot reader; and, of course, the ritual leader (usually the founder of the group). Do you look around and see that everyone seems to have their own Pagan niche but you’re still trying to figure yours out?

Believe it or not I go through the same thing at almost every Pagan Gathering I attend. Even though I have over 15 years of experience and practice—and I’ve probably read all the same books that the others have—I still feel like I haven’t done enough. Like I’m not Pagan enough. I don’t make and/or sell Pagan products—at least not yet. At the moment, Maiden’s Circle is a coven of one. I do think of MC readers and students as part of the Maiden’s Circle family, but I’m the only one initiated.

So despite my years of experience, I still feel like a newbie Pagan around many of these other people. Sometimes, these are people who have been on their path for 2 or 3 years and just decided to start a group—so they did. I think starting a spiritual or Wicca group is an amazing feat, and it’s not an easy task. These people are almost intimidating to me. They’re people who have done something that I would like to do, but am just not there yet.

How do we deal with feeling like we are less connected than others in our Pagan community, and therefore somehow less witchy or less of a Pagan?

I think it’s important to understand that what we are feeling is insecurity. I am confident in my relationship with the Goddess. However, I’m not as confident when it comes to knowledge of witchcraft. Sure, my spells work—but I only do one or two in a year. I’m not as trained (or self-taught) as my peers when it comes to crystal healing or picking wild herbs or Tarot.

Being aware of these gaps in my knowledge, as well as meeting people who seem to know all of these things and have learned them in a short amount of time, makes me feel like I’m not doing what I should be doing—especially considering my chosen blog focus. It leads to me wondering if I’m a fraud. If I can’t figure out a basic Tarot reading without using the book as my guide, then what makes me think I’m good enough to talk about and teach Wicca?

Of course, this kind of insecurity is not good for us. A common response to this feeling is to shut down or turn away, to pretend that it’s not there. I have certainly been guilty of avoiding certain topics so that I don’t have to expend the energy of learning about them–and still feeling like I know nothing.

When these feelings strike, I like to use a few different methods to remind myself that I am as much a witch as any of these other people.

First, I talk to them. It can be a frightening thing talking to strangers. Even if you go to a gathering where you know you haven’t met anyone, talking to the people there can still be a source of anxiety. That said, I encourage that you push yourself to do so, because you will find that you are not alone in your experience. You will find that every witch you meet is aware of these gaps in their knowledge and they are feeling the same insecurities as you are. (And if not, then this path will hopefully help them to see their own blindside.)

Another thing that I like to do is meditate for at least five minutes every single day. This is hard and I don’t always succeed. But in general, I meditate at least 6 days a week. It can be difficult to set aside time for meditation, so I prefer to pull a tarot card at the beginning of my day everyday. I meditate for 5 minutes before I pull, starting with a grounding and centering. Then, I gather my thoughts and feelings for whatever it is I would like to know, which is usually what the day holds and pull the card. If I can manage to do this within my first half hour then it can affect my entire day.

I have noticed that when I skip this meditation: I feel unbalanced, become irritable, and have low energy. I simply don’t feel as productive as I do on the days that begin with meditation.

The best way I have found to combat this insecurity is spending time talking to Goddess. You can call it prayer or whatever, but whenever the mood strikes, I just speak with her. I give thanks and look at the signs of the Divine in my own life. I talk with her when I’m sad or overjoyed. I talk with her when I’m scared. And I talk to her when I’m mad—even if she’s the target of my anger. The feeling that she is there—listening and guiding and touching my life—it is the best reminder of our connection. My Goddess is with me always.

I feel her when I’m hugging my friends and loved ones. See her when walking past parks or playgrounds full of children. Hear her when trying and struggling to create something and improve my existence in this life. Knowing that the goddess is with me means that I am just as witchy and connected and sensitive as any of my peers.

There are things that I need to study deeper and understand more. The journey that we take is endless and it is changeable. We will always have gaps in our knowledge. We will always be less sensitive in some areas than our peers. We have to accept that and be okay with not knowing. We also have to be aware of what we don’t know and take the steps to understand it—if it’s meant for us to do so.

So what can we do when we don’t feel as sensitive as our peers? We start with understanding that this stems from a place of insecurity. We fill in our gaps of knowledge and create a connection with our higher power that is so strong that even these moments of doubt are little more than passing memories.

Have you ever experienced the feeling I’m talking about? If so please share your story in the comments, I would love to hear from you. How do you deal with these moments of doubt?

Thank you so much and remember always that I love you!

From my heart to yours,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

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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!