This is the third post in a series on Cleansing & Purification. As this series has unfolded, we’ve taken a detailed look at what ritual pollution and miasma are, the value of ritual purity, and the effect that ritual pollution has on a witch’s practice. We also discussed what activities are specifically miasmic to a witch and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of miasma. In this post, we’ll look at the subtle differences that exist between cleansing and purification techniques, elucidating those differences through examples of common applications so you can tell when one is more appropriate than the other.
In the witch’s bag of tricks, cleansing and purification are fundamental techniques that provide essential supplementation for the primary aspects of our craft. They are go-to techniques that help us to prepare for intense spells and magick, fix problems, and make up the bulk of magickal hygiene. Frequently, these terms are used interchangeably because they perform similar functions and can often be achieved through very similar procedures. Fair warning that this will be a rather technical and nuance-filled post.
This is the second post in a series on Cleansing & Purification. This series aims to elucidate the concept of ritual purity and ritual pollution (aka miasma) specifically within the context of witchcraft. The first post in this series What is Ritual Pollution? discussed the various causes of miasma, as well as those activities common within witchcraft that naturally cause miasma. This, the second post in this series, focuses on identifying ritual pollution in yourself so that you can take active steps to correct it before your practice is impacted.
In the previous post, we discussed the various causes of ritual pollution and how they can negatively impact your witchcraft. It’s important to remember that ritual pollution, also known as miasma, is a natural occurrence and a natural consequence of very normal things we experience each day. It’s also an unavoidable consequence to some of the work we do as witches. Many times, miasma remedies itself on its own. But sometimes we must take extra steps -via purification- to clear that ritual pollution so that we can perform certain magickal tasks without interference.
Understanding Miasma, Ritual Pollution, & Ritual Purity
This is the first post in a series looking at Cleansing & Purification. Throughout this series, we’ll be exploring the concept of ritual pollution, how to recognize ritual pollution and miasma, the similarities and differences between cleansing and purification, and wrap it up with simple and practical -yet highly effective- means of remedying miasma and achieving ritual purity. In this first post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what ritual pollution is, what is uniquely miasmic to the witch, and the effects of miasmic on one’s practice.
A common idea found in numerous religions is that of ritual pollution. This is the concept that there are certain activities, situations, actions, and biological functions that can leave one in a state of impurity, impacting one's ability to perform certain religious functions and rites. Often, there are certain prescriptions given to rectify this state, i.e. purification rites that must be performed or a certain time period that must pass for the state of ritual pollution to correct itself.
Within the context of witchcraft, the concept of ritual pollution becomes especially relevant as so much of the work we do as witches naturally leaves us in that state of ritual pollution -in a state of miasma. Although this condition is a natural consequence to much of the work we do, it can also negatively impact other areas of our work.
There are times when something that is such a normal part of your life becomes distant. It’s still there, only the edges have become hazy and there’s an air of memory to it, like something half-forgotten yet would almost be tangible if you could only wrap your fingers about it and draw it closer. But like smoke, it remains unattainable and subject to the faintest of breezes… Grasping fingers slide through the air and come back wanting.
We’re not supposed to talk about the fallow times -those periods where the voices of Gods and spirit allies grow quiet. There’s this perceived sense of weakness, that you’ve somehow “lost” your mojo or that the Gods have forsaken you, whatever that Christian guilt-laden statement is supposed to mean… Yet these moments are an essential part of any relationship any of us will cultivate with a God or spirit. The way of the world is to be caught up in cycles. Times of plenty, times of hunger. The rise and fall of a leaf on the wind. As creatures of the world, we, too, are caught up in cycles.
This post is part of a sporadic series on Working with Spirits. The first post in this series was Making Friends with the Genius Loci, providing an introduction to the nature and variety of spirits and how to begin forming a relationship with the spirits of the land. The second post, Death Midwifery, explored what the work of a Death Midwife entails and some of my personal experience in this role. The third and previous post was Acknowledging the Spirits in your Home. It looked at the problematic view within the magickal community of removing all spirits from a new home, as well as how to build and maintain a relationship with the spirits already present within your home. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to begin building a personal relationship with a Deity through respectful interaction and why the plug-and-play approach to “working” with Deities is disrespectful, inherently flawed, and ineffective within a religious witchcraft framework.
There are few relationships that can have as transformative an effect on your life as that with a Deity. More than any other spirit, the bonds that are forged between you and a God or Goddess touch most, if not all, aspects of your life, and spur profound changes within you.
This article is part of an ongoing series on Building Competency in Witchcraft. This series aims to prepare you to do advanced witchcraft by filling the beginner-become-adept void of information. The first post was Crafting Your Spiritual Calendar, which focused on the importance of consistent practice and provided examples and guidance in creating a regular spiritual practice. The second post was Mastering the Basics of Witchcraft, which provided a working definition of witchcraft and identified the basic skills that are foundational to all witchcraft practices -regardless of whether you’ve been practicing for 2 years or 2 decades. The third post was Intention is NOT Enough and it took an in-depth look at why intention alone is useless and does not provide the transformational power that bullshit new age “spirituality” would have you believe, with science- and magickal-based evidence to support this denouncing. The focus of this, the fourth post, is to boost your functionality as a witch by teaching you how to determine the magickal use of any object. This will allow you to use any object, any item, and plant for your magick and free you from reliance on store-bought witchcraft supplies -making you a truly functional witch.
Within witchcraft, we are able to use virtually any object as a means of creating powerful change within our lives. While the shiny tools with their hefty price tags may carry with them the illusion of Authenticity™, the witches of old and practitioners of folk magic didn’t have the convenience of Amazon or a local metaphysical shop to spend money they didn’t have on supplies they didn’t need for their magick. Rather, they used items they already had access to, items from around their homes or that the land right outside their doors provided. They worked with local items that were easily obtained, placing emphasis on doing the magick and not on “doing things the right way.” If there was a need for magick to be done, then magick was done. No excuses.
Although we live in very different times, we are able to recapture that perspective of practicality and pragmatism. In looking to our own ingenuity and to the land -from where witchcraft springs forth- we can become not just more competent witches but more powerful. We build competency in our magickal skills and the ability to work magick regardless of the circumstances. This is the true sign of a powerful witch. It’s not adhering to the absurd witchcraft aesthetic that is so painfully prevalent right now but being able to do the magick when the magick needs to be done, without any excuses.
This article is part of a sporadic series on Building Competency in Witchcraft that aims to bridge the gap between beginner and intermediate information to better prepare you to do advanced witchcraft. The aim of this series is to also encourage you to consider why you do the things you do, and why you do them the way you do them, in order to develop clarity of thought and action -all of this to help you be as effective with your witchcraft as possible. The first post in this series, Creating Your Spiritual Calendar, discussed the need for consistent practice and the benefit it provides in enabling one to be able to do advanced witchcraft in the first place. The second post, Mastering the Basics of Witchcraft, focused on foundational skills of witchcraft -regardless of whether you are a religious or secular witch- because you cannot effectively do the advanced work if you haven’t mastered the basics. This, the third post, focuses on some of the basic mechanics of magick -and the science that supports this results-focused approach- so you can more effectively create lasting change within your life.
The power of intention has become a rampant buzz topic within the magickal community. In setting an intention, the idea is to formulate a word or statement, much like an affirmation, that represents a change that you want to make in your life. Perhaps you want to view yourself more positively and be less self-critical, or perhaps you want to finally conquer that spending problem and foster greater financial prosperity and wealth in your life. This intention is then held firm in the mind, activated by filling it with “positive energy”* which then causes your intention to attract that which you desire toward you because like attracts like.**
However, there is a lot about this entire process that is fundamentally at odds with the way that magick operates, as well as aspects of the world view that becomes common amongst witches regardless of religious prescription (or lack thereof.) Setting an intention, lighting a million glitter-crusted candles, and thinking happy thoughts throughout your waking hours is all well and good*** but when it comes to witchcraft and working magick, setting an intention alone just doesn’t work. It’s only part of the equation. Effective magick is a process.
This post is part of a sporadic series on Building Competency in Witchcraft. The search for advanced witchcraft and advanced magick is common throughout the witchcraft community. Yet, much of what qualifies as advanced work is only possible after the cultivation and mastery of basic witchcraft skills -the advanced work comes about as a culmination of skills and the experience gained through cultivating and honing those foundational skills. The previous post in this series, Creating Your Spiritual Calendar, discussed the need for consistent practice and the benefit it provides in enabling one to be able to do advanced witchcraft in the first place. This post focuses on the foundational skills of witchcraft because it is not until you have the basics mastered that you can consider yourself an adept and learn the advanced skills -you cannot effectively do the advanced work if you haven’t mastered foundational skills.
Divination is a means of analyzing a situation in order to gain clarity and insight through random variables. With some forms of divination, such as using cards, throwing bones, or scattering herbs upon water, those random variables come together to present a sort of snapshot of the currents of energy surrounding the focus of the reading. But with all divination methods, those random variables serve as a means for us to engage our psychic senses, either by intuiting the messages and insights based upon the subconscious triggers or by applying a systematic approach to analyze the random variables, using intuition to decipher which of many set meanings (per that system) is correct.
Regardless of the specific method used, divination is a means for us to tap into and make sense of the currents of energy at work in our lives, to better understand our internal motivation and reluctance, and to identify external factors that influence our choices. The information that we gain is used to provide us with a broader and more objective view of a situation, issue, or even person so that we can make better-informed decisions that enable us to more effectively reach our goals.
The last week has been one filled with spirits. While that’s generally to be expected at this time of year, as our minds naturally fall toward thoughts of death and the beyond, so many of these spirits that filled my days were the beloved dead of others. Here, a collection of photos documenting this week.
Throwing the Bones
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