Blood Magic and Paradigms

As someone who uses blood magic on occasion, I’m really disappointed in the community for never mentioning, in all the wonderful, educational posts about blood magic, the impact different paradigms will have on said magic.

I’m going to preface this by saying I in no way encourage light-hearted use of blood magic, unless the method you use to acquire blood causes you no harm (ex. using menstrual blood, or randomly getting a nose bleed and collecting the blood). However, this is not a fear-mongering post. I’m not going to tell you to only use blood magic as a last resort. Why not?

Because this is a post about paradigms, and that makes all the difference.

For anyone who hasn’t yet heard of paradigms, I’m afraid I’m horrible at defining things. So instead of giving you a definition I’m going to give you an example: There are two witches. One of them believes the Threefold Law will harm them if they curse. The other doesn’t believe in curse backlash. These are two different paradigms that effect how the witches view magic and the decisions they make.

The most common paradigm in relation to blood magic is surprisingly not that it’s evil; we seemed to have evolved that far in the community. No, the most common paradigm in relation to blood magic is that blood is very powerful and therefore should be used sparingly in magic.

The problem is, not every user of blood magic believes that it’s inherently powerful. The belief that blood is powerful comes from, of course, the fact that we need it to survive. But there are humans who don’t put much stock in the living world. Some magic users that work with death sometimes view the living world as a temporary home but not where they belong (I can’t believe I just quoted Carrie Underwood in a post about blood magic). There are those who view death as being significantly more important than live. And there are plenty of magic users who suffer from depression and just don’t feel their life is worth much. (I know some of you were probably hoping I would skip the topic of depression, but I’m afraid I can’t do this post justice without mentioning it; as someone who suffers from depression I understand the impact it can have on a person’s paradigms, and it would be foolish of me to ignore it.)

(Side note: not all who work with death view death as being more important than life. Some do, some don’t. The same can be said for most other practices.)

While magic users who hold the above beliefs may still view blood as powerful, there’s always the chance that they don’t view it being as powerful as others, or they don’t believe it’s powerful at all. Do these paradigms render blood useless? Absolutely not. We still need it to live. But it could potentially “weaken” it’s magical potential.

Posts floating around about blood magic will have you believing that a drop of blood can summon demons from the darkest depths of hell, “so be sure you’re ready for the consequences before doing it!” but that’s a paradigm. It may be the most popular paradigm, but that doesn’t change the fact that blood magic just won’t work that way for all users.

Lemme give you a personal example:

I have a natural acceptance of death. I know it’ll happen someday and when it does I’ll welcome it, because that’s where I belong. Because of this, I don’t really value blood in the life-saving way as much as most people do. I’ll donate blood whenever I can because I know it saves lives and blood is important (and necessary) for so many others, but for myself? If I end up in a hospital nearly dead due to blood loss don’t give me someone elses blood. That shit can be used on a child, or someone who values the living world more than myself.

Because of all this, I just don’t feel blood magic is as powerful for me as it is for others. I don’t feel one drop is going to bring hellish nightmares to my doorstep, nor do I believe there will be “natural consequences” for me using blood magic. I can do it as much or as little as I like. However, I do believe it’s very personal. I use blood to consecrate objects or to bind them to myself. I use blood to dedicate myself to a practice or a deity. I may not think it is “demon summoning” powerful, but I still feel it’s very useful for personal magical connections. And it’s powerful for those uses.

This is my paradigm. It effects the way I use my magic and the decisions I make, and I know I can’t be alone in this.

Which is the entire reason I’m making this post. I love the posts tumblr users are making about blood magic, but what I don’t love is the fear-mongering that often goes hand in hand with those posts. If you want to talk about how dangerous blood magic is, talk about how not to collect blood. Talk about how careless collection of blood can be harmful to someones health. Talk about things that are actually dangerous regardless of magical paradigms, because those are what people interested in blood magic need to read! They need to know they can’t just stick a needle wherever when they want to do blood magic. They need to know what areas on the body to avoid when collecting blood. They need to know about safety.

Leave the “blood magic is powerful and deadly!” speeches at the door. Let them decide, based on their own paradigms, how dangerous (or not dangerous) blood magic is.

Advertisements

Spell Crafting as a Form of Magic

I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to see spell crafting as a precursor to magic, which is totally cool and understandable. I used to see it the same way. I don’t know if it’s the writer in me or how much emotion and power I release when I create spells, but I’ve come to see it as it’s own form of magic.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t cast spells or curses very often. Not because I don’t want to, but because I usually don’t have to. The few I’ve cast are normally protection spells that I cast because I get this ache to do magic sometimes and I just need something to subdue it. The bigger spells I’ve wanted to cast always start out as a budding idea. And when I start creating them it’s like they come to life.

I’ve written curses in absolutely livid, terrifying rage only to be completely calm when I’ve finished writing. But it’s not just a sense of calm, not just that I directed my anger into a creative outlet; it’s like I freakin already cast the curse. I feel complete, light, like the issue has been dealt with and I can move on with my life.

Most of the time, it has. I cursed an ex-best friend when I wrote this curse. A few of my spells (the ones I wrote for myself) have manifested. It’s not something I expected to happen but something I’ve noticed happening for a while now and I’ve been meaning to write about these experiences, about the magical potential of simply creating spells and curses.

And why not? Creating a fictional universe is a form of literary magic, a way of bringing to life a universe that once did not exist and changing the lives of your readers. It isn’t too far off to believe writing a spell can, in the right hands, create a new reality too.

PBP Week 3 – B – Broom Cupboard

Tags

, , , , , ,

(Side Note: I in no way intend for this post to jump in to the whole “is calling it the broom closet wrong?” debate. As a queer woman I have no issue with others saying they’re in the broom closet, and I will take no part it said debate.)

One of the things that came up soon after I started calling myself a pagan was whether or not I wanted other people to know. I live in New York state so the likelihood of me getting fired for my religion is slim to none, but that won’t stop people from looking down on me and passing judgement. But I decided I wanted people to know – in some cases, such as a coworker talking about common pagan holidays, it came in handy to have first-hand experience and be able to talk about it. My family knows I’m a pagan, most of my friends know, and even some of my coworkers.

Few people know I’m a Pop Culture Pagan.

I like to call it the “broom cupboard”, inspired by Harry Potter’s room growing up. Other than my girlfriend, my best friend, and the people I communicate with online, nobody really knows I’m a PC Pagan, and I plan on keeping it that way.

Some of you know I’m the first person to speak out about injustices against PC Pagans. Some of you know I go in to Mama Bear mode when someone comes in to the PC tags and starts talking shit. Online, I’m the first person to jump up and down at the mere mention of Legend of Zelda tarot cards or Dragon Age paganism. Offline is a different story.

I don’t do it to protect myself; if I’m safe identifying as pagan, I’m probably more safe (amongst non-pagans) identifying as a pop culture pagan. After all, the most they’d do is call me delusional (pagans, on the other hand…them I’m a bit worried about). I can at least say I am fortunate enough to know my job will still keep me if they knew I worshiped a fictitious vampire from a tv show. No, I don’t hide my practice to protect myself. 

I keep my practice a secret because I’m afraid not of what others would do to me, but what they would do to it. I’m a strong Empath, and worst, and uncontrollable Empath. Regardless of my “no fucks given” attitude there are some occasions where someone’s words will stay with me, fester in my heart, and take the joy right out of the thing they insulted. I absorb their negativity too much for my own good and I know what will happen if I dare show them what I believe. I will internalize their words until I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth, until I can’t even look at my PC altar without getting that second-hand feeling of shame. I can’t do that to myself. Until I get a better hold on my Empathy I can’t expose myself like that, knowing the damage it will cause.

It’s not so much strangers I’m worried about. They can go suck a lemon for all I care. It’s my family. It’s my mom, who still doesn’t understand that a Book of Shadows is a Wiccan concept, who still believes in an ancient Mother Goddess religion, who constantly says “We have to get on the Wheel, then we’ll be Real Witches”. It’s my brother, who already mocks everything that I enjoy, every Marvel poster and action figure around my room, every Legend of Zelda book or bracelet, every song that makes me happy. And sure, he does it in that big brother “joking” way, but doesn’t realize how shitty he makes me feel. Or how much worse it would be if he knew my obsession with fandom carried over to religious worship. My mom saw The Pop Culture Grimoire in my pile of new books (which she loves to go through before even I can) and just said “wow” with a shake of her head, like she was indulging a child.

No, I can’t let them have this. I can’t let them come anywhere near this, not until I’m out of the house and on my own. Not until I’m away from their energy. I’ve been to Hell and back in the last year alone (don’t even get me started on the rest of my life) and I refuse to let them take away one of my two sources of happiness.

It’s okay to want to keep your practice to yourself. You don’t need to advertise it to the world to be a “true pagan” and anyone who says otherwise – or for that matter, anyone who uses the words “true pagan” – needs to get off their high horse. People who expect you to be exactly like them, to practice exactly like them, only do so because it either validates their practice or makes them feel like they have power over others. You do you; the rest of the world can go fuck itself.

PBP Week A: Associations

Tags

, , ,

I’ve ranted more times than I can count about the problems with associations in the Pagan and witchcraft community. From the moment I stepped foot in the community I was expected to follow a “set” list of associations and to not deviate from it. If I deviated from it the spells I posted were seen as less important by other witches. I also had a problem using the spells others made because I often didn’t agree with the associations that used. I finally got frustrated with the lack of personalization in the spells I wanted to use and decided to start making my own.

Best. Decision. EVER.

I love writing spells, though I’ll admit it takes a lot of energy out of me as both a witch and a writer. I love sharing my spells with others. More than that, I love knowing that my spells are useful to others because they are more customizable and reach a wider audience. But I’m not going to get into spell crafting just yet – there’s a day for that!

Most of the herbs I use are ones I can find in my house. I don’t like to go out of my way for something I’m not used to using, often because it has no association for me until I encounter it. Here are just a few of my herbal/scent associations based on what’s lying around in my kitchen:

Sandalwood – cleansing, fortune
Lilac – happiness, new beginnings, family/relationships
Rose – relaxation, sleep, meditation
Parsley – Healing, mild protection
Thyme – money, creativity
Nutmeg – protection, intelligence
Cloves – prosperity, fortune, love, protection, psychic ability
Basil – healing, sleep, dreams, home
Dill Weed – money, security
Celery Seed – psychic ability, meditation, astral projection
Fennel – cleansing, new beginnings, weather
Oregano – protection, healing, comfort, fortune, happiness
Methi (Fenu Greek) – energy, love, connection, empathy
Black Pepper – banishing, warding, cleansing, change
Cinnamon – cleansing, protection, healing, prosperity
Sea Salt – purification, healing, warding
Anise – warding, healing, love, money, empathy
Red Pepper – chaos
Paprika – psychic ability, healing, self-improvement
Bay Leaves – aspirations, change, protection, dreams, imagination
Rosemary – comfort, healing, sleep, friendship, longing
Cardamom – warding, protection, healing, fortune, spiritual connection, psychic ability, relationships.
Liquorice – death, suffering

There are tons of repeats in this list for good reason: these are mostly herbs and scents I love, usually ones that make me feel safe and comfortable, so a lot of them you’ll notice have protection and healing as a personal association. With few exceptions, this is a list of scents and herbs that was a big part of my meals growing up.

We won’t talk about liquorice.

So how do I decide personal associations? One day I took a bunch of my mom’s herbs, a few bottles of warming oil, a pen and a journal, and started experimenting with what everything made me thing of. I smelled everything, touched most everything, and wrote down whatever came to mind. Some things hit me with so many sensations at once (like cardamom). Other things fell flat. While red pepper may be my favorite to use in spells and curses now, it was a bitch to figure out how it made me feel.

While typing up this list I changed a few things around after realizing that some of my associations had changed. That’s pretty normal, since we’re constantly changing. I took a few off, added a few, and completely removed sage from the list (the new age and pagan communities have forever ruined whatever association I may have held for that herb).

I go through this same process with stones and crystals, incense, and anything else I plan on using in magic. My personal opinion is that I don’t want to use something in a spell if I don’t feel like it will aid me. Some of these charts online are wonderful, but they don’t fit my personal associations. I rely heavily on emotional attachment in my spells, so if I can’t feel the energy I don’t want it anywhere near my spellwork.

And this concludes my first (late) post for the Pagan Blog Project. Most of these posts will be related in some way to Pop Culture Paganism, with the odd few about general witchcraft.

Why Pop Culture Paganism?

Tags

,

If there was ever a question I get far too often, it’s this: Why pop culture paganism? Why not “normal” paganism? Why use fake characters to inspire you when real ones are just as inspiration, if not more? Why bother?

While often delivered rudely, these are perfectly valid and intriguing questions. I asked myself the same thing when I first began delving into PC Paganism. Why can’t I just worship a pre-established God or Goddess? Why not join a pre-established religion? Why make my life harder and expose myself to further ridicule from my peers? These were the questions that kept me in the broom cupboard for some time, and I know they keep others from exploring their path. While I certainly can’t speak for other pop culture pagans, I can tell you how I came to realize this was my path, and how I believe others may have found it, as well.

Why Pop Culture Paganism: Back when I was fifteen I hit a bump in my depression, a very hulk-sized bump that nearly threw me right over the edge. I was never truly alone, yet I felt like nobody was listening. I turned to writing fanfiction, making pre-established characters feel my pain, and they became my friends. They knew me and I knew them. I think I learned more about getting to know a character that year than any English class ever taught me. They became real to me – so real, in fact, that I felt for them in a way that clearly was not normal. Their pain literally wounded me emotionally. Some may suggest it’s part of my Empathy, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that these characters quite literally saved my life. I never forgot what they’d done for me, and I never stopped wanting to repay them and keep them in my life.

This was the biggest push for me becoming a practicing Pop Culture Pagan. One day I was saying “wouldn’t it be fun to create a pantheon for The Vampire Diaries just because” and suddenly, two months later, I was devoting myself to Damon. It all happened so fast, and despite my unease and concern over being labeled a “fake pagan” it felt right.

So you see, some pop culture pagans come from this side, from knowing the impact that fictional characters can have on their lives.

Why Not “Normal” Paganism: Normal, in this case, being pre-established traditions. Admittedly, my first path after deciding Wicca was not for me was researching Hellenic Polytheism and trying to be a “traditional pagan”. And it’s all fascinating. Persephone kept dragging my attention away from the other Gods I was trying to learn about, and for the longest time I was so sure I’d end up devoting myself to her. Part of me still thinks I might (though I’m not sure how she and Damon would get along). The one thing that prevented me from digging deeper into Hellenic Polytheism was the disconnection I felt toward the practice.

I didn’t grow up learning about Greek Gods and Goddesses. Safe for one fluffy, inaccurate book of Goddesses, I knew next to nothing about them. Their practices and mythology were foreign to me. Every time I attempted to learn (specifically in regards to a recon path) I felt that disconnect. It eventually pushed me away, as I felt uncomfortable working with deities I didn’t know enough about (and no matter how much I learned, I didn’t feel worthy of knowing them).

Now, pop culture I knew. Pop culture gripped me tight and raised my ass from perdition. My entire life was bathed in pop culture, from my first video game when I was six years old (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) to the tv show I’ve surrendered my happiness to (Supernatural). Harry Potter, which showed me that I was never truly alone, The Vampire Diaries, which showed me that the family you choose is just as important as the family you didn’t. All these things altered my life and made me the woman I am today. For better or for worse, I am who I am and I owe thanks to the people who brought me here. As I’ve said before, it seems only fitting that I devote my life to those who have helped me so much.

Why Make My Life Harder: Here’s the thing about this question: your life is going to be hard regardless. People don’t like those who are different because they’re uncomfortable with differences. But over time, those differences will become commonplace and the ridicule they once faced will die down. In other words, the more people who are outspoken and supportive of Pop Culture Paganism, the more the path will be respected. Does that mean you need to jump out of the broom cupboard right now? Absolutely not. For some people it’s not safe. Others may be safe, but may not be ready to be open about it. All are fine.

The point of making this blog is and will always be to help you discover your path at your own pace. If you never come out of the broom cupboard but you’re happy with your practice on a personal level, then that is a wonderful thing and not something for others to stick their nose up about.

An Introduction of Sorts

Given the amount of drama that comes with posting an opinion on tumblr, I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and make a wordpress. Still undecided as to whether this is a good decision or not, but here we go. This blog will be almost like an online pop culture grimoire, with the occasional non-pc related post. While my actual pop culture spells will most likely remain on tumblr this blog will serve as a source of information and discussion for anyone interested in the pop culture path. With all the negativity and misinformation surrounding the practice, I’d like to be a positive influence and help you build you practice at your own pace. My tumblr is chaoticwanderings if anyone wishes to see a more broad range of topics (including dark witchcraft, which you’ll need to go through my tag to read the definition).