One of the most commonly growing practices in the United States is the usage of healing crystals. People are drawn to the beauty and energy these gems hold, but what are the limitations of this newly popular obsession?
To be crystal clear, gemstones and crystals are not rocks. Crystals, atomically, are minerals. The major difference between minerals and rocks is the anatomic structure.
Minerals are made of three dimensional patterns that are repeated throughout the inorganic solid. Rocks are typically irregular anatomically.
To understand the modern context, it is important to have a grasp on the history of crystals. This practice is believed to date back 30,000 years ago to the first usage of baltic amber amulets. This was about the time that humans had first emerged on the American continents. The reminiscence of amber beads was found in Britain 10,000 years ago.
Being a culturally aware individual is a crucial part of becoming a gear in a diverse society. Recently, the talk about cultural appropriation has become popular. With access to unlimited resources and information on unique cultures and traditions, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Often, I find inspiration in different cultures for my own practice. Before I engage in a new practice, I have to stop and ask myself the following things: (1) is this a closed practice, (2) do I fully understand the history of this practice, (3) am I performing this practice accurately without misrepresentation or misunderstanding, and (4) have I been invited to participate in this practice.
The true witch’s brew of mystic magic, handcrafted by Grace Cavanaugh, has been blissfully passed down into my ownership. I simply hope to live up to the expectations artistically set in place by the witch that wrote before me.
This week, I would like to introduce a concept of balancing energies. Like yin and yang, feminine and masculine energy create a balance within the universe.
Without association to gender identity or presentation, feminine energy is a representation of intuition and creativity, whereas masculine energy is a presentation of action and logic. Everyone has both masculine and feminine energy, but the issue is finding a balance that works for you. There is a greater yin where the energy released is perfectly feminine and a greater yang in which the energy is entirely masculine. There are a variety of mixtures of the two energies that can lead to finding balance.
I have been writing Mystic Magic for…three years now. It all started when I wrote my first article on Tarot cards and common misconceptions, and it has been a wild time since.
As I am graduating later this month, this will be my last opinion article. I have learned so much writing Mystic Magic, and I have had such a good time over the years. I wanted to leave some witchy tips for my last article, so here you go!
Taking a break from my general witchcraft commentary, I wanted to talk about a couple of books I have read recently.
As a college student, I do not normally have time to read for fun, because I am already reading a lot for class. In the past few months, however, I have been participating in an extra-curricular book club that changes genres every month.
In January, we chose a gothic horror genre, and the book was “Plain Bad Heroines” by Emily Danforth. Without going into spoiler territory, the book follows the past and present exploits of queer women who deal with ghosts, curses, and a real-life book, “The Story of Mary MacLane,” published in 1902.
So, what exactly does a new moon, and especially one in Taurus, mean? Well, new moons are all about starting something new. New beginnings, new foundations, new directions… It is a time to set goals and prepare to see them through. You can establish a general intention for the upcoming lunar cycle, clean your ritual area, and meditate on wishes, desires, doubts, and fears.
As for the new moon in Taurus, your focus should be on what is real. If you are starting a new project or focusing on a specific goal, make it something with substance. Since it is the spring, you could attach some intentions to seeds and plant them under the new moon, or something else that is equally as tangible.
Continuing the conversation of decolonizing your paganism and witchcraft this week, I wanted to discuss closed practices.
Closed practices are those that you can only be a part of if you were born into the community, or if you have been initiated into it.
Jewish witchcraft is closed, for example. If you are not Jewish, you cannot be or use parts of Kabbalah, which is the word for Jewish mysticism.
This is the reason for doing your research, especially concerning eclectic witchcraft and Wicca, because both pull from multiple practices. Well, most neopagan practices pull from many different places since they have become very convoluted over the years.
It has been pointed out to me via the people I follow on TikTok and Instagram that, while I have been doing extensive research into different aspects of my craft, I do not always look deeply into why they are a part of my craft, or how they came to be.
For instance, take the term “Book of Shadows.” These days, it is common to hear a grimoire referred to as a Book of Shadows, and generally the two terms are interchangeable. Did you know, though, that the term Book of Shadows was used by a Kashmiri Palmist named Mir Bashir about a Sanskrit text that teaches you how to use shadows for divination. The article Bashir wrote was in 1949, and Gerald Gardner, the father of Wicca, saw it and added it to his practice.
For those that were not aware, I consider myself an eclectic witch. I draw from a number of different paths in order to practice my craft. One thing I do not subscribe to, though, is the Rule of Three.
The Law of the Threefold Return is generally attributed to Wicca. Basically, the Rule of Three decrees that whatever you put into the universe, magically or otherwise, will return to you threefold.
I believe that if you start slinging hexes and curses before you are ready, they might come back to bite you. If you throw something at someone who is well protected, that can also turn on you. I do not believe, though, that if I hex someone, something bad will happen to me threefold.
Ostara is quickly approaching. The celebration of the Spring Equinox is on Saturday, Mar. 20.
There are many different cultures over the world that celebrate the coming of spring. According to the website Learn Religions, ancient Romans celebrated the resurrection of a demigod. Persians celebrate No Ruz, or new day, which was an observance of hope and renewal. Mayans had their “Return of the Sun Serpent” for the way the sun elongated the shadows of El Castillo, a ceremonial pyramid.
Ostara gets its name from the German goddess Eostre. It was a time to celebrate the planting of new crops, and came from the legend of Eostre transforming a bird into a hare that could lay eggs.
Like many neo-pagan traditions, though, Ostara has become this conglomeration of a lot of different beliefs. There are occasional differences, depending on your chosen mode of neo-paganism, but they are all relatively similar.
As many of our faithful readers know, for the past four years, I have worked at the Girl Scout summer camp I once attended. In the most recent summers, I ran the archery range and helped with various other tasks around camp that did not involve spending a lot of time with the girls.
I love working at camp. One of my favorite parts was that we would hire a lot of international women to come over and participate in camp life. Because of camp, half of my closest friends live on different continents.
Since the Shamrock shake is back at McDonald’s, and Applebee’s has St. Patrick’s Day drinks, I think it is time I addressed St. Patrick’s Day from the perspective of a neopagan with Irish heritage.
I grew up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Since moving to Richmond when I was a kid, I have never missed the Church Hill Irish Festival. My mom makes corned beef and cabbage, and now that I am old enough, we all drink some Guinness.
According to Britannica, St. Patrick was a Roman Britain who went to Ireland in 432 to convert the Irish to Christianity. The most popular legend about him is that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. He used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish. While original feasts celebrated St. Patrick himself, modern celebration is all about everything Irish.
It was not until I began my witchy journey that I realized that the snakes in the one story were supposed to represent Old World pagans. The first TikTok I saw about it was an apology to neopagans of Celtic descent for being surrounded by people who were celebrating the deaths of pagans, or at least their displacement.
The theory, as explained by Learn Religions, is that the snakes are an allegory to pagans. St. Patrick did not actually round up and cast out pagans, but his spread of Christianity facilitated animosity towards Irish pagans.
Paganism existed long before St. Patrick, and has continued to exist long after. Was he successful in driving out all the snakes from Ireland? Literally, probably not, because Ireland is an island and there were not many snakes to begin with. Figuratively, also probably not. Unpopular religions, or those that are persecuted by the religious majority, tend to stick around underground, or they move and continue their practice where it is safer.
There is an essay on the website Celtic Druid Temple that delves into the story of St. Patrick, and seems to disprove a majority of the claims surrounding him, such as his death at the age of 111 when most people died in their 40s or 50s.
Of course, St. Patrick is a Saint, so there has to be a grain of salt taken with the parables of the snakes and the clovers. Regardless of if he was actually the spreader of Christianity or if it was one of the other migrant families that moved to Ireland at the same time, St. Patrick’s Day is so far removed from the Saint these days.
I think it is safe, as a neopagan in a much different time, to continue to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; not for its namesake, but for my Irish heritage. Also, using it as an excuse to drink some Guinness and unwind is an excellent way to deal with school stress.
If you have been reading my articles for a while, you are aware that I kind of sort of started my journey my freshman year with Tarot cards.
There is a whole story behind that, somewhere back in our papers, about ghost hunting in Hopwood and whatnot. It is actually what I would like to discuss this week: ghost hunting, and the use of Ouija boards and seances by people who have not done their research.
I have never participated in a séance, and I have never touched a Ouija board, which is pronounced wee-jee. According to the Smithsonian magazine article on the board, Ouija is actually American in origin. It was first mentioned in Pittsburgh and New York papers in 1891, after Charles Kennard designed a board and joined together with Elijah Bond, an attorney, and Bond’s sister-in-law, a medium.
Plenty of things go bump in the night. There is a saying among the magical community: “Mundane before magical.” What this means is that one should look for common causes, explainable ones, before jumping to ghosts, magic, or other supernatural things.
But what if you have ruled out all of the common, mundane answers?
While I was staying in Salem, MA, with a couple friends and my mother, we noticed that our AirBnB had some very noisy heaters. They were the baseboard kind I had grown up with, in Manassas, and I remembered the creaking and the hissing they would make.