Daily Archives: July 30, 2011

Cold and Fever Tonic

Tonics are generally not recommended in acute disease. This tonic is meant to be taken at the onset of symptoms and repeated every few hours until symptoms abate. It is very safe for children and adults.

  • 4   tablespoons spearmint leaves

  • 1   tablespoon yarrow flowers

  • 1   tablespoon basil or elder flowers

  • 1   tablespoon lemon balm leaves

In 2 cups of boiled water, steep the above herbs for 15 minutes, covered. Strain and serve warm or cool. Drink half a cup at a time.

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Flu Tonic

Drink this tonic at the onset of chills or flu symptoms every thirty to sixty minutes.

1   teaspoon dried citrus peel

Simmer citrus peel in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Allow to cool before straining and drinking. Drink 2-3 times during onset of symptoms, then change to the cold and fever tonic.

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Tonic for the Elderly

Drink this tonic daily and feel young again.

  • 1   tablespoon hawthorn berries to enhance the cardiovascular system and regulate blood pressure

  • 1   2 1/2 to 3 year-old echinacea root to enhance immunity

  • 1 teaspoon parsley root to support kidney function

  • 1   teaspoon licorice root, optional (not recommended for hypertension), ginger root may be substituted

  • 1   dandelion root to enhance bowel function

  • 1   tablespoon gotu kola leaves (fresh is best) or 1 tablespoon basil leaves or flowers.

Simmer hawthorn, echinacea, parsley, licorice, and dandelion in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes, covered.l Remove from heat and add gotu kola or basil. Steep, covered, for 10 more minutes. Strain and sip one cup daily.

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Realistic Magical Advice for the “Good” Witch

Realistic Magical Advice for the “Good” Witch

Author: The Wyld Dream

As a spell slinger I am often referred to those in “dire need.” Sometimes the problem is rather simple. I have been sent after lost keys, a missing cat, and have had many requests for the usual prosperity spells. Occasionally the difficulty is more occult in nature and there is a problem spirit, a nasty Witch, or even a demonic possession.

Often the person in need is not a Witch and has little or no familiarity with real Magic. They have heard from others that I am “the real deal” and that I can help them. They are willing to suspend their disbelief and trust their contact’s assertion that I can and will magically solve the problem for free. Such is the way of the “good Witch.” A real Magic user often puts themselves out there as a white hat, a do-gooder, a veritable magnet for trouble and we traditionally do it for free.

There is a little saying, “You get what you pay for.” In the case of magical advice this well-known axiom tends to work in the reverse. Very few truly good and helpful Witches make significant amounts of money from practicing their craft. Most won’t take a dime. All that these generous folk ask for is the acknowledgement that they are “real” Magic users, and that you fully accept that when all is said and done that you have been helped by their use of Magic.

I firmly believe that the craft of will working reality is a skill. Yes some people have natural talent, but in the end most people can learn how to consciously change reality and “make things happen.” I believe that everyone, even the most dense and ardent disbeliever already uses Magic daily. The difference between Witches, sorcerers, Wicca, and other will workers is that we do it with purpose.

Using Magic is like dreaming. All people must sleep and all must dream but some people are able to lucid dream. They can control their dream reality. Some have a natural ability to lucid dream, others have taught themselves this skill, several people can lucid dream only rarely, and a few people simply cannot seem to ever remember their dreams at all. Those who can lucid dream have different levels of skill, a number of them can change themselves, some can change their environment, and others can force various people or elements into a dream.

In our waking world there are people that are natural magi. They don’t think much about how they do Magic and find that almost any technique of ritual, focus, or magical practice will work for them. Then there are people who have to try a little bit harder. They have to seek out the magical practice that works best for them. This is an ongoing process of trial and error that can at times be exhausting.

Then there are the difficult ones, the ones that really want to believe, but simply cannot “see” Magic. Where others see providence, they can only see coincidence. And then there are the unfortunate ones. They are completely blind to all Magic and insist that those those of us who do see Magic are mistaken.

Real Magic is a balance between the two opposites of providence and coincidence. For one who is aware of the underlying structure of reality there is no such thing as coincidence, and therefore conversely there is also no true providence. Somewhere between destiny and random happenstance lies the will worker’s mutable continuum of existence. They see that there is a multiplicity of Truths to this existence, and often Witches who are actually capable of effecting change can choose the Truth or the reality that they want to accept at any given moment.

This leads us back to the simple problem of a set of missing keys. When dealing with this predicament there are certain Truths that must be established: Have the keys been stolen, or are the keys “lost?” When and where the keys last seen? Where would the keys normally be? How many other people could have affected the location of the keys?

However before I lift so much as an eyebrow in an effort to find the keys using Magic I must first establish that the client has tried every mundane way possible to find the keys. Why? Because Magic isn’t a toy. Magic is not the easy button you slam whenever you are finding that things in life are inconvenient. If they were my keys, and I was practicing my skill with Magic I would attempt to use my ability of just “knowing” to find the keys. This practice would be for my own edification, and would teach me a valuable lesson on accepting my “knowing” but when working for someone else I need to consider the fact that I may be removing an opportunity for them to learn.

There are many lessons in a lost set of keys. Just telling someone where their keys are teaches them nothing. There are lessons about responsibility, about caution, about being organized, and in the case of an unrecoverable set of keys, about replacing locks. Casting a Magic spell won’t help them in the long run because they will just lose their keys again. Do I have a right to helps someone circumvent their lessons? Do I want the client to put me in their speed dial and call me every time they lose their keys or a contact lens? I don’t think so. Though, maybe just this once they need to learn that Magic is real. So, if I decide that is indeed the lesson that they need to learn the best way to teach them is to let them do it for themselves.

If someone has tried every mundane means feasible short of renting a metal detector to find their keys and are ready to ask for magical help I would consider what would work best for them. In this case dowsing rods seem appropriate. I would take two pieces of thick wire of nearly the same length, bend the ends to make handles and give them to the client and explain that they will point toward the keys. This has in the past lead to a merry chase where in we find every set of keys except the right ones when all the while I know the keys are in their car.

Sometimes there are no keys to find. The keys have been “found” and moved and are no longer lost. A stranger picked them up off the sidewalk or a coworker absconded with them. In these instances I have no choice but to tell people, “Sorry. I don’t see them. I don’t think that they are lost.” We can try to find them, but sometimes some things don’t come back even with real magical help. At this point I recommend putting an ad in the local paper.

This same logical approach can be applied to even the worst situations such as the negative spirit, and the demonic possession. First have they tried any and every possible mundane way to deal with the problem? Have they looked into medical help and made sure they don’t have a brain tumor or a chemical imbalance? Do they live underneath major power lines? Are they exposed to hallucinogens or drugs on a regular basis? Did they do LSD in high school? Think about it, the client isn’t a doctor, nor are they a Witch, can they honestly tell the difference between a hallucination and a visitation? Probably not, so try to encourage them to seek medical advice first.

Once you have established that they are indeed sane and healthy, ask them why they haven’t gone to their church. This is an important question. I am a Polytheist and therefore I don’t casually recommend organized religion as a way to deal with these problems but historically it has been effective to use high ritual to strengthen the mind of the afflicted and allow them to use their faith to either overcome the spirit or close their mind to random spiritual minutia. If you are their clergy then it is your duty to give them as much help as you can. Do not offer help you are not qualified to give, such as medical advice. Do seek a second opinion. Sometimes when you have a very good hammer, such as Magic, all problems start looking like nails, but not every problem is magical or spiritual.

The difference between a hallucination and a visitation is generally speaking academic. Do you honestly believe that there is a presence behind the voices your client hears? Do you hear them too? Can you “feel” a presence? Do you think you can make them go away? If the answer is yes, then you have a visitation. Otherwise if only a single individual can experience the disembodied presence it is a hallucination, and if it isn’t caused by a chemical imbalance there are a myriad of other mundane explanations that can be examined, and finally there is the potential for a genuine but singular haunting or possession.

It is important to consider the possibility that the problem can also be both chemical and magical, and sometimes solving one half of the equation; the chemical, you can also solve the magical problem. Someone who has a lithium imbalance or a drinking problem is far more likely to draw dark spirits than other people. In essence their minds are often more open to negative influence. Righting their chemical imbalance through professional help of doctors, medications, or addiction programs can lead to a reduction in spiritual problems.

And then there are those that don’t fit into either category, the emotional. Occasionally you will find that a person is physically healthy, spiritually unhindered but still disturbed by an inability to cope with reality. Some people have emotional damage that you cannot help. They seek attention, are overly dramatic, and while they might truly believe that they are haunted are completely unwilling to take logical action to take care of the problem. Generally they will only take steps to make things worse because they are seeking attention. In such cases it is best for you to walk away and don’t look back.

Furthermore, it is very dangerous to try to help people who are not mentally well, and whether magical, chemical, or simply emotional someone who is fighting a dark presence is not well. Proceed with caution. Emphasize a mundane solution first. A sane healthy person has nothing to lose going to get a cursory medical examine. They won’t balk at speaking to their doctor nor will they shun getting their home checked for uncommonly strong electromagnetic fields caused by power lines, fault lines, or poor wiring. Someone who doesn’t want to deal with the mundane problem and solutions probably won’t actually be able to accept your magical help either, so don’t waste your time.

This leads me to EM fields, radiation, and other sources for visual and auditory delusions. There can be many reasons why someone suddenly experiences negative or positive “spiritual” presences that have to do not with their personal psychic or magical ability but instead are based on their environment. By spiritual I mean disembodied non-corporeal entities. These disturbances can come in a vast array of visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory “hallucinations”.

Again I must emphasize that it can be both a real tangible scientific cause, such as disruptive electromagnetic fields that cause the brain to see things that aren’t there, and it can also be a spirit using those same EM fields as fuel and “messing” with their poor human neighbors because they can. Take care of one problem, poor wiring causing a high EM field in a house, and generally the person won’t have visions, or the ghost won’t be able to bother them any more. (Or at least, not as much.)

And as frightening as the situation likely is for your client there are things they can do that will help. First they must deal with the problem rationally and explore all possible causes and cures and consider possible compromises. Not all spirits are evil. Usually they will come to a Magic user for help because this is a new and frightening experience for them. You must ask them is the really that bad, or is it something they just aren’t accustomed to? If you believe the presence is tied to a location you must ask them why they won’t move. Keep in mind that just because their house is old doesn’t mean it is a ghost bothering them, nor is the strange noise just the house settling. Sometimes the answer is both, and occasionally it is neither.

Teenagers, mostly girls, tend to draw particularly violent and aggressive spiritual disturbances known as poltergeists. This label is a misnomer. It indicates that there is a “noisy ghost” haunting the subject but I have fond that half the time it is subject herself having uncontrollable psychic energy surges unrelated to any outside manifestations. Generally these go away as the girl matures; rarely does the individual learn to control the phenomenon. Some have reoccurrences later in life under particularly stressful situations. If you interrogate a subject you might ask if they were “haunted” in their teenage years and if they are currently under stress from a source other than the visitation.

In the case of possession, there is no positive compromise. A human has exclusive and prime right to their body and under no circumstance should they be encouraged to “share” that private space. In this instance I must insist you ask for and ardently seek help in your area. Start with medical. A chemical imbalance can make a person weak, and susceptible to possession. An emotional imbalance can cause that as well. Remember that if you are not experienced at exorcism you can get hurt, the client can get hurt, and sometimes you can fail utterly. Possession is often linked with suicide, homicide and self-mutilation. It is not for the inexperienced. Do not take it lightly.

Finally sometimes there is no solution, all your best efforts mundane and magical fail, and the best advice you can give to a client is in any situation other than a possession is “Deal with it.” Sometimes a person just has to be strong and accept that their reality is not going to conform to the norm.

Before you compose an email to me you should know that I am not going to help you any more than I already am right now. I wrote this article to give you all the advice I have. It is my very best advice. I am not going to let you fly me to your city to deal with a ghost. I am not going to let you drive the possessed individual to me. This is your quest, and if it leads to them being institutionalized. I’m sorry but it is for the best. At least they won’t be able to hurt themselves as easily.

Remember, a good Magic user is a practical Magic user. Seek every solution, not just the magical solution. Try the mundane way first; it works for billions of other human beings.

Remember that real Magic comes in many forms. Sometimes the magical solution comes through apparently mundane means such as a client getting your number from a friend who happened to be ease dropping on a conversation and thereby leads to you wisely mentioning that they should the couch or the car for the keys. Use the techniques that work for you and just let Magic be.

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Put The Book Down!

Put The Book Down!

Author: Siantia

I quarrel about the meaning of the term ‘Wicca’ or ‘Pagan’. I argue over the rules and structures of the various ‘Wiccan paths’. I label myself with the correct label for my position in the craft and demand others do the same. I adhere to set structures and rituals and judge those that do not. I look to occult figures to gather my instructions on how to worship my Goddess and God. I rely on another human being to give me permission to have a spiritual identity. Does this sound like you? If you have ticked any of the ‘boxes’ above then I urge you to read this article. But I’m warning you – there are no labels here for you. No man/woman to tell you the rules of your religion and no words given to you to describe what you are.

How many books on Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism and any others of a similar nature do you own?

How many of these books have rituals for you to follow, incantations for you to recite and sabbats for you to adhere to?

How many people do you know that say you MUST be in a coven, or you MUST do that or you HAVE TO think this way?

How often, when engaging in a Wiccan/Magickal discussion or argument have you opened your most prestigious Wiccan book to read the answer and then quoted it and sat back happily knowing you must have won the argument because you used the words of an occult icon?

Quarrels about rules and words feature so strongly in Wicca/Witchcraft, everyone has their own opinion and everyone seems to have their biography of Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders at the ready to use if the argument gets tough. But I ask you – where is your Goddess and God when you are debating this and arguing about that and proclaiming you know more than this person about that subject?

How many times do you put your book down, step away from the laws of your coven, stop listening to the ‘more experienced’ Witch and look inside your heart to talk to your Mother and Father? What do you think they would tell you about all these rules, paths and words?

“Quarrelling about words only serves to ruin those who listen to them” is one of my favorite quotes, and one I read often when I find myself almost getting involved in an argument. There is no piece of information so grand that you need to quarrel and argue over it. There is no right so right that has not come directly from The Goddess and God. I urge people to put their books down and to talk to the source that can give them all the knowledge they’re looking for. It starts by looking inside yourself and not at your favorite author; once you have looked inside yourself you find the Goddess and the God were there all along.

When you next meet someone that refers to him/herself using certain labels, or when you next are involved in a conversation about the rules of a Wiccan ritual ask the goddess and the god to show you the truth of these man-made creations. Listen and feel what you receive. What do you think your Goddess and God would say to the people arguing over the exact meaning of the term Wiccan? What do you think they would say to the couple trying to win the argument about the importance of initiation? Do you think our loving Mother and Father would see the relevance or importance of any of this?

When you feel afraid that something you are doing is not correct, who are you afraid of? The person who wrote the book you are following? The high priestess of the coven you have just joined? Or the judgmental ‘experienced’ witches you socialize with? Out of all the people you are afraid will judge you if you are not adhering to the label you have been given (or have given yourself) do you think any of them have the authority or power to say anything? Do you believe a man or a woman has more knowledge about The Goddess and The God than the Goddess and The God themselves? And do you believe that anyone but yourself can find the right answer to your problems?

Put the book down, and while you’re at it socialize with less rigid people. We are our own masters, because all of us are children of our Mother and Father. No matter what words you read in books, no matter what ‘high’ priest/ess tells you – no being knows more than The Goddess and God. It is to them you should talk, not to ‘man’.

Religion can be a beautiful life choice that makes your incarnation more colorful and interesting; a way of life that inspires you and makes you feel fulfilled as a human experiencing the Earth, knowing deep inside that it is a creation of man and that simple love of your creators will always triumph. Is this you? Or have you become so consumed with your chosen label, so consumed with the words and their meanings that you have forgotten the simplicity of the universe? What is it they say we have here? Ah yes – free will.

Perhaps you feel your religion and structure, fine details and correct interpretation of words are still important to you? Perhaps you feel that the Goddess and God are with you on that, and they wouldn’t like you to throw away labels and boxes? Then, debate away. Open your forum and join with everyone else that wants words to be important. Words have power after all!

I will go and sit beside the Goddess and The God and we shall watch you in your hall of right and wrong. When you are ready…put the book down, and see what the Goddess and God has to discuss with you.

Merry Meet to all the masters of themselves.


Footnotes:
*This article is intended for thought provoking and not direct insult. The opinions expressed are my own and so of course are not being imposed or ordered onto anyone else. Live and let live after all.

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Tell It Like It Is – And Make It Count

Tell It Like It Is – And Make It Count

Author: Autumn Heartsong
“I’m not a pussy-foot Pagan; I speak my mind I don’t care if everybody gets mad at me.”

“I call it like I see it. If you’ve got a lousy attitude I’m going to tell you about it. That’s what makes me such a terrific high priestess.”

“I hate that we’re not friends anymore. I was just trying to help and she got so angry.”

Know any of these people? Maybe you’ve made one of those statements yourself.

There’s no doubt that honest feedback is helpful. People with the skill and willingness to provide good feedback are valuable in any community. Unfortunately, some people are long on willingness and short on skill. They tell it like they think it is, like they wish it were, like they hope it will be, but without the skill needed to make all that telling count for something. Some succeed handily in expressing their opinions and making people angry, and they excel at turning angry reactions into badges of honor. They may even feel a little smug when they tell everyone exactly what they’re doing wrong and no one does anything about it. There’s a lot of moral superiority in being the one with the answers and even more intellectual smugness when no one else is smart enough to take your good advice. More often, though, people are just sad and disappointed when their attempt to help is, at best, rejected or, at worst, creates angry confrontation and lasting resentment.

Why should we care about the effectiveness of our communications? Because honest, helpful feedback is essential to any community. Whether you’re addressing your circle, your coworkers, your family, or the customer service rep with whom you’re trying to resolve a problem, clear, effective communication gets the best results.

Nowhere is the need for good feedback skills more evident than in our spiritual communities. In a spiritual path that stresses personal accountability, each of us is responsible not just for what we say but how we say it. If we truly have the best interest of another in mind, we have a responsibility to do the best job we can when we offer constructive criticism or positive feedback. And for those who hold positions of leadership, the ability to guide a coven or circle is directly tied to the ability to effectively deal with behaviors that can erode the group’s foundation, as well as to offer praise that is meaningful and encourages continued success. Yet time and again, circles and covens undergo major upheavals over poorly thought-out and badly delivered feedback. Broader communities experience rifts that all but destroy those communities. Online groups explode into flame wars over emails that set out to improve some situation but miss the mark. Best friends have walked away from each other over what was meant to be helpful guidance but was delivered and received as anything but helpful. The phrase heard most often after such events is, “What just happened?”

Fortunately, willingness to engage in feedback is more than half the battle, and anyone with a sincere desire to tell it like it is and make it count can learn how to give feedback that is both honest and helpful. Whether you’re telling someone that their habitual Pagan Standard Time arrival for ritual is impacting the group or complimenting them on the stellar job they did organizing the community clean-up event, you will create more impact with a well crafted and delivered message.

In this article, I’ll discuss the characteristics of effective feedback. I’ll also outline models for giving honest, direct feedback with candor and skill. Finally, I’ll share a model for how we receive feedback to help us understand and plan for reactions in others and ourselves.

For those of you who are thinking, “This isn’t standard Pagan essay material, ” I respectfully disagree. This is EGM – Elbow Grease Magick, physical effort to accompany your energetic contribution in your community. Just as doing a “find a job” spell without sending out a resume or filling out an application isn’t likely to land you employment, opening your mouth to deliver constructive feedback without paying attention to how you do it isn’t likely to net the results you hope for. By combining a willing spirit with proven techniques, we can strengthen our relationships and our communities.

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

Think back to a time when you received truly helpful feedback from someone – maybe a teacher, a boss, a coworker or friend. What made it helpful? If you’re like most people, your recollections will include some or all of the following:

They were specific and used examples.
Vague feedback isn’t very helpful. Telling someone, “You need to do better in circle, ” doesn’t offer any clues as to what “better” means. “Your ritual robe has a wine stain on it from when you dropped the chalice at our last moon. You should make sure your robe is clean before you come to circle, ” is more effective. Likewise, “You’re such a joy to work with, ” doesn’t give the recipient any guidance on how to continue to be a joy. Try, “I enjoy working with you on community projects because you’re energetic, detail oriented, and always willing to pitch in wherever needed.”

They focused on behavior, not a personal attack.
Telling someone, “You’re a slob!” is far less effective than, “You left your feast gear unwashed on the counter and Moondrop had to clean up after you.”

They were sincere, had my best interest at heart.
Sincerity is often a matter of perception. Body language and tone can speak louder than our words. It’s estimated that in face-to-face communications as little as seven percent of a message is perceived from the actual words. (Read Radical Collaboration, by James W. Tamm and Ronald J. Luyet) .

They helped me understand why it was important.
Everyone receiving feedback asks, at some level, “So what?” When we include the why, the what has more impact. “When you’re late for ritual, feast runs late, the children get hungry and cranky, and everyone’s enjoyment of the evening is lessened.” The why can also include the benefits of change or the consequences of continued behavior. “In the future, we’ll have to start without you if you’re late.”

They included suggestions for improvement or alternate behavior.
If a behavior is causing problems, suggest a better behavior. “We need you to be here at least 15 minutes before ritual is scheduled to begin.”

They chose an appropriate time/place.
Common wisdom suggests that we correct privately and praise publicly. While public praise isn’t always necessary, constructive criticism is almost always best done privately. An embarrassed person is not receptive.

They kept their emotions in check.
If you cannot control you own emotions when delivering feedback, the message will be lost. Crying and anger are sometimes understandable reactions to bad behavior, but get them under control before you enter into dialog about the behavior. If you lose your cool, you lose control.

Models for delivering feedback

Two models provide specific steps to help craft and deliver effective feedback.

NORMS is a model for crafting your message and helps ensure that you’re focusing on behavior and that your feedback is specific. This should be your first step every time to make sure your feedback is behavior focused. NORMS is an acronym for five attributes of objective feedback.

N – Not an interpretation. Address the behavior, not how you interpret the behavior. “You’ve been late for the last three circles, ” is behavior. “You don’t have enough respect for me, your coven, or the gods to show up on time, ” is an interpretation.
O – Observable. Address behavior that can be seen, heard, or otherwise observed by more than one person.
R – Reliable. Goes along with observable. Base your feedback on reliable observations, not hearsay or conjecture.
M – Measurable. Address behavior in terms of how many, how long, etc. Avoid absolutes like never and always. Use actual numbers, times, etc., whenever possible.
S – Specific. Address specific behaviors and cite specific examples.

DISC is a model for delivering your message and is an acronym for four steps to ensure that your message conveys both what and why, offers suggested alternative behavior, and identifies benefits/consequences.

D – Describe the behavior. Describe the behavior you identified using the NORMS model. Include measurements and observations when possible.
I – Identify the impact. Why is this behavior a problem? How is it impacting the individual, you, or the group?
S – Specify what you would like to see. Suggest alternate behavior or ways to improve.
C – Clarify the benefits/consequences. What will the individual gain by changing behavior? What are the consequences if she doesn’t change?

Putting it together

Scenario: Oak Moon, a member of your coven, wears a strong patchouli oil fragrance. Three coveners have commented on it and at least one covener, Starlight, is asthmatic and has difficulty breathing when she stands next to Oak Moon in circle.

Using NORMS, you focus only on the behavior – wearing strong fragrance that bothers others in circle. The strong fragrance is easily observable by anyone present and has been reliably observed by other coveners. It is measurable – three coveners have spoken up about it. You’ve made your message specific – the strength of the patchouli oil fragrance and its effect on other coveners is the issue.

Delivering the message using DISC might sound like this:

Describe: “Oak Moon, your patchouli oil is a lovely, strong fragrance – sometimes a bit too strong for the closeness of circle. Three people have come to me because the fragrance bothers them when we’re in circle, including Starlight.”
Identify: “You may not know that Starlight is asthmatic and has trouble breathing around strong fragrances.”
Specify: “Could you skip the patchouli when we’re in circle?”
Clarify: “It will let everyone breathe easier and focus more on what’s happening in the circle.”

The DISC model works well with positive feedback, too. Here’s an example:

Describe: “Oak Moon, you did an exceptional job on the essay you sent to WitchVox last month. The organization was excellent, and your analogies really helped me understand your point of view.”
Identify: “Sharing experience and thoughts with others helps our larger community grow and sets a good example for newer members of the coven.”
Specify: “I hope you’ll write more articles in the future.”
Clarify: “You’ll probably get a lot of comments and make some good contacts from your writing.”

Receiving feedback – the SARAH Model

So far, our examples have all been delivering feedback with no response from the person receiving. Of course, the person receiving will respond, and anticipating and preparing for the reaction is part of the effective feedback process.

SARAH is an acronym for five stages people go through when receiving constructive feedback. In addition to helping us deliver effective feedback, SARAH also helps us when we’re on the receiving end of constructive criticism. Recognizing our reaction can help us move more quickly through the stages and get the most benefit from the feedback.

S – Shock. “What? You’ve got to be kidding? I can’t believe anyone would say that about me!”
A – Anger. “How dare she! Who does she think she is? She’s got no right to talk to me that way. It’s none of her business.”
R – Rejection. “Well, that’s just stupid. She doesn’t know everything and I don’t need her advice.”
A – Acceptance. “Well, she did say it…and maybe there’s some truth in it.”
H – Help. “I can see her point. Maybe I’ll try her suggestions and see what happens.”

Do you recognize your own reactions? Have you experienced those reactions from others? When planning your feedback, take some time to anticipate the reactions and think about how you will respond. How can you keep the conversation on track? By thinking through the possible conversation ahead of time, you can avoid being caught off guard by emotional response from the recipient.

What if they just won’t listen?

It’s important to note that people don’t always get through all five stages. Shock, anger, and rejection may be as far as it goes. What do you do when your best efforts fail to produce results?

Perhaps the best advice is an adaptation of The Fourfold Way by Angeles Arrien:

Show up.
Pay attention.
Speak your truth.
Let go of the outcome.

You’ve shown up when you care enough to give feedback. You’ve paid attention when you learn and practice effective feedback skills. Once you’ve spoken your truth, the rest is up to the recipient. Let go of the outcome and let the recipient process your message and do with it what they will. For every friendship that is lost because someone gets angry over feedback they’ve received, another is lost because the person giving the feedback becomes angry and frustrated when their good counsel isn’t taken. Don’t let that happen to you.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you’ll consider applying these skills in your interactions. Sharing our love for each other with honest, candid, effective feedback is a great gift. May all your efforts be blessed and rewarded.

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The Magick of Life

The Magick of Life

Author: Crick

Have you ever taken a moment to notice the magick of life?

While walking along a country road, the reeds off to the side begin to waver to and fro. Is there a Sylph at play? Or is it Father Time heaving a sigh as he passes through?

Have you ever had the pleasure of listening to an old bullfrog bellowing out the blues? A grand old song of love lost and of love yet to be realized. An adage of life presented by way of the lyrics of nature in a symphonic way.

Have you watched as a caterpillar goes wafting along a rough barked tree? She is a beautiful metamorphous in motion, a budding mystery waiting to transform into a colorful and majestic form. From earth to sky, a wonderful delight forever touching our souls. The magick of life in a brief expanse of titillating color.

Have you ever noticed mother spider silently gazing over her web of silken strands. A superb artisan as she quietly guards the doorway to a special realm. Hers is an ancient lesson in patience. Sitting off to the side as a master shaman stealthily traverses from this realm to that using the glistening web as a mystic gateway into orbs of awareness floating about just beyond our senses.

Have you listened to the crescendo of a community of crickets as they sing in unison? First softly then loudly, then softly again, never missing a beat. An exercise in harmony, an everlasting bond of harmony. An awareness of their surroundings woven into the tapestry of their opera.

Such is the magick of life.

Have you ever noticed tiny dewdrops glistening like little diamonds clinging to the tall green blades of grass? An Undine child in the making perhaps as Father Sun draws them up into his warm embrace. Or perhaps a treasure forever in the making and yet never to be harvested.

Have you ever watched as a solitary leaf floats lazily out of the sky? Going this way and that and yet with a sure purpose. Directed by the currents of the breeze, much like life that is influenced by the changing winds of society. And yet a steady yet unseen goal looms before it.

Have you ever watched as a mother bird feeds her young? A bond of love stronger then steel and yet undetected by the human eye. The continuation of life, a magick ever so strong. For love can lead to birth as well as to death.

And so the wheel turns.

Have you ever watched as a black snake silently slithers across a path? A symbol of evil to some and yet seldom seen. Misunderstandings leading to fear, spiraling about in the darkness of ignorance. And yet knowledge will bring you back to the depths of understanding. And such awareness leads to tranquility and peace.

For such is the magick of life.

Have you ever watched a busy colony of ants? Oh the magick that resides within. A common purpose and involvement by all. No obstacle too great. No task too small. Surely lessons here to be learned by those who seek out such mysteries.

For the magick of life offers lessons not to be seen nor heard but to be felt and absorbed when we open up our hearts. Some teach that humans tower above nature. But as pagans it’s our way to be as one with life. For nature is life and the magick that she offers transcends all such misguided beliefs.

Have you noticed?

Deep within the forest, mother bruin lies within the embrace of hibernation, new life forming within her womb. An ancient ritual practiced through the ages. Have you ever wondered about her dreams as she sleeps through the frigid months of winter?
Now that is the magick of life.

Have you ever stood at the waters edge and watched as a mighty fish comes bursting through the surface of its watery domain? Perhaps it is carrying a message of truth and wisdom from He who resides in the murky depths.

Awaken witch, to the wonders of this realm. Listen to all that your ancestors knew to be true. Perhaps it is telling you to shake off the detritus of the mind and to feel with your heart that which is your destiny to experience as a pagan.

Far too long such knowledge has been suppressed by man; let nature be your ears and eyes.

Have you ever listened to the lone cry of a coyote during the moon lit night? A primal reaction to an awareness that has always been and will always be. Shaman quietly smiles in acknowledgement as his brother bids him welcome.

Such, my friend, is the magick of life.

Have you ever come upon the empty shell of a cicada clinging silently to a tree?

It would appear that death in place of life is in evidence; however a metamorphism onto a greater reality is the result of such an event. For death is the balance that creates life, one without the other is an energy, which has not come full circle, a partial reaction to what must be in order to be complete.

Have you ever sat amidst a field on the edge of dusk as an owl goes gliding quietly by? Some would say a witch in flight. Striking fear into its potential prey as it wings by on its deadly mission. And yet even fear has its place in the magick of life.

As pagans of whatever path, we too have something to contribute to the cacophony of magick that swirls all about us like a silent mist contained within the fog of reason.

Freeing our minds from the shackles of fears and insecurities that such knowledge brings to those who are not of pure heart is a step forwards towards such a contribution.

Acknowledging that such wisdom is within our ability to accept is a gift of awareness and acceptance that has been sorely lacking by so many of our species.

Throw off the blinders of prejudice and ignorance and allow yourself to be a student of life.

For the path of the pagan is truly the magick of life.

Categories: Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Goddess in My Life

My Goddess in My Life

Author: Frostig

My eyes wander up to the sky and back to the earth, my mind drifting as my body slows. I feel her around me. My heart quickens. A light sweat forms on my brow but still knowing she is near calms my muscles. All at once, I am ready to move or ready to relax. I know she helps guide my path in this world. I asked her to help me make decision with me, not for me.

She is Freya, the Goddess whom I love with all of me. By profession, I am a soldier and have been for 18 years, but I enjoy a softer side of life as well in writing and poetry. She is my muse; she is a lover and a warrior, a strong woman who knows what she wants and is willing to make sacrifices to meet her goals, inspiring me to do the same: to look at the world through another’s eyes, from a different point of view, to see things with a glowing halo of light.

I feel her presence in the love of my wife. The tender care she gives me. Her understated strength; I can feel it in her words. She helps me and guides me. We are a team and accomplish things as one.

I have written before here and some of you may remember that this is my third tour in Iraq. I have never asked to given anything from her, but for advice and guidance only. I ask for safe journeys and if I must fight that, I do so with honor and integrity. That if I die it is on my own terms and that I may do so with respect and honor and in the aid my friends.

In my life, I have always felt the strength in a feminine power. A mother watching over me keeping me safe, a lover holding me in her arms letting my soul rest in her tender hold. In the presence of women I feel refreshed.

When I feel the presence of my Goddess near I feel as if the world will bow to me. I ask her to guide me and help the things in my life have fall into place. I trust in her and knowing that as long as I uphold the promises I have made, not only to myself but to her as well.

The devotion I have for my Goddess feels more like a relationship than worshipping. We seem to have a give and take. Sometimes if I get too full of myself she lets me stubble a bit to remind me I need to have humility.

When I am living clean and doing the right thing, I have found that for no reason things fall into my lap and gifts both mental and physical appear in my path for me. I know at that time I need to share them, not hold them all for me. True gifts are not yours to keep they are yours to share; it is a great responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. Even if the gift is a part of you, we must learn to give our time and our knowledge to help others.

I carry with me a few things at all times. One is a copy of the Nine Noble Virtues the other is a picture with a memorial poem of a friend, killed last year by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. The virtues are a constant reminder to me of the guidelines I work to live by each day. The picture of my friend reminds me that we can be taken at anytime and to live your life by touching and enriching the lives of others.

So here I sit, the middle of Iraq again. I know I am here for a reason; something started but left undone. I have begun by strengthening the position of the Pagan Open Circle here and with the help of other friends’ state side I am working towards a higher level of religious awareness in the military. I know if I trust in her and make sound decisions our goals will be met, together.

I know she will not do everything for me, I would never ask that, if she did the goals that are met would not feel as sweet and I would feel a lacking inside of me. I need to earn my accomplishments.

I have learned that you must have honesty with yourself before you can have a trusting relationship with anyone else. Feel the honesty deep with in your soul. When I first felt it, I was scared, scared because of the raw truth I told myself. I instantly had to be with others; solitude was not what I felt I needed.

Nevertheless, it is exactly what I needed, the time to go over things in my mind to see that this is what I needed; it was the truth in my soul.

This is when I first felt her with me, I did not know who “She” was it was my first time with this emotion, this feeling, this presence. I started asking questions in the dim light of a campfire, seen flickering through the nylon of a tent. Speaking with a woman, a Goddess in her own right, her answers led me to more questions. I began reading and reading and reading.

Then a day came while reading, I saw her name and it felt good inside me when I said it, I know now it was her. She came to lift me up, to show me who I could become; the man I was meant to be. I thank her everyday for holding me safe for all these years, always there holding me but never wanting me to know she was there.

Now I’ve seen her in my heart and I feel her smile upon me.

By living a good life, acknowledging my weaknesses and my strengths, knowing my limitations, and pushing them a little further everyday, this is how I honor her. To show I am worthy of her graces, this is how I live. I thank her and every woman who has the Goddess in her — you know who you are –

You have touched my life and prepared me to be the man I am to become

Categories: Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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