Bystander Intervention

We teach bystander intervention in sexual assault and intimate partner violence prevention, but it is an important and useful tool in the prevention of many forms of personal violence.  As we see more emboldened public displays of racism, misogyny, and bigotry it is inevitable that one day you will be witness to an act of violence, whether that is bullying, a physical attack, or some other threat to a person’s safety.

This is a basic breakdown of reactive intervention techniques for bystander intervention, which you can use when you are in such a situation. Think about them, discuss them with your community, do some role playing. Be prepared to claim and wield your power for the protection of another.

Reactive intervention is designed to distract and interrupt the perpetrator and allow the victim time to respond and get to a safer place, or for the attacker to leave.

Basic techniques of reactive intervention are Direct, Distract, Delegate.

Direct: you intervene directly in the situation by inserting yourself into it, sometimes putting yourself between the victim and the perp, and addressing the perp directly by calling out their behavior. This is the most involved and potentially dangerous of the interventions, and you should be prepared for potential escalation and hatred being spewed at you too. But it is the most likely to allow the victim time to get away. Consider power dynamics carefully here; great option for those who carry privilege in the situation.

Distract: you intervene by distracting the perp with unrelated questions or comments. Ask for directions, ask about a game on the TV, somehow engage them in questions about something else going on around them. This is the second most involved of the interactions and does carry some potential for escalation.

Another technique is not to say anything, but make your presence known. Stand close to the victim. Stare at the perp. Let them know you are watching and present and may step in if it gets worse. This technique straddles the line of Distract and Direct.

Delegate: This technique gets other people involved. You may see something but not feel comfortable intervening by yourself. You can ask others around you to intervene with you. There is power in numbers and a group of people addressing a perp and making their presence known can shift a situation faster than anything else I’ve seen. This is a powerful option particularly for those who do not hold privilege in a situation or are not comfortable with confrontation (which is often due to an individual’s own trauma).

In the Delegate response, traditional BI suggests getting a police officer or other individual with systematically imbued power involved. In situations of violence of oppression I do not encourage this as a first reaction, as it may add to the victim’s trauma.

What techniques do/would you use? In what situations might you see these techniques be useful, or to fail?


Syren Nagakyrie

syrenSyren Nagakyrie is a Goddess-centered Polytheist Witch and Priestess, a feminist, herbalist, writer, and radical bridger of worlds. Her heart sings for the sea while her body yearns for the forest; her spirit is that of the Wandering Hermit. She also blogs at syrenofminds.wordpress.com


madonnacfrontoveronly

Pagan Anarchism looks pretty awesome.

It’s available as print or digital.

Want a copy?

Elowah Falls: Tears of the Singing Waters

After a rough night of grieving, I woke a little late and fired up the computer a little too soon to start working. I immediately jumped into juggling several important community-related things. Then I had to take a break to pay bills and well – that is never a fun experience. By then, I was done – stressed, frustrated, and sinking into despair. It was time for some nature therapy. I dug some clothes out of a bag (I hadn’t gotten to the laundry, either – no added stress there!) and hopped in the car. I knew I was going to go for a drive through the Columbia River Gorge on the Historic Highway, but I didn’t know where I was going to stop yet. I was thinking “waterfall” but since there are dozens in the Gorge that didn’t really narrow it down. But I really enjoy just getting in the car and seeing where it takes me – intuition, spirits, and gods guiding the way.

I passed all of the waterfalls on the way out, and thought maybe I would stop at Horsetail Falls, since I hadn’t felt the urge to stop anywhere else. When I didn’t get the nudge there either, I started to feel like maybe I would just turn around and go home. But then I remembered I hadn’t continued out Highway 30 to it’s junction with the interstate. I drove a couple more miles and pulled off at the parking area before I got back on to Interstate 84. I looked at the sign – Elowah Falls trail. Oh! I had read about Elowah Falls, and the name struck some chord in me*. I checked in and got the definite ‘Yes – GO!’ so I tightened my hiking boots and set off, not really sure where I was going or what to expect.

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The trail is just under a mile to the falls, with a few hundred feet of elevation gain; its just enough to make me feel like I’ve worked to get there. Combined with the first time on a trail with no field guide, the exertion and the unknown was enough to start wearing down the walls I’d put up to hold myself together. The trail parallels the interstate for the entire length of it, adding some frustration and a heaping dose of paradox.

It is beautiful – vibrant rain forest above and below, roaring highway to the south. It is such that you can’t actually hear the falls until you get close enough to see it peeking through the trees and you start descending a series of switchbacks. It is a bit labyrinthine – trees growing across the trail at odd angles, washouts and rocks, green leaves and flowering plants obscuring your view.

And then you start to feel the water – the air sings with it, the earth softens with it. The trees and rocks are covered in moist moss. I dipped my hand into the pool beneath the small stream falling from the rocks and touched the sweet water to my head. 20160526_151522 (1)

A few more steps and I stopped, my breath caught as a rush of energy went through me and tears came to my eyes. Opened before me was a great amphitheater where water played, cascading over rocks and singing with such playful joy. Elowah was falling majestically from the cliff. It felt like another time, another place; something out of a fantasy novel. The spirit of this waterfall presided over it all with a kind and joyful, reverently guarding presence. 20160526_152110 (1)

As I came to the falls a crow flew over my head, joining a hawk high in the sky. They did not seem to do the usual territorial debate, rather they circled and danced in the sky. Dozens of swallows flit above me, birdsong resonating through the open canyon. There were no other embodied humans there.

 I wept.

I usually do, at waterfalls. At least the ones that aren’t displayed as tourist attractions. Something about the singing in the air, the joyful play, the gentle power – the timeless presence that is constantly in movement. It resonates with my watery-airness in a way that is comforting and fills me to overflowing.

And I think about how grateful we should all be that such beauty exists. That sense of awe cannot be replaced or duplicated.* And yet, our capitalist society doesn’t appreciate it enough at all, beyond value as a resource. I wept for the highway that cut through this place, wept for those beings, human and non-human, who used to be here. Oh, the land spirits in the Pacific Northwest are strong and lively beings, make no mistake. But what must it have been like before we paved it over? Before we ran out and murdered the indigenous peoples that knew them as kin? Before we named new spirits in the name of progress?

I marveled at the fantastic geological formations, at all of the forces that merged and dance and broke apart over millions of years to create this place. I watched the faces in the waterfall, and formally introduced myself to the spirit there.

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As I left the Gorge and made my way back into the city I had to stop the car to cry again. I can’t really tell you what that was about. It was a moving cascade of things. Rather like a waterfall.

I’ve returned many times since this first visit, at different times of day and in different states of my own being. Each time the face of the falls has offered a different glimpse, had different songs to share. I feel the pull to this place as I feel the pull to my own altars, to my own heart, in this relationship we are developing.

 *A note on the name of the falls – Elowah. In the brief research I have done, it seems no one is claiming to know the meaning of the name or why the falls were named Elowah. A mountaineering club had the name changed in 1915. If it is/was a word in the language of the indigenous peoples, I haven’t been able to find it. In Hebrew, Elowah is another word for God. I got the sense that the spirit of the falls liked the name okay and the feel of the word is appropriate, but it is not the right name. As is usually the case.
**Even when we can’t access wild spaces, we can be grateful for their existence. The sense of awe that they inspire is not the only source of such awe, but it is one source, and is not more or less valid than any other.

Originally published on Call of the Syren

Book Review: Asfidity & Mad-Stones a Further Ramble through Hillfolks’ Hoodoo

H. Byron Ballard’s second ‘little book’ Asfidity & Mad-Stones is a mighty thing. There is no fluff here. In its 200 pages, every sentence is a bite of wisdom, every chapter an open doorway into exploring a fading way of life. This Further Ramble into Hillfolks’ Hoodoo feels to me like a long wander through the mountains with a woman whose wisdom is as wide as a valley and as deep as a holler; every step and every word shared an intentional passing on of that knowledge.

The author’s roots in Appalachia are “deep and twisty,” going back generations. Growing up in a cove in the far reaches of a county in western North Carolina, she offers a perspective that is rarely found in the growing popularity of hoodoo and folk magic. Byron’s tales of gardening and exploring, of haints and land spirits, of signs and omens from a lifetime of having her feet in the same place supported by generations before her, lends an undeniable authenticity to her writing.

Byron begins our journey in a laurel hell; a grove of Mountain Laurel that has grown scraggly and tangled. A laurel hell appears mysterious and inviting but it is “deceptively beautiful and potentially dangerous,” though navigable if you “know its ways and keep your wits about you.” Byron guides you skillfully through the ways of Appalachian folk magic and hoodoo until you too no longer fear the beauty of it.

Chapter One grounds us into where we all must begin – the land beneath our own feet. Whether you, like Byron, have roots in the place where you live or are a member of our very mobile culture, and whether you live in the country or the city, you can still find ways to connect with the land where you are. Byron reminds us how to do this, and entreats us to “treat the land like a new lover” and truly come into an understanding and relationship with the soil, the water, the wind, the history, and the lore.

In the following chapters the author discusses the powers of observation, common and uncommon sense, the liminality of time, energy work, and working with Ancestors and land spirits while continuing to provide us with spells and techniques to try in our growing practice. Her message – that through regular practice these skills can be attained by most anyone – is woven throughout the book.

Hillfolks’ Hoodoo is a no nonsense, incredibly simple yet indescribably profound approach to magic and connecting with that which is Seen and Unseen in our world. It is simple because this stuff IS simple, though not always easy. It is accessible by us all if we just set aside our fretting and our laziness and get to it. What it is not is ‘dumb’ or ‘backwards’ and if you have any prejudices about the peoples of Appalachia, you would do right by yourself and them if you set those aside too. This book will prove to you the deep wisdom and strength to be found in those hills.

It will also provide you with lessons in history and legend. Throughout the book are many anecdotes, quotes, and references to an older way of life – a way of life that most certainly was not simple or easy. Very special gems are left for us between each chapter – even more receipts (a traditional word for ‘recipes’) and techniques that feel like extra little gifts from an already overflowing basket.

AsfidityMadStones

Witches and rootworkers love our tools, and there is a chapter dedicated to the work-basket for Appalachian folk magic. From tools (and I do mean literal tools – this is a very down-to-the-earth practice, yeah?) to dirts, dusts, waters, and stones there are things here which may surprise you, presented for use in a way that is unique to Appalachia.

Another of the gifts that Byron offers to us through her decades of experience is the concept of The Five Needs. Anyone who works with their community in a clergy or practitioner role can probably relate to this distillation of the most common motivations for folks who reach out to us for help. Broken down into five categories, Byron offers more direct and effective advice for addressing these concerns.

Byron’s sensible and magical advice continues as she discusses growing, wildcrafting, and using herbs even within the city. But I found her discussion of the old-timey medicine chest to be particularly delightful. Chock-full of anecdotes and receipts, this is a wonderful glimpse into the history of healing in Appalachian culture while also providing current uses for items which are easily and economically accessible.

Toward the end of our ramble, after much time and distance spent together, Byron brings our attention to a discussion of hexes. Referring to this type of magic as banework, she breaks it down into a helpful system of levels. Byron makes a strong case for learning the history, techniques and reasoning behind this work, and for a reassessment of the common understanding of karma and the three-fold law, even if you decide banework is not for you. She proposes that banework is simply another form of healing, though certainly a more extreme form, likened to the cauterizing of a wound or the amputation of a diseased limb. This work should be approached objectively after full and careful consideration, and no one should guilt you into or out of doing the work if you decide it is appropriate.

Hexwork has long been a tool of the oppressed, being used to “affect their betters and abusers for centuries.” When the disenfranchised are refused access to justice, to resources, to the necessary things of life to ensure health and happiness, what options are there left to us? Magic, to include the use of banes, is power that is accessible to us, that we can hold on to when all else has been stripped away. I say it is well time to reclaim it.

If you are looking for a guide on tuning in to the natural world, working with the plants that grow around you, connecting with spirits and Ancestors, and sharpening your magic skills through regular use, this is it. It is a joy to read and a wealth of research and information. Byron is instructive without being preachy, poetic without being self-important. While more advanced than her first book Staubs and Ditchwater, I think Asfidity & Mad-Stones is appropriate for those just starting on their path as well as those who are looking to enhance their current practices, and for anyone who would enjoy a friendly voice filled with wisdom and deep connection to the heart of the mountains.

H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA is a ritualist, teacher, speaker, and writer. She has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences and her writing has appeared widely in print and electronic media. She serves as elder priestess at Mother Grove Goddess Temple. Asfidity & Mad-Stones: A Further Ramble through Hillfolks’ Hoodoo may be purchased directly from her website www.myvillagewitch.com or through her local independent retailers Malaprops or Raven and Crone.

Syren Nagakyrie is a Goddess-centered Polytheist Witch and Priestess, a feminist, herbalist, writer, and radical bridger of worlds. Her heart sings for the sea while her body yearns for the forest; her spirit is that of the Wandering Hermit. She also blogs at syrenofminds.wordpress.com

Liberation Magic

The meeting of Light and Dark (Abandoned Rail Tunnel, Donner Pass, CA) Photo by Syren
Photo by Syren

Welcome to the third monthly column of Liberation Magic! The goal of this column is to build a network of practitioners who are turning their energy towards the fight against capitalism and to honor the diversity of practice within our communities. To that end, this month we welcome a contribution from Alan Evans.

If you would like to catch up on the initial foundational work it can be found here. As discussed there, in the future this work will include both cursework and healing work, both of which are optional. You can find the explanation of and resources justifying this decision at the link above.

If you would like to offer a contribution to this work, leave a comment and I’ll be in touch!

Le Domaine Sanitaire
By Alan Evans

This partitioning is my own formulation and came about as the result of being asked for a favor by a friend who themselves were doing a favor. While the favor doing was abruptly called off by all in the name of abiding by our gut instinct, I kept the results of my side of things and share it with you today as a way of conflating a third step to Syren’s Liberation Magic series’ foundations ‘Spirits of the Land’ and ‘Symbols of Capitalism’. The thought process behind this was fairly simple: location, location. You won’t catch a surgeon performing surgery in a landfill nor a general fighting a battle (willingly) on a battle field where they have no advantages; so why should you magically assault the fabric of modern society in a space which does not achieve both of these things. While I didn’t have these things in mind when I formulated it, the principles of conception were quintessentially the same. The phrase ‘cordon sanitaire’ itself, though originally French, is used almost exclusively in English to mean a boundary which separates two areas, one which is safe/clean/sanitary/unpolluted from one which is not; the change to Le Domaine Sanitaire is both literary-poetic license and functional in nature.

Le Domaine Sanitaire

Le Domaine Sanitaire is the process and results thereof by which one crafts a certain number of nodes to then be arranged geometrically in any pleasing formation that allows for an uninterrupted span between each individual node; most basic examples include such two dimensional shapes as triangles, squares and hexagons. In so far as ensuring there exists an uninterrupted span between each node from which the geometry’s structure is formed, possible arrangements are unrestricted in terms of dimension and formation; the only limitation being space one has available and the manner in which one is able to establish Le Domaine Sanitaire: a cube, three dimensional in nature, will be more complex to properly establish than a square, by way of example. The function of this domain is to provide the practitioner with a pristine area within which to undertake their workings; within Le Domaine the only admixing energies present should be those which the practitioner entreats within.

When established adequately, Le Domaine Sanitaire permits the movement of energies from its exterior to its interior only when conveyed by its architect; bring to mind the image of a cell wall, permitting the osmosis of only those elements which it deems beneficial. In this instance, the architect serves as the role of osmosis while Le Domaine represents the cell wall and all tools, energies, denizens; materials et cetera are the elements in question. Presently, within Le Domain, the practitioner shall be able to convoke and amalgamate with a far greater adroitness than would be possible sans Le Domaine Sanitaire.

Once a certain number of nodes have been crafted they may be used in any configuration you desire however, a set is a set and best left as a set; craft six nodes, use six nodes together; two then two. Potential exists for two disparate sets to be used in conjunction but such a conjugation bears little reasonable purpose as One only requires Le Domaine Sanitaire not Les Domaines Sanitaire. The crafting of the nodes of Le Domaine are outlined following; it bears iteration in all clears terms however that Le Domaine is as much a template as it is a schematic; while much of the structure of Le Domaine will be the same across a dozen iterations by a dozen varied practitioners the crafting of Le Domaine is much like poetry and those elements which One uses will not by necessity be the exact of an Other.

Materials for a Node
One large salt crystal
An inscriptive medium
A surface fashioned of paper or ceramic or wood
A source of flame
An offering of combustible nature
Implements with which to anoint in hallowing, blessing or sanctifying
All other things one requires or ordinarily uses for undertakings of this nature.

Hereafter follows, Le Domaine Sanitaire:

“I take up a measure of red paint, long stored among those tools upon my altar, issue into it respectfully a measure of my spittle (Bekkenkon lacking the appropriate edge to draw blood in its stead). I mix myself well into the dried ink, rousing it from some lengthy slumber with the brush for this purpose. Upon three sheets of smoked and white paper I scribe the runes Elhaz and Sowilo for their uncompromising capacities. Set in the midday sun upon my floor to dry, I take up a fourth sheet upon which I put in lead the Sator verse for its properties of dispelling, discharging and dispersing. With flame and pottery I set a fire within the verse as the smoke from its offering is made into itself spoken above its ashes. Salt, well settled in the palm of my hand and properly fitted for my fist, is set upon the spittle-in-bloods-stead. Ash divided is stacked atop Salt stacked upon Elder Futhark. Brittle rosemaries and oils likewise are aflammed, their edict set about three cornerstones to sounding of the Sator one final time.”

Le Domaine Sanitaire nodes. Photo Alan Evans
Nodes       Photo Alan Evans

Afterword

Stylistically, I set about writing this in this manner deliberately. Both as someone who has studied human language in forms from literature to theatre to the spoken word in mother tongue and foreign, and as a practitioner of whatever substitute is currently in vogue for magic; I don’t feel that the language we use to conduct ourselves ought to always be the exact same as what we use for everyday happenstance. Certainly, there are times when its simply the best choice at the time but for things like this I really feel that many miss the chance to full utilize the human capacity for language. This is, in part, behind my choice of name for this Le Domaine Sanitaire; I needed to give this some kind of proper noun and what initially came to mind was the very specific idea that is behind the English use of cordon sanitaire, which grew into the more appropriate Domaine Sanitaire. Even the choice to make it Le rather than Les or Un was considered, so too was the choice to keep the name in French. In acknowledgement of this somewhat fringe approach however, what follows is a series of notes in elucidation of the above.

Most glaringly, I shall clarify that Bekkenkon (別乾坤) is the name of a Japanese kiridashi (切出) I had the chance to hand make myself and is essentially a wood whittling knife that I use sometimes for things other than wood whittling.

The materials can be divided into roughly into two areas; those things which are required (the fewer in number) and those things which each individual/group will bring to the working lain out above. The salt crystal, implement and ink to write with and surface to write the rune/glyph/sigil on and then put the salt upon are all necessary. Physically, the combination of those two things plus the ash of the combustible offering are the Node used in establishing Le Domaine. Beyond that, everything is ritualist’s choice; I use Elder Futhark Runes significantly in my pursuits so I used Elhaz and Sowilo at the time (I should like to note that while I obviously would still use Elder Futhark Runes I would make some slight changes to my choices as compared to this first one). If you practice diasporic Voodoo/Voudun then you should use a veve you feel is most appropriate; work with Ogham Fews more than any particular set of runes, use Ogham Fews.

This is a pattern throughout the remainder of the process: I had dried rosemary and knew from past research that it was at least broadly appropriate for this kind of process; in my opinion a better ‘non-denominational’ herb choice would be sage, even better in the same vein would be verbena (vervain). If a Herbalist, use your greater knowledge to make a dry poultice of better herbs for a more potent result. Got a real knack for poppets and doll magics, make one up appropriately and use that rather than herbs. Strong in the ways of Thelema or Ars Goetia, then use the appropriate substitutes for the Sator verse that I used. Happen to be a potter or sculptor in your free time or work life, then make a better vessel than the paper that I used; put thought into it and make the container a piece of working in and of itself. Not one for drawing blood and/or won’t use substitutes? Don’t need me to tell you what will work for you in place of my bit of spit and red paint.

The important thing to keep in mind when you are doing this one for yourself is that even though I came up with this, even though I have recounted my way of doing it so that you have something to work from, a large part of what goes into making the nodes for Le Domaine comes from you. You are the one who knows best what things you want to keep out, let in, need to take particular care to safeguard against or alternatively don’t need to worry about at all. If you’re a classical four elements type of person who has too much fire in your stars or not enough water in your cards then by all rights you should know best how to adjust and accommodate for yourself.

Alan Evans

A silver tongued seductee of language, consumately un-settled and mortally afflicted with fernweh, Alan Evans learns for the sake of learning and the strangers-become-companions met along the way. He pines for the gods, teaches English, learns languages, plays drums, understands people, makes love in four languages, writes and fights like only Australian grandson of an Irishwoman can and will salaciously flirt to death any ‘Wizard of Oz’ quips. Main site: Trees in the Train Station. Also contributes to The Elemental Witch.

Dis-re-member-ment

Mendocino, CA. Photo by Syren
Mendocino, CA. Photo by Syren

Walking along the streets
Of this hustle bustle town
My body begins to call out

Feeling pulled in many directions
pieces of me begin to tear away

Smoky game room – my eyes
One is being used as a die
In a game of craps
The other, a cue ball
In a game of pool

Well I say
It is your game now
My cards are on the table
Wager what you may
It becomes your risk
I hope you are ready

Enter a pub – my head
Sitting in the jukebox
Doomed forever to look out
through the looking glass
And to play those tunes
the people pay to hear
And quickly forget about

Horrified my body begins to run
My legs taking it further from these images
And as I run on
My remaining parts begin to drift
Away

My arms appear on the beach
that place where Water and Land
Air and Fiery sun meet
So they can swim forever
And be raised in eternal reverence

My torso becomes a tree
Beautiful and strong
Standing tall and proud
Among its sisters and brothers
And the tree is cut down
Used as logs in a pyre
Flames burning high
In this ephemeral state

My legs are still running
In endless circles
Running in spirals of uncertainty
Running away

And my Sacred organ shall be buried
Deep within Mother Earth
So no others may defile it
And it may Fertilize and Bless
the Earth
Blood Roses growing to mark the burial ground

And my heart?
My heart
Shall sprout wings

And FLY

Ecstasy, from the WomanRunes. Photo by Syren
Ecstasy, from the WomanRunes. Photo by Syren

Liberation Magic

June 2015

This monthly column will appear on the Friday prior to the Dark Moon. My hope is that this will develop into a group of practitioners joining energy and intention to combat the effects of capitalism and help bring about a better world. In order to build this community, I encourage discussion regarding your experience of the Work in the comments. I also want to honor the diversity of practice within our communities and invite suggestions for future workings.

The Work presented here will be of a basic-intermediate nature so as to remain accessible to the most people. You are welcome to adjust the working to suit your personal practice and style of magic.

This is the second column, and if you would like to catch up on the initial foundational work it can be found here. As discussed in the first column, in the future this work will include both cursework and healing work, both of which are optional. You can find the explanation of and resources justifying this decision at the link above.

The meeting of Light and Dark (Abandoned Rail Tunnel, Donner Pass, CA) Photo by Syren
The meeting of Light and Dark (Abandoned Rail Tunnel, Donner Pass, CA) Photo by Syren

Moon in Gemini

This month the Moon doesn’t move into Gemini until midday Sunday (Pacific time) then goes void of course at the time of the Dark Moon. We’re doing some additional foundational work this month that will be worthwhile to continue, so anytime you can start will be fine. The working this month will be to identify and create a symbol for Capitalism and to develop a visualization for what the world could be like post-Capitalism.

Developing a Symbol

I’m going to assume you already know the power of symbols and the magical use of them. If you do not or are wondering what the purpose of creating a symbol for capitalism is, there are many resources out there. This will be basic exercise to identify and create a symbol, with some additional options. As always, adjust for your personal practice.

Prepare your space with whatever tools you will be working with to create this symbol – perhaps pen and paper, markers, clay, whatever material feels right for you. Begin with whatever your practice is to prepare for visualization and magical work. As you breathe, see the word CAPITALISM in front of you. What does this word conjure up for you? What emotions? Do you feel anything in your body? Breathe into these reactions. Now what images or symbols come up in association with the word CAPITALISM? Let the symbols come to you. Once you feel like you are fully present with your reactions to, experiences of, and symbolism for capitalism, take up your materials. You are going to create a symbol that represents the thing that is capitalism.

If you are a wordsmith, then perhaps a wordcloud of words that you associate with capitalism. If you are an artist, then perhaps a drawing that combines that symbols that come to you. If you prefer working with your hands, then use clay to sculpt a representation. Let your intuition guide you. Continue breathing and allow the reactions and symbols to arise from you.

Another option, particularly if you don’t connect with the visualization and creative type exercises, is to create a Shadow Pentacle that represents the negative/harmful aspects of capitalism.

Draw a pentacle on a full sheet of paper. Label the points per your tradition. Think about Capitalism and it’s harmful effects as they relate to your associations with each point/element. For example: in Earth could be the pooling of resources for the few or the degradation of the earth; in Air the control of innovative thought or air pollution; in Fire the suppression of the will and passion of the people or the abuse of combustion engine; in Water the dismissal of the intuitive or the waste of water for industry; in Spirit the loss of divine consciousness or the forgetting of the Gods… you get the idea. Write as many associations as you can think of.

Once you’ve completed your symbol, place it on an altar or whatever type of magical working space you use. Sit with it often, reflecting on the symbolism and your reactions.

We’ll use this symbol in future workings.

Visualization of the Future

So this is actually something I’ve adapted from various strategic planning and goal setting activities. It helps the work to keep an idea of what exactly the world you are fighting for will look like when we win. This may be an ideal, or a “fantasy”, but if we can’t dream it, it will never come to be.

Prepare for visualization work as you normally do. The year is 2040 (25 years from now) and the fight against capitalism has been won. You wake up to your day and step outside – what do you see? What does the world outside your door look like? Who is around? What sensations do you feel?

Access whatever your primary source of news and information is (the newspaper, the internet, the television, your neighbors). What is being discussed? What is the news of the day? What good things are happening in the world? What has happened now that capitalism has fallen?

Go about your day as you normally would. What has changed? What do you do? How do you relate to the people around you and the where you are?

Continue with this visualization as long and as far as feels appropriate for you. Develop this place where capitalism has fallen, society is healthy with all of our needs met, and the earth and Spirits are thriving.

Jot down some notes of this ideal world. Return to it often.

Another option, again especially for those who are not as fond of visualization work, is to create an Empowered Pentacle with all of the associations you would make with your ideal world. Go through the same exercise as you did with the Shadow Pentacle.

Keep your notes and/or your Empowered Pentacle on your altar or magical workspace.

There is no right or wrong to any of this work, and we would love to hear what you come up with in any of the practices, so please do share in the comments!

Next month Alan Evans, another writer on Gods&Radicals, will be offering a practice he calls Le Domaine Sanitaire as a way to ‘prepare the magical field’. I’m excited for his contribution. It is also one of the reasons I decided to put off the work of identifying the egregore of Capitalism – but if that is work you are interested or already engaged in, you are welcome to share here about it if you choose.

Until next time – keep on resisting beautifully!

Liberation Magic

 

May 2015

This monthly column will appear on the Friday prior to the Dark Moon. It will be more than just a column however. My hope is that this will develop into a group of practitioners joining energy and intention to combat the effects of capitalism and help bring about a better world. In order to build this community, I encourage discussion regarding your experience of the Work in the comments. I also want to honor the diversity of practice within our communities and invite suggestions for future workings.

Each column will have two types of workings – one baneful working and one healing working. This will make some people uncomfortable, but it is an intentional decision. This is not the place to argue for the use of baneful work, and much has been written about the radical nature of witchcraft and the place of cursework within it, so I will refer you to Jason Thomas Pitzl’s Witchcraft Manifesto, Sarah Anne Lawless’ Curse Collection, and Byron Ballard’s interview on Willful Bane: The Joy of Hex.

If you are opposed to cursework or do not feel you have the appropriate experience to accomplish that work, then you have the option of only doing the healing working. If you are doing the baneful working I encourage you to also do the healing working. The Work presented here will be of a basic-intermediate nature so as to remain accessible to the most people. You are welcome to adjust the working to suit your personal practice and style of magic.

The meeting of Light and Dark (Abandoned Rail Tunnel, Donner Pass, CA) Photo by Syren
The meeting of Light and Dark (Abandoned Rail Tunnel, Donner Pass, CA) Photo by Syren

Moon in Taurus

The moon moves into Gemini early in the morning on the 18th and Mercury stations retrograde later that evening, so I would recommend starting this work sometime over the weekend. This month will be a foundational practice and so will not include any cursework; we’ll just be developing the foundation for moving forward. The Moon in Taurus is a good time to start these workings to help us build a solid foundation and stick-to-it-ness and to always bring us back to the Earth. So we will begin with a simple working to connect us to spirits of the land where we live and build an allyship. You may very well already have a practice similar to this – adjust accordingly.

Find the closest “nature” to you. This may be a tree planted in a city sidewalk, a body of water, or a deep forest. You could also do some research and find where a river or forest or other sacred place used to be. The only important thing is that this is a place that you have regular access to; you will be spending a fair amount of time here so the easier the access the more likely you will be to continue the practice. Go to the place you have chosen, bringing with you an offering of water and any other natural offering that you feel is appropriate, and pen and paper. As with any new relationship, you should start by introducing yourself and saying why you are there. Say something like this: “I’m [name] and I’m here to get to know the spirits of this place so that I may better fight for/serve/honor/understand you as I work to bring an end to Capitalism and it’s effects. I bring you an offering of [x] and am open to experiencing what you have to share with me, if you are willing.” (You can place any caveats you feel are necessary – it is important to be very clear about what you are open to and not open to in both directions, just like any relationship consent is key so address this on an ongoing basis).

Give your offering and then begin to open yourself to the place. Ask the spirits of this place if it is ok for you to be there and if they want to work with you. Take a few deep breaths, breathing into your third eye/mind, your heart, and your sex, then sending your energy into the earth. Continue breathing into your energy body that surrounds you, expanding it outwards until it surrounds this place. Now listen. Pay attention to everything around you, noticing the specifics of this place. Take down notes of what you hear and see and any messages that are given to you.

When you are ready, give your thanks and make a commitment to return to this place often. You are developing a relationship with the spirits of this place to better understand the effects of capitalism on Them and Their place and build an ally relationship; doing that requires frequent interaction but only commit to what you know you will do, to build trust.

Continue returning to this place throughout the Work that you do. As the relationship develops, listen to what these spirits have to say, but also keep in mind that spirits have their own way of communicating and verifying what they tell you can also be important. It is perfectly ok to question the spirits you are working with and even to develop a “secret password” to identify your allies – you don’t automatically believe everything your friends say or trust that an odd text message comes from them without verification. Keep notes and refer to them often.

So that’s it for this month. Have fun and do let us know how things go in the comments! If something comes up that you need help with you are welcome to reach out to me as well.

Next month we’ll work on developing a symbol for and identify the egregore of Capitalism, so that we have something more concrete to direct our magic towards.

In the meantime, resist beautifully.