Posted in Cottage Witchcraft, Wicca/Witchcraft

Hail Vesta! Goddess of the Hearth

vspToday is a holiday observed by some in the Pagan community called Vesta’s Opening. Vesta, in simplistic terms was the Roman goddess of the hearth. Vesta’s name roughly translates to “torch,” and she was thought of as “Keeper of the Flame.” If you ever use or hear the phrase, “keep those home fires burning,” you can thank Vesta for that.

Vesta usually appeals to women, as a symbol of domestic empowerment. Me, having a deep connection to my feminine side (there’s no explaining it, I just always have), have a great fondness for Vesta. Actually, my greatest connection is with Hestia, who was the Greek incarnation of the Goddess of the Hearth. I tend to default to the Greek gods and goddesses.

I am in charge of our home. I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and most of the home chores. I enjoy doing it, always have, and my wife is delighted about it, as she absolutely hates doing those things. So I’ve always felt an affinity for Hestia.

The Roman version of Hestia, who was Vesta, had her scope of influence widened by the Romans. Not only was she thought of as Keeper of the Flame at home, but they made her a goddess of the community and public fires.

I bring all this up because today my calendar informed me was Vesta’s Opening. In ancient Rome, the Feast of Vesta began on June 7th. On June 9th the Vestal virgins opened the holy sanctuary so women who baked goods could come into the temple and give the baked goods, usually bread, as offerings to Vesta. After 8 days, the temple was closed, it was cleaned, and the temple then reopened.

On the 15th, donkeys (Vesta’s sacred animal) were decorated with wreaths as part of the temple opening celebrations. Thus today’s incarnation of Vesta’s Opening.

There is more information on this page, including a Litha spell/ritual that I have performed for several years. It is simple, yet reverential to the Goddess of the Hearth.

So today, if you feel so moved, give thanks to Vesta for your home and hearth. Perhaps light a candle in the kitchen in her honor, and even give that ritual a try later this month.

Blessed Be!

Posted in Cottage Witchcraft, Everyday Life

A More Simple Lifestyle

IMG_1242Thought I’d lighten the mood a bit today. In other blogs I’ve written about my personal quest to carve our a more natural, simple lifestyle, but not here. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts. First, let me say I’m a meat eating, pizza loving, booze consuming guy. I grew up in an era where there was not a lot of emphasis on organic or vegetarianism. Our parents smoked in the house and car, and my siblings and I rode in the back part of a station wagon where there were zero seatbelts. The idea of wearing a helmet while riding our bikes occurred to no one. Now in my 50’s, I am a bit more careful, but I don’t think I could give up meat, and I like a cocktail here and there, and there, and there..

However, when my wife and I decided to start living a simpler lifestyle, I began thinking about all the cleaning & personal health care products we drag home from Target. I took a hard look at the list of ingredients and yeah, ick. So I went about making some changes.

For a cleaning spray, I find a vinegar & water mix is quite sufficient in most cases. Add some tea tree oil (careful with pets) or lemon essential oil, and it’s more effective. There are tons of websites with homemade cleaning product recipes. Careful with vinegar on porous surfaces, laminated wood toilet seats and grout. Vinegar eats away at that kind of stuff.

To be very honest, I have gotten lazy and use 7th Generation products a lot. For 3 bucks, their cleaning spray is great, as well as their dishwasher detergent, tub & tile cleaner, and toilet bowl cleaner.

I have mostly stopped using Clorox 2 and Downy. I buy a bottle of Downy a few times a year, and use it sparingly. Honestly, I can’t ever tell the difference if I use Clorox 2 or not. My wife swears by Dawn dish soap, and since I cook and she does the dishes that don’t get washed in the dishwasher, she makes that choice. We used to use Swiffer Wet Jet for our wood and tile floors, but now find that plain water does a fine job in most cases. I will admit that Swiffer floor and hand dusters are great because we have pets.

I still use Tide, but here’s the thing. As it got more “concentrated,” the caps that you use to measure out the detergent stayed the same size. So I use about 1/2 of what they suggest, and I’ve never noticed a difference. Same with Clorox 2 or Downy if you use those. The dryer sheets have disappeared from our home completely.

I’m planning to tackle homemade liquid hand soap. Personally, I think it’s more cost effective to buy it, but take a look at the photo at the top of this post of that list of ingredients of Target hand soap. It’s cringe worthy. Not to single out Target brand. Soft Soap label is almost exactly the same.

As a guy, I don’t use a lot of “beauty” products. I completely stopped using face wash. Water only washing has improved my complexion so much I’m baffled by it. Instead of body wash, a bar of soap suffices in the shower. To be brutally honest, except for a few obvious body areas, you don’t absolutely need soap every time you shower.

I use the water only method for hair washing most of the time. It takes time getting used to. There are tons of websites on water only or “no poo” washing. I will admit to using shampoo on my beard every day. Otherwise, it gets weirdly flaky. For a moisturizer, I fill a 2 ounce dropper bottle with sweet almond oil (I would use jojoba if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg), and I add about 10 or so drops of patchouli oil. I use this while my face and beard are wet, let it sit for a bit, then pat dry with tissue. Again, this has cleared up dry/greasy skin problems, and other complexion problems.

For deodorant, I mostly use the same mixture I use on my face, but that bottle has a few more drops of patchouli. Again, I let it soak in, then pat it dry. I don’t sweat a lot, so I’m lucky there. I will tell you that for awhile, I noticed a bit of odor at the end of the day. But after a month or so, that went away. Your body does adjust. It was 95 yesterday, I used the patchouli/almond oil mixture, and this morning I smell, well, neutral. I do use a regular deodorant if I know I will be in close quarters with others, such as a theater, because I know some people just hate any trace of patchouli. The thing is with the patchouli deodorant and the face moisturizer is balance.  You don’t want to absolutely reek of patchouli. Faint scent is the goal.

For first aid use, essential oils are really helpful. Lavender used on cuts and scrapes is great. I’ve found patchouli, lavender, tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary and ginger are the most useful essential oils for me. Again, there are lots of websites on the use of oils.  They are very concentrated, so please, learn about them before using them!! And I don’t ever use them on or around pets. I know some people do, but that just scares me. I would suggest Mountain Rose Herbs for a supplier, but there are many reputable sellers. But seriously, do some homework before using essential oils.

So those are just some of the changes we’ve made in order to live a bit more naturally and Eco-friendly. It’s not perfect, but it’s head and tails above how we used to live.

Blessed Be!

 

 

Posted in Cottage Witchcraft, Everyday Life

When A Wife Knows Best

800acfa102aaec37479833fe4f16809aSo the other day, I kinda made the decision to move away from a hippie lifestyle, and replace it with with one that was more gothic in nature. I made some noise about being able to lessen depression by embracing a darker outlook, and this is not something with which I am unfamiliar. I’ve lived a goth-based path in the past, and it just seemed like I needed to revisit it.

Enter my wife. She happened to take a look at my Twitter on Saturday, and sauntered into the room I was in and her words were, as close as I remember, “What the fuck are you doing online? I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about, and gave her a look like, what? For the next ten minutes she expressed her concerns about, and this is in no particular order: changing my Craft name (she loves Patchouli Sky), adopting a darker outlook (“your outlook is dark enough without looking for more ways to make it dark”), changing blogs (she loves this one), and flip-flopping online (those people are going to think you are crazy).

Oh, there was more, but lets just skip the particulars. One of her major points was: “you love the goth decor, and some of the art, music, and practices, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all dark on me!” Then she went on about it being the bright time of the year, time to go out and ride my bike for hours every day, do stuff outside, play with the grandkids at the park, and just get out and enjoy nature.

Then there was the Cupid arrow through my heart. “I love the hippie you. I like you worrying about the earth, making homemade stuff, watching baseball games, and herb gardening with me all summer. I don’t want you to get in that darker frame of mind.”

Well shit. She knows me better than I know me, and she’s been observing the witch me for 12 years out of our 26 together. She has an objective opinion. As Jack Bauer would say, “Dammit!”

As a result of our discussion, and her convincing pitch, let me just say:

Never mind…….

 

Posted in Cottage Witchcraft

On Being A Hippie Witch..

ntWSX81gvZu5l57F7CI90ebmJGzsmyz5C3gbMUvZXgpISLf-LsnJMYiM367k3wsQ3-YtJQ7A4vYH_hLU-V0wyjTr4jiUc7zo4EmirQ71Hy1RuYwLOZ-LZllIn1AKXHuaC4sLXDKRkAgvSz3ZwWZJn82LX2Zyk6JeWT33hngW9G4Uw-y0vV4h3tsD0FNlvIiGqq3XW6ojfRYF-FvQUUKwzMzS2yMzZdDnnMy grade/middle/high school years were in the 60’s and 70’s. When I got to middle school I was pretty much as full blown hippie kid that you can be for being in my early teens. I had the requisite army jacket with peace signs and ecology patches that my mom had sewn on for me. In grade school I had become a member of the Audubon Society, when we were raising baby chickens. I continued to have an interest in bird watching into high school. I wore bell bottom jeans, and I carried around a dog-eared copy of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. That was a book detailing the poisoning of our lakes, streams and oceans with pesticides. It was a book that helped with the formation of Earth Day, and the EPA. Of course the GOP want to abolish the EPA these days. You know, all that pesky oversight of big business, and their impact on our health. What’s a little chemical waste in the rivers, huh?

But I digress. When I got to college, I was still in hippie mode. Not quite as much as before, but I loved sociology and psychology. After college came the end of my hippie days. I got into business, got all caught up with making money, having a family, nice cars, nice suits, nice house. Yep, I got caught up in the Me decade.

(As a side note here, if you read my blog that I stupidly deleted, you have read some of this. But I’m rewriting it for those who hadn’t, so bear with me..)

As the 90’s approached, it all came crashing down. Divorce, job loss, family deaths, losing friends, and developing a healthy case of depression and anxiety issues. Gone were the days of self-importance. It became just trying to cope on a daily basis.

Eventually things evened out a bit. I found new love, and rediscovered the joy of parenting. My job situation was tenuous, but it worked somehow. But the depression and anxiety were still there. I had abandoned my birth religion for good in those dark days, and now I needed something spiritual to grab onto. That was how I found Paganism and Wicca in 2004.

So finding those paths rekindled the hippie passions I once had. Not as much at first, but after I found the goth subculture (way of thinking, not way of dressing) I balanced it out with a return to a hippie lifestyle.

Over the past couple of years, that lifestyle has been more pronounced. We (yes, I dragged my wife into all of this!) became avid re-purposers, re-users, and recyclers. We stopped buying extra stuff, and found happiness with the things we already had. We stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Over the past year, I have become more determined to live an even simpler lifestyle. I quit spending $30 bucks a pop for haircuts and cut my own hair. I have less hair these days, so it’s not a huge problem. I blend essential oils and carrier oil for moisturizers, deodorant, and medicinal uses. I have largely gone “water only” for face and hair washing. I make most of our cleaning products, and what I don’t make, I buy brands like 7th Generation or other environmentally friendly brands. We have decluttered, but I still like some decor, rather than a stark look in our home.

This concentration on the home, and keeping things simple was basically the spark that led to cottage witchcraft. It seemed the most logical step in simplifying our lives. Include witchcraft in everyday life, in ordinary chores and actions. In doing so, I’ve found that I actually practice witchcraft more now than I did when I set aside specific times to do rituals or spells. Now magick happens many times a day, rather than just on occasion.

I’ll admit, there is a dose of New Age added to my Craft path. I find it practically impossible to avoid it. Most witches I know work with stones, crystals, aromatherapy, chakras and other practices that have ties to New Age philosophy. I get that some witches are really bothered by that association, but it has just become a part of daily life for me. Most of us find a balance in blending various philosophies and practices in our Craft activities, and that has become a part of mine.

So this is kind of a how-I-got-here post. I’ve found a good degree of peace in both a simpler, hippie-like lifestyle, and a simple cottage witchcraft path. I’ve lived through my share of drama and heart-wrenching times, and it’s nice to find a pathway that is low-key and earthy.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Wicca/Witchcraft

Witchcraft, What’s in a Name?

paganpath

I’d like to thank the people (a surprising number, actually) who contacted me privately through various social media avenues about my comments on Wicca. In my first post, I mentioned that perhaps I had stretched the limits of the definition of Wicca too far to continue to call myself a Wiccan. Everyone that wrote to me challenged that thought (in a good way) and said that as a solitary practitioner, if being Wiccan was important to me, there was no reason that you couldn’t be Wiccan and be a cottage witch. I was reminded that we all celebrate the Wiccan path in varying ways, and each of us determines for ourselves what aspects of the path are particularly important to us.

I was really touched that people took the time out of their day to write me. Since these were private messages, I will respect the privacy of the correspondence, but you know who you are.

I think sometimes we all get caught up on labels, and I think that happens a lot in the Pagan and witchcraft “communities.” I believe that happens because there are so many different paths within Paganism & witchcraft, and we try to give others an idea where we stand as far as our particular path.

Over my 12 years in Paganism & Wicca, I’ve gone through a lot of changes, phases, and even tried on other paths for size. At given times I’ve identified as hippie, goth, Wiccan, just a witch, cottage witch, humanistic Pagan, polytheist, duo-theist, pantheist, chaos magician, and even Luciferian. I don’t know how anyone doesn’t experiment because Paganism and witchcraft offer so many choices. I know I’m not alone, because I read about others doing this all the time.

I don’t think I’ve ever completely abandoned any path, mindset, or subculture with which I identified at one time or another. There is a part of all that aforementioned list within me. I think I was drawn toward what is a part of me, otherwise I don’t think it would called to me in the first place.

So I will try to put less emphasis on any particular label. I think those who wrote me are right, I do still feel the pull of Wicca, but I am just not as drawn to formal ritual as I once was. I am drawn to herbs, essential oils, making homemade cleaning and health/body products, and infusing aspects of magick and witchcraft in our home. Small, spontaneous rituals and spells on a daily basis, making it more a part of everyday life, rather than setting aside an hour or so upon occasion only a few times a month.

I’m now going to move past this self definition exercise in this blog. The things I will write about will be aspects of various paths, with an eye toward how it applies to home life.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Cottage Witchcraft

Cottage Witchcraft Evolution

IKwc3wE1vflCz6k5q9HlqOifZ0BD9MEV7n-aj9GZhcGFl14HkLgI762WWcWCEQ1MFFWtEImD87x6PACberZ5-Zmq3r9NAIvE29Hdl7eG6oVJ3cl_LigVEsk5eOLJ2MUAMN1lFfMRRUZoSpzcMn3tldz-EzTPBeX4_zzxNHIkuIg2sYxSDIBh2H2COviGhzRojI99u9a6WwK29sA82pfEAWGMIPRZOLtlcOver the last 5 or so years, our social life has had a dramatic change. For a good chunk of our lives, we lived a very social life. Vacations with friends, house parties, pool parties, taverns, bars, and other social events heavily dotted our calendar. As we’ve all gotten older, and tip-toed over that half-century mark, those events have largely gone by the wayside. Age plays a big part, as does our children having children, the economy, and a lack of desire and fortitude to party like we once did. So while our Facebook pages may indicate a large number of “friends,” we now largely stay home. It has been an adjustment, not always easy at times.

Obviously, our home has become more important to us. A year or so ago, I started exploring cottage witchcraft. Some might also call it hearth, kitchen, or even green witchcraft. Because I spend so much time at home, and since I am in charge of the house, I thought it might be appropriate to have a shift in my Craft practice from Wicca to a more relaxed, less formal practice, centering around the house and kitchen. Truth be known, I have been moving away from the formality of Wicca for some time.

Up till now, I’ve been see-sawing back and forth, from cottage witch practices, while trying to do some degree of formal Wiccan rituals. It’s become something of a burden, vacillating mentally back and forth each day, trying to decide which way my path is going. So in order to alleviate that stress, I’ve made the decision to make a permanent move to a cottage witchcraft path.

I know that you can take the boy out of Wicca, but you can’t take the Wicca out of the boy. After 12 years, Wicca has become a permanent part of who I am. So I realize that whatever small rituals I may do, the type of magick or spells I may use, will be flavored by my Wiccan roots. However, there comes a time when one’s actual Craft practice stretches the definition of Wicca too far, and doesn’t really reflect a standard Wiccan practice.

Anyone who has read my Twitter posts, and my now defunct blogs, knows I have some depression and anxiety issues. I firmly believe that throwing all my mental and physical efforts into cottage witchery, rather than trying to juggle several paths will be a calming and beneficial influence.

As I was thinking about this new phase in my magickal life last night, it occurred to me that there is so much more magick I could infuse into my daily home life. I, like a lot of people, spend too much time behind a screen. I love social media and learning new things, but it does take time away from household chores. In looking around our house last night, I realize that I’ve let a lot of things slide over the past few years. I also realized that I don’t necessarily fully appreciate what we have here.

So I have pledged to myself to spend more time giving our home some magickal loving care. Using that time to make my own cleaning products infused with herbs, oils, and magickal intent. Using that time to rediscover why we have the things we do, and why we loved them enough to acquire them. I think this will result in a healthier, happier environment for a space that we now spend so much time enjoying.

I’m very excited about this next witchcraft step. I think this will give me lots of fodder for things to write about on this blog. This is practical application of magick and witchcraft, and I think that is something which others on the path would like to read.