A Spell to Reach the Field of Reeds

OsirisThe Field of Reeds was the name of the heavenly afterlife in ancient Egyptian mythology. It was a place of eternal bliss, with no strife or sadness in sight. In order to reach it after death, the traveling soul first faced the afterlife “judge,” Osiris. Osiris posed a test, asking the departed to hand over the soul so he might place it on a golden scale, weighing it against Ma’at, the white feather of truth and harmony. If the scale tipped, showing the heart was lighter than the feather, then the traveling soul was freely admitted into the bliss of the Field of Reeds. If one’s heart was heavier, it was devoured by the crocodile-faced God Amenti and the soul no longer existed.

What’s interesting here is that one was expected to work on one’s “heavenly” experience first, before entering the heavenly afterlife. One’s soul had to be “lighter than a feather” prior to admittance in the bliss realm. And even if we’re not of Egyptian spiritual lineage, the practice of turning our attention toward what makes us happy and blissful is a key practice for us in this life.

There are lots of things that drag our attention toward the “dark side,” toward sadness, anxiety, depression, anger and the like. Witnessing the chaos of the world day in and day out can cause us to chronically and habitually stay on “high alert.” What’s going to happen next? Am I or my family in danger? Questions like this plague us. And they keep our bodies continually releasing protective chemicals (intended to maintain brain cell integrity, but I don’t mean to go all neuro-psych on you). The chronic pumping of these chemicals ultimately does not serve us, and, in fact, it keeps us feeling tired, sick, and emotionally wrecked.

Some people, striving toward self-healing, have learned how to tune out all of this uncomfortable white noise. But they sometimes choose the wrong remedy, and create a new set of troubles. For example, some people turn to illicit substances, sex, over-spending, or other addictive behaviors in their efforts to tune out the chaos of life. Others might turn to a life of fantasy or to spiritual practices that they hope will soothe them and bypass it all.

But I’ve found that the simple practice of intentionally turning my attention toward what makes my heart feel lighter helps to combat strife in a productive and spiritually whole way. It’s really become an obsession of mine, now. As I encounter a difficulty, I do not hide from it, but once I am not within the immediate difficult situation itself, I turn my attention toward what makes my heart light. It acts as a magical antidote to the poisons I encounter during the day.

It is a real balancing act, to be sure. But it is one that has long-term benefits. We don’t need to wait for the Field of Reeds, for the place of eternal bliss after this life. We can be there right now by simply shifting our attention. Try it, only for an hour, and see what I’m talking about. Do you even know what makes your heart lighter? Is it music? Art? Jokes? A particular person? A pet? Try shifting your attention to that uplifting experience for a good 10-15 minutes, right now. See what I mean?

On a related note, what I am promoting here this isn’t to diminish anyone’s experience of true depression or anxiety, or of difficult or strife-filled life-experiences. What I propose isn’t as simple or easy as the damaging, victim-blaming words we’ve heard thrown around in the New Age movement: “happiness is a choice.” In fact, happiness may NOT be a choice. But how heavy your heart feels moment by moment can be assisted by intentionally turning toward what makes it feel light.

The Spell:

During a waxing moon cycle, find a 4” x 4” square of virgin parchment (or just plain old white paper), and on it, draw a circle using dragon’s blood ink. You can also use a red pen if you don’t have dragon’s blood ink. In the center of the circle, draw the astrological sigil for Capricorn, the sign of heaviness, seriousness, and weighty matters. Draw another smaller circle around just around the Capricorn sigil, in order to magically “wall it off.” Around this, place four Sun sigils, above, below and side to side around the Capricorn sigil. (See image below.)

Between the Sun sigils, write four things that uplift your heart, using the dragon’s blood ink or the red pen. Anoint the outer edges of the 4” x 4” paper with a magical oil that has the oomph of fire, including:

  • Black Pepper, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Cypress, Geranium, Ginger, Grapefruit, Juniper, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Peppermint, Rosemary or Sandalwood

Carry this with you at all times. When you encounter a situation or a person that draws you into a dark spiral, take out your anointed charm, gaze it the design, and intentionally shift your mind to what uplifts it.

Pentacle for shifting awareness.png

Karma Flow

karmaIn Wicca: Another Year and A Day, I discuss the topic of karma and what I call “karma flow” (which I will explain below). I thought this may deserve more attention and consideration. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning “action,” referring to either some work or deed. Karma is simple cause and effect. For every action you take there is a universal response. The universe has no particular feelings about it all. It’s not “revenge” for some action. It’s a simple rebalancing. Karma needs time to “ripen,” as all of the causes and conditions that related to your original action may not yet be in full alignment for a universal response to usher forth. Ripening happens in stages, since not all of your karma ripens at the same time. Actions you may have taken years ago might mature slowly. Once the conditions are right, a whole bunch of “ripened” karma can plop down into your path. Karma is neither good nor bad. It is simply a universal response, a balancing, if you will. So wholesome actions you’ve taken can ripen and come into fruition, just as can unwholesome acts. But we get fearful of the consequences of our less-noble deeds, and many of us try to take cover to protect ourselves. But we never know when it may all come together and appear in our lives. So I wanted to take a few moments to offer some tips on handling karma, especially the kind that comes from our less wholesome acts.

Karma is simple cause and effect.

There are basically four types of karma: evil, bad, good and deity-karma. Let’s take a look at each of these.

Evil karma is the universal effect/response related to some willful action that you took that was intended to cause harm in some direct or indirect way. Perhaps out of anger, you lashed out. Maybe you felt someone “deserved” whatever you dished out. Maybe you intentionally omitted or refrained from doing something that could have resulted in greater harmony. The rebound from this is what would be called “evil” karma. It comes from directly intending to generally harm, injure, emotionally abuse, misinform, scam, sabotage, undermine, embarrass, harass, ridicule, (etc.) another person. The list is quite long of things that we do that come under the heading of intentional harm. As a result of willfully destructive action, you may encounter similar conditions to those you dished out.

Bad karma comes from “self-centered” actions we take. When we take action that only serves our own personal desire or individual concern, without accounting for the whole of life, the result can be bad karma. Similar self-centered of behaviors directed from other people will suddenly fill your life. Your world may be over-populated by selfish people, angry, aggressive, self-absorbed people, laziness, arrogance, apathy, “climbing” and mediocrity.

Good karma comes from taking wholesome action. Wholesome action begins with acting from the whole of life. It comes from addressing the needs of life as they arise. Someone is injured, so we help. Someone needs food, so we provide food. Someone needs a listening ear, and we act in accord with that need without placing our self-serving interests first. It also comes from directly abstaining from harmful action, like talking about other people, lying, cheating, stealing, and generally creating dis-harmony. If you are operating with good karma on your side, your world will fill with kind actions from others and no intentional harm will come your way.

Good karma comes from taking wholesome action

Deity karma is from directly and intentionally placing yourself into the “universal” flow of life (which is the direct “current” of the Goddess and God) without being pushed or pulled by personal desires or fears. That isn’t to say if you’re hungry, you don’t eat. Of course you do. But you do not cling to specific outcomes, based on your action. You do what appears to be right in the moment, based on life’s needs, and you open yourself to accept the consequences. There are very specific ways to achieve deity karma, and they rise above simply taking intentional wholesome reality-based action.

One known way to achieve deity karma is to meditate. Meditation in various forms brings one into direct contact with the energy flow of life, of the Gods. (I find that “visualizations” and guided imagery, which certainly do have a place in magical practice, don’t typically result in deity-karma, but they don’t reap anything bad or evil either.) If you have deity karma, life seems to have a path cleared for you. In unknown and unplanned ways, life aligns you with the people and situations that meet your needs in practical, harmonious and satisfactory ways. You may not necessarily win the lottery, but you will suffer less, be less anxious, depressed, and you will have a vast amount of “mana” (magical energy) at your disposal for your magical workings.

Karma flow is when your karma has ripened and it begins to manifest in your life. When the karma is evil or bad, we want to hide under the sheets, run away, or do anything to keep it from occurring. We may try all kinds of diversion tactics: blaming others, escaping, numbing out with substances, hurting people further, etc. No matter what you try, the undesired karma will follow you. So, what to do?

The answer may surprise you: leave it be.

Sit in the middle of it, and try your best not to impede its flow. Life must fulfill itself, so no matter what you try, you will be creating deeper, more complex karma as you attempt to hinder the vast flow of life from rebalancing. Certainly, don’t become a victim of significant harm, especially if you can take action to halt it. Act responsibly and in direct accord with your unfolding circumstances. But barring significant harm, try your best not to impede karma flow from arising. No circumstance is permanent. All things come to an end, and so will your bad or evil karma. Attempting to hinder the flow will result in a total shit-storm, aggravating the whole situation. If you’ve lived long enough, you can attest to the truth of this.

So what can you do when karma flows and it’s not what you’d like? Try the following:

  1. Increase the time you meditate each day.
  2. Increase your wholesome actions.
  3. Allow time to feel sad, scared, isolated, frustrated, angry or depressed—without trying to “resolve it” or make those feelings go away. Feel those feelings in your whole body with no interruption.
  4. Make amends. Apologize and take an action that helps to resolve the imbalance.
  5. Treat everyone in your path with kindness and a gentle demeanor. If someone responds with anger or unkindness, do not react with your own anger or aggression. Simply move on. But keep the pressure on taking action in the direction of kindness and gentleness.
  6. Work on becoming a “soft presence” in the world. There are already enough “big egos” out there. Make yourself like the wind, so there’s nothing really for anyone to push against.

There are many other magical steps to take as well. But those I provide in this brief article can begin the process of righting the boat. Please see Wicca: Another Year and A Day for more complete details and instructions.


Offerings to the Ancestors

ancestral altar

ancestral altarSamhain is the final of three harvest festivals in the pagan agrarian calendar. The first is Lughnassadh or Lammas, which focuses on the concepts of sacrifice and renewal; the second is Fall Equinox, which focuses on the balance between light and shadow and the reaping of crops as the days begin to grow shorter (for those of us in northern hemispheres) and the time for harvest dwindles. Samhain marks the beginning of what pagan Witches call the “dead time,” which falls between October 31st and Feb 2nd. Samhain or “Hallows” in early agrarian life, marked the final harvest. The “veil” between the worlds of the living and the dead was thin, allowing exchanges between the two worlds. Crops left unharvested at Hallows were left there as offerings to propitiate the spirits and imps from the other worlds that walked the night. To add to the theme of death surrounding Hallows, the final harvest days were a time for thinning of herds, especially of livestock that might not make it through the harsh winters of northern Europe.

the days begin to grow shorter

As in most cultures across the globe, ancestor worship and veneration was part of our human experience, especially in early pre-Christian times. In many cultures, the time around Hallows has been traditionally a time to consider the dead. And in our contemporary magical practice, we set aside the day(s) for carefully considering those in our lives who have passed. Pagans today may not venerate the dead, but we certainly call upon them, recognize their influence, their importance, and make offerings in commemoration of them.

…we set aside the day(s) for carefully considering those in our lives who have passed.

It is common among pagans today to set aside the single day, Hallows, to recognize the influence of our ancestors. But what would it be like to include awareness and appreciation of those who came before us—all of them—on a daily basis? How would we live our everyday  lives, if we did not cut ourselves off from our human lineage? Even if we do not have children of our own, can we recognize the influence we have, right now, on future generations? Everything we do creates influence on what will come next. We are tomorrow’s ancestors, for one day, we too will be gone. But what will we leave behind?

As Hallows approaches, why not take time to recognize ourselves and each other as honored ancestors? Why not open ourselves to recognizing one another as stewards of the earth, stewards of future wisdom, and seed-sewers of magic? Rather than staying in our heads and re-creating customs from the distant past this Hallows, it is more important to be alert and awake in our here-and-now lives, the influence we have in this very moment, and the role we play in what happens next in the world. Peace? Magic? Wisdom? These are in our hands right now. Can we offer them to one another in this very moment as gifts to the beloved ancestors?

Copyright (c) 2015, Timothy Roderick.

No reproduction of this or other blog posts is authorized without expressed permission from the author.


The Deepest Form of Magic

leafIn Wicca, we govern our magical practices and aim our intentions through the lens of the Wiccan Rede which says, “An it harm none, do as thou wilt.” But what might the Rede mean for contemporary practice? And what does it mean to “harm none?” Does harming none bind us and ethically immobilize our magical work?

The purpose of “harming none” is singular, and it leads us to true magical power. In the mundane view magic is about “gaining” something we want. “I want a new car!” “I want a husband (or wife).” “I want to win the lottery.” There is nothing wrong with starting our magical practice from this perspective.  But if we contemplate the Rede deeply, we notice that it advises us to view our magical work through a broader lens and take into account the full play of life.

…the Rede advises us to view our magical work through a broader lens and take into account the full play of life.

Over time, if we attune ourselves to the mystic rhythms of the Mother by celebrating the seasonal Sabbats and ingesting their energies, their “messages,” we begin to view the whole of our practice in a new way. The unfolding of the seasonal passages show us that life must play itself out. And aiming our efforts, our magic, to stopping life from fulfilling itself is perhaps misguided, ineffective, and possibly even harmful. When we engage in spellwork aimed at some personal fulfillment without accounting for the whole grand play of life, which may not be able to “fulfill” our personal “order,” it is easy to become disappointed. “Magic doesn’t work,” we think in those moments. We lose heart, lose our way, and some may abandon their spiritual path altogether.devil3

But if we align ourselves with the immensity of life itself, our magic results in great transformation. Dion Fortune, an early 20th century mystic and magician, said that magic is “the ability to change consciousness.” That statement can wisely inform our magical work. Fortune’s words guide us to consider magic as a process (not a product) of personal transformation. Magic is a spiritual method to align our thoughts, views, and actions with the Great Mother and her grand design.

…magic as a process, not a product

From Fortune’s view, magic is a way of approaching life. Changing consciousness from exclusively (or predominantly) “me” to “the great whole of life,” changes our efforts. It frees us up to act directly on the immediate moment in front of us, and to fulfill the moment’s requirements. Changing consciousness in this way helps us become agents of life, of the Great Cosmic Mother.

Therefore, if the moment requires breathing, then just breathe. If the moment requires walking, then just walk. If life requires us to hold someone’s hand, or listen deeply, or offer comfort to someone in pain, then that is what is called for. We cannot stop the life-flow of the Mother. Her way is too vast and complex. There are causes and effects well beyond our knowing or imagining at work. Our most powerful-spiritual position is to relinquish ourselves to life, and address each magical moment as it arises with attentive action that addresses the immediate needs.

Why the Magic Circle is Magic

Greenman 1In Wicca: A Year and A Day, I state that the magic circle is a “platform for the Gods” and for our spiritual work. I don’t state that the circle is some “impenetrable shield” or some other external spiritual “force” at work. Wiccan magic always starts with the magician. Our magic is magic from within. This means that our practice starts with ourselves. It starts with very directly aligning with the forces of  nature that manifest as our lives. Our magic circle is an expression of that alignment.

There are practitioners within our magical ranks that start  the idea that magic comes from some other “place” or some external “source.” Taking something that starts from within and externalizing it as a “concept” such as a god or s spirit or some other external being represents what mythologist Joseph Campbell identified as a mistake in the Western interpretation/handling of spiritual symbols. He says that when we concretize a spiritual process, putting it “out there” instead of seeing it as a representation of an event that should be taking place within ourselves, we begin to develop hierarchical notions. We think about gods and spirits as “other” rather than as an integral part of who we are as human beings. That mistaken split, separating out the symbols from ourselves fuels “religious” notions that separate us from one another. There are “beliefs” to maintain in this view. There are “in groups” and “out groups” (which alone form the basis of religious bigotry). The concretizing of any spiritual system results in misinformation, and the death of one’s spiritual process. For, once there are “facts” that inform a spiritual path (as opposed to mystically informed poetry), there is nowhere to grow. All one can be left with is a handful of “beliefs,” which are nothing but someone else’s interpretation of what should be your own spiritual process.

…we think about gods and spirits as “other,” rather than as an integral part of who we are…

My point is not to shame anyone for their views, because, as a whole, we who walk the hidden path must develop an appreciation of the diversity of our views. This diversity strengthens Wicca/Witchcraft as a whole, just as it strengthens any ecosystem. We who practice the Craft embrace views that are different from the mainstream in fundamental ways (beyond the obvious particulars). Specifically, in mystical paths such as Wicca/Witchcraft we have a shamanic heart beating at the center of our practice. Magical practices across the globe (including those from the ceremonial lineages) know that there is always an individual’s interpretation of a spiritual message that forms the kernel of any spiritual lineage or tradition. Layers of practice, of sharing one to another, from initiate to postulant then forms the core practices of any spiritual path. That being said, a view or belief is just that. It is not fact. But when those who hold rigid views are asked to take a healthy step back and to recognize that what they are espousing are merely perspectives (and not facts), it can precipitate a real spiritual crisis.

The content of our path is shamanic, mystic.

It is important for us along the way to know that if one’s spiritual tradition is not renewed, reinterpreted by the individual practitioner, the spiritual path is in danger of becoming nothing but a series of empty forms.  It becomes calcified, lifeless, and has no opportunity of informing us spiritually. Form should never be mistaken for content. The content of our path is shamanic, mystic. It is always based on one’s personal experience with the Gods, with magic, and with a direct contact with nature and life itself. When we begin to obsess about finite detail such as whether the magic circle is a “container” or a “platform,” or whether we think the more powerful tool is the athame or the wand, or whether the solstice was practiced on the exact hour on the exact day (or else we have somehow failed spiritually), we lose the important content of our spiritual practice. Wicca should be much less anxiety-based. There is no power when we approach life with fear and obsessive action taken to maintain rigid views. Furthermore, there is no container strong enough to impede shadows of our own making.

wiccaydI characterize the magic circle as a platform because a platform can be any kind of container we choose. It is a stage for us to create whatever “set” or “props” we need at any given time to realize our spiritual tradition, to raise magic from within ourselves and to touch the divine. As always, I do not offer this teaching as something to “believe.” I ask you to practice this. I invite you to try this out for yourselves.

Image courtesy of FreeImages.com

You Have the Right: A Witch’s Code for Living

Fairytale Forest - SunburstYou have the birthright to be exactly who you are right now. There is no need to shrink away or feel as though you are not worthy. You are manifesting the universe, right where you are.

You have the right to your experience of this life. Let no one tell you you’re “off” or “wrong” in how you think or understand what is happening. Even with supposed “limitations,” you have the right to see things as they are from your own experience—and that perception is indeed fact.

You have the right to stand in your power. Whether or not you “feel it,” you are a powerful being. You can say “yes” or “no” to anything that is happening—and you have the right to do so. You can act or not act based on your will and whatever you discern as needed in any given moment. Let no one but you define your power.

You have the right to stand in your power…

You have the right to be respected. What you offer, say and do is of value. And even if others do not see it as such, you are a living breathing manifestation of the entire universe. Therefore what you do and who you are commands that respect. Those who do not see this are blinded, self-involved, or foolish.

You have the right to your full set of emotions. As an expression of the universe there is light and dark all around. To live in connection with the great All of who you are, you should expect to experience times of sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety and more. Though others around you may try to control this or brush it aside, do not let them. For these too are expressions of living naturally.

You have the right to experience happiness. Whatever it is that brings forth your joy is important. No matter what others may say or how those around you may feel, you have the right to experience happiness in this life. Open yourself to it and let it flood in right now.

You have the right to be at peace…

You have the right to be at peace. There will be those who may threaten to darken your life or rob you of the peace of simply being. Do not let them. This life passes by quickly. Find the balance of peace and dwell in it frequently, for it is yours if you claim it.

Magic for Invisibility


The other day I read a statement from someone just beginning the path of Wicca. She seemed to be wavering about her participation. She had been told during her life that she had certain “gifts” and could see other realities. But she sounded afraid of the “gifts.” She wasn’t sure if her Craft participation was something that was “right,” and she further seemed to be deeply troubled about whether or not it was “right” to let her powers “come out.” She was speaking from a perspective that sounded as though she was seeing magic and the abilities cultivated in our path to be something forbidden, exotic, strange and rare.


It made me realize that the more we enshrine our natural abilities, no matter their form, we end up separating ourselves from the world. Nothing that occurs in the world, as a course of our nature is special in any way. The more we are caught up in either fearing or rarifying what is natural, we miss the point of our power, which is expressed as our true nature. The true nature of a human life is nothing “special.” Is it a manifestation of deity? Yes. But so is everything else we can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Magic is deity. Your coffee is deity. Flowers and excrement are deity. We’re living in it, breathing it, eating it, sleeping in it, and we’re made up of it.

The powers of the Witch are the natural power of life…

When an experience catches out attention, what is important is to notice why it catches our attention, rather than mentally framing the experience as “special, strange, rare and peculiar.” Bringing the event back to ourselves, to our own inner process, helps us to break down the structures (made up of life experiences) that keep us chained to mental habits that ultimately disempower us. Are the powers of the Witch special? No. They are the manifestation of a realized life. They are the evidence of living life in close unison with all, which means barriers such as the mental-label barriers (including terms like “special,” “not special,” “better,” “worse,” etc.) are rendered invisible. The powers of the Witch are the natural power of life flowing though us moment by moment, unblocked, not rarified, feared or glorified.

sixth pentacle fo the sun

The Spell

I offer this magical working to help us notice and calm that part of us that wants to stand out, that wants to be noticed as different, rare, strange and peculiar. It is a spell and a protection to help us notice in each moment that all things are of the same source. I am using a pentacle from the Key of Solomon for this spell. We are only using this pentacle as an object to focus our intention, rather than the traditional use of the pentacles. You can find the pentacle anywhere online if you want a cleaner copy than the one I post here.

What You’ll Need:
A copy of the 6th Pentacle of the Sun (just copy and paste from this post)

Dragon’s Blood Reed (as an incense)

Incense burner and a self-igniting charcoal

Your regular circle casting tools

During the dark of the moon, print out a copy of the 6th Pentacle of the Sun. Cast a circle using your own circle casting technique, or the one I offer in Wicca: A Year and A Day. Place the image on your central altar. Sprinkle it lightly with your blessed water and salt mixture. Sprinkle some of the Dragon’s Blood Reed on the charcoal (make sure the coal is really hot all the way through; it should be slightly ashy on the edges). Bless the image in the twisting incense smoke. Hold the image between your palms and vow to live your life as one with all of nature. See yourself becoming transparent, like clear, rushing water. Imagine yourself as water, joining the whole of the ocean, merging, dissipating, holding all potential within you. Open your eyes and close the circle. Carry the charm with you and remind yourself each moment of your intention to live in unison with each moment–not fearing it or glorifying it. Instead, just be life.