Laura Tempest Zakroff can be described as a professional artist, author, dancer, designer, muse, mythpunk, teacher, and witch. Laura has been a practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over two decades and revels in the intersection of her various paths with witchcraft. She blogs at Patheos as A Modern Traditional Witch and at Witches & Pagans as Fine Art Witchery. She is the author of The Witch’s Cauldron, and her second book Sigil Witcheryis due out in early 2018. She also writes for The Witches’ Almanac, Ltd.
First off, The Witch’s Altar: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Sacred Space is a dream collaboration. The two main witch authors, Jason Mankey and Laura Tempest Zakroff, are two completely different types of witches. Mankey is a Gardnerian and Tempest is a Modern Traditional Witch. However, they’re two witches that I highly respect and enjoy reading, whether it’s their blog articles on Patheos Pagan or their books. What is great about this collaboration is that for how different their practices and beliefs are, they’re able to find more common ground between them than differences; and both provide great perspectives on altars, their creation, and their uses while being inclusively open to various paths and approaches. It’s interesting to see how they blend their strengths as writers together in this book. For example, Mankey goes into the history of altars and why things are done in certain ways, and Tempest breaks down the types of altars and provides deep reflective questions and meditations. Both offer wonderful rituals and spells throughout the book, with hints of the snarky humor they share sprinkled throughout.
In my line of work I have the distinct blessing to meet a lot of newbie Witches. I meet people of all ages who are just starting out. I get to talk to folks that have been reading esoteric books for decades and are finally ready to get hands on with it. Folks come into my shop having been through a divine encounter and want more information. Or they found a deck of tarot cards at a garage sale and are curious. There are people I meet that have always known they were a Witch, but didn’t fully understand what that meant and now they feel ready. I meet a lot of amazing, brave people.
“Here is no protective circle, no prayers, no names of power; we have left the strained company of the magicians and are back in the countryside where the fairies are natural company.” – K. Briggs, in The Anatomy of Puck chapter 8, discussing a folk ritual to obtain a fairy companion.
There is a long history of witches working with fairies in various ways, both learning from them and being in service to them. In modern paganism we more often see this relationship played out very differently, with the Good Folk being approached from a more ceremonial magic perspective or treated as a kind of spirit guide or ally. When we look to folklore and early modern witchcraft we see a different picture and it is this one that I base my own personal practice on.
Artemis was the first goddess to call to me. She was between the branches and in the shuffle of leaves. And she called to me to a lake in British Columbia.
She called me in story and song and clear night sky.
To join the witches.
To join the space between and beyond time.
To join the hunt for our hearts.
The article I wrote in August, Freedom from Spiritual Slavery,left a bad taste in the mouths of some of my readers. I was charged with being hubris when I wrote that we “approach the gods as equals” in worship. The article was a complaint against contemporary Orthodox Christian behavior and its incompatibility with Hellenism. In Orthodox Christianity, humans are called servants/slaves (δοῦλος/doulos) of God. This is against the principles of Hellenism to think of yourself as a slave to any God because of your human nature.
Now this is a subject that you will either find absolutely fascinating or you will skip quickly past this and either is absolutely OK. It is your pathway, your journey and therefore your choice about what you include or don’t but here it is just in case…
Your body is the vessel that carries the magic, the energy and the intent but it is also very unique and individual to you. So, if you want to add the personal touch to any working you can literally add a bit of yourself into it. Or a bit of someone else…
If you’ve been following the last two blog posts, I’ve been covering how to determine whether or not you’re dealing with any hexes/curses/psychic attacks against yourself, and best practices for both psychic and magical hygiene. Now it’s time to cover “how to protect yourself 101”.
First of all, the two best books I’ve found on this topic are by Jason Miller, which is Protection and Reversal Magick. The second is Magickal Protection by Damon Brand. Both are super useful and will go into this topic in far greater detail than I possibly could in a single blog post.
When I was a baby pagan witch, I had no idea what people meant when they said the gods or spirits speak to them. I’d never heard voices, either out loud or in my head. I didn’t understand what they meant until I experienced it myself. For me, it’s a lot like hearing my cat’s voice in my head.
I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it, or asked someone to do it for you.
You moved into a new house, apartment, dorm room, or office. Or you were getting ready to move in. Or something was bothering you in your current space. So you broke out the sage1 and salt water, the bell and chime, the incense, and your favorite prayers.
House cleansing and blessing is Wicca 101 stuff. It comes very early in the OBOD lessons. It’s not even restricted to Pagans – Christians and Buddhists do it too. It’s a good and effective way to make your living space clean and safe. It’s a way to make it yours.