The Common Sense Spell Book. A Book Review

Common Sense tea

The Common Sense Spell Book

By Debbie Dawson

140 Pages, Avalible in Paper and Ebook

Bookdepostory Amazon Xlibris Publishing

This book was written by a fellow Kiwi Witch, who lives in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, you know the place there was a couple few large earthquakes a couple few years back.  Anways, I have never meet Debbie in person for any length of time, I think we ran into one another at a festival maybe, but we have however spoken online and argued on line to, as to you.

Now the reason I mention that Debbie is a Kiwi Witch is because the book is very distinctly Kiwi Witchcraft in character and Kiwi Witchcraft in understanding of magic in general, and this was quite a surprise for me, because I had no idea that it was a thing, well I did, I am one after all, but I had not had it pointed out in such a way.  You know how when you are in the thick of it you often can’t see, a bit like how we can’t hear our accent.  So there is such a thing as Kiwi Witchcraft, and Paganism, and I suspect there will be a post on that at some stage. But for today this is a review of Debbie, a Kiwi Witch’s book.

Kiwis for the most part are very practical people, and it would follow that Kiwi Witches are also this way, on the whole.  And I can say that this book is very strongly Kiwi because the beliefs practices and understanding of how spells and magic works is very close to my beliefs and understandings.  But then given we are both of a similar age and both had access to the same source material, that was available in New Zealand, it is not that surprising.

Debbie writes in a very practical way with some no nonsense practical advice.  The book I believe is aimed at a person who has already read several introductory books and has a handle on seasons and what they mean and are now interested in some spell work to further their understanding.  Or for someone who has already had an unsuccessful bash at spell casting and is left wondering where it all went wrong, or why it didn’t work at all.

This book will help you to understand the sometimes complexities and other time simpleness of spells along with how, why and why not something worked or didn’t work, as well as some excellent penny dropping moments.

For those who are experienced in spell work, I would say that you probably know more of what this book contains, however as a reference book, to go over as you decided on what type of spell work will be suitable, or indeed if you really need to be doing spell work, this book would be an excellent resource.

If you are looking for a book full of spells, and or exotic kiwi spells then move along because this book is more about creating your own rather than following somebody else’s recipe.

My only disagreement with this book, and it’s not really a disagreement but more something that I would of emphasised more if I had written a book like this, I would of emphasised not to manifest in negatives.  I’m not talking about cursing, Debbie does a excellent job of covering that but more about how you phrase things.  Often words like don’t, won’t have or will not, actually draw what it is that you don’t want towards you, because you are naming it.   Once when I was teaching about shielding, I forgot to emphasis this well enough, and my students ended up with nightmares.  When I inquired they had all been using negative type phrasing, eg I will not have nightmares tonight, or similar, which in turn brought on the nightmares, as they had named them, which in turn draws that which you name towards to, or so the story goes.

Common Sense

Overall this book is something I would have devoured 20 years ago when I was first starting out, especially as I began looking for something that would take me that step further down the magical track.   I did enjoy reading it, and did get useful information and food for thought.  It reminded me of how much of a Kiwi Witch I really am, and has me thinking about what it is about Kiwi Witchcraft that makes it, Kiwi Witchcraft. It will also be a interesting insight for those who are interested into the Kiwi Witches mind, so to speak. .  It will be a book that I will use as a resource when I am considering any spell work as it has all the types and styles and why-fors, and it is often good to delve into a book like this when considering any kind of spell work, helps to get the creativeness of spell work going.   It is also going to be a book that I recommended to fellow Kiwi Pagans who are looking to take that step further.  There are not very many books written by Kiwi Pagans, and this I believe is the first written by a Kiwi Witch, and it’s a good one.. yay!

So I give this book, 4 cups of tea out of 5 and a healthy doses of practical Kiwiana.

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Omens, Signs, Messages and Symbols

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Over the last couple of days I have been pondering my path, and my place in it, as you do at the beginning of any year, be it the winter or summer, as it is here in New Zealand.  Despite most cultures having celebrated or marked in some what their new year in or around the middle of winter, when the settlers came to New Zealand they did not transpose their holidays religious or secular to the relevant season, so this means we often celebrate a traditional winter celebration during summer, so obviously the energy is different, but also the same, or has my Hungarian work colleague says same same but different.  But I digress.

At this time of the year, is hard not to feel the anticipation that reverberates throughout the most of the world as the New Year approaches, both Europe and Chinese and begins.  And for us here in New Zealand it is summer, so the seasonal energy is bright and energetic.  Very fortuitous for a new set of lessons that deepen how I understand myself and how I understand my path to show themselves.

These lessons are usually heralded by a series of symbols that have made themselves obvious to me.  However these symbols or messages often come in the form of the seemly ordinary, rather than an obviously occult or magical flavour.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

How does someone tell that these everyday happenings or ordinary symbols, omens or signs of note rather than just everyday things?

Black bird

For me it was a gradual process, of learning to understand and luckily being given the symbol several times with each time being a bit more obvious than others.  The first time that I consciously remember this happening, was about 10 or so years ago.  I was obviously on my way home from where the bus had dropped me of, and walking over a grassy area, when a black bird jumped into my path and spoke.  I heard it twitter then it look me directly in the eye, like it was telling me off for disturbing his worm hunting, and he very well may have been.  But I was not really paying attention, it was that time of year when there are a lot of black birds about the place all furiously hunting for insects to feed their demanding young.   I remember apologising and then making my way home.

The following morning as I was leaving my house, a blackbird landed near my head on the washing line and once again he spoke.  This time I took more notice.  How strange I thought this is the second time this strange occurrence has happened.  I duly greet him with a friendly good morning, and didn’t give it  much thought as I made my way to work, until I got to work.  I worked on the 5th floor of a building in town, and there waiting for me, on the railing outside the window next to my desk.  Black bird was looking at me, he was speaking.  It was then that I realised I had to use my other senses in order to here was black bird was saying.   The Blackbird was the herald for the next lot of intense learning both magical and mundane, and part of what I learned was that there is for some of us no read delineation between the mundane and magical, after all you are the universe and the universe is you, which is one of my base understanding s of how it all works.

This year the message and messenger has been a different one, as is the way of these things.  For a start there have been several messages, and messengers, like a tricky puzzle that I am expected to put together.

This year the symbol was found with in some street art, only it was a word and a word that I wrote myself.

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A wall had been painted with chalk paint  stating “ For 2014 I Wish” and chalk left so that passerbys could draw, write their wishes for 2014.  I could feel the potential, the energy that was building up as people broke through their conditioning of ignoring the weird and unusual, to stepped forward write their wishes for 2014.  A very powerful piece of urban magic indeed, the energy surrounding the wall was palpable.   Without much thought, or room for doubts I allowed the energy to guide me and I picked up a piece of chalk and wrote Love, which is to say, For 2014 I Wish Love.   I am a little perplexed by this word, did it mean a romantic love, because truth be told I am not looking for such things, not am I saying I am not looking in the hopes of finding anyway.. I really am a spinster and loving it.. I wonder what this wish for love all about?  It will be something for me to ponder as the year progresses.

So how do you tell the difference?  Sure that was some wall art that one of the local cafe/shops there had painted, probably to draw in customers, but also to let people be their own artist.  What is it about it that makes it a symbol, or a sign?  For me it ‘feels’ different, there is a magic in the air that you can run your fingers through, it can be powerful enough to make you hair stand on end, or subtle like candy floss floating on the wind, but it is there, and there is a sameness to how it feels every time, even though each time it is a different symbol, omen, message and lesson.

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It was pointed out by a fellow Witch I was having lunch with on Saturday that often these types of messages can start out subtle, so much so that you often miss the first one, re the Blackbird as I stepped of a bus, but then over a shortish period of time they can become more obvious, especially when you are willfully ignoring them which we have a tendency to do when it the message is about the sorting out of the self.  This can cause a large slap if you are not careful, so it is important to pay attention, even when you don’t want to.  But they if you wanted to obliviously carry on in the world, you would not of become a Witch right?

It is and can be difficult to tell the difference, between what is a an important message and what is a just a black bird going about his everyday business of feeding his chick.  And because of this it can sometimes lead to becoming a little bit obsessed and a person can often end up thinking that everything is an good or bad omen, but will at little patents, and some practical thinking, you will get the hang of it.    Omens and messages do not show up everyday all the time, as it would be a little overwhelming don’t you think, and if you have stepped onto the path of service, what good is a priestess  or priest going to be if they are constantly obsessed with finding the omen in everything.  like the saying says sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This being said you can often receive a series of messages, a bit like puzzle pieces.  This year I received several symbols and messages over a short period of time, and to help understand what they were about I used drew an oracle card from the druid plant oracle and it was primrose.  This card, along with the other messages and symbols was about becoming more active in creating the environment that I want to be in, so it is with that end in mind, that I will be holding discussion afternoons at my house once a month.  And the very first topic up for discussion, you guessed it, Omens, signs messages, and symbols.

primrose

 

 

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Home They Say, Is Where The Heart Is

October 072

So I had a half written post about using magic, specifically a magic spell to find a home, using a combination of Kiwiana, and perhaps other more ‘traditional’ magical stuff, but I stalled and have only written about one object, the 21st Key Mirror, a Kiwiana staple for 21st gifts, generally given to you by your family.  It has strong significance of love, family and independence, which is for most of us, what we are looking for when finding a new home, rather than just a place to live.  I was also going to include things like tiki’s, and teapots, but in actually that was nothing like what I actually did.

What I did looked nothing like the spells in books or described in blogs, I did not wait for the waning/waxing dark moon, or other significant timing, I did not purchase a Mirror Key or make one myself, in fact I didn’t really use any of the Kiwiana objects that I had been contemplating.  I also didn’t set up an altar, with the correct red blue orange candles, and matching altar cloths, even though I do love my altars, and have quite the collection of wonderful altar cloths,   I didn’t’t call on any specific deities who help with such things…  What I ended up doing looked nothing like ‘magic’ spell work, that you read about so often in those instructional spell books, actually what I did I have never really found in any book or blogs.  What I did looked like me walking into town one morning.

I took the day of work for my birthday this year, I haven’t had much time off, over the last year, so I decided to take two days of for my birthday, Thursday and Friday whoot.   So when I woke up that morning, I didn’t actually know that I was going to be working and act of magic for finding a house, but for me this is generally how it happens.  When I need something or if something needs doing, I just do it, I don’t wait for the right time or day or moon cycle.  Instead I get an urge, message, prod, err a thing, which is actually difficult to describe, not just because it is often different, while also the same, or how else would I know, but because this is always difficult to put into words, as it is not until after I have acted that I generally understand what I did and how it all worked.   Anyway when this thing *waves hands* happens I know that it is time to work, and so, I do.  On my birthday morning I didn’t know that I would be doing this working, I had not even told my flatmates that I would be moving out soon, at that stage..  I think by the end of the day I did, tell my flatmates that I was planning on moving out.
Pathway
After several cups of tea, morning showers, and a present of a Firefly DVD I was of out the house and walking down the path into town.  I have walked to work or caught train and or buses for most of my working life, and use this time to contemplate things. For me this commute is like between times, between my time and work time, and I am either going to or coming home from, so it is transitory in nature to.   I am often in a daze, or if you like trance like state, as I contemplate my morning, or think about things I have been reading about, dreams I have had, or I talk with the spirits and ancestors of place.   It is as I have come to realise, a party of my daily practice.  On that day I was actually thinking about how to write a blog post on how to find a house using kiwiana as spell components, but it was all seeming a bit flat, somewhat contrived, sure I could use a mirrored key but would that actually work for me?  Then I happen to look down and on the path in front of me was a small nest that had fallen out of the above tree during the spring wind storm we had been having the previous few days.  Spring for us here in Wellington, New Zealand is often rainy and strong winds as the Winter Southerly and the Warm Spring Northerly vie for airspace, the weather is very changeable and often wet and windy.  I then picked up the little nest and gently tipped out the little bit of bird poop, and carried on down the path.  This had triggered me into a light trance so as I was taking the next few steps I became a lot more aware of my surroundings.  That urge, message, prod, that thing that has no words but translates into ‘time to do work’ had happened, and while now looking back and trying to describe it, I can see when that happened, when it was happening, I probably would not of been able to tell you.  But I do know that from experience if someone disturbs me during this time I am often dazed, and it can take some time to figure out what happened?

After a few steps further down the hill and at the beginning of the stairs, of one of the oldest pathways here in Wellington, I spotted a rusty twist of 8 gauge wire, (No 8 fencing wire) which I also picked up, and no sooner had I done that then I spied a rusty nail, both of which I placed in the same hand that I was carrying the nest, not in the nest but more under it.  As I neared the bottom of the first set of stairs, I glanced down and found a plated length of synthetic hair, someone’s hair extension had fallen out while they walked up or down the path. I picked that up and looked at it in my hands for a while, then carefully, the thoughtfully, placed it around my fingers in of the hand where I carried all the other objects.

I now had a handful of randomly found objects that were becoming more magical the more I focused on them with intent. The intent of finding a home, a place where I felt safe and at home.  Each found object now that I think about it has significance of its own, they all have meaning, a nest that feels safe that is protected by iron, a place where I feel at home and can let my metaphorical hair down, you get the picture right?  These objects where not planned, but because I was aware of my surroundings I could recognise the objects that would be needed.

However I didn’t want to take these objects to the place I was moving out of, as that would set the intention wrong, plus I was on my way to purchase a new sewing machine, so I ended up popping in at the place where I work, with a handful of strange objects, and placing them in a box, much to the amusement of my work colleges.  As the weeks passed I added to this box of strange objects.  I found the shell of a blue egg, that was no longer in use and added it, I also kept the kettle my mother gave me for my birthday for my new home, and the pink salt lamp, that I had brought with my new home I mind, and occasionally when I was staying late at work I would take the nest out of the box and sit it next to the lamp.

And then when the time was right, after one false start, I went and looked at a place, and it is home.

spell

 

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Sewing as a Sacred Act

Sewing as a Sacred Act.

by Polly Lind 2013

Bobbin and cotton

Up in my tower that has views down the valley, with pins, needles, and thread,

 I weave magic in to the fabric that I lay out on my ironing board.

Creating sacred designs, with Gods, Ancestors, Snakes, Toads, and Hares,

And Piwakawaka whispering in my ear, laying my soul bear.

With fabric, sharp shears, iron, bamboo and interfacing,

 I create doorways where spirits, magic and the divine, when invited, come through.

With pins, charms and wool stuffing, I create pillows that induce sacred dreaming,

and witches ladders to keep the not wanted at bay.

With incense, sewing machines, cotton and thread, I dance with the fabric of the divine,

and I will until I am dead

My sewing a sacred act, of offerings and service,

I will my surrender to the whirling of the bobbin, touching the magic,

imbuing the divine,and emboldening the spirit.

Up in my tower with views down the valley, I offer my sewing as a sacred act.

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You Say Folklore we say Kiwiana

Altars July 2013 007 - Copy

New Zealand is not really old enough to have magical folklore as such, we were settled about 150 years ago, wait let me rephrase that, Europeans did not really settle in any great numbers here until about 150 years ago, around the late 1800’s and early 1900s with larges amounts of immigration happening after World War I and World War II, well after, it can be said, the time when magic was something other than fairy tales that you told children.

This means that Magical Folk Lore, from far of places like Europe, didn’t really make it here, and if they did it didn’t really stick.  New Zealand was a pretty harsh and isolated place to live for those early settlers.

The Maori have been here a bit longer, with their estimated time of arrival being somewhere in the middle of the 13th Century (1250 – 1300).  This is a very difficult thing to pinpoint as much of the housing, clothing, weapons and things require for living were made from very natural materials, and thus did not last the test of time so that they could be dug up by intrepid anthropologist and carbon dated to give an accurate reading.  There are a few objects, which can be found in our museums,  but for the most part there was not very much, so we have I believe relied on a combination of myths, educated guesses, geology, and the few items that have been found to give us and idea about when the Maori people arrived and settled in Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud.

The  Maori People who on the one hand, have been here longer, have a culture and tradition that is steeped in Magic and deeply spiritual lore, however we as Pakeha understand that this is not our culture so to speak, and do not want to be seen to be stealing said culture.

On the other hand Maori Spirituality is our nation’s civic spirituality, the guardian if you will of our public buildings, schools, libraries, and the like.  The Maori culture is also something that can be difficult to completely understand and the use or nonuse of it is littered with so much conflict, politics, anger and unhappy outcomes that it can be better to just mind your manners and be respectful and thoughtful all things Maori.

I know for sure that the majority of Kiwi Pagans want to be able to honour the spirituality of this land that was here before the settlers, aka Maori deity, culture and spirituality, but also do not want to go so far as to misappropriate as that would be rude. I did a study on this back for Honours when I was at university.

Also by the time that settlers arrived here Magic had pretty much been deligated to the realm of superstitions and fairy tale. 

So what this all means is that for those of us who lean towards a more ‘traditional’ style of magical witchcraft practice, there is no obvious folklore for use to use, as such, especially if we are also interested in practicing the magic of the land we physically live in.

So what is a Urban Witch to do, sure some folklore made its way over here via the various settlers and where they come from, but like I said before it was less magical folk lore and more customs and culture, because by the late 1800’s and early 1900’s people no longer believed in magic in the same way.  Maori spirituality however has become New Zealand’s Civic Spirituality, it is how we open parliament, bless new public buildings, schools and public spaces.  It is pretty much what we as a nation turn to when we need formal ceremonies and that in and of itself is magical.

We do have something that we call Kiwiana, which is as I see it, a precursor to Folklore,  and something that is going to be the topic of my blogging here, along the practicalities of being a practicing Witch who is born and bread in New Zealand.    I will also be cross posting the posts to my main blog, Another Witches Blog,

Bibliography of sorts

King, Michael – The Penguin History of New Zealand 2003 (http://www.amazon.com/The-Penguin-History-New-Zealand/dp/0143018671)

Lind, Polly (yup that’s me)  The Appropriation of Maori Spirituality into Paganism in New Zealand.  2003ish also if you want a copy if could probably hunt you one down, it is not very long, it is however in the form of an academic essay.. J

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Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, A Book I loved and Hated

Pagan Revival review 007

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival; A Magical Anthropology

By Melusine Draco,

Published by Moon Books  August 2013

So how do you review a book that you loved and hated, that you were given by the publisher and that you have not quite finished, but it is time to review it anyway??

In a word, Honestly.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, by Melusine Draco is written by intelligent, critically thinking witch who is polemic, which means argumentative, but in a challenging way rather than in a troll in the dungeon way if that makes sense.  To put it plainly I get the feeling that Melusine would call a spade a spade and what’s more burry you with it if you crossed her.

This has created a book about the Pagan Revival that I loved and hated, a book that I agreed with and didn’t agree with.  I spent a lot of time yelling ‘would of it killed you to put dates of publication in your references’ combine with ‘oh that is an interesting way of looking at that particularly bit of history’ and ‘oh I didn’t know that, most interesting.’  Over all this is a book that challenged me and best of all, made me think which are the types of books that I enjoy reading and get the most out of.

Right from the introduction you very quickly get a sense that Melusine is a person who has very little time for the ‘love and light brigade’, nor fools.  So it is obvious to see where the author s’ filters are, how she sees the world is always useful to know, well I like to know this, as it helps with understanding the wider context of the book.  The down side to this is that there is a somewhat of a condescending tone in places, and some of what this writer says can be very challenging.  However having said that, I do enjoy having my assumptions challenged, in a way where I can see a new viewpoint and decided for myself which one I think is more accurate.  The upside though is that is not the over explained flowery prose that is sometimes found in other books.

The author has obviously had years of practical experience as well as being well read of the subject of Modern Paganism,  Magic, Witchcraft, History and a passion for the topic, which shows in her writing.  In the introduction Melusne sets out an interesting frame work of how she sees Pagan information, knowledge, wisdom and understanding, which she further breaks down into ways of approaching knowledge, wisdom and understanding, animistic, eclectic, syncretic and synergetic .  Like I said this book has much food for thought content and things that make you think about what you are reading.

traditional witchcraft and the pagan revival

Melusine starts out examining the roots of Modern Paganism and its revival, in a similar way to most other books on Modern Paganism, by starting in the ancient past.   And while she does reference the material she has used to paint this particular angle, there is a distinct lack publishing dates in the referencing.  There is not even dates of publication for the various source materials and books that in the bibliography. For me this becomes an issue because what was truth, several hundred years ago,  is no longer truth today.  Lets face it was once believed as truth that the earth was flat, and so things were understood with in that context until Galieo said no it was round and Collumbus and his ship did not fall of the edge of a flat earth, then the contexts changed.

This too is true of the Pagan revival, when Gardner first wrote Witchcraft Today, Wica and Witchcraft was an ancient fertility mystery cult with an unbroken line, whereas today we understand that it is not as simple as that.  Instead it is understood that the belief and practices of magic, in a variety of forms from folklore, and legend has always been about in various forms, and that there have always been people who have unexplainable gifts, all of which you can read about in Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, just remember that it is missing the contextual giving dates.  See I told you I loved and hated this book.  Ok I will stop ranting about dates now.. *coughs*

Melusine writes an accessible book while not dumbing down the subject down so much as to make it twee.  She also challenges the reader and commonly held beliefs about Modern Pagan History, but again not so much that you are unable to disagree or come to your own conclusions. In several places the author provides several view points and opinions for the reader to mull over, and think about.  Which is most excellent.

Sprinkled amongst the pages are tantalising snippets of information, such as the idea/theory that it was the Black Death that instigated the change of approach the church to convert the population to a more aggressive plant, which ultimately led to the witch trials.  A most interesting theory that I would like to know more about.  And it is this snippet and others similar that temp the reader to further study into the history of not just Modern Witchcraft and Paganism but also historical Witchcraft.  It is this aspect of the book that I love.  I love books that encourage me to think, questions, and that challenge my strongly held beliefs and understandings of Magic, Witchcraft, History, and Paganism in General.

So do I recommend this book for purchase, yes, it is intelligent, well written, thought provoking and accessible.  Melusine, has researched her topic very well and come to some interesting conclusions regarding history and the Pagan revival.  Just remember that publication dates of source material give context and read it with a critical eye and questioning thinking mind.  I am also quite curious as to the authors other books in the Traditional Witchcraft series, to see what she writes like about a practical topic rather than a historical one, as she strikes me as someone who walks her talk, and doesn’t just write about it.

I have several Moon Books on my reading pile, now which I will be looking forward to reading, as this publisher is picking interesting and thinking authors to publish surely a boon to pagan publishing.. and what’s more they sent me copies of three books to review.. yay me..

This book gets 4 cups of tea out of 5, cause of not having the dates..  and you can pre order it at Amazon

cup of teacup of teacup of teacup of tea

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Sewing for today

In lue of a post about trains, which is taking me longer to write than i first thought, have a picutre of two Wall Hangings that i created today.

I give you Tane Mahuta God of the Forest, and Mahuika Goddess of Fire, well my take on them.

Tane and Hine Wall Hangings 022

Tane i depicted as a horned god, using Tiki designed craft fabric. Despite not having any ‘native’ deer or many mamals for that matter, in New Zealand.  However Red deer where  introduced into New Zealand, and I can’t see Tane having to much of an issue with them as they are a great source of food for some, and as far as introduced specises go one of the less destructive ones.  it also speaks to those of use who were born here in New Zealand with British Ancestors.  so i see it as honouring both peoples.

Tane and Hine Wall Hangings 005

Mahuika i depicted as a Goddess, using a fiery  red traditional Maori Design print fabric.  there are not a lot of Goddess with in the Maori Pantheon, and I am not sure if this is because of European influence when writing down such information or because some of the understanding of deity and gender was lost in translation, when the information was recorded. but Mahuika is often spoken about as a Grandmother, or Aunty, both of whom are respected women.  Mahuika is the Woman, who gave Maui Fire, but Maui being a bit of a trickster demi god of course got his cheeky self into trouble, but did manage to bring the secret of fire back to the people.  

Tane and Hine Wall Hangings 015

 

 

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Hail and Farewell

Fairwell Cailleach August 2013 029

Farewell Cailleach enjoy your time in the Northern Hemisphere,

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Spring is Coming

Spring is coming here in the Southern Hemisphere

Dandilions

I have taken a break from intensely reading about Magic, Paganism and the Esoteric for a spell.  I am about half way through several books, Kristoffer Hughs Cauldron BornAya: A Shamanic Odyssey by Rak R Razam, and Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, by  Melusine Draco, which was sent to me by Moon Books  Pagan and Esoteric publisher, the book is due to be published this August.  All three I would like to review, but seeing as this is not a book review blog, I figured, it was time to post about something else.    So on my train rides to and from work I have been reading novels and pondering what to write about here.

While I have taken a small break from reading about Magic and Paganism, my Witchy practice as such and as off beat as it is, has not taken a break.  And this weekend was all about preparing for the coming spring.  This year for me spring has not come early as it has done so in other years, but it is coming and it’s not far off now.  I can almost smell it in the air.  My Saturday was spent taking a part of protest against the GCSB Bill,  with about 10,000 other New Zealanders around the country, which has left me with an image of a hand full of sand being held so tightly that the sand just slips through the fingers, and the hope that because governements all over the world are clawing so tightly to the way things were that, what will be in, and the people of that future will slip through their fingers.  But I digress.

My Sunday was about spring cleaning.  It was a glorious sunny day on Sunday and apparently time to spring clean my room, dusting my various altars, picking up all my clothes from the corner of my room, and chasing the dust bunnies out the door.  I cleansed as I went, as is the witches way really, using two smudge sticks made by a fellow Witch and Artist, both work wonderfully and whats more smell great.

So for your viewing pleasure, some of the fruits of my labour.

The Goddess Altar, and the God Altar

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A little while ago I decided that I wanted to explore masculine and feminine as such.  It is much talked about within the various pagan traditions, and comes in many different forms, Goddess and God, Lord and Lady, Brigid and Lughnasadh, Dark God and Light God, Dark Goddess and Light Goddess, the list goes on.  So in order to help me understand the masculine and feminine I decided to create two altars, which are more like shrines, one for the Goddess and One for the God.

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Did I discover anything new about said Goddess and Gods? The Masculine and the Feminine?  Sort of yes and sort of I am still working on that.. I figure it is an on-going process like most things on this path.

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This is my current working altar, which is new, not the working altar so much as what is on it and how this has been arranged.  You see I am going to do some exploratory work on what is known here in New Zealand as Kiwiana, which I figure one day will be our folklore.  It sort of is already but not called that. When you Google New Zealand folklore you usually get Maori Mythology and Legends, which is all very well but I feel that it only tells part of the story.  What about the traditions the Europeans brought with them when they immigrated here? It was not so long ago that I can call them folk traditions, but there were various traditions that arrived on our shores with the settlers which has evolved into something distinctly Kiwi,  hence my exploration into Kiwiana.

In short Kiwiana   is a collection of objects that have over the last 100 – 150 years or so become iconic.  Some are old, as such and others are not that old.  Some are Maori in origin, for example the Tiki of which I have two forms on my working altar. (the statue on the right, and the green figure hanging on the glass thing in the middle)   Other objects, are from the countries where the settlers came from, for example Lamingtons, a sponge cake coated with strawberry or chocolate thin icing and coated in coconut, which could be Australian in origin, or actually Hungarian, where it is called coconut cake, or coconut square but in Hungarian of course. What is important here, is that they are quite iconically kiwi, hence the title Kiwiana.  Over the next little while in amongst the various reviews and other posts I am hoping to also explore various aspects of Kiwiana and its magical application.

kiwiana

Photo taken from here

Now I am going to be using a principle that comes from American Hoodoo and root work, which is, from what I understand that Hoodoo and Root workers used pretty much what was on hand.  So instead of purchasing expensive and hard to get object and ingredients to do their hexing and root work they relied on local knowledge and a keen mind to use what was on hand.  So with these things in mind I am going to be exploring Kiwiana and with magical uses in mind, exploring the objects that I already have and their magical, spiritual and kiwi meanings.

 

 

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The Māori Oracle By P.A Minnell a Review

Maori Oracle

Right from the start I will tell you that I know PM Minnell, and have known her for years, I know her as Polli with an I because I am Polly with a Y, I meet her at a pagan festival many many years ago and while we have not meet face to face very often we certainly hit it of and I consider her to be a friend.  I was thrilled to learn that she had created these cards and book and was having them published all professional like.. how exciting is that.  So as soon as they came out and I was able I ran of to my local metaphysical store and ordered a set.  I was very curious as to what they would look like in person, so to speak, I had seen several of the image on Polli’s face book and was intrigued.  And I have to say very attracted to the New Zealandness.

I was a little surprised that these cards and deck had been picked up by an overseas publisher, but also not surprised as New Zealand is in comparison to most other places a tiny county a very long way off from anywhere, and we have a considerably small population.  But I know that these cards will sell well on an international market as they are and will be for many exotic seeming.  To me they are not so exotic so much as homely.. If that makes sense? *ponders this*  What makes these cards standout is that Polli has strong Māori heritage so is speaking from experience and the way these cards are presented in the book people weather they use them for divination purposes or not will be learning some very interesting things about Māori language, spirituality, mythology, culture and customs, all of which is difficult to extract out in any single thing because they are very tied into the Māori world view and cosmology.  If you want to know more then you are just going to have to purchase the set and read the book for yourselves. My deck and book arrived just after the winter solstice, well into the season of Matariki, which is the Māori New Year and a very apt time of year to receive this particular deck.

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There are 58 Cards with pictures of native bird, plants, trees and Māori objects, so even if you never use the cards for readings just looking at the various pictures and reading the corresponding page in the 80 page booklet they come with, you will be learning new and interesting things about Māori Culture and New Zealand. 

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I really like the box these cards come in,  magnetic closure.  The box is designed to keep the cards in rather than just being packaging, and I have to say that is most excellent.

The Cards themselves are a good size for shuffling and they feel nice in the hands, they are glossy so strike me as being quite hardy and will last a long time with regular use, which I think is important for any oracle type deck.  The back ground of these cards is green with a lovely Māori carving motif also in green, which brings out the actual pictures of what the card is nicely.  I like the drawings of these cards, it looks like they were hand drawn on parchment paper and then digitised and made into cards.  This lends a very kiwi ingenuity feel to the deck while the artwork remains lovely and appealing to look at. 

The book is written in a very accessible way, with an excellent pronunciation guide, and sections on spirituality, ancestors, [tipuna] and a very detailed section on how to treat these cards, which I found very interesting, things that I am accustom to mostly, *smiles*.   Polli points out that you do not have to follow what she has written exactly, but instead points out that these cards and probably other decks of divination cards that you own are Tohunga, a sacred treasure and should be treated as such, whether you follow the Māori traditions as instructed in the booklet or you have your own way of honouring them, or use a tradition from you own ancestry, the important thing is to acknowledge that they are special, sacred, they are set apart from the everyday world.

I also enjoyed the various myths and mythology that is associated with each of the cards explanations and the brief but evocative bits of mythology found at the beginning of the book and through out it really.. it adds a nice mystical? Magical? And for me homey feel to it.

So reading these cards

“All Knowledge, in Maoirdom, is said to come from three baskets called Nga Putea Wananga” and it is a three card spread that is used with the Māori Oracle.  The first Card/Basket representing Knowledge of the physical world, the second Card Basket represent customs laws and what is right, and the third card/basket about magical and spiritual knowledge.  For me these will be a deck of cards that I use in situations when I need some very personal and gentle clarification, and or understanding, for when I needed some gentle but a deeper understanding of my own magical path, as a Witch in New Zealand. 

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From the booklet I get the impression that these cards are designed for personal work rather than being a deck that is pronominally used to read for other people.  This is not to say that they can’t be used to read for others. It is also important to note that while the author has very strong suggestions about how to treat these cards, and work with them, Polli does go on to say that these are just suggestions what I understand about what is empathising is about treating these cards as special, sacred, and about how you can connect with your ancestors.  About the only thing I can see wrong or wish about this book and deck is that I wish the book was longer.. I enjoyed reading it, there was much food for thought.

All in all I have enjoyed reading the book and having a little titu [play] with the cards.  Like I said I will be using these when I am looking for some clarity on specific problem solving, they will not be an everyday kinda deck, they feel too special for that.  These cards will live in their lovely study box, along with a reading cloth, because that feels right.  These cards are also going to be most helpful as I begin research into something called Kiwiana, and its magical applications? But that is for another post.

Like the back of the box says these cards and booklet will be useful for anybody in any culture, and along the way you will lean some unique things about Māori Culture and spirituality and a little more about Aotearoa ♥

I give this oracle deck 5 cups of tea out of 5!  A most excellent oracle deck!

cup of teacup of teacup of teacup of teacup of tea

 

This review was written during a swarm of very rattling earthquakes 

here in Wellington.. just so you know.. O.O

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