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Obviously, I am not a spiritual teacher, by any stretch of the term. But I’ve seen some interesting things crop up in the pagan online community recently with regards to teaching online. A lot of people start out working in their free time, posting to blogs and podcasts and Youtube channels. It’s all very fun and lighthearted, with the occasional serious discussion thrown in.

Usually, after awhile though, one of two things happens.

They burn out and are never heard from again.

Or, they realize they’ve got a good thing going and monetize. Publish a book, host a paid forum, start teaching paid classes and hosting conference calls and selling spell kits. And, of course, promoting those things.

This is, in a way, the way of the internet. Very few people stick with it long term, create a huge audience, and continue to do what they do for free, simply because it starts to take a lot of time, especially when they start responding to all the emails and comments. When running a blog starts to feel like having a second job, it’s pretty normal to think about how to get paid for all the work you’re doing.

Unfortunately this brings out the “how dare you’s” so fast it will make your head spin. The speed at which a content creator can go from a well-loved personality posting Fun Lammas Activities on their blog to a sell-out shilling snake oil and fakery to fools who don’t know any better is, frankly, astounding. It’s a combination of jealousy, entitlement, and resistance to change. Jealousy, because really, who wouldn’t want to make this their day job (it sounds like so much fun on the surface, especially if you’re not familiar with how tedious the work can be); Entitlement, because how dare you start charging for things that were free before (as though the free posts are going to disappear behind a paywall), or the more insidious “I can get everything I need to know for free somewhere else online, how dare you charge for it” (which, if that were true, why not just go learn elsewhere?); Resistance to change, because readers get used to one thing, and getting them used to something else can be a hell of a challenge. The maturity of the audience obviously has a large factor here as well.

Is it right to charge for craft teaching? I don’t know. I think the answer is both no and yes. Obviously, I think it’s right for me to pay a professional for a Tarot reading or a magical working, especially if it’s someone I don’t know (via the internet or via a witchy shop). I also have no problems buying handcrafted magical tools. And if I was going to a class hosted for a number of people at a local witchy shop, I’d expect to pay at least SOMETHING for the teacher’s time and materials.

On the other hand, I’d be a little put out if suddenly it cost money for me to train with a tradition. (Beyond, of course, the usual costs of running a circle, like good candles, incense, and whatever you brought to the pot luck.)

It strikes me that the magical relationship is very different. Working with a tradition is more like working within a family and less like being part of an educational (or retail) environment. I wouldn’t expect to pay for my grandmother’s cannoli recipe, but I have no problem buying cookbooks or eating at restaurants either. The relationship is different. Training with a tradition is giving up as much energy as you’re getting, and the magical link is an extremely strong one. The tradition is interested in making sure you’re exactly the right person to continue their Way, and adding money to that mix can really foul up the selection process. You’re interested in making sure this tradition is exactly what you REALLY want to do, and saying no gets a lot harder if you’ve already paid in a bunch of cash.

Teaching an intro class? The magical link is there, sure, but it’s not nearly of the same depth and strength, and people can (and do) drop out or join late all the time.

I don’t claim to have any inspired answers, other than to say that as a long time blogger, the entitlement problem always sticks in my craw a little. There’s a feeling that your readers expect certain things from you, and there can be a lot of pushback if you change that. Add in the instability of the pagan online community, and things can (and do) get crazy. Good people end up shutting their doors over lesser troubles.

TL;DR version? It’s complicated, have a cannoli.

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Short version: I start my new job in about a week!

Long version: After doing some opportunity-drawing magic, I found a job opening at a friend’s company and jumped on it. Several interviews and quite a lot of magic later, I was offered the position. I did most of the work for the interviews, as preparation to help present the best side of myself, as well as a good bit of visualizing myself in their office, working at the desk they had open, with a business card with my new title on it.

Probably the most work I’ve done with a single focus in a long time – I usually do most of my workings on the fly, as I need them. This took a good bit of preparation and the like. While it was effective, I’m not sure it’s my favorite way to do the magic – I like things a little simpler than that!

 

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Magical Employment

Both my husband and I are going through some job related situations lately – his because of a coworker/superior that’s causing a lot of frustration, and mine because I am so beyond done working in retail. (The holiday season has reinforced this, even though I’m working part time right now.)

It’s caused two different sorts of magic to be ongoing, one a sort of road opening spell for husband’s coworker (who is not a bad person, just… really shouldn’t be in the job he’s in) and one a different sort of spell that I’m still working the nuts and bolts out of as I prepare to start job hunting again.

I don’t want to jump right into the job hunt just yet – for one thing because major change and I are on tenuous terms (my anxiety does a lot better when I get a chance to step through things in a process rather than jumping in head first without looking).

So instead of doing a full out job-searchy type spell, I’ve done several smaller things, geared more towards helping me prepare mentally for the whole process of job searching. The last time I was unemployed, it took a big toll on my resources, so I want to avoid feeling drained like that this time (which will, I’m sure, be aided by the fact that I still HAVE a job, of course). It’s also easier, when working holiday retail, to do several smaller steps towards job search magic. With a ton of other stuff going on, adding in a bunch of large planning for magic working just makes my brain hurt.

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Trothwy, over at The Used Key, has been publishing a discussion on Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft (after having discussed it with a book club that I only got to attend once, to my great disappointment). She’s posted several chapters worth of responses from various public and published Witches, and I’ve been following along eagerly.

I’d not run into Huson’s book before – and I’m really not sure why, when I’ve gone looking for older, more traditional Witchcraft books in the past. Perhaps I needed to be reading it now instead of then. Either way, I’ve enjoyed reading it, as Huson doesn’t pull any punches with regards to power and craft. There’s no “only good magic is allowed” fluff – magic is magic, for good or ill. I’m of the opinion that occasionally it’s right to step into a negative situation magically (even if I don’t hex the toenails off people nearly as often as I ponder the idea).

Anyway, so I was thinking about the discussion on Chapter 2, and since the comments there have focused on tools and crafting them (and whether or not using blood in the consecration of an athame is acceptable – it’s excellent, you should check it out), I thought I’d take my little ponderings on Witch Names over here.

(I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this, so we’ll consider it just an exercise in random thought.)

See… I don’t have a craft name.

I have the name I use here – River Daughter. I have a name I go by elsewhere on the internet. And I have a legal name.

I’ve thought for years about magical names, but never really come up with one I thought I could use consistently. I’ve even tried on a few – usually animal names like Rabbit or Little Owl – and never really felt like I was connected to them in a meaningful way. I’ve even thought of using River Daughter as a magical name, but it felt too weird, having already used it online in various places for awhile. If a magical name is supposed to be secret, the name I use to blog sure ain’t.*

So, for most magic, I use my legal name, since that’s the most personal name I have. I feel it’s appropriate for me to use that name when I’m working with the Gods.

Which is weird, and sometimes makes me feel a little inadequate, to be honest. Everyone ELSE gets a cool new name, how come I can’t come up with one I like? (that’s my 4th grader voice, by the way)

I mean, people talk about magical names all the time – especially online. Which I also don’t understand, as this is The Internet ™ where EVERYTHING is public. Why would you even want to share something secret with the whole flipping world? It’s almost like a right of passage with newbie pagans, and so they want to show it off, in the same breath that they talk about how the Gods give out magical names and they’re super secret and powerful.

Circular thinking is circular.

Maybe I don’t have a specific craft name because I haven’t truly needed it and haven’t felt the need to adopt one just to have it. Would I like one? Sure. I love the idea, and I think Huson has some good steps for finding some names that might work. I think a Witch Name might even have power, should I choose to give it power.

I don’t think names have too much innate power, beyond the “particularness” of a person – they can be useful in magic, but so can a piece of hair or an old belonging. When you’re identifying someone, it’s the particularness that matters, not the name.

But with a name comes an identity, and mental cues are extremely powerful to the subconscious. If every time I do magic, I identify myself with a special name, that name becomes a trigger for my unconscious that magic is about to happen. In a way, the names I use on the internet already act as those cues. When I am writing as River Daughter, I know that has a certain context (this blog, and other pagan blogs and websites), and I know that I am speaking publicly. Signing in to the blog becomes a cue that this is public speaking, so to speak. Those names also afford me a level of protection online. It’s possible for someone to track Real Me down only knowing Online Me, but it takes a good bit of work. If I used my legal name here, it would be a lot easier.

Which I guess works in a witchcraft sense as well. If you’re just getting to know someone, it’s much safer to use an assumed “craft” name (where I would use River Daughter, in this example) instead of your legal name, especially if you’re not public about your involvement in the craft. There are a lot of places where being “out of the broom closet” could cause a lot of problems. But I see that as different than a Witch name, and I think Huson does as well (at least in this particular instance). The name I’d tell random strangers to keep them from following me home is different than the name I would use to work with the Gods.

There’s also a level of permanence to a craft name – if I want to introduce myself to the Gods, I want it to be with a name that means something, either to me personally or within a tradition (should I get that far), and not a name I just picked out of a book. Though I suppose if your method of divination is flipping through books, you could bring yourself to a focused state and grab a book of magical names/words/herbs, choosing one by blindly pointing at it. (With my luck, I’d end up pointing at a name like Belchweed or somesuch.)

Anyway, as mentioned, I’m not entirely sure where this is going. I’ve not had a big revelation in thinking about it, only peeled back a few more layers of the onion.

I still don’t have a craft name. And I still kinda wish I did.*

*Also, I’d be concerned that everyone would assume I’d picked up the name River/River Daughter from Firefly, and not from Tolkien. For some reason that matters.
**Maybe I’d not use it even if I DID have it. Who knows?

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I’ve tried recently to be more open about some of the things I struggle with alongside learning the Witchy stuff, talking about them with my HPS/HP – especially now that I’ve apprenticed with their coven – and generally not trying to hide the stuff that’s going on. Mostly it’s major mental health struggles, for which I am in a lot of therapy, taking a handful of medications, and doing magic to help manage (some things never go away, but they can be managed and made livable).

But when things get really sticky, as they have the last few days thanks to a major fuckup with the doctor’s office, it’s hard to follow through with plans for magic and witchcraft.

Tonight is the full Hunter’s moon, and I had planned to do a ritual in celebration and do some magic to help with my current job struggles. Instead, I’m going to content myself with tea in moonlight and focusing on being present to experience the magic that is *this moment* – my brain can’t handle anything more right now. Leaning on my meditation practice doesn’t feel as witchy as a full moon ritual, but I have to keep reminding myself it’s only wise to do what I can do, and not try to do more. *

Sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m cut out to be a “real” witch, because I can’t control my own mind, and the crazy!brain takes over instead of the part of me that I’m familiar with and I can work with.

(Then I wonder what a “real” witch is, if not someone who is self aware enough to recognize and not do magic when shit gets bad?)

*While what I struggle with doesn’t hold a candle to Lupus, the Spoon Theory is a good one for those unfamiliar with the idea of ever-changing amounts of mental currency. Link is a PDF.

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Recently I’ve been using Frankincense and Clary Sage oils to help increase my subconscious/intuitive mind and quiet my conscious mind. It’s an interesting exercise, and one that’s surprisingly effective. Also, the aromas of both have become a mental cue now for tarot reading, which is cool.

Of course, all this works better if you actually put them on the correct sides of your body.

For reference:

  • Frankincense is a calming, quieting oil, and should be used on the RIGHT side of the body, to quiet the left brain (I use behind my ear and at my wrist)
  • Clary Sage is an awakening, opening oil, and should be used on the LEFT side of the body, to enhance the right brain (same spots, plus under my nose)

At least, that’s how its supposed to go…

On the other hand, that was an extremely analytical tarot reading, if a little stilted in the “what does it actually mean” sense…

Perhaps this afternoon is a good time to balance the checkbook.

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I was chatting with a coworker recently, and she mentioned volunteering at a semi-local nature center. Armand Bayou is not too far from here, and they have a large nature preserve (as well as being near two other huge nature preserve areas – Johnson Space Center and the University of Houston – Clear Lake).

Specifically, she mentioned their Owl walks.

I can not explain how hard it was to not squee loudly in the middle of the bookstore.

I LOVE owls. I have loved owls since I was about 6 years old and my parents took me to The Raptor Trust in New Jersey, and I got to meet several up close. (Owls and rabbits, oddly, have been my favorite critters all my life. I’ve always found it interesting to be so strongly attached to/attracted to a predator/prey combination like that)

Even better? These walks are done on or near the full moon.

In short, I am DEFINITELY going on an Owl Walk. I’ve heard a Barred Owl here once before, and the chance to hear, or maybe even SEE, some of them? Not letting that go by. No way. The next ones are both on Saturdays – October 15 and November 19 – so I may have to do some schedule finagling, but SQUEE OWLS. I will try to take pictures, but the only camera I have that is capable of pictures in low light is a 35MM SLR that BADLY needs a new lens, and I don’t want to upgrade it because I eventually want to get a digital SLR and not have to worry about film. But I will try. And if nothing else, I can record things on my phone if we find any chatty owls!

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