Nature, Sabbats, Seasons, Witchcraft

Summer Solstice Tarot Spreads

Summer Solstice arrives on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, and along with it comes the undeniable truth that half the year has passed. The last six months were full of lessons, both professional and personal. I completed an enriching and transformative experience in life coaching with JRNI. I also moved into a new house, which has demanded more of my time and attention than I expected. It didn’t surprise me all that much when I drew The Hermit card and the Four of Swords on the New Moon in Gemini. Even the cards are telling me to rest!

It seems a little counterintuitive, though. Pagans are supposed to be reveling and basking in the glory of the sun at the height of his power right now. Maybe I’ll just head to the beach and revel in a chaise lounge instead.

Historically, I’ve used this time as a mid-year review, a little assessment of where I’ve been, where I’m heading, and what might need adjusting. I created the Tarot spreads below with that in mind.

The Mid-Year Review Spread follows the sun’s waxing and waning energy with the still point, the solstice, in between. Since Winter Solstice, it’s likely that we’ve been working on or processing something. Where we are now is the result of the work we’ve put in earlier. As the sun’s light wanes and the days grow shorter, it’s important to recognize where we may need a bit of extra support or nurturing to finish out the year.

Summer Solstice (1)

When the Sun King is strongest at Summer Solstice, he also moves into the sign of Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon and the most feminine of all the signs in the Zodiac. There’s a great lesson in this. It teaches us to lead with the heart and balance strength with love and compassion. The Solar King Spread below is for the king within us all, who honors the feminine within himself and others.* It also pays homage to that most ancient Celtic ceremony of the king’s marriage to the land.

For this spread, you will need to place the The Sun and The Moon cards from your Tarot deck at the top. If you’re working with an oracle deck, choose something that represents those two qualities for you.

Solar King (1)

If you use either of these spreads, drop me a line below, or tag me on Instagram @quillofthegoddess. I’d love to see how they work out for you.

Have a joyful and abundant Summer Solstice!

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.


*Just to be clear, I’m not referring to gender identification or sexual orientation here. I’m talking about energy or qualities (yin vs. yang), which we all have.

Witchcraft

Too Far Out of the Broom Closet

A well-meaning friend suggested that I might want to be a little less witchy here in lower Alabama. I can understand why she would give that advice. I certainly don’t wish to be a target for people who will probably never try to understand other points of view, let alone something as controversial and misunderstood as witchcraft. There is always the pressure to blend in, conform, and adopt the “when in Rome” mentality. That goes double for a tiny military town like this one.

In my current stage of life, though, I’m politely but firmly ignoring that pressure. I’m too far out of the broom closet to get shoved back in, and I refuse to make myself smaller and more digestible for others. Either they can handle all that I am, or they can choke on me. While my spiritual path is not the first thing I lead with upon being introduced to someone new, it’s also not something I’ll hide or tiptoe around if I’m asked about it directly. Anyone who wants to do a diligent search can find me easily enough on this blog and on Instagram—I identify as a witch in both places. I understand there is value in speaking to someone at his/her level, which I try to do as much as I’m able, but not to the extent that I feel compromised or lessened in any way.

I’ve watched people bristle over the word witch for the last 15 years, when I first started rolling it around on my tongue and applying it to myself. It felt like a new black dress that I hadn’t quite grown into yet, but I wore it anyway, trusting that it would fit perfectly someday. Now the sleeves drape gracefully, the hem falls where it should, and the bodice hugs me tenderly in all the right places. Witch I am. Witch I shall always be, even when I don’t feel like witching (see previous post). My path is strange, winding, and quite lonely at times, but at least it is my own.

I know it’s a bit more socially acceptable for most if I just talk about the Goddess or the Divine Feminine and avoid the “w” word. I’ve done that in person and on this blog for years. The waters are always calmer if I talk about energy and holistic healing without mentioning things like spells and rituals. It’s disappointing, and it feels like watered down whiskey every single time. If you have ever stood in a cast circle and felt the currents of energy running around and through you, if you have ever invoked the Goddess under a full moon, if you have ever summoned the elements and felt the wild, infinite power of each one…well, then you understand.

I’ve been around the New Age community enough to know that witch can send ripples through a room and silence it faster than you can blink. I’ve made the mistake too many times of thinking that acceptance would be automatic, only to find myself shunned by people who hoard crystals, play with oracle cards, carry on conversations with dead people…and still show up for church on Sunday. It was all rather confusing, or maybe they were confused about their own path. It all served to teach me that (a) I can never assume anything about the tolerance level of any group, and (b) I don’t ever have to stay in a situation where I’m not welcomed for who and what I am.

When you can’t find community, sometimes you have to create one. I lead a small study group for solitary or eclectic witches, meaning those who are not affiliated with a particular coven or system. We draw from many sources. We do our own thing, but we also enjoy having an online forum where we can read books together, discuss them, and share our questions and observations. We’re currently reading The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak, which offers plenty of meaty material for witches old and new. In Chapter 4, he leads with a paragraph that reaffirms what it means to wear the mantle of the wise:

The witch’s path is not an easy road to walk. Through the roots of our history, we have seen the persecution of those who practice the art of magick and the mysteries of the Goddess and God. Though death is not the result in this day and age, witches are still discriminated against. If you can handle the difficulties, the life of the witch is very joyous, filled with never-ending study and exploration. Witches learn many disciplines to ply their craft. One must be a dedicated student, but also have the passion, the fire, necessary to live life as a witch. Witchcraft is constantly adapting and evolving, calling creative, daring people to it. (59)

I heard that call, as I’m sure many of you did as well. We are writing our own history as we go. Future generations will base their opinions and ideas on what “witch” means by how we present ourselves and what we leave behind. It is my hope that we leave them with a definition of kindness, healing, love, strength, and reverence for the world around us.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.


Penczak, Christopher. The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation, and Psychic Development. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Print.

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Goddess, Healing, Rituals, Witchcraft

When a Witch Doesn’t Feel Like Witching

 

I spent most of 2015 grieving the loss of my mother. The following year was consumed with celebrity deaths, the election, and a general feeling of malaise and anxiety over what lay ahead, both politically and personally. It was supposed to be a year of recovery for me, a year to get my groove back…except it wasn’t coming back so easily. It was sort of inching back like a snail on a Hosta leaf.

Enter 2017. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion at first, and then it sprinted forward in May. Suddenly, my husband has a fantastic new job, and we’re hopping one state over to Alabama. As I’m writing this piece, the movers are filling cardboard boxes with all our worldly goods. I am parked on the patio, preferring the company of my dog, the songbirds, and the rhythmic sounds of Layne Redmond’s Hymns from the Hive.

Instead of focusing on the move, I’m thinking about my spiritual practice and how it has fallen into what can only be described as a slump. I am a witch who has not felt like witching. Other than my daily Tarot draw, I don’t do much. I’ve allowed Sabbats to go by with a yawn. I’ve acknowledged the moon through astrology reports more than I’ve gone outside to soak up her soft, comforting rays. Candles remain unlit and stored away. Crystals stay in a lovely wooden box that a dear friend gave to me years ago for my birthday—it even has an image of the wolf goddess Lupa on the top. There are reminders like that everywhere, symbols of the Divine Mother’s love and strength, but I walk by them as though they are shrouded in mist.

 Rather than chastising myself, I’m looking deeply into why I haven’t felt inspired. Why do any of us turn away from our rituals when life gets nasty and we actually need them the most?

Weeks pass. The move is complete. Now I sit here on a rainy morning in a new room with a new desk in a new town, still looking, still questioning. Honestly, I have felt somewhat annoyed with one aspect of Goddess spirituality, particularly the intense focus on self-improvement that continues to mushroom. If I could roll my eyes any harder, they would slide right down my back.

For all the attempts to build women up and make us feel that yes, we are goddesses incarnate dammit, there’s also an assumption that we’re quite flawed and in need of fixing…and there’s plenty of money to be made from women who desperately want to be fixed. All of that makes my hackles go up. I’m baring my teeth, and this is my low growl that says, “Back the fuck off. I’m not buying, because the Goddess is not for sale…and by the way, I’m not broken.”

The problem with having your spiritual nose planted so deeply in your own ass is that you’re constantly in a state of “healing.” I’ve been there, and it’s exhausting. You bounce from one program or one ideology to another. You think that you’ll get out there and make a difference as soon as you finish cleaning up the shit from your childhood and your bad relationships and your grief and all the rest of the baggage you’ve been hauling around for eons. Here’s a hard truth: that day won’t ever come. You’ll never feel so perfectly “healed” that fairy dust exudes from your pores and rainbows shoot from your nipples straight to the heavens. Don’t use that as an excuse to avoid making your own unique contribution to the betterment of humanity. Have you looked around? No one is levitating off the floor, are they? You’re as good as anyone else. We can’t afford to be so inwardly focused that we don’t see what is needed in our own communities and the world at large.

Here’s a little story about that from my own dusty archives. I once practiced with a circle of women that really got into prosperity magic, which could be defined as rituals designed to bring about financial gain. Granted, this was about the time The Secret came out, so a lot of people were convinced that they could have wealth beyond their wildest dreams if they could just think positively, create vision boards, write themselves fake checks for a million bucks, and repeat a shit-ton of affirmations in the mirror every morning. I give that book about as much credence as the cow patties in the pasture down the road. Actually, the cow patties are useful as manure and do serve a purpose, which is more than I can say about The Secret.

Anyway, one member of the women’s circle finally began to question why we weren’t doing rituals that focused on world peace, healing the environment, equal rights for the oppressed, and so forth. After all, this is what the earlier Dianic covens did, and their political activism made an impact. She was beginning to see that prosperity for one is good, but prosperity for all is better. We were raising energy strictly for our own purposes, when we could have made it broader and more meaningful. Not surprisingly, things began to shift in a more positive direction for me when this group dissolved, and I went my own way.

I may be tired after all that has transpired the past couple of years, but I’m not defeated. I’m looking at everything with a very skeptical eye, and I believe this is healthy. I need to question my role, my path, and my focus. So forgive me if I don’t become positively rhapsodic about writing up a wish list for the full moon or a banishing list for the dark moon. Forgive me if my cauldron stays empty right now. If and when my witchy practice returns, it will have to encompass a lot more than personal transformation. It will have to reach wider, dig deeper, and feel truer.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.