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.

Nature, Poetry

Meeting Resistance

Tree limbs reach over the fence,
swaying, beckoning,
asking why I’m over here
on the other side
of a man-made barrier.

Not woman-made.

A woman
would not make
a defense
against
all that is natural
and wild.
She sees herself
in the tangled vines
and gnarled roots—
meeting resistance,
growing around it
anyway.

The trees lean,
stretch,
ask me to step over the line
into their dark, umbrous world.

Come home, they sigh.
Come home.

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

Uncategorized

When You’re Woo-Woo as F*ck, and Your Partner Isn’t

It may surprise you to know that despite being a witchy, Goddess-powered kind of woman, I cohabitate with a man who is decidedly non-woo. It has come to my attention that there are quite a lot of us out there who maintain some type of spiritual practice that doesn’t involve our partner. It’s like we’re all keeping a holy sanctuary that our most-loved person never enters.

Does it matter? Well, that depends.

For some, it’s no big deal, as long as the partner is respectful and understanding about things like burning candles, wafting incense, reading Tarot cards, and being highly conscious of the moon’s exact phase and astrological transits. As long as love is the foundation of the partnership, it works well enough.

I’ve also known women who relish their spiritual path as their private, inner world, and they have absolutely no wish at all to share any of it with a partner. Doing so would almost feel like a violation, because they have fought so hard to create that sacred space for themselves.

For others, spirituality becomes a sticking point. They want and need their partner to be fully on board and engaged with them and their woo-woo. Questions can begin to arise like, ‘If my partner rejects my spiritual values, does he/she reject me as well?’ and ‘If I can’t share this part of my life with him/her, then do we really even have a relationship?’

In the earlier days of my break from mainstream religion, I was thrilled if the guy I was with didn’t bug me about church or try to convert me. It was even better if he didn’t freak out over words like witchcraft, Goddess, and pagan. (Having been raised in the South, I was recovering from the emotional abuse and patriarchal wounds I received from the church. The slightest mention of evangelicalism would send me running).

So, I only looked for tolerance and open-mindedness from potential lovers, and that’s mostly what I attracted. The word witch almost served as a kind of litmus test to see who would stick around, although I have to say that many didn’t care what I believed or practiced. They were far more interested in my body than my mind and spirit anyway.

I thought that men who were spiritually awake, plugged in, and switched on would be too much to hope for, quite honestly. I figured I’d be doing really well just to find one who was stable, reliable, intelligent, driven, and kind. Enter Domestic Partner #3, who has all of those qualities.

I felt that he was extremely fortunate to have parents who didn’t drag him to church or force him to practice any type of religion. I certainly wasn’t going to do that to him, either. He formed his own beliefs, which are pretty close to agnostic if I had to put a label on them. He has always been supportive of me, but we’ll never share the same views on the inner-workings of the Universe and the things I feel inside but can’t always explain.

Our relationship works, as long as my witching and priestessing takes place on the outskirts of our daily life. It works, as long as my woo-woo conversations are limited to friends and members of my community. It works, as long as I don’t connect the dots between sexuality and spirituality. It works, as long as I don’t care if he ever joins me in my inner temple. It works, as long as I keep this immense part of myself, which informs so much of my writing and all that I do, separate from all that we do as a couple.

Sometimes I do care, though I try hard to release any expectations. I’ve learned that having expectations of anyone is always a recipe for disappointment. Knowing that is one thing; putting it into practice is another. Sometimes it’s lonely. Sometimes I feel we are speaking a completely different language, and there is no translator. Sometimes I follow the flowchart back to the beginning and find that the heart-centered medicine men and sages of this world are still in short supply.

I’ve never felt that my partner rejected me personally or even my spiritual outlook directly. It’s more that I question how deeply a relationship can go if one of the most important aspects of my life can only be experienced with other people.

Empowerment

Good Fences: How to Set Healthy Boundaries and Maintain Your Sanity

 

Having and enforcing healthy boundaries has become the topic of many conversations in my world lately. It seems like we’re all trying to get a handle on what is or isn’t okay with us and how to communicate that to other people. It’s a bit ironic that we’re more comfortable with letting strangers know when to back off than we are with letting our own friends and family know when they’ve crossed a line (or ten). We don’t worry as much about how strangers are going to feel or how the dynamics might change, because odds are high that we’ll never see them again. Our interpersonal relationships demand a lot more of us, however.

I now have an even deeper understanding of why Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Fences show you exactly where a boundary lies. There is no mistaking when and how it has been crossed. It’s frustrating sometimes that our emotional boundaries aren’t always so visible or accessible.

When people come to me because they feel like others are taking advantage of them in some way, I’ve noticed that they often haven’t looked within to really identify their own boundaries. They’re too busy people pleasing and trying to manage how others feel. Women fall prey to this a lot, because we’re socially conditioned to be caretakers and to put others’ needs well above our own.

Expressing what we need out loud can be difficult, because we don’t want to be accused of being selfish. (Oh, that nasty little word!) What we usually fail to recognize is that others fire the “selfish” missile at us out of co-dependency. They fear the possibility that their needs might not get met by us, so they use “selfish” to churn up guilt. If we bite the hook and give into the guilt trip, then we’ve collapsed a boundary. We’ve said Yes when we really felt No. Is that what a Goddess would do? I think not.

Friends have referred to me as “The Queen of No” and “The Boundary Queen” before, and I wear both titles with pride. It took a long time to love myself enough to stop being a doormat, so I will share my tactics for maintaining my sanity and sanctity.

Do a Gut Check

Step One in healthy boundary setting is checking in with how you feel. When somebody asks you to do something, stop and take a deep breath. How does their request sit with you? If you sense hesitation inside, heaviness, or anxiousness, that means you’d rather not do it. Your body will give you signals, but you have to recognize them and honor the message. If you feel like you should say yes, consider the motivation. Are you just worried about being liked?

Be Honest and Speak Up

Step Two is being honest about where you feel compromised. Women have to learn how to be outspoken, even though that goes against the way we’re socially conditioned. We’re taught to be nice, to acquiesce, and to accommodate. Outspokenness is a skill we have to master, nonetheless, if we’re ever going to reclaim our lives. Say it out loud, and stand firm, even if you’re shaking. It does get easier with practice!

Release the Guilt

Step Three is letting go of the guilt that will surface once you learn how to say no. People are rarely going to let you off easy, because they have their own agendas and issues. Feeling the guilt is completely normal, so it’s important not to be hard on yourself when it comes up. It’s equally important to push through it and realize that a more balanced, positively-engaged life awaits on the other side of that guilt.

Be Ready for the Fallout

Step Four is allowing toxic relationships to die, and this may be the hardest part of setting and enforcing boundaries, particularly with relatives. A balanced person who truly loves you will honor and respect your limits. Period. An unbalanced person will argue, give you the silent treatment, try to coerce you into saying yes to their demands, play the victim, or heap on the guilt—maybe all of these things. If they can’t learn to accept your new assertion of power, it’s time to limit your association with them or cut ties completely.

Rock Your Goddess Power

The goddess I think of most when it comes to setting boundaries is Durga. She’s a badass multi-limbed warrior and protector of the universe who rides a tiger or a lion. Her very name means “fort” or “a place that is difficult to overrun.” I like chanting her mantra when I need an extra shot of fortitude, but I encourage you to do whatever ignites your own Divine Feminine fire.

Remember that even if our parents didn’t teach us about healthy boundaries as children, it’s something we can learn. It’s a practice, and it’s something that we have to keep practicing in all of our interactions.

Decide. Begin. Make your life brilliant.

Blessed Be

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

Goddess, Sabbats

Corn Woman’s Wisdom on Lughnasadh

 

There are two predominant themes for Lughnasadh: one is sacrifice, and the other is nourishment. There have been years when sacrifice has shown up stronger for me, when I’ve had to give up something or become more aware of when I’m being a martyr. This year, however, Goddess is asking me to look harder at how well I nourish myself on the most basic level: with food.

I am not a foodie, though there are times when I wish I could be one. Eating is something I do to live, but I don’t live to eat. When I’m overly stressed, I’ll skip meals or eat sparingly. Some people are stress eaters, but I’m more of a stress starver. Nothing kills my appetite faster than anxiety or depression. Most of the time, I cruise along on an even keel. If someone is rude or cuts me off in traffic, it’s no big deal. I can let that small stuff go. I don’t surround myself with drama, so my everyday life is generally calm and peaceful. I’ve worked hard to create an environment that supports, rather than siphons.

Throw in a major stressor like a death in the family or moving, however, and I’m turning green at the gills over just the smell of food cooking. Then all my healthy meal planning goes out the window, and I’m just trying to choke down a Saltine cracker to keep body and soul together. It’s frustrating, especially for a Virgo. We’re supposed to be the health nuts of the Zodiac, right?

So when I drew a card from The Goddess Oracle on the New Moon in Leo, and Corn Woman showed up in all of her grain-abundant glory, my first thought was: fuck. My next thought was: how can I possibly eat well and nourish myself when I’m still mourning the loss of my beloved canine and familiar? On top of losing Baxter just one week prior, I was still adjusting to life in a new place. I felt thoroughly wrung out in mind, body, and spirit, as though part of me had simply left this world along with my dog. I didn’t have a manual that said: How to Eat When You’re Grieving and You Don’t Know a Soul in Town. Someone should create one, though.

cornwoman
The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky. Illustrated by Hrana Janto.

What I did have was Corn Woman staring at me from my altar, gently but firmly reminding me that I can’t ignore the basics of life and expect to feel better on any level. Of course it would be corn. I mean, you normally see wheat fields associated with Lughnasadh, but that’s Europe. This is south Alabama, and we have corn, which functions as both grain when it’s dry and vegetable when it’s fresh. It’s also extremely abundant at this time of year. The message was getting louder and clearer: foundation, staple, plain, essential, sustenance. I didn’t need to become a gourmet overnight, but I would have to find a way to love myself better with the simple abundance that Mother Earth provides.

I began with questions, which is the starting point for any type of change and course correction. What am I resisting? What don’t I like about the whole cycle of procuring, preparing, and eating food? We have it much easier than our ancestors, after all. I can cook, thanks to a mom who cared enough to teach me how. Other people practically get off on being in the kitchen, so why doesn’t it excite me? More to the point, why is eating and nourishment the first thing I drop when life gets excruciatingly painful?

Biologically, it’s fight or flight. All my body knows is that it’s facing some sort of crisis. It can’t distinguish between an emotional trauma and a physical attack. It’s programmed not to waste time digesting when survival means getting out of town or fighting to the death. After four decades on this planet, it still doesn’t know that it won’t actually die from a broken heart.

I’ve learned a few techniques for calming the fight or flight response through meditation and energy medicine, but resilience isn’t built overnight. It takes years of consistently applying those practices, and I certainly haven’t mastered them yet.

Spiritually, I prefer to focus on ‘higher’ things. I think it would be fantastic if we could live on air and gain back all the time we spend on food (spoken like one ruled by Mercury!) Eating brings me down to the mundane level, and I don’t always enjoy being there. It feels dense, heavy, and slow. It forces me to be in touch with my body and its needs, instead of floating around in my upper chakras where I’m more comfortable. People often describe me as grounded, but what they don’t know is that I can appear to be Zen on the outside even when I’m dying on the inside. I come from a long line of stoics, and they taught me too well, unfortunately.

Feeling truly grounded takes more work and more willingness on my part to really be in those lower chakras, and that is where I meet my resistance every time a major crisis comes up. I don’t want to be in my body while I’m processing a ton of grief and pain, but abandoning it doesn’t work, either. It just results in feeling weaker and less able to handle the situation that surrounds me.

Corn Woman symbolizes true nourishment, and that means feeding the soul and the body. It is the time spent in the circle, the trance, or the vision quest… and it is the feast afterward to ground and center oneself in this world. No matter how high and far our spirits may travel, we must return to this earth walk, even when it hurts, until our time here has ended.

The lesson is a hard one, and I will most likely be examining my complicated relationship with food for quite some time. Still, I’m grateful for Lughnasadh, for the turning of the wheel, for life, for the first harvest, for the bountiful earth, and for Corn Woman’s wisdom. May we all be well nourished.

Blessed Be

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

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Empowerment, Goddess

Goddesses Don’t Wear Bras

 

Friends, it’s hotter than Brigid’s forge in lower Alabama, so I’ve been going sans bra as much as possible. It’s ridiculous to be layered when atmospheric conditions are at rain forest levels. If it would not result in arrest, I’d probably go around naked through the Dog Days of summer. Since public nudity isn’t an option, I can at least shed my bra.

If you trace the word brassiere to its Old French origin, it means armor or “a protector for the arm.” I’m not going into battle, so why do I need “armor” for my breasts? Why does any woman? What are we protecting our breasts from, or rather, why is the world still so concerned with the appearance of breasts that we spend $16 billion on bras annually? Such a waste of funds!

When I look at ancient statues of goddesses, so many of them are bare breasted. Consider the Venus of Willendorf, or Astarte, or the Minoan Snake Goddess…I could go on. All of them reflect eras when the life-giving, nurturing aspect of the Goddess was honored. Breasts were powerful, not just sexual. They represented fertility, sustenance, and abundance of the land and its people. Goddesses don’t wear bras. The very idea would be insulting.

Today, breasts are hypersexualized, objectified, and somewhat divorced from their main function. Ask any woman who has breastfed her child, and she will describe the challenges of doing this in public without feeling shamed and judged. Society is much too worried about the appearance of a woman’s nipples, despite the fact men have them, too.

How far we have fallen from our matriarchal roots.

When I posted about bra hatred on my personal Facebook page, several friends raised their virtual hands in agreement. We discussed the fact that even when we go braless, we often resort to hacks like covering our nipples with those nifty circular Band-Aids if we’re wearing tight clothing. So even if our breasts are freed from the underwire cage, our nipples might still be muffled under cheap adhesive bandages or nude-colored pasties. Why? Because we feel self-conscious. Our culture has made us believe that if our breasts bounce and our nipples show, we will be considered loose and immoral. We’ve been trained to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, lest we be assaulted, raped, or killed.

Yes, trained—and it all begins with the training bra we’re told to wear at the first signs of sexual development. Think about it. Who or what is being trained? Are we training our breasts to get used to the bra, or are we training ourselves to conform to a social standard that we didn’t even set? I remember asking my mom for one, because all the other girls in school were beginning to wear them. I was beginning to feel self-conscious without a bra, which shows just how much pressure girls are under to conform. The message we internalize is that there is something much too vulgar and tempting about breasts, so they must be hidden under double layers of fabric. We carry that message our whole lives, unless we consciously work to reclaim our natural beauty and worth. Reaching way back into our collective memory and connecting with the Goddess is a doorway to the process of reclaiming our selfhood.

Thankfully, some wonderful teachers and empowerment coaches are now actively assisting in the work of showing us better ways to appreciate and work with our bodies. Saida Desilets, Ph.D., creator of the Taoist-based Jade Goddess teachings, describes the energetic quality of breasts in this way:

Our breasts are considered our love center because they sit on either side of our heart and represent the external expression of our heart chi. Chi naturally flows from our heart center out into the world. Our breasts have long been a symbol for nurturing and loving energy. They also hold the secret to our longevity. (206)

Susun Weed, herbalist and author of The Wise Woman Way, also speaks of the power we hold in our breasts:

We are the Ancient GrandMothers and our breasts are ancient. Perhaps you find them ugly. See how they drift yearningly toward the Earth, lower with every passing year. We smile knowingly; we know our breasts contain a power that is resilient, flexible, supple, easy, and impossible to restrain. Whether the whim of fashion says our breasts are to be large or small, pointed or flattened, with cleavage or without, padded or bound, accented or obscured, it matters not to us. Our breasts fall free, untouched by current notions. The power of our breasts is the power of life.

Yet, we block and constrict that power, and we’ve been doing so for the last 500 years since the introduction of the corset.

I have this fantasy that women all over the globe will join together in a Bra Burning Day. I see us all flinging off our constricting garments of torture and dancing around the flames, never looking back. I see men there with us, drumming in the outer circle, supporting us lovingly and committing to the work of demolishing the old paradigms.

May we unlearn the rules imposed upon us by earlier generations that were ruled by fear and shame. May we nourish our breasts with freedom of movement, healthy relationships, massage, good nutrition, and a positive self-image. May we remember that we are the reflections of the goddesses of old, who are still alive and within us now, calling forth our courage and our love.

So Mote It Be

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


Désilets, Saida. Emergence of the Sensual Woman: Awakening Our Erotic Innocence. Kihei, HI: Jade Goddess Publishing, 2006. Print.

Weed, Susun S. “Ancient Breasts.” Wise Woman Herbal Ezine, www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/February09/breasthealth.htm. Accessed 14 July 2017.

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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.

Goddess, Moon, Rituals

Is the Moon the New “It Girl”?

I never imagined I’d see the day when the moon became trendy.

In the early days of my witchy explorations, I had to learn about working with the lunar phases from books and from other witches. There were websites, but the Internet was young and barely crawling at dial-up speed. It was hardly worth the trouble to do a search, because a lot of the material had been plagiarized or bastardized in some way. If you wanted original content about anything related to witchcraft, you still had to seek out a metaphysical bookstore, find a local discussion group, and/or join a coven that offered instruction, degrees, initiation, and so forth. It required more effort. You had to actually get off your ass to go meet real people and do real things. There was no social media to hide behind in the cozy comfort of your living room. Ah, those were the days!

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Flash-forward to the present, and you can find tons of articles on how to do just about anything in accordance with the moon’s phases, along with Facebook groups, infographics, webinars, YouTube videos, downloadable classes, and probably more Digital Age tools that I haven’t even discovered yet. I’m not dissing them entirely, since I use many of them myself.

Still, who knew that our Lady Luna would become so popular with the tech-savvy, even among those who don’t necessarily walk the path of the witch? The moon is, dare I say, hot right now—and she gets shit done, or at least you would think so by the number of hits she receives on Google.

Advice on manifesting and releasing with the moon is trending hardest, and why not? It seems we are always trying to pull something into our lives or banish it for good, and the moon’s constant waxing and waning matches our desire for an in-flow or an out-flow of energy. Witches and priestesses have known and honored this magick for ages, but now it’s a thing…a tool…a shiny New Age toy (long, exasperating sigh).

As women, we feel (or have felt) this ebb and flow in our bodies most keenly with menstruation. We know the art of creating and letting go quite well. I am told that the feeling of building and emptying is still there even after menopause. We never really stop cycling with the moon. Blood or no blood, womb or no womb, our connection with that pale, luminous orb is never severed. Yet, we have become so detached in a collective sense that working with Luna’s energy seems new and hip. This saddens me, and it also makes me want to clarify some things I’ve learned about moon magick, lest it become just another hipster fad.

First, I see any type of lunar ritual as a catalyst. Whether we’re burying something in the earth to manifest a dream or burning a list of what we want to release, we’re asking for change. We are opening the door to people, circumstances, and divine messages that will bring about the transformations we desire…and we have no idea what any of that will look or feel like. Trusting that whatever does come is for our highest good is an act of faith, pure and simple.

Second, results are rarely instantaneous. The moon doesn’t work like a child’s wishlist for Santa. We may have several blocks to prosperity that have to be worked out over weeks, months, or even years before a dream can be realized. Coming up against those blocks isn’t exactly fun, but a new moon prosperity ritual will certainly highlight every single one of them. Dealing with our own resistance clears the way for growth and abundance.

It’s the same with releasing. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen that advise writing down what you want to release and then burning it on the dark moon. It can be cathartic to watch a ton of emotional baggage go up in smoke. I’ve done it myself plenty of times. Fire purifies like nothing else. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that years of encrusted fear, shame, and self-loathing will vanish instantly in the flames. It doesn’t. What happens is that we are provided with opportunities to heal those wounds.

Whether we’re drawing something toward us or letting it go, we still have to do the work. Goddess never lets us avoid that, but She doesn’t abandon us, either.

Trendy or not, I’m grateful that the moon is slowly returning to her rightful, honorable place in the spiritual lives of women after being shunned and feared for so long. She has always been a symbol of all that is feminine, mysterious, and magickal. May we be ever mindful of how we work with her energy and what she can teach us with every cycle.

Blessed Be

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

Goddess, Poetry

Cauldron of Cerridwen

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“Cerridwen” from Fées et Déesses, by Erlé Ferronnière

I am at ease in your velvety darkness
that covers and heals me
in places the light cannot reach,
because I am much too weary now
for all that blinding brightness.

Under the supple, lustrous rays of the moon,
I stare into the swirling black void
of the cauldron that you stir and stir,
seeing the eons pass behind and before me,
giving myself, once again,
to your magick of transformation.

I have died so many times,
so many lives, so many selves,
eternally decaying and rebirthing,
as the never-ending spiral
pulls inward and spins outward.

What shall we create this time, Dark Mother?
What shall bubble up from the detritus?

I hold nothing back from you,
White Sow, Shape-shifter,
Keeper of Knowledge and Inspiration.
All that I am is yours,
as it ever has been
and ever shall be.

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.