“You are a beautiful and sensitive soul. It is sometimes easier to retreat and hide.
Stand up for yourself and communicate clearly with confidence. You will notice life will be sweeter.” – Lisa Mcloughlin Art
“VIOLET Blue – Watchfulness; Faithfulness; I’ll Always Be True,” – Language of Flowers.
“The forward Violet thus did I chide…
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal they sweet that smells,
If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly dyed”
The Sonnets, XCIX by William Shakespeare
Violet for me has always been a flower of love, famously paired with lavender in love potions, and it is known to be sacred to the love between two women.
In love spell workings it is peaceful, quiet and doesn’t need to be showy in order to affirm its presence; it quietly excudes not only vibrations of love and faithfulness but assurity; the Deva of this beautiful little flower is never in my experience, the shrinking violet from literature. Neither ashamed of itself nor pretentious, Violet is nevertheless an incredibly beautiful flower, in petal and scent.
Striking the balance between shrinking away when we are hurt in life, be it in love or otherwise and being too empathic to the point of being a doormat for others to walk all over is sometimes a delicate process of thought (and unfortunately, often experience.)
Sometimes we give too much of ourselves where it is not received with gratitude and love, and sometimes we shrink when we should proudly proclaim for ourselves.
The balance comes from finding what is true.
Truth of self is an important concept; one that is ever evolving and flowing, and it is ok to re-evaluate who we are, seek to change and be a better version of ourselves.
Sometimes we are the negative person and we have to stop beating ourselves up for that because it is natural – and not permanent.
It is an act of self love to realise when you are being unfair, to yourself as well to others, and seek to realign with a loving mentality instead. The watchfulness of Violet speaks to this self analysis and readjustment.
Even small steps towards changing your own behaviour will in turn become the journey to your higher self, your truth.
And honour the truth in your life; do not put up with those who seek to take away from you, lie to you, deceive you, or force you to retreat into your hiding place.
You deserve your place in the sunshine, and the rain.
To both the wearer and the beholder mask-magic is a method of overcoming ‘ordinary’ perception and slipping through the ‘cracks between worlds’ into the profound realities of Elphame. The true essence of mask-magic has been ably summed up by Mercia [SIC] Eliade as ‘total transformation of the individual into something other.’― Nigel Jackson
The Call of the Horned Piper
Masks in Spirituality… Spirituality within masks… Tricky, Tricky, Tricksy…
Spirituality is a journey of personal discovery and theory, based on a belief that lives in the soul and is analyzed by both the heart and mind of the individual.
Nothing in the human comprehension of the universe is finite, there is no singular “truth” – as these ideas are all rationalisations of the human impulse to categorize and validate our powers of deducation.
“Truth” is an evolving process with many layers that are peeled back over time, understanding and the accepted rationale adapts over time, and even the most widely accepted theories upon which we base the (current) understanding of our existence are ultimately, theories.
Truth is a mask.
To cling to the concept of one spiritual truth is to seek to validate our existence, our way of life, our beliefs… to others; usually from a place of fear.
We wish to see ourselves as individual, separate from our fellow human beings and all other living creatures, indeed the planet itself on which we live and all possible layers to that ecosystem.
Image – El Ritual” —
Photographer: Michael Germosén – Blue Focuss Photography
To ignore the interconnected spiritual Ecosystem is a convenience that breeds apathy and allows us to live behind a mask; we are disconnected so we are not accountable. We can segregate and promote an “us versus them” mentality, we can harm other individuals, regardless of the shape of their lifeform (plant, animal, mineral…) without feeling the deep and unpleasant pangs of guilt that accompany responsibility.
“We are all connected.
We are not separate from nature, we are nature.
The universe and the individual are inseparable.
The flowers cannot survive without the bees, and the bees cannot survive without the flowers. So they are one organism. We are part of a tremendous brain which we cannot understand, because the part cannot comprehend the whole.”
– Alan Watts
Whilst theorising about the concept of masks within spirituality in regards to the role of Fear in our spiritual shadows, quickly it became apparent that the attempt to contain such a vast subject in one blog-shaped box was a foolish endeavour, for the notion of masks in spirituality is akin to an ancient tree, with countless branches and roots all stemming from that original trunk, and so for the purpose of clarity it seems wiser to focus on one element at a time in “true” human linear fashion.
And so the most personally pressing concept was that associated with Rabbit as the Fear Caller; how we as human beings take on the mask of the Rabbit, and manifest that of which we are most afraid within our own lives and spiritual spaces.
In the process of seeking to understand personal fear, the message that “…I will sit with my fear, I will wear it like a mask, I will understand it, in all its complexity, not to simplify it, not to reject it, but to better understand it…”
The desire to prove ones self and ones spiritual journey as “real,” “valid,” and the focus on a microcosmic truth of self righteousness is the donning of another mask; the Rabbit mask.
Spirituality can be an adventure and to draw a paradox, it can literally be the journey down the rabbit hole; when the emphasis is of exploration, evaluation, and personal discovery, we can tap into a macrocosmic evaluation of existence.
That macrocosmic analysis of the universe is the acceptance that we do not and cannot possibly hope to have one over-arching all encompassing truth; we are small flecks of light in an endless universe, we flash in one brilliant moment of human determined ‘time’.
Put overly frankly, we don’t know shit.
All theory, all theorising, all conceptualisations are systemic from the interconnected spiritual ecosystem that unites all living beings on this planet. The wisdom in plants and trees is no less valid than that of human beings just because we articulate ourselves in a manner that we ourselves have deemed superior.
Art by Sina Domke
Great lessons can be gleaned from “slipping through the cracks” whilst wearing a mask, great magick can be felt in the soul from such experience, and this is also true of the Rabbit mask.
Fear does not have to be an enemy and indeed categorizing fear as a ‘negative’ concept is frankly to miss the point; it all has something to teach us, about ourselves, about the world around us.
All experience is valid.
As we don the Rabbit mask we have opportunities to see through the eyes of others to understand how they have developed fears and behaviours as a result, as well as to see the reflection of who we are in the mask; how we have allowed our fears to define who we are spiritually.
To know that we only reject others from a place of fear and personal wounds that have come about somewhere in our experience of this lifetime, that we declare others “wrong” (amidst uglier words and prejudices) because our focus is on the microcosm of individual expression and experience rather than on a macrocosmic analysis of spiritual pathwalking.
The ugliest and most unfortunate consequence of living behind a Rabbit mask is the tendancy to seek to silence that which is different in the same breath as seeking to validate ourselves as “other.”
We lay claim to titles; Teacher, Mother, Father, Priest, Priestess, Expert, Guru… as though these masks enrich us somehow, make us more accepted, validate our spiritual existence.
More masks, designed to gather acceptance or power.
Image – modernfashionblog.com
Human beings paradoxically seek to belong as they estrange others they have determined to not “deserve” belonging, seeking to silence those that challenge them to look headlong into the Rabbit mask and confront their fear.
As individuals, we must stop seeking to adhere to a comfortable social norm out of fear. If we see lives, indeed ecosystems of life in whatever form they take, being abused, polluted, and destroyed, then we must find our voice, speak out against these injustices, and promote understanding that prevents their recurrence.
As individuals it is our responsibility to understand that we do not belong everywhere, we will not gain the approval of everyone, universal praise in a system that promotes fragmentation is not possible, and individuality is still a strength, even when we accept our interconnectedness.
Further, there is no blame or shame necessary in this realisation.
We are all parts of a whole, no more or less valid than all the other parts, but still, our function is important, unique, and valid.
We all have the rabbit within us, we have all worn this mask, but we can begin a process of metamorphosis using the rabbit energy as a seed to be cracked through, and for new growth to begin from.
Sometimes seeking to please others is as though you had planted your roots in concrete instead of fertile ground.
When in fertile ground you find the spiritual nutrients that aid your personal growth; you grow, your roots spread and become grounded even as your branches reach up into the sky, breathing in new life and experience.
In concrete you find yourself becoming smaller, dying off on a soul level as your roots are refused access to the grander ecosystem, you are confronted with immovable barriers, blockages and refusals to see your roots as beneficial.
There is no truth, and there is every truth, and somewhere between the cracks of paradox, a measure… a glimpse… of personal understanding takes root, but it does not have to define us.
There’s a witch,
In this mist,
Lighter than air
Brow rain kissed.
Through the haze,
Echoes of the mind
are your only maze.
Can you see?
Beyond the screen,
To all that ever was
And all that’s ever been.
Or an odd journey to the Underworld with Foxes and Moths
The Shadow within the Celtic path, and within the trees whom I revere as guardians, is a realm of sometimes seemingly unfathomable depths, and in order to traverse this path with company, one has to have explored the caverns appropriately and with care.
There is no substitute for experience, no short cut through shadow work, and if one is to properly hold discourse around a topic as important as this, one had best sought out first-hand experience.
There is nothing so shallow, so full of falsehood as offering up spiritual advice based on barely dipping ones toes into the murky depths; until you have felt the magick, the mystery and the lessons submerging you fully and drowning you down into a death cycle.
Initially I thought I would spend a month or so experiencing the Shadow lesson of the Silver Birch Deva Spirit, in a typical tidy (and completely naive) Virgo fashion…
I thought I could plan out this unique concept I had in terms of a list; defining what and why I had come to believe that Shadow Ogham needed to be presented as a spiritual concept to the world, what that entitled, maybe a meditation to go with it…
Boy, was that misguided.
The spiritual whirlwind that followed has been thus far and continues to be one of the most extreme, enriching, and almost surreal experiences of my life to date.
I have come to know it, though I feel far longer would be required before I could even claim to truly understand it; as the thread that weaves through all of these spiritual moments continues merrily and it is only with hindsight that the pattern emerges.
The journey has seen the Goddess Badb illuminating uncomfortable shadow truths like a blood stained kiss to the mouth; equal parts exhilarating and unsettling, using the roots of the Silver Birch to traverse down into the Underworld.
I see you stalking through my dreams
With Birch wizened teeth
And howling Chords…”
The beginning was in blood, and death; initially in the astral vision of a Fox biting into his prey with a bloodied mouth, followed swiftly by an extremely tangible taste of death in my own (the particulars of which are private).
This experience was equal parts nauseating and haunting, additionally it felt almost symptomatic of encounters with the Phantom Queen Badb; a prophetic vision followed by physical and uncomfortable confirmation; ethereal and corporal in conjuncture.
The first step was taken, and it was literally a bite into Death.
(Sourced from pinterest)
I would later come to realise it was also the internalisation of fear, which was the Shadow lesson of Silver Birch – as the Fox tasted blood and death, so too would I.
Thus, a journey began, traversing Shadow and Otherworldly encounters; and for the most part the deeply intimate connection and personal experience here with Fox has to remain shrouded in the mist of my own practice, though I have already discussed the dissection of fear in Chasing the Shadow: A tale of the Fox and the Rabbit
What can be named as an evaluation or consequential extension of realisation from this pathwalking, was an indepth examination into the interplay between “Light” and “Darkness” which Pagan communities are so keen to divide into rigid opposition.
Instead it became even more apparent that Lightness and Darkness coexist both within one another and without of one another; spiralling, constantly bound in an eternal Labyrinth.
The visualisation of the Labyrinth of the Underworld is subjective, but regardless, it feels as though it is always an adventure of discovery, Light and Dark can dissipate into one another around the sloping bends, tricksters of meaning, elaborate and complex.
The centre of the Labyrinth similarly shapeshifts; and in a moment of despair and doubt I screamed out into the Ether; not knowing if I all I had experienced was fallacy, dogged by the puncture wounds of those seeking to belittle and discredit my connection with the Goddess Morrigan.
The key to the centre of the Labyrinth came through another as a result, for within moments of hearing my anguish, Badb sent a messenger, a prophetic vision through one of the women previously mentioned in this Blog as a member of Soul tribe.
(Sourced from Pinterest)
The nature of the Underworld is often contradictory, and so the centre of this dark Labyrinth was a barren field littered with dead husks and tangled weeds under a grey sky, with a very clear message that it needed to be cleansed… with fire.
Furthermore it appeared visually to seem barren aligning with my feelings of hopelessness, but once the stagnant and useless had been burned to ash, there would be nothing left but fertile field.
Moreover, Badbs words began to echo in my ears, to stop paying attention to husks and to keep bleeding into your path. So I sat in meditation, burning down that entire field, cleansing by fire until I could cover my hands in ash and dirt, mark myself with it once more as a daughter of Badb, and know that I was cleansed.
Then I bled into the Earth beneath my feet, completing the cycle; for as I had seen the Fox bite and bloody his mouth, so too did I bloody myself and give a sacrifice into the fields of the Underworld.
The dead husks also drew on another thread that I have personally associated with the Goddess Badb… The energy and lessons of the Moth;
You will not find Moths or Foxes mentioned as “traditional animal associations” with Goddess Morrigan, but I consider them personal guardians of the path on which She has led me, personal spirituality though it might be, it is no less valid than the animals associated with Her by the ancient Celtic people, who were, after all, human.
The husks in the afterlife field felt synonymous with the discarded and empty silken cocoons of the moth; though a vessel of personal transformation, they had already performed their vital function; their cycle was over.
We cannot go backwards, in life, in spirituality, in personal and social evolution, because we have already broken through those cocoons – they no longer fit. Shadow lessons concerning Fear have us clawing for the old and comfortable, where we know the terrain, the Labyrinth is well worn, there is no uncertainty or trepidation. Those answers are all known.
But ultimately that is a place of decaying husks, where if we remain we allow ourselves to be haunted by ghosts, dictated to by precedent, bounded up in a rigidity which forbids creativity or exploration.
Death is transition and so is Life, and this Silver Birch laden Labyrinth had led me to a place to bleed my heart and soul into a field and connect again to the Goddess Badb; whose screechings denote the essence of fear and leave us all with a choice:
Bleed life into your Spirituality, or let it rot.
Many blessings Starlet,
– Joanne Morris 2017
Essay All my own work and design all rights reserved
Perhaps it is time to go to the sea
For there always was too much of the dreamer in me
With a heart of sand that was slipping away
As I headed deep out into the bay
And I stay
Singing songs that time once forgot
Setting a course that I know I can’t plot
And the dreamer she whispers don’t give in
But a lifetime of battles I never could win
And I stay
And the rain kisses my forehead
As my feet bleed against the rocky sea bed
Just another wanderer lost in her sleep
With all the promises life could not keep
And I stay
And I stay
Working with the Dark Queen – an Archetype of alternative Sovereignty
“Men have forgotten what it means to be afraid. We will bring fear.”
-Freya The Huntsman, Winter’s War
The beginning of comprehending our spiritual journey often comes from the practice of wearing many masks.
This is not meant as deceit… unless that is a shadow lesson about the self and our own unfortunate poisonous habits that need to be addressed… but instead an experience to guide us in the art of seeing through eyes that are not our own.
In the process of seeking to understand personal fear, the message that “…I will sit with my fear, I will wear it like a mask, I will understand it, in all its complexity, not to simplify it, not to reject it, but to better understand it…” came to the fore as I delved into the symbolism ofRabbit as the Fear Caller
One such mask that has long intrigued and piqued my interest is that of the Dark Queen, often portrayed as the Fairy tale “villain,” she is a complicated and intricate creature forged from Otherness; often in full command of magical abilities, sometimes a Witch, sometimes a Shapeshifter, sometimes a Seer… but always she is a ruler, in complete control of herself, her power, and frequently, her kingdom.
The Dark Queen often exudes power and sensuality, in extremes her sexuality is weaponised and considered wild and even dangerous – in patriarchal retellings of fairy tales she is the threat – usually to an inexperienced and innocent female counterpart.
Given that the ‘heroes’ in these tales are never as complex or diverse in their personalities I have to wonder if they are simply a reflection of the villain through the mirror (mirror on the wall), they represent a ‘light’ side to the ‘shadow’ of the Dark.
The heroes frequently seem far less interesting, often they are presented as two dimensional, rarely grappling with their situation or their morality.
This presents them as lacking in depth – which is present in humans and is often key to spiritual dialogue and investigation; the ability to wrestle with the moral and ethical implications of a situation, or to act in a manner outside of their archetype.
Arguably of course, all fairy tale archetypes are stuck in the paradoxical nature of rigidity, they are either wholly “good” or wholly “bad” in order to tell a moralistic tale of the ‘triumph’ over evil.
In modern retellings however, this has begun to evolve somewhat, with television shows such as “Once upon a time,” playing with the idea that the Evil Queen is more complicated than Evil and story origin movies such as “Maleficent” shifting the focus and giving us an alternative perspect (and indeed, story).
Although none of these re-tellings are without problems, they do open up the concept of interpretationof mythos and the rise in interest in what Dark Queen imagery means to a modern mind.
To my mind, Sovereignty is a concept I struggle with slightly because with followers of the Morrigan, the realm of Sovereignty is usually ascribed to Macha.
Personally, being more in tune with Badb and Underworld energies (even though Badb is designated the Phantom Queen), sometimes I would wonder how best to address my own shadow elements of sense of self and self worth whilsting engaging with Her.
The Dark Queen holds many of the answers to this conundrum; for Dark Queens are easily relatable to Goddesses of the Underworld, whom are cloaked in the surety of their sovereignty without malice or hubris, and though many of them find their rule mocked and challenged, they invariably win any contest to belittle their worth.
Death is sure. It will always come, in many forms, both throughout life, in moments of orgasmic ecstacy, “La petite Mort,” that are so inextricably linked to Dark Queen sexuality, in moments of death within our life that sees the shedding of ‘lives once lived’ as well as in a literal sense, we are often observers at the sidelines as others pass away, and one day, we too shall shed this lifetimes skin.
Fear of this certainty has always seemed to me to be counter productive; Dark Queens fair far better when they accept change and inevitability rather than seek to control that outside of their sphere of influence.
The uncertainty of life, however, is a state of flux which I (in all my Earth sign glory) often seem to struggle against, prefering the familiar even whilst I dislike routine, and seek to control even whilst I know most of these efforts are futile, and worse, against the mission of soul.
Wearing the mask of the Dark Queen holds many important lessons; we must all confront that which seeks to usurp our sovereignty, and know when to act to protect ourselves, forming boundaries and walls of thorn, and when to smile knowingly and let the moment pass.
This process of self preservation is again finding a balance, and not allowing fear to dictate to us, at least not too much. Sometimes our intuition about situations and people is instinctual and moreover correct – those are not our territories to be traversed, those are not our people; those circumstances will not enrich us (and we will not enrich them in return.)
In contrast, when fear is ruling over us, we can seek to escape situations that challenge us, and are meant to… because even though they are painful, they are necessary, for our own spiritual growth.
“Often, in the face of pain, we reveal who we are.” – Joey Morris
Pain, and the fear of painful experience, often encourages many of us to flee before the lesson, seeking Rabbit like to burrow ourselves deep underground until it passes, or in some cases, when we have begun the Dark Queen path, we internalise it so deeply that it poisons our insides until we believe that shadow is part of our identity, unmutable, unchangeable…
Image – Daniel-Vazquez
That pain can become fuel, lashing out in a multitude of unhealthy ways, motivating us to see attack where there is none, or blow situations out of all proportion. I should know, because I have done it.
The inbalance to a Dark Queen mentality is that sometimes, we roar with disdain at those seeking to belittle our experiences, because they have found a way to poke our shadow and the wounds that have not healed.
We do all encounter people whose shadows are encouraging them to be the false light princess who secretly covets what the Dark Queen has already paid for in pain, and blood, and experience, and we all have the moments of pure irritation where we feel like a sleeping curse might come in handy against such encounters.
The difference in life to fairytale, is that there is no “right” way to address situations that challenge us, and fear often meshes with our emotions, bringing pain to the surface so that we react too abruptly, too harshly, and even too cruelly.
Ultimately, no one can challenge your personal Sovereignty, your power, but you.
Refusing to allow your power to be handed over to the upstart princess with a superiority complex can take all forms of behaviour, but ultimately non engagement seems to be the tested and true method of response.
What Dark Queen energy truly instigates in us is balance; we can be fiercely proud without arrogance, we can take charge of ourselves without seeking to rule over others, we can rise above the matters of state which are beneath us, and form boundaries without guilty conscience. We can accept fear without attempting to buckle and break it.
We can be our own Queen.
Many blessings, Starlet
– Joey Morris 2017 All my own work all rights reserved
“Don’t send a Rabbit to kill a fox.” – Ghost in the Shell
Long has humanity feared the Dark spaces.
The Underworld, perhaps the pinnacle of all Dark spaces, has peculiar methods of communication.
This recent journey of Soul it instigated within me, which has been littered with synchronicity and crystal clear moments of understanding, began, largely, as a result of a cup of coffee… well, two to be exact.
The second image, soaked into the base of the cup was so defined, so stylised and apparent, that it led people to believe I had artistically created it, but this was simply not the truth.
Instead it was one of those moments of pure spirituality that was unavoidable in its blatancy, which, from that point on became almost the normal course of events.
The resulting otherworldly expedition started from the smallest fragment of the coffee divination (from which more essays will undoubtedly follow) in which a small hare or rabbit shape was discernible amidst the forest.
This coupled with several different synchronistic experiences shared amidst women I have come to think of as tribe, led me down the nether path with moment after moment of exhilaration; the Universe was not only speaking but bellowing message after message at me.
Most of the experiences that others underwent and connected them to me are obviously personal (and therefore not up to me to share), but I had gifted one dear friend with a talisman that related to Fox and Rabbit and another had a dream in which I featured, shape-shifted into a Rabbit and proceeded to lead her down the rabbit hole in true Wonderland fashion.
Initially my deepening relationship with Fox energy made the emergence of Rabbit lessons peculiar… for they are usually envisioned as creatures at odds; with the Fox being the hunter and the Rabbit the prey… but as with many messages from the Otherworld, answers began to slowly shift into place.
Nothing is ever as separate, as rigid, as many would have us believe, and the power and understanding that comes with seeing patterns, energies and lessons as cyclic, constantly in flux is immeasurable.
One lesson with this delving into spirit was simply; you are not alone, which directly addressed a fear I have long battled, and another was more complex; it surrounded a concept of Shadow that I have been delving into with the Shadow Ogham: Silver Birch; the more generalised concept of fear.
Fear has been on my mind a lot lately, the devastating effect it can have on a person, preventing them from truly living their life, or reaching their potential. As magickal practitioners it can interfere in our spell work, derail our personal energy, leaving us feeling a plethora of emotions that block us from adventure and contentment.
Fear is often described as something that freezes us, forces us to remain still, hindering our movement and growth; a concept which I have always been at odds with; impatience springs forth like a fox from my subconscious onto its prey when the situation requires long periods of waiting.
Whilst realising and engaging with the otherworldly concept of cyclic existence, it occurred to me however that stillness was not paradoxical to this practice; instead sitting wrapped up in the darkness, sitting with my fear, being enveloped by it, acknowledging it and then birthing anew from it was of paramount importance.
Rabbit is known as the fear caller in a tale that Cris shared with me from “The Medicine Cards” in which a Rabbit uses and benefits from the magical powers of a Witch, and then out of fear rejects her. As a result he and his kin become the fear callers, all they fear makes its way to them, they manifest that which they are afraid of.
There were two quotes in particular within this story that deeply resonated;
“Running does not stop the pain or turn the dark to light,” and “What you fear will persist, what you fear will become.”
In a world littered with choice and options, it can often feel like we are mired by them; not knowing which way to turn, which path to engage in, or whom to trust.
Sometimes our experiences are painful and they lead us wrongly to sweeping generalisations about others, or we focus on the wrong element of the lesson, much like the rabbit in the tale.
Instead of realising the depth of the friendship with the Witch, the rabbit chose to fear the magick. His focus was negative, ruled by fear, and he hurt his friend as a result.
We have all been the rabbit, and the Witch.
We have had our friendship, our deeds, rejected unfairly, we have been used and dismissed by others, and similarly we have all made the wrong call, focused only on the part of the lesson we blindly chose to see, ignoring the larger picture.
Slowly the Otherworld lesson of Shape shifting echoed through my mind; you are both the Fox and the Rabbit.
“Blood in the mouth
Take the essence of Rabbit
And become both
I am the Rabbit,
The prey, the fear,
I am the Fox,
The hunter, the strength.”
– Joanne Morris 2017
Finally, another article from The Urban Howl spoke to me on the path that now lies ahead, engaging with this lesson;
“Alone is the epicenter of my heart. Beating. Rabbit fast and quiet. Today, it is soft and tender. But soon, oh loves, soon, a roar that reverberates across the heavens will rip through this place. Wisdom rising up from wells I cannot know or name. Only surrender to. Carry home on the back of my tongue to spill into the world like holy fire. Burning away all the dross. I am coming. Becoming. Unbecoming. And I vow to never ever stop.” – Shannon Crossman
The only thing stopping me is the fear vibration.
So I will sit with my fear, I will wear it like a mask, I will understand it, in all its complexity, not to simplify it, not to reject it, but to better understand it. I will not allow my fears to rule over me, but understand they speak of wounding; wounds within my psyche that need addressing, cleansing, and healing.
I will not be the fear caller, nor will I reject others out of fear, but neither shall I allow myself to be made small by the fearful actions of others; for I am both Rabbit, and Fox.
I will understand fear as a reflection of myself, and in that mirror I will seek to better know myself, and stand in my authenticity; not to reject myself or the lessons that I have thus far learned, and not to lord them over others either.
Rabbit teaches me when to be quick, and shy, and when to remove myself from situations that are not beneficial, when his medicine is wisely measured and fear is consultant not ruler.
Fox teaches me when to stride forward unabashed, knowing these paths through shadow by touch and feel, remembering who I am at heart.
“Don’t send a Rabbit to kill a fox,”… because you are only hurting yourself.
– Joanne Morris 2017 All my own work and design all rights reserved
There is blood beneath your fingertips
Stained once more with dirt
The nectar that fills your veins
Reminds you what is worth
The howling tale upon the wind
The Crow cries out for war
Tattered wings and battered things
A cavern all aglow
Shadows deepen calling out
Reminds you what’s at stake
Crashing waves against the rock
There is a toxic fume once more in the atmosphere that seems, once again, to permeate social circles… it spreads leaving a distinctly vile taste in the mouth and infests the stage on which modern spirituality is discussed. And it keeps re-emerging like a very bad smell.
If you have spent any time engaging in spiritual dialogue, (which for my part is personal interest in Paganism and Witchcraft), be it online or in person, then you become aware of the seemingly ceaseless cycles of negative talking points that lead to finger pointing, name calling, hate filled word vomit… the dregs of human behaviour.
Worse still, the people engaging often consider themselves part of “Pagan” or “Witch” groups, seeking to engage in Witch on Witch crime.
As though we don’t receive enough judgement from different spiritual groups…
The problem with alot of these issues is that people seem determined to reliterate them every so often to fill a need that must come from a shadow. These unpleasant topics are used to slur, degrade, humiliate and discourage other people far too regularly and leave people concluding that perhaps solitary and silence is the only way to engage in witchcraft.
The more I consider these “topics” the more I am convinced that they are thematic of personal and cultural shadows emerging very much like Hexxus and his toxic love;
If we consider the topics that keep emerging and being used as tools of attack, we can actually find some value in them. Not for the surface debate which is largely just criticism of other people in order to shame, but instead to find out why we might engage in these topics whatsoever.
The “Real Witch” Paradox
This is one of those shadow topics that has endless repercussions; it is invasive, derogatory and defamatory… engaging in slandering other peoples worth, their viability as a spiritual practitioner has only one desired outcome; to destroy another person. Whether it be their reputation in the eyes of others, the devaluation of their deeds, or a personal attack on their psyche, it is truly a heinous topic that invades paganism and other spiritual circles.
The problem with this shadow is the many roots it can have; sometimes it is dealing with our own fears of inadequacy by attacking others, sometimes it emerges from a place of xenophobic or racist ideologies, or sometimes from sexism, sometimes homophobia…
Dealing with the shadow element of the “Real Witch paradox” is tricky, because the shadow slips into other areas as we seek to address one element, self inadequacy that does not wish to be ‘dealt’ with often hides behind seeking to highlight supposed inadequacy in others, and the specifics can shift quickly if the root of the shadow is under threat of being examined.
Ultimately there seems to be only one answer: No one gets to define what is ‘real’ and what is ‘not’ in our spirituality; not even us.
Our perception of our spiritual paths, what works for us, our ‘truth’ shifts as we do, grows as we do, and ultimately changes.
At any given point we could be making what might seem, in hindsight, a mistake… but sometimes the mistake is the very point; the stumbling block that allows us to challenge ourselves to be better in the future.
The shadow that surrounds accusing others of not being a “real witch” grasps at a need to control; to control how we are seen, how valid our practice is, how we are represented… and though authenticity and truth to our own path is important (at least to ourselves) it does not substantiate the idea that our truth is more valid –different practices to our own do not therefore morph into wrong practices.
Ultimately I consider this concept to be a paradox because there is no single or correct definition of what a Witch is (or indeed one spirituality, or one notion of paganism…) in that Witchcraft and associated spiritual pathwalking is a largely personal practice based on thousands of intimate and private experiences. Thousands upon thousands of tiny sparks that build up to a burning ember of connection to self, soul, and divinity, which no one should seek to undermine; not in ourselves and certainly not in others.
2. The “How very dare you” phenomena
This is one of those off shoots of the “Real Witch paradox” that quickly turns ugly. Usually presented as a self righteous attack it similarly seeks to make others feel or appear small, misinformed, misguided; frequently “holier than thou” diatribe is disseminated as an attack on the intellectual rationale of another human being.
Unfortunately this sort of Shadow often comes from individuals within the community who initially we think of as being role-models; experts, teachers, but when we express an opinion differing from their own, or debate a topic from a differing viewpoint, we are met with the “How very dare you” phenomena (usually coupled with some insults from the ‘real witch’ paradox) in order to assert their authority and knowledge. Your efforts in spiritual investigation are seemingly threatening to their position as teacher and this shadow rears its head.
One would think investigative spirituality was the cornerstone of modern paganism but in alot of places the need to hold on to apparent tradition (as is the case in many other dogmatic religions) rears its head with the ‘older is better’ adage; refusing to consider the concept of evolutionary spirituality that grows as we do.
This shadow again has multiple possibilities of causation; that those “teachers” want to be the leaders of their particular field and resent competition, are resistant to change or are enamoured with one way of seeing the world and refuse outright to consider others. Debate and discussion are useful tools, and sadly the art of debate in modern society seems to be under attack, on a social level “I am King” is the current trend for a response to those not in agreement; a shadow that is desperate to prove self worth and therefore hints at the lack of it.
Witchcraft in my view,
“Witchcraft is a highly individualised path which is constantly flowing and evolving throughout time; it should not, and arguably cannot become stagnant, lest it die a death within the heart of the practitioner.” – Joey Morris
Resistance to change is definitely part of the human psyche and is something I have often wrestled with and continue to do so as part of my ongoing investigation into the Shadow Ogham – Silver Birch.
All I can advise in the area of being disappointed with mentors is simply this;
Don’t put anyone on a pedestal.
I learnt this the hard way though and I suspect that is true for most people. Do not give up on your spiritual research, your truth, because your voice is needed. This is a lesson I had to reiterate for myself recently with my connection to the Goddess Morrigan against those who claim “how dare I follow the Goddess Morrigan” because I am not (insert insult of choice here; Irish enough, Intelligent enough, Traditional enough) and after meditation with the Goddess herself came to this conclusion;
“The lesson from Goddess Morrigan appears to be; what is your voice worth? Can you stand behind your truth even whilst others fling hatred at you for it? Can you cleave through the disease that clings to a jealous system? Can you believe in the goodness of women even as some of them fulfil your mothers predictions of the petty self serving nature of “all” women? Can you rise and rise and rise again whilst they strike you?
I will always rise.” – Joanne Morris
Remember this if nothing else: The Universe, the Gods, Deity, and Magick… do not need anyone elses permission to speak to who they choose.
Not even self-appointed spiritual ‘experts.’
3. Selling your Witchcraft as a trade makes you a Whore
Yes, this is an actual line I have had thrown at me, and this is a personal one, for obvious reasons, as the creatrix behind Starry Eyed Supplies and for those of us that pour a little of our heart and soul into everything we do and create the harm this attack of others shadow can do can feel debilitating.
Witchcraft by itself is often considered an art that does not necessarily require spirituality as in and of itself it is a “craft” – a process of creation. Whilst that is a whole other area of discussion (a fascinating one, at that) this somehow leads certain individuals to say that every witch should be crafting all the physical items they ever use, and the sale of purchase of witchcraft and related items (divination, spells and so forth) is sacrilege.
Usually however the shadow of jealousy comes into play with this, as it is when a person is successful at their trade – be that Tarot readings, Witchcraft books, the Selling of Spell items that such namecalling comes into play.
Every single person I have ever met that has a successful business that involves spiritual elements has engaged in this because they felt it was a calling from soul to do so; and they work damn hard at what they do, even if others cannot see that.
They will invest in perfecting their craft through courses, trial and error, extensive reading; and all their efforts are largely ignored by the catcalls of people who decide that all they provide should be for free (because it is of a spiritual nature.)
The math here doesn’t add up; other religious paths pay their priests, give homes to their vicars and show value to the spiritual work of those that live in spiritual service; and we, as human beings living in a modern era simply have to pay the bills.
Just because someone creates art – the art of their vision and soul no less – does not entitle anyone to the free access to that service, and sadly, the people that often come under fire in this manner tend to be some of the most giving souls in the world.
Many I have seen come under fire have a plethora of free content that they ‘give’ to the world and are still subjected to emotional blackmail in order to coerce them to either stop sharing their light with the world or to become a beggar in the streets; as though salesmanship was completely corrupt on every level.
The Shadow of jealousy pops up here at those who resent the truth and light of those who succeed, discounting any and all effort or hardships of those who do.
I understand completely the frustration and envy that arises when others have incredible overnight success when we have worked hard and do not see as much fruit to our labour; that element I struggle with myself. But engaging in the attack of other individuals is not the route to being a better or even more successful version of ourselves; mudslinging doesn’t dull anyone elses shine but our own. It’s toxic. It only poisons within.
Furthermore, we can choose instead to celebrate our uniqueness as individuals – we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we will be talented at certain areas and not others; and that should be a cause for celebration, not jealousy.
There is a tendency in modern society to draw attention to our failures; where we feel we are not enough and what we lack – instead of celebrating our own unique and special brand of weirdness which can result in us lashing out at others who we perceive as living their truth, succeeding in spiritual business and service.
The only thing I have ever found that works with combating this shadow is this:
Never, ever, give up.
Whatever your dream may be – and let it be your dream not a pale imitation of someone elses journey – if it is truly what your heart desires, and what you soul requires, then don’t give up, and moreover, don’t compare.
Spirituality is a personal journey, however that takes shape.. and you can rock that in YOUR way, without bashing someone elses.