<![CDATA[Speak of Secrets & Witchy Ways... - Home]]>Sat, 05 Mar 2016 03:38:00 -1000Weebly<![CDATA[Speak of Secrets Has Moved!]]>Thu, 03 Mar 2016 21:26:20 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/speak-of-secrets-has-movedWe've packed up the tarot cards, crystals, sage, spices, broomstick, candles, and cauldron and moved the SoS site over to WordPress. Come visit us over at our new online home!

Weebly was a great place for SoS to start, but we've been craving greater connectivity and splashier features, so we took the leap and have spent the last few months working to get the site up and running with the help from some very generous and magickal friends. There is now a new post up on the blog, and tho the main site will be undergoing tweaks and adjustments, you can look forward to there being regular updates from now on.

Whether the posts here will migrate over to the new site is not known yet; this site will remain live until that time.
Don’t forget that you can always connect with Speak of Secrets over on FB as well, which is where all visible activity has been taking place while the blog was on hiatus. 

Thanks for reading, we're looking forward to having you join the discussion over at the SoS New Home!
<![CDATA[A Very Merry Pagan Christmas!]]>Thu, 24 Dec 2015 18:31:34 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/a-very-merry-pagan-christmasCelebrating Christmas as a Pagan may get you an odd sideways glance at times. Positively embracing it, being excited about it, and planning for it may turn that glance into a full-on stare! Yet when we examine the roots of Christmas, it really isn't far fetched for someone with a Pagan spirituality to be celebrating it at all... From the Roman feasts and festivities of Saturnalia, to North American and European Winter Solstice traditions, to the modern day Christian take on this holy day, spiritual observation and celebratory gatherings specific to this time of year have spanned the globe and all of her various cultures since time immemorial.
Linus lays down the truth about many of our modern-day Christmas traditions.
Christmas has always been a very special time in our family, although we never celebrated it in a religious context. It was simply a time to share good cheer, festive spirit, and share in the bounty of a well-prepared feast while gathered with family and friends. In that sense, it has always been very much about bringing warmth and light to a long, cold, northern night. Being of Scandinavian and Sicilian heritage, we celebrated on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is something I have always felt remarkably blessed for - why end a good time earlier than necessary? Having it start on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and continue the next morning into that night always felt just about right to me.

Magick is all about making something your own, including Christmas.

On the other hand, even if I didn't have such an excellent introduction into celebrating the season in a non-secular manner, I would still want to participate in the traditions and gatherings that happen on December 24th and 25th of each year, much the same way that I enjoy taking part in Nowruz, or Diwali... I may not be of Persian or Indian heritage, but I can appreciate and welcome the customs of those cultural observations and celebrations into my own life in a manner which is respectful both to their roots, and to my own. The current trend of labelling such practice as "appropriation" aside, being welcomed into learning about and participating in these occasions with friends of differing ethnicities serves as a continuation in my education as a member of this species, and as such, is something I am very thankful, respectful, and appreciative towards.

Life is meant to be celebrated, and joy is meant to be shared!

My bottom line is that life is meant to be celebrated - we are here to experience as much joy as is possible in any given moment. Sharing the observances and celebrations of holy days that are outside of one's cultural or spiritual practice yet align with the heart is not only natural, but from what I have experienced, welcome.

However you choose to celebrate the season - or whether you decide to give it a pass entirely - I wish you the brightest of blessings and the merriest of gatherings... May your heart be filled with love, your soul with peace, and your life be lightened with laughter... Merry Pagan Christmas to you!
<![CDATA[December's Cold Moon]]>Sat, 19 Dec 2015 01:04:15 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/decembers-cold-moon
This December we get a special celestial treat, with the Full Moon taking place on Christmas Day.

To put that in perspective, it has been 38 years since the Full Cold Moon of December has fallen on this date, and it will be another 19 years before it occurs again.

The December Full Moon is also known as the "Long Nights Moon" - it's energy encourages us to give thanks and to reflect upon the abundance of our hearth and home-fires. While Christmas may be a Christian Holiday, much of it's traditions, and even it's date, is based on the Pagan mid-winter Yule and Solstice festivals, as well as the Roman Saturnalia celebrations.

​Many of us gather with friends and family at this time to share warmth, gifts, food, and gratitude, so take a moment to look up at Sister Moon later on this month, and reflect upon all the good, love, and abundance you have manifested over the past year. 
<![CDATA[Witchin' in the Kitchen]]>Thu, 10 Dec 2015 19:27:21 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/witchin-in-the-kitchenWhat does a bowl of homemade split-pea soup, whipped shortbread cookies, and a plate of pan-fried eggplant all have in common?

Ok, besides being three tasty treats you probably wouldn't want to enjoy together, they are the recipes that have been passed down in my family for generations. Like many folks out there, I have a recipe book filled with handwritten recipes from both my mother and father's sides. It may not be much to look at, but it is one of the more valuable books in our house.

Family recipes are the ultimate in comfort food.

Comfort food is described as a "traditional food which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer." It is a food that is shaped by our cultural heritage, and our family's eating habits. Not everyone will find comfort in pickled herring (including me!) but for my Scandinavian mother, it is a taste of childhood. Likewise how my father finds great comfort in the Italian foods of his Sicilian heritage. Lucky me, I get the best of both worlds, which is where we get the odd combo of split-pea soup, whipped shortbread, and breaded pan-fried eggplant from.

Family recipes have a rhythm and a pattern in-tune with the Wheel of the Year.

Some of those recipes are treats centered around traditional familial celebrations, while others are seasonal due to their ingredients, or basic make-up being something that is more desirable during certain times of the year. Making a big pot of split-pea soup requires a hambone, for instance - it is a meal that is often prepared after a festive feast shared with family - and it is not the sort of fare that one usually hungers for during the heat of summer. Vice-versa on a dish such as insalata caprese , which is a traditional chilled summertime dish, that makes the most out of fresh ingredients that are peaking at that time of year. So besides connecting us to our ancestral heritage, our family recipes also follow a well-established pattern that is cyclical to the Wheel of the Year.

Family recipes link us directly to our ancestors.

Family recipes often harken back to original techniques and ingredients that our ancestors employed. They are another aspect of verbal and written storytelling, another method to continue the traditions of our heritage. Although my Finnish forebearers would have cooked over a wood fire, and likely raised, harvested, and preserved the elements needed to make a kettle of split-pea soup themselves rather than picking them up at a grocery shop they way that I do, I am still continuing a family tradition by preparing my grandmother's recipe in the manner that she was taught by her grandmother, and so on down the line. This is the sustenance that has nourished, fueled, and comforted generations of my maternal grandmother's lineage, and it is a direct connection to those people's lives and stories. It is a simple and lovely manner of invoking and honoring those who have gone on before us.

Family recipes are a spiritual link of nourishment and love.

When I am preparing a dish from our family recipe book, it is the simplest thing in the world for me to look down at my hands and see my mother's or my aunt's or my grandmother's hands. When doling out piping-hot food from a kettle, I can become 5 years old again, sitting at the glass table in my Sicilian grandmother's chic bright orange 1960's kitchen, as she spoons hot fresh applesauce into a bowl before me, saying "Aspetta! Aspetta!" so that I don't scald my tongue. I can become my father or my grandfather, mixing cocktails, or carving a roast to share with family and friends... Preparing these cherished recipes has become a meditation towards connecting with my family... Those scraps of paper and recipe cards each bear the signature script of the hands which prepared the recipes that they wrote down for posterity, the same hands that comforted and instructed me as a child. Knowing that I am continuing a tradition of celebration and nourishment that evolved long before I ever arrived on this plane of existence, I can't help but feel their spiritual presence in my kitchen, cooking right along with me.
<![CDATA[Magic(k) - To "K" Or Not To "K?"]]>Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:04:31 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/magick-to-k-or-not-to-kI'm sure you've seen the word "magic" spelled as "magick" before. Legend has it that adding the K to the end of the word was the work of Aleister Crowley, in an effort to differentiate ritual results-related magic(k) from the slight-of-hand illusionary magic of the stage. In the modern-day Pagan-Wiccan-Witchy world, you will find the word magic(k) being spelled both ways, all at the personal choice of the person who is doing the magic(k)al spelling - no pun intended!

The return of Old Ways...

Historically speaking, before the English language was standardized, the magic(k)spelled both ways. In that sense, the spelling of magic(k) with a K is really a reintroduction from times past rather than a modernization. In terms of etymology, the word is derived from the Greek word magikē,  through Latin to magicus/magica, to the French magique, which was then adopted as magic(k) in Late Middle English. Interestingly, the Greek derived the word magikē from magi,  as a way to describe the ritual workings of the magi priesthood of the Zoroastrianism Order, an ancient religion that originated in Persia around the time of the 6th Century, BCE.

Magi(k) and the Number 11

Another interesting point is that as the eleventh letter of the alphabet, K is in the position of being one of only three Master Numbers in the school of Numerology, encompassing the qualities of illumination, enlightenment, and karma. Eleven is also considered a magic(k)al number due to it's existing beyond the "perfect ten" of our numerical system, suggesting that this position represents the ability to access unseen or hidden energies and beings. Pretty compelling stuff, really.

Before I had looked into this, I had always preferred to spell magic(k) without the K - to be honest, I felt that adding it on made the word look kind of cheesy, and magic(k) being a sacred thing to me, I didn't wish to compromise that by spelling the word in a way that wasn't visually appealing. I also do not feel the need to differentiate my magic(k)al workings from stage magicians - I know my own work, and that is enough. That said, 
knowing what I know now, adding the K has grown on me to the point where I find myself wanting to tack that extra letter on to the end of the word, my current compromise being to bracket it in parentheses as I have throughout this post... Hey, it takes time to grow into these things!

How do YOU spell magic(k)?

Now here's the fun part - I want to know how YOU spell the word magic(k)! Feel free to add additional comments in the text box below the survey, or in a comment... You might let me know about your particular vein of magic(k)al practice, discuss why your prefer to spell magic(k) the way that you do, or make a compelling argument to petition me to drop the parentheses... Honestly, I could use a shove.

    Magic or Magick - You Tell Me!

I'll be sure to share the highly unscientific results in a future SoS blog post - until then, stay magic(k)al, my friends!
Moon - Last Quarter
<![CDATA[Standing On The Bones Of Our Ancestors]]>Sun, 29 Nov 2015 23:58:56 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/standing-on-the-bones-of-our-ancestors

My grandfather visited me in a dream...

I was standing in a bustling and cavernous train station, looking at a schedule. It was evening, and golden light was slanting in across the marble floor of the echoing concourse, as people went busily about, locating their iron horses. To my left I heard an old man's gentle voice asking about the stops a train would be making. He sounded a little confused. Two female train attendants dressed smartly in blue wool dress suits and pill box hats stood by the man where he sat, answering his scheduled stop questions. I looked over and realized it was my Baba.

I walked over to where he sat, not more than 10 steps away. "Baba?" I asked. Baba looked over, and his pale blue eyes lit up with that mischievous sparkle I always knew and loved. His face exploded into a smile, and he called my name out in his thick Danish accent, lifting his arms to me, inviting me into his embrace. I leaned in and hugged him tightly where he sat so distinguished, our faces pressing up against one another, holding each other like we'd never let go. I angled my face and kissed his left cheek, and told him that I love him, as the tears began to roll from my eyes.

I woke to the dark of our room, but I could still feel his arms around me, I could still feel our cheeks pressed to one another. 

Connecting with and paying homage to our ancestors via ritual is part of many magical and cultural traditions.

 Although invoking one's ancestors while in sacred space has a long history that spans both time and cultural heritage, it has not been a part of my spiritual practice until very recently. When a friend shared her method of inviting her ancestors into her sacred circle, I realized that this was a component that I too, would like to include in my practice. Bringing this tradition into my practice at the time of the year when the veil is at it's thinnest, and when the moon was still new was fortuitous timing. That there was an incubation period of 10 nights between the completion of the ritual and my grandfather coming to visit is something I have not yet put research into, altho I am curious as to whether there is any numerological significance to this timing. The setting of the train station - a point of transfer and transition - makes crystal clear sense to me. The very visceral emotion, physical contact, and having my name spoken while looking directly into one another's eyes goes beyond any dreamtime visitation I have ever experienced. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to tell my grandfather how much I love him. It's an interesting experience balancing such a depth of loss and pain alongside such heights of recognition and love.

Thank you for the visit, Baba. Please come and see me again soon.  You and the rest of my honoured kin that have gone before me are always welcome to join me in my circle, now and forevermore.
Moon - Waning Gibbous
<![CDATA[Embracing Our Shadow Aspects]]>Sun, 22 Nov 2015 00:43:21 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/embracing-our-shadow-aspectsWe all face challenges in our lives, and sometimes that can have us singing the blues. It's not a comfortable emotional landscape to reside in, as those times of struggle can bring repressed parts of our nature to the surface. There's no denying that the emotional states we humans brand as "negative" are powerful forces, and it's only natural to want to sweep them to the side and step back into the light as quickly as possible. Yet, those dark and painful places are a part of us, and offer as much of an opportunity for personal growth as the sunnier side of life does.

The concept of "shadow aspects" started with psychologist Carl Jung's study on personality archetypes.

In a nutshell, shadow aspects are those parts of our personality which we deny, repress, or reject. Given that behavioural responses such as jealousy, pettiness, and neediness can be met with displeasure, it isn't unusual that we should choose to avoid or brush away those responses as soon as they come up. Feeling angry or unworthy isn't a good feeling, so it's not a place we willingly choose to linger in; yet to truly meet with our shadow aspects, that is exactly what we need to do - we need to sit with our more challenging emotions to truly get a sensation as to what they're all about.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." -- Carl Jung

Shadow aspects can manifest in ways that are less easy to detect than simply experiencing anger, envy, or contempt. They can come pouring out of us in ways that affect others even more greatly than they do ourselves - take, for example, the need to control people's behaviours, assigning blame for our emotional state rather than taking responsibility for it, projecting thoughts or words that are really our own onto others, or simply finding another person's personality traits grating . While it may be easy to externalize examples such as these by attributing them solely to residing outside of ourselves, if we apply personal awareness in the heat of those moments we may come to realize that perhaps this really *is* our circus, and yep - those really *are* our monkeys.
Emotional shadow boxing can create a healthier, stronger spirituality!

Sitting with our shadow aspects invokes the work of Emotional Alchemy, supplying us with the raw materials necessary to transform dark matter into gold. ​

Our shadow aspects are not without benefits. The energy that is generated by emotional responses such as outrage, anger, and jealousy can be extraordinarily useful when directed in a constructive manner. Having the awareness to recognize, harness, and then express that energy is no easy task, but I have found I craft some of my most powerful work when I have the sense to channel those uncomfortable emotional states towards my creative endeavours. Other times, I will draw a single tarot card to inquire as to which energies I need to be aware of, what I need to learn from my current state, or simply ask the cards to comment on whatever it is I am feeling. I find both of these techniques are helpful in that they allow me to sit with my shadow aspects and observe them without judgement. When my energy is running a little too high for contemplation, meditation, or creative expression, a good bout of physical work or exercise helps to bring me back into the present. I've come to think of it as emotional shadow boxing, whereby bringing awareness back into the physical body aids in grounding the static being produced in the etheric body.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” -- Carl Jung

Our darker sides can craft some powerful magic - just think of the relation between the two: we cast spells the same as we cast shadows. We have black magic the same as we have white magic. Grimoires are often known as "The Book of Shadows." There is a balance between our dark and our light, and each needs to be recognized and embraced if we wish to be truly whole. It isn't easy work, and it's a never ending process, but there is a peace to getting to the point where we feel able to welcome those parts of ourselves which we tend to push away.
Moon - Waxing Gibbous
<![CDATA[Don't Fear The Ouija]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 19:25:04 GMThttp://speakofsecrets.weebly.com/home/dont-fear-the-ouijaReading a Witches & Pagans article about the Ouija board last week, I was surprised to encounter a barrage of comments warning people away from using it to communicate with energies existing beyond the physical realm. Given that the audience is presumably made up of, well, Witches and Pagans, I anticipated a more open-minded response on the subject, rather than the long list of fearful comments that ensued. Little did I know that the Ouija board is actually a divided topic amongst the occult community! In investigating this, I believe it is important to take a look at where the Ouija board as we know it came from, and how it evolved into what it is now.
One of the original "talking board" parlour games from 1890, a precursor to the Ouija board.

The Ouija Board - originally known as a "spirit board" or a "talking board - rose into use with the Spiritualist movement of the mid-1880's.

The Spiritualist movement originated on American soil, as part of The Second Great Awakening, a religious revival movement that was highly concentrated in western New York State. Spiritualists held the belief that communication with the deceased is possible, and held séances in order to communicate with their spirit guides.  Spirit and/or talking boards were one of the tools they employed to accomplish this, and these talking boards became the precursors to the modern-day Ouija board.

In this day and age, pretty much everyone has heard of the Ouija board - popularized as a parlour game in 1890 by Elijah Bond, who designed and took out a patent on his own variation of the talking boards used by the Spiritualists, the first commercial versions of the boards were produced by the Kennard Novelty Company. William Fuld, who was acting as Bond's production manager, began producing a talking board of his own shortly thereafter, and was the first person to brand the board under the name "Ouija." This new name rapidly became the common moniker for the various talking boards that appeared on the market.  The Ouija board brand was sold to Parker Brothers Games upon Fuld's death in the mid-60's, with Hasbro taking over the Ouija trademark and associated patents in 1991. With the Ouija Board's original leap into the mainstream being under the guise of entertainment, it wasn't until around 1916 that it became associated with practices of the occult, owing to its use as a divinatory tool by American Spiritualist Pearl Curran.

Since its exit from the world of novelty games and entrance into the realm of occult practices, the Ouija Board has generated some serious dividing lines. Several Christian denominations warn against using the boards, suggesting that they are "portals to hell" and have the ability to facilitate "demonic possession." Surprisingly, the occult community is equally divided on the issue, with some acknowledging that the Ouija Board can be a useful tool, while others echo statements closely aligned to the warnings issued by those of the Christian faith. 

Love it or fear it, the Ouija Board is now well-established in popular culture.

This 2014 spoof on a Ouija themed Hallowe'en Happy Meal generated death threats for it's creator.
Consider ghost hunter Amy Bruni's 2014 Ouija Board spoof of a Hallowe'en themed Happy Meal that resulted in her and her family receiving death threats. Clearly, the Ouija Board elicits a strong and visceral response from many people, and unfortunately, that response is often steeped in fear.

So why the argument against using the Ouija board in occult practices?

One point that I have seen come up numerous times is that the Ouija Board itself exists as an open doorway that does not have a means to being properly closed. The name Ouija - "oui" and "ja"  being French and German for yes, respectively - is often cited in this argument, with the double affirmative essentially giving the spirit world carte blanche after making contact via the board. I've also encountered advice that the Ouija Board be employed by only the most highly trained priests and priestesses. While these arguments have compelling features, I do not see them as a means to dismiss the Ouija board entirely out-of-hand, and feel that such a response can only breed fear. Should you approach the Ouija with respect? Absolutely! But fear it? I'm sorry, but fear is just not a concept that I welcome into my particular brand of spiritual practice.

Fear can be a healthy response that ensures our well being, but I do not feel it has a place within a grounded spiritual practice.

I have a long history with the Ouija Board, and none of it can be slanted towards being negative in the slightest. My friends and I started using it while still in grade school, having been given it as a gift from our families. My cousin and I used it up the woodlands of northern Ontario in our late teens, where we connected with an aboriginal spirit who guided us to a petroglyph they had carved under the dome at Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Though we never opened a circle to protect us during our séances - we didn't have knowledge of such things at the time - we approached the Ouija with a respect, and a reverence, and a purity, and closed our sessions with thanks and gratitude. That, I believe, is what makes all the difference - in magical work, or any other aspect of our lives.

​Whether you use the Ouija Board - or believe in it's authenticity at all - is up to you. Certainly there are some of us who are more sensitive to spiritual energies, and may wish to forgo inviting more contact with that realm via the Ouija board. If it is something that you feel you need to be specially trained to undertake the workings of, by all means seek out an experienced practitioner to guide you in it's use! I would never suggest anyone embark upon spiritual work they feel unprepared for, or even fearful of, but I also think that chalking the Ouija board up as a target for trouble is dismissing a valuable tool we Witches have at our disposal. I personally view it as no more circumspect than the Tarot, even though I myself haven't worked with a Ouija board in many years.

What's your take on the Ouija board? Do you view it as a valuable tool, or prefer to leave it to those who have a more schooled background as to it's use? Have you had any notable experiences from working with it? Perhaps you were as surprised as I was to learn that there is a divide within the occult community as to it's use... I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this controversial subject, whether they be Yes, No, or Goodbye. 

(oh - and bonus points to those who got the song "Don't Fear the Reaper" stuck in their head after reading this post's title, since that's what has been spinning around in mine ever since I first started writing this entry... Maybe you're psychic enough to not even need the Ouija board!)

Moon - Dark