ethics, celebrations, spiritual paths, religion

Support in the Community: More is Always Needed

I just read a wonderful post in a blog called “The Culture Monk”. It made me think about the early days after I lost Azrael and the challenges I faced. It reminded me about some of the things he and I had discussed during our short life together and that I have thought about a great deal in the fifteen years post-Azrael. Why is it that so many people of all spiritual paths are so wrapped up in judgment? They want to show every other path and every person on those paths that their path is superior to all others. They want to show that they are smarter, that they are better, and that they are more… “everything” than everyone else because of the path that they follow.

As for Az and me, we always felt that the person makes the path. We strove to be the difference we wanted to see in the world. Always have and always will, because that is part of why we believe we are here; we improve the world and try to make it better for our having been here.

Example: A friend named Ali is a devout Muslim (his entire wonderful family is just like him) and every time there was a charity drive at our old company, he was, without fail, one of the first to step up and ask me, “What do you need for the drive, Tee?” Did not matter if we were collecting books for the local children’s hospital, food items for the food bank, electric fans for the elderly in summertime, there was Ali with a wad of cash in one hand and car keys in the other, ready to go on a run and get whatever was needed. His elder brother, Humza, and his little sister, Samreen, also our co-workers, always chipped in to his “wad” of cash to help those in need. They are what I think of when I think of “good Muslims”.

As Charity Coordinator (not a “real” position, but our manager graciously bestowed the honorary title) for a large telecommunication company, I had a blast organizing all kinds of drives each year. We had book drives, food drives, fan drives, cook-offs to raise money for local charities, walks to raise money for AIDS awareness, walks to raise money for breast cancer awareness, goodie bag drives for local women’s shelters, etc. It seemed that every month of the year there was something we could raise money for and/or do good for; all we had to do was sit and think for a minute.

I will never forget when the survivors of Hurricane Katrina were being spread among the local states. Just up the road a ways from our office in Las Colinas, they bussed in masses of refugees to Cowboy’s Stadium for “temporary housing and relocation” until the government could figure out what to do to start helping them. Our local management headquarters told us that we were “not allowed” to have a drive as it was not an issue that the corporate office was involved in. I appealed to our national corporate headquarters and still the answer was no. May I just state in my own defense, I tend to have selective hearing at times. I blame it on genetics, as my father was a stubborn S. O. B., too. 😉

Well, as George Takei would say, “Oh Myyy!” the things our people donated when I ran the drive anyway! Our amazing manager, Debbie, looked the other way purposefully as items streamed into the center and gathered in one of our meeting rooms. Our people brought in brand new household appliances suitable for use in motels and hotels (rooms that people were being given free) and that people could take with them to wherever they landed after everything settled somewhere. There were of boxes of dishes, food, clothing, diapers, formula, toys, and games for all age groups, etc. You name it and they brought it in! Usually, it was like pulling teeth. Most of the employees would ignore the drives we had. One or two dozen loyal people were our “core” donators, unless, of course, I gave out prizes for the team that brought in the most items, then, we would have widespread activity. Pizza parties worked best for some reason. However, thanks to the televised horrors of Katrina, showing what the survivors suffered, the entire almost 200 people really got into the giving mood and brought in everything that they could think of. I was so proud of our people and very impressed that it took several of our employees to fill multiple employee’s pickup trucks and cars to drive the items to the official drop-off point in the football area parking lot.

That was what I believe our purpose is on earth. To take care of those in need. To tend to those with nothing. Help those who are suffering. To be the difference!

As such, to celebrate their giving nature, in addition to the typical pot luck dinner I usually organized each month, I threw a center-wide Mardi Gras celebration the following February. I have to admit that the usual monthly parties I threw as Diversity Coordinator (one of the official title I enjoyed) were nothing compared to this one. This one was drastically over budget that month! The pittance the company normally allotted never took me far, but that February it didn’t even cover the full cost of the hundreds of beads I bought, much less the 20 dozen pastries, the decorations, game prizes and more. I really enjoyed creating the games on our intranet site (Yep, Webmaster was my main title) relating to the Mardi Gras celebration and our winners were celebrated, given a prize and photographed for the website. I may have gone over 1.5K in the hole personally, but it was a party that no one in the call center that day will ever forget!

To me it was worth every penny to celebrate the way all people on all the paths in our center, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, witches and pagans, all pulled together to achieve a wonderful thing in the service of those in need!

Book of Shadows, witchcraft, witch, journal, diary, witchery,

Witches’ Tools: A Witch’s Personal Journal, Grimoire or Book of Shadows

One of the most important tools that a witch owns is a personal journal. Depending on the tradition, practice or path a witch follows, they may be more comfortable calling the book a journal, a grimoire, or a book of shadows. This is typically a witch’s official record of the steps they have taken on their magickal path. Here, they include any personal observations, the collected information and knowledge, which will help them continue on their path with success.

The journal may include a blessing page, consecration page, or even a favorite quote as a dedication depending upon the will of the witch and their path. It will hold personal data the witch feels is important to their practice of the craft. This may include personal notes and observations on spells and rituals they have performed, data gathered or created, as well as a log denoting any successes and/or failures, properly documenting any good, bad or unusual occurrences during the processes, and other items particular to the practice of their craft. Some witches choose to write spells in different inks according to the spell or ritual being transcribed, such as Dragon’s Blood ink for power spells, Dove’s Blood ink for healing spells, Bat’s Blood ink for spells to bind or hex, and Lampblack ink for common knowledge or correspondences, etc.

The grimoire helps a witch to recognize any fluctuations in the spells. I. e. if one deity works in tandem with the witch better than another, if the witch has more success during a particular phase of the moon with a certain type of spell, or when using a particular herb over another. Even among multiple herbs that are known to have the same magickal property, say for healing, some herbs may work better for one witch than for another. It is common for witches that I know to have a specific group of “go to” herbs on hand as the herbs properties and the way the herbs respond to that particular witch are familiar to their practice. Many keep a list of herbs to mix and match for specific recipes and specific intents.

The personal journal is a handy place to store correspondence charts for candle colors, as well, relating to stones, days and times, seasons, zodiac, woods, metals, as well as any particular recipes the witch has created, discovered or been gifted with.

It is the place where a witch retains their favorite or personal magickal symbols, glyphs, runes, , or sigils. Some wiccans even keep their personal poems and songs relating to their craft or in honor of their deities in their journal, called a book of shadows, for safekeeping.

As a witch, you wish, you may include not only the spells, but also, drawings of any tools, diagrams, personalized spell oils or incenses used; even samples of any individual herbs may be attached to the page for ease of reference. Specific charts showing what all tools were required for the spell or ritual makes it easy to recreate the spell if/when it is needed, again.

Descriptions of various layouts of their altar, tools, descriptions of how their tools were created by the witch, if they were gifted, by whom, or if purchased the name and location of the store.

Descriptions of private and public practices installed in the journal, as well as practical spell work or ritual ideas for future use are handy. However, when logging ideas for future use, be certain to leave sufficient room to document what occurs when you put the ideas into practice.

As with so many other areas of witchcraft, each witch must decide for himself or herself, what to include. A good rule of thumb is to include anything you think you might want to know or remember later. It is easier to remove the information than try to rediscover or recreate it after the fact.

If you prefer, instead of going the route of a hand written journal as has been the way of so many witches in past centuries, modern witches, or geek witches, like myself, may choose to use a digital version. Storing a private grimoire on your computer to track and document your work and only transferring the data to a formal, hand written journal or grimoire, once you are certain the spells, rituals, recipes or other information is something you want to be able to pass down to another witch in the future.