Archive for July, 2018

This is an unusual post for this blog. This came about when my crew at home (my boyfriend and his 16-year-old daughter) heard about the magic school my women’s group used to do for the group’s children every summer. Every summer, we ladies would use our weekly meeting night for five weeks to do our magical version of vacation bible school.

My family has been interested in learning about magical practices, meditation, and so forth, so when they heard about magic school they asked me to do a version of magic school for them. So, using what I could remember and tweaking it for more mature folks, we started our own little magic school.

Since then, I’ve mentioned this to some people and was surprised to see an interest by some newer folks to the path. So, I decided to share my overview information here. Understand that not everyone will agree with me (heck, I’ve even wanted to tweak some stuff already), and that’s OK. There are many ways and ideas that are all valid, but I focused on what I thought would be beneficial for my family.

Ok, I know there are many books that teach basics. (Didn’t that used to be everyone’s complaint about a certain popular Pagan and magical publisher?) Yet, many of the books I’ve seen are path specific, such as Wicca or Druidry. My boyfriend is investigating animism, Druidry, shamanism, and pop culture magic. Our kiddo considers herself a pantheist. I’m an Eclectic Pagan with influences from Avalonian, Druid, Cottage Witchery, and American folk magic traditions. Clearly, a one-path book isn’t going to work for our household. So, I approached this in a more general way.

All that being said, I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts and suggestions about this material. FYI, we are focusing on the elements next, then on to meditation and other topics – so stay tuned if you enjoy this.

Audio Discussion

Also, the three of us had a very lively conversation when we went over this material (again, this is our casual conversation, not a polished podcast). If you’d like to take a listen, click here.




Thistle’s School of Magic: What is Magic? & Intention


Magical practice involves many things other than the spells you see witches on TV flinging about. Often, the most personal power you gain isn’t through spell casting but through exercises that help you to understand yourself and to conquer habits that might be sabotaging your dreams and plans.

To cover the basics of magical practice, we will look at the following:

  • Intention, the most powerful tool you have
  • Meditation
  • Self-reflection and self-evaluation through journaling and discussion
  • Understanding the elements, symbolism, and other components of the Western mystery tradition.
  • Crafting your own unique practice by first exploring basic methods such as chants/toning, purifications and blessings, candle magic, protection and healing spells, energy work, and so forth. You will find the techniques that work for you!

During this time, we will create a notebook of information, but keeping a spiritual/magical diary or journal is recommended. We often learn much through our musings when we return to them after some time has passed.

We will start with a short discussion of what magic actually is and then cover intention before moving onto the elements, meditation, and other subject matter.

So What Exactly is Magic?

Magical and spiritual practices can be very individual.

If you ask practitioners what magic is, you will receive a variety of answers. Magic is not an exact science and the methods and beliefs vary from culture to culture and by personal preference. There is high magic (ceremonial) and low magic (folk practices). Magic can be practiced by anyone of any faith.

Late witchcraft author Scott Cunningham considered a common thought on the subject: “Magic is the art of causing change by means commonly supposed to be supernatural.” He responded with his own thoughts: “Magic is simply the use of powers not yet recognized by science,” adding that magic is a very natural art. “It is the use of powers that reside within us and the natural objects of our world to cause change.”

Early witchcraft leader and author Doreen Valiente seconds that magic is a part of nature and that old occult philosophers never considered magic to be supernatural. “To them, magic works because of nature’s laws, not in spite of them. It was something built into the universe,” she said in the opening of her classic, Natural Magic.

“Magic is just science we don’t understand yet,” said science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. One of his three adages is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Most modern magical practitioners will say that magic does not so much change the world around us, but changes us and our ability to maneuver within the world. Inevitably, people who practice magic ethically will find themselves feeling empowered, more creative, and more confident. All of these can greatly change how you are treated out in the world.

This falls in line with many polytheist and nature-based faiths and our relationship with the gods and spirits. For those of us who have gods, ours are not usually the kind to bestow gifts or favors based strictly on prayers. While veneration can help build a relationship with a chosen deity, our gods want you to learn to help yourself. They want to inspire you to be strong, creative, confident, kind, and independent – not to simply lay these or other gifts at your feet because you begged for them.

If this sounds like the magical power that you want to infuse your life with, continue on and we shall see what powers you have lying within you.

Questions to Consider

What do you think of the idea of magic as science that hasn’t yet been discovered or understood? What has been your perception of magic up to this point? Write your thoughts on this in your journal.

What Magic Looks Like

While Hollywood films about magic workers are entertaining, they are rarely accurate (like the much-loved film “The Craft”). Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Movies and novels have done a great disservice to us when it comes understanding true magic. Magic does not usually entail wands that shoot sparks or throwing objects or levitating people with a gesture of the hands. Real magic is subtle. Real magic shines from within you.

Like anything we do to improve ourselves – for example, losing weight or quitting a bad habit – magical results don’t happen overnight. It is not an easy fix, despite how it is often presented. It requires work and dedication, as does anything worth pursuing. If it takes weeks or months to change something physical, it can take even longer to change the mental and emotional aspects of yourself – which is where much of our magic comes from. Oftentimes, we have to move through cycles of self-examination and change before we can really be in the mental and emotional place that we desire.

Another thing to understand about magic is that results do not always look like what we imagine. For example, asking to find your soulmate. Your soulmate may not be the love of your life – the definition of soulmate is misunderstood in Western culture as a romantic relationship. It’s actually a soul with whom you made an agreement before reincarnating to help each other grow from a soul perspective. A soulmate could be a good friend, lover, or even someone you cannot stand who pushes you in ways that challenges and grows your soul.

Another example is your work. The dream job you desire may not truly be a good fit for you so if you do a job spell to gain the job, the Universe may not answer by giving you that specific job. It might wait months or even years but position you so that you will see the right job when it does come available.

In short, keep an open mind when looking for your magical results – they may simply look different than you envisioned.

Questions to Consider

Have you ever felt something happen that seemed magical? For example, maybe you felt that a friend was in need, so you called them and, indeed, they were in need of you? Write in your journal about any experiences you’ve had that seemed magical even a bit.

The Importance of Intention

Magical tools are wonderful to have, but your most important tool is your intention.

Most forms of magical practice use a lot of stuff: wands, crystals, herbs, ritual knifes and clothes, cauldrons, tarot and oracle cards, and so forth. All of these can be great tools, however, the greatest tool you have for magic is yourself, specifically your intention.

Intention is simply the power that comes from your own mind and heart, and it is much more powerful than people imagine. It’s the same fuel that powers prayer or even effective meditation. It’s your will focused on the outcome you desire, whether it be physical healing for yourself or someone else, clearing a toxic person from your life, gaining courage for a speech or performance, or whatever you need.

While herbs and stones can lend their own energy to your workings, they will go nowhere without your own clear intention. Likewise, tools such as wands, staffs, and prayer beads can help you direct your energy, but again, intention is the key to having energy to direct at a problem or goal.

To help build the power of your intention, follow a simple process before doing any magical working or spell:

First, make sure that you truly wantwhatever the working is for. Be clear headed and don’t be doing something because it seems like the thing to do. If your heart isn’t into it, don’t do it.

Second, believe that whatever you are aiming your intention at can really happen. There’s no wishy-washy middle ground here. A common magical adage is “will it, do it.” Basically, feel that you have the power to make it happen, elsewise, you will probably not have good results.

Finally, you need to believe that what you want is actually about to happen. You have to act it as if it’s not a question that it will work. It WILL work. Part of intention is having confidence in your will and your energy working in the Universe for good. Prepare yourself for the positive outcome.

A lot of intention is about focus and confidence. You must be able to clearly focus on what you want or need, and you need to feel like you can achieve it.

Making & Using an Intention Candle

A simple method for using intention (and practicing it, I might add) is through simple candle magic that I call an intention candle.

First, think of something that you want to bring into your life. Mental/emotional healing? Peace? Love? Confidence? Make it a simple concept that you can easily relate to.

Next, find a candle that will burn several times – a pillar candle or glass prayer candle are both excellent for this. If you buy a colored candle, be sure to pick a color that feels like it represents your chosen focus. If you choose a prayer candle but can only find white ones, you can always paint the glass a color to fit your purpose.

  • When you have the candle the color you want it, feel free to add some extra focus or intention with one or more of these methods:
  • Paint (prayer candles) or carve (pillar candles) a related symbol on the side of the candle Apply essential oils that align to your purpose to the candle
  • Sprinkle herbs or even tiny shells or stones on top of the candle to add another element of symbolism

One example of a candle I made was a jarred seven-day prayer candle for a friend who was in mourning. I painted the candle a soft purple and silver (spiritual and yet soothing colors), infused it with lavender and vanilla oils (for relaxation and comfort), placed an bead bracelet I had made with rose quartz and other grounding stones around the candle, and tucked a few sprigs of rosemary under the bracelet to signify remembrance. This one is fairly elaborate, but even a simple candle will do the trick.

When the candle is ready, place it somewhere where you can light it and be in its presence for a while. When you first light it, focus on the candle and concentrate on your intention. See whatever it is in your mind as a reality. After several minutes, you can go about whatever you need to do, but try to keep the candle in your view and think of your intention whenever you catch a glance at the candle. You can snuff the candle after an hour or so (though prayer candles often burn longer than pillar candles, so adjust your time accordingly). Do this every day for at least a week.

Questions to Consider

Did you choose any colors, symbols, oils, or anything else to add to your candle’s focus? If so, what were they and explain why you chose them. You can write your answers in a journal. 

How did the week of intention building go? Do you feel it was helpful – or do you feel you are good at directing your intention anyway? Discuss any thoughts you have about this exercise in your journal. 


Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente

Thistle’s Freaky Brain



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OK, so these two cards both felt strong today, so I’m posting them together. Take notice of one or both, as you please. Blessings!

Clan of the Wolf Heart – We are the ones you’ve been waiting for

You belong to the Clan of the Wolf Heart. This is a soul tribe, with boundaries beyond bloodlines and geography. It is based on soul connection to love’s wisdom and higher truths of Great Spirit. The Clan is united through Wolf medicine and the heart. These are the qualities of the Divine Feminine that unify, allowing for a palpable experience of oneness that brings power to our collective wisdom and purpose.

Meaning: Reach out for help from others, while you honor and respect your individuality and your own unique life journey. Balance social time with taking care of your own individual needs, including the need for time out in solitude to hear your inner truths and renew yourself. Anger can be a sign from the soul, a sacred gift that asks you to deal with a situation, to bring about something different and more empowering. Use your anger as a sacred gift with compassion and clear purpose. Fight wholeheartedly where you need to safeguard what truly matters. Be open to a great guiding wisdom so that you know when to be merciful and when to cut something off completely. Believe in the power of your inner voice, and do not silence yourself.

Hi’aka –Sorceress of Light

No enemy shall defeat you, not by night, nor by day, not upon the earth, nor in the soul. You are divinely protected and empowered. You shall fulfill your destiny with joy in your heart and laughter in your belly. Play. Be in nature. Feel the freedom of happiness within you even in this moment. These are sacred powers, and, with them, you shall take every step upon your journey successfully, and nothing shall thwart your divine Destiny.

Meaning: Ask for healing, mentoring, or assistance to support you now. This support will help you feel stronger and more empowered so as to deal with any challenge and be reassured that your spirit can handle it. There is spiritual protection for you now as you follow the guidance to explore conscious movement and creative self-expression. This can stir up old energy, releasing it from you and allowing vital presence to take hold within you. You are going through an initiation in which you will need to reassert your happiness and joy any time it slips into the darkness of doubt, fear, or anxiety. Take time to dance, sing, drum, and affirm your aliveness with joy and courage. Become spiritually bolder in the face of anything that attempts to diminish you. Have faith in the power of the Divine Being, the Supreme Power. You are watched over by love.

Earth Warriors Oracle by Alana Fairchild, art by Isabel Brynne

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How often do we consider our ancestors of blood, spirit, and place? Better connection with the human past can only help us understand how to live a live of harmony rather than one of destruction and abuse of our fellow humans and of our resources. The ancient ones can show us what is important if we listen.

Blessings and peace.

Hear the Ancient Ones

The indigenous people of thew world are those who have lived in harmony with the land for countless generations. Among them are the elders whose knowledge and wisdom can teach us of our relationships with nature, of living a life of empathetic awareness, and to better understand our role as caretakers of the earth. They can teach us the wisdom of taking only what we need, of wasting little, and of honoring all sacrifices made so that you may live and grow. Hear the wisdom of the Ancient Ones; learn from their knowledge, lore, and traditions.

Messenger Oracle by Ravynne Phelan

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The Raven holding a glowing key just above a glowing keyhole is telling here even beyond the typical meaning of the card. Ravens are curious, intelligent, and a bit mischievous. They also suggest spiritual rebirth. Something lies just beyond your normal reach or interest that you need to unlock a spiritual or personal rebirth or change. Will you go beyond your normal limits to unlock the door?


Knave of Swords

Meaning: Penetration, vigilance, agility, a discreet person, or an active youth. It could also mean someone revealed as an imposter, something unforeseen, or the feeling of powerlessness the face of stronger forces.

Tarot Familiars by Lisa Parker

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Here’s an interesting card for the day. Not all flowers are sweet, so take care. Blessings!

Opium Poppy – Dreams, Illusions

Keywords: Wild imaginings, for good or bad; dreams and daydream; illusions and delusions; intuition; magic and enchantments; an addiction; escaping reality; wonderful fantasies; myths and make-believe; all things fae

Meaning: Opium poppies are famous for their ability to induce colorful dreams and, sometimes, wonderful illusions take place under opium’s influence when the user is fully awake. Moreover, in ancient times they were engraved on tombstones, the afterlife being widely regarded as an eternal dream, a sort of dream experience par excellence. In JJ Grandville’s playful engraving, Opium Poppy is using her thick stems like hosepipe to “water” her insect friends, many of whom already appear to be asleep. But are their dreams pleasant? And will they work up?

Whether or not we use drugs of any sort, we dream. It is human to do so. Anyone with a pet dog or cat knows that animals dream too. Put technically, dreaming is neurological function. Psychologists know that we resolve a lot of emotional issues through dreams. In many religious texts, dreams have a prophetic or warning function; angels are often prominent in these, even the figure of God himself. Having said that, even the most rational atheist can have extraordinary dreams full of seemingly irrational events and images.

Not all creative people have been drug users like Thomas de Quincey or Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who most famous poem, “Kubla Khan,” is probably opium-induced) but may creators – poets, novelists, painters, composers – derive inspiration from dreams. The Surrealists made dreams the central focus of their art. Dreams can yield images and ideas unimaginable in our waking hours. For all of us, they are a rich source of inspiration and, sometimes, solace or wisdom. Each dream – even a nightmare – can be a wise teacher.

What, then, of illusions? There are optical illusions, of course, such as those found in the work of M.C. Escher, and there are natural phenomena-type illusions, such as rainbows or a mirage in the desert. But let’s focus on psychological illusions, on the sort of situation where we cary illusions about with us. Maybe we are convinced a certain person is in love with us while everyone else knows they are not: we are under an illusion. Or, contrariwise, we are wrongly adamant that someone on our circle hates us and is trying to make our life hell. Either way, to go about under an illusion for any length of time is not healthy because it can blind us to everything else going on. There’s nothing really wrong with us if this happens occasionally, the sensible and wise friends and mentors can help here too, by gently putting us right and enabling us to move on with our lives. Look at the one insect in the picture who is not overwhelmed by Lady Opium. He is carrying a lantern, a symbol of clarity and illumination like the lantern usually carried by The Hermit in traditional tarot cards. He can see clearly and is being totally sensible bout the situation. Let’s bear him in mind when we feel ourselves becoming caught up in false dreams and illusions.

The Victorian Flower Oracle by Sheila Hamilton, art by JJ Grandville with Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov

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We are back from our little trip, and here’s a great card to greet us! Or perhaps it’s just great for me, but I hope it bodes well for you all today too. Blessings!


MEANING: Live larger than life. Make the most of every experience. You can choose the meaning that you give events. Find interpretations that empower you, rather than diminish you. Be the storyteller and the hero of your own life. Give your personal story empowering meanings.

NATIVE SPIRIT WISDOM: Around the evening campfire, clan members always looked forward to the storyteller recounting events of the daily happenings of the tribe. Even the most mundane event took on a vibrancy in the expert hands of an experienced storyteller. The Storyteller card chose you to remind you to be the champion of your own personal myth; be the central character. Don’t live life according to the needs and expectations of others. Don’t be a bit player in your own story.

THE JOURNEY: Take an event in your life that you gave a disempowering meaning and find a way to rescript it so that the interpretation of this same story is one in which you are the hero.

Native Spirit Oracle by Denise Linn, art by Charles McStravick

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Great card for reminding of us of our potential and creative force. It’s also noteworthy that another strong card in today’s spread was Four of Bows – Celebration. For some of us, yesterday was a day of national celebration. These cards remind you to celebrate your own unique life and creativity today and everyday. Blessings!


READING POINTS: A powerful symbol of light and fertility, the Sun of Life heralds a season blessed with joyous enlightenment, robust health, and emotional harmony. As the glorious rays of cleansing sunlight spill into the shadows of your heart and life, so the warmth reaches into your very bones and energizes your spirit. It is time to let the inner sun at the core of your being shine for all to see, bringing warmth, light, and harmony to others, and by doing so to connect with the consciousness of the universal mind. The Sun of Life also beckons you to see beyond the noise and clatter of human reality and become aware of the vastness and generosity of the cosmic soul.

MEANING: Viewed as if from the center of the summer Wildwood, the Sun of Life is surrounded by fecundity and growth. The power and importance of the sun cannot be overstated as the bringer of life, warmth, and light into the human world. Many Stone Age sites were created to mark the rising of the sun, especially at Midwinter. This was done not only out of respect for the various solar deities but because the sun meant the coming of plentiful food and the return of life after the death of winter. It was a very real and practical salute to the source of primal power that meant survival and comfort during the warm months of the year to the ever-renewable promise of the sun’s return after its sojourn below the horizon during the winter months. Without the light of the sun on our world, life would never have begun, let alone evolved into the vast, complex, and varied sprawl of fertility we now see across the face of the globe.

On a more complex level of human consciousness, the Sun of Life represents the next step into awareness of the universal mind. After the initial movement from the potential still point of the moon, the sun beckons us beyond the Earth-Lunar relationship to an awareness of concepts on a solar level. At the heart of the sun is the secret process of nuclear fusion from which everything we perceive and comprehend on a physical, galactic level was created – and will one day return to. The figure at the heart of this process reminds us that we really are made of the matter of the universe. Our physical bodies were created from the waster matter of the cooling and turning of the sun. We are truly at one with the cosmos and the same interactions between matter and energy that bind the sun together, work both within and through us, moment-by-moment.

ROOTS & BRANCHES: The creative fire, light of the land, the furnace of potential, the inner sun, the primal melting pot of matter and energy, the heart of eternal life

The Wildwood Tarot by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, art by Will Worthington

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