Category Archives: Intuition development
The Candle and the Crossroads:
A book of Appalachian Conjure And Southern Rootwork
This is one of the most powerful books I have read in recent history on spirituality in general. While yes the book focuses on Rootwork and Conjure as the author knows them, the book is highly spiritually focused. For me even if I don’t put all of the information into practice, the components of the book that made me question spirituality and what it means were well worth the investment.
So to begin my review I have to say that even if you don’t follow any magical spiritual path as a guide for spirituality any one of any path can get something out of it. I would even recommend this book to Christians who are looking to deepen their personal spirituality and connection to their religion. Everyone on any path in life can get something out of this book. The connection to your own spirit that this book teaches us to develop is important for everyone and everything.
If you are looking for a book on spells you wont find them in this book. There are several workings discussed but actual spell work for money, wealth, love, etc are not really seen in this book. There are magical techniques for baths and creating mojos as well as connecting to spirits in this book. So there is magic with in the book but not necessarily spells for luck, love or mney drawing as most people are familiar with.
The focus on this book is the spiritual component of Hoodoo and Conjure rather than the spells. Too often people want to jump into the spells and workings of magic without the spirit component and thus they miss a huge part of the Southern Conjure traditions. This book provides that spiritual information. It is that focus which sets this book aside from others.
This is one book I am going to be referencing again and again. There are several exercises, meditations, and self questions that I am going to be looking at periodically. There are many things in this book that made me think and start to evaluate my personal path and practices. For this reason I am going to be using this as a reference and guide to develop my own connection to my spirituality and my own personal spirit.
The first chapter in the book is all about the foundation of this practice. Here we learn the authors experiences and his history with the practice as he knows it. This is where we see how his experiences and lessons in life and explains the reasons why he wrote this book. He mentions what the foundations of his personal magical practice are. By knowing this information you can better understand the worldview and practices presented in the rest of the book.
The second chapter is about the starting of finding your paths to the spirit that is you. The core teaching of this book is that humans are spirits as well. We are spirits having a physical existence as humans. In the teachings of this book and worldview if you start to realize this you will not only come into your own power but also start be be more whole yourself. This chapter starts a basic discussion on types of spirits that walk with us as well as types of spiritual paths. After talking about the paths there are also descriptions on how we are called to find our paths including symptoms of the different calls.
The third chapter is short but very important. Here is where we get into the history of the actual practices that formed Southern Conjure as the author knows it. The author mentions slavery and African traditions and their importance in the tradition. Here we see what Conjure really is about and how it survives over the years. There are warnings in this chapter about working with the spirits of Conjure and how powerful they are. There is a quote that illustrates the power and spirirt of Conjure work very well that I am going to share with you here.:
“If you are not willing to cry for, be angry for, pray for, and ask help of its spirits, then stay away from this work. These spirits went through hell when they first came to America in boats of flesh. No one can change this root, and why would we want to?
If you want to find the root that cannot be bound, then then root spirit of conjure is for you. If you want to grow your spirit from a place of truth and spirit power then conjure is for you. If you want to reach deep and pray high, then welcome to this deep well of spirit and spiritual nuturance.
But come through the door blessing and praying for the ancestors that suffered. This builds a bridge of grace to the spirit world and begins to establish the essence and flavor of the spirits that come when you conjure.”-Orion Foxwood Conjure and the Crossroads
The rest of the chapter focused on what the Root of conjure and the cultural mixtures that made up his conjure. The author mentions honoring his own Roots and how he works with them. After mentioning the spirits of African, Native American, and European folk practices who settled in that area he goes into the roles that Conjure played in that culture and still continues to play to this day.
The fourth chapter is about the Nature and Power of conjure. Here the author gets into the fact that Conjure does have ties to Christian spirituality and Christian religions. He addresses that many conjures use words like God and Creator and occasionally Maker. Here we see the power in conjure comes from the source of creation and the power to create which resides in our own personal spirit. The author gets into a few types of spirits that are connected to this power. One of them being the God of Christianity and divine beings. The author is specific in that for the reader and seeker that it doesn’t have to be the God of Christianity but it is the Source of all creation and all essence which is a spirit of sorts.
This is where we first start to actually get introduced into some of the techniques in this practice. The author goes into several different ways that conjure works with spirit. These include prayer, baths, blessings, healing, and cleansing. After starting the basics on techniques we are introduced to a few of the different types of spirits that are worked with in conjure.
Chapter five was probably my favorite chapter in the book. Its for me really the most important chapter in the book. This is the chapter that focuses on growing our spirit. The author had previously mentioned that working with ones own spirit and knowing ones own spirit was the most important thing in conjure. Here we finally learn to address the spirit and work with our spirit.
The best part of this chapter was the checklist on the attumement to our spirit. Not only does the author give a list of questions and symptoms of disconnect with our spirit but he provides remedies to help fix the situation. For me this was really the way for me to start to see how connected I am to my own spirit and what I can do to fix it. The author does mention that some of those ailments are actual symptoms of health issues (depression, anxiety and other mental health issues) and if you answered yes to many of them that you should seek professional help. For me that disclaimer and statement shows the connection between the mind, the body, and the spirit and how mental health can effect spiritual health.
This section provided me with the most enlightenment. It gave me tools to adjust and start working on my own personal spiritual path and development. One of the reasons I had started to explore Conjure and Rootwork was for a spiritual connection and a way to deepen and develop my spirituality beyond the basic 101 books. Here I have tools to find what I was missing and develop my path. The chapter ends with providing you with the steps to growing in your spirit which is what you need to do after you start the work of attuning to your own spirit.
Chapter six is about maintain spiritual health. The main focus on this chapter is spiritual cleansing and cleaning. The author explains how important is is to cleanse ourselves from the different forces in our lives that can cause spiritual clutter. He told a story of a client that his mother had to illustrate the issue. The author ends with a working for spiritual cleansing. This provides the start of our practical conjure spirit workings.
Chapter seven is about fixing or attracting good spirits to you. Here we learn how actions we take and the way we live our life sends signals to spirit. One of the first lessons in this chapter is that often we focus on our lack of something when we want something then more often than not we are going to be stuck with more of what we do not have. The author then begins to go into how we send images and messages to spirit so we can attract what we actually want.
The author then starts getting information on working on attracting the right spirits. The first real focus is on a prosperity spirit. The author provides a recipe or a ritual working outline to attract a prosperous spirit. One thing this working outlines is that in Conjure everything is spirit and everything has spirit. If you can accept that view and work with it then you are going to work conjure.
After the pot the author talks about maintain the spirit and provides steps and techniques to keep spirit alive. The first part of this practice is the establishment of an altar. The author continues with a ritual working for the altar set up and the consecration of the altar, yourself, and your home. While the workings are not exact they provide you an outline to make the conjure your own. In the end you must be the one to do the work.
Chapter eight was probably my second favorite chapter in the book. One thing I have personally been interested in for years has been working with graveyards and various forms of graveyard magic. This book is the first book I have seen that addresses this practice. Its considered Taboo in many modern magical traditions yet many acknowledge that there is strong power in the graveyard. Finding this chapter thrilled me to the core. It started to lift the veil on these workings.
There is so much in this chapter that covering the techniques and information would be a review in itself. I will say the author provides information on the power of the graveyard works and why we should work with graveyards. He provides information on working with graveyard spirits as well as how to gather graveyard dirt and work with graveyard dirt. The author spends the other half of the chapter talking about working with our ancestors and providing ways to honor them and work with them in our home and life.
Chapter nine is an interesting chapter. It covers ways to enter into the spirit world as well as working with a spirit unique to his tradition and practice. The technique discussed I found most interesting and will most likely try myself was the concept of tapping or knocking. Its essentially like you are knocking on the door to the spirit world like you would a regular door. After tapping and knocking he covers river magic as well as fire and candle access to the spirit world. Here there is a working for river magic specifically outlined.
The last part of the chapter includes a ritual and a poem I am likely to work into ritual work. Here is where the author teaches us about the Dark Ridder and gives us a way to introduce ourselves to him and work with him. The spirit known as the dark rider had been mentioned earlier in the book as a traditional spirit but not much was told about him until now. The author does make it clear that what he shows us is not the full formula for encountering this spirit. The working he provides is an introduction to the spirit and nothing more.
Chapter ten is the final chapter in the book. In some ways it works very much like a conclusion focusing on working the Root or working the spirit which is the force of Conjure and Root work. This is how the chapter starts anyway. It is here we see the final outline of the techniques and practices covered in the book to develop and connect with our spirit. The chapter ends with talking about a few specific plant spirits and with a formula for making a spirit bag.
This book provides several powerful tools for any spiritual tradition. In the end this book illustrates not only the power of Conjure and Southern Rootwork but also the power of working from your own spirit. The author provides an excellent introduction to the spiritual components of Rootwork and Conjure while also providing a few practical workings in the magical sense.
So here is something interesting I thought of recently. I started making my own incense for different workings 10 years ago. At the time I had no recipes. I had no books to guide me other than Cunningham’s herbal encyclopedia and magical herbalism.
I had a mortar and pestal and I had some herbs on hand for different workings (but I was mostly clueless at the time). I realize now that really the ones who taught me how to make incense were not the books. They were in fact the spirits of the plants. Which is why my recipes and practices are as effective and as powerful as they are.
I mention this now because there have been times I have mentioned that the spirits really haven’t taught me all that much. I look back and realize now that the lessons were much more subtle. They actually were more my partners than anything else.
Just like how I’ve always listened to the spirits of the land when it comes to my practice on the sabbats. I’ve always worked and done them really when it felt more energetically appropriate for me and the land that I live on.
The apartment I currently live in was gifted by the spirits of this land. After we left our viewing I said a simple prayer to those spirits asking them that the apartment go to the ones who need it the most, and the right people for the land. The next morning I get a call saying we have the apartment. If that is not spirits working for me and with me, guiding me I dont know what is.
As many of you may or may nor know I don’t consider myself a strict traditional witch, though I do have a lot of traditional leanings. I feel that I needed more direct experiences and practices within Traditional witchcraft to consider myself a traditional witch. Training in the Feri tradition is a part of that.
The other reason I didn’t consider myself really a traditional witch is that I didn’t work really directly with local land spirits and forces. I worked more with my personal energetic forces rather than spirits. That has been changing recently with my studies in the Feri tradition and in Hoodoo/Conjure.
So recently I did a prayer and asked if there were any fairy spirit in the area to make themselves known. A few days later a mushroom ring appears in my backyard. For the first time in my life a fairy ring appeared in my home. It made me feel like the local fairies and spirits did take the first offering I gave at my home/house spirit shrine.
Its just something I thought I would share. I have never experienced a fairy ring in my yard before. So for me its a special gift of the fairies. To me its a signal that my connections with the local forces and spirits is growing and they are listening to me.
The book The Spiral Dance is considered a classic in modern witchcraft literature. The author Starhawk put this book out at a time when there was little to no information published publicly on Witchcraft and people were starving for information. In the 35 years since the original release of The Spiral Dance many more books have been put on the market, but the Spiral Dance remains on the top of many recommended reading lists.
The one down side to this book is that it does focus heavily on the feminist movement and feminism. At the time the book was written the author was heavily involved in the feminist movement and feminist spirituality, so it makes sense that this book would reflect those interests and activities. This book is one of the reasons that religious witchcraft is considered to be “women’s religion”. The theme and focus throughout the book is the use of witchcraft and Goddess spirituality to reclaim women’s rights and women’s power.
The subtext to the title “The Spiral Dance” reads :”A rebirth of the ancient religion of the Great Goddess”. The text is a very apt description for the information that you find within the book. When you combine the focus on the Great Goddess with the feminist movement at the time you have a book that covers feminist witchcraft and feminist spirituality and why its important for the world we live in.
Now Starhawk does talk about why feminist spirituality like the Goddess movement is important to men and what Men can get out of the practice of witchcraft. So while the book is geared towards women and feminist spirituality, there are benefits described for Men and practices of Male witches discussed. The overall tone though is geared towards women and women’s mysteries.
This book is 13 chapters long. Each chapter has a specific lesson that expands on the information in the previous chapter. Within several of the chapters are easy to do exercises and meditations. These meditations and exercises are provided so that a solitary witch or someone seeking witchcraft can learn practices that will allow them to become witches in their own right.
Each chapter starts out with a ritual or a description of the practices found within the chapter to illustrate the lessons and information found within the chapter. Some of these stories are fictional and some of them are from experiences within the authors own coven settings. These personal experience illustrations form some of the most powerful aspects of the book allowing the reader to see what sort of experiences they may have in their own work while not telling them explicitly that these will be your experiences as well.
The first chapter completely discusses witchcraft as a Goddess focused religion. Here is where we first learn the concept of a Great Goddess and of feminist spirituality. The author also goes into the history of witchcraft and what exactly witchcraft is as a religion and a practice. Its a basic starting point illustrating the misconceptions and issues many people have with witchcraft.
The second chapter goes into the worldview of witchcraft. Every religion has a way of viewing the world. Here we re provided with a creation myth for the birth of the God and Goddess within this version of witchcraft as well as the essence of the Great Goddess. Here we are given the concept of the soul/spirit as well as the concepts of energy working and the view on the cosmos.
The third chapter talks about covens. Here we learn about the common structure of religious witchcraft and the way that this structure functions. The author illustrates both same sex covens as well as mixed gender covens and why coven structures work. The comparisson between covens and traditional religious structures provide ways for seekers and students to understand the functional differences between a church and a coven.
The fourth chapter discusses sacred space. One key component in witchcraft rituals is the creation of sacred space. This chapter provides several different ways of working this ritual as well as reasons behind the creation of sacred space.
The fifth chapter is all about the Goddess. This religious witchcraft tradition is Duotheistic meaning it focuses on the worship of a Goddess and a God. In this chapter we are introduced to the Goddess and her roles within the religion. We learn how to call her and how both men and women can relate to her.
The sixth chapter is all about the God. While the Goddess is the focus in the feminist version of witchcraft that the Spiral Dance teaches, the God is still important. This chapter illustrates the relationship between the Goddess and God and how they need each other and work together to be one.
The seventh chapter is all about the use of symbols within magic. Magic works through the use of symbols and directing energy related to those symbols. This chapter in the book has several different spells to try as well as exercises to develop your own understanding of symbols and your own association with symbols.
The eighth chapter is all about the Cone of power. This particular chapter focuses on Coven based workings, but the concepts of raising and directing energy in the shape of a cone is applicable to the solitary student. Here we understand what it means in witchcraft when the concept of energy direction and manipulation is discussed.
The ninth chapter is about trance work. The basic definition of magic given early in the book is the idea and the ability to change ones concious state at will. This chapter explores the use of trance and the reason why trance work is part of witchcraft. Basic meditation and trance concepts are addressed here and there are several different exercises within the chapter for trance work and meditation work.
The tenth chapter of the book focuses on initiation. Solitary witches who read this book will not get as much out of this chapter as a witch who is working for initiation within a coven or specific tradition. This chapter describes what it means to be initiated and provides a coven based initiation ritual as a sample.
The eleventh chapter in the book focuses on esbats or moon based rituals. Within witchcraft the moon is sacred and is revered as a symbol of the Goddess. Moon rituals are typically in many cases working rituals while sabbat rituals are more worship based. Moon rituals can be based on the full or new moons or other moon phases, though full and new are the most common.
The twelfth chapter in the book focuses on the wheel of the year or the sabbats and holiday celebrations of this tradition of witchcraft. Here the author provides sample rituals for ideas as to how to honor the sabbats as well as providing information on the lore and meanings behind the sabbats.
The final chapter of this book is focused on developing religion. Here the author explains the issues that can arrive when religions become based on dogma and established practices and don’t change. The author explains what exactly witchcraft as a religion is and how it has to continue to change and evolve in this modern world. Here we learn the dangers of thinking in strict absolute terms as well as in dualistic terms.
Despite the age, this book is useful. Its a good book for establishing witchcraft as a religion and explaining why religious witchcraft is so different than traditional religions. The book covers the basics and provides enough information that a solitary seeker man or women can start their own practice and create their own relationship with the God, Goddess, and the Great Goddess.
One of the first things most books on witchcraft and spiritual practices say is to trust your intuition. If something feels right then do it. If something doesn’t feel right than it probably isn’t. If you feel like there is something you need to do or really should be doing than you probably should be doing those things. These feelings of something needing to be done, and of something feeling right or off are ways that our intuition comes to us and manifests in our world.
There are many different ways that a person can trust and develop a sense of their intuition. When a person learns to trust their intuition they can really have the world at their feet. By trusting and working with your intuition a person will essentially “never be guided wrong”. Your intuition is really your highest self talking to your conscious mind and telling you basically what needs to be done at that moment. Our intuition is also one of the many ways that our spirit guides can contact us.
Learning to develop a sense of your intuition is typically one of the first things that witches and pagans do. By developing their intuition a person can better understand messages sent from their Gods and spirits. It also helps them to better connect to the spiritual forces and energetic needs going on. By developing a sense of your intuition you also develop a sense of what works and will simply “know” how to work the ritual on that day for that reason. This is our spirit and ourselves working as one, and when this state is reached one really has become a witch if they practice witchcraft and aware of the spiritual nature of reality if they are not a witch.
For me I have only really recently started to work with my intuition. For years I knew I had a strong intuition and sense of energetic flows. I could read energy and see auras. I was especially sensitive to emotional energy. For me understanding my intuition and its strength was a scary process. My readings when I did them were so strong and accurate I scared myself from doing my own readings and for reading for others. Its only been recently I have realized that this intuition is a gift rather than a curse so I am actively working on recognizing my strengths and listening to my intuition.
The very first time I realized that my intuition would guide me in my magical and spiritual spells was when I created an incense I use in all my reiki and healing work sessions. When I created that first incense I didn’t know what I was making. I just grabbed the herbs I had that dealt with healing energies. I laid those herbs on the floor in front of me and I started to just grab and mix the herbs as seemed right. I don’t remember making measurements or anything along those lines. I just knew that the incense was right. I remembered to write down what I put in the incense so I could try and make it again but aside from that no record was made.
The healing incense that I sell in Mystic Echoes was inspired by and is an offshoot of that original healing incense blend. The core is the same, but there were other factors that personalized the other incense so they are not exactly the same but they are related. The tincture blend is also related. The core is the same with some modifications in both situations to be more generic than the original purely intuitive blend. You can buy those items Tincture & Incense blend
One of the many ways I have started to recognize my intuition has been in casting spells when it seems to be the right time. In the past I have felt a desire to cast a spell or thought that maybe a spell would help deal with this, and never done the work. I never really trusted myself to just do the right thing. In this sense I didn’t trust my intuition to basically tell me what I needed to do for that spell. Now I am being more active in my spell casting. I work my magic when it seems right and when it feels right.
The key way I am developing my intuition when it comes to my magical practices and my spirituality now though is through the development of products for Mystic Echoes and the writing of the exercises and content on the Seeker Sight blog that I also run. By working on both projects I am listening to my inner truths and knowledge and my intuition is guiding me.
With the products I develop for Mystic Echoes I have a concept in mind that I want to work with. I do some research. For example if I were to develop a hex breaker product or products I would look up herbs and items that correspond with hex breaking. I would then just let my intuition look over the list and decide what to use for items. In many cases it also depends on what I currently have available to work with.
I test all of those products as well. So by developing the products I am developing my spirituality, my intuition, my magical practices, and my knowledge of herbs. The herbs seem to work together because I trust that they will work together. My intuition guided me and will continue to guide me in my craft and practices.
I am not sure exactly how I define my intuition. I would call it an inner sense of knowing. I would say that for me my intuition is a combination of things I know within myself and messages and content sent to me through guides, ancestors, and maybe the divine. I don’t necessarily know the difference between which intuitive thoughts and practices are from guides and which is from deep within me. I just know that when I listen to my intuition things seem to work out in the end. When I don’t listen to my intuition things don’t always work out, or I will be tested in the same way or manner until I do listen to my intuition and then do something about it.