Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Out of the Broom Closet

Out of the Broom Closet
Arin Murphy-Hiscock (editor)
Provenance Press, 2009

One of the things that you learn as a practicing Witch is that everyone comes to the path differently. Some of us come from very repressive religious households and found our way to the Craft from studying books at our school or local library. Others have met friends who were Wiccan and were drawn to it that way. Still others found there way to the Craft through a metaphysical group or activity, like tarot reading.

This book contains fifty stories of “Witches who found and embraced the craft”, and you can learn something from every one of them. I found them interesting and inspiring overall. They detail the struggles of faith and religion that each person faced on their way to being an openly practicing Wiccan.

Every Witch has the story of how they came “out of the broom closet”—a term used for admitting our spiritual path as Wiccans to others. This process is not unlike homosexuals disclosing their sexual preference, which is why the phrase was chosen; it is a very personal thing, but sometimes people have to be told. It’s hard living life to others as something you’re not.

Like sexuality, spirituality is a very loaded topic. Many of the stories in this book involve the author “coming out” to friends or family members, while others focus more on how the author came to the path. Because the Craft is fraught with misunderstanding among the general public—especially by those in other religious communities who purport to teach “tolerance”, by the way—many Wicca practitioners keep their religion a secret from all but a few. People think it’s something they’ve seen in Hollywood—think of The Craft or Practical Magic, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer—or they feel that’s unnatural or Satanic.

It would be easy for someone to read the first few pages of these stories and say, “WOW. It’s much easier to be a Witch in the closet when people do and say these horrible things!” But you need to keep reading. One of the common themes is that of rising above pettiness, close-mindedness, or adversity to worship as you choose. Very few Wiccans were raised in Wiccan households or had an extremely supportive family or social group. When humans don’t know what they’re dealing with they generally shun it, and those who do it.

Wiccans may have the same human frailties as everyone else, but one other great lesson is that as a group, even though we may worship differently, we can succeed with help from other practitioners. Several people discussed the positive impact that other individual Witches, groups, or Wiccan clergy members helped them to overcome their personal challenges. And that’s the best part: These are success stories, not nightmares, and they really made me proud to be an out of the broom closet Witch.

I think every Witch should read this book, mainly to appreciate the struggles of others, as well as their own, and value the lessons learned. As the Head High Priest of a Wiccan community, I think that every spiritual leader in the Craft should read this book as well so they can better help their clients through these trials, which, sadly, are very common. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: Learning from the Future

Learning from the Future
Mary Hykel Hunt
O-Books, 2011

A very different perspective on intuition and precognition, Learning from the Future is an exercise that allows people to learn about what could happen in times to come by using a trance-like state.

Hunt has been extremely intuitive all of her life, but while helping a client one day, she wondered if just like using past life regressions, you could “progress” a client in a light hypnotic state into their “future” to see what will happen. She began using the technique with more of her clients and has found it to be extremely effective.

The nature of time is something that many of us do not often think about. Hunt discusses how physicists and others think of time. If there was one part of the book that kind of fried my brain, it would be this section. The bottom line is that for the purposes of this technique, time is not seen as a thing ever-flowing forward, but a series of possibilities that can overlap.

By using the technique in this book, a person can go forward into their progressed future and talk to their “future selves”, which will give them information about what has happened to them—in other words, what they have experienced to bring them to where they are now. If the client doesn’t like the future they see—as a tarot reader I like to think of it as “the message”—then the future self gives hints of which changes need to be made to access a more positive outcome.

In many ways, this book opened my eyes, and the stories that Hunt includes about her clients are totally fascinating. And it seems like a plausible theory. People who read tarot cards, or use runes or crystal balls, to tell the future do something very similar. But using this technique doesn’t require a reader of any kind or any materials; the book describes how a client can do this work by himself or herself.

One other interesting facet of this technique is how Hunt deals with the idea that the future self that the client sees might just be his or her fantasies. Once the client is in the technique, s/he will interview the other self and ask it whatever questions are desired. They are to be open-ended questions so the other self can elaborate as necessary. If the client is concerned that s/he is only seeing what s/he wants to see, then the client can ask the future self “Are you real?” If the self answers, then the information is accurate, but if the image disappears then the client will know that they were in the realm of fantasy.

Hunt recommends that while any time period can be used for looking into the future, she has noted that three to five years seems like the optimal duration for each experience. She also encourages clients to do the exercise periodically so the client can receive the most up-to-date messages.

Learning from the Future
may change the way you understand intuition and precognition, and if you’re interested in giving it a try I highly recommend this book. This would be especially useful to those people who say they are not intuitive or cannot do any divinatory work. This new approach may show you how wrong you are.

NOTE: This review will also appear on 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Uranus Rising?

Dear John, I apologize for the unexpected interruption, but well, that's me. And let me take the opportunity before starting that my name is pronounced [URanus] and not [YOURANUS]. Sorry, but I have been fighting that battle for got worse after that bumper sticker on Lone Star's Winnebago in "Spaceballs", but I digress.

I must admit that I was extremely angry after reading Saturn's most recent letter to you. His criticisms were inaccurate at best, but I consider them offensive, self-serving tripe. The Old Man's attitude hasn't improved at all since I was discovered, either; he has a bad attitude about all the outer planets. Do something out of the ordinary or unplanned and he just can't handle it. Well, not everything runs on Father Time's schedule!

 For what it's worth, the outer planets are really happy with what we see in your blog, especially me. You do lots of unexpected posts about topics that many people wouldn't touch. Father Irish alone just had me in stitches. And your opinions are strongly stated; there's no ambiguity about where you stand. Finally, your topics are very Uranian...psychic ability and and astrology are areas I rule. So keep at it! You don't need to be on a schedule or avoid profanity to have a great blog, and that's where Saturn is totally wrong. Sure, he's your ruling planet and all, but you're so much more than that. So he can go fuck himself!

[I know you're reading this, Old Man, you stodgy, ancient, constipated, cautious bastard! Leave John alone or I will unexpectedly show up to ruin your day!]

I look forward to your next entry impatiently, whenever it arrives!



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Letters from Saturn: Blog Concerns

Dear John,

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate you on blogging for nearly a year. Considering your schedule, that's a very impressive feat. But I have a few concerns I'd like to bring to your attention.

First of all, I'm trying to figure out if there's a routine to your blog. I was trying to figure it out on my own, but I couldn't do it. As I look over the records, it appears that some weeks you have not blogged at all, but  last month, you blogged six times a week. You can bet that if I have trouble with that, other readers might as well. So how about sticking to a schedule, huh? Like every Wednesday and Saturday or something. Whatever you want. But let's try harder for consistency. 

I know that Neptune has probably not discussed this topic with you, but I felt it was important to bring it up. Neptune values creativity more than reliability and that doesn't sit well with me. What will people think if they go for a week--or more, in some cases--and feel like they haven't heard from you? I'm sorry, these people are taking the time to read what you write. Some of them may even look forward to it. By not establishing a schedule you do them a great disservice. 

Next, let's talk lexicon. I've noticed that the level of profanity in your blog has been increasing. Is it really necessary? Surely you are capable of putting a paragraph together without a curse word. I'm concerned that you may even...enjoy this plebeian language register. I can't possibly see any value in speaking in a vulgar way. Of course, it is your blog, and your decision, but you do not want to impugn the dignity of the written word so brazenly. 

I guess in some ways that might work, if all you care about is the cheap laugh and lowest common denominator writing. But I know you're more refined than that. You want this blog to end up like Regretsy with their foul language and mean-spirited mockery? I challenge you to embrace the power of your vocabulary and leave profanity and crass words in their place, whatever that place may be. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your blog has no theme. Some days it's about metaphysical topics, some days it's about spiritual topics, and some days about news articles you find interesting. It's not really a tarot blog, an astrology blog, or a spiritual blog. How can you be so unfocused? People are looking for a place to hang their hat, metaphorically speaking, and I can't help but wonder if they're somewhat bewildered by the constant changing of topics. Let's not forget that Mercury is not your ruling planet; I can actually stay still for five minutes at a time!

And let me add that there are too many articles in here about you and your life, which I find distasteful and vulgar. There's no place for ego trips in good writing, and your audience is interested in information, not in you personally. 

Neptune may have inspired you to write whatever random, cheap, tawdry, base, or profane thought comes through your brain, but I hope you will allow me to inspire you to write with dignity, confidence, and respect for both yourself and your reader who have pledged a few moments of their day to you. They expect and demand it. 

While Neptune entering Pisces earlier this year may have confused your thinking, Monty Python had it right when they said, "Let's have a sketch about clean, decent human beings!" I hope that you go over your blogs of the past year and read what you've written, and take what I said in the spirit in which it is given. 

Very truly yours, 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Warning: Venus in Retrograde Ahead!

I know you're all used to my Mercury retrograde warnings by now. This is NOT a Mercury retrograde warning. This is, as they would say in the movie "Airplane!", "an entirely different kind of flying. Altogether." (If you haven't seen that movie, you ABSOLUTELY need to! But I digress.)

OK, so let's start off with some background. Venus is a planet that is extremely important astrologically, although many of us don't really pay much attention to it unless it's Valentine's Day. Here are some of the things Venus rules:

  • Love and attraction
  • Beauty in form
  • Refinement of artistic tastes
  • Our romantic, poetic, and artistic selves

Taurus and Libra folks, this is your ruling planet, the lovely and charming Venus. Some of you may also know her as the Greek goddess Aphrodite. 

Most people think about love and attraction only when it comes to romance. I'm here to tell you that Venus also has a financial role. Why? Because if we are in business for ourselves, for example--like yours truly--our ability to make money and succeed depends on our ability to attract and retain clients. So Venus has an often overlooked role in our financial success. Also, if you're looking for work, Venus is an important planet for you to attract the attention of the right employer. Problems with Venus in your birth chart and indicate both love and money difficulties.

So I hope I've been able to convince you that this lady is nothing to be trifled with. Venus goes into retrograde once every eighteen months, and before you open your mouth to complain, it's the LEAST amount of retrograde time of any of the planets in the solar system. You gotta cut the girl some slack; she's busy and needs a break! 

Anyway, when this planet starts to move "backward" in the sky, the focused is on unfinished business in our emotional and financial relationships. Here are some things to know about what you might experience, in both love and money.

Love and social affairs--Overall, relationships tend to slow down. This is not a good time to:

  • Get married
  • Go on first dates
  • Have big parties
  • Change your hairstyle
  • Wear flamboyant clothing
  • Buy a new wardrobe
  • Re-decorate your home or business

Business--You may experience:

  • Legal issues
  • Problems with diplomacy or negotiations
  • Enter into a new partnership or significant business relationship

Relationships that are already having difficulty may feel additional pressure. Venus retrograde often forces us to face feelings that we have ignored in the past, and re-evaluate those friendships and romantic partnerships as these emotions re-surface. 

Since Venus is retrograde in Gemini, the focus will really be on words and understanding how people are communicating with you. Words really can hurt, especially those closest to us, so in this position, be extremely careful as you talk to your loved ones and make sure that you mean what you say and say what you mean.  

Venus starts slowing down tomorrow morning, but doesn't officially enter retrograde motion until May 15, 2012 at 10:32am. So you've got a little time. It goes through the rest of May and almost all the way through June; it will be over by June 27, but the effects could be felt through the end of July. 

Good luck weathering the storm, folks. Drop me a line if you have any Venus retrograde stories I can share! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beltane Blog Hop: "The Fire tends to all"

Hello everyone...Blessed Beltane to all of you! 

This post is part of the Beltane Blog Hop, and at the end of my post you will see Donnaleigh de la Rose's blog address; she's next on the blog hop list! I hope you'll take the time to visit the other blogs on the hop. You've got some amazing tarot minds in this list and I know you'll get a lot out of their posts! (You can see the one before mine here.)

Fire is "the spiritual element", and it burns inside all of us. Sometimes it comes out as the confidence of knowing you're in the right place, spiritually, or the courage to ask for help making positive changes in our lives. It's that inspired feeling of knowing that our lives are more than just the hectic, day-to-day rat races that they can devolve into. 

How many of you have come away from a spiritual gathering--ritual, retreat, or class--and have felt like the Divine was cheering for you? That's the power of fire. When we engage in spiritual activity, by ourselves or with others, we stoke that fire and make that very personal connection to the Divine even stronger.

While we have the fire inside us, we also help others keep their own fires going. Anytime you do anything for another without regard for reward or repayment, that's a spiritual act. When you go see a friend who's just lost a loved one, or going through a messy divorce, you're helping keep their fire going. The same is true when you volunteer your time, energy, or money for a cause you believe in that brings good into the world; help another person find their way spiritually; or lead any type of spiritual event. 

Fire can be a negative thing, too. Stress, irritation, and rage can overtake us if we're not careful. But what I find most interesting is that many people learn more about themselves spiritually when they are challenged to do so by fire-related events. Many people realize the need to control their stress level, and use many different spiritual techniques to remain calm. Others have difficulty expressing anger in a healthy way, or even at all.

You can often see these events in tarot readings. The 7 of Wands, for example, is a fantastic card to represent the power of fire. There are times in our lives when it is necessary to stand up for what we believe in or what we feel is right, especially when it is unpopular or when others around us disagree. That impetus to stand our ground, to hold fast despite the opinions of others, comes from fire. 

Often in readings I see the 10 of Wands come up. As important as it is to do for others, it's vital for us to tend our own fires. The Rider-Waite-Smith imagery in this card shows a man with 10 wands, way too many. He's taken on too much responsibility and is overburdened. Maybe he needs to ask for help, or maybe he needs to stop being so nice and doing shit for other people! So when that card comes into play, it's important to think about which of the wands you can drop. :)

The Spirit--that fire in all of us--inspires us to be better people by helping ourselves and each other.  I hope this Beltane you will look inside yourself and find ways you can improve your connection with Spirit, on your own and by helping others. 

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit Donnaleigh's blog here for the next stop on the blog hop!