Nap Time’s Over: Mercury Goes Direct


Mercury retrograde (when the planet Mercury appears to be moving backward in the sky from our Earth perspective) is a time for taking care of things we’ve been neglecting. Often that thing that’s been neglected is sleep. Mercury goes direct October 9th at 10:57 am Eastern Time (14:57 Universal Time), so it’s time for things to start moving forward again. What a relief!

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Thoughts on Sunday’s Eclipse

Photo taken from Tampa Florida by Patrick Murtha.

Photo taken from Tampa Florida by Patrick Murtha.

This week was my first opportunity, believe it or not, to view a total lunar eclipse. Times when I might have theoretically been able to witness the event, the sky has been overcast. I watched the eclipse from the parking area in back of my house, a rather unromantic spot to commemorate a great occurence but one that afforded clear unimpeded observation. I had to stay up rather late to be visually present, but I was still very alert, and I can corroborate that the moon at first seemed to disappear bite by bite, and then to be present in a greatly diminished state. At first I was incredulous, despite intellectually understanding and accepting the event, as the immediate impact was surreal.

Of course I have been present for every partial and total eclipse in my lifetime, whatever the time of day or atmospheric condition. Without access to a spaceship there is no other choice. I think this eclipse has been unusually impactful, and I mean that in an uncomfortable karma-as-teacher kind of way. A lot of unbalanced accusations flying, with less self-aware people reacting to internal conflicts in a projected manner. I don’t know whether this heightened eclipse syndrome is related to this being a supermoon (moon at its closest orbit to earth), the eclipse occurring so close to the equinox, or Mercury retrograde adding communication problems to an already difficult aspect. Usually I do not do any magic around the time of an eclipse. I find the spell dampened or ineffective and prefer to wait for a more productive time. Beginning a day or two before the solar eclipse and continuing until the lunar, I try to affect my will magically as little as possible. Sometimes other events make this policy impractical, such as the Fall Equinox/Harvest holiday occurring smack in the middle of the two events. Even in this situation, however, I tend to keep the focus on worship rather than tangible goals. I have been taking a vacation even from larger writing projects and spending more time in the woods. I had to come out of retreat temporarily last week nonetheless to use magic to aid someone in a crisis that needed immediate intervention.

For me the eclipse seemed to be winding down even as it began, since I am an Aries and we tend to experience transits before they happen. I think this has to do with the Aries attraction to novelty manifesting as recognition of new vibrations in their prodromal phase, giving way to boredom with them as they develop. In fact, I’m surprised I’m even interested in debriefing this recent astrological event. It was, however, an exceedingly powerful one.

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Nine Day Solstice Program – Mago Academy


Regarding last week’s call for contributions for the book program, here is more information:

“We anticipate the Nine-Day Solstice Celebration to be an event of joy, solidarity, and self-empowerment for us, Goddessians/Magoists and all in WE! Why the Solstice season? Celebrating the day of December Solstice would be a way of balancing ourselves, as human members of the terrestrial community including the moon, with the songs and dances of the cosmic community. Traditionally, Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere marks a new beginning of the year’s cycle for the earthly community in the North. We would take this seasonal mark as a symbol for us to recognize the oneness of the whole community, as our ancient ancestors did.”

Web page for the event is here. There will also be a program on meditation guides and possibly one about women artists.

Here is the tentative schedule:

Day 1 (Dec. 14): Opening by Mago Sisters and Mago Circle Members hosted by Helen Hwang, Trista Hendren, and/or Kaalii Cargill
Day 2 (Dec. 15): Mothers and Daughters hosted by Trista Lee Hendren Løberg
Day 3 (Dec. 16): 2015 Published Goddess/Female Divine Books hosted by Hearth Moon Rising
Day 4 (Dec. 17): Seeking Inner Voice of S/HE (Meditation Guides) hosted by Marie de Kock
Day 5 (Dec. 18): She Rises Contributors Speak hosted by Barbara Daughter
Day 6 (Dec. 19): Goddess Pilgrimages hosted by Kaalii Cargill
Day 7 (Dec. 20):
Day 8 (Dec. 21):
Day 9 (Dec. 22): The Collective Rising: Our Visions and Dreams for 2016 hosted by Trista Hendren, Kaalii Cargill, and/or Helen Hwang

More information and links for accessing the programs will appear closer to the event.

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Call for Contributions

Painting by Harriette Ronner

Painting by Harriet Ronner

Seeking contributions from authors whose books were published or will be published in 2015 for an hour-long presentation and discussion during the Nine Days of Solstice event December 16. Books must have a spiritual feminist focus and can be fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Books only! No articles, CDs, or videos. Publication date must be 2015. Submit a picture of the book cover and your own photo in jpeg format along with a 100-200 word summary of your book in a Microsoft Word or Text file. Also include a 1 or 2 sentence biography. State whether you would be available for a short live interview and if so whether you have a WebCam. Interview and WebCam are optional. Entries will be selected to provide a good mixture of material for an hour long program and not all entries will be included. Authors selected for interview will be notified by email. Authors whose books will be included will be posted at the Mago Academy website by December 1. Send entries or questions to Hearth Moon Rising (

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What’s in a Name? Part III (Shaman)


Their priests (whom they call Quiokosoughs) are no other but such as our English witches are.
Reverend Alexander Whitaker, Good newes from Virginia (sermon), 1613.

A question arose after my post on Witches and Wiccans regarding the difference between a shaman and a Witch. The answer is both simple and complex. The simple (and correct) answer is that there is no difference, except that one category is larger than the other. To give an analogy, what’s the difference between a Lutheran and a Christian? They are not different, are they? Not all Christians are Lutherans, but all Lutherans are Christians. The complexity with Witchcraft arises from the illogical but determined efforts of anthropologists to turn “witch” and “shaman” into discrete categories.

Let’s turn to the dictionary definition of “shaman” first. This is from Random House:

(esp. among certain tribal peoples) a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc.

Witches act as intermediaries “between the natural and supernatural worlds” by performing complex rituals or more simple spells that are usually geared toward healing, divination, or controlling the outcome of events (such as bringing rain or finding a job). Witches are not, however, the “certain tribal peoples” that the word typically refers to. The origin of “shaman” is contested, but most believe it to be of Siberian origin. It has an identical meaning in the Evenki language. It might properly be used only to refer to a similar group of magical practices from Siberia, but it is more generally applied. Attempts have been made to limit the application by specifying that it must refer to a tribal group, indigenous practices, the use of trance states, origin in non-urban societies, long-standing evolution in nature-based societies, and practices which have continuity. Witches contend that their religion meets all of these requirements while many academic scholars contend that it does not. Honest scholarship favors the Witches’ point of view, but some might ask whether the quest for a shamanic definition that excludes Witches is itself rooted in dishonesty about the tenaciousness of Europe’s magical legacy, as well as visceral prejudice against Witches fostered by Christianity.

My definition of a “shaman,” a bit tongue-in-cheek, is someone who doesn’t use that word. All “shamanic” traditions have their own word for their priests and priestesses, and outside of Central Asia that word is never “shaman.” In English, the word is “witch,” with all its baggage.

Nonetheless there is an unmistakable need for a generic word for “a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic, etc.,” because we need a word for comparing practices in a cross-cultural sense. That word has become “shaman.”

Marketing has also created or exacerbated a perception of a dichotomy between Witchcraft and other forms of shamanism. Books and courses that are not related to Witchcraft are frequently described as “shamanic” to their intended audience, with “shamanic” meaning everything but Witchcraft. Quizzing the purveyors of this material, they acknowledge that Witchcraft is a form of shamanism, but they feel that including Witchcraft under their shamanic banner hampers their marketing efforts. Doubtless this relates to the fierce prejudice against witchcraft which still resides with the general public. On the other side of the equation, Witches themselves sometimes object to the word “shaman,” feeling like a word popularized outside of their religions should not be applied to them.

So all Witches are shamans, but not all shamans are Witches. Are all Pagans shamans? No. Paganism and Witchcraft are polytheistic religions with a European or Mediterranean origin, but not all Pagans cast spells or perform magic with the intention of influencing events. So all Witches are Pagans, all Witches are shamans, some Pagans who are not Witches are shamans, but not all Pagans are shamans. Got that?

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You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling: Another vlog post

Venus is stationary and about to go direct, so maybe that’s why social media has been unusually crazy lately. Here’s my short take on it.

Easier to trash than to confront
Easy to assume bad motives
Easy to assume stupidity
Hard to trust that women have made choices based on experience and reflection
Don’t trust women don’t trust women trust women to have made decisions to harm you
Impossible to speak directly and then let go
Impossible to speak
Easy to trash.

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Have you visited my Tumblr yet?

I’ve had a Tumblr for quite a few months where I reblog pictures of animals and other nature scenes, as well as many of the posts here. It’s a relaxing site to include on your daily browse.

Photo by Bokeolaolao. A sample of what you'll find on my Tumblr.

Photo by Bokeolaolao. A sample of what you’ll find on my Tumblr.

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Server Update Alert

I have been informed that my web host provider is upgrading me to a new server tomorrow (Friday, August 28). The blog will be unavailable starting at 1:00 pm EDT, I hope for a brief period. It should be back up by Saturday.

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Ruth Barrett Keynote at NWMF


Ruth Barrett’s keynote address at National Women’s Music Festival on July 4th in Madison, Wisconsin is worth a read. She talks about the relationship of women’s spirituality to the female body. She asks:

If you are not living inside your body, where are you living? And who has taken up residence inside you in your absence? Whose stories do you believe? And whose agenda does that serve? If you are divided from your body, you are divided against yourself. You are homeless in the most dire sense of the word.

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Reliable and Readable Scholarship on Ancient Egypt: A bibliography


This bibliography was posted this week at Return to Mago

“I have compiled a list of six well-sourced books written by women that I believe will help Witches, Pagans, and Goddessians in their quest to understand ancient Egyptian thought….”

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