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Chris ( aka Ammo ) O’Day The Fitness Witch has been in the occult community for over 20 years. She specializes in mind, body and spirit transformations through fitness, nutrition, energy work and magic. She is initiated in Santeria, Quimbanda and ceremonial magic and a 2nd degree Gardnerian High Priestess. She can be reached through her Fitnesswitch page on instagram or her website www.fitnesswitch.com for in person/online personal training, yoga, reiki, tarot and astrology. She currently resides in Redondo Beach California.
KyKye is an eclectic pagan witch, writer, yogini, and self-taught holistic health guru. Spirituality, Philosophy, and Art are mediums through which she chooses to express the dual nature of her free, yet centered spirit. She attended The Academy for Performing Arts in Scotch Plains, New Jersey as a theatre major and is currently working towards a BFA in Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. If you find her words resonate with you, feel free to follow her personal IG account @_eclectickye and her daughter, a feisty two year old mini-potbelly pig @badass_piggy_noelle.
As a multiracial spiritual woman, of Isan Thai and Irish descent, I feel it is essential to research the beliefs, practices, and ancient folklore of my ancestors on both my maternal and paternal sides. By learning more about my cultural past, I gain a better understanding of which innate magickal abilities lay dormant in me and unlock my potential to fully awaken them. Today I will give you a glimpse into the sacred wisdom of my Thai ancestors and thereby encourage you to seek the wisdom of your own.
Thai people are known to be extremely superstitious, regardless of their religion or social class. While the dominant religion in Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, all ancient Thai magick is deeply rooted in Animism, Brahmanism, and Black Magick. From their superstitions and folklore to their rituals and spells, magick is still widely practiced today, especially in the more rural areas of Thailand. In fact, the belief in the supernatural is considered to be an essential part of a Thai person’s identity (as demons, spirits, ghosts, and other deities are held to the highest regard). Many Thai people associate auspicious/inauspicious meanings with specific dates, numbers, shapes, animals, and colors.
SAN PHRA PHUM (GHOST HOUSES)
A Mau Pii (spirit doctor) is consulted to help determine the best location for a spirit house to be built as well as the best date to hold an invitation ceremony to welcome the spirits into their shelter. Thais believe that by providing the spirits with a place to call their own-adorned with incense, garlands of flowers, food and drinks- they are calling upon their deceased ancestors and other prominent figures or deities to protect them. Soda, fruit, water, cigarettes, alcohol, amulets, and statues are common offerings brought to the spirit houses everyday to keep the spirits happy and prevent future hauntings.
(Anthony Pioppi, 2010)
BARANG (THAI VOODOO)
Black Magick amulets are sacred gifts both created and blessed by Monks, many of which are traditionally bestowed upon donors who have made significant or frequent contributions to the Temple. Each individual amulet is infused with specific powers that are believed to bring the wearer good luck and protection. These amulets can be made from a variety of different materials, including bone, ash, dirt, teeth, herbs, oils, metal, hair, skin, and blood. An image of a Buddha, Monk, demon, animal, or deity is often depicted.
(no copyright infringement intended)
- Kuman Thong (koo-mun-tong): an unborn male fetus/demonic child spirit that is said to protect a household so long as the amulet is properly cared for. The spirit is said to have an exceptionally strong sense of sight and hearing, which it uses to protect the owner when specific guidelines are followed, some of which include offering it sweet drinks and scheduling certain times to talk to it throughout the day. When and if the spirit becomes too difficult to care for, it must be properly disposed of at a Temple.
YANTRA (MAGICK SPELL)
The Thai Yan is extremely complex, containing a mystical amalgamation of ancient scripts, sacred geometry, holy texts, and Divine power invoked by Monks. It acts as a supercharged magick spell that is designed for the individual, according to their desired purpose or intent. Most times, one seeks to receive the Thai Yan for protection and strength, but it is known also bring forth love, luck, and wealth.
(no copyright infringement intended)
Whether ink to cloth or ink to skin, the tradition of the Thai Yan has been carried on for centuries. Sak Yant tattoos are gaining popularity in the West due to recent exposure by tourists and celebrities drawn to their unique beauty. Please note that the Sak Yant tattoo is not meant to be worn as a fashion statement, as there are karmic repercussions that will follow. Those who seek to receive its power must never disrespect or disregard the great spiritual significance it holds, especially for the Thai people.
Listed below are some (but not all) elements that a Monk, Ajarn, or Master would have the knowledge of how to combine and use to create the Yan, though the specifics of the Yan’s design-making process and its exact interpretations remain esoteric to non-initiates. I would highly suggest further research be conducted to fully understand all that the Thai Yan entails.
Sacred Geometry & Astrology
- -Magic Squares: number puzzles that contain mathematical magic sequences
- -Elemental Triangles: triangular symbols that signify the four physical elements
- -Trikaya: the Buddhist trinity
- -Circles: can represent the Dharmachakra (auspicious buddhist symbol), planets with astrological significance, the Sun, and the Moon
- -Bodhi Leaf: from the tree under which the Buddha sat and attained Enlightenment
- -Numbers: 9 is auspicious, 7 is inauspicious, 8 can be both
- -Dates: colors, planets, and gods correspond with specific days of the week
- Pali Literature & Post-canonical Pali Literature
- -Traiphum Phra Ruang (Three Worlds According to King Ruang): descriptions of death and fate according to cosmic destruction and creation, an analysis of the ethical and spiritual progress of beings in the universe
- -Tipitaka (Pali Canon)
- *Vinaya Pitaka (basket of discipline): contains rules and customs
- *Sutta Pitaka (basket of discourses): contains sermons of the Buddha and his close disciples
- *Abhidhamma (basket of high doctrine): contains a psychophilisophical analysis of The Law of Nature and cosmic order according to Buddha
- -Buddhaghosa’s Expositions & Commentaries
- *Visuddhimagga (Way of Purification): easy to follow guide to practicing Theravada Buddhism, elaborates on Buddha’s Path to Liberation through strict discipline & meditation
Materials & Utensils
- -Cloth: created on specific days of the week in auspicious colors with corresponding gods and celestial bodies of those days and colors
- -Ink: a secret blend of ashes (human and/or animal), natural dyes (such as chinese charcoal), snake venom, oils, powders, and other ingredients
Whether we choose to or not, believing in the magick of our ancestors and following in their footsteps is entirely up to us. In cultivating awareness of ourselves and others, we are challenged to turn inwards and explore the realms of our being that our physical body and mind do not have access to. There is knowledge, wisdom, and ancient power that runs deep in our blood, that connect us to the Divine, through the Earth, through our Spirit.
It is time for us to return to our roots. It is time to expand our consciousness and invite ancient wisdom and magic back into our blood. As spiritual beings, we are being called upon to add yet another level of depth and meaning to our magic, to our purpose. While it is not our fault that we have fell out of touch with our roots and our magical lineage due to cultural repression and societal conditioning, it is now our choice and our destiny to find the answers our souls are desperately seeking, and to fill in the missing pieces of our puzzle.
Is the white sage used for smudging practices actually endangered? Is using white sage, or palo santo, as a practice, actually engaging in cultural appropriation of spiritual traditions that are not my own? If you run in New Age spiritual or witchy circles, you’ve probably at least encountered the practice of smudging with white sage, if not encountered these two questions.
What if I told you there was a way to embrace smoke cleansing that was rooted in traditional European folk medicine/witchcraft ancestry, that was both sustainable and not appropriative? Wouldn’t that be lovely?! And what if it was as easy as going to your local grocery store? Would you be into that? Who wouldn’t want to jump on this easy, sustainable and conflict free form of spirituality?
So, a few years ago, a trusted witch friend from high school posted on Facebook about her practice of smoke cleanings (smudging, without that label) using traditional European herbs, and I was intrigued. I love the practice of burning sage, but hadn’t thought deeper about the fact that many tribes were criminalized until the 1970’s for these very same spiritual practices.It seemes wrong that my 20-something spiritual white girl body was able to do these practices without a second thought about the bigger picture. The more I sat with my friend’s words, the more I was impacted by the colonial mindset that had permeated my spiritual practice of smudging.
And thus, entered my experiment with “returning to my roots.” There are many herbs that were used in ancient and medieval Europe for the same spiritual and practical purpose that white sage and palo santo are used by new age spiritual communities today. And so I began my own practice of tying and burning herbal bundles that my witchy ancestors would have used. Some grocery store versions are:
- Garden or cooking sage
Yes, just like the song! Cheesy, but maybe the hippies were on to something…
Below I’ve outlined a step by step guide for tying your own herbal bundles from ingredients easily found in grocery stores. And for those that are more foraging inclined, herbs like mullein, lavender, or mugwort were also traditionally burned to clear spaces of negative energy.
Step 1: assemble materials. I use cotton twine for “sausage making” found on Amazon, scissors, garden sage, and rosemary.
Step 2: Identify size of herb bundle that you want to make. Remember, it shrinks when it dries!
Step 3: Tie a knot at the bottom of the bundle, begin winding the twine around the bundle, tightly packing the herbs together.
Step 4: Once you’ve wound all the way to the top of the bundle, wind back down and tie off at the end. Leave some room on the string to hang it to dry.
Step 5: Hang to dry in a sunny window. I choose my kitchen window because blinds are so handy for hanging. It take a week or two to get fully dry!
Once they’re dry, they can be burned just like a white sage bundle. Make sure to have a bowl/dish below the bundle to catch any ash, and don’t leave unattended!
There are so many different traditional herbs that can be used for this spiritual smoke cleansing practice, so feel free to experiment (but do your homework and be safe!). I’ve found this practice of connecting with my ancestry, rather than just easily adopting a spiritual practice that comes from a different lineage, to be really rewarding for me. Not only do I feel more connected to my lineage, I also feel more connected to the plants. There’s something amazing about the smell of sage and rosemary lingering on my fingers for hours after I’ve tied my last bundle, and the reward I feel when I take one of my dry bundles and light it to clean my house. Short of growing these herbs myself, I’ve had an intentional hand in the tying, drying, and frying of them, which leaves my house smelling great and feeling light and free.
Rebecca M. Farrar, M.A. (aka Wild Witch of the West) is an archetypal astrologer, revolutionary, lover, and general wackadoo living in San Francisco, California. She offers astrological guidance with a down-to-earth approach utilizing her studies on the evolution of consciousness and psychology. While she considers herself a witch and an intersectional feminist, she also realizes her whiteness, cisgender, and able-bodied privilege is a constant process of uncovering. In 2013, she received her Master’s in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. Her thesis, titled “Stargazing: Re-enchantment Through Language,” combines philology, consciousness studies, and enchantment with the stars. When not staring at her transits, she can be found wandering Ocean Beach, curled up with a good book, or “force” cuddling her kitty, Freyja.
Virgo and the Astrology of Virginity
Recently the Sun has made its annual move into tropical Virgo, the symbol of the woman and refers to the word virgin. While our modern minds think of virginity as referring to sexual experience and specifically valuing chastity in women, this common definition has strayed far from the word’s original meaning.
Virgo comes from Latin meaning “unwedded girl, maiden.” It wasn’t until around 1300 that it was used to denote a lack of sexual experience or imply chastity. In Greek translations the word virgin meant “one unto herself.” Similar to many words in English, the original meaning became lost as our Western culture became more and more patriarchal in nature.
With this evolution of language in mind, virginity then actually indicates freedom, self-sufficiency, and wholeness. One of my favorite authors, Nancy Qualls-Corbett goes on to say a virgin is “untouched by man, or…the laws of man.” In this way, virginity is not something that a person could “take” or “give away.” Virginity instead belongs to each of us as an expression of wholeness and divinity and the stories of the virgin goddesses remind us of the power of our own sovereignty.
In Greek and Roman traditions there were often three main virgin goddesses: Vesta/Hestia, Minerva/Athena, and Diana/Artemis. Regardless of gender or GNC, I believe each of these goddesses speak to an aspect of our own wholeness and virginity. Understanding these archetypes in an astrological context gives us important clues about how their archetypal energies show up in our lives and our soul patterning.
I enjoy working with the asteroids and dwarf planets as they are often named after goddesses and invite a complexity not found with just the more popular planetary bodies in our solar system. While the names are gendered, I don’t think of them as unique aspects to any gender and instead different energies that move through us at different times.
How can we work with these archetypal, virginal energies throughout the next month? For me the answers lie in our natal Vesta, Pallas Athene, and Diana asteroids. Both Greek and Roman, though largest in the solar system, all in these asteroids orbit in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Here’s a rundown of each of their meanings in the collective and personal astrology charts:
Asteroid Vesta // Named after Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home
The second largest asteroid discovered in 1807 and was more recently in the news because the satellite Dawn completed its orbit around the asteroid. Currently at 23 degrees Sagittarius trining Pallas Athene perhaps igniting the sacredness of expanding our horizons both mentally and physically.
- Claim to fame: Vesta the goddess refused to marry Apollo or Poseidon, though may have taken them as lovers. The Vestal virgins of ancient Rome who kept the sacred fires burning and were honored for their chastity.
- Aspect of virginity: Represents how we channel sexual energy and the blending of both the sacred and profane
- Astrological energy: What we hold sacred, how we connect through spirit with ceremony, routines or personal rituals, sexual potential or sacred sexuality practices such as Tantra
Asteroid Pallas Athene (Athena) // Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Craft, Poetry, and War
The second asteroid discovered, in 1802, and third largest asteroid, goes by Pallas or Pallas Athene named after Athena. Currently it sits at 22 degrees Leo next to the Sun shining a light on our desire to learn or highlighting our unique version of genius.
- Claim to fame: A warrior goddess born from Zeus’ head in full armor she event had an entire city named after her (Athens). She fought with Jason and the Argonauts and wore Medusa’s head on her breastplate.
- Aspect of virginity: The light of the intellect and ability to think for ourselves as well as the internal balance of masculine and feminine energies and head and heart
- Astrological energy: Our ability to perceive and understand patterns, which require the integration of both intuition and intelligence…as wisdom. Can reveal gifts of creativity or identification with the “know-it-all.”
Asteroid Diana // Named after Roman Goddess of Hunt and Nature
Discovered in 1863 by a German astronomer, it is small compared to the other virgin goddess asteroids and isn’t even within the top 20 when it comes to size. Diana currently sits at 21 degrees Aries, creating a grand trine with the other two virgin goddesses. Together, these two asteroids in such a strong fire sign uplift and empower feminine energies.
- Claim to fame: She begged her father Jupiter to liberate her from marriage and motherhood, though in Greek mythology she had 50 daughters with the handsome shepherd Endymion. She also had the power to talk to and control animals in the forest and there is even a branch of Wiccan dedicated to her.
- Aspect of virginity: Freedom and the relationship to our wild nature as well as the connections between women as a part of our unity under patriarchy
- Astrological energy: Where and how we yearn for our own freedom, perpetual “hunt” for something, our ability to nurture “sisterly” relationships, connection to the wildness in ourselves
Virgo and the asteroid virgin goddesses remind us of the power inherent in our own life force energies and self-possession with or without our sexual relationship to others. A facet of self that beckons us into being whole, complete, and unfettered by the man-made laws and expectations of the gods or patriarchy. During this virgin season may we our inward experience and attitude that isn’t dependent on others for definition or happiness…whole unto ourselves. The way Vesta, Athena, and Diana would have wished.