Photography by Amanda Valentine @amandavalentine
Raven neckpiece: Weapon of Choice @weapon_of_choice_new_orleans Makeup: Jessica Saint Beauty @jessicasaintbeauty
These words are a sign. Taking the time out for yourself at this very moment is a choice, and here you are. This, my enchanted darling, is the moment in your story where the snowy owl comes sweeping down from the sky, carrying a cream-colored envelope in its claws. Your name is scrawled upon the envelope in bold, black script. You do what you have always known you would do if this ever happened: You reach out your hand and accept the magical letter.
Welcome! You are cordially invited to explore the secrets of the seasons at the Varlow Academy of Magick on the pages of each edition of Enchanted Living for 2023! I am honored to be your witchy guide as we dive into the mysteries, lore, and tradition of each season. Get ready to amplify your personal power with seasonally crafted initiations. The time has come for you to step into your own seasonal sorcery!
Before We Begin: What Is a Witch?
Words are wands, and for me, I name that magick part of me Witch. I want to briefly address what that word means, because it has been misunderstood and maligned in the past. For me, I believe that witches are world builders. The idea of witchery is to imagine your beautiful life and then bring it into existence with the help of nature, the ancestors, and your spirit guides and guardians. In Spectaculus Witchcraft and at the Varlow Academy of Magick, we say, “See it. Be it. So be it!” after each spell we cast. These magick words mean: See yourself in your imagination doing your dream, then take action steps to become that dream, and with the help of nature, the spirit guides and guardians, may that dream be created into reality! In case you were wondering, you do not have to give up your chosen religion or practice to be a witch. I’ve known many a Jewish witch, Buddhist witch, Christian witch, and so on.
Oftentimes as we grow up, the world causes us to doubt our magick, and many people give it up, but not you! Not me! You are here, reading these words right now for a reason, and my mission is to be present here as a friend to you in each issue and remind you of the magick that you have always possessed inside of you. Have no doubt, it is there. It has always been there and always will be. Sometimes, with the practice of rituals and spells, you will remember more of the deeper, hidden, beautiful magick within you. Without further ado, let’s begin our seasonal, magical adventures together!
Welcome to the Season Where the Song Returns
Take my hand. I have woven a crown of daisies for both of us. There is no need for shoes here in this land, for after a long winter, it will revive your spirit to put your bare soles on the ground. When we celebrate and connect with each season of nature on our beautiful planet, we forge a deeper connection to the earth that we live on. This, in turn, makes us feel a greater responsibility for protecting her and, ultimately, makes this a better place for all of us to live.
THE BOHEMIAN MAGICK SPRING TRADITIONS
Springtime, as a season, is a powerful new beginning where the world is blooming once again. It is a perfect time for love magick, beauty magick, and planting the seeds for your own gorgeous future. So here are some of my spring witch spells that are rooted in Bohemian Magick tradition and given a dash of creative spice from me!
• Enchantment Spell: “Baby birds grow up to sing their first song in your hair!” My Grandma Helen taught me at a young age to leave some strands of my hair out for the birds to build their nests. Simply brush your hair, take a few of the strands from the brush, go outdoors, and place a small rock to hold one side of the strands to keep them from blowing away in the wind. Place near a feeder or where birds gather. By this point in my life, many generations of baby birds have sung their first songs nestled in my hair, and I feel that enchantment swirl around me! Now you can bring this tradition from my Ancestors to you and your family!
• Springtime Lore: If you walk in the forest with bare feet and step on calendula petals, you will learn the language of the birds. Calendula is also known as the flowering common marigold, which you would recognize by their sunny yellow and orange petals that spark springtime joy!
• The Adventure of March 4th: My Grandma Helen loved words and language, so she proclaimed that March 4th was a day to “march forth” into something you’ve never done before!
• To Dream of Your Future Love: Find a small piece of fallen birch bark. (Don’t take it from a living tree.) With a pair of scissors, cut the bark into the shape of a small heart. Now press the heart-shaped bark into a large locket; scroll it into a small bottle necklace; or make a small hole at the heart’s top center, attach a jump ring, and wear it on a silk cord or ribbon. Wear this talisman beginning on the first new moon after the spring equinox to the first full moon of the spring. On the evening of the full moon, bury the heart-shaped birch in the ground. Chant three times: “I plant the seed with this enchanted tree, to reveal the name of my love to me.” Then close the chant with the words: “See it. Be it. So be it.” By the summer solstice, you will have received a sign about your future love!
• To Enchant Your Beauty for a Year: At the break of dawn on Beltane (May 1), place the palms of your hands in the grass to collect the morning dew. Dab the dew across your face, your neck, and over your heart. Then stand tall, hold your palms to the sky, and confidently say three times, “Beauty blossoms eternal and divine, enchanted and royal, I claim it as mine.” Then say boldly, “See it. Be it. So be it.” Clasp your hands together over your head in one loud clap. The spell is cast!
• Protection Magick: Did you know that the phrase “knock on wood” comes from the old magick lore that if you needed help or protection in the forest, you would knock on a tree and the spirits of the forest (known as the dryads) would arrive to protect you?
YOUR SPRING WITCH INITIATION RITUAL
You will need:
9 bay leaves
9 spring flowers
A fine point black marker
A cauldron or a fireproof bowl
A book of matches
3 spoonfuls of earth from where you live
Perform this ritual between the new moon and the full moon in March, April, or May.
This is an outside ritual, but if that is not possible, perform it indoors and open your windows so that the beautiful springtime breeze will find you!
This initiation includes candles and open flame, so heed all fire-safety rules and work with care!
On the day that you are doing this ritual, make sure that you take off your shoes and put your bare feet upon the earth. Even if you plan to do this ritual inside, take a moment prior to the ritual to do this, because you want to connect with the powerful energy of Mother Earth and bring that magick to this initiation with you.
Dress up for your ritual in a way that feels appropriate to you. Gather your cauldron, spoon, spring flowers, bay leaves, marker, tealights, and matches and find a place where you can spread out and be undisturbed.
• Imagine the diameter of a six-foot circle. Make sure that you have cleared space around you for this circle. When I do solo magick rituals, I imagine a glowing purple six-foot circle on the ground. See the circle in your mind. Use your pointer finger as a wand and walk clockwise outside the circle, using your finger to point out where you are drawing it. As you move around the circle, say, “This magick circle is my sacred space, I am protected in this place.”
• Stand in the center of the circle. Hold your palms up to the sky and call in your spirit guides and ancestors to help you in this process. An example would be: “Mother Nature, Beloved Spirit Guides and Ancestors, please stand at my side to help manifest my spell into reality. Thank you for being here with me.” Whatever you decide to say, speak it aloud from your heart. (My definition of ancestors includes both blood relations and also anyone who helped color your life and raise you. So your ancestors could include your great-grandmother, your sweet great aunt Edith, and also someone who has influenced you greatly, like David Bowie, Martin Luther King Jr., Frida Kahlo, or Mr. Rogers. Call on them for guidance. Make your magick personal.)
• Now sit down in the center of your circle. Place the nine bay leaves and the marker in front of you. Say aloud: “How do I want to bloom this year? In what nine ways do I wish to bloom?” Allow yourself time to think about this. Imagine you are seeding your beautiful garden of life right now. You can say personality traits, goals, dreams, and ways of being. Keep each “seed” to three words or less. It just has to make sense to you. Examples might be: My book. Community. Adventure. Playtime. New witch friends. Bike riding. Songs.
• With the marker, write a different word wish on each of the nine bay leaves.
• Place the bay leaves evenly around you in a full circle. Make sure there are about thirty-six inches between your body and each bay leaf in the circle. (If you are outside and it is windy, place a small stone or stick to hold down your leaves from blowing in the wind.)
• Place eight tealights around the circle. Place one tealight in between each set of bay leaves with room between them, so that bay leaves and tealights alternate in a full circle around you.
• Take the spoon and scoop three spoonfuls of earth inside the center cauldron or fireproof bowl in front of you. Place the ninth tealight on top of the dirt inside the cauldron.
• Face east. East is the springtime, the element of air and new beginnings. Begin with the first bay-leaf wish closest to the east. Read the wish on it and imagine what your wish looks like clearly in your mind until you feel it! Example: For my seed wish, “my book,” I imagine writing in the sunshine by the river in the Catskill Mountains. I imagine writing at this place because it inspires me and it is a real place that I am familiar with. You see, attaching your dreams to anchors in reality (like physical places that you know) makes a really strong spell! Then I imagine the euphoria of seeing my book finished, picturing the cover with my name on it. Then I imagine signing my books at a bookstore with a crowd. Now I am feeling it! Our feelings can’t decipher between reality or imagination. If you indulge a full daydream, your heart and mind will feel it as if it is actually happening! Do this process with each bay-leaf wish and then lay one spring flower upon each wish as a blessing for it to flower and bloom.
• Light your center cauldron tealight with a match. Then take a second match, light it from the cauldron tealight, and then light the tealight
in the direction of east in your circle. Continue by lighting the tealights one wick to another moving clockwise. (If a candle goes out in the wind, take an unlit match, light it from your cauldron center flame, and then relight the wick that went out.)
• You are surrounded by a lit circle cauldron, flowers, and flame, nine sweet wishes that I do claim. Bloom and blossom, thrive and grow, reach to the sky with strong roots below. Bloom and blossom, grow and thrive, with each passing day, I feel more alive.”
• One by one, starting with the bay-leaf wish closest to the east, say the words written upon it out loud and then safely burn it in your cauldron. My Grandma Helen would say that when we burn our wishes, the smoke that goes up in the air is the script writing for the spirits to read. This process raises your wishes to the heavens, to the stars, to the cosmos, and to all the supernatural.
• Once all of the bay leaves are burned in the center cauldron, stand up
tall. Hold your hands to the sky and say: “Thank you Spirits, Thank you Ancestors, Thank you Mother Nature for this springtime. May my wishes bloom with you! See it. Be it. So be it!”
• Blow out the circle of tealights. Gather the flowers and bring them inside. Now it is time to take a bath and place the flowers in the water with you. If you don’t have a bathtub, fill a large bowl with water, place your feet inside (to bless the soles of your feet), and sprinkle the flowers into the water. May every step you take in spring move you forward to your very own blooming!
Thank you for joining me this season and for having the courage to bloom in your magick with the springtime. May all the sweet abundance of the returning sun shine upon you, mighty and powerful spring witch!
of tealights, bay-leaf wishes, and spring flowers. Your center cauldron is lit in the middle with you. Say this chant three times out loud: “Bay leaf,