Witching in Your 30s – What I’ve Learned

I wrote a huge chunk of this article way back in March when I was turning 34, and now I’m closer to 35 it’s time this draft saw the light of day. I’ve been at this witchcraft thing for almost half of my lifetime. And I’ve learned that the keen as bean witchling of my 20s doesn’t quite make it to my 30s. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned so far.

1.) You’ll stop caring about labels.

There seems to be a lot of emphasis on finding out ‘what kind’ of witch you are in your 20s. At some point, you stop caring. For me that point was some time in the past few years. All roads lead to Rome, or something. It’s just witch now, and that works for me just fine. And from what I’ve observed of a lot of witches who are beyond their 20s – most of us are eclectic, and we don’t really care about specifics because we know better about how diverse, humbling and surprising the journey down the crooked path can be. And the thing is – your path and your labels will change. There’s nothing wrong with exploring new things, or changing up how you identify. The agony over feeling identification with a particular ‘faction’ all but evaporates as time moves on.

2.) You really should clean out your dank herb cupboard.

There are little bags and packets of herbs everywhere in your witch cupboard. Clean them out. They are grey, indiscriminate, dusty and basically useless! Fresh is best, ditch the rest. Or just incinerate the lot in a symbolic burnification of your bright eyed and bushy-tailed past, when you really did think you had a serious witchly use for that 10 year old tiny sachet of colt’s foot or the 1 vanilla bean in a zip lock bag that you don’t remember acquiring. How – how long have you had that for? And what is that jar of dirt? Maybe invest in some labels from now on…

And did you know that oils and other liquids can go bad? It’s probably time to comb through your collection and decide if some suspicious items have gone rancid. Heat and age impact all things and oils don’t always go well over long periods of time. Of course, some things improve…

3.) Good sleep, hydration, eating well, journalling and meditation are some of the most effective rituals.

Ye olde magickal spell craft is totally overrated compared to simple, real world remedies for what ails you. There’s nothing wrong with giving material actions a bit of power with a good old fashioned spell, but at the end of the day, if you haven’t been drinking enough water or finding healthy channels for your problems, you’re just going to come right back to square one. That headache might not be a hex from your witchy frenemy. Maybe you haven’t had any water to drink today?

Of course, things aren’t always so simply solved. Life is complex and so are people. Some people have chronic conditions or life circumstances and telling them to buck up, go for a walk every morning, start a regular meditation practice and just eat vegan isn’t realistic and isn’t going to help everyone. But if you have the power to go and collect obscure ingredients and plan an elaborate ritual that could be solved with a bit more introspection, well. You don’t have to be laughing alone with salad, just sort yourself out before consulting the supernatural. Or at least help things along with some real world actions. There isn’t a magic button to fix our problems and if you are here for that, you’re in for a let down.

4.) Grimoires? How about piles and piles of unfinished journals, neglected blogs, a mish-mash of sketchbooks and dusty paperwork shoved in random folders?

A Grimoire, or Book of Shadows (which both have specific associations and meanings in some traditions) have both become catch-all terms for ‘books you write in that ooze witchy aesthetic’ in this social media era. Yeah. I’d love a fancy grimoire fit for the hallowed halls of Pinterest, filled with hand lettering and careful botanical illustrations. But the reality is, I’ve accumulated my own height in a stack of random journals and binders that aren’t so juicy and more-so practical. And yep, none of them are finished. Witches tend to be stationery addicts, and nothing is more tempting than a brand new journal for diarizing your dreams and tarot readings. I won’t be #plannergoals any time soon at the rate I’m going and I’ve given up – I’m just not that guy.

5.) Hell is other people.

I totally get that stereotype of the witch in the cottage outside of town who gives everyone the stink eye now. Having reached a certain time period moving about in the pagan community, I’ve learned that just because someone is pagan or a witch, doesn’t mean that either of you will share common beliefs, common values or common sense! The community unfortunately attracts a certain category of the unhinged and the predatory. And I like to hold them at an arm’s length now. Don’t get me wrong, I have my nearest and dearest and my top shelf humans are my fellow witches – but sheesh, there are some who will ruin your life if you let them. When I attend gatherings, the shields are up because the vampiric entities are floating around everywhere. I’ve also come to really appreciate the emphasis on consent at some pagan gatherings for things like hugs – I wish this was more of this. I just don’t want to hug everyone, and I used to be really taken aback by all the hugging that went on at my first public gathering – I didn’t know all these people and I hugged about 20 of them in the space of the same amount of minutes. I would never do that now.

You don’t owe anyone your time or energy – it is precious. Share what you feel compelled to, and don’t feel bad or guilty for keeping your own space. I salute those who endlessly serve the pagan community by putting on public events and being the face for new people. They are the real heroes.

6.) Witchy shops and businesses rarely last, so support them while you can.

This includes both brick and mortar and online establishments. Every now and then we’ll find THAT amazing store. My advice is to take advantage of these business owners and artisans while you can, because they’ll inevitably go out of business and disappear before you can blink – especially in Australia. Whether it is high rents, poor business practices, or pagans just don’t spend their dollars (or maybe pagans are poor), throw your biz witches your coin while you can, because blink and you’ll miss them.

7.) You’re never going to use that pendulum.

Witches are shocking hoarders and there is a lot of stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years  that I just don’t use. My practice is now boiled down to a small amount of paraphernalia, but it never really was bigger than that, but when I was in my 20s I thought I definitely needed a very long list of what basically amounts to glorified kitchenwares. Some of it has been gifted, won in raffles, or turned up in subscription boxes, but what I use on the reg can fit into a small handbag. The rest is fodder. And jars, jars, jars! I have so many jars. I have no idea what the back of my kitchen cupboards looks like. (Since writing this, I have started donating jars to my local friendly kitchen witch).

8.) You’re an aging millenial. So it’s time to step up.

The ‘pagan community’ has become a controversial label that some millenials and beyond are beginning to reject for various reasons. Sometimes people feel a lack of connection with community happening at their local events, or they feel a dis-ease with discourse occuring online. My main observation of this is that pagan community, rather than an umbrella, is a huge, bulbous venn diagram with dozens if not hundreds of circles within it and surrounding it. We share proximity if not practices with some of each other, and if we expect to see certain events, behaviours or leadership, it is now our turn to be the change we wish to see. The oldest milennials will be into their 40s soon, and many of our fond Elders are passing on, leaving their legacy to us. What will we make of it? It is up to us to shape it, if we want something from our community. There are many millenial ‘pagans’ doing this already, but we need to consciously step into it more often, I feel, and encourage more training in succession plans, leadership and the management skills required so we can build on the past.

9.) Those darn kids are at it again…

Wait, I thought I was the darned kid! Well, not anymore. I joined a few Aminos communities recently (and I barely understand what they are) and I realised there are hundreds of baby witchlets creating their own communities and doing their own thing without a single care of what is going on with the rest of us. It’s far out of my sphere of how I prefer to experience social interaction and it remains a riddle I’m not share I care to crack (especially since I have teen fatigue being a high school teacher for my muggle job). They can be found on Tumblr and on Facebook groups where not a familiar elder or mutual friend is to be seen. They dominate Instagram with their witchy aesthetic and their hashtags. Get off my lawn! But what will they bring to the community? Time will tell. Hopefully, not more 101 books on witchcraft that regurgitate Scott Cunningham from 30 years ago… oh… never mind.

Are you witching on in your 30s? What have you learned since starting out on your spiritual path?

Chaos Witchcraft Master Post

Once Upon A Time, I hosted a blog called The Chaos Witch. I used to write a lot about chaos magic, and how I blended it with my own practices as a witch. Here, I am going to repost a series I did that laid it all out (and edited just a tiny bit); defining chaos magic, how I blended it with witchery, and how I disseminated these understandings with my own neopagan Wheel of the Year. Enjoy!

Part 1: What is Chaos Magic?

Chaos magic – it sounds mysterious, intriguing, edgy and gritty, like something straight out of an RPG game. In reality, it is simply one of many natural postmodern evolutions of magical thought that exist today. So where did it come from, and what does it actually entail? And what does the future hold for chaos? Let me give you a brief, sweet rundown.

Foundations in Western Occultism

You can’t talk about the origins of chaos magic without talking about the origins of Western occultism in general. Most modern magical practices owe a lot to Western occultism, and I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I can give you a bit of a summary.

Western occultism emerged as a set of principles and ideas about the spiritual universe apart from, and yet influenced by, science and religion in the 20th Century. Chaos magic in turn arose in earnest in the 1980s and combines a range of ideas from modern occultism:

  • The Will as the most important tool of the magician: far more important than props or other mystical paraphernalia. In modern witchcraft this is often cited as intention. (‘Will’ and ‘intention’ aren’t exactly the same thing, but they do get used interchangeably).
  • The existence of a supreme, pure dimension of reality sometimes known as God, Goddess, Spirit, Astral Light, the One, the All, the quantum vacuum, and so forth. This was labelled as ‘Chaos’ by Peter Carroll, a foundational proponent of chaos magic.
  • The notion of like attracts like or sympathetic magic. Mentioned by Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) and significantly developed by the Golden Dawn. This is where as above, so below fits in.
  • The imagination as a means to add substance and depth to one’s magic, via the use of symbols, keys, correspondences that inspire, and so on.
  • Austin Osman Spare (1886 – 1956) and Aleister Crowley (1875  – 1947) advocated avoiding lust of result. In other words, the will interfering with the outcome of a magical act by detaching oneself from the outcome of the rite.

The Flavour of Chaos Magic

“Nothing is true, all is permitted”

– Hassan Ibn Sabbah

During the 1970s a lot of neo-pagan beliefs were coming into their own – it was a heady time for the emergence of paganism, witchcraft, occultism, new age thought and earth-based activism and spirituality, and all of these things were becoming more and more accessible. Amongst this melting pot of activity, the chaos magic current emerged.

Peter Carroll presented a series of ideas which culminated in Liber Null (1978) & Psychonaut (1981) as well as Ray Sherwin’s Book of Results (1978) which builds on Spare’s sigil creation methods. Both of these texts can be seen as an evolution from some of the ideas pulled from the exponents above and are very influential in the birth of chaos magic as its own thread of occult understandings.

Some of the chaos magic principles can be summarised as follows:

  • The use of paradigms, or shifting of belief. Just as post-modernism during the same time period challenged belief structures by totally deconstructing them and rendering them meaningless, so did chaos magic point out that through experimentation it didn’t seem to matter what belief structure you held, as long as your tools and systems were effectively executed.One thing that is appealing about chaos magic is that it uses explicit systems. A try it and see approach is prevalent, and chaotes are amongst the most innovative and ingenious magic users in the occult scene. Chaos magic users avoid dogma and advocate diverse approaches – these are two of Phil Hine’s ‘Principles of Chaos Magic’ as described in Condensed Chaos (1995). Another two are technical excellence and deconditioning – actively working to deconstruct one’s belief framework in order to critically engage with it and see what really works. When one is ready to shift belief, you can then use belief as a tool in and of itself.
  • The idea of gnosis within the chaos magic current – to deliberately alter consciousness in order to execute magical acts, and therefore avoid ‘lust of result’. Chaotes often experiment with various means of shifting consciousness and achieving different levels of brain activity and using one’s body to move energy and channel the forces that move within us to affect our selves as well as the world around us. This would be recognised as another form of ecstatic practice – but rather than being used to commune with a particular deity or spirit or something in another realm, it is used as a tool to shift consciousness

Today, both of these are common place is most modern magical practices. Some people see this as a sign that chaos magic is obsolete as many aspects of these principles illustrate the manner in which many eclectic magicians, witches and occultists practice today. For more on that, read on – but first…


Where does Discordianism fit in?

As a side note, a confusing sidecar that is closely associated with chaos magic is the Discordian philosophy.

Discordianism as a movement first emerged as a fictional society in the Principia Discordia (1973) by Greg Hill with Kerry Wendell Thornley, the two working under the pseudonyms Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, and also in the Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975) by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

Discordians advocate laughter in ritual and practice and the deconstruction of belief. They revere Eris, the Greek Goddess of Chaos, in a modern guise that transforms her into a lovable almost sitcom-like character. There are some interactions between Discordianism as well as other parody religions such as Pastafarianism.

Discordianism and Chaos Magic are separate movements that have closely informed each other, to the point that if you were to join a Chaos Magic group on Facebook, for example, it is more likely to be filled with Discordian-esque trolling rather than serious magical discussion. Chaos Magicians often borrow from strange and eclectic practices and Discordianism was one of the first of these and is still a persistent influence.


Post Chaos. What Happened?

As a post modern movement (and typical of many post-modern movements), chaos magic has rendered itself obsolete due to its co-option by many progressive and mainstream eclectic practices. Chaos magic has developed a reputation for being ‘pick & mix’ and attracting the wrong sort of magical practitioner, creating a community filled with dank memes, misogynist trolls, and practitioners obsessed with results rather than deep spiritual insight. Another trope associated with chaos magic is the use of psychedelic drugs and magical practice without spiritual significance and perforated with total, yet deliberate nonsense. A backlash against this has coincided with a migration today towards traditional magic steeped in authoritative dogma, reconstructionist polytheisms bogged down in fundamentalism, and an ‘oh you, chaos magic, I remember the 90s too’ sort of attitude amongst more experienced magicians. And, a lot of chaotes consider themselves as having ‘moved on’ or ‘grown up’ from the heady, exciting days of chaos.

Chaos is Dead – Long Live Chaos

Chaos has been picked up by millennials and the still valid points of belief have some resonance for magic users who are after paradigms where they can worship their favourite comic book characters as well as conform with fashion trends that have seen Tumblr blogs populated with open source sigils, galaxies and fractals. Everything 90s is cool again so while we are seeing X-Files and shows like Friends and Buffy make a comeback with the current teen generation, so we shall see Chaos come back into its own. But what will it look like once blended with feminism, social media, social justice, and post-post-modernism? Only time will tell. Perhaps chaos magic will finally come of age. Many of the original stalwarts of chaos magic are still publishing texts on the topic, and chaos magic is still in it’s infancy in many ways.

Check out some links below for more resources to learn about some of the above points in more detail.

Carroll, Peter. (1992). Liber kaos.

Caroll, Peter. (1987). Liber null & psychonaut.

Hine, Phil. (1995). Condensed chaos.

Hine, Phil. (1993). Prime chaos.

Humphries, Greg & Vayne, Julian. (2004). Now that’s what I call chaos magick.

Sherwin, Ray. (1978). Book of results.

Phil Hine’s archives http://www.philhine.org.uk/

Amazing archive of chaos knowledge http://www.chaosmatrix.org/

Spiral Nature magazine (look under the chaos magick tag) http://www.spiralnature.com/

Rune Soup http://runesoup.com/

Essay: Remember Chaos Magick?

Post Chaos Magick: 1st in a Series


Part 2: Chaos Magic + Witchcraft = Chaos Witchcraft

And now: what happens when you mix chaos magic with witchcraft? Will it blend?

Spoiler alert: it will, and it does.

I really wish I could remember the first time I came across chaos magic. But I just can’t. I have a feeling it was via the route of Discordianism, and I am almost dead sure it was the Hand of Eris that guided me, but unfortunately the ancient texts (my old Livejournal accounts) are a little silent on the matter (yeah, I checked) so pinpointing ain’t gonna happen.

I’ve identified as pagan for the entirety of my adult life. I first came ’round’ to it all via Unitarian Universalism and also Pantheism, as well as Panentheism, turning myself round and around in circles trying to justify to my pragmatic, historically atheist and cynical brain why I loved ritual and revelled in a deep connection to the cosmos, and that maybe it was okay to be spiritual – but I wanted to be religious. Religion called to me, even though my logic told me ‘nope, lol’. I felt a deep yearning for a spiritual path that was fulfilling and earth-based, I loved the trappings of Wicca and Witchcraft, but there was also so much of it that didn’t jive with me. An unease was there, and it persisted for quite some time even as I studied and circled with others as a pagan, until the ‘great click’ that has resonated with me ever since.

That click was chaos. After downing a couple of tomes on chaos magic 101 I knew I had found it – the thing that would make it all work. I couldn’t find many others who were jamming things quite the same way – so I kept reading, journalled a bunch, started a blog and the rest is history. A few years on and it is still jamming, in a good way! So here is a little treatise on how the blend of chaos magic with the current of witchcraft works for me.

Chaos magic has a lot going for it – it’s about doing what works, adopting a scientific approach, and deconstructing the self which leads to serious progression as far as what looks like ‘spellcraft’ and serious reality checks when it comes to self-actualization. You can’t take yourself too seriously and be a chaote at the same time, which was one of the things that attracted me to it – a no-nonsense, no holds barred approach that advocated personal development and a pragmatic approach.

The ‘flavour’ of chaos magic was missing something, though. But perhaps that is precisely the point – through the lens of paradigm adaptation, chaotes are encouraged to find their own jellies to mash with the peanut butter of chaos in order to give things a framework to make it all fit. I decided to stick with my existing poison (strawberry – or, witchcraft!) and make a good red hot go of it.

Strawberry & Peanuts

The tonality of chaos magic needed earthing, for me. Highly strung on imagery that included psychedelic drugs, boring 1970s sci-fi and unfunny middle-aged memes, it felt like that weird band your uncle was in in the 80s. But the theory draws you in and you so desperately want to make it work. I felt like I was cobbling together an apocalyptic heroine for the future – a wired up cyber punk fused with a tree worshipping Goddess who spat runes in the dirt, who could plant trees, smash the patriarchy and hook up your broadband router all at the same time. The Chaos Witch.

The thing is I feel being a witch to the very fibre of my being. I am as sure of my identity as a witch as I am as nothing else. This is a powerful affirmation, a talisman, a red thread that connects me to currents both new and old that sing and thrum and just fuckin’ HUM so deeply in my soul. It twangs true when I practice on my own in front of my altar, when I hold hands with my sisters, brothers and others in ritual, when I connect to my goddess, when I meditate, when I walk, when I breathe, when I connect. To me, being a witch is no mere paradigm – it is a statement of fact that permeates my practice. I might abandon chaos one day but I will never stop being a witch. And here I think is the fundamental difference between a chaos magician who simply uses Wicca as a paradigm to someone who is a chaos witch. Or maybe that is exactly the point and there is no difference at all, I’ve just bought into this paradigm, wholesale, and become a strawberry fundamentalist.

Double Rainbow All the Way

I don’t know many chaos witches, but the ones I have come across are anything but chaotic. They are meticulous, carefully considered, analytical, and could plan the shit out of the next ritual – with spreadsheets, files on cloud storage, and extended post reflection – what worked? What didn’t? What could be done to make it better next time? And what is just a god-damn waste of time, so let’s ditch it? To be in tune with the chaos current is to be in step with the universe – working with the flow, not against it. And there is nothing more witchy than that.

So what does it actually look like?

Mostly, it’s a behind the scenes type of deal, with not many aesthetic trappings to actually flavour my practice – this might seem strange to some, as it would appear I’m just your run of the mill neo-pagan witch going through not too unfamiliar motions. There aren’t chaos witch books, chaos witch altar pieces, chaos witch incense blends. However, given that there is a lot to be made of the ethics and principles that witches are supposed to follow, mine are very much influenced by Phil Hine’s ‘Core Principles’ as outlined in Condensed Chaos, as well as an emphasis on simple approaches. Chaos magic is like parkour – finding the quickest, simplest solution to problems rather than the long way around. So if paying your bills instead of buying a pony is going to solve your financial problems, or speaking to your boss instead of stuffing herbs into a charm bag is going to get you better outcomes at work, then that is what you’ll do.

My concept of deity hops from one magical model to the next – chaos magic texts talk about various approaches towards belief, including the psychological approach, one I stuck with at first – to the information approach – to the energy model, and sometimes the spirit model.  My theology now sits in the gorgeous I Couldn’t Honestly Tell You, But She Will Fuck With Your Shit If You Diddle Around phase, which I guess is what happens when you work with Hekate.

I’m not gonna lie, sigils and servitors do play a bit of a role in my main practice. Sigils are all the rage right now so this doesn’t seem too jazzy, but it seemed like a point of difference and I hadn’t worked with them before I got it on with chaos magic. General eclecticism and chaos practice can seem one and the same at times. I have four servitors who embody and serve the energies of the four elements on my altar (and sometimes get to go on excursions!), and where necessary, I weave a little pop culture into how I understand mythos and at times, divinatory practices. Chaos magic ≠ pop culture paganism – but, there are commonalities, maybe, sometimes.

Peter Carroll’s eight colours of magic play a role in my own Wheel of the Year – something I have worked a fair bit on, and could write a bloody book on, but instead, you get the following…

Part 3: Seasonal Celebrations

When engaging with a spiritual practice that looks anything like paganism, witchcraft or Wicca, one of the first things a neophyte encounters is the omnipresent ‘Wheel of the Year’ and often seekers will either a.) start circling with a group who already observes these rituals and celebrations and then adopts these sabbats, developing a relationship to them, or b.) as a solitary practitioner, they begin their own research and determine their relationship to these celebrations.

Being a chaote, this Wheel is up for intensive scrutiny and certainly ripe for customisation, adaptation, and change. Being Australian, I am already halfway there, as Southern Hemisphere practitioners need to bend their understanding of the Wheel anyway as the seasons in the Northern Configuration do not fit, exactly, to what can be observed seasonally here, in nature. Some continue on with a Northern paradigm (a practice that used to baffle me personally, but is starting to make more sense these days), and others ‘flip the wheel’ and struggle on. Some construct their own compliment of observational rituals – more to the good! I think any self respecting magic user who observes the natural world as part of their spiritual framework, needs to create their own relationship with the Wheel of the Year, if they choose to keep one at all. We live on a diverse planet with a complex biosphere and a changing climate. Even the state that I live in, Wetsern Australia, does not share the same climate from one coast to another. The land is different. The spirits are different. I am different when I am on different parts of it. Anyone who is reading a book, or joining a group, and just goes through the motions of a Wheel with the Samhain and the Litha and the Mabon without any adaptation or at least critical thought, in my opinion, is missing out on a wonderful opportunity for both microcosmic and macrocosmic insight.

I have been incredibly dissatisfied with texts that seek to consolidate some sort of Southern Hemisphere practice with a Northern Hemisphere Wheel of the Year, as I have seen a lot of regurgitated information that had been ‘plonked’ into place in a disturbingly colonial fashion. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all immigrants here, but it indicated to me a lack of connection and perhaps a bit of laziness in haste to create a resource to fill a gaping void. Deep connection to the land is not something I claim to have (it’s a journey), but I have thought about all of this ‘stuff’ and cooked this thing up, taking an opportunity to turf some of the problematic gender binary crap in the original Wheel as well. I decided to do what other authors seem to hesitate to do, and that was throw the baby out along with the bathwater and just keep some of the plumbing.

TL;DR for the rest of this post: just change it. Change it for yourself. Change it for your group. Work with the stars, sky, sea and land, and change it. Here’s a pretty picture.


(Keep in mind this is a Southern Hemisphere diagram: you gotta go anti-clockwise! Also, I begin a circle casting with Air in the East, hence Spring Equinox at the top.)

I developed the above, and I called it ‘The Eight Spoked Wheel’. It was a prototype, and I set about working with this reworking of the sabbats for a while before I knew I would feel ready to unleash it on anyone beyond my own then-coven. This was something just for me, but every now and then when it was my ‘turn’ to run a sabbat in the coven I worked with, I used this liturgy, and I’ve considered each spoke from an internal perspective for each point. [Currently, I am revising it for a new tradition, and I have been maintaining a nature diary to re-establish a freshened version based on my workings here.]

Initially in my brainstorming sessions before finalising this prototype, I took a few things as inspiration, from the chaos current and other places:

Things that I deliberately eliminated from the commonly cited neo-pagan Wheel of the Year:

  • Any fertility narrative, replacing it with the narrative of the seeker, who undergoes an initiatory archetypal journey.
  • Any references to flora or fauna that were unfamiliar to my land and/or my practice.
  • The titles such as Yule, Mabon, Lammas, etc, and many (although not all) of the practices associated with them.

Things I hope to add more of, as the Wheel turns and I continue to explore each of these spokes:

  • Some practices found in Feri, Reclaiming and other forms of radical, progressive witchcraft.
  • Deeper colour magic explorations as I sit with each energy.
  • Sigil work.
  • Work with both personal and coven egregores & servitors on astral territories through deep meditation and trance.

Just by contemplating the diagram above alone, a number of interesting patterns have arisen and a lot of tweaking has been necessary. Constructing a physical diagram resulted in something different to what I logically thought the correct correspondence would be. The thing about working with colour magic is that colours shimmer, and things happen when you shift them about; much as pushing colours on a palette. Both Black and Octarine have been interesting energies and in the end it only made sense for them to sit where the veils have been traditionally thinnest; the placement of the other colours may not jive with others who might look to this Wheel (that’s cool! Change it), but in the end I have chosen correspondences that fit for my own practice and perspective. As an artist I felt it was important to place the colours so that complimentary colours faced each other on opposite sides of the Wheel, but it is not a rigid configuration and I imagine it can be fiddled with quite a bit. The best part about this process was the sense of play that I brought to it.

Crafting my own Wheel was a valuable journey and one I would recommend to any chaos witch. When I originally published these materials, Julian Vayne commented and offered their text, Chaos Craft, which also works with the Wheel of the Year and the eight colours of magic, and it’s well worth checking out if you want to see a different way of doing things.

That’s a Wrap!

I still think of myself as a chaos witch, but I don’t really think about labels so much any more. I ditched the blog, I took some time off, and now I’m just a witch. Chaos magic still offers interesting tools, but my finger isn’t really on the pulse any more. I still wanted to dig these posts out and reblog them – I put a lot of effort into them and I think they might be useful as chaos witchery seems to be on the rise.

ADDENDUM! Here is a video blog I did recently with a bunch of recommended books and links! I misquoted here and there because it was off the cuff – but here it is in its unedited glory, and titles and links are in the description box for the actual video.

I hope you enjoyed this post since you made it to the very end. Be blessed on your path, wherever it may take you!

Embrace the Suck

Growing up as a small-town overachiever, I have found one of the hardest lessons to learn as an adult is how to not be that great at something. Currently, I’m learning to embrace the suck. And it sucks.

I play roller derby and it has taught me a number of valuable things as an adult that I never encountered as a kid who mostly shunned team sports. Initially when I joined my small local, after learning how to skate I immediately fell into coaching and committee roles, eventually becoming captain of a team and being one of the better players in a quite small pond. A year or so ago I transferred to a larger league as I wanted to better my own skills. It’s been rough as I’ve had to endure not making rosters and being looked over as just another blocker in a sea of other skaters who were often better than me, and sometimes with far less experience and far more natural talent. It wasn’t enough to quietly show up and try my best, it wasn’t enough to be a team player, to go to every wind-up and social event and fundraiser, to fit in crosstraining at the gym around full time work, to always be reliable, dependable, dedicated Eris. I even got an end of year award – for travelling the most kilometres to practice. Thanks?

I lacked the flair, extroversion and natural talent. I’m the world’s okayest roller derby player. It’s been a slow grind, and there has been no-one to pull me aside and give me encouragement or special attention, no-one to tell me how amazing or inspiring I was. I didn’t realise I needed the pats on the back or the glowing approval until I wasn’t getting it anymore. My ego felt bruised and I feel hurt and childish for even feeling that way to begin with. I’m not special! Who would have thought. My gentle, privileged childhood lied to me!

The thing is I love the sport so I keep on doing it even though it cuts into my social life and my spiritual life. And I know it’s amazing that I’ve managed to keep at it for 7 years now when it has been so hard so often. Retirement is just around the corner, and frequent silly setbacks always bring the looming date closer. But the growth that I have gotten from learning to not be the best at something, (not to mention the improved body image and friendships acquired), has been worth it.

At the moment it is team draft season and today I wasn’t able to make an important practice due to some bad traffic. I felt so stupid, turning my car around and sulking all the way home, plus I was itching all over due to a weird reaction to a new pre-workout powder I just bought yesterday. Cue negative guilt spiral. I pessimistically projected ahead to not making a roster due to missing just one practice, of being outshone or forgotten. I stomped upstairs and turned my computer on and decided to flick through my blog reader, and an old post by Thorn Mooney popped up that happened to be just the right thing I needed to read:

Losing is hard, and it’s a lot easier to just not try.  It’s much easier to drink and be angry and complain on the Internet about how unfair things are.  It’s much easier to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t be expected to do things.

Quitting is easy.  Never trying to begin with is even easier.

Maybe I won’t make the next team draft. Maybe I’m not the greatest at something. But I can learn to suck at roller derby and life in general. And as usual, the parallels between my roller derby persona and my witchy persona seem to inextricably interleave…

At the moment, I am trying to summon some slightly scarred bits of my ego together to run a circle again, to move in the pagan community again, to assist others and share space with others and learn and move and grow again. It came to a head yesterday when I dissolved in a mess of tears, when an old narrative of not being good enough, of potentially sucking or not being liked by people, of things not being perfect and blowing up in my face again, was niggling its way through my brain. Throw in a bit of burning the candle at both ends, and you end up with the ball of meh that is so easy to retreat to.

This is why I don’t blog or post on YouTube more. I think too much about this crap. The cynicism about community and paganism runs deep. But now I think I’m getting too old for this. I need to grow up from it, to move upwards and onwards. The Saturn Return hangover has gone on for too long.

Credit to @northlightwitch on Twitter

Oh, for my charmed 20s, when everything was fresh and optimistic and easy. 

The thing is, I’m a strong, imperfect person. I am fucking awesome in lots of ways. I have a lot to offer the pagan (and roller derby) community. And I am not afraid to fail, again. Where is the fun in not trying? I don’t want to be that person who is drinking and complaining on the Internet… well not too often, anyways.



‘The Naked Witch’ by Fiona Horne: A Review

Australia is well known for their disproportionate share of A-List celebrities: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie to name a few. So it is too on the Celebrity BNP (Big Name Pagan) list: I could name some characters such as Rosaleen Norton, Vali Meyers, Wendy Rule, and of course, Fiona Horne.  Is there something in the water here, to produce so many intriguing figures to represent our pagan community, whether we ‘elect’ them or not?

Most Aussie witches who were witching in the late 90s or early 2000s will remember the impact her book Witch: A Personal Journey made, and for some people like myself it was one of our first introductions to pagan spirituality. I had battered copies of nearly all of her books; the second title, A Magical Year I purchased from a library second-hand, and I remember finding in the back of the book a shopping list that read: ‘olive oil, parsley, incense, flowy skirt’. It was in that moment I felt an odd link to a fellow wannabe witchling. We were all united as Fiona connected us to something so very 90s: Girls Just Wanna Be Wiccans. It was the era of The Craft and Charmed, of Gwen Stefani belting out that she was Just a Girl. It felt like anything was possible. With enough ‘flowy skirts’, butterfly hairclips and the badass, witchy cool that Fiona Horne was peddling, we too could make magick happen. And we did.

Known as a television personality in Australia for her rock-chick glamour combined with the mystery and intrigue of casting love spells, Fiona Horne was featured in the classic Aussie witchy magazines Witchcraft and Spellcraft, posed for Playboy editorials and photographed with witchy paraphernalia such as her famous white pentagram jumpsuit, wielding intriguing knives or pet snakes.  When other books on witchcraft and Wicca often felt dry and instructional, her books were edgy, accessible, biographical and fun.

Later, I decided I had outgrown Fiona Horne (perhaps I was influenced by “pagan web nerds” as Fiona calls them), I moved titles such as 7 Days to a Magickal New You on as I trimmed my witchy library of anything too beginner, too fluffy (I now really regret that particular cull.) The pagan sphere online had decided that Fiona Horne was to be dumped in the fluffy bunny category – pages were dedicated to her brand of witchcraft on websites like Why Wiccans Suck and Wicca: For the Rest of Us. A few semantic inaccuracies, a sprinkle of celebrity name dropping, and crime of crimes, claiming to be an atheist witch (now perfectly acceptable) cemented her place. Horne is no longer atheist, and while the celeb name dropping is still there (and perhaps more cringey than before), the history in The Naked Witch is purely her own. 

Reading The Naked Witch we realise Fiona Horne has changed and grown, just like her readers. From her troubled childhood and teen years right through to her rollercoaster life fronting a rock band and moving to Hollywood to become the ‘World’s Favourite Witch’, she writes of battling with her personal demons and barely scraping to make ends meet. The stories she tells reveal suitably shocking revelations that you’d expect out of a celeb autobiography such as a brief affair with Tom Jones, but what is poignant about The Naked Witch is her raw honesty about her desperation to be loved and accepted. It is sad, in hindsight, to consider how much criticism she often received, a victim of classic Tall Poppy Syndrome perhaps. If you’re looking for more details about witchcraft, whether her own brand or anything in general – you won’t find it here, as her spirituality feels like a footnote to a larger narrative as she deals with failed relationships and the journey to self acceptance. She writes of enlightenment achieved via AA meetings and Vipassana retreats rather than calling the quarters on Hollywood hilltops under a full moon. Equally fascinating and heartbreaking, I devoured it from cover to cover just as I did when I read her first books over a decade ago. This time, I wasn’t looking for helpful advice on how to become a witchier version of myself. I simply enjoyed learning about how this flawed, beautiful human made her way through the world, tripping up along the way, and learning to be authentic and to find gratitude and peace within herself. Everything 90s is cool again, and I suspect this isn’t the last we have heard from The Naked Witch.

Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 2017 by Rockpool Publishing

We Are the Wild – Magic and Action in Modern, Urban Witchcraft

One of the things that drew me to the pagan mindset is the espousement of the inherent divinity of all things. Animism advocates that there is spirit in that tree, this rock, there is a spirit in the river, there are spirits in the land.

When I took on these ideas, I embraced them fully. If a rock contains the spark of divinity, then there must be divinity in a pen, in a car, in a knife, in a sick child dying of hunger, in a serial rapist sitting in a jail cell. The beautiful spark that flows through a majestic river untouched by human garbage must also flow through the arteries that carry pollution and traffic through our cities. If it does not, and there is a distinction, who draws it? What defines the distinction – the invisible line in the sand that valorises the Starhawk’s Californian redwoods and the red dirt of Australia’s Pilbara but places carbon pollution and the plastic islands floating on the Pacific ocean on the other side?

There is death, destruction and ill feeling everywhere you turn. Humanity is seen as a blight on the planet, but Mother Nature can be a bitch. She created us, after all. She creates tsunamis that wreak total annihilation, tidal waves that make no distinction between ramshackle human civilisations clinging to polluted islands or the pristine coral reefs below the ocean surface that are utterly destroyed by the power of waves and washes of sediment. She creates otters that brutally rape and kill baby seals. She gives with one hand, and brutalises and terrorises with the other. Who are we to distinguish ourselves from our Mother? We are creating a fucking mess, it’s true. But no amount of hand-wringing or lovely walks in the forest interspersed with a bit of tree-hugging will fix it. It is easy to feel that any attempt to curb our runaway addiction to materialism and capitalism which is destroying natural habitats is futile.

So what to do? There will be no revolution that will reverse the clock. We are royally fucked – Peter Grey’s treatise scolds us for taming our witchcraft, and we witches should be ashamed. Harming none and waving feathered crystals about the place while singing ‘We All Come From the Goddess’ is not going to be a catalyst for meaningful change – but an interrogation of what coming from the Goddess truly means is due. Caking ourselves in mud and hiding in the forest, cooking up salves and shaking our fists at big polluters whilst we chain ourselves to trees to defend what is left – is this putting us more in tune with the Goddess, or is this another means of escapement and denial? We will melt away with the rest of the ‘nature’ that we have worshiped in an outdated, Romantic Era-styled fashion. Neo-pagans love to dream misty-eyed about a past that was untouched by industrialisation, but the medieval era was bloody, short-lived and brutal. They weren’t called the dark ages for nothing. In ancient cultures, people died young from disease and resorted to superstition in the form of human sacrifice to solve political and personal troubles. Was the fabled Sabbat on the hill really a deep, dark religious mystery, or was it simply a matter of YOLO for a bunch of people who were chained by an oppressive church and had not much else to do if the harvest failed? Today, we scrape about to make meaning as we observe that consequences of our comfortable lives in the first world aren’t so pretty for everywhere else. Keep calm, carry on and buy the new iPhone anyway, because we know that the green will always grow back – and who will be left?

Harmony and chaos, nature and humanity, black and white… these are false dichotomies. The wild is not other. The wild is in us, and in everything we have created. We are nature. There are wild animals living in our walls, in the eaves, in our back alleyways, in the waters of runoff trenches, in the sewers, in our landfill. There are spirits there, too – spirits of our own making, new spirits who have been spawned by our reckless junk, new spirits who have evolved and recycled from the old. Evolution often invisible to the human eye, more so in the spirit realm. The urban centres are jungles, a palimpsest of century after century, a history inscribed and lost in the darkness of rewritten histories. The land is ready to tell us stories, and they are not all of illness and outrage – some of it is of renewal, of adaptation, and the mightiest primordial beings will shrug as if we are but the slightest itch to scratch.

A witch snarls at the notions of good versus evil. She strides the in between and does not, or should not favour the country over the city. To elevate human action and its consequences to something that is beyond nature itself is simple hubris. There are energy centres everywhere, there are places that can be sung to everywhere you look. Do something meaningful – something for the future, not regression to the past. Listen to the rhythm that underpins the city. Place your ear to the asphalt and hear the hum of radiation as it pulses into our homes, into our lives. It can harm and heal – just like the poisonous plants of the green wilds can. Get to know what is making us sick, and what can make us better. If we are not actively engaging and challenging, and fairly evaluating every meme or viral notion that we come across, we are simply passive receptors.

There is a heartbeat that runs through everything. The city has a spirit, and so does the suburb. The digital worlds are riddled with magic, in the symbols and the graphics and nodes that connect emotions, peoples and ideas. Social media makers know this and are experimenting with us – the forces are at work everywhere and you should weave with it all. It is our task to listen to that heartbeat, to inject it with a colour that makes it meaningful, sustainable, something we can make magic with. We should be greening our urban areas with guerilla seeds, encouraging the resilience of urban weeds, and nourishing that resilience in ourselves. We should be arming ourselves with apocalyptic skill sets. Can you start a fire, can you grow your own food? Do you know how to purify water, can you make charms for good luck from plastic toys? Do you know who grows fruit trees in your neighbourhood, and can you barter with them for handmade soaps or labour work? Can you organise a rally or start a viral hashtag? A chaos witch can make do with just about anything. She draws from an arsenal that makes no distinction between pop culture icons and ancient gods, modernity and classicism, country mouse and city mouse. All is chaos. A witch can be a healer, an acitivist, a teacher, an artist, a medium – or none of these, just make yourself useful. A witch knows that every action makes an impact but if you’re wanting to stick around for the apocalypse, get busy! Broaden your vision and embrace it all. Dirty eclecticism is here to stay as ‘tradition’ in the context of witchcraft becomes more and more meaningless as the traditionless reclaim it.

The spiral winds ever open – join the dance, no matter where you are.

Featured image is ‘Urban Magic’ by Nicole Cardiff.
This is an archived post originally posted at The Chaos Witch on the 10th July, 2014.

Full Moon Report: Darkness Rising to Meet the Light

Or, the care and feeding of gremlins. 

Sometimes we get the New Year we need, not the New Year we wanted.

2017 was a battle for me. And I’ve heard so many tell of the challenging years they have faced; my challenge was finding a way to rebuild my self esteem and ego after an incident of heartbreak and destruction at the end of 2016.

And while I was attempting this, I also experienced several career changes. I had close family members pass away so grief was always by my side. I was a new transfer in a new roller derby league, a sport that has seized my heart and soul and now I was committed to commuting for countless hours to see if I could push myself a little further in a strange new environment where I was no-one’s hero and the only thing I had to worry about was my own progress (and constantly refuelling my car).

All of this, was freaking hard. I cried a lot, in front of people – not something that’s necessarily in character for me. I proved that I was strong and that I could grow. But 2017 had one last little surprise for me.

We all have light inside of us. It’s the shining beacon that shows what we got to others – this Jedi-esque part of me is a teacher and an artist, a kickass witch, an amazing skater and team member, a powerful priestess, a decent friend.

But there is also another little gremlin inside of me that does it’s best to match that light – a Sith Gremlin, if you will, of self-destruction, self-loathing and what appears to be gleeful comforting negativity. My inner critic grew to a towering height to match the part of me that shone, and at many times last year, it won the battle and kept things grey and murky. What would happen, this gremlin says, if I completely self-sabotage by encouraging you to retreat under the doona covers and cry yourself to sleep, while negative thoughts spiral you into a loop that goes nowhere? This gremlin made me do all sorts of things, many of them subtle, but mostly it was a weight on my back that stopped me from shining. For much of the year I felt dull, like I was simply going through the motions. This gremlin would stick its finger into sore spots and stir around  little until whatever was in there would erupt. This is the work, no? And I had one last big blister to burst, and boy did it hurt.

I’ve got all sorts of intentions for 2018, and I articulated these in an end of year ritual. And you know what it’s like. We innocently move about in circle and write things down and do little witchy bits and fiddle with tarot cards, and we underestimate the power these gestures can have. Spirit, believe it or not, is listening if you’re plugged in. And I didn’t quite realise what might happen. It was fast, it was powerful, it felt ridiculous and I felt just a little mad. But we’re all mad here. It’s not the first time I’ve been hit by a broom on the back of the head, and it probably won’t be the last. 

Cancer Full Moon! The water works were a thing. And I think I’m done now. Nailed it.

The gremlin isn’t fully vanquished, nor will it ever be. One of my friends suggested a strategy, of building it a spot to live in, where it can be fed things it likes – she did something similar for her inner child, and we think this might just work as she has a gremlin of her own. So I might give it a go. This little beastie has been inside of me since I was a primary school overachiever in the style of Lisa Simpson.

And it’s way past time to do something about it.


The Artist, the Witch and the Website – An Introduction

'Juicy' by Eris Elizabeth, copic marker sketch, 2017
‘Juicy’, copic marker sketch, 2017

My name is Eris. I’m an artist, a witch and I like to write. Also, I’m a webaholic.

I’ve always loved having a website. From a very young age back in the late 90’s I took a high school extension course in HTML and I never looked back. I always had some sort of online home – whether it was various fantastical, midi and animated gif-laden creations hosted on Geocities, to my TMI Livejournal, to being hosted by others on their domains, to finally getting my own domain mostly for my artworks. Then of course there was my carefully curated MySpace profile, and my various blogs mostly hosted on WordPress.

I loved having somewhere to be creative, to share my art, and gradually, share my spiritual practice. I’ve got feelings y’all, and I just need to write about them. I enjoy sharing my life, and having something to reflect back on as I journey down the path.

2017 was a year of me mostly being absent from having a ‘web presence’. I was also rather absent from the pagan community as well. It was a time of great change in my personal life, my career, and my spiritual world. But the itch to blog and also rejoin my community became a rash and this is my balm. I’m back, baby.

So what to expect?

My Spiritual Musings

I am looking to deepen my spiritual practice in 2018 and this blog will be a vehicle for some of my thoughts and musings on different pagan and witchy subjects. Whether it’s about articulating my craft as an Aussie witch, giving tips for beginners and students of the craft, reviews, or simply ranting about the topic of the day, I plan to bare it all – warts, toads, newts and all.

I am currently creating a tarot deck and I’m about a third of the way there. I plan to share my works in progress, my thoughts on different cards, and finished artworks. You can check out some images from the deck here.

The Chaos Witch Archives

I’ve got some writings from my old website, The Chaos Witch, that I plan to rejig, dig out and republish, so keep an eye out for those.

And Other Stuff, Probably…

But that’s mostly it. Art Witchery is what I do, and I am really excited to be able to share it once more! If you’d like to get to know me a little better, you can check out my About page.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully I will see you around again soon.