Below is an outline of the ritual I use to charm objects like this. Feel free to adapt it to your needs, use the tools you feel speak to your purpose, do as much or as little as you feel you should. Unlike “High” Ritual Magic, witchcraft is rarely by the book. For me, spell craft has always been like prayer—everyone does it differently, for different purposes, to different ends.
It’s been retrograde city over the last few months—with a whole pack of planets on the Rx (Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn to name only a few of the big ones), it’s no surprise that things haven’t exactly gone according the plan lately. That includes last month’s tarot forecast. Don’t worry, though: Mercury went direct last weekend and Mars is back on track before this month is out. We still have a while before powerhouse Jupiter gets with the program, but by then our planetary woes should be long behind us!
In the meantime, we’ve got a lot to celebrate—the weather has finally broken, summer is well on its way, and with it come all of the fun-in-the-sun plans we’ve missed for the last eight months. It’s time for block parties, barbecues, and picnics in the park—it’s time to recharge your batteries and detox all those winter worries. Friends might be coming out of the woodwork, but this is a perfect time to spend some quality time with You, especially if you’ve neglected your own base needs in the frantic energy of the last few months. Take yourself on a date. Go for some long walks on the beach, buy yourself a piña colada, reconnect with yourself.
This would also be a great time to have a heart-to-heart with yourself and forgive all the things you’ve been blaming yourself for lately: not everything is your fault. There’s a difference between taking responsibility and berating yourself. If things haven’t worked out, examine the situations as they transpired and really think about what went wrong. Consider them missed opportunities instead of failures: the growth you’ll achieve by learning from this will be more valuable in the long run.
Use this month to really balance your energies—have fun, lighten your load, and go forward with the understanding that you’re only human. You adapt and evolve based on the challenges you’re presented with. Where were you at this time last year? Where were you even six months ago—how long ago does that feel? You may not have always been in control, and you may not have made all the right choices, but look how far you’ve come. Six months from now, you’ll be somewhere entirely new all over again, with new things to celebrate and new challenges to face.
Most months, when I pull my tarot cards, I instantly understand the message at hand. This month, however, wasn’t as clear. I pulled one, two, three cards–they weren’t entirely disparate, they weren’t in conflict, but something felt “off.” For a moment, I doubted my intuition: there was something here that I wasn’t seeing, something overlooked. I had to ruminate on the reading for a few days.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: March is my least favourite month of the year. With truly insane weather and the anticipation of Spring in everyone’s minds, it always seems unnecessarily tense and generally unpleasant. Last year, the first brought a monster snowstorm to New York City, and I shivered my way through the month with curses on my breath and rubber boots on my feet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this year needs to follow suit: we can’t change the weather, but we can change our outlook.
We may be feeling a little burned out, the emotional hangover from a tumultuous winter of highs and lows. It’s weighed on us heavily, and it’s affected more than just our mood. But winter is almost over and we’re beginning to catch glimpses of growth under the snow. Just like the crocus that pop up to tell us it’s all okay, that we survived another dismal, frozen season, we’re beginning to see signs of hope all around. Our creative fire is coming back, thawing the ice that’s stopped us cold in our tracks. Remember that renewal energy we felt last month? Well, we can’t fight it anymore. Why would we want to? We’ve put this off for way too long.
We still have some unfinished business to take care of before the month is out, but we’ll get it done. We need to clear some space in order to receive all the hot new energy coming in–clean out the spiritual closets to make room for what will become our Spring signatures. I know that it can be hard to let go of the old, especially when it’s something we’ve held onto for so long. But just like the pair of jeans you outgrew in highschool or the shoes you ran into the ground, there are some things that just stop serving a purpose in our lives. If we’re not careful, we can clutter up our lives with so many useless energies that there’s no room for the things we actually need. Embrace the new. Use this burst of energy to clear out all the winter muck. Remember: you can smother a flame with too much fuel.
Whether you’re lighting a white pillar for Imbolc or waiting for news from a groundhog, we’re halfway through it–we can officially see the other side of winter. There are plenty of reasons to be happy to wave goodbye to January: personal strife, dreary weather, readjustments and resolutions… but we’ve done it! We’ve officially made it into February!
February brings the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and this year, even a calendar-extending Leap Day, but most importantly, it brings us that much closer to Spring. With the sun in revolutionary Aquarius, our motivation kicks back into gear, and with Mars in Scorpio, we’re finally getting to the bottom of why–and knowing is half the battle. This month, we’ve finally found the energy to melt the freeze, wash off the sludge, and move forward. The temptations of winter–complacency, over-indulgence, malaise–aren’t so appealing now that we’ve caught the fire of renewal. Goals are becoming clearer, more concise, and looking more attainable than ever: your personal power has been slowly growing, like a bulb under the snow, and now you’re ready to bloom. You have everything you need to become the person you foresaw when you imagined 2016: use this energy to reconnect with yourself, reinvent yourself–remember, this is your time. You are not what others think you are, or what they need you to be. You are your own.
But everything in moderation. Balancing your spiritual well-being with your worldly success is important: working too hard in one area or the other can throw the entire effort. Be patient and kind to yourself–you’re still learning, and you always will be. Every failure, like every success, brings opportunities for reflection. Use them. Everything is on your side.
The second rhinoceros appeared on the projection screen and the entire class collectively held their breath. Eyes shut tight, it knelt in the grass as several disembodied hands reached down to rest on its face, bright woven bangles shocking against gray flesh. I put down my coffee, afraid I would choke if I started to weep.
“A remarkable photograph, eh?” Our instructor paused at the slide, noticing our intense reaction to this particular image. When class meets at 9AM on a Friday, an intense reaction is a rare thing. We were assured the rhino was all right, rescued after a run-in with poachers–a lucky rhino in what was usually a tragic situation. The next slide brought us back to the usual street scenes and portraits. But after a half-dozen more had passed another rhino invaded the frame, this time eye-to-eye with Salvador Dali. Now I knew that something was up.
Before the lecture was over, I had seen at least four rhinoceroses in various forms–sculptures, drawings, actual animals. While some could say that my instructor clearly had rhino on the mind while putting slides together, that didn’t change the fact that the rhino is my spirit animal and I was supposed to be hearing something.
Animal totems have a fairly wide appeal, regardless of spiritual beliefs or backgrounds–they can be a tool to embody strength, action, wisdom, or joy, or a reminder to listen to your higher powers. Almost everyone I’ve known can say that they have a personal connection to some animal symbol, in some way. But it’s often far more complex than simply a favourite animal or beloved pet speaking from your memories. I was a teenager when a friend and I laid down on the thin boucle carpet in a minuscule shop near my town, breathing deeply of the fragrant smoke wafting through the room as we prepared to journey into Spirit. We were both open-minded, having grown up in rather untraditional faiths, but we remained skeptical of what would come next: we were going to meet our spirit animals on their own turf. The circle leader beat a steady rhythm on his drum, focussing our attention on the hypnotic beat as he set us off. At first, it was all me–I was in complete control as I pictured myself in the peaceful stream I had waded through that spring, remembering the gentle trickling of the water over rocks and the cool rush against my skin. I pushed aside stones in the banks to find the opening that would lead me into Spirit, and I crawled through, following the dark path downwards. At this rate, my spirit animal was going to be a lizard, or a crow, or any other number of animals I felt “suited” me because I was dictating what happened. A fox appeared in the dark stone cavern before me.
And then something curious happened: I asked whether it was my spirit animal, and it met my eye, shook its small orange head, and said, “No.” I was a little startled. I hadn’t anticipated meeting animals that weren’t my spirit animal at all. A lizard scuttled across the wall of the cavern, hesitating as he saw me. “Are you my spirit animal?” –and with another quick no, he disappeared from sight. Slivers of light caught the iridescence of feathers as a peacock fanned and again I posed my question. “No,” he said, dropping his tail and retreating into darkness, leaving a single feather behind. I was getting confused and worried–what if I didn’t find my spirit animal during the journey? What if I didn’t even have a spirit animal? The vision had gotten away from me completely–things were happening entirely on their own. Several more animals came and went, some only laughing at my question, others sympathetically shaking their heads before leaving me alone again. Then, I came to another space, a room carved out of the rock separately from the cavern at large. Inside was a massive white rhinoceros, glowing softly in the darkness. His impossibly black eyes followed me as I crossed the threshold. “Are you my spirit animal?” I asked breathlessly, and received only a purposeful nod in return. I ran my hands over his massive head, feeling the rugged texture of his skin, the precious stone of his horn. I wove a crown of jane magnolias and dogwoods to place over his ears and danced around him like a maypole. Rhino never moved out of place, tacitly approving my actions with flicking ears and swishing tail.
The drum beat changed, quickening ever-so-slightly, little by little. It was our call out. I wrapped my arms around Rhino’s massive head, resting my cheek against the cool length of his horn as we said our unspoken goodbyes and I thanked him for his guidance. I backed out of the chamber, through the cavern, ascended the passage, and then out of the stream. When I opened my eyes, I was in the smokey little shop, keenly aware of the hard floor below me and the growing tickle behind my throat. Through the years to follow, Rhino has been a consistent symbol in my life. He becomes a reminder of myself and a suggestion of power. He is often the “I can,” or the “I should” when I’m unsure or unwilling. I don’t always know what he’s telling me, but I know when he presents himself that I need to listen up. Lately, things have been in flux, rapidly changing as I discover new and interesting things about myself and the world around me–three rhinoceroses in one day can’t be a coincidence.
Normally, when a stranger on the streets of New York City approaches me, or asks me to do something, I ignore them. It’s an ingrained trait, handed down from one hardened city-dweller to another. But on Tuesday night, re-discovering one of my favourite neighborhoods through the fresh eyes of a friend, things felt different. Maybe it was the optimism of the still-glowing skies at nearly 9PM, or the electric haze of summer post-rain, but when a stranger in shining black shoes stepped out from under the awning to grab my attention, I gave it to him–“Look!”
There, arching a perfect 180 degrees over Tomkins Square Park, was a vibrant, neon rainbow. I gasped and thanked him for pointing it out to me, and while I initially rounded the corner towards our original destination I found myself drawn back to the edge of the sidewalk, angling my phone towards the sky to capture what I could only see as a brilliant sign from the universe: things are going to be all right.
I choose to see things differently. I look carefully at my surroundings, I find messages and meaning everywhere. There is constant reassurance from the universe all around–even when you’ve made the wrong choice or need to rethink your plans, there are clues everywhere. Recently, I had a series of particularly rough days. I felt alone, exasperated, and just plain bad. Armed with my Nikon D-series, I lay in the dirt outside my classroom shooting some of the plants and odd fields of abandoned construction supplies. Back in the lab, I realized I hadn’t gotten all my exposures as I wanted them and headed back out to the exact spot I was crawling around for the last half our only to find a mammoth goose feather in nearly the exact spot I had been. There were no geese to be seen, and I had only been inside for about five minutes.
My grandfather was a particularly insightful Pisces who knew What’s Up. About a year before he died, he told my mother that when he wanted to get in touch, his sign would be feathers. At his memorial service, we gave each person in attendance a peacock feather to remind them that while people we love might move on and change state, they are never gone. The next day, my cousin–who graciously opened her home to the service–called us, excited and just a little uneasy, because she found several bright, beautiful feathers laid out on her front porch. “I think Jack was saying thank you.” That mammoth goose feather brought me to a similar state of confused excitement, tearfully decoding the message as I dropped back into my place in the dirt–in this case, I think Jack was saying “you’ve got this–just hang in there.”
We all go through tough times. With Mars recently coming out of retrograde and Mercury slipping back in, things have been more than a little wonky lately. But don’t worry: you’ve got this–just hang in there. The signs are all around you.