Ready? Steady? Go!

Wow. I guess this is the “Farewell” post. It’s a little bit hard letting go. Thanks to everyone who listened to my insanity and helped me feel a little more sane over the past couple years. (Because, “Yes, Virgina, there are bad Witches.”) I hope you hang out to hear Hazey tell her stories too. While she’s a site younger than I am, she has a good head on her shoulders and quite a yarn to spin.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013–pop over to if you haven’t already, you can pick up my travels post-Bad Witchery over there.

I’m sure, as things go , I’ll be back to poke my nose in from time to time. But until then, I have some blogging advice for Hazey, The New Bad; y’all feel free to eavesdrop.

Twelve points for twelve months.

1) There’s no need to tell your story all at once. Folks are happy to listen if you are entertaining; therefore, episodes are better than a movie-length post.

And you’ve got enough to say that you don’t have to be repetitive.

2) Poioumena, parables, metaphors, and fairy-tales are good for telling more of the whole truth than can be put in words. Folks identify with certain stories and know how those stories “feel” so you don’t have to work so hard to put them in your pointy shoes.

3) That said—keep control of your metaphors. Ain’t nothing worse than a metaphor what can’t stay on track. Plenty of “Bad” metaphors out there have run amok of their authors and shown folks that the emperor is truly and completely nekid. Make your logic hang together or folks’ll notice. Our reader is smarter than the average bear (and they know how to make sense of a film’s ending).

4) Metaphors are OK. But don’t lie. Just don’t. It ain’t worth it; the truth is so much more frightening and entertaining anyhow.

5) You aren’t “The Bad.” Remember you are just reporting on “The Bad.” And you have seen that shite as up close and personal as any of Stephen King’s protagonists.

And, as we continue to see–some folks are always gonna think it’s about them. You can’t second guess yourself. If it stings them, must mean they have a guilty conscience–ain’t nothing you can do about that.

6) That said, this is not about revenge; this is about warning others that Pennywise is not actually a clown and that they shouldn’t patronize Leland Gaunt’s little shop of horrors.

7) You are learning loads of new things right now. Information is pouring in and out of you at break-neck speed at this point in your Witchy career. You should share that information and all the great new lessons you are learning—but you should also know when to STFU. When it comes to “secrets,” remember that your audience understands that there are things which cannot be said.

8) Don’t dicker with your numbers. Nobody cares in the end. I pulled up a “Bad” blog not too long ago which purported well over two-thousand “followers.”  The little box came up and asked if I wanted to join 627. Now that’s just embarrassing. We keep our numbers under wraps here for a few reasons: A) The number that pops up here is grossly inaccurate. I’ll explain the logistics of Tumblr, Twitter, FB, etc. later. B) If it hurts someone else’s pride that we have X and they have Y—enough so that they have to make smack-talk about it Online—then we will just remove the info. We ain’t out to rub it in.

Speaking of (A), everything posts to a parallel site on Tumblr. We can discuss Facebook and Twitter and the WP stats function later. It’s not interesting enough to go here.

9) Speaking of “followers,” your audience does not “follow” you—you are not their “leader.” They are your audience, your sounding board, your patient ally, and occasional (when necessary) adversary. Do not presume to make them your subordinates as other bloggers have done. You’ll do better to have 1500 “friends” than 600 “underlings.” (Hell, I’d rather have 600 friends than 1500 underlings.) If no one else ever visits, I’ll be here right by your side, reading, laughing, crying, goading.

10) Speaking of things with which you should not dicker—readers’ comments are sacred. Only SPAM gets deleted. Otherwise, how’s anyone ever gonna trust you?

11) Never blog UI. I believe that’s what the “Save Draft” button was specifically designed for. Trust me. Sometimes you don’t want to publish that shite until you are sober. And rehydrated. And maybe caffeinated—but that’s a whole ‘nother problem.

12) Finally—but most importantly—have fun. This is for blowing off steam, not for generating pressure.

I adore you. I’m already proud of you.

Ready? Steady? Go! (Take this bad broom and fly!)

Sage advice from the original.


I actually started this awhile back and decided not to post it. But I keep getting bombarded with Eckhart Tolle advertisements on Yahoo, on G+, on Facebook, so I figured I’d revisit the idea.

Photo: Sophia Haynes/My Shot


Lately I have seen an onslaught of requests for positive-thought-visualizations: “Please send positive thoughts,” “Please visualize X problem gone from my life,” etc. I can see where the idea that positive thought as the panacea for everything that ails us might be very appealing to some. But . . .

I part ways with the “I have room for positive-thoughts-only” assertion that turns its head on anything negative without actively doing anything about it. This is a newly-popular idea. I see this a lot in New Agey[1] type philosophies which find their way onto Oprah’s book list. An idea that gets tacked onto Eastern concepts that don’t translate well into Western (binary) values.

Acceptance, acquiescence, submission, complacence.

I’m reminded of Ram Dass, who I somewhat like, and his echo, Eckhart Tolle[2] who’s made a fortune and compiled more celebrity accolades than L. Ron Hubbard. In his The Power of Now, Tolle claims that “Thinking has become a disease,” and then he compares thinking to cancer (7).

Lord help us.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the effects of visualization and the law of attraction—like I believe in effects of motion and the law of gravity. But I don’t think we can “positive visualization” all of our problems away. We actually have to act. It’s banal, it’s not sexy, it’s hard. And, damnit, it requires accountability. Ew.

There is a book out right now, Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. I agree with Barbara Ehrenreich’s assertion that convincing scads of people that positive thought will solve all of their problems, we set them up for failure—and then self-blame—and then even more tribulations. Though I like the overall idea and find that herlogic hangs together, I have some serious issues with Ehrenreich’s language: she’s caustic and makes some fairly cheap-shots at other authors. I don’t believe that the best way to critique positive-thinking is with negativity and vitriol. The book is short, but if you aren’t inclined to read even that much, have a look at these reviews for the gist: “Have You Been Bright-Sided?” “Happy Days,” and Ehrenreich’s own page. 

Here’s where the new phase of positive-visualization self-help-philosophers are getting hung up, in my opinion. By interpreting Eastern philosophy and placing it in a culture habituated to Cartesian binaries, we have created a false-dualism in “True-Self” versus “Ego-Self.”[3] One must be good and the other necessarily evil. This initiates an internal struggle which will never allow us to be whole persons; nor will we be able to find inner harmony. In original Eastern perspectives, there is no good/evil attached to “ego.”[4] The goal is balance and release from the cycle of desire. Even desire is not evil. It just is.

From what I’ve read of Tolle[5] and others like him,[6] is that their goal seems to be a loss of individual identity through the superimposition of manufactured positivism; this is not the same as the (real) Buddhist concept of oneness.

Putting out the “vacancy” sign on our minds is certainly a desirable state for some kinds of meditation. (As a Sorcerer, I tend toward more active brain states–more on that in a minute.) Blocking everything out is not the solution to all meditative practices. It’s certainly not a good way to deal with medical diseases and financial obstacles.

I’m reminded of how I reacted to “church-folk” in my youth. There were always people who said things like: “God will work it out,” “One day our trials will be over,” and “Nothing on this earth matters anyway.” The latter statements just seem to indicate an unhealthy death-drive. But as for the first statement—faith is good, but even in magical practice, we know that we have to try all mundane solutions before resorting to magical interventions; we are responsible to try to do things ourselves rather than leaving everything up to the divine to do for us (lazypants).

This is just to say that (passive) “positive intents” and “positive visualization” can’t take the place of real (active) mystical pursuit of transformation. Consider: the Night of Pan, or N.O.X., is a mystical state that represents the stage of ego-death in the process of spiritual attainment. The playful and lecherous Pan is the Greek god of nature, lust, and the masculine generative power. The Greek word Pan also translates as All, and so he is “a symbol of the Universal, a personification of Nature; both Pangenetor, ‘all-begetter,’ and Panphage, ‘all-devourer’” (Sabazius, 1995). Therefore, Pan is both the giver and the taker of life, and his Night is that time of symbolic death where the adept experiences unification with the All through the ecstatic destruction of the ego-self. In a more general sense, it is the state where one transcends all limitations and experiences oneness with the universe.

This is not to say that I don’t think there’s a place for “positive thought and visualization.” Just that it’s only appropriate when it’s useful–when you are acting in the ordinary world and using visualization (active visualization, that is) to assist your mundane efforts–not in place of mundane efforts. If you allow (passive) thinking and hoping and visualizing take the place of health modifications and paying the bills on a regular basis . . . of course you are going to be unwell and the bill collectors are going to call.

I’m always willing to send someone positive thoughts when they have car trouble—but sometimes that will be in the form of: “I think it would be positive for you to change your oil more often.”

Love and light—and daily aspirin—and Make Good Choices,


[1] I once heard someone tease: “Newage – rhymes with sewage.” He wasn’t very nice.

[2] Tolle claims that “Thinking has become a disease” and then he compares thinking to cancer (PON. 7). Lord.

[3] I agree that ego can be perceived as a trickster (Dak Dzin in Tibetan. Dak = “self” & Dzin = “to grasp.” Therefore “ego” is always already “taken hold of”). But, with an understanding of the trickster figure, we can appreciate how the inherent humor of narcissism and emotional aloofness illuminate that our egos are both our allies and our adversaries. In most cultures, the trickster is the hero instead of the bad-guy. In Buddhist philosophy the ego is much more than simply a fear/attachment machine; it is in recognizing the ego that we are able to laugh. Through that laughter we lose attachments. This is why I tend to recommend a hearty belly-laugh as the best form of exorcism, grounding, or banishment.

[4] Used appropriately, ego is a support for the True Will, or Ātman to use a Buddhist term, not as a support for the “false self” or “will of desire.”

[5] Maybe I’m just too hard on Tolle. I have an admitted bias against him. Once, I needed – really needed – to be supported by a family member. Rather than sustenance, I got some Tollian mimetic pseudo-psychiatric nonsense about “pain bodies.” That conversation changed my family dynamics forever. So, I bothered to read the book. It was so nonsensical that I use it to teach my Comp students about logical fallacies. This guy agrees with me:

[6] Though I thought it was a good thought exercise in “I Had a Few Words . . . ,” having revisited What the Bleep . . . , I realize that it too is a crock. *BadWitchFrown*


This post is for Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project: “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

When We Get Exactly What We Ask For

We know that we should be careful what we wish for lest we get it. But do we ever stop to consider that we should be careful what we get because we might just want to hang on to it?

Think about it.

It’s like 38 Special taught us: hold on loosely.

I have a girlfriend who is charmingly beautiful. We joke that she should be Cinderella at Disney because she wouldn’t even need a costume. About a year ago, she used to be a little bit “chunky.” She made a healthy life change, started going to the gym and became a vegan. Voila, twenty pounds gone and she became very pleased with herself and her body. Then. She became terrified that she would lose the progress she had made and so took a darker turn toward obsession. Unfortunately, she is not only unattractively thin, she is no longer charming. her hair breaks and her gums recede.

I have another friend who wanted a voluptuous garden. Hell-bent on an organic experience, she composted with manure, fertilized with “tonics,” and controlled pests with cayenne pepper and dish soap. She tended her seedlings and planted them and, during a drought year, watered them meticulously. Then the infestation came. She lost a few leaves and, infatuated with the idea of “war,” she spread Sevin dust all over her garden. Needless to say, the bees fled and none of her flowers were fertilized until months later.

I also know a man who wanted to be a business success so badly that he ended up being his own demise. He mistakenly defined success as wealth. When he forgot about customer service and employee happiness, he made everyone around him miserable. In effort to balance his wavering budget, he grasped onto his business wit both hands and strangled the life out of it. He broke laws, falsified documents, and in the end, drove everyone away.

These are, obviously parables for the real point: be careful of what you value. Do you place your values with those you really love? Or are you so afraid of loosing something that you undermine yourself? We all do it. It’s kinda a human thing.

Don’t we all know “control freaks” who want to manipulate and regulate to the point of joylessness? Don’t we all know someone “greedy” who micromanages with Draconian style to the point of lovelessness? Don’t we all know “social butterflies” and egomaniacs whose gregarious panache and insatiable need for attention can draw in plenty of hangers-on but no real friends? Haven’t we all been these people from time to time and to some degree?

When we get what we want, even then, we have to monitor our desires. We must continually ask ourselves, “What am I willing to sacrifice to keep this? Am I willing to hold on to this fulfilled desire at the cost of pursuing other, perhaps more satisfying and / or appropriate, desires?”

Let’s face it, though. Those of us strong enough to get what we want are often able to rationalize our motivations to the point of self-deception. Especially in our line, with our spiritualities, we are able to tell ourselves, “Well, this is my spiritual obligation. The gods gave me this task / blessing / calling; I must live it out.”

Sometimes, the universe gives us what we want just to see how much we are willing to lay it down. When we get what we want, it feeds our ego. To give up that desire is also to give up a huge chunk of ego. After all, we successfully manipulated the energy within ourselves and in the universe and obtained our desires through magical work. Damn. That’s a rush. Then to lay it all down? Shite. Who in their right mind would want to do that?

The person seeking the higher self. The person seeking union with the Divine. The person being obedient to a call which runs contrary to human instinct. Look at Abraham. Isaac (or Ishmael) was his beloved son – the miracle of his old age. His last ditch at immortality. And yet, Abraham was willing to bind him and lay him down as a sacrifice. So archetypal is this story that there is a term for such a sacrifice: the Akeidah (literally, the Binding).

This doesn’t mean that we should all start surrendering that which is dearest to us. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew God stopped the impending sacrifice. It just means that we should be willing to give it all up if called to do so. Obedience has its own reward. We should be willing to examine our egos for the will of the Divine.

After all, we are talking about having a little faith.

It means we should be careful what we wish for (or as I like to say, “what we witch for”). Because we just might get it. And then want to keep it. Against all odds.