All posts by bittercoffeeho

I am just a salty, bitter ho trying to make my way in this world with nothing but my razor sharp wits, eye-bags and emotional luggage in tow. Although I am bitter like black coffee, I cannot actually stand black coffee.

Intro to Witchcraft: balancing science and witchcraft….

Are you just starting out in witchcraft and freaking out about how science fits into all of it?

Are you worried that you’ll have to give up your belief in evolution and physics just to fit in with all the other witches?

I struggled myself with this; as a biological science major in school, with aspirations of being a veterinarian, how could I ever justify, even to myself, my belief in witchcraft and magic. How was I supposed to explain to my (eventual) children that I was a doctor and a witch (ha, a witch doctor)?

Well fear no more fellow witchling. Because I have some great news for you.

You can do whatever you want.

Witchcraft is literally without rules. There’s no one way of doing anything.

But how do you reconcile your scientific beliefs with your newfound spiritual beliefs?

Well…

Witchcraft and science overlap in multitudinous ways.

For both disciplines, you have to conduct research. You should look deeper at every claim you come across, whether it’s crystals or the use of new pesticides on corn crops.

Both disciplines rely on building on the knowledge that came before. For example, we’ve been building on how solar energy can be used for decades now. Similarly, witches have been building on the knowledge of the past in areas of horticulture, psychology, and spirituality. Both use claims from the past and investigate how to either dispel or improve on previous research.

Both disciplines keep records in some way. Most sciences rely on mathematics for their record keeping, whereas witchcraft journals about personal experiences. However, both are necessary to understand fully whether something was repeatable and testable.

So it should be easy to reconcile scientific beliefs with witchcraft because both have the same underlying purpose; understanding the universe and our place in it.

But I can hear you saying, ‘how can these make sense? How do these fit together?’

So think of witchcraft as a new form of science. Think of it as a melding of psychology and biology in an attempt to understand things we have yet to fully study. Think of spells and spell work as testing psychological boundaries and you are the Guinea pig, testing how best to help yourself and others. Think of the aspects of appreciating nature as biology and geology and you are simply documenting your experience in the world for future scientists/witches to use and grow from. Think of studying the celestial bodies as what it is, astrology, a real discipline of science.

There’s no real reason to segregate witchcraft and science, especially since witchcraft was a precursor to science.

So moral of my story is, that sometimes you have to put all the questions into a different science machine to get some kind of answer. While we as a society may have a vast understanding of how the planets work and how rain falls and why the sky is blue and why trees grow, there are still so many questions we as a species have about our world; like, how can I find happiness in the darkest times? Where can I find peace with the passing of a loved one? What can I do to help someone when I feel utterly lost and powerless?

And if you look at witchcraft with a critical eye, you can see that many aspects of witchcraft are even currently being studied by science to see why it works; things like mindfulness, meditation, manifesting (fake it till you make it), homeopathic options for illness treatment (lavender anyone?), and even just the psychology behind putting your belief that something will work (commonly called the placebo in an experiment, where you believe in something to a degree where your brain actually believes it can work). And that’s not even counting all the disciplines that have grown from witchcraft practice; baking, home-brewing (what hipsters every where are going crazy over), horticulture, astronomy, psychology, midwifery, natural medicine techinques that actually have some scientific proofs (cold-compression on swelling, the effects a cup of tea can have on your mood, aromatherapy to help calm and relax, color psychology, the effects of the outdoors and sunlight on your mood) (not you, anti-vaxxing bullshit.).

So while witchcraft may seem scary and mystical, just remember that so much of what is revered in witchcraft has become sciences and disciplines of their own and have scientific backing. So there’s no reason to ditch one set of beliefs for another.

Witchcraft: Meditation for those who have never mediated…

Have you ever tried to meditate and you just can’t seem to get the hang of it? Maybe you took a yoga class or two and at the end you just can’t seem to listen to the teacher and turn your brain off. Maybe you were recommended it by your friend Stacy who went gluten-free by choice last year and only eats vegan bacon even though she’s not vegan.

Or maybe, you’re like me, who just jumped head first into witchcraft and now, you’re stuck trying to figure out how to meditate since it seems like EVERYTHING runs off meditation (and intention, but whatever.).

But you’re sitting in your dark room, struggling to grasp this concept and you just can’t.

So how do you meditate?

Extended meditation, which is what a lot of these mediation gurus and yoga teachers are talking about, takes practice. Like a lot of practice.

So don’t expect to just slip into this trance as soon as you start saying gibberish words you think someone says while meditating.

My favorite way I’ve seen to help facilitate mediation is to sit and begin to image a color growing in your center (where ever your center is, whether bellybutton, heart, head, or ass). The color can be whatever color you like. Some advise white light or a warm color, but I say just pick your favorite or whatever you feel like today.

With each breath, let the color grow, like a flickering flame. Let the color extended through your body slowly. When it finally reaches the tips of your fingers and toes, imagine gathering up the color.

With an exhale, release the color into the world. Imagine it floating through your space, over you, covering everything. Then just breath for a bit in your space. When you feel like the color has faded, leave the space.

Now, I know that meditation is supposed to be clearing your mind and thinking of nothing in that moment, but sometimes you need something to get your brain started on the right track. And especially when you’re so stressed and overwhelmed, you can’t always just quit thinking or acting to just sit for a minute and breath.

Why is meditation so important for witchcraft?

Well, if we power the spell by setting intentions, think of meditation as a way to process the intention before hand. You don’t dump straight crude oil into your car. You have to refine it first to get the best product for the spell. Just like you don’t just eat a tea bag when you want some tea. You have to make sure the water is boiled and safe to drink.

So we meditate to make sure that what we bring to the table for a spell is what we want to go into a spell. If we mix up our thoughts and feelings with spell, we may have something that can go awry or just fizzle out completely. So we clear out mind and heart of everything that isn’t pertinent in that moment, so that the spell knows exactly what’s what.

So meditation and intention go hand in hand. You need both to work big spells and to make sure that you’re not letting your own feelings get in the way of the spell.

Student life: Bullet Journals…

So how do I maintain a busy school life on top of working full-time and having a pretty packed social life?

Is there a secret?

Not really.

Everyone has been bullet journaling since like 2010. Its turned into a pretentious art craze where you spend more time decorating the damn pages than using them to help you.

For those of you who don’t know what a bullet journal is, it’s basically a freeform planner. You get a blank notebook of some kind, and format the month and day pages by hand. It’s kind of like ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ thing, because so many day planners out there don’t have space for the things some people need in day to day life, like planning time for social events outside of work or school or including pages no one uses these days (address book and phone numbers by hand).

While I admit that the craze over aesthetically pleasing journals is fun to look it, a real bullet journal looks like shit.

Mine looks like shit

Why?

I don’t have time to keep up an aesthetic while I’m commuting and working and doing schoolwork. Which is what the bullet journal was intended for. Being too busy to care about meaningless formatting.

Does bullet journalling really work?

Some days. If I remember to update it. There’s no right or wrong way to bullet journal, but there are ways to make it work for you. 

It takes time to get the hang of bullet journalling, between setting up your own format and then getting through the cluelessness of spreads and what will work for you and your life.

I honestly love using mine to keep track of what’s due when and to make sure my schedules for work and school are lining up right. 

So how do I set up my bullet journal?

I buy a cheapo journal from the retailer I work at (since I’m there a hell of a lot). Then I crack open to the first page. I relish the fleeting moment of aesthetics and productivity.

Then I begin my spreads. I start with a month 2-page spread. I make a little calendar for the month and list out important days for the month, like birthdays, holidays, etc. On the second page, I write out appoitments or meetings I make throughout the month, as well as test dates and project due dates.

Each class gets a color code; for example one class is exclusively green in my journal. Everything for the class is written only in green. Depending on whether I’m beginning the semester that month or halfway through, I’ll write out my class schedule and syllabus due dates for each class (in corresponding color). If I’m halfway through the semester, I’ll just note important dates for my classes for that month.

Then comes the daily spreads. Each day gets it’s own page. For each day, I block out what time’s I’m either in class, commuting, or working. I also make two columns; what’s due that day and what’s coming up that week. This really helps as I get things done and have free time, I can start working on projects or reorganize my notes.

I do my daily spreads throughout the day. So if I have a couple minutes between classes, I’ll update the spread for due dates that the professor has extended or start setting up my spread for the next day.

I have to keep every day as planned out as possible since I do have very little free time.

Does bullet journaling really help? I’m not entirely sure. Some people swear by it. Me, I just need something that works better than a mass-produced planner where half the pages I won’t use because they don’t apply to my life and my day-to-day. I love having everything written down somewhere so I can look back and kick myself after I miss something that I should’ve remembered.

And sure, who doesn’t like looking like that bitch in class, pulling out a cutesy little journal and jotting down something and looking super put-together and ‘on top of it’.

Tarot 101: Two of Pentacles…

As we move right along through the Tarot, the Two of Pentacles is our card of the day to take a deeper look at. The Pentacles represent materialism, or material wealth. The Pentacles are often used to represent money. Twos in Tarot represent balance and relationships. Pentacles also represent Earth and, in reference to time, represent years.

Two of pentacles

When we look at the card, we see a young man in bright colors juggling two coins. The coins appear to be attached by the rope. Behind him, a rough sea with two ships, but the sky is clear.

From here, we can divine that if the card comes up, maybe someone is weighing the options available to them. Maybe these decisions are difficult, judging by the rough seas behind the man, but maybe which ever decision is picked, the outcome will be positive because the skies are clear.

Two of pentacles, reversed

When the card is reversed, we can see the young man, seemingly unsteady as he juggles his decisions. He is still weighing his decisions carefully, but seems to be contemplating the heavier of the two.

When this card pops up in a reading, we should take into account that allow the Two of Pentacles is strongly aligned with finances, it can also be in reference to a business relationship or decisions in relation to work.

So when this card pops up, we should keep a few things in mind:

  • Twos represent relationships and decisions
  • Pentacles represent material wealth
  • Pentacles are aligned with Earth
  • Pentacles in reference to time align with years

Student life: when you don’t add up compared to your peers…

So you just got into college and you’re a fresh-faced freshman, ready to take on the world.

Until you hit midterms and you fail miserably, while everyone else is acing it. And you thought you were good at math or English, or whatever it is.

So now what do you do? You’ve hit a snag in your plan and you honestly feel like shit. You were supposed to be good at school. You thought you were good at school. At least good enough to get into college. So what are you doing wrong?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

While you may not have access to all the resources available, just remember, you got into school and you got into school on your own hard work (hopefully).

So am I telling you to just buckle down and get to work?

Kind of.

I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re stuck comparing yourself to everyone because you thought you were good enough but all these other kids seem to be better than you. You’re stuck thinking how can you compare to Tiffany with a 4.0 GPA and boyfriend on the debate team and she’s part of a prestigious sorority.

Those braggers and put-togethers are like your rival in a Pokemon game. They have just enough to be a tough opponent to to challenge you, so you have to get crafty and wise up to the moves they’re going to use.

So if you know that Tiffany in your Lit class only works 10 hours a week at her club, then make her do more work in the group project because she has time to spare. You do not.

So if you know John in your Calc class is a math major, ask him for help and just smile and nod when he gets all high-and-mighty. Because he already knows everything and you can use that resource for free.

If you know that the TA in your lab is majoring in this exact field, then go to office hours or see if they’re available via email, at the least, to answer questions of the lab.

So what I’m really saying is start grinding and getting crafty with your resources. Pretend you’re a spy thrown into this life and you have to seamlessly integrate to keep your cover from being blown. Just start working harder than they are because damn, one day they are going to slip and it is going to be a spectacular fall.

And when then see you at the top, already covered in mud from fighting your way up this mountain, they’ll know, and you’ll know, that you were always more worthy and more qualified than they ever were.

Witchcraft: altars and sacred spaces…

Do you need an altar? Why would you need an altar? What is an altar? So-and-so said I need one? What do I even put on an altar? What do you mean I need to dedicate my altar? What does that even mean? How do I-

Take a deep breath. Good? Okay, here’s the dirty truth of altars…

They’re completely optional and really only necessary if you decide to pursue paganism and/or Wicca in addition to witchcraft.

So why are altars pushed for so hard in the community? Well, many witches are practicing pagans or Wiccans. So for them, an altar is completely practical. But what about those that aren’t pagan or follow more mainstream religions or have no gods?

Well, that’s the cool part about witchcraft. If you want to make an altar, go for it. Make it in your dining room, in a sunny corner of your office, or your bedroom closet. Hell, there’s a shit ton of ideas on Pinterest for shoe box and mint tin altars.

So what’s the purpose of an altar?

For those who practice in accordance to the old religions or in correlation to deities, an altar is a sacred space to honor those deities and spirits. For many of the old religions, there are no longer any physical sacred spaces, like churches, for people to worship at, so many create small scared spaces for their own private practice. Cultures across teh world have kept shrines and altars in their homes for their gods; Ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Japanese families kept shrines to various gods in their houses and pertaining to their professions (i.e. gods devoted to harvest for farmers. and gods devoted to fair seas for fishermen).

So what about if you follow mainstream religions or have no religion?

For those following more monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc), there’s no rules against having a shrine to your god in your house is there? Many people have things already, like crucifixes, or holy texts. An altar in your house could just be a safe and honored space to store your holy texts or to meditate.

And for those of us who are not dedicated to a god or religion, well, an altar is just optional really.

Do I have an altar?

Not really. But I do have a space reserved just for my witchy needs in my office. I can push it back into the closet and out of sight if my in-laws decide to drop by unannounced (like they always do). I don’t consider it an altar or a sacred space, but I do consider it a reserved area.

Like, that area is only for witchy supplies and storing my cards and journals and incense (no crystals yet).

What tips do I have for little newbies to set up their own altar/sacred space/witchy corner?

Once again, as with all witchcraft, first make sure this space has the intention of being your corner, your altar, your sacred space. If you’re closeted and setting up in a shoe box or in the closet itself (lol cause you’re in the closet already, get it?), then reserve that space just for that. Meaning, your shoebox holds nothing but your witchcraft supplies, your deitiy dedication, your Book of Shadows/ Grimoire. Don’t use your space for anything but your craft and worship.

Now, I understand working and living in a small space so maybe some area has to be multipurpose. So maybe make your altar travel-sized or easily collapsible if it’s in the spare room so you can pull out the Murphy bed for guests staying the night, or make it easy to move if floor space is limited, like in a dorm room.

What are things I have on my sacred space?

For me personally, I have just a little space on the top of a steamer trunk/coffee table in my office. I use it to hold my incense, journal, and Tarot cards. I also use the space as a writing table to write here, do school work, and meditate. But the corner remains as only used for witchcraft. The rest of the tabletop I cleanse with smoke to create a space when I do large readings (or with a Lysol wipe if my cats have decided to walk all over it).

Now, I understand multipurpose, so when I do need to get into the trunk itself (I keep blankets in there for easy access), I store all my stuff in a basket and slide it into the closet.

All my herbs stay in a kitchen cabinet, because the last thing I want to explain to my mother-in-law is why I have black pepper and basil leaves just hanging out in my office. There’s just no way to explain that away, considering the kitchen is a good 4 doors down from the office.

What if I am practicing paganism/Wicca/religion?

Then start looking at Pinterest my friend! There are so many ideas and absolutely gorgeous pictures of other witch’s altars and how they dedicate their altars. There are so many ideas of how to fit an altar into a shoebox or how to dedicate to your deities or how to even just construct a space that fits with your preferred style, like minimalism or traditional (read: hoarder-style old timey) witchy.

There’s no wrong way to do an altar. Just so long as it works for you and you feel like it’s a space where you can meditate, grow and worship as needed.

Working retail: retail vs the real world…

Working in retail is like working in a whole different world.

It’s a world of perpetual smiling, nodding, and degrading yourself for the customer.

It’s a world where ‘professional’ is thrown around like salt on fries.

There’s nothing professional about it, honestly. How is it professional to ask children to show up and then refuse to tell them the rules of professionalism, subjecting them to a trial by fire?

How is it professional to ask that only certain employees can dress for the environmental conditions, while asking more who deal with those same conditions to wear other clothing?

How is it professional to allow dating within the company, but only until one party of the couple is promoted from their own hard work and dedication?

How is it professional to allow some employees to bend all the rules but some still have to follow them to the tee for no reason other than the managers have an attitude problem?

I worked in the real world. I worked in an office where I was required to be professional. I was required to wear a certain dress code and act a certain way based off my position. I understood that going into that job. I understood that I couldn’t wear certain clothes or talk in a more casual way and I knew that I was getting paid to act that way.

In retail, not only are you not paid enough to really care how you act but, with how stressful it is dealing with not only your customers, but fellow employees, people wonder why there are some many stories revolving some of the biggest retailers in the world.

I can’t comprehend how consumers still choose to shop at these places that are obviously horrible to work, let alone shop.

My own parents continue to shop at a retailer where not long ago, people experienced domestic terrorism and died from gun violence. My parents weren’t apart of the tragedy, but they still choose to shop at the place where things like that happen.

Maybe what I’m trying to convey is that as consumers, we can end this cycle of high school drop outs being underpaid and underappreciated, just by taking our business elsewhere. We can end this cycle of poverty where the CEOs of the big retailers take so much of the profits and the low-level employees struggling to make ends meet between 2-3 jobs by refusing to give these people any more of our money.

And I’m sure some of you are thinking, but don’t you work at one of those places? Won’t you be affected by them losing business?

Sure I will, for a little bit. But I can always find a new job better serving my community and existing outside of the drama and hysteria that is retail work. Or I’ll die from homelessness after 6 months without a job. But either way, I win in the short term.

Witchcraft: moon phases…

Oh the moon. Probably the most popular celestial body. (unlike the sun, which can’t catch a damn break). She controls the seas, protects us from asteroids, and illuminates the nights. What would we do without the moon?

For witches in almost every domain of practice, the moon is a sacred body and we do our best to honor her. So the phases of the moon are a big deal. But for little beginner witchlings, like myself, diving into the use and worship of the moon is daunting. There’s just so MUCH.

So where do you even begin?

The easiest thing to understand about the moon is the phases.

You know what the moon phases are. We’ve all grown up watching the moon transition like clockwork; waxing, full, waning, new. We’ve all stayed up late on summer nights and seen the full moon illuminate the landscape.

So breaking down the moon phases is an easy enough task.

New moons are when the moon is turned away from us (you all know your science class lectures about how the moon reflects the sun, blah, blah, blah.)

Waxing is the moon growing from new into full.

Full moon is self-explanatory.

Waning is the moon transition from full to new.

In witchcraft, we attribute the moon phases to not only the 3, but to certain times.

The major phases of the moon coincide with the Maiden, Mother, Crone. In witchcraft, this woman/women are the representation of the witch and the witch’s journey. Waxing crescent is the Maiden, Full is Mother, and Waning crescent is the Crone.

The phases of the moon coincide with timing as well.

The new moon is used as a time for beginning spells revolving around new projects, as well as focusing on the self and recouping your own strength and energy.

The waxing moon is for attraction spells, usually money or love spells. The waxing moon is used for attraction because the moon itself is getting bigger and bigger and more. Therefore, attracting.

The full moon is the prime time for witches. Not only does each full coincide with something pertaining to the month it occurs in (Corn moon for August, e.g.) but the full moon itself is a revered as being as much of a power source as the sun. Full moons can be used for charging decks and crystals (especially those sensitive to extended sunlight), as well as making moon water, an energy charged water used for most everything in witchcraft from light cleansings, to even making tea or bath water. The Full moon is used for so much in the craft, including cleansing yourself and restoring your own energy. (moonbathing anyone? You know, instead of sunbathing?)

The waning moon is used for banishing. It’s the opposite of the waxing moon. As the moon shrinks, it is losing. Therefore, banishing.

No matter what the moon is doing, you can always sit and meditate under her light. The moon is as steady as the sun and is a great place to jump into witchcraft if you’re already lost.

And the best part about the moon and her energy? You don’t even need an actual spell to just sit and appreciate her beauty and energy. You can just sit and relax, meditate, and enjoy the gentle, loving light.

Witchcraft: intention…

Intention is everything. No matter what you start in witchcraft, you read ‘intention this’ and ‘intention that’ or even just ‘setting intention’.

What is intention?

It’s exactly like what it sounds like.

Intention, or intent, is what you want the spell to do for you. Each spell requires an intention to work. It’s like the battery for a toy. If you don’t put the right battery into the toy, it won’t work.

So how do you set intention? Well, that’s the hard part sometimes.

You have to know exactly what you want when you set an intention. If you’re working a spell for say, attracting money, then you have to be clear with what you want.

But this doesn’t answer the question, of what intention is. I know when I first starting diving in, every time intention came up in a spell, I would scratch my head and wonder what they were talking about.

From what I can gleam, intention is the energy you put into the spell itself. Of course, some spells need other energy to work, like celestial lighting or fire. But you have to put your own energy into the spell so that the universe knows who’s putting that energy out there.

So intention is just basically the energy you assign to a spell to make it work.

How do you actually set intention?

Depending on the spell, it’s easy enough to set intention. Most spells have incantations to set the intention (or the incantation is the spell itself).

Other times, when you cast the circle (which I’ll get to in a later post), you meditate and cast the energy from yourself for the spell. Which is the hard part. Because you really have to focus

Why is intention so important for witchcraft?

Intention is important because it’s the force behind an action. If you’ve taken a mindfulness course or have even just heard about mindfulness (the new craze), then you’ve heard about how just acting a certain way and putting certain thoughts into those actions can help you be more productive, more capable at handling stress, etc.

Witchcraft is the exact same thing as mindfulness but with a little more oomph behind it. Mindfulness itself has only been around for a couple years now, but witchcraft is eons old. Witchcraft intention is setting your thoughts and emotions on one track and using that energy to drive a reaction.

So how does the intention in a spell work?

Remember how I said intention is like the battery of a spell? The intention is the direction you move the spell. It’s the battery that moves the spell along.

And I can hear you, just like I myself said not long ago “that doesn’t make any sense! how does intention work! Like work-work!”

So hears the breakdown. Imagine that the spell is a train. The destination is the reason for the spell. For this example lets use a common money spell to attract wealth. The train is set towards Wealth. But the train can’t move down the track without fuel. Your intentions are the coal for the train to move (or steam or gas or whatever). You meditate on the feeling on wanting wealth, of attracting wealth, of being wealthy. You figuratively put that emotion on the train. The train now has fuel for the journey down the track. So how do you get the train moving? You do something like charge the spell with something else, like crystals or fire. Those are the engine to process the intention-fuel. Now the train can move down the track and take you to Wealth.

I know this is confusing and a strange topic. Believe me. As much as I love science, physics is not my forte and intention is reminiscent of physics. Just because you cannot see or measure the force, the force is still present. Like gravity. You may not have tools readily available to measure the force of gravity, but gravity is still a force acting on you, whether or not you can see or measure it. Same thing goes for intentions.

Just because you can’t see or actively feel the energy in intentions, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Student life: what they don’t tell you about college classes..

College is a fantastic time. It’s a great time to learn about the world and your self and your place in the world. But lately, more and more kids are heading into college and struggling through their first year(s).

Why is that?

In my opinion, from what I’ve observed being a college student, and being asked questions by kids at work (I have teenagers on my team who want to know everything about college), college is set up to fail a vast majority of incoming students.

What is the disconnect between what kids are told by their high school teachers and what actually happens at college?

For one, most classes are actually self taught. I know, I know… You’re paying thousands and thousands just to be there, plus the hundreds on textbooks, so that means the professor should show you something right?

No. The professor is just there to make sure you get evaluated for the class. The actual learning part is up to you. You need to actually do the ‘optional’ reading and do every activity. The lecture is just to see what the professor will test you on. No actual learning happens in a lecture. It happens in your dorm room at 3am as you struggle through the same chapter for the 10th time trying to memorize the equation for cellular respiration.

Another thing kids don’t get told about is how to effectively time manage. Every kid thinks they know how to manage their time and those who took extracurriculars in high school are extremely sure about their ability to time manage.

What nobody wants to tell them is that, real time management involves prioritizing tasks and pushing some tasks off until last minute because more important tasks come up.

For example, knowing that a big project is due, these freshies will spend hours trying to finish a 10 point homework assignment instead of plotting out and researching for the project that’s due in two days.

Just because something is due immediately doesn’t mean you absolutely have to complete it if it’s going to put your grade in jeopardy for another course.

Honestly, there is so much they don’t tell you about college when you’re a high school junior or senior.

And even with all the advice out there from kids like me who have just finished college, or are still in the middle of it… There’s still so much nobody tells you.

Like, syllabuses will save your ass time and time again, so don’t lose them or throw them out after the first class.

Or stock up on tissues and cold medicine before cold season hits, especially if you live in the dorms, because you will catch something.

Pick one day a week to always do laundry otherwise you will run out of clean underwear and usually before a big event (date, job interview, family dinner).

Write notes in class in pen because a pen will 9 times out of 10 work more consistently than a pencil.

Do not make in class notes pretty. You will spend too much time switching between highlighters and then lose information that will definitely be on the test.

Do not wear impractical shoes or clothing, no matter how cute you think you look. Those heels will be your bane when you have to walk all the way across campus in the sudden rainstorm.

Do not party. Just don’t. Not only are the legal implications shitty (wait until you have to pay your first ticket), but if you party with strangers, bad shit happens. Maybe not to you or your friends, but bad shit happens.

Always carry a charger and a snack. Always. There will be days you get stuck in class and miss lunch or dinner.

Set alarms and reminders on your phone for everything. Everything, from taking out the trash to a project due next week to reminding yourself to take a break from studying so you can actually make it to the dining hall for food.

When you move out of the dorms, you will trash your new place at least once in the semester. And not party-trash. I mean, working 30 hours, projects galore, haven’t done the dishes in weeks trashed.

You will get at least one shitty professor. One who makes you hate that class and their department. Suck up dealing with them because honestly, they can and will fail you for a shitty attitude. Happened to me. But that’s a story for another time.

No amount of words I put out will actually make your experience any different.

Lay off the coffee shop lattes because you will inevitably go broke. Trust me.

Coffee and energy drinks are not meal replacements.

Most assignments are listed only in the syllabus and it’s your responsibility to know what is die when. These assignments will only be listed in the syllabus and never brought up in class.

Check and double check everything you write for essays. If your allowed opinion based(usually arts and some literature classes) then just make sure everything makes sense. If you need sources (science reports), please learn how to academically write.

You will spend thousands to be here, but you will be expected to pay out of pocket to print 90% of anything you need printed, including notes, project, reports, and more.

Everyone is pretentious and completely full of themselves. Avoid who you can, be courteous to those you cannot avoid.

Splurge on pens because the last thing you need is for your pen to quit working in the middle of lecture. Don’t share pens for anything.

You will think you are starving. You are not. Eat only meals 3 times a day and 2 snacks a day between major classes.

Witchcraft: horticulture for the black thumb…

Are you like me and kill every plant you come in contact with?

Tried literally everything from fake plants to cacti?

I am honestly the worst at plants. I think it’s because for most of us that grew up with pets of some sort, it’s easier to care for pets than it is plants. Pets move and will engage with you when they are hungry. Plants just sit there, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.

So of course, I’m trying out growing plants once again to see if maybe as I’ve aged, I’ve gotten more proficient at caring for plants.

I can already see some of you going, ‘what does this have to do with witchcraft?’

So let me explain. Many parts of spell work rely on plants in one form or another. Some call for specifically grown plants that you ‘should’ have in your garden. So what do I do since I am 1) a poor college kid and 2) a minimum retail worker and 3) closeted witch?

I of course buy all my herbs dried from the seasoning section at the grocery store. Not only would I know that herb plants would die in my care, but I also know that the region I live in is very harsh on many nonnative plant species and those plants require a lot of dedication and attention. So if you’re a stay at home parent or retired, then go for the multitudes of plants all around your house.

Another issue I have is space and funds. I can’t afford to buy the things I need for plants and I have even more limited space for plants. Not to mention that any plants I bring into my house have to be both cat and dog friendly.

So what about my other witchlings out there with blackthumbs like yours truly? What advice would I give you, one beginner to another?

If you want to give growing your own plants a go, just take a few things into consideration; pets, plants, place and space. As in…

  • Do you have any pets that may have an adverse reaction to certain plants?
  • What plants are you specifically trying to grow yourself and do you have the skill needed to care for them?
  • Does the place you live have special requirements for growing season (how dry is it, how wet is it, will the plants need to be potted, is it too sunny, is it not sunny enough…)
  • Do you have enough space for that plant, whether in your apartment window box or your garden or your dorm room desk?

And for those like me who know that plants would be a bit of a waste of money and energy, what should you do?

I buy my herbs when I have some spare change, and if I have to, I’ll get the fresh stuff from the produce section. But honestly, most spell work is about intention alone. So if you can’t afford fresh cinnamon sticks harvested straight from the garden, then just use some off brand ground cinnamon you have in your spice rack.

Witchcraft is all about finding what works for you. If this means that maybe you have to cut corners to work within your limited budget (like me) then make sure you’re just not shortchanging yourself. Be thrifty with your spices but not your intention. And above all, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

And if you want to give indoor plants a go, there are tons of websites and blogs out there that have listed hearty houseplants that can stand up to a shitty plant parent.

Tarot: Questions to ask at a reading…

This is probably the most important step when consulting a deck.

What the hell do I ask?

First things first, are you asking for yourself, or are you reading for someone?

I think the easiest way to determine what questions you can or cannot (more like shouldn’t) ask is based off of what kind of reading is happening?

If you are the one doing the reading, then I would say, you can ask any question TO YOUR OWN DECK THAT YOU ARE READING FROM IF YOU ARE READING FOR YOURSELF.

If you’re the reader and asking for a client or someone else, then ask only questions you are comfortable asking.

Think of Tarot like a spiritual Google. You can ask Google whatever you want. However, there are some things you won’t get any answers for (like winning lotto numbers or when you’ll die). There are some things you don’t want to know from Google (like cheaters and such). So how do you know what kind of questions to ask then?

Easy. Ask questions about…

  • where is my career headed
  • is my life balanced between family and aspirations
  • what needs to happen from me for a certain result
  • what am I not seeing about a situation
  • what aspect am I not seeing in this relationship (can be romantic, familial, or platonic)
  • what do I need to move on from
  • yes or no questions (not in depth answers but easy enough to read)
  • where is my life going
  • what options should I consider
  • out of my options which is better
  • what do I need to focus on in my life
  • is this option a good option for me

The most important thing about a Tarot reading is that you’re not trying to get all the answers to the universe. You’re working on getting answers about yourself.

Remember that some things are left up to chance and shouldn’t be rushed. If you’re worried about meeting someone or if your wife is going to leave you or if you’re going to lose your job, should you really be getting a Tarot reading instead of fixing the problems you already know about?

Student life: Rewriting your notes…

So how do I study and stay on top of my busy schedule?

Most of the time, I don’t.

But what do I do when I try to study between working, commuting, and trying not to lose my shit?

I recopy my lecture notes. My handwriting is absolutely atrocious. So when I find the time, I sit down with a fresh notebook page and copy my notes down and make them readable. Then when I get time to study, I can review everything that the professor went over in lecture.

So how do I rewrite my notes to make sure all the viable content gets copied down?

First, I start with opening the lecture from the day and start writing the notes I copied down. Whenever I hit a snag from where my writing is indecipherable, I can reference the lecture slides and jog my memory.

So how do my reference notes and lecture notes differ?

In my refernce notes, I use different colors to help with memorization. For example…

  • Red is used for vocab words
  • Green is used to key concepts (either underlined or written in green ink)
  • Blue is used for chapter headings and to distinguish what will be on what test
  • Pink/purple (or another bright color) is used for chapter summaries and to summarize what will be on the test

Does this system really work? Maybe. I’ve heard many conflicting things on this way to study or that way to study. Honestly, this method helps me and that’s what counts. Maybe your method you develop involves making flashcards, or watching Crash Course videos or whatever.

There’s no right way to do anything and whatever works for you is what works.

Tarot 101: Two of Swords…

The Two of Swords is an interesting card. In Tarot, twos are used to represent choices and decisions. Swords, for me, represent fire and thoughts.

Two of Swords

So what can we see in the Two of Swords? A woman sits on a bench, blindfolded. Behind her is a sea or a very large lake, maybe. It is night time. She holds two swords upright. These are very large swords, as they extend past the border. She holds these very large swords easily.

So what does it mean? The blindfold reminds me of Lady Justice, who is blind but finds the truth. So she must being trying to find the truth or find an answer. Both swords like similar in size, color, and heft. If this card represents decisions, then the swords are the decisions or choices themselves, and they are similar choices.

But we have to remember that the setting is still night time. So perhaps these choices are not about the easy things in life, maybe these choices are more difficult.

Two of Swords Reversed

So what about when this card comes up reversed? The moon looks like it is just rising at this point, so maybe this is still about difficult choices, but it is the start of difficult choices. Both choices are still equally aloft, so both choices, while difficult, are both viable options.

Depending on the reading and the question asked, this card can mean weighing options carefully and determining whether the choices are equal or whether the choices available are difficult choices.

So when this card is pulled, remember the basics.

  • Twos represent decisions
  • Swords represent fire (air in conventional interpretation) and thoughts
  • In reference to time ,Swords refer to days (fire) or weeks (air)

Tarot Reading – 1 Card

A one card Tarot reading. Answers yes/no questions.

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How to survive being an adult…

Adulting is hard.

Super super hard.

And every single adult sucks at it.

Every single post you see on Instagram about how pretty a desk looks and all that bs… It’s the biggest crock of bullshit.

I literally right now have no money in my bank account, mountains of dishes in the sink, my gas tank is riding E, and I’m a week away from payday.

Every single adult is lying about how good they are at being an adult. Some one may be really good at drinking the right amount of water and paying bills, but I can guarantee they suck at taking their car in for oil changes.

I know I’m good at paying bills and keeping my bathroom mostly clean (counters don’t count). My boyfriend/husband person is good at taking care of my our cars and doing the dishes.

However, we both really suck at eating right, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

So in conclusion, fuck being an adult. There is no real way to adult and there is no way to adult effectively. People over 40 have practice being adults and grew up in a time when they were allowed to make mistakes in secret, away from social media and the all-watching eyes of the internet.

Maybe we should start an internet campaign called #realadulting where we all post picks of our unfinished laundry and overflowing sinks and soap-scum crusted showers because hell, we’re here for a good time not a long time and sometimes, all the stupid shit that makes us ‘real adults’ gets put on the back burner.

I’m just so sick of everyone posting their damn fitness routines and meal plans and shit and bragging about how amazing they are. Fuck being a real adult. Fuck trying to squeeze in a fitness routine after working your ass off all day. Fuck ‘clean eating’ when you can’t afford to buy groceries on a regular basis. Fuck sleeping 8 hours a night when the only way to make rent is pulling double shifts and working side gigs like ride shares. Fuck drinking enough water when you can barely keep your eyes open half the time (from working all the damn time) so you pound coffee after energy drink after latte after energy drink after coffee.

Fuck thriving as an adult when we can barely stand on our own two feet.

So go forth, fail spectacularly, and learn. Put off whatever can wait if it means you can take a minute to breath.

Student life: Scholarships…

Honestly, I feel like scholarships are an absolute waste of time and energy.

I spent almost 10 hours a week during my sophomore and junior years sifting through scholarship after scholarship to apply for. I spent so much time trying to find ones I even qualified to apply for.

And in the end?

Nothing. Not a single damn scholarship.

I had nothing to show for my efforts, nothing to show for hours I labored away.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply for scholarships?

Maybe.

I feel like the market for scholarships is over-saturated and the people applying for scholarships are over-applying.

There’s no limit to applying for multiple scholarships and if some are lottery-based, then yeah, other kids are going to have a better chance at winning certain scholarships.

Honestly, if I could go back in time and spend those hours upon hours differently, I would’ve picked up a hobby or a sport or a club instead. Then I would’ve been able to narrow the field of my scholarship search.

But then again, my dear cousin, who I think is brilliant and talented, never won any scholarships for her photography, IB and AP scores, for being over 5 foot 10 as a girl, or for both parents being divorced.

It’s a flawed system, making children compete and jump through ridiculous hoops just to find money to better their future.

Intro to Witchcraft: Incense…

God I love incense.

I feel like incense is one of those things that every witch loves passionately and lately, it’s been getting a bad wrap from those moms. You know, the ‘Gregory doesn’t need vaccinations, I have essential oils and gluten-free pasta’ moms.

But for witches, incense is like… my jam.

Incense is used to bring fire into a spell or ritual, safely (cause you can’t logistically have a bonfire in your living room). Then, the fact that each scent has it’s own alignments.

Like, every one secretly loves incense and lighting shit on fire. It’s something in our primal caveman brain.

So what do you need to get started with incense?

Nowadays, most stores are carrying incense (for those Karens out there).

So you can trek down to local grocery and pick up some sticks and light up.

Here are some of my go-to flavors I love to have around the house.

  • Lavender – I mean, duh. Any witch worth their salt keeps some lavender around the house in one form or another. Incense is one of the easiest form to keep around and light up when you need it. Lavender is used for promoting peace and calming, whether through aromatherapy or through potions (i.e. some Celestial Seasonings Lemon Lavender Lane tea, which is also my jam).
  • Sage – While not a traditional sage bundle, I keep a couple sticks around to help with quick, on-the-go cleanings. Like, when I need to sequester myself away and recharge, I can sit in my office space and light up some sage, and create a space just for me to recharge my energy.
  • Lemon – I just really love citrus. Citrus, especially lemon and orange, always makes me feel like something is clean and fresh and bright. Lemon incense is good for luck and success.

Now a few things you have to know about incense.

You can’t just light it up like a blunt and start smoking.

Okay, you can, but you need a little something extra.

Just like with candles, you have to watch incense around small children and animals, and you should never leave it unattended for extended periods of time (if you have to leave for a moment to get your cup of coffee, then cool, but don’t light it then go out partying with your friends all night).

If you do have to leave (emergencies happen, no biggie) then make sure to put out your incense. You can put it out by dunking the tip in water, wetting your fingertips and squeezing the tip (like an old-timey candle), or mashing the tip, like a cigarette butt, into an ash tray or the incense holder ash groove.

Lavender and cats don’t mix. If you have cats and want to burn some lavender incense, just be aware they cannot breakdown certain aspects of lavender and it can cause moderate health issues, like nausea and vomiting. When I want to burn lavender incense, I seclude myself in my office away from my cats and my cats’ food with an open window and the fan on. I make sure the room is completely clear of smoke before allowing them back into the room.

There’s no right way to pick incense. Of course, there’s some traditional flavors everybody swears by, but honestly, if a certain scent gives you a headache or brings bad memories to mind (cinnamon is my bane, if you know what I mean), then don’t try to make it work. There are always alternatives you can use, and you can always tweak a spell to work for you. Maybe lemon doesn’t bring to mind wealth, but pine does (you know, pine trees are green, money is green), then focus on the intent instead of the community.

So here’s a quick breakdown of the most common incense flavors.

FlavorAlignmentUses (rituals, rites, and spells)
AmberFire and Airwisdom, truth, love and desire
Cinnamonpersonal power, protection,
inflaming passion,
countering love spells
CitrusLemon for confidence, good luck and
goal accomplishment
Orange for joy, good fortune, prosperity,
and marriage happiness
Dragon’s
Blood
FireThe coffee of incense: because of the
rarity and power, it adds a kick
to any spell work, esp. useful in love
magic, protection, and oath-making
Evergreenwisdom, cleansing,
protection, money magic
FrankincenseThe stand -in: because of the commonality
works for most spell work, including
setting sacred space, offerings, and
purification
HoneyIdeal for works for drawing prosperity
wealth, and luxury
JasmineThe MoonFor New moon and Full Moon rituals,
encourages prophetic dreams and
spiritual magic
Lavendercleansing for the home, body and mind
useful for healing and meditation
Patchouliattraction magic, like money spells
Raincleansing, healing, relaxation,
esp. good for ‘clean slates/fresh starts’
and calming anger
(Fresh Linen scent can be used in a pinch)
RoseVenuslove incense: attracting and keeping love, usher in romance and self-love,
can also open the heart
Sandalwoodonly for benevolent works; cannot be used
to curse or compel, used to consecrate, heal,
removing negativity, , bringing peace,
wishes, bless altars and ritual spaces
Vanillacalming an area, promoting mental and
physical arousal, stimulate good luck
happiness, prosperity, and knowledge-seeking

Incense is a great way to jump feet-first into witchcraft. It’s pretty affordable, and even if you spend too much at first, there’s no way you’ll burn through 50 sticks of incense super fast.

Working retail: culture…

I hate the culture of working in retail. I absolutely hate it.

So you’re asking, what about ‘retail culture’ do you hate?

The entire entitity that is retail.

I hate that you start in a position at this corporation and they go on and on about how wonderful the company is, with these benefits and this policy.

But it’s all a lie. It’s the culture of lying.

The policies they brag about don’t do shit for you, the employee.

The benefits they brag about don’t do enough for you, the employee.

I work every day in a place where men are constantly listened to before a woman opens her mouth. I work in a place where customers and employees alike are not only rude and aggreesive to me, but I work in a place where no matter who I talk to about it, they are allowed to act that way.

I have worked my ass off so much for the last year and where have I ended up? No where. Because the only place to go in that retail establishment is to go up the managerial ladder and get worked even harder until I either quit or collapse.

I work in a place where as an hourly manager, I was the only person not given the schedule they wanted, or given a schedule where I could work more effeciently.

And NOW! Now, that I’m out of that manager position, the person who has taken over is listened to more than me and people praise her to the moon and back for doing what they wouldn’t do for me.

I work in a place where we lie and cheat and scam every fucking day, not only our associates but our vendors and our selves.

We lie to ourselves every day when we walk through the doors to work and say to ourselves, ‘maybe, today won’t be so bad’, ‘maybe, today I’ll actually get my 15 minute break for once’, ‘maybe, today, I’ll get out of work without being harassed in any way’.

I fucking hate the culture around retail and the fact that we are used and abused like late-model Honda Civics are abused by first-time drivers and car guys that are too poor to afford a nicer car.

Getting married on a budget…

I can’t understand why people get so stressed over planning a wedding.

Why would you want to spend thousands and thousands on a wedding?

My two budget tips for planning your own wedding?

  1. Don’t bother having anybody come. It’ll cut down on how much money you ave to spend on food, entertainment, etc.
  2. Don’t hire a wedding planner. Do you really want a big wedding? Do you really want to invite your entire family and spend hundreds on clothes and food and booze?

Seriously, weddings are a waste of money. There’s no reason to spend thousands and thousands on giant party that acts as nothing more than a status symbol.

Spend that money on something else. Save up for a down payment on a house for you and your new spouse. Spend that money on a well-deserved vacation/honeymoon.

Don’t buy into the idea that you need to do this or that for your relationship to be seen as a ‘real’ relationship.

Student life: failure in 200 words…

Everyone says failure is just a mistake.

An opportunity.

Failure is actually…

Disappointment.

Anger.

Losing.

Failure is knowing that you could’ve been better and not achieving anything.

Failure is looking at yourself in the mirror every day and wanting to fight yourself because you are the only reason you didn’t become something.

Failure is having more hurdles set up in your path and being forced to jump over them.

Failure is slipping down the mountain and having to start from the bottom every single day.

Failure is not an opportunity. Failure is not a mistake to right. Failure is not having to rethink your situation.

Failure is a slap in the face every single day. Failure is trying to get up every single day and the universe pushing you back down and kicking you in the teeth, daring you to get back up.

So you get back up every day. And ask for more. Because to lie there and take it, is to let your spirit die. Failure is the sidekick in your story who gets you into all sorts of trouble and laughs from the sidelines as you figure out the puzzles and monsters.

Failure is what it is.

What is failure to you? Let me know in the comments. Or let me know why I’m wrong.