Responding to the Crisis in the Amazon

As we hopefully all know right now, the Amazon Rainforest is burning. The vast majority of the fires have been set intentionally. Some of them were set legally, others illegally. All of the fires were made easier, if not possible, by the regressive environmental policies of Brazil’s president Bolsonaro. The fires are not only a serious threat to our already deeply imperiled environment, they are a direct threat to the indigenous populations who call the Amazon home and who have been fighting for so long to protect that home. These fires are being set with the full knowledge of the threat they pose to the people who live there, and is nothing short of a genocidal tactic being used against populations who have been struggling to defend their rights against colonization and capitalistic greed for so long.


Within pagan and witchcraft communities, people who are distraught and feel powerless to help have been creating and sharing spells designed to send healing to the Amazon. I am not a huge believer in the power of magic on its own, though I believe that magic can be a powerful tool for reinforcing or strengthening some other action you are taking in the world.

For myself, I have started a monthly donation to both the Rainforest Action Network and  the Rainforest Trust. Another wonderful organization to support is Amazon Watch, which works with indigenous people to protect the rainforest. I made my donations in Jord’s name, a earth jötunn mother of Thor. I also evoked her in the small ritual spell I did tonight, and will do for the following two nights, and invite you to join me in doing.

My spell is a modification of one I saw drifting around Facebook. The original called for a bowl of water, a candle, and a piece of agate, quartz, or palo santo. Though I happened to have a piece of palo santo given to me by a friend, I strongly recommend against buying palo santo due to its endangered status, which is directly linked to over-harvesting. I also brought along with me a sterile lancet and biodegradable tissue, a bottle of wine, some fancy salt, and a beer — to make offerings to those I called on.

My spell goes as follows, but feel free to make any modifications that will help you perform the spell successfully:

Sit on the earth. Light the candle before you, and dig a hole between you and the candle. As you begin to speak, hold the [agate/quartz/palo santo] in the flame.

“I call on Angrboda, whose spirit is wild, to oversee and lend power to these workings.”

Pour offering of wine into the hole.

“I call on Jord, who is the fertile earth herself, to accept and manifest this healing.”

Sprinkle offering of salt into the hole.

“I call on Freyr of the Vanir, the god who wields the rains, to bring his gift of rain, to the Amazon that burns.”

Use sterile lancet to draw blood from a finger, dab it up with the tissue and drop this into the hole followed by a healthy pour of beer.

As you speak the next bit, douse the burnt end of the [agate/quartz/palo santo] in the bowl of water.

“I implore these powers, hear our cries.”

Pick up the bowl, and as you speak the next bit, dip your finger in the water and sprinkle it on the candle.

“Bring down the rains to drown the flames burning through our lungs.”

If the candle was not spattered out, blow it out now.

Offer gratitude and bid farewell to those you have evoked, in whatever way works best for your practice.

The Quest I Didn’t Know I Was On

All of my pagan life, I’ve been on a Quest. Not just a quest, but a QUEST. One of those big journeys that is supposed to culminate in some huge lesson, similar to the Quests that knights would go on in the old tales. Quest for the Grail and all that.

Strange right? I mean, I didn’t even know it was happening at first. I just studied wherever and whatever my heart led me to. I didn’t really have any goals in mind, any one thing that I was supposed to be learning. I just went where my heart led me.

It wasn’t until recently that it all began to come together. We’re not talking about a couple years of searching though. I mean, twenty years is a long time to be searching for something you didn’t even know you were searching for.

But that’s what happened…  Let me back up and explain a little of this journey…

I became pagan at the young age of 12. Yup, 12 years old. And yes, I knew what that meant then. I was the only one I knew, sort of. See, my grandmother was really New Age. As far as I know, she was Christian (at least nominally). Yet she had her own deck of Tarot cards (Rider-Waite) and a bag of runes. I remember sitting there somewhere between 10 and 11 years old, and playing with them. I read the little books, and tried to figure out what they meant, but just couldn’t grasp it at that point (it honestly took me years to be able to read Tarot, and I’m still only beginning my journey with runes).

After watching my efforts, my grandmother took me to the local bookstore she frequently haunted and let me roam the shelves of the New Age section. Nestles tightly between books on angels and crystals were spell books and books on REAL TRUE WITCHCRAFT!!!  Imagine the shock that went through my young mind to learn that witches were real! It was hands-down that most eye-opening moment of my life. I never struggled with the thought. Instead I embraced it, and began down the road that led me to this moment in my Quest.

At the age of 19, I began to study in earnest. I was finally able to understand what I was reading and I read everything I could. As it was the only word I knew, I called myself Wiccan, even knowing that it wasn’t the right word for what I did. More often than not, it was just Pagan, even though I was regularly having to explain what that was. It wasn’t a word that most people knew then. The internet was still a baby at that point, and shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed were just beginning their foray into the wonderful world of witchcraft.

Moving forward a few years, I was in university and my studies there led me into the Arthurian tales, as well as myth cycles such as Y Mabinogi. I didn’t then realize what an impact they would have on me. One tale led to the next, which led to some historical work, and eventually led me to the edges of Druidry. Along the way, I was still studying magick, but I was becoming more and more disenchanted with it. Something was missing…

That search for the missing whatever it was became a search for my “real” spiritual path. I explored so many things, among them Heathenry, Druidry, Irish Celtic, Kemetic, and an Avalonian Tradition. None of them was right for me in it’s entirety, although I learned a lot from them. I learned more about who I’m not than I did about who I am, which led me into a deeper confusion. I was searching in earnest now, but still didn’t know what I was searching for.

All this searching was leading me into a crisis of faith. I mean, if I couldn’t find my right path, how could I truly call myself pagan in any way? I realize that that question doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense, but it’s how I was feeling. My entire identity had become wrapped up in who I was spiritually.

A decade of searching led me down many paths, none of them what I truly needed. I finally gave up. I started coming to terms with the thought that I would always have this really, REALLY, eclectic practice. I felt incredibly alone, like no one would ever understand how I felt and what I was looking for. After all, I didn’t know myself.

It took some time, but I was finally able to just relax and accept that my practice was really different from the rest of the pagans I knew. I knew that in the end, it didn’t really matter, as long as my practice, such as it was, meant something to me.

Then lightning struck…

I came to realize that my faith matched up with my Arthurian studies from so long ago. What I had begun then was the forerunner of where I was to end up. Suddenly, everything began to make sense to me in a new way. It was like putting together a puzzle face down, and then turning it the right way and seeing the whole picture! I had the answers all along, I just didn’t see it!

My path is in search of Awen, which is the Welsh word for divine inspiration. You see, in my mundane life, I am a writer. Not just here, but in multiple places. I recently had a book of poetry published and am currently working on two new ones. I was so close to my spiritual path with my writing that I couldn’t see it.

I work now primarily with Welsh deities, although it’s still very new to me. The words, the language, the myths, I am taking baby steps down this path, soaking it all in bit by bit. The term for the path, for those who are like me and like labels to define things, is Awenydd. Those who seek Awen, and strive to bring it into every day life, who work with the gods and spirits of Brythonic culture, attempting to bring them forward again.

I have found more peace within myself since coming to realize that the signs have always been there. I will continue to work with the gods I’ve already established relationships with, but now my Quest has become more pressing than ever. I feel like I am 12 years old again, reaching for those books that taught me about this world in new ways. I have come full circle, and move now into a new journey.

©Lauren Michelle 2019


52491588_10211348469341623_4571024274545967104_nPutting a name to myself has always been difficult for me because I have a habit of throwing the rules away before even opening the manual. Religion to me doesn’t have structure- doesn’t need it unless you do, and I don’t. So after growing up Baptist, having a brief stint in the Wiccan path, and jumping back onto the Baptist bandwagon, I finally found a community in college where I could explore what it was I actually believed.

Paganism and witchcraft has always settled well with my soul, but after the aforementioned stint with some Wiccan friends, I knew I didn’t want the structure that came with that kind of practice. You see, I’ve never done well with absolutes. (All the, “You have to cast a circle before-” “Always call the corners before-” “Don’t ever blow out a candle or-“) I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a lazy-ass witch. I don’t have a lot of time for the formalities and when I do, I’m too tired or low on spoons to do them. If that’s what helps you, then great! But for me, I’ve never felt like my gods needed- or wanted- the stress and anxiety that tends to follow me around when I try to follow the rules. (Perhaps that’s why Loki has taken such a liking to me. I prefer the chaos in my practice rather than the stuffy textbook must-do’s.)

So my practice became a big scrapbook of different traditions and beliefs that suited me the best, things that I liked and enjoyed and felt within my bones. For me, simply lighting some candles and welcoming my gods was enough to start the fun. I didn’t need a circle or the corners or the fancy crystals in each direction. Not to mention the fact that my memory is shit and I couldn’t have memorized all the fancy rhymes and phrases the books tell you to say aloud anyway.

As for my gods? I don’t really remember how they all found me. I don’t have cool stories about visions or dreams or crows following me around. Or if I do, I can’t remember them. I’ve been fascinated with mythology since I was able to read, so it’s no surprise that my practice would find it’s way in that direction. As much as I know a lot of Lokeans hate to hear it, I do believe Loki first came to me as a ‘god’ through Marvel. I’d heard of him before of course, read some of the stories. But I never really got interested until I was sucked into the nerd life that is comic books. (And let me get this out of the way now. No, I do not worship Tom Hiddleston, though I will freely admit that I do worship dat ass. No, I do not think Tom Hiddleston is Loki.) I think Tom’s interpretation was basically Loki’s way of poking me in the cheek to get my attention. Like, “hey bitch, I’m right here, look at me!” And quite frankly, I’ve never looked back. Hades and Persephone were less obvious. I’ve loved their story for as long as I’ve known about Greek mythology and it just seemed to fall into place. It just seemed right.

Sure, sometimes I’m a bit sad that I didn’t get a big reveal or a big sign to tell cool stories about. But you know, I don’t think I ever really needed one. All my life religion has been shoved in my face with people telling me what I had to believe and that if I didn’t, I’d suffer for it. So having that choice, being able to look for myself and see someone looking back? Well that was exactly what I needed and I don’t think I’d change it for the world.

So here I am today, still flailing around like I know what I’m doing while I pretend that, yes the wax was supposed to drip there and no it wasn’t a complete accident. I’m still learning, I don’t think I’ll ever really stop, but that’s the beauty of it all. Opinions and beliefs change and grow as you do and I think that’s wonderful. Taking that journey with my gods and my spirits and my beliefs is exciting and new, as long as I get to do it my way. And I hope with this blog, I’ll be able to help others find what works for them while still sharing what works for me.

So let’s stop bitchin’ and get to witchin’, my little fools.

– Val

©Valfreyja 2019