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Modern Day Witch Wars, the Hierophant, and the Tox...

Modern Day Witch Wars, the Hierophant, and the Toxicity of the Narcissist

heirophant shadow narcicissm toxicity the house of twigs community

I have to start by saying I am not a psychologist or counselor, although I did spend a portion of my high-school years thinking this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I am merely someone who has dealt with being targeted by narcissistic abusers most of my life. I have spent a great deal of time trying to understand how it has manifested in and around my life, as well as healthy behaviors I should exhibit when confronted with this type of behavior. I admit, I cycle through the traumatic triggers from this behavior because it has been that. Traumatic.

That said, this may be a trigger warning for some people to read. It mentions trauma, abuse, aggressive behavior, boundaries, and my attempt to understand these. I am (for the most part) a white, queer woman, in a hetero-normative appearing relationship. I consider myself a feminist (although with new dialogue I don’t know what term to use now). I’m openly a witch, and pride myself at approaching the ethics of my business to be inclusive of all magickal practitioners, gender identities, cultures, and colors. These are my opinions and what I feel. I don’t speak for everyone and I can understand if your experience or reality hasn’t been/ isn’t this.


 

Veiling the nightshade bride stalks a flower revealed
Nearing the hour make haste to their threshold concealed

Lost in thought in search of vision
As the moon eclipsed the sun

Casting the same steps glimpsing his own fate to come
Melt in the dream void from which he never can run

Lost in thought in search of vision
As the moon eclipsed the sun

Tears fill the fountains breaking their promise to heal
Rippling the waters mirror an ended ideal

Deep in thought but robbed of vision
As the moon eclipsed the sun

(“Shadow Of The Hierophant” as written by Michael Rutherford and Steve Hackett….)

 

I have an unhealthy relationship with aggressive people, but especially toxic-masculinity (from all genders). The early years with my father he could have easily been described as a narcissist. The many employees that surrounded the woodshop I grew up in, were chaulked full of toxic behavior including the extreme example of a former San Quentin prison inmate. Altogether my ongoing list of unhealthy interactions looks something like this. I’ve been raped, emotionally abused, physically abused, silenced, by-passed for jobs, treated with less respect for being too femme or too butch, being born female, bullied, or shunned for just being who I am. To this day I am still followed in the grocery store like I am going to steal something. It’s phenomenal how no matter my appearance or social status I seem to always be treated like an aggressor and a victim simultaneously. Looking back, my choices as a So-Cal punker kid was to just embrace this type of behavior since I would be treated that way anyways.

Now to put it into perspective, my sun sign is 2 degrees Aries with a Taurus rising. I don’t take kindly to people trying to make me do something. I don’t like being manipulated. I don’t like finding out years later that I was lied to for the entirety of a relationship, or that the person who was promoted at work had sick manipulative and sexual behaviors towards lower-level employees.

  • Insert long dialogue about healthy physical, emotional, spiritual/magickal boundaries with someone here.

For that exact reason I have resonated with witchcraft since I found it in 1995. It has always been a place that seemed to align with the black sheep, the oddballs, the nerds, or the ones that cannot be defined. It has so many different paths, and many of them can be woven and intertwined. But even within this circle the same type of using, abusing, or discarding has occurred.

Another important aspect to how this experience has come into my life is how I run my life. The entire mission behind my approach to business is to consider the source of all of the items I sell. Whether it be made by hand, or at least designed by a person, I think we can all do better to support real people instead of big business to get our magickal items. We have to think about the source and the ethical, ecological, and inclusive treatments of our choices. That means I don’t allow events in my space to use anything with synthetics, or mass-produced items from larger corporate companies (sans books of course because there are only so many publishers and ability to make them). I get to do this because it is my business. I have put so much sweat, pain, and the essence of my life into all of my businesses therefore I can be quite protective of what I have created. 

So hear me. I apologize if I don’t seem to fit into what you think I should be, should have done, did, or will do. I am not perfect, but I make my choices every day with these types of questions. I try to provide healthier choices to all people from different makers who fit legal requirements, don’t directly compete with my business, or are made by those less represented. Within that I have to provide things people want, will pay that much for, and is a smart choice to keep a business going.

It’s hard as hell and I respect everyone who tries to make choices with these types of standards.

 

Witch Wars

Here in the Pacific Northwest, 20 year Witch Wars have happened. It’s not unique to this area or timeline, however it does make sense here in Portland since it is known for its passive-agressive attitude and astrological alignment with Scorpio. When we had a store in Eugene we saw some of the community damage that was done from hearsay. Witch wars are just like what they sound like. Groups of people doing verbal damage, and likely magikal damage towards eachother.

Cyndi Brannen of Keeping Her keys has a lovely description that perfectly captures this scene:

I’m defining a Witch War as an organized campaign by a an individual or group of magical practitioners against one or more others occurring within a tradition or an organization. It can also happen between groups. Witch Wars aren’t at all unique to the magical world. There is a fundamental “us versus them” toxic mentality that has potential to erupt in almost any area. Sometimes these are based on unethical behavior, but a lot of the times is all about fragile egos. If you’re a bystander, it can be confusing to figure out what’s really going on. If you’re the one being attacked, it can be incredibly hurtful. Rarely is the truth revealed and justice is hard won. – Cyndi Brannen

(Witch Wars: A Survival Guide by Cyndi Brannen)

Basically, someone slept with so-and-so’s partner (or so the story was told) and then the other person hated that person. Rumors spread, truths and lies were both told, and the community was divided. These were two people from two intersected smaller groups (magickal paths), but it then seemed to infiltrate all of the magickal groups. There are 8 secret societies in Eugene and upwards of all the sub-groups that come with a sub-genres of witchraft. Basically, this created a much larger, general mistrust of everyone magickal and people wanted to find comfort connecting with those in the community (although a different path) yet felt like it was better to stay a solo practitioner.

Do you know how many solo practitioners I met at our store in Eugene, OR who just wanted a place to meet people who are like-minded but were afraid to do so because of the drama and poor behavior from someone they had experienced? One of these described leaders had behaviors that I would consider either bi-polar or that of a narcissist sociopath. What their behavior did was divide people. It was that same tactical trait we experience within abusive relationships of manipulation. It also scared away many ‘baby witches’ that had interest in witchcraft but wanted nothing to do with whatever that was.

There we were. A place who aligned with no gate-keeper or no established leader, and the story was told over and over again by many of our customers. It was a neutral place for people to try to come back out of magickal-social hibernation. Of course, none of these ‘leaders’ would have considered themselves to have toxic masculinity since all of them happened to identify as female. But, it’s important to remember this toxicity is not only for male identifying people. This is a social concept that is taught and passed down. It is like a poison infiltrating your mind.

 

heirophant shadow narcicissm toxicity the hosue of twigs community

 

In psychology, toxic masculinity refers to traditional cultural masculine norms that can be harmful to men, women, and society overall; this concept of toxic masculinity is not intended to demonize men or male attributes, but rather to emphasize the harmful effects of conformity to certain traditional masculine ideal behaviors such as dominance, self-reliance, and competition. Toxic masculinity is thus defined by adherence to traditional male gender roles that restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men to express, including social expectations that men seek to be dominant (the “alpha male”) and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger. Some traditionally prescribed masculine behaviors can produce such harmful effects as violence (including sexual assault and domestic violence), promiscuity, risky and/or socially irresponsible behaviors including substance abuse, and dysfunction in relationships.

In a gender studies context, Raewyn Connell refers to toxic practices that may arise out of what she terms hegemonic masculinity, rather than essential traits. Connell argues that such practices, such as physical violence, may serve to reinforce men’s dominance over women in Western societies. She stresses that such practices are a salient feature of hegemonic masculinity, although not always the defining features.

In a psychoanalytic context, Terry Kupers describes toxic masculinity as “the need to aggressively compete and dominate others” and as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence”. According to Kupers, toxic masculinity serves to outline aspects of hegemonic masculinity that are socially destructive, “such as misogyny, homophobia, greed, and violent domination”. He contrasts these traits with more positive aspects of hegemonic masculinity such as “pride in [one’s] ability to win at sports, to maintain solidarity with a friend, to succeed at work, or to provide for [one’s] family”.

Wikipedia, Toxic masculinity

Portland, on the other hand has had is own history with Witch Wars and the details of how that happened. To understand, think small town politics with a ton more people than that…throw in some hearsay and some toxic masculinity, and we have a ‘soup’ for some really good drama and shit talking. People stealing each others ideas, trying to act like they worked so hard for something, all at the expense of someone else’s time or a divide and conquer for power. I have yet to hear all the stories about the Portland Witch Wars, but it is interesting to hear as someone fairly new to the city. Either way it feels like some low-level energetic drama, similar to high-school politics. It’s happening here today in one form or another. Once again… we don’t all have to like each other, but we do know better.

 

What is a Narcissist? Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

There are a number of traits that clinicians and health professionals measure against the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to make a formal diagnosis of the mental health condition Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Self-help advice is great, but armchair diagnoses of disorders aren’t, so a full assessment is needed to make the final call on this condition. In summary, some typical traits of a narcissist disorder include:

  • Grandiosity: Narcissists often believe they are superior to all others and may exaggerate their abilities and importance. Those with the disorder may come across to others as being arrogant or conceited and project as having a sense of entitlement above others. Narcissists have to have the power and control and will abuse it. If something goes wrong they are likely to project blame onto others without taking any personal responsibility for their actions.
  • Attention seeking: Narcissists love attention and are often charismatic speakers and storytellers. They not only love being the center of attention, they seek it out and lap it up. For someone with a disorder, this is a concept known as narcissistic supply – narcissists need other people to supply the validation of their perceived importance. They may lash out in a fit of narcissistic rage if they don’t get the attention they are craving. In conversations, narcissistic people will often only talk of themselves without giving anyone else the opportunity to reply or respond.
  • Manipulation: Narcissists are often very manipulative. People with a narcissistic personality disorder may use and take advantage of other people to get what they want, and where they want in life. This is known as narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic people tend to have a lack of empathy, with little thought or regard for other people’s feelings. Narcissistic people will sometimes distort the truth and situations to achieve what they want.

 

According to the Depression Alliance, which I do not know the validity of the claims, but they have an interesting analysis of some of the most famous narcissists which include, Donald Trump, Jim Jones, and even Adolf Hitler. (source: https://www.depressionalliance.org/famous-narcissists/)

 

So why does all this matter about ethics and standards of my business? How does that relate to toxic-masculinity and Narcissism?

I think it’s because we have both our private and public lives.  Because the mini world we choose daily is also doubled, and then some, when we then apply that to others.

Are you living your life the same way you expect others to?

Do you have throw-away fashion and then pretend you live a ‘healthy’ life with your diet?

Are you saying you are a healthy positive person in the community, silently abusing others around you?

Are you slandering your local allies with your own toxic behavior?

I could point fingers here, but I digress. I’ve been targeted by online trolling (and I know many others), local community members, even people who live in other states/countries who have some agenda and have targeted me. Most of the time I choose not to out these people. Many times the person may have an agenda that doesn’t align with mine or it doesn’t fit the same type of ethics I have as a woman owned, small business.

Trust me, I want to. It’s disgusting behavior.

I hoped that people would see through the integrity of the person and see the real story at hand. This removes my personal bias and dialogue as well as the participation of the drama triangle of the abuser/the victim/and the savior. This has been my choice to be this type of person because of the way I have been treated and choose to treat others. However, don’t misunderstand me here. The answer here is not silence. My silence, is NOT your silence.

DO NOT suffer in silence if you are being abused. You always have a personal choice to name your abuser publicly or not. It takes courage to name someone, but call-out culture WITHOUT truth is narcissistic abuse. Speak with a counselor, friends, a support group, or people who understand the experience you are having.

NEVER ALLOW SOMEONE TO ABUSE YOU.

I regret not turning in my rapist from high-school. I think about how his life would be very different now. I think that he may not have had the chance to do that to the next person, as he did. I also know that had I named that person publicly, they would have had been attacked by someone without me knowing. I understand this because of the toxicity of where I grew-up. Hell, my father would have probably hunted him down, or at least threatened to. I also know the toxicity of where I am living today and Portland has a history of violence and targeting people.

In a time of social media shaming and internet trolling, social bullying can take another level. It is apparent that some of these conversations happen behind doors while only partial insight is revealed. What we do know as a generation of witches, things like what is happening in the US political spectrum divides communities and households. One of the biggest problems with trying to have progressive conversations with toxic masculinity or narcissistic people is they really don’t hear you. Since they refuse to see anything valid as a conversation, the whole ethos of their stance comes from a lack of empathy and power-dynamics. Essentially, you are the enemy until they find a new target.

 

heirophant shadow narcicissm toxicity the hosue of twigs community

How can we all do better?

Is this just call-out culture from people having different realities, or is this something that we can see on a human level?

Productive conversations are important. Any way that you approach it, these conversations are very important. They help people like me, who own a witchy business to consider my next conscious choices of action. Sticking my head in the sand and doing it my way won’t necessarily work but I have also created these businesses out of feeling like they were missing from the dialogue. I couldn’t find this type of site, so I built it. I couldn’t find an eclectic online school, so I built it. I didn’t like the old standard of a metaphysical shop trapped in the 90’s with all the same things, so I built it. We as a community hold each other accountable but we also need to not spit in the faces of each other. We are still a small niche community that is enhanced and continuously growing with our differences. These differences are the things that can make us better. Educating ourselves on other practices, viewpoints, and culture (or cultural appropriation) is a constant process. It should be life-long just like our practice. Perhaps we look back on this time, 20 years from now, and laugh at some of the things we did. How silly or ridiculous they seem from the future perspective?

Don’t take my tone of compassion or positivity as complacent. Sometimes one of the most compassionate things I think someone can do is to hear someone. Even if you disagree. Hear them and allow them to express themselves. If you disagree, you can definitely speak-up. In fact, that dialogue is what makes us stronger but it has to be heard from both sides. We are all allowed to have our own opinions in relationships, or with freedom of speech. If you are abusive, or manipulative, don’t expect to be heard.

 

Furthermore, why is it that these types of people exist in the role of a ‘Hierophant” or community leader? How does this apply the bigger world of witchcraft?

As a tarot reader (yes, super tarot nerd here!), we can look at this type of personality or Archetype with the Hierophant, aka the Pope or High Priest in

Silicon Dawn High Priest The Houe of Twigs lo Scorebo Modern Hierophant

the Major Arcana. (Image of the High Priest (The Hieropha)nt) – Tarot of the Silicon Dawn

Number 5 in numerology represents dynamic energy, a bit of chaos, change or the need for freedom.

  1. Aligns with Taurus and the Sun in Sagittarius. 
  2. Upright Meaning –  Adapt to the boundaries of your situation. Don’t try to think outside the box. It suggests to think about honoring some tradition or ceremony in your life, or perhaps think about creating your own tradition for yourself. It is not a time to be innovative but instead stick with the ‘expected rules’. They can also symbolize a wise counsellor, priest or spiritual mentor that has entered your life. They are the systematic structure of institutional learning and knowledge. The Magician points the way while the Hierophant is the spiritual teacher who helps us connect with the divine. Their magic is found through social means and not of the elemental realms.
  3. Reversed meaning –  Reversed this can indicate you feel restricted and unable to have the flexibility you desire in your own life. Here it is all about breaking free and breaking the rules. Buck the system, and seek opportunities that are outside of the norm. Have you been running on automatic, following the crowd? This reversed Hierophant is like the young teenager rebelling against authority. It could also represent an authority figure who rules with an iron fist; for the sake of rules and appearances. 

 

As an archetype, The Heirophant is a powerful community leader that leads and empowers through social means.

Their shadow, or unbalanced state is that of someone who uses religion, beliefs systems, or social groups to manipulate and control people. It is an excellent example of how we see things like religion in history having “good values” that then become monstrous, murderous, or abusive. Think the Crusades, Altar Boys and the Catholic Church.. etc, all in the name of being the morally just person who gets to make these choices. …. Again think about those notorious narcissists mentioned above. It sounds really similar to the path of a narcissist.

None of the leaders are infallible. They can claim their decency without holding themselves to the same accountability or standards they request of their community. As witches we do not align with traditional aspects of social constructs, and such can see this with fresh eyes, like the younger generations, and see what is broken. We can address toxic behavior but how do we do this on a smaller scale? Do we confront the individual, the group, or the community as a whole? On a larger scale this is poison allowed to spread. And, we are complacent to that by being silent.

As a community leader, or a world-wide leader, the expectations of this are even more significant. We can think about this on a local level. If they are a leader they should not be passing this behavior onto others. The community as a whole should not allow that shadow of the person to dictate the sickness of an entire community. If you see this behavior, don’t support it or you are a part of it. Make sure you do your due diligence before acting from hearsay.

 


In conclusion I’d like to provide a list of traits of a Narcissist Sociopath who have a common personality type of a cult leader, and how to identify if they are gaslighters, abusers, and dangerous personalities. This list is from (Psychology Today: Dangerous Cult Leaders by Joe Navarro a non verbal communication expert, list of traits from Dangerous Personalities) and can be a great checklist to see if you are participating in a magickal community that is potentially toxic!

 

If you know of a (cult) leader who has many of these traits there is a high probability that they are hurting those around them emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, or financially. And of course this does not take into account the hurt that their loved ones will also experience.

Here are the typical traits of the pathological cult leader (from Dangerous Personalities) that you should watch for:

  1. They have a grandiose idea of who they are and what they can achieve.
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
  3. Demands blind, unquestioned obedience.
  4. Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated as special at all times.
  6. Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives, putting others at financial risk.
  7. Is arrogant and haughty in their behavior or attitude.
  8. Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows them to bend rules and break laws.
  9. Takes sexual advantage of members of their sect or cult.
  10. Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite.
  11. Is hypersensitive to how they are seen or perceived by others.
  12. Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
  13. Makes members confess their sins or faults, publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
  14. Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
  15. Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
  16. Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to ensure that they are being noticed, e.g., by arriving late, using exotic clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
  17. Has insisted on always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are nelegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
  18. Doesn’t seem to listen well to needs of others; communication is usually one-way, in the form of dictates.
  19. Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of their personality.
  20. Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
  21. When criticized they tend to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
  22. Anyone who criticizes or questions them is called an “enemy.”
  23. Refers to non-members or non-believers as “the enemy.”
  24. Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
  25. Believes themself to be omnipotent.
  26. Has “magical” answers or solutions to problems.
  27. Is superficially charming.
  28. Habitually puts down others as inferior; only they are superior.
  29. Has a certain coldness or aloofness about them that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know them.
  30. Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
  31. Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
  32. Is constantly assessing people to determine those who are a threat or those who revere them.
  33. The word “I” dominates their conversations. They are oblivious to how often they reference themself.
  34. Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly; when they do they act out with rage.
  35. Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything they have done wrong nor do they apologize for their actions.
  36. Believes they possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
  37. Believes themself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
  38. “Rigid,” “unbending,” or “insensitive” describes how this person thinks.
  39. Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
  40. Has isolated members of their sect from contact with family or the outside world.
  41. Monitors and/or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
  42. Works the least but demands the most.
  43. Has stated that they are “destined for greatness” or that they will be “martyred.”
  44. Seems to be highly dependent on tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
  45. Uses enforcers or sycophants to ensure compliance from members or believers.
  46. Sees self as “unstoppable” and perhaps has even said so.
  47. Conceals background or family, which would disclose how plain or ordinary they are.
  48. Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with themself and in fact sees themself as perfection or “blessed.”
  49. Has taken away followers’ freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life and liberty.
  50. Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed.

 

If there is any doubt about this site, my business, and my personal opinions, we do not support TERF’s (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). We are NOT racist, we stand up for POC and LGBTQI people and make space in our business for this, we don’t allow gender-only, or race only groups because this is also not helping anyone be inclusive. If you feel like you have been offended, don’t be an asshole. You don’t have to like me. Help me to do better and confront the issue with me in a private conversation before being a troll.

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Owner, Product Fabricator, Tarot Reader , The House of Twigs, Keven Craft Rituals, Queen Meb
Head Mistress of THoT, and THoT: the School of Ritual, Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, and q. Meb ~ Queen Meb the Portland witch shop with handmade skincare products, organic goods, tarot, metaphysical items, home & hearth decor, A practicing eclectic-solitary witch, she works with energy healing / reiki master, psychopomp and psychic work, witch attunements; specializing in tarot and channeling since 1995. Erika rides the cusp of the Alpha / Omega and favors the Morrighan, Isis, Hecate, Freya, and Cernunnos.
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Owner, Product Fabricator, Tarot Reader , The House of Twigs, Keven Craft Rituals, Queen Meb
Head Mistress of THoT, and THoT: the School of Ritual, Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, and q. Meb ~ Queen Meb the Portland witch shop with handmade skincare products, organic goods, tarot, metaphysical items, home & hearth decor, A practicing eclectic-solitary witch, she works with energy healing / reiki master, psychopomp and psychic work, witch attunements; specializing in tarot and channeling since 1995. Erika rides the cusp of the Alpha / Omega and favors the Morrighan, Isis, Hecate, Freya, and Cernunnos.

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  1. […] in the past. I recently read an article the other day on modern day witch wars and you can read it here. The author makes some very good and interesting points, ones that gave me plenty of food for thought […]

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