Women in the Occult, Part 1: Sarah Lawless


I’m starting a series of posts dedicated to women who are witches, grimoire magicians, healers, savants, and all-around badasses.  I’m doing this for one specific reason (aside from the fact that it’s good to give credit where credit is long overdue): young women, especially young witches, need positive role models in the world of the occult.  Like anything else, it’s historically been a male-dominated field (on the surface).  But to say that only men have been great occultists and have changed the world thereby would be false.  Here, I’m going to point out contemporary and historical women who qualify as “badass women occultists.”

First one is Sarah Lawless (http://sarahannelawless.com/about/).  I’ve followed her writing and work for a long time.  She describes her spiritual work like so:

I am a witch and embrace its full definition. I grow the poisonous plants associated with our art for millennia, I curse, I collect bones, I work rites of folk magic, and I read tarot cards, tea leaves and palms. I can be found in the woods,  under the moonlight, by a fire, and in forgotten graveyards.  You can see healing herbs in my garden, a soothing elixir to heal a broken heart in my pantry, and me, in my kitchen, cooking delicious meals. 

We can learn a lot from her.  Go to her website and check out what she has to say.

To the young women who read this blog . . .

Someone made a comment on Tumblr, as follows:

why DO teenage girls go through a witch/occult phase? I had tarot cards and a spellbook and I knew a group of girls who messed with ouija boards and another who had ghost hunting equipment. “oh yeah Cindy’s just going through that girly phase where she tries to raise the dead.

Ladies, when someone wants to neutralize you and keep you in a mental cage, they’ll often tell you to “act your age” or they’ll dismiss what you’re into as “a phase.”  They’ll say that pretty soon you’ll grow up.  

Please, don’t grow up according to those soul-killing expectations.

This is a form of aggression done by men and women, usually on younger, more talented, women.  They don’t feel like they can say your interests / activities / path of development is making them uncomfortable.  So they dismiss it as a way to belittle you and keep you in your place.  Kate Chopin wrote about this in “The Story of an Hour” (https://www.katechopin.org/story-hour/), where a woman thinks she’s escaped the box her boring husband has kept her in for so long.  But just about every female writer and artist for the past, oh, 1000+ years has had to hear a version of, “Oh, you wrote a poem / invented cold fusion / cured the dropsy?  How adorable.  Where’s my dinner?”

Don’t act your age.  Don’t “grow up” and forget about witchy things.  Don’t get with the social-economic program designed to kill your soul and turn you into a docile consumer.  Don’t fall asleep in the matrix.

Disappoint the family.  Do what you want to do.  The gods are smoking your life like a cigarette.  The parts that turn to ash are flicked away, never to return.  Don’t waste your time burning in place.

Halloween Oracle: “Hearth”

Greetings.  Today, I felt called to draw another card from the Halloween Oracle deck.  It is “Hearth,” which indicates a focus on home, family, and the magic of well-being that those things bring.  If you are lacking in those areas, it may be time to pay a bit more attention to beautifying your life.  If you have a fulfilling home / family, then it may be useful to give thanks for those things and recenter yourself in the security and peace that they provide.

The Sign of the Witch (and other twists of fate)

“What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities.” – Slavoj Žižek

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have received many encouraging messages both from old friends in the magical community and new visitors to this website regarding my return to sorcery-for-hire. I would like to say thank you. Positivity is always appreciated. Moreover, if you like my work here, you may be interested in my more theoretical, speculative writing on Hermetic principles, Vedanta, Eckankar, meditation, life after death, soul travel, the inner planes, and the philosophy of self-liberation at This Secret Life of Mine.

My client list is growing again, almost effortlessly, and I have already begun to address the requests of a number of people. This always happens. While it’s true that everything on this Earth constantly changes, it’s also true that some things stay consistent on a higher level. For example, some people are born under the sign of Venus and will always be loved; others, touched by Pluto, will never go broke no matter how they spend their money; and still others, beloved of Jupiter, will always find themselves in leadership positions. For me, born with Scorpio rising, I live under the sign of the witch. The astrologer, Gahl Sasson, once called me a “son of Hades”—not in a negative sense but in the sense of being a magical person who goes down untrodden paths to the underworld and investigates little-known things. It’s not surprising that I have always been attracted to magic, mysticism, and the occult.

We change day-to-day, but certain aspects of our lives have been written—into our personalities, into our circumstances—as fate and destiny. Those things, being on a much higher level, explicitly do not change. Sorcery can’t change them. Wishing and praying can’t do it, either. The gods themselves must abide by the skein of fate. In my case, this means I always seem to draw “alternative” people to me—witches, psychics, magicians, artists, unconventional scholars, fortean researchers. But what you magnetize, what is written into your personal story, might be very different. You must learn what it is and make peace with it.

The key to attaining some degree of tranquility in this life is knowing and accepting that you will be able to change many things—but not all things. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to always be poor or unloved or confused about your purpose. It does mean that the responsibility is yours to try to see your life more clearly, without obsessively trying to attain or possess things that will never be yours.

In other words, if you are missing a leg, you may be destined to be one the few one-legged ballet dancers in the world; however, it is perhaps a bit more likely that you may be destined to never portray the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. It’s up to you to determine which is true by seeing yourself clearly. You do this by looking inward and engaging in what is sometimes called, discernment. Thelema calls it finding one’s “True Will,” which Dr. David Shoemaker defines like so:

The True Will is the will of the deepest inmost Self—the core of who you really are as a spiritual being. Also, and importantly, it is an expression of the universal will, as particularized and expressed in your individual life. This is why, when we are living in accordance with our True Will, we find that much of the time the universe seems to open up a path right in front of us, as if in sympathy with our aims. Likewise, when we feel as though we are swimming upstream against life it is very often the case that we have veered a bit from the path of our True Will. (http://livingthelema.com/)

With this in mind, we can practice discernment by asking a few basic questions: what is always easy for me? What is always hard? What is always impossible for me while others find it easy?

Having a birth chart done is also useful as a way to begin thinking about one’s influences and capacities. You can get a tarot reading from a professional in order to shed light on your unique life path. You can take career aptitude tests and engage in a course of therapy in order to know yourself more intimately. You can also join a magical society and start learning mysticism and philosophy in order to unlock the truth of your innermost self.

All of these approaches are legitimate and useful, some more than others depending on the individual in question. All of them will result in higher levels of self-awareness, consciousness, and insight. Externally, you will see a lot of change taking place as well.

If you remember nothing I have said in this post except this, you will have benefited: do not wish for that which you have learned is quite unattainable in accordance with your True Will. Or as Anton LaVey puts it in The Satanic Bible:

To be able to adjust one’s wants to one’s capabilities is a great talent, and too many people fail to realize that if they are unable to attain the maximum, “a half a loaf can be better than none.” The chronic loser is always the man who, having nothing, if unable to make a million dollars, will reject any chance to make fifty thousand with a disgruntled sneer. One of the magician’s greatest weapons is knowing himself; his talents, abilities, physical attractions and detractions, etc., and when, where, and with whom to utilize them!