Shield and Zoom- Ritual in a pandemic

The weekend of June 13th was the third annual Shield and Bow festival. Or at least it would have been if there were not a global pandemic.

Shield and Bow is a weekend for persons who identify with womanhood. It uses the weekend explore feminine themes based in spirituality as well as practicality, blending ritual and ceremony with a laid-back weekend to relax.

Normally this event takes place on the 100 acre pagan-owned and operated Raven’s Knoll Campground. However due to the global pandemic and life-as-we-know-it on pause, the Shield and Bow Festival, has had to pivot, like many events. The organizers had to make a decision; cancel or bring the festival online.

Founder and lead-organizer Allison McCuaig (and close friend of mine) choose not to cancel and instead bring the programming online. After many months of planning, spreadsheets and creating documents. Shield and Bow was able to take place via Facebook groups and a professional Zoom account.

Shield and Bow is a weekend for us as people 16+ who identify with womanhood. It is a celebration of our chosen identity, driven by commitment to community and offered by the Sisters for their sisters! We hope you can join us online June 12th, 13th and 14th 2020. 

Hand written letters mailed to each participant created a level of connection Source

Upon registering for the event each attendee was mailed out a personal card with a strip of fabric for their entry bracelets, and a tarot card. This is a Shield and Bow tradition known as your “homework”. Not only did you have to research the cards meaning, but also what your personal/inner work would be for the year.

Programming started on Friday evening, with attendees tuning in to the password protected room to join a welcoming ritual. The ritual included grounding and centering (a common practice in various pagan paths to prepare yourself for ritual space) and each participant shared a little bit about themselves as well as lighting a candle, another level of connection. Albeit through a screen you knew each woman had a candle lit in her home.

As a pre-cursor to the festival each woman was able to send photos to the “Shield Wall” posted to Facebook and Instagram. Women discussed what it being a warrior meant to them, be it in motherhood or in a gentler way.

My contribution to the photo shield wall Source

Saturday and Sunday were filled with workshops spaced out every few hours including topics like:

  • Fight Like a Girl – a self defense course
  • Death and Taxes – how to guide on taxes and creating a will
  • Self- Blessing Ritual
  • Ancestor Rattle making
  • Bardic- women shared songs, stories, jokes and poetry

Saturday evening held the feast. Usually when we are in the woods of the Knoll we come together and share dishes, decorate the halls and all sit at the same table. This virtual event invited us to bring our plates and tune into Zoom to chat and connect. During the feast Goddesses and feminine concepts are honored. Women spoke on the divine feminine, honored missing and murdered Indigenous women, and discussed goddess such as Artemis and Bridget.

While this event really differed from the norm of being out in the woods, connecting with your sisters, enjoying a feast together and dancing and laughing around a fire, there was a chance here for a genuine connection and a sharing of space. Although there were challenges, being so far apart from one another and being behind a screen. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come together in this virtual way. It was clear that this was desperatley needed by many.

It poses the question of how will we adapt our spiritual practice? How will we come together and create shared experiences in this uncertain time? Although it’s not perfect I really believe these stolen moments; the late night zoom chats, sharing of photos and vulnerability on social media, of lighting a candle in the dark together at home, are going to sustain us and keep us through to the other side of this crisis.

Until this crisis is over, all we can do is adapt, light that candle and pray.

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Ritual through Zoom- A new way?

Shield and Zoom – a festival online

Social Media as a Classroom

While we know that social media and witchcraft can bring people together for baneful purposes, lets take a minute to focus on some of the many positives.

Sure, the witchcraft community is ripe with bullying, harassment, gate-keeping and even racism and sexism. These are all important issues to be addressed. But today we’re going to take a look on the more educational side.

Limitless resources

The resources for learning new traditions, experiences and practices is limitless. There are message boards, websites, Instagram accounts, Twitter feeds; all through which you can learn valuable knowledge to expand your practice and experiences.

Patheos is a popular site for many religions and different veins of spirituality. Through this site you can hone in on the paths that you’re most interested in. Non-secular practitioners can find interesting articles or there is a vast array of blogs dedicated to specific deities, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I follow some based on Pan and Hecate, two gods from the Greek pantheon. Blogs on Patheos can include recipes for lunar cookies, or solstice stew, how to put up a May Pole, how to honor a nature god in city limits. If you have a curiosity and willingness to learn, you can find what you’re looking for.

Through these blogs you can learn personal accounts (often called UGPS, Unverified Personal Gnosis) this is your experience with your God/Spirit/Deity not based in myth or folk- lore. In sharing these experiences, it is incredible to see how many people have had similar or identical situations and through these connections meet followers who walk the same path, can form a relationship and learn and grow in their practices as well.

The importance of #witchtok

I want to take a moment to look at Tik Tok as well.

The witchcraft community on this platform has exploded with many amazing accounts of personal practices, sharing of altar/scared spaces, details on how each witch goes about their practice; little tricks and spells to pick up, or ways to connect.

This Tik Tok comes from user @lesbi.onyx; who goes by the name Mantis. The intention is for you to “duet” it or use the sound to describe a bit about yourself in the hopes that you find other witches who are on a similar path and and connect. His content is absolutely hilarious and at the same time incredibly informative. I’ve picked up information on the tarot that a dozen books could not get me to retain.

Combining humor with some really practical advice! Image Source

And I think this is really the key of why social media in witchcraft is important. It’s personal accounts. It what works for each witch, and what does, how we do things just a bit differently and hey I never thought about trying it like that. And can include practical advice as well

Not only is social media connecting us as a community or offering helpful hints on practices along the way, but witches are using it as a call to arms over the many social injustices that are happening in the world today. I was absolutely floored by this powerful Tik Tok that combines skill, knowledge, numerology and hermetics, instructing witches on how to use their craft to help fight with the Black Lives Matter movement, and back against police brutality.

In what other communities is there this level of connection and education happening? How else are traditions being passed on? Have I converted your to witchcraft yet? Let me know! If no? Give me time. 🙂

As we can see, the world is our classroom and various social media channels can help educate us in ways we never even considered. Just last week I found a video on an invisibility spell, I would use it, but then you wouldn’t be able to find this post.

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#Witchtok is my classroom

Learning craft through social media

Let’s Get Hexy- Using Social Media to Organize

I’ve been thinking a lot on the power of social media in bringing people together for a united cause; be it a positive or negative one. Something that has been on my mind has been the idea of group hexing. This isn’t really a part of my personal practice but I do find it very interesting. Much of witchcraft is based in energy and intention. The idea that if you pour enough of your energy and focus into something you desire, that thing becomes achievable.

So what then if you organize an international group hex? I’m thinking of the case of Brock Turner.

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Photo from VICE magazine of hexing preformed via social media Image Source

Many of us know about Brock Turner. If you haven’t heard, Brock Turner is an utter POS who was caught raping an unconscious woman (Chanel Miller) behind a dumpster on Stanford University campus. He posted bail that same day. He served three months in prison with the judge declaring he didn’t want to ruin poor Brock’s life. This, justifiably, incited a rage in many people and caught the eye of the witchcraft community who then rallied using social media platforms to create a group hexing.

This hex was organized by Melanie Elizabeth Hexen who used a Facebook event to gather witches to the cause. The hexing occurred in 2016 and the Facebook event has since been taken down, but in it included instructions and incantations on the how to perform this activity. 600 people responded within hours and media picked up on the story.

It was covered by VICE, Huffington Post and New York Magazine, just to name a few. There are dozens of articles from reputable news sources covering this story, that all started with a Facebook event. New York Daily New covers mass hexing organized via social media.

It was covered by VICE, Huffington Post and New York Magazine, just to name a few. There are dozens of articles from reputable news sources covering this story, that all started with a Facebook event. 

New York Daily News covers mass hexing organized via social media. Source

Without social media craft work of this scale would not be possible. On Twitter there are dozens of posts with the hashtag #hexbrockturner (as well as a small few on Instagram) and similarly on Facebook, all you need to do is type Hex Brock Turner into your search bar and posts are available, not just of news articles but of peoples personal stories on how they participated.

Setting aside ethics for a moment, let’s take a look at an unusual way that social media has been used to bring together witches for a cause. This is a case that has caused outrage among many people and witches. Witches who wanted to do something active and not just sit idly by. One of the major tenants of witchcraft, spell work and hexes is to have energy, or power behind it. Having 600+ witches all following the same spell gives power to that act.

For good or otherwise, social media has genuine power behind it, not just to post cute dog photos or your family vacation but to organize and to act, to create real change.

How then can we ensure we are using this power responsibly? There are many people who believe this sort of thing would be considered unethical. But is it any worse than raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster?

Lets get hexy

Lets get hexy

Finding my path in a forest

This seems like such a daunting task, I don’t even know where to start. There are so many paths, so many traditions and practices. Who’s right, who’s wrong? Why do I think anyone would want to listen to me anyway? Not only all these regular social insecurities, but now I actually have to sit down and pay attention to my spirituality, to define it and shape it, voice it. It was easier when I could just dance in the woods a bit and call myself a pagan. In reality, it goes much deeper than that. I’ve flounced around long enough. It’s time.

In the past few years my Sprituality (capital S) has demanded I get more serious. I mean, not like sit quietly in church serious but to really start to pay attention to it. What my gods are doing for me and what I can do with them in return.

The Horned Lord Stang; The Witch Wood @ Raven’s Knoll

This started a few years ago. The Horned Lord and I have been dancing around each other for how long? And then suddenly, fiercely. It was time to dedicate. And dedicate I did. It took the better part of a year. Personal challenges came up, tasks were required of me, conversations with something, or someone that doesn’t really have a voice, suddenly spoke up.

As I write I try desperately to find some definitions not just within myself, not just what my craft looks like. I know that. It’s a deeply personal thing. But it’s one thing to have an intimate relationship with Spirit and a God and a path, it’s another thing to stand up loudly and declare it. In a place as vast and unforgiving as online.

I still remember finding witchcraft as a teen, and the other kids throwing stones at me, because that’s what you do to a witch right? Hm, I guess those wounds never quite healed. And it feels silly, ludicrous, illogical.

Do you really think your god is talking to you? Do you really believe in faeries? Aren’t you an adult?

In this modern age of science and technology and reason, is there room for magic and witchcraft, of faeries and wee folk, mystery and wonder? Not only that but how do you explore this further with social media? How do we use these mediums to build our practices?

But, one can make themselves sick spinning around in the what ifs of it all. There has to come a point where. You just say screw it, and forage ahead.

I’m grateful to have such amazing and limitless resources. has been a favorite of mine for years. It has such wide array of spirituality and religions. There are so many great people writing on such a vast array of topics, gods and practices. I like Keeping Her Keys for information, stories and practices dealing with Hecate, the Greek Queen of the Witches (and so so much more). But my personal favorite is, Raise the Horns, with Jason Mankey. I hope that I can come across in a simliar fashion to his. I really like his tone, his languge and his relatitionship to his gods.

If you’re interested in learning more about the blogs I posted here, you can also find more about them.

Jason Mankey on Twitter & Instagram

Keeping Her Keys on Twitter & Instagram

So what to you think friends? Do you want to embark on this journey of deeper self discovery as I try to figure out my spirituality even more?