Saturday, October 10, 2015

On Gun Control or Why Can't We Just Fucking Talk?

Dear Readers,

Ugh gun control is such an obnoxiously divisive issue with both sides being so pigheadedly obstinate! Yes there are issues with the enforcement of our current gun laws; yes there is need for stricter background checks for gun sales; yes mental health is an important issue; yes perhaps that means a mental health screening might be a good fuggin' idea as a part of the background check required to purchase guns; yes many shootings have been stopped by armed civilians and yes many have not! The vitriol and bile being spat by both sides at the other is fierce and here I am standing in the middle saying "C'mon people! There is a middle ground! There is another way! We could work together on this!". At least we could if for one gods-cursed minute people would take their heads out of their asses and talk to each other. Not Scream, talk. 

There is a principle in the brand of Druidry I practice called breaking the binary. Most issues are not black and white, right and wrong binaries. Most are at least ternaries (three points of view) or quarternaries (four points of view) and many are an entire spectrum of shades of grey plus every colour of light visible and invisible and throw in every wavelength of sound to boot!  In my experience when you are presented with any two precisely opposing views and told these are your only options you are being manipulated! So whenever you are presented with two seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints stop screaming and look for the third factor the thing that presents a balance between the two and offers an alternative, not just a midpoint.Hell in the case of gun control as with so many other things in the public eye these days, the fact that we're screaming IS the third factor. 

Yes there is an issue with gun violence in our country. Yes there is an issue with big government overreach in our country. However and most importantly there is an inability for two Americans with different viewpoints to have a civil conversation about ANYTHING. To illustrate this I propose an exercise which I try to perform tolerably often; try it sometime! Find someone with whom you disagree about a divisive issue and politely and thoughtfully rebutt an argument they make about that issue. I highly doubt the person with whom you are speaking will be able to make it two or three exchanges without at least getting heated and at worst telling you are a terribly evil person who is spawned by whatever hell they proscribe to (examples of hell: republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, christian, heathen, atheist, etc).Fuck, I practice this exercise regularly but I'll freely admit when people start attacking me personally I get hot under the collar myself (especially if I propose a moderate position and I am told or it is implied that I am being brainwashed by one or the other side). As a country and as a society we need to relearn how to dialogue; relearn how to have a real debate (not preaching to the choir or a screaming match wherein the winner screams loudest and longest past their opponents); in short we need to relearn the art of civil conflict with everything that term implies. As a devotee of a goddess of sovereignty and war I feel particularly called to address this issue. So please if I've said something here or elsewhere that bothers you tell me! But try to do so civilly. In the meantime be well!

Yours, in service to the Morrigan,

Achija Branvin Sionnach

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm Back

Dear Readers,

After this bitch of a summer I'm back and I hope to begin posting regularly again.

See you all in a bit!

Yours in service to the Morrigan
Achija Branvin Sionnach

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Dear Readers,

I am currently going through the prolapsing mental birthing process known not-so-affectionately as taking finals. I will be MIA until after may the 11th so sorry!

Yours in service to the Morrigan,
Achija Branvin Sionnach

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On Fixed Nutmegs

Dear readers,

Being the enormous magick nerd I am, with a blog that discusses precisely that sort of topic, I felt it was high time I posted a spell here. Now truth be told I do not use magick much for myself, mostly because I rarely have time or occasion to do so and to be perfectly honest there are many bloggers and podcasters who have much more experience than I do at spellcraft i.e. Cory and Lane over at, Aticus Hob over at, and of course one cannot forget the inimitable Catherine Yronwode over at If you have any questions or any desire to learn about American witchcraft I highly recommend any and all of them. Much of what I have learned about the craft over the past three or four years has come from those wonderful sources. I also have to recommend the book Staubs and Ditchwater by H. Byron Ballard and give a big shout out to her for getting me in touch with some of my own Appalachian heritage in magic. All that said there is one little spell that I have developed, or rather rebooted, that I figured I would share with you all and that is a modern, safe, fixed nutmeg.

For those of you who do not know a fixed nutmeg is a traditional southern good luck charm that involves putting a small drop of mercury inside a hollowed out nutmeg and sealing it inside. For obvious reasons this is a bad idea; heavy metal poisoning is no joke. However there is a very safe way of handling mercury and that is inside a sealed glass container. So when I first heard about this old spell I always thought it would be cool to do the same old spell except with the mercury sealed inside a small vial or bead of glass and put that vial or bead into a hollowed out nutmeg essentially creating the same old spell in a much more safe way. Well I ruminated on that for a couple of years but I never could find a suitable tiny glass container of mercury, until last summer I found this:

That is an old school thermostat and inside that thermostat:

is a tiny vial of mercury exactly the perfect size to fit inside a hollowed out nutmeg. This is actually a fantastic source for a couple of reasons. First it's safe; it is a small hermetically sealed vial of mercury so you do not have to worry about handling the gorgeous but dangerous metal or about the fumes. Secondly you are recycling an outmoded piece of equipment that would probably otherwise be simply tossed out. Thirdly by preventing it from being thrown in a dumpster you also prevent that little vial of mercury from shattering in some landfill and leaking into your local water supply.

So here it is my little guide to making a modern fixed nutmeg with a little bit of mountain flair.

Here's what you'll need:
1 Nutmeg, 1 Vial from an old mercury thermostat, 1 small whittling knife with a blade about the width of the mercury vial, 1 $2 bill,  and some crown of success oil or some other luck oil such as fast luck or money drawing oil.

Alright first things first, the nutmeg needs to be hollowed out. This is a tedious process that takes patience; DO NOT RUSH THIS PROCESS. You must use a knife and not a small drill bit because a drill bit will crack the nutmeg before you can even get the hole started:
Take your knife and start at the top of the nutmeg around where the little nub is:
Now start twirling your knife to slowly make a conical hole in the nutmeg:
Once the hole is about this big:
Start on the other end:
Keep going on the other side until you have broken through:
Now begin to carefully widen the hole. Be sure to take material evenly from all sides so you do not end up with one side thicker and one side paper thin and easy to break. Keep going until it looks something like this:
Now carefully begin trying to fit the vial inside the nutmeg. DO NOT RUSH THIS PART. If it doesn't quite fit don't try to force it or you'll end up with this:
and have to start over again from scratch. Keep scraping at the sides until the vial slides snugly into the nutmeg like so:
There you have it, a fixed nutmeg! Now for a bit of mountain flair. In mountain magick instead of small cloth bags, many spells are deployed in small paper packages called sachets (pronounced sa-chet not sa-shay). So to keep the nutmeg safe and protect the mercury vial further I made a little sachet out of a two dollar bill. Take the bill and fold it over width wise so about two fifths of it's length are folded up against about three fifths, then fold the edges towards the front side then again towards the back creating a small origami style seal all the way around the edges. Finally fold the top in a little triangle and you should have a little packet that looks like this:
Put the fixed nutmeg inside:
Then fold the top flap and tuck it inside the sachet ending in a nice neat rectangular sachet:
Consecrate the charm as you see fit. Anoint it with your chosen oil as needed for luck and carry it in your pocket. I have used this curio with a crown of success oil of my own recipe to some pretty amazing results for dealing with difficult tests in college, but it would work just as well with any other luck or money draw oil. The nice thing about applying oil to a paper sachet is over time the paper absorbs it giving you a nice sturdy wax-paper feel that keeps from coming open easily.

So that's it! I hope you all have enjoyed this little foray into spell-craft and I hope to catch you all next time. Until then I remain,

Yours in service to the Morrigan,
Achija Branvin Sionnach

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Reason

Dear reader,

I was having an interesting conversation with someone who asserted that the idea of faith was ridiculous and that reason was the only rational foundation for a worldview. Being a pagan and thus believing, on faith, in powers greater than myself I asserted the opposite and I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all.

One might assert that faith is a ridiculous concept but before that one must examine the question of basic assumptions. To have any sort of sense-based reason one must have faith that ones rationality and the evidence of ones senses are accurate and useful. So in a sense (heh) without faith in ones own rationality one couldn't have reason. One could certainly assert if we don't believe in what others have usefully termed scientific materialism (the rational building of a reasoned worldview on the basis of what one's senses tell them) one must then embrace solipsism (the belief that only one's mind is sure to exist and everything outside could be an illusion) or even nihilism (the idea that nothing at all exists) but these extremes are not really the what I had in mind. This is an old trap of dualism in which people in our culture tend to get caught i.e. "If it isn't one thing then it must be the polar opposite and since I find the polar opposite ridiculous then what I believe must be true". Fundamentally, at the basis of any assertion one makes, there must be a basic assumption that can (and for a true rational thinker should) be questioned but there are more options than polar opposite extremes to examine, some may fall on a continuum between the two and some may even go in a completely different direction. A more useful direction to take this line of reasoning is that since ons rationality is based on the evidences of ones senses and everyone's perception of reality is slightly different since everyone's brain is slightly different then the reality one inhabits may not be the reality others inhabit. This is complicated by the ways that nurture aka enculturation change our perceptions of reality by adding or subtracting value and meaning to/from experiences and even this is further complicated by those of us who question our own enculturation and ask hard questions about what we believe about reality. The extremes of solipsism/nihilism and scientific materialism are not the only useful outcomes of questioning the basic assumption of trusting our senses. One could for example embrace a sort of metaphysical pluralism or any other shade in between those extremes some of which may include faith in forces that our senses cannot comprehend, or even something completely different. Ultimately my point is one cannot and should not try to force one's own belief on others because the reality they inhabit may be vastly different from yours! Heh I love metaphysics.

Feel free to comment or argue with me I love debate! It is the way we hone our own beliefs and learn from what others believe. Until we meet again,

Yours, in service to the Morrigan

Achija Branvin Sionnach

Friday, March 13, 2015

On Ferguson

Dear reader,

I've always found that structuring a post like a letter allows me to be at once more formal and more familiar in tone. I also find that it helps me organize my thoughts more effectively. Tonight I want to talk a little about what's going on in Ferguson, MO and explore the implications thereof to any thinking pagan in this country.

First let me put one of my less popular opinions out there so there is no misunderstanding. I do not condemn violent protesting as a matter of course. In point of fact I think that there are times that it is the only recourse left to citizens. As Thomas Jefferson once said "...what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." The violation of the rights of our citizens has continued for so long by the police forces of this country is it any wonder that the people are fighting back? 

Let me ask you something truly dearest reader: unless you have members of your family in the police force when was the last time you felt the police force existed to serve and protect you personally? When you drive by a squad car even if you are doing nothing wrong does not your heart skip a beat, afraid to see those lights swing in behind you? Shows such as Law and Order and CSI serve as propaganda, making light of the rights of citizens when the protagonists barge into houses on a sliver of probable cause. In our day and age the police are not keepers of the peace they are instigators of violence, violators of civil rights (especially though not only for people of colour), and the clenched fist of a government that has become afraid of the rights of its citizens. When citizens cannot call on our constabulary without fear of being implicated what recourse do we have? Hell two years ago I helped stop the home invasion of someone in my neighborhood. I helped subdue one of the assailants and stood guard over him until the police arrived.  When the Cops pulled up the guy bolted before they could have seen which way he ran, so I ran after him making as much noise as possible to lead the authorities to him. When the police caught up to us, however, they cuffed me just as roughly as the invader and were more concerned about what I had been smoking in the tobacco pipe in my pocket than figuring out whether I deserved to be cuffed. When they throw tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in warfare since the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, shoot rubber bullets, and spray jets of pepper spray at protestors, often for little more reason than that they are protesting, what do we do? When they can all but ignore the 4th amendment and search the houses and seize the persons of innocent people for their witch.. I mean... manhunt following the shootings Wednesday night ( what is left to us? It is the governments job to deescalate the situation and acquiesce to the will of the people during protests not the other way around. True these shootings were a blow to a resolution in Ferguson as well as Oakland and New York, but is a resolution wherein the citizens are appeased for a short time before the cops go back to business as usual really what we want? Sure one guy stepped down yesterday but was that an actual step towards real change or a PR stunt to attempt to mollify the protesters? Considering the brutal police tactics I have been seeing over the past year I lean strongly towards the latter. 

If you are law enforcement reading this or a supporter thereof I would like you to consider this: I understand that cops are all individuals and not all of them are bad, so those officers who really wish to serve and protect should stand up to their supervisors when they are told to violate the rights of citizens, even if it means facing punishment from those superiors. Do not violate the 1st and 4th amendment rights of citizens for the sake of the expediency of an investigation. Quit acting like soldiers at war; we are not your enemy we are your charges and all of us, yes even the criminals, other races, and immigrants among us, deserve your protection.

If you ever wondered what side you'd be on during the race riots of the 60's here is your chance to find out. Take a stand! Even if you are far from the front line as I am in my little Appalachian home you can still make a difference! Attend local protests and be active on social media; don't just re-tweet or share the latest hilarious cat photo re-tweet or share the latest news articles on these issues and keep informed.

Yours in service to the Morrigan,

Achija Branvin Sionnach

Attempting a new format!

It has come to my attention that perhaps I am a better writer than producer of quality youtube or podcast content. My mind is more nimble in print and the feeling of the keys flowing beneath my fingers gives me great comfort, especially on nights like these when I cannot sleep. Hell the majority of the content I've produced thus far has been taken from discussions I've had on facebook that were typed first so perhaps I should stick to my more familiar medium and use my channel for sword videos and cover uploads. Anyhoo I know I don't have many (if any) readers right now but I'm hoping to change that soon!

In service to the Queen
Achija Branvin Sionnach