occultists

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    Game of Thrones is coming to an end, and with the close of the season, there are some mysteries that have long lived throughout the series—primarily the “Three-Eyed Raven.” Originally brought to Bran in a dream, the raven tells him about his heritage and leads him to safety. 

    GOT is a show that is heavily enriched in spiritual and magical themes—especially the symbolism of the raven—which is why it’s essential to explore the occult meaning behind the raven to understand the underlying plot of the show. 

    In mythology, ravens represent bad luck, as they are seen as a messenger of evil and unruly news. However, spiritually, ravens have a different meaning and often represent the relationship between the divine and personal magic. The Hindu religion and the Bible both denote ravens as a connection to what is holy, as well as a peace offering (this later transitioned into a dove with an olive branch). The Celts view ravens as a symbol of prophecy. The representation of ravens in dreams means good luck is coming our way. The number 3 represents the connection to the Holy Trinity (body, mind, and spirit), as well as the “holy stamp” of completion (according to the Bible). No Chinese culture, the number 3 is considered a lucky number. While in numerology, it marks a connection to one’s guardian angels and a superhuman exuberance of life. And, having a third eye represents enlightenment and intuition. 

    While all of the above is seemingly true, one can’t help but wonder what the actual occult and magical representation of the raven means. We asked several occultists, mystics, and witches for their understanding of the raven to bring us more clarity on the matter. Also, to see if our GOT fan theory is correct.

    “The symbolism behind Bran’s transformation into the three-eyed raven is about the cyclic nature of death, rebirth, and human consciousness. The Three-Eyed Raven is beautiful in that the symbolism behind the number 3 is the shifting of energy, expanding beyond duality. It has been said that the astral and spiritual body stays connected after death for 3 days. In the series, Bran was pushed to his ‘death’ and experienced a spiritual rebirth. When he came back, he no longer identified as his mortal ‘self’ yet something else: he came back as a Seer, the three-eyed raven. There is scientific evidence that the brain, even when all other systems are failing takes three days to register complete shutdown. There are 3 phases to the moon, which again is symbolic of the deep subconscious of our minds. Expression, manifestation, and synthesis. Ravens hold their own symbolic magic, these are powerful animal messengers between realms. In Greek mythology, they were associated with Apollo and prophecy. These are highly intelligent creatures, and ravens as animal totems come as guides of spiritual rebirth. Which again, takes us back to Bran’s ‘death and rebirth.’” 

    Bri Luna, Creative Director and Founder of The Hoodwitch

    “Generally speaking, many cultures have believed ravens to be liminal beings: messengers of the gods or psychopomps who escort deceased souls to the underworld. Augury, or interpreting symbols in nature that predict the future, was originally done in ancient Rome using birds. The fact that Raven-Bran has three eyes is also significant. In both Hinduism and the religion of ancient Egypt, there is a notion that humans have a "third eye" between their brows (roughly where the pineal gland is) which, when activated, can help us access higher states of consciousness and give us greater powers of intuition and foresight. Triads of all sorts have occult associations, whether we speak of the Maiden/Mother/Crone triple goddess; the Three Fates or Moirai (called the Norns in Norse mythology); triple-faced Hecate, the Greek deity of witchcraft; or even the Holy Trinity of Christian mysticism. Shakespeare's Weird Sisters of Macbeth were another famous threesome, and their name is sometimes interpreted to have been derived from the Old English word ‘wyrd’ which means fate. The three-eyed raven can therefore be considered a ‘wyrd bird’ of a sort: an entity that transcends the bounds of time and space, and brings secret knowledge to those in the present who may be guided by it, or doomed by it, depending on your view of destiny.”

    Pam Grossman, author of “Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power” and host of “The Witch Wave” Podcast

    “Three-Eyed Raven, to the cards of the Tarot deck and this character, makes me think of the Strength card, which reminds us to embrace our power and glean the positive aspects of our primal or animal instincts rather than simply being beholden to our impulses, much like the three-eyed raven is able to harness aspects of various animals' powers to his own advantage to keep himself empowered.”

    Sarah Potter, Tarot Reader and Color Magic Conjurer

    “Birds represent the air element. Air governs thought, communication, philosophy, intellect, and generally most workings of the mind.  Ravens specifically represent secret knowledge, wisdom, prophecies, and connection to the other side. The third eye is our eye that knows, not sees. It helps us tap into our intuition, psychic ability, and the higher self. The Night King seeks to not only destroy humanity, but the very thing that makes us human and thus, the Three-Eyed Raven is his target.” 

    Chelsea Lauren, Owner and Founder of Witch Baby Soap

    “Bran definitely has Odin-like qualities, as he has also suffered great physical harm but has gained knowledge of magic through these trials. Odin also had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, whose names mean ‘thought’ and ‘memory’ respectively. Odin would send his ravens flying around the world to gather knowledge and bring it home to him. Similarly, Bran also sends his spirit into ravens in order to gain knowledge and spy on enemies. The three eyes are also interesting. Outside of Scandinavia, having a ‘third eye’ has been a symbol of great psychic power, while the number three is one with many magical associations all over the world. In Northern European myth, there were three women known as The Norns who presided over the well of fate and who knew the destiny of everyone, even the gods. Looking at these associations, it's no wonder why the Three-Eyed Raven is such a powerful spirit ally to Bran!”

    Sarah Lyons, author of “Revolutionary Witchcraft” and host of “Pop Cvlt” Podcast

    “Crows and ravens have been symbolically significant within the realms of divination, superstition (omens), and literary symbolism for centuries. Some of its earliest appearances can be found within Greek Mythology, as ravens are associated with Apollo and his ability to delivery prophecy. The Three-Eyed Raven takes this metaphor a step further with a nod to the chakra system, as our 'third eye' is an energy point associated with psychic ability and intuition.”

    Renée Watt, Tarot Reader, Psychic, and host of “Witch Doctorate” Podcast

    “The Three-Eyed Raven is symbolic of the past present and future. All of these events are taking place at the same time in the head of the raven across several different timelines while he holds no bearings over the will Of others he can see what has happened based on their choices and also what can happen as a result of their choices. This frees his other eye up to be able to take account of the events that are happening in the present—an omnipotent presence within Planetos.”

    Shawnte Cato, Astrologer

    “If a three-eyed raven existed as a mystic in our world, we might think of them as a clairvoyant with access to the Akashic records — which is basically a universal encyclopedia that exists on the etheric plane and is believed to store 'records' of everything that has ever occurred in the past, future, or present of human history. Psychics (such as 20th century mystic Edgar Cayce, for example) are believed to be able to interpret information directly from the Akashic records, which mirrors the skill of the the mythical three-eyed raven. The symbolism of the raven itself is important here, too. In occultism, there is much study around the concept of alchemically merging our physical selves with a spiritual entity — which reflects the nature of the three-eyed raven, as a human taking on the consciousness of a spiritual being and becoming one with it. In alchemical transmutations, ravens are often invoked or used symbolically to represent an element in transition — so it makes sense that this Game Of Thrones entity would be represented in such a form, additionally with a third eye to symbolize its ability to see beyond the physical realm.”

    Nina Kahn, Astrologer and Writer @rainbowgrams 

    “Contrary to popular belief, most Native American tribes consider the raven to be a good luck omen, not one of death. Some even believe that this bird can shape shift, bringing medicine to their people. I am 1/18 Cocheco, and years ago, before she passed away, my grandmother told me about the historical lore from our tribe of the one-eyed crow. Legend has it that a raven would visit all the newborn babies while they slept their first sleep and waited for their mother to return to the room so they could show her a vision of her son's future. But then one day a crow with only one eye in the middle of his head came to visit a new born boy. The crow did not show the new mother a vision, and later that day, the family was visited by the tribe's shaman who took the baby without any explanation of why or even when they would be back. Twelve years passed before he finally returned, and the following day, the village was attacked. The battle was unexpected but it turns that the boy had been training for this day his whole life with intense shamanic and combat training, and he defeated their enemies and saved the tribe!It’s  a metaphor about trusting in the universe, and also allowing for the duality of nature. Sometimes what seems cruel is actually a gift and we can only understand it when it's time to understand it. It's a metaphor we could apply to the plight of so many of our beloved characters on GOT, but especially our young Three-Eyed Crow.”

    Blue June, Tarot Reader, Psychic, and host of “Mystic Witch Podcast” @bluejunetarot

    Top photo via HBO / Game of Thrones

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    Pam Grossman is known to be a badass in the occult scene: she’s respected and admired for her knowledge and dedication to her magical practice. The author and host of “The Witch Wave” podcast has just written a new book—which is amazing in every way. 

    In Pam Grossman’s latest book, Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power, she reflects on her journey to becoming a witch, creating an alchemical blend of honesty, sincerity, wisdom, strength, and humor. From her explorations as a “teen witch” to her magical awakening, Grossman sheds light on what being a witch and a woman mean—and how both identities combined can help us empower ourselves.  

    Waking the Witchis an inspirational celebration of strength. The book forces us to take a deeper look inside and own our authentic selves, with no remorse. Even if you are not a witch, you will take note of Grossman’s brilliant underlying message that magic lies within us all. 

    What does being a witch mean to you? 

    It honestly depends on context and who's asking, because "witch" is such a shape-shifting word, and I use it myself both literally and metaphorically. But my answer today is that being a witch means that I am someone who uses the power of her imagination, intention, and attention to make positive change in her life and in the world, so we can all thrive equally and be free. 

    When did you first realize you were a witch? What led you to this self-discovery?

    When I was little, I loved stories with magical female protagonists in them, from novels like Wise Childby Monica Furlong to films and cartoons like Labyrinth and She-Ra to myths from various cultures. I was also a super creative kid, and would intuitively do rituals and deep, fantastical play in my backyard woods, like a lot of kids do. But I didn't start thinking of myself as a witch privately until I was a teenager, and discovered spell books in New Age shops or the occult section of the mall bookstore. I would experiment with these books, and eventually start making up my own spells, which were shockingly effective. At this same time, I also got obsessed with Sandman comics; badass, bewitching musicians like Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, and Bjork; and female surrealist painters like Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington. All of this art very much affirmed my belief that creativity and intuition are as important to magic-making as following a specific spell in a book. 

    As I got older and studied more, my magical practice and my creative practice became intertwined. I also became more interested in the divinity of nature and the body, and eventually found my way to a wonderful teacher, the herbalist and green witch Robin Rose Bennett. I began taking classes with her in 2009 and then became part of her apprenticeship coven for several years. It was during this time that I felt emboldened to begin calling myself a witch publicly.

    Explain your personal relationship with magic.

    Magic is something that I'm in constant relationship with, and it is a co-creative entity. I need to be present for it and working with it or else it just passes by. It affects the material world, but it operates in the immaterial realm of energy, symbol, and what I'll call poetic action. In other words, I'm making magic when I'm doing a spell or ritual, writing or working on a project with intention, or doing anything that shifts consciousness to a place that is heightened, more aware, and more receptive. It is something I'm devoted to and I'm learning more about it all the time. And it continuous to be mysterious, but it works, or I honestly wouldn't bother with it!

    What impact do you hope magic and witchcraft will have on the generations to come? 

    I hope it will allow people to realize that we are each responsible for our own spiritual lives, and that we can use the power of our imaginations and our interconnectedness to remake any aspect of the world that we want to. That means living more genuinely and joyfully as individuals, but it also means that we have the ability to dismantle the white, cisheteronormative patriarchal structures that are damaging to so many of us, and to our planet overall. 

    If witchcraft has taught me anything, it is that we each have the ability to conjure change as individuals, but we also have the responsibility to be of service to something greater than ourselves. There is Spirit in everything and everyone. And so we are here to heal and fortify and manifest our dreams, yes. But then we must use that power to take care of each other. 

    What advice do you have for teenagers who are first embracing their inner witch?

    I often recommend newbies set up a little bit of space for themselves that feels truly sacred. This can be as elaborate as an altar with flowers, candles, and holy figures, or as low key as an Altoids tin filled with stones or pictures of an artist, activist, or ancestor who inspires you. What's important is that this is an area that feels safe and personal, and that is designated only for connecting with Spirit (or whatever word for sacred presence that feels right to you). So while your locker might be decorated with icons and inspiring quotes, it's not quite an altar because it's also being swarmed with all kinds of other energy. This little altar is for undivided, divine focus. You can check into it whenever you feel called to ask Spirit for guidance, give gratitude, or just say hi.

    Being a teenager is hard because you are beginning to realize who you really are, and yet you are still beholden to the constraints of family, school, and your peer group. But setting up a magical space that is just for you and Spirit alone can help you learn to trust you inner voice, and connect with what you truly love and what you are meant to be doing.

    Witches seem to be everywhere right now. Why are they suddenly so popular? 

    Well, this actually isn't the first time we've seen this happen. Our feelings about witches reflect both our fears and our fantasies about female power. With each wave of feminism, we've seen a renewed interest in witches, because feminists tend to sympathize with the idea of tremendously gifted women who are perceived by the patriarchy as being a horrific threat. But I do think what's happening now is different, or at least grander in scale, because you have so many women, femmes, queer people, and people of color who are gaining bigger platforms and looking to restructure the world into a place where we are allvalued. The witch is a perfect symbol for that because she represents everything that is subversive, alternative, and other. So I don't think the popularity of witches is just a trend, but rather a sea change. Witches are the future.

    In your book, you describe what constitutes a witch both historically and in pop culture. Do you believe that we all have an inner witch within us all? How do we access that part of ourselves?

    There are so many ways to be a witch, which is why I ended up writing an entire book on it! Some people use that word to denote that they are feminists or that they have a desire to subvert an oppressive, sexist status quo. Some people use it ironically, in the same way "nasty woman" went from an insult to a self-proclaimed badge of pride. There are those who use it to signify that they honor and protect the most vulnerable among us – and that includes all organisms, not just people. And there are certainly those who use it to mean that they practice some sort of witchcraft or alternative mode of spirituality, healing, or divination. But one thing is for sure: that since the 19th century and certainly since the first wave of feminism, this word has gone from a negative epithet to one that's associated with brilliant, unapologetic, feminine power. And that's something we could all use more of these days.

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