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This week we explore signs and omens that lead us towards a deeper understanding of the Great Mystery. Follow your intuition, and pay close attention. The universe is speaking to you.

I looked for someone to help me with my curiosity and found an ad in the local paper, a person offering spiritual readings etc. So over about 3 visits I started to really become interested. From the start I told her (I'll call her Hope) that I wanted to learn some of what she knows. One day she said, when you get home write these words on a piece of paper three times, place it in front of you and repeat it. Place the paper in a clean bowl, burn it and save all the ashes and put them in a new envelope, seal it and place it under your pillow for the night. The next day scatter the ashes and then wait for a response from the universe. It can take a while. Hope said it would help determine my place in the universe.

I did all this, woke up the next day, and emptied the envelope in the garden next to my car.

The next day, in exactly the same spot, a dead black cat lay there. No noticeable injuries, it was a regular sized cat, and lay on its side. Well I really started to worry a lot.

So I called Hope that afternoon, desperate for some information. Her mother was also a White Witch, and a very experienced one. Apparently it ran in the family, the ability to see and operate with the spirit world and other areas. Hope was in training. Hope asked her mother while I was on the phone, and I could hear her mother start to freak out in the background. She said "we can't help him, get off the phone." Hope repeated what her mum said- you are already much more advanced than they were both put together. That I was probably a powerful wizard in a past life and still have the ability. They really freaked out, told me never to call again and leave them alone.

This left me with no answers, and I still have no idea what happened.

Any help would be great, and if I do have some power or can get it back, where do I start?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Wow, there is a lot at play here. I’m sorry that you were turned away at a time when you needed help. It seems irresponsible to me to give you such a task (the envelope, the ashes) and then deny you answers. The issue, I believe, lies in their self-designation as “White Witches.” While I can see the reason to claim your virtue (white) while also claiming your craft (witch)-- many people still fear witches and I assume they hoped to dispel any ideas that they may be “evil”-- there is inherent imbalance in claiming the light and denying the dark. If we, as mystics, are to be brave enough to study the mysteries of the universe, we must face all aspects of the great mystery, and ourselves. A truly great witch is neither white nor black, dark nor light, but carefully and with integrity walks the line between the two. It is only then that we can have deep understanding and compassion. One can be a force for good while still acknowledging and working with the shadows.

So, to examine the meaning behind the dead black cat, there are a few questions that I don’t have the answers to, and you will have to ask yourself. First, what did you write on the paper that you burned? What was the question you wanted answered? As with all omens, we must ask ourselves what we were seeking when the sign was revealed. As for the symbolism of the animal, again, I implore you to begin with self-referencing. The lore of the black cat is ancient and universal, and as such, there are many interpretations of it’s medicine. Some cultures thought of them as good luck, some as bad, for instance. Personally, as a witch, I tend towards the meaning that casts them as magical familiars, allies to witches and wizards with their own supernatural talents, and the ability to go between worlds. However, this cat showed up for you, not me, and so it is more important to ask yourself what you think of when you see a black cat. How does the symbol of a black cat make you feel? Are you intrigued, scared, indifferent? Meditate on the meaning it holds for you. Unfortunately, many people are very ignorant and think of black cats and dogs as evil, and as a result, many are murdered every day. There is some deep cultural shit here, rife with misogyny and racism, that I don’t have time to unpack, but it’s worth mentioning. Denial of our ignorance is a plague on society.

We must investigate the fact that the animal was dead. On its surface death may appear frightening and menacing, but there is much more to it than that. Death symbolizes transformation. When a dead animal appears to us, it is often an indication that we are transitioning from one phase of life to another. Death medicine is heavy to hold, but powerful, for it carries profound teaching and deep wisdom, if we choose to listen. Perhaps you are transitioning from a mundane life to a magical one as you uncover your own powers, and begin the long and winding path of the mysterious and mystical. At least, that is what a dead black cat would mean to me. If you are to walk this road, you must first start by asking your inner voice these questions, and listening closely for the wisdom it reveals. It may take time, but this will become your most valuable skill.

I encourage you to continue your search. It is quite possible that you were a powerful wizard in another lifetime and have been finding your way back ever since. There are many teachers out there who would be willing to work with you, so try not to be discouraged by this first dismissal. Remember that great power comes with great responsibility, so be honest with yourself about why you are searching for it.

Read on for my tips on different ways to approach your learning, and good luck.


How should I begin to study mysticism? Where do I start?

There are as many ways to access mysticism as there are different cultures who do so. There are shamans, medicine men and women, para-psychologists, witches, magicians, yogis, psychics, tribal elders… the list goes on. These fields are often considered "mystery arts" and much of the information has long been pushed underground, for safety reasons. There are still places in the world where being accused of witchcraft is punishable by torture and death. It is only in about the last century has it been remotely safe to study the craft in Western cultures.

To seriously study, the best ways are to find a teacher, take classes and workshops, or enroll in a mystery school (there are many, but they usually don't advertise online so it takes a series of synchronicities to discover one). There are of course a wealth of books you can read, if you learn well that way. I usually just go to the library (or bookstore) occult section and check out whatever appeals to me, and I've gotten helpful tidbits from most of them. You can look for books on witchcraft, shamanism, Wicca, paranormal studies, astrology, Tarot, etc. You can always search online too, following everything that interests you. There is no shortage of information.

I encourage you to begin your own self-study and home practice. The most valuable skill you can develop is your intuition, so start exercising. Notice how you feel when you look at a certain book, read about a workshop, or meet a teacher. Trust your inner voice. If something feels wrong, don’t pursue that avenue of study. When something intrigues or excites you, look further. Don’t mistake fear of the unknown for a bad feeling- when trying new things, especially the mystery arts, it is natural to have apprehension. Challenge yourself with the question- does this make me uneasy because it’s dangerous, or because I don’t understand it and it scares me? With so much information and so many paths to take, you must follow your passion and let it illuminate your path. Are you interested in talking to spirits? Plant medicine? Fire craft? Divination? Healing? Working with Spirit Animals? Explore and allow your curiosity to open doors for you.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Open yourself up to the journey, follow the signs, and find your calling. Good luck.

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