Welcome to September, witches! Can you feel the veil thinning? As we approach the autumn equinox, as Samhain crests over the horizon, as we come closer and closer to the parting of the veil, we are going to feel and notice a lot more spirit activity. We are going to feel our ancestors and our guides a lot closer to us than usual. This isn’t something to be feared, this is something to welcome and to rejoice in. And it’s also going to be a time when we experience more activity around our homes than usual. I had an email about that kind of thing recently and I’m just going to read a bit from that:
I need to get down to business and do a house protection spell post haste because there’s starting to be activity in our house. Someone or something has definitely taken notice of my recent activities and energy shifts. I encountered an entity last week that was either trying to push its way through the bathroom door (I was in the bathroom), or maybe just in no uncertain terms announce its presence by bumping loudly into the door. Once I established that it wasn’t my husband or child and that in fact no one in my (living) family was even awake let alone throwing themselves at the door, I thought: alrighty then, so THAT just happened. Then I tipped my hat to the entity and went on with my evening.
And then a couple days later, she sent this:
Tonight my daughter screamed like I have never heard her scream before when she saw someone in the living room that she at first thought was her brother before she realized it wasn’t. She has severe communication limitations subsequent to Down syndrome and therefore couldn’t articulate her experience in much detail, but that scream spoke volumes.
So I sent some suggestions and we talked a little more about the kind of long-term work she might put into place to keep naughty little nasties out, and then she sent this:
My daughter and I did the work together. After your email, I was preparing for the house cleansing when she came out of her room all perplexed looking for her brother. My husband and I told her he wasn’t home and she said, “tell him to stop calling for me, it’s not funny.” Kind of like her scream from the first encounter, her presentation in that moment was not typical of her behavior in any way. She was just very confused because, as she explained, he had been bugging her, she had told him to stop, and then when she went to the door to confront him about it, he wasn’t there. And with that, I said ok we are doing this right now. So we got to it. Now we have wards in every room, and Elvis has left the building.
And I was so glad that she got her daughter involved in the work of getting rid of this little bugger. I am such a proponent of getting the kids involved in this kind of work, and honestly anytime they can be included. It is just a really good foundation for them to be empowered to do their own work as they get older. And it takes the mystery away, it just becomes a lot easier for them to perform their own work, because they’re going to be a lot more comfortable trying things and recognizing their results. But my larger point in bringing this up was to bring attention to the escalation of spirit activity for this witch and her family. Things went from zero to sixty so quickly.
And a lot of that has to do with the fact that witches almost act as a beacon of energy when they’re doing magical work and it gets a lot of attention from these kinds of entities. But now, as we are on the other side of the summer solstice and heading into the autumn equinox and then into Samhain where the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, we’re going to notice that stuff even more than usual.
And speaking of veils and clunky transitions, today’s topic was influenced by an email I got from a witch who I love hearing from; she has so much going on and she is really fearless when it comes to just trying things in her craft. But she had a question:
So Eli, I have heard about Veiling. Some witches call it Empath Veil, Witches Veil, Folk Veil, etc. After wandering around google I have definitely learned it’s not the same thing as The Veil between us and the spirit world, but I really can’t find a whole lot explaining it, just some people mentioning it in passing like everyone just knows what they are talking about. As you know and we have talked about before, I grew up in an extremely religious family, I have never heard of veiling before and there is a lot about the occult that I just don’t have the implied knowledge that a lot of people do who have spent their entire lives in the practice. So anyways, I thought that might be a cool show subject.
By veiling she is specifically talking about wearing a veil or head covering for spiritual or religious reasons. Pagan veiling is something that is not commonly practiced, but it isn’t uncommon by any stretch either. And then she included four specific questions about veiling that she would like to know more about. Now, she wrote this back in July, and I told her then it was going to be a little while before I could get my thoughts together on this and there were a couple reasons for that. First, while I’ve done kind of a lot of reading on the topic, it isn’t something that I personally practice, so I was going to have to reread a lot of my sources and make sure I wasn’t misremembering anything.
Secondly, and this was the larger issue, I have specific, personal, negative reactions to the idea of veiling. And I’ve done enough shadow work to recognize that the reactions I was having were solely based on my own ego. I know what that feels like as opposed to having a negative reaction based on, say, my intuition. When I was a little girl, I was in a Pentacostal church. As a very young adult, I was a Mormon. These experiences color the way that I approached this topic and this is the lens through which I was seeing the practice of veiling. And that’s not a very subjective way to approach it. Because veiling for Pagans is not about imposed modesty or obedience, and I had to be able to internalize that.
So before I could respond from a place of truth and openness to her specific questions about veiling, I had to first get through my own personal hang-ups. I had to do some work. I recommended a couple books on the subject to this witch in the meantime, but as a topic for the podcast, I am finally ready to talk about this practice. And I am so thankful to Ithil for asking this question and giving me the opportunity to confront some of my own issues, and for being so understanding and so patient while I had to stew on this topic for two months. I have never taken so long to answer a question.
Her first question, and she gave them to me in bullet points, which thrills my midheaven in Virgo placement, is as follows:
· What is Veiling: I have been able to come up with this: it is a piece of fabric that is laid on or wrapped around the head to create a barrier. Ok, I get that, but a barrier from what? Emotional vampires? Negative Spirits? All spirits? Other people’s thoughts/emotions? (This is the main reason I am interested; sometimes being around a lot of people creates headaches because everyone’s emotions are just out there and it feels like a constant barrage to an empath).
Alright, so veiling in Paganism, which is how I’m going to approach it, is simply covering one’s head with some sort of cloth. This is entirely up to the person who practices it. How much of the head is covered and the specifics of how the veil is wrapped are completely individual. Unlike religious traditions who practice this, there just aren’t any set, prescribed methods of doing it. So it’s going to be a matter of personal preference driven by comfort and the degree to which a person finds it effective.
And one of the purposes of this practice, as Ithil said, is to act as a barrier. Particularly to shield the crown chakra which is so susceptible to the energies it receives. The crown acts as a conduit. And it can be overwhelming to everyone, but especially to empaths, to constantly be hammered by the energies, thoughts, feelings, and vibrations of other people. Especially in a crowd, or even when you’re one-on-one with emotional vampires, negative spirits, etc. Conversely, veiling can also act to shield others from being able to sense your own abilities. If you run into someone who is also sensitive, veiling can keep that person from sensing your power.
Another reason people will wear the veil is to help to ground them. Rather than having all your energies emerging from your crown undirected, they’re going to release from your palms and the soles of your feet, back into the earth. So this can help to recharge you, rather than leaving you depleted and just running on empty. Those are two different reasons for using the veil as a barrier, but a person can use the veil for both of them.
And lastly, on the subject of why, there is an element of religious adherence for some, although it’s nothing at all to do with obedience or oppression. Pagans and witches, even a lot of Wiccans do this, and Wiccans in particular are not a group known for enforcing that kind of outward modesty. In fact Wiccans love to be sky clad during ritual and some covens won’t allow you to participate if you’re not nude. But many witches feel as though they are called to wear the veil by the goddess Hestia. Hestia is a Greek goddess of hearth and home and she is frequently depicted wearing a veil. So for devotees of Hestia, wearing the veil is their outward sign of the private vow they’ve made to her. It’s meant to set them apart and to show their devotion to her as a deity.
Ithil’s second follow-up question was this:
· What to Veil: I have seen a lot of people talk about using handkerchiefs, scarfs, hats, etc. But I have also seen a lot of people say that they only use scarfs that are made of silk or a certain type of fabric. And is there a certain size, weight?
In my reading, I never did find anything coming close to a consensus about what kind of fabric was best for this practice. Almost everything I’ve ever read comes down to personal comfort and preference. Same goes for the size and weight of the fabric used. I suppose the weather informs that decision as much as any other consideration. I suspect that practitioners probably prefer natural fabrics in general, although again, different folks might choose synthetic fabrics for their own perfectly valid reasons. I wish I had more to offer on that, but there just isn’t a designated correct fabric and there are as many head coverings to choose from as there are reasons for doing it. And this brings me to Ithil’s next consideration:
· How to Veil: There are so many religions out there that veil, both men and women. One example that comes to mind is the Sikh. When a Sikh man wraps his Dastar, it is wrapped a certain way, direction, and it has special significance. So is there a certain way to wrap the Veil and are there specific intentions/charms/incantations that are helpful to use at the time of veiling.
I tried to find something that might be helpful on that question, and there are absolutely right and wrong ways to wear a head covering from the perspective of different religious orders, but not for witches. I know I keep going back to the very disparate reasoning for why witches practice veiling, but that really is at the core of this question. There is no one reason why witches do this, and so there’s no one right way. But there’s also no wrong way. And in fact, knot magick is very powerful in witchcraft, and so it stands to reason that a witch could most definitely incorporate spells, charms, incantations, and intentions into each twist, tuck, and knot in his or her veil. But the individual witch is going to have to decide what that means for them.
This isn’t something to despair about though; I think the ability to literally weave a physical spell around one’s head in the act of veiling could be especially powerful. And just because there’s no rote way to do it doesn’t mean that it’s less powerful to do it one way versus another way. Established religious practices did not spring into existence fully-realized and with their rules and regulations already in place. Those things happened over time, and therefore this relatively newer and less-organized practice of Neo-Pagan veiling isn’t going to have that kind of rigidity. But again, I think that’s a good thing. And lastly, Ithil asks about:
· When to Veil: When is veiling most useful? In crowds, at home, at work, etc. Is there a place where veiling isn’t helpful? Does it affect our house Fae? And if so, does it affect them negatively or are they happy to get a break from our thoughts? Does veiling inhibit certain types of work in our practice? (eg; don’t veil during ancestor work because communication is harder, don’t veil when you are trying to use intuitive magic because it hinders the universe guiding you, etc).
As to the first part of that question, a lot of witches who practice veiling will do it when they are out and about. As we said at the top, its primary use amongst witches and Pagans is to protect the crown chakra from the unwanted barrage of psychic energy that we are exposed to in public. This is going to be especially true for empaths. Some will wear the veil to work, which incidentally is legally protected on religious grounds in case anyone’s manager decides to be an asshole about it.
Followers of Hestia often wear the veil during ritual work specifically in her honor. I did see that, as Hestia is in part a domestic goddess, oftentimes, witches will wear their veil actually during housework performed as a tribute to her. And I don’t want to give the wrong impression there; we are not talking about women feeling compelled to cover up while they’re doing household chores. Hestia is a goddess whose dominion is the home as a sacred place, as a temple. And so to perform work which cleans and sanctifies the home, one can pay homage to this goddess and set aside their own home as a temple. And I think that’s pretty cool.
As to the rest of the questions, whether this affects the house fae or whether there are times that a veil might inhibit a witch’s magickal work, I think this is something that a witch who wishes to practice veiling is going to have to determine for himself or herself. I really tried to find the most in-depth information I could, but when it comes to the practice of veiling… Look there just aren’t all that many witches in the population to begin with. Secondly, there are very, very few witches in our tiny little percentage of the population, who practice veiling. So there’s just not a lot of hard and fast, tried and true information to pass along. But there’s a huge upside to that as well.
There are no preconceived ‘right’ ways to do this, so there aren’t going to be a lot of witchcraft gatekeepers telling you that you’re doing it wrong. You can experiment with this practice however you see fit. You can choose to wear the veil every day, or you can pick and choose when you want to wear it. You can decide to do it one way, and then change your mind after a while according to your own experience and your own wisdom. You can anoint your veil with oils, you can incorporate meaning into every twist of the scarf, you can wear it any way you choose with the concrete knowledge that you are doing it absolutely correctly, because you are the only one who has decided what that means.
Which gives me the opportunity to once again reiterate that my favorite thing about witchcraft is that no two witches, in the entire history of this world, practice their craft in the same way. There’s an awful lot of overlap for some, but absolutely no repetition. This is the part of the craft that is truly an art. Your personal craft is a unique tapestry woven by you, for you. And if veiling becomes a part of that practice, or if it’s something you only try for a part of that journey, or if it’s just plain not right for you, then that’s another thread in the pattern of your tapestry, adding to its richness.
I am shocked to even say this, but I may experiment with wearing a head covering of some sort from time to time to protect myself and my energy. I’ll probably keep it simple with a hat or a seasonal scarf of some kind, but I have had to acknowledge that there is a lot of value in this practice for those who feel called to it. And I thank you again, Ithil, for making me have to shine a light on the initial knee-jerk reaction that I had to the idea of veiling and really unravel my own prejudices and preconceptions about it. That’s challenging, and it’s humbling. But I needed it, and hopefully this information has been helpful for others as well.
I would love to hear from anyone who practices veiling in their craft. It would be really enlightening to talk to someone who has practical experience with it and just get that point of view. And please join the discussion forums on middleagedwitch.com so that we can all benefit from this exchange of ideas. I’d like to hear from witches who are totally opposed to it as well. I think there’s value in this kind of open, respectful discourse. We can’t really know what we think about anything if we refuse to consider different viewpoints. We will talk again next week about a goddess I know a lot more intimately, we are going to speak about Hekate. Until then, my name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.