Crafts

Wreathing the Wheel

March, 2019

March

I’ve been working with astrology a lot in my craft lately, and it’s starting to work its way into all my designs! Here, I’ve added the planets associated with each day of the week in a flow of stardust — this is pretty, but it’s also a way of labeling the days and reminding me of the planetary associations.

This March, the full moon is on Ostara, the Vernal Equinox. It brings with it a great potential for manifestation of personal works. To harness this power and celebrate the season, I’m making a renewed effort to spend time on my garden. My husband and I moved a little over a year ago from a large house that had a lot of garden space to a townhouse with fairly little garden space, and I haven’t done much with it yet. I brought several potted houseplants and a few garden herbs, a few of which are in the ground already — carnation, spearmint, rosemary, and valerian — but there’s room for plenty more

At right, I’ve made a detailed listing of the plants I’m growing or planning to grow, with notes about what type of soil they need, how much sun they should get, how often they should be watered, how large they are likely to get, and any other care information that seems relevant. There are a few spots to add plants, but since I don’t have much space, I’ll probably do so slowly

At left, I have a log to track my progress and schedule important dates, and a small map of my garden in the middle of the spread. Because I have such little space, I have to have the plants spread out into several different locations, and it’s important that I don’t confuse them. Some of the plants I’m growing need to be treated carefully and grown inside a terrarium due to their toxicity; some will do better outside than in. In this case, organization is extremely important!

The final step in this process is to carry the theme forward through the rest of my journal so that I can return to this intention on an appropriate schedule and don’t forget what I’m doing or get lost in my plans. With most of these plants, weekly observation should be sufficient for me to determine their needs, but there is still quite a bit of work to be done to get everything set up, and I’ll need to be very careful when I’m starting my seeds. I can’t wait to see what grows!

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About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Book of Shadows: As the Wheel Turns

March, 2019

Ostara – New Beginnings

My March divider is a reminder to myself to “Never Lose Your Sparkle” and I made every effort to bling the reminder as hard as I could because sometimes the mundane aspects of living actually dull my shine. It is my belief that every time I get out of bed, I am presented with the opportunity to shine; to potentially be the light that someone else sees and reflects in their own lives. Kindness is free, presenting someone with a smile is free and in March, I intend to be deliberate in passing along a lot of free smiles and kindness. I am also trying something new in my working Book of Shadows. I am trying a new dashboard idea that my friend Suzy Mesa made for me. I am using a wet erase marker on the back for reminders that I do not necessarily have to do today but need to be done in relatively short order. The dash board moves with my weeks and can be erased. But she is too cute, and I needed to share this with you!

Of course, there are always the weekly inserts for my Tarot Tracking, and each coordinate with the respective weekly layout.

March ushers in the first day of Spring, the Spring Equinox, or Ostara (whichever you celebrate) on the 20th of the month. This is a time for new beginnings, a time for fresh starts, to nourish the seeds that we planted on Imbolc. My seed has begun to emerge from the bulb, a small and happy little green sprout peeking up from the tightly closed bulb; nevertheless, there is life emerging and a healthy seed is one that is well-tended, well-watered, and well fertilized.

As a daily reminder, I speak my seed work to the bulb, I repeat it three times, and I work hard at manifesting the seed into a sprout that will eventually become a stalk, then a leaf, and, with hard work and dedication, it will produce a healthy and plump bud that will burst open with intention and volition. Spring will begin the work of manifesting the seed into the healthy harvest that I hope to bring this year. Completion. That is the work at hand for me.

Ostara also marks the day when most everything is perfectly balanced. The Spring Equinox brings balance to night and day. Darkness and Light are equal. Balance is present. The seeds are beginning to rise up from the soil, and the hopes planted at Imbolc are becoming realities. The animals are beginning to stir in their dens and readying themselves for mating. In Celtic tradition, one of the symbols of Ostara is the Hare, which is sacred to many lunar Goddesses such as Hekate, Freyja, and Holda; however, the Goddess most associated with the Hare is Eostre, the Goddess of Spring.

Another of the symbols for Ostara are eggs. The egg represents promises and new life, as well as fertility. In some traditions, the egg is symbolic of balance as well. In those traditions, it is believed that all of the energies such as male and female; God and Goddess; and light and dark, manifest as balance in the egg as the yolk and the white. The Sun God, represented by the yolk, is in balance with Maiden Goddess, the white of the egg.

There is a very special tale about the Goddess and the Hare and how the egg became a sacred item during Ostara. It goes something like this…

The Goddess was coming to the forest to visit the animals. The were all very excited for Her visit. They decided to throw Her a party and to bring Her gifts as a show of their love and respect.

(Luna Dashboard and Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Meza.)

During the preparations for the party, the animals were excitedly running around, gathering gifts. As in any other society, there are animals who are better off than some and had greater and more opulent treasures to offer to the Goddess. The Hare seemed very excited to see the Goddess, but he knew he had nothing to offer. He hopped to his den and he looked around, but after a very harsh and cold winter, he had used all of his food sources and had nothing to offer Her. Until, that is, he noticed that he had one egg left in his den. He took that egg and he shined it and then he set about decorating that egg the best way that he knew how. He poured his heart and soul into making that egg as beautiful as he could. When it came time for the party, Hare quietly watched as the other animals approached the Goddess and laid beautiful treasures at Her feet. Hare became nervous that his egg was not going to win favor with the Goddess because it was simple, but it was all that he had, and he made it everything that he could with his decorations.

(Luna Dashboard and Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Meza.)

So, after all of the other animals had gifted the Goddess with their opulent treasures, Hare quietly hopped forth and laid his beautiful egg at the feet of the Goddess. When the Goddess saw the egg at Her feet, She recognized Hare above all of the other animals in the forest, for they had given the Goddess only what they wanted, but Hare had given Her all that he had.

All of the animals in the forest are special to the Goddess, but none are more favored during Ostara than the Hare. In our lives, when we give of ourselves, in service to our Deities, we should be mindful to give all that we have in order to manifest in our lives those things that are in our highest and best good. As with anything else in life, we must work toward manifesting what we want in our lives by focusing on things such as light and kindness and, whenever possible, we should emulate Hare in every aspect of our lives as we strive to find the balance in our own world.

RESOURCES:

MAMBI® CHP Extension Packs

Luna Dashboard and Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Meza.

March Monthly and Weekly Stickers by Shirley Lenhard are free at the Pagan Plannertarium.

March Cover Page – Shoot for the Stars – Recollections® “Constellations” paper pad & Miscellaneous Washi tapes:

Available at Michael’s and other craft retailers

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About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.

Book of Shadows: As the Wheel Turns

February, 2019

Imbolc Planned and Explored

February is the month of Brigid, the hearth fires are tended, the seeds are readied for planting, and spell work done in February focuses on purification, growth, and healing. Loving the self is the theme throughout the month of February; after all, how you love your self will teach everyone in your sphere of influence how to love you. This is a time for kindness to be extended inward. In addition, the energies in February are peek for accepting responsibility for past mistakes and forgiving yourself while you make plans for the future.

This month, I focus on spell crafting and making sigils. A sigil is a combination of symbols that are placed together with intent and are fashioned to become the embodiment of your intention. For instance, I may use the Theban Alphabet (aka the Witch’s Runes) to fashion a Sigil for a spell. If you’re not acquainted with the Theban Alphabet, a quick Google® search will lead you to the alphabet easily enough. Here is an example of a Sigil, the word is “Love” and I used the Theban Alphabet and then placed the letters together to represent how the “love” could represent itself in my spell crafting. Sigils have many uses in magical workings and it is my belief that when I make a sigil, all of my intent and purpose in the spell is crafted into the sigil and it facilitates my workings by manifesting a physical thing that I can see and use as a reminder or a representation of the working. The entire process of me devising my own sigil puts my intention into the sigil and the meaning is carried through the work. Some people use Runes, Theban Alphabet, Zodiac Signs, Sacred Symbols, and a myriad of other representations of their intention. Even a “doodle” can be a sigil; I have used “doodles” in sigil work as well. The beauty of the craft is that it is your own and you must walk the path, therefore, I am neither right nor wrong, I simply am being the best person I know how to be, and I use the craft to facilitate that idea until it becomes my practice.

The month of February is also the month when I plant my seed for the coming harvests which are Lammas (aka Lughnasadh), Mabon, and Samhain. I rarely plant more than one seed per harvest because I do not like to set myself up for failure by taking on too much when I am working on my own personal evolution. Every year, my seed work manifests during the dark times, between Samhain and Yule and, ordinarily, by Yule I would have begun the ascent from the dark days of self-contemplation with a seed virtually budding and ready for planting. This year was a bit different for me. I have reduced my seed work to a short mantra that has volition and purpose and the intention of the seed work is to write it down on a piece of paper, plant it in a pot with a bulb of some sort – usually Amaryllis because they remind me of my mother – and I nurture that seed daily. Nurturing your seed includes lighting a candle every day, watering, and speaking the mantra out loud every day in front of the seed. This not only reinforces your working, but it sets the tone for the rest of your year. Seed work is always internal work, always something for my highest and best good, and sometimes it is painful. The pain is sometimes like that of my youth, when my long bones ached, and my mother would tell me that someday I would be big and strong and able to do things that I cannot do as a child. I remind myself of that in the midst of any pain that seed work can deliver. I plant the seed on Imbolc (aka Candlemas), February 2, and I tend it daily.

The Goddess Brigid is a focal Deity for me during the month of February, She tends the hearth fires, and Her aspects encompass healing, poetry, and smith crafting. I usually start to play with making chain mail pieces during the month of February, an homage to Brigid’s forge, this year is a pentacle keychain made from chain mail. Of course, February also celebrates the Chinese New Year, with 2019 being “The Year of the Pig” and there may be messages meant for us to receive from Pig this month. They are extremely intelligent animals and have quirky qualities about them, it’s worth a look into them if you’re one of the people who looks for messages from the animal world

February also celebrates Valentine’s Day, and Brigid shares aspects of healing, childbirth, and unity with this celebration. Perhaps you have experienced a broken heart, Brigid can help to soothe that pain and ease the immediate shock of loss, while other aspects of this Goddess also serve to help is with new relationships and the flames of love that most tend to fan during this celebration. For pregnant Pagans, Brigid is often sought to lend Her energies to mother’s during birth. There is no union more sacred than that of a mother and newborn child

As the light begins to return, the darkness begins to wane and we have planted our seeds and February marks the time of year when tending to seed work is important not only in terms of personal growth, but also in how deeply we plant our seed so that the roots take hold and we experience positive, permanent change for the greater good; not only for ourselves, but for the world in which we interact. On the 19th of February we experience a Full Moon in Virgo and with this super full moon comes energies that are prime for completing tasks, putting order into your world, settling chaos, and maybe even trying to grasp a deeper understanding that we live in an imperfect world and must strive for balance during this time.

As Brigid’s month comes to a close, we must be mindful of tending the seeds that we have planted so that our harvest is well tended, our fields well-watered, and that we take the time, on a daily basis, to check in with our spiritual wellness, physical presence, and emotional stability. February is not just a month of exchanging cards and chocolates with our lovers. February is a month of self-awareness and love of the self. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself well. Remember, how you love and treat yourself teaches those around you how to love and treat you. So be kind to yourself.

As a Pagan and a Witch who works in a professional setting, I carry my working Book of Shadows with me to work and everywhere else that I go. I am often referring to it throughout the busy work day or it may even be open on my desk for quick reference. Sometimes, people carry with them a certain vibe or they become negative or speak in a negative manner. When this happens in front of me, I like to dispel the negative energy as quickly as I am able. Because I am out and about and not in my home, I cannot smudge in my office, I cannot use my bell to dispense the negativity, nor would it be professional to cleanse the area with dance and fire. However, I have found an answer to all of the negativity that could potentially linger and that is by placing themed shaker cards in my working Book of Shadows. They are beautiful, easy to keep accessible, and they work like a dream! All I do is remove the shaker card from my working Book of Shadows, take a long look at the beauty in my hands, center myself, and give that shaker card a few shakes and before the last bit of glitter settles…calm and peace is restored. My shaker cards are commissioned by my friend, Suzy Meza, and she makes these fantastic cards to order. As I will do with each and every month, the resources, shop and group links can be found at the end of the article.

RESOURCES:

MAMBI® CHP Extension Packs:

https://www.meandmybigideas.com

CHP Custom Cover & Foiled Pentacle Stickers by Claire McNamee:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BubsLovesBubba

Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Meza:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/gichiscraftcorner

February Monthly and Weekly Stickers by Shirley Lenhard are free at the Pagan Plannertarium:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/217392179039705/

February Cover Page – Shoot for the Stars – Recollections® “Constellations” paper pad & Miscellaneous Washi tapes:

Available at Michael’s and other craft retailers

***

About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.

The Kitchen Witch

February, 2019

Baking Basic Bread

I absolutely adore baking bread. To me, there is nothing more magical than the mixing of yeast and water and flour and sugar and salt to make a loaf of something nourishing and nutritious. If you have only had “Wonder Bread”-type bread, then you don’t know how fabulous real bread can be.

I usually invoke Isis before I start a batch of bread. To me, Isis is the preeminent goddess of bread. According to Patricia Telesco, the Egyptians were the originators of leavening to make bread rise and that they had over thirty different kinds of breads. (Telesco, 53). They were also adept at brewing beer, which led to Isis being known as the “Lady of Bread, Lady of Beer”, among many other titles. (Seawright, 1) However, other cultures had deities of bread, or at least the hearth and oven, notably the Greeks and Romans, with the Goddesses Hestia, Demeter, Vesta, Ceres, Empanda or Panda, Fornax. The Celts celebrated Brede as a goddess of the hearth, so if you work with Celtic deities or you want to work with Brede because it’s Her month, then by all means, invoke that Celtic of fire and poetry. Baking bread is nothing else than poetry in the form of dough, in my most humble opinion!

If it’s a cold day, I turn the heat up in the house and preheat the oven a few hours before I even start the baking process. The bread won’t rise if it’s not warm in the room where you’re baking. Atmospheric pressure also plays a role, although not as much as it does with cakes. But you might want to keep that in mind and try to bake on a high-pressure day. Your bread will rise much better.

The first thing I do is a thorough cleaning of my work surface and gather all my tools. I used to have a really nice baking mat for my counter-top with measurements for pies and other pastries but it was lost in one of my many moves and I have never replaced it. And I don’t have a bread machine or even an electric mixer. Everything is done by hand. If you have an electric mixer, by all means, use it – it’ll make beating the eggs and mixing the milk-egg mixture into the flour-yeast mixture that much easier. I do admit that my arthritis is making these tasks a bit painful in my old age! Maybe this is the year I break down and get myself some power tools! But right now, I can still do all the beating and mixing by hand. And I absolutely adore kneading the bread with my own two hands, although I do know that many mixers have a bread hook for kneading bread which will do it in minutes!

The recipe I use I developed myself. It’s based on the one my mother used – she used to bake four loaves of bread every other day to feed our family of eight. Her recipe used dry milk and Rapid-Rise yeast. Because my recipe is an adaptation of her recipe, it also uses Rapid-Rise (quick-rising) yeast but it works just fine with Active Dry Yeast – I have used both interchangeably in this recipe. I also use white sugar in this recipe. Lots of people don’t use white sugar anymore, opting to use honey or brown sugar instead. I almost never use white sugar at all anymore – I even put brown sugar into my coffee. However, adding honey to this recipe really doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It weighs down the dough and changes the flavor considerably. I do have bread recipes that use honey instead of white sugar; this is not one of them. This is simply a basic white bread that is great for sandwiches.

Basic Bread

1 package Rapid-Rise (quick-rising) yeast

¼ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups scalded milk, cooled to warm (105-115 degrees F)

2 eggs, well beaten

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 cups flour, added ½ cup at a time

Cut open your package of yeast and put it into your mixing bowl. Add the ¼ cup warm water. I know that the water that comes out of my tap is 110 degrees but BELIEVE ME, you want to have a food thermometer to temp the water to make sure that it’s not too hot or too cool so that the yeast is properly activated. If this part of the process is screwed up, you’ll never have bread. Again, believe me. It’s easy to “kill the yeast”.

After adding the water, give it a good stir. I love my little mini-whisk for this!

Then let it sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, put the milk on the stove to heat.

Milk burns easily, so you have to be mindful when you have it on the heat and stir it so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. You want the heat to be high enough to scald the milk but not high enough to burn the milk so be careful! As you stir, you “stir in” good intentions for the bread – or “stir out” negative emotions, if you’re working with a waning moon. Baking bread is great for this kind of magic.

When little bubbles appear on the edges of the pan and the milk is beginning to thicken, it’s properly scalded. Set it aside so it can cool. Again, I advise you to use a food thermometer!

Now we return to the yeast and water mixture. See how bubbly it is? If it is not, then the water was too hot or too cold and the yeast wasn’t activated. Throw it out and start over. But if it looks like this, then you’re good to go.

Ya know what I love about this look? It looks like THE MOON.

So now, shift together three cups of flour, two tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of salt. The sugar is necessary because the yeast eats it for energy – without it, the bread won’t rise properly. Mix this in.

Now we beat the eggs. I like to beat them until they are as frothy as possible.

Next, we want to add the beaten eggs to the scalded milk. Because the milk is still quite warm and eggs are – well, eggs – we need to “temper” the eggs by adding a little milk to the egg mixture very slowly until the two are mixed evenly. If you add the eggs to the milk mixture all at once, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your milk – like egg-drop soup – which is not what we want.

What I do is slowly pour the milk into the bowl of eggs as I beat them. I had trouble taking pictures of this process with only two hands but I managed. I really need a few more hands!

After I get most of the milk into the bowl of eggs, I pour them back into the pan and continue beating until the entire mixture is as frothy as the head on a freshly-poured glass of beer. And then I pour that mixture into the yeast-flour mixture and continue beating the hell out of it.

This is what you want the batter to look like after all that “violence” !!

Don’t forget to add the oil! I have to admit, I often forget the oil and I forgot it when I was making it this particular time. If you forget the oil, it’s not a major omission – your bread will just be a tad more crumbly than it would have been without it. I have to set the oil in a place where I literally can NOT miss it so I won’t forget it. I don’t know why that’s often a problem. Some kind of brain glitch, I guess!

Now it’s time to mix in the rest of the flour. What I do is put a cup of flour into the sifter and then sift half of it into the batter – it’s usually around seven turns of the handle. I mix that in and then add the rest of the flour. That way, it’s easy to remember how much flour I am adding. My mother’s recipe said to add 2/3’s of a cup at a time but I find it easier to do a half-cup.

Generally, it’s a full three cups that gets added but sometimes it’s three and a half cups and sometimes it’s four cups – this is something that you learn to “feel”. Dough responds to weather and to altitude so it’s always one of those calls you make at the time.

When the dough is ready, dust your baking mat or counter-top with some flour and roll out the dough onto it. Flour your hands to keep them from getting sticky and start kneading the dough. The way I was taught was this: using the fleshy, muscular part of the palms of your hands, press into the dough and then give it a quarter turn and then repeat. You want to do this until the dough is sleek and supple but you don’t want to over-knead the dough – it’ll produce a tough texture. It’s easy to over-knead – it’s a very meditative act – and personally, I think the feeling of dough in my hands is one of the best feelings in the world. But nowadays, I am so busy that I tend to under-knead rather than over-knead because I’m just pressed for time.

You’ll have to flour your hands more than once, so keep the bag of flour handy. Also, this is not something that’s easy to do and take pictures at the same time!!

Obviously, I use two hands to knead but I had to hold the camera with at least one hand!

Put a few tablespoons of oil into the bowl and set the dough into it and turn so the entire ball of dough is covered. Then cover the bowl with a light towel and set in a warm place to rise. Since I’ve had the oven on for several hours already, I put it on the counter next to the oven. You don’t want it in a drafty place or by an open window unless it’s a hot summer day.

Forget about it for an hour. Do some housework, run errands, meditate, cast a spell, make love. When you come back to the kitchen, it should look like this:

I love that look! It has a fabulous smell, too. So now, take the towel off and punch it down! (Honestly, I never realized how violent baking bread is). When I was a kid, punching down the dough was always a fought-for privilege amongst us kids. It’s really fun, how the air escapes out of the dough and it all collapses like a Thanksgiving balloon after the parade.

Cover it up again and let it rise a second time, again for about an hour. This time, punch it down again but let the dough rest for a few minutes while you prepare your baking mat again. Roll the dough out on the mat and cut it in half with a large kitchen knife. As they again rest, grease two loaf pans. Gently form the two sections of dough into loaves and set them into the loaf pans. Cover them with the light towel and let them rise for a third hour.

After an hour, the ready-to-bake loaves should look like this:

Put the loaves into a preheated 350-degree oven. If you’re like me, the oven’s been on all through this process anyway, to keep the kitchen warm so the bread would rise properly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven.

The loaves should be golden brown on the outside and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

This is the texture you are striving for. I admit that I don’t always get this. But this is the purpose of all that beating of the eggs and the milk. All that violence.

And nothing tastes any better than this. The hell with carb-free. I love my bread. Hail, Isis! Lady of Bread!

Yes, baking your own bread takes time and dedication but so does anything worthwhile. I love it as a way to connect to my mother and my grandmothers as well to my chosen goddesses. And I so love that first slice of bread, all golden and warm, just minutes out of the oven. Believe me, there is absolutely nothing better.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings and Bon Appetite!

References:

Seawright, Caroline. “Isis, Sister of Nepthys, Mistress of Magic”. http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/isis.html#.XETVFM17nIU

Telesco, Patricia. A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook. St Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook on Amazon

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Wreathing the Wheel

February, 2019

Imbolc, the Seed, and Growing Abundance

Imbolc has long been a sign of the beginning of the end of winter. In many parts of the world, this is the time when seeds that have long laid in the deep belly of the earth at least start to spring forth with green shoots. Accordingly, seeds wind up in Imbolc cakes, the white and new green of the young shoots is associated with the Sabbat, and even the name of Imbolc means “in the belly,” referring to the pregnancy of ewes, and the seeds in the earth.

This year, I’m trying to embrace prosperity and grow abundance as my way of celebrating Imbolc. Like many of us, I carry a bit of debt that I’d love to get out of, and I’m trying to manifest some new things this year. In the spirit of the season, I’m not leaving this up to chance. I’m planning out my payments to loans, and I’m ready to make progress — not by winning the lottery, or through some other simply impossible miracle, but through careful budgeting and penny-pinching.

While the hard numbers and actual tracking occur with my bank, I love having a financial tracker in my bullet journal, because it makes something of a game out of the truly unpleasant task of being financially responsible. And to remind myself that this is not a question of “whether” but of “when.” I’ve designed my financial tracker with the growth factor in mind. This isn’t so much about hard goals as it is about steady progress.

Weekly Tarot Reading

Following last month’s year-long Tarot spread, I wanted to discuss how I add weekly Tarot readings to my journal. (I’ve covered up the personal details in my weekly spread, because I do actually use this journal to plan my life!) I usually do a month spread, and then have single-page weekly spreads to plan my tasks each week; since I am also making a practice of a seven-card weekly Tarot reading, I add it here. I like to play around with the themes that I use for my weekly spreads (because creativity is fun), so this one is based off of the witch’s ladder, a sort of charm made from a rope with feathers, beads, and other charms woven into it. Additionally, the planets selected for each day accord with the ruling planet of the day.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Book of Shadows: As the Wheel Turns

January, 2019

A Look Inside a Monthly Working Book of Shadows


Many newcomers to the Pagan Path, as well as new Witches, often mistakenly believe that a Book of Shadows is an ancient concept that goes back eons. There is the very real possibility that herbalists and wise women in ancient times utilized recipe books, journals, or otherwise kept written records containing their secrets or logging their workings. However, the Book of Shadows is actually a neopagan concept that has its beginnings with Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Gardner is the founder of the Wiccan religion along with several other famous pioneering Wiccans who seemingly thrust the neo-pagan movement forward and opened the broom closet for many witches as well. The age of the conception of of Shadows should not cause anyone to question keeping a Book of Shadows. As with any other reference material, a Book of Shadows can be an invaluable tool in any practice, whether it is your craft or your spiritual walk. My working Book of Shadows is a vital part of my Pagan path and my practice as a Witch.

As a practicing Witch and a practicing eclectic Pagan with a Matron who guides both paths, I rely heavily on my working Book of Shadows and I carry it with me every day. For the most part, my working Book of Shadows contains all of the information that I need at my disposal such as Sabbats, Esbats, the New Moon, color correspondences, Tarot, Oracle, and Rune draws, as well as trackers for stones, herbs, spells, and Goddesses. I also incorporate my mundane schedule and life in this working Book of Shadows to keep me on track. As any one else in these modern times, I try to keep my spending in check, live a simple life, and incorporate my definition of “enough” into my walk. In true frugal fashion, I decided that in 2019 I would take a completely different tact than in any other year and I created my 2019 working Book of Shadows from MAMBI® Classic Happy Planner® extension packs. For clarity and convenience, I have added all of the resources and links for materials and supplies that I have used at the end of this article.

Throughout this series, you will notice some “upcycling” of materials as I find cards that I have received, artwork here and there that I notice in magazines, and even the creativity of friends, who make beautiful shaker cards that are great for lifting the energy when I am feeling like energy is being dissipated. A little blingy shake and the smile returns to my face. Also, when you network and discover that friends have hidden talents, such as making quality covers with special meaning that directs your focus to the work at hand, that energy of love, friendship, and community lends itself to a healthy Book of Shadows.

Again, as a frugal person, and someone who believes that the Pagan Community could benefit from helping each other, I created a Facebook group called “The Pagan Plannertarium.” I created this home for Pagan Planners who are interested in planning and who could benefit from free stickers and layouts for their own of Shadows. All of the stickers that are in my working Book of Shadows can be found in the Pagan Plannertarium along with an ever-growing catalogue of stickers, layouts, and inserts. They are all free for your personal use, if you would like to plan along with me each month, join the Facebook group by answering the questions for entry, and plan along with me. I will continue this series for the year 2019, showing you the evolution of my working Book of Shadows.

Since there are no Sabbats in January, and it is the very beginning of my “Seed Work” which will commence in February for planting on Imbolc, I have chosen a winter theme for the monthly layout, and I have also made complimentary weekly spreads for the entire month of January. In keeping with the winter energies surrounding me, I chose to focus on the correspondences for the month of January which include fox, birch trees, and the colors bright white and blue. January is a time for self-reflection and spell work involving inner workings rather than casting for others, winter is a time to go inward and to work on those things that require change for growth. February’s seed must be planted in order to yield a bountiful Harvest as the wheel turns and we experience each Sabbat in its turn.

The January month-at-a-glance spread is where I keep all of my appointments which are upcoming, the Esbat, the New Moon, and I keep a place for notes. In the two blank spaces before the 1st day of January and the last 2 blank spaces after the 31st, I use these spaces for my own personal “Power” words – these are words that I use for the month to keep me focused on my seed work. They relate directly to the seed that I will plant, so I choose the words that I need to focus on to narrow my focus. Times and circumstances change every month and this is a working Book of Shadows so these blank spaces are often in a state of metamorphosis and they change from month to month. January is the month when planning my seed comes to completion and the seed is readied for planting on Imbolc.

Each week there is a side dashboard that is sectioned off for my Goddess of the week, Crystals, Notes, and two (2) weekly trackers. My goal is to draw a Goddess card from a deck that I utilize each week, write the Goddess’ name on the dashboard, and key words throughout the week that may arise as I ask for Her protection and energies to guide my week. The Crystal section is for the pouch that I carry on my person each day, some days call for different energies and I may change the contents of the pouch that I use during the week and, if I do so, I like to have a place to log any changes that may occur in my carrying pouch. The Notes section on the side dashboard is to make note of any significant changes that I make, events that I need to make a special note of, or any other information that may change from time to time during that week. Finally, the two trackers that I have are for reminders to check in daily on any spell work that I may be undertaking. Other uses for the trackers include making Crystal Water, Moon Water or other recipes for ritual use. You can use mundane trackers even in a magical practice and, on occasion, when I have no other use for them, that is how I utilize these trackers. The best part of this whole process is that stickers can be lifted, marks can be erased, and things are meant to change and grow as we change and grow. It is my hope that by sharing my Book of Shadows with you, before the pen, you will be able to glean some creativity, some energy, or ideas for your own of Shadows and join me in sharing for the greater good.

You may have noticed that the end of December, 2018, is contained in the first weekly spread. I included it because the energies are prime for spell casting, writing new beginnings, contemplating seed work, and writing down ideas for spells or, if I feel the energy in a specific way, I will use this night for spell writing. At the end of the week, there is a New Moon and I always use the energy from the New Moon to begin cleansing my house for the cycle of the waxing moon, to bring the energies into my home and life that I would like to manifest throughout my practice. I start by taking a ritual bath, meditate, and smudge my home from the center to the front and out the door and beginning from the center again and to the back and out the door. For the other days in this week, I will enter those things that I do to prepare for the upcoming New Moon, such as journaling, blending herbs for incense, smudging, writing spells, and working on the February installment of this series

Each weekly layout has a coordinating Tarot card insert. I utilize this insert to pull a Tarot Card each week and reflect on this card throughout the week. The first side of the insert reflects my first impressions and my expectations. The second side of the insert is a retrospective examination of the drawn card and how that has influenced me during the week. This insert is an invaluable tool for me. Not only do I receive guidance from the Tarot cards, but I come to a deeper, more committed understanding of the meaning of each draw and how that may relate in future readings not only for myself but for others

Each weekly theme for the month of January embodies not only the correspondences appropriate for this month, but some of them also contain themes of strong Divine Feminine figures such as Athena and Hekate. I decided that this month would also contain the energies of the Divine Masculine and The Horned God made a special appearance this month as well. As I called to the Divine Spirits of the East, requesting the energies of communication, divination, and creativity, these layouts pretty much made themselves.

Looking forward to providing monthly installments of my Book of Shadows as the wheel turns.

RESOURCES:

MAMBI® CHP Extension Packs:

https://www.meandmybigideas.com

CHP Custom Cover & Foiled Pentacle Stickers by Claire McNamee:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BubsLovesBubba

Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Mesa:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/gichiscraftcorner

January Monthly and Weekly Stickers by Shirley Lenhard are free at the Pagan Plannertarium:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/217392179039705/

January Cover Page – Shoot for the Stars – Recollections® “Constellations” paper pad & Miscellaneous Washi tapes:

Available at Michael’s and other craft retailers

***

About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

January, 2019

Magic for Material

Merry meet.

When my body weight was fluctuating, I found myself buying most all my ritual wear at thrift stores and consignment shops. One way I used to make some of the velvet pieces more special to me was to emboss them with magickal symbols.

While many different types of velvet work, those with the most nap give the most striking results. Some velour fabrics work as well.

Rubber stamps are very easy to use. Cork and the large, thin erasers are two other materials you can use. You might experiment with others.

Place the front side of the fabric face down on the shape you wish to imprint on the material. Mist a couple of times with water and, using an iron set to the silk setting, press directly down on top of the shape. Hold it fairly still for about fifteen to twenty seconds. (If possible, use a test strip first.)

Wait a couple of moments and pull back the fabric to see the impression. Areas will still be damp, so let the fabric sit until it dries.

Goddesses, symbols, sigils and words offer abundant options, and embossing them with intention will add magic to your ritual garb, tarot bags and altar cloths.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Wreathing the Wheel

January, 2019

Tarot Journaling at the New Year

Many witches use their journals to aid in the study of divination by tracking readings from sources such as Tarot, bone throwing, scrying, and others. There are many different kinds of divination, and many ways to track these practices, but today I’m going to focus on one of the most popular: Tarot. Tracking Tarot in a bullet journal can be a very rewarding practice, as it reveals patterns which aren’t always obvious, such as “stalker cards” which follow you through several readings over a period of time, or the appearance of a card connected to a season or a timely event.

One exciting way to start a devoted Tarot journaling practice at this time of year is a New Year’s Reading. There are lots of different kinds of New Year’s Readings, but I like to design my own. I’ve been working a lot with the image of the Wheel of the Year, so for this year’s reading, I chose to do a reading based on the Wheel and the Compass. The inner compass is a bit like the cross in the Celtic Cross spread, but with three cards in the middle instead of two, to invoke a few more numerological correspondences of duality and trinity for a balanced interpretation with lots of possibilities.

You may notice that I have not included my own personal interpretations in this particular spread. I do not plan to direct an interpretation until the Sabbat in question comes to pass. This means that I’ll have to do a short ritual for reflection upon the reading, as a Sabbat practice. The year’s reading starts not at Yule, which is still covered by the monthly reading I did for 2018, but at Imbolc, at the start of February 2019. The Sabbats occur on (roughly) a seven-week cycle throughout the year, so I’ve marked out six interstitial sections via radiating lines between each pair of Sabbats. This way I can track weekly readings, and see how it all comes together as I go.

I like to draw small versions of the Major Arcana cards drawn so that they stand out (and because the codified scheme that I use for the Minor Arcana cards doesn’t work for the Major Arcana!). The way that I do it, it takes very little time and effort because the drawings are so small, but it is still a fun way to make the spread pop.

January Spread

For January, I’ve chosen associations based both on the time of year, and for my own personal healing intentions for the new year. This month, I call upon carnations, elder, and willow as green allies, as well as rose quartz and onyx for protection and healing. I also like to add the names of holidays that have some meaning to me, whether I plan to celebrate them spiritually or not. For January, these days are: New Year’s Day, Compitalia, and the Wolf Moon.

I like to write the names of the plants and stones in small script near the drawing so that I don’t get confused or forget what they’re supposed to be. If you’re still studying correspondences, this is a good way to rehearse some of those associations, and decorate your bullet journal at the same time.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Wreathing the Wheel

December, 2018

As an eclectic witch, one of the most transformative practices that I’ve adopted is the practice of setting intention. At its root, intention is a really basic method of manifestation: make a plan, then execute the plan. But as I’ve explored the idea of intention over time, I’ve come to see a beautiful effect that results from the ongoing process of self-examination. It’s not just the external result of manifesting my dreams, but a reminder to check in with myself and make sure I’m on the right path. After all, if I can’t answer the question, “What’s my intention in doing this?” for any given action I am taking… then why am I even doing it?

It is in the spirit of setting intentions, and thoroughly understanding those intentions, that I started bullet journaling. While I keep a separate grimoire (and have kept other books of shadows), my bullet journal is the place where my magical life intersects with my daily life, and I put some of the spiritual concepts that I’m working with into practice. In this monthly column, I’ll be exploring various methods for working craft into bullet journaling to help track astrological transits, green ally work, Tarot journaling, celebrating the Wheel of the Year, working with associations, artistic exploration, and more.

 

Monthly Spread for December

 

 

I like to illuminate my monthly spreads with images of plants that are associated with the nearest major sabbat, and the season in general. I gravitate towards plants and natural objects that are native to my own area, as a way to bring the outside in. So for December, the plants that I chose to draw in my journal were pine, ivy, and holly. I like to use the information in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of as a jumping-off point to get started with these associations, but it’s good to remember that associations aren’t set in stone, and can easily be changed to accommodate your own hemisphere and biome.

The next thing that I do when building my monthly spread is add the phases of the moon and the full moon’s name. I also record each month’s Tarot card, which I drew in my whole-year reading at the beginning of the year, so that I can reflect on the role that this card plays in my life and how it fits in with other themes and experiences that I’ve encountered during the year. In keeping with the occult tradition of associating moon values with the left side of the body and sun values with the right side, I track the astrological transits of the sun and moon through the month, with the moon transits in the lower-left corner of each day, and the sun in the lower-right corner. This December, the winter solstice falls on the day before the full moon; at the same time, the sun enters Capricorn, and the moon enters Cancer. The darkest night of 2018 will be filled up with the light of the full moon.

I’m calling this column “Wreathing the Wheel” in an effort to remind myself that this project is about more than just to-do lists and chores. Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to acquaint myself intimately with the cycles of nature, immerse myself in intentional thinking, record and study associations, and deepen my divination practices. This is a bit like the process of making a wreath: you find a solid base, and then weave together plant allies, ribbons, and baubles until you’ve got something that looks alright. While I realize that not everyone is as artistically inclined as I am, I would encourage any journaler to embrace the creative side of bullet journaling, not to impress anyone, but as a way to celebrate the passing of time, allow awareness to manifest as creation, and decorate the days that we’re given.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

The Kitchen Witch

November, 2018

Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice

Every Thanksgiving, I make a huge dinner for my son and myself and sometimes his father – if he is in town from Florida – and maybe one or two other people. I always make homemade bread stuffing for the turkey that I lovingly roast. I make garlic mashed potatoes with creamy gravy. There is always some kind of squash on the table – butternut squash or acorn squash or perhaps a nice creamy mixture of several squashes, delicately seasoned. I can’t imagine any meal without a salad, so of course there is a large bowl filled with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced red onions, and other salad goodies. Neither my son nor I are great fans of cranberry sauce but if I have guests who crave some of that condiment, I happily cook down fresh cranberries, sugar, some citrus and spring water into a toothsome treat. And of course, there has to be some corn and some beans. I used to make either succotash or a green bean casserole – both yummy dishes – but now I make beans and rice. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I can make it up a day or two before the holiday and reheat it in minutes before the meal and it’s always yummy good. The second is that if I happen to have any vegetarians at my meal, I don’t have to worry about them not getting a nutritionally complete meal – beans and rice are a complete protein all by themselves. The third is – of course – I can have corn and beans on my table all in one luscious dish!

I make beans and rice all the time. It’s one of those things that I make a little differently every time I make it, depending on what I have on hand – I almost always have leftover rice, so I make a batch of beans and rice usually once a week. I prefer black beans over all other beans but I will use red beans or garbanzos or black-eyed peas or lentils or any kind of bean at all.

But for this recipe, you are going to want a can of black beans. I used day-old leftover rice but if you make it fresh, you will need a cup and a half. You will also need a half a can of corn, a medium-sized green pepper, a small onion or half a medium-sized one, some chunky salsa, and about two tablespoons of olive oil. And your seasonings: dried cilantro, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Start by chopping the green pepper and onion. You can have a rough chop on these. You need about a cup of each.

Put the olive oil in your pan and heat for sautéing and then add the peppers and onions. Give them a good stir and let sauté in the hot oil for about two minutes.

Then add the rice and mix well. Reduce the heat.

The next thing you want to do is add the black beans, but before you do that, you need to drain them and rinse them or else the liquid in the can will stain the entire dish. This is the only time I strain black beans.

After making sure there’s no moisture left on the beans, add them to the rice and peppers and onions mixture, mixing well.

You are not going to need the entire can of corn – if you want to buy a smaller can, go ahead but that’s much more expensive and there’s always something extra corn can be thrown into – soups, casseroles, potpies – so I don’t mind using half a can of corn and then saving the rest for some other use. And of course, you can always use frozen corn – the amount comes out to about 2/3 cup. And maybe you like lots of corn! And you want the entire can in there! Who knows? We’re all different. Anyway – add the corn and mix well. It’s looking really pretty, isn’t it?

After mixing the corn in, I add the salsa. I have to admit – I was a little light in the salsa department but there was enough to make it pretty and give it flavor. I also seasoned it with garlic powder, dried cilantro, dried parsley, sea salt and lots of black pepper.

At this point, it’s ready for serving or for putting into a container for saving for Thanksgiving dinner. This works well if you make it twenty-four hours in advance but I wouldn’t try to make it three or four days in advance. The peppers and onions don’t sit around that long very well.

Whether you are making this for your Thanksgiving dinner or just a quick meal on a chilly winter night, you can’t go wrong with the perfection of Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

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