Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Interview with Arin Murphy- Hiscock, Author of The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit

March, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this timely book and was thrilled to be able to interview Ms. Murphy-Hiscock….

The Interview

Robin Fennelly (RF): What brought you to the Craft? and Can you tell us a little about the Black Forest Clan and your work as High Priestess. 

Arin Murphy-Hiscock (AMH): I discovered the Craft in my twenties when I did research for a collaborative storytelling project. I was invited to join BFC in 2000, and have been working with them ever since. We have a small coven here in Montreal that takes self-care very seriously. I don’t teach workshops as much as I used to; writing books has taken the place of in-person teaching. I reach a lot more people this way!

RF: You’ve crafted a very comprehensive book, chock-full of information and ideas. Were there any specific events that inspired you to write this book? 

AMH: Not specific so much as a general theme that kept surfacing in my life. I have a tendency to work very hard and I am bad at taking time for myself or seeing that I’m headed for a collapse. That has a lot of repercussions. My publisher suggested I write something along the spiritual self-care line, and I was struck by how timely it was in my own life. I got to examine my coping mechanisms and isolate the ways in which I handled stress, and explain them in a way that helped me as well as could help others. It also had the associated consequence of a divine two-by-four, the effects of which I’m still handling.

RF: …..” The practice of magic seeks to establish or balance connection between an individual and the environment. If a spiritual aspect is added, then magic also seeks to balance or maintain the connection between the individual and the Divine.”.. You speak of magical practice and spiritual practice. Do you see these as two separate streams? How do you see these as part of healing the disconnect we have to self-care?

AMH: I do see them as separate streams. You can practice magic without involving deity at any point, and of course you can have a spiritual practice without magic. We bundle them together a lot, but they can absolutely be practiced independently of each other. As witches, we can and should address both aspects in our self-care. Nourishing only one part of your connection—to the world around you or to the Divine—limits you. And being able to access both aspects enhances the effects of each.

RF: You introduced us to the Danish concept of Hygge and its benefits for self-care. Could you tell us a little more about this?

AMH: Hygge has been a buzzword for a couple of years now. When I started reading about it in media back then, a lot of it was kind of a “well, duh” moment for me. The concept of hygge resonated with me and reflected so much of my existing outlook. I’m very home and hearth-based; my personal practice is rooted in comfort, simplicity, security, and caring for others. In self-care, those concepts are underlined, but with the primary subject being yourself. In North American culture we tend to perpetuate a martyr-like ideal, sacrificing the self for the good of others. That’s very noble on paper, but it’s terrible from the point of view of self-care. And it’s absolutely not sustainable. Hygge self-care suggests that caring for yourself has benefits beyond just making yourself feel better; it suggests that if you are feeling better, stronger, rested, more content, that spills over into the rest of your life, too, affecting those around you and your spaces in a positive way.

RF: Being a mother, HPs, wife and author and the stresses that come with all of those roles can you speak more about how to find the balance between self-care and maintaining the pressing responsibilities that require more of you?

AMH: It’s a constant juggling act. It’s important to step back and take stock regularly, probably more often than you already do, to catch problems before they become severe issues. And when you take stock, you have to be as objective as possible. I’m… not very good at that part, to be honest. I’m a work in progress. It’s one of the reasons why I try to fill my cup when I can, and look for the serenity and small pleasures of self-care in daily life. Ongoing maintenance is easier than a full-scale repair.

It’s wonderful to have a support network that keeps an eye on you, too. You can think, “No, I’ve got this, I can totally do this,” but good friends will haul you into their kitchens and say, “Look, you’re working yourself into a dangerous place, and we are going to intervene so you have a bit of time in which you can disengage and clear your head.” Sometimes that intervention is coffee, sometimes it’s supper at their place so you don’t have to think about what to make, sometimes it’s an impromptu playdate at their house so you don’t have to think about the kids for a couple of hours. I wouldn’t be as sane as I am without my in-person network, or my online network. Or my family, come to that. My husband will up and take the kids to a friends’ house and leave me alone for the morning, or my kids will randomly bring me cups of tea or chocolate because they know I enjoy them.

My coveners are amazing. They are all about the low-impact practice, bless them, and a lot of our spiritual work happens through food or arts and crafts. Weather or illness or overtime means we don’t get together as often as we all wish we could, but the bond is there regardless. I’m so grateful for them being the people they are.

RF: I loved the idea that we often fear having “more agency and control over (your) life than you may be comfortable accepting.” What have you done to break through and push back when confronted with this?

AMH: It’s really scary to accept responsibility for what happens in your life. It’s so much easier to believe that you’re a victim. But there is strength that comes from recognizing that you made a mistake somewhere, and acknowledging that hey, that wasn’t the right choice to make at the time. The moment you take responsibility, you open up the possibility that you can change, and you can effect change. That’s a powerful move. People can be uncomfortable with power. It’s easier to let someone else make the decisions.

RF: What is your favorite part of the book and/or exercises?

AMH: The arts and crafts, I think! I love uniting creativity and spirituality, and I’m a big supporter of using art to express or explore your relationship with the Divine. It encompasses keeping your hands busy and disengaging the overactive mind, has the benefit of producing something tangible, and works to stimulate different areas of your brain.

RF: Having completed your book, what other piece of wisdom would you offer about self-care that wasn’t included?

AMH: I really want to hammer home the idea that you are worth taking care of. I know how hard it can be when you’re in a crappy situation and you feel like there’s no way out. Even if you can’t throw it all out and start again, you can make small changes to remind yourself that you are worth it, and work on it incrementally; it can be a long road, and it’s an ongoing pursuit. Mistreatment by others (casual or otherwise) doesn’t mean that’s the kind of life you merit. Everyone deserves respect, health, and happiness!

This is a book I will return to frequently to savor the experiences and remind myself that self-care begins with the self. Thank you, Arin, for so seamlessly integrating practical advice and magic that is healing and restorative.

The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit on Amazon

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robinon Instagram & Facebook.

Magic at the Hearth Excerpt from The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

December, 2018

Magic at the Hearth

*Excerpted from The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

 

 

In hearthcraft, magic is a way of consciously drawing on the energy of the spiritual hearth to enhance the activity you are engaged in. In many paths magic and spiritual practices are separate, but in hearthcraft the magical activity both supports and draws from spiritual activity. As so much of hearthcraft revolves around love, nurturing, and protection of what you consider sacred, positive goals can be the only ones envisioned.

 

Another way of looking at magic within the context of hearthcraft is as transformation of some kind, a task performed with the intent to weave together energies in order to initiate some sort of spiritual transformation, rejuvenation, or growth. With that in mind, this chapter looks at kitchen folklore and customs and the energies associated with the equipment found and used in the kitchen.

 

Kitchen Folklore

 

One of the fun things about doing research into home-based customs is discovering the traditions and folklore associated with domestic activity. Here’s a series of domestic customs you can use to help enhance your awareness of the spiritual nature of your activity.

 

  • Stir the contents of pots and bowls clockwise to attract positive energy, or stir counterclockwise to banish things. Use one or the other according to the needs of your home or family at the time.

  • Pass items at the table in a clockwise direction to maintain harmonious energy there.

  • If you wish to clear the house of negative energy, clean it beginning at the back door and travel through it room by room in a counterclockwise direction until you reach the back door again, then sweep or mop out the door and off the doorstep.

  • To attract positive energy, clean items in a clockwise motion. is includes dusting, mopping, and scrubbing as well as wiping counters and washing dishes.

  • Draw a spiritual symbol that has meaning to you (either cultural, religious, or designed by you) with salt water on the windows of your house and on the front and back doors. Paint these symbols with clear nail polish if you want something a little more permanent.

  • If you wish to further connect your cooking to your spiritual hearth, draw a spiritual symbol on the inside of the pot or bowl before you use it. A stylized flame is a good basic image to use.

  • Empower your laundry detergent for purification of any negative energy clinging to clothes. Water has a natural purification effect, but empowering the cleaning substances you use boosts that natural effect. Do the same for your household cleaners.

  • Running out of salt is said to be bad luck for the posterity of the home. Keep a small packet of salt somewhere to ensure there will always be salt in the house. (This may be one of the origins of the custom of bringing a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, and a box of salt to a housewarming.)

  • Hanging braids or wreaths of garlic, onions, or hot peppers will keep your kitchen free of negative energy. Compost them every fall and hang new ones. Never eat them!

  • Hanging bunches of dried Indian corn attracts prosperity and abundance.

  • Leave an onion or clove of garlic outside below the kitchen window to absorb any negative energy trying to enter the home. You may leave them around the doors to the house as well. Place a new one there every month, or more frequently if the old ones decay faster.

 

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

 

*Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

December, 2018

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

I received a “review copy” of The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This handsome book is published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and is the twelfth book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. On Simon and Schuster’s author website for Arin Murphy-Hiscock, you can find all the titles of her other published books. Some were known to me and some were not. Some, like Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide, I had borrowed from my local public library and had on my “to-buy” list. So naturally I was elated to get The House Witch. I immediately cracked it open and wrote my name and the date on the inside cover.

But the demands of the Thanksgiving Holiday – cooking the meal and getting together with family in town for just a few days – meant that I wasn’t able to sit down and give The House Witch a good read. And then I caught my son’s cold. Sick and miserable, I gave up. I took a box of tissues and curled up on the couch under a hand-crocheted afghan for several days in a state of semi-slumber.

When I did finally get back to The House Witch, I was delighted, as I knew I would be. One my very first impressions was, “Gee, I wish there had been books like this back when I was first getting into witchcraft and wicca!” In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were only a few books out on the subject and most of them – like Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance – were geared toward the large group or the coven but very rarely the solitary practitioner. Not until Scott Cunningham published Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in 1988 that you started to see more attention paid to the solitary witch. While The House Witch is not specifically written for the solitary witch, it addresses the many concerns of those of us who practice alone – whether we live alone or with other people.

I was born in May, under the sun sign of Taurus, my moon in Pisces, with Cancer rising. Issues of home and health and happiness have always been forefront in my spiritual practice, so it is natural that I would gravitate toward creating and maintaining a beautiful home, even if that home is a tiny apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in a rust-belt city. Because of my wonderful grandmothers, I was always aware of the magic in everyday things but many people – especially those born after, say, 1980 – do not have the benefit of the wisdom of their elders. On page 17, Murphy-Hiscock lists four steps that anyone can learn to “recognize the magic” as she terms it, reminding us to keep things simple and always to focus on what we are doing in the house. These steps are: live in the moment, be aware of your intent, direct your energy properly and focus on an action. Anyone who has studied any kind of meditation, magical instruction or spiritual path will recognize these steps. So just what does all of this have to do with the home and the hearth? Murphy-Hoscock writes,

“Opening yourself to the simplest of tasks and allowing them to inspire you with some insight or wisdom, or even a

moment of peace, illustrates that the Divine can whisper to you in the oddest of unexpected places. Hearthcraft is

about communing with the Divine through everyday tasks, not through complicated formal ritual.” (page 19)

She talks about home as sacred space. One thing she mentions is the removal of shoes in cultures such as Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia; I don’t allow anyone to wear shoes into my apartment and I am always amazed – when I watch TV, for instance – and I see people, not only with their shoes on inside their homes but also on the furniture!

When I was growing up, I always lived in houses that had fireplaces and we usually had a fire most winter evenings, so the idea of a hearth and a hearth fire is not unknown to me – one of our houses actually had a giant hearth built into the wall surrounding the fireplace! But since I have left my parents’ house, I have never lived in a house with a fireplace, much to my great sadness. I consider my hearth to be my kitchen oven or perhaps a meditation candle. However, when I was sick a day ago, I had some split pea soup and freshly baked bread and lay down for a nap. I could feel the warmth of the soup and bread in my belly and it occurred to me that my hearth fire was inside of me.

With this in mind, the “Bank Your Inner Flame” ritual on page 45 makes perfect sense. I had a wonderful warmth inside of me and I needed to be able to hold onto that warmth. It wasn’t just the soup and bread – it was the sense of being safe and secure in my own home. I love the word “smooring” – I love anything Scottish and Gaelic – I added it to my list of cool words and then I copied the “smooring prayer” (page 46) into my personal prayer book.

This book is filled with jewels.

There is a chapter on “The Magic of the Cauldron” in which she talks about how to find and care for a cast-iron cauldron. “Hearth and Home Deities” is just what it sounds like – a chapter of gods and goddesses of the home and hearth. The next chapter is about the kitchen as a sacred space – something that not many people even think about seriously nowadays. If your idea of cooking is opening up a box of prepared food and popping it into the microwave – or even using something like Hamburger Helper – then I would give Chapters 6, 8 and 9 a very close reading. As I already stated, Chapter 6 is about the kitchen as a sacred space. Chapter 8 is “Magic at the Hearth” and Chapter 9 is “The Spirituality of Food”. included!!!!!

Other topics in this fabulous book are “Using Hearthcraft to Protect Your Home”, “Herbs, crafts, and other Hearth-Related Magic Work”, and a chapter of various spells, rituals and blessings. Quite naturally, there is an appendix and a bibliography that have quite a bit of information in them as well.

In the “Postscript”, Arin Murphy-Hiscock writes, “Several times as I was writing this book, my thoughts moved faster than my fingers, and as a result ‘hearth fire’ very often came out as ‘heart fire.’ I wonder, at times, if my subconscious was trying to tell me something.” (page 247). I do not wonder at all. This book most assuredly set my heart on fire. In this rich season of Yuletide joy, when all of us decorate our houses with festive lights and traditional ornaments that may only have meaning to our loved ones alone, The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is a book which brings together all the spiritual and happiness that home and hearth can represent. I highly recommend it for anyone on any spiritual path.

References

Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. NY: Adams Media, 2018.

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home 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.

Book Review: The Way of the Hedge Witch, Rituals & Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

June, 2015

The Way of the Hedge Witch

Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home

By: Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Provenance Press (April 18, 2009)

hedgewitch

If you are looking for a book on Hedge-Witchery, this is not for you. However, if you are wanting a concise guide to Cottage/Kitchen Witchcraft you can’t go wrong with this tome that is full of lore, mystery, and magic. To me, Hedge-Craft is for those who wish to “jump the hedge”, traveling to the Witches Sabbat/Sabbath and the Other-worlds. Most Hedge Witches also practice Cottage and Kitchen Witchery. Arin Murphy-Hiscock explains the difference in these types of witchcraft, and on page 3 coins the term Hearthcraft for the form of magic and witchcraft covered in this book.

Scattered throughout this book are simple spells and rituals that a Cottage/Hearth Witch can use. Witchcraft lore and myth is covered, including some history on magical cauldrons and the deities who own them. Arin Murphy-Hiscock shares information on various household deities and spirits from many cultures, some of which were new to me.

House Deities covered are:

Hestia Kamado-no-Kami

Vesta Gabija

Brigid Ertha

Tsao Wang Frigga

Kamui-fuchi Bes

Household Spirits covered are:

Brownie Tomte

Boggart Nisse

Hob Kobold

Domovoi

There are many crafts, activities, spell work, and recipes provided in The Way of the Hedge Witch. I enjoyed the addition of kitchen magic and folklore along with the information on tools, herbs and foods of Hearthcraft. This is a simple, down to earth book and will be a welcome addition to any Cottage Witch’s library. Guidelines on how to make your own oil lamps, figures made of clay and herbs for your household shrines, and the setting up of wards and boundaries are given. for bread, scones, stews, and casseroles are lovingly shared by the author. A taste of magic and charm can be found in every chapter of this knowledge filled book.

I believe any Cottage, Hearth, or Kitchen Witch will enjoy The Way of the Hedge Witch for what it is. A delightful little tome on magic for the witch’s home. Arin Murphy-Hiscock has done a superb job of sharing her wisdom on Hearthcraft. This book will be sure to make an enchantingly welcome gift for many a Cottage Witch. It is definitely one this Witch turns to often.