guide

Book Review – The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magical Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins and Charity Befell

March, 2019

Review
The Good Witch’s Guide
A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magical Ingredients and Spells
by Shawn Robbins and Charity Befell
Published by Sterling Ethos
Pages: 305

Rituals, History, aromatherapy, crystals, candle magic, spiritual alchemy, potions, tinctures, herbs and recipes are just some of the topics covered in this hardcover book that’s approximately six inches by six and a half inches. It’s an inch thick and just feels good to hold.

As a “wiccapedia,” it covers all the topics you need to know, and then offers lists for additional reading and reference materials.

The herbal folklore includes information about botanicals for health and healing, and passes along an old but potent charm. The chapter on aromatherapy explains how to use essential oils both for health and in magick, offering dozens of recipes. In presenting crystals, their properties are explained, along with instructions for using them to make waters for to balancing chakras, and for relief from everything from asthma to stress.

Practical magick covers spells for mind, body and spirit. There’s a housecleaning incense spell, a healing poppet spell, money spells, and spells for protection and for love. Twenty-three pages focus on candle magic while forty-seven pages are dedicated to teas, tinctures and tonics for health and magick. A chapter offers ways to cook up some magick – literally – with recipes for soup, bread, Yule shortbread cookies, Imbolc cake and more.

The book introduces readers to a variety of tools and topics, helping them make their own magick, and it makes a reliable reference source as well.

Shane Robins is a psychic and a paranormal researcher whose grandparents immigrated from Russia and Hungary with bottles of botanicals and the knowledge of herbal healing. Her grandmother’s tea cured the polio she contracted from one of Salk’s first vaccines. That changed her life, and set her on a course to teach holistic medicine and healing. Robins put her research and extensive knowledge into this book.

Charity Befell has been practicing witchcraft for seventeen years – a journey that began when she was given a copy of Silver Ravenwolf’s “Teen Witch” on her thirteenth birthday. Her witchcraft now is wild and free, incorporating shamanic techniques, prayer, meditation, trance work and offerings to connect to the spirits of the land. Befell is committed to the Temple of Witchcraft traditions. A lifetime of herbalism and alternative healing practices also stretch back to her youth.

Each woman has written other books before this. Coming together, their aim was to inspire and empower readers, giving them a vast collection of information. The new as well as the seasoned witch will find knowledge of value. My copy has the corners of several pages turned down.

The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells (The Modern-Day Witch) on Amazon

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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.

Book Review – The Ultimate Guide to Chakras: The Beginner’s Guide to Balancing, Healing, and Unblocking Your Chakras for Health and Positive Energy by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D.

March, 2019

Book Review
The Ultimate Guide to Chakras
The Beginner’s Guide to Balancing, Healing, and Unblocking
Your Chakras for Health and Positive Energy
by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D.

Most books about the Chakras generally stick to the seven (7) more broadly known. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this guide includes two additional that make the study more cohesive and aligned with those who are exploring this subject area with the intention of reaching beyond the standards.

The first statement by the author is one of reminder that the system of the Chakras is one that reaching deeply into ancient practices and by virtue of that reach is inclusive of the work we do to maintain our ancestor’s wisdom as we move forward on our own paths of evolution.

….“When you are mindful and reverent of the past, you both honor your ancestors and do a great service to your lineage”….

This book is chock-full of experiential exercises that bring the gifts of the Chakras into a palpable energy that provides opportunities to sense the energies and guide and direct your own process. Additionally, it is a treat for your visual sense with illustrations of the chakras by Roberta Orpwood, a professional visionary artists and Master Reiki teacher.

Each chapter has a beautiful cover page aligned to the color traditionally associated with that specific chakra, correspondences, experiential practices and more. I particularly appreciated the sections that allowed for journaling and /or deeper contemplative action with questions of reflection relating to each of the chakras. Another bonus is the section that provides suggestions of gemstones that relate to each of the chakras and how they can be used to enhance and awaken the energy.

Moving beyond the traditional correspondences you will find in many books, Dr. Perrakis includes Mantras, Tarot card, Rune, Goddess and Archetypal energy of the chakras making this truly a comprehensive and “ultimate” guide. Many of these correspondences can be found randomly in multiple books but having everything available in a single chapter of a brilliantly organized tome is invaluable.

Being someone who operates highly from the Throat center, I was intrigued by the reflection questions set forth in this chapter…

…. “(1.) Are you keeping secrets in your life, and if so, from whom? (2.) When you think about secrets, how do you feel? Anxious, heavy and weighed-down, perhaps? (3.) If you carry such secrets, where in your life can you release them or set them down?”…

I tried the embodiment experiential and had some opportunity to explore some revelations relating to my truth and the conditioning I experienced at various parts of my life that silenced the speaking of that truth. I’ve worked a lot with the chakras, but many of the concepts and reflections I found presented in this book provided a fresh perspective and deepening of the cursory understanding that is generally put forth.

The final chapter, features “Giving the Chakras a Voice”. The premise here in listening and envisioning what the chakra would say. I found this a fascinating exercise given that energy is vibration that adapts and moves in accord with the direction required. Speaking, voice and breath all incorporate the modality of moving vibration hence moving energy. Giving voice to the chakras enables yet another vehicle of integration and synthesis within our energy fields.

This book is a valuable asset to both the beginner and the more seasoned practitioner of energetic protocol, healing and studies of the energetic anatomy. There is plenty to stimulate the senses and pique your interest in exploring the many correspondences that are associated with the Chakras. This alone, is a treat in being able to connect the dots and see the synchronicities and connections between so many of the disciplines used for spiritual and magickal workings. A must have for any book shelf!

The Ultimate Guide to Chakras: The Beginner’s Guide to Balancing, Healing, and Unblocking Your Chakras for Health and Positive Energy on Amazon

***

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 Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Interview & Review – Laura Tempest Zakroff: Sigil Witchery

February, 2019

A Book Review

Sigil Witchery

(An interview with Tempest follows this review.)

It was very serendipitous that as this book was coming up for review, I had just registered to take a workshop with Tempest based on this very book.

The word “sigil” means “seal” or an action/word of a spiritual nature. I would hazard a guess that most of us have seen sigils that mean specific things, written and drawn by others.

Tempest brings sigils to us in a more personal way, with the sigils drawn by us, to have meaning to us, specifically. She simplifies it for us, while never detracting from their power.

Before doing this, she gives us a brief history of what she calls “making marks”, discussing the paintings, symbolism and markings of previous civilizations, which are still so important to us today. Tempest does on to explain the differences between sigils and signs, seals, designs, etc.

There are sections on the basic shapes used in sigils and their meanings, adding directions, letters and numbers, how to use the elements in our sigils and how they work.

There is space for us to create our own symbols for specific words that Ms. Zakroff has listed for us, thus building our own library to make our own custom sigils. She gives guidance on designing our own, what tools we can use, why we should craft our own sigils. She offers us suggestion sigils and a gallery of her own custom sigils.

We don’t have to be “high magicians” to utilize the power of sigils and the how-to’s are all right here, in an informative, friendly, easy-to-read-and-relate-to manner.

As one who has never given much thought to sigils, on their own, this book has tempted me to not only think about it, but do it.

Interview With Laura Tempest Zakroff

Susan Morgaine (SM): Hi Tempest – it was so nice to see you while you were on tour.

So, belly dancer/performer, event producer, artist, witch, author and teacher. That is quite impressive. I knew you primarily as a dancer and performer when we met many years ago, and it wasn’t until I saw the logo for Waking Persephone that I realized you were an artist, as well

SM: How did you start and what did you start with, realizing it was most probably a circuitous journey? Please only respond with what you are comfortable with sharing.

Tempest: I definitely started with art, going back as early as age 3. By first grade I was taking formal art classes on a regular basis – all the way through high school. Then for college, I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. I discovered modern Witchcraft and Paganism in my teens, and got into dance in my college years. When I moved to California in 2001, dance and Pagan stuff pretty much took over my life. I didn’t have much room or resources to make the kind of art I had been doing in school, so art took a bit of a backseat. It manifested through my costume designs and creations, graphic design, and some small drawings and paintings. When I moved back to the East Coast in 2007, I started working as a fashion jewelry designer. I did that until mid-2012, when it was time for drastic life shift. In that process I moved to Seattle and began working for myself full-time in all the things I do (dance, design, art). Sometimes I feel frustrated that I didn’t just keep going with the fine art out of school, but I realize I wouldn’t be where I am now, on this path – if I had.

SM: What was the impetus behind the idea of Waking Persephone. I know there were several years here on the East Coast; are you continuing it on the West Coast?

Tempest: I co-produced Gothla US from 2008-2010 – which took place in California. It was supposed to switch coasts, but that didn’t happen. Which was frustrating because most of my east coast, home-base students couldn’t afford to attend it. So much work and the people I worked the closest with couldn’t participate. I also had a vision for something that encompassed more, without stylistic labels – to bring in more ritual/sacred dance, more artistry, more diversity. That became a reality first in Tapestry Dance Retreat (2011) and then Waking Persephone the following Spring. We did 2 years in Providence, and 3 more years in Seattle. At this time, I’m not producing any events, because I needed to focus on my art and writing, but when the time comes, something will probably emerge again. Producing events takes up so much time and energy. I transformed that time and focus into something else. Since the last WP in 2016, I’ve written 4 books, published an anthology, and pushed my art deeper.

SM: When did you realize your were a Witch? It’s so interesting to hear about other’s spiritual journeys.

Tempest: I was at odds with the Catholic Church since my youngest days. I got sent to the principal’s office at age 6 because during a field trip to the church, I insisted on sitting where the priests and altar boys did (like my brothers!), and couldn’t understand while girls weren’t allowed. So much doctrine that made no sense – I felt that God was more present in nature and everywhere around us. I discovered that there were other options to the Abrahamic religions in my mid-teens – that Witchcraft and Paganism was a thing. The realization that there were names for what I believed and felt, and that other people saw the world similarly was a huge revelation.

SM: What made you decide to start to write, and then to follow that with teaching?

Tempest: I’ve been writing for a long time – in high school I was the editor of the literary magazine. At RISD in 1997, I got involved with Crescent Magazine – where I became an associate editor and had regular columns. I started up a website on Modern Traditional Witchcraft around then as well. Around 2000, I started offering Witchcraft classes – and kept that up until around 2005 or so. Then I burned out on being a public Witch, and retreated to a solitary path for almost a decade. After getting my life reset in 2012, I ventured out of my cave a bit with renewed focus and purpose. I started up a blog (which moved to Patheos in early 2016 I think), began teaching again and toyed with the idea of finally writing a book. In the Fall of 2015, I was offered the contract to write “The Witch’s Cauldron” for Llewellyn. It was a wonderful way to just dive right in, and was really well received. So from there, I wrote “Sigil Witchery” – after folks taking my workshops asked why I hadn’t written a book yet on it. And well, it’s just kept going from then.

SM: I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to take your Sigil Witchery workshop (which is reviewed somewhere else this month in Pagan Pages). What did you learn from your travels and sitting with/teaching so many Witches and Pagans around the country? I found it fascinating to see, on Instagram, the sigils you created with each workshop.

Tempest: No matter where folks are located or what path/label they use – Witches/Paganfolks have so much more in common than not. The community (or whatever we wish to call it) is incredibly diverse, but we share many beliefs and loves, as well as fears and concerns. There is so much potential in recognizing our collective power and connections.

SM: So what is next on the agenda for you, Tempest? Any sneak peeks?

Tempest: A. I’m finally working on an oracle deck! The tentative title is “The Liminal Spirits Oracle” and it will be out via Llewellyn I believe some point next year 🙂

You can reach/follow Tempest at the following:

Owlkeyme arts – Design & Fine art by Laura Tempest Zakroff | Seattle, WA

www.owlkeyme.com

Mago Djinn – Modern Folk Wear

www.magodjinn.com

Author Site – www.lauratempestzakroff.com

Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols on Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

My Name is Isis (Volume 4) on Amazon

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2019

The Bad Witch’s Guide to The Older People”

Or You get Better or You Get Bitter”

There are some people who never seem to get old. Their bodies might age, but something in their eyes and heart has remained or even grown. Then there are people who seem to crave death. Sometimes it is depression. Often untreated, under supported and dealing with the loss of a great deal. I have been the supporter of an older relative dealing exactly with this. Without support and indeed medication these folks become something dark and unpleasant. As The Veil grows thin for a person you start to see what might be beyond for them, a light or a darkness. This is not about religion or faith but an almost physical psychic presence around people near the end. Those near their light glow. There is a peace and beauty.

Then there are the other ones. A presence like black sticky smoke. A smell of something rotten or burnt like old tires or something sickly sweet. It seems to pour from them. I can not tell if it’s their mood, their energy, their internal mean-spiritedness or the manifestation of something else.

Older people are just that, people. They are neither saints or devils, but dealing with someone whom is dark and difficult because they are family is hard work. It is often hard physically, emotional and spiritually.

So how do you live with or be around this polluting force? Toxic parents, and relatives become no less pleasant as they age and some just use their frailties (real or imagined) as weapons to brutalise their children and spouses and grandchildren.

As a child of a toxic parent and one who watched someone become one in their last years of life there is a complex soup of horrible feelings. Guilt, duty, blame, shame, fear and pain.

As a witch I have to change my perspective.

I must squint at the situation sideways and think magickally.

Firstly the mundane. Is this person mentally ill? Are they depressed, grieving or suffering in some other way? Is mental health support possible? Many older folks have still have a lot of shame and misconceptions about mental health. Many have some really ugly or difficult coping strategies. From alcohol and cigarettes, to shutting themselves away, generationally we are in a much better place to understand mental illness today. Some might be struggling with side effects of medications, not knowing that their could be newer better medications or combinations out there. Some might not have been to the doctors at all. Avoiding what they think will be a frightening truth.

Reach out. Find charities and professionals that listen not only to what they say but your input too. It isn’t easy. We had a lot of doctors simply refuse to believe Pop’s had depression. That many of his other issues would have been solved if they treated that first. In the end it was as much that as his vices that killed him.

Of course you can not help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. This is perhaps a hard truth of our own we must face. The other option is also mundane and really tough. Sometimes you have to walk away. For your self, your health, sanity and well being. This might be a break, this also might be an end to the relationship. It is not our job to watch someone destroy themselves.

If neither of these two are applicable (life is complicated and messy) protect and cleanse yourself and space as often as you can. You might want to physically clean it as well as smudge. Adding salt and essences to your wash water can help. Protective wards, charms and crystals help a lot too.

There are a couple of things that can help absorb some of the toxic seep but they are not permanent measures. One is sacrificial house plants. Sounds macabre I know. House plants tend to die in the presence of such people, yet these little heroes can and do take much of this and convert it as best as they can. They don’t have to be fancy, and if you get a few you can rotate them around (increasing their lives for a short time). Ferns are good. One near where they sit, one in their room, one in the loo or near where they spend a lot of time and absorb a lot of yuck. Some quartz pebbles might even make them live longer.

The other is a salt and barely mojo. You can make up a big batch and keep it in a jar and change out and throw away the used one. How often depends on the person.

Once a month or once a week depending on how bad it is. This can go under a mattress, or sofa cushion or even into a pillow.

You Will Need:

Salt, the best kind you can afford.

Barley (pearl barley is fine)

Calendula oil

Parsley (dried)

Per one cup of salt you will need a tablespoon of barley and calendula oil with a teaspoon of parsley. This is the base mixture and you can add other things, like moss or wheat straw (again to absorb the energy).

Say:

Spirit of Salt I call to thee

Draw what is harmful away from me.

Barley keep the Dark away

Bind it here until I wash it away.

No darkness shall harm

With this charm:

Tenebris et non nocebit (And the Darkness Will Not Harm)

Tenebris et non nocebit

Tenebris et non nocebit!

Place in fabric mojo bag as discreetly or not as you like. Under the sofa cushion, or mattress is useful and make sure to empty them regularly. Dispose of the used mixture down an outside drain with plenty of water. Don’t put it in a river, but you could put it in the sea.

This mixture can be used for a circle ward around your home, too.

While none of this deals with the cause of the problem sometimes all we can do is muddle through and keep ourselves safe. In an ideal would this sort of thing wouldn’t need to happen but the world is often not ideal and we need to use our magick to keep us as safe as we can. Toxic relationships are difficult and draining and it can take a long time to heal from them. If a little magick can help you feel strong enough to say “no” when you need to then it has done you a great service.

Going Shamanic Radio

December, 2018

 

Going Shamanic” is hosted by Jennifer Engracio on P.A.G.E.  Media Project’s blogtalk radio each month. The show focuses on how to integrate shamanism into every day life. Instead of relegating the spiritual aspect of ourselves to Sundays at church or weekend workshops, this show will support listeners in weaving ritual, prayer, magic, alignment with the Spiritworld and the Earth into their lives to enrich their experience of living.

 

This Month’s Topic: Going Shamanic – Sacred Sexuality, Part 1

Human sexuality is mysterious, vibrant and diverse.  This show explores why sexuality is a birth right and important to overall health and wellbeing.  It answers the question: Why is sexuality holy?

 

Jen welcomes Saida Désilets, PhD, who is a thought-leader on the growing edge of researching how women can use their minds, bodies, and spirits to create richer lives through their sensual selves.

She is the founder of the Succulence Revolution, a self-actualizing system that creates more pleasure, sexual aliveness, and deep self-love. She is a co-contributor to the best-selling books of Dr. Christiane Northrup and Dr. Rachel Abrams and has led transformational workshops and seminars for women around the globe for the past 13 years. She is the author of the Emergence of the Sensual Woman: Awakening Our Erotic Innocence, and serves as a guide to women who believe in transformation as a lifelong path of learning, discovery, and walk to freedom.  www.TheSucculenceRevolution.com

This show is pre-recorded and believe me, it’s WORTH the listen. So many amazing gems on how to bring pleasure into your life – because you’re worth it.

 

 

Going Shamanic is hosted by Jennifer Engrácio, about how to integrate shamanism into everyday life.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, Reiki Master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

 

Book Review – Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession by Mya Spalter

December, 2018

Book Review

Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession

by Mya Spalter

 

 

Inspired by a New York Occult shop of the same name, Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession, takes the reader on a virtual tour of the shop, its wares and the accompanying advice and conversation that might be had when looking to craft a beautiful and meaningful altar space, or create sacred space.

The author, Mya Spalter, uses a very warm approach, telling how she came to work at Enchantments store and then taking you on a journey through the highlights of her learning and experiences in working in a busy occult venue. Even the way in which the book has been arranged feels like a coffee break exchange of information of “what works, and what doesn’t?”, “how’d you do that?” and “can you teach me about that?”, that you would expect from most witchy stores and those who work there.

Part One is aptly entitled Witchy Implements and includes chapters dedicated to altars, correspondences, such as colors, plants, herbs and some of the disciplines that would be included in witchy practice such as astrology, the wheel of the year and more.

Part Two reinforces the necessity for Magical Intention(s) and begins the work of spell crafting, protection and divination, and concludes with a more in-depth approach to astrological uses and the cosmic connection found within what has traditionally been deemed an earth/nature-based practice.

The book is nicely illustrated with interspersed black and white drawings that are whimsical and informative. And, using a style near and dear to my heart, each chapter concludes with “Suggested Reading” and a list of well-respected titles relevant to that chapter’s offerings. I could go on in pointing out sections here and there, but, quite honestly, this is a book to be experienced first hand.

Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession is the next best thing to having a good friend who will walk you through the magic, point out the highlights anh solid and usable information, this is the one for you!

Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession on Amazon

***

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 Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

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

***

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 Lunar Gospel – The Complete Guide to Your Astrological Moon by Cal Garrison

December, 2018

Book Review

The Lunar Gospel – The Complete Guide to Your Astrological Moon

by Cal Garrison

Another astrology cookbook, sigh, I thought as I opened this book. How wrong I can be! Cal Garrison is an astrologer of maturity and subtlety and brings her experience and discernment to this very useful, well written guide. As Garrison herself points out in the introduction,

To answer the question of whether we need another astrology book, I am here to say, ‘Yes, we do.’ We need a book that takes the basic information to a place that actually shows the aspiring astrologer how to translate the sings and symbols into a language that helps people identify their soul’s purpose clearly enough to open the pathway to the higher self…that lifts the Veil on…a subject that has been hidden in darkness for over 500 years and that was originally given to humanity as a gift from the gods to help us make sense of ourselves and of our connection to the greater whole.”

And Garrison does exactly that. As she tells it, she used to rely on Pluto to get to the heart of the soul-based and life-purpose horoscope, then the lunar nodes. Now she uses the Moon’s sign and house position as the direct route to the core of the chart because: “The Moon is the timekeeper here on Earth. Like the second-hand on a clock, her movements define our relationship to the past, the present and the future. The Moon’s sign…gives us insight into what an individual has learned during the ‘Time’ that they have already spent on this Earth. The Moon’s house…tells us where and in what ‘Space’ or department of Earthly experience a person will apply those gifts in life.” Garrison uses Saturn to point to big changes and the Moon to point to the smaller shifts. I really appreciated this insight!

Her discussion of the Moon and its role in the natal horoscope walks us through her process of chart reading. She has studied astrology since 1964, so this is deep trove of treasure she dispenses to us. In the first chapter we learn that the Moon is about growth, (waxing and waning!), our past lives, the areas we’ve mastered and how we tend to repeat these patterns in the first half of our lives. I have approached the Moon in the natal chart from a somewhat different perspective, but find Garrison’s direction to be useful and practical. For example, she makes an excellent observation when she tells us that the Moon, not Mercury, rules memory. She parses this beautifully – Mercury rules the mind and neural functioning, but the moon governs memory because it governs the past. And –“[s]he is responsible for the mechanism in us that knows how to remember, because she is the master of repetition.” Of course! Her discussion of all of the Moon’s rulerships and correspondence is so well-done: thoughtful, well-explained and very well written, in simple, easy to understand language that is not astro-speak. It works beautifully for the beginner and for a more seasoned astrologer as well, providing us with her insight gained from reading many charts.

For the true newbie, there is a quick and easy to understand explanation of how the astrological wheel is laid out. There are also chapters on the moon in the signs and the houses, replete with insight and practical ways to apply it to both natal and horary charts (these are charts cast to answer specific questions, like, “Where will I find my keys?”). Garrison provides chapters on North and South lunar node house and sign placements to demonstrate how the Moon’s orbit is anchored to the soul’s purpose in this lifetime. There is helpful diagram to illustrate how the nodes interact with the orbits of the Sun and the Earth. She ends with a chapter on synthesizing and blending these various layers. For the astrology initiate, she provides short, well-written descriptions of the flavor, tone and influence of each inner and outer planet in the chart and how each operates.

I truly appreciate Cal Garrison’s insights and advice on chart reading in this book, especially this: “The ability to read a chart is something that grows over time and develops, not through books alone, but rather through the direct experience of talking to one person after another about their lives.” Yes! If you are interested in dipping into the vast body of available astrological writing or like me, adding to your library of astrology books, get this one. You, too, will appreciate Garrison’s experience, her insight and her ability to convey her craft so well.

The Lunar Gospel: The Complete Guide to Your Astrological Moon on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

 

 

 

Book Review – Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft by Rose Orriculum

November, 2018

Book Review

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft

by Rose Orriculum

 

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft is a great book written by Rose Orriculum. It is tagged as a beginner’s guide to witchcraft, however, after reading it, I feel that anyone could enjoy the contents of this book regardless of where they are on their magical path.

The book begins with a chapter on the “basics”. This tends to be the run of the mill basics but Rose is honest and open. She makes it a point to let you know that witchcraft is not a certain way. She makes it feel open and inviting. This would be a great read for someone who is on the fence about joining the magical community.

One of my favorite chapters is Potions. This chapter is about infusing your hot chocolate, coffee, & teas. Rose makes magic so simple that you can incorporate potions into your daily life.

The book goes into detail regarding the seasons and how you can celebrate them. One of my personal favorites from her collection is how you can use a snowman as a poppet. What a grand idea. Especially since it would allow families to do the act together.

At the back Of Witchcraft and Whimsy, Rose has included many of her own spells, glamours, bindings and curses.

Rose Orriculum has such a way with words and spells. I enjoy her work and cannot wait to see what else she comes up with. To learn more about her, check out my interview with her in this issue!

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft on Amazon

The Bad Witch’s Guide

November, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Shadow Work

 

(Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash)

 

For about the last two months I have spent a lot of time going within and working on my spirit. Some of it has been a choice, some has been circumstances. My health (physically) has been very poor since about July and while I am no longer bleeding nearly to death regularly I felt I needed to find my strength in body and spirit.

I have done a lot of yoga. A lot of meditation, usually every day, sometimes twice a day, and while drawing in the light around me my shadow would not be still. Darkness has a bad rap. It is often mistaken as evil. Rejected and defiled. Repressed and denied, this is the animal within. Animals are not generally evil. Neither is the shadow.

When I started looking at this place, the in-conscious (unconscious doesn’t give it enough credit), in my early 20’s I found it as the wolf. The singer of bones. The true wild. It is that gut animal instinct and for most of us it dwells within our shadow. If I gave it space and respect it spoke to me. It was wise and knowing with strong instincts that are annoying never wrong no matter how much I try and think around them! It kept me alive. Yet this was not some soft puppy. It was the desire to bite which hurt me. Run from the unknown and dig into things I didn’t want to know.

It was never about trying to control the wolf. The wolf is wild and that is how it should be. It was about listening to it, bringing it forward in my mind and analysing why I was feeling this way. The wolf brought me gifts I didn’t understand. Usually dead things from my past. A memory, good or bad. A feeling, usually something sad because I bury the shit out of those!

In slowly accepting my wild-self, that part of the shadow self, I began to go deeper still. Yet I was afraid. I was right to be. For deep in my darkness was a dragon. A dragon made of fire and destruction. A dragon that I could really feel writhe within my gut when riled. This is not a metaphor when that part of me was “woken” my guts would squirm as though something wriggling around in there. A dragon that terrified me. It was scary this beast ripping out of my being and me losing control. Uncontrolled violence and wrath. I locked it down, I repressed it hard. I refused to listen, I even hated it.

It took years of journey work. Years of looking trying to understand. I remember exactly when I met the dragon. I only went to a Dark Moon circle once and as I journeyed I joined a group of female dancers dressed all in red, whom danced covered in sharp blades and barbs. I joined the dance with them and I was cut a few times, we all were. Afterwards in a tent of red drape we compared scars as dancers do, laughing and smiling. Still I was to go deeper. Down, down. Deeper into the caves. At first the caves were cold and water dripped everywhere. Then they became warmer and dryer. There was no light. None at all. Yet I knew the way and there in the dark was a huge faintly glowing red dragon. It was asleep coiled up. Just breathing. It was beautiful. Like copper. I reached out my hand and it was warm and smooth. An eye fluttered open. The voice was like thunder, the deepest sound but gentle. This was new to me.

I asked “what are you?”

I am your pain.”

I began to weep. My fear melted and I realised this beast, this part of myself, had been consuming my pain all my life. That there had been so much especially as a child I didn’t understand I had created this to deal with all the things I was unequipped to understand. Now I understood. That the dragon was like my wolf. A teacher if I listen. A friend if I needed it.

Working in your shadow is a place within The Dreaming. It is both real and metaphor. You might not have wolves or dragons. You might have lions or “demons”. Yet the demons we make are no less real for us making them. They are often woven from our instincts, good and bad and our worst parts. The parts we reject from our Light.

They are our addictions, our vices. Our rages and pain. Our deep grief and sorrow. Yet if we come to them gently and listen they can bring such healing. That is not to say you allow them to indulge. You listen to when, to why, to the triggers. You understand, maybe even speak about it and let the urge go.

When both my parents died within six months of each other and I was cut out of the family by my sister I was devastated in a way I couldn’t comprehend. Being a witch and bi-sexual is just not okay with her. I remember sitting at the dinner table with the real and distinct urge to burn a path of destruction between myself and my sister. Not a metaphorical one. I mean kill and burn everything and everyone I met until I reached her and let fire take her too. It was odd and specific and I simply spoke about it and ate my dinner. A few month later I discovered it was a common tactic by a long dead ancestor (Grace O’Malley) to destroy traitors that way. I gave voice to my shadow, my pain but I did not give into it.

As Samhain comes and then the deeper dark of the year it is an excellent time to look within at the things moving around in our shadows. It is a daunting task, and one often sorely neglected by many magickal practitioners.

 

Simple Shadow Ritual

You will need:

A mirror

Patchouli oil

Candles/soft lighting

Bay laurel leaves

Yarrow (dried)

Frankincense resin

Heat proof container and charcoal to safely burn your herbs.

Notebook or journal.

Soft blankets (get comfy this might take a while).

 

Prepare your space as you would usually. Anoint your forehead and heart with the patchouli oil.

I humbly come to my Shadow’s Gate.

I come to learn not to hate.

I come to see, I come to hear.

Open the Gate as I draw near.

Touch the edge of the mirror with your dominant finger used to anoint yourself in a deosil direction. Keep the light to a minimum but use enough to be safe. Light your charcoal in your cauldron or censor. First adding the yarrow, then the bay, then the frankincense.

Cleanse your body in the smoke and prepare yourself to sit and stare with the mirror. Visualise your “gate” and begin to unlock it. This might take some time. There may be stairs or even just darkness. You may have to “jump”. Your darkness will not be the same as anyone else’s. When you are ready focus on your own face in the mirror. Say:

I see you. I am listening.

You may or may not “see” anything. You might. We spend a lot of time locking this energy away, it may take a long time to open it again. Write what you see in you notebook.

Re-anointing the mirror in a widdershins direction and drawing a banishing pentagram on the glass should you feel the need.

Humbly I came to my Shadow’s Gate.

I came to learn not to hate.

I came to see, I came to hear.

The Gate is Closed I leave you here.

Dissolve your sacred space as you would usually. If you wanted to evoke particular Deities during your opening rites please make sure to thank them appropriately afterwards.

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