Book Review – The Crystal Seer: Power Crystals for Magic, Meditation & Ritual by Judy Hall

March, 2018

The Crystal Seer

by Judy Hall


Power Crystals for Magic, Meditation & Ritual

Hardback, 176 Pages

Publisher: Fair Winds Press


While the title of this new books sounds a fantasy series I’d like to read, I came to read Judy Hall’s new book with glee.

She is one of my favourite writers about crystals and “magic, meditation and ritual” sounded right up my alley! I was positively giddy to read this book.

I must firstly congratulate the author on her fine work, yet again. Yet this book would not be what it is (which is glorious) without Timothy Samara, and John Van Rees, Jr.

The layout and design in this book are pleasing and easy to access, thanks to Timothy. The photography of the crystals is nothing short of stunning. John Van Rees Jr seems to be able to capture the light and essence of the crystals while maintaining their distinct qualities.

This means that you can see the colours and shades of the stone, the refractions and texture exceptionally well.

The table of content is crisp and clear, and easy to follow.

The introduction speaks about connecting with the stones and crystals (I believe she called it empowering and dedicating) which is almost exactly how I was taught to “awaken” and program crystals back in the day. She is ever knowledgeable and respectful. In this section she has a diagram of a body and Chakras, including more than the usual standard seven, which I was pleased about as many writers use main Chakras to mean all Chakras.

As always, Judy Hall mixes what I know with what I don’t. She uses folklore and lovely ancient quotes to embellish her work without making it fussy. There are crystals you have heard of and even someone who is rather well read will not have seen. This is a running theme in Hall’s work being a rather amazing predictor of the trends that cycle within the crystal community. I can’t help but feel the focus for the crystal business, once focused on Afghanistan and Iraq for its wonderful stones is looking other places. Certainly India, Mediterranean, and the Americas seem to be more sharply brought in focus. This means exciting things for us rock loves with new, and new variations of crystal coming to light.

It was a quick read, that being my only grip. While each crystal gets its own meditation or placement on or around the body to meditate with, I did feel I could have had more. The folklore and spell idea suggestions were well and good but I would have loved more, perhaps with ritual context.

I’d have quite liked a part two. That said, I know I am going to buy this book to sit happily next to her other books, and I look forward to seeing the new crystal trends unfold.

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Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Dill

Feathery and fragrant, the herb dill is so much more than just a flavouring for fish dishes or pickles. This magical herb has been used for centuries as a medicine, and as a potent tool for magical practitioners. From a muscle toner for Greek athletes, to a medicine for treating boils, this versatile herb is truly fascinating.

The Kitchen GardenR

You can find dill growing wild, so if you manage to harvest a few seeds, or purchase some from your local supplier, you could cultivate a little patch of dill yourself. It likes loose soil with good drainage, and you can plant the seeds directly where you want the herb to grow, ideally in a sunny spot. It’s an annual or biennial, which means that at most each plant lasts two years, or two growing seasons. However, it self-seeds, which means that you should get plenty of fresh seedlings the following spring.

The delightful, tiny yellow flowers are a real draw for bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators, so planting dill will definitely increase the number of visitors to your garden. Conversely, dill helps repel aphids and other pests, making it a great companion plant to cabbages, lettuce and many other food crops.

If you don’t have a garden, or quite frankly, the time and energy to grow herbs, dill is widely available at grocery stores as well as herbal retailers.

For culinary purposes, it’s normally the leaves that we’re talking about. Small amounts of leaves can be cut from each plant, so that you don’t kill the plant by harvesting. If you have more leaves than you need to use immediately, put some in a sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer. Don’t forget to label them!

Dill leaves can be added to salads, cheese (such as cottage cheese), soups and other foods as a garnish and to add flavour. Leaves or seeds can be added to a bottle of vinegar to create a unique, flavoured condiment.

The seeds are also used, primarily for flavouring the liquid that pickles are soaked in. Hence the term ‘dill pickles’.

These are but a very few of the culinary uses of dill. It is used all over the world in dishes from curry to crayfish. Because of this, it is relatively cheap, and very easy to get hold of.

The Apothecary

Charlemagne had dill tea made available for his guests who dined with him, to aid their digestion and prevent hiccups. It has been used as a ‘gripe water’ for infants, helping relieve colic and gas, but obviously don’t feed herbal remedies to children without consulting a pediatrician first.

It is normally the seed of dill that is used medicinally, as it has high amounts of the oil anethol, or anethole, also found in anise and caraway. Mrs Grieves recommended it as a stimulant and for easing stomach issues, flatulence and simply as an aromatic.

Modern research has found that the active oil has antimicrobial properties, which are effective against some bacteria, fungi and yeast. It’s even been found to be effective against salmonella in some instances.

It can also be used as an insecticide, which probably explains why it’s effective at repelling certain unwanted critters in our gardens.

Wash your hands after handling dill and don’t use the oil in massage. It causes photosensitivity so can lead to burning. Don’t take if pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can affect the uterus.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Mrs Grieve notes that during the Middle Ages, dill was used by magicians in spells and in charms against witchcraft. If this is true, we can surmise that there is a protective aspect to dill, particularly against supernatural or magical attack. Dill can be used in a poppet to provide protection to the person you are visualising. You could carry a sprig to ward off negative intentions towards yourself, or sprinkle some seeds around yourself and visualise a wall of light rising up from the seeds, protecting you from all harm.

In the bible, the Scribes and Pharisees are berated for paying a ‘tithe’, or tax of rich goods, but neglecting their morals and ethics. One of the items in the tithe is dill, along with mint and cumin, so we can assume that dill was very valuable. This can be translated magically into using the herb for money spells, perhaps a little in your purse to protect your existing funds, or used in a little pouch with other herbs to draw wealth towards you.

Both Culpeper and Cunningham assert that the plant is ruled by the planet Mercury, which one can also extend to include the god the planet is named for. This reaffirms the wealth and money connection, as the Roman god Mercury is strongly connected to financial gain, especially commerce and trading. He is also associated with eloquence, so dill could be used to help you find the words you need in a tricky situation. Linking the two, a charm made with dill is ideal for a sales person, as it will boost the holder’s communication skills and promote wealth coming to them.

Cunningham also states that placing dill in the cradle protects a child, which most likely links back to the herb having been used in children’s medicine for centuries. A sachet under the mattress where the child cannot reach it, or even under the bed or cot itself would be best for safety.

Home and Hearth

Sprinkle dried or fresh dill leaves or seeds around the boundary of your home to keep out unwanted visitors or negative energy. Walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) whist doing this if you feel there is an existing energy you need to banish. Walk deosil (clockwise) if you are wanting to boost the current mood or atmosphere in your home. You can boost the power of this simple spell by adding elemental energies, if appropriate to your path and beliefs. Sprinkle water, salt for earth, carry a candle for fire and walk the boundary again holding a lit incense stick to represent air. Don’t try and carry them all at once! Juggling candles and incense might seem impressive but actually it just leads to burnt fingers and clothing. If you are not mobile, hold the dill or have it near you, and visualise your energy surrounding your home or sacred space.

Once a year (I would do this at Imbolc as I have the idea of early spring cleaning firmly ingrained in my psyche) sweep the boundary and refresh your protective ward.

I Never Knew…

There is a superstition that burning dill leaves will cause thunderstorms to clear up.

Image Credits: Anethum graveolens by Forest and Kim Starr via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2007; Dill seeds by o Alanenpää via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2008.


About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

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Book Review – Vocal Magick: The User-Friendly Guide to Your Most Adaptable Ritual Tool By Bill Duvendack

March, 2018

Vocal Magick: The User-Friendly Guide to Your Most Adaptable Ritual Tool

By Author Bill Duvendack


Mr. Bill Duvendack is a well-known astrologer, specifically an esoteric astrologer, psychic teacher, and author. With over 30 years of study and practice, he is well-versed on matters of which he writes. He teaches classes online webinars through Kepler College, and in person at shops in the Metro St. Louis area. He is also available for private consultations.

Mr. Duvendack gives a brief history of what communication and vocal vibration are, without weighing down the subject. His writing style is straightforward. His writing is not dry, but witty and fun to read. Reading the book is easy. He covers how language connects to the culture it is used in, the semantics of the words you choose in ritual and how they have weight behind them. The depth of knowledge he shows in his writing gives credence to the number of years he had studied before he took up this subject. In this book, he also gives you clarity on how to use what insight you gain to work better at bringing to life the reality you want to create for yourself and the world.

In Vocal Magick, the author covers universal and karmic laws, as well as learning to recognize and be aware of the words you choose in your everyday language. Mr. Duvendack talks about removing ego from the conversation; he shares the story of the rubber band that he used so that he could remove the word “I” from talks. The author also talks about how the words you use when speaking with others gives them an insight into how you perceive the world. This book is about learning to control not only your communications but also your thought processes.

One of the things that Mr. Duvendack explains in this book is that when you vocalize something, the visual audience that you see isn’t the only audience listening. We all know that we have spirit guides, Ascended Masters, and others on the astral plane that hear us. By paying attention to how we use our language, we control what we build on the astral plane. Early in the book, the author talks about using mudras to amplify what you’re saying. You can do this in a way that your audience can’t tell what you are doing.

I like this book, and I have recommended it to a couple of shop owners who are not in the Metro St. Louis area, and they are looking forward to carrying it in their shop. You can also contact the author through his website to get “Vocal Magick” or any of his other books or attend some of his Webinars.


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About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at:

Book Review – Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch: Quick, Simple and Practical Magic for Every Day of the Year by Patti Wigington

January, 2018

Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch: Quick, Simple and Practical Magic for Every Day of the Year”



by Patti Wigington

Published by Sterling Ethos

Published: 2017

Pages: 385

Begin a year and a day of witching with the help of the “Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch.” Starting with January’s themes of new beginnings and going though December’s focus on winter’s darkness, High Priestess, Wicca expert and author Patti Wigington presents 366 spells for seasons, moons and astrological signs. Included are spells for protection, abundance, gratitude, blessings and divination.

While she notes at the beginning of the book that people often think you need a lot of supplies to do spell work – you don’t. Knowing others may think differently, I like that she points out you can do a lot of magic with things you find around you. Many of the spells I read required very little. For instance, the King Frost Snow Spell for Neighborhood Harmony required you to make snowmen while chanting, and adorn each with sticks for arms, a carrot for the nose, and whatever hats or scarves were handy. A spell to find new friends calls for nine seashells and an orange candle.

Wigington’s spells use batteries and a piece of red fabric to jump start your love life; and silver paper, a pen and mugwort for dreams to answer a question; and crayons and a new coloring book for creative thinking. She’ll tell you how to make a nine-piece divination set from painted rocks and prosperity poppets out of gingerbread dough.

None of the spells are long and involved, so it would be possible to set aside 5 to maybe 20 minutes and do a spell a day. Some may not resonate for you – not everyone needs a spell to gain professional respect, male potency or to pass a test. I wouldn’t personally recommend the love spells, including one to bring back a lover who has strayed or the Stay With Me Spell because they interfere with someone else’s freewill, and I don’t know that I’d bring a firefly into the house to help me find a lost object.

There were many, however, I did like. One is the Spell to Bless a Freshly Planted Garden presented on May 29 in conjunction with the old agricultural festival of Ambarvalia, Wigington instructs you to mix equal parts milk, honey and wine in a bowl and walk around your garden clockwise, using your fingers to sprinkle the mixture on the soil while saying, “Honey for the bees, wine for the Divine and milk for growth in this garden of mine.”

This book will easily help you bring more magic into your life, and there’s no reason it can’t be used a second or third time, or serve as a reference for the spells you found most successful. It could also be gifted to a new witch every year, made more personal if you jotted notes in the margins.

For Amazon Information Click Image




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: Tree Medicine, Tree Magic by Ellen Evert Hopman

January, 2018

Tree Medicine, Tree Magic”

by Ellen Evert Hopman

Published by Pendraig Publishing Inc.

Published: 2017

Pages: 245

This second edition is updated and revised from the original published in 1992 by Ellen Evert Hopman, a master herbalist, lay homeopath and founding member of The Order of the White Oak. She is currently archdruid of the Tribe of the Oak, a teaching grove for Druids. She holds an M.Ed. in mental health counseling.

For each of the 19 trees, she includes an illustration; describes their physical characteristics; gives their practical, herbal and magical uses; and provides Druid insights and recipes. Information for each tree takes up about 10 pages; quotes and poems about trees are sprinkled throughout.

Some of the common trees of North America and Europe that get a chapter in the book are ash, apple, birch, elm, holly, maple, oak, pine, poplar and willow.

Hopman treats each sacred tree reverently, sharing its powerful magic and how its legends are woven into various cultures. The traditions she shares are those of “our ancestors, the celebrants of the trees.”



At the beginning of the book, she explains the many forms which use flowers, leaves, bark, roots and seeds to treat conditions. She tells you what parts of the tree to use, and how to collect and use them. The back of the book contains such useful information as the Celtic tree alphabet and a tree meditation, along with indexes of herbal uses, magical uses, practical uses and illustrations.

Tree Medicine, Tree Magic” is a useful guidebook to work with trees on multiple levels.


Susun Weed, author of the Wise Woman Series, praised it, saying, “Trees are the Ancient Ones. They hold a vast wisdom that can heal all ills of body, mind, and spirit. Open this book and open a door to the details of that wisdom, brought to you by one of my favorite herbal authors, Ellen Evert Hopman. Ellen is actually a tree, ‘disguised’ as a person, so she speaks to us directly from the heart of the Ancient Mysteries. There is something for everyone here, whether you seek food for your psyche or physic for your woes.”



As I read about tree after tree and learned about the old ways, I was inspired to make more connections with them. I harvested white pine needles to make tea; I became aware that a branch of apple with both flowers and fruits is an indication the otherworld is paying a visit, and will now be on the lookout; and I now know to thank maple trees for being among those most tolerant of people.

I cross-referenced it with the Celtic tree moons – nine of the thirteen are in the book – and will be drawing information from the book when planning rituals.


For Amazon Information Click Image


Hopman’s other 10 non-fiction books include “A Druid’s for the Sacred Earth Year,” “Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s ,” “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore” and “The Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen: A Practical Guide.” She also wrote three novels including “The Druid Isle” and “Priestess of the Fire Temple: A Druid’s Tale.”

Visit Ellen Evert Hopman online at


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.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2018


The Bad Witch’s Guide to Poppets


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

As someone who has only relatively recently learned to sew I had to get crafty with poppets. I am quite cool about substitutes like onions and lemons (as someone who LOVES to cook).

Salt dough


I started making my own salt dough for my family early on. I do suggest food colouring (and gloves) at least in the mixing stage otherwise it has a tendency to go a bit gray. Equal parts flour and salt with warm water added a bit at a time until it reaches a dough. You can add an oil to make it a bit more pliable but if you mix it then chill it it should work better without. Salt dough can be used to make decorations, altar pieces for Sabbat, and poppets to heal, or otherwise. To harden it drying it out in a low oven is best, but it does dry to a hard texture, a bit like crumbly clay.




Clay is old school! You can buy air clay and you won’t need to dry it in an oven or you could let it dry out slower. Again it quite hard when finished and you might need to “poppet it” (add openings, names and so on) before it’s dry. You can mix herbs and things into the clay but this will effect it’s structural qualities too. If you are going for a bigger poppet you will probably need an armature. An armature is a skeleton within an object to give it a structure. Small ones might need only a single piece of thin wire down the middle. Bigger poppets might need a wire body. Clay holds onto paint well when dried and if you are a person who paints well this can be valuable.




Fabric cut out with wool or other stuffings make a cheap and useful poppet. They take pins and other objects pretty well. You can put hair, or an old piece of clothes inside. You can add cursing herbs or spices and they soak up oils really well. It’s definitely a different experience than the clay or dough. An accomplished person can knock one out in very little time, but the rest of us it might take more than an evening. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with you.




There are a couple of ways you can make wooden poppets. You can use the carving method which requires a lot of skill and tools. The peg method (a wooden clothes peg can make a quick and useful poppet in a pinch). Or you can make a bundle doll. A simple cross bundle bound with thread can make and excellent poppet or spirit doll. You can use all kinds of woods, all kinds of thread, from silks to rough jute and soak it in oils or tinctures. You can glue the threads or even wax them (making them easier to burn in a fire) to keep the binding together. You can of course combine materials and use clay and the like to make the thread hold. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.



I am a crafty witch, in all senses and I got into needle-felting recently and I love it. It’s sculpting with pointy needles! While you do need wool and felting needles (which can vary in price a lot) a simple set is not that expensive. What you don’t pay in money, prepare to pay in blood! No needle felter doesn’t stab themselves (with varying degrees of pain and blood loss) while making things. Sure you can by leather finger protectors but I never stab myself in the same place twice! That said you can make rather good likenesses, have a whole spectrum of colours and shades of wool to choose from and with an armature you can make them quite big. I have been making a lot of fae dolls this way (they just want to be made) and there is this strange alive quality to them even before they are finished.


Roots and Vegetables


From pumpkins to turnips we have been carving faces for a very long time of vegetables. My turnip head is still there from Samhain last year (and yes it’s terrifying). You can carve or make poppets from roots like ginger and even odd shaped carrots, or just parts like heads, or phallic symbols in all kinds of vegetables. They do perish (some more quickly than others) which can be great (or not) depending on what you want. Can be burned reasonably safely and put in rushing water without too much issue (polluting is bad people). You can also squish them quite well too, should you feel the need and compost with clear(ish) conscience. Being as they tend to be wet (ooh er) things like photographs, or other connections can be damaged in trying get them into the poppet. That said that might be a bonus and they take pins and such really well.




This is one I don’t often use but one of my friends is great at this one! They are not “pretty” but they have such a power to them. Good for a short sharp shock. They burn well (obviously) and if you do it right they burn themselves! So try and make sure if you are using a wicked candle to try and keep it central to the poppet. A candle, a craft knife and a hot spoon to smooth things out are all you need. It’s a cheap and powerful way to make poppets. You can of course buy and melt wax and sculpt it from scratch but it requires a double boiler and a lot of patience. This way means you can add oils, herbs, hair, photographs and so on. They take pins well and if you leave in a cool place can last a long time. No so great for throwing in water but good for jar work and fire work.


Grasses, Cornstalks, Such Like



Corn dollies are a very old poppet material. Good wheat stems can vary on how easy they are to find and there are hundreds of ways to weave these little lovelies. Dependent on the material weaving can be a simple or complicated business. It’s more like stalk origami than true weaving but you get some lovely pieces. They are a lot of work and you might not want to use them as a poppet unless you are really pressed. That said they are a beautiful and ancient form of poppet and it would be remiss of me to leave them out. They can last years, but don’t take pins well. You could use them as a basic armature for something like clay on top.
A good poppet is what you need in the moment. Whether it is for healing, focusing a group spell or cursing the crap out of someone making your own is an empowering and therapeutic thing.

The Enchanted Cottage: Magick for the Witch’s Home

November, 2017

To Protect the Witches Home

“We will set to work on that” said Hansel, “and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and though, Gretel, canst eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.”

Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leaned against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the room.

“Nibble, nibble gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?”

The children answered,

“The wind, the wind,
The heaven-born wind,”

and went on eating without disturbing themselves….

From Hansel and Gretel—Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tale




The above tale is from one of my favorite fairy tale books. Reading the myth and lore that the Brothers Grimm collected not only brings me comfort during the cold and dark months, I also enjoy unraveling some of the meaning behind the tales. One of the lessons I have learned from Hansel and Gretel is that if you don’t want random children nibbling on your home, you better learn how to set up protective boundaries. If the old witch in the candy coated cottage had installed magical shields around her property, she may not have ended up being cooked in her own oven.

There are many ways one can go about protecting their home from evil and unruly spirits, enemies, and unforeseen forces. It is always best to figure out what shielding magic works best for you but I will share a few methods that I have found to be effective.

Red Brick Dust. A staple in New Orleans Voodoo and Appalachian Hoodoo, Red Brick Dust is my go to formula for most protective magic. Easy to find on the internet and fairly easy to make, this magical powder is made from the grindings of a red brick. The trick is finding a brick that is red throughout, they can be difficult to find. To use, just sprinkle across your doorways and window seals. If feeling the need for extra protection the dust can be sprinkled around the perimeter of you house.

Gargoyles. Found on Egyptian and Greek temples and many churches, the grotesque gargoyle started out as a water spout. Now they can be found everywhere as a decorative feature on many homes and businesses. I have found these creatures to be fiercely protective and have a few around my home. They not only defend my home from unwanted entities, they also have been known to protect my home from natural forces such as storms and falling branches. All of my Gargoyles have names and they are treated like part of the family.

Herbs. There are many herbs that can be used in the protection of your home. You can sprinkle them across entrances much like Red Brick Dust or you can make magical brews and washes out of them to clean or draw runes and symbols with. This list is but a small portion of herbs that may be utilized for protective measures. Garlic, anise, bittersweet (poison), cinnamon, datura, juniper, wolfsbane (poison), and my go to favorite herb—vervain.

Runes and other symbols. These can be drawn through the air or “painted” on doors and windows with washes and brews. They can also be carved into the ground at the four corners of your property. Runes can be used on their own or combined to make bind-runes. Isa, Nauthiz and Algiz are just a few of the runes that can be used. The pentagram or pentacle is another popular protective symbol that is used as is in some magical circles, the cross.

What I have shared here are a few techniques that I use in protective magic for my home. There are many methods that have been known to work just as well as mine and it is wise to find the ones that work best for you. As the nights grow colder, I offer you many warm blessings for your hearth and home. May your home be safe from the nibbling of children…

Death Masks

November, 2017

At this time of looking back, memories and retrospect I want to share a wonderful experience I had a few years ago. I received an intriguing invitation: a workshop in making a death mask on Samhain with a small group! I didn’t have to think long and decided I’d definitely want to be there. We ended up being with 6 ‘wyld & wicked women’! Some had met each other before. At the time I only knew the hostess beforehand, so I had the privilege to get to know 4 wonderful women.

First we had dinner at a beautiful Samhain-decorated table. We had a very yummy salad, delicious pasta with pesto and salmon, an exquisite quiche and very tasty pizza! The dessert was even better: heavenly cheesecake and divine pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream. We started by reading ‘The Charge of the Great Mother’ out loud. Everyone had placed an extra plate on the table for someone behind the veils. We shared stories about those people and animals while eating in their honour. Lovely stories about beautiful memories… Some put a smile on our faces, some made us get all teary-eyed. It was very intimate and touching; it felt as if I got to know the people and animals, as if they were really there, sitting with us. I dedicated my plate to my dad. I told about our special bond, about my childhood memories and also about his death.

In the temple space we prepared everything for the workshop. We made the masks in pairs. One person was lying down, while the other one put plaster bandages on her face to make a very personal mask, a mask of our own faces. To protect our skin and to make the mask easier to release we covered our face with a lot of cream. I had a nasty cold, so I was a bit nervous whether I could persevere the plaster. I decided to put some straws in my mouth, so I had both nose and mouth to breathe. Still, it wasn’t easy! I started thinking a lot of “what-ifs”. That wasn’t going to help me persist so I went into a meditative state and that was the right decision. I did it!

Then it was my turn to make a mask. I soon felt I was very tired and the cold didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to finish the mask, so I kept on putting plaster bandages. I struggled. I realized it wasn’t working and felt so bad… Finally I asked someone else to take over. That was so hard, I felt I had failed miserably. In the kitchen I cried, but everyone was so kind and comforting! My mask partner got a beautiful mask nevertheless and she wasn’t disappointed (as I had feared). On the contrary, she accepted her own lesson in this with grace; we talked it over and hugged. Looking back now I can see it as it is: a wonderful experience for both of us, and a lesson too… I’m still very grateful for it.



Afterwards we all talked about what making the masks had done with us. Generally speaking death-masks are made after a person dies. To do it on a living person can feel strange, especially when the eyes and mouth are covered. You literally shut them up… and the other way around your mouth is covered and shut. Although I had the straws in my mouth, it still felt like that. We shared our experiences and feelings. Meanwhile, it was very late so we set up the beds and dived in! I slept next to the veils in the temple space. In the morning we had a long breakfast / brunch together, closed the circle and said our goodbyes.

Masks of deceased people are part of many traditions around the world. In some European countries it was common for death masks to be displayed at state funerals. Death masks have been a matter of practice from as early as ancient times and making death masks was routine until the late 19th century when photography took over in popularity. However, some death masks were still made in the 20th century and are made to this day. Death masks were sometimes used as a way to identify the dead and at other times the death masks were used as a way to remember the dead person or to use as a way to build their memorial on their grave. Death Masks usually involve the eyes of the deceased being closed but in a few rare exceptions the eyes are left open. This video shows the death masks of many famous people:



Sources & further reading/watching:

Crystal Connections

November, 2017




Hematite is a common but sometimes overlooked stone because it lacks the bright flashy colors like its other crystal counterparts. In its understated, cool dark silvery tones, this crystalline structure contains some pretty great metaphysical properties. Even though it’s known as the “stone of the mind” for its clarifying and focusing abilities, for me its best properties are for grounding, balancing and protecting.



I will often carry a small tumbled piece around in my pocket or purse to roll between my fingers when I’m feeling out of sorts or confused. This stone has a way of bringing things into focus and keeping me on an even keel. I have found that Hematite helps me feel deeply connected and grounded to my most inner self. Because of these properties you may find when using this crystal that you are able to push through any previous obstacles and focus on moving forward in a way that is beneficial to both your physical and spiritual self.



Another great attribute that this stone has is its ability to absorb negative energy. Around my house I have varying clusters of crystals on display and mixed in with each display are a few pieces of tumbled Hematite to absorb or deflect any negative energy. I still cleanse and recharge my crystals but I feel like Hematite adds that extra protectiveness around them and my home.

How do you feel about this stone? Which of its many properties has helped you? Do you wear your Hematite or carry it with you? Remember there’s no wrong or right way to use your crystals, use them in a way that is most beneficial to you.



About the Author:



Shiron (Shi) Eddy hails from the Pacific Northwest and shares a home with her husband, a Great Dane and a cat. Her love for crystals and minerals came from her dad who was an avid rock hound in his younger years. Shi happily shares her knowledge of crystals with anyone who is drawn to them, but especially loves to help people connect with minerals that involves their metaphysical properties. When she’s not networking with other crystal and mineral lovers, Shi can be found making jewelry, painting, crocheting Goddess dolls, selling her wares at shows or spending time with family and friends. You can find her jewelry in her shop ShiJewels or follow her on Instagram.

Book Excerpt from A Modern Celt: Day of the Dead by Mabh Savage

October, 2017

Day of the Dead


Samhain, for many on a Pagan path, is “the biggy”, the festival of all festivals, and much of this is to do with the day’s association with the dead and thus ghosts, spirits and other things otherworldly. It’s generally celebrated on October 31st although in Gaelic the word actually means “November” so the festival being named thus would seem to indicate that is to be celebrated at the start of November. This is probably because the Celts believed a new day started at sunset, so when fires were lit on the 31st October as the sun went down, it was already Samhain, the next day, and time to celebrate another point in the year when the veil is thin and one can almost speak to one’s ancestors, as they walk amongst us. Sometimes the night time celebrations are still called “Samhain Eve” rather than Samhain, and I think it’s key to understanding the Celts that we recognise that they weren’t taken too much by the time of day or the date, but more by splitting things into light and dark. Sunset was the end of the current day, therefore it was the beginning of a new day. Samhain was the halfway point between equal night and day (the autumn equinox) and the longest night (the winter solstice). Winter was darker; summer was brighter.


This is how I believe they saw the world, and this is how, as someone trying to understand their ancestors, I am also finding myself looking at the world. Even though we are, as a modern society, so obsessed with timekeeping and date stamping, it’s nice just to think “It’s cold and the sun is low after only a few hours, it must be winter. The moon is full and the sky is clear- it will be cold tonight. The leaves are yellowing; it is autumn.” It’s so much more special to watch the world change around you, to feel the turn of each season, than to mark its continuation by the flick of the page in a diary and waiting for dates to happen. The most physical evidence of any sort of calendar kept by a Celtic people is the Coligny Calendar, bronze plates dating from around the year 200 (although it’s thought the calendar usage may go back as far as 800 BCE) which show a calendar based on a 5-year cycle using both the solar and lunar cycles to describe an approximately structured year. This is not unlike our modern Gregorian calendar if you think about it- we have months roughly based on the cycle of the moon, although as we only have 12 now we stick in random days here and there (i.e. the 30 and 31-day months), and every 4 years when we’ve not managed to travel quite all the way around the sun, we get an extra day!


So here we are at Samhain. We now understand that the Celts were looking forward into the darker part of the year and preparing for winter, whilst at the same time feeling the touch of the other world; the fae, the Tuatha Dé Danann and indeed their own ancestors. Ever since I can remember this has always been a time to remember one’s own ancestors and honour them the best you can. This can be simply saying their names out loud, or holding a feast with their favourite food included. A common practice is to leave an image out of the ancestor or ancestors in question, and if no image is available or appropriate then something that either belonged to them or reminds you keenly of them. This is their physical link to you; this is how they know where to come through when they reach the veil. Offerings are left with this image or symbol, as a way of thanking your ancestor for what they have brought to you. Hopefully, your ancestor will see the gesture and be grateful, but also be at peace seeing that you are doing well and honouring your traditions; understanding yourself as a whole person, and acknowledging what came before you and what will come after; after all, by whole heartedly embracing this practice you accept that one day you will be on the receiving end of the gesture- whether through a direct blood descendant or even from friends or students- anyone you may have had significant and positive influence on.


As well as honouring our ancestors, we also accept that in the long run, they no longer belong here. Not that they are unwanted, but that they now reside somewhere else, and only at Beltane and Samhain can we be this close to them again. Samhain, starting at sunset, has the longer darkness, and therefore the greatest opportunity to light fires and candles as beacons to guide the dead, which I think is why this winter festival is more widely recognised as the day of the dead, rather than its summer counterpart, which is more about the continuity of life and fertility.


So at Samhain, there tends to be a threefold celebration. We welcome the ancestors- we draw them towards us somehow, we feel their presence and we celebrate their return. We spend time among them, enjoying their company like one would a friend you have not seen for years. Not only ancestors but friends and acquaintances past, including pets and working animals that may have been close to us. Because of this it can be a very bitter sweet time of year: although it’s wonderful to feel the presence of someone or something deeply missed, it also brings sharply into focus the original grief when you lost them. Because of that though, it can be a great way of dealing with grief. Sometimes we bottle things up too much, and Samhain has a tendency to bring to the fore feelings we would not normally have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a good idea, because of this, to surround yourself with friends, family and loved ones or whoever can best support you through this.


Of course, you may be someone who genuinely deals with grief better on your own, but when you are also dealing with the potentially supernatural, it’s good to know that you are not alone; that you are not the only person who is feeling the presence of someone long gone but clearly not forgotten. So this is the second stage of Samhain: being with those we lost, and dealing with it either with happiness or grief while ensuring we are supported and making it as joyous as possible with feasting, drinking, and even gifts. Some celebrate Samhain as New Year too (understandable looking at how the Coligny calendar split the year into two halves), so again, more drinking, gifts and excuses for tomfoolery! The third stage is a little more solemn, and just as important. This is the stage where we feel the veil closing, and we say farewell to our ancestors (and other loved ones) and ensure we guide them on their way.


There are many different ways of doing this and I would not recommend that you practice rituals, rites or magic with the intention of guiding the dead without the guidance of someone experienced in such matters- quite frankly it can be a bit scary. More simply and traditionally, candles can be lit as symbolic beacons to show the dead their paths. can be played, for in Celtic tradition music is a gift from the otherworld and thought to be very magical indeed. Ancestral feasts are cleared away and images of ancestors are cleaned and put away until after the season is over, to remove temptation for the spirit to stay. It’s like saying, we’ve been happy to have you here, and we wanted to let you know how grateful we are for your influence in our lives. But we are the living; you are the dead. It’s time for us to get back to our lives, and for you to return to whence you came. I think it’s very healthy in that way; we accept that our loved ones are gone. We in no way cling on to them or expect them to return to us to be a permanent part of our lives, and in this way we can deal with our grief and move on, although it can take several years for grief to lose its keen edge of course. But we also accept that here is a time when we can celebrate them. Whether you believe that the dead physically (or metaphysically) return or not, how can anyone sneer at the idea of having a whole festival dedicated to love, remembrance and joy?






About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.


Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.








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