review

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

June, 2017

Attracting the Fae

 

 

Merry meet.

The summer solstice – along with Beltane and Samhain – are traditional times to honor the fae, fae folk, faeries, or simply, fey. They are magical creatures with powers given them by nature. They are guardians of botanicals, water sources and other natural elements. Others live in a magical underground kingdom.

Fey exist in all cultures, from the little people to elves, and from gnomes to leprechauns. They appear in art, music, folklore and movies. Fey have magic, and magic in and of itself is not good or bad, it’s all about how it’s used.

For some reason, many Americans think of faeries only as cute, tiny, harmless winged creatures. While there are some who look like that, there are many who are ugly and fierce. They can be playful and mischievous or annoying and frightening. If you’ve ever left a pair of earbuds out, the fae will be attracted to come and tangle them. Keys left out can also prompt fey pranks.

The fae like sugar, milk, honey, flowers and miniature people things like fairy houses.

 

 

 

 

Tess Ahlberg makes houses for them from bark, mushrooms and other gifts of nature.

From a young age, she said she was immersed in nature. She’d collect moss, pine cones, mushrooms, animal skins, shells, feathers and discarded insects during her travels in woods, meadows, marshes, swamps and on beaches. Listening to the messages whispered in the leaves, she was inspired to begin making faerie houses out of birch bark she found decomposing on the ground.

I ask permission from the forest, if I can harvest the bark, mushrooms, plants and moss. I also give the spirits a token offering,” she explained.

Milkweed pods and acorns, along with ferns, leaves and wild flowers that she’s pressed also found their way onto pieces of birch bark. She continued making houses, painting cured mushrooms for roofs and adding some details.

They add whimsy and magic when placed in a home; if left outside they will slowly decompose.

To encourage others to appreciate nature, provide homes for the fay, and an escape from the chaotic world, Ahlberg makes kits available. But you can gather all the materials yourself and make a home to invite the fae to visit.

 

 

 

 

In today’s society there is a disconnect with nature,” she said, hoping to help change that by reconnecting people with it.

Faeries are inter dimensional beings. If you go back to remembering your innocence of youth, a time when perhaps as a youth, some of us had glimpses into other enchanted worlds. We saw faeries and other enchanted beings in our peripheral vision,” she said.

You can connect to that magical world by being fae friendly. Houses and other inviting spots can be portals into enchanted worlds.

Try building a cave out of pebbles in a hidden spot in your yard, such as under bushes or in a flower garden. Set out a miniature wooden table and chairs, painted bright colors or wrapped in vines if you wish. Making a circle of stones, shells or pinecones can create a magical space. Hang tiny bells from branches.

 

 

 

 

Flowers such as daisies, cosmos, tulips, honeysuckle, lilac, sunflowers, lavender, snapdragons, pansies and heliotrope are all said to attract fey, as are herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme.

Fey are also said to be partial to oak, ash, holly, willow and hawthorn trees

 

 

 

 

My three favorite spots in the yard where I was grew up were a stand of lilacs with a narrow space in the center, the small space between two large oak trees, and a willow tree I loved to climb.

To feel close to the fae now, I plant cosmos, sunflowers, rosemary and snapdragons in my community garden plot, leaving the center wild and untouched, seeded with wildflowers that attract hummingbirds, a mugwort plant and morning glories that reseed themselves. I leave offerings there from time to time, and know the fae are present because if I make the mistake of brining my cellphone, they download apps while I work in the garden.

 

 

 

 

They also bless me with joy. May they do the same for you.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

Check out Tessimals Celestial Faerie Houses and Faeries on Facebook or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/tessimal.

 

 

Review: WitchEmoji by Pam Grossman

May, 2017

Hunt for Witches No More: WitchEmojis by Pam Grossman

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Witches now have their own charmed emoji to use with iMessenger, thanks to Pam Grossman, a Brooklyn-based writer and curator who focuses on witches, magic and esoteric art.

I created WitchEmoji because I couldn’t find any great witchy, magical emoji to use in my texts,” she states on the witchemoji.com website, adding, “Necessity (or obsessive desire in this case) is the mother of invention.”

Working with an emoji designer who created the icons based on her designs and direction, she then built the app herself. Costing $1.99, it launched early April 2017. The iMessage sticker pack is compatible with iPhones and iPads with iOS 10.1 or newer.

It became the number one sticker pack in the App Store in its first week, beating the likes of Star Wars and Kim Kardashian,” Grossman said. “It’s currently still in the top 20 and getting stellar reviews, which has been very heartening. Just goes to show how much the archetype of the witch is currently resonating with people of all ages.”

WitchEmoji’s 80 images include a besom, cauldron, Book of Shadows, pentacles in all colors, a chalice, a candle, an owl and a love potion along with witches of all hair and skin tones in a variety of situations from flying on a broom to honoring the full moon.

There are so many more emoji I’d like to add to the pack,” she said of her towering list. “It will just depend on what I can afford to develop, so hopefully the pack will keep selling well so I can invest in making more.”

Explicit directions on how to download and load the emoji can be found at https://www.witchemoji.com/.

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I’ve been a witch since I was very little – before I even knew to call myself one,” Grossman said. “Like lots of kids, I gravitated toward stories and artwork that deal with magical themes, and engaged in my own intuitive rituals and wild imaginings. Once I was a teenager, I began to read a lot and explore the path a bit more formally. But it was really discovering the surrealist artists and the writings of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell that opened things up for me, and made me realize that creativity is the surest path we have to the divine. My practice is very personal and syncretic, and draws as much on the art world as it does on spiritual systems.”

Last May her 36-page book “What Is A Witch,” was released. Illustrated by Canada’s occult sweethearts Tin Can Forest, and published by Tin Can Forest Press, it is described as “an illuminated incantation, a crystalline invocation, a lovingly-crafted celebration of the world’s most magical icon” and a “manifesto on witchcraft.”

Grossman’s blog, Phantasmaphile, can be found at Pamgrossman.com.

She is the associate editor of Abraxas International Journal of Esoteric Studies, co-organizer of the Occult Humanities Conference at New York University, and co-founder of the former Brooklyn arts and lecture space, Observatory, where her programming explored mysticism.

Grossman’s writing has appeared in “Sabat Sciences Occults,” “Huffington Post,” and MSN. Lectures include such topics as the occult in modern art and female magic in Western , and she also teaches classes on spellcraft, ritual and herbalism.

Interview with Moonwater SilverClaw Author of Be A Wiccan Badass

April, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH MOONWATER SILVERCLAW

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Author of Be A Wiccan Badass

“Be A Wiccan Badass” is a easy-to-read, simple guide to the Craft, best for beginners and advanced beginners, although more seasoned practitioners will still get some good advice from it. I recently sat down with Moonwater for a chat.

SM: Good morning, Moonwater. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me.

MS: Sure. My pleasure.

SM: I have looked at both your website and your Amazon author page (links below). You have quite a few books to your credit, including “Be A Wiccan Badass”, which I have right here.

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What made you decide to be a writer.

MS: I had a prophetic dream. In the dream, I was at a computer and I was writing. The Gods told me to start a blog. So I did.

At first, I was, like, are you kidding? I’m dyslexic. But you don’t dismiss the Gods, so I started writing. I have a lot of help. I have my sweetheart and friends that edit my stuff.

SM: That’s wonderful. We all need some help in our lives.

MS: Yes, and the Gods have helped me immensely.

SM: Which of your books came first?

MS: “The Hidden Children of the Goddess”

SM: I will be certain to post links to both your website and Amazon page.

MS: This first book is my Wicca 101 book. I wrote it in a specific way.

You see, because I am dyslexic, many of the books I read learning the Craft were sometimes hard to understand. So, I kept the thought in my mind to write simply and to make it easy to understand.

SM: How were you called to Wicca?

MS: …..how many at the time I learned even knew about Wicca? I heard a word I had never heard before. The word was Wicca. I went down to the local book shop and asked the lady behind the counter for any books on the subject. I soon had my arms full of books. I chose one. That one book changed my life forever. What was that book? It was Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Pracitioner”.

SM: Scott Cunningham helped so many beginners enter the Craft.

MS: Yes, and I hope that I can do this, too. I want to make Wicca accessible to those who may have a hard time reading and understanding what they have read. For example English as a second language or having dyslexia, as I have, or another learning disability.

SM: I found ” Be A Wiccan Badass” extremely easy to read and understand. It was inviting, as if we were just sitting chatting, as we are now.

MS: Thank you. I tried to make it inviting and friendly.

SM: I believe in one of earlier chats, you had mentioned that you have been practicing for 27 years.

MS: Yes, I have been practicing since the 1990’s.

SM: I read somewhere in the book that you were a Third Degree Initiate. Would you mind sharing with us in what tradition you are trained?

MS: I am a Third Degree Gardnerian

I wrote this book to help others be strong and find their own power. As a young girl, I had no self-confidence and felt like I had no power to change my circumstances.

I needed to experience a shift in myself. Fortunately, my path in Wicca helped me become stronger. Instead of remaining trapped with my then husband, I left. Wicca also strengthened me to become bold. I had to shake off my fear due to enduring dyslexia as a kid. It took courage to become a blogger/author.

With my first book, you can be more confident when you solidify a connection with the Goddess. Even if someone insults you, you can carry yourself with grace and strength because you know the Gods are with you.

SM: You practice a very traditional path of Wicca, but I notice that most of your books focus specifically on the Goddess, or so their titles would indicate, while “Badass” uses both Gods and Goddesses.

MS: No, I do include the Gods in all of my books. However, the Goddess speaks to me and others more, so I put her in the title.

SM: You are specifically speaking of “Hidden Children of the Goddess” or “Badass” with this description.

MS: Specifically “Hidden Children” but the others also include the God.

SM: So, I loved the idea of “speed grounding”.

MS: Thanks. I thought that was a good one. It can help you ground fast, especially if you practice it regularly.

SM: I would think that speed grounding would be for someone who has already been practicing their path for a while and can get to that place relatively smoothly. I find the grounding is part and parcel of deeper work, as well, which is harder than what speed grounding would indicate. Do you think beginners should practice this, or have more of a basic knowledge of the path that they are following?

MS: Yes. I think they need to know how to ground the regular way first. This way they know the process. Otherwise, they don’t know if they are doing it correctly.

SM: Yes, that is the point I was making. I know that there are always those looking for a quick fix and may think that Wicca can provide that, when in reality, it is far from it.

MS: I agree that grounding is a road to deeper work.

Yes. I have a friend that loves what I do but she wants me to make it a quick and fast thing to learn. I tell her that you can’t. You still need to study long and hard and keep studying throughout your life. It is not a fast and cheap spiritual path. It takes dedication and time to practice the techniques of Wicca.

SM: That is most certainly does. It is a lifelong path.

MS: Yes, totally.

SM: I liked the section on forgiving yourself, as that is something we all need to be reminded of. Also, the section on writing your own spells was informative. This seems to be one part that stymies many people.

MS: Yes, I hoped to guide the reader to feel more confident in creating their own spells. Because a spell you write yourself is going to be more effective than one someone else writes.

SM: Very true.

Is there anything you would like to share with the readers of Pagan Pages that they may not get through your books?

MS: I think that Wicca is a positive, spiritually, that really works. The God and Goddess are there to help you on your path; to guide you and nurture your growth. Wicca is for you to become stronger and find you own power. Plus, to know that you are loved by the Gods.

As I said, they have helped me immensely.

SM: I know that you credit Wiccaa and the Gods and Goddesses with saving your life.

MS: You don’t have to believe what someone else tells you that God is, you talk to them and find out yourself.

SM: So, do you consider yourself a “Wiccan Badass”?

MS: <Laughing> I am trying every day. Some days, yes; other days I need a little help. It’s all a learning process. I’m human just like you, and we all as humans make mistakes.

SM: Did I say I was human? <Laughing> Just a little joke.

MS: <Laughing> Well, you are the nicest __________ I have ever met.

Fill in the blank.

SM: Well, Moonwater, I thank you again for taking the time to chat with me today.

MS: Sure, thank you for the chat.

For more information on Moonwater SilverClaw and her books:

https://goddesshasyourback.com

https://smile.amazon.com/Moonwater-SilverClaw/e/B00HV4Z6U2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490195654&sr=1-2-ent

Fashion Against Bullying with Review

November, 2016

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“Active Kindness” Apparel Line is Clothing with a Cause, Benefits Teen Anti-Bullying

 

Compassion Brands, the first fashion company to launch retail collections that offers real-time help to teens in crisis, and The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc .,  launched their line  of Active Kindness, now available at all Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers stores and online, in addition to loveonahanger.com. The new fashion collection incorporates details of its partnering teen crisis center, Teen Line, on all product and packaging, offering kids and teens help in real time as they shop.

Compassion Brands and Stony Apparel teamed up to design the stylish Active Kindness t-shirt collection for juniors in sizes XS-XL. The new line includes six shirts in various colors and styles, featuring messages of empowerment such as “Don’t Be a Bully” and “Be Kind to Yourself.” Each tee comes with a unique tag that includes a Teen Line hotline number for anyone seeking help or advice against bullying. Teen Line, based out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, is the main anti-bullying charity financially supported by the company.

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“On the label of each shirt it clearly states the toll free helpline’s phone number and their cause.” -PaganPages

“Active Kindness is a new brand that I developed to address the epidemic of bullying by inspiring others and working collaboratively with industry leaders to be united in kindness through the art of fashion,” said Gigi Yeoman, Founder of Compassion Brands. “Partnering with The Bon Ton Stores, Inc. and Stony Apparel is a major step for the brand and we hope to help as many kids as possible with information on Teen Line to provide a resource for the many kids that are in need of immediate help.”

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“Each shirt is emblazoned with a positive message for kids to feel and pass on”. -PaganPages

With designs that are both high quality and stylish, Active Kindness marries fashion forward trends with positive messaging for teens everywhere.

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“The long and short sleeve shirts are soft on the skin and to touch. Great choice of  material.  The fits are relaxed which I appreciated.  Not fitted as if for small adults.  The messages are cute and positive.  The labels in each shirt are amazing.  The shirts seem very well made, no hanging strings, well stitched.  Our teen model felt comfortable in them.  She said they were very soft and looked nice on.  All in all we know this campaign can reach and help many teens who are being bullied”. -PaganPages

For more information about Compassion Brands, visit www.CompassionBrands.com.

 

About Compassion Brands

Compassion Brands was founded by Gigi Yeoman, wife of actor Owain Teoman (Turn, The Mentalist), whose fashions have been showcased across the industry. Having designed and manufactured for some of the biggest names in retail, Gigi was inspired to create a collection of fashion that did more than just follow current trends by focusing on making a difference. Compassion Brands is a collective of socially conscious executives in fashion design, retail, the arts and philanthropy, who aspire to enlighten engage and empower our global community through fashion, to bring about a transformational and positive cultural change on important social issues. By developing and marketing our cause related fashion brands we fulfill one very significant goal: to bring awareness and support to charitable causes, through positive messaging fashion! Compassion Brands platforms a revolutionary shift in charitable funding.

 

About The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., with corporate headquarters in York, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, operates 267 stores, which includes 9 furniture galleries and five clearance centers, in 26 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Boston Store, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates.  The stores offer a broad assortment of national and private brand fashion apparel and accessories for women, men and children, as well as cosmetics and home furnishings.  The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. is an active and positive participant in the communities it serves.

 

For store locations and information visit www.bonton.com. Join the conversation and be inspired by following Bon-Ton on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and the fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, #LoveStyle.

 

About Stony Apparel

Created in 1996, Stony Apparel is a fashion forward contemporary junior, girls and plus size apparel company that has worked with major retailers nationwide. The design-driven company focuses on trendy apparel for the fashion conscious customers, with all products designed in Southern California.

 

About Teen Line

Teen Line is the nonprofit, community-based organization that Compassion Brands has partnered with to help troubled teens address their problems before they become a crisis by providing personal teen-to-teen education and support through community outreach, modern technology and a confidential national hotline operating every evening from 6 – 10 pm PST.

 

Book Review: To Suffer a Witch by Claudia Hall Christian

April, 2016

To Suffer a Witch by Claudia Hall Christian

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This book was written by Claudia Hall Christian. Now, I haven’t read anything by her before, but I can tell you right now that will change. I really loved this book. This is the first work of fiction that I have written a review for and I will make sure not to spoil anything.

To suffer a Witch has great characters that I came to genuinely care about. It’s all about some people that were hung during the Salem witch trials in 1692. But, twenty of them came back as immortal witches. You do learn a lot of what happened to them over the three hundred and twenty two years, but it takes place in 2015 in the city of Boston. You get to go into the past and read all about what they went through and how they came to where they are now.

The main character is Em. And she is a very strong female lead character. She is caring, brave, powerful and smart. Her love for her friends is strong and in general you can tell right from the start that she has a good heart and you want the best for her, and her companions. There are for sure moments in this book that made me sad. It took me to a place where I can’t even imagine what all those people went through during the trials. The pain and suffering they felt is overwhelming. You can tell Claudia did her research and she is very good at putting detail and emotion into this book. It made my heart ache thinking about all the innocent lives lost during that time. The first part in the book that made me super sad is when you learn about the loss of a young daughter. Thinking of innocent children also being killed just makes me sick. It seems so real and you feel their pain and misery in this book.

The book keeps you hooked on pure curiosity and excitement. If you start the book, there is no way you won’t finish it. Right from the start I found myself asking lots of questions. How did this happen to them? Will they find a way out of the danger they are in? Who are these witches and will they survive? Why were these 20 specifically chosen to be immortal when so many others died? And Christian does a great job of answering questions, and keeping you turning pages to find out more and see what happens. There is for sure a lot of suspense in here, and that’s one of the reasons I love it. I find some books have some major dull parts, but even when delving into the characters past and stories there isn’t a part in this that made me feel that.

This book is well written, and for once I don’t have complaints about the editing! The concept of the novel is great and I’m glad she put this story out there for all to read. I think it would be a good read for anyone. Whether you are familiar with the happenings of the Salem trials or not. Whether you want some suspense, some history, or even some love. More people need to discover this wonderful book and author. I find I don’t read as many novels anymore as I used to, but after looking at her website (http://claudiahallchristian.com) I know I have a few more to look forward to adding to my list.

Honestly, this 520 page book is unique and interesting. It’s a major page turner and I recommend you check it out. It’s an adventure worth going on.

Interview with Nimue Brown: Druidry and Dreams

September, 2015

Nimue Brown: Druidry and Dreams

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Nimue is the author of Pagan Dreaming, When a Pagan prays, Spirituality without Structure, Druidry and the Ancestors and Druidry and Meditation. Somehow, despite all the writing she does, she finds time to be an active member of the Pagan and Druid community, run a very popular WordPress blog, work with other Pagan authors and the publisher Moon as well as being a musician! I was, therefore, very grateful to grab a few minutes with Nimue, to ask her a few questions about her inspirations, her motivations and her life as a pagan.

Mabh Savage: You’re an incredibly prolific writer, with 5 books out with Moon in the last two years or so, plus Intelligent Designing for Amateurs, and the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels you do with your husband as well as independent publications. You also blog regularly; where do you find the time? How do you keep your muse stimulated?

Nimue Brown: Finding ideas has never been much of a problem for me. There’s so much out there to be inspired by, confused about, angry with, curious about… and I think about everything a lot. In terms of finding the time, I’m self-employed, juggling all manner of peculiar paying gigs, but there are always spaces for writing. I don’t have a television, and I hardly ever get whole days off, so that’s the trade-off.

MS: You do interviews yourself for the Moon blog; who has been your favourite interviewee so far?

NB: Interviewing Ronald Hutton was quite an experience. He’s something of a personal hero, and he doesn’t give interviews very often, so I knew I was incredibly blessed in getting to do that and was also a bit terrified, but it was an amazing thing to do. All of them have been interesting though, it’s something I very much enjoy doing.

MS: My favourite publication of yours is a contribution to the Moon : Pagan Portals series, titled Spirituality without Structure. Can you tell us a bit about this book? What inspired it, and what is its goal?

NB: I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of years looking at world religions, mostly to compare prayer practices. [When a Pagan Prays, Moon , 2014] However, alongside what I’d been intending to do, I started realising there are a lot of curious commonalities in how religions function, and they aren’t to do with spirituality at all, most of the time. Partly inspired by Alain du Botton’s Religion for Atheists, and partly by the census figures that show ever more people moving away from conventional religion, I thought this might be useful to explore. What can we take from formal religion that is useful? What, in those formal structures is not helpful to a spiritual life? How do you go about walking your own path and building your own practice? Those are questions I have attempted to answer. Small book, big ideas.

MS: Despite being a ‘Pagan Portal’, can the ideas within be applied to someone who has been involved in any faith or spirituality?

NB: Yes. I’m very interested in the work of heretical Christians like Mark Townsend, so am confident that Spirituality without Structure would be quite readable for anyone chaffing inside a religious structure. Whether we belong to a formal faith tradition or not, the only authentic spiritual experience is the personal one, and I think there is more commonality there, than there are differences caused by the methods we use to seek those spiritual experience.

MS: The tagline of the book is The Power of Finding Your Own Path. Do you think that many people who are interested in Paganism get swept onto paths that are popular but actually very unsuited to that individual, simply because there is more info readily available about these particular paths?

NB: Yes. Many people come to the less well known Pagan paths having been through a flirtation with witchcraft, first. Certain kinds of Paganism have a much stronger and more visible public presence, and people feel some resonance and are drawn in, even though it’s not a perfect match. The theatrical Druidry of white robes and big public gatherings gets the most media attention, and it can take those of us who are more muddy, feral and chaotic by nature a while to find out where we fit. Often the things that bring people to Paganism are not as impressive and enlightened as we might want them to be, but if a film, or World of Warcraft, Dungeons and dragons, or a fantasy book makes you realise a thing, it is simply a doorway. Many people come in via the strangest of doors, and go on to make their own journeys. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, these seem like very natural transitions to me, as people discover their own nature and way of doing things.

MS: Do the thoughts within the book, about moving away from formal religious ideas, reflect changes in your own life?

NB: My background as a child was loosely Pagan, although I went to a Church of England school. I was an eclectic Pagan until I realised I was a Druid, and then I’ve gently shuffled about inside Druidry, finding the Bards and the feral folk. However, I’ve been active on the Pagan scene for a good fifteen years now; I’ve watched a lot of people making those transitions, struggling with old faiths, struggling with new ones… I’ve mentored a fair number of people along the way, and heard a lot of stories.

MS: You speak about being termed as a ‘general eclectic Pagan’, which in my experience usually means anyone who is Pagan but doesn’t fit into any of the pigeon holes such as Wicca etc. Why do you think, as Pagans, we are so keen to label and define ourselves? Does this only occur in groups, do you think?

NB: It’s very useful for identifying likeminded people. I don’t think it’s a particularly Pagan inclination, either. I have other labels… Green, Steampunk, gothic, folky – these are tags that alert kindred spirits. If I see someone else who is a Pagan Steampunk for example, or a folky Druid, I know we’ve got some common ground and may well get along. It helps me choose which events to go to, which books to read. There’s so much information out there, the internet gives us access to about 2 billion people, and there are a lot of books and events. Anything that gives us a fighting chance of filtering that down to something useful and meaningful, I am very glad to have in the mix. Probably when we all lived in small villages, it wasn’t so much of an issue.

MS: Although you’ve found your own path, do you still consider yourself a Druid?

NB: My path is within Druidry. ‘Druid’ is a huge term covering a vast range of practices and beliefs. Nobody is ‘a Druid’ these days, nor, I think, historically. The ancient Druids had all kinds of different roles. Modern Druids are swelling in numbers and starting to reflect that. Some are political, some are healers, some are wild and some specialise in civilization. I think this diversity is a really good thing.

MS: Is druidry so attractive because of its lack of religious bias?

NB: I’m not sure that’s it. I think the absence of dogma is very attractive to a lot of people. It’s very community orientated, a lot more child-friendly than some paths and a lot more fluid than many as well. You can be a member of more than one group; you can shift between Orders to study, or study alone. We have enough commonality to be able to gather in big groups and share, but a lot of room for individual expression. I think the room for innovation is appealing, and the sense of something organic, always growing and shifting is an attractive thing to be part of.

MS: In Spirituality Without Structure, you state that one must be spiritual on one’s own terms, to avoid subservience. Do you feel that religions or paths with elements of subservience in are somehow less spiritual than those that have none? Is any worship of a deity a form of subservience? Or simply connecting with the divine?

NB: Some people choose subservience to deity as part of their path. If that is the way you manifest your spirituality, it really is no one else’s business! However, most religions encourage subservience to other people, and that’s a whole other game. It is the power religions give to people and the demand that we abase ourselves before other humans, in the name of the divine, that I think is innately lacking in spirituality.

MS: Do you think it’s possible to have a wholly spiritual life and still be part of an organised, formal religion? Is it a natural progression that as you remove the external trappings of religion, you become closer to the world/universe/divine/nature, or does it depends on the individual?

NB: I would think that’s wholly possible. There are many good things in the traditions, writings, creativity and inspiration of formal religions, and in theory they should also be a good means of sharing all that. For some, the tradition is really important, and the need to challenge the ways in which other people misuse and corrupt those religions. It takes a generosity of spirit to work in that way, but for some the calling is very much to go back into those formal religious spaces and try to inject some soul to offset the politics.

MS: And finally, what’s an average day like in the Brown household?

NB: Increasingly, there are no average days, which I like! Monday mornings there’s a community gardening project we go along to, we walk at least once a week, there’s a Friday coffee morning for arty people we like to attend. I try and make sure I have a whole day off, if not 2 in any given week, and not to work more than ten hour days. Some of my time goes on marketing work for Moon , and I do odd small jobs as a reviewer and freelance media support person, I read a lot. I do a lot of crafting, and when I’m working on the first draft of a project my afternoons are often a mix of crafting and writing. I find the crafting gives me time to think. Currently I need the day by going out to see the bats. In that mix, being a parent, dabbling in folk music, cooking, meditating, spending time with friends, sitting with other Druids, and anything else that strikes me as being a good idea!

All Nimue’s books are available from Amazon and other good retailers, and you can keep up with her blog at https://druidlife.wordpress.com/.

Book Review: Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel

September, 2015

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration

Start

 

By: Meera Lee Patel

Paperback: 128 pages

Publisher: Perigee (August 11, 2015)

Language: English

New on the shelves this August past is Meera Lee Patel’s book Start Where You Are.

Start Where You Are is a skillful combination of beautiful and playful watercolors, inspirational quotes, and exercises or prompts to help express yourself. The art is cute and kept simple, working perfectly in combination with the selection of quotes. Ranging from Ayn Rand to Yogananda, I found some of the quotes to be rather bland, but even then Ms. Patel’s brushwork succeeded in elevating the words to the height of their sentiment.

It is in this way that Start Where You Are is very much more than the sum of its parts. While I could summarize it as an engaging cross between a cute calendar and a self-help activity book – or perhaps an artist and a therapist – this would miss just how well the book is executed, how skillfully those parts combine. The whimsical illustrations of Patel’s watercolors encourage a doodling creativity and a freedom of expression. In fact, Start Where You Are is a great introduction to visual journaling itself. It would work well as a gift for someone who likes to express themselves visually, or someone who wants to but does not know where to begin. The exercises are perfect to break the ice when the empty page has become too intimidating on its own.

But the questions posed in the exercises can work as profoundly as you want them to. Subtitled a Journal for Self-Exploration, the book’s exercises work well as prompts for introspection and self discovery when taken with honesty. In this way, I really had to pause and think at, “Think of something you lost recently. What are two positive insights you gained from the experience?” As ‘loss’ can be a profound word and ‘recent’ is in relation to the loss, ‘keys’ seems like an dishonest easy answer. When loss is profound, insights that are positive may require seeking.

While there are drawing, coloring, and free writing exercises, most of the activities consist of lists of one type or other. This kind of self cataloging, “Write down ten big dreams that haven’t come true yet” and “What are your three most frequent thoughts? What do you wish they would be?” can endear this book to younger adults still defining themselves or the habitual magazine survey taker. Conversely of course the questions, when taken seriously, become more profound with age. Who did I think I would be at this age? Who do I think I am now? How do my values match up with my daily choices and where I actually spend my time.

These questions are as difficult as you allow yourself to get away with. But with color, maybe disguised in casual drawings, maybe they can be less threatening. We are all in the process of charting our own inner landscape, and Start Where You Are is a great tool to document the journey and an encouragement to smile.

Book Review: Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery Everyday Magic, Spells, & Recipes By Kris Bradley

September, 2015

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery

Everyday Magic, Spells, and

By: Kris Bradley

household

 

 

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery by Kris Bradley is a concise guide to Domestic Witchcraft. Kris Bradley describes Domestic Witchery as “…a magical practice based on bringing magic and deity into the mundane of everyday domestic life. It’s the realization that even the simplest household chores can be transformed to influence the energies in our homes and lives…” Within the pages can be found spells and rituals for the Cottage Witch as well as recipes for many magical concoctions.

I found the down to earth manner of this book to be both refreshing and welcome. Kris Bradley comes across as a warm and friendly person that I would love to have a chat over some fragrant herbal tea with. As a mom, I appreciate the tidbits of activities and spells she includes about our beloved children.

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery is full of practical advice for Domestic and Cottage Witchery. Chapters on household deities and spirits, the elements, and the Sabbats are sure to keep you magically busy for many years. The chapter on The Domestic Witch’s herbal and the hefty amount of magical recipes are worth the price alone of this fact filled book. Included are recipes for a Nightmare Preventive Sweep, Black Salt, Ancestor Water, Four Thieves Vinegar, Heartbreak Ease Wash (Who couldn’t use this at some time in their life?), Banishing Oil, and many others. You will find information on such kitchen staples as rice, beer, wine, coffee, and several of the herbs used for cooking.

This magic packed book proudly sits in my kitchen with my recipe and herbal books. I find myself turning to it often for the day to day activities that go on in my home (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.). Kris Bradley has filled this heartfelt book with her years of magical knowledge as a Domestic Witch. Anyone interested in Cottage, Household, or Domestic Witchcraft can’t go wrong with Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery.

 

Publisher: Weiser (October 31, 2012)

 

New Series ‘Project Afterlife’ Premieres This Month

August, 2015

Premiering this month on the Destination America channel is Project Afterlife, exploring Near Death Experiences and resurrection. It follows many of the conventions of the genre, like portraying the hosts as members of a team and the cinematic reenactments of the interviewee’s experiences. Project Afterlife does throw in some surprises though. For one thing, both the victims as well as the doctor or other witnesses are interviewed. They are given an almost equal amount of time in fact. It was also interesting to see a variety of NDEs: there is the classic white light experience, but also an encounter with a dead friend, a frightening experience, and a religious encounter.

“Do you believe in resurrection?”

If the signature question of the filmmaker seems strange to you, it might help to know his previous project, Deadraiser, a documentary exploring resurrection through prayer. I wondered at this question through the pilot. I also wondered at the disparate makeup of the team of presenters. What brings a paramedic, a retired state trooper, a minister, and a filmmaker together? At the end of the episode it is clear: a prayer circle and belief in resurrection.

If you are a fan of the phenomena of NDEs like I am, the show is worth watching, though it might need some parsing. It is clear that the show comes from a particular religious view of resurrection, which might put some people off. However, the glimpse it provides into this area of religious experience is fascinating in its own right, I feel, especially to one unfamiliar to it.

 

projectafterlife2

 

Six-Part Original Series Premieres Sunday, August 9 at 10/9c Only on Destination America 

 

 

…from their press release:

Each episode follows the team as they investigate two stories of the most fascinating contemporary cases of resurrection across America. Survivors were in the prime of their lives when an accident or sudden illness led to their untimely deaths, only to inexplicably return to life. Through cinematic recreations and first-person interviews with survivors, PROJECT AFTERLIFE explores the mystery of resurrection while bringing viewers up close and personal to the experience. Hear directly from survivors about the moment they realized they were dead, what – and who – awaited them on the other side, what it felt like to die and come back, and how it changed their lives afterward.

 

In PROJECT AFTERLIFE, the investigation team pours through case files, examines medical records, and visits key locations in each case to better understand these documented experiences by survivors. Interviews with doctors and family who kept vigil bring investigators one step closer to understanding resurrection by revealing key patterns in the surrounding circumstances, such as loved ones always holding the victim’s left hand during prayer.

 

… and if you think this is the first time you’re hearing about the channel:

Destination America is the only network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States. The inclusive network targeting Adults 25-54 is available in nearly 60 million homes, emblazoning television screens with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation. Destination America features travel, food, adventure, home, and natural history, with original series like BBQ Pitmasters; A Haunting; Mountain Monsters; Buying Alaska; Buying the Bayou; andRailroad Alaska. For more information, please visit DestinationAmerica.com, facebook.com/DestinationAmerica, or twitter.com/DestAmerica. Destination America is part of Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world’s #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 2.7 billion cumulative subscribers in 220 countries and territories.

You can find out more about Destination America at @DestAmericaFacebook.com/DestinationAmerica, and DestinationAmerica.com

Seeing the Signs

June, 2015

Diving by Crystal Ball, Part 1

Our esteemed editor, Jennifer Wright, sent me a crystal ball to examine and review for Pagan Pages. It arrived within days of my birthday, which was just fabulous! It came in a royal blue box entitled “Titania’s Crystal Ball” and along the side of the box was written: “NOW YOU CAN ‘SEE’ YOUR FUTURE”.

ball

Inside the box was the crystal ball in a plastic cup to keep it from rolling around inside the box; a ring to place the ball upon when in use; a booklet to teach you how to use the crystal ball; a card entitled “The Image Key” with the most basic scenes you might see within the ball while in use; and a fold-up paper “table cloth” to set everything on. Everything in a lovely shade of royal blue which almost looks purple in some lights.

If you don’t know anything about crystal balls and I am certainly one of those people, you would think that a crystal ball is large, like the one in “The Wizard of Oz” that the Wicked Witch of the West uses so effectively. I am sure large crystal balls like that can be found in occult stores and on the internet. But this one is much smaller. It fits quite snugly in the palm of my hand. It is maybe the size of a billiard ball, perhaps a bit larger. It is marvelously cool and smooth. The morning light shines through it onto the skin of my fingers. It promises secrets. It promises poetry.

Titania Hardie, whom the bottom of the box says is a “third generation White Witch and best-selling author” recommends washing the crystal ball in a “mild solution of triple-milled rose soap and warm water.” (Hardie, 26) Of course, I didn’t have rose soap, triple-milled or any other kind but since she says that “you may prefer to follow the tradition of using vinegar and water” (Hardie, 27), this is what I did, since I always have a variety of vinegars on hand. I washed it carefully in a solution of white vinegar and water, asking it to be my friend and help me learn what I wanted to learn. Then I gently wiped it clean with a soft cloth.

However, just this morning, I read in Tasha Fenton’s The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook an interview with a clairvoyant named Barbara Ellen who says the “first thing you must do is immerse it for 12 hours in salt water. Some Readers use a solution of vinegar and water. Wash the crystal under running water, ideally from some natural source, such as a waterfall or stream.” (Fenton, 58) If you don’t have a stream nearby, she says to collect rainwater.

So with that in mind, I have some prep work before I can start to use my new crystal ball. And I plan to read more about divination using crystal balls; there are numerous websites dedicated to the subject. So stayed tuned; I’ll be back with my report of what I am able to see in this lovely round crystal!

Works Cited

Fenton, Sasha. The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1988.

Hardie, Titania. Titania’s Crystal Ball. New York: Shelter Harbor Press, 2013

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