review

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

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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

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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.

 

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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”.

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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

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

June, 2015

The Way of the Hedge Witch

Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home

By: Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Provenance Press (April 18, 2009)

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

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

House Deities covered are:

Hestia Kamado-no-Kami

Vesta Gabija

Brigid Ertha

Tsao Wang Frigga

Kamui-fuchi Bes

Household Spirits covered are:

Brownie Tomte

Boggart Nisse

Hob Kobold

Domovoi

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

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

Book Review: Steampunk Magic~ Working Magic Aboard the Airship

April, 2015

Steampunk Magic~ Working Magic Aboard the Airship

Author: Gypsey Elaine Teague

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If you’re into to the Steampunk subculture you’ll love this book written by the Gypsey Elaine Teague, Captain of her Crew. Gypsey starts this book with a brief history of Steampunk and how it has emerged as one of the most fascinating subcultures of today. In Gypsey’s words, “Steampunk is the juxtaposition of nineteenth-century Victorian science fiction, a futuristic Victoriana, where anything is possible as long as you don’t use too much electricity, gas, diesel, or atomic power.”

Each chapter begins with a quote from the likes of Aleister Crowley, Nikola Tesla, and H.P. Lovecraft before divulging in the tools of the trade. In Chapter Two we are introduced to the “Gods” of Steampunk Magic. We start with Queen Victoria herself, then go on to H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikola Tesla (whom I consider the God of Steampunk), and Mary Shelley. I appreciate how Gypsey incudes people of literature and history as Gods of Steampunk. It was a breath of fresh air to learn a different way of getting in touch with “deity”.

In Chapter Three we move on to the crew of the airship. This is like the modern day coven but set within a Steampunk world. The elders of the crew are the Captain and the Commander, they are the leaders of the group. Following the Captain and Commander are the ificer, the Shipwright, the Purser, the Mess Officer, the Adjutant, and the Navigator. Gypsey explains the roles each of these play aboard the airship and the parts of ritual they are responsible for.

Chapter Four explains the tools the Steampunk Magician will need to practice her craft. Instructions are given for the construction of some of these tools, a much welcome addition to this book. Directional gear, the wand, and goggles are covered, along with recipes for the cakes and wine ritual. By favorite part of this chapter (possibly of this entire book) is the Absinthe Ritual. As a fan of this Green-Fairy drink of the Gods, I appreciated this much-loved ritual.

In the following chapters of Steampunk Magic, Gypsey Elaine Teague explains the rituals of this craft and includes a few bits of magic. Everything from the construction of the Steampunk Altar to circle casting and divination are covered.

Steampunk Magic is a must read for any lover of this subculture. Gypsey Elaine Teague has done a magnificent job of introducing us to this most intriguing of magical systems. Though it is geared towards covens, I feel a solitary practitioner can gain a lot of useful information from this book. Like Amelia Earhart, we can fly solo in this Victorian Steampunk wonder-world. So don your goggles, board the airship, and take flight into the Aether.

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Weiser (March 1, 2013)

 

Tarot Deck Review: The Golden Tarot

April, 2014

11-29-12 Tarot Box.indd

The Golden Tarot is a recreation of the Visconti-Sforza Deck, one of the oldest complete Tarot decks still being used today.  This version of the Visconti-Sforza Deck presented by Race Point Publishing comes in a lovely display box made of sturdy cardboard, a perfect repository for the deck when not being used.  Inside the box are a purple satin reading cloth to be used as a base for card spreads, a hardcover, beautifully illustrated companion book (much-evolved from the standard paper LWB) written by Mary Packard, and a separate box holding the cards of the Golden Tarot.

 

This is a beautiful deck, and if you like history, tradition, art, and the pageantry of royalty and nobility, the Golden Tarot will be immensely satisfying to you.  The artwork on these cards uses styles and elements of composition from Renaissance era art to create images reminiscent of sumptuous Medieval tapestries or religious icons. The Golden Tarot has the rich look of old parchment, gold leaf, and the vibrant reds and blues that you would expect from a 15th century hand-painted deck, each card a masterpiece.

 

The cards are large, measuring 3 ¼ inches by 6 ½ inches, and thus the images are also large and easy to see, making the Golden Tarot a lovely deck for public readings.  The card stock is medium in thickness, enough to support the large cards without creating difficulties in shuffling or throwing of spreads, although the cards might not hold up well to constant use.  The images are bordered in gold, with an inner blue frame for the Major Arcana and Court Cards, and an inner red frame for the numbered or pip cards.  The image on the back of the cards is an intricate pattern echoing the style and the color palate of the card faces.

 

The original Visconti-Sforza Tarot was missing four cards, The Tower, The Devil, the Three of Swords, and the Knight of Coins.  In order for a modern version of this deck to be effective, replacement cards must be created.  The Golden Tarot replacement cards are well done, seeming to fit perfectly with the style and composition of Renaissance art as they offer effective symbolism of the individual cards themselves.

 

The companion book offers a story of the Tarot stretching from the original hand-painted one of a kind decks commissioned by upper class families, through the transformation of the purpose of the cards from games such as tarocchi and trionfi into tools of discovery used in alchemy, divination, counseling and enlightenment.  The book also offers an interesting biography of both the Visconti and Sforza families, and offers connections between specific family members and specific cards in the deck.  After the section on individual card descriptions, spread suggestions and sample readings are offered.

 

The individual card descriptions of the Major Arcana contain the traditional name of the card, a historic name of the card, the story and symbolism behind the image and the identity of the person in the image, along with upright and reversed meanings and a picture of the card being described.  The Minor Arcana cards use the suits of Cups, Swords, Coins and Batons, corresponding not only to the traditional elements of Water, Air, Earth and Fire, but also to the four classes of Medieval society: clergy, nobility, merchants and peasants.  The descriptions consist of upright and reversed meanings along with a picture of the card.  The descriptions for the Court Cards (Knave, Knight, Queen and King) include the story and symbolism behind the image, upright and reversed meanings, and a picture of the card.

The Golden Tarot might not work well for a beginner.  The cards do not have captions, numbers or identifying titles of any kind, and the pip cards show multiple images of the suit symbol, rather than scenes or illustrations that help with interpretation.  Without previous knowledge of the structure and symbolism of the Tarot, the novice would need to rely heavily on the companion book to identify the individual cards.  However, even a beginner would learn from this deck, as the cards are an accurate representation of early Tarot decks, and the companion book is filled with valuable information and lush, captivating images.

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