witch

Witch & Popcorn

January, 2019

Bright Blessings Film Lovers!

This month, I am reviewing Fullmetal Alchemist, a Japanese live action film based on the Manga books, of the same title, written by Hiromu Arakawa.

Here is the trailer for this film.

The film is all about magic, and science, breaking the rules, and the consequences of doing so.

The film follows the lives of brothers Ed and Al, beginning when they were small, and learning Alchemy on their own. Their mother dies unexpectedly, and they try to bring their mom back to life using the little skills they have learned. This was forbidden, and both boys knew this. It could not end well, but these were kids, and they wanted their mother back, so they disregarded the rules, and did the operation to bring, or “transmute” a human anyways.

The operation fails, it costs them both dearly, and they both spend years tying to get back what they lost due to the consequences. Al is taken away to a place called The Gate of Truth. Ed finds a way to go there to try and get him back, and is only able to bring back Al’s soul, and loses body parts in the process. He is told not to come back for Al until he has the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. Ed figures out how to use Alchemy to put Ed’s soul into a metal robot, and vows to find the Philosopher’s Stone and get both Ed and his own body parts back. A metal arm and leg are fashioned for Al, and he later becomes known as The Fullmetal Alchemist.

Fast forward years later, Al and Ed are professional Alchemists, working with the government, and Ed gets a lead about where to find The Philosopher’s Stone, but unfortunately, people keep telling him it doesn’t exist. Undeterred, and determined, he continues his search, which leads him to meet the people with the knowledge.

He discovers, however, he and his brother were not the ONLY ones transmuting both human bodies, and human souls, and the horrors Al and Ed discover almost destroys them, and all the people they hold dear. They discover The Philosopher’s Stone is not what they expected, and using it would be more than breaking rules. It would mean something terrible.

The film ends with the brothers making an unexpected decision, and a sequel is due out sometime in the future.

As practitioners of magic, we can identify with some of the points made in the film.

There is a time to break the rules, and a time to keep them. Magic is a practice of harmonizing with Nature. If doing something goes against the Natural Order of things, or is otherwise unethical, it should not be done.

It is unwise to do magic when you are grieving. Strong emotions interfere with the ability to reason, and acting on your emotions might cause you to do something you later regret.

Things are not always as they seem. Brothers Al and Ed discover this over and over in the film. From who they can trust, to what an item truly is, things seem to constantly change, and the brothers have to keep their wits about them, and pay close attention constantly. Belief does not equal or create Reality. It creates perception, and perception can be false. Magicians and Witches are experts at enchantment, and illusion. Be aware.

Sometimes, we have to listen to what people say when they are trying to warn us. At one point, a character tells Al, “Play with the Devil, and you’ll end up in Hell!”, and Al replies, “I’ve already been to Hell.” He did not realize he was being told to avoid the very thing he was driven to acquire. Had he listened, things would have been better.

All in all, this was a good film. I always love to see Manga brought to live action. They managed to maintain the flavor of Manga with the dramatic costumes, character acting, and special effects. The action scenes did not fail to please, and the sets were gorgeous.

It’s a good work of fiction to read or watch, and I recommend the film.

Happy Viewing!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

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

December, 2018

Magic at the Hearth

*Excerpted from The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Kitchen Folklore

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

December, 2018

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book is filled with jewels.

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

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

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

References

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

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

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Wreathing the Wheel

December, 2018

As an eclectic witch, one of the most transformative practices that I’ve adopted is the practice of setting intention. At its root, intention is a really basic method of manifestation: make a plan, then execute the plan. But as I’ve explored the idea of intention over time, I’ve come to see a beautiful effect that results from the ongoing process of self-examination. It’s not just the external result of manifesting my dreams, but a reminder to check in with myself and make sure I’m on the right path. After all, if I can’t answer the question, “What’s my intention in doing this?” for any given action I am taking… then why am I even doing it?

It is in the spirit of setting intentions, and thoroughly understanding those intentions, that I started bullet journaling. While I keep a separate grimoire (and have kept other books of shadows), my bullet journal is the place where my magical life intersects with my daily life, and I put some of the spiritual concepts that I’m working with into practice. In this monthly column, I’ll be exploring various methods for working craft into bullet journaling to help track astrological transits, green ally work, Tarot journaling, celebrating the Wheel of the Year, working with associations, artistic exploration, and more.

 

Monthly Spread for December

 

 

I like to illuminate my monthly spreads with images of plants that are associated with the nearest major sabbat, and the season in general. I gravitate towards plants and natural objects that are native to my own area, as a way to bring the outside in. So for December, the plants that I chose to draw in my journal were pine, ivy, and holly. I like to use the information in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of as a jumping-off point to get started with these associations, but it’s good to remember that associations aren’t set in stone, and can easily be changed to accommodate your own hemisphere and biome.

The next thing that I do when building my monthly spread is add the phases of the moon and the full moon’s name. I also record each month’s Tarot card, which I drew in my whole-year reading at the beginning of the year, so that I can reflect on the role that this card plays in my life and how it fits in with other themes and experiences that I’ve encountered during the year. In keeping with the occult tradition of associating moon values with the left side of the body and sun values with the right side, I track the astrological transits of the sun and moon through the month, with the moon transits in the lower-left corner of each day, and the sun in the lower-right corner. This December, the winter solstice falls on the day before the full moon; at the same time, the sun enters Capricorn, and the moon enters Cancer. The darkest night of 2018 will be filled up with the light of the full moon.

I’m calling this column “Wreathing the Wheel” in an effort to remind myself that this project is about more than just to-do lists and chores. Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to acquaint myself intimately with the cycles of nature, immerse myself in intentional thinking, record and study associations, and deepen my divination practices. This is a bit like the process of making a wreath: you find a solid base, and then weave together plant allies, ribbons, and baubles until you’ve got something that looks alright. While I realize that not everyone is as artistically inclined as I am, I would encourage any journaler to embrace the creative side of bullet journaling, not to impress anyone, but as a way to celebrate the passing of time, allow awareness to manifest as creation, and decorate the days that we’re given.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Book Review: Protection and Reversal Magick – A Witch’s Defense Manual by Jason Miller

November, 2018

Protection and Reversal Magick

A Witch’s Defense Manual

by Jason Miller

224 pages

In the last chapter Mr. Miller writes something interesting about magickal, psychic and spiritual attacks: he states that attacks are happening every day to everyone. They are being launched not only by offended spirits and malicious magicians, but major corporations and political parties. He asks: “Where does a magical seal, a binding, end and a corporate logo start? Where does the use of neuro-linguistics programming in sales and in the use of sorceress bindings begin?” Mr. Miller says that if you haven’t thought about this as magic, then think again.

Mr. Miller dedicates this book more to Hecate than he does any other deity. He wrote this book as an attempt to step beyond the “101’s” that seem to fill the shelves these days. This book is on defensive witchcraft, not Wicca.

There are chapters in this book on daily practices, personal protection and protection of the home. Chapter 6 of this book covers spirit guardians and servitors, this is an interesting chapter. I’m going to quote the author here, because I happen to agree with what he says about spirit guardians and servitors. Mr. Miller wrote: “It follows that if you treat the spirit as a separate entity that you are summoning, you will be able to get more worked up over the process delete than if you go into it as some psychological trick, and thus achieve greater success, no matter what the spirits true nature.”

I would recommend this book for someone who is wondering if they are under spiritual attack, wanting to delve deeper into reversal encounter magic, or who is looking for protection for their home. The rituals that Mr. Miller includes in this book are complete and easy to follow along with. It is also easy to come by a lot of the ingredients that are included in the rituals and the spells. I do feel that this is a book above the beginner level that are on the shelves today. But, even if this is your first book into Protective and Reversal Magick, Mr. Miller has made it easy to understand.

Protection and Reversal Magick on Amazon

 

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become a 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: Readings by Dawn on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

The Bad Witch’s Guide

November, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Shadow Work

 

(Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I asked “what are you?”

I am your pain.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Simple Shadow Ritual

You will need:

A mirror

Patchouli oil

Candles/soft lighting

Bay laurel leaves

Yarrow (dried)

Frankincense resin

Heat proof container and charcoal to safely burn your herbs.

Notebook or journal.

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

 

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

I humbly come to my Shadow’s Gate.

I come to learn not to hate.

I come to see, I come to hear.

Open the Gate as I draw near.

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

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

I see you. I am listening.

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

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

Humbly I came to my Shadow’s Gate.

I came to learn not to hate.

I came to see, I came to hear.

The Gate is Closed I leave you here.

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

The Kitchen Witch

November, 2018

Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice

Every Thanksgiving, I make a huge dinner for my son and myself and sometimes his father – if he is in town from Florida – and maybe one or two other people. I always make homemade bread stuffing for the turkey that I lovingly roast. I make garlic mashed potatoes with creamy gravy. There is always some kind of squash on the table – butternut squash or acorn squash or perhaps a nice creamy mixture of several squashes, delicately seasoned. I can’t imagine any meal without a salad, so of course there is a large bowl filled with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced red onions, and other salad goodies. Neither my son nor I are great fans of cranberry sauce but if I have guests who crave some of that condiment, I happily cook down fresh cranberries, sugar, some citrus and spring water into a toothsome treat. And of course, there has to be some corn and some beans. I used to make either succotash or a green bean casserole – both yummy dishes – but now I make beans and rice. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I can make it up a day or two before the holiday and reheat it in minutes before the meal and it’s always yummy good. The second is that if I happen to have any vegetarians at my meal, I don’t have to worry about them not getting a nutritionally complete meal – beans and rice are a complete protein all by themselves. The third is – of course – I can have corn and beans on my table all in one luscious dish!

I make beans and rice all the time. It’s one of those things that I make a little differently every time I make it, depending on what I have on hand – I almost always have leftover rice, so I make a batch of beans and rice usually once a week. I prefer black beans over all other beans but I will use red beans or garbanzos or black-eyed peas or lentils or any kind of bean at all.

But for this recipe, you are going to want a can of black beans. I used day-old leftover rice but if you make it fresh, you will need a cup and a half. You will also need a half a can of corn, a medium-sized green pepper, a small onion or half a medium-sized one, some chunky salsa, and about two tablespoons of olive oil. And your seasonings: dried cilantro, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Start by chopping the green pepper and onion. You can have a rough chop on these. You need about a cup of each.

Put the olive oil in your pan and heat for sautéing and then add the peppers and onions. Give them a good stir and let sauté in the hot oil for about two minutes.

Then add the rice and mix well. Reduce the heat.

The next thing you want to do is add the black beans, but before you do that, you need to drain them and rinse them or else the liquid in the can will stain the entire dish. This is the only time I strain black beans.

After making sure there’s no moisture left on the beans, add them to the rice and peppers and onions mixture, mixing well.

You are not going to need the entire can of corn – if you want to buy a smaller can, go ahead but that’s much more expensive and there’s always something extra corn can be thrown into – soups, casseroles, potpies – so I don’t mind using half a can of corn and then saving the rest for some other use. And of course, you can always use frozen corn – the amount comes out to about 2/3 cup. And maybe you like lots of corn! And you want the entire can in there! Who knows? We’re all different. Anyway – add the corn and mix well. It’s looking really pretty, isn’t it?

After mixing the corn in, I add the salsa. I have to admit – I was a little light in the salsa department but there was enough to make it pretty and give it flavor. I also seasoned it with garlic powder, dried cilantro, dried parsley, sea salt and lots of black pepper.

At this point, it’s ready for serving or for putting into a container for saving for Thanksgiving dinner. This works well if you make it twenty-four hours in advance but I wouldn’t try to make it three or four days in advance. The peppers and onions don’t sit around that long very well.

Whether you are making this for your Thanksgiving dinner or just a quick meal on a chilly winter night, you can’t go wrong with the perfection of Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

30-Days of Samhain Offered by Robin Fennelly

October, 2018

30-Days of Samhain Offered by Robin Fennelly

A Witch’s Sacred Journey

The final harvest calls, the Ancestors await and the veils between the worlds have thinned offering the gifts of healing, transformation and deeper communion with the cycles of nature.

Last year I decided to explore the mysteries of Samhain using a daily format of postings and suggestions to deepen your awareness of this sacred time of the year. I am sharing this again for this year’s celebrations and will be adding some other material as we move through the 30-Days of Samhain. Let the journey begin…

The countdown ends with Astrological Samhain, so Day One begins on October 9th and Day Thirty ends on November 7th. Enjoy…

Day One begins here… Welcome and Introduction

For Quick Links visit: 30-Days of Samhain-Index

***

About the Author:

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

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

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

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

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

October, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Ghost Hunting

(Photo by Callie Gibson on Unsplash)

 

It is the season apparently for all things spooky…ooooh!

I don’t ghost hunt as a rule. I ghost shoo! That said I do understand the desire for some titillation and so, on some intellectual level.

It is easier in general to ghost hunt in cities than the wilds and better in Europe than the US purely down to number dead people over thousands of years. There are of course many kinds of haunting and spirit activity but violence and large amounts of people seem to imprint or cause haunting more often. My psychic American bestie used to hangout in New Orleans all the time without much hassle (but that could have been the others spirits influence, nudge, nudge) and was shocked, delighted and amazed visiting Chester for the first time! Chester is an old city, founded by the Romans in 79AD. It has much of the old town still intact as well as the later medieval town and its beautiful buildings. It doesn’t hurt that the river runs near it. Water is a great psychic and spirit conduit. She saw full blown colour spirit figures walking around, was touched, even got some stuff on film!

Hunting ghosts is easier if they are also seeking you!

That said the trend to go to derelict hospitals and such seems distasteful and a bit dangerous to me.

There are two main kinds of haunting. The restless dead (a spirit who is confused, frightened or lost, particularly one that doesn’t know they are dead) and an echo of an event that either happened over and over or was so traumatic it left a mark, a memory on a place.

The echo is just that. It doesn’t interact. It doesn’t change it is just the echo of a place remembering. It can be a bloody battle, a crash or someone leaving out milk bottles. You get a better chance of seeing one of these someone that has had a lot of people to imprint, or the sight of battle or trauma.

The restless dead can and are anywhere. This is why hospitals and the like can be bad because if they don’t know they are dead they can follow you home and get the hump when you ignore then. These poor souls often had a rough enough time in life, they don’t deserve it in death too. I dislike a lot of the ghost hunting shows, especially if they get shouty and rude.

All in all dead people are just that, people. Some of them are lovely. However some of the worst hauntings I have dealt with have been addicts and little kids. You want to see some shit go down have a ghost toddler wobbly. They will throw things, slam things and even bite! Crossing someone over usually requires years of training (which I have) and some reasonable sight, and friends and guides on the Otherside to help people cross.

All in all I’d rather living people than dead around me rather than getting cold or uncomfortable somewhere but to each their own. While I am medium I am also a witch. This means I don’t let spirit in my body, home or circle without permission, in fact I am strict when it comes to spirit. Granted I am a bit of a sucker for kids, but they are pretty easy to cross over.

A spirit guide or guardian is nothing like a haunting. A haunting is a spirit this side of the Veil. They tend to look like regular people whom slowly seem to drain of colour over time becoming shadows. They are stuck, either willingly or unwittingly and can be varying levels of troublesome. When a spirit crosses everything lifts. It is really beautiful. It is as though someone opened a window and let fresh air and light in. Spirit when they have crossed over is different. They are bright, glowing almost with the light of the Otherside. They can appear as how they saw themselves or even how they wished they had looked. They come and go at my request or their own desires rather than being stuck somewhere.

In general my experience with dead people has not been spooky, dark places. It is usually well lit living rooms on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or someone’s kitchen.

My advice is don’t go somewhere derelict especially without permission, you may end up as one of the ghosts! The floors aren’t clear, the ceilings are crumbling and you are far from help if you need it. I am serious these places are abandoned for a reason. If you want to ghost hunt, do a proper tour. You can do them in many cities and even some castles at least in the UK. Take a protective symbol with you (be it pentagram or something else) as a precaution. Cast a circle if it gets ooky. Don’t use a spirit or Ouija board*. Cleanse with salt water and smudge (sage, rosemary and frankincense are great) afterwards. Don’t get drunk or high and ghost hunt. You might be more open but you are also more vulnerable too.

If you are thinking of getting spooky closer to home (is your Aunts house haunted?) and decide to do some spell or rite or other please do not invite anyone or anything. Don’t use a spirit board or Ouija board. If you can get a proper and respected medium to attend do it. You would be surprised how often I get calls this time of year from folks doing this by themselves who get freaked out, and get caught out by something unpleasant. Some get attacked, some get sick, and some even have pets die! Mostly it is purely psychological and I turn up, check nothing weird is about and shut the door they opened. Again if you fail to heed my advice and you need to fix this, you will need a decent medium and they have every right to charge you through the nose (call it an idiot tax).

 

*Creating a doorway you can’t close is not a smart idea ever.

 

Worth the Witch

September, 2018

Alchemy & Ashes

 

 

Parlour of Magical Curiosities

Inspired By History, Myth, and Magic

 

 


Alchemy & Ashes provide a variety of excellently handcrafted, by them, elixirs, incense, perfumes, soaps, conjure powders, and more. They supply an assortment of kits and boxes ranging from their $30 Sanctus Box, which includes a Protection Oil & Florida Water for Ritual, Purification & Aura spray for purification energy clearing, to; a PART the VEIL Conjure Kit- Witch Box that helps with intuition, divination & so much more starting at only $20. I’m only naming two, to see more of their kits & boxes, you can visit them at Alchemy & Ashes. You will not be disappointed. Their boxes are not recurring monthly subscriptions. They are one time purchases, as you go kits & boxes. So there is no need to worry about having to cancel your monthly subscriptions.

As I close the envelope addressed to me a waft of the sweetest herbal smells fills my nostrils bringing the promise of witchiness to come and my excitement surges. I received a mysterious box from Alchemy & Ashes all in black and smelling like a Witch’s Heavenly Cupboard. It immediately piqued my curiosity.

 

 

I had to tear right in I could not hold back. When I opened the box everything was beautifully wrapped like Gothic Presents. I was in a Gothic Dream come true!!!! Now let’s see what’s inside these little packages…. Rip, rip, rip…..

 

 

Pamphlet

 

Very nicely made. One page, folded. The art of their Logo and everything goes very well with a gothicy/witch theme. The Pamphlet lists all Alchemy & Ashes contact information and it mentions that they have a free app. I checked out the app and it is very helpful.

The pamphlet teaches you a few ways to use Conjure Powders. Reading this is how I learned the theme of the box. Everything is wrapped up so elegantly you could not tell what was in the box. Just smell beauty. The pamphlet goes on to tell you about 6 herbal blends of Conjure Powders, their titles, and info on them. At this point I was not sure what it all meant, but it looked promising. So I decided to get into more!

 

Conjure Powders

 

What I mistakenly thought would be a very large candle due to it’s sheer size and shape (most witch boxes give you candles what can I say!) when I opened the box turned out to be quite a surprise…6 tins of Conjure Powders. As you can see in the picture the tins are full. I kept spilling them in fact when I opened each of them. Then I would have to do a blessing, invite a spirit, or banish something. LOL. It was quite funny to watch. My familiar went nuts. I was expecting a smaller sample size of the conjure powders for a box. I was extremely pleased. The 6 Conjure Powders are as follows:

  • Elicio (Conjure) – a mixture to conjure spirits & energies beneficial to your workings.
  • Exilium (Banish) – a concoction to banish spirits & energies that are detrimental to your workings.
  • Praescientia (Intuition) – a blend to aid with intuitive abilities & divinatory gifts.
  • Amor (Love) – a mix to attract love.
  • Praesidium (Protection) – a combination to create a boundary of protection from unwanted spirits or energies.
  • Fortuna (Prosperity) – A mixture to attract spirits & energies of prosperity and abundance to you.

Almost all of the Conjure Powders from Alchemy & Ashes in the box are made from a blend of at least 7 herbs. Most of them were made from 13! The smells are vibrant. The pamphlet lists the ingredients in each powder as well as what it is used for & a definition for it’s meaning. Plus, as I mentioned before, they teach you a variety of ways to use Conjure Powders. None are difficult.

So excited by these 6 great sized tins that I almost forgot the box contains more! On we go….

 

A Modern Witch’s Flying Ointment

 

Unguentum Sabatti is the hand that parts the Veil.” That is how Alchemy & Ashes begin to explain what Witch’s flying ointment is. Flying ointment is a mixture of herbs & essential oils mixed in coconut oil and beeswax that help relax, soothe, and help bring you to another level of consciousness & help aid in meditations , divination, lucid dreaming, rituals, astral traveling, etc… When applied to certain areas of the EXTERNAL BODY before beginning.

You get a full 1oz supply in a nice tin. Solid, not too greasy and slimy like others I have tested in the past where you put your finger in the ointment and it just goes right to the bottom. This is substantial and will last a long time. The smell is amazing and you can actually pick out some of the herbs from simply taking a sniff. The back of the tin does, however, list the ingredients.

 

Sanctus Aqueum


This is Alchemy & Ashes own version of Florida Water. Florida Water is used for blessings, consecrating, cleansing, & purification when you can not smudge.

They create each batch on the New Moon & let it charge until the Full Moon. It is, also, infused with a Quartz Crystal to amplify it’s energy. It comes in a glass spray bottle.

When you spritz the air, you automatically smell more than just water in the air. I have used these sprays before, sometimes called ‘smudge sprays’ or ‘aura sprays’. I like them. They are quick ways to cleanse the area and yourself & they do work and calm you. You can feel them lessen tension in the air quickly. This one, however, has the most brilliant smell so far! The bottle may seem small but you don’t need to use much. Alchemy & Ashes recipe is strong. I am finding all I need is 1 maaaaybe 2 pumps. So shake, pump once, Deeeep breath, hold 1, 2, 3, Release, Ahhhhhh! I’m in a garden….a field….I’m goneeeeee….

 

Sanctus Oleum


In this 10 ml glass roller bottle is a witch’s protection oil. It can be used to consecrate items, make protective sigils on doorways & windows, as well as used to anoint yourself during ritual work.

Alchemy & Ashes creates each batch on the New Moon and leaves it to charge until the full moon. It is, also, infused with a piece of black tourmaline for it’s protective energy.

I have never heard of something like this before. It is definitely welcomed new knowledge and a welcomed new tool for my personal witch box. The smell to this oil is heavier than the smudge spray. Thicker somehow, if smells can be thicker. If feels thicker, too. I guess you would want protection to be heavier, your own fortress or armor.

 

Soaps (Free Samples)

Yes, I know you want to eat the picture, bu you can’t, they ARE delicious don’t get me wrong, but they are soaps! The deep brown, marbled soap on the bottom is named ‘Aquitaine’. A mix of lavender, patchouli, & bergamot it reminds me of a cleaner purer version of Bath & Body Works all “natural” line. I may have to change where I purchase my soap from now! The lighter brown, marbled soap on top is named ‘Sweet Alchemy’. It is a blend of almond, cocoa, honey, & oats and I think I may taste this one, it really does smell that good! The third, solid brown bar is named ‘Nimue’ and smells like clean sheets outside drying on a clothesline on a spring day to me. It’s made of lavender, lemon, & Clary sage.

They feel wonderful on the skin. So clean and fresh. They leave you skin soft and smelling as beautiful as the bars.

 

My Overall Opinion…


I have to admit the Witch in me loves the all black theme. Now they did send me a box of many different types of samples to review. I do not think they sell this exact box. But have boxes that sell these items. I can honestly say, though, that Alchemy & Ashes do not hold back and give small sample sizes in their boxes, because they gave me what they put in their boxes. They give you your monies worth. You can smell the quality. Feel it. The Conjure Powders tins are full to bursting, pungent, smell fresh. They explain all in their pamphlet, I love that. They don’t leave you in the dark wondering what to do. The Florida water WORKS. I have yet to try the flying ointment, but the quality is there, and I am waiting to use the Sanctus Oleum for Samhain on my front door. Their sample soaps quality is so amazing you will need more. I can, without a doubt, say this box is WORTH THE WITCH!!!

 

We were blessed to be able to have a little chat with the wonderful Owner & Madame of Alchemy & Ashes Shawnee Kircher!

 

Jennifer Wright: What brought the idea of the mystery box to you?

Shawnee Kircher: We loved the idea of other subscription boxes, and we also liked the idea of getting our products out there to people who may have never used them, or can’t decide which products to start with, so it was a win-win for them and us!

 

JW: How did you begin them?

SK: We realized there was a market for handcrafted ritual products, and felt that our products are a bit different from what we had been seeing. We were tired of seeing the commercially, mass marketed items in a lot of the boxes that lack the spiritual energy that a handcrafted product carries with it. That’s hard to recreate in a factory.

 

JW: How do you choose what you put inside them?

SK: We try to consider the season or sabbat coming up as to what people may be needing at the moment, but also like to have some staple products in there that anyone can use regardless of path or preference.

 

JW: Is yours a recurring monthly box?

SK: We’re aiming for seasonal at the moment. If interest grows, perhaps we will shift to monthly.

 

JW: Are you pagan?

SK: Yes. I use the term Pagan in the sense of a) outside the confines of the Abrahamic religions and b) nature based spiritual path follower. I also use the term Witch, as I am a practitioner of the Craft. I think those two terms can be used separately from each other, as not all Witches are Pagan, and not all Pagans are Witches, but in my practice they go hand in hand. I don’t ascribe to any religious doctrine, though I did find my way to Paganism through Wicca, as it was the most accessible at the time for me, about 20 years ago, and while I’m not an initiate of Wicca nor do I follow any of it’s “rules” (like The Rede), I do think it influenced some of my practice.

 

JW: What types of interests do you have?

SK: I love the dichotomy of beautiful and creepy when they present themselves as one – like in the “modern” vampire stories: Louis in Interview with a Vampire, or the suave and debonair Bela Lugosi – this beautiful creature that is deadly, so that you’re attracted and repulsed at the same time. That touch of “otherness” is very interesting to me in art and life.

 

JW: Did you feel the pagan world was missing something to make you create your Box?

SK: I think Pagans are pretty crafty folks, so I didn’t reinvent the wheel, but I did put my spin and perspective on my ritual products that are included in the boxes. Sanctus Aqueum (“Holy Water”) was based off of a 19th century recipe for Florida Water. I tweaked the traditional ingredients and added my own touch, and its been a great selling product. Sanctus Oleum (“Holy Oil”) is similar in use to Holy Chrism used in the Church, but with herbs associated with protection in various folk magic traditions. Unguentum Sabatti (“Sabbat Ointment”) was formulated with herbs associated with astral projection, necromancy, and visions to enhance your own intuitive abilities in a more gentle manner than many of the traditional flying ointments.

 

JW: Do you have a site and sell other types of products?

SK: You can find many of our handmade items to purchase on Etsy (etsy.com/shop/alchemyashes). Besides our ritual items mentioned above, we also make handcrafted cold process soaps, perfumes (both oil based and alcohol based), lip balms, herbal powdered incense, and amulets.

We don’t currently do direct sales through our website (alchemyandashes.com)

However, you can always email us your order at alchemyandashes@yahoo.com and we can invoice you and you can pay online.

We’d like to thank Shawnee Kircher for taking the time from her busy schedule to speak with us at PaganPagesOrg and everyone at Alchemy & Ashes for everything! We hope our readers get to meet everyone at Alchemy & Ashes soon!

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Wright is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to share and learn without judgment. There are too many important things to her and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

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