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Book Review – The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays by Judy Ann Nock

February 1st, 2018

The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays”

by Judy Ann Nock

Publisher: Adams Media

Date: 2017

Pages: 238

Available at Barnes & Noble, Target and elsewhere in hardcover, NOOK Book, Kindle, etc.

This book from the Modern Witchcraft series is essentially a reprint of Judy Ann Nock’s “The Provenance Press Guide to the Wiccan Year: A Year Round Guide to Spells, Rituals, and Holiday Celebrations,” published in 2007. There is a new introduction and minor word changes, but then, the wheel of the year and the night sky have changed little from ancient times, and the book does provides quality information.

Each chapter focuses on a season that corresponds to a pagan holiday. Nock provides an introduction, an explanation of the sabbat, a description of the night sky for that period, the astrological influences and mythological references.

Searching for inspiration for an Imbolc ritual, that is the chapter I read most throughly. Noting that in arcane astrology, Imbolc fell under the sign of Aquarius, she connects the returning light of the sun and Brighid’s fire aspect, and the image of the water bearer with Brighid’s sacred wells.

There are spells, rituals, crafts and other suggestions for celebrating each season. For Imbolc is a meditation delving into the healing waters of Brighid’s sacred well, which is symbolic of the depths of the womb from which we all come. There is an eclectic initiatory rite suitable for a coven, and a scrying ritual that can be done as a solitary. The crafts are Brighid’s cross, Brighid’s eye (also known as God’s eye) and the bride’s bed.

The book begins with Samhain and moves through Mabon, providing a guide to celebrate every turn of the wheel. Reading it, it’s easy to see how the 360 degrees of a circle overlay easily on a 365-day calendar. While the majority of the book focuses on solar influences, there is a chapter on the estates with a lunar calendar, astrology and meditations with the moon goddess. The appendix has correspondences and a glossary of terms.

This book would be helpful to anyone wanting to learn about the Wheel of the Year, and serves as a reference to return to again and again.

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Nock is a Wiccan high priestess and founder of a goddess spirituality group. She lives in New York City and has a degree in creative writing and theater. Another book by her will be coming out this year, “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals, and Spells from the Natural World.” She also wrote “A Witch’s Grimoire: Create Your Own Book of Shadows.”

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***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book review

The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 36

Water: Our Primal Source

Published by the Witches’ Almanac Ltd.

almanac

This almanac, founded in 1971, has become a traditional pagan reference. It starts with the beginning of the astrological year, running from Spring 2016-17. Its theme is water; the current year’s theme is air.

One of the parts I find most useful is the moon calendar noting the moon’s phases and place in the zodiac. I also enjoy the year’s astrological forecasts for each zodiac sign, beginning with the vernal equinox. Each two-page spread touches on highlights for the year, health, love, spirituality and finance.

Other reference information includes astrological keys, eclipses, retrograde planetary motion and how to plant by the phases of the moon. While all this information is available somewhere online, it’s nice to have it all in one place you can trust.

The rest of the 206 pages are a collection of ancient lore and legends, trivia and wisdom. Among this issue’s lineup of obscure topics are “Waynaboozhoo: The Great Flood Story of the Ojibwa – A traditional tale of good and evil,” “The Margate Grotto: A Mystery Spelled in Shells,” and “The Singing Tower and Spook Hill: A Sacred Journey though Old Florida.”

The almanac’s short articles present a mix of perspectives and traditions; with more than 40, there is sure to be something of interest to you. Black-and-white images appear on nearly every page.

If you use the moon at all in your practice, you’ll be reaching for this again and again.

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

 

 

by Patti Wigington

Published by Sterling Ethos

Published: 2017

Pages: 385

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

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

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

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

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

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

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***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

The Enchantment of Candles

 

candle1

 

With a hushed prayer, I light the sacred candle of Hekate. The flame leaps to life, casting ghostly shadows upon the temple walls. In silence, I meditate upon the day, reflecting on the blessings that I have witnessed and contemplating the challenges I faced. I thank the Queen of Shadows for the light She has provided, awakening to the illumination of lessons learned. I softy blow out the candle—hallowed gratitude upon my breath…

Simple yet effective, candle magic is a central focus of enchantment in my home. The creating of candle centered spells is both relaxing and invigorating. The choosing of the color, shape and scent of the candle is magic in the making. I can spend hours in a candle shop, relishing over all the vibrant color combinations and exotic aromas. The rubbing on of oils and rolling in enchanted herbs sends my senses into a whirlwind adventure into worlds of alluring charm.

candle2

 

One of my favorite forms of candle magic is the creation of artistic offerings. The picture above is a hallowed offering to the Nature Spirits and Faery. The fashioning of this work of art is a scared act and the magic emanating from it can be felt every time I light the candle. I have many of these around my home filled with all kinds of found objects from nature. They are like mini altars and can easily be disguised as a center peace on the kitchen table or coffee table.

candle3

 

For fast and easy candle magic, tea lights are the way to go. By adding a drop oil and a pinch of herbs appropriate for the spell, this simple charm is for those of us with busy lives. You can even carve some runes onto the top of the tea light with a toothpick or right out a charm of paper and place beneath the candle. If the scent of the burning herbs are overwhelming, sprinkle less herbs on the candle or simply sprinkle them around the candle. Make sure to burn this candle on a heatproof dish, the herbs and oil can catch fire.

 

candle4

 

I found this lovely candle of Hekate on etsy. When you burn a tea light behind it, the wax figure glows. It was scented in oil and I occasionally anoint the wax with more. This is a beautiful way to show devotion to the Goddess of the Flame and each time I light the candle I ask Hekate to bless my home with happiness, health, and harmony.

While there are many forms of candle magic, these are my favorites and ones that I use on a daily basis. Be creative with this bewitching art form, the beauty that comes from the making of candle spells will bring enchantment into your home and life.

*There are many lists of the appropriate candle colors to use in magic as well as herbs and oils. I like to use my intuition on the making of many of my charms and spells. What one color says on a list may be different from how that particular color makes you feel.

 

Book Review: Love Magic: Over 250 Spells and Potions for Getting It, Keeping It, and Making It Last

 

 

by Lilith Dorsey

Published by Weiser Books, 2016

Paperback; $12.15 at Amazon

This connection between magic and eroticism is an obvious one. They both encompass absolutely every sense. We lose and find ourselves in magic and love, if we are lucky.”

So begins the introduction to this 275-page book, which seems especially appropriate for Beltane.

The first chapter presents spells for self-love and happiness.

These are the root of your magical success,” she wrote in the introduction.

That is followed by chapters on romantic, marriage, fertility, universal love and erotic adventures. As diverse as situations can be, so are the magical traditions from which the spells are drawn.

There are spells and potions for finding love, keeping love, and healing yourself so that you are ready for love. The book includes rituals for invoking goddesses of love and for love gone bad. There are even recipes for foods such as Simply Sensual Flower Fudge and Oshum Seduction Salsa, because, she writes, “Seduction is best begun at the table.”

Dorsey distinguishes between spells for a general dose of universal love and those intended to connect specific individuals, and provides spells and formulas for each. She also stresses the importance of ritual cleansing – such as baths, smudging and using magical floor washes –as “one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your home.”

Along with cleansing spells, she recommends divination and healing work, regardless of the problem, and offers a variety of each.

In addition, she discusses the ethics of love magic, and provides information about sacred botanicals and crystals, and ends with six chapters from the Book of Psalms and some recommended reading.

Dorsey is a spiritual practitioner and has been a professional psychic for more than 20 years. She is also an anthropologist, which prompted her to include historical spells. Magically, she is dedicated “to many different spiritual traditions, including Santeria, which is more properly known as La Regla Lucumi. In that religious tradition, I have been deemed, through divination, to be a daughter of the goddess (Orisha) Oshun,” she writes. Shun’s domain, Dorsey adds, includes love and marriage. “She is intimately acquainted with all facets of love.”

Dorsey wrote the book to share her knowledge and experience.

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La Befana

 

(LA BEFANA. Magic stocking from BEFANA. By incantevolemerletto shop.)

 

Merry meet.

While my mother’s parents were from Sicily, it was not until recently I learned of La Befana, Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legend – about a witch.

In Italian folklore, she is an old woman with warts on her crooked nose, wearing a skirt and a black shawl, who flies around on her broom, delivering candy to well-behaved children. In Russia she is known as Baboushka.

Children await Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve, but the red-suited man is new compared to the story of the old woman who was too busy cleaning to join the Wise Men on their journey. According to the legend, they stopped by her cottage to ask directions and invited her to come along, but she refused. She also refused to join a shepherd who asked her to join him, as some tell the story.

Later that night she saw a great light in the sky. Regretting her decision, she sets out to give the Christ Child gifts that had, according to some, belonged to her child who had died. She never finds the Baby Jesus and instead, leaves her gifts for children she encountered along the way. Since the 13th century, children have left their shoes out or hung up their socks Epiphany Eve, January 5, for the Befana to fill with sweets and gifts. Bad children were given lumps of coal.

Often she is shown covered in soot because, like Santa Claus, she delivers presents by sliding down the chimney. Her name means “gift-bringer” and according to a post by DreamDiscoverItalia.com in 2015, many believe she also sweeps the floor before she leaves, sweeping away the old to make way for the new.

La Befana is a Christian legend that began in Northern Italy and became a big part of the Italian celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem and deliver their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Other versions of the legend have La Befana carrying a sack of bread, giving a piece to every child she saw in the hopes one would be the Christ Child. She never does find him and is still wandering around Italy on her broomstick.

Her arrival is celebrated with such traditional Italian foods such as panettone, fried doughnuts with dried fruit, and fritters with raisins. When children leave a snack for the witch, it’s something soft because she has few teeth.

While La Bafana is viewed most commonly as a village crone, she has also been called a sprite or fairy. Instead of a broomstick, sometimes she is said to ride a goat or a donkey. Rarely does she wear a pointed hat; a headscarf is more traditional.

According to an article written by Martha Bakerhian for tripsavy.com, “This folktale may actually date back to the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, a one- or two-week festival starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of Saturnalia, Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill to have their fortunes read by an old crone. This story evolved into the tale of La Befana.”

Heather Greene explains in an article for “The Wild Hunt” in January 2016, “As with many regional traditions, La Befana’s modern construction and appearance were developed over an expansive amount of time and stem from a diverse number of cultural elements. Her story has been adapted over and over to fit into a variety of different social or religious structures.

 

(La Befana the Witch Sculpture by Dellamorteco, Dellamorte & Co. Etsy Shop)

 

Similar to modern community traditions in the northern Italian towns, Circolo dei Trivi burns an effigy, a representation of Giobiana, within their ritual space. They collect the ashes and tell the story of nature’s death and rebirth, through the death of Giobiana and the birth of Belisama. In that process, they also thank nature, represented as La Befana, for bringing the final gifts from the previous year. Grazie, La Befana.”

Urbania, thought to be her official home, draws tens of thousands of people for a five-day festival that includes the arrival of La Befana to her cottage, which the townspeople built in her honor. There is music, dancing, parades, fireworks and letters from children asking for gifts. In Venice, men dressed as La Befana race boats on the Grand Canal, per DreamDiscoverItalia. In Rome and elsewhere, women dress like La Befana.

 

A Spell of Prosperity to Accomplish your Goals 

(Submitted by Gayle Nogas)

What you’ll need:

A red candle placed on a table or altar

Three figs or three dates 

A small cup of honey

A broom 

With this simple spell you can ask The Befana not only to bring your home prosperity, but also to send you powerful energy regarding your success and the goals you will work with next year.

In the evening, put the three figs or dates in the small cup of honey (this is a traditional offering for The Befana) and put them on the table or the altar next to the red candle. These offerings will show that you honor her powers.

Light the red candle. Pull up a chair and sit in it calmly for two minutes watching the candle and bringing your mind to the tranquility of the energy that is surrounding you. The red candle is a symbol of your own power to accomplish your goals and also calls the power of The Befana. Now repeat the following out loud or in your head three times:

“Come Befana, come to me.

Come from the mountains to make me free.

Come with your gifts of wisdom and power,

To make this a prosperous year for me.”

Once you have repeated this spell three times, take the broom and start sweeping the room in the direction of the clock’s hands, always sweeping towards the central part to concentrate there the powers and the charitable energy of The Befana in one place.

Leave the broom and dust all night long. Finally blow the candle and thank The Befana for her help by saying:

“Thank you, Befana, for giving me the gifts of your wisdom and prosperity.”

The next day, pick up the broom, clean up the dust and debris, and focus on a hugely prosperous year.

 

This year, in honor of my ancestors, I plan to recognize the Witch of Christmas for making winter a witchy season. Perhaps I’ll dress like her, or leave my shoes and a soft cookie outside my door. If you celebrate her, please leave me a comment describing how on the Pagan Pages Emag Facebook page.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

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