The Bad Witch’s Guide

April, 2019

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Faeries

I have stared at this empty page and
title for about 30 minutes. It is not that I don’t know a lot about
fae, the fair folk, the Good Neighbours; it’s just well where to

First off I suppose is that they are more than just the twinkly winged Barbie dolls we push on little girls. Fae are amazingly varied dependent on habitat and what they eat. In fact almost every people have some version of fae folk. Humans don’t have a universal anything, but if they did, fae might be it.

Faery are not “nice”. They are incredible, powerful, wise and witty. They are not “nice”. They respect manners and have a very rigid social observances. As a general rule they are at best ambivalent towards humans. At worst they really fucking hate us. To them we are Vogons. Brutish, unimaginative, untruthful, bureaucratic and destructive. This is not an unfair description.

If slighted or even if you happen to be
in the wrong place at the wrong time a fae might do some horrible
things, from blinding, cursing or even trying to lure you to your

What is a faery?

Well I have an opinion. There is much lore as you would expect from the ancient and seemingly universal bunch of creatures. Most of which is tainted by some truly horrific Christian re-writing (the souls of unbaptized babies? Really?) has them as “small Gods”. My theory which is as far as I can tell makes most sense is they are pan-dimensional beings. They dwell both here and slightly to the left. The natural world is their home but is also a link to their “other” place. That is why they are creatures of “ the ‘tween”. That is why you see them out of the corner of your eye, or in the limnal spaces. Not quite here, or there, but both at the same time.

Faeries can appear as birds, dogs, horses, goats and humanoids. Some sparkle, some do not. Most individuals can be reasoned with, if their laws are properly followed. That said they can still be a dick about it. Their laws will differ from place to place and are dependent on the type of fae you are dealing with.

Hospitality. Food, and drink are appreciated gifts and where
welcome they will respect and even bless your home. However faery
food and drink is not a good idea to consume if you should ever get
the chance.

Truth. Lying is a terrible violation, but hoodwinking, “having
a craic”, taking the piss is somewhat of a faery art form. Just
how far and how much they can bend the truth without actually lying
is a point of pride for most Fair Folk.

Gifts. Even sticky for humans, gifts can be seen as an insult
though this is specific to types of Fair Folk. Clothes in particular
can banish them in quite a huff (Brownies)! Though bread, honey and a
portion of a meal are usually respected through hospitality.

Respect. Disrespect a Faery at your peril. That also goes for their home, whatever or where ever they make it. Cut down the wrong tree, (or pee against it) stomp all over a faery ring, litter or take what they deem as theirs and you are going to have a world of pain. Likewise being gross at faery women bathing, usually means losing an eye! (Bitch, much respect!)

Trade. While taking something from a faery space is usually a bad
idea, they are happy to trade, or even exchange for coin.

You can’t take anything for granted with faery. Not their intentions, or what they mean. Their wisdom or kindness. Their presence or absence. They are free. You do not rule them. You can not, nor should not command them.

So why work with them at all?

Well, in the balance of things they are powerful and knowledgeable
allies to have in circle and out.

Also, and I say this from long experience, if they decide you are “one of theirs” you won’t have a lot of say if they are in your life, only if they are a benefit or bane; as my long suffering husband can attest to!

There is also something wonderful about them. They still inspire
fear, awe and wonder every time I am aware of their presence. They
are great guides when journeying in spirit though that level of trust
takes years to build up.

So how do you work with faery?

I suppose the answer to that one, is carefully. Faery magick is
not for everyone, and that is fine. Faery magick is not for everyone,
and that is fine. Research helps. Know the kind of faery in your
area, the kind that might be most disposed to working with you. Huge
old trees, unspoiled wild places, waterfalls, lakes, sacred wells and
places full of faery plants like bluebells, hawthorn, blackthorn and
elder trees are a good start. Be kind and respectful and leave gifts
of food like honey cakes or a little bit of beer or wine letting them
know it is for them. You might feel a bit of an idiot, but they will
enjoy it all the more. Pay attention to weird wild animals. Birds,
rabbits, strange foxes or the like. Even large butterflies and moths
can be faery, or faery touched.There is an entirely different quality
to these encounters with wild animals that seem to look straight into
your soul. You can tell that you are being “visited” or

Faery also love music, especially harp, singing, and flutes.
Playing for them even if you think you aren’t good is usually seen as
a fitting gift, or again hospitality. Some like small bells, some
don’t. They don’t seem to mind recorded music but do prefer live

Magickally creating circles or doorways and inviting them to be
present works pretty well. Even bought faery doors will do the jobs
but woven ivy, willow or hazel hoops hung up are usually preferable.
Working outside in somewhere the Veil is thin isn’t a bad start
either. Marking your circle with stones (natural pebbles) or even
wild bird food will work wonders. Though flowers, leaves of a
different colour, or ferns would work too.

There is something special about working with “wildness”.
Something ancient and untamed. They have a unique perspective on
humans, and human lives. It is both in the moment and of the ages.
Full of mirth and vengeance. Human lives are very long and very short
and we do spend a great deal of time not dancing, feasting, or
playing. It is a peculiar waste. We crave connection but will do
almost anything to avoid it. We make conditions and rules for things,
like love that don’t have any. We tie ourselves in knots over our own
natures assigning shame and guilt to things we love or loathe.

Faery advice is rather complicated in it’s simplicity.

“Plant a tree.”

“Cry when you are sad.”

“Dance when you can.”

In the end faery make life more bearable. They add a clarity and
depth to the world. A magickal sparkle, the real kind that no amount
of Mouse can erase.

Book Review – The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 38, Spring 2019 to Spring 2020 – Animals: Friends and Familiars

February, 2019

Book Review
The Witches’ Almanac
Issue 38
Spring 2019 to Spring 2020
Animals: Friends and Familiars


issue contains a wealth of knowledge. You want to take your time
reading this issue, snuggle next to the fire with a cup of tea or hot
cocoa. You can tell that each article or story they chose was thought
out. Some of the articles make you ponder your thoughts on subjects,
while others just entertain you, they are so adorable.

can learn a lot of lore, history and gain new insight on many topics.
Some of the articles are shortened for the book, but they include
links for further reading on those articles. The authors applied a
lot of time and research to create each of their contributions, it
inspired me to do further research on the various topics on my own.

The articles I found most interesting are…

How Animal Omens Work
– This article gives ideas and signs on how animals work with spirit
and deities, share their knowledge and share insight when we are in
deep thought or need help during moments of our life.

de Emperor Race’s, How
Zodiac Signs Came to Be
– This story I found entertaining and adorable. I didn’t know
this story even existed. I think it is the perfect way to explain
them. The book gave information on this year’s Chinese zodiac sign
and a table listing this year’s preview and coming future date’s
of animal signs in following years.

NikolaTesla – Was a very interesting read, very well
thought out using his birth chart for astrology. This information I
found uniquely designed to add intrigue to the story.

Meeting of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki – I loved this
article. Having her spend author interview time sharing her
experiences and her knowledge about the society of the inner light.
The article felt perfect just like you were in room with her. Even
though they shorten her interview for the book, they provide a link
to an audio file to further listen.

Corvids –
This article was about using knowledge of certain beautiful birds,
lore, and how to divine knowledge from birds of choice and messages
associated with certain deities.

There are many more
articles within this issue I found so inspiring I wish I could list
them all! This book contains information on zodiac influences for
coming spring 2019-2020, weather, mooncycles, explanations for
gardening by Moonphases, astrological key information, eclipses,
retrogrades for this spring 2019-2020, book reviews, and question
about the craft you can send in to be answered From a Witches

In ending
this book is worth having in your collection of almanacs,
you can even order past issues to add to your collection. I was
honored to read this book.

The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 38, Spring 2019 to Spring 2020: Animals: Friends and Familiars on Amazon


the Author:

Norma Clark I’m Wiccan, My style follows my spiritual path, and what comes to mind.. I live in a small rural town, Paris, Idaho. I share my life With my Wiccan husband, 2 hyper Children, and gang of critters. I love to create new designs by looking at nature, cultural ideas for my Jewelry and create unique Metaphysical items. COME Sit For A  Spell or Two , And See the Magick of Forevrgoddessboutique

Review – Animal Totems And The Gemstone Kingdom- Spiritual Connections of Crystal Vibrations and Animal Medicine Book & The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards by Margaret Ann Lembo

February, 2019

is a book and oracle deck that go together. The book is titled
“Animal Totems and the Gemstone Kingdom” and the cards are
titled “The Animal Allies and Gemstone Oracle Cards”. Both
by Margaret Ann Lembo. The book is 222 pages and the deck has 44
cards with images and written information on both sides of cards.
Artwork by Richard Crookes, crystal photos by Andy Frame Photography
and Ines Blersch Fotografie. Published by Findhorn Press, 2018. The
book retails for $19.99 U.S. and the cards retail for
$15.99 U.S. They are available at both Amazon and Barnes and

The oracle deck has 44 animals on one side of the card, and 44 crystals on the other side. Each side has a small image of the respective animal or crystal, and a paragraph with prompts, guidance and food for thought. You could simply pick a card and receive both an animal spirit message and a crystal message. If you just got the deck this would function nicely on its own. I like the variety of animals and crystals, there are some different ones you don’t see often included.

This is a book and oracle card deck that are meant to work together, but honestly both are also great on their own. Both have a ton of information and different content.

book is a tool in and of itself as you could just randomly flip to
any page you feel called to to do your reading like that. 

you can use the book to gain further insight on each card. There are
two full pages on each corresponding oracle card in the book. After
you read the card, go to the matching card in the book (they are in
alphabetical order by the animal). It has many correspondences and
interesting information to make your experience richer. Another thing
that’s included in this book are multiple great appendixes at the
back as well as a fabulous glossary. You can use the appendix to look
up other crystals that correspond to a given animal, or to look up
animals that correspond to archangels and angels. It even has an
appendix for wheel of life locations for animal totems. How cool is
that? Whether you want this book as a resource or as a tool to
receive messages, either is covered with this book. I’m very
impressed by the amount of content here.

conclusion I have really thoroughly enjoyed both this book & the
oracle cards. I have used them for myself and for friends and family
and everyone loved them. Crystals and animals are two of my very
favorite things and this combines them both in a cohesive and unique
way that I haven’t seen before. I recommend them both completely. I
will use these forever and thank you so much to Findhorn Press for
allowing me to review them. 

Crystal blessings

Animal Totems and the Gemstone Kingdom: Spiritual Connections of Crystal Vibrations and Animal Medicine on Amazon

The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards on Amazon


About the Author:

Retha N. Lent
has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have
four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has
her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences
from Drexel University. She is the owner of “Retha’s
” & sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry &
specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her
customers and those interested in learning more about crystals &
all things magical called “Retha’s
Crystal Circle
“. She is also an advisor in the Sage
She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing
certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan
Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for
crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual
practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs,
manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite
place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal
collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She
has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

You can reach her at
[email protected]
or on her business
page on FB

Or in her
FB group

Her Sage
affiliate link is:

Or follow her on Instagram
at @spookygirl16

Book Review – Chakra Animals: Discover Your Connection to Wisdom of the Natural World by Angelica Stuart

January, 2019



Your Connection to Wisdom of the Natural World

Angelica Stuart

Animals by Angelica Stuart provides an opportunity to weave the
fundamentals of Chakra work and the wisdom of the animals into a new
journey of exploration. Each of these subjects stands on its own with
volumes of text and information, so the ability to use as resource an
easily readable book that leaves room for an open interpretation
based on your prior knowledge is a wonderful addition.

book begins with a brief overview of each of the seven traditional
The standard associations are given for each including, color-element
and sense. The descriptions are condensed, but given a subject of
this weight and expanse, enough is given to stimulate the organic
brainstorming of your own connections and interpretations.

for coordinating Chakra
application and working with the animals follows. As the author
states…. “there are endless
parallels that I could make, but my hope is that you find many on
your own.”
This is a gentle
reminder that the work that is done should always be guided by your
own intuitive nature, in particular when seeking the assistance of
other beings and energies.

the remainder of the book focuses on the energies and attributes of
fifty (50) Animals
that are commonly considered as animal guides and totems. Each animal
is described for its overall traditional use, key attributes and how
that animals energies may be used to enhance each of the seven
chakras. This break-down provides the integrative piece of aligning
your chakra work of development with the animal totems/guides that
present to you.

final offering is an index-styled listing of intentions, or
that identify the specific animals associated and are supportive of
that specific work. Intentions include: Abundance, Community,
Communication, Intelligence and more.

lovely addition at the back of the book making use of the author’s
credentials as a graduate of the prestigious MICA school of Art, are
several pages of graphic illustrations of the animals discussed that
are scored into a grid such that they can be cut out and pasted onto
an index card for reference and individual work. A deck of specially
illustrated cards – Chakra
Animals Oracle Cards
– may
also be ordered via the author’s Etsy site.

Visit the author’s FB page:

Visit the author’s Etsy store:

Click HERE or on Book Cover for Amazon Info


the Author:

a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

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

Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

Written in the Stars


Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon


Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

the Paths on Amazon


Year With Gaia on Amazon

Eternal Cord

of the Sun and Moon on Amazon


Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

Collection of Esoteric Writings

Elemental Year on Amazon

the Parts of SELF

Enchanted Gate on Amazon

on the Magick of the Natural World

with the Goddess on Amazon

of Devotion

Weekly Reflection on Amazon

for the Year

books are available on 
Amazon or
on this
website and
Blogs can
be found at

Instagram & Facebook.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

August, 2018

Claws with Crystals

Merry meet.

Bones are a type of fetish,” Sarah Anne Lawless posted on her website. “A fetish is ‘an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency (source).’ The word fetish originates from the French fétiche which stems from the Portuguese word feitiço meaning ‘charm’ or ‘sorcery.’ Feathers, bones, crystals, and stones are all types of fetishes. Skulls and bones have an appeal to witches who perform spirit work and are a necessary and simple way to connect with spirits of the dead and of animals.

Working with bones is not just for necromancers and black magicians. Practitioners who work with bones are a wide range of healers, diviners, shapeshifters, rootworkers, witches, shamans, druids, and pagans.”

When a hunter I respected offered me wings and claws from turkey he had killed, I accepted. I covered the severed ends all with salt, rubbing in, placing them in a box and adding more salt. When more were gifted to me, I placed the fleshy ends in borax. Both were left to dry for several months. (An explanation of a process can be found on many sites.)

When I received them they were already a couple of days old, but the claws were pliable. I was drawn to having them hold crystals. The shape of some of the polished stones I chose made them unworkable. Thankfully, the pagan store I frequent did not mind me bringing in the legs and holding up crystals to determine what would be a good fit. Certain stones seemed to want certain claws, so I went with it.

There is a lot to be said for a more intentional approach, but as I sensed only one was for me, I did not consider uses and intentions that you would if you were making one for yourself.

I positioned each toe and talon to curl around the stone and then began wrapping it all in string to secure it while it dried. In one instance I used tape and while it worked, I think the string was easier to use and adjust.

After a few months had gone by I unwrapped them and found each was stone securely held.

It would be natural to use them as a wand – as is, embellished or attached to another wand – to direct power. A woman who bought one planned to tie it with a cord that went around her neck so it hung almost to her waist.

Bones carry the animal’s magical attributes which is one of the reasons I have worked with bear claws, a turtle shell and a coyote’s jawbone. Smaller bones have fit in mojo bags created to address various needs.

Turkey is considered a good omen, signaling that gifts are imminent. It’s also “a symbol of sacrifice for renewal and that generosity will open the doors to growth and rebirth,” according to a few websites posting the same information.

Turkey as a totem animal means you are “the abundance generator” for your community.

You have a gift for attracting all the bounty of the universe available to you and you are willing to share. You will often meet the needs of others in a giveaway self-sacrifice form simply because all life is sacred to you. You easily translate your life experience into growth and understanding. You recognize that what you do for others you also do for yourself,” according to and other sites.

Awareness, creation, generosity, harvest, pride, purpose, sacrifice, understanding and virility are also associated with turkey.

Knowing this, if you would like to make something similar, ask the Source and then be ready to receive what the universe brings it to you.

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.

Sacred Art Video

February, 2018




Many spiritual traditions call the human body a Temple.

It has taken me 50 years on this planet to fully comprehend the truth of this teaching! The Tzeltal Maya people take this concept a few steps further. They believe that the human bodies and the bodies of animals they hunted have a so called Resurrection Bone.

This bone is part of the pelvis and it often the last bone to survive when a body is unearthed long after burial. Tribal hunters believed that from residual essence here a person will be reborn after death.

This is why they often carved the sacrum of animals they hunted. Ritual care for this bone ensured success in the hunt and carry favour with the gods.

They also believed that the human body has loci (places) of transformative power. This means that we can access the cosmos, powerful gods, ancestors and other worlds using portals in our own body.

Watch this brand new art video, created in January 2018, to find out more about this profoundly intriguing cosmology!


About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit – Where Art Meets Shamanism will be published in the Autumn of 2018.

Click Image for Amazon Information  (website)  (blog) 

(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

And she presented on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network in both 2016 and 2017

Children’s Book Review – The Natural Storyteller: Wildlife Tales for Telling by Georgiana Keable

December, 2017

The Natural Storyteller is a gorgeous heart-warming book full of stories that children (and people any age!) can relate to. It is a collection of stories, carefully gathered over a period of years, from all over the world (different sources, locations, periods in history). Some are based on myths, others on legendary figures or even saints (e.g. St Francis of Assisi makes an appearance – but in the story we meet his child self!) or extraordinary things that happened in the lives of ordinary people.

What steals my heart about this book is that it unflinchingly addresses the turmoil and realities of life in the 21st century. The author does not shy away from tackling themes such as deforestation, war or corporate greed.

My favourite story is the King of the Deer (perhaps because I live in the forest in Sweden for part of the year where I see deer daily and observe them very closely). I had a rather traumatic encounter with deer hunters only two weeks ago and this story (about the King of the Deer putting a stop to the hunting of all animal species) really pulled at my heart strings.

I live in London for the larger part of the year and there is a lovely story about a London woman who finds a wounded baby sparrow on her doorstep during World War II. She takes him in and he becomes her companion, eventually bringing comfort to people who lost their homes in air raids. The woman was called Clare Kipps and I am under the impression that this story is based on a real life person.

The author describes herself as going on hikes and actively asking strangers to tell her stories. Predictably many people first say they don’t know any stories before proceeding to tell a very unique story indeed. Many of those stories are about friendships between humans and animals.

I love the scope of subjects, characters and locations. I also love the fact that she does not shy away from the difficult aspects of life. When children hear about characters in stories surviving such things and even finding courage or beauty under challenging circumstances – then that same resilience is reinforced and inspired in the audience.

Many stories end with a Q&A section where the storyteller can ask questions to test if the children have understood the storyline correctly. There is also a Myths from the Land of You section where children are encouraged to connect the story to their own lives and experiences.

This book is that rare thing: it unlocks emotions, ideas and a wild surge of creativity. Even I now want to take myself off on hikes around London and ask complete strangers to tell me stories about sparrows and crows (and may just do that for a day!) Stories about other subjects would be welcome too…

(Full disclosure: I was asked by HawthornPress to review this book as a teacher and author of a book about innovative work with children myself).

Imelda Almqvist, 9 November 2017, London UK


About the author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently working on her second book Sacred Art.

For Amazon information, click image below.  (website)  (blog)  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

Spot – Our Magical Cat: The Story She Wants Me to Share

January, 2011

Spot – Our Magical Cat:

The Story She Wants Me to Share

Spot was our very special pet.  She came to us from out of the wild in the spring of 1995 when she was about a year old.  We decided that May 1st was her birthday.  She had a very playful and inquisitive nature.  For a couple of months when my husband, Mack, and I would walk to the nearby restaurant down our street, often on the way there and back we would become aware of the presence of a little black cat following us.  We would turn to look and she would scamper into the shadows of trees and nearby objects only to emerge and follow us when we had turned away again.

Sometimes we would pretend to chase her and she would pretend to be chased, only to resume following us, and eventually disappear into the shadows.  I thought to myself, “There is a cat who knows she is black.”  I assumed she had a home somewhere in the neighborhood, but she had no collar.  For the next three weeks it rained almost continuously.  Then, one day, we returned to our home to find this little black cat all drenched and crouched on our doorstep.  She was obviously in need of a home.  We took her in, fed her, and nursed her back to health, as she needed some nourishment and de-worming.

Mack said he thought she had been living in the wild for some time, but, as she was very affectionate, she must have been raised by some loving humans.  She had no fear of people, only a healthy wariness of them.  It was also obvious that she was in heat, and we were deciding whether we really could keep her as we were not supposed to have a pet in our apartment.  We are on the second floor and have a spacious porch.  Naively, we thought she would stay on the porch with her food and litter box when we were away.  That is how we discovered ‘the cat elevator.’  One of the juniper bushes along the side of the building had a trimmed area off its trunk, just at the level of our porch.  By the time we discovered that she could come and go as she pleased, we also discovered that she was pregnant.

By this time, it was also pretty obvious she had chosen us and we were going to have to make things work out together.  We named her Spot because she was all black but for a large white patch from her throat down to her chest.  I checked out the cat encyclopedia and found her in its pages staring back at me, matching exactly the description of the beautiful longhaired black Norwegian Forest Cat with the large intense yellow eyes and exquisite triangular shaped head and face.  She also had the characteristic of ‘rusting’ when exposed to sunlight.  I would refer to her as my fire cat when her reds, bronzes, and golds reflected in the sunlight.  When out of the sunlight she would transform again to black.

Spot gave birth to five beautiful babies.  We ran an ad in the paper and found loving homes for all of them.  Then, I rushed her to be spayed, assuring her that she would always be my ‘kitten’ no matter what.  Spot was a natural birder.  She was not at all much interested in mice or frogs or anything other than birds.  She was so good at catching birds that we kept a bell on her to give the birds a fair chance.  In spite of the bell, Spot still managed to occasionally catch birds and would bring them to us, dead, as a gift, or, quite often, she would release them alive inside the house so she could chase them.  This always created pandemonium, which she loved.

Spot would regularly accompany us on walks in the neighborhood, usually to the post office, but she would not go all the way.  She had a favorite set of bushes she would sit inside of, and watch and wait for us to return.  She would then come out and resume the walk home with us.  She was not as fond of riding in the car but, with some persistent encouragement, she would tolerate it.  At her best, she really enjoyed watching the world pass by through the windows.  At home on her porch, she would constantly survey the neighborhood, her ‘domain.’  Riding in the car expanded her sense of place.  She knew exactly where she lived in the scheme of things.  She could come and go freely, and she was known and loved throughout the neighborhood by people and creatures alike.  She was a true queen.

I had become accustomed to Spot being around me a lot now that I was working from home.  She was always very communicative.  Very talkative.  And, she had a large vocabulary.  She would boss me around and make me do things just the way she wanted them to be done.  For instance, she would command me to make the bed for her every morning, and would not allow me to leave any wrinkles.  Sometimes I would hold Spot on my lap and gaze into her deep yellow lantern eyes and ask, “How will I ever live without you?”  Not that I was really expecting an answer, but her answer would come innocently, “What do you mean ‘without’?”

I know the life span of a cat, in human terms, is short.  But my last cat was a venerable Siamese who lived to the age of 23.  He was very healthy all of his life and was never under a regular veterinarian’s care because I could not really afford it.  When we lost Si, it was difficult, but understandable.  His bodily systems were shutting down.  He had lived a long life and it his time had come.  Now that Spot was going to be a part of our family, I wanted us to do the best we could for her.  We decided that rather than rely on the same country doctor who had done her spay surgery, we would take her for annual checkups at the large veterinarian facility in nearby Sumner.  They were well established, with a good reputation, so we trusted them and went along with their program of recommended vaccinations.

Spot was very happy and healthy and we never had any problems until the summer of 2007 when, based on her blood tests from her standard annual examination, she was diagnosed with early feline hyperthyroidism.  She was 13.  As far as I could tell, she really was not manifesting any symptoms of the disease.  I was curious about its cause and asked her doctor lots of questions.  According to him, in many cases they are finding that it is hereditary and begins to manifest as a cat approaches its senior years.  He also told me that it has become more prevalent in the later part of the last century, which veterinarians theorize is due to successive inheritance of the trait among the cat population.  He gave me literature to help me understand what effect the disease can have if it is left untreated and what the options for treatment were.  He also strongly recommended radioactive iodine treatment, which is a onetime procedure done at a specialized clinic.  As it so happened, there was one nearby, in Tacoma.  He referred to this treatment as safe and assured me that it was a ‘cure’ for the condition, whereas the other treatments would require lifelong therapy.  My husband and I discussed it and agreed to have it for Spot.

Because it was an expensive procedure, we could not have it done until March 2008.  By this time, Spot was 14.  Everything went well with the treatment.  Spot’s 1st month follow-up examination was perfect, and so was her 3-month follow-up.  This examination coincided with the time that her standard vaccinations were due, so I asked that they be done at the same time, thinking it was convenient to do so.

Over the course of the next 14 months, Spot began to develop a progression of serious medical conditions: osteoarthritis, lupus or similar auto immune disorder (requiring chronic steroid dosage), prerenal condition (earliest indicators for a body in danger of developing chronic renal insufficiency that can often be averted with appropriate medical treatment), chronic urinary tract infections (requiring antibiotics), chronic kidney disease (requiring 3 times a week intravenous fluid), anemia (requiring a blood transfusion), diabetes (requiring twice daily insulin injection), and ultimately, end-stage renal disease and sepsis.  Spot was in and out of the emergency hospital and several times needed to stay in for extended periods of time.  At home, we cared for her and gave her the treatment she needed.  Assisted and supported by Mack, I nursed her throughout her progressive stages of health and appealed to the Goddess to heal her.

Throughout this period of Spot’s illness, Mack and I were in the process of closing a deal, on a lot across the street from where we live, where we plan to eventually build our own home.  I found myself, on several occasions, sitting by a little crab apple tree on our soon-to-be-own land, praying to the Goddess to heal Spot.  Every time the thought occurred to me that she was dying, I was afraid because we did not, yet, own our own place.  Where to bury her?

Spot, however, was not afraid.  She made an amazing recovery and seemed to be making progress to her good state of health.  In May of 2009, we finally closed the deal and got our land.  Spot had become healthier than she had been in quite awhile and spent the next three months hanging out with us on our property, doing wonderful lazy cat things in the sun and exploring all of its plant life.  Until nearly the very end, I believed that Spot could be healed.

Her time to die came on August 19, 2009.  Spot was 15 years old.  Mack and I were with her during the day and a half of her passing, until her very last breath.  The Goddess had given us time for Mack to build her a beautiful wooden coffin, and we knew where we would bury her.  Now, she is the heart of my sacred grove near the little crab apple tree.  Mack later built me a beautiful garden bench, where I can often sit and meditate, and be with Spot.  It is a powerful place.

But this is not the end of her story.

Initially, my grieving period was intense.  I could still feel Spot’s presence and I strove to maintain contact with her.  In meditation, I can see her eyes gazing back at me.  I can feel the exquisite silky texture of her long fur and the velvet of her nose and paws.  I can feel the outline of her cheek bones while I rub her cheeks.  Now, when I do this, it is a joy.  But it was extremely cathartic for me in the beginning.  Several times, I asked Spot for a sign.  Once, right after I asked, a crow landed on the window ledge, called loudly, and then flew off.  Another time, when I was on the bench in the grove, a black walnut dropped from the sky.  It landed ten feet away on the grass glistening with dew, making it look like a jewel in the sunlight.  What is most interesting about this experience is that crows like to drop these nuts, usually on the pavement, to crack them open.  But, as I examined the sky, I could see no sign of a crow nearby.

For months after Spot died, I tried to deal with nagging thoughts and emotions regarding the progression of her illness, things I had not allowed myself to completely process earlier because I was so absorbed with trying to save Spot’s life.  I was conflicted.  I could not let go of the feeling that something was not right.  I asked Spot what she wanted me to do, and she told me she wanted me to uncover the truth.  I had kept all of her health records and I started going back over things.  It was a puzzle I felt I had to solve, and I also felt Spot driving me to do it.  There was data indicating Spot had had signs of a prerenal condition prior to having the radioactive iodine treatment and studies show that the radioactive iodine treatment can worsen such a kidney condition.  It looked to me like Spot’s doctors should not have recommended this treatment and should have alerted us to the need to be proactive in treating her prerenal condition.

I learned that a pet loss support group was available at the Tacoma Humane Society so I went there for two consecutive Saturdays, and was fortunate to be the only person attending.  Therefore, I was able to have a one-on-one session with the same facilitator both times.  She helped me find my conviction to go ahead and put together a detailed report of my findings to present to the veterinarian specialist who had given Spot the radioactive iodine treatment.  I decided to send him my report and ask him to meet with me to discuss it.  It took awhile to make the connection with this doctor, but he eventually honored my request and we talked the entire experience out over the phone.  He pointed out where some of my conclusions were not correct, agreed with some of them, and also pointed out some other things that were astonishing to me.

When Spot’s osteoarthritis was diagnosed, I had taken her to her doctor because she seemed to be in pain around her hips.  They gave her an injection of Metacam, which they referred to as ‘Kitty Tylenol’ and also gave me an oral form that I was to give her several more times at home.  But this veterinarian specialist informed me that Metacam is usually given to dogs and is known to be toxic to cats and especially damaging to their kidneys.  There is a website that has some startling information regarding this: .

The veterinarian specialist graciously offered to contact Spot’s doctors at the Sumner facility for me.  Eventually, all the doctors involved in Spot’s care, including this specialist, conducted an in depth review of her case and held a conference.  The outcome of their conference is that the hospital has made specific changes in their health policy for cats, and they have even named the new policy, ‘The Spot McLaughlin Health Policy for Cats’ in honor of Spot.  They will no longer prescribe Metacam to cats unless the owners insist on having it, in which case they must sign a disclaimer.  They also will stop giving vaccinations to any cat over ten years old.  In gratitude, I sent them one of my favorite photos of Spot, framed, to hang on their office wall, next to her health policy.

It was some consolation.  Far from replacing Spot, of course.  But both Mack and I feel satisfied that our efforts have born fruit for Spot to be long remembered, knowing that she lives on in a way that will make life better for many other cats.

Ever since Spot died, I have sensed her presence with me often.  She still goes walking with us, like she did in life, for she was that kind of amazing companion.  I know when Spot is walking with me now, because even though I cannot see her, I can feel her and am filled with a joy that is like warm sunshine.  There are other creatures, and a rare person, who also seem to notice her with me.  Spot is here because she likes this place.  It is still her earthly home and even though she can travel anywhere anytime she wants, she always comes to me when I call her.  Sometimes, sitting at my computer, I feel her lightly brush my bare leg with her fur.  Sometimes I see her from the side of my eye, but when I turn to look, she has disappeared into the shadows.

Now, more than a year later, we have another wonderful kitten.  A Ragamuffin breed, he was given to us in circumstances filled with synchronous coincidence that leaves us no doubt that Spot picked him for us to fill in, with joy, the deep space she made in our lives.  His name is Socks.  As a result of my veterinarian experiences with Spot, we chose to take a different health path for Socks and find an alternative to allopathic medicine for him.  Just at the time we decided this, a friend introduced us to Dr. Jennifer Preston, Holistic Veterinarian.  She has opened our eyes to the truth surrounding the current widespread common use of vaccinations in animals and the fact that there is a healthy alternative.

She provides a lot of excellent information on her website: .

I am still shocked and amazed, that I was so naïve.  But, I also know that I am not alone in having blind trust in allopathic animal doctors’ advice.  I am also grateful that I want to learn and understand more.  On behalf of Spot and Socks, Mack and I encourage you to do the same.

Mary McLaughlin, November 2010

HearthBeats: Notes from a Kitchen Witch

August, 2010

Pets and hot weather

For many of us this is our favorite time of year and a chance to have fun outdoors with our pets. The Humane Societies want Pet owners to enjoy this time while being mindful of the dangers that hot weather can pose for our Furbabies. Dogs primarily control their body heat thru panting and drinking cool water. In extreme heat, it can be difficult for pets to cool off and overheating is a serious danger.

On very hot days, pet owners should always be aware of their pet’s condition. Immediately stop strenuous exercise if pets start excessively panting, drooling or appear weak. You should take these simple precautions.

  1. When pets are outdoors they should ALWAYS have access to shade and cool fresh water.
  2. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day. If you run with your pet, do so in the early morning or very late afternoon, when the humidity and temperature are lower.
  3. Asphalt and concrete can become VERY HOT in the sun, these surfaces can burn your furbabies paws and reflect additional heat back up at them.. Minimize exposure to these buy walking them on the grass or dirt as often as possible.
  4. When Traveling bring water and a travel bowl for your pet.
  5. NEVER EVER leave your furbaby in the car… If you see a pet locked in a car and in distress call the local police and ask them to call animal control. The pets owner  will thank you for saving their furbabies life.
  6. If you plan on shaving your pet please leave at least 1 inch of fur as they will get sunburns too.

Heat stroke is a very serious and often fatal condition. Pets in this condition should be moved to the shade, cool water given to them and ice packs on their chests and bellies while transporting them to the Vet.

These furbabies are part of you hearth and home, they love you, keep you safe, warn you of dangers and love you unconditionally… Please return the favor and do not do to them what you would not do to your own child.. they are and defenseless and depend on us as much as our children.

Pets and flea— and the treatments.

Further on this would be flea season for many of us… when all the animals you have indoors or outdoors seem to be bringing in all sorts of nasty fleas… or being bothered by biting bugs of some sort. There are a few things that you can do year round to help this.
1. Diatomaceous Earth is Mother Nature’s product with no harm to the environment, pets or to people. Diatomaceous Earth is not actually an “earth” but it is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called DIATOMS. As you will see, there are many uses for Diatomaceous Earth. This food grade product( not pool grade) can be used internally as well as externally. When lightly rubbed into their coats or dusted on their premises, it is very effective against fleas, ticks, lice, and other pests on pet dogs, cats, and birds. It can also be used as an organic wormer and will kill any worms or parasites the pets may have. When using as a de-wormer, mix the Diatomaceous Earth into their food as follows:

  • Large Cats – 1 teaspoon
  • Kittens – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Dogs 100 lbs + – 1-2  tablespoons
  • Dogs 50 – 100lbs – 1 tablespoon
  • Dogs Under 50 lbs – 1 teaspoon
  • Mini dogs – 1/2 teaspoon

As pets get older, they also get sore joints. With Diatomaceous Earth in their diet they will feel better.  Apply to moist kennel areas to reduce odors, dry the area, and prevent pest breeding.  Deodorizing and absorption are natural functions of DE, so add to kitty litter to absorb odors and keep the litter box drier.

Household Pests:

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic insect killer. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action and not by chemical so there is NO harm to pets or humans.  The tiny hard and sharp diatoms scratch off the insects waxy coating, causing it to dehydrate.
Use Diatomaceous Earth for control of roaches, silverfish, ants, fire ants, bedbugs, lice, mites, spiders, earwigs, flies, fleas, box elder bugs, scorpions, crickets, and many other insects. Diatomaceous Earth can be used in and around the home, yard, animal housing, etc.  Sprinkle a 2 inch wide border around the foundation of your house to prevent insects from entering.

This can be used on humans as well as pets.

2. Eucalyptus.

To foil the nasty little pests in your home, place eucalyptus in dog bedding, under carpeting, and in furniture. Sachets of eucalyptus can also be placed in linen closets, and in low-lying cabinets and drawers. An infusion of eucalyptus oil in the final rinse when you launder your dog’s bedding will kill fleas, their eggs, and any mites that have hopped

On for the ride. Make sure to always wash suspect linens in hot water.

Make your own flea dip.

Vacuum carpeting and furniture frequently, and bathe an infested dog with a quality flea dip. You can make your own from 1/3 cup of dried rosemary leaves steeped in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and left to cool overnight. Strain and combine the liquid with warm water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice for your pet’s final rinse.

3. Essential Oil Repellants

Drops of eucalyptus, cedar, peppermint, citrus (dogs only), lemongrass, pennyroyal oil, will  work as repellants. You can mix 10 drops all oils but pennyroyal oil( only 5 drops) with hot water.. shake well and spray on carpets , floors, beds and furniture.  You can also place all or one of these on the collar of your pet as a repellant.. but be careful with this as pennyroyal oil is toxic in larger doses.

While not an insecticide, these blended oils repel fleas with their smell. Even better, the scents are often quite pleasing for people. Be careful with your cats.. they can be very sensitive to essential oils and they have a very hard time processing them. Do not place directly to their skin or sleep areas. More around them. or on the collars so the repellant works but the cat does not absorb into their skins as much.

Blessed be and Happy August

Until next time

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

PS. If there is anything you would like to see here.. please email me at  [email protected]

Animal Wisdom

June, 2009

An Exploration of Deities and Their Animals

As a pagan, I recognize the intrinsic connection that we have with our animal brethren as our ancestors did. Even in our folklore throughout the centuries deities and mystical leaders have changed shape from human to animal and back again.  Is this a literal transformation or just a reference to our close connection to the animal world? Oftentimes we feel a bond with one particular animal, again this is reflected in our deities such as Athena whose totem was the owl, Rhiannon whose animal figure was a horse, or Bastet the cat Goddess often depicted with a septum piercing and kittens wandering around her feet.

Animals have influenced our culture in a big way, from every day work where we are “as busy as a bee” to our sex lives where we imitate our animal counterparts.  With Goddesses such as Bastet who represents fertility or Odin whose animal is the wolf and encompasses all the qualities of the alpha male. It is easy to begin viewing ourselves as our animal representations. Many of us are called to our deities, and those just beginning the path often need a place to start. So why not begin with the animal you are most drawn to? If you feel a kinship with deer then you may work well with Diana the Virgin Goddess of the Roman pantheon.

Below I have a short list some of the deities most often worshipped by those devoted to the Craft today:

Anubis: God of Death, Weigher of Hearts   Animal: Jackal

Cernnunos: God of the Wild     Animal: Stag

Cerridwen: Guards the cauldron of knowledge .Patron of poets  Animal: Wolf

Epona/Edain: Fertility Goddess became Goddess of cavalrymen Animal: Horses

Freya – Warrior Goddess, Goddess of the Divine Feminine   Animal: Horses

Gaia – Protector of all animals and living things   Animal: All

Hathor: Goddess of Sexuality, Joy and Music   Animal: Cow

Horus: God of Healing      Animal: Falcon

Juno – Goddess of marriage, fair play and retribution  Animal: Peacock

Mars – God of War      Animal: Bull & Wolf

Morrigan:  Goddess of War and Death    Animal: Raven or Crow

Sobek:  Sun God      Animal: Crocodiles

Almost every deity had their animal counterparts; just as in neo-paganism today we accept that we have our own animal totem. Oftentimes our deities will call to us through these animals, so be aware while you are out, if you have not yet found your Goddess or God it could be that you are ignoring the animal signs around you. If you have innumerable encounters with the crow or raven, it may be Morrigan who would like your praise or if you find a crocodile in your back yard in New England Sobek may be looking for your attention. Either way, pay attention not to just what the deity does but their animal representation as well.

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