As many of you know, I recently graduated from Ohio University with my B.A. in History. One of my required courses was a Historical Research and Writing class, and it was awesome. After all, it combined three of my favorite things: history, research, and makin’ words! My professor, Dr. Mark Nevin, was fantastic, and over the course of 14 weeks, we each developed a thesis, pored over acres and acres of primary and secondary sources, and finally presented an academic research paper in which we supported our thesis argument with all of the evidence we could find. Continue reading By Sorcery, Charm, or Enchantment
So, Good Witch’s Daily Spell Book was supposed to be released on December 30, just in time for everyone’s annual I Ate Too Much Over the Holidays And Seriously Need a New Me phase. Unfortunately, there’s been a delay in the publication schedule, so if you haven’t spotted GWBSD in your local B&N, that’s why – because it ain’t there yet.
However, the good news is that my awesome editor assures me it will be released in February, which is very exciting – it means you can get it in your hot little hands by spring, which will come in handy since many of the spells in it suggest you get outside! Also – Mother’s Day gifts in May. Your mom wants a copy, trust me on this.
So, in addition to that update: there’s something else really cool going on, but it’s still kind of a Secret Project! As soon as I can announce it officially, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops!
In the meantime, I’m going to post something really neat that I think you’ll all enjoy, just to tide you over… stay tuned!
Exciting stuff, you guys! Lookie here! It’s the cover artwork for The Good Witch’s Daily Spell Book, which will be out in December, and available in Barnes & Noble stores and at BN.com…
And it’s GLORIOUS.
You guys, I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be presenting at Dayton’s Pagan Pride celebration on Saturday, October 1st! If you’ve been wondering about the magic of household witchcraft, you’re not going to want to miss my workshop – we’ll talk about household altars, kitchen magic, and (totally my favorite part) using mundane items in magical workings. Yes, if you’ve ever pondered how to use things like dog biscuits, a pair of socks, or an adult toy in a magical working, you totally need to stop by for this one.
I’m pleased to say I’m in really good company for this event – author Tish Owen, singer Kellianna, and rootworker Elizabeth Ruth will be there, along with Michael Dangler and Seamus Dillard of The Magical Druid. Join us for a magical day of ritual, workshops, vendors, and more!
Hey, guys, I made you a thing! Feel free to Pin, share, or download the infographic below, which has a bunch of fun and simple (and cheap) decorating ideas for the upcoming Lammas sabbat! Click on the magic infographic for more detailed info on how to set up affordable and easy Lammas decor.
This is a review which originally appeared on my About Paganism site – the content has recently gone away (because book reviews generally don’t garner a ton of page views) but since I’ve been delving deeper into Appalachian folk magic recently, this is a good time to re-share it.
Staubs and Ditchwater: A Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks’ Hoodoo, by Byron Ballard.
I first met Byron Ballard in March 2012, when I visited Asheville, North Carolina, to cover the story of the Buncombe County School District and their religious materials policy. She’s one of those people who makes everyone feel comfy and welcomed, with her earth-mother vibe and say-what-you-mean-mean-what-you-say personality. When I heard she was writing a book about mountain magic, I was thrilled. As someone whose ancestry is deeply rooted in the hills of western Kentucky, I’ve always been fascinated by the concepts of magic as found in Appalachia, borrowing much of its roots from the folk magic of the British Isles and other far flung places.
Staubs and Ditchwater: A Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks’ Hoodoo is a perfect primer for those practitioners who are interested in looking at magic from a practical and traditional standpoint. The book is divided into six chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of mountain magic, and accompanied by brilliant essays detailing Ballard’s own experiences, both as a practitioner of magic and as an Appalachian woman.
She makes the important distinction, early on, that the witches in her own family never saw witchcraft as a religion – it was a practice, and a skill set to be cherished.
Chapter One delves into the tools of the trade – tools which include imagination, intuition, and the ability to read and interpret the signs that the natural world is sending you. Chapter Two takes things a step further and looks at the material tools that some folks like to use – a basket of herbs, upcycled Mason jars, and poppets, to name a few. Here’s where the chapter really grabbed me, though – the mention of working with Allies.
By Allies, Ballard is referring to assistance from both the spirit world and the mundane. Whether it’s your ancestors, the spirits of the land, or other people in your community who practice folk magic, it’s good to have some backup on hand. I’ve always thought of this as a sort of magical wolfpack – if you’ve got allies, as Ballard points out, you’re never really alone. She points out the importance of teamwork: You are there to share what you know, to compare notes, to learn in a way that is humble and respectful… Don’t be a jerk.
In Chapter Three, the notion of stockpiling supplies is addressed. If you have the land and the wherewithal, grow your own herbs, and store grease and oils and other bits of useful material. Learn how to use them in a way that is practical and reasonable, and you can’t go wrong. In the absence of the opportunity to grow your own, Ballard encourages you to barter or buy from other practitioners – after all, if you need a particular candle, and the only place that has it is the local Spanish marketa where the brujas shop, then hie thee to the marketa. This chapter also includes a valuable compendium of different types of water and its magical uses. Did you know that stump water holds the magical essence of the tree in which it steeped? Me either!
Chapter Four explores divination and omen-reading – and points out the difference between the two. An omen, specifically, is something natural that you’ve observed – a trio of crows sitting in your tree, perhaps, or a swarm of insects landing on your window. Divination, on the other hand, is the art of looking at the future to see what’s around the corner – and there are a number of different methods. Ballard reminds us that if you’re going to read omens, it’s crucial that you learn about the natural world where you live. Because snakes in the driveway in April might be perfectly normal in your neck of the woods, but a very odd occurrence indeed three states away.
Ballard shares some of her own home-grown recipes and goodies in Chapter Five – be sure to read this part, because she takes time to explain the symbolism behind the methods. In other words, not just “do this,” but “if you do this, here’s WHY.” Good stuff indeed.
Chapter Six wraps things all up, in Ballard’s folksy, come-sit-by-the-fire-and-have-some-tea way of storytelling. Staubs and Ditchwater: A Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks’ Hoodoo is more than just a book on magic – it’s a conversation with a wise old friend, like chatting with someone you’ve known all your life. Well worth reading, and more importantly, worth reading again.
Visit Byron online at My Village Witch.
This article originally appeared on my About.com site, but since book reviews tend to show an underwhelming long-term performance there, I’m going to be gradually migrating some of them over here instead. I thought I’d kick things off with one of my favorite reviews, of a book by one of my favorite people, Kris Bradley, also known as Mrs. B.
If you were familiar with Kris’ blog, Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, that she ran up until 2013, you know that she spent a lot of time encouraging readers to find the magical in the mundane, and to look for the spiritual in everyday things around the house. By bringing magic and the divine into your home, you can find a brand new way to look at your practice – and that, in turn, translates into so much potential for witchery around the house!
Mrs. B launches right in, and the first chapter of Mrs B’s Guide to Household Witchery focuses on making the mundane magical, by taking a quick room-by-room tour of your home, starting with your very own front door. Ever think about hanging a protection bag over your stoop? How about sprinkling salt across the windowsills? The living room, laundry room, and especially the kitchen can all be magical places, and Kris offers tips on how to specialize the magic in each of these areas. Bonus area? Adult bedrooms can be a place of all kinds of sexy magical shenanigans!
The second chapter addresses the four classical elements of earth, air, fire and water, and how they can be applied in a domestic setting. Balance in the home is important, and it’s useful to figure out what sort of energy a room has in it already, in addition to what sort of energy you’d like to have there. By using household items such as houseplants and modeling clay, windchimes and ceiling fans, lava lamps and hot plates, or coffee pots and fish tanks, you can incorporate the elements and their energies into any room.
One of my favorite chapters, by far, is the one on Household Guardian Spirits. While I realize that not every practicing Pagan incorporates household guardians, for those of us who do, this section comes in very handy. There’s a review of some of the many domestic spirits found in a variety of cultures, including many you’ve probably never heard of.
The next section focuses on magical recipes – and anyone who’s hung out over on About Paganism for any length of time knows I’m a big fan of mixing up some kitchen magic! With a combination of herbal blends, incense and oil mixes, and even a house wash, there’ s a little bit of something for every domestic goddess (or god) in this part of the book. The witches’ herbal is useful as well, as a basic primer for those who are just beginning to delve into the use of herbal magic.
Finally, Kris wraps things up with some simple sabbat celebrations for those of us who are just plain busy. Got just a few minutes to spare? Celebrate five minutes alone, or a small group ritual for Samhain, Yule or the other Pagan holidays.
Mrs B’s Guide to Household Witchery is a very back-to-basics approach to modern domestic witchcraft. Kris shows that you can drop all the trappings, forget about the fancy commercially-bought tools and gizmos you have, and just do as our ancestors once did – use what’s handy and use it wisely. Take advantage of the natural magical energies of your home, and celebrate the space you’re living in.
Things I’d like to see in a follow up book? More household craft projects, and more in-depth ideas about incorporating magic into day-to-day practices like cooking, cleaning, and organizing the home. On the whole, Mrs B’s Guide to Household Witchery is a great book for those who are just beginning to explore their domestic witchery options, and a good refresher for those of us who have been doing it for a while and needed a bit of a reminder on how to turn the mundane into magic. I’ll give it 9.5 broomsticks out of ten!
Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
I love to color, and as much as I hate to sound like that annoying hipster barista at your favorite coffee shop, I was actually coloring a lot before it became a trend. It’s therapeutic and keeps me from throwing rocks at people or eating my feelings.
One of the best things about coloring becoming popular, though, is that now, instead of being stuck with Dora the Explorer and Ninja Turtles, there are a floppity-million coloring books out there for grownups. No matter what your interest – I have Outlander and Game of Thrones – there’s something for you to color in.
Which is why, gentle reader, when the nice folks at Red Wheel Weiser sent me their newest foray into the world of coloring, I may have squee’d just a little bit. The Witches Almanac Coloring Book is FUN, y’all!
It’s divided into seven sections – Woodcuts, Constellations,
the Planets, Creatures, Egyptian, Americas (unfortunately short), and Tarot. It’s a neat collection of artwork to color in, and I’m seriously enjoying it.
The best part: I really love the Tarot section. The images are from the Rider Waite Smith deck that we’re all so familiar with, and includes all of the Major Arcana. If you’ve ever felt like the traditional RWS colors didn’t resonate with you, now’s your chance to change that. Make the sky purple any time you like.
Also, I loved seeing the woodcut artwork, many of which were featured in days gone by as illustrations for anti-witch treatises – you know, the ones where we’re all Satan’s whores? A lot of the woodcuts will look familiar to regular readers of the Witches Almanac publications; they’ve been used by Weiser regularly, and for the most part, these are fantastic.
My one complaint? A few of the images – not many, but a few – appear so stretched that they appear pixelated and blurred, which makes them less than appealing to color. For the most part, though, the lines are nice and crisp. The book is a good quality – especially for the $12.00 price tag – and there’s a nice mix of different styles in there. In all, the good definitely outweighs the not-as-good. I’d give it eight broomsticks out of ten!
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
I don’t know if you guys are familiar with Media Medusa, and specifically, Nancy Basile, but if you’re not following the site, you should be. All kinds of cool pop culture things lurk over at MM, from TV to movies to books, so go check it out!
I first met Nancy when we were co-conspirators at About.com, and we discovered pretty quickly that we had a lot in common – the same weird sense of humor, an unabashed love for Outlander‘s Jamie Fraser, and no lie, we both have the Imperial March from Star Wars as our ringtones. It’s like we’re Geek Twinsies.
Anyway, I got to do a little virtual hangout with Nancy for an interview over at MM, and you should really go read it, because she asked some great questions about the creative process (spoiler: my process is possibly non-existent), inspiration, and why I even write in the first place. Go read it now! Author Patti Wigington Casts a Spell
OMG YOU GUYS.
I have some super exciting news! I’ve partnered with Sterling Publishing to create The Good Witch’s Daily Spellbook! This collection of 366 spells – one for each day of the year – is designed in a way that’s useful for both beginners and advanced practitioners. No fancy hard-to-find tools, no hours-long rituals, just magic on the fly when you need it – as it should be!
I’m super excited about this project, and my editor, Chris Barsanti, is going to be an absolute dream to work with. TGWDSB will be out in December 2016, marketed in Barnes & Noble stores (Sterling is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BN), and available in a snazzy gift-sized hardcover for just $7.98. I’ll let everyone know as things progress, like cover artwork and pre-order options, but I’m so jazzed about this that I can barely type coherent sentences right now. Stay tuned for more, and join me for one heck of a magical ride!