Every autumn folks become enamored with “witchcraft.” When the annual autumnal uptick is accompanied by the release of a popular book or movie like Hocus Pocus or Harry Potter interest in the occult skyrockets.
A surprising variety of traditions fall under the umbrella “witchcraft,” which encompasses everything from Sami Shamanism to Haitian Voodoo. You can see lists of the various religions HERE and HERE. To the best of my knowledge, Halloween isn’t a holy day for any of them.
Fictional stories, like the Harry Potter series, bear no resemblance to actual pagan religions. Sure, pagans enjoy dressing up and handing out candy as much as our Christian brethren. But that’s generally the extent of our participation. The influx of folks seeking admittance to “secret Halloween rituals” are left confused and disappointed. The only hocus pocus they’re likely to find on Halloween will be playing in theaters.
Few people realize Halloween’s origins are purely Christian and its customs uniquely American. Continue reading →
Writers get a lot of terrible advice. Among the worst are phrases like “follow your passion” and “believe in yourself.” This type of advice sounds inspirational—in reality it’s just nonsense. Meaningless platitudes won’t make you a better writer or increase your word count.
Another equally useless piece of advice is “find your muse.” I’m all for seeking inspiration, but there’s a glaring problem with this advice. Most people don’t know who the muses are. Worse, they have no idea how each of their domains aligns with the different genres. Continue reading →
We all joke about the dubious search histories of authors. A mystery writer might search “best ways to hide a body.” Crime and thriller writers might search “how to hide drugs in your car.” So, what’s in my search history? Abortifacients and emmenagogues.
Some people just won’t take no for an answer. Members of Doug Wilson’s cult fall into that category. The rogue pastor preaches that slavery should be legal, husbands should beat their wives, women should not be allowed to vote, and sexual assault is a man’s right. Their goal is to achieve a whites-only, Christians-only community, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
After years of being told that I’m not wanted in the community and having people drive by my home shouting, “nigger lover” and “act white,” they have finally changed course. Instead of threatening, shunning, and harassing me (which obviously doesn’t work), they have decided to buy me out. Continue reading →
In ancient Celtic culture, Druids received visions while foraying in dedicated rowan groves. With this guided meditation, into the rowan grove we go, to call out the darkest, scariest aspects of ourselves in order to examine our shadow side.
As a tree for all seasons, the rowan is sacred to many Earth religions. White spring-time blooms give way to lush summer foliage, which melts into golden and scarlet displays of autumnal color. In the winter, ruddy berries brighten the bleak landscape and provide a much-needed food source for songbirds. The tiny pentagram found on the base of its berries, gives a quiet nod toward the tree’s strong magical associations. Continue reading →
In the Celtic calendar, the New Year starts at Samhain. This ancient framework merges solar and lunar cycles, dividing into just two seasons, summer and winter. The thirteen lunar cycles are purely Celtic, taking their names from the thirteen sacred trees. Holy days derive from the solar cycle, with the principal Celtic festivals occurring at the mid-points between the solstices and equinoxes. These days are considered auspicious as being part of the time between times.
The modern pagan calendar conflates the holy days from both the Celtic and Germanic traditions with the additions of Midsummer and Yule representing the solstices. The Lengthen Efiniht and Harfest Efiniht are the Vernal and Autumnal equinoxes, respectively.
Some of the holy days already have undeniable associations. The most obvious being Lugh/Lughnasad and Belenus/Beltene. Owing to the blending of Celtic and Germanic traditions, the remaining holy days are not so easily assigned. For those of us who prefer venerating Celtic deities, that means that one cannot simply point to archeological evidence and come up with a definitive answer, because no such answer exists for half the sabbats.
After a fair bit of research, reading, and soul searching, I have matched each sabbat with a Celtic deity. These are presented below: Continue reading →
I give this book 5/5 stars only because it is not possible to award it an entire constellation.
Delightful Workbook for Magical Women
This book kept me from languishing! While nearly everyone was bemoaning being locked-up, locked-down, and social distanced, I explored the magical world that was my own kitchen. The spells, rituals, and informational asides kept me entertained through much of the pandemic, nurturing both body and soul. Continue reading →
I’m in the process of removing an enormous shrub in my backyard and planting a fairy garden in its place. Quite a bit of thought has gone into deciding which plants to include and how they should be arranged. Shamrock was one of the plants I settled on.
All clover varieties are sacred to fairies. The shamrock especially so for leprechauns, those lusty, capricious little fellows whose magic might delight you one day and kill you the next. And you needn’t search for a four-leafed clover in order to be blessed. The distinctive tri-leaved pattern of common clovers is sacred to the Celtic triple goddess Brigid. (That’s Saint Brigid for the Catholic folks among us.) Continue reading →
Len Pennie, a 21-year-old Fife student is making waves in Scotland with her poem, In Memorium. The poem honors Scots women who were persecuted for witchcraft between 1563 and 1736.
The poem was commissioned by the Witches of Scotland campaign who have lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament seeking to secure a pardon, apology, and national memorial for the nearly 4,000 Scots accused, convicted, and executed for practicing witchcraft. Their petition states: “As with elsewhere in Europe, the vast majority of those accused, some 85 percent were women.”
Pennie describes the treatment of accused witches as “state-sanctioned murder” and pledges to “demand justice” for those who were tortured and tried under the Witchcraft Act, branding it “a punishment lacking a crime.” Continue reading →
This book came to me at an exceptionally low point in my life. I was juggling three jobs, one of which required me to deal with a gas-lighting supervisor, was experiencing chest pains and hypertension, and sleeping maybe four hours a night. To say I was burnt out was an understatement. With the help of this book, I set healthy boundaries, quit what was an undeniably bad job, lost 52 pounds, and saw my blood pressure drop 30 points.
In The Witch’s Book of Self-Care, the author quickly addresses the common misconception that self-care involves sitting on your laurels, eating bonbons, having spa days, and engaging in retail therapy. Self-care takes work in order to have a lasting impact on your life. This is not a book to be read in an afternoon. It needs to be savored, taking as much time as necessary to master each task before moving on to the next topic. Continue reading →