25 Books to Nourish Your Inner Witch

From lucid dreaming to tarot reading to real-life ghost stories, this list suggests a little something for everyone.

Getting ready for your first summer getaway?  Make sure you pack something to enhance your magical practice!

I included the link to Amazon for each book for your convenience, however, I strongly recommend you check your library first, particularly if you live near a major metropolitan (but even if you don’t).   My local library consistently surprises me with what they offer in terms of occult volumes and books about witchcraft.

In no particular order:

25 Books to Nourish Your Inner Witch

Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold.  If you’ve never experimented with the soul-rocking experience of lucid dreaming, this book belongs on your night stand.  Start it at the beginning of the next lunar cycle for a bite-sized breakdown of how to dream lucidly—and yes, you can learn it.

The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyer.  One of the few books to include both the metaphysical (“magical”) properties of herbs, and the medicinal, this definitive guide finds an indispensable place on the herbalist witch’s bookshelf.

The Moon:  Myth & Image by Jules Cashford delves deeply into the rich historical symbolism of the moon and its cycles.

The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmare by Ed Warren.  A chilling, well-documented book about a family that claimed to live in a haunted house in Pennsylvania, this nonfiction account makes a page-turning read for anyone with an interest in the paranormal.

A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics & Pagans.  I’m always interested in books about witchcraft written by non-practitioners.  This one focuses mostly on the roots of European witchcraft, which puts important context to the art of the modern practitioner.

25 Books to Nourish Your Inner Witch 6

Garden Witch’s Herbal:  Green Magick, Herbalism & Spirituality by Ellen Dugan.  This lovely introduction to green witchery presents earth magic in friendly and approachable format.

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carol.    This classic-yet-still-edgy fairy tale takes the reader to an alternate reality of enchanted rabbit holes and articulate, hookah-smoking caterpillars.  Alice in Wonderland inspires even the most practical witch to imagine the unseen worlds around her.

Kitchen Witch:  A Year-Round Witch’s Brew of Seasonal Recipes, Lotions & Potions for Every Pagan Festival by Soraya.  If you tinker with the idea of bringing your magical practice in the kitchen, this book aims to crack open your creativity and get you started.

Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering & Design by Margaret Shepard.  With today’s generation all but driving even basic cursive to extinction, the art of calligraphy remains on the endangered species list of education.  But it’s a wonderful skill for anyone who keeps a paper version of their Book of Shadows.

Sea Magic:  Connecting with the Ocean’s Energy by Sandra Kynes.  If you plan to head to the coast this summer, let this book inspire you to work with the energy of the ocean.  As an avid sea witch, I enjoyed the author’s imagination and enthusiasm for the growing art of sea magic.

Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal by Rosalee de la Foret.  This recent-release and instant hit in the herbalism community maintains a 5-star rating with almost 1000 Amazon reviews—no easy feat in any genre.  Check out this excellent introductory guide to the most natural medicine in the world.

Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life by Pauline Campanelli.  In a way, this book inspired Moody Moon’s blog.  Campanelli’s intuitive approach to the turning of the seasons sparks creative ideas and infuses everyday projects with a warm, magical glow.

Beeswax Alchemy:  How to Make Your Own Soap, Candles, Balms, Creams & Salves by Petra Ahnert.  Nothing beats making your own ritual candles from scratch.  Even if you already developed and honed candle making skills, this book still makes a lovely addition to the candle maker’s library.

25 Books to Nourish Your Inner Witch 2

Designing Your Own Tarot Spreads (Special Topics in Tarot Series) by Teresa Michelson.  Or any book in the Special Topics in Tarot Series, which I discovered years ago and still refer to as a professional tarot reader now.

Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self If you consider yourself a “natural witch” and love to make your own body care products, this book offers the best recipes for homemade body care.  You won’t find subtle, intricate techniques like this on Pinterest.

Your Book of Shadows: How to Write Your Own Magickal Spells by Patricia Telesco.  For the newbie witch.  To the frank annoyance of more seasoned practitioners, many new to witchcraft eagerly go about requesting spells for very specific purposes that generic spells fail to cover adequately.  This book makes an easy answer to those requests:  Why not write your own?

Utterly Wicked: Hexes, Curses & Other Unsavory Notions by Dorothy Morrison.  Morrison bravely covers the topic of hexes and curses, a subject that pagan writers before her refused to “touch with a ten foot pole” (as she explained in her recent interview with me.)  Morrison uses techniques from hoodoo and voodoo traditions, as well as other eclectic ideas, to fill this long-standing gap in pagan nonfiction.

Warrior Goddess Training: Becoming the Woman You Are Meant to Be by Heatherash Amara.  While not specifically written for neopagans (I suspect the author intended to reach a broader, more mainstream audience), this book clearly draws on modern goddess spirituality to inspire confidence and strength in your life.

25 Books to Nourish Your Inner Witch 5

Pagan Holiday:  On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists by Tony Perrotet.  If you plan to head to Europe this summer, toss this one in your suitcase.  In this unique travel book, Perrotet & his girlfriend follow the path of ancient Roman-pagan tourists to historical sites that continue to draw crowds today.   I love the premise so much, I wish I thought of it myself!

Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism by Todd Leonard.  Did you know Abraham Lincoln’s wife regularly invited spiritualists to the White House to communicate with the dead?  If you ever wondered how the Ouiji board rose to fame and found a place in the mainstream American household, this fascinating history of spiritualism covers the topic thoroughly.

Wicca Essential Oils Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Working with Magical Oils, with Simple Recipes & Spells by Aleena Alastar.  This freshly-printed potion-making guide introduces the concept of using essential oils for magical purposes.

The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity by Steven Greenebaum.    This much-needed endorsement of religious tolerance reads especially relevant in the current climate.  Although written primarily for people of major world religious faith, the lesson is a universal one.  Particularly recommended for those on an “eclectic” spiritual path.

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods & Heroes by Edith Hamilton.  This classic read introduces the basics of the major European pantheons.

Witchy Mama: Magickal Traditions, Motherly Insight and Sacred Knowledge by Melanie Marquis.  As a recently blessed mother of one “witchlet-in-training,” I discovered surprisingly few books on the subject of raising a child in the Craft.  This lovely volume makes a wonderful gift for the expecting pagan mom.

21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer.  This clever approach to tarot reading offers something for the beginning and advanced reader alike.

 

 

Save

Advertisements

10 Magical Ways to Use Your Chalice

There it is, on your shelf, where you’ve been neglecting it for many moon cycles.  It’s time to dust off this classic altar piece and bring it back into your ritual rotation.

IMG_1603


If you’re lacking inspiration, try using your chalice . . .

To pour libation.  Pour any liquid libations, like wine or juice, from a chalice for an elegant touch.

To collect rainwater for blessing.  Leave your chalice in the rain for pure, natural water to use in making moon water or herbal infusions.

In binding rituals.  If you have a small coven, and it doesn’t weird you out to drink from the same cup, Chalices are a lovely way to seal the bonds of sisterhood.  Choose a blended wine, pass the chalice around the circle, and have each member pledge their friendship to the people next to her.

In handfasting ceremonies.  Similarly, add a “unity chalice” in place of the unity candle at a handfasting ceremony.  The couple each pours some wine into the same chalice, and then they each drink from it.  We used this idea at our vineyard wedding for a rustic touch and it worked out beautifully.

For scrying.  Fill your chalice with water, then add dragon’s blood ink or another dark ink to the water.  Take it outside under the full moon and use it exactly as you would use a scrying mirror.

In place of a cauldron.  If your chalice has a heat-safe finish, place a charcoal disk inside and burn your ritual herbs in it.  The visual of smoke rising from the chalice adds a mystical quality that I just love!

To dress up cakes and ale.  Don’t use plastic or disposable cups for cakes and ale!  Chalices make everything feel so much more witchy.  Serve your cakes on a formal serving plate and add chalices for a classy ritual that would please Martha Stewart herself.

To float candles.  If you are working with the energies of fire and water, floating candles inside a chalice makes an effective way to blend these elements.

To cleanse gemstones.  Leave your gemstones or crystals in your chalice with water and place in the moonlight overnight to cleanse and charge them.  Just be sure you know your stones!  Some dissolve in water!

To blend potions.   Blend small batches of oils, infusions or brews for immediate use in your chalice.

mabon incense 3

[Guest Post By My Wild Way] Old Wives Tales: A Little Bit of Magic

Hollie from My Wild Way agreed to share with us a little magic in the form of folklore  She lives in the south of England and first began learning about magic from her aunt when she was young. She has always felt drawn to the wild way of life and now shares her pagan journey on her blog.

Old wives tales have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They are very common in Britain and are part of our heritage. I wanted to share with you some of the tales I have grown up with, and still guide my life today.

There are some that seem to be just a way to scare children into behaving appropriately, such as “If the wind changes while you are pulling a face, it will stay that way”.  To me, this just sounds like someone trying to stop you making rude faces.

The sayings I want to share with you the ones that seem to have a little bit of magic behind them. Those that when you hear them, you know they are rooted in history and folklore. They bring a sense of wonder to the everyday and are a gift from the wild people who came before us.

2 (1)

If the cows are lying down it is going to rain– one of my favourites! If you live in a rural area I hope you would have heard of this one. It is quite self-explanatory, if the cows are lying down then we are to expect rain. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I live in England so it does rain a lot. But I have to include it as I was brought up hearing it, I can’t vouch for its legitimacy but if I see a group of cows lying down then I do always expect the sky too soon pour.

2 (2)

This next one takes on the form of a rhyme, I am aware that there are several different variations of this but here follows the one I grew up with;

“Red sky at night, Shepherds delight,
“Red sky in the morning, Sailors warning”

This means that if the sky is a beautiful red hue in the evening then we are to expect a lovely weather the following day. If it’s a red in the morning, then we are to expect bad weather throughout the day (a warning to sailors that there will be a storm). I still live by this one and to my knowledge, it has always been correct!

If you purchase a purse/wallet as a gift for someone, you must always place in it a piece of silver. Now that our money is no longer made of silver, we use the equivalent of a 10p or 20p piece. This is to bring good fortune to the receiver while they use their gift and to this day, I have never been given a purse which doesn’t have a silver coin inside.

1

When I was younger, I learned this one; my parents took my brother and I to view a house they were interested in buying. The house was lovely, but there were spiders and cobwebs everywhere. My dad is scared of spiders and needless to say they did not end up buying it but I did learn this little gem from the owner. The lady went on to explain that it is unlucky to remove spiders and their cobwebs from your home during the month of September and October. I had never heard of that one before or since visiting the house, but I love that this knowledge has been passed down throughout the generations in her family and that she still lives by it. Therefore spiders are safe in my home during September and October.

If your ears are burning then someone is talking about you. I would place money on this that if you were to walk into a room of people (in England) and state that your ears are hot and red, someone would tell you that you are being talked about. This is just taken as fact in my neck of the woods.

I hope you have enjoyed the few that I have shared. I find them so interesting because they are Folklore, they have absolutely nothing to do with science and are based on reading the signs that nature gives you. As the name suggests they are the sayings of the women of the village, the ones who were most likely witches.

mabon incense 3

Save

10 Spring Crafts for Wiccans

With just a few more weeks of winter ahead, the earth already begins to warm and wake up, pushing up delicate baby green grass and soft, pastel-colored bulbs.

Spring is almost here!

Here are a few activities to get you inspired for the coming season.

spring-crafts-for-wiccans

1.  Try a bird feeder wishing spell.   Choose a spring fruit and hollow it out (grapefruits are nice).  Fill it with appropriate herbs and stones and close it up, securing it with a ribbon or string.  Carve symbols in the flesh.  Cover with peanut butter and bird seeds and hang it somewhere it your yard under the full moon.  Every time a bird comes, imagine it is carrying your wish to the heavens.

2.  Decorate eggs naturally for Ostara.  Rather than using the dye kits to decorate your Ostara eggs, try using natural dyes like tea, blueberries and other naturally occurring pigments.

3.  Make an “enchanted” flower bouquet.   This one is particularly fun if you’re knowledgeable about the local flowers and plants.  Choose a theme, like “love and attraction” or “home blessing.”  Go on a nature walk and pick out local flowers, herbs and plants that you associate with this theme.  Leave it in your kitchen to bless your home with the energy.

flowers

4.  Head to the farmer’s market to cast your first kitchen witch spell of the season.    Living close to the earth starts in your kitchen!    Search the farmer’s market for the freshest natural, sustainable spell ingredients and design a ritual around what you find.

IMG_8014e

5.  Make an outdoor pillow with a twist.  Pick up some outdoor fabric (available at most fabric stores during the warmer months).  Throw in a pinch of lavender, mint or dried lemon rind and leave it in your coziest outdoor living space to bless the garden.

6.  Make your own bath magical products.  If you enjoy whipping up your own bath band beauty products from natural, wholesome ingredients, try making them with magic in mind.  Spring is prime time for beauty spells, so get cracking before the season slips away!

lavender rub

7.  Make some new ritual wear.  Good with a needle and thread?  Try making your own ritual robe.  Choose a flattering pattern, select a pattern or color for your robe that speaks to you and go to town!  Get creative.  You can even add beading or buttons with moons or other symbols.

8.  Plant a magical garden.  You’ve always meant to do it.  This is the season!   If you’re intimidated by the green arts, start small.  A simple window box will do.  Choose herbs that are easy to grow and magically useful.  The possibilities are endless.  Bury gemstones in it, choose garden ornaments and symbols with meaning to your practice or create a space for your moon rituals.

9.  Create a spring altar piece.  The craft stores are full of items perfect for making an altar piece for the spring season.  I craft these little boxes last year, and they were a hit on my retail site.

ostara altar box with nest

10.  Craft your own dandelion wine for libation or cakes/ale.  I love the potent spiritual power of making my own wine for libation.  I also enjoy getting creative with the cakes/ale portion of a ritual.  Dandelion wine makes an excellent spring-themed substitute for Ostara and spring moon rituals.

IMG_4920

mabon incense 3

 

Save

Save

Save

Interview With Dorothy Morrison

 

moody-moons-interviews-dorothy-morrison-web

That’s right!  I scored an interview with one of the most successful pagan writers today, Dorothy Morrison, to talk about her thoughts on ethical dilemmas, writer’s block and breaking into the pagan book market.

Q:  First things first.   What’s new?  What have you been up to lately?  Is there anything upcoming that you’d like us to know about?

A:  First of all, I’m putting away my luggage.  [Nineteen years on the road is enough for anybody!  LOL!]  I have one more appearance in July in Atlanta before I do, though.  It’s Mystic South – details can be found at https://mystic-south.com/ –  and I hope folks will come out for that.  It’s going to be a great conference, with fabulous speakers, and lots of wonderful classes.  And I can’t think of any place I’d rather finish my touring.

I’ve also put my “author’s pen” away – at least for a while – but that doesn’t mean I’m retiring.  Instead, I’m concentrating my efforts toward Wicked Witch Studios – www.wickedwitchstudios.com – which offers my Hexology line of spell jars, and Wicked Witch Mojo line of candles and oil, as well as other magical supplies and accoutrements for the discriminating Witch.  And since I handle everything – including making most of the offerings – and service several retail stores across the country, I’m going to be just as busy as ever.

Q:  You’ve been writing about pagan topics for a long time.  What was your favorite book to write?  Which was the hardest for you?

A:  That’s a really tough one, because books are a lot like children:  Each one is unique, and you love them all.

If I had to choose, though, I’d have to say Utterly Wicked was the most fun to write, because I got to discuss a subject that most other authors wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole – and that was really exciting.  That book also gave me a platform to say all the things I’d wanted to say but couldn’t, as there was no way to fit that much information into a 2-hour workshop time slot.  Best of all, though, there was no heavy editing – my editor was wonderful – so my voice comes through loud and clear with every sentence, and the information is imparted just the way I intended.

The most difficult one was my novel, Lucinda’s Web.  I had no previous experience writing fiction, and while I’m fairly good at drawing folks into a story, I was concerned about the dialogue – something that has to flow properly to give life to the characters.  My good friend, M.R. Sellars – an award-winning novelist – was gracious enough to give me a few pointers, though, and it all turned out fine.  It even won an award.

Q:  Will you tell us a little about your writing process?  Where do you go looking for inspiration?

A:  When one lives as long as I have, finding inspiration is easy.   For me, it’s found in  personal experience, the mistakes made along the way- some of which have been real doozies – and what I learned in the aftermath.  So, I take a trip down memory lane. There’s always a tidbit or two that stands out – something of value that I think might help someone else – so I grab it, and go from there.

My writing process is disciplined, but fairly simple.  Since most manuscripts encompass 300 double-spaced pages – and are due six months after contract – my rule of thumb is to write three pages per day.  Sometimes, I’m able to whip that out in fifteen minutes.  Sometimes, it takes all day.  If I’m on a roll and write twenty pages, so much the better – but writing more than the intended amount does not absolve me from having to write three pages the next day.  I stay on task and on schedule until the manuscript is ready for submission.  It’s really is that simple.

So…why the “three page a day” rule?  For one thing, writing three pages isn’t overwhelming – and once that’s done, I can spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want.  But just as important, I can complete nearly a third of a manuscript in thirty days, and the entire first draft in a little more than ninety.  And with a six month deadline, I have time read it through, make any necessary changes, and still turn it in under schedule.

Q:  You have decades of experience as a practicing witch.  What was the most difficult ethical problem you faced as a practitioner, and how did you handle it?

A:  Believe it or not, it had nothing to do with any magical effort on my part.  Instead, it presented itself in those that other practitioners planned to perform – magical operations that went against my grain – and whether or not it was my place to stop them when they asked for my advice.  That was tough for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, butting into someone else’s business often does more harm than good; moreover, it can also keep someone from learning personal life lessons.  The other thing, though, is that nothing in the world can stop someone from doing something they really want to do.  The best you can hope for is a delay – and that’s just a temporary fix.

I finally decided that my ethical responsibility began and ended with saying something if I saw a problem.  And with that realization came a solution that was simpler than I ever imagined.  It was just a matter of asking the practitioner the right questions.  What was the desired outcome?  Was the proposed operation was going to bring the desired result?  Or was it only going to relieve the practitioner’s frustration?

In asking those questions, I honored my ethical obligations.  And the practitioner, in answering them, saw the bigger picture and what was necessary to achieve the desired results.  It worked out well for everyone concerned.

Q:  As a leader in the pagan community, what do you feel is the most important issue facing the pagan community today?

A:  While I’m sure there are many who will disagree with me – and maybe even be appalled at my answer – I think it’s the lack of a good old-fashioned reality check among a large portion of its members.

For one thing, sweetness and light doesn’t solve everything.  There are times when one has to grab some gumption, defend oneself, and fight.  Someone who’s harming you or yours simply cannot be stopped with a hug, or an “I love you” – and it’s ludicrous to even think it might.  What’s more, the deities with whom we align ourselves never took that route.  And expecting Them to protect us when we won’t even try to protect ourselves is absolutely absurd.

Magic doesn’t solve everything, either.  There are times when a conversation – no matter how uncomfortable – is in order.  Times when a face-to-face confrontation is necessary.  And times – mere words can’t even begin to express how important this is – to pick up the phone and call the police.

The point is, we can’t fix any of the other issues facing our community-at-large until we fix ourselves.  Until we grow up and stop living in a fantasy world.  Until we stop hiding behind magic and take some responsibility for ourselves and our actions.  Until we finally come to the realization that we live in the mundane world, and give it equal time with the spiritual.  Only then will we be able to conquer any other problems that come our way.

Q:  On a personal note, I very much appreciate your willingness to approach subjects others tend to shy away from.  You’ve written about some pretty controversial topics in modern witchcraft.  Particularly, the book Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes & Unsavory Notions comes to mind, among several others.   Why did you feel it was important to contribute to discussions like these?

A:  The reasons are many.  But first and foremost, they involved subject matter about which everyone was curious, but no one in the community would discuss.  At least, not out loud.  And I thought it was high time that someone not only offered a reasonable explanation, but offered some good, solid, useable information.

Of course, one of my pet peeves with “modern Craft” has always the one-sided focus on the light – something that came about in an effort to make the ancient arts seem harmless, and appear more mainstream.  It was one of those things that looked good on paper, but really didn’t serve anyone well, because it presented a skewed view of magical practices.  Had that view not been passed on through generations of up and coming practitioners, it might not have been a problem.  But it was.  And that not only left magical practitioners without the tools to defend themselves, but scared to death that the sky might fall if they tried.

So, I felt it was important to remind folks that our world is designed on a system of checks and balances.  That everything we encounter in this life- whether emotional, physical, or scientific – is balanced with a complete and opposite measure of equal value.  We find those balances in night vs. day, yes vs. no, guilt vs. innocence, cold vs. hot, and on and on and on.  That said, there is no way we can have the light without the dark – especially when it comes to the Craft.

The other thing is that everything that could even remotely be seen as “negative” seems to have gotten a really bad rap.  Even worse, those who subscribe to the “harm none law” seem to have dismissed the fact that they, too, are part of those who should not be harmed.  And those ideas have caused some real problems.  How?  Because to truly practice the ancient arts, one has to first come to an understanding of his or her emotions, and get them in balance to strengthen the spirit.  And if they’re completely ignoring some, or pretending they don’t exist, that just isn’t going to happen.  Embracing both the positive and negative with equal measure is imperative toward spiritual health.  And when the spirit is healthy, what was once seen as dark ceases to be scary, it becomes more than reasonable to defend oneself, and worries about the sky falling fly right out the window.

Controversial or not, these are the sorts of things that really do bear discussion.  Otherwise, the world winds up with magical practitioners who lack the tools to work effectively.  And a practitioner who can’t work effectively doesn’t serve anyone well.

Q:  With its diverse cast of colorful characters, whom among pagan writers do you admire most?  What authors influenced you as you developed your writing style?

A:  I admire all Pagan writers, for they willingly share their knowledge and techniques with the world.  Those I admire most, though – far too numerous to list here – are those who do more than just write about the magical life.  They live it.  They breathe it.  They walk their talk.  They’re out there serving our community, and doing what needs to be done.  They’re excellent role models and prime examples of that to which every Pagan leader should aspire.

I began writing long before I came to Paganism – I even won several extemporaneous writing competitions while in high school – so those who influenced my writing style weren’t really other authors, per se.  A lot of credit goes to my mother, who was big on literacy, and never allowed us to write the language improperly.  But it was Pat Moore, my senior English teacher, who believed in me, took me under her wing, and honed my skills.  I only wish she’d lived long enough to see my first book published.

Q:  What advice would you give to aspiring pagan authors?

A:  Don’t quit your day job!  LOL!

The fact of the matter is that Pagan authors don’t make a lot of money.  They spend six months writing a book that – unless they self-publish – could take up to two years to see publication.  Once the book is published, they only make 10% of the wholesale price of the book – about 50% of the cover price – on books for which the book store has actually paid the publisher.  And if the book store returns the books, that money is deducted from the author’s royalties.  Of equal importance, royalties are paid only twice per year.  What that means is that you won’t see a check for the period of July through December until April or May.  So…it can be a long time between checks.

Going the self-publishing route might be a bit more lucrative, but I really don’t recommend that for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, anyone can self-publish these days.  So unless you’re an established author with a following – even if you’re an excellent writer and have a great book – there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to the self-publishing route, and that can be costly sales-wise.  For another, even e-books can be returned now, and those returns will really take a bite out your profits.

Please understand that I’m not trying to discourage aspiring authors.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Everyone has something to say and something to share, and there’s room in this business for everyone.  It’s just that it would’ve been really helpful to me if I’d understood the business a bit better before jumping headfirst into the world of Pagan publishing!

Business issues aside, though, the most common concern of aspiring writers seems to be conquering writer’s block – so I thought I’d share my favorite remedy for that here, too.  I simply picture myself having coffee with a dear friend, think about what I’d say about the subject matter in that time and place, and then…write it.  I don’t worry about my sentence structure, or whether or not the explanation flows.  All that matters at that point is getting something down on the page.  Writer’s block is yesterday’s news, and it’s easy to go on from there.

mabon incense 3

Pairing Wine with Ritual

The inclusion of wine in ritual holds a long-standing place with practitioners of the magical arts.

We might pass a chalice of red wine to each other to solidify bonds during a coven binding, leave it as an offering on the altar for the full moon, or let it flow plentifully to celebrate Beltane.

Partly because of its significance in ritual, and partly because my great-grandmother was a wine maker during prohibition (I come from a long line of rebels), I became fascinated with the art of wine making and took a part time job at a local winery a few seasons ago.

The process of making wine changed very little in the last 5,000 years.  Mostly, nature takes care of the key phases.  This continuity makes me feel connected to my personal heritage as well as our collective human ancestry.

As anyone with an interest in wine knows, “pairings” of wine with food ideally compliment each other mutually.

But wine also carries with it a spiritual energy.  With so much emphasis on wine in ritual, it surprised me to discover that very little information exists about what types of wines work with particular rituals.

So I selected some of the most common wine varieties to give you some ideas about how to “pair” wine with the seasons, the Sabbats and the moon cycles.  Enjoy!

img_7859

Sauvignon Blanc
Sabbat:  Imbolc
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Crescent)
Rituals:  Snow rituals, white magic, healing

Reisling
Sabbat:  Ostara
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Half Moon)
Rituals:  New beginnings, Fertility

Rose

Sabbat:  Beltane
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Gibbous)
Rituals:  Love spells, attraction

Champagne
Sabbat:  Midsummer’s Eve
Moon Phase:  Full Moon
Rituals:  fairy magick, sun magick, wishing spells

Pinot Noir
Sabbat:  Lammas
Moon Phase:  Waning Gibbous
Rituals:

Merlot
Sabbat:  Mabon
Moon Phase: Waning Crescent
Rituals:  Home blessings, family ties, binding

Petite Sirah
Sabbat:  Samhain
Moon Phase:  Dark Moon
Rituals:  Scrying, divination, communication with spirits

Blessed be!

mabon incense 3

Interview with Penniless Pagan

This week, we’re sitting down with Michaela from Penniless Pagan, who graciously agreed to answer questions about becoming a pagan, retreating to nature and her favorite herbs.

moody-moons-interview-copy

What brought you to paganism?  Was is it a particular moment of revelation, or a slow progression?

Like many people, I didn’t have the most stable childhood. Right around thirteen things were particularly heinous, and I began searching for something—anything—outside my house to keep me from having to go home. I came upon a really cool metaphysical shop several miles from my house and was immediately enamored with all the beautiful crystals and spell books inside. The owner was super friendly and welcoming, something I wasn’t experiencing at home, so it was nice to just spend a few minutes in a place that wasn’t seeped in negativity. He was so generous he actually approached me one day and said I could borrow any books in the store free of charge! Of course I read anything I could get my hands on!

As I said, thirteen was one of the worst years of my life, and I yearned for some stability and hope. When I discovered Paganism could be practiced alone, I dove in with every ounce of energy I had! Interestingly, this actually caused more strife in my home life, but ultimately gave me the strength to carry on. It showed me there was a reason to keep living, that bad things end and there was a purpose for my existence.

Did you come from another faith or spiritual background?

I was raised Catholic, but beyond bedtime prayers and celebrating the major holidays (basically Easter and Christmas), my family didn’t PRACTICE religion. Sure, they said they were Catholics, but they never went to church. EVER. The sole time I went to church for a Sunday mass was when I slept over a friend’s house the Saturday night prior! Of course, once I proclaimed in a very teenager angsty way that I was Pagan, crap really hit the fan! My mother’s husband even tried to throw me out…at thirteen!Sadly, this attitude wasn’t at all unusual for him. He was extremely abusive.

Ironically, because life is so wonderfully humorous that way, my father was very accepting of my new spirituality and even purchased books to learn more about it. Very interesting considering he was once a catechism teacher and heavily involved with the church! (Before I was born) Nowadays he’s of no particular faith, but he does remember to send me a text on every Sabbat. He’s thoughtful that way.

Fortunately, my family eventually got their heads out of their rears, into some fresh air, and realized I was not worshiping the devil! (For a spirituality that doesn’t even believe in the devil, we sure do get accused of that a lot, hm?!)My mom even transitioned to a blend of Christianity and Wicca years later. As I said, life is funny.

You seem like a practical lady who knows how to throw together a ritual on the go.  What’s your favorite “in a pinch” ritual idea?

Why thank you! =D My first go-to when time is tight is to simply BE! I think the biggest thing we all forget when trying to be “good” Pagans is that there isn’t a rule book! Life is a gift. The Goddess and God (Universe, Divine, etc) want us to enjoy it! So when a Sabbat creeps up on me and I haven’t planned an involved ritual, I simply go outside or to a park or for a hike and just take in the moment. I listen to the wind in the trees. I feel the breeze on my skin. I inhale the scent of the season. I marvel at the beauty around me. As I often say on my blog, the best way to honor nature is to be in nature! There’s no better way to celebrate a Sabbat than appreciating the nature around you!

What do find most challenging about being a pagan blogger?  Do your friends and family know about this side of your life, or are you a quiet witch?

As cliché as it is, I don’t want to disappoint readers.If they’re taking the time to read something I wrote, I need to make sure it’s worth it! It TRULY makes my day if someone leaves a thoughtful comment! It’s not unusual for me to text a photo of a reader’s comment to my husband or best friend with nothing but exclamation points as my message. It’s just SUCH an incredible feeling to know this tiny little post did something for someone. The world is a tough place; we have to help each other out!

My family and friends know I’m Pagan (it’s kind of hard to hide it with a pentacle tattooed on your ankle!). But only my husband and best friend know about PennilessPagan.com. I want to be able to connect with readers without feeling censored, and I just can’t do that if I know family is reading it. It’s kind of odd to say you can be honest with strangers and not your family, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. It comes back to creating healthy boundaries. It took me many years, but I now know who I can bare my soul to and who I need to meter. My family are decent people, we just mirror Arrested Development a little more than I care for! 😉

When you retreat into nature, where do you find yourself? 

The woods. Always the woods!

Herbalism is clearly one of your specialties.  If you were trapped on a desert island, what five herbs would you have with you and why?

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to answer this question!!! I LOVE herbalism. Like, if herbs were a movie, I’d be that weirdo that spends two weeks in a tent waiting for tickets to go on sale.

Without question, goldenseal and plantain leaf. Both are amazing anti-infectives, internally and topically! Peppermint for stomachaches and headaches.Slippery elm, which is super nutritious and can be eaten like oatmeal. And chamomile, because if you’re stuck on a desert island I’d imagine you’re a tad stressed! =P

I imagine you probably do some wildcrafting.  What are your favorite items to look for on a nature walk?

Due to his job, my husband and I currently live in a very rural part of New Mexico. This part of the desert receives less than 10 inches of precipitation on year!  (You’ll hear me complain talk about this on the blog from time to time.) Therefore, wildcrafting isn’t as plentiful as I would like, but it’s something I eagerly await once we return to grass and trees.

But the desert isn’t entirely without its perks. One of the gems of the Southwest is the prickly pear cactus. It has this BEAUTIFUL fruit that yields the most gorgeous, vibrant pink juice. The juice is very beneficial for inflammation, which is fantastic because the dust and high winds produce tons of respiratory issues. Of course, it is a cactus so you have to harvest the fruit with thick gloves and pull the spines out with pliers. There’s very little in the desert that isn’t pokey and spiney. That’s why no one calls nature enthusiastscactus-huggers. 😉

Anything else random you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I will knock over small children and the elderly to get to baby goats! Just love ‘em!

 Penniless Pagan is a blogger, novel writer, and enthusiastic proponent of affordable, natural living.

mabon incense 3