Numerology: Why 2016 Was Terrible and Why 2017 Might Be Better

Vintage Numerology 9

“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number—
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Mask of Anarchy”

Long before astrology, even before witchcraft, numerology was my first foray into the mystical. It has always made perfect sense to me, the cyclical nature of life harmonizing with my belief in reincarnation. Numerology also helps to explain why 2016 was so universally terrible to so many people: it was a Year 9.

The number 9 is one of endings, the completion of the circle, a time for reaping what you sowed in the Year 1. 2008 was the year that started the cycle that ends with 2016 … so we got ours. A Year 9 can be a well-deserved culmination of hard work, and it can also be a white-knuckled roller coaster ride through chaos.

This may sound like hooey at first blush, but if you think about it, this is the natural order of things. Crops are planted from seeds, they need tending to while they slowly grow, they are harvested so that we can be fed, and then you start over again from seed. The plant cannot be harvested and still keep growing forever. Our life also goes in cycles, it’s not all a rocketship ride going straight up; it’s a circle, looping again and again. And this circle is closing.

If you had a good year in 2016, it was likely because you were ending things. Personally, some of the best things about my entire year involved endings. I finally finished my Master’s degree (English Literature) that I started in 2004. Yes, 12 years ago. I needed that cycle to end, and I was on the ropes until the last moment, but end it did. I now have my degree. I also ended my High School teaching career this year – rather abruptly, I might add – and I got a job teaching College that same day. Those endings are what a Year 9 is all about. You put in the hard work, stumbling along the way, but in Year 9 things do come to an end. That can be a profoundly good thing. Terrifying, but good.

On the other hand, I tried to start something this year: buying a house. It’s month 7 of this misadventure and I can’t imagine much more going wrong. But hey, I knew better than to start something like this in a Year 9 and I did it anyway. It’s still going on, and it looks like it might end with the Mercury Retrograde on January 9th, but who knows. That’s why it’s not the best idea to start things in Year 9’s.

The thing with a Year 9 is, there is (often) no safety net. You jump without looking, or you stay where you were for another cycle (like me and my 2 year degree that took 12 years to get). This begs some questions though: What to end? What to cut? What to release? That’s the big question that lingers as this year ends. I have questions that I’m struggling to answer, too. Not everything is as clear as my two positive examples above (the latter of which I agonized over and wasn’t clear until I jumped, thanks Year 9). Nor was it obvious that buying a house wasn’t an ending (aka ending my time in this apartment). As the year ends things look a lot more clear.

Of course, as the nine year long cycle moves forward in 2017 you’re not locked in completely, that would be absurd. However, you may have gotten some big chances this year to end things and some of you took the (terrifying) leap. You may have had a terrible year, but what better to shake off complacency? Sometimes we are at our best when we are forced to rise to the occasion.

2016 is a year of endings. Take stock of what is truly not serving you anymore, and let it go. Now is the perfect time, lest you drag a bunch of unwanted garbage into a new cycle with you. And who wants to spend their fresh start with garbage everywhere? I mean, you can, but why would you want to when the only person it hurts is you?

2017 is a year of new beginnings. That also means hard work. I think we’ve all seen it on the horizon, looming like a storm cloud. I feel like 2016 has left a lot of us battered and bruised, and if you need to recuperate, do just that. When you are rested 2017 – a Year 1 – is a perfect year to work on planning, getting ready to sow the seeds that will be harvested as the cycle goes on (ending in 2025, which seems like a science fiction year to me from here). Don’t hit the ground running next year if you don’t want to.

The point of all this isn’t platitudes, some of us suffered real, lingering, losses this year. Losses that have changed us. Now it’s done. Pick yourself up, help someone else up, and let’s all move forward, better for having survived it.

Image found uncredited online; please let me know what book it’s from if you know.

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New Moon December 29th 2016 in Capricorn

Stellarscapes by Oriol Angrill Jorda

December 2016’s New Moon in Capricorn occurs at 1:53 AM EST on Thursday the 29th, and you can do your New Moon ritual in Capricorn on either the night of the 28th or the 29th. However, if you want until the 30th the Moon will be void-of-course until 8:29 PM when it enters Aquarius.

What is New Moon Magick?

New Moons are used for setting intentions with a manifestation point at the next full moon (in about two weeks, January 12th for this New Moon) and, way more importantly, a second, larger manifestation at the full moon at the six month mark (for this new moon it will happen on July 9th 2017). I always feel that it’s a good idea to dream big on the New Moons, to set intentions and put into action things that really matter, and that I truly feel are beneficial to me as a person. It’s a private ritual, so it gets real, but that’s because I’m really willing to push myself to be better all the time (in a healthy, positive, loving way, of course). Also, because the guidance goes so far out, I believe it’s important to do a little divination as well. While some people are drawn to pendulums, scrying, or runes, I always go for tarot, but you can use any form of divination that you feel comfortable with.

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January 2017 Book of Shadows Dashboards and Dates to Remember

Grimoire Dashboard January 2017

Hello, friends! The January 2017 planner dashboards for your Grimoire/Book of Shadows are now available now in the shop. I anticipate shipping them out the last week in December (I need a post office break), so they should arrive to people inside the US by January 1st. For this dashboard I added the Capricorn constellation and dates in the lower right corner; on the back is a compact flower of life that you can use as a crystal grid. Multitasking!

I chose the two little spirit children in kimonos for this month’s main image because I thought it would be perfect for the Lunar New Year. This planner dashboard was made using officially licensed images. Made for witches by witches!

I absolutely hope that I can make this a regular thing this year. Fingers crossed.

Important Dates: January 2017

8th: Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn Ends

12th: Full Moon in Cancer

20th: Celtic Tree Month of Birch Ends

21st: Celtic Tree Month of Rowan Begins

28th: New Moon in Aquarius

28th: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rooster/Chicken (New Year’s Resolution time if you celebrate the Lunar New Year instead of the Solar one.)

A Witch’s Guide to Starting Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows

This little adventure started when I tried to find planner supplies for my Grimoire. There’s almost nothing out there that’s specifically designed for witches, and what is out there is too fussy for my taste. I don’t know about you all, but for me, compiling a good Book of Shadows is very important to the practice of my Craft. Additionally, it’s so personal, it has to be perfect. The New Year (Lunar, Solar, or the Vernal Equinox) is such a wonderful opportunity for things like this, I think, but you can start your Book of Shadows any time. I don’t know about you, but I love a project. As far as witchcraft is concerned, this is the project of all projects.

For me, figuring out the format for my Book of Shadows was a near-identity crisis. Counting some missteps and corrections it took a year and a half for me to figure out what I really wanted. Here’s some advice from my try/fail/do it the hard way experience that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Grimoire or Book of Shadows?

I tend to use the two terms almost interchangeably, but they do have different meanings. In short, a Grimoire is impersonal and a Book of Shadows is personal. A Grimoire wouldn’t feature your personal dreams, tarot readings, crystal grids, etc., but a Book of Shadows would. Grimoires would be comparable to Commonplace Books which are/were collections of interesting facts, puzzles, and quotations that people used to maintain. It wasn’t a personal diary, but it was personal in an impersonal way. A Grimoire would be similar; it’s not a magickal diary, but it does contain magickal information. In short: You can put Grimoire information in a Book of Shadows, but you cannot put Book of Shadows (personal) information in a Grimoire and still have it considered a Grimoire. Some people suggest keeping two books (Flying the Hedge has a good article), and my partner suggested this very thing to me as well. The dashboards I made for my coven and myself (shown below) are designed for a Book of Shadows, because they’re about the here and now, containing specific a month, year, and dates. It’s not ‘evergreen’ material, which is what goes in a Grimoire. Eventually, I would like it maintain both a Book of Shadows and a Grimoire.

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Full Moon December 13th 2016 in Gemini

Gemini Constellation

Tuesday, December 13th 2016 is the Full Moon in Gemini, which the Moon enters at 7:06 PM EST that evening. The Moon leaves Gemini at 12:58 AM EST on Wednesday the 14th, so you should do your Full Moon charging on the evening of the 13th for that twinning energy. (That’s that I’m doing.) On Wednesday morning the Moon then enters Cancer at 7:09 AM, so if you charge on Wednesday night, you’re not getting Gemini energy, you’re getting Cancer energy.

To put it simply, do your Full Moon ritual after 7:06 PM EST the night of Tuesday the 13th, but before midnight. December’s Full Moon is the final of three supermoons in 2016, where the Moon appears to be both brighter and larger. 

About December’s Moon

There are many names for December’s Full Moon, but the two most common are the Long Nights Moon and the Cold Moon. Native Americans called it the Cold Moon for obvious reasons; the December Full Moon shines down on some frosty weather. Additionally, some Native American tribes called it the Long Nights Moon because it’s the time of the year when the night is the longest.  Regardless of what you call it, the meaning of the December Moon is clear: winter is here, and we must endure it.

With winter in full force this is a time of rest for many people, staying indoors with family to escape the snow, being snowed in and missing school, I hear that snow tires are a thing … curious. In Florida, where I live, the skies get gray is murky, and occasionally it gets down to around 50 degrees F and we all turn on our heaters.

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Book Review: Everyday Witchcraft by Deborah Blake

Everyday Witchcraft by Deborah BlakeThis year one of my goals was to read more, specifically about witchcraft and paganism. Most recently I finished reading Deborah Blake’s Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World. I am so pleased that I got this book and read it immediately instead of stuffing it in the back of my magickal book pile. I ended up really loving it, flagging dozens of pages, transferring quotes to my book of shadows, and generally thinking about living witchcraft everyday in a much more serious way.

The level of the book is probably not beginner, but is pretty much every level after beginner. Blake doesn’t explain witchcraft or paganism to the reader (thankfully), nor does she lean too much toward one path (thankfully). What she does do is gives lots of ideas for altars, elemental correspondences, home protection, and daily witchy stuff, none of which is fluffy nonsense. The chapters were around 20 pages each, which made it very digestible, and it’s organized into ten chapters with a bonus chapter of book recommendations (yes, please!). I ended up adding a whopping eight new magick books to my wishlist thanks to this reading, including one of Blake’s other books, which she plugs just a tiny bit too much (I don’t blame her though, if I had a book published I’d work it into every conversation, and she has a bunch of books out).

The beginning of Chapter 1 was when I knew that it was a volume that I would connect with. Blake writes: “Witchcraft today is different than it was in the distant past, when most of the people we would call Witches might not even have used that name for themselves. … Their Witchcraft may be where ours gets its roots, but it was not our witchcraft” (1). It might sounds strange, but that passage struck me forcibly. While we, as Witches and Pagans, do have information about “the old ways,” we do not live how they lived, and our Craft does need to adjust to this new world. Before I go on I have to say that there’s something about Blake’s authorial voice that I really connected with. I felt like I was talking to a friend, and that may be her writing, or it may be me reacting to her words, so keep that in mind as I continue to gush about this book.

Chapter 2 is where the title of the book comes in: The Everyday Witch. Even though the whole book is on this topic, this chapter especially focuses on living witchcraft every day and how that can be accomplished. I have added small, morning-time rituals to my day because of it, and I’m already seeing the benefit of that addition. In Chapter 5: A Simple Pagan Practice, Blake gives helpful advice on how to simplify the way you practice so that it can easily become part of everyday life. I think many of us fall into the trap of being pagan on “special occasions” like the Sabbats, being witches on the Esbats, and not really thinking about it every single day.

My absolute favorite chapters were clustered together near the end of the book. Chapter 6: With a Little Help From My Friends makes a compelling argument for being “out of the broom closet” and how to present yourself as a pagan/witch. As someone who has recently “come out” as a witch, I thought this was a great chapter, because it argues that we need to consider ourselves as ambassadors for the Craft. Chapter 7: Fur, Feather, and Fang is about familiars and addresses the “spirit animal” debate that’s so heated right now, including a helpful and culturally sensitive solution. Finally, Chapter 8: Your Magickal Home includes very helpful tips for infusing your house with magick, something that I am particularly interested since we might be moving soon. That’s a rundown of my favorite chapters; I really couldn’t help myself from including a bunch of them here.

If you are a witch, new to the Craft or a veteran, who needs practical ideas on how to better make witchcraft part of your everyday life, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Cross posted on my new website, Crystal Court Coven.

Muggle-Friendly Holiday Cards for Witches and Pagans

Yule is one of the Sabbats that blends almost seamlessly with its Christian holiday equivalent: Christmas. Christians have appropriated so many pagan things from Yule, but left them so relatively unchanged that even your Catholic mother-in-law won’t suspect a thing. The noticeable exceptions to this rule are the date (Yule is the 21st, four days before Christmas) and holiday cards.

This year I really wanted to send out Yule cards, so I went on a quest. My first stop was Barnes & Noble. There I found an amazing selection of cards, one of which had a great image of the Holly King (I mean, SANTA CLAUS) on the cover. Unfortunately, on the inside it erroneously declared: “Merry Christmas!” Whut? Why is the Holly King celebrating Christmas? I digress … I then turned to the internet for help; here’s what I found.

Winner! The Yuletide Blessings card from Amber Lotus Publishing. A set of 12 is available on their website for $13.99 (I paid more than that on Amazon, but it ships free, so do your research). Inside it reads, “Warm wishes for this Winter Solstice.” They have a lot of other cards which means that I will be able to buy Yule cards from them for years before I have to find a replacement. Amber Lotus has cards for many different denominations as well and they range from serious to humorous. I think the card I selected works even if you’re in the broom closet, but they have some good, vaguely-pagan holidays cards that are even less suspect than this one.

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Grimoire: December 2016 Dates to Remember

December 2016 Dashboard

Hello, fellow witches and pagans! It’s December already and I thought it would be nice to list some important dates that are coming up this month. As I write posts for them they will be linked here, so feel free to bookmark this page if my blog isn’t on your feed reader (or add me to it!). You can also get new posts emailed to you my using the signup box on the toolbar.

Above is a A5 planner dashboard that I made for my grimoire. If any of you are interested in one, they will probably be in around the 7th, and I will make them available in my shop then. I have a lot of goals for next year and my grimoire is at the top of that list.

Update: The December 2016 Book of Shadows/Grimoire dashboards are available in my shop now and are on sale!

Important Dates: December 2016

13th: Full Moon in Gemini – Final gratitude list of the Solar year.

19th: Mercury Retrograde Begins – in Capricorn; ends January 8, 2017.

21st: Yule/Winter Solstice and Sun Enters Capricorn

22nd: Celtic Month of Elder Ends

24th: Celtic Month of Birch Begins

29th: New Moon in Capricorn – Make your New Year’s resolutions/intentions on this date, unless you celebrate the Lunar New Year (as I do).