Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2018 Magical Almanac

Llewellyn's 2018 Magical AlmanacLlewellyn’s 2018 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living is one of the publisher’s annual offerings and contains a series of interesting articles geared toward pagans and witches. It is Llewellyn’s longest running annual and is similar to the Witches’ Companion, though it differs in some key ways. The Almanac is divided into four sections: Earth Magic, Air Magic, Fire Magic, and Water Magic. In the center there is an Almanac Section that has information on Moon signs, Sabbats (Northern and Southern Hemisphere), and a calendar that contains Moon information and various festivals. The Magic sections are filled with 7-8 articles each with a total of 29 articles in this edition. Each article has a different author and are around 5-10 pages long apiece. There are many different kinds of articles, not all of which work for me, but there’s plenty to like. Below are my favorite articles from each section along with some information about them.

Earth Magic

“The Five Celestial Animals of Feng Shui” by Mireille Blacke

To be honest, I have never connected with Feng Shui, but I still found this article very interesting. It covers the celestial animals and their properties, as well as how to use the information to arrange your home. Maybe it’s my inner clutter bug that’s resisting, but after reading this article, I wanted to give Feng Shui another try.

“The Problem with Offerings” by Lupa

I really enjoyed this article because this is an issue that has been on my mind for the better part of the last year. Offerings are a standard piece of pagan and witchcraft practices, leaving something behind for nature to reclaim as a gift of thanks. However, every single thing has a carbon footprint, and while I do still like leaving food (which Lupa argues well against), their ideas for replacement ‘offerings’ was helpful and very appreciated. I am absolutely incorporating some of them into my practice immediately.

Continue reading

Eight More Yule Season Celebration Ideas

Yule Ornaments on a Tree

It’s that time of year again when the holidays are already in stores and you’re making cocoa regardless of the temperature outside: Yule! I don’t put my Yule decorations up until after Thanksgiving (American), but the pre-game? It’s already started. Below are eight ideas for Yuletide fun that I hope you’ll enjoy.

1. Full Year Divination: Now that the nights are long, doing divination for the full Wheel of the Year to come is a fun way to pass a lazy evening. It takes a little while, but the results can be illuminating. Suggested spreads include the Yule Tree spread found in Yule by Susan Pesznecker, a Wheel of the Year spread with one card to represent each of the eight sabbats, or a 12 card spread to symbolize each month in the solar year. You can vary this one and go a 12-13 card spread for each Full Moon in the lunar year as well. Be sure to record the information in your Book of Shadows and reflect on it as the year goes by.

2. Gift Tag Wish Tree: A wish tree is part of Tanabata, or at least that’s what I always associated it with. This activity uses that traditional festival as a basis, and adapts it for Yule. This activity works well for witchlings and families as well as solitaries and witches in the broom closet. Once your tree is up, use paper gift tags to write intentions or ‘wishes’ for the New Year. Fold the tags so that the writing cannot be read; then hang them on the tree. Either on Yule or when you take the tree down, dispose of the tags by burning them in your cauldron (recommended) or burying them, if they are biodegradable.

3. Give Back: Last year I recommended giving back to nature, but people also need a little help getting through winter. Charity is a wonderful quality to bestow to witchlings, too; in my house we never threw anything out that wasn’t damaged beyond repair, we rehomed it or gave it to charity. I also never sold gifts, if something was given to me and I no longer wanted it, I gave it away. This year consider giving back in any way you can. Go through old clothes and donate them, sponsor a child for the holidays through a local Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, or other organization. Donate canned food, go to a soup kitchen, or adopt a family for a holiday dinner. You can also support Giving Tuesday, which is the first Tuesday after US Thanksgiving, a day that a lot of people donate money to charitable organizations.

Continue reading

How to Make a Yule Countdown Calendar

Advent Calendar

Over the past year I’ve softened a lot on the blending of pagan Yule traditions and Christian/secular Christmas traditions. One of my personal favorite traditions growing up was an advent calendar; probably because I got a present every day. Regardless of my dubious childhood motivations, below are some ideas of how to adapt an advent calendar to a pagan tradition that I call a Yule Countdown Calendar. I hope your family enjoys it. (And yes, I know it’s November, I’m just excited about the upcoming holiday season.)

What’s a Yule Countdown Calendar?

The word “advent” is a play on the Latin word for “coming” because, I guess, Christmas is coming and everyone is excited. This Yule Countdown Calendar works the same way, Yule is coming to let’s get excited about it. Traditionally, an advent calendar has 24-25 days, depending on whether there’s an extra gift on Christmas. The Yule Countdown Calendar should have 19-23 days, depending on a number of factors. If you want a box on the day of Yule, that day will be included, if not, the last box should be the day before. If you celebrate Yule on December 21st, that’s either 21 boxes (day of Yule included), or 20 boxes (last box on Yule eve). If you celebrate Yule as the Winter Solstice, the date will change from year to year, and you can adapt the Yule Countdown Calendar accordingly.

How Does it Work?

Every morning up to and/or including Yule, one item on the Countdown Calendar is opened, but only one a day. On December 1st item #1 is opened, on December 2nd item #2 is opened, and so on. If your calendar stops on Yule Eve, that gift is usually a bit fancier. I suggest making the last day Yule Eve since the gifts will steal the show on Yule. However, if the Yule Countdown Calendar is the whole gift, then Yule day should be included, and it should be the ‘big’ gift. If you have multiple witchlings, you know they count gifts and compare; giving everyone a Yule Countdown Calendar shuts down the fairness-based whining pretty effectively.
Continue reading

Indie Deck: Seventh Sphere Lenormand Deck by Labyrinthos Academy

I am a huge fan of both Lenormand cards and Labyrinthos Academy, so when they started teasing a Lenormand deck, I knew that I would need it in my cartomancy collection. I received the Seventh Sphere Lenormand Deck for my birthday last year, so this will be a sort of capsule review alongside information about the deck.

Seventh Sphere Lenormand by Labyrinthos Academy

The Seventh Sphere Lenormand Deck is a modern version of the traditional 36-card deck, created in Labyrinthos Academy’s unique style. There is something that feels both very modern and quite dark about this deck. Interestingly enough, the artist does admit that creating this deck was the first time they worked with Lenormand cards, which may have been what contributed to this feeling. The images on the cards, as you can see above, are done in a dark, cool color scheme, with occasional splashes of greyed coral or mauve. It’s a moody deck full of clean, digital illustrations, and it feels contemporary.

Seventh Sphere Lenormand by Labyrinthos Academy

The deck itself is printed on “waterproof, eco-friendly plastic” cards, the size of a standard playing card deck. The back of the cards are matte white, embossed with a metallic, rose gold heptagram. The seven pointed star is alchemical symbol allegedly associated with paganism, but which I have never encountered. To be honest, I cannot stand the white backs, but maybe I will soften to them over time. I know that rose gold is on trend, but I don’t know why else it was used. White, aka the color that gets dirty instantly, as a card back; I’m having a hard time getting passed it. It also doesn’t match the moody vibe of the cards, and feels like a misstep to me.

Continue reading