September 2017 Magickal Link Roundup

First of all, hello everyone! It’s been a long hiatus (almost 3 months!) and I’m not promising to be 100% back just yet. I’ve had a lot going on – which is such a generic thing to say – but more specifically I am dealing with health issues, so self-care has become my #1 priority without exception. My #2 magickal priority is my own coven, and then the blog here is #3. Don’t expect super long posts, but I will try to stop by more often again.

This is a new idea, so who knows if it will stick, but throughout the month I’m always finding great witchy writing around the web that I collect with the hope that I’ll add the best parts of them to my grimoire. I thought it would be fun and maybe even helpful to post them here. If you have a favorite witchy post/blog/product to share, please feel free to post it in the comments.

~ September 2017 Magickal Link Roundup ~

“Autumn Leaf Spirit Sculpture” by Mujuworld – This beautiful little sculpture would be a great addition to Mabon altars, and the artists were bold enough to wish everyone a happy Mabon on the equinox. Any opportunity to support a fellow pagan artists is something I’m always for.

“Becoming Dangerous: A Book About Ritual and Resistance” by Katie West – The link here takes you to West’s Kickstarter campaign, which is for a book of personal essays on ritual by marginalized people. The reference to emoji spells makes me cringe a little, but this book is intriguing and is definitely worth a share.

“Crystal Horoscopes: Healing Gemstones for Virgo Season” on Astro Style – While Astro Style can be fluffy and has only started writing about witchcraft now that it’s popular, their posts can be helpful. This post is a good, basic overview of how to use peridot and moss agate during a Virgo cycle.

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A Witch’s Guide to Lunar Trackers

Bullet journaling seems to be tailor made for witches of all levels who are interested in tracking their practice. A sub-set of bullet journaling is graphic trackers, of which a moon wheel is about as perfect for witchcraft as you can get. Lunar trackers can be used to keep track of the minutiae of the moon’s movement throughout the lunar cycle, thus helping witches move into advanced spell work and get to know themselves (and their craft) better.

Getting into intermediate and advanced witchcraft requires more advanced lunar tracking techniques; whether you choose to use the information or not, it’s good to know where the moon’s at. While waiting until there is a waxing moon in Scorpio to do you body-positivity spell may sound fussy, it can give a much-needed boost to witches moving into a phase of more advanced spellwork. My disclaimer is that, if you’re a baby witch who is just starting out, don’t be bothered too much about moon times or signs. Full moon and new moon are the only dates you need to know, once you’re completely comfortable with that, then move on to more advanced tracking.

I recommend using the lunar tracking wheel (pictured above) made by Cheeky Magpie; I like a plain one, but she also created some with seasonal backgrounds that are very nice. Witches are not, by a big stretch of the imagination, the only people who track the moon. People plant by it, fish by it, breed animals by it, track their cycles by it, even use the moon to monitor their moods; just about anything you can think of people have used these moon charts for. Because they are so non-denominational, I’ll show you how to witch them up for your practice.

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Numerology: Limping Through 2017

In December I posted about why 2016 was such a rough year and specifically used Numerology to explain it. I said, in short,  that 2016 was so rough for so many because it was a Year 9. What I didn’t write about was that, even though Year 1’s have the possibility to be better … they aren’t always so great at first. There are two potential reasons. One is because the trials of 9 only reward those who let go of what they were supposed to. The other hiccup is that sowing the seeds for the upcoming nine year cycle is hard work at a time when many of us are not yet ready for it. Especially if the necessary “letting go” process of last year was incomplete or didn’t happen at all. If the Year 9 “let go and leap” dictum wasn’t fully embraced, there are going to be unresolved issues lingering. This Year 1 of 2017 may be going great for you, and it may not. It may be lousy now and good later. The generally lousy vibe in the air right now may very well be due to the Saturn Retrograde that’s putting so many of us in statis (thanks Saturn) and/or the Mercury Retrograde in Taurus/Aries that’s sending us into a spendy semi-rage. There are a whopping five planets in Retrograde in April 2017 so it’s Retrograde City right now, basically. However, Retrogrades are perfect for ending things, so it’s actually a great opportunity to release anything you stubbornly brought with you into 2017 (like me, personal example to follow).

In December, here’s how I explained the Numerology cycle:

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.

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April 2017 Retrograde City: Jupiter, Mercury, Pluto, Saturn, and Venus

April 2017 shall hereby by be known as Retrograde City due to an unusually large amount of planets (five) being in Retrograde this month. The list is: Jupiter, Mercury, Pluto, Saturn, and Venus. It it going to be as bad as it sounds?

I love a good list so let’s start with looking at the dates that each planet will be in Retrograde. By the by, this would be a good list to copy into your Book of Shadows or Grimoire.

  • Mercury – Retrograde from April 9th -19 in Taurus; April 20th to May 3rd in Aries
  • Jupiter – Retrograde from February 6th to June 9th
  • Pluto – Retrograde from April 20th to September 28th
  • Saturn – Retrograde from April 5th to August 25th
  • Venus – Retrograde March 4th to April 15th

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May 2017 Book of Shadows Dashboards and Dates to Remember

Hello, friends! The May 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 April at the latest, so they should arrive in time for Beltane. This month’s dashboard features a third-eye-open witchy woman in a constellation dress with an herbal slash tea slash mushroom theme surrounding her. On the back is a sacred geometry symbol that you can use as a crystal grid. Multitasking!

The pale yellow is perfect for late Spring season, and June’s upcoming dashboard will feature a darker, more summery yellow.

Important Dates: May 2017

1st: Beltane (May Day)
3rd: Mercury Retrograde Ends in Aries (yay!)
10th: Full Moon in Scorpio
20th: Sun enters Gemini (it’s Gemini season!)
25th: New Moon in Gemini

This planner dashboard was made using officially licensed images. Made for witches by witches. I hope you like it and find it useful!

Astra Anima’s 2016 Year in Review

I thought it would be nice to end 2016 by posting a year in review for the Astra Anima blog, which I really started writing for in February 2016. It wasn’t until October that I really figured out what I wanted the blog to “be,” and after that point posts became way more frequent and focused. Below are my 18 favorite posts from the year, broken into categories.

Articles

The Lunar New Year 2016: The Year of the Monkey for Pagans
My Thoughts on Love Spells, Consent, and a Self-Love Alternative
The Magick of Tanabata
Crystal Closeup: Citrine
A Witch’s Guide to Starting Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows
Numerology: Why 2016 Was Terrible and Why 2017 Might Be Better

Book Reviews

– 2016 Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living; Llewellyn’s Witches’ Companion Series
– Samhain: Rituals, Recipes, and Lore for Halloween; Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Series
– Everyday Witchcraft by Deborah Blake

Moon Magick

New Moon October 30th in Scorpio
Full Moon November 14th in Taurus
New Moon November 29th in Sagittarius
Full Moon December 13th in Gemini
New Moon December 29th in Capricorn

Sabbats

Eight Samhain Sabbat Celebration Ideas
Muggle-Friendly Holiday Cards for Witches and Pagans

 Mercury Retrograde

Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde 4/28/16 – 5/22/16 in Taurus
Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde 8/30/16 – 9/22/16 in Virgo

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.

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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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).

Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde 8/30/16 – 9/22/16

 

Mercury Retrograde Street Sign

Another Mercury Retrograde season has come and gone, this one spanning (more or less) the first three weeks of September. With Mercury going retrograde in Virgo, I expected things to be a real mess, since the sign rules over organization. I will admit that my files got a touch disorganized, but, on the whole, this retrograde wasn’t too bad for me.

Some greatest hits include the brakes on my car suddenly making a horrifying noise, but I immediately pulled over and got them fixed. Another was that my S.O. and I made an offer on a house, which had been on the market for six days with no offers, only to get immediately outbid. Finally, I spilled a full glass of water on my new Macbook … but it was fine. Though I did totally freak out, to be honest.

Those are the three that I can remember because, as you know, I do not keep a running tally during the retrograde. I really do believe that list making is a form of minor magick, and, as we all know, like attracts like.

Maybe being a Scorpio helped me out this time, but who knows. Our next Mercury Retrograde is December 19th 2016 through January 8th 2017 in Capricorn. A Mercury Retrograde in that sign would likely effect traits like respect, responsibility, support, and authority. Remember it can go either way though, you would be totally unsupportive, or be so supportive that it borders on codependency. My theory is that the retrograde has a stronger impact depending on your sign, so we’ll see what happens. (Holidays are always crazy though, so this isn’t exactly a welcome retrograde period).

What was your experience with the September 2016 Mercury Retrograde? Was it damage control all month long, or did you escape relatively unscathed?

Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde 4/28/16 – 5/22/16

Mercury Retrograde by Adam JK

Whelp, we survived 2016’s second Mercury retrograde, hurray! Each retrograde seems to have different effects, for example, during the January 2016 retrograde I broke tons of stuff. I heard it was rough for a lot of Scorpios during January though, so I was hoping the May one would be a little better, and in a way it was … kind of.

The first week to ten days of the May cycle I was so grumpy, I fought with my boyfriend many times, and it was obvious that I was picking fights with him. Luckily that subsided pretty quickly and didn’t peak again at the end. My Aquarius boyfriend always gets the worst of the retrogrades, and he’s very understand, but it’s still unpleasant for all parties.

Make It Rain

Me during May 2016 retrograde, as portrayed by Diddy.

The May retrograde was in Taurus, too, which rules over money, and man was I feeling the effects. First of all, I got so spendy. I mean, buy, buy, buy … I bought a ton of stuff. Once more, I missed out on a ton of good deals. I used a 20% off coupon at Michael’s and got a 30% off coupon emailed to me the next day ($10 loss). I got a Kawaii Box subscription and, before my first box was mailed, a blog I follow posted 20% off a coupon ($12 loss). I bought a subscription (a trend I guess) to Faerie Magazine and some back issues, before my subscription has started they have a deal that when you subscribe you get the very back issue I bought for free ($14 loss). There was at least one more example, but I’ve forgotten it. The worst, which I just remembered, was buying Pikmin 3 for the fam for $47 only to have it become some special $20 Nintendo re-release during the retrograde. Whut?! That’s $27 lost to the bull! I did a bit of a total at one point and there was about $100 of non-saved purchases that I found deals/coupons for the day or two days after I bought them. Yikes!

Also, they say there’s a bit of a “halo effect” around the retrograde, like a splash in a pond, and I have to confess that there was a huge communication breakdown with a parent (I’m a teacher) on the 23rd that spilled over into the 24th and – long story short – I was reprimanded … with 9 days left in the school year. On top of that I wrote two referrals today, both for students (teenage girls) who were being flat out belligerent. I’m hoping now, finally, that Mercury is direct, things will calm down.

So how did you all survive the May retrograde this year? I’m wondering if certain moon signs felt it more than others (like us Scorpios back in January) and who it was that got the brunt of the retro-wrath. I’d love to chat with you in the comments!

The Lunar New Year 2016: The Year of the Monkey for Pagans

2016 the Year of the Monkey

2016, the Year of the Monkey

The Lunar New Year was on February 8, 2016 this year, though technically, this is the 4,713th Lunar Year. As a Monkey (metal) myself I welcome all the new Monkeys (fire) born this year. Many pagans don’t know much about the Lunar New Year (also called the Chinese New Year), even though so many of us follow a Lunar cycle. I believe that there are lessons for us in it regardless, and as an eclectic Pagan-Taoist, it’s a holiday that is especially important to me.

Monkeys are a sign of laughter, goofiness, intelligence, and a lack of self-control. For me, some of it seems to make no sense because it am not indulgent in vices and I work hard, but if you look closer you’ll notice I have lots of hobbies and interests which removes the ability to focus on just one. I am a very sarcastic person, always joking, and was the class clown in High School, but I’m also finishing my MA in English Literature. As with all signs balance is key, so this is not necessarily going to be an easy year for us Monkeys, as we are the ones whose issues come to the forefront. That being said it has the potential to be amazing because happily our strengths are here as well! Physical health, good communication, and temperance must be kept in mind this lunar year. It is a year of activity, creativity, and harnessing those things, if you can make them work to your benefit, is a very good thing. Monkeys are smart but they can also be dishonest, so spend the year experimenting with honesty, it can be freeing (see Pamela Meyer’s “How to Spot a Liar” TED Talk). The Tao says not to try and eliminate your weaknesses, but to make them into your strengths, excellent advice for this lunar year.

Monkey’s complimentary signs, Rat and Dragon, will have especially good years, since the Lunar zodiac is very focused on balance. Like with tarot, I do not believe in negative readings in astrology, only challenges that we will be given the chance to overcome, and never-ending chances to work on our karma.

Ideas for Witches

If you are a witch who is interested in adding some Lunar New Year magick to your practice here are some suggestions.

New Moon Ritual – Adding Lunar New Year elements to your February 8/9 New Moon Ritual is an excellent way to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Set an intention related to creativity, physical health, education, or temperance.

Auspices – Creating and searching for auspices on the Lunar New Year is a long-held tradition. Wearing a lucky color like red is one way to celebrate the New Year even if you’re in the broom closet. Mandarins, tangerines, or oranges are excellent for eating and bringing as gifts for co-workers or class mates as they symbolize abundant happiness.

Imbolc – The Lunar New Year is closely associated with Imbloc as it is a time to completely clean your house and an excellent time to plant seeds and/or bring flowers or small plants inside. The Lunar New Year is also a candle festival (plus fireworks), and you can even consider adding the Legend of the Guo Nian to your Imbolc celebration if it resonates with you.

Divination – If you keep a divination journal recording dreams is important, even if they don’t make sense immediately. Looking at them again at your year-in-review almost certainly will make their meaning clear. If you keep an animal journal remember to write down every animal that you see today, they can have meanings for the entire year to come. In my tradition, New Year’s Day is used to symbolically represent the entire year. Depending on your tradition this could be Samhain, Yule, the Solar New Year, or the Lunar New Year. Try recording the events of the New Year’s Day in a diary/journal and reviewing them at the end of this year for accuracy. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, record and review for all four; the right answer will reveal itself to you. Also, and this is important, do not stress about a “bad day,” I’ve had a number of bad New Year’s Days and those years, while challenging, were ultimately very necessary for happiness.

Lai See Envelopes – Even if you’ve never heard the name, you’ve probably seen red Lai See envelopes somewhere before. I have Hello Kitty ones that I got at the Sanrio store, so trust me when I say they’re pervasive. It is traditional to give these envelopes down the ladder, meaning, not to superiors. For example, if you are a parent you would give an envelope to children, however, you would never give envelopes to your parents. If you’re a manager you would give them to your employees, but not your boss. If you are a school teacher your students would receive envelopes, but not the principal. Traditionally the envelopes contain money, but you could include lucky Feng Shui coins, joss paper (aka Hell Bank Notes or ghost money) that can be burned to deceased ancestors, or a heartfelt letter of appreciation.

Continuing Education – If you are interested in adding Lunar New Year traditions to your pagan practice then this is an excellent time to expand your knowledge of these traditions and see if they are right for you and your craft. Learn more about Feng Shui, read Eastern fables and fairy tales such as Ancient Fables and Folklore of Japan or The Kojiki, or research Eastern gods and goddesses. You might just find something that works brilliantly for you, and at worst, you will learn something new. Perfect for the Year of the Monkey!

In conclusion, I hope that you found my write up for the Lunar New Year, the new Year of the Monkey, to be interesting and informative. Please let me know if you have any questions, anything to add, anecdotes about your own experiences, or anything at all!

Here’s to an auspicious Year of the Monkey!

Further reading/resources:

Astrology Club – 2016 Year of the Monkey
Flower and Fruit Meanings for Lunar New Year
Wei Terng Tong’s Predictions for the Lunar New Year