New Moon May 25th 2017 in Gemini

May’s New Moon in Gemini occurs at 3:44 PM EST on Thursday the 25th, and you can do your New Moon ritual on either the night of Thursday the 25th or Friday the 26th at any time. I’m very happy that this New Moon has more time in which to observe it than some of the previous ones this year. The only hiccup is if you try to observe the New Moon early on Wednesday the 24th, the Moon will be void-of-course from 3:08 PM until 8:15 AM on Thursday the 25th when it enters Gemini.

What is New Moon Magick?

New Moons are used for setting intentions with a manifestation point at the next Full Moon which happens in about two weeks, June 9th for this New Moon. Also, and way more importantly, there is a second, larger manifestation at the Full Moon that happens around six months later in the same sign. For this New Moon its six month Full Moon will happen on December 3rd 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. 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 generally go for tarot, but you can use any form of divination that you feel comfortable with. Most importantly, however, is to write down your intention and divination so that you can review it later.

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Eight Beltane Season Celebration Ideas

The Beltane season is upon us! Whether you celebrate on May Day Eve (April 30th) or May Day (May 1st) the light half of the year has officially begun. Beltane is generally treated as a fertility festival with a heavy emphasis on sexuality. That’s not my interest in this Sabbat, however. In fact, fertility in the traditional sense is about the last thing that this Pagan couple wants. Additionally, I wanted to come up with a list that works for families with kids and LGBTQ folks who (must) feel excluded from traditionally hetero/Wiccan celebrations, especially Beltane. Witchcraft and paganism is for everyone folks, not just heterosexuals. I know a lot of people celebrate Beltane without the kids, as well, but we try to include them in some type of seasonal activity for every Sabbat.

Regardless of how you choose to observe the Sabbats, below are eight ideas for Beltane celebrations to add to your seasonal activities, be they solitary, in pairs, with kids, in a coven, or conducted from inside the “broom closet.” Remember that Beltane is a season and not just one day; these activities can be done any time in the six weeks between Beltane and Midsummer.

1. Ancestor Work: When you think of ancestor work you are probably going to think of Samhain. However, in the southern hemisphere, Beltane is Samhain. The veil is just as thin on Beltane as it is on Samhain, and each kicks off their respective halves of the year (Beltane for light and Samhain for dark). Because of this you can still communicate with the departed, ask for their blessing, or give them an offering. It’s a nice time to check in and update your ancestors on how you’ve been doing over the last six months. One way to do this is to write them a letter, address the envelope with their name(s), and then burn it in your cauldron or a fire safe container. Offerings to the deceased are traditionally burned as burning items releases it into the ether.

2. Aromatherapy: When you live in a place where the seasons don’t change much, using seasonal fragrances can make it feel like the Wheel of the Year is still turning. We aren’t super strict about it, but generally lavender is a spring/Imbolc scent whereas patchouli is used in the fall/Samhain season. Some suggested scents for Beltane include gardenia, honeysuckle, jasmine, lilac, lily, rose, and any other floral that you enjoy.

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Full Moon May 10th 2017 in Scorpio

Many of the Full and New Moon dates for 2017 are tricky this year, with a lot of them occurring very early or late at night, and switching signs by the following evening. May’s Full Moon is one of those. While a lot of people will surely report that it’s on the 10th, which it technically is, by the evening of the 10th it’s in another sign.

I highly recommend doing your Full Moon ritual either on the evening of Tuesday the 9th or before sunset on Wednesday the 10th while the Moon is in Scorpio, the correct sign to end this six month cycle that started with the New Moon in Scorpio on October 30th 2016. The Full Moon is technically at 5:42 PM EST on the 10th, but the Moon goes void-of-course at precisely the same time and stays void until 12:59 PM EST on the 11th when it moves into Sagittarius. If you wait until the evening of the 11th to charge your items and/or perform your ritual you will have Sagittarius energy and if you wait until after sunset on the 10th you’ll have void energy. The evening of Tuesday May 9th will work because the Moon has moved into Scorpio by that point. Basically, you can do May 2017’s Full Moon either on the evening of Tuesday the 9th or before 5:42 PM EST on Wednesday the 10th.

About May’s Full Moon

There are multiple names for May’s Full Moon, but the most common by far is the Flower Moon. Other names are the Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon. The Flower Moon has fairly obvious origins; after all, April showers bring May flowers! May is the season of flowers and it only makes sense that May’s Moon would bear that name. Additionally, May is the month of Beltane, the pagan Sabbat honoring the goddess Flora. It was also called the Milk Moon as this was the time that cows would be giving milk. The message of this Full Moon is one of fertility and coaxing your projects into bloom.

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Simple Kitchen Witch Coffee Spell

Kitchen witchery is the art of infusing home life with magick. Generally speaking, kitchen witches concern themselves with their families’ lives and use magick to make the home more harmonious and prosperous.

This simple coffee spell can be done daily. I use this spell almost every day and it works wonders. It can also adjusted for tea if you’re British and make black tea every day like my gran did.

Supplies:

Coffee (or tea)
Cup
Milk (cow or plant)
Spoon
Sugar

Directions:

Pour the coffee or tea into the cup and say, “Coffee for energy.” Then add the sugar and say, “Sugar to make the day sweet.” Finally add the milk and say, “Milk for productivity.” Stir the coffee 9 times sunwise (clockwise) and say, “By the power of three times three, as I will so mote it be!” Drink the coffee and have a productive day. Note: You can also think the words instead of saying them, it works just as well.

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New Moon April 26th 2017 in Taurus

April’s New Moon in Taurus occurs at 8:16 AM EST on Wednesday the 26th, and you can do your New Moon ritual on either the night of Tuesday the 25th or the 26th at any time. Honestly, I’m just happy this isn’t one of those difficult-to-time Moons, and that I can just settle in on the night of the 26th and get things done. However, if you procrastinate until Thursday the 27th be sure to get it done before 9:18 PM EST because the Moon moves from Taurus to void-of-course to Gemini all in the space of about 20 minutes, that busy Moon.

What is New Moon Magick?

New Moons are used for setting intentions with a manifestation point at the next Full Moon which happens in about two weeks, May 10th for this New Moon. Also, and way more importantly, there is a second, larger manifestation at the Full Moon that happens around six months later in the same sign. For this New Moon its six month Full Moon will happen on November 4th 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. 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 generally go for tarot, but you can use any form of divination that you feel comfortable with. Most importantly, however, is to write down your intention and divination so that you can review it later.

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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!

Why I Correct People’s Moon Misinformation: Pink Moon Edition

April’s Pink Moon was late Monday night, technically at 2 AM on Tuesday morning. Then on Tuesday afternoon at approximately 2 PM the Moon went void, only to enter Scorpio at 6 PM. Yet, this morning, I see tons of Instagram posts about how people were “Feeling the Libra energy last night,” or “Giving the crystals a Libra Full Moon charge last night.” Then I jump in and tell them that the Moon was in Scorpio last night and, in general, they ignore me, which is fine.

Two Types of Wrong

There are two offenders in this category. The first type I wouldn’t call offenders at all. They’re the people new to Moon magick, baby witches, and people who haven’t figured out how to track Moon phases. These people I correct just because they aren’t to blame because they’re new to something and haven’t figured it out yet. I assume (hopefully correctly most of the time) that they really do want to know the information. Frankly, when you’re really new to Moon magick/witchcraft, you cannot tell the difference between a void Moon, a Libra Moon, and a Scorpio Moon, because you’re still building your instincts. That they can mistake a Scorpio Moon to be a Libra Moon isn’t their fault, but I do assume that they would want to know. Over time you’ll figure out the little signs for each member of the zodiac, but that takes time. I am always as polite as possible when I post these corrections because I want them to be receptive to the information.

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Full Moon April 10th 2017 in Libra

Many of the Full and New Moon dates for 2017 are tricky this year, with a lot of them occurring very late at night, and switching signs by the following evening. April’s Full Moon is one of those. While a lot of people will surely report that it’s on the 11th, which it technically is, by the evening of the 11th it’s in another sign.

I highly recommend doing your Full Moon ritual on the night of Monday the 10th while the Moon is in Libra, the correct sign to end this six month cycle that started with the New Moon in Libra on October 1st 2016. The Full Moon is technically at 2:08 AM EST on the 11th, but I’ll be in bed by then. Are you a night owl? Go for it. The Moon then goes void-of-course at 2:19 PM EST on the 11th and stays void until 6:42 PM EST when it moves into Scorpio. Different energy alert! If you wait until the evening of the 11th to charge your items and/or perform your ritual you will have Scorpio energy and miss out on the balanced energy of Libra, which is so important during Ostara’s season.

About April’s Full Moon

There are many names for April’s Full Moon, but the two most common are the Pink Moon and the Fish Moon. Other names are the Wind Moon, Sprouting Glass Moon, and Egg Moon. Pink Moon is in honor of the first pink flowers, specifically herb moss pink, that are beginning to bloom, and it’s the name that is used most often. The name Sprouting Grass Moon comes from the explosion of life in the springtime, with Egg Moon bringing the same fertile feeling combined with Ostara imagery. Coastal Native American tribes use Fish Moon because it’s the time that fish start to swim upstream and, again, life begins anew. The message of this Full Moon is that the time has come to start life again.

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Book Review: Ostara by Kerri Connor (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials)

Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series contains eight small books, one for each Sabbat in the pagan wheel of the year. The author varies by the Sabbat with no author having more than two books in the series. Ostara was penned by Kerri Connor; this is one of the strongest books in the Sabbat Essentials series.

The standard sections in the Sabbat Essentials books are: Old Ways, New Ways, Spells and Divination, Recipes and Crafts, Prayers and Invocations, Rituals of Celebration, Correspondences, and Further Reading. There is also a Series Introduction that is the same in all eight books, so I won’t review it aside from saying that it is worth reading over annually. It also has two really beautiful Wheel of the Year illustrations, one for the Northern Hemisphere and one for the Southern Hemisphere, which is worth copying into your book of shadows immediately.

The Old Ways section in many books can feel rambling, but this one is brief and covers some interesting information. Ostara – the Vernal Equinox – was traditionally the New Year, even in cultures that didn’t celebrate Ostara. In fact, we are unsure who did celebrate Ostara at all, the holiday is one of the most pieced together of all the pagan sabbats and the one most open to debate. The New Ways section gives advice on activities for the Ostara season. Yes season, not just sabbat. This is so important and often ignored: the sabbats are seasons, six week long periods, not eight days spaced six weeks apart. Connor suggests day trips, egg activities, herb gathering, and gives a little history on the egg hunt. There are a lot of useful tidbits in these small sections.

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Book Review: The Witch’s Book of Shadows by Jason Mankey

The Witch's Book of Shadows by Jason Mankey

Llewellyn’s Witch’s Tools series currently contains six small books, one for each of the major tools in witchcraft (wand, broom, mirror, athame, book of shadows, and cauldron) though I assume more are forthcoming (familiar, I hope, will be on the list). The author varies by the book with no author having more than two books in the series at the moment, similar to the Sabbat Essentials series. The Witch’s Book of Shadows: The Craft, Lore and Magick of the Witch’s Grimoire was written/compiled by Jason Mankey, who also wrote The Witch’s Athame. Unfortunately, I was not thrilled with Mankey’s book, and I think it was largely due to the author’s magickal proclivities more than anything else.

Since the book series is presented as a general guide to major tools in witchcraft, I feel that it’s important to not have one particular path emphasized. In this book, the author adds in a lot of Christian information that I feel does not belong, talking about Jesus and angels frequently. Mankey himself started on a Christo-pagan path, but that certainly doesn’t mean it belongs in the book. The book is based heavily around Mankey’s own experiences, perhapf more than research on the Book of Shadows and/or Grimoire tradition, and he uses more examples from his personal life than I feel is appropriate. In that same vein Mankey is Wiccan, and much of the book is influenced by Wicca due to that fact. There are many witches, myself included, who are not Wiccan at all. Since these are general guides, or at least are presented as such, it would be nice if it wasn’t so specific as to a certain path. Additionally, and this is a writing gripe, he breaks the third wall and talks about his editor’s suggestions, letting the reader know that he was forced to add things. It felt out of place, but clearly the editor had no issue with it, since the passages were published. Still, it felt odd.

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Full Moon January 12th 2017 in Cancer/Leo

Okay, so it’s 2017 and I’m dropping the ball already. My first Full Moon Magick post of the year is late! I already got up on my soapbox to talk about this, but here goes again: A lot of people are posting that this Full Moon on the night of the 12th is in Cancer and it’s not, it’s in Leo … but it’s also not in Leo. What’s happening? Allow me to explain.

On January 11th 2017 the Moon was in Cancer, and it stayed in Cancer until January 12th at 6:34 AM EST when it went void-of-course. That means it’s not in any sign. That was also the precise moment that the Moon became Full. The Moon stayed v/c until 7:08 PM when it entered Leo, which it will stay in until 10:17 AM EST on Saturday the 14th. Anyone saying the Moon is in Cancer on the evening of the 12th is mistaken because, if you do your ritual on the night of the 12th, the Moon is in Leo. Unless you did your Moon ritual a day early (before it’s even full) or very early in the morning on the 12th (the astrologically best option), you’re on the wrong side of the cycle. The New Moon in Cancer on July 4, 2016 was the beginning of the Moon cycle that ended at this Full Moon. You cannot have a Moon cycle start in one sign and end in another, ever. So yes, the Full Moon was technically in Cancer on the morning of the 12th … but if you waited until the evening (which everyone does) it’s in Leo.

Arg! What a fun way to start the new year, right?

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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.

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.