Astra Anima’s 2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

2017 was my second year writing here on Astra Anima; I wrote for much of the Spring, took some time off over the Summer, (thankfully) found my muse again, and returned to writing in the Fall. This year I feel like I figured out my voice, both in the sense of what I wanted to write, and how I wanted to write it.

Much of the information that I post here is information that goes straight into my own magickal diary: recipes I cook in my own kitchen, information that I’ve researched, and spells that I’ve performed myself (and that have worked). Writing here gives me a better understanding of my own path and makes me a better witch; that you want to read it too is such an honor to me.

Below you will find the eight most popular posts on the blog this year, as well as my eight personal favorites. At the bottom of the page is a look forward to 2018.

Top 8 Articles

  1. A Witch’s Guide to Starting Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows
  2. A Witch’s Guide to Organizing Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows
  3. Simple Kitchen Witch Coffee Spell
  4. Eight Samhain Season Celebration Ideas
  5. Full Moon December 3rd 2017 in Gemini
  6. Thoughts on Mercury Retrograde 4/28/16 – 5/22/16
  7. Self-Love and Acceptance Spell
  8. Crystal Closeup: Citrine

Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2017 Sabbats Almanac

Llewellyn's 2017 Sabbat AlmanacThe Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac was started in 2009 and is published annually. The book is divided into eight sections, one for each Sabbat, starting at Samhain 2016 and ending with Mabon 2017. There are seven articles within each Sabbat’s section that repeat: an introduction, Cosmic Sway, the Old Ways, Feasts and Treats, Crafty Crafts, All One Family, and a ritual. This is consistent throughout all the Sabbats Almanac books, though occasionally the features are swapped out. For example, for the 2018 Almanac, All One Family has been taken out, and a plant feature has replaced it. Even though it’s rather late for this review, I marked more pages in this edition than the 2016 and 2018 volumes combined, so it’s still well worth picking up. Each section is about 30 pages long; I read each after the previous Sabbat has ended to get new ideas to add to my own coven’s celebration.

Aside from the Cosmic Sway section, which discusses particular cosmic timing, this Sabbats Almanac can be read any time. Because the Cosmic Sway section has essentially ‘expired’ by now, I’m leaving it out of the review, though I will say that I found the articles really useful at the time. The recipes in Feasts and Treats usually use meat in some way; there are multiple recipes provided, but since I’m vegetarian I don’t think I’ve ever used a recipe from a Sabbats Almanac. The Old Ways sections are always brief (about 3 pages) and go into Polish, Slavic, Russian, and Lithuanian traditions. I always really enjoy this section, but writing that under each Sabbat heading would be repetitious. Below are the highlights of each section, organized by Sabbat.

Continue reading

Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2017 Witches’ Companion

Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' CompanionAfter I enjoyed last year’s volume so much that I was looking forward to reading the 2017 installment of Llewellyn’s Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living; apparently the reviewing part just took a little while. However, my goal was to get this review up before the end of the year, and I did, but expect a review of the 2018 edition much sooner next year. This is the 9th installment in the Witches’ Companion series, and it has a very lovely urban witchcraft themed cover illustration. Can we get a foldout poster? The Companion series is a set of interesting articles, ranging between 8 to 13 pages long, that take up debates and interesting issues in the pagan and witchcraft community, and explore them in a well-written and thoughtful way. Not all of the articles will resonate, but the wide variety of articles means that something will almost certainly interest you, and you might learn about something you have never considered before. It’s also diverse enough that an eclectic pagan witch, like myself, will feel welcome. Instead of speaking in endless generalities I’ve decided to give more information and specific reviews of my favorite articles, just like last year. They are reviewed in order of appearance in the book.

“The Dark Aspects of Bright-Siding” by Charlie Rainbow Wolf

This article discusses a concept known as ‘bright-siding’ ie: always looking on the bright side of things despite that facts that life isn’t always so sunny. This article addresses the many downsides of having a relentlessly positive attitude, including the ways that it can lead to failure. This article is definitely worth a read, and a lot of it can be applied to non-magickal folks. I am decidedly not a ‘look on the bright side’ kind of person, and it’s nice to see someone extolling the virtues of this view. Everything in moderation, though, of course. If you don’t like this article you can read “Good Vibe Badass” in this same annual instead for the positive side of positive thinking.

“The Dark Goddess as Initiator: Reading into Fairy Tale and Myth” by Jane Meredith

I absolutely love fairy tales and teach them in my classroom whenever I can, so this article resonated with me. It explores the way dark goddesses appear in myth and fairy tale, and offers a lens through which to re-interpret them, not as ‘bad women’, but as dark goddesses. The article sets up a much more interesting reading of these characters, not viewing the young princess as opposite the ‘bad’ queen, but seeing them as connected and existing on the same path. This was my favorite article in the collection.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading