Book Review: Imbolc by Carl F. Neal (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Series)

Imbolc Llewellyn Sabbat EssentialsLlewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series contains eight small books, one for each Sabbat in the pagan Wheel of the Year. The author varies by Sabbat with no author having more than two books in the series. Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes, and Lore for Brigid’s Day was written by Carl F. Neal. Neal is not an author with whom I am familiar; researching him it appears that his area of expertise is incense.

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.

The Old Ways section is as interesting as always, and contains a lot of helpful information about the history of the Sabbat. The section discusses what winter meant to people throughout history, and why that meaning makes Imbolc so important. Roman, Egyptian, Native American, and Asian traditions are discussed, as well as Celtic traditions and the goddess Brigid. The New Ways section discusses the difficulties of the Sabbat, and Brigid’s importance to Imbolc as well as modern paganism. Secular holidays are examined, and there is a brief examination of activities that can be done during the Imbolc season. Both of these section are quick overviews.

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Coven Craft: Fillable Intention Ornaments

How to Make Filled Intention Ornaments

If you’re looking for a Yule craft to do this year with your coven, magickal family, or solo, I present to you: filled intention ornaments. This is the very craft that my coven is creating for Yule 2017, and I’m very excited to share it with you.

Traditionally, an evergreen tree was brought inside the house as an act of sympathetic magick, protecting the forest throughout the harsh winter months. The tree was decorated with candles to represent the returning light, which is where the tradition of twinkle lights comes from. The round ornaments we are all familiar with represent the sun, as well, making this craft perfect for Yule. These ornaments can be made any time during the Yuletide season and can be done solo, with witchlings, or with a coven.

Below you will find a supply list, directions, and a list of correspondences that you can print for you or your group. Items can be mixed, matched, or left out as you please. The directions below make ten ornaments. The cost of each ornament is about $7 if you have to buy all the supplies, but you will probably have a lot of the supplies already on hand. My personal shopping list is in the Notes section. If you have a small coven like we do, this craft makes beautiful, personalized gifts for your friends and family.

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Book Review: Yule by Susan Pesznecker (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials)

Yule by Susan PeszneckerLlewellyn’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. Yule: Rituals, Recipes, and Lore for the Winter Solstice was penned by Susan Pesznecker and is one of the best 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 is extremely interesting and has a lot of helpful information. The section covers the origin of December as a month, the Yule log, traditional festivals, the gift giving tradition, the solar new year, as much more. The New Ways section discusses basic activities, different traditions in their modern form, and details important correspondences and activities. This section also addresses the living vs. artificial tree debate that seems to be an inevitable part of the pagan household, as well as what to do when only one half of a couple is pagan. Happily enough, so many ‘Christmas’ traditions are actually pagan in origin that you can openly celebrate Yule and still stay in the ‘broom closet’ without a lot of effort.

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Eight Yule Season Celebration Ideas

Yule Season Celebration Ideas

While Samhain is the New Year for Wiccans, Yule is the New Year in the Druid tradition. My partner is Druid, and the solar new year works well for me, so we celebrate Yule as the last Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year. Below you will find a list of ideas for solitaries, partners, covens, and witch families that I hope will add a little variety to your Yule celebrations. Remember that Yule is a six week long season, not just one day! Please feel free to post suggestions in the comments, and have a beautiful Yuletide, friends.

1. DIY Garlands: Decking the halls with garlands is a fun way to decorate for the Yule season without spending a lot of money. Garlands that are made with food items can be placed outside after Yule as offerings, as well as for animals. Outdoor food offerings in winter are just as important as outdoor water offerings are in summer (I’m looking at my fellow Floridian witches). Make garlands out of cranberries, popcorn, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Garlands made from fresh ingredients should be checked for mold, but shouldn’t attract critters unless you make a chocolate bonbon garland.

2. Enchanted Ornaments: There’s a craft that I’ve been wanting to do for years that I never get around to, and it’s making witchy ornaments. This year, it’s finally happening. Specifically, I got clear plastic ball ornaments (because I will drop them) and before our coven’s Yule ritual we are going to fill them with various herbs and crystals with specific correspondences. These would make awesome coven gifts, too, and could be tailored to the recipients by addings names, symbols, or sigils with paint markers. These fillable ornaments are widely available online, and are available in many sizes as well. My directions for this craft will be up on the website early next week, too.

3. Handmade Snow Globes: A fun Yule craft is making your own snow globes; this craft can be done with witchlings too, provided they are old enough and/or responsible enough. All you need are jars, fillers (small plastic toys, tumbled crystals, or anything that’s small and won’t dissolve in water), glitter or fake snow, aquarium glue or E6000, and water. Using waterproof glue, affix items to the inside of the lid of the jar – that will be the bottom of your snow globe – to form a scene, and let dry completely. Add glitter, fake snow, snowflake confetti, or whatever you want floating around, to the bottom of the jar, and fill partially with water. Test with the lid to see how much water your items displace, then glue the lid to the jar with waterproof glue and let dry. Once it’s dry, flip the jar over, and you have a beautiful, handmade snowglobe. You can even write the year on it and make it an annual tradition in your household.

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Eight More Samhain Season Celebration Ideas

It’s that time in the Wheel of the Year again, Samhain, an easy favorite amongst witches. Last year I posted my list of Eight Samhain Sabbat Celebration Ideas and this year I’m back with eight more. There are ideas for solitaries, pairs, families, and covens, as well as many that would work with multiple configurations. Some require a little preparation or shopping, so I wanted to post them early enough that you can incorporate them into your Samhain preparation. Remember, though, Samhain is a six week long season and not just one day! I must confess that the season gets cut off Thanksgiving week for me, so I start my Samhain celebration a bit early.

1. Pagan Pumpkins: I saw the pumpkin craft idea pictured above (by Terri Foss) about a year ago, and instantly I wanted to make one of my own. You can easily reproduce this craft with a natural or artificial white pumpkin, and a fine-tipped permanent marker. Decoration ideas include sigils, astrological symbols, moons and stars (like above), pentacles, or other Samhain-themed art. Black pumpkins are available at craft stores and can be decorated with a silver marker, which would also look great. If you use an artificial pumpkin this could end up part of your permanent Samhain decoration stash. This would be a really cool way to decorate a LED candle, too.

2. Tarot Reading: I recommended doing divination last year, but I found the tarot spread to the left (click to view larger) that utilizes the theme of ‘as above, so below’. This is especially important on Samhain when the veil between worlds thins. The website, Fox and Feather Tarot, is defunct, but they have an Etsy store. If you’re looking for a more involved tarot reading to do on Samhain this one works well.

A variation of this tarot spread that I would use is: 1. Release, 2. Embrace, 3. Weaknesses, 4. Strengths, 5. Path Forward. You could do this as a general advice reading, or for something more specific.

3. Homemade Treats: There’s nothing quite as special as handmade treats, with candied apples being particularly fun for the sabbat. I’ve seen people make very creepy candied apples with grape Jolly Ranchers or food coloring, but caramel also works. A simple candied apple recipe can be found here. Just be sure to use a candy thermometer since molten sugar will seriously burn you. Making candy is for badasses only! I would not let even the most responsible child near this activity, so involve little goblins at your own rick. For an extra Samhain bump, set one non-candied apple outside as an offering.

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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: Rituals, Recipes & Lore of the Spring Equinox 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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Eight Samhain Season Celebration Ideas

Samhain's Magic Circle Print by Poison Apple Print Shop

Samhain (also known as Halloween) is often a favorite in the pagan community with many witches using it to mark the end of the year. You may choose to celebrate Samhain on October 30th, 31st, or on the closest New Moon. The veil between the material and ethereal worlds thinning on a New Moon is too beautiful for many to pass up.

Regardless of when you choose to observe the Sabbat, below are eight ideas for Samhain celebrations to add to your ritual or observance, be it solitary, in pairs, in a coven, or conducted from inside the “broom closet.” Eight More Samhain Ideas can be found here! Please feel free to post suggestions in the comments, have a beautiful Samhain, and blessed be.

1. Ancestor Work: One of the biggest aspects of Samhain’s energy is the increased ability to communicate with ancestors who have passed to the other side. Bringing photos of ancestors to the ritual or to your altar is a beautiful was to observe this connection. You can also tell stories about ancestors, research your own lineage, or send them messages. One of the best ways to send messages to the other side, in my opinion, is to write what you want to say on a piece of parchment paper (remember to address it) and burn it in your cauldron, thus sending it to the other side. In the Chinese tradition, burning Joss paper (also called Hell Money) is a way to send literal currency into the afterlife.

2. Candles: No witch is a stranger to burning candles, as they are an integral part of so many sabbats, rituals, and spells. Fitting colors and their correspondences for Samhain would be: black (banishing negative energy and acknowledging the dark half of the year, death, etc.), orange (heightened creativity and energy), purple (increased psychic awareness, can be used in conjunction with divination), and silver (you can substitute with white; representing lunar energy). For those who have issues with smoke, LED candle are just as effective.

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