How to Spot Fake Witches Who Just Want to Sell You Something

Every time witchcraft becomes popular (the 70s, the 90s, the 20-teens) there are people and companies who want to sell us something witch-themed. Necklaces, buttons, shoes, and even tube tops emblazoned with the word “witch” suddenly appear, and for the most part, it’s great. However, if you’re actually a witch, sorting out people who are also actually witches from people who never have (and never will) do magick can be rather difficult. I’ll buy my tube tops from anyone (note: I won’t buy tube tops at all for any reason), but magickal supplies I’m picky about. If I’m buying a spell candle, for example, I’d rather buy one from a fellow witch. This is because the energy of a magickal tool is important, I want to support my community, and a witch is going to know what a witch needs.

Additionally, around the same time the tube tops show up, tons of people will crop up to sell classes, pdf files on ‘the divine feminine’, coven memberships, bespoke tarot decks, or a myriad of other magickal (or vaguely magickal) things. Basically, when witchcraft is popular, people who aren’t witches will try to make money off of us, even if that means pretending to be one of us. I thought it would be helpful to post some tips on how to spot phony witches in the wild and, if you choose, refuse to support them. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that non-witches can’t make awesome witchy stuff, but there are a lot of people who are low-key pretending to be witches just to sell to us. That’s worth being skeptical of, in my opinion.

No Experience or Baby Witch Turned Expert

Some people try to sell us witchcraft decor or supplies when they themselves have no experience with witchcraft. The first type will have “Get your witch on!” emblazoning their website, or they may also start posts/social media blasts with “Hey, coven!” or “This goddess/priestess is wearing our new x, y, z,” or something equally pandering. The brand or marketing is ‘witchy’, but the person or people behind is not. The second type are people who may actually be practicing witches … of a year or two. Sharing baby witch opinions/growth/experience? Great. Claiming to be an expert and teacher when you’ve just started out? Nope. If someone is still learning, their advice can be quite bad, and will likely hurt more than it helps. If they’re pretending to be an expert when they have very little experience, you can bet they’re trying to make money, and will almost certainly disappear in a few years when the trend passes.

Continue reading

Cosmic Concerns: June 2017

For all the cosmic witches out there, or just witches and pagans who are interested in what’s going on in the cosmos, here is a list of June 2017’s important astrological events. All times listed are in EST (Eastern Standard) and should be adjusted for your own time zone. Please note that this list is not even close to being exhaustive, but compiled by me to list events that would be of magickal importance. This information is great to copy into your Book of Shadows if you maintain one; I hope that you find it helpful.

Planetary Movement, June

4th: Mars enters Cancer 12:16 PM
6th: Venus enters Taurus 3:27 AM; Mercury enters Gemini 6:15 PM
9th: Jupiter direct in Libra 10:03 AM
16th: Neptune retrograde begins 7:09 AM
21st: Summer Solstice; Sun enters Cancer 12:24 AM; Mercury enters Cancer 5:57 AM

Moon Cycle, June

6th: Moon void-of-course 8:35 PM
7th: Moon enters Sagittarius 6:59 PM
9th: Full Moon in Sagittarius 9:10 AM
10th: Moon void-of-course 2:20 AM, enters Capricorn 7:36 AM
23rd: Moon void-of-course 2:45 PM, enters Cancer 6:07 PM, New Moon in Cancer 10:31 PM
25th: Moon void-of-course 2:44 PM, enters Leo 6:06 PM

Continue reading

How to Make and Use Cascarilla Powder

Cascarilla (kas-kuh-ree-uh) is powered eggshell that can be used in a wide variety of spells and charms. It is especially useful cleansing and protection magick; however, don’t confuse it with the plant of the same name. This wonderfully useful substance is easy to make and use. In fact, it’s so easy to make at home that I don’t see any point in buying it from someone else, though plenty of places sell it. Chicken egg cascarilla is the most common, by far, but theoretically any egg could be used.

Cascarilla is made from eggshells, so it’s not vegan, but with a little effort you can easily make sure it’s cruelty free. Another reason that I simply will not buy cascarilla is that there’s no way to know how the eggs were obtained and how the chickens that created those eggs were treated. If a chicken is tormented in a factory farm, how could that misery not infuse its egg? What energy does that then transfer to your space or magickal workings?

How to Make Cascarilla Powder

Supplies:

  • Airtight bottle or container
  • Eggshells
  • Mortar and pestle

Directions:

Begin by removing the membrane from the egg shells. Place the eggshells into a mortar and grind with the pestle using circular motions in a sunwise (clockwise) direction. Continue to grind until the egg shells are the desired texture. Store in airtight bottle or container.

Continue reading

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.

The two week manifestation point for this New Moon is June 9th with the Full Moon in Sagittarius. Its six month Full Moon will happen on December 3rd 2017 with the Full Moon in Gemini.

My guide, Witch’s Guide to New Moon Magick, can be found on the site here; this post is a companion to that guide. If you’re new to Moon magick that’s a great place to begin.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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 personal magickal path 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, perhaps more than it is on 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.

Continue reading

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.

Part two of this series is now available: A Witch’s Guide to Organizing Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows.

Monthly writing prompts for your Grimoire/Book of Shadows are being posted, so check out the “writing prompts” tag for more inspiration!

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.

Continue reading

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 lot of books out).

Continue reading

Book Review: Samhain by Diana Rajchel (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials)

Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials: SamhainLlewellyn’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. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes, and Lore for Halloween was penned by Diana Rajchel, who also wrote Mabon. At the risk of being a downer: those are the two weakest books in the Sabbat Essentials series.

One of the reasons that I don’t particularly like this volume is that it’s so heavily Wiccan, and I prefer these books to have a general pagan path. This is because the books are presented as “essential” guides to the Sabbat, so I feel that they have a bit of an obligation to be more general. The other complaint, which is far more important, is that the rituals included in the Rituals of Celebration are quite weak. Generally, a good book in Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series has a ritual for a solitary, a couple, and a coven; this is a great formula. This volume’s solitary ritual is “A Solo Ritual to See Beyond the Veil,” complete with a full page list of supplies, which is just excessive. The ritual feels excessive, too, with all the anointing and chanting that pushes me away from Wicca. Then, if that’s not enough, she invokes Christian angels to assist. Seriously? Finally, it’s not really a ritual for Samhain, but more of a pseudo-Christian ritual. I was so insulted when I read it that I was beyond words (temporarily, obviously). The two person ritual is the Wiccan “great rite,” which I guess is so great because you have heterosexual sex in the circle, and which I also find very troubling. Are you alone and doing a handfasting? Great, go for it, and for some Sabbats this is very appropriate (though I do think it should be private). Wiccans seem to advocate (public) sex as an integral part of pagan worship, which I could not find more off-putting. Finally, the group ritual is an underworld maze, which isn’t a full Samhain ritual by any means, and is again endowed with all the hokey theatricality you’d expect.

Continue reading

The Magick of Tanabata

A few mornings ago I woke up and felt inspired to pick up my Llewellyn 2016 Witches’ Spell-a-Day Almanac, and that’s when I realized that July 7th is the holiday Tanabata. It is a traditional Japanese holiday also known as the Star Festival and was inspired by a Chinese folk story. This festival has magickal elements easily adapted to pagan practice, which you know is a pet project of mine. Below is the history of Tanabata and suggestions for how you can adapt this festival to your own pagan practice.

If we were in Japan, the July 7th this year Google doodle would look like this:

Tanabata 2016 Google Doodle

Tanabata occurs every year on the seventh day of the seventh month (July 7th) and commemorates the day that two long-separated lovers – the stars Vega and Altair – are briefly reunited. If it sounds like a familiar the story, it was referenced on Big Bang Theory in the form of Raj’s “romantic Astronomy” discussion (Season 7 Episode 19 specifically). The Chinese myth that inspired the festival is called “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl,” which you can read in full right here (it also has a Japanese equivalent, but with different names). This festival (or matsuri) day is also called the Qixi Festival in China or The Festival to Plead for Skills.

Continue reading

The Crystal Art of Emma Black

I recently discovered Emma Black’s amazing artwork through Instagram. I was instantly in love and immediately placed an order in her shop. Today I wanted to show off some of her gorgeous work.

Emma Black Amethyst Drawing

First is this amazing watercolor and ink amethyst slice, which I bought. I’m so excited to see it in person that I can’t help but want to show it off. I have a slowly growing collection of crystal art and I’m beyond thrilled that this piece is now a part of it.

Emma Black Rainbow Quartz Drawing

This gorgeous watercolor and ink rainbow aura quartz drawing was very tempting, but I didn’t buy it (yet!) since it’s approximately $80 USD and I’m a little low on funds at the moment. I’m not a huge aura quartz fan, but Black’s interpretation of aura quartz is extremely beautiful. The way the colors blend in this piece is remarkable, I could stare at it for hours.

Continue reading

Self-Love and Acceptance Spell

Casting this spell during a New Moon is ideal since it is about releasing negativity and setting new, positive intentions. Remember, when using fire always be cautious. You will be burning only a few small pieces of parchment paper, but if the fire gets out of control, place the lid on the cauldron so the fire will go out. Safety first, always.

Self-Love and Acceptance Spell

Ingredients:

  • Black candle (substitute silver)
  • Book of Shadows/magickal journal (optional)
  • Cauldron or fire-safe container with a lid
  • Lighter or matches
  • Parchment or paper, cut or torn into small pieces
  • Rose oil (substitute preferred scent)
  • Rose quartz (optional)
  • Writing utensil
  • Yellow candle (substitute white)

Directions:

To begin, cleanse, ground, and cast a circle to keep unwanted energy away. Using your small pieces of paper or parchment write things about yourself that you do not like and would like to release. Use one piece per release. If you have a long list it might be best to perform the spell several times over the course of a few months and release different things each month.

Be careful about your wording; this is a release of negative emotion. Don’t write “I’m ugly,” write “My negative self-image.” Write “Feeling shy around others,” but avoid “Boys/girls don’t like me.” Using the rose oil anoint your black candle from the top down to diminish negative energy. Take each piece of parchment and read it aloud saying, “I release: [text written on the paper],” then light it using the black candle and drop the paper into your cauldron to burn away.

Continue reading

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

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 also a teacher. 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.

Continue reading

Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2016 Witches’ Companion

Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' CompanionThis year one of my goals was to read more, specifically on witchcraft and paganism. I picked up several 2016 full-year books to see which would resonate with me the most. Llewellyn’s 2016 Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living is the first I’ve read through completely and I have to say that I love it. I have also decided to post reviews here to help other people sort through the huge amounts of pagan/witchcraft books available and assist you in making decisions about which witch books to add to your magickal library.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from the 2016 Witches’ Companion, but whatever I was expecting it definitely wasn’t that. The Companion is a series of interesting articles that range between 8 to 13 pages long that take up debates and interesting issues in the pagan community and explore them in a well-written and thoughtful way. Not all of the articles will resonate with you, but that’s okay, because the wide variety of articles means that something almost certainly will touch you, and you might learn about something you have never considered before. It’s also diverse enough that an eclectic pagan like myself, who does not follow one path religiously (pardon the pun) will feel welcome. Instead of speaking in endless generalities I’ve decided to give more information and specific reviews of my favorite articles and how they impacted me and my practice (reviewed in order of occurrence in the book):

“The Path of a Priestess” by Stephanie Woodfield

This article discusses what it truly means to become a priestess and dedicate oneself to one particularly god/dess. Woodfield is a priestess of Morrigan, who does not resonate with me specifically, but my High School best friend and coven leader did follow Morrigan (if I’m remembering correctly). What I got out of this article was more diaphanous in that it made me consider dedicating my work to one goddess specifically. Woodfield also wrote a book called Drawing Down the Sun that I picked up at Barnes and Noble yesterday because I’m extremely drawn to sun goddesses.

“We Are Everywhere: Finding Pagans in the Wild” by Laurel Reufner

This article made me think seriously about “coming out of the broom closet.” Like so many pagans I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences because of my beliefs, but as an adult I feel more of a pull to be an example for young witches, and part of that is being out in the open. Amazingly, coming out to my father (who is gay) was great, he was so much more supportive than I expected. Even more surprisingly, one of my good friends practices as well, and I had no idea! I have this article to thank for giving me the push I needed to inch out into the open.

Continue reading