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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Weekly Witch Question #2: Spells

Welcome to week two of the (Bi)Weekly Witch Question! This feature was inspired by a massive list of questions that my dad sent me about witchcraft. The phrasing of these questions were adjusted, if they were changed at all, for clarity. Feel free to ask any questions about witchcraft that you may have, and, if the question inspires you, respond in your own magickal journal. This question is another very common one that you will get asked after revealing that you’re a witch.

Question 2: Do witches cast spells? What sort of spells? Can they hurt people by casting spells? Is casting spells dangerous?

Yes, witches cast spells, but it would probably be more accurate to say that witches work with magick. Spells are of an almost infinite variety, but can truly be ‘for’ anything. Releasing negative energy, protection (both physical and non-physical), prosperity and abundance, love and self-love are some of the larger categories. However, it can be extremely specific: a spell to help you find your perfect home at the perfect price, a spell to make sure your baby is born safe and healthy, or a spell to ensure that a loved one recovers from a hospital stay are all spells that can be performed. There’s also weather magick, herbal magick, candle magick, and pretty much magick and witchcraft for every part of life including techno magick that uses technology. Other witches exclusively perform divination, so even though they don’t cast spells, they still work with magick.

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Weekly Witch Question #1: The Devil

I’m am very excited to introduce a new feature this week, the Weekly Witch Question! This feature was inspired by a massive list of questions that my dad sent me about witchcraft. This will be a regular feature this year, appearing every other Friday. The phrasing of these questions were adjusted, if they were changed at all, for clarity.

Feel free to ask any questions about witchcraft that you may have, too. You will also find a question for your magickal journal at the bottom. I absolutely promise you that, if and when you come out of the ‘broom closet’, this question will be one of the first you are asked.

Question 1: Do witches worship the Devil? Do they worship nature?

The Devil Mystic Mondays Tarot

Witches do not worship the Devil, though most people seem to think that we do. The easiest way to describe it is by explaining that witches don’t worship the Devil because the Devil is something that Christians made up; it has nothing to do with us. I would feel comfortable claiming that very few people worship the Christian Devil at all. Some pagans believe that the Christian Devil is based on the Great Horned God, who, with the Goddess, moves around the cyclic Wheel of the Year. He’s born again at Yule, which is akin to the Christian Christmas. However, that’s pagan, and not witchcraft.

While ‘pagan’ is an umbrella term for people who follow an Earth Based Belief System (EBBS) that usually involves the spark of ‘divinity’ in nature; witches do not all fall under this umbrella because not all witches are pagan. Witches don’t actually ‘worship’ anything because witchcraft isn’t a religion. Rather, it’s a practice, a Craft, something you do, rather than something you follow. The only witchcraft religion that is officially recognized by the government (at this time) is Wicca, and many witches and pagans are not Wiccan, myself included. This is potentially changing since there are many types of witches and none of us are afforded with religious protections that come with being an officially recognized religion. In other words, if you’re not a religion you can’t experience religious persecution or discrimination, but many of us do. So while witchcraft isn’t a religion, it gets into a gray area very quickly.

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Magickal Journal Ideas for January 2018

Magickal Journal Ideas for January 2018

Happy (almost) Solar New Year, everyone! Can we agree to call the first month of the year Plan-uary? Because I always seem to buy a new journal or planner right before the new year starts. Personally, I’m starting a BuJo this year (yes, I’m years behind on this), and I’m really excited. Below I’ve have a list of topics to pack your magickal journal, grimoire, or book of shadows over the course of January. There are both prompts and correspondences below.

Activities/Prompts

Planning Ahead: January is an excellent time to plan ahead. Even if you celebrate one of the many, many other ‘new year’ times on the calendar, the people around you will likely be observing a solar year in some form. Now is an excellent time to write down Full and New Moon dates, signs, and times; Sabbat days for the Wheel of the Year; or brainstorm a list of topics you would like to add to your magical journal over the course of 2018. This is also a great time to set up a magickal journal if you don’t already have one.

Release List: I enjoy a good gratitude list (aka my cat’s name and then a bunch of food I want to eat) just as much as the next person, but for the new solar year consider writing a list of things to release instead. What no longer serves you? What holds you back? Write them down and (try to) let them go. Burn the release list for an extra boost of GTFO.

Something New: Think of a new skill you’d like to add to your witchcraft repertoire. Have you always wanted to try a different type of scrying? Make your own oracle deck? Create charm bags? If you’re drawn to something that usually means you have a knack for it. Try out a new witchy skill and add the information to your magical journal.

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Yule by Dorothy Morrison (Llewellyn’s Holiday Series)

Yule a Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorthy MorrisonLlewellyn’s Holidays Series was published in the late 90s and was eventually replaced by the Sabbat Essentials Series. The Holidays Series was what I had as a baby witch, and I decided to start collecting them a while back. This was partially out of nostalgia and partially in the hopes of supplementing some of the weaker Sabbat Essentials books. “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is the second book that I read in the Holiday Series, and it’s excellent. This book’s Sabbat Essentials counterpart is “Yule” by Susan Pesznecker, which is also great.

While the information in many of the Holiday books is outdated, there is still a lot of good information in them. In fact, some of the Holiday books are better than their more contemporary Essentials Series counterparts. One of the quirks of the Holiday series is that some books are titled the Christian or secular name of the holiday, which is a little odd. I think it was done so that you could read the books in public and/or give them to muggles, but it’s not consistent throughout the series. Thankfully “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is not one of those.

Morrison’s “Yule” was first published in 2000 and I have a first edition, 11th printing from 2011. I absolutely love the cover, it’s so festive and pretty. A few more notable differences between the Holiday Series and the Sabbat Essentials Series are that the Holidays Series does not have consistent covers/spines (though they are all the same size), or a uniform chapter structure, and that the Holiday Series books are much larger in size than the Essentials Series books.

“Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” is divided into four sections with a whopping twenty total chapters; in the interest of economy I will be review each of the four sections, rather than each sub-section, which would be tedious.

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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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Magickal Journal Ideas for December 2017

Magickal Journal Ideas and Prompts for December 2017

I started this feature last month and it very helpful for my own writing. I am keeping it going this month because, to me, December is the perfect time to stay indoors and work on a project. Below I’ve have a list of topics to pack your magickal journal over the course of December. There are both prompts and correspondences below.

Activities/Prompts

Brag Letter: One of my favorite holiday traditions is the brag letter. A member of my own family sends one, and it’s always highly anticipated. The brag letter gets a bad reputation because we are supposed to be ‘humble’, but what’s wrong with being proud of our accomplishments? Consider writing a brag letter of your own in your magickal journal; there’s no need to send it if that makes you uncomfortable, just write it out. It can be as serious or as sarcastic as you want, and it might even surprise you.

Guided Meditation: December, for me, is a month of introspection. Consider a guided meditation; you can find one with the audio already recorded online, or you can use a written one and record yourself reading it. If you choose the latter, add the text of the guided meditation to your magickal journal, along with your reflection.

New Year’s Divination: The Yuletide season is the perfect time for divination, especially about the coming year. Record the results of your divination, and, if you have it, reflect on your divination from the previous Yule.

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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.

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My Current Magickal Book Wishlist

One of my proudest accomplishments of 2017 (the year’s not even over yet, but whatever) is that I started reading more. I’m a teacher, so I’m reading for work constantly, which means leisure reading takes a back seat whenever school is in session. Happily, I found a place for regular reading in my day-to-day life, at the gym of all places, and I’ve been steadily working my way through my magickal book shelves ever since.

This is essentially a Top 10 list of witchcraft and paganism books that I’d like to read before the end of next year. To be on the list it has to be on my Amazon wishlist and I have to not have a copy of it yet. You could use it as a guide to bulk up your own reading list/magickal library, and if you have read any of these, I would love to know what you think of them! They are organized alphabetically by book title; clicking on images opens the cover image larger, and book title links go to Amazon.

Ancient Ways by Pauline Campanelli

Ancient Ways: Reclaiming the Pagan Tradition by Pauline Campanelli (2014) – There are two Pauline Campanelli books on my wishlist, the other is Wheel of the Year: Living a Magical Life. This book is for the whole Wheel of the Year; most of the books I have are for one Sabbat, so I’m interested in adding another book to my shelves that covers the whole year.

The Hearth Witch's Compendium by Anna Franklin

The Hearth Witch’s Compendium: Magical and Natural Living for Every Day by Anna Franklin (2017) – I am always wanting to learn more about witchcraft, especially around the home, which is where I do the majority of my magickal work. This book is an assemblage of recipes, spells, and tips and it has excellent reviews. I leafed through it at the bookstore and it looks like a really good reference to have around.

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Book Review: Practical Protection Magick by Ellen Dugan

Practical Protection Magick by Ellen DuganI picked up Ellen Dugan’s book, Practical Protection Magick: Guarding & Reclaiming Your Power, over a year before I read it, then once I did read it, months passed before I wrote this review of it. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reviewing this book because my views of it are, on the whole, quite positive (you all know how critical I can be of witchcraft books), and I think it deserves a spot in the library of anyone who is interested in the subject of protection magick.

Practical Protection Magick was published by Llewellyn in 2011 and has kind of a ‘look how witchy I am’ style cover, which I hope won’t deter you from reading it. In the introduction Dugan explains that this book on protection magick and psychic self defense exists in the ‘middle ground’ between so-called white and black magick. A lot of purists don’t believe in protection/defense magick, while others don’t feel comfortable with this, shall we say, shadier side of the magickal path. That’s partially because, as Dugan points out, witches either like to consider themselves invulnerable, or pretend that no one in our community is sketchy (yeah, right). The book contains information, spells, and exercises divided into nine chapters that include four elemental-themed (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) chapters, amongst others. The level of this book is definitely intermediate, though there are things in here that both beginning and advanced witches should find helpful.

I really enjoyed Chapter 1: “Psychic Awareness and Witchery,” which includes a self-assessment to help one determine what their psychic strengths (and, by association, their weaknesses) are. The four types of psychic strengths analyzed are clairvoyance, clairaudience, empathy, and intuition. Most witches consider themselves to be one or more of these things, but having a survey to take and analyze was very helpful. The results that I got provided me with some interesting insights. The section that follows discusses strengths and weaknesses of each type, which I found extremely informative. Chapter 2: “Knowledge is Power (Air)” also begins with a self-reflection; a series of questions to help the reader understand their own magickal background. This is followed by an exploration of psychic attack, including how to notice it, symptoms of it, how to deal with it, and a section on different types of hauntings.

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15 Magickal Self-Care Ideas for Witches

Now that we’re in the dark half of the year, ’tis the season for self-care.

I was very intrigued when the concept of ‘self-care’ came to my attention; I teach all day, which I enjoy, but being around people left me feeling drained (classic introvert). At first I thought that self-care meant laying in bed or hiding in the dark for an entire day, so I did just that, but it didn’t help me feel recharged.

In reality, self-care is more empowering than giving in to your impulse to never move. Self-care means that you need to make yourself a priority and push yourself to take care of yourself. The guiding principle of self-care is, in other words, to do something that fills you back up rather than something that drains you. Below is my list of witchy self-care activities, some of which can be done at a moment’s notice, and others that need minimal magickal preparation.

1. Active Meditation – This is doing something that puts you ‘in the zone’ versus traditional, passive meditation (see #13 below). Active meditation can be anything from art projects to walking the dog, but if you lose yourself in it, then it’s active meditation. Active meditation means that you are lost in the moment, that you don’t feel time passing, and doing the activity that enables it can feel very rewarding.

2. Aromatherapy – I don’t know many witches who don’t have at least a few candles around, and filling your space with fragrance can really lighten a mood. I like seasonal smells since the weather doesn’t change much around here, but you can use any scents that help you feel positive emotions. For a magickal boost, use incense that has been charged or has a specific benefit (ie: lavender to calm). Carve sigils into the candles or write affirmations on them to focus their energy release as they burn.

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Dia de los Muertos for Witches and Pagans

My birthday happens to fall on Dia de los Muertos, which has invited many sugar skull themed items into my house, but I’ve never explored the holiday in much detail. Last year, when I told someone my birthday was on the Day of the Dead, they said, “Oh, November 1st?” I didn’t answer, but thought it was odd.

I did a little research and found out that Dia de los Muertos is, as I has assumed my whole life, November 2nd, but that it was a holiday to honor deceased adults. However, November 1st is also a holiday, Dia de los Inocentes (aka “Day of the Innocents”) designed to honor dead children and infants (angelitos). Traditional gravesite visits are reserved for the 2nd, though the spirits of the infants and children are given 24 hours to return to their families, starting at midnight on October 31st. Decorating family altars is common during this time, and I added photos of both of my grandmothers to our altar on Samhain last year.

Below is a list of Dia correspondences that you can add to your magickal journal, and below that is a list of suggested Dia activities that you can participate in.

Some Dia Correspondences

– Altars (ofrendas, family and public)
– Cleaning and Decorating Graves
– Epitaphs (written for yourself or friends)
– Food (nuts, fruit, or the deceased’s favorite meal)
– La Calavera Catrina (circa 1910)
– Marigolds (the flower of the dead, thought to attract souls to the offerings)
– Pan de Muerto (special bread)
– Sugar Skulls (made only as offerings, not for consumption by the living)
– Water (or alcohol, for the adult departed)

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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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Full Moon October 5th 2017 in Aries

October’s Full Moon is on Thursday, October 5th at 2:40 PM EST; this Full Moon ends the cycle that started on March 27th 2017 with the New Moon in Aries. The Moon moves into Aries at 4:40 PM on Wednesday October 4th, and exits Aries at 6:38 PM on Friday October 6th. This information is also available in list form in my Cosmic Concerns: October 2017 post.

I recommend doing your Full Moon ritual any time between October 4th at 4:40 PM  and October 6th at 6:38 PM to work with that Aries energy. To charge items, they should sit out on either the night of the 4th or the 5th.

My guide, Witch’s Guide to Full 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.

About October’s Full Moon

There are many names for October’s Full Moon, but the most common is the Hunter’s Moon. Other names are the Travel Moon, Blood Moon, and Dying Moon. Hunter’s Moon is the Native American name for this Moon, since it is a time for hunting game in preparation for winter. In the pagan tradition it’s called a Blood Moon because this was the traditional time of year that animals would be slaughtered before the winter comes (specifically Samhain, the third harvest festival). That’s because people used to have to choose which animals would stay inside with them during the winter, and there was no way to bring the whole flock inside. Luckily this is a thing of the past!

The October 2017 Full Moon is also a Harvest Moon; a lot of a great information on the Harvest Moon can be found on the Farmer’s Almanac site. The message of this Full Moon is that it’s time to turn inward and start your preparations for winter.

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Full Moon July 9th 2017 in Capricorn

July 2017’s Full Moon in Capricorn has several times at which you can observe it. However, since it occurs at 12:07 AM EST on July 9th, it means that it may be technically on the 8th for some readers. Personally, I recommend doing your Full Moon charge on the night of the 8th because of this. The Moon enters Capricorn at 1:45 PM EST on July 7th, then stays in Capricorn until 10:12 PM on the 9th when it goes void-of-course. In short, your charge can be done on the night of the 7th or the 8th of July, but not the 9th.

This Full Moon ends the cycle that began with the New Moon in Capricorn on December 29th 2016.

My guide, Witch’s Guide to Full 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.

About July’s Full Moon

There are multiple names for July’s Full Moon, but the most common is the Thunder Moon. Other names are the Blessing Moon and Full Buck Moon. Thunder Moon comes from the prevalence of thunderstorms this time of year, which is absolutely accurate to me. Full Buck Moon is from the antlers which are now growing on male deer. Blessing Moon is part of the pagan tradition, this is the Moon before Lammas, the first of three harvest festivals. The message of this Full Moon is one of reflecting on what has gone well this year, ‘counting your blessings’ so to speak, and preparing for the harvest ahead.

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Witchcraft Basics: How to Cleanse a Space

This guide covers a witchcraft basic: how to cleanse the energy in a space. I created this because a lot of witchcraft writers, myself included, will say “cleanse your space” as though everyone knows exactly what that means. The truth of the matter is that, when you’re a new witch, you have no idea what that looks like! Intermediate and advanced witches will likely not find this guide helpful, but there are a lot of witches who are just starting out who I hope will benefit.

This is my own advice based on my own experiences and practice of witchcraft. There are three basic types of cleansing magick that I cover here: smoke, smokeless, and tool cleansing. I recommend cleansing the home or living space once every lunar cycle on the Full Moon. Cleansing can also be used after a negative energy event, like a fight or illness, or just when you feel that the energy could use a scrub.

Smoke Cleansing

Smoke cleansing is typically referred to as ‘smudging’, though that term has fallen out of favor as it references a specific Native American ritual. That’s a whole debate, however, with some saying that anyone is welcome to smudge who respects to practice, and others saying no do not call it smudging ever. I like to err on the side of caution and call it ‘smoke cleansing’ to be respectful.

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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.

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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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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

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