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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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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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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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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Full Moon June 9th 2017 in Sagittarius

June’s Full Moon in Sagittarius is giving us a break from the 2017 Moon times roller coaster with an entirely convenient range of times in which to observe it. The Full Moon occurs at 9:10 AM EST on Friday, June 9th, but you can also do your ritual on the evening of the 8th since the Moon is in Sagittarius all day. The Moon stays in Sagittarius until 2:20 AM on the 10th, so if you are charging your crystals you should do so on the night of the 8th.

I highly recommend doing your Full Moon ritual either on the evening of Thursday the 8th or Friday the 9th while the Moon is in Sagittarius, the correct sign to end this six month cycle that started with the New Moon in Sagittarius on November 29th 2016. If you charge items overnight on the 9th the Moon will go void-of-course at 2:20 AM only to move into Capricorn at 7:36 AM. For charging the evening of the 8th works best, and that’s when I’m doing my full ritual, just to keep things simple. If you charge on the 8th but want to wait until the evening of the 9th, after Jupiter has gone direct, that works as well considering that Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter. Do what works best for you and your schedule.

About June’s Full Moon

There are multiple names for May’s Full Moon, but the most common is the Strawberry Moon. Other names are the Rose Moon, Hot Moon, Honey Moon, and Strong Sun Moon. Strawberry Moon comes from Algonquin tribes because it’s a time to gather strawberries. The Rose Moon has similar origins, though modern flowers have been altered to bloom at many times, traditionally roses bloom in late May to early July. Honey Moon is where honeymoon originates from, this is because June was considered a traditional month to wed. In the Pagan tradition, the Beltane season belong to the Lord and Lady of May and represents the cosmic marriage that brings about life; because of this it is traditional to marry once the Beltane season ends out of respect. Strong Sun Moon and Hot Moon make total sense, especially since I live in Florida, where we are being steam cooked every time we leave the house by a combination of heat and humidity. The message of this Full Moon is one of fertility and coaxing your projects into bloom.

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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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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.

The two week manifestation point for this New Moon is the Full Moon on May 10th 2017 in Scorpio. The six month manifestation point for this New Moon is the Full Moon in Taurus on November 4th 2017.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

The two week manifestation point for this New Moon is January 12th Full Moon in Cancer. The six month manifestation point is on July 9th with the Full Moon in Capricorn.

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.

New Moon in Capricorn

This is the last New Moon of 2016, so it’s a great opportunity to write your New Year’s Resolution list. You can also wait until January’s New Moon (which is the Lunar New Year) or the ‘traditional’ date of December 31st. If I’m planning on champagne and watching the ball drop, I’m not going to be fixated on goals, so I usually put them on separate dates. Since New Moon’s also have an aspect of ‘letting go’ to them, this would also be a good time to list what you really want to leave in 2016. Looking back on my older Esbats from 2016 I must say, it’s taken time, but it has been working. I also have my 2016 goal list to review. That will be fun – and terrifying! – I have no idea what’s on it.

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