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Connecting, Celebrating, Coping, & Reading



In today's post


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As an author, the following article is near and dear to my heart. Like Mankey, I don't count on my book sales to support myself, but I have invested a lot of time and money in producing books.



Nothing like starting your day and seeing this sort of message on Reddit:


“Hey everyone! I have been desperately trying to find sites to read witch books free or without any additional financial burden but luck isn’t by my side. Does anyone know any websites, links or books that are completely free?”


Not surprisingly the second response in the thread provided a link to a website offering (free) pirated books about Witchcraft. It’s rather disheartening to find out that many of your fellow Witches are thieves, and thieves with no remorse.


Spiritual Practices



I love having a relationship with my local land spirits, but I understand they are not perceived as being as exciting to work with as deities. They are, however, amazing beings who make great allies or terrible enemies.


Land spirits are spirits or beings who live in the land or specific features of a land – such as a much-famed hill or pond or mountain. There are land spirits everywhere, multiple ones most likely. It is possible to have spirits who happen to live in a particular neighborhood, but you might also have a spirit (or spirits) who live in the pond in that neighborhood. There are also household spirits who live in homes and help take care of them. Some people classify household spirits as land spirits as well.



I’m a druid. For me, it’s a nature-based, spiritual path where we look to the landscape and the seasons as a metaphor for our lives.


When people are in sync with the seasons and the landscape, there is harmony and balance in our lives. We can do that by following the wheel of the year.


Now, we are in the dark time of the year, when the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Samhain was about drawing in, allowing the Cailleach (the goddess of the winter months) into our lives. What she does is she clears away, she sweeps clean the leaves from the trees because they no longer need them. That’s what she does for us, too, putting into her cauldron what we no longer need so we can start fresh again in the next cycle.


Photo Credit: Kenneth Heard


Armed with a $300,000 federal grant to build a community garden and feed the hungry, Southern Delta Church of Wicca priest and Aquarian Tabernacle Church High Summoner Terry Riley is finally being accepted in the Arkansas town where he lives.

It’s taken a long while to gain that acceptance.


Riley received the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grant from the U.S. Natural Recourses Conservation Service this summer to expand gardens he planted near his Lake City, Ark., home to feed the needy.




This always comes up at this time of year because Christmas, the dominant winter holiday, is quickly approaching. The memes have even started flying between what is Pagan and christian symbolism. People I work with start getting frazzled about how to deal with their christian family members since they are not of that belief system. The worst though is this false sense of competition between all the different winter holidays (because it isn’t just Yule and Christmas).



When I was in elementary school (or maybe junior high – it was a long time ago) I had a folder that was covered with snarky sayings. It was white with black text and bubbles around the text – kids would color the bubbles different colors to create something unique to them. The folders were really popular for a year or two. I remember this because I remember one – and only one – of the snarky sayings:

“Tradition is the art of making the same mistake over and over again, on purpose.”

I thought that was hilarious. Not surprisingly, my mother did not.



If you’re currently struggling with fear and nervousness, let me put you onto some of the best crystals for anxiety, because adding these shiny rocks to your stress-relieving arsenal can be an easy and noninvasive way to calm yourself down. Crystals are so much more than something beautiful to look at, because they contain a powerful combination of energies that can enhance your life in myriad ways.



My official journey with Hekate began in January 2019. I’d received a book written by Cyndi Brannen called Keeping Her Keys to review. The rest as they say is history as I’ve spent time celebrating and developing my relationship with the goddess. I have read books, joined groups, participated in rituals, and took classes. But mostly, mine has been a solitary journey honoring and working with Hekate these last four years.


Hekate is an ancient goddess, pre-dating the Olympians as a Thracian deity before she became associated with the Greek pantheon.


A grave at the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome [Photo Credit: M. Tejeda y Moreno]


Up until the early 20th century, mourning was a visual, community activity. Death wasn’t removed from everyday life, taboo to speak about, or hidden from children as it is today – it was accepted and understood. In less than a hundred years, we’ve changed our perspective and relationship with death so extremely that it has led to a less-than-healthy fear and misunderstanding of death in the wider culture. This might yet be restored, however, if we understand the mourning practices we lost, and how to bring them back.


Tarot



Moncho 1929, “XVII sidus (the star)” (2023), oil and acrylic on canvas, 64 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches (all images courtesy the artist and UNREPD


Moncho 1929’s latest exhibition questions what we mean when we say “history” or “beliefs” or even that something is “ours.”


The majority of the works present as life-sized tarot cards, complete with numbers and categorical titles. But the subjects of the cards, including household items and an image that looks like it was plucked from a Boyle Heights street corner, are quite different from those of a traditional tarot deck.




A House of the Dragon tarot deck is on the horizon. . .

The House of the Dragon tarot deck will be distributed by Simon & Schuster, put together by Erica Davis. According to the listing on Simon & Schuster’s website, the deck “reimagines Rhaenyra, Daemon, Aemond, Viserys, and other fan-favorite characters in original illustrations based on classic Rider-Waite tarot iconography.”


Featuring both the Major and Minor Arcana, the set also comes with a helpful 128-page guidebook containing explanations of each card’s meaning and simple spreads that will help you interpret your readings.



I've been reading the tarot for thirty-odd years, and like many readers I have a collection of decks; my own is pretty modest at fewer than a dozen. I've known people who have collections of a hundred or more tarot card decks. Though my collection is small, all of them are cherished for their beauty, unique styles, and being meaningful. My attraction to and fascination with crows and ravens goes all the way back to my earliest childhood. When I saw this particular tarot deck I knew I had to have it.

The artwork and text are the work of Margaux Jones (MJ) Cullinane, who also has a recently published oracle deck with similar artwork called the Urban Crow Oracle deck. The LWB included with this tarot deck is 88 pages, with full explanations of each card in upright and reversed positions, and a suggested layout, The Crow Tarot Spread.



A photo of Melinda Raines’ Tarot Cards James Sawyer


I’ve never believed spiritual practices like tarot card readings were actually accurate or helpful until I tried it for myself last Wednesday.


I have recently had complex negative feelings in which I couldn’t figure out the source, so I came to an intuitive reader in Asheville, Melinda Raines, for a special shadow archetype reading involving tarot



Miscellaneous



Have a special witch in your life? Trying to find something to get them for the holidays? Never fear! We’ve gathered up ten great ideas for witchy gifts. Whether it’s a book, a spell kit, or an experience, these gifts for witches will please even the hardest-to-shop-for witch.



Yegor Aleyev/TASS


‘Maslenitsa’ festivities, ‘svyatki’ fortune telling and bonfires on ‘Kupala Night’ have not lost their relevance in Russia. People have always loved the ceremonial side of these holidays, the roots of which stretch back to paganism.


The Russian Orthodox Church tried to weed out and replace pagan traditions in Russia. Instead of important dates for pagans, they nominated Christian holidays. However, people installed their habitual pagan meanings into these new dates and, in the end, we got a curious symbiosis of Christian ways and pagan beliefs.


Witches



LONDON – This past weekend on November 18, 2023, Witchfest International took place in Croydon in South London at the Fairfield Halls venue. Witchfest International celebrated its 21st anniversary bringing together countless experts on Witchcraft and Wicca, Paganism as well as community leaders and Pagan entertainers who rocked the night until 2AM. Despite the celebrations, the event was greeted on Saturday by a Christian protest group loud enough to disrupt workshops and events while creating worrisome conditions for attendees.



An Irish Catholic laundress known as Goodwife “Goody” Ann Glover, was the last woman to be hanged in Boston in 1688, over claims she was a witch.


It is reported that Goodwife “Goody” Ann Glover was deported to Barbados with her husband during Oliver Cromwell’s occupation of Ireland in the 1650s. Her husband died there as a result of his loyalty to the Catholic faith.

A widow, Glover then moved to Boston with her daughter, where they settled in the North End in the 1680s. There the Irish immigrant got a job as a housekeeper in the home of John Goodwin, where she helped to look after his five children.



Nooka Shepherd, Wyrd Night (2023)Courtesy of Nooka Shepherd

Leonora Carrington, Paula Rego, and more feature in LAMB Gallery’s exploration of the witch as a potent symbol for women artists, past and present


It’s no coincidence that the Surrealist movement emerged out of the chaos of the early 20th century, in a post-war world where thinkers like Sigmund Freud were rewriting what we knew about the links between the mind and the body. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the movement has stayed the course, either. It continues to resonate as life grows weirder by the day and we continue to pull back the curtain on the myths and mechanisms behind reality, dreams, and the human minds that pull them together.


There’s another, more magic-tinged explanation that’s stuck around through the ages to explain the oddities at the edge of our dreams and reality, though. Witchcraft. From the witch trials of early modern Europe and America, to the resurgence of occult practices online, witchcraft has been tied up with our attempts to explain the unusual happenings in the world around us, especially from a feminist (or, historically, gruesomely anti-feminist) angle, for as long as we can remember.


NOTE: Be sure to click through the gallery of images.



The wind howled, the seas bubbled and in Scotland’s coastal communities where whims of nature could turn swiftly from ally to adversary, someone had to be blamed.

Fuelled with a desperate need to make sense of the changing climate, the violent storms and the tragic loss of lives and vessels it brought, suspicion fell on women.

In a febrile spell of witch hunts, superstition and folklore, weather witches - believed to have magical powers to command the tides, storms and seas – became public enemies to be hunted down, tortured and put to the most painful death.



Credit: wikimedia commons / Welcome Collection Gallery CC BY 4.0


Living on the North Shore in Boston in the fall brings the gorgeous turning of the leaves and pumpkin patches. It is also a time for people to head to nearby Salem, Massachusetts, home of the seventeenth-century infamous witch trials, and visit its popular museum.


Despite a troubled history, there are people today who consider themselves witches. Often, modern witches share their lore, craft, and stories on TikTok and other social media platforms.

As a scholar who works on myth and poetry from ancient Greece and as a native of New England, I have long been fascinated by the cultural conversations about witches. Witch trials in the Americas and Europe were, in part, about enforcing power structures and persecuting the weak. From ancient Greece through Puritan New England, witches functioned as easy targets for cultural anxieties about gender, power, and mortality.

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